Archive for the ‘Friday CatchUp’ Category

Senior Citizen Bedtime

Man … with getting a kitten Monday night and a super crazy work schedule, I’ve been a bit of a bum. I haven’t done any music work (even though last practice was awesome) and I’ve even been going to sleep at 10:30-11:30 PM each night. It’s a very radical change from what I’m used to but things should start to quiet down this weekend.

As a result, I have a lot to say, but not a lot of time to say it right now. So, here’s a list of some upcoming blasts that will be appearing at a [] near you soon:

  • Band update. Last practice was awesome and I have another tonight. We finally have a plan and we are all focused on it. Get ready for your world to be conquered!
  • Apartment tour. Project: Clean the Apartment is approaching 75% so I could probably host a few pictures up of it. I’ll even show the cool other areas like the roof pool, gym, and 5-star hotel lobby.
  • I still owe a blog that I mentioned a little while ago about something being retired. That is still forthcoming so bring the Kleenex!

And here’s your reward for surviving this non-blog …

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Evil Computers

Less than a month ago I worked 60-hours-weeks twice in a row. This crazy amount of work – added with my usual post-work hobby (re:getting on my computer at home) – was starting to put a strain on my hands. As a result, I’ve been trying to limit my computer access after work, which is probably a big reason why things have been so quiet on here recently. Luckily, this hasn’t stopped me from playing iMobsters, an addictive lite-RPG app for my iPhone. In it, I’ve already amassed a mob of 10 gangsters and we’re pulling off missions like liquor smuggling, bribing policemen and attacking other mobsters who are played by real people. In fact, Brandon’s on my squad but I still kicked his ass when I saw him on the attack screen just to keep him in line! I run a tough ship!

But never fear, dearest readers! There are a lot of upcoming things to look forward to once my hands get back up to snuff (what a weird phrase). Here’s your hit parade of coming attractions:

  • Audition of a third singer … death or rock? 1
  • A large new purchase should be on its way soon, but I’ll keep quiet about it until it’s official!!! 1
  • A tragic milestone is fast approaching, be ready for a tearjerker! 1

  • … and much, much more! 2

1 – The makings of a really boring blog
2 – Actually, nothing more

Current Mood: Ashamed Of This Blog Already emoticon Ashamed Of This Blog Already

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Paper: Already An Anachronism

Photo Montage © 2009 Stan Syckes

A few days ago I received an issue of Maxim in the mail. I am not currently, nor have I ever subscribed to the magazine – it’s pretty lame and the cheesecake photos of women are usually so tired (“What else can we put in front of a naked woman to make a PG-13 picture?!?!”). Anyway, I chalked this strange appearance to some sort of press; a free issue to spark interest in possible readers.

Two days later another issue showed up in my mailbox! This one had a giant sticker placed on the cover – and not just to cover up a lame semi-nude Jennifer Love Hewitt photo, but to actually give me some information! I’ve known for some time that the only magazine I subscribed to, Electronic Gaming Monthly, had stopped existing in paper-form and was now an internet-only service. What I didn’t expect was that they would funnel all of the issues I was still owed on my subscription to a piece of garbage like Maxim.

Oh, well. It’s the end of an era as I no longer receive a magazine in the mail 🙁 . I guess this means I have more time to dedicate to music … well, either that or subscribe to this awesome new, British gaming magazine I discovered called GamesTM. Hmm … I wonder which will win out …

Current Mood: Slightly Sad emoticon Slightly Sad

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Overwhelemed By Time; Underwhelming In Blog

Alright … I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with a few things. A lot of them are self-inflicted, so here goes a ranting, venting, probably dull blog.

I’ve never considered myself much of a writer although I usually attribute this to finding the inspiration to write well in only a handful of subjects. And, of course, these are the usual culprits: NBA basketball and the historical/statistical analysis of it, funny or amazing stories in which I am a participant, and my own musical exploits. Every now and then I can pull a decent telling of some random topic from the very center ‘tween by buttocks but these are very few and very far between.

Essentially, what I’m trying to set up here is another rant about the “blog voice” that I care to bring up from time to time (and now that I just did a search for “blog voice” across [] I didn’t really find any posts to link to … so maybe I’m wrong on this). Anyway, I would love for this site to ultimately morph into post after post of the latest update about my band (ex: “tonight we played this setlist at this show and I think it went well because …”) or about the latest funny story I’ve been involved in (ex: “tonight, our usual Lost viewing turned into a drinking game that ended in nudity …”). Meanwhile, I’d continue to write about basketball on my NBA Sim blog.

“What in the world is preventing you from just doing this, already?” you may be asking right about now. Well, the answer is simple: me! I’m blessed/cursed with a super creative imagination that has currently loaded up so much of my free time with (insanely fun [to me, only, usually]) hobbies. These hobbies have been slowly sucking out all of my free time and I believe I’ve even become addicted to several of them. Sometimes, when I’m asked to stop doing them and go out and try something new or fun I put up a mini-tantrum like a little child. It must look silly: “What … you want to go to trivia night??! No, I will not stop determining who is 1989 Michael Jordan’s close based on 82-standardized game schedules and pace-adjusted stats!”

Wow … I’ve really gotten astronomically far from where I wanted this post to go, so here goes a little salvaging!

I’ve come across a few friends’ blogs – one from the past that is no longer updated and one that has just begun (NSFW). Both have extremely well-defined blog voices (Brigette’s blog was all about her adventures – both large and small – due to her love of traveling while John’s blog is both an outlet for his razor wit and his descriptions of living a life very much like a Larry David characters).

Anyway, with the help of these blogs and other eureka moments, I’m starting to come to a realization … I’ve been going about things a bit backwards for quite a while. Don’t put the focus on what makes great blog posts and try to squeeze them out. Instead, focus on what makes an exciting life and you’ll get effortless, great content.

Current Mood: Procrastinating emoticon Procrastinating

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Bad Fantasy

I still have a backlog of posts I’d like to get out but unfortunately I’ve been experiencing some stanus.butt difficulties while at home. It’s forced me to be a little slower at posting than I’d like but I promise to get all of these goodies out.

Holy shit, I sucked at all of my fantasy sports. I’ve done fairly well in all of my online sporting ventures in the past but this year was quite a wake up call. I’m going to be a man and admit it here … I’m also going to be lazy by putting up a table and calling it a blog.

Sport League Name Team Name Draft Order Result
Baseball PPC Fantasy Baseball 2.0 NY Homeless #3 9 of 10
Football DSPC Fantasy Football Daily Stain #8 8 of 8
Football Belichick’s Boobies Favre’s Silver Pubes #10 5 of 14
March Madness Marsteller Office Pool Bracket #1 N/A Tie-34 of 143
March Madness Marsteller Office Pool Bracket #2 N.A 66 of 143
Basketball Kobe Is A Nutter Dirk&KiddAreLovers!! #2 7 of 14
Basketball Jason Kidd’s Head Wrinkles NBASim #1 6 of 12

I actually did win a March Madness bet ‘tween just Cassie and I, but even this didn’t buoy my overall outcome by much.

Current Mood: Ready For The Weekend emoticon Ready For The Weekend

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Philly Part I: Death Aboard a Megabus

Philadelphia is land of the free, home of the brave; the bra strap where the awkward fumblings of a beginning nation began! However, there is also a seedy underbelly to this fabled city; a secret society of malcontents who have been festering with rage since way back in April of 2007 – the last time Brandon mentioned he was going to update the B-Log’s look (update: there has been no change to his site since his 2007 post). Ironically, it was to see this very man that Cassie and I braved exiting Manhattan last weekend. Our journey would be met with much resistance, imprisonment, and even a meeting with the new Dohwoman, but we would come out of it as richer, wiser people. Well, at least we’d escape with an amazing picture of Anthony falling asleep inside Independence Hall!

The weekend was such an eventful one that I’ve decided to break it up into three parts scattered into separate posts. Come along with me as I retell this tale … if you dare!!!

When we travel outside of the city, Cassie and I usually board the BoltBus … a nice, upscale ride with large seats, wi-fi internet and electrical outlets. I’ve never had a bad experience with the organization, even when it was 45 minutes late one time in the freezing winter (we got to stand in a warm, nearby pizza joint). For some reason, though, Cassie wanted to save some money and try Megabus – a competitor just one rung down in class than Bolt, but provides an awesome double-decker bus.

Well, we managed to locate the bus stop (an experience not unlike a scavenger hunt when it comes to New York City) just a few minutes later than we had planned to do so. But, we could’ve taken our ol’ sweet time as our bus decided to mosey on in an hour late. Luckily, that time spent waiting wasn’t wasted as we chomped on our Wendy’s (a decision which would turn out to be quite fortuitous) and I was asked to donate money to some charity or other by the very same guy who asked me to donate money to some other charity a year ago. Since it was obviously just a bullshit scam, I messed with him a bit. It was a nice stress reliever and I felt bad seeing some kids giving him money just to have him leave them alone. I’ve really started to learn to keep my bullshit radar operating at tip-top shape since moving here.

The line of people that had been waiting for who knows how long slowly piled into the double-decker bus. Cassie and I made our way to the second level (it felt like it just had to be a more interesting trip up there). As we settled down in our seats we sighed … finally we were on our way to Philadelphia for the weekend. The stressful bus stop hunt and subsequent terrible, long wait were behind us. Now we just had two hours of relaxation (I brought along the Motley Crue biography, “The Dirt”) and we’d find ourselves in the arms of Brandon Jones.


Well, about 10 blocks into the trip (yes, ladies and gentlemen, you read that right: 10 blocks) we ran into some heavy traffic. And I do literally mean “ran into” traffic. A Fed Ex truck came up on the right side of us and knocked off the passenger-side rearview mirror. The bus driver immediately pulled over to the side of the busy street … and then proceeded to do nothing for an hour! Rumors were flying around as to what was happening but finally our intrepid captain came up to the second level and announced three extremely annoying facts:

  1. She was unable to drive us anywhere until the mirror was put back on by a licensed mechanic.
  2. She was not allowed to let any of us leave the bus as the doors opened up into moving traffic.
  3. She had forgotten she had a second level on the bus and had told all of this information to the first level an hour ago!!!!

Naturally, people started to get annoyed and some even angry. Someone on the lower level engaged in a yelling match with the bus driver but received just as good as she gave (our driver was of the sassy sort). I felt like there really weren’t any options so why worry about it, but this reasoning seemed to be of the minority opinion.

Finally another bus pulled up beside us. We had heard that this one was going to be a regular sized bus (no second level) so not everyone would be able to get on it. Thus, with that challenge, Cassie and I primed ourselves to get our asses onto it as fast as is Melnikow-ly possible. Well, readers, we made it safely aboard and enjoyed a rather uneventful ride into Philly – finally arriving to our destination a full 3 hours later than scheduled.

An extremely quick cab ride later and we arrived at the Casa De Jones: an impressively large (for a city apartment) living space furnished in a style I’ll call: throw out anything ever owned by Brandon. Well, except for Brandon’s office/corner in the living room which looked more like a Bond villain’s TV-wall in which Bond’s progress through the death traps is monitored. We all gabbed like little girls for an hour or two thanks to Brandon’s mixed drinks (he tends a mean bar!!!) and then Katie retired for the night. Unfortunately, this left three ex-heavy drinkers to their own devices and we quickly devolved into a heated debate about the legalization of … everything, really.

When Brandon held a dollar bill in his chinflap I realized the night was over. Besides, I was drunk and I had barely made it out alive of the evil Megabus. Perhaps this baptism of fire was going to prepare me enough for the remainder of the week: traveling in time to get to a baseball game and the main event of meeting Toine’s new girlfriend, Joy. Or perhaps not, but hope remained even as I lost consciousness.

Stay tuned, dear readers, it’s a good’un!

Current Mood: Ready for the weekend emoticon Ready for the weekend

Super Slinky

I just bought a 10-pack of Ernie Ball Super Slinky guitar strings off eBay for $39.99. And, with no shipping fees, that’s $3.99 per pack! Wow … what a huge difference this is from when I first started to buy these babies. When I first picked up the guitar in December of 1996 I really had no clue there were even different types/widths of strings, much less have a preference for a specific one. However, after a long investigation process that probably lasted years I finally settled down with the strings in that manly pink dressing!

I actually thought I was going to write an entire post about my relationship with a fucking guitar string type. The only story I remember is, while spending the summer in the infamous Shack – writing, rehearsing, and recording music – I had a ton of these strings. I was so bored and kind of hungry one night so I chewed on every piece of the plastic covering the strings came in. There: only story I was somehow about to base this blog on.

Alright, I think I’ll move on to issues of a more interesting sort!!

First of all, I shall address Stever’s favorite blog category: the Fiday Catchup! Although I wish it to remain a deadline post – checking in every Friday – I’m going to retool it a bit, as well. Specifically, I don’t want to have to conform to the lists, reviews, and YouTube video template I concocted a month ago. That got really boring really fast. Instead, I’ll just update you with what’s going on … as my life has suddenly shifted into a super-busy hyperwarp.

First of all, I’ve now jammed twice with drummer, John, and we’ve made some serious progress. Both of us were extremely rusty coming back but we estimate our level at about 75-80% where it used to be last year (each at our peak). The relationship is a lot easier and the mood is more conducive to getting things done and having fun in the process than our previous band. There, writing music had to compete with the other guitarists’ moping, the lead singer’s micromanagement, and the wars between the two. Last night, in fact, we started work on a new song and John actually started to suggest cool things to add to the song (I never heard him utter a songwriting suggestion in the previous band). The sound between us is very straight, hard rock which is an inspiring start though I am concerned about versatility.

Ultimately, I wish to be in a band that encompasses the best parts of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (fun and funky), Radiohead (intellectual and modern songwriting), Led Zeppelin (intelligent musicianship and swagger), Guns N’ Roses (something that can get a little nasty and melodic, memorable solos), and Weezer (attitude and songcraftsmanship). I know John and I have only jammed twice, but perhaps it’s never to early to sit down and discuss where we each want to see with the band.

I’ve been on a search for a singer/songwriter to partner with as well. A couple weeks ago I met Jeff, a singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist (the role I’m looking for as a priority) whom I’d actually almost jammed with a year ago. We met at his place, traded stories, experiences, and a few songs and then I left. Unfortunately, the leaving was so abrupt that there was no real closure. I exited not really fully aware of how I felt about the situation. Ultimately, he emailed me back saying that he didn’t think our styles meshed well and I would have to agree with him. He wrote more open, cyclical U2/Coldplay stuff and I was nervous how that would fit with the hard rock John and I are birthing.

The search continues … but this post does not! In fact there are so many things that I could discuss here about my past two weeks, but I’ve got to get ready to head down to Philadelphia where I will be meeting the Joneses and perhaps the Stetses! I apologize, but I will try to make it more of a priority to check in here for you all.

Until then … make mine the SteverOnline!

    Site Update:

  • Added my Twitter messages at bottom of blogs … for now

Current Mood: Feejing! The NBA Playoffs begin in the morrow! emoticon Feejing! The NBA Playoffs begin in the morrow!

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Yeah, Yeah, Yeah …

Yep … I’m still not sure if I like these Friday Catchups at all. I’m definitely not a fan of the way they’re presented, so expect it to change as I go (of course, that depends on them surviving). Since I missed last week (that’s how enthusiastic I am about doing these so far), there’s going to be an overload in some categories.


What I’m Listening To:
David Bowie – Aladdin Sane (1973)
Billy Joel – Cold Spring Harbor (1971)
Dr. Dre – Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath (1996)
R.E.M. – Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)
The History of Howard Stern: Act II – 1987: Video Thrilled the Radio Star
The Karate Kid Soundtrack (1984)
Hanoi Rocks – Oriental Beat (1982)
Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969)
Ringo Star – Beaucoups of Blues (1970)
Madonna – Erotica (1992)
Blur – Think Tank (2003)
The History of Howard Stern: Act II – 1988: Radio Wars

I’m starting to finally appreciate David Bowie now that I’m in his good album period. “Aladdin Sane” isn’t as good as “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” but it’s still solid. I had high hopes for The Karate Kid soundtrack, but not even “You’re The Best” (the song playing during the ending tournament) was as good as I remembered as a kid (I used to sing it to myself when pretending I was doing martial arts in my backyard). I can’t believe I enjoyed Neil Young as much as I did and Ringo’s second solo album really ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.


What I’m Watching:
Sober House (2009)
Tough Love (2009)
Cassandra’s Dream (2007)
Lost: Season 5 (2009)
2009 NBA Season (2009)

“Sober House” is finally over … and just like it’s predecessor, “Celebrity Rehab,” each successive episode was less and less entertaining since the people involved were growing saner. There was an old-school “Lost” twist this week with the death (?) of Ben as a kid – which totally fucks shit up when time travelling. And I’m embarassed to say I watched the first couple of episodes of “Tough Love” – a matchmaking show on Mtv. I think I have a vagina now.


What I’m Playing:
PopCap – Zuma (2008) [iPod]

Zuma possessed my soul. There are 12 worlds, each with multiple levels and I was stuck on 11 for the longest time. As soon as I broke that seal, however, I’m unstoppable. However, just because I can beat the game without trying doesn’t seem to prevent me from still compulsively playing it on every commute.


What I’m Reading:
Dean Oliver – Basketball on Paper (2002)

I bought a comic to read on eBay 2 weeks ago but it still hasn’t arrived so I’m only reading one thing at nights (something I have to get used to). “Basketball on Paper” is so much better now that I have a few years of NBA Sim under my belt.


What I’m Doing:
Trying to start up a band again … booked 3 hours of studio time tomorrow in Smash Studios
Crying at every Dallas Mavericks loss


The Encore:

This is a couple of weeks old but I figured that I’d share it with all you non-NBA watching people. And, yes, he used to be a Mavericks last year 🙁

Ah, Radiohead. Back when you were content with being just the best rock band in the world …

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Second Serving

Here goes nothing: my second attempt at this Friday CatchUp. Still not sure if I like it, but I’ll reserve my judgment after a few more of these.


What I’m Listening To:
People in Planes – Beyond the Horizon (2008)

As I mentioned last week, I liked their song “Vampire” which was used for a Dirk Nowitzki YouTube mix. I decided to buy their album from Amazon since I liked a couple of their other tunes I found on YouTube. Unfortunately, the album is really samey – all the songs kinda blend into one. Good for a single song listen, but not the makings of a great album experience.

Daryl Hall and John Oates – Whole Oats (1972)
U2 – Pop (1997)

Wow … I actually liked this Hall and Oates debut. So easy listening that I feel like I’m in a dentist’s office or a shopping mall circa 1985, but damn near perfect songcraft. I remember U2’s Pop album coming out in high school and cool, older kids saying it was “really good.” I finally gave the full thing a listen and guess what? They were “really wrong.”

Beck – Midnite Vultures (1999)
The History of Howard Stern: Act II – 1986-1987: Philadelphia Freedom


What I’m Watching:
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Long and slightly bloated, this crime epic is just … ok. It’s actually a bit amazing that a movie made by Sergio Leone and starring Robert De Niro about gangsters doesn’t deliver all the goods.

Lost: Season 5 (2009)
Castlevania Games beaten on YouTube
2009 NBA Season (2009)


What I’m Playing:
Gameloft – Block Breaker Deluxe (2008) [iPod]

Another subway commute game. This was actually the game I played before Mahjongg … maybe two months ago. But at the very end something fucked up and I wasn’t able to beat it. So, after beating Mahjongg, I decided to show some restraint and try Block Breaker again rather than buy a new game.


What I’m Reading:
John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces (1980)
Dean Oliver – Basketball on Paper (2002)

A reread of this classic. The first time I went through this book, I wasn’t really aware of the idea of “pace” in basketball. Now, having a year or so under my belt of doing my own pace research, I expect to get a lot more out of this one.


What I’m Doing:
ZogSports 3-on-3 Co-Ed Basketball

My team, “No Names” (ugh, I hate this name) has made it to the playoffs as the 2nd seed. Tomorrow, every game of the playoffs will be played and there is a maximum of 6 games we might have to play. It will be grueling, but awesome if we can pull out a victory. The rest of my team is made up of the winners from last year so it’s doable, but this year’s competition is supposedly way harder than last year’s.

Wednesday Trivia at the Banshee Pub (Team Name: Lost’s A Rerun) 4th place
High school friend, Michelle, is visiting us this weekend


The Encore:

I randomly came across this clip yesterday. I used to have an AOL account back in high school and, though I’m sure we had no problem cancelling it, I do recall AOL having some annoying business practices.

Mighty Led Zeppelin anthem + Nintendo bloops and bleeps = hotness!

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Friday CatchUp

Hmm … I really don’t have much to talk about, but I saw that I only posted 3 non-mini blogs in February. The last time I only managed to squeeze out 3 blasts was back in July of 2007 and that was mainly due to a website error that left stanus.butt down for weeks. So I guess I’ll just have to force myself to come up with something to talk about!

Maybe I’ll try something new here. Call it inspired. Call it a cop out. Call it a one hit wonder. Who knows … maybe it’ll have some staying power. Probably not. But it’ll fill up space on the site quite nicely!

This is the first (and quite possibly last) Friday CatchUp: a posting where I quickly recap what I’ve been listening to, watching and doing the past week. It’ll give me a weekly deadline to at least say something instead of waiting for inspiration to strike (though I’ll still be on guard for those opportunities). I’ll also be sure to post The Encore … your reward for making it through the entire boring post!


What I’m Listening To:

Danny Elfman – Batman: Original Motion Picture Score (1989)
Elliot Goldenthal – Batman Forever: Original Motion Picture Score (1995)

I always loved the music to both of these movies but this was the first time I actually listened to the full score albums. Batman Forever was kinda the same theme over and over, but Batman is probably just under Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Back to the Future as far as film scores go!

The Bob Seger System – Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man (1969)
Eric Clapton – Eric Clapton (1970)

Generic rock from even one of the best periods of music is still boring as hell.


What I’m Watching:

The Wrestler (2008)

Good movie. We went to go see this at the 1-room theater five blocks away from the apartment and used a 14 month-old gift card to see it for free.

Batman: The Animated Series: Season 3 (1993)
Lost: Season 5 (2009)
Tom Green clips on YouTube
2009 NBA Season (2009)

I’m sure it’s safe to assume I will be watching the NBA every week so I’ll keep quiet about it unless something big happens. Meanwhile, something big has happened: the Mavericks lost to the worst team two nights ago … and this team didn’t even have their two best players. Owner, Mark Cuban, is fuming and I believe big things will be happening soon.

Tool Academy (2009)
The Bachelor: Season Who Cares (2009)

I’m embarrassed to admit that I watched these two shows. Well, I only watched the finale to the Bachelor since Howard Stern talked it up so much (it was absolutely ridiculous), but I actually have been tuning in each week to watch Tool Academy 🙁


What I’m Playing:

Electronic Arts – Mahjongg (2008) [iPod]

I’m still simming for my NBA Sim project so I haven’t been in a video game type of mood, really. But, on my commutes to and from work I’m always playing this little gem from EA. I’m actually nearing completion … I only have about 8 levels left before I conquer the damn thing.


What I’m Reading:

Squadron Supreme (1985-86)

Watchmen changed my life when I read it at age 17 and it’s weird to finally realize that it wasn’t as revolutionary as it is always touted to be. Squadron Supreme was completed a full year before Watchmen and hits on a lot of the similar themes. But, let’s be real, as good as Squadron is, Watchmen takes a shit on all comics for all time. And, yes, I will be seeing the movie this weekend!

JLA: Terror Incognita (2002)
John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces (1980)


What I’m Doing:
ZogSports 3-on-3 Co-Ed Basketball
Wednesday Trivia at the Banshee Pub (Team Name: A-Rod’s Cousin)

Wednesday was Cassie’s birthday and ever the gamer, she decided we would try out trivia night at a pub down the street. The place was so nice and the event so fun, we’re definitely planning on going back again.


The Encore:

This song was used on a cool Dirk Nowitzki mix I found on YouTube. Here’s them playing it acoustically (just as good as the studio version).

Huge, huuuuuuuge Tom Green kick right now. Here’s one of the best.

Current Mood: Inspired emoticon Inspired

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