Monday, April 27, 2009

Frankie Manning (1914-2009)

Swing dance legend Frankie Manning died this morning. Of all the greats, I believe Frankie touched more lives than any other in this dance. This is certainly the case for me. Frankie is credited with inventing the air step and bringing synchronized lindy hop routines to swing. These two elements formed the cornerstone of my 8 years of competitive and social lindy hop.

As you can see from this clip, while an old man's body may be slowing down, his passion and enthusiasm remain.

This is the famous clip, perhaps the most studied in all of Lindy Hop. Frankie is the dancer in the overalls.

Frankie, you were a wonderful ambassador and a patient teacher. Your love for dance and life propelled us all. In your grace, joy, creativity, and your incredible talent, you embodied that for which we all strove. If there is a life after death, I fully expect you to be at the front of the dancehall, swinging away.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Josh McCylon

Head coach Josh McDaniels is a Cylon sent from the New England Patriots to destroy Bronco Nation. This is the only remaining explanation for an off-season in which McDaniels has ruthlessly and efficiently lain waste to an entire organization. He inherited one of the worst defenses in NFL history and an inefficient but ridiculously talented offense. Instead of focusing on improving the defense, Coach Mac squabbled with pro bowl QB Jay Cutler and then ran him out of town. A questionable move at best but Bronco fans murmured that with all of Denver's upcoming draft picks, we'd have a great chance to build a talented defense and field a competitive team. McDaniels had other plans.

He spent the offseason bringing in three running backs, a safety, cornerback. Odd moves that I disagreed with, but perhaps defensible.

Then came the two day coup de grace: the 2009 NFL Draft.

Round 1: McDaniels snubs Longhorns manbeast Brian Orakpo, instead reaching for Knowshon Moreno, a running back. With Ryan Torain, Peyton Hillis and the three RBs McDaniels already signed, I cannot think of a position less in need of first round talent. McD at least chooses a D-lineman with the 18th pick.

Round 2: The Broncos trade their own 2010 first round draft pick to get defensive back Alphonso Smith. If the Broncos do poorly this year as expected, that 2010 pick could easily be in the top 10. Then McDaniels continues to ignore the defensive line and drafts another Safety!! Bent upon further wreckage, the profligate coach trades two third round picks to get a Tight End **correction**(and a fourth round pick), another position in which the broncos are stacked (Daniel Graham, Tony Sheffler, Jeb Putzier)

Round 3: Whoops, traded both of those picks away.

Round 4: Denver drafts another safety, then continues ignoring gaping wounds and grabs an offensive lineman. Broncos clearly contending for worst draft ever.

Rounds 5, 6, 7: The last three picks (WR, QB, C) spent on offense? McMasterfully played, sir. Truly, truly impressive.

To complete his mission and send the Broncos franchise to a decade of mediocrity, McDaniels need only assasinate Champ Bailey and Ryan Clady, the Broncos only remaining studs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I don't have insomnia

but I strongly dislike going to bed.

I fight it as long as possible.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Success Metric

The new Metric album is very solid.

I'm amazed that this band hasn't blown up yet. Take everything you like about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and (usually) remove the screaming. That's Metric. Frontwoman Emily Haynes combines great riffs, witty lyrics, and an effortlessly changing sound with what I'm choosing to call "Listenability," that immeasurable quality that prevents you from hating the song that you loved two weeks ago.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sunday Bloody Sunday

This is not the official Trumie prediction post (please, it's April) but last night, the NFL released the 2009 Denver Broncos Schedule. Ouch, Baby. There is a very ugly potential 0-8 stretch looming here.

Week Day Date Opponent TV
1 Sun. Sept. 13th at Cincinnati CBS4
2 Sun. Sept. 20th vs Cleveland CBS4
3 Sun. Sept. 27th at Oakland CBS4
4 Sun. Oct. 4th vs Dallas FOX
5 Sun. Oct. 11th vs New England CBS4
6 Mon. Oct. 19th at San Diego ESPN
8 Sun. Nov. 1st at Baltimore CBS4
9 Mon. Nov. 9th vs Pittsburgh ESPN
10 Sun. Nov. 15th at Washington CBS4
11 Sun. Nov. 22nd vs San Diego CBS4
12 Thurs. Nov. 26th vs N.Y. Giants NFLN
13 Sun. Dec. 6th at Kansas City CBS4
14 Sun. Dec. 13th at Indianapolis CBS4
15 Sun. Dec. 20th vs Oakland CBS4
16 Sun. Dec. 27th at Philadelphia CBS4
17 Sun. Jan. 3rd vs Kansas City CBS4

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Well I wouldn't tell it..."

My grandmother pulls out this phrase when she hears of people willfully divulging dirty or embarrassing facts about themselves or their family, or occasionally someone else's family.

This strikes at the very heart of blog ethics. What is permissible? Can I chronicle stories in which other people fail? What if one day they read it? For that matter, what should I write about myself? Dare I divulge that I have insecurities and opinions, that I don't always toe the line, that I have a soul?

While a few people such as "Perez Hilton" have made careers out of blogging about the misadventures of others (namely celebrities) most people's blogs only contain VeryVanilla content about themselves and perhaps their friends or loved ones. They rarely post incriminating photos or admit to having any weaknesses and they never post about other people's shortcomings.

Also, most people's blogs suck. Like vegan cookies, when you strip out all the good stuff, you are left with pure cardboard. Mmmmmmmm...

I often find myself torn. I want to post what I'm actually thinking. I want to post about the noteworthy things that I and others say and do. Sexy, dirty, funny, tearful stories involving colorful characters. That's what's interesting. That's what we love about Twain and Tom Robbins. This is why America is infatuated with reality t.v. I never had such a devoted readership as when I got my heart ripped out 16 months ago. People couldn't wait for the next installment of woe is me. As for others, can they really exist on eggshells, worried about what someone might say?

But where to draw the line? Some lowly Philadelphia Eagles employee was recently fired because his facebook status referred to the Eagles as being stupid for trading Brian Dawkins. Now I never call my employer stupid because that's just asking for it. But when I posted a New Year's Eve photo of me sipping the completely legal libation that passes for absinthe in this country, no less than 5 people asked me if I was sure I wanted that out there.

Certain members of my family filter my blog and then pass the purified portions on to other members. While they mean no harm and only want to spread the (g-rated) news, it's hard not to feel like they are ashamed.

I curse. I make mistakes. I have a huge ass tattoo on my chest (that I almost cried getting). I can also work harder better faster stronger than any corporate mollusc. I am jack's unadulterated opinion.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dad's Easter Letter on Canyoneering

This is an email that my father sent to the parents of Boy Scout Troop 171 in response to some drama queen's piece in the NY Times. My two cents: This NY Times writer is enthusiastic and awestruck-- and the canyons need people like that. But he has no clue what he is doing. Pardon me for being protective but when ignorance meets canyoneering, one usually sees either dead newbs or damaged wilderness. I've walked by too many pictographs that have been destroyed by yokels with high powered rifles. I digress.

Here's my dad's letter:

Dear Troop 171 Family,

_______, mother of Scout ________, sent me a link to the lead article in today's New York Times Travel Section, which is about the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument GSENM), where the Mini Adventure crew spent a delightful Spring Break this year. Here are a few thoughts on the piece and canyons in general.

A photo of Spooky Canyon fills half of the front page of the Travel Section. My heart fell upon seeing that photo, for it means that more people will invade that area and degrade it. I know that my attitude is a selfish one, but these desert areas are delicate and cannot stand a lot of traffic. Troop 171 used to hike Paria Canyon (which we are planning to do next Spring Break) with no permits necessary, but then it appeared twice on the cover of Backpacker Magazine and now is very difficult to gain access. When I put up a website about last summer's ________ Canyon trip, I purposely named that area "Beast Canyon" and did not refer to it by name.

Here are a few lines from the NYT article and some crusty comments from a Troop 171 desert rat:

"When I made a pilgrimage there last summer, I didn’t pass a single car, let alone a sign of human habitation." That's because you went in the summer, ace. Anyone with any sense goes to GSENM in the spring or fall, as the troop does. You also didn't mention the possibility of flash floods, which periodically kill people, and are most likely during summer months. That's another reason we do Utah canyons in the spring. Take a look at this video of a GSENM canyon flash flood. If someone were in Spooky when one of those came through, he'd be toast.

"After a few false leads, I made it to Peek-a-Boo Canyon, whose hard-to-spot entrance was surrounded by what looked like a shallow pool." Dude, the entrance to Pee-A-Boo is about 30 feet high.

"I took a step in and sank straight up to my thighs in thick mud." Wish we had been there to see that. If you went desert hiking by yourself, that was Mistake Number Two. See Aaron Ralston for possible consequences. Suggest you carry a sharp knife on future solo hikes.

"As the sun continued to climb in the sky, I wished for my own Ute guide — or at least a GPS tracking system." How about a map?

"Hugging the canyon wall for shade, I pressed on heroically and found Spooky Canyon, named for its otherworldly atmosphere. It was only an 18-inch-wide crack in the rock, but to me it yawned like the gateway to Shangri-La." Heroically? A few weeks ago we had a bunch of 12-year-olds who ate that canyon up. And in 2008 our crew hiked Spooky in the daytime and then came back to do it again in the dark. If you are a hero, then our Scouts are superheroes.

"Finally, I drank the last of my water and staggered across the rock like a sun-struck character out of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” I was parched, scratched, encrusted with mud — but triumphant." No, I'd say you were more like someone from "City Slickers."

* * *

One over-excited NYT writer aside, GSENM is a wonderful place to go, as a Scout troop or a family. My wife and I went there last fall and hiked Spooky and Peek-A-Boo. It's amazing to me how many travelers will make a beeline from national park to national park, ignoring these wonderful canyons that always have only a fraction of the human traffic. The book that the Troop uses to select our Spring Break destinations is a self-published book by Michael Kelsey.

Kelsey is an odd duck--he spells "photo" as "foto" and has a very idiosyncratic style of writing, but he is The Man when it comes to canyons. To explore all of the canyons he chronicles, he apparently runs down them. When the Troop first did __________ over a decade ago, we noted that Kelsey hiked it in 17 hours, so we figured it might take our rugged crew three days. It took five. As Scout ______, who shows some promise as a phrase-maker himself, put it last summer, __________ is "Having fun while nature kicks your arse."

I have several Kelsey books and others on Utah if anyone would like to borrow them.

Pardon this longwinded post on a gray Easter morning. I take enormous joy and satisfaction from these desert trips. I'm used to going with the older Scouts, but hiking with the younger guys has its own delights. As fathers Tom Kroenke and Mark Horwitch and I squeezed our way through Spooky Canyon not three weeks ago, we could hear the Scouts up ahead of us encouraging each other as they climbed over and under the various obstacles. Shouts of "This is awesome!" and laughter filled the air. They had a wonderful time, and so did I. I'm already thinking about next year's trip.

Yours in canyoneering,


Friday, April 10, 2009


[Chorus: Lil Wayne]
And I'm grindin till I'm tired
Cuz they say you ain't grindin till you die
So I'm grindin
My eyes wide
Lookin to find
A way through the day
A life for the night
Dear Lord you've done took so many of my people
I'm just wonderin'
Why you haven't takin' my life my life
Like what the hell am I doin' right
Recently I have begun building Excel spreadsheets to assist in making decision models. This is actually quite fun. Incidentally, does anyone know a way to easily import data (e.g. NFL scores by quarter) from websites into Excel? This would save me a lot of time.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Believe it or not...

this post is about the wallpaper. I have wanted to do one wall of my bedroom like this for years. I first saw something similar at the Drake Hotel in Toronto, a dark, swank, funky place to drink and screw, see and be seen. Currently my bedroom is not incorporating enough of those activities.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

stART me up

welcome to the first post entitled stART me up, a review of art that is awesome.

Five days ago, I attempted a First Friday Art Walk. Unlike the first time I went, on this occasion, the art was almost as miserable as the weather and a lot less interesting. Even the people watching opportunities ran a little under expectations. That said, I'll definitely be back and here are two of the reasons why:

Matthew Achziger. His about me section has enough typos to make you wince twice (twince?). But people, you don't go to see him write. His artwork is great! Better viewed than described, this link will take you to his portfolio and my favorite piece.(NSFWIYWICP!) notsafeforworkifyourworkiscompletelypathetic

Mark Penner-Howell was without a doubt the shining star last Friday night. He combines many of the things I love to see in artwork: irony, bright colors, a little retro and a lot of talent. I saw a few of these paintings up close and the level of detail was absolutely staggering. MPH has a propensity to juxtapose classic, innocent-looking Americana with stark, nuclear landscapes and/or uncomfortable positions. I think it's swell.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Pavlov's Bowels

Last week, the cat peed on my bed twice. I bought her a new cat box and new fancy kitty litter and have been rewarding her with food whenever she uses said box.

She is now going to the bathroom four times a day.

WILT: GypsyRogueHillMusic

I was born in Boston and live now in Boulder but my family hails from the coal mines of Ohio and the clay hills of Appalachia. As a child, I grew up eating collard greens, catfish, cornbread, and just about everything you can throw in a fryer (po' boys, okra, chicken, steak, etc.) But when it comes to appreciating music, location is neither here nor there.

You don't have to be from high country or back alley to dig a soulful sound. A little pain in your life, a little fire, a little whiskey. These are what's needed.

You already know about my late breaking man crush on Tom Waits. Here are three other artists I've recently discovered. If Kings of Leon is the annointed son, these three are the backward black eyed cousins. Thanks to AkercByVolume, GNightMoon, and a certain girl who done me wrong for these:

Kevin Quain - Thief of Dances (some random dude painting KQ and the Mad Bastards on YouTube)
When I heard this guy drop the accordion, rear back his head and howl like one of Mowgli's brothers, I was already two bourbons deep and still digging. Kevin Quain wouldn't have it any other way. He doesn't get out of Toronto much but to hear him sing, you'd think he'd raised ghosts, stolen senoritas, and dropped hammers in OK Corrals all over the world. He is a Louis L'amour short story in your ears. He is Kevin Quain.

Gillian Welch - Lowlands (relatively decent youtube version)
At first listen, there isn't much to Lowlands. But play it again. And maybe another time. Like long hours in a smokehouse, the repetitive bass line, lonely vocals, and subtle guitar start coating listeners with soft soulful flavor. If they tasted the way she sounds, there'd be a line out the door.

JJ Grey and Mofro - Blackwater (iTunes)
The recipe for this group? Mix equal parts Lynyrd Skynyrd, B.B. King, Jimmie Hendrix and (more recently) Motown. I really don't know anything about these guys but if the song Blackwater doesn't stir something within you, then you've already died so killing yourself will just accomplish a little tidying up. Honorable mention to Brighter Days and Lochloosa.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


The CU Jitterbuffs came second tonight to BLAM! the CSU swing team. I was warming up so I actually didn't see their piece but I heard it was innovative and tight. As for our piece, overall I was very happy with Rachel's and my performance. We were one count early on one move, and I forgot to check lines at one spot. Other than that, I can't think of any mistakes. It was definitely worth the effort.

Congratulations to CSU. See you next year!

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Big Dance

It's on the hardwood.
It's all college.

It's the Intercollegiate Swing Battle!!! Facebook page

Tomorrow night at 9pm at the Glenn Miller Ballroom, The CU Jitterbuffs will take on dance teams from eight other schools for swing dance bragging rights. It's free and there is a lesson at 7pm. Come support your school or your favorite blogger!


I am actually a huge fan of the Chicago Bears future for Jay Cutler trade. The Broncos get two firsts, a third, and an underrated Kyle Orton for a fifth and a big armed big baby? Cutler has all the talent in the world but the NFL is full of talented players who desTrOy teams by putting themselves first. Don't be surprised to see Chicago's finest doing situps in his new windy city driveway.

It takes stones to pull the trigger on a trade like this. Both sides will profit. The biggest losers are the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are football's America. In giving up massive draft picks for Jared Allen last year, they had already mortgaged their future. The only way out of the hole would have been to spend their last dollar in the Cutler sweepstakes. They will be reminded of their gutless inaction twice a year for years to come.

It should never have come to this but I believe the Broncos made out like Burt Reynolds.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dark Canyon 2 of 2: The photos

From Dark Canyon
Day 03 was our first morning in canyon. Spring in the desert is an unpredictable thing. Temperatures reached 75 degrees but the nights hovered around 30. Walker had the foresight to pack in Lapsang Suchong, a smokey tea perfect for brisk spring mornings.

From Dark Canyon
Our itinerary called for day hikes through Lean-to and Lost Canyons. The older adult gamely tried to keep up for an hour but then headed back to camp. This crew was one of the fastest I've been a part of, which suited Walker and me. With no "adults" to hold us back, the nine of us fairly flew up spillways and between boulders. I channeled a little Big Daddy and let the scouts climb virtually anything they wanted.

From Dark Canyon
It was in this first canyon (Lean-To) that Walker began the first of many economics related lectures. Over the next four days, he covered health insurance, sugar quotas, bailouts, gasoline subsidies, stimulus packages and other intricacies with U.S. democracy.

From Dark Canyon
Believe it or not, I'm actually the quiet one when Walker and I both lead trips. I often feel that he has a better rapport with the scouts, something I usually don't earn until a few days have elapsed. This is me crossing a creek in Young's Canyon, which was choked with elephant grass. The weather was cold enough that I didn't think snakes would be out yet but the grass made me nervous because it was dry and crackly, meaning I'd never hear a rattle.

From Dark Canyon
Some parents of new scouts often are concerned that their children will starve. They say things like, "My son is a picky eater." I try to assure them that I will force march their little darling so far that at the end of the day he'd eat his boot leather if that's what was for dinner.

From Spring Break 2009 - High Adventure (Walker B.)
On the third day, we all loaded packs and headed up Dark Canyon toward the mouth of Young's Canyon, a hike that turned out to be over 7 miles long. Walker and I had encouraged the other adult to take some food and chill out at our original base camp while we took the scouts up canyon. He insisted he'd be fine. He made it 20 minutes before deciding he could go no further. At this point however, the forward-most boys and I were at least 45 minutes ahead of him. At this point only Walker and the adult's son ____ remained. Walker left the adult with four cheese sticks, five fruit by the foots, four packs of oatmeal, and a cup and a half of granola. Guess he did lose some weight. :)

From Dark Canyon

From Dark Canyon
The next two days were great. The boys were ready to hike and hike fast. Walker taught them how to navigate using topos, how to sauté vegetables and how to master use of the spice wheel. I taught them how to play Chinese Poker. We arrived back at base camp the following afternoon.

From Dark Canyon
This might be the archetypical scout crew photo. Here you have the crew chief and veteran, the computer programmer, the slightly chubby kid, and the jock. In high school, most of these guys would never hang out in the same clique. Yet on Scout trips, they work together, laugh together, and struggle together, and learn that we aren't as different as we all might seem.

From Dark Canyon
After 5 days in canyon, we climbed back out the way we'd entered: via the towering screefield. On a climb like this, everyone faces their own demons.

From Dark Canyon
Demons demolished.