Thursday, October 02, 2008

Ooo! A Review!

So, Jackson Griffith wrote some nice things about my band's debut in this week's Sacramento News and Review. Check it out:

"Next up was the Jason Roberts Band. Fortunately, the electric guitar-bass-drums format, with local music writer Roberts alternating between clean minimalist lines and skronky, psychedelic soloing on his Stratocaster, supported by Chad Wilson on bass and Greg Aaron on drums, came as a nice counterpoint to the more Byzantine folkish prog of Bold Robot. The trio’s sound was like a welcome blast of cool, monochromatic basement air, akin to hearing Television hampered by a delightful cough-syrup buzz. At one point, Roberts mentioned that it was the lineup’s first show."

Thanks, Jackson!

What's Happening with Movies?

I watched Iron Man the other night and I decided that I'm tired of sequels and remakes and movies based on comics (The Dark Knight is an exception). The list of the highest-grossing films over the last eight years or so is dominated by sequels and "franchise" movies (The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Spider-Man, Shrek). These are just the most successful; there are many that simply suck (Fast and the Furious, the Scary Movie franchise, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Rocky VI, Rambo IV, Ocean's 11, 12, and 13, and so on). Where is film as art? Genre films, like the above, lack quality. The movie studios and producers understand that their main audience is 18-25 year old males, so explosions, "flash," and sex abound.

I liked Juno. I liked Little Miss Sunshine. I liked Million Dollar Baby. These were all nominated for Best Picture Oscars (Million Dollar Baby won), but they are not atop the highest-grossing film list. It's the difference between art and entertainment. Curiously, I think The Dark Knight is so successful because it is able to bridge a gap between art and entertainment, explosions and philosophy. I'd say the same about The Matrix, but The Dark Knight is far more serious.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


So, my band's debut last night was successful. Good crowd, good response, and my band played exceptionally. To quote the Silversun Pickups, I've been waiting for this moment all my life (not all my life, but a long time). I've feared playing my own songs and singing my own songs, so last night was monumental for me, and now I feel that I can move forward with more confidence.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Presidents Project

For the last year or two, I've been involved with my friends in recording this massive project, a three-CD set of songs about each of the 43 Presidents of the United States. Nerdy, you say? Absolutely, but these songs are good, too. So, today, the Sacramento News and Review gave the project a nice boost: a cover story. Read about it here (my name is mentioned somewhere):

Also, check the website:

It's good stuff, I think.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Week One

Soooooo, this is my blog. I'm using it for my courses, but it's existed for a couple of years now. You'll see that, in the past, I've rarely posted, but I expect that to change. I posted a few new photos of my wife. She's cute.

I hope to achieve a few things here. First, I'd to maintain my original intent, and that is to write about my interests. I hope that my students find this at least somewhat entertaining. Second, I intend to discuss issues directly related to the courses I'm teaching and post interesting articles and images that relate to the course. And, maybe, the occasional rant. Yay, rants!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Poking the Belly

I'm trying to teach my unborn son how to count. I poke my wife's belly once and say, loudly, "One." Then I wait for one kick. Then, I poke my wife's belly twice and say, loudly, "Two." Then I wait for two kicks. So far, we haven't moved past two. We've got "one" down pretty well, I think.

I've also begun placing headphones on Nicole's belly and playing music for my unborn son. Currently in the rotation: Pablo Casals performing Bach cello suites; Debussy's Suite Bergamasque; Glenn Gould performing Hayden; and Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me". OK - I'm kidding about the last one. Sometimes I do offer him Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.

I've been reading Goodnight Moon to him, too, but tonight we begin with Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Why? Why not!

In other news, I'm planning to implement Blogs into my courses for the fall, so I intend to produce more blogs and generally make the site more interesting. Yay! 21st-century learning styles!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What Just Happened?

Ohmygod, my whole world just shifted. But first, I'd like to send a little shout out to everyone who doesn't read this blog -- mainly, my students. Yes, yes, although you forget about me the moment you leave class and attach your cell phone to the ear without the iPod earbud, I continue to wonder about you and your progress. The spring 2008 semester is over, and again I find myself actually wishing I had more time with my students. This semester, I taught American literature for the first time. It was fun. I enjoyed a wonderful class of students: Julie, Aaron, Melissa, Jessie, Michael, Will, Gabby, Lila, Laura, Sierra, Sarah, and even Cody, just to name a few. We discussed many important literary, uh, things, but most important was the discussion about Marlon Brando's "hotness" in A Streetcar Named Desire. Certain students found him intoxicating, I think. Anyway, it was a great class.

Now, in my own life, I recently bought a house and found out that I am going to be a father. Holy crap. You work toward these things, then they happen and you're prone to think, "What have I done?" But I'm thrilled about the house and I'm ecstatic (and a little nauseous) about the baby. I just hope I don't break it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Archive, part one

The July Whirlwind (2006)

We're near the end of July, my devotees, and I can again exhale. July happens to be the busiest month of the year for me. Not that any of you care, but you did choose to read this.

July begins, of course, with Independence Day. I'm not a real fan of exploding things in residential neighborhoods, but I don't mind watching other people attempt to dismember themselves in the name of Freedom. This year, my close friend, Xian, was visiting from the Great Expanse of Middle America. It's become an annual trip. He arrived on July 4th and, along with my wife, we strolled down the street by my apartment to watch the local festivities.

With beer, of course.

I wasn't impressed. Noisemakers. Sparks. Children with matches. Smoke. Dense, black smoke. Not even the beer was making this exciting. So, in an attempt to liven the party, we began heckling. This is what good, fun-loving Americans enjoy best. "You call that a sparkler?" my friend hollared at a 6-year old in a Spider-Man shirt. We mocked their display. We waited for a mutinous spark to engulf the family pet in flames or ignite the neighbor's Mercedes. But it turned out accident-and-dismemberment-free, and they ignored us, thus further deflating our fun.

After the 4th is my birthday. Again, I dragged my buddy along and added my other best friend, the one we call "Joe," who traveled from the Land of Implants and Botox, and a rookie, The Condor. Together, the five of us rented a beach house on the coast near Mendocino. This is where July begins to blur just a bit.

On the Monday after our return from the coast, I began the heaviest teaching schedule I've ever attempted. Since then, I've been averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night (excluding last weekend when I slept an average of 12 hours). This deprivation didn't stop me, however. Still thinking that I am 25, Xian and I bolted to San Francisco for what became a rousing send-off for my old friend.

We centered ourselves in North Beach and visited every local tavern over an 8 hour period. This was our goal, and we achieved it. We even caught a taxi to AT&T Park to watch The 'Roid take a few swings (and fly out). At AT&T Park, frugal fans can watch the action from the "boardwalk" side of the park, the side where die-hard (or simply deranged) fans float in their kayaks, waiting for a home run ball by The 'Roid to sail into the bay. They have nets at the ends of long poles to retrieve the balls. They park their kayaks underneath the pier when the Giants are on defense. On this night, a yacht sat in the bay among the kayakers, its passengers sipping champagne and nibbling on sushi (I made that last part up, but they were nibbling on something. Despite our yelling at them to find out what it was, they ignored us).

We returned to North Beach to find some live jazz, which we did at Figaro on Columbus. They were good. We drank our last drink of the night while they tore through "Stella by Starlight" and "Ruby, My Dear," the tenor sax pushing a mournful melody, the guitar answering over the bass player's thudding rhythm. Lovely. I laughed.

Then, Xian left.

And I'm still recovering. Tonight, I have a wine party to attend with Nicole. Luckily, it begins early. So, today's objective: grade essays BEFORE the party.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Almost One Year

Yes, it's been nearly a year since my last blog. So what? I've been busy. During the past year, my life has changed quite a bit. I earned a full-time teaching position, I traveled to Europe with my wife, I bought a house, and I learned that I'm going to be a father.

I expected nothing less.

But, really, that's a pretty ridiculous year. But you don't want to hear about that. Actually, I don't know what you want to hear. So, I'll tell you what I think you want to hear, or at least tell you something relatively interesting -- subjectively speaking.

I recently watched Sicko, Michael Moore's latest. I find that he has finally irritated me. It was a bit too biased, a bit too dramatic. Perhaps I'm growing crusty, but I think he's just not addressing the entire argument effectively. Yes, the health care system is jacked up, but a move to universal health care doesn't seem plausible. Is that too much governmental oversight?

Which automatically leads me to another line of thinking: although I lean left, I don't necessarily believe that more government programs equals a better society. I like well-defined, accountable government programs as much as I dislike a completely hands-off, fend-for-yourself-or-die philosophy. There must be a healthy, effective medium.

OK, I just wrote about politics. Scary. I'm going to shut up for the moment. I like to maintain myself as a political enigma, so I shouldn't say too much. And that's all I have right now.