Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Arcade Fire

In the past, I had been aware of a lot of beauty in the world. I am a sucker for sunsets, sappy movies make me cry and most young children are just too cute. Yet nothing can compare to these like an amazing musical concoction. A blend of the senses, sending me on a journey of sound and wonder.

A stew with all the right ingredients.

There aren't many albums that have moved me in the way that these albums have:
*Radiohead - OK Computer, The Bends
*Eels - Daisies of the Galaxy, Souljacker
*The Clash - London Calling
*Led Zeppelin - II, Zoso
*Pink Floyd - The Wall, Wish You Were Here
*The Beatles - Revolver, Abbey Road
*Sweetheart Tripwire - Holiday's Over

And more recently, Death Cab For Cutie's transatlanticism. These are all albums that have opened my ears to new sounds, opened my eyes to new bands and opened my heart to some amazing music.

But I am always searching for something new. I found that on Friday.

Andrew Aschenbrenner had told me about The Arcade Fire a few months ago and I decided I'd wait to listen because if I listen I have to purchase. I have no self control.

So I listened on Friday at Barnes and Noble. And I purchased on Friday at Barnes and Noble.

Now, beauty is a very relative thing and relatively speaking, some of you will not find this album beautiful. For starters, the title is Funeral and was named that because of all of the family members that died during the years up to the making of the album. Quite a name for a debut album.

Husband and wife team Win Butler and Régine Chassagne lead the eleven person ensemble (15 on "Wake Up"). This ensemble is responsible for over 20 different instruments and many string arrangements. Each track has strings flowing all over and words spilling out like a melodic waterfall.

Four of the first five tracks on the album have to do with a non-specific neighborhood, showing how important family and community is for the band. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" is a beautifully orchestrated opener, beginning with piano and guitar. Win sings of a man whose parents weep in the next room while he "digs a tunnel" from his window to his lovers window. They dream of living a life in the center of town, growing old and trying to remember their past lives.

"Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" screams of middle-class alienation, possibly exuding from Win's own upbringing in Montreal. The urban tension can be felt in the screeching violins and driving bass line.

The wonderfully simple "Une Annee Sans Lumiere" is just awesome. Nuf' said.

"Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" is the rocking powerhouse centerpiece of the album. A driving force from beginning to end, it does not let up. It starts in a creepy sort of 'New Order minus the electronics' way and turns into a poppy driving force with intense lyrical phrasing and emotional uprising (And the power's out in the heart of man/ Take it from your heart/ Put it in your hand).

The beautiful "Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)" is just that: Beautiful. Soft acoustic guitar and soothing strings in the background make me put this track on repeat. It is about time and how it keeps moving on... (They say a watched pot won’t ever boil/ well I closed my eyes and nothin’ changed/ just some water getting hotter in the flames).

"Crown of Love" is a depressed lover pleading for forgiveness from the love of his life. He bellows (The pains of love, and they keep growin’/ in my heart there’s flowers growin’on the grave of our old love/ since you gave me a straight answer). The strings keep a slow steady beat until near the end of the song when everything moves into near double time and rocks even harder, taking you along for the ride.

"Wake Up" is a great rock tune with guitar distorted the way God wanted it to be. Also each of the 15 people who collaborated on this track singing in chorus adds a great effect.

"Haiti" is a lighter song with soft driving drums, piano and electric guitar. Régine sings of her family from Haiti, singing eerily violent vocals (Guns can't kill what soldiers can't see) and making it clear that her family escaped Haiti during a dangerous time in Haiti's history (In the forest we are hiding/ unmarked graves where flowers grow/ Hear the soldiers angry yelling/ in the river we will go).

The newest single from the album, "Rebellion (Lies)" is a great poppy anthem that shows Butler's intense appeal for realizing that mortality is inevitable (People say that you’ll die/ faster than without water/ but we know it’s just a lie/ scare your son, scare your daughter). The song also has a powerful refrain with (Every time you close your eyes/ Lies, Lies!) with various band members belting out "Lies, Lies!"

The final track and greatest way to end an album since Radiohead's Street Spirit (Fade Out) is definitely the wondrously light and hushed "In the Backseat". Régine sings of sitting in the backseat of a car (I like the peace in the backseat/ I don’t have to drive/ I don’t have to speak/ I can watch the country side/ and I can fall asleep). She also confronts her fear of driving with (I’ve been learning to drive/ My whole life).

The album ends with an incredibly slow fade of strings flowing together and very slowly becoming softer until the silence leads you to realize that the album's over and you are back in the real world, not in a neighborhood, running from soldiers in Haiti or in the backseat of a car. You're safe.

For now.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being Yourself or Someone Like You and 10 being OK Computer, this album earned The Bends

Honestly, pick this album up today.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Henry Rollins Spoken Word

So Richard called last night and asked if I had plans. He seemed excited and wanted to make sure I had no plans.

"Nope, just checking my email. I may do a little reading, but that's not for sure. Why?"

"Henry Rollins is at The Rave tonight. Spoken Word. I have an extra ticket, you wanna go?"

To say the least, I was intrigued. I had heard of Henry Rollins before (lead singer of Black Flag) but that was the extent of my Rollins IQ, so I told him that I'd call him back. He said ok, but you need to call me back as soon as you can, because I'll need to find someone else to take the ticket.

Ok, ok.

20 minutes and 1 turkey sandwich later, I called him back.

"I'm in," I said. "Be here by 7." The time was 6:20.

I hopped in the Buick and drove to Milwaukee. If you haven't been on the interchange lately, check it out, but steer clear around rush hour. They've made so many changes, some times you're driving on the wrong side of the road, it's definitely different.

So I found a parking spot behind the East Library (the East side's hidden beauty of a parking lot) and walked to Chard's place on the corner of Ivanhoe and Prospect, right across the street from QDoba (oh, sweet, sweet QDoba).

When I walked into his place, he had a Henry Rollins DVD in and he was ready to introduce me to the man, the myth, the legend.

If you're not familiar with Henry Rollins, he's an interesting guy, to say the least. I sat down and watched him for about the first 15 minutes of the dvd while we waited for our ride. He is much more politically oriented than I had thought. Just then Christina called. She was here.

We drove from Richard's place, down to Wisconsin Ave. and up to The Rave, passing many landmarks in the process, the Milwaukee Public Library, The Pabst Mansion, Marquette University, The Ambassador Hotel and finally The Rave.

The Rave was full of chairs, I had never seen it like that, but I'm glad it was. Henry ended up speaking for 2 hours and 45 minutes.

We found seats in the 10th row and sat, talking about politics, music and friends until Mr. Rollins hopped onto stage and grabbed the mike. He has the look of a man who has a lot of stories to tell, tattoos, short hair, built body, black t-shirt, gray pants. He grabbed the mike and immediately began speaking about how he's impressed that his shows in Milwaukee are always full of people ready for a good night and his show, 25 Years of Bullsh!t.

He mentioned the fact that there is some kind of inclement weather when he comes and people still show up and he was very appreciative.

For the next 2:45, he spoke about many different topics. His love life (or lack of it) came up. He can't seem to fall in love, but the wrong people seem to fall in love with him. This latest cupid's arrow just so happened to be a male Pakistani cab driver in Manhattan named Ijaz (E-jazz). He impersonated him well and told us the story of Ijaz and how he asked Henry to move to Pakistan with him and live in his large home.

A more sad topic was his acquaintance and friend, Johnny Ramone, who succumbed to prostate cancer on September 15, 2004. He told of his visit with Johnny and his wife Linda and the fact that Johnny wanted to hang out again soon. On September 15th, he was just about to call Johnny and he received a phone call telling him that Johnny had just passed.

On a lighter note, Henry told about some of his visits to different towns, including a Bass Pro Shop in Oklahoma. He said that the kids were given rubber/plastic rifles by the store clerks and were jumping around the store, shooting each other.

His show was highlighted by a lot of political talk as well. He talked about his distrust of the government, President Bush and his staff.

He also mentioned that he has a lot of faith in the strength of us as a community. He believes in the power of people and he's a great public speaker. Like him or hate him, it's hard not to respect him and his opinions.

The night ended with his plea for us to help out when we can, including the Red Cross, money or aid for Hurricane victims. He was very excitable, passionate and seemingly well read. He focused mostly on social topics, as well as recounting his life experiences and it was a great show.

On a scale of 1 to 10 for celebrity status/storytelling, coolness and humor, 1 being Dustin Diamond and 10 being Bill Cosby, he earned a Chevy Chase.

Nice work Henry.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The best night ever

Brett and I worked together on Tuesday night at the shoe store. We close up shop at 9pm and at 8:30 decided to move a Dr. Marten's tower on top of one of the shelves in the backroom, leaving the salesfloor devoid of salespeople. Clearly this was a big mistake. About 15 minutes later I went out to the salesfloor only to see that we had around 10 customers in the store. I helped a man find a pair of "comfortable shoes that I can wear all day and my feet won't hurt at all". Aren't we all looking for those magic shoes?

He asked about some brands (mainly choosing styles he liked) and I told him that the best for all day standing would be Birkenstock, Ecco and Keen. Well, Birkenstock and Ecco run for at least $150/pair so he asked to try on some Keen and Timberland.

He really liked the Keen and asked if we'd have enough in stock for him to purchase some next week. I told him that we should and he and his wife left.

The time was 8:58.

Just then another man rushed into the store and asked to try on "some models of shoes". "Are you closing? I can come back some other time." "Yes, but since you're here you can take a look," I said.

My first mistake.

He was impressed by the fact that Timberlands only cost around $100.

"In Italy," he mentioned, "Timberland is a very popular brand and they cost at least $200."

"Oh," I said. I was not impressed. The only thing about this man that impressed me was the size of his balls for trying on shoes after I told him the store was closed.

He tried on shoe after shoe after shoe. He told me he needed a size 9. I found 8's and 10's in pretty much every style he wanted, but no 9's. And even though he knew the 8's and 10's would not fit, he still wanted to try on each style I brought out.

While this man was still trying on shoes, the couple (Keen man) from before came in and began talking to Brett.

The time at that time was 9:15pm.

The man asked Brett what kind of deal Brett could give him (on a pair of $90 shoes, which is the average price for a pair of shoes in our store). Brett regretfully said, "I'm sorry, but I can't do anything like that." The man responded with "Then who can?"

The nerve. Brett said we would have to contact our corporate office (lie) if we ever mark shoes down (lie) or give customers a discount. A lie through and through, but it at least made the couple leave.

I then checked on another Tim for the Italian and found a 9. He liked these shoes and asked me how to clean this particular type of leather (nubuck). I showed him the recommended product and he decided to go with that and the size 9's I brought out for him.

After all was said and done, he had tried on 9 pairs of shoes. When I rang up the shoe care product and the shoes the total was $104.96. He then proceeded to haggle with me.

"Eh, no discount? How about 10%?"

How about no.

"I'm sorry," I said. "We can't do things like that."

"Just this once, give me a little break, eh?"

I'll give you a break, I thought.

I didn't buckle, which is slightly unlike me, and he paid full price. Just as he left the store, I pulled down and locked the gate.


Brett and I took a few minutes to vent and share stories of the 2 customers.

"What did he say to you?" I asked Brett, referring to Keen man. He told me and then I told him about the Italian haggler.

We both agreed that those 2 customers sucked.

Check out for all of your haggling needs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

More Ryan stories and funny T-shirts

I had forgotten about some of the funny things Ryan (Do you have to pay to pawk?) had said to me during summer school, so when I stumbled upon a paper with quotes from him, I thought I'd share them with you. Ryan actually asked me this first one and I had to ask him to repeat it.

Ryan: "Can we make the Pop Tart movie?"

When I asked him to repeat it, he said the same thing. I asked him what he meant and he said, "What do you mean?" I said, "What do you mean about the Pop Tart movie?" And he said, "Huh?" I decided to leave it at that.

The second is mostly just funny because of the quote itself and not the context in which it was presented. Apparently some other child was saying something to him that made him feel like he had to respond in this way. It seems like he's heard someone say something like it before (2 words...) and tried to use it, but just didn't tweak it enough...

Ryan: "Two words---you scare me."

This last one is the coup de grace. Honestly I've never actually had my jaw drop before in an elementary setting and I think this one would make anyone perk up their ears and wonder where on earth he got this idea. Someone was copying what he was saying...

Ryan: "You're a copycat, that means you lied to God."


I'll remember that the next time I feel the need to be a copycat.

The rest of my summer has been going well. I've been busy with Bachelor parties and weddings (I have 5 weddings in the months of August and September) and getting poorer every day. A hey hey hey. I can't wait for school to start again...the money will be flowing like no one's business. (Well, my business).

The next pictures are taken from bustedtees and they're just a taste of what's in store (pun intended) for you there. Check out the site and see if you can dig it.

Well, Kenya?


That guy would do anything!

It's a rough life when you're really really good looking.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Richard called at noon and asked if I had eaten yet. I responded with a resounding "No!" and I told him I'd be over in an hour. Traffic was terrible and I made it to his place at 1:15. We didn't know what we were in the mood for, so we walked down Farwell. We came upon Comet, a newly renovated coffee shop-turned bar/restaurant. Richard was telling me about how he hadn't been here since they reopened, so we tried it out. The decor was nice, 5 points for that. No smoking in the eatery, another 5. Everything on the menu=under $10, another 5 points. But perhaps the most impressive thing for us was the music they were playing. The played a wide variety ranging from Radiohead and REM to Rilo Kiley, The Clash, The Flaming Lips and The Beatles. And not a hint of Matchbox 20.

I hate Matchbox 20.

They were really advertising themselves as a place to get some very fresh, very delicious, very "like mom used to make" food. Well, my mom has never made me a grilled artichoke, provolone, spinach and tomato on a baguette sandwich, but she should start. That thing ruled! I had a side salad (with home made ranch dressing, of course) as well. Also ruled. Richard decided on the French Onion soup which he said "rocked so hard" and the Reuben. All he had to say about the Reuben was "Mmmmm. Hrrrrr. Muuhhrrrr." I shouldn't have asked him about his food while he was eating.

So check this place out. Comet (on Farwell) will rock your taste buds off (and perhaps your socks). Very good food, very good music and very good people who eat there and write about it on the internet.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Do you have to pay to park?

I have 2 sections of 1st graders daily...1 group from 8:30 - 10am and the 2nd from 10:30 - noon. These kids are really fun and they love to learn. But some of the questions I get are so random I just don't know what to say. For example:

Ryan: Do you have to pay to park everywhere?

Mr. Dorn: What do you mean?

Ryan: You know, when you drive your car. Do you have to pay to park everywhere?

Mr. Dorn: Well some places you do and some you don't. At school the teachers and parents can park for free, but if you were in a very busy area in Milwaukee, you'd probably have to pay to park.

Ryan: Ok, I want to be a teacher then. I don't want to waste my money on parking.

So funny. It made me smile today. Also please note that Ryan has a speech impediment so all of his R's sound like W's, for example:

Ryan: Do you have to pay to pawk evewywhayuh?

Mr. Dorn: What do you mean?

Ryan: You know, when you dwive yo cah. Do you have to pay to pawk evewywhayuh?

Mr. Dorn: Well some places you do and some you don't. At school the teachers and parents can park for free, but if you were in a very busy area in Milwaukee, you'd probably have to pay to park somewhere.

Ryan: Ok, I want to be a teacho then. I don't want to waste my money on pawking.

As you can see, this way is much cuter. I wanted to make sure you had the full effect.

(And to clarify, I have not seen Batman yet nor will I ever see it if I keep being made fun of about it. And Star Wars Rules. So do Jack's Natural Rising Pizzas.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Summer School

Yes, that's the school I'm teaching at. My room is that one with the window.

So Summer is upon the world and I'm still in school. Not that I'm complaining, I have a great job teaching 1st graders how to read (which, as far as Richard Raney is concerned, is an easy task). My kids have been great and I love what I'm doing. Also I work from 8-12 every day, so that affords me time in the afternoon to lounge, rollerblade, jog (ha!), read and love the summer time.

I will soon be writing more to update everyone on my endeavours of the last 2 months, but as for now, I'm out. The Buick needs some fixin'.

Check out for some intuitive critiques of theatre, books, music and movies. Hans has a nice blog open there. Also check out if you want to be jealous of a great writer and world traveller.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A jealous epiphany

Each time I look at my friend Tim's blog, I become jealous. It just seems like he always has many more interesting things to write about (living and working in Montana, falling off a mountain, the move back to B.D., working at The Wisconsin Cheeseman and now he's in Grenada). Unbelievable guy. Definitely a G.G.T.K. (Good Guy To Know). The world is full of said good guys and if you look around, they're everywhere. From the guy who holds the door at the gas station to the roommate who drives your drunk butt home from Madison because you're incapacitated to your best friend who makes sure you have a great time whenever you visit him.

Check out Tim's blog at: He has pictures and everything!

So it was the 100th day of school today. The 100th day of school has been celebrated for the past 8 years or so as a lot of math extensions, etc. The kindergarteners were going nuts. All they could talk about is how we've had 100 days of school so far. "Oh my gosh, Mr. Dorn! Can you believe it's the 100th day of school? I can count to, two, three, four..." Also every kid dressed up with clothing full of numbers counting by ones, fives, tens all to 100. These kids love their math. It's funny how much of my experiences in school I remember by being around kids all day. I remember in kindergarten loving the sandbox table and my grandpa picking me up from school. I remember good times and bad times. I distinctly remember science centers in first grade and the day we had to try bitter chocolate. I stayed in from recess just to try it and of course it tasted like crap. I was so excited (Ooooh! I get to stay in from recess to eat candy! Lucky me!) Little did I know that bitter chocolate was just that...bitter. And it was.

Now Andrew, Jill and I are trying to put some songs together for her gift for her boyfriend Tim. We have picked some good songs with some clunkers included(mostly me, goofing around).

Friday, January 21, 2005

Ben's ex-crush, the turkey star and the smartest girl you have ever seen

Ah, 5 year olds. They truly make me think of a time when innocense and ignorance met in blissful harmony. There really is nothing like working with kids all day. So many experiences that make me step back and realize that I am a lucky guy. I'm blessed. I must be teaching for a reason. I must be. It feels too good and right to have ever thought of anything else for a career path. It's the kind of job that's not a job, it's my life. Selling shoes and liquor - now those are jobs. The kind of jobs that I don't necessarily want to go and do. But teaching, it really is amazing.

And with teaching comes many fun stories from kids; fantastic quotes and general insights into the inner workings of 5 - 8 year olds. Take for example a kindergarten girl named Renee. I was assessing her math competency and asking her questions about 32 plastic bear counters (the size of a walnut). The assessment was divided into 5 parts; estimation, counting, counting on and back using counters and counting on and back without counters. She was having a rough time with the first 4 parts of the test and then the last part came up.

Mr. Dorn: "If I have 3 counters and I add one more, how many will I have?"
Renee: "4"

Mr. Dorn: "Good. If I have 6 counters and I add one more, how many will I have?"
Renee: "7"

Mr. Dorn: "Good, Renee. If I have 11 counters and I add one more, how many will I have?"

...and without missing a beat, Renee said, "18! Have you ever seen someone so smart?"

It was all I could do to keep from laughing. Here's this cute little 5 year old, so proud of the fact that she could add 1 more to 11 and come up with 18. She was grinning from ear to ear, delighted that she was doing so well. I couldn't break the news to her. So I kept going.

Mr. Dorn: "Ok. Now let's try taking away. If I have 5 counters and take one away, how many will I have?"
Renee: "4"

Mr. Dorn: "Good. If I have 9 counters and I take one away, how many will I have?"
Renee: "8"

Mr. Dorn: "All right. If I have 12 counters and I take one away, how many will I have?"
Renee: "21! I've been practicing my counting at home."

I kid you not. These are direct quotes. Before I began laughing, I told her she was free to go. I was not sure how to score the test, so I asked her classroom teacher and told her about Renee's answers. Her response was, "That's Renee!" And it's true. Renee is a character. There's always something happening in her life (or her mind) that is just her own little thing. What a kid. She also has a small stuffed bear named "Cream Pie Cherry Cutie Pie". Cherry is her middle name.

Maria is also in Renee's class. She's a bright kid. The kind of kid that, at 5 years old, knows that 6 + 6 = 12 because 5 + 7 =12, so one more to five means one less from 7. Believe it or not, that's incredibly advanced thinking (especially for a kindergartener). A few weeks ago Maria hands me a picture. If I had a scanner, I would show you this thing. It's a pretty decently drawn star (I remember how tough it was to draw stars, honestly), solid orange, drawn on a piece of white printer paper. In the middle of this 5 inch diameter star is a very well drawn brown turkey. I asked her what it was and her response was a confused look on her face followed by, "It's a turkey star" in that 'Oh my gosh I can't believe you don't know what this is' tone. Again, hard not to laugh. So I handed it back to her, complimenting her on her creation and she said, "Oh no, Mr. Dorn. It's for you!" And walked away. It currently resides on our fridge.

Ben is a cool kid. He's an 8 year old musician; piano, cello, violin. He loves classical music and especially Bach. Any time he can write a story in class, it's inevitably going to be about J.S. Bach. Very smart little guy and mature for 2nd grade. On Wednesday he was telling me about a girl who had a crush on him last year while I was passing out some mint-smelling penguin stickers. I walked by his desk...

Ben: "Are those smelly stickers?"
Mr. Dorn: "Yes they are, Ben."

Ben: "A girl who had a crush on me last year gave me one of those."
Mr. Dorn: "Oh, that's nice of her."

Ben: "Yeah, she also put a turkey sandwich in my locker."
Mr. Dorn: "Oh..."

I asked Ben if he knew the reasons or significance for the turkey sandwich, but he did not. Tragically, he and the girl did not work out. Ah, young love. And turkey and mayo on white.

Check out for some really cool things from our childhood you probably haven't thought about in a while.