Epic 10: Daves n' Davin' in 2008

See more posts in the "Epic Ten" series.

Here's the first installment of Epic Mail's Epic 10 of 2008. More to come!

10. Epic Dance Song I Never Played at a Dance Party: "Green Light" by John Legend

Everytime I saw this video on television I liked it more. Andre 3000 can be a bit of a smug bastard in this video with his often bizarre (but not in a Lil Wayne bat shit crazy way) rap similies like "I got you gigglin' like a piglet." The song is ALL chorus but it doesn't need anything else - the beat keeps pumping and the people keep moving. The dancing in this video may have a large part to do with why I always wanted to play this at a party. Everyone is losing their minds by the end of the video yet they are also oddly synchronized. Anyways, I was too embarrassed to ever bust this song out a dance party although, after talking with Luke, I feel like I probably should have. This video also offers great fodder for another "Evaluate the Mack" post. Andre 3000's mack does not seem be going well at all mid-way through but then he suddenly appears in the girl's drink and comes up huge. What the hell did he do? Is this a metaphor for slipping her a rufie?

9. Epic Answer to the insipid party question "So what are you up to now?": Teaching ESL to a Buddhist Monk

So this fall I volunteered to teach ESL at my local immigration/refugee center and I was assigned a 31 year old Buddhist monk refugee from Myanmar who was staying at a Cambodian Temple in Mechanicsville, VA. As a religious studies major I jumped at the opportunity. Two things were a bit disappointing, however: 1) the Temple was really just a house 2) the monk had to learn English before we could have my imagined "cultural exchange." As unglamorous as the activity proved to be, it was the ultimate party conversation topic. Everyone immediately said, "What? Really? That's so cool!" It helped me feel less pathetic about my "year off to apply to graduate school" and it scored me major mack points. Sadly, Sit Kah moved to San Diego a few weeks ago and I am back to having nothing interesting to say at parties.

8. Epic Discovery: Blueberries
Maybe I had a traumatic childhood experience with the berry or perhaps Eddie howled "Booooooberry" one too many times but for whatever reason I had a mental aversion to blueberries for the first twenty one years of my life. 2008, however, was the year of the blueberry. I didn't make a conscious decision to force-feed myself blueberries until I liked them (i.e. the "Summer of Tea"); it was more gradual. By the time the summer rolled around I realized that I really enjoyed this new-found fruit. The fourth of July marked the height of my obsession when Sarah Ruth made a mind-blowing, tastebud-gasm-ing blueberry cobbler for dessert. I lost it. It might have been the six or seven PBRs doing most of the talking but the gushing praise and happiness that followed the first bite was completely genuine. I'm breaking family tradition this year and requesting blueberry pie for Christmas dinner. Apple pie has got to go - change has come.

7. Epic Disappointment / Epic Surprise: Coldplay beats Tokyo Police Club

Last January, the album I was most pumped about was the full-length from Tokyo Police Club. Their seven-song EP A Lesson in Crime was incredible and had been the soundtrack to my summer. The newest single seemed only to hint at a better album to follow. However, their new production and atrocious Death Cab vocal affect made me embarrassed to admit my previous obsession with their music. "Tessellate" proved to be too catchy to resist but even then it felt more like a guilty pleasure. Coldplay, on the other hand, had quite the opposite trajectory. There was not an album I was less excited about than Viva La Vida. But by June I could not stop myself from downloading the title track and chanting "Woah oh OOOOOH ah oooooh!" at the top of my lungs. Chris Martin's insistence on donning his multi-colored arm bands and acting a fool in video and on SNL, while at times made me cringe, was ultimately endearing. It's cool (or at least acceptable) to like Coldplay again - who would have thought?

6. Epic Read: Rapture Ready! by Daniel Radosh

2008 proved to be the year that I discovered early twentieth century modernist literature (Woolf, Joyce, Proust) but I won't put on any pretensions as a literary critic in this post. I'm going to stick to what I know best: weird shit about contemporary Christianity. Rapture Ready! came out in 2008 and is an engaging, even-handed exploration of the world of contemporary Christian pop culture. Radosh is a Jewish journalist from New York City so he has plenty of "you gotta be kidding me" moments throughout his journey into this often insular counter-culture. Many of the things he found even surprised me. Who knew that there was Christian pro-wrestling or a Christian rave scene? However, in addition to these puzzled observations, Radosh also treats his subjects with a surprising degree of respect. He does not try to expose the bizarre behavior of religious fanatics and put it on display. Instead, he paints a complex and human portrait of a religious culture that is earnest in its attempt to make religion feel relevant to people's lives. He grants them their opinion and, when it is appropriate, he engages the various communities he encounters, pointing out contradictions and inevitable implications. A great read for Christian and secular alike!

5. Epic Obsession: Podcasts

Necessity is the mother of obsession. During the fall I started working a job that requires me file paperwork for eight hours a day. Faced with this epic boredom, I asked my boss if I could bring in my iPod. To my surprise she said yes. Podcasts became my savior. I now had the time to listen to all the podcasts that I was incapable of listening to in college. I became a junkie, listening to Fresh Air, All Songs Considered, This American Life, Slate, the New Yorker, the Economist, New York Times Book Review, Radiolab, the Moth... the list goes on. Terry Gross became my very first VILF (Voice I'd Like to Fuck) and Bob Boilen became my older uncle who tries so hard to stay hip but never seems to be able to hit the mark. In the absence of my college friends I had the voices of public radio to keep me company and to remind me of my humanity. Thanks, NPR.

4. Epic New TV Series Obsession: Friday Night Lights

It seems like every summer I have a new TV series obsession. Three years ago I watched all six seasons of Six Feet Under in a month. Two years ago I got into Lost. This summer I decided to start watching the critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful Friday Night Lights on NBC. Too many humid summer nights were spent in the attic I was living in at the time, drinking cheap beer and watching episode after episode of the Dillon Panthers in action. I noticed that the show slowly started seeping into my life. I began asking myself at parties, "WWRD?" (What would Riggins do?). I began going to bars with Luke with the expressed purpose of eating wings, drinking beer, and watching "the game." Even though the third season was broadcast exclusively on DirectTV, the power of the internet allowed me to keep up with the team this fall. Despite the abrupt ending of season two, I feel that the third season is living up to seasons 1 and 2. The drama is as intense as ever, the camera still shoots in a cinéma vérité style, Saracen continues to charm the ladies with his cute-dumb-guy mack, Riggins might go collegiate, and I still want to get with any of the women on the show - especially the coach's wife. If you didn't check out the series this year, do yourself a favor and watch the first few episodes.

3. Epic Live Show: Fleet Foxes, Washington D.C. 10/3/08

It would be repetitive and inconsequential at this point to proclaim that Fleet Foxes were my favorite new band of the year, producing what I consider and what every other music blog in the blogosphere seems to consider to be the best album of 2008. So instead, I'm going to recount my experience seeing the band play live. Where to begin... ah, yes: so after we left Ben's Chili Bowl, Luke and I met up with some friends (anonymous out of regard for their privacy) and went into the 9:30 Club. The show didn't start for about another hour. The opening band was one dude who seemed straight out of O, Brother Where Art Thou? and who I might have enjoyed had I been sitting down. My back with killing me by the time the band got on stage but as soon as I heard the first five-part harmony my heart melted and the pain faded to the background. I had never been prouder to sport a beard than I was that night. Fleet Foxes sounded even better on stage than they did on record. It felt louder, fuller, and more epic than most live shows I've seen. The guys were also great on stage, quipping back and forth with each other and the audience in what turned out to be the best on-stage banter I've witnessed. They ended the set perfectly with "Blue Ridge Mountains" and we all walked out of the club feeling like we were coming down from a folkloric mountain-side revival. It was sublime.

2. Epic Bottle of Beer: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale during Obama's acceptance speech

While everyone else was partying out in the streets on election night, banging pots and pans and causing a peaceful ruckus, I was sick and alone when I watched the returns. I cheered to myself when Virginia finally turned blue. I watched with glee as it became clear to everyone that McCain was going to lose. I chuckled at Chris Matthews' emotional speech after Obama was officially declared the winner. And when Obama came on stage in Chicago to give his victory speech, I cracked open a bottle of Celebration Ale and held the bottle up high to cheers our first African American president. Here's to Mr. November! Let's hope he/we won't fuck us over.

1. Epic Musical Moment: the guitar solo in "Lord I'm Discouraged" by the Hold Steady

You might think this seems a bit trivial after Obama's election but you'd be wrong. (If you don't have time to listen to the whole song, the solo starts at the 3 minute mark) In addition to being one of my favorite songs of 2008, "Lord I'm Discouraged" has THE best guitar solo I've heard in years. Every time I listen to it, that moment becomes the best moment of 2008. It is impossible not to feel the pathos that the guitarist injects into this forty-five second solo. You can literally see him standing on top of the piano or wailing outside of the church where Slash stood long ago in the "November Rain" video. After Craig Finn tries to touch our hearts with his tragic story of a woman who has only "excuses and half-truths and fortified wine," guitarist Tad Kubler reminds Craig and the listener to recall the simple, cheesy, yet elegant title of the album: STAY POSITIVE.

That's it for me! Stay tuned for Epic 10 Lists from all our other contributors. Great blog. Great times. Epic Mail 2008.



"Despite the upbrupt [sic] ending of season two, I feel that the third season is living up to seasons 1 and 2."
- David McClendon

Also, Epic Context - remember when you first heard that solo? Yorktown. Pub.

Daves n' Davin' said...

ugh, epic misspelling. thanks.

Hot Eatz said...

I think you meant to write in regards to president Obama, "let's hope HE won't fuck us over." However, your misspelling proves to have a chilling democratic truth to it not present in the intended statement. I'm so high right now.

Daves n' Davin' said...

wow, i'm glad blogger lets me edit after i posted. this proves that i should read what i write before i post.

Coaltrain said...

Epic LARCENY is more like it:

"And "Lord, I'm Discouraged" follows up one of Finn's saddest-ever lines with the sort of guitar solo Slash used to play outside rickety desert churches." - Tom Breihan, Pitchfork

"You can literally see him standing on top of the piano or wailing outside of the church where Slash stood long ago in the "November Rain" video." - Dave Daverson, Epic Mail

I'm just kidding.

But you did steal Fleet Foxes live show and Friday Night Lights Season 3 from my Epic 10.

Daves n' Davin' said...

I've been saying that shit long before Pitchfork. Also, I think that would qualify as Epic Plagiarism - got 'em.

Quilliam said...

Dave, it's ok. I know that your posts are ghost-written. So, whoever wrote this post, great list! And I figured you'd steal FNL.


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