Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mike Huckabee

I found the article on Mike Huckabee in this week's edition of the New Yorker incredibly interesting. Though the magazine and the politician lean in different directions, the author does a good job of toeing the line between the two. Check it out at the link below.

- Joel

"Prodigal Son" by Ariel Levy

Lissie - Pursuit of Happiness

After hearing this song and watching the video, I have a semi-crush on Lissie Maurus. Not really but you gotta love a girl who digs hip hop and can sing like she can. Here she covers the Kid Cudi track "Pursuit of Happiness". I think I like it better than the original version. You can watch the performance and download the live recording below. As with any hip hop, beware of a bit of language.

- Joel

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Some people have loved Notorious B.I.G. since back in the day. Other people claimed they had always liked him after hearing Girl Talk layer "Juicy" on top of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer". People in both camps will appreciate this mixtape. San Francisco DJ wait what has put Biggie on top of last year's indie darlings The xx. Biggie spitting on top of indie minimalism makes for a good match. Watch a music video of one of the tracks below and go here to download the album.

- Joel

Kilian Martin

Part of me secretly wishes I was a skateboarder. Videos like this explain why.

- Joel

Song of the Day

This is a modern take on an old hit by the 1960's soul group The Spinners. Take a listen to Raphael Saadiq's version of "It's a Shame" recorded as part of Levi's Pioneer Sessions. It will get you toe to tapping and put a smile on your face.

- Joel

Raphael Saadiq - "It's A Shame"

Best Coast

I'm still digging Best Coast and their 1960's sound. Their debut album, Crazy For You, drops next month. Check out the first track from the album below and watch a little Converse clip about the band.

- Joel

Best Coast - "Boyfriend"

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kris Kristofferson

I stumbled onto an NPR show over the weekend which happened to be featuring a recently released album of demos written by Kris Kristofferson. The demos, which were actually written in the 1960's and 1970's, became recordings by a variety of other artists including Janis Joplin, Willy Nelson, and Johnny Cash. However, this album, titled Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends: The Publishing Demos 1968-1972 (a long title I know), showcases the songs in their original form before other artists got hold of them. Kristofferson demonstrates the power of a good song in the hands of a man and his guitar. I wasn't able to find any mp3s from the album, but I did find a YouTube video of the title track.

- Joel

Song of the Day

I think the mandolin was made for summertime music. You've got to love, or at lease appreciate, vintage 1970's bluegrass that features intense mandolin picking. Check out the song by Roland White below. I'd listen to it for no other reason than the title. This is the Nickel Creek sound 20 years before there was a Nickel Creek.

- Joel

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Having just watched the death of U.S. World Cup hopes, I decided to cheer myself up yesterday afternoon with a Netflix movie - The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. The film, not nearly as morbid as the title suggests, stars Tommy Lee Jones and marks his debut as a director. Opening on the desert of southwest Texas, local authorities discover the body of an illegal immigrant and local cowhand, Meliquiades Estrada. The ranch foreman, and Estrada's best friend, Pete Perkins (played by Jones), kidnaps the Border Patrol agent guilty of accidentally killing Estrada who is being protected from the law by a gentleman's agreement between the local authorities and the Border Patrol. Perkins and his captive embark on a journey through the desert to bury Estrada in his native land of Mexico. This story is one of friendship, loyalty, justice, and redemption.

After his performance in this film, it's no wonder that Tommy Lee Jones was chosen to star in No Country for Old Men, which shares many similarities with The Three Burials, including the border setting. I was pleasantly surprised to see January Jones, of Mad Men fame, playing the wife of the guilty Border Patrol Agent in the film. You'll have a hard time finding this movie at a RedBox or your local video store, but it's worth you're time if you are a Netflix subscriber.

- Joel

Saturday, June 26, 2010


The website highlights interesting letterhead from around the world. The site makes me want to design my own personal letterhead. I'd probably go with something simple, like those used by Rube Goldberg or Babe Ruth. You can look at some of my favorites below. Click on the images to get a closer look.

- Joel

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Photographer of the Day

The Good Doctor © Orson Oblowitz
Orson Oblowitz. These remind me of the trip my family took around the Southwest last summer, though we never had an RV.

- Joel

They All End Up In the Same Place © Orson Oblowitz


When a band names themself Tennis, it's pretty tricky to find them on Google. Try searching "Tennis", "Tennis music", or "Tennis band" and you'll see what I mean. Or even trying searching "Tennis marathon" and you'll find quite a few articles about yesterday's epic tennis match (which after 10 hours hasn't even finished) at Wimbledon. But the Tennis I was looking for is a husband/wife duo from Denver. Their sound, like many new indie acts, has a vintage 1960's feel. I like it. Listen to a few songs below.

- Joel

Tennis - "Marathon"
Tennis - "Baltimore"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Chop Shop

When I see design like this I get really jealous. PTARMARK, Inc. in Austin, Texas employs some talented folks. What makes it even better is that The Chop Shop is a Kansas City meat market.

- Joel

Photographer of the Day

© Jason Koxvold
Jason Koxvold. This guy does a lot of different creative work.

- Joel

James McMorrow

This guy sounds very very similar to Bon Iver - which can either be a good or bad thing depending on how you feel about originality, or how you feel about Bon Iver for that matter. His name is James McMorrow and he hails from Ireland. You can listen to the entire album below.

- Joel

FYI - the music player below seems to be working only intermittently so I'm posting a few downloadable tracks.

James McMorrow - "Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree"

James McMorrow - "If I Had A Boat"

Latest tracks by jvmcmorrow

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.”

- Judy Garland

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about maps as art lately. An old school map of my home state (framed of course) would make a great addition to my wall.

- Joel

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Cool Kids

Self proclaimed Cool Kids released their third EP in as many years a few weeks ago. I have yet to listen to this new set of old school hip hop, but, if you'd like to take a listen, the Kids are offering the music free of charge. Go to their website here, or use the link below to download the EP.

- Joel

Monday, June 14, 2010

MNDR - "I Go Away"

This is a song to groove to with headphones on and the volume up. MNDR is Brooklyn-based hipster Amanda Warner. Check out the slow jam below.

- Joel


© Joel Thomason
It's been a busy past few days on vacation. Yesterday, I attempted to climb Grays Peak and Torreys Peak (two 14,000 foot peaks) with my friend Blake. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. After losing the trail (because of the snow not our own incompetence) and battling snow drifts of 3-4 feet up much of the climb, I came down with altitude sickness at 13,200 feet and we had to turn around. I set out again this morning on a solo hike up Buffalo Mountain, near Silverthorne, Colorado where we are staying. The hike required a bit of careful climbing as the "trail" crossed an enormous boulder field. After scrambling from bottom to top of the field over slippery rocks, I once again ran into impassable snow drifts. The trail disappeared, the wind and snow picked up, and I decided to turn around. No use in trying to find a trail covered in 4 feet of snow. I did, however, manage to take a few photos with my iPhone to document the treacherous terrain. Enjoy.

- Joel

Buffalo Mountain © Joel Thomason
Buffalo Mountain © Joel Thomason
Buffalo Mountain © Joel Thomason

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Photographer of the Day

© Edward Weston, 1938
Vacation started yesterday. I'll be spending the week in the Rocky Mountains. While visiting the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver with my friends Blake and Amy, I stumbled across a book of photography of the American West. Some of my favorites were by Edward Weston, fitting considering I'm spending the week in the American West.

- Joel

© Edward Weston, 1937

© Edward Weston, 1936

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Check out 19 year old NYU student Brad Oberhofer's classic indie rock. It's pretty catchy, which would make sense considering he looks like a Jonas brother. Listen to the song "AWAY FRM U" below. Only someone who grew up in the texting generation would title a song "AWAY FRM U". You can also download his EP o0O0o0O0o for free at the link below. I've been listening to the EP all day at work and I'm loving it. Oberhofer's voice reminds me of Animal Collective vocals, except with guitars and drums in the background. Very cool.

- Joel

Oberhofer - "AWAY FRM U"

Oberhofer - o0O0o0O0o

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dried Up

I saw a feature about this film on last night's local news. Dried Up was created by Jeremy Casper, Stuart Bury, and Isaiah Powers, graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute and native Kansas Citians. The film's original music was created by Max Justus, a local musician who puts on an interesting show should you have the opportunity to see him live. The film won a Student Academy Award, presented by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science, for Best Animated Film. This 6 minute stop motion film took more than 8 months to create. I think you'll find that the months of work show through in the quality of the film. It's not often the Art Institute gets press coverage around the city. I was excited to see such stunning work coming from our very own arts community.

- Joel

Sunday, June 6, 2010

David Bates

The Storm Triptych, Panel 2 © David Bates
If you live in Kansas City, check out work by Dallas-based artist David Bates in the current exhibition, "The Katrina Paintings", at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. I randomly met Bates at a fishing store (ironic considering the title of this blog) in downtown Dallas a few years ago. I wouldn't have known who he was if it hadn't been for my boss who pointed him out and introduced us. Looks like I'll be making a visit to the Kemper Museum between now and August 22 when the exhibition closes.

- Joel

The Deluge I © David Bates

The Book of Basketball

I recently finished reading The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy). To call it a book is a bit misleading; The Textbook of Basketball would be a more apt title. In more than 700 pages, Simmons strives to settle nearly every NBA argument. Who was better, Russell or Chamberlain? Russell. Do coaches really matter in the NBA? Only four have made a difference; Auerbach, Riley, Jackson, and Popovich. Who is the greatest player in NBA history? Jordan, duh. Who is the greatest team in NBA history? The 1986 Boston Celtics.

To be clear, I loved the NBA before I read this book; to learn about George Gervin's selfishness, Bill Walton's dysfunctional body, Elgin Baylor's hangtime, and every other bit of NBA minutia only tripled my love for the NBA. No detail goes uncovered. What stood out to me, in spite of the endless barrage of statistics on every page, was Simmons' emphasis of what statistics can't measure - "The Secret" as he calls it. "The secret of basketball is that it's not about basketball." I appreciated Simmons' devotion to and explanation of the truth that, for the most part, players who sublimate the temptation to pursue statistics and individual glory for the pursuit of the team are most successful in the NBA.

The glaring weakness of this book is Simmons' tendency towards misogynistic, "frat guy" writing. It didn't take long for his references to porn stars, lust, and infidelity to wear thin. The fact that Simmons is a "man's man" has made him beloved and as viewed as "one of us" by many sports fan. However, in the absence ESPN's watchful (read "censoring") eye evident in his regular column, the abundance of testosterone-filled anecdotes was overwhelming. Maybe it's just his act, a way for Simmons to build his island in a sea of sport writers, but I finished the book with two thoughts: "I LOVE the NBA" and "I feel bad for his wife." One more note; it took me a month to finish this book. I would recommend it for any sports fan, but be prepared to devote at least a month to wade through a book of this detail. It's worth it if you ask me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

John Wooden

The world has lost a coaching legend. John Wooden, UCLA's legendary basketball coach, died at the age of 99 last night. The man, known affectionately by his players as "Coach", brought small town values to the bright lights and big stage of college basketball in Los Angeles. For years, players have swapped Wooden-stories like trading cards with reverence rarely seen in the sporting world; like the time Wooden told Bill Walton they'd take the team picture without him unless he shaved his beard; or the fact that Wooden began the first practice of every season by teaching his players how to put on their socks and shoes.

John Wooden strove to teach his players the limitations of a life devoted to basketball. Ironically perhaps, the man who never saw basketball as the ultimate became the most successful coach the game has ever seen. Wooden won ten National Championships while at UCLA, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. He led UCLA to an NCAA record 88 game winning streak and coached 4 teams who finished the regular season undefeated (30-0). On the eve of the 1975 NCAA Championship game (which UCLA won), he announced his retirement, walking away after winning his tenth championship in twelve years. The man clearly knew what he was doing.

John Wooden's humble disposition became a breath of fresh air as the world of basketball became increasingly ego-centric. Coach's "team first" lessons stand in stark contrast to a sport now characterized by individual expression, statistics, and notoriety. Still, his wisdom and clever anecdotes will extend Wooden's influence long after his death. Maybe it is because I am heartless, but it isn't often that the death of someone I never knew, celebrity or otherwise, affects me emotionally. However, I can honestly say that, as I think on Wooden's death, I am melancholy. A few months ago I posted a video of John Wooden speaking about his definition of success. I've posted it again below. May John Wooden's message of faith in Jesus, humility, and teamwork live on.

- Joel

Friday, June 4, 2010


Kobe will officially be one of the NBA's all-time greats when he wins his fifth championship ring in a few weeks. Nike will be ready with this ad. I never thought I would hear Andre 3000 covering The Beatles.

- Joel

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ben Chlapek

© Ben Chlapek
I've posted about Ben before. We went to elementary school (Alexander Doniphan), high school (Liberty High School), and college (University of Missouri) together, though I don't think we ever really talked. I noticed a few new pieces on his website and wanted to give a shout out. I'm not a big fan of Japandroids but the poster with the prison tower is great. Plus, the show took place on my 27th birthday.

- Joel

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


My dad showed me this video today. It's Daniel Pink, author of the fantastic book Drive, speaking about the premise behind the book. Throw in some creative animation, as well as the fact that Pink sums up the entire book in this excerpt, and it makes for 10 minutes that are worth your while. This should RADICALLY transform your ideas about motivation. By the way, if you have a chance to read this book, do it. It's the best book I've read this year, and maybe the best book I've read in the past few years.

- Joel

Piano Stairs

If only exercising could be this fun. An interesting concept from Volkswagen.

- Joel

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Levi's has experienced a renaissance of sorts in the past few years - in part due to their price point and placement in semi-hip stores, and in larger part due to a masterful advertising campaign. Somehow Levi's, in spite of their ubiquity, managed to brand themselves as the original. I still vividly remember their "Pioneers, O Pioneers" ad. The dude reading Walt Whitman has a ruggedly cool voice. And more than one denim company has not so subtly borrowed from their "band of youths frolicking around a fire" idea. Levi's recently made another wise move - gathering interesting (or semi-interesting) artists and commissioning them to record covers to then release for free online. Check out the Levi's Pioneer Sessions. At the moment, you can download tracks from Nas, The Swell Season, and She & Him. On the horizon are songs from Dirty Projectors, The Shins, John Legend, and others. Watch the Levi's performance from She & Him below (as well as the ad that spawned this whole Pioneers idea). Go here to download the available tracks.

- Joel