On one of America's most revered holidays I find myself wondering why fireworks are so synonymous with Independence Day. Other than New Years Eve, there aren't very many holidays we break out the big guns.

Fireworks had been been around in England since the 13th century, and were used for big occasions and celebrations. The popularity rose rapidly, and why wouldn't it. Entertainment in the 13th century consisted of jousting, drinking wine, the circus, and dramatic works of music and art.

Dante would have written his masterpiece Inferno, so you can see how fireworks would have caught on. 

It became more and more popular to use fireworks and politicians started using them at rally's as it was a great way to generate attention to yourself, and popularity steadily grew. Early american colonists did also figure out that fireworks were very effective in scaring the living shit out of the natives.

Prior to signing the Declaration of Independence John Adams wrote a letter to his wife. In it he foreshadowed how exciting and how monumental the day would be, and how he though people would react once it was signed.
"The day will be most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more." 
So it was as he predicted and fireworks continued to grow in popularity and production rose tremendously. Throughout that time we have kept that connection of fireworks and July 4th making sure to demonstrate in wild fashion how exciting it was to be a new country and grateful we were to be free from English rule.
Every now and then you find a band that brings things back back to the basics. The Breakout is one of those albums and Will Driving West drives the album with a very simple, beautiful sound that is deep in it's simplicity.

The cello and and beautiful harmonies blend well with interesting guitar progressions that keep you interested from first to last minute. Listening to the album I sense a bit of Joshua Radin, Elliot Smith and Snow Patrol influences and Will Driving West puts together a great cohesive album.

It's hard to pick a favorite song on this album but "October's Coming" was the one that got my attention first. It has a very melancholy sound and really sets the mood for change, beautiful metaphors and has a very retrospective feel to it.

Second favorite has to be "Thieves". The guitar and the cello play against very well in this one and the harmonies are right on point.

This band is fully independent and they have their album streaming on their site right now, so check it out here and let me know what you think. If you like it, buy the digital album here!!

2082273_com_3028314931There’s nothing worse than waking up with a cup of coffee and noticing that you are one friend less in Facebook. It’s not the fact that a once trusted acquaintance has decided that you are not good enough to be associated with, or the fact that someone that only posts pictures of their food and bathroom mirror pics has decided that you’re chatter is not worth looking at. It’s the fact that you have to turn into Sherlock Holmes and try and find out who defriended you out of all of your existing friends.

There is a great browser extension that allows you to see who defriended you! It also will tell you who’s declined your friend invitations and uses Facebook Alerts to notify you. I’ve used Greasemonkey scripts like this in the past and they work very well, and I give this one two thumbs up.


  1. Click here to download the extension. It’s compatible with Chrome (which you should be using anyway), Firefox, Safari and Opera.
  2. When promoted click to install the extension .
  3. Once installed you will have to log/relog into Facebook. It should show a prompt about the Unfriend Finder extension. You should now have an option next to Accounts on the top toolbar that says “Unfriends”.

Keep in mind that this extension is not retroactive. So it won’t give you any information about people that have unfriended you in the past. It works from the minute it’s installed and on. Hope this saves you some time and frustration and feel free to comment below and let me know how you like it.

I'm not one to pay much attention to sales or Billboard charts, but once in a while I'll see a band that deserves recognition finally get it. Today The Decemberists hit the #1 spot on the Billboard top 200 list with The King is Dead, surging up with it's release day just a little over a week ago.

This album is quite amazing, and is really a palette cleanser. I heard the "First Listen" on NPR, after having been forced to listen to pop music on the radio at work that entire week, for 8 mind numbing hours, five days in a row. I'm sure you can image how welcomed this album was for me at that point. Those of us out there who live by music, and use it as a daily vitamin and anti-depressant know exactly what I mean. It's comparable to starving a pitbull for a week and throwing a huge t-bone at him, except in my case there was a bit more drooling at the mouth.

This album is rife with music that is thoughtfully crafted, well executed and littered with a ton of different influences. It's very campy, folky, and daresay country, while at times still having a good rock feel. There are many different influences that can be heard on the album from REM, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and The Soggy Bottom Boys. Just kidding on the last one. The instrument choices are very eclectic and set the stage with a natural sound which I absolutely fell in love with, (lots of harmonies, stings, accordions and harmonica melodies).

After the 5th listen to this album it reminds you that music can be easy, tell a great story and not involve synthesized instruments, auto-tuning and mind numbing beats. My favorite songs are below, and you can buy the album here. Please do, your musical soul with thank you.

After watching this interview that Mike Wallace conducted in 1958 it's hard not to draw some staggering conclusions about our current society and the way things have developed over the course of a half century. Honestly, some things that were predicted by Huxley took my breath away. It really does become surreal as you watch it to think that this writer was so far ahead of his time, with profoundly prophetic ideas and such a firm grasp of his reality that he was able to catch a small glimpse into the future and perhaps into a reality that has not yet come to pass.  Watch the interview for yourself, and pay attention. There will be a quiz at then end. Not really.

Huxley makes some amazing points about possible overpopulation requiring bigger government involvement, the use of drugs to control the mass population, the use of propaganda to lay the foundation of controlling ideas. He also states that technology can be used as a distraction, and in the wrong hands can be used to obfuscate and confuse us with media and gadgets in the hopes that we won't pay attention to what is going on in the real world. This type of control he states is something that impedes us from focusing on things like our own productivity, creativity and education.

In a time where the US government is getting larger and are becoming entrenched in many more facets of our life than ever before, you start to appreciate what Huxley was getting at. When you realize that mind altering drugs are given to children and adults with much less abandon than 50 years ago, and that the pharmaceutical companies are getting government approval for all these drugs and have some of the strongest lobbyists in Washington, it starts to get alarming. And when you realize that we have become distracted and numbed by over stimulation with all the current technology at our disposal, ie. (1,000's of TV stations, social media addiction, reality TV, Internet addiction, smart phones), you have to take pause and wonder if what Aldous Huxley said is possible, or wonder if it has already begun.

If you're interested in reading more I highly recommend Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It's an amazing piece of literature that everyone should read, whether you believe it or not.
And then there was hype. It's widely known that this is the biggest and oldest rivalry in the NLF, and this year is no exception. There has always been a long and bitter history between the Green Bay Packer and the Chicago Bears, originating in 1921 at their first meeting, and it's increased every year since then. Most notably the safety victory that the Bears had in 1971 (2,0), to the blowout victory for the Bears in 1980 (61,7) to the controversial Instant Replay Game which the Bears lost (14,13) in 1989. Considering that this match-up is the first time that the teams have played each other in the post season since December 14th 1941 adds to the excitement and drama that we call the NFL.

Forget the hype, here is how the game breaks down.

Aaron Rodgers is hot right now, extremely hot. He is performing at his best during the time his team needs him to. He doesn't make many mistakes and the game is in his hands to win. The problem is that Chicago's defense is ominous and relentless. They play tough, and when they have a bead on the quarterback they make them pay. So the scrambling that Rogers does against a lot of defenses won't be effective against Chicago. The second problem for Rodgers is the playing conditions of Soldier Field are unlike most places in the league. At this point in the year it's a mess after getting abused all year and will slow any receiver that plays on it. So if Chicago rushes on 3rd and 4th down as they usually do then Rodgers will have to get the ball off quickly and may result in many incomplete passes and possibly interceptions.

On the Bears side of the ball they need to continue moving the chains and establish the run game. The Packer's defense has been no slouch this year, only allowing 14.25 points per game, and 92 rushing yards per game. Cutler should have some time to throw the ball effectively though so you can expect a lot of check-down passes and the occasional long ball. The biggest issue with the Bears is the inconsistency of Jay Cutler, and it will inevitably come down to which Jay Cutler shows up on Sunday. The Cutler who is composed and effective, or the Cutler that looks confused and sloppy.

This game has many implications in the Norse Division, and the winner will have their sights set on the Superbowl. But this victory means much more to these teams then a divisional playoff. It will add to the lore of the rivalry and will add fuel to the fire that these teams have for each other for years to come.

It's going to be a close one but I'm going for the upset and predict a very close win for the Bears, probably by a Robbie Gould field goal.
This touching short was made by Keegan Wilcox, but it evokes more emotion in it's three minutes then a lot of full length feature films do. It has won multiple awards and I'm very eager to see more movies like this getting produced. The Porcelain Unicorn is a great example of how good film making doesn't have to cost millions of dollars and that stories can be told without tons of dialog.

Parallel Lines Film - "Porcelain Unicorn" from Keegan Wilcox on Vimeo.
While the school systems are scrambling to reform their curricula and at an attempt meet their required scores on standardized testings, Sir Ken Robinson is bringing forth an amazing look on how we can change the system from the ground up. He makes many fascinating observations ranging from how our school systems and methodologies haven't changed much, how they can change, the perception of ADHD and the medication of it, to fostering a different type of learning styles.


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