Friday, December 31, 2010

Melodies In My Ear

It's been quite a year for music, but maybe I'm just saying that because I bought a new computer a year ago since my old one had no space left, which enabled me to go crazy like a kid in an iTunes store. And, boy, did I. There was a lot of quality enjoyable music this year, but these are the ten records I really identified and became obsessed with:

Love Remains by How To Dress Well - Last year, it was The XX, but this year, the best make-out album is from a white-boy philosophy student doing his best ethereal, reverb-heavy, R&B impression. And it works.
Treats by Sleigh Bells - The most pleasant surprise of the year. I love the way Alexis Krauss's voice floats over the driving guitars and thrashing beats. In a way, it kinda reminds me of The Deftones. Particularly bad-ass are the screams thrown in in the middle of "Kids" and "A/B Machines." It's impossible not to rock out to this.
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem - If you had a cookout this summer and you weren't listening to this album, then your cookout sucked.
Contra by Vampire Weekend
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West - He's crazy, but his fifth LP sounds like it could have been a greatest hits compilation. Music with this much depth, wit, and variety proves he is a true talent.
Heaven Is Whenever by The Hold Steady - No, it's not their best album. Hell, it's probably their worst. But when a band's worst album is still miles above anything else released, you know they're truly the best bar band in America.
Lungs by Florence + The Machine
The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monae
Body Talk by Robyn - Don't just buy the "Body Talk" album. You also need the first two "Body Talk" EPs. When all three are combined, they create the best pop album of the year, and probably the decade. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the Swedes know their way around a pop hook. This, combined with Robyn's attitude and delivery, makes this record not only fun, but essential. Usually when I'm singing in my truck and I pull up next to someone, I stop. But when "Dancing On My Own" or "Fembot" is playing, I keep right on singing.

There were several albums I was excited about before they were released, and unfortunately, many were disappointments. But there were just as many that totally came out of left field and surprised the hell out of me. I'm starting to lose faith in new albums from Blur and No Doubt, but the new PJ Harvey, Strokes, and Lupe Fiasco albums are a sure thing this year, and that makes me happy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Colorado Gurls

Me & Jess
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I just spent the past two days laughing my butt of in Colorado. It might be easy to blame it on the altitude, but I really think it was the presence of Jess, who, along with Cheyenne, picked me up at the airport Sunday afternoon and immediately placed a King Tut button on my jacket. If you want to know the rest of that story, you'll have to ask them.

Me, Chels, Chey, & Jess
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
From there, we met up with Chelsey, ate dinner, and then went out bar-hopping. Our final stop of the evening was a place called the Grizzly Rose, a place way too classy for words, and that must be seen to be believed.

Cheyenne & Danielle
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Monday, we met up with Danielle for a trek up through Boulder and ending in Fort Collins, where they all went to school at CSU. It was a great town, full of personality. We shopped in unique stores and had coffee and drinks. It was a wonderful way to spend time with my friends.

Italy really isn't the same without all these girls around, and it was great to hang out and laugh with them again, even if it was just for a couple days.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

White Christmas

White Christmas
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It began snowing Friday afternoon, and by Christmas morning, our house had a nice white blanket. It made my first Christmas at home since 2007 even better.

Christmas Morning
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After waking up yesterday morning, we headed to Don and Sharon's to share breakfast with their whole family and watch Nate, Ian, Keagan, and Vivian open all their presents. It took me back to my own childhood and all the excitement in wildly ripping open my new toys.

Grandma, Me, & Grandpa
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Then, yesterday evening, we went to my Grandparents' house for the big family Christmas. As cliche as it sounds, being around family on Christmas will never be overrated. I spent a lot of time with my family over the past two weeks, but it still wasn't enough. It's going to be hard leaving, but it's nice knowing I'm heading to Colorado to see friends who I love like family.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

St. Lunatics

Everett & Roxy
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I spent the past few days in St. Louis, where I hung out with some old friends from my days in Japan. I made the three-hour drive to Paul and Trish's house in St. Charles and saw Roxy and Everett, who have grown so much since the last time I saw them three years ago. And exponentially more adorable, as well.

Me, Don, & Paul
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I also got to see Don, a man for whom I have an immeasurable amount of esteem. Don took us all around the quirkiest parts of the city, to sock stores and indie printing presses, bars and book stores, graffiti walls and historical landmarks, homeless camps and museums. It gave me new appreciation for urban living, and want to take taxis everywhere.
If I had my way, I'd bring these guys back to Italy with me because they tend to look at things from such a unique perspective. If they came with me to Venice, they'd spout off some shit that would blow my mind, and make me fall in love with that city even more.
Alas, until I win the lottery, I'll have to settle for sporadic trips to St. Louis. I miss them already.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Inside the Beltway

Me and Dan
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
My first stop in the States was a couple days in the DC area with my good friend Dan. He picked me up from the airport Saturday afternoon and we immediately went on the hunt for Mexican food, something sorely lacking in Italy. That night, we went to see the Washington Capitals (featuring Alex Ovechkin, arguably the best player in the NHL) take on the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, the Caps lost 3-2, but it was my first NHL game ever and it was a total party atmosphere, followed by bar-hopping with all the other fans.

National Christmas Tree
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Sunday, we slept in, nursed our hangovers with pizza, and spent the afternoon shopping and sightseeing. The night was capped off with a visit to the National Mall to see the big Christmas tree. I'd never seen the World War II Memorial, and it was impressive. It's hard not to see all the monuments and memorials and not feel patriotic.

Air Force Memorial
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I flew out Sunday afternoon, but on our way to the airport, we stopped to check out the Air Force Memorial, which was just built in 2006. Dan's a great tour guide, and I'm lucky to have him as a friend.

Friday, December 10, 2010


So the big job thing kinda fell through. Well, not completely. It's just been delayed a few months. Since I'm going to be in the States for a few weeks and have a six-week class in Germany beginning in February, they've decided that it would be best to wait until I'm back for good to start the whole thing. Sure, I'm disappointed, but I'm also a little relieved that A) I have a little more time to prepare for this transition, and B) they didn't say, "Screw you, Sutton. We'll find someone else."
Speaking of my trip to the States, I don't leave until tomorrow morning, but I started my leave today in order to clean, pack, and finish up some school work. Classes go through next week, but I've already squared everything up with my professors. I'll have one more paper to edit, and both of my finals are online, all of which I can do from home.
I haven't decided if I'll stay up all night or get a couple hours of sleep. Mike is coming to drive me to the airport at 4 AM (!) and I depart Venice at 7. I have a short stop in Paris, which has just had some major snow, so if you're reading this, right now might be a good time to say a prayer for safe, uninterrupted travel for me. Thanks.
My first stop in the States is DC, where my good friend Dan has a fun weekend full of hockey and booze planned for us. And on Monday, my whole family will be together under one roof for the first time in years. Yeah, this Christmas is going to be stellar.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Today, I got a call from my superintendent who asked me to come see him in his office. A little worried, I headed over and when I arrived, the first thing he said was, "How much do you like working in your shop?"
Basically, the ops chief wants to set up a special team of craftsmen from each shop to work on certain buildings on base, and they need an NCO to lead said team. For several minutes, we discussed the pros and cons of this new job, what it could mean for my career, the pressure I'll be under, who I'll be working for, who will be working for me, and tons of other aspects.
The thing is, I like what I'm doing now. As I was saying the other day, I can come in each morning, take care of what I need to take care of, and nobody really messes with me. They all have the faith that I'm going to get my shit done, because I've never given them any reason to believe otherwise. Sure, there are the occasional frustrations and personality conflicts, but overall, I'm very comfortable, and I've never been one to rock my own boat.
However, my superintendent is an amazing guy, and there are few people in the squadron I have more respect for than him. I'm the guy he asked because he thinks I'm the man for the job. Before he even asked me, he had already talked me up to the ops chief as a guy who gets his shit done. How could I refuse?
There are still some minor details that need to be worked out, and honestly, I'm a little nervous about the whole thing. I consider myself more of a worker than a leader, and there will definitely be growing pains. I'm also very excited about it, and it's definitely going to test my limits.
One more thing about my superintendent... I want to do a good job for two reasons: 1) To do a good job, and 2) because I don't want to disappoint him. Here's hoping I don't.

Monday, December 06, 2010

End In Sight

This school term is only seven weeks long, so there's a lot of cramming going on. I had my writing mid-term a couple weeks ago, and my computer mid-term on Thursday. I scored a perfect 100 on my writing exam, and a 92 in computers. I'm pretty stoked about both, but since I fly back to the States on Saturday, this will be my last week of classes. I have one more paper to write (hopefully finishing before Saturday) and two final exams, all of which can be completed online; but until it's all done, I won't really be able to enjoy myself while I'm on leave.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Take This Job

I'm a pretty calm guy, but I about lost my temper at work today. Things haven't been exactly smooth lately, but they've been moving along well enough. I'm lucky in that I take care of my own jobs and programs; nobody micromanages me, and I'm left to my own devices. But when something out-of-the-ordinary happens, it's always the same people in our shop doing the work to get things back to normal.
So today, I asked someone if he could take care of one of these out-of-the-ordinary incidents, and he flat out told me, "No." I tried to be encouraging and understanding, but he wouldn't budge, and that's when raised my voice a bit.
If this would have been a simple battle of wills, he would have lost. Unfortunately, he had an ace in the hole (aka his supervisor), and I had to retreat; but the war is far from over.