December 31, 2003

"Park that car, drop that phone, sleep on the floor, dream about me." - Broken Social Scene

The Holidays were nice but it is equally nice being back in Cambridge after eight days away. Got some good loot for Xmas including this and this and even this. But more than that it was just nice to hang out with people I don't see very often such as Zippy, Abrazzi, Lanky Jim, Deano and Agent Buck. Set up my folks on their new desktop and got my dad's blackberry working -- two things he hopes to master. I hope he can at least derive some entertainment value out of the PC. I set up a My Yahoo page for him to use as a launch pad. We'll see how that goes.

My year end best of list for the rock and roll should be posted at CheekyMonkey sometime in the next couple weeks, keep checking in.

Broadband arrives and changes everything on Friday. If we correspond with any regularity I will probably hit you with an email from a new Comcast account soon. If we don't correspond regularly and you need to get me, hit my Wesleyan account and I will try to remember to check it a couple times in the next couple months.

Heading out this evening for some Chinese food and light recreation thereafter at the Housh-Thomases. Should be splendid. Trying to get the house straightened up and all the Christmas stuff in place. Dug out two of the three boxes I need to box up the old desktop, which goes offline for good Friday as well. Change is afoot. Still haven't seen The Return of the King or any of the other movies I'd like to see, but hope to knock some out between now and Monday, or at least between now and when we head off to Tortola to attend the pending Posse/Perkins nuptials there. Happy new year, nerds.

That is all.

December 20, 2003

"Gas man came and took out our electric stove, I helped him carry it." - Lemonheads

I was about to get on and just point out the compelling and detailed report I saw on how bad Wal-Mart is for just about everyone. But I was just minding my own business on Mass Ave a few minutes ago when I saw guys with signs imploring consumers to boycott Newbury Comics, an indie record chain in the greater Boston area that is typically considered the good guy when it comes to the record retail business. That being because they are an independent with strong local ties. But now there is this.

I have to say that personally I do find the videos described offensive and depraved. And I do think that a boycott is a good means of getting Newbury to cease distributing the videos (of course, that doesn't make them go away, but I think people have a right to speak with their dollars to get retailers they frequent to adhere to their values). But I wonder if there is a First Amendment issue here at all. What sort of protection under the law should obscene exploitation (and that is so clearly what it is) enjoy? I don't know. I am generally against censorship. But I think ultimately the interests of The State might be best served by these "filmmakers" going to jail for inciting homeless-on-homeless assault, rather than me or someone with my values just tracking them down and stomping on their gonads. Repeatedly.

Anyway, back to Wal-Mart. Last night on PBS' NOW program I heard the most well-reasoned and harrowing account of why we all must stop shopping at Wal-Mart. We all know that they underpay their workers and this lets them pass on greater discounts to the end consumer of the goods they vend. What might not have been made so clear before is that Wal-Mart management actively works to 1) terminate employees before they reach eligibility for health benefits and 2) actively counsels employees to have their health needs met by Public Health outlets for the poor. Basically Wal-Mart has crafted part of their business model around having taxpayers unwittingly pay the health benefits of its employees. Who cares? Well, it cost the state of California about $20 million last year. This -- coupled with the fact that for every Wal-Mart superstore that opens in the next five years, two other grocery stores will close -- is creating a mechanism by whole segments of population are either being put out of work and seeking medical attention financed by the government that -- while deserved and necessary -- is a result of Wal-Mart (relatively) indirectly, or are being placed there on the rolls directly by Wal-Mart management. So that's it for Wal-Mart. I will never spend another dollar there again (not that I ever shop at one anyway, but last month I bought some stuff there for the first time in a few years), and Wal-Mart management is also now pushed to the front of the line for ball-stomping. Smile.

Gotta wrap presents. That is all.

December 17, 2003

"She's changing cars on the subway to avoid me."- Wendyfix

Three short items, as there is quite a lot of office-partying and the like to do this week. First off, an old but informative/entertaining interview with Joey Sweeney is archived here -- note the reference to "Girls High." Second, the New York Times just ran a very informative look at Dizzee Rascal, whose album is on my "need to hear to be an educated hipster" list (it usually takes me about 6 months to actually hear the things on this imaginary list, and the six month is right about now). Anyway, it requires signing in, which isn't so painful, and especially worth it since the article has a lot to offer. Finally, I discovered BookBitch today while researching some titles for Lopez' Xmas pile. I haven't decided how much stock I put in this woman's opinion yet, but how can you not love the name? Elegant in its simplicity, indeed.

That is all.

December 15, 2003

"Yesterday was cool but today's just OK and I can hear you losing your keys from 10 blocks away." - Barnabys

I just noticed that one of the current writers for Pitchfork is named Brandon Stosuy, which means very little to many of you without the proper background, which is if it is the same Mssr. Stosuy he is responsible for the awesome Indie 500 festival of 1993 and the micro-indie label Jiffy Boy Records, creator of the rather good Ten Cent Fix indie rock comp featuring Barnabys, the Grifters, the Lilys and scads of other great pop from lesser known acts. The Indie 500 (mentioned here) was my first real indoctrination into Indie Rock. It took place on a farm in Vincentown, NJ near Princeton. There I met folks like Jon Solomon, Joey Sweeney, the folks in Small Factory. I learned later that it was sort of a cognoscenti even as people I met in later years all seemed to have been there, including this girl (scroll down). Anyway, Brandon was also in this rock act Slow Children Playing, which recorded a couple decent songs. Funny that he still follows the rock. This all assuming its the same guy. Not really a common name tho.

Strangely enough, I just found some of Lars' record reviews from April 12, 1994 here.

Anyway, enough of that. More of this: I was minding my own business the other day thinking about Kam Fong when I came across this. For those of you who haven't had the distinct pleasure of a personal intro, Ryan Widger is the Clark Kent alter-ego for The Postman, a.k.a. the bass player that lead Kam Fong out of the living room and onto the stage during a long hiatus when Chuck was out of the band. Widger was always an accomplished writer (the few of you who have heard his literally horrifying lyrics from KF's Ardmore Sessions know what I am talking about) and photographer. I guess he finally decided to follow through on the photo thing. Some of the shots here are pretty cool. One, I beleive, features DS Brook, she formerly residing with DSJ at the mythical Dust Pad in South Wayne.

I scored the Mazarin record yesterday for $3. It is very good indie pop. Stoltzfus really sounds like Jeff Mangum at some points here. Wild.

In addition to keeping your eyes on the prize, keep an eye on Your Record Sucks for a review of BTS Ancient Melodies and eventually, the new Blink 182. Further, I just reviewed the Brokaw record for Junkmedia, which still insists it is reviving in 2004.

I was going to rant about how I got a catalog called Frontgate that greatly exacerbates my dislike of the Western Capitalist Culture-driven Insatiable Appetite for New & Better Things With Which to Do Stuff That You Could Do Already With The Shit You Already Have Right Now, but I am tired of sitting here.

I do want to shower props on two things before That Is All-ing:

1). Saw Black Nativity with Big Al and Kerri on Saturday night. It was very, very entertaining. No, it's not a metal band, its a Gospel re-telling of the story of the birth of that Important Christian Dude.

2). Prior to the show Big Al took us to what might be the best bar downtown. It is upstairs at Marliave. It is utterly unhip and quiet and the service at the tiny bar is inconsistent in a funny way, since the bar is manned by some really old dude. There are tables and ample nuts in saucers. There is a dancing Santa doll and a holiday mural sprayed onto the mirror on the wall opposite the bar. Good stuff.

That is all.

December 11, 2003

"And the truth is I don't mind, but I miss you all the time." - Milwaukee

What up. This is the kind of stuff that really fascinates me, perhaps because I have only an elementary understanding of such matters, and what I don't understand seems like magic or mysticism.

It probably comes as no surprise that I am really enjoying the latest installment at Last Plane to Jakarta, since having cool people tell me about what records are good or bad and why is one of my favorite things. While this is basically what my blog is all about, I am going to try to do more entries like it. I may even eventually get my own top-level domain. I have scoped out, and it is available. Extra bonus points to anyone who can tell me where the name came from. Not that I don't know. OK, this is a stupid idea...

Launchcast served up Duran Duran's cover of "White Lines" to me this afternoon and I have to say it is likely the best thing they ever did. Not to discount the amazing pop they churned out in the early 80s (c'mon, admit it). But to blaze their comeback trail with this cover, which is sprinkled with touches of good-period Ministry production, was genius.

I was thinking about my friend Chuck the other day, due to the appearance of Lagwagon's "Violins" on Launchcast, and that made me do a little quick research to see if I can get my hands on Superconductor's "The Strip Oracle" on CD -- a favorite of the WesRadio gang and Charles. I didn't turn up anything definitive re: getting the song on CD, but I found this relatively informative article about the act.

Kudos to Dahlia, she is on the cover of a glossy mag in Berlin that covers the nightlife and new music. The chick is in town for like a month and she is already a name. Hot damn.

Just got a couple promos in the mail for Junkmedia, which is promising to come out of hibernation in January. I scored the latest Chris Brokaw solo joint, which is very spare and touts what to me is a disappointing reading on "Shoot Me First," which to me is the crown jewel of Come's "Near Life Experience." The acoustic treatment is just too delicate for the song in my opinion.

Well, that's about all. Here are some things that are still rocking me:

Mendoza Line: Lost In Revelry
Neil Young: Decade
Come: Don't Ask Don't Tell
Ride: Nowhere
Interpol: the single with "The Specialist" on it.

That is all.

December 7, 2003

"i don't want to tell you what you want to know, i don't want to tell you at all." - ride

Best Software Review Ever -- Submitted to Amazon for MS Office Student/Teacher Edition:

Feh. This means you have to do work, December 4, 2003
Reviewer: Great Cthulhu (see more about me) from Sunken R'lyeh

When will people figure out that if they don't buy this stuff, they don't have to do work? If you get just the operating system, you have WordPad, which is trouble enough, but you can get your typing done in time to fire up a web browser and do some SERIOUS surfing. Get office software like a spreadsheet or powerpoint, and you cut way into your surfing time with the curse of the drinking classes: work.
It's not all bad, though. You can uninstall it easily and then scratch the CD real bad so it won't install again. Then when anybody asks you to work again, just show the damaged CD and say you're waiting on the replacement, shrug your shoulders, and get back to your online gambling habit.

Anyhoo, I thought that was pretty comical. Had some good times over the last few days, firstly with The Good Doctor, Herr Koo Marr, Cable Elk, Logie, Wazzon, Sizable Headphones Douglass and posse at the MOS Friday night. Good times rappin' about important stuff like Beatallica, home video projects, city-provided childcare and all manner of stuff. Saturday was International Rob Mathews Day and we celebrated through the blizzard with an assortment of activities including Go Kart Racing at a track I beleive is partially owned by the bass player for Aerosmith (H-Dog won; WHMJR provided instrumental logistical support throughout and came in second to boot). We also dined at Bettie's Wok and Noodle and covered topics ranging from The OC to the sale of (well, the domain anyway) to CNET. Snow swirled about and piled up all day. It was crazy. Today we stayed in and did stuff round the house, including burning CDs with the new computer (now a 14-minute process instead of a 60-minute one) and watching the Eagles and Pats. Of course, there is more I would like to cover, but Alias is about to fire up on the JVC Television Receiver situated in our front room and I need to go sit in front of the unit and focus my eyes on the "picture" "tube" or some reasonable facsimile thereof. That is all.

December 2, 2003

"there is snow covering your blanket, you wish you could love the loving." - idaho

If nothing else, Big Head Todd and the Monsters have/had one of the best band names ever. This is what I was thinking after a mediocre cover band chased me, Lopez, Tito, Woods, Grellan and PFC out of the Berwyn Tavern Friday night. We had settled in to reflect on our good fortune but these jamokes fired up their brand of lame rock and so we headed to the Beef and Crotch over West Wayne way. Good times. Thanksgiving on the whole was pleasing, marked by a greater proportion of family time and one-on-one hanging out time with aforementioned buddies and other miscreants including Luka Brasi and Toshio. Speaking of Brasi, he saw fit to give me a ring Sunday eve after me and Lopez returned to indicate 1) that he was liquored up from watching the Eagles game at a friend's place and 2) he had had earlier in the day a quasi-religious experience eating a Krispy Kreme donut fresh out of the oven, supplied to him at no cost by the hole jerk at the KK shop drug dealer-style.

Some other points from the past week:

1. VU's White Light/White Heat received three plays in a row on the car trip back to MA. The record just keeps on giving. Very electric, even tho it was recorded with about the same quality as some of the so-called lo-fi rock on 10 years ago. Christ, even less.

2. I don't often find much reason to say anything nice about the programming transmitted to us over the television (think about the term programming for a moment, why don't you, and consider the Orwellian implications), but I thought the most recent episode of Alias, the flesh-filled Jennifer Garner vehicle on the American Broadcasting Corporation network Sundays, was quite well done. Wierdo David Cronenberg guested and the episode dealt with a lot of dream/memory sequences that were pretty neat and tidily laced into the plot. The goodness of it was almost on par with Twin Peaks stuff.

3. I am posting from the old computer, tho we received the new one Monday. The new one is hot stuff, sooper fast. But I couldn't get out AT&T account to work with the modem for it. So balls to you American Telephone and Telegraph, I just signed up for broadband with Comcast, a good old Philadelphia-based company. So this is an alert to the faithful out there that Lopez and I will be rocking Comcast addresses before the year ticks down. Beware.

4. There is much more, but the house is a wreck, so I will save some musings for another evening this week. That is all.