Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Gibb Sense

Ignore, for the moment, the circumstances behind this mug shot.

But don’t you think little Haley Joel Osment has grown up to look just like Andy Gibb?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Death of Culture

It's not so much that arts and entertainment coverage is drying up or dying. It's that where once A&E coverage helped shape and direct culture, now, in search of that most elusive market - the reader - it now merely reflects it, as quickly and desperately as it can, lest it and its ever-younger followers move on so fast it leaves us behind, scrambling to asses yesterday’s hot thing. Something about this essay on Paris Hilton reads post-modern, another piece of tacit self-loathing that spends a few hundred words explaining why the ubiquitous heiress isn't worth writing about (yet demands to be written about all the same). But it's so depressing that there must be a real truth to what the writer is trying to express. We (and by "we" I mean a whole lot of people, though not me, specifically) love Paris because we hate ourselves so much she's what we wish we saw looking back at us in the mirror.

Wither culture. Wither America. Sigh.


Exit of No. 2 man stuns McDonald's, reads a headline in today's Trib. Which is funny, since you'd think anyone who works or eats at McDonald's whould never be surprised at the exit of number 2.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

JT with the Remedy

I got screwed out of seeing Justin Timberlake tonight, but I am happy to have found a leaked copy of the song "My Love," an oddly dark ode to, erm, love that features more ace production from the endlessly inventive Timbaland.

OK, not endlessly inventive. When he's given sub-par talent - Pussycat Dolls, J. Lo, Jamie Foxx - even Timbaland can't rise to the occasion. But JT is a truly talented dude, and at this point anyone that disagrees basically just wishes he wasn't.

Dark Matter

For anyone who even pretends to understand particle physics - yeah, right. But as long as we're pretending, the discovery of this dark matter is pretty cool. The notion of vasts parts of the universe behaving differently from the rules we have devised for them is almost as hard to grasp as the concept of infinity.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

OutKast's "Idlewild" In Three Words

File under: “Zingalamaduni.”

Friday, August 18, 2006

Oh, Yeah: The Chemex

Forgot to mention that the Chemex coffee maker is great! Yeah, it takes a little longer to brew, or rather it takes more hands-on time, but the results are really clean and smooth. We both noticed the difference pretty immediately.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Use Your Head: Play Guitar Instead

A little late to the party in posting this, perhaps, but if this is how Carrie Brownstein occupies herself post Sleater-Kinney, I'm all for it.

It's the Thought That Counts

This letter smells of sour grapes, and I’m not sure I’d go so far as the author does in his critique of Slate’s film critics. But the guy’s got a point: today’s media not only devalues idiosyncrasy, intelligence and personality in writing, it frowns upon anything that pushes boundaries, veers too far off the beaten path or otherwise risks alienating the readers and/or advertisers. But especially the advertisers.

Is criticism dead? Of course not. Everyone’s a critic, and the internet proves plenty of people are willing to write about what they love or don’t love with little or no recompense. However, criticism as a profession sometimes seems to be withering faster than its print media host organism, which is withering pretty darn fast.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Listening List

I know, I know. I just posted about what I've been listening to. But what am I listening to ... RIGHT NOW?!

Depeche Mode/Exciter
Sparklehorse/Dreamt for Lightyears in the Belly of a Mountain
The Wisdom of Harry/House of Binary
ESG: A South Bronx Story
Roxy Music/For Your Pleasure
Totonho & Os Cabra
The Knife/Violent Youth
Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys
Led Zeppelin/Presence
Mission of Burma/OnoffOn
Justin Timberlake/Justified
The Band
Let's Do Rocksteady

Also, Outkast's "Stankonia" and "Aquemini," just to make the severe disappointment of the new album that much more apparent. Of course, "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" already prepared me for that. That album sucked. Yeah, you heard me: the last Outkast album sucked. What are you going to do about it?

(Here's an "Idlewild" preview: this stuff isn't worthy of being an outtake from a batch outtakes from Prince's "Parade." Hmm, that reminds me. I want to listen to "Parade.")

A Coffee Drinker is Never Satisfied

I've been pretty happy with my coffee as of late, thanks to Alma's great gift of monthly Intelligentsia deliveries. But there's always something better, right? Not better than the coffee, which is among the best you can buy, but the maker.

I have a plain ol' automatic drip coffee maker, plus a French press I don't use, but a quick look around determined that there's something better: the Chemex. Not just better, but among coffee lovers often considered the best. It's a manual drip coffee maker that more or less resembles a carafe which requires you to boil the water and regulate the flow, but for just $30, why not give it a shot, I figure?

I'll try it tomorrow and report then. In the meantime I did the legwork: it takes five minutes to boil enough water to make 4 8 oz. cups of coffee, 8 oz. being enough to fill a big American-styled mug.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fleetwood Mac Rocks

For anyone that still thinks of Fleetwood Mac as nothing more soft rock juggernauts, check this out:

That'll serve you to dismiss them as elevator music, huh?

Lindsey Buckingham remains an amazing producer, singer, songwriter and, most of all, guitarist. That he can pull that off with no pick and 15 pounds of afro speaks volumes.

Trust the government?

I'm not entirely sure what Keith Olbermann is trying to say with this segment (via the hit or miss Crooks and Liars site, they of predictable politics and dubious musical taste), but it does underscore the nagging suspicion that much of what our government feeds us either stems from incompetence or constitutes outright bullshit.

Frankly, things have seemed a little fishy from the start. The revelation that after the shoe bomber guy tried to light his feet on fire, the cigarette industry successfully lobbied to allow matches on flights (even though you're not allowed smoke on flights, or to light anything on fire, for that matter) perfectly revealed how corrupt our system is, even when national security is at stake. But Olbermann's hit parade is a strong reminder just how much we've endured from our semi-elected manure shovelers.

I’d wish President Job could run again just so I could not vote for him again, but I have a feeling he’d get elected a third time all the same. We live in a nation of passive idiots, run by devious opportunists and behind-the-scenes special interests. What troubles me is not that this administration is terribly different from that of any past administration. What troubles me is that more than any past administration, their decisions will prove destructive and dangerous for at least another generation, on a global scale

By the way, the Olbermann segment also highlights the weakness of our mass media, and their unwillingness or inability to speak truth to power. The stuff Olbermann brings up should have been brought up more persistantly as events transpired. Even now, with so many chinks in President Job's armor, the press plays patsy to the man holding the purse and puppet strings.

RIAA Sues Children of Dead Man

This story is old news already, especially in internet terms, but disturbing all the same. Either the RIAA is the equivalent of a ship firing desperately and randomly even as it sinks, or it's shooting at the hull to hasten the descent. The first way is dubiously valiant. The second way is just stupid. Either way, it's still sinking. Just one way is faster than the other.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Calling All Conspiracy Theorists

It turns out NASA has lost the original recordings of the first moon landing. Good to know they're so on the ball. Glad I'm not an astronaut.

Timberlake's Back

This piece on Justin Timberlake is harmless, but vague. What exactly does his second album "FutureSex/LoveSounds" need to prove that his first album "Justified" failed to prove? That album was a huge hit whose popularity attests to its appeal to more than just the kids, the production represented career peaks for both the Neptunes and especially Timbaland, and J.T.'s subsequent tour showed him the near-equal of Prince, or at least D'Angelo. The fact that any fluff profile would even ask whether Timberlake can prove his staying power four years after its subject's massive breakout success answers its own pointless question.

Marketing Mommy

Please welcome the latest addition to the Internets, my wife, who is blogging as Marketing Mommy. Does this mean I have to get a new computer for her *and* Baby Z.?

Nazi Nobel

It turns out author Gunter Grass was a Nazi. To which I can only respond: so what? Anyone who lived in Germany under Hitler and of a certain age was either a) directly complicit b) indirectly complicit or c) killed. I'm sure the guy feels terrible about it, which is why he's now finally coming clean. Impending mortality tends to do that.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

So what have I been listening to?

A short, incomplete list:

Dennis Wilson/Pacific Ocean Blue
Junior Boys/So This is Goodbye
The Glove/Blue Sunshine
Mark Hollis
Sade/Lovers Rock
The Hold Steady/Boys and Girls in America
Tom Waits/Mule Variations
Billy Bragg/Talking to the Taxman About Poetry
Thom Yorke/The Eraser
Golden Age of American Rock and Roll/Vol. 1-5

Right now there is a funeral passing the house. So far, seven white stretch limos, two hearses (one filled with flowers) and dozens of cars following. That's some funeral.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Miami Vice

Did I post about "Miami Vice" yet? No? Well, I loved it, but I love Michael Mann. I still count it among his weaker efforts, but what some people cite as its failures I view as success, specifically the way it proceeds with minimum exposition, minimum explanation and minimum resolution. Kind of like catching an episode of, I dunno, "The Wire" midway through the season, but with no concern for making itself clear. In this sense "Miami Vice" is the polar opposite of most action movies, which are typically about as subtle and nuanced as a car wreck (captured by four cameras, and replayed countless times from numerous angles). Mann just lets things happen, and hopes you catch all the details. That's why I can't wait to see it again. After all, bits I thought made no sense in Mann's "Collateral" made perfect sense the second time around.

I was a little less enthused about "The Descent," a horror movie that works shockingly well, at least before the monsters show up. When tight-squeeze caverns and metaphoric monsters are pinning you to your seat, there's really no need to introduce actual albino flesh-eating cave dwellers. Not only do they give you, the viewer, an easy out by offering you something to root against, they simply don't stand up to the good old fashioned spelunking thrills introduced in the first half. Or the menace to the minimally but effectively drawn all female cast, whose relationship to one another (ostensibly as friends) is tense and ambiguous.

Still pretty darn intense, though.

He's a Loser

Hey, what do you know? President Job has dropped back down to his all-time ratings low. I think they call this recidivism.

In other news, boy, was Lollapalooza exhausting, with only a handful of great sets from bands I expected to be great (Broken Social Scene, Manu Chao, Sleater-Kinney), a couple of surprises (Iron & Wine rocking out, Peeping Tom), and mostly by the numbers sets from acts that may as well have been playing Anyclub, USA.

One weird exception to the whole weekend was Patti Smith, who showed up to play a three song acoustic set at the kids tent, of all places, and chose that venue to rail against US made bombs killing kids in Lebanon and dead bodies lying in the street.

"Mommy, mommy! Patti Smith is in my closet and she's trying to get me!"

Ban Flying

Isn't that the inevitable end result of all this incremental nonsense? Because, really, it's not the tweezers, or shoes, or soft drinks, or MP3 players that are the problem. It's the giant missiles rocketing through the skies, filled with people.

In other words, these piecemeal measures don't make me feel safer, but neither am I terribly worried. If not planes, it'll be boats. If not boats, it'll be trains (again). If not trains, it'll be bicycles. And so on. But life goes on, you know? I can't just stay inside forever.

Which reminds me: it's about time to stock up on duct tape and plastic wrap again, isn't it? My windows are looking kind of vulnerable.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sleater-Kinney RIP

I just got back from Lollapalooza, day 1, where I was lucky enough to get to watch Sleater-Kinney's penultimate show, and last outside of their hometown of Portland, from the side of the stage.

Some people have hedged their bets by calling them one of the best bands of the past 10 years. Others have called them one of the best punk bands. But I'm not afraid: they're one of the best bands, period, and they'll be very, very missed.

In other news, the two main stages at Lolla are literally a half a mile apart. No joke. Needless to say, that cuts down significantly on my stage hopping.

Heat Index, Redux

Alma answers my rant by pointing me to Wikipedia (of course), which does an OK job explaining the heat index. It still seems a little fishy to me, though.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Heat Index

Does anyone remember there being a "heat index" ten years ago? No? Me neither. Hot is hot, and honestly I don't know what's gained with this "100 degrees, but 115 with the heat index" nonsense.

For that matter, how come the heat index is never invoked in winter, or the wind chill invoked in summer? You know, "It's 100 degrees today, but with the breeze it feels like 92." Or "It's a chilly 22 out there, but the humidity makes it feel close to 33."

Enough of the news is hysterical enough (in every sense) as it is. Why do they have to make the weather forecasting just as over-the-top? It's just the weather. It's not out to get you. Say it's dangerously hot and leave it at that.

The Taxi Driver

This coud be a lot tighter, and it's not quite as good as the rom/com "Shining" trailer, but it gets the job done. I see it as a kind of "Rainman" or "Benny and Joon" sort of thing. Or "Dominick and Eugene," if anyone remembers that one.