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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mime is money, or, The Fears of a Clown

Marcel Marceau, the world's most famous mime died, and that's too bad. But is there any among you who doesn't find this picture horrifying?

There's no way this face doesn't scare people.

Friday, September 21, 2007

10 not crappy, mostly random songs

As I did about a year and a half ago, I now present the first 10 songs that show up when I put my iPod on shuffle. Before the list, though, you should know a)I have a 30gb iPod, b) I have a 105gb music library, c) therefore, my iPod gets a very limited selection of my full library, but always has everything by my favorite artists ever, and favored artists at the moment. Without further ado, the list:

1. "Que Onde Guero" by Beck - Oh Beck. So good, usually, but this album (Guero) seemed like a step backward. He's been treading water on this album and The Information. It's not terrible, not offensive, just not as good as any of his previous 4 albums.

2. "Silver Lining" by U2 - This is an early, live version of "11 o'clock tick tock," only with different lyrics. This is pretty rough and even has some slightly out-of-tune backing vocals from Mr. Edge. It's funny to hear how rough they were and know that they would one day be one of the biggest bands in the world.

3. "That's the Way" by Led Zeppelin - What a gentle song from a gentle album. It's weird to hear this album and think how underused Bonham is on it. Anyhow, I especially love the way Robert Plant's voice was recorded, like in a bathroom, but also running through a phaser or something. It's unique and beautiful. This song really is melancholic; I love it. This is the first 5 star song from this 10 song shuffle.

4. "If you've got troubles (1982 stereo mix)" by The Beatles - I've got a bunch of Beatles studio outtakes and alternate mixes. There are alternate versions of most of their albums, comprised of entirely different takes and mixes of songs, plus tons of demos that were never turned into album tracks. This song is a standard forgettable/cute Ringo-sung number, made interesting only on the merit of its stereo mixing. This song is from a collection called "Another Session Plus". That link tells you about the origins of this mix.

5. "Boogaloo Boogie" by Stanton Moore - Stanton is my favorite living drummer. He plays on a simple kit and plays with a deeper pocket than Donald Trump, if you'll forgive the mixed metaphor. His main gig is the hip-hop/New Orleans/instrumental/jam band Galactic, but he's also a solo artist, and has played with a ton of people including Corrosion of Conformity, Irma Thomas, and the New Orleans Klezmer All Stars. Go here for videos and mp3s. Like many of his songs, this one is instrumental and features guitar, sax and organ. Listen to how he rides the line between swung (jazzy) and straight notes. Fun stuff.

6. "8-21-07 Elvis' Stolen Gun" by The Don and Mike Show - Ok, this isn't a song at all, but a part of my favorite radio show, which I have to listen to as a podcast, since it's on at an inconvenient hour, syndicated from their home in DC. I don't know where to begin to explain this show, but part of its appeal is their love of Elvis Presley, Larry King, and Jerry Lewis. And Regis. They frequently conduct interviews in character, either as Elvis or Larry King. This reminds me of an English project in high school, when Connor Doe and I handed in a little show called "Oscar Wilde's Story Hour" or something, wherein we took turns reading, in terrible British/Irish accents, paragraphs of Oscar Wilde's short stories, while some Renaissance music played in the background. It was hilarious and I think we got an A. Anyway, Don and Mike are funny, frequently berate their callers, talk a lot about the funniest parts of their personal lives (much like a good blog does), and they provide me with a lot of what I need to know about pop culture. Wikipedia, of course, has more in depth details about their show.

7. "Same Old Thing" by The Meters - I got into The Meters because of Stanton Moore. That's a funny thing with music, finding out about a much earlier existing band and their influence on a more current band that you like, but you still like the current band more. Regardless, The Meters were a great band, and Ziggy Modeliste had great skills on the drums. The Meters were a terrificly funky band, from NO,LA, like Stanton Moore and Harry Connick Jr. A classic band who were much more influential than I ever realized, until the past year or so. This song has a great tight riff, some occasional vocals, and a pure funky groove.

8. "Mr. Sellack" by The Roches - I recently got all the albums by The Roches, thanks to Elvis Costello including them on some kind of celebrity playlist or something. They're a female folk trio of sisters from the east coast. Maybe NY? They have great 3-part harmonies and seem like good music for Simon to listen to. They are somehow connected to Rufus Wainwright's musical mother & aunt. My favorite song of theirs is "Quitting Time."

9. "I'm not Angry" by Elvis Costello - There are some bands like Galactic, The Meters, or Led Zeppelin that make we want to immediately pick up drum sticks and practice. Other groups, like The Roches, make me wish I could sing like them. Elvis Costello is an artist that makes me wish I knew more guitar chords, could write clever lyrics, and could write intriguing, brilliant melodies. He's an amazing musician and I wish I'd listened to him for the past 20 years instead of just the past 2.

10. "Black Town" by Rotary Downs - This is a good little indie band I heard on NPR. Their vocalist reminds me a bit of Ken Andrews of Failure. Musically, they've been compared frequently to Pavement. I'm still digesting this album, so no judgments yet. Coincidentally, this band is also from New Orleans.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Breaking News!

According to this blog, Portland has the greatest concentration of educated people, of all cities in the US. Also, the greatest concentration of morons. Now you can tell your friends, "I read online somewhere that Portland has the greatest concentration of educated people." And they'll be like, "That makes sense. People in Portland seem pretty smart. Where did you read that?" And you can say, "Somewhere online, I can't remember exactly." But it'll seem totally believable.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Oden and Simon

Having recently finished lunching with Marisa and Simon, let me say that Simon pretty much makes me happier than anything in the world. His mere presence makes me gleeful. Then when he starts looking around and smiling and laughing at things, oh man, I like to fall out.

Secondly, I can't help but think it's hilarious that the Blazers' Greg Oden won't be playing with them this season, due to his recuperation. Freaking hilarious. So many people around here flipped the eff out when the Blazers got Oden in the draft, it was like Beatlemania for a while. He was on the cover of pretty much all the newspapers for a while, and it got to be rather annoying to hear all about people's hopes for Portland to be the center of the sports world for a little while.

This is yet another reason why I have virtually no interest in professional sports. There's so much hype so often and then something like Oden's surgery happens and deflates everyone. Fantasy football. Super Bowl hype. World Series hype. Player's salaries. Ratings. Commercials. Endorsements. It all strikes me as utterly trivial and an useless way for the public to spend time and dollars. I'm not ashamed to say it - since about age 13, I've had no interest in watching sports. Playing sports, maybe, but watching pro athletes and thinking about their stats has always seemed like a tremendous waste of energy, both in time and money. In high school, there were posters around the campus which read "Get high on sports, not drugs!" These never made any sense to me, whatsoever. At least when I play video games, I can think that I'm working on hand-eye coordination.

With pro sports, it's hard to watch and not think about how filthy rich these bastards are and how, chances are, I'll never have that kind of money, regardless of my talent and education and regardless of how I might benefit society. It's that whole thing about how teachers are one of the most valuable people in society, yet they make a terribly disproportionate salary.

To those of you who feel crestfallen by Oden's withdrawal, think about this: there's always going to be another season and another batch of athletes to get excited about. Always. So when you put all this emotional and mental investment into something as trivial as pro sports, I would like to just say "Go read a book." Great authors like Richard Ford continue to write and be read, regardless of the author's injury or recuperation time.

Finally, in a totally unrelated Google search, the phrase "pro sports are a waste of time" only yielded 3 results. For shame, internet, for shame. Not that I won't watch at least part of the World Series this year; I'll just do it with the knowledge that I could be doing something much more productive. Like playing Bioshock.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Summer `07 Survey

DEFINING MOMENT OF SUMMER `07: Finishing college. The "moment," I suppose, was giving a speech to my Oregon writers class, which was the last bit of schoolwork.

BEST PURCHASE OF SUMMER `07: Xbox 360 or maybe my 24" Istanbul ride cymbal. I don't know. This was a rather lean summer.

BEST BOOK YOU READ DURING SUMMER `07: The Sky Fisherman by Craig Lesley. I first read it 9 years ago, during the first term of my college career, so it seems rather fitting that I'd read it again for a class during my final term of school. A great book, too, about a teenage boy in a small town whose uncle is a local celebrity, and then there are some mysterious deaths and some bildungsroman.

BEST MOVIE YOU SAW DURING SUMMER `07: Zodiac. Or maybe The Departed. I cannot get over how effing good The Departed is. Theatrically? Maybe Knocked Up, which I saw twice. Definitely not any of the trilogy-ending flicks, like Spiderman, Pirates, or Oceans. And big-time not Transformers. How come I'm such a sucker for big-budget crap-fests?

BEST GIFT YOU RECEIVED IN SUMMER `07: Graduation $$ from my favorite parents.

BIGGEST LOSS OF SUMMER `07: I lost out on getting a vacation since this was definitely the poorest summer Moz and I have had yet, cash-wise.

SONG THAT SUMS UP SUMMER `07: Based on repeated listens alone, I'd say "45" by Elvis Costello. Plus it's a song about growing older, I think, which I relate to graduation and fatherhood. According to this site 45 is: "a song he wrote for his 45th birthday. It begins with Armistice day in 1945, the beginning of his generation and goes through the 45rpm records he bought as a child, to splitting up those same records in a divorce and finally his own 45th birthday. He addresses rock and roll of course, as part of the definition of his generation (and manages to poke fun both his youthful and current self)." Or maybe the Sm'umpkins "Doomsday Clock" which totally rocks and could equally be about getting older. I listened to that one a lot to, but for the sheer quality of its intensity rather than its attributes as a great song. "45" is a great song, with a fantastic melody, good dynamics, et al.

HAPPIEST MEMORY OF SUMMER `07: Probably all the nighttime fires in the backyard, sipping on White Russians or Rum & Cokes.

SADDEST MEMORY OF SUMMER `07: Nothing really tragic happened, so perhaps I'll say that as Moz and I watched Simon go from newborn to infant to learning to crawl and outgrow a bunch of clothes, I was reminded on a regular basis that a) we're in this for the long haul, and b) in probably 20 years or so Simon will have to move out and won't be under our constant loving supervision. I realize this is nothing new, but it still breaks my heart just a little.

SCARIEST MEMORY OF SUMMER `07: The realization that we were effing broke.

WORD THAT BEST DESCRIBES SUMMER `07: Flux. That is, a change in jobs, education, and responsibilities for Moz and I.

Big boy!

Well, Simon started crawling two days ago. And it's more of an army crawl, like he's pulling himself along with his amazingly strong arms because his legs were blown off by enemy fire. Or something. Also, he's able to pull himself into an upright sitting position. And he's gotten pretty good at stealing his friends' toys. Much like his father, I'd say. We have photographic evidence of destruction of one such stolen toy. I love how his expression is like, "Oh crap! I'm caught!"

My Stress Level

Now that I'm done with educating up myself, I have time for stupid internet games and such. One of the funniest thing I've come across is a Hello Kitty Stress Test. I think it's for reals, but I'm not entirely sure. Here is the result of my stress test, verbatim:

You have a fair stress level.

One of the reasons for this is your conscious awareness to release your stress before letting it get worst.

However when you come across many troubles at the same time, you might unable to handle it. There comes the problem. For this type you better enjoy the green and wood.

As long as you are in the natural environment, you will be peaceful to resolve any problems.

And I tend to agree with this analysis. I will be peaceful to resolve any problems as long as I'm in the natural environment. That's probably why I enjoyed working at summer camp so much as a teen: I was in the natural environment. I was totally peaceful to resolve any problems.

Now, I better go enjoy the green and the wood, like Hello Kitty told me to. However, I seem to be stuck in this cubicle-ridden wasteland of fluorescent lights and BO.