Sunday, August 31, 2008

Drunkblogging Whooooooo!

Typing is very difficult right now, but just let me say that the words "Stephen Colbert Christmas Special with songs by Adam Schlessinger" are quite possibly the most UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME words in the English language!!!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Well, file this under "Not At All Surprising:"
Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA.
Ha ha! Seriously, you guys are doomed, right?

On the plus side, it saves me the trouble of obsessively creating an end-of-summer playlist.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Building the Perfect Song

#2: The song should have an intro section where instruments are added to the mix one by one. For example:

The New Pornographers - Use It

Peter Bjorn & John - Young Folks
(I'm no music supervisor, but I always thought that one of these two songs would work great over a montage of someone going about their morning routine. Or did someone already do that?)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps

(I totally owned this song in Rock Band the other night: 100% on vocals! I never played it before, though, so for all I know that's really easy to do.)

Bonus points are in order if you stretch this tactic out over the course of the entire song, and if you use a clever bit of staging to emphasize the point:

Line of the Week

Jesse Taylor:
Most of us forget we have certain things - small purchases like DVDs or CDs, or even slightly larger purchases that you made once and simply forgot like a toaster oven or a piece of luggage. But at the point that a luxury home becomes like that fullscreen copy of Underworld: Evolution you picked up at a garage sale, you have a freakish level of detachment from how regular people live.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If I Were a Benevolent Dictator...

When people are wearing running clothes and crossing a street, it should be illegal for them to be strolling along at a leisurely pace. You're already dressed for a workout, so why the hell can't you pick up the pace to at least a moderate trot?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Look At Me! I'm a Music Critic!

Allow me to review (without having heard a single note) the new Dandy Warhols album:

A long time ago, they used to be cool,
But I haven't thought of them lately at all.
I am so devastatingly clever.

(Plus, my last post sort of got that song stuck in my head.)

Hooray for Established Properties!

The standard complaint about Hollywood is that it's bankrupt of ideas, and that movie studios churn out nothing but sequels, remakes, and adaptations of video games, comic books and TV shows.

That complaint is pretty much accurate, but you know what? I'm OK with that, so long as it means I get my Arrested Development and Veronica Mars movies.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Light-Rail Porn

Atrios links to a map of the Philadelphia trolley system from 1923. Center City looks like graph paper.

Headline of the Day

"Men claim they have body of Bigfoot."
I once took out a personal ad where I claimed to have the body of a young Johnny Weissmuller. Bigfoot's probably closer to the truth, though.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

...And That's When My iPod Died

My Morning Jacket - One Big Holiday

New York I Love You, But...

The last time I made a visit to the other five boroughs was nearly five years ago (a trip that consisted of -- no joke -- taking the train into NYC, seeing a movie, and then taking the train back home). So last Saturday, at the tail end of a vacation that involved practically no travel, I took a little daytrip up to Manhattan. How did I like it? Well, I'm glad you asked:
  • I started out the day in Fort Tryon Park in Inwood, taking pictures of the heavily wooded paths and the Cloisters. As I was doing this, my camera died and has yet to be resurrected. Goodnight, sweet FinePix A340; I never really liked you that much, and now I have an excuse to replace you.
  • I guess I'm used to Philadelphia's cute l'il H0-scale subway system, but it takes forever to get anywhere on the train in New York. You're only making one stop every 10 blocks or so, and it's still a good hour from the northern to southern tip of Manhattan.
  • Every time I found myself near a group of French-speaking tourists, I had the sudden urge to shout, "Ya'll ain't from 'round here, are ya?" in an obnoxious Southern accent.
  • I checked out David Byrne's Playing the Building installation at the Battery Maritime Building, and it was pretty neat. It's basically an old organ connected to a bunch of motors, pipes, and percussive devices all around the walls of a cavernous room (all of the wires branching out from the organ make it look a bit like a giant spider has taken up residence there). It sounds like some avant-garde film soundtrack, with strange, dissonant noises emanating from all around you. The people lining up for their turn at the organ seemed to be mostly hitting random keys; I'd love to see if someone could spend enough time there to compose a piece.
  • After leaving that exhibit, I started walking towards the Brooklyn Bridge to take a look at the waterfalls that are currently going on there. I got close enough to vaguely see what the deal was and be unimpressed, so I figured I'd cut my losses and move on.
  • On the second leg of my subway journey, I apparently looked like enough of a local to start giving people directions. (OK, I just told them what station we were arriving at, a piece of information that they could have deduced by looking out the train window.)
  • The Strand is intimidatingly huge. Despite this, they didn't seem to have most of the books I was looking for.
  • Overheard in the Strand - Trendy Guy #1: "Hey, have you ever read Fight Club?" Trendy Guy #2: "Is that, like, based on the movie?" Trendy Guy #1: "Yeah." (Pretty lame, I know. That's why it's here and not there.)
  • Another reason Philadelphia is better than New York: the street layout makes more sense. In Philly, the street numbers get lower as you go east, and when you hit 1st street (OK, Front Street) the only place left to go is the Delaware River. In New York, the street numbers get lower as you go south, and after you hit 1st Street . . . there's still a couple of miles worth of island. Plus, the streets don't line up with the street numbers. If you're looking for the 800 block of Broadway, don't assume it's anywhere near the corner of 8th and Broadway.
  • I wanted to check out Other Music, because it routinely gets listed as among the best records stores in the country. Until I got there, I didn't know how tiny it was. It was a bit disappointing; I guess I'm one of those philistines who values quantity over quality. While trying to find the place, though, I stumbled across a spot called Generation Records; it's about the same size as Other Music, but with a huge basement stocked with vinyl and used CDs. Knowing what I know now, I should have stayed put and done my browsing there.
  • The saddest sight in the world = an attractive woman on the subway reading an Ann Coulter book.
  • Man, they're not kidding when they say that you can get anything in New York; I had a mescaline salad for dinner! I spent the rest of the night waiting for the mystical hallucinations to kick in. In retrospect, whoever wrote the menu probably meant this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer Reading Assignment

If you have somehow made it this far in your life without reading Donald Barthelme's "The School," please take a few moments and correct this oversight.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Latest Dubious Milestone

My Netflix queue has hit 500 items. If I try to add anything else, Netflix basically says, "Are you kidding me? You've got 500 fucking movies lined up right now! Do you even expect to live long enough to watch 500 movies?"

So, I can either throw myself fully into clearing out my bloated queue by watching and returning DVDs as quickly as possible and taking fuller advantage of the streaming-video service, or I can just start a second profile for my account, which comes with a shiny new up-to-500-more-items queue. Care to guess which course I'll end up taking?

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Logistics of Dancing

Typically when I go to shows, I don't do much moving; I'm more the type of person who just stands there like this, crosses his arms, stares you down, and drinks and moans and disses. In fact, I can only recall one instance in which I danced because I felt like it, and not because I was at a high-school prom and felt obligated to give it a try. I didn't really expect to change any of that when I went to see the dance-rock-oriented quadruple bill at the Trocadero on Thursday night. My plan was to get there in time to see Matt & Kim and (especially) the Go! Team, hang out near the back of the crowd where I wouldn't be sucked into any sort of writhing mass of hipster bodies, and possibly sneak out partway through CSS's set.

Things did not quite work out that way.

I arrived at the Troc as opener Natalie Portman's Shaved Head were playing, whose name I'm sure seemed clever back in March of 2006. Aside from that, they sang songs about beards and ponytails, making me wonder exactly what was up with their hair fixation. There was a lot of shout-singing, synths, and flourescent outfits, and only one song ("Me Plus Yr Daughter") really made much of an impression on me. Overall, they seemed to be one of those irksome "Look how weird we are!" bands.

Now Matt & Kim, I like. If you're not familiar with them, they're basically a punkier version of Mates of State, an utterly adorable couple who play drums and keyboards. They came on stage playing "The Final Countdown," and went on to perform a high-energy set punctuated with cute, rambling stories about equipment troubles, getting beaten to the show by a guy on a scooter, and how Matt looks like Where's Waldo when he's wearing a striped shirt. Also, the way Kim plays, you'd think that a drum set had once killed her family and she's devoted her life to making it suffer.

The Go! Team is who I really came to see, though; I loved their first album, and like the couple of songs I've heard off of Proof of Youth. So when the band kicked off their set with some unfamiliar cuts from the latter album, I was thinking, "Yeah, this is pretty good." Then they segued into "The Power is On," and I'm not entirely sure what happened to me. All I know is that for the next -- forty-five minutes? hour? I have no idea how long they played -- I was waving my arms, shaking my hips, moving from side to side, honest-to-blog dancing. And I only stopped during "Everyone's a V.I.P. to Someone," because that song's pretty un-danceable until the end.

As for CSS's set, here's the stuff I'd typically be blogging about:
  • Lead singer Lovefoxxx took the stage wearing a feathery outfit that made her look like Bjork's kid sister.
  • I can only identify 3 CSS songs.
  • I could hardly understand a word they were singing.
But that's about all I could tell you since I spent the remainder of the show continuing to make a fool of myself.

I know that a really great concert can easily lead to hyperbole (and this show definitely ranks in my personal all-time top 5), but I really felt like this was a transformative night for me. All my life, I thought I just hated dancing, and that I was the sort of person who just sort of hangs around at shows thinking of clever bon-mots to use in his obligatory blog review the next day. It turns out, though, that with a few drinks, music that I really love, and a crowd of like-minded people who are equally unworried about looking silly, I can become a different person. Suddenly, the world seemed full of possibilities. Performers like Daft Punk, Girl Talk, and LCD Soundsystem that I was afraid to see live because I feared I wouldn't fit in with the crowd are, just like that, no longer off-limits. I felt like 26 wasn't that old after all, and hipsters aren't so scary when you see them up-close. I felt like I had been reborn.

So, yeah: really good show. You should check 'em out sometime.

Anything Else You Want to Say?

  • You know what's always cool? When someone from the opening band is manning the merch table after the show. Especially if that person is Kim from Matt & Kim, since you already feel like you're on a first-name basis. Rather than being like, "I would like to purchase a T-shirt, ma'am" you can be like, "Hi, Kim! Great show! Can I buy a T-shirt?" Plus, all of this psuedo-familiarity allowed me to courteously point out that Kim had given me the wrong change for my shirt (fool me once, shame on you...).
  • OK, one more cool thing about Kim: before CSS's set, I overheard her recommending to a skeptical concertgoer a certain kind of earplugs that she had stored in a little case dangling from her belt loop: the very same earplugs that I had in a little case dangling from my belt loop! Take that, everyone who ever laughed at me when I put in my earplugs that make it look like I have little antennae! (I've never actually heard these people laughing, but I'm certain that they exist)
  • After seeing the Go! Team, I'm thinking that two-drummer bands are starting to become the norm rather than the exception.
  • So, dancing? Kinda fun! I can see why people have been doing it for a few thousand years.

...And That's When My iPod Died

Belle & Sebastian - Sukie in the Graveyard

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Things the Internet is Good Far, Part 4,724

If you saw this recent xkcd cartoon and thought that you'd like to read some more analysis and criticisms of the graph in question, Ezra Klein's commenters have you covered.