Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I haven't posted in a while and I keeping thinking of things to write about but now that I've actually got some time, all I can remember is something I came across when editing next week's "Commentary Tracks Of The Damned" feature (subject: Eurotrop). Namely, this (click to enlarge for full effect):

Somebody out there really likes Michelle Trachtenberg.

I suscribe to eMusic and highly recommend it to anyone whose musical taste extends beyond the the Top 40/Classic Rock spectrum and doesn't mind missing out on old-fashioned niceities like album covers and liner notes. (Okay, I miss those, but what can you do?) I usually use to to catch up with recent indie rock I missed the first time around, fill out blank spots from the Sun Records and Riverside jazz catalog. There's an abundance of great '50s and '60s jazz there. And probably beyond those decades, but jazz kind of loses me after Bitches Brew. For your jazz flute needs, I recommend the Herbie Mann album Flute Souffle.

But I digress. What I really wanted to write about was how it's the dream destination for anyone who's curious and frugal. There's a ton of experimental 20th century music on there that. And thanks to the way eMusic's structure, every track downloaded counts the same against users' monthly download allowance, regardless of length. So say you want Bang On A Can's 45-minute rendition of Terry Riley's "In C" composition (and you should; it's disorientingly lovely), that's just one track. Lately I've been picking through the the work of Pauline Oliveros, an accordionist/early electronic musician who experimented with tape loops and primitive synths and later pioneered a theory of "deep listening" and music to accompany the theory that challenged listeners to treat the environment around them as a musical landscape. Also, there's some business withb mandalas to it that I don't really understand, but it's mind-bending stuff nonetheless. I'm tempted by a John Cage title called Empty Words (part III). It's a two-disc, two-track set of him reading a Thoreau essay, stretching out the syllables until they stop working as language while, as per his intent, the audience turns on him. But not that tempted.


Otherwise I've mostly been listening to stuff covered in Simon Reynolds fairly essential new book Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, which suggests that Public Image Limited was more important than the Sex Pistols and other heretical notions. It's given me a better appreciation of some old favorites (Talking Heads), deepened my understanding of groups I've always respected more than enjoyed (Gang Of Four), and made me curious about some acts I've never bothered with before (The Pop Group, Throbbing Gristle.) Recommended, for sure.

Monday, May 22, 2006


A.V. Club contributor Chris Dahlen has a good article on music recommendation services, their possible futures, and their inevitable shortcomings, at Pitchfork. Read it here.


From my work e-mail:

Good afternoon! I hope this note finds you well... Below please find information about the new MTI Home Video release of "Pirates" (July 11, 2006) - the new cut of the action/adventure film just received an "R" from the MPAA - the first time an adult film has been edited to an R!

From the press release itself:

Originally billed as a “swashbluckling sex adventure,” the new R-rated version of Pirates is being touted by MTI as an “action-adventure” offering, with the label playing up the film’s sea battles, sword fights and sorcery sequences. The original epic ran more than two hours, but the new version clocks in at a lean 82 minutes.

Why not call it Pirates: The Bits You Normally Fast-Forward Through edition?

On a completely unrelated note (or is it?), I'm trying to get through the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album because somebody has to review it. Has this band gotten really boring or have I just outgrown them? Also, would I like it better if it were an instrumental album? I think so. John Frusciante and Flea can play the hell out of their instruments but it's hard to figure out which is worse: Anthony Kiedis' vocals or what they're being used to sing. From the song I'm listening to right now:

The spirit of the dragon's tear
Is lovely at this time of year
My disenchanted diplomat
Asleep inside the laundromat

And it's two discs long.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This is the cover to an upcoming issue of DC's Birds Of Prey. At last, some superhero action to call our own. (Although I guess Robert Pollard kind of counts. Behold, The Note: The Amazing Man Cursed With The Inability To Stop Recording Everything That Occurs To Him. Reel At His Lo-Fi Rock Anthems. Shudder At The Four-Track Embedded In His Stomach. Try If You Can To Stop Him From Drinking The Beer That Powers His Mind.)

The subtext is 100% correct: Just stay the hell out of Dayton, people.

I've never doubted that A.O. Scott earned his salary, but sometimes he really proves it, as in his review of The Da Vinci Code. Scott describes it as an adpatation of "Dan Brown's best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence," a thread he picks up later on:

To their credit the director and his screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman (who collaborated with Mr. Howard on "Cinderella Man" and "A Beautiful Mind"), have streamlined Mr. Brown's story and refrained from trying to capture his, um, prose style. "Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino with long white hair." Such language — note the exquisite "almost" and the fastidious tucking of the "which" after the preposition — can live only on the page.

Yep. I haven't seen the movie yet, so maybe I shouldn't judge. But I did make it to page 12 of the novel before packing it in. Last night Stevie made it to page 15. We both hope never to encounter the phrase "chocolate to the ears" again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


So, it's been busy here but I need to squeeze in a post before everyone stops checking in. (All, 10 of you.) What's new?: Stevie's been fighting some sort of allergy/sinus/ear infection thing so we've been a man down. (One thing we learned: Don't take Tylenol PM at 5 am no matter how little you've slept.) We spent much of the weekend indoors, which was fine because it feels like Smarch outside. ("Lousy Smarch weather!") I spend much of the weekend cursing our wireless set-up for not working the way I wanted it too. I worked it out now life is okay. I can play any of my MP3s in any room of the house (almost) with the push of a button. It's a dream come true, at least for me. (Currently on the stereo: Gentlemen by Afghan Wigs which holds up so very well.

What else is new? My parents are coming to town and, as much as I look forward to seeing them, it's always a little difficult. They don't like the city. At all. They're still country folks at heart and they've both gone from rural to suburban settings in a lifetime, so asking them to make the leap to a big city setting is probably too much to ask. Still, hanging out in Skokie (the closest they'll stay to Chicago) wears a bit thin after a while. Fortunately they're coming with some more adventurous friends, which helps. We need to find some place to celebrate my dad's birthday. He'll be 78. Wow.

Okay, time for a new song: The Outfield's "Your Love." Add that to The Hooters on the list of minor, new wave-inspired bands who still hold up pretty well. Wirelessness. What an age.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

Quick hits on dog-related matters:

• I should have posted this sooner, but Stevie, Sophie, and I will be doing a 5K walk Saturday. to raise money for The Anti-Cruelty Society, the shelter we got Sophie from. Here's a link. We've raised something like $400 so far and I feel good about that. (We've had Sophie for a year as of yesterday, by the way.)

• We babysitted our pals' new pug puppy Iris over the weekend. It was exhausting fun. Here's me with Iris, both loooking sleepy (and, yes, I shill for my publication in my own home:

• If you do puppy-sit, make sure your own dog doesn't eat puppy treats that give her explosive diarrhea. Not fun.

Well, maybe "riles" isn't the right word. But here are some scenes of Chicago excitement.


Conan O'Brien is coming. That's exciting. I even managed to score some tickets to next Tuesday's taping. And Cheap Trick will be there. And that night I'm seeing Sigur Ros at the Opera House. Should be a good day.


That Trump building, the one that the dude from the first season of The Apprentice is working on... up it goes!


Get 'em here. But remember: Getting a grill is not a decision to enter into lightly.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


From, regarding the fact that Brook Shields and Tom Cruise became parents on the same day:

Monday, May 01, 2006



From The Yahoo! Headlines Loaded Understatement Collection: