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Friday, January 28, 2005
See dees DVD
Two XL DVD reviews ran in the last two editions. I reviewed Lewis Black on Broadway and this week a review ran of Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 3
Also from our paper (I didn't write it, but I wish I had): a story about bubble wrap with links where you can pop some virtual bubbles.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Fun with Funyons and Sunny D
Li'l Floaty Omie Head writes short and headachey today about fear of flu and potential Oscar foods.
Forgotten in the deadline fray: The Seagram's Wine Cooler Inside.
Edited to fix a screwed-up link.
For those who've Paypal'd, sent SASE's or have e-mailed about the 2004 Mix CD:
A small initial batch went out on Monday, a slightly larger batch went out Tuesday. I had to work late Tuesday and I had an LCP meeting last night, so I haven't burned any more, but I plan to do some tonight and through the weekend to send out more tomorrow, Saturday and Monday.
I'm sending to Paypal folks first and once those are cleared, I'll move on to SASEs, then those who requested the CD via e-mail. If you're sending a SASE, the postage is 83 cents, first class (at least that's what they told me at the Post Office.) There's an 83 cent stamp you can buy, or you can just put multiple 37-cent'ers. The CD is in a durable plastic case that won't break like a regular jewel box in the mail (knock on wood) and it's shipped in a plain manilla envelope. Sorry -- no cute note or anything inside. Just the CD in its case with a track/artist listing.
Part of the delay last night was that I ran out of the plastic cases I was using and the stores I went to only had the regular jewel-box kind, which I'm loathe to ship those without padding. I bought some inexpensive paper sleeves, but they're even more flimsy and cheap and probably apt to allow the CDs inside to get scratched up in the mail, so I doubt I'll use them. I'm going to run to Fry's or Best Buy today and see if I can't find more of the plastic kind I was using before.
I've got a recap to write this weekend, but I'll see if I can get through as many of the current orders as I can by Monday. If you've already mailed, Paypal'd or SASE'd and you haven't gotten a CD by Saturday, Feb. 4,, e-mail me and let me know.
I also had some folks who sent more than one Paypal payment -- if it was an accident and you want one of those dollars back or if you want multiple copies, let me know. Otherwise, I'll assume you're being generous and spotting some other random person a buck for their copy.
Thanks, everybody -- drop me a line when you get your discs if you've got anything to say about the music and I'll post some of the comments or link to entries about it here.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
New additions to the family
We moved to the new house and lost something pretty important.
Rebecca's cat, Oscar, made the move with us, but when we arrived, he whined to be let outside, as he always did at our old house. He'd become mostly an outside cat and it took us several days to find him when we wanted to bring him to New Braunfels.
We let him out even though we'd wanted to get him tagged first. But he wanted to go outside. So we let him.
We haven't seen him since. It's been four weeks.
Even if we see Oscar again -- and our hopes for that get a little smaller every day -- we know he won't be content to be an indoor cat.
So we found some new friends to join the family. Cosa's not fond of them yet (she took a swipe at the gray one -- we still don't have names but we're working on it) after a few cursory sniffs.
The other kitten is adventurous. He already took a few jumps off the tall bed without incident. I think he's going to be a handful.
They're about six weeks old and they're brothers. We didn't want to split them up.
They wanted to say hi:
Today's Space Monkeys! strip might be my favorite one yet.
It's certainly the dirtiest. Go check it out.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Sometimes, something cool happens
First, thanks for the CD props. The response has been overwhelming -- I'll be burning discs and glue-sticking labels long into the weekend -- but I'd rather have it that way than get the brunt of a collective Internet shrug. I've sent out two batches of discs. Batches three, four and beyond will go out Thursday and Friday.
In other news, I got pulled into a very short-lived flame war online that was over almost before it began.
I did something I always thought about doing but never really tried before -- I looked up someone's domain name, called them on the phone, and asked why they wrote such mean things about me on their Web site. After the initial surprise of having been called in real life by a complete stranger, the guy who'd posted some very naughty things in my direction actually listened. We went back and forth. But we talked.
And the shit worked. I had an actual conversation to prove to someone, in effect, that I was a real human being out here on the other end of the line and not just a caricature and words on a Web site. I lectured and was a bit of a prick in that I nagged until my point was made, but never veered from being at least polite.
The next day I saw this and later in the evening, read this.
Olive branches and concession are about as rare as pictures of dripping asses are plentiful on the Web and in your spam-weary Inbox. I know these guys write for a very specific audience very different than who I write for and do it for fun, and we just happened to cross paths by chance. I've very glad they listened and it's cool to see it's blown over.
Plus that Lindy graphic I was using was pretty dumb to begin with.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Murphy and Bartholomew
The Space Monkeys! universe just got a little larger with today's introduction of two new characters, Murphy and Bartholomew, designed to be aerodynamically opposed to our primary heroes. Like jerks online who call you names, these guys are meant to be a persistent thorn in their sides.
We've re-jiggered the home page, too, and added new features: a "Story so far..." page to get everyone up to speed on storylines and characters, and a Frequently Asked Questions page for, you know, questions and stuff.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
The mix is on
The mix CD is happening. Thanks for the e-mails, everybody, it was a very good response.
I've started making them this weekend and they're ready to send out immediately. I'm sending out a message to those who've e-mailed and here's the information (and to the terribly-happy notify list, which you're always welcome to join, on how to get it.
One important change -- the tracklisting will change slightly. I'm subbing out the Death Cab for Cutie song, which really isn't doing it for me, with something from N.E.R.D., whom I completely forgot about and listened to a lot in '04. So they'll be on there.
Here's the options for donation to get a copy of the CD:
1. Paypal -- you paypal me $1 to cover the CD and shipping. Click below to do so.
2. SASE -- mail me a stamped envelope, I'll hit you back with the CD. E-mail me and I'll send you my mail address.
3. E-mail me the address, screw the $1 -- if you don't use paypal or your life is too crazy to do the SASE thing (believe me, I can relate), just send me your address and I'll mail you a CD anyway. I'm not in this to make any money. I figure if some folks send $1 and some folks don't, it'll balance out anyway. We're doing this on the honor system, but don't feel bad if you just want a CD and don't want to deal with payment. You can hit me back with a nice note later if you enjoy the CD.
So that's it. Here's a track-by-track rundown. Every album mentioned on this list from every artist is worth owning, or at least giving a serious listen. Hope you like it and I hope it leads to some good CD purchases (or at least some good iTunes downloads.)
1. Portland Oregon -- Loretta Lynn (with Jack White)
Album: Van Lear Rose
Sample lyric: Well sloe gin fizz works might fast /
When you drink it by the pitcher and not by the glass
Like I said a while back, I never expected to be buying a Loretta Lynn album in the year 2005. But there I was, the day before my wedding, plunking down the cashola for this fine, fine CD. Then I lent it out and never got it back, but that's a whole other story. It's a very good album, an album that makes you stare, dumbstruck, at your CD player as you hear this supposedly 70-year-old woman sounding so good. Whatever she's drinking with her supper, I want some. And that Jack White kid's no slouch, either. He's going places. The title track from the album is also fantastic.
2. Dignificada -- Lila Downs
Album: Una Sangre (One Blood)
Sample lyric: Ay morena, morenita mía / No te olvidaré
The first of a handful of Spanish songs here, this might be my favorite song on the entire disc. Lila Downs did songs for the Frida soundtrack (she performed at the Oscars that year) and she has an amazing voice, as you'll hear on this song, but also an impeccable sense of rhythm and timing. Her album doesn't sound anything like this. It's got all kinds of music from a funky take on "La Cucaracha" to a soulful ranchera song. This album wasn't as huge last year as I wish it had been. I think people just didn't know enough about it to get too excited. If you like this song, download "Brown Paper People."
3. Oceania -- Bjork
Sample lyric: Your sweat is salty / I am why
My days of trying to convince people to appreciate Bjork are long over. You either love her, or you think her voice sounds like a turkey grater. This was the song she wrote for and performed at the Olympics, when they pulled her dress across the entire stadium. It's from an album made up of mostly vocals that I'm still trying to wrap my head around (I confess to not giving it as good a listen as I should have). This one narrowly edged out "The Pleasure is All Mine," which you should download, post-haste.
4. Aganju (Latin Project Remix) -- Bebel Gilberto
Album: Bebel Gilberto
Sample lyric: Quem sabe a labuta quitar / Sabe o trabalho que dá
OK, you got me. I don't know Portugese. Those lyrics could be about a truck that crashes in Detroit for all I know. But it's a pretty song from a pretty album (although to be honest, it's the kind of album you're more apt to hear at a fancy schmancy dinner party or to play while you're doing laundry than to crank up in your car at rush hour). Bebel's first album was the origin of like 20,000 gay club remixes, and I'm sure the follow-up will have a similarly long life at Steve and Carol's wine-tasting bash and in eurotrash soirees for years. "Baby" is a good song from that album, too.
5. Michael -- Franz Ferdinand
Album: Franz Ferdinand
Sample lyric: This is what I am, I am a man / so come and dance with me Michael
I wrote about these guys during The ACL fest. I was impressed with them live (they genuinely seemed to be having a great time, unlike, say, Modest Mouse, who we'll get to in a minute) and their album is just poppy fun. This song is a little heavier than most on the album, but it's hot, sweaty and extreeeeemely gay, so consider this a shout-out to my Smallville peeps. You should also download "Auf Achse" because it sounds like you're saving the princess on a Super Nintendo game.
6. Float On -- Modest Mouse
Album: Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Sample lyric: Even if things get heavy we'll all float on
Let me re-iterate. These guys were complete DICKS at ACL fest. Yet, their album is tightness in a plastic bag and their recent appearance on Austin City Limits was firmly up in the realms above reproach. So what the fuck? I blame the extreme heat on their piss-poor ACL set and hold this album up as a shining example of good things happening to a band that was bad when I saw them. Also check out "Ocean Breathes Salty," which had my favorite video last year, and "Bury Me With It," which rocks.
7. Jesus of Suburbia -- Green Day
Album: American Idiot
Sample lyric: But there's nothing wrong with me, this is how I'm supposed to be / In a land of make believe, that don't believe in me
I've written about "American Idiot" a few times around here, and the nice thing is that I no longer have to. The album keeps hopscotching back to #1 on the charts and people are tuning in to this rock opera-but-not-really epic. If you were even a little bit angry about the election or the war last year, let this album help channel your rage a bit. Download "Holiday," or better yet just buy the whole album. You've got nine minutes of it right here.
8. Jesus Walks -- Kanye West
Album: The College Dropout
Sample lyric: They say you can rap-about-anything except for Jesus /
That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes / But if I talk about God my record won't get played
Despite Mr. West's many Grammy nominations, most people still haven't heard his album, which is a shame because it's a revelatory rap disc, the rare hip hop album that holds together and will make you laugh and then choke up. Kanye is full of production tricks, but his heart-felt rapping, masterful use of samples and endlessly inventive (not to mention intelligent and cliche-free) themes make him the great hope for rap's future. I mean, he's got a damn violin chick in his posse. How can he go wrong? The kid's got balls to even go out without a gangsta lean. This is another one where the whole album is full of fantastic songs, but "All Falls Down" "Slow Jamz" (with award-sweeper Jamie Foxx) and "Two Words" are other stand-outs.
9. What More Can I Say? -- DJ Danger Mouse (Jay-Z + The Beatles)
Album: The Grey Album
Sample lyric: I supposed to be number one on everybodys list / We'll see what happens when i no longer exist
You don't need me to direct you to where to find this CD (that's not really a CD -- you can't legally buy it anywhere) -- you just need to do a Google search. But this experiment fusing Beatles songs with Jay-Z (White Album + Black Album = Grey Album, but without permission from either) just goes to show how musically imaginative someone can get with some decent material and a whole lot of Pro Tools. If anything, it annoys me that I can't go out and buy this CD because it's fantastic, better than a lot of what came out this year, and I would mind putting money into the pockets of Danger Mouse, Jay-Z AND whoever owns The Beatles' back catalog. Other good songs from the album: "December 4th" and "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," which is about 15 kinds of crazy-ass.
10. The Letter -- PJ Harvey
Album: Uh Huh Her
Sample lyric: Who is left that writes these days? / You and me
we'll be different
This was not my favorite album of the year, not by a long shot, and I was disappointed after the sonic brilliance of "Stories From the City / Stories From the Sea." But there were some interesting moments in the stripped-down "Uh Huh Her" and this was one of them. "Shame" and "Pocket Knife" are all right too, but nothing by a long shot beats "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore" from her last CD.
11. Bam Thwok -- Pixies
Sample lyric: Watch it / Here's 50 thousand watts of good will
My brother and I saw the newly reunited Pixies in concert this year not once, but twice, cementing our life-long devotion to the group (yes, about a decade too late). I listened to lots of CDs this year, but toward the end of it, the one that got the most play this year was one I put together myself of old Pixies songs, everything from "Caribou" to "Debaser" to "River Euphrates" (all great downloads right there). "Bam Thwok" was a one-off iTunes download with no album to go with it. Who cares? There's plenty to keep us entertained in the Pixies back catalog whether they decide to record any new material or not.
12. Jump -- N*E*R*D
Album: Fly or Die
Sample lyric: I'm not perfect nor facetious / but at home I felt seedless
I had completely forgotten how much I listened to N*E*R*D's "Fly or Die" last year, so when I was filling this CD out, I put in a Death Cab for Cutie song that, truth be told, I wasn't really liking all that much. (Sorry emo crying boys.) Plus that was 2003, so it was sort of cheating anyway. "Fly or Die" is very good and it was hard to pick a song to encapsulate it. Plus it's cool to see Pharrell doing something that's not associated with Snoop Dogg for once and that sounds completely off the wall and unexpected. The songs "Fly or Die" and "Maybe" are excellent, too.
13. Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own -- U2
Album: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Sample lyric: Let me take some of the punches / For you tonight
I love the build on this song. It reminds me of their earlier stuff, from discs like "War" and "Unforgettable Fire." I like this new album a whole lot more than "All That You Can't Leave Behind" -- I just think Bono's voice sounds a whole lot better and the instruments sound cleaner and the songs better thought out. It took me back to the days when I used to grab every B-side and suck up every bit of news I could about U2. Also download: "Crumbs From Your Table" and, obviously, "Vertigo."
14. Mono -- Courtney Love
Album: America's Sweetheart
Sample lyric: Well they say that rock is dead / And they're probably right
This is a nasty, crunked-up, messy little yapping dog of a song. And it's also a song from an album that I flat-out didn't like, even though I loved Hole's last two CDs, Live Through This and Celebrity Skin, which many people (in my own house even) cannot abide. But when I (yes legally) downloaded this song, which was the first (and blessedly only) single, off "America's Sweetheart," I thought, "Hot damn, she did it again! This album's going to be awesome!" If only that were true. But it's still a decent stand-alone song. Sadly, I don't have anything else from her CD to recommend. You could always go back and grab "Malibu" from "Celebrity Skin" or "She Walks on Me" from "Live Through This."
15. Jellybones -- The Unicorns
Album: Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?
Sample lyric: Drove up in my bone camarrow thinking only about you
This is an oddity, even for this album. PJ suggested my including this one after he turned me on to Unicorns last year. All I can say is that, no, your CD player didn't just fuck up. What you're hearing, in my estimation, is the sound of an Atari 2600 dry-schtupping a ColecoVision from the back end at the top of the song and then some knock-off Weezer toward the finish. I know. It grows on you, really. Other downloads: "Sea Ghost," "Ready to Die."
16. Beautiful Struggle -- Talib Kweli
Album: The Beautiful Struggle
Sample lyric: But in the land of milk and honey there's a date you gotta sell it by
Another suggestion from PJ. I haven't listened to Talib's album, but this is a damn fine song. I'll get back to you on suggestions for other tracks.
17. Should I Go -- Brandy
Sample lyric: Should I go? Should I stay? I'm in control either way
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 80 percent of you who hear this disc are going to flat-out hate this song from the first listen and never warm up to it. It has the audacity to sample Coldplay's "Clocks" (a recent and ubiquitous song) and features Brandy whining for several minutes about whether she should continue making tons of money as a recording artist. So why include it? Because I think using that Coldplay sample took some oversized balls and I've always had a soft spot for "Moesha." Sue me.
18. La Malaguena Curreña -- Davíd Garza
Album: Colchas (Covers)
Sample lyric: Sorry, dudes. You're on your own.
This song and the next one were not released in 2004, but I put them on here anyway because I'm willing to bet that few if any of you have copies of these songs. This one is a rarity even for Davíd Garza and came on a disc I got at one of his in-store performances in Austin the summer he put out something like four CDs that he self-produced. It's a very cool, very creepy, very sweet and soft song, one that I couldn't resist sharing. It's a gem.
19. One More Cup of Coffee -- The White Stripes
Sample lyric: One more cup of coffee for the road / One more cup of coffee 'fore I go / To the valley below
This is a cover of a Bob Dylan song and even if you don't like the White Stripes, you've gotta admire the (Dylan) song. It's just beautiful and not even Meg's lethargic drumming can mess this one up.
And we're done here. Send me your info. Tell me what you think when you get it. If this goes well, maybe we'll do it again next year.
It seems like almost every weekend, there's a celebrity death in the news that makes you just go OH SHIT!. This weekend it's Johnny Carson.
Which may not have been such a surprise, if I hadn't just read the other day that he was contributing jokes to Letterman, which made me think very warm thoughts about Johnny. Think maybe that news item was planted to get people thinking about him just as he was reaching his last few days? Given that he had emphysema (not mentioned in the CNN story, incidentally, but found in lots of other places),
I remember how much I loved those "Best Of" shows where he'd invariably have clips of Carol Burnett and Buddy Hacket and the zoo guy and you'd have to laugh right along when Johnny lost it with uncontrollable laughter.
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