The Blog-Off Is Over

Posted in Whatever Else on October 31st, 2006 by bill
mission-accomplished.jpg We said we were going to do it, and we did it. We have to love ourselves for that.

What’s Blowing My Mind (Part 2)

Posted in Dancing about architecture on October 30th, 2006 by bill
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The Kinks

I know the Kinks are a great band. I've known it for a long time. And yet for some reason I keep forgetting it, so every time I'm reminded it comes as this great revelation. My most recent Kinks phase began when I was watching an old episode of The Sopranos that used the song "Living on a Thin Line" (a rare Dave Davies vocal, that one). Then, thinking of Halloween-related songs, I remembered the song "Sleepwalker," which I had only on a cassette I got from Bob (thanks, Bob). This led me to seek out a compilation of the Kinks' later-period hits called Come Dancing. Tragedy struck when the CD arrived and "Sleepwalker" was mysteriously missing from the running order. Turns out there are two versions of the album extant, and the one I had ordered was not the one I received. But in the end I couldn't return it, because the songs that are on it are so freakin' excellent. "Juke Box Music." "Rock'n'Roll Fantasy." "Low Budget." The Kinks were so right-on they could even make disco work—check out the whomping backbeat on "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman." I won't forget about the Kinks again anytime soon, and neither should you. MARCY%20PLAYGROUND%20-%20Photo.jpg

"Sex and Candy"

You look up "one-hit wonder" in the dictionary and you see a picture of Marcy Playground, and you wouldn't even know it was them if it wasn't captioned "Marcy Playground." But their one hit, a woozy slice of Malkmusian pop called "Sex and Candy," is one hell of a tune. It popped into my head the other day, and thanks to the Internet and 99 cents, it was mine in no time. Well worth the money. bright%20red.jpg

Bright Red/Tightrope

I know I heard this album when Laurie Anderson released it back in 94, but I guess I didn't really listen to it. Or maybe it's the other way around. Anyway, the point is, I didn't come to appreciate its beauty until very recently. Crisply and economically produced by Brian Eno, Bright Red/Tightrope is less aggressively weird than other Laurie Anderson albums—although still weird enough (see: "The Puppet Motel"). For the most part it is filled with real songs, languid and melodic and addictive as Mugwump semen. Anderson's paramour Lou Reed guests on a wonderful song called "In Our Sleep," and this is where we run up against the limits inherent in writing about music. ("Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.") I can't possibly hope to express its true glory here; you'd just have to hear it for yourself. Come by the house some time and I'll play it for you.

What’s Blowing My Mind (Part 1)

Posted in Dancing about architecture on October 29th, 2006 by bill
To paraphrase Clark Gable, "You should have your mind blown, and often, and by someone who knows how." Here are a few of the things that have been blowing my mind lately (in the area of music, that is; there are other things, too, that need not be gotten into here; The Prestige was one of them). diamond.jpg

We Are the Dead

I plucked this song off David Bowie's Diamond Dogs for a Halloween mix I was making, and I'm all, like, wow.... It's funny, on an album full of great songs, no one song stands out so much. But take any one of them out of context, and you realize just how phenomenal it is. This particular tune starts off sweet and lyrical, then turns metallically ominous, then changes back, then changes back again, all so seamlessly that it really seems like one song. Check it out and tell me I'm wrong. I dare you. osmium.jpg

Osmium

This album, vintage 1971, was the first release from Parliament after George Clinton broke away from the other Parliaments to explore the possibilites inherent in the combination of soul music and LSD. As you might expect, it is a truly widescreen psychedelic funk experience, grounded in the heavier side of soul but branching off in all sorts of strange directions. Its breadth is such that it can encompass a country song built around the Jew's harp ("Little Ole Country Boy"), a gospel song built around the harpsichord ("Oh Lord, Why Lord"), and a song Pink Floyd would have written if they'd been from Detroit ("The Silent Boatman"). The CD adds a bunch of great bonus tracks, including two monster-hits-that-should-have-been, "Come in Out of the Rain" and "Fantasy Is Reality."

A creepy development in medical science

Posted in Whatever Else on October 26th, 2006 by bill
Just in time for Halloween:

Hospital Panel OKs Face Transplants The horror movie based on this pretty much writes itself: good person gets evil face, goes on a killing spree, ends up getting de-faced in some ironic way. The only question is, who do we cast in the lead? Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper are getting too old for this sort of thing; who's gonna represent for the next generation of movie psychos? I think Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight on The Office, could do very well. He's already pretty creepy as Dwight—all he needs to do is be a little less funny and, presto chango, it's Tony Perkins time. Cillian Murphy proved himself extremely disturbing as the Scarecrow in Batman Begins. It might be fun to see Zach Braff take a shot at playing a villain. I dunno...your thoughts?

Poetic Spam Redux

Posted in Spam, wonderful spam on October 25th, 2006 by bill
Inspirational, this time, with a lyrical twist:
Don't give in the problems, whatever age you are!
Have a BEST sex in any time you want!

because the Moon
strings on violin. There

Heresy to Megahertz

Posted in Whatever Else on October 24th, 2006 by bill
Herewith, more top-of-the-page juxtapositions lifted from Webster's College Dictionary, c. 1991. heresy to hero sandwich hostage to hot tub hot war to housekeeper illuminati to imbecile impregnable to impulse jelly to jet engine jihad to jockey jumping bean to junkie Kaposi's sarcoma to katzenjammer* kidney bean to kimono kudos to kvetch Labrador retriever to lactation lay to L.D.S. lonely to long-lasting loon to Lord Chancellor medieval to megahertz *noun; 1. the unpleasant afteraffects of excessive drinking; hangover. 2. uneasiness; anguish; distress. 3. an uproar; clamor.

Inside the Schneid

Posted in The sporting life on October 23rd, 2006 by bill
I've always wondered in a vague, half-assed way about the origin of the term "the schneid," which crops up mostly in the context of sports. You don't often hear about someone being "on the schneid" (i.e. stuck on zero, scoreless, winless); more commonly, when a team posts its first point of the game or wins its first game of the series, you are notified that they are now "off the schneid." I was inspired to do a little research by a headline in today's Oakland Tribune, which declared the hapless Raiders "off the schnide" after having defeated the even haplesser Arizona Cardinals. Seeing this, I realized that I'd never actually seen the word written down before; I'd always assumed it was spelled "schneid" and somehow related to the surname "Schneider," perhaps the tragic legacy of some poor bastard who never got any. (See also: "Munsoned.") This proved to be more difficult than I expected. Nothing in Webster's, either print or online. No Wikipedia entry. A Google search turned up many examples of usage (all favoring the more intuitive "schneid" over the Trib's bizarre "schnide"), but no exegesis. Finally I found the following on word-detective.com:
"Schneid" is actually short for "schneider," a term originally used in the card game of gin, meaning to prevent an opponent from scoring any points. "Schneider" entered the vocabulary of gin from German (probably via Yiddish), where it means "tailor." Apparently the original sense was that if you were "schneidered" in gin you were "cut" (as if by a tailor) from contention in the game. "Schneider" first appeared in the literature of card-playing about 1886, but the shortened form "schneid" used in other sports is probably of fairly recent vintage.
I am willing to buy this explanation for the most part, though I still suspect that the term may derive from some actual Schneider who was a really sucky card player, similar to baseball's Mendoza Line. But in any case, I am now off the schneid for the week of October 23.

The other shoe drops

Posted in Spam, wonderful spam on October 20th, 2006 by bill
So Tuesday I had a dream involving Lenny Bruce and cornflakes. Wednesday I happened upon a Lenny Bruce reference in the newspaper. At 5:42 this morning I got this in my inbox: cornflakes.JPG Am I saying that my dreams are now predicting the future? Em, no. Not exactly. It's not my intention to say that. I'd prefer to think that the cornflake spam was triggered by my writing about cornflakes on this site. However, I've intentionally kept my email address off the site in order to avoid spam. So I don't know what to think.

The Day the Aliens Landed

Posted in Picture du jour on October 19th, 2006 by bill
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All Hail the Olbermann

Posted in The sacred box on October 18th, 2006 by bill
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I lifted this picture from the fan site Olbermann.org, which captioned it "Attractively Rumpled." And who am I to argue? The salt-and-pepper hair is terribly distinguished, and only a little bit satanic.
I've had a little man-crush lately on MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who's the only guy out there in the vast wasteland we call TV news tellin' it like it is. (Other than Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, of course; but since they're still nominally comedians, they don't count.) Hammering every day on the Bush administration's latest travesties isn't exactly a difficult job, but Olbermann does it with an admirable mix of passion and precision. Every time I watch one of Olbermann's "Special Comments"—carefully written, articulately delivered, cogently argued, and peppered with literary and historical references—I think to myself, "I can't believe I'm actually seeing this on TV in the 21st century." It's so counter to the general trend that it seems like a miracle. And while you could argue that Olbermann's nightly outrage has become a tad predictable, still, it feels like he's expressing the outrage I should be feeling, if only I had the energy. And a TV show. So I say, keep it up, Keith. I love what you're doing, but not in a way that should make you uncomfortable.