Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Critic

In college, I occasionally wrote CD reviews for this reputable student weekly. And I think I was pretty awful at it.

When writing about music, I tend towards the same tropes, and it makes my writing seem really flat. A not necessarily exhaustive list of these tropes:
  • The Historical Context Theory - Offer a brief history of the trajectory of the band, citing previous albums, personal tragedies and triumphs, record-label switches and the like. Then offer my own brilliant! theory of where this most-recent album fits in. Bo-ring (though I'm sure it'd be better if I had better theories; I do not).

  • Teh Descriptor! - Engage in annoyingly overwritten description of what the album's sounds like, using phrases like "machine-gun drumming" and "stuttering guitars". Seems very, very forced when I do it. Lame.

  • The Smackdown - Trash the album with ever-harsher swipes at the band, ending in ad hominem attack. This kind of writing is really easy, and it can even be sort of devilishly fun to do. But again: boring, and usually unproductive since it doesn't really offer a critique.

Which is all a way of telling you that, yesterday, I heard Melissa Block's interview with The Weakerthans' John K. Sampson. It's a good interview, and it reminded me to pick up their new album, Reunion Tour.

First impressions? I like it. But I couldn't tell you why.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Have I told you about CoffeeDude? I believe I have not. CoffeeDude works at the stellar coffeehouse on my way to work. He is extremely peppy and friendly—as much of an eye-opener to talk to as the java he's slinging, but not in any sort of annoying way. In fact, my conversations with him are a downright enjoyable part of most otherwise groggy mornings.

But today, friends, I think I let CoffeeDude down. See, one of his trademarks is to proudly tell you which blend they're serving on a given day. "Okay, large coffee? Great! And today it's the Mexico Chiapas shade-grown, hand-picked-by-unionized-squirrels!"

I really appreciate this information, because in theory, I'm noticing the subtle differences among the roasts, so that, in some distant future, I stock up on The One True Blend™, you know, for when the end times come or whatever. (In practice, I swill the coffee feverishly and curse the tractor behind which I'm stuck as a trudge to work on Route 20.) Which brings us to this morning:

CoffeeDude: Hey! How are you today?!
Me: Oh, running late, actually. You?
CoffeeDude: Great, man! Just a large coffee today?!
Me: Yep.
CoffeeDude: And it's the Texas Medicine blend today!
CoffeeDude: Do you get the reference?!
Me: Uh… [noting, faintly, music playing in the background]
CoffeeDude: You know:
Now the rainman gave me two cures,
Then he said, "Jump right in."
The one was Texas medicine,
The other was just railroad gin.*

Me: Uh, Huh?
CoffeeDude: Bob Dylan!
Me: Oh. Well, I'd be lying if I said I had listened to a lot of Dylan, but now that I've noticed you're playing his music, I probably should've guessed him.
CoffeeDude: Yeah! He's coming to town! And that's why I'm off work till Monday after today!
Me:Oh. Cool. Have fun, man.

I feel like I disappointed CoffeeDude, although his always pleasant demeanor showed not a sign of it. CoffeeDude: I'm sorry! I hadn't even had coffee yet.

*He's so peppy, he blockquotes when speaking.

Monday, September 24, 2007

And this, by the by, is a title

In the context of a meeting about e-mail policy, the following sentence was uttered: "And if the e-mail pertains to a particular topic, you can put that topic in the subject line to avoid confusion."

Got it. Thanks.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Donning Only His Punderwear

I really miss Mr. Feeble. Go leave him a comment telling him ditch the Mistake by the Lake for C-ville.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

But the milkshakes are good

Greetings, lovers:::::

I have somewhat safely made my venture across the upper part of our great, great, great, very large and very funny country. Did you know that all the rest stops in most of the midwest are equiped with a medium-speeded Wifi and "free" coffee? Do you have any clue how fucked up most Indian reservations are, especially in South Dakota? Have you ever eaten at a place called Burgerville? I almost did, but then I saw a Wendy's.

I have started my job at a new winery which we're just going to call WINERY, because you don't even want to know whose juice I'm sticking my fingers in. It is a good job, and a good winery, and the people are good and nice. I have a home, with rooms and showers and two couches and 400+ channels on a big TV and for the first time in my life I have the internet at my house, in my room, all the time. Still I don't know what to do with it.

Dundee, which we're going to call THE CITY, is nice because there is no bank. Or supermarket. There is, however, a small gas station, one bar, three restuarants, a butcher's shoppe, some type of women's club that requires a pretty big building, and like 37 wine bars. Sadly, I have found a traffic light, but I don't think it works. THE CITY is surrounded by vines and hazelnut farms. When I walk to work I can pick my breakfast off trees on the way. Apples and blueberries and something that might be a peach, but I don't want to make a hasty call on that. Either way, it tastes good as long as you eat around the worms. Sometimes I bring bread and make little fruit sandwitches.

Hope all is well with you, Stanley (and if I can make a small suggestion for the blog: make that "read more" thing go away, because it seems to me that there isn't anything additional on all the entries).

Also I want to make this clear: I would never actually eat at Wendy's.

Not that there's anything wrong with those that do.


I went on a nice long bike ride after work. Two things of note:
  1. I rode past Arcane Technologies, a business I'd never noticed before. I actually laughed out loud at their name. What's their motto? "No. Really. You're way too much of a plebe to understand this. Seriously. And when we do install it? You're gonna be like callin' us every 10 minutes to help you 'cause this shit is like super wicked arcane, and shit."

    (That said! Could be a cool place! Don't attack my blog with a DOS attack!)

  2. I saw a guy doing this huge graffiti thing on the Belmont Bridge (which I thought was a viaduct, namely because my dad used to refer to a similar structure in Chicago as a viaduct, but he, and thus I, appear to have been wrong; sorry). Graffiti dude was just spraying away in a fairly conspicuous location, and with a considerable amount of daylight.

    It doesn't seem anyone would care. That part of the bridge is covered in all this lovely spray-paint art, which looks much better than drab concrete. Of course, for all I know, dude got arrested five minutes after I pedaled away. I hope not, though.

All your bass are belong to pups

Weird woofer from Cultivate:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


First, ogged gets me hooked on The Wire. Then, last night, I took catherine's advice and started watching Friday Night Lights. Holy crap! This show's great.

For some reason, I envisioned something like Dawson's Creek meets Necessary Roughness, but no! Watching the first season is like watching a forty-minute Explosions in the Sky video, complete with snappy dialogue, politics, personal conflict, and, well yeah, football.

At this rate of television addiction, I'm never going to get anything done ever again.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Not Cool, Coke

I was a bit disappointed to see this story:

Drinks giant Coca-Cola has invented a bottle that chills on the inside when the top is twisted off.

Insiders have hinted that the technology will feature in a new drink called Sprite Super Chilled, which could reach the UK by next year.

The bottles do away with the need to add ice, which dilutes the liquid {my emphasis} - but they must be put in a special vending machine to regulate temperature.

Bosses at the US firm hope to cash in on the "super chilled" drinks trend.

Coke and Diet Coke could be packaged in the new bottles if they prove to be successful.
I try not to drink too much pop, but when I do, my preferred serving method is over ice. I like that the ice dilutes the drink slightly, thank you, and I can only wish Coca Cola the worst of luck with this new endeavor. May you fail miserably.


Friday, September 14, 2007

I hang out with some weird people

[Setting: Evening; a backyard birthday fete in Charlottesville. People mill about with drinks and snacks. In the corner of the yard, four or five people throw knives, long nails, and a hatchet at a stack of logs.]

Hambone: I wish I brought my machete.
Me: Can you throw a machete?
H: Yeah, I got really good at it when I lived with Bill and Julie. I practiced in the woods behind their house.
M: It's all dependent on distance, right?
H: Right. I always threw from the same spot.
M: Hm. But that's sort of unrealistic for actually defending yourself. I mean, if someone were attacking you, say, with a gun, would you throw the machete? It's kind of a crap shoot.
H: If I'm getting shot at, I'm not even there. I'm running away in a zig-zag pattern. Makes me harder to target.
M: That makes sense.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Poll Lock

The departure of cable from our home has been both a blessing and curse. On the one hand, I'm reading more [ed. no he's not], but on the other hand, I've had more of a chance to catch up on my time-wasting: Netflix queue (holy shit! The Wire!) and comment threads about baby names.

Occasionally, however, the TV finds itself on, sucking in those wondrous and free over-the-air HD* signals. And then I find something as delightfully curious as CBS's Power of Ten.

A seeming cross between watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and reading**—or really, a hybrid Family Feud—the show features Drew Carey asking contestants to guess "what percentage of Americans [are defined by quality X]".

So far I learned that, of my fellow countrypeople:

  • 8% thinks Michael Jackson is white

  • 14% owns a confederate flag

  • 35% thinks a person raised by gay parents has a greater chance of being gay

  • 22% thinks the upcoming $0.70 hike in the minimum wage will make a difference in their lifestyle

  • 46% owns a shirt that says "USA" or "America" on the front

Fascinating, right? I know.

*Oh, wait, local CBS/ABC/Fox affiliates: where you at, dogs? I want my 1080i!

**I can't actually confirm where the poll results come from, but this wikipedia article suggests surveys from Family Feud and Card Sharks,

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sinuses: All Clear!

When my friend Boobers (bonus! actual family nickname!) found out I was getting a Neti Pot, he said he really wanted to see it in-action. Well, it arrived today, and, never one to disappoint, I've put together a little video demonstration. (N.B., I do only one nostril in the video. Most people do both.)

Sunday, September 09, 2007


My consumption of Italian food yesterday was so great that my current perspiration's aroma suggests I'm sweating pure 100% unadulterated essence of garlic. And I find this phenomenon strangely pleasing.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Perhaps they'll open a food-delivery branch called "Al Cater"

In college, my friend Dex always referred to Osama bin Laden as OBL. He also opined that unsuspecting suburbanite mini-van drivers could be duped into buying white, oval "OBL" stickers, thinking it was some iteration of those beach stickers that are entirely too common. I think he was serious.

So I had to chuckle when I saw what The Outback Lodge was going with for a logo:

The bouncers also wear shirts that say "OBL SECURITY".

How long till the DHS raid?


P.S. I played at Outback last night. It's a shame their location screws them so. Their sound system is possibly the best in town.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Yes. No. No, yes, really. No, no really.

I listened to this story on my way into work today. I had never even heard of the Ford Edsel or its purportedly ignominous fate. Interesting tale.

But even more to my interest was the awkwardness of the interview between Alex Chadwick and Roy Brown Jr., the car's chief designer. Chadwick starts out averring that the Edsel is "remembered as a great failure." And once he gets Brown on the line, he states firmly, "really, the car never caught on with Americans."

But Brown counters, "I don't think there was any design problem" and "after 50 years it still has high road recognition," which he says was the goal of the project. "It sure has held on," says Brown.

Chadwick continues down his path: "this thing is a dud," followed quickly by "I don't want to hurt your feelings."

To which Brown retorts, almost combatively, "You couldn't hurt my feelings; I'm proud of the car. [...] I think it's the most succesful failure that business has ever had."

Towards the end, the tone lightens, as Chadwick offers awkward congratulations to Brown for the car's design. But wow, I was amazed that the story went to air this way. After that interview, I'd think they'd recast it in a sort of "spectacular failure or unlauded success?" kind of light. Or even follow up on the suggestion that in-house politics were really to blame for the market's torporific reaction to the car.

Good for Brown for sticking up for himself. It really is a unique design. I'd drive an Edsel proudly. (Donations accepted.)