Monday, December 01, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

Was pretty good, though "Just So." Still, geographically fitting. Worried about fetishizing the other a bit, but a fun love story well paced and well shot.

I wanted a lot more dancing though.

Mix Monday!


Tracklist in .txt file.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I go yugo

Rust in peace.

As a eulogy, let's all take a moment to listen to that great paean to the $3000 new car: The Left Wing Fascists' "I Drive A Yugo."

If things keep going the way they seem to be, I may be posting LWF's "K-Mart Shopper" before too long.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fannie and Freddie sub-prime culprits?


Lots of good data (and pretty graphs!). Long story short, Fannie and Freddie were doing fine because they largely avoided the sub-prime market (due to dastardly Democrat regulations!), then they bought a bunch of mortgage-backed securities that were inaccurately rated. Sub-prime foreclosures undercut the value of those securities, and the F&F siblings got hosed.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I've played this three times in a row, just now

Great pseudo-Prince from Cousin's Vinyl!

Friday in Venice

Started with Gregory Lomayesva at Muse in Venice:

About the best thing that I can say is that it was an absolutely amazing space—winding catwalks around a huge exposed concrete center. As for the art? Well, it looked like a particularly literal mash-up of Rauschenberg and Kahlo/Rivera, with thick Native women and gritty screen-prints of guns and text. Later, it seemed, he added endless shoes to his paintings and sculpture. The shoes, whether painted or made, didn't seem well-constructed or particularly interesting. They were, no doubt, in the service of some metaphor or another, but frankly, it seemed likely that any effort invested in trying to discern meaning from the work would only be greeted by stupid meaning. Everything, from the chunky, rounded cod-surreal sculpture to the rhinestones on the Gucci glasses the artist wore, seemed like an empty reference to someone else's art. The best moments were actually more simplistic Rauschenberg knock-offs, with shots of famous Madonna (the pre-Renaissance figure, not the singer) printed in the shape of Glocks. They'd make wonderful handbags for bourgeois scum. The entire show had the feeling of what movies think that art shows should be like, and I pitied the folks there as I belted down their cheap Merlot.

On the way to the next opening, we walked past a gallery that had had a lecture that evening (which we were too late to go to, due to my dithering). I was glad; it was some Robert Ketchum looks like Thomas Kincaid bullshit. I felt bad for the girls in there that looked like they were my age.

Then we made it to the Ken Price show at LA Louver, where they'd closed the bar (frowny face), because, seriously, if you're looking at art like this: , you should be at least a little drunk. It was OK, just, y'know, twenty pieces all playing with organic shapes and the same corroded metallic glaze made for some boring viewing. Luckily, upstairs (in another fantastic space) there were some pretty nice pieces. I wish that I'd brought my digital camera—I'll have to go back for another opening sometime. But mostly, it was gobstopper turds. I think that my capacity to enjoy abstraction like that may just be abnormally low.

Then there was a bit of tangential vignette drama: Some little drunk guy, in flat-brim Dodgers wear, starts asking Amy if she's an artist, etc. Another guy, who looked enough like his brother for me to imagine this moment as having more portent than it probably did, came and gently put his hand around the guy's shoulder and told him "I'm sorry, man, but that's enough…" He sounded legitimately sad, which was why I assumed a connection, despite the gallery guy being dressed to the nines and having only a moderately similar face (they were both Hispanic, and I'm likely racist). It just seemed like this was the gallery dude's big night (though he wasn't the artist, that wasn't clear to me at that moment) and his brother was drunk and creeping chicks out.

Then, outside, we saw the little wobbly drunko goofily chase some screaming yuppie chick who was trying to hide around people. I dunno. I realize that having some dude come after you is frightening, and I started to get my back up, but it also seemed like she was a rich woman who was freaking out beyond all proportion to the guy's actions.

Monday, October 06, 2008


So, as a kid, I had two strikes against me in the "eating awesome crap" race: I was vegetarian, and my mom was convinced she was hypoglycemic, so I couldn't have any white sugar.

But now I'm an adult, and able to eat crap on my own! Top five things I love now that I wasn't allowed then:

—Pop Tarts

I'd never really had these until Amy started bringing home the Trader Joe's version, and, frankly, they're damn good. I've tried the originals now, and they don't hold up nearly as well. Verdict: Glad I waited.


I remember what a big deal it was to finally be able to eat Oreos; they used to have lard in the center (Hostess stuff still does). Pretty fucking fab to twist 'em and stack as double deckers. Unsated Longing: If only I could get Hydrox. I may be the one man who still loves them.


Someone, and I assume this means the Germans, has to have a word for imagining a taste that you've never experienced and have always been denied. Trying to explain the allure of soy jerky to folks who didn't grow up "healthy" is hard. Next furtive hope? Soy pork rinds.


The world of soy really has moved forward drastically since I was a kid. Back then, lumpy tofu dogs were the state of the art. Now, I only have to feel vaguely conflicted about the agricultural-military complex I support when I delve into the world of hyper-processed vegetable protein. God only knows where it comes from, but it can't be any weirder than pig glands. Verdict: Not only is it delicious, for once I get the attendant moral quandaries that meat-eaters usually monopolize.


I know, I know, my parents didn't want me to end up like Uncle Mickey, the Bohemian alcoholic who started with beers in his fourth-grade lunchbox. But given my refined palate now, just image how unto a god I would have been! A drunk, porter-loving god! Verdict: My parents' ultimate failing was not starting me on a European youth drinking schedule.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Joan's On Third

Mmm. Lunch.

Went to Joan's On Third with Phil for lunch. It's an upscale deli/diner with lots of pasta salads. Reminds me of the eatery that used to be in Hudson's when I was a kid.

After some dithering, both Phil and I went with the roasted corn soup and a grilled cheese (mine with a tomato).

The soup was excellent, creamy and well-rounded. It could have benefited from a little more pepper (I'm of the belief that restaurant soups should be seasoned the way I like them without any intervention from me), but for a simple lunch it was right on.

ps. Stole the image from Mikey Hates Everything which has more to say on breakfast at Joan's.

The grilled cheese was less exquisite, but still tasty. Good French bread, good cheddar, decent tomato. For some reason, adding a tomato to mine meant that it took some 15 minutes longer than Phil's, so I was lucky to have the soup. The sweet pickles (made with a crunchy whole seed I couldn't quite place) were fantastic, especially after having sub-par pickles at Label's the other day.

Total damage? $12. Price I would have been totally happy with? $9. A three dollar Beverly Hills surcharge? Yeah, but I'll probably be back. Beats the hell out of $9 at Label's.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

How Sha Na Na created the '50s

In this great feature by George and Robert Leonard (unfortunately constrained by third-person patina), two members of Sha Na Na talk about how they essentially created the image of the '50s that much of later pop culture (Happy Days, Grease) has been based on.

In it, they link other ersatz historical conceptions, such as the Scottish Highlander or Tokyo's sukiyaki, and Voltaire's concept of history being defined by what people want from the past.

But the most interesting thread to me is the connection of Sha Na Na to the rise of the Reagan Republicans, who latched onto the idyllic '50s image of sock hops and malteds (disturbed only mildly by working-class greasers) in a bid to reinvent a fairly frightened and ghastly decade of American society.

It is this image that cultural conservatives still seek to return to, and I think the challenge of those of us who consider ourselves progressives is to articulate both why the past is so distasteful (cold war bomb drills, segregation, limited rights for women, etc.) and why the future can be better by having space for competing visions of progress. I think that this goes against both the critical impulse to focus always on injustice and the generally pessimistic worldview of liberals—I know that a large part of my support for Obama doesn't come from truly believing that he'll make things better, but rather that he will avoid making things worse. But that won't convince people who truly believe that the past WAS better—there needs to be an alternate vision.

Debates have little effect

Despite all the bluster (and the obvious Obama bump post-debate), political scientist Tom Holbrook finds that debates have minimal effects on the electorate.

Quoted for truth

Quietfish quotes my answer to her AskMe about the proper way to destroy an All-You-Can-Eat buffet.

"First off, be hungry. Don't eat earlier in the day, or if you do, eat only small things.
Second off, make sure you've got the capacity. I find that emptying my bowels prior helps the experience.
Third, I like to get a massive high on before hand. I feel that it stimulates the appetite.
Fourth, the bread is your enemy. It is there to fill you up. Ignore it. You don't want to look back on your death bed and think "I could have eaten more, if not for that bread."
Fifth, pace yourself. Gorging quickly can give you a cramp.
Sixth, water is also an empty gesture. Try to avoid drinking too much.
Seventh, try to recruit your skinny, high friends. The fat ones will have stomachs compressed. The skinny ones will challenge you to eat more. You must best their gullets!
Eighth, beware of spices. The Indians whose buffet I frequent viciously increase the level of heat to discourage gluttony. A little bit of milk or cream or fat will cut the heat (a lassi). You'll pay the next day, but that's the future, and the buffet is now.
Ninth, if you're eating so fast as to have to belch, slow down. The goal is to keep eating even after you're full, but not to get extra air down there.
Tenth, you can often snag a take-out container, which is like having an extra stomach without having cud. I.e. awesome."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Paint fumes

On saturday, saw Victor Gastelum show at Overtones. Loved the luchadores stuff, loved the Water and Power stuff, was lukewarm on the rest—it made me feel all pretentious to be like, "It reminds me of Niagra, and you don't want to remind me of Niagra," like there was some implicit threat.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bristol Palin's got pramface.

"I assume John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential partner in a fit of pique because the Republican money men refused to let him have the stuffed male shirt he really wanted. She added nothing to the ticket that the Republicans didn't already have sewn up, the white trash vote, the demographic that sullies America's name inside and outside its borders yet has such a curious appeal for the right."

A mean, nasty and funny column from Heather Mallick, CBC shit-stirrer.

From Tuesday

Phone rings.

Josh: Hi, this is Josh at Barely Legal.
Caller: (high, nasal voice) Hi. I'm looking for a doll with parts.
J: A doll with parts?
C: Yeah, a doll with all the parts. A little one.
J: Like a GI Joe?
C: No, with parts.
J: GI Joe has parts.
C: No, like all the parts. Organs.
J: Oh, yeah, like one of those transparent dolls, you know, you take 'em apart and they got intestines and hearts.
C: No, no, I already got one of them. No, like a little statue. You know where I can get one?
J: Maybe look on the internet?
C: I can't go to the internet. I need a statue.
J: You mean, like David?
C: Yeah, like David.
J: Oh, you need to call the Uffizi in Florence. They've got the David.
C: How big is it?
J: I dunno. About eight feet.
C: I need a little one.
J: They got little ones too. You know, for tourists.
C: That's in Italy?
J: Yeah, Florence in Italy.
C: I can't call Italy.
J: Maybe you can go to your library. They got pictures of David there.
C: Yeah, I can't go to the library. I'm in New York. No, I need a doll here.
J: You tried Times Square?
C: Where in Times Square?
J: I dunno. Never been there.
C: What about in California? That's where you are, right?
J: I don't know, I never bought a statue.
C: No, what about a doll.
J: Barbie?
C: Yeah, like Barbie, but a man.
J: Oh, you mean Ken! Ken's the boy version of Barbie.
C: Yeah, but with the parts.
J: You mean outfits?
C: No, no, all the parts. Where can I get one with all the parts?
J: I dunno. Hasbro?
C: Hasbro?
J: Yeah, I think they make Barbie.
C: No, look, I saw this statue once, it had all its organs, right?
J: Where'd you see it?
C: Somebody in my family had it.
J: Oh, you should ask them then.
C: No, but they're gone.
J: Where did they go? Do they have a cell phone?
C: They're dead.
J: Oh, then you're gonna have to check the will.
C: Look, no, that doll, that doll is gone.
J: Where do you think they got it?
C: I don't know. That's why I'm asking you. Look…
J: Yeah?
C: I got this other doll, he's got his parts. He's throwing a discus. I want this other doll to put next to him.
J: A discus? That's in the Olympics.
C: Yeah, OK. But he's got all his parts.
J: Right. You should try the Olympics. Maybe get a guy with a javelin.
C: They got statues?
J: Why not? You watch the Olympics?
C: No.
J: It was pretty good. It was in China this time.
C: Yeah, yeah, I heard that. Now…
J: Beijing. It was on NBC.
C: I heard that. But what I'm really asking about is a doll.
J: I bet they got Olympic dolls.
C: Where?
J: I dunno. Toys 'R Us?
C: You think they got Olympic dolls there with all the parts?
J: Yeah, with the javelin and the discus, sure.
C: No, like, their other parts…
J: Olympics! Glad I could help. (hangs up)

Friday, September 19, 2008

My perverse plan for email disinformation

I was talking with my girlfriend the other night about the email forwards. You know the ones, from older, conservative family members or coworkers, still pumping out insanity about Obama's secret madrassas or why Palin drives liberals crazy (short answer: they hate women and freedom).

So, the next time I get one of these messages, I'm going to reply with some psy-ops of my own: that burglaries spike precipitously on election day.

See, with these new computers, it's easy for criminals (especially Negroes) to find voter registration rolls, and know that people are more likely to be out of the house before or after work. Plus, I'll add, party registration is public, and everyone knows that Republicans have better stuff. Instead of being patriotic themselves, these nefarious career criminals (released by Democrats soft on crime) break into houses, and probably rape the elderly who vote absentee.

It's important, of course, to emphasize that these boogiemen act on the basis of party registration, and I'll probably add that people are most at risk in contested counties, where there are plenty of godless criminal darkies that are just waiting to break in.

Any other ideas?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kissing your elbow

Look, I know that I should probably bother to find some reviews, but Elbow: What the fuck? I mean, the last time that I heard Elbow, they were on a shitty mix CD between Coldplay and Snow Patrol and the CD came with a gushing, effusive note about how no one in America had heard about them but they were amazing, and they just seem to me like dying from numbness under a gray Michigan sky, and not in a good way. They were serious and drab, like someone earnestly handing me an overcoat instead of a song.

I keep hearing that the new album is great and amazing and nothing specific about what makes it so. I'm curious. What song should I hear and what's so great about it?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

High Places!

A little light for me, but I dig the polyrhythms. High Places from Brooklyn via Stereogum (it's old, but so what? Long tail, bitches.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Silver Jews, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

The new Silver Jews—

First song, Sound Poem Anthology

Second song, CONVOY

He makes me wonder about my own age, which, God, I hoped I'd never get to that point. Goddamned Nudie suits, do they even fit?

I'm not sure if, as someone who's been accused of anti-Semitism in the past, I can even listen to "Suffering Jew Boy." Oh, wait, Jesus, that's "Suffering Jukebox." Oh, man, I'm sorry. I was just off on some train of thought about how my father used to point out Jews, like Chevy Chase on that Law and Order rerun (Chevy Chase now even kind of looks like a fat version of my father), and thinking about how Jewishness was always pointed out as kind of a neat somewhat obscure factoid, like "That guy? Racecar driver." "Oh, really? Never would have guessed."

Anyway, man, Berman loves reverb and reverb loves Berman—he sounds like what you'd like all poets to sound like, instead of the stuttering, weedy voices pregnant with pause of all the poets that I had to sit through at school assemblies.

I tried to interview Berman once, for his last album. I was counting on him getting back to me and I got too close to the deadline and only got back a one-line answer to all of the stuff I'd emailed him about because he couldn't commit to a regular phone call time. It was all pissy, like he was going through a perfunctory "I'm difficult with interviewers" character sketch. At least half of it was my fault, since I wanted to just get a basic sense of him before I interviewed him, so that I could ask questions about his answers, and I realize now that all of the questions that I sent looked clumsy and oafish.

Back to poets and their voices: I do understand that Berman regards his poetry and his songwriting as separate, while connected. But he's too clever and too verbal for his songs to ever really be evaluated separately, at least for me. That brings me back to a regular problem I have with the Silver Jews and Pavement and a certain faction of indie rock in general, in that I tend to enjoy the music more than I enjoy the words, which I like to think of as just kind of an endless stream of things that sound good. I have a hard time listening to Ted Leo anymore, after my girlfriend's brother-in-law (God, I need a Masai word for that or something) started trying to explain to me what each of the songs meant.

And the problem is that Berman's words are the only thing that distinguish his music anymore—the rest could be Nashville music from any time after Warren Zevon. At least that sort of vague one-man timelessness (though his wife is on there, I doubt she gets annoyed when it's constantly assumed to be Berman's show) makes it easy to just listen to the album without needing it or loving it or keeping it close, and hard to imagine that Berman won't keep on making this album or ones like it in the future.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pissy rant on gay marriage

I realize this is probably better served by posting it on a livejournal, but the recent gay marriage foofaraw led to this guy posting this on Metafilter:

This is a regrettable decision. I oppose gay marriage as flying in the face of four or five thousand years of civilization and religion. If Californians want to be that arrogant and create gay marriage, so be it. The thing is, Californians referendum-ed against it, but several judges don't give a shit.That's unacceptable.

And this was my response:
Aw, BrooklynCouch, that's just gonna leave me with a rant…

I mean, let's start off with the argument from tradition, or "The world's always been flat." Then the implicit assumptions that gay marriage has been "created" by California, and that constructed things are somehow less valid than scare-quoted "traditional" things. And let's cap it off with the argument from the masses, that unjust laws that reflect the will of the people should stand—did you fail 10th grade civics? (We're in a Republic … Checks and balances … Majoritarianism … Federalist papers etc.)

Why don't you want gays to get married? Where is the harm to you, personally?

I mean, look, people do all sorts of shit that I disagree with (though I don't happen to disagree with gay marriage). People watch NASCAR, people listen to Rush Limbaugh (and weirder Christian craziness), people believe that the government caused the 9/11 attacks, people believe that other people's rights should be restricted based on superstitious biases and foolish half-logic.

But it doesn't harm me, not enough to justify taking away their right to do it. And I tend to believe that when it comes to expanding freedom, the place to do it is here in America and not in Iraq. We can expand the understanding and protection of people's inherent right to do what makes them happy.

And that's not a good idea because we haven't already recognized that right? I mean, that's all an argument from tradition is—a circle where we do things because that's the way we've done things. Or it's not a good idea because a lot of other people don't think it's a good idea? Well, frankly, I've never heard a good argument against gay marriage. I mean, what legitimate objection could there be? It'll lower tax revenues?

There really isn't one. People will repeat the talking points without taking that single goddamned moment to think, "Really?"

What pisses me off isn't just how dumb that is, and how instantly it marks anyone I'm talking to as politically retarded, but that this should be a source of pride. Instead of the technology race of the 20th Century, we could be in a race to make America the best country in the world, the country that has the most respect for human rights and freedoms. But no, we're behind fucking Canada and the Netherlands when it comes to this. I hope we elect a minority president and spread legal recognition for gay marriage across the country and across the globe.

Where's your pride, man? Why do you want the country to keep doing things the way it has been when that way is fundamentally unfair? Don't you want to be an American and stand up for somebody who's been treated unjustly?

I'm going to try to rewrite this into something soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


When I was driving Amy out to LA, we stopped at a gas station in the middle of goddamned nowhere. When we went up to pay, behind the counter was a fat, ruddy girl of 19 or 20, and her name-tag read "Magon."

"So, I gotta ask, how'dya say your name?" I venture.
"Megan. When I was born, my dad didn't know how to spell Megan."

For the next day and a half, Amy and I recounted the adventures of GON and MAGON.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I went to the Epic Yung Berg preview Thursday (I can't be the only one who subconsciously wants to yid-ify him, calling him Youngberg mentally).

Here are my notes (since we weren't allowed to record anything, all I've got is ugly short-hand):

Berg gives brief intro. Berg believes that he is "Empowering young people to take it to the next level … keep God and all things are possible," etc.

He produced the entire album except for two tracks, and he calls this "new sound" "the Spaceship." It's all auto-tuned with a lot of echo, chime-y synth arpeggios. He's got the system up way too loud, so it sounds like shit. "The Business" is booty-call track with silly metaphor, good radio sound. Lots of compression, no dynamics. More radio than club track. He's partial to the DMX-ish shout "Hey!"

His label didn't understand "what I'm all about." "If I come from Sexy Can I to Sexy Lady, I'm gonna be the sexiest dude alive."

Do Dat There video: Big cold jam, lots of black and white, hey—those are the street drummers in front of the Art Institute! Warm, sustained bass. Sure does like that plinking toy piano. I like the instructions re: wad. Makes it officially dance track. "It was important that this came out with no co-signer. I got no co-signer, no, like Fiddy says he's cool. I'm New Wave."

"One Night" has toy piano again. Sharp bass, but mixed for shit. Supercompressed. Sure likes the posturing, spoken word interludes.

"This is the track I'm most proud of." Called "Outer Space." Phase shifting, more auto-tune. He stops the track to tell us he really sang it. It's apparent—his voice is really thin. Should have doubled it. Falls back on "Hey!", more tinkly piano. Bridge is tight. Nice spacey sound. Makes me want to get him to listen to Charles Earland.

"Manager" has more chime washes, better hook than "One Night," lots of string sweeps. Weird pimp metaphor—doesn't want to be boyfriend, just take 20% of proceeds (wonder if he knows that managers usually get 10). "They don't coordinate your do with your shoes/like I do." Way too long on bridge.

That's pretty much it, we were only there pretty briefly. For some reason, he came up to me an initiated a complicated dap-tap. He has a lot of lotion on his hands.

Monday, April 07, 2008

New records!

Went to the local used store, here's what I bought and what I paid (only listened to a couple so far):

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Damn The Torpedoes, $3. Listened. Always kinda curious about this album, worth the $3 for at least two pretty good songs on each side (singles, mostly).

Boulder, s/t, $3. Listened. I was high when I bought it and loved the synths on the opener, "Join me in LA." Realized too late that it was a Warren Zevon cover and the rest of the album was kinda trad '70s boogie bullshit; that they sound like they look (see photo). I feel vaguely ripped off, but the Zevon tune is pretty sweet.

Horslips, The Man who Built America, $2. Listened. Side one is this fantastic new wave pop fest, with plenty of hooks and dudes singing to chicks about missing them and stuff. Then, as I'm listening to it, I look 'em up on wikipedia and see that they were an Irish folk rock band that mostly did concept albums, and that The Man Who Built America was their "heavy" album that alienated fans. As I read this, side two starts feeling like they were in the studio and said "Oh, right, we need a concept," and they started plugging away at missing ol' Blarney or whatever the fuck the Irish call it. Still, OK, just markedly less good than the first side, which was awesome. Easily worth $8.

Thee Image, Inside the Triangle, $8. Listening. So, apparently, my four-or-so needle drops totally mistook the character of the band—I thought they were some weirdo disco band with a lot of trippy Hammond organ and space oscillators. Which they are, but they're also a buttrock band on "All Night Long," a decent funk-rock band on "I.O.U.s", a shitty sub-10cc ballad band on "Rapture of the Deep," and prone to prog pretensions through-out. Which makes it kind of funny to see the folks here (also the folks hosting the image) begging for the guy to re-up it. I dunno. Maybe if I had a rapidshare account, it would be worth downloading it, but I can't imagine I'd ever want to share it enough to upload it. Not worth $8, even though I may raid it for mixtapes.

Cheetah, Rock & Roll Women, $4. Not listened. From the needle drops, they sound like Suzi Quatro's rockin' tracks, which I like. Two sisters, like Heart, vaguely big-hair attractive, like Heart.

Grace Jones, Warm Leatherette, $3. Not listened. In-store preview? Well, I know the title track from a cover by The Normals, it's got Sly and Robbie producing and playing on it, and it has a cover of "Love is the Drug." It should be good, right? EDIT: Whups. From looking at All Music, it seems that the Normals did the original.

Eric Burdon and the Animals, The Twain Shall Meet, $2. Not listened. I like his voice, and most of the stuff I've heard on either side of this (Animals, War). Couple of drops sounded promising, even if the album's a bit beat and fuzzy.

Golden Earring, Moontan, $4. Not listened. To be honest, four bucks is about twice what I'd pay just to own "Radar Love," but the rest of the album sounded promising too.

Night Soil Man, Garden of Delights, $3. Not listened. A couple of drops gave a dark post-punk vibe, and a little googling shows that they turned into Drive Like Jehu and inspired some story. I'm really looking forward to the album, but haven't been in a scary evil vinyl mood, so am kind of hesitant.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


After watching this movie from Thomas Jefferson (from this Metafilter thread), I got curious about the defunct league that was playing (the Atlantic League's Newark Colts, though I can't tell who they were playing against), and stumbled onto this explication of minor-league baseball in Danbury, Connecticut (the one state that I always have trouble spelling). Or "Hat-town" as it was apparently known, in that time before catchy nicknames.
There's also this neat chronology of the year that Edison filmed the game, which briefly mentions Lizzie (Arlington) Stroud, who was the first woman to play professional baseball, albeit only for one game (she pitched).

And if the focus isn't narrowed enough, there's the Minor League Baseball Researcher, which has a bunch of California League stats and some interesting descriptions. Too bad it's not regularly updated, but we're all in the long tail here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Questions I have:

How best to stream radio from my computer to my office without it raising the suspicions of the IT department or costing me money.

What was the Arab world like immediately prior to Mohamed?

Party at Cohn's

And it was all Michigan folk. Tasty dip, good easter egg hunt. Stepped out to go to dinner at Sky's Tacos, was delicious. Had a vegetarian torta, Amy had burrito. Both failed qua generis (open-face burrito, sandwich needed fork) but were DEL-ICIO-US on their own merits.


50000 songs on

Friday, March 21, 2008


We're starting to bandy about some sort of scorekeeping, Amy and I, so we can finally know that I'm better.


Then we did this too. As Amber cals 'em, my internerd friends.

Then the parents came

And this is what we did:

My folks: Beach, Thai Boom, Tacos La Flama, Broad, Hammer (Kara Walker makes me racist), Gemini printers, pool, big breakfasts. Wrote up a review for Stressed out.

Her folks: Hiking in Temicula or something. Temescal? Some canyon and state park. I enjoyed the walk, but I kinda ran out of things to say. Long Beach Aquarium was OK. If I'd paid, I woulda been annoyed. They had a Prius and didn't get it at all. Couldn't get the doors to stay locked. Number one reason to not get a Prius? While at a stoplight, I somehow managed to screw around with the dash computer and it froze, then rebooted, leaving us stalled. Ate at some Italian Place (Maria's?) in Westwood, and it was the damned dullest Italian food possible. Too sweet, too much. We also ate at the Boston Pizza Company in Long Beach.

I note Boston is not known for their pizza.


We went, a couple weekends ago, down to Mariachi Plaza, in the Boyle Park neighborhood, to see if we could find mariachis to photograph. It had been described, third-hand, as a place where mariachis gathered in huge flocks, like parrots. Instead, it was, like, three guys. I was hoping for more festive photos, but instead (especially with the construction for a new train line and station) it was kind of squalid and gray. Luckily, we met up with my then-coworker Justin (on to better things now, I hope) at La Serenada de Garibaldi (spelling?) for dinner.

I went with the potato tacos, which were light and pretty tasty, though kind of monotextural. Amy went with the gorditas with mixed vegetables, which were better. They were one of those restaurants that, guessing purely, seemed like they'd do seafood well. I mean, they seemed to do well with crisp, delicate textures and I'd bet that fish works well with that, at least the tacos. The gorditas seemed less incomplete.

I will say that the chili sauce there was really excellent, and some of the best I've ever had.

We also got to see a bit more of the neighborhood. There was a housing development htat really reminded me of Arrowwood. Too bad the commute would kill me.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


While reading this question on Ask Metafilter, in which the asker refers to some putative "Paul Reiser Effect," I remembered being in elementary school and how after you farted, you had to yell "Lou Rawls!" first, otherwise someone could hit you.

I have no fucking idea why.

I remember asking my dad "Why Lou Rawls?" when I was a kid, and while he hadn't heard of it, he speculated that Lou Rawls' rich baritone was some talisman.

Anyway, I think we just kind of misheard something or other and it caught on because elementary school boys are prone to adhering to arbitrary rules about farting enforced with violence.

I think the "Paul Reiser effect" is likely similar—something that sounded good at the moment, totally detached from any coherent meaning.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In happier news

I started emailing back and forth with Chris Bathgate's uncle randomly on Metafilter (he knows the GLMS guys too), and he sent me this article.

Money quote that simultaneously illuminates why I like Brandon Zwagerman and why I like to make fun of him: "'I think his power lies in the synthesis of his haunting, vaguely accented vocals and his talent for writing songs that more often than not hit that bulls-eye in your chest called your humanity,' Zwagerman said."

Dude, fucking move your fucking car!

"And you know Ugh. Your answer to the OP was judgemental, dismissive, and totally out of line and you really ought to just apologize for it and move on, instead of trying to justify it. Period." from Iconomy.

This morning, we woke to find that some jackass had parked us in. While we were wrangling with tow companies (our usual one was having some sort of weird phone problems), the guy finally rolled out (one of our neighbors managed to wake him up, when my girlfriend's door pounding hadn't had an effect). This chubby, pale white dude, looking like a boiled potato in a tracksuit. Instead of just apologizing and moving his goddamned car, the guy kept trying to argue that his cross-ways parking was a legitimate spot and, you know, whatever, man. I just kinda went off from my balcony, yelling at him in this stream of profanity "Move your fucking car! Don't fucking argue with me, just move your fucking car! What the fuck are you doing, standing there like a fucking retard? Why the fuck aren't you moving your fucking car? Move your fucking car!" We'd been trying to leave, to go grocery shopping, for over an hour and the guy just had this vacant, open-mouthed stare while he's standing there with his door open, unable to process what the hell was going on.

And it was the same car that we've had towed previously for parking in that same exact fucking spot, man. So I've been keyed up all fucking morning, and I heartily endorse the idea of drinking. I think I'm gonna get drunk and go to the movies.

I even had to apologize to the poor woman from the police that I was on the phone with when the guy came out. Sheesh, man.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Atlas Sound!

Atlas Sound—Let The Blind Lead Those who can see but Cannot Feel” (Kranky, 2008)

There is something to be said for being too nice to pull off ambition. For “Let the Blind Lead Those who can see but Cannot Feel,” that’s mostly a good thing—the title is a good glimpse of the type of silliness Deerhunter lead singer Bradford James Cox can veer into, especially with no band to hold back his whimsies. But that Cox has such a good head for arrangements and records such a pretty album that his straining doesn’t undo the core.

His album opener is built around a child telling “A Ghost Story” and the slight narrative becomes a warm, reverberating fable. In the hands of a band like The Books, the sample would have likely been a sparse and morose, but Cox ends up treating the kid with surprising tenderness.

Likewise, reading his interview with Pitchfork makes the songs less interesting, not more. The themes behind are usually moments of poetic suffering, but little of that comes through—“Winter Vacation” is easier to enjoy if you just accept it as a Sigur Ros rip-off; “Cold as Ice” is a jaunty David Byrne loop rolling along with Cox’s endlessly washed voice, and he could just as likely be singing about his favorite Foreigner songs as some adolescent romantic humiliation.

Still, all the songs are enveloping, all reward headphones or good speakers, and all follow the inexorable logic of dance music, succeeding through emotional tones rather than concept. That may be best shown on “Scraping Past,” where Cox works from the same aesthetic that Matthew Dear does, using the title as a looped wash over a plucky glitch backbeat and a simple two-note bassline. Instead of developing the melodies, he mixes them to develop the song, which gives the song a simple propulsiveness that might have otherwise spiraled into twee jetties.

If “Let the Blind Lead Those who can see but Cannot Feel” had achieved the depth that Cox seemed to want, the album would have been a slog. Thank God Cox realized the shallow pleasure of listening to music, and made a good album rather than a “great” one.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

America's next what the fuck, TV?

New cycle of America's Next Top Mongol!

Kim's, like, considered totally dumb or something, but she's really just deaf.


I love this show. It is the number one assault on reality in America, the sort of shit that Warren Ellis only fucking dreams about. There is nothing that isn't rendered in the most explosive, expressionistic way possible.

And I love the beats behind it, this unceasing emotional narrative that's propulsive like the score to a musical. That may be the best comparison—the reality show as '50s musical.

But oh shit, they're gettin' thirsty over breastmilk what the fuck?

Monday, February 18, 2008


The core of There Will Be Blood should be readily apparent to anyone who loves metal, especially the epic drone metal of bands like Sun 0)))), Sleep or Om. It is long, concerned primarily with evil, and heavy.

In There Will Be Blood, there is only one character—the rumbling bass note of Daniel Day Lewis's Daniel Plainview, an oil prospector who is more a force than a man. He is not particularly reflective, and the film only gives him two foils to communicate with, and both are removed abruptly.

He is black, oily and essentially simple. For all the praise that Daniel Day-Lewis has received, most of it has been deceiving, given over to the size of the character he portrays (the Onion AV Club note on "Big Acting" is particularly dead on) rather than noticing that he gets some surprisingly subtle moments out of a lumbering beast of a film. While generally, he's just acting the living fuck out of the movie, acting with great effort and attendant bombast and bellow, he's able to draw humor out of his humiliation at the hands of an Evangelical. Conversely, the intensity that he puts into "I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!" makes it as "scary" as Venom's protestations that they are truly evil, in league with Satan.

Add that to Anderson's juggernaut direction, which emphasizes an unresolved and ever mounting tension, spurred on by Plainview's drinking and alienation, and it has the feeling of a particularly turgid metal opera. To strain the metaphor only slightly further for increased accuracy—set that metal opera in Deadwood and you have There Will Be Blood exactly.

Which isn't to say that it's bad, because it's not. It's just unabashedly portentous while being nihilistic about what it portends, and it's interesting to me that this is treated seriously when a lot of metal isn't. It has the same technical virtuosity, the same aesthetic power, the same mythological vocabulary, the same moral fixations (there is arguably nothing more moral than nihilistic art). And this movie is up for the picture of the year, while Pelican's City of Echoes is ignored at the Grammy's?

Where I have to abandon this point is that, like City of Echoes, I didn't enjoy There Will Be Blood all that much. I thought both were interesting, and I'm glad that they exist, and I can put each in its genre context, but they're things that I'd like to think about, rather than experience again. I would urge anyone reading this to see There Will Be Blood on the big screen—I would have abandoned it about ten minutes in on a small screen. But then, metal's better live, innit?

So fucking hip

In upping my hipster quotient, I went and saw a show at Shepard Fairey's print shop in a weird downtown warehouse district.

Playing were Crystal Antlers, Wooden Shjips and Darker My Love.

I've been on this mission to hear Crystal Antlers for, like, a couple months now. My coworker Phil is their erstwhile manager, and he gave me an EP of theirs that I really dug—they sound like Comets on Fire meet Funhouse-era Stooges. So, since then, he's put on a half-dozen shows, and through a combination of me being old, miscommunication and just bad luck, I've managed to miss them every time. Like, I either show up too late, or can't stay late enough, or end up at a different show on the same night… whatever. I missed Crystal Antlers AGAIN. I thought they were headlining, when Darker My Love was.

But Wooden Shjips were awesome—just that loose, casual, four-note groove behind all of their space rock, I really dig it. And Darker My Love was OK. They were more a Jesus and Mary Chain rip, which is cool, because Wooden Shjips are a Spaceman 3 rip, and I like JAMC.

I picked up two Crystal Antlers 7"s though, and both are pretty good. "Parting Song for Torn Sky" is the lead-off on the EP that I've got, and when I heard it I mentioned that it sounded like Blue Cheer done right (I've always been kinda disappointed by Blue Cheer's inability to balance their awesome riffs with their experimentation), and Phil had no idea who I was talking about, but the band thanks Blue Cheer on their cover of Mose Allison's Parchman Farm. **EDIT**—Phil knew who I was talking about, but I guess I didn't think he did or something. He just didn't want them compared to Blue Cheer—which I still kinda think is funny, because the band mentions 'em. But I didn't mean to make Phil come off as a dumbass!**

Plus, that one's on clear vinyl!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Political decision making

For me, the most interesting issue regarding how I decide what to support on a ballot is California's Proposition 93.

This bill is a structural one, rejiggering the term limits for California state legislators. It is, theoretically, party neutral. It lacks the confounders of big money or most serious religious or ideological involvements. It's not a proposal that relies on fundamental assumptions about race or gender or privilege.

With term limits, there are certain inherent arguments that should theoretically be testable. It's not just that term limits help us avoid career politicians, the stated argument, but that career politicians are de facto bad, and that they are bad because they are undemocratic and form themselves into an elite class which makes them poor judges of public good. If men are best at serving themselves first, we should endeavor to keep them as like us as possible, to ensure the best service.

Because this is largely a non-partisan question, and because the legislation has limited remit, it should be easier to agree on goals for legislators—they should be effective, or able to review and pass legislation that is needed; they should be adept, or able to pass legislation that withstands scrutiny from judicial review; they should be conservative, and pass as little new law as possible; they should be representative, and come from a broad array of backgrounds.

I should, here, say that these are simply my back-of-notebook criteria. And they've certainly been influenced by what I've read around 93, if I might clumsily segue.

I started by reading the Secretary of State's voting guide. Aside from the Yes/No synopsis, which I found kind of confusing until I read the actual law, there are two arguments from the Pro/Con PACs. The Con, from California Term Limits Defense Fund's Bob Adney, is basically that this is a boondoggle supported by current politicians to extend their terms.

And he's right. This would start the clock over for politicians serving now, so they could go over their 14 year limit currently enshrined. That's an obvious incentive to support it for serving pols.

But, aside from some serious disagreements with my government—I deplore some of the copyright and electronic surveillance that has been ayed by Dems here in California—I generally like the folks that are in. I think Villaraigosa's a machine-made boss, but I don't really mind that he supports this as a sop to his state congressional backers. And in the future, the proposal would actually lead to shorter term limits.

Then there are the questions raised about how effective the current term limits are in promoting the good governance outlined above. Prop 93 started with this study, from the Public Policy Institute of California.

First off, they went with assumptions like that more diverse representation, closer to the demographic makeup of California, is a good that should be pursued. I'm mildly favorable to this point, as it is another facet of the fundamental Red vs. Expert debate inherent in term limit arguments. The good of having democracy/ideology/identity conflicts with the good of expertise, as came up again and again in the USSR and PRC (hence the shorthand "Red vs. Expert"). But while I'm normally nominally on the side of the expert in most things, especially within the executive branch, congresses are populist institutions. As term limits facilitate a reasonable level of pro-democratic reform, I'm OK with that so long as the decrease in expertise can be mitigated.

The study by the PPIC found that the current term limit regime wasn't doing that—they found worse oversight, less effectiveness, more susceptibility to outside lobbyists. It also found that since most congress members come from and proceed to other elected offices, that term limits had no real effect regarding career politicians.

I haven't gone through the entire study yet, to see their methodology, but I trust their conclusions, which brings me to the third part of making a decision: checking the sources. By looking at the front pages of the websites pro and con, I gave 'em about equal credence—they were both professional, they both made shallow, emotional appeals. But the Term Limits Reform (or Yes) folks linked to the PPIC site, and along with having the study upon which 93 was based, they also listed their funders. Both Term Limits Reform and Stop the Politicians vaguely list their PAC backers, but TLR does so more transparently. didn't have any info on either of the sides, but I have to say that my confidence in Sourcewatch has declined now that I see they're a public wiki.

My initial reaction, upon seeing the proposal, was to vote against it because I'm reflexively against career politicians. But noting that term limits haven't impacted that here, and that the current structure is counter-productive to the legislative goals that I feel are important, and because I feel like I can trust the study's veracity, I'm going to vote for California Proposition 93.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Being either too cheap or too lazy to finally get the right connector card for my old ass Mac, and running just over 100 gig of music, I need to get rid of stuff I don't like, but keep a record of it so I don't download it again.

This comp, called "Tokyo New Wave '79!" with some gobbledy-gook metadata ("TV∞C™[∞W™[ 3:52 SEX „‘—ı∞j∞∑™[∞E∞F™[∞u'79 1/15/08 6:52 PM Rock 128 kbps 1 1979") all sounds like a buncha crummily-recorded Japanese punks, in a bad way. No hooks, terrible mush.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Show notes

First band—no name. Forced? Post-nuggets. Hlaway through set.

This is the Detroit I miss. They could be any number of opening bands for the sights or SRC or Dirtbombs or Come Ons or Paybackds or Wackswings. Sharp power pop. Lead signer looks like Jason Schwartzman without nose.


The Makeout Party:

Bassist looks like a yearbook photo from 1982. Poodle.

Charming twee punk. Elvis Costello. Remind me of Rants.

Trebbly and bouncy. C86? Listen. Ramones if they wanted to meet your parents. Richman—later Richman. Pop Project too.

Non-ironic call for birthday suits in banter. Mic out oh no!

n Sound like the Jame without any punk attitude. No Tube Station. Or unrestUnrest.
“Not political, but that’s like complaining about the lack of tits on a horse.”


We’re on song five, I think. OK, but the first band was better. It’s a flurry of upfront dancing, like the high school everyone imagines after they know what hip is.

--The soft, sensitive vocals give the impression, tied up with the previous note, that they’re playing at being younger than they are, like Saved By The Bell actors.

--All in pants so tight, ‘70s tight, but the bassist is the only one with a sizable cock showing. Explains his pinched banter voice though. Sounds like Emo Phillips. Gets the girls dancing though.

--Wish they had a lead guitar.

--Then they say “we haven’t played it in foreverver—inagoddadavida!” and launch into a stop-start guitar part with verve and they’re fucking on! Then it ends.

--The girl with the camera only wants photos of the bassist.

--Teenbeat! Tiger Beat! Air Miami!

DJs between sets. All the cute girls do The Roach from Hairspray.
Fucking garter socks from the son-of-a-bitch in argyle golf shit. You ain’t bringin’ that back.
The breakdown of formal America=people can only freak dance.


Luckily, drunk driving is not a crime in LA.
The DJ playing bullshit does enforce my Detroit rock chauvinism.
Rolling blackouts, no vocals all backbeat=awesome.

This is the kind of music that needs to be live. It needs the rattle and hum and dancing (not so much the persistent feedback). But this fits in exactly with what’s been Djed: the Sonics.
And puss out second song.

Still second song—as soon as you notice yourself going deaf, every song is “Do I want to put my hearing into this?”
Third song—I really do believe the chick with the big tits is gonna fuck the blonde guy with Jew nose. He’s been jealously guarding her as she flits around the dancefloor, grinding on everyone. He’s got that groping desperation, though.

“Seriously, LA, this is the Rolling Blackouts. It’s ridiculous, what’s going on… in society. The Rolling Blackouts!” interstitial from club owner.
Country rock tune w/swing. Second guitar part finally. This is where they could use feedback washes to help ‘em not sound like the Meat Puppets. When he hits “ALRIGHT!” stretched out and broken, that’s where they could go. Don’t stop now!
Amy and I gotta start a band to kill corny LA fux.
(Not a song)
Next song after country above = Stones “Let’s spend the night together”+The Who’s “Can’t Explain.” See, where other folks knock ‘em for theft, I love BRAZEN. Also, early Stipe vox sometimes. Stopped the dancing though.
Speed to velocity=derivative.
--Kinda a mediocre mid-tempo with a spot of marching (I dunno 4-4 bah bah bah bah w/pauses staccato? Up and down bass, minimal backbeat, same melodies vox+guitar+bass.
Big tits is dancing again—relaxed, Police groove, but not skabeat (guitar counterpoint goes “ska.” Also, this song = great, simple hook. Up and down. B-side. Excellent harm?
Reggie the Renegade Alligator “Crocodile Tears” calypso beat totally New Wave Joe Jackson morning papers? Sunday papers?

Big tits is dancing with Newsies cap girl. Hot. Jew nose is dancing with newsies cap. Not hot.
Compression wars to live=no dynamic range. Pushing all to max always. Yes, lead guitar part!
Another song, but I barely notice until it’s halfway through. There’s a Sheffield woman, two over from me. Not even as high as my nipples. Ad still a hipster Joan Jett mullet. The crowd’s given up.
Fuck yeah, like Jet but right, couldn’t even write during.
That Jet thing comes through again on the choruses—maybe LA version of garage rock? Very polished vox, but polished to garage. “You know you hate it” is chorus. Golden Earring freakout outro.

And we’re out.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Y'know what I hate about children? They can't take a punch

Today (yesterday, technically, as I forgot to post this):

Played foursquare in the park on lunchbreak with Phil, Eric and Mailroom John. We played pretty much the full hour, and that was totally sweet, though I didn't get to eat most of my lunch. I did hit a kid with the ball, and she started crying. She was, I dunno, four or so? About mid-thigh high? However old kids are when they're about three feet. Anyway, I hit the ball into the corner, Eric went for it and missed, and it popped the kid. It didn't seem like a bad hit, and she was fine for a moment, until we started asking her if she was OK. Then came the waterworks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Work gossip

Two weird bits: Telling my recently-divorced colleague that a guy being in jail and not being able to raise bail should be a "deal breaker," which it totally should be; the Hustler Ed As gave his two-weeks notice today, and I'm worried I'll have to pick up the slack. The problem? I slack. I like my slack. It makes up for having a job that's mostly brain stem work.

New Cake=Piss Laser Day 1

Originally uploaded by joshsteich
Ok, there's a new urinal cake at work, and since the last couple of times we've gotten one, I've wondered how long it would take to piss through it.
You know, PISS LAZER!

It's funnier in my Dragonforce voice. I pissed on it once today.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Not so bad!

It's only been a week!

Finished Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. It was an odd read for me, being so late to it. Our culture's pretty well steeped in biters (Matrix, mostly), and I used to play a lot of Shadowrun, which stole pretty much wholesale.

I have some complaints: It's not nearly as deep as it thinks it is; there are some pretty glaring plotholes; his philosophy is fair bit muddled; last thirty pages are a trudge. But it was a fun read, and I felt like I was suddenly getting a lot of references that prior I'd only vaguely placed. My next book from the library, Trapped In Russia, I might abandon. It's supposed to be a thrilling true story, but so far it's mostly the dull tale of someone being conscripted. I suppose that's a natural trade-off for being true—the dull bits did happen. But hey, I don't have to read 'em. The Flannery O'Connor book on top of the stack keeps looking more and more alluring.

Found some neat art while casting about for a story on Grafuck: Pomme Chan and Audrey Kawasaki.

Oh, and Jonmc from MeFi does a good job with some classic rockers and their comebacks over at Metachat. I especially dug the Mitch Ryder. I need to head over to Cousin's Vinyl to see if they have it.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Best of 2007!

I had knocked together a best of 2007 mix for folks at Metafilter, and my da's nice enough to host it, so here it is: Best of 2007

(Ugly formatting from iTunes c&p)

Wild Bore Mika Miko 666 EP 2007
Fledermaus Can't Get It Von Südenfed Tromatic Reflexxions 2007
Buzz Buzz Buzz Black Strobe Burn Your Own Church 2007
People Person Pissed Jeans Hope For Men 2007
First Priority The Bad Trips The Bad Trips lp (rocketship records 2007) 2007
Hey! Home Blitz Home Blitz 2007
Troubled Son

New year!

Time for a flurry of activity!

I got my first Xmas card from a photographer and porn star couple. It's totally one of those Sears portraits, and is pretty cute.

Here's how this whole thing is weird, since I meant to start blogging more about my job: I've dealt with Dave Naz on and off, mostly through email and the phone. I've never met him. But I bounce over and read their blogs every now and then. They seem like cool folks generally, vegetarian (or maybe vegan), and I really admire Naz's photographic skillz—he has a louche '70s style that I enjoy. But while it would be cool to get to know them more, I'd have to stop reading their blogs. Not because they're all porny and that necessitates more of an awareness about how intimacy is constructed, but because of the weird disjunction I feel about public/private knowledge. I make friends on Metafilter because it doesn't have that weird confessionalism that blogs do, whereas most other people whose blogs I do read (for example, Mark Maynard), I don't really like talking to.

I think this is part of why I only read my girlfriend's livejournal once every couple of months, and why I don't really tell my friends about writing here—I've already got an in-person relationship with them, so I don't really need them to see this. I communicate what I want to with them already.