Friday, December 31, 2010

In search of the proto-hipster

Back in the June of '59, Mad Magazine nailed the habits of hipsters more than a half century ago. Magic Carpet Burn scanned it.

The menu is particularly funny. Sweet potato fries! What will they come up with next?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top Ten Gallery Blag Tips

An article I wrote (well, really, a top ten list of snarky half-advice) is up at

Click through so it looks like I'm popular!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Botanists, get on this

A citrus tree where, if you let them keep going, the limes turn into lemons, the lemons turn into oranges and the oranges turn into grapefruits.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

John Boehner, Ooompa Loompa

Boehner's better known for his weeping these days, a trait that will no doubt assume metaphorical proportions in accounts of him after death, but something that's always struck me is just how amazingly fake his tan is.

I live in California now, but I come from the Midwest, specifically Ann Arbor, which might be the locus for fake tanning —a healthy population of East Coast girls whose exile to Michigan won't keep them from looking like Snooki means that you see plenty of orange-ringed Juicy Couture sweatshirts. And while Indiana's a smidge sunnier, there's no way that Boehner's getting his rays there (and even his proposed two-month winter vacation couldn't get him that orange). At least Rex Hamilton comes by his wallet face honestly.

Boehner denies that his tan is faked, saying that he's never used a product nor a tanning bed; he's just naturally so orange he could be sold by highway exits.

It's just weird to me that the Tea Party doesn't get all wound up about the ridiculous, pompous, fake-baked Republicans… If they were just anti-incumbent and anti-elitist, they'd have pitchforks out for this Oompa Loompa already.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Probably just someone stealing art ironically

From my new favorite blog, the LA Art Crime Squad.

Certainly better than Interpol.

Pentax K10d User Manual

I went looking for the Pentax k10d user manual, and it was a pain in the ass to find — the official sites had some sort of error where I was only getting 18k of an (apparently) 5mb file, so I braved the weird Geocities-on-crack file hosters that I saw this file on. It had a 30 or so character numeric string for a file name, so I figured that I'd rename it, upload it to Mediafire, and share it here.

So, Pentax k10d user manual.


Last night, I ran into Bob (NYT) and he gave me a pretty amazing Birthmas present: a Pentax K10D, my first DSLR.

I got to screw around with it last night, but so far, the only way that I've been able to get useable files off of it is by opening files in Preview and resaving them as PSDs, because for some reason, though both ImageReady and Photoshop say they can open DNGs, when I try to open these DNGs I get weird incorrect file type errors. I know that there's probably a way to save the DNGs in the camera as JPG or something, but I haven't been able to find the manual yet (the top links on google are all 404ed for the actual download).

Still, it's got a fast kit lens (18-55) on it, and once I can figure out how to go to manual focus, it'll be a lot of fun. I already took some pictures last night that I think will look pretty nice at a modest size. And I easily took over 36 shots last night, which'd be over $15 to develop and scan. I'm already ahead!

How cheap money and no regulation screwed Simmons

NY Times story on the leveraged buy-out(s) of Simmons mattresses, rapacious profit, and the cheap credit that threw us all into the ditch.

Friday, December 10, 2010

2010 California Marriage Protection Act PSA (#1)

In which I answer surveys for money

Not a lot of money, honestly, but some at least. And it goes directly to pay off student loans. Whee!

This one was a commercial from Keystone, and the first question (after making me watch it twice) was to explain what happened:

Two dudes were playing with their cells at a party, boring the attractive women. The women left. Keith Stone stares at his can, making a Geico Caveman face. He then pulls two sticks out of his butt and begins to whack at the cans, producing a totally implausible steel drum medley (which reminds me to smoke pot, not drink beer). Then some woman riding in a monster truck sees this, decides she has nothing better to do with her life and regards Keith Stone's smoothness, which he apparently demonstrated somewhere else (because it's not in the commercial). Keith Stone drinks his Keystone and then wakes up, alone and despondent (implied).

Apart from the name and the product, what made you realize it was Keystone Light?

Well, there's Keith Stone, who when I first saw him a couple months ago, I thought was a real country star doing endorsement shots for Keystone. It's the sort of thing that mercenary country stars do, sell their reputations for cheap beer because they hold their fans in a fairly fundamental contempt.

But that's about it. Why not just have everyone else get Bitter Beer Face? I mean, that was at least honest about what Keystone is: beer for people who hate the taste of beer, but can't come up with another way to get drunk slowly.

If you had just seen the commercial and were drinking Keystone Light, how would you feel?

In order to get to that point, I have to assume an epic rager, in which not only have I been drinking for hours, but that it's past the time when anyone could go out and get more beers. So, here we are with that case of Keystone somebody brought and then left (regifted, likely) and I'm drinking Keystone, because what the hell, I'm eight beers in and won't taste it. Then the commercial comes on, and I look at the beer in my hand and realize just then it's a Keystone, because I thought it was Milwaulkee's Best or something, and think, Well, not a single woman I know would go for that greasy hobo, so thank God everyone's so drunk that nobody will remember me drinking this swill.

What does the slogan "Keystone Light: Always Smooth" mean to you, based on the commercial?

Cheap beer. "Smooth" isn't really something to be celebrated in beer, except ironically. You've almost got the irony down with the Keith Stone guy, but you should take it up a notch and use Smoov B from the Onion. It'd be making fun of the "smoothness," turning a detriment into an asset. Instead, it's sort of a fratty generic ad with no actual smoothness. Also, why does Keith Stone have a Spanish accent for only one of his lines? What's that about?

You've answered: Keith Stone is 'not at all smooth.' What makes him 'not at all smooth'?

The lack of positive smoothness.

And then after all that, I get a stupid message about how high volume won't let them process my replies, but that I've already responded. Ah well, at least it's here so random Keystone googlers can find it.

John Hodgman - Hobo Matters

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Attacked by weasels?

I was finally changing the tires on my bike yesterday, and while trying to unstick the rear wheel from that bent fork I've got, the handlebars turned and the bike tipped, raking the gears down my leg. My first impulse, of course, was to take pictures.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Two Wikileaks revelations worth highlighting

Most of what I've seen through Wikileaks has just been confirmations of things we already knew: Google hacked by the Chinese government; US diplomats using both the carrot and the stick with foreign countries to empty Guantanamo; that Arab Sunnis really don't like Persian Shiites.

But two things were new to me, and deserve more consideration than the media firestorm about whether or not Assange is guilty of the amusingly-named "Sex by surprise."

The first is that US contractors in Afghanistan hired child prostitutes and that the Afghan and US authorities sought to have that story quashed. It's pretty interesting, and pretty deplorable.

The second is that The US knew about the Honduran coup and dithered publicly in tacit support of the coup. Given the US's history in Latin America (death squads, holla!), you'd think we'd be a little bit better about condemning coups, especially military coups to oust reformers.

But, you know, Monroe doctrine, and military dictatorships are easy to deal with — you accept their natural resources at bargain basement prices, and in exchange, ignore human rights violations. Win-win.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Just in time to be late for Hannukah

After hearing good things about RedBubble from a friend of mine, I decided to toss a bunch of recent images up there. I'll be adding more as time goes on, and I've yet to see anything thing RedBubble has printed in person, but at the very least these can be some snazzy, vaguely depressing holiday cards! And who doesn't want a laminated print of a burned stump in their living room?

What should I buy with my $100?

So, Google keeps sending me this:

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I don't make any money off of this blog — I only put adwords on it because for a long time, having small, never noticed GoogleAds was the only way to get Analytics, and I masturbate to graphs of the twelve pageviews I get each day. So aside from bringing in some new, confused readers to spam my comments with Chinese characters that lead to incomprehensible virus-laden linkfarms, there's no real benefit.

But $100!

Obviously, I should buy "mesothelioma," since that's the SEO hotness, right? What else? "Brobdinagian"? "Fart-huffer"? "Steichmann," on the off chance anyone ever searches for it? "Costume jewery"? Can I be the number one search result for "lickspittle"? "Analog hug machine"? "Bullshit"?

I am the bad roommate, sorry

Bitter Mensch's "Roommating Rituals".

His post-college comics are way better, so don't bother scrolling down too far.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I'll have a short stack and an Ow-mlette.

The Paincakes (whose hilarious Danzig X-mas cover was in that previous Suburban Sprawl post, are worth taking a listen to if you like grindy punk rawk. Which I do.

(One lesson I learned from being a rock writer: Always remember to say in clear terms if you like something. The number of times I had to say, "But that was a compliment!")

Hush that fuss!

Fifty-five years ago, Rosa Parks stayed on the bus.

She might not have liked the song, but I do. Shame about the comments, where some lunatic is all het up about Rosa Parks being a communist instigator.

Should Superman request a change of venue?

The Law and the Multiverse is a comics blog that addresses the burning legal questions of our age: Is Batman a state actor? Could mutants really be forced to register? Are Earth-616 decisions binding in the Negaverse?

No word yet on the complications of Luthor's unitary executive theory.

Christmas… Christmas time…

I've loved Suburban Sprawl for a long time now, and one of my facebook pals (hi Sara!) just linked to their massive trove of X-mas music. My favorite comp is still the Ze Records one which I have as a murky dub of overplayed vinyl (that somehow makes the Suicide track just that much more crushing), but I'm really digging SubSounds' eight years of collected fun. The High Strung are particularly good this year, and there's a pretty great Wendy and Carl track down the page further.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Helen Gotlib

I was trawling around on Etsy, looking for Christmas gifts, and stumbled onto some pretty neat drawings and paintings, and lo and behold, they were done by someone I went to high school with.

This is, I think, my favorite, but there's a lot of good stuff on Helen Gotlib's site.

Quiz: What's your Batman name?

I got "Batman"!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Neat Sharity blog

Is not theft is copyright infringe!

Pretty neat little sharity blog that had a Little Ann album I was curious about. Now, if it's good, I'll order it from Dusty Groove, but they're too expensive to buy at on a lark.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Re: Thankful

from Josh Steichmann
date Thu, Nov 25, 2010 at 9:38 AM
subject Re: Thankful
hide details 9:38 AM (4 minutes ago)
Dear Barack,

I voted for you because you were a socialist muslim. I have since learned this isn't true. I am very, very disappointed.

I had been told you would enslave all the white people and though I am white I thought "about time." But this has not happened.

So I voted for Republicans because I think making things worse helps them get better because smaller government hands off my medicare. If I can't have one thing I want the opposite.

Still I am thankful that we got some health care later unless we can destroy it.

Go Indians

- Hide quoted text -

>>On Thu, Nov 25, 2010 at 9:22 AM, Barack Obama wrote:
>>Josh --

>>When Michelle and I sit down with our family to give thanks today, I want you to know that we'll be especially grateful for >>folks like you.

>>Everything we have been able to accomplish in the last two years was possible because you have been willing to work for it >>and organize for it.

>>And every time we face a setback, or when progress doesn't happen as quickly as we would like, we know that you'll be right >>there with us, ready to fight another day.

>>So I want to thank you -- for everything.

>>I also hope you'll join me in taking a moment to remember that the freedoms and security we enjoy as Americans are >>protected by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. These patriots are willing to lay down their lives >>in our defense, and each of us owes them and their families a debt of gratitude.

>>Have a wonderful day, and God bless.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Am I getting enough self-righteousness in my diet?

Tasha, The Voracious Vegan gives up being vegan in a post that applies the same religious fervor of her veganism to her new bicycle, being a localvore. With a new moral philosophy that seems mostly cribbed from Tool's Disgustipated ("Life feeds on life!"), she goes from MEAT IS MURDER to ZOMG BACON in less time (but more words) than it takes to make (vegan) ramen.

Ginny Messina, the Vegan RD, answers back, pointing out a lot of things that rang false to me about the Voracious Vegan.

Now, Tasha has answered some of the criticisms she's gotten, but it seems like she's ignored most of the trenchant criticism in order to focus on the asshole vegans that everyone knows (and she used to be). You can't declare that you no longer see things in black and white while simultaneously declaring that vegan or full-on bacon orgies are the only options.

And, you know, I'm a little bit annoyed by the constant ad hominem dismissal of legitimate criticism as coming from a misogynistic place — it's OK to call women obnoxious when they're acting obnoxious. It's not because you're a strong woman challenging the patriarchy here, it's because you come off as a self-righteous taint, and in order to be self-righteous it helps if you're right.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oh Bauer!

Such a catchy song about farming!

Threat, Anxiety and Support of Anti-Terrorism Policies

Neat article by some folks at Stony Brook University. Some of it is Water Is Wet conclusions, that perceived risk of terrorism increases support for aggressive anti-terrorism policies, but the interesting thing to me was that anxiety didn't increase support, either domestically or abroad, which wasn't what I would have guessed. Paper here.

Trust and Governance

Since I'm doing some freelance citation fixing, I'm googling all sorts of neat papers to find first names of authors (blame a random journal's style guide — initials work for EVERYONE ELSE). That includes a couple chapters from Valerie Braithwaite and Margaret Levi's Trust and Governance, which I had at one point as part of a coursepack, but now I can't find.

Well, I guess I can find it now, it's here. Not the whole thing (just the intro and third chapter), but that's what I had in the coursepack anyway.

Monday came on a Tuesday

Another weekly mix

If I hadn't gotten lazy and just uploaded the .zip without checking, I would have axed a couple of the shorter songs, since they have cold stops. The Kapten Rod, particularly. Other than that, it's another mix of rock, jazz, rap and "various." I'm fixing citations to it.

Metal Gods—Judas Priest—British Steel [Remastered] [UK]
Skin The Pizzle—Ginger Baker—No Material
Dreams—Kill Peaches—Single
White Cat Heat—Godz—Contact High
Golden—High Places—High Places
So Sick—Ne-Yo—So Sick (CDS)
Modern Life (Extended Phones Remix)—Lomax—12"
Kallakallacka—Kapten Röd—Gillis Reggaepropaganda vol 1
An Autumn That Came Too Soon—Goon Moon—Licker's Last Leg
Champion Sound—Jaylib—Champion Sound
Oh Bauer—Jeans Team—Musik Von Oben
Twilight Of The Gods—Helloween—Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Pt. I
Wild Horses—Iron and Wine feat. Calexico—Live At The Triple Door - Seattle 2005
Gospel Time—Sandy Bull—Fantasias For Guitar And Banjo
Cabelo Voa—Mr. Catra & Mc G3—Rio Baile Funk-More Favela Booty Beats
La To Detroit—Jaylib—Champion Sound
Mornings—Japanther—Skuffed Up My Huffy
Get It In [My Space Rip]—J Hood [Feat ODG]—MySpace Rip
Heart Of Song—Josef K—Young and Stupid
Goddess—Minny Pops—Dolphin Spurt 7"
I'll Keep Loving You—Jackie McLean—Let Freedom Ring
Madimak—Mogollar—Anadolu Pop
She Wants To Move (NERD Remix)—Justice—Remixes
Every Night A New Surprise—Moving Sidewalks—Unknown album
Summer Smoke—Girl Talk—Night Ripper
Spine Of God—Monster Magnet—Spine Of God

Monday, November 22, 2010

The shifting tides of red and blue

David Sparks created a fascinating little animation with an abstruse name, the Isarithmic history of the two party vote, which really means that he's overlaying another dimension (voting patterns) on top of a regular map. Just watch it. It makes sense.

The fun parts are watching the ultimate mandate of Roosevelt (who Republicans now like to pretend wasn't popular or right), and the sweep of the "Southern strategy" pioneered by Nixon in the '70s. Unfortunately, it only goes up to 2004, but I'd imagine it could be extended pretty easily.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lemme tell you how my dad and I outsmarted ourselves.

It was one of those government websites, like taxes or student loans or property claims or something crazy, and it needed a password, a really long one. Maybe some traffic ticket I got going through some other state. And that moment, when we created it, is the last either of us ever remember.

We hit upon the phrase "keyboard arizonas." And somewhere in that is the mythic password that we have never recovered. By now, I can't even really remember the website that it goes with. I do know that we forgot it pretty promptly, because we just needed a screenshot. The trick was that it was really, like, "4r1z0n4" or something. You know, keyboard arizonas man.

Except then I needed it a year later. And I couldn't get it. It wasn't 4r1z0n4. It wasn't 4r!z0n4. It wasn't 4r1zOn4. It wasn't arizona, ariz0na, ar1zona, any of 'em. Here I was, calling my dad, calling my mom, calling my brother, calling my girlfriend, and none of them knew the password. "Did you try with the numbers instead of letters?" "Yeah, that was the first thing I thought of."

The problem was, we thought of one trick, the numbers thing. But the website wouldn't take it, because it needed more symbols or characters or something, so we'd think of another trick, something we could describe to each other in the inevitable future where we'd forgotten it.

And I know exactly where we went wrong. I can actually hear myself saying, "The password contains the hint! That's genius!"

Monday, November 15, 2010

More music mondays!

162mbs of sweet, mixed-up action.

Jazz, metal, rap, Maroon 5, what more could you want?

Greenery—Quasimoto—The Further Adventures of Lord Quas
Animal Nitrate—Suede—Suede
I Never Want To See You Again—Quasi—Featuring "Birds"
Let's go dancin' (reprise)—Sparque—12"
This Love—Maroon 5—Songs About Jane
Folk Song—Michael Blake—Kingdom Of Champa
Thor (The Powerhead)—Manowar—Sign Of The Hammer
Intro To Rock—Marxy—Sonido Uzumaki
Money Money—Georgi McKay—Roots To Roots Vol .1
Sweet '69—Pink Mountaintops—Pink Mountaintops
The Rhythm—Gatsby The Great—Falling Up
Colours Move—Fuck Buttons—Street Horrrsing
Johnny Pissoff Meets The Red Angel—Fugs—It Crawled into My Hand; Honest
Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart—Terry Reid—Bang Bang, You're Terry Reid
Rahsaanica—Rahsaan Roland Kirk—Natural Black Inventions: Ro..
Agri Dagi Efsanesi—Mogollar—Anadolu Pop
I'm a Cadillac/El Camino Dolo Roso—Mott the Hoople—Mott
Kooler Than Jesus [Electric Messiah Mix]—My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult—Confessions of a Knife
Robot [7" Mix]—The Plastics—New Wave Complex Vol.4
Girl Friend—The Modern Lovers—The Modern Lovers
Perfect Kiss—New Order—Substance
Ain't Been to No Music School—The Nosebleeds—Streets (BEGA1 Vinyl)
Isn't it a pity—Galaxie 500—On Fire
You're My Miss Washington, D.C.—Nation of Ulysses—13-Point Program To Destroy America
Sang And Dance—The Bar-Kays—Stax-Volt Soul Singles Vol. 2 (68-71)
Down Down—Status Quo—Misc Oldies
Like That—Stat Quo—Aftermath Music
Never been a night like this—The Quads —Single
The Oil Runs Out—Newtown Neurotics—Single

Super secret time travel project needs more help

So, if you're interested, get ahold of me. It's going to be sweet. Totally fucking sweet. Seriously.

The Onion, sometimes true

Area Man Defends What He Thinks Constitution Says.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You can't teach French to a pig

So, since I gotta stop fighting with friends-of-friends on facebook pages, I'm putting this blog entry here so I can refer people to it any time they wanna mix it up.

That means every time someone starts spouting off about gay marriage, "socialism" or religion in government on social media and the discussion goes more than a couple comments, I'm going to refer people here.

Anyone else who wants to mix it up here is welcome.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two old multiplayer games I posted to MeFi forever ago

Crystal Clear, in which the object is to blow up crystals, and has maybe one player in the lobby ever (and I suspect they're a bot).

Quadradius is checkers in some needlessly robotic dystopic future. It's the kind of video game people in Firefly would play if they ever played video games.

Both are free, but have hardly any players. You can choose to pay to play either of them if you want to, I guess.

Test Card F

This is the sort of thing I'd go to if I wasn't worried about being the only stoned 31-year-old surrounded by a bunch of sober tweens and their parents.

Still, I wonder if telling them that I have a blog that gets literally hundreds of hits a day would be enough to score some free tickets.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A little late and a little wrong

Screamo cover of Crank Dat is better than it has any right to be. Now superman!

If there's a system, there's someone who will break the system

How Terry Kneiss broke Price is Right.

The writing's a bit over-wrought (a little too much ESQUIRE IS SERIOUS BUSINESS feeling for me) but the story is neat.

Our lady of the blessed carcass

Madonna and Carcass make for a pretty good mash-up, honestly.

Hannah Savannah fo fanna

A sapphic Oz schoolgirl named Hannah
Took to prom a dear friend, one Savannah.
They were barred by the haters
So they said: "see you laterz!
It's not just to behave in that mannah."

The Quidnunc Kid limmerizes this story about two girls who can't go to a formal dance together in Australia. (Which a former student says has always been homophobic.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Four snappy signs advertising democracy

Burmese military party wins Burmese military party elections, democracy party concedes defeat.

I am grateful as hell to have the privilege to live in a country where the cartoonish shenanigans of superstitious autocrats won't likely ever get me killed. Say what you will about American elections and their efficacy (and with this last one, we've got plenty to bitch about), but it often irks me when critics of the American political system don't at least acknowledge that it could be much, much worse.

Climate consensus on Kool and the Gang

From 2008, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS, which has a pretty sweet acronym for an academic journal) totally guts the myth that in the 1970s, people were more concerned about global cooling than global warming (PDF here). The publication record simply doesn't support that assertion, frequently heard from climate denialists like Sen. Jim Inhofe. It's a pernicious myth, but this is a pretty handy debunking.

Where my Steichmen at?

My Father's Mustache is a tumblr blog of vintage mustache shots, which got me thinking about all the old pictures of Matt, Jay and Ken (to my knowledge, Grandpa Erv never had a mustache). Mine's always part of my beard, except during those brief, confused moments between the accidental overtrim and the totally bald face (how do ladies do it? It's so cold!).

I mean, seriously, this guy (and the house he's in) could be in some old album lying around in North Riverside.

Never going to let you down

An O'Reilly talk about flash mobs gone wrong.

For safety

Make your own

Monday, November 08, 2010

Every Monday until I get a job

Another mix for you! I do housework to 'em, but you're of course free to do whatever to the music, but it's a fairly disparate mix and because it's for housework, I haven't ordered the tracks.

Download it here.

Orcus' Avarice—Ancestors—Neptune With Fire
If It Runs—Bad Livers—Delusion Of Banjer
Telecommunication—A Flock Of Seagulls—A Flock Of Seagulls
Pack You Up—Black Tambourine—Complete Recordings
Yaba Funk (Pre Mix)—Captain Yaba—Yaba Funk Roots
The Distance—Cake—Fashion Nugget
One Way Street—Aerosmith—Aerosmith
A Change is Going to Come—Baby Huey And The Babysitters—Living Legend: The Baby Huey Story
Surprise Truck—Camper Van Beethoven—Camper Van Beethoven (3rd)
Tearin' It Up (Larry Levan Mix)—Chaka Khan—12"
Ain't Mutatin'—Bird Nest Roys—Whack It All Down Ep
Winter Grey—Arcturus—Aspera Hiems Symfonia
Drag Racing—Big Stick—7"
IPT2—Battles—EP C/B EP
Woman Of Screen—Boris—Pink
Oaktown—Casual, Too Short, Richie Rich—Too Short-American Pimps
cool my fire—ada—blondie
Superstarfighter—Blumfeld—L'Etat Et Moi
Shining Brightly—Brinsley Schwarz—Brinsley Schwarz

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Best spam ever


Mr.Baba Gana Kingibe
show details Jul 22











TEL 234-80-3354-7109




Monday, November 01, 2010

Amy and I did our voting homework


Yes on 19.

I know some stoners and activists are against it. I think some of their critiques are legitimate. But a lot of it's just crazy paranoid fantasies about what will totally happen if there's, like, legal weed, man. The market will get involved!

In terms of what it'll mean for most recreational stoners, and because I love an underdog, I'm voting yes. This is one area where experimental democracy can have real dividends, and give other states a model for how to start the march toward full decriminalization.

Yes on 20.

California voted for the redistricting committee in 2008, but it hasn't meant anything because there's been no redistricting — the Census comes every ten years. Given that the Prop 11 in 2008 that authorized this also removed the prior law keeping legislators from gerrymandering districts to favor parties, incumbents or candidates, voting no on 20 is remarkably stupid. Carl Pope of the Sierra Club out to be ashamed, having his name next to the crazed invective from the voter guide, especially since it sounds like he doesn't know what the prop says. Yes on 20, no on 27.

Yes on 21.

Would you pay $18 a year to have free access to all state parks? Hell yes. Conservation, education, whatever, don't care. Free trips to state parks whenever I want to go? I realize I'm betraying hints of my class here, but goddamn, I love me some free parks and will go all the time. It already costs about six bucks a visit, depending on which ones and how long you park. So figure that you just have to go three times a year to break even, or four times to come out ahead? The argument against is just that it's some sort of car tax or something, and really just comes across as Rob Stutzman hates parks.

No on 22.

Really, trying to put up structural barriers to stop cash flow treasury abuses only works when we're running a surplus. Right now, 22 is just a measure from folks who don't believe government ever works wanting to prove themselves right by making it harder for government to work.

No on 23.

Part of the problem with global warming is that it really is a problem that we have to deal with even when it's not politically or economically convenient. It is happening, deniers are flat earthers, and the economic effects are going to be devastating, so letting them cascade earlier is dumb. Combine that with the loss of green jobs just so that current businesses can keep polluting? Ugh.

Yes on 24.

This one, I could go either way on. I do think that the business tax exemptions as passed were a terrible compromise to an elite group of national and multinational chain businesses that should never have even been necessary. I understand the LA Times position that it's not the voters' place to hash out tax code, especially not through the initiative process, but given that they're bad policy and that the voters are the last chance to catch them before they go into effect, it's hard not to see this as a good opportunity. Especially because the remedy proposed by the Times is to vote out the representatives, but that's easier said than done and only really speaks of single-issue voting anyway. I don't like the initiative system, but when given the choice between voting for 24 and voting against it? I'm voting for it grudgingly.

Yes on 25.

As you hear on every single campaign ad, "Sacramento is broken." A lot of that is because of the two-thirds majority required to get a budget through the legislature. We waste millions, hundreds of millions, every year, and during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, no less. The two-thirds requirement entrenches partisanship and destroys compromise, just like it does in the US Senate. It may mean higher taxes. It will also mean better budgets sooner, with fewer cuts to services. If you like good government, vote yes.

No on 26.

Everything I just said about 25? Reverse it for 26, which would require a two-thirds vote on any fees raised by the government. Now, fees were supposed to be the libertarian approach to taxes, where people pay based on how much they use and can decide how much they use. Sure, it seems a little naive to tell some kid up in Tehachapi that he's choosing to drive his car to work, and so he can ration his other trips to stay within budget, but revenue's gotta come from somewhere. Sorry, you just don't get a good government for free. You get a Somali government for free. Anyway, I'm rambling. Twenty-six would be bad for California. Don't vote for it.

No on 27.

Why would we want to get rid of that redistricting board? Twenty-seven gets rid of it, in concert with Prop 20. It doesn't "save us money," it's sponsored by lunatics and incumbents (with some overlap between the two).

Barbara Boxer for US Senate.

Fiorina was terrible for HP and got fired. Now she's running a cynical campaign, the only real advantage of which is that she brought out a mean, petty Boxer. On some level, it was fun to see Dems fight nasty. On the other hand, it gets old real fast. I'll probably vote early, but if it looks like a blowout, I gotta admire Duane Roberts from the Greens running on a Vote for Duane platform. You know, if you just gotta vote for someone you could have a beer with.

Jerry Brown for Governor.

"I am Governor Jerry Brown. My aura smiles and never frowns." As a big fan of punk rock, I always hoped I'd get to vote for California Uber Alles.

Karen Bass for US Rep.

She got elected two years ago, and I haven't heard boo from her since. Still, when in doubt, this year I'm going Dem.

Curren Price for State Senate.

Endorsed by EQCA, so at least there's that.

Mike Gatto for State Assembly.

Also endorsed by EQCA, Gatto looks a bit sleazy and I couldn't tell from his ads if he was Dem or GOP, but he's a Dem and is apparently for marriage equality. Why not?

Gavin Newsom for Lieutenant Governor.

His cousin's Joanna the screechy harpist. I once worked with a guy named Ted Newsome, which'll make it hard to remember how to spell Gavin's last name. He might get to be governor if Brown dies. Why not?

Debra Bowen for Secretary of State.

She's done a pretty good job for the last four years, so might as well keep her going. I went to a DMV a couple years ago, it was pretty nice, but I'm not sure she's responsible for that. Pretty fast. I'm not sure if she's responsible for that, but in Michigan she would be and she's on a down-ticket race. She's running against a bootstrapping NFL player who sounds like a total dumbass. I'm not going to lie, I think focusing on voter fraud is kinda silly, but that's what she's gotta do, and he's just kinda saying that he'll provide hope for kids and give companies exit interviews when they leave the state (WTF?).

John Chiang for Controller.

I keep wanting to find out that Controller is some sort of super comic book villian position that, through a fluke of California's initiative process, is put up for election every four years. "As the Controller, I will use implanted brain chips to reduce techno-waste by thirty percent! Mind-erase collars and tele-helmets are costing us millions per year!" Chiang's been a pretty good controller, and I voted for him before, so I'd like to keep the streak alive.

Bill Lockyer for Treasurer.

I honestly had no idea what party Lockyer was from, given his ads about being independent and chastising both major parties. He's done well holding California together as much as it has been, and if the sucker wants another term, he should get it. He's up against someone endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, who fill the voter guides with so much nonsense that it must be a front group for guys who drink the blue fluid at barbershops.

Kamala Harris for Attorney General.

The LA Times endorse Steven Cooley as a bit better than Harris, though they concede that both of the candidates are strong ones (for a change). But what doesn't bother them about Cooley, that he's stridently pro-death penalty, anti-gay rights and that he said he'd join in the bullshit lawsuit against "Obamacare," does bother me. These aren't little things, and that he's from LA and is a "good manager" isn't enough for me to get over my reluctance to put the defense of rights that I cherish in his hands.

Dave Jones for Insurance Commissioner.

Dave Jones has been so good as Insurance Commissioner that I won't even make a Monkees joke.

Larry Aceves for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

He's actually been a superintendent, seems to not have dogmatic positions one way or another, and is up against a guy touting his endorsement from the California Professional Firefighters. Has Torlakson (a mysteriously Swedish name) promised to require fire safety classes as graduation requirements? Don't vote for big fire!

Mike Gatto for

No endorsements on Board of Equalization.

Frankly, I just don't know enough. As the people who split up the public excise revenues in California, it's a position just absolutely ripe for a noir novel to be written about it, the dirty unsupervised moneys that go through the vaguely named bureaucracy. I'm pretty much just gonna vote straight Democrat, because what the hell. In all but one of the districts, that's who's already the incumbent; in the last, the Dem gives "Former Honorary Mayor of Pacific Beach" as a qualification, so why not?

John Nuguez for County Assessor.

He's endorsed by the Dems, at least. Scant info on the lower races.

Randy Hammock and Alan Schneider for Superior Court Judges. Rrrrrandy. Rrrrrrandy Hammock.

LA Times says "Yes" on all the judges. After that, the punditocracy thins out quickly. The only real No that I've seen going around is on Ming W. Chin, because he voted that Prop 8 was constitutional under the California state constitution. I'm as against Prop 8 as anybody — hell, I worked against it for a year — but I can understand that in his legal opinion, it was allowed under California law, even if I disagree with that. It was always going to be a federal thing, anyway. So, I'm voting for all of 'em; you can leave out Chin if you like.

Whew. I think that's all from my ballot.

Citizens united

I wish money didn't equal speech, but one of our best chances at fighting that is losing badly in Wisconsin.

Now that California looks pretty safe, I gave Russ Feingold $10. He's the politician that best represents my views, and he's someone I always think of when the nattering "No Difference" crowd tries to pretend that everyone in office is equally bad, and that there's no point in fighting for Democrats.

I got involved. I hope you do too, even if it's late.

Monday mixing!

Another zip of music to wash dishes to.

Again, meant to be shuffled. Good stuff, though, I think.

Too Much Fun—Too Much Fun—Muncie Sampler I
Bodies Adjust—Thunderbirds Are Now!—Justamustache
IEIEI—White Denim—Workout Holiday
Fell in Love—Vertex—Roots of Swedish Pop Vol 1 the Mod Years
Pyromaniac—The Verlaines—Juvenilia
All About My Fetti—Young Lay—New Jersey Drive, Vol.1
Look Out World—The Sliver Fleet
フリーダム—天井棧敷/東京キッド・ブラザース (Tokyo Kid Brother)—サントラ盤!! 書を捨てよ町へ出よう
Hoo-Bangin' [WSCG Style]—Westside Connection—Bow Down
Take A Stroll Through Your Mind—The Temptations—Psychedelic Shack
Listen People—Steve Marcus—Tomorrow Never Knows
She's An Angel—They Might Be Giants—Then
Zebra Ranch—Debris'—Static Disposal
Autobiography—Sloan—One Chord To Another
Set Me Free—TIn Openers
The Pros—The Roots—Game Ruffs
Scratchy—Travis Wammack—That scratchy guitar from Memphis
Stone—Small Faces—First Step
Time—The Parliaments—Testify! - The Best of the Early Years
Step it up—Stereo MC's—Connected
Rosewood—Woody Shaw—Rosewood
food & drink synthesizer—Unrest—Perfect Teeth
Over, Under, Sideways, Down—Yardbirds—Roger the Engeneer
You Don't Need A Doctor—The Robocop Kraus—They Think They Are The Robocop Kraus
Speed Limit—Tommy Lam—Dateless Night
Leather Wings—This Will Destroy You—This Will Destroy You
Third Uncle—Zongamin
Up Your Speed Ft Pyrelli—Sway—Up Your Speed
A View From Her Room (12")—Weekend—Archive
It Don't Mean Nothing At All—Valves—VA-Every One A Classic 4
Bootsie's Lament—Oneness of Juju—Bush Brothers and Space Rangers

In case some of y'all forgot

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SoapBoxLA: Breakin' the law and proud of it!

SoapBoxLA: Breakin' the law and proud of it!: "One would think that those about to break the law would be discrete about it, but when law enforcement and municipal authorities get busy ..."

James Anthony Carmichael, where are you?

So, one of the records I got from Cousin's Vinyl was this Buluu album called O Happy Day by the Southern California Interdenominational Youth Choir (B-60001), that I loved. It's soulful, funky, gospel with a big warm room and sparse, percussive piano. But I couldn't find much info on anyone involved — the label was an offshoot of Dunhill, which was eaten up by ABC and later Universal, and Dunhill is best known for Three Dog Night. Buluu isn't really known for anything.

Fast forward a couple of years — I'm living in LA now, and this is the Southern California etc. Choir, after all. Likewise, in the intervening years, someone else has tracked down at least another link, or I was able to find it at least.

AMG says he was born in 1920, so it's iffy if he's still alive. But I'm wondering where the hell I'd find someone that knew him. Oh, and somewhere during his career he added his middle name, so that makes things tougher too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Four better excuses for Tim Proffit

I was learning a line dance to go with Boot Scootin' Boogie.

I was over-zealous in showing Lauren Valle my new butt-toning shoes.

I just got back from a wine tour of Napa and I hallucinated grapes on her.

Valle looked like one of those cyborgs you can only defeat through stomping.

Beatin up the block

Loving this beat.

"Hi, I'm Tony Perkins. I'm running for America's biggest asshole."

Tony Perkins tells NPR that gay suicides are because kids know they're abnormal.

Finally, someone to stand up for the bullies, so long as they're "Christian."

A new definition of chutzpah

The old joke goes that the definition of chutzpah is asking the court for mercy as an orphan after killing your parents.

After stomping on Laura Vale, Tim Profitt asks for an apology from her.

Monday, October 25, 2010

From the weird wilds

Anza Borrega shots with some color correx.

Oll Korrex!

FYF Entrance
Originally uploaded by joshsteich
Finally did an edit and a color correction on the set I took at FYF (or FYFest or FYF Fest or Fuck Yeah Fest or whatever they're calling it), and I think they look better cropped and balanced.

Monday Mix!

Monday Mix!

The combination of having an mp3-radio thingy in the kitchen, so I can play music while I wash dishes, and needing random playlists for writing more (I'm writing more, can you tell? Every time there's a new blog entry, I'm slacking off from applying for jobs or writing!) has led me to toss together some stuff. I'll keep putting them up here until I get another job (even if I start selling more writing, that won't cut down on the slacking).

Meant to be listened to on shuffle (so no particular order):

Dur dur—Alex & Les Lézards—Dur Dur single

Things goin' on—Lynyrd Skynyrd—Lynyrd Skynyrd

Love Bones—Johnnie Taylor—Stax-Volt Soul Singles Vol. 2 (68-71)

Cowboy—Jon Spencer Blues Explosion—Orange

Yes My Skin Is Black—Jonny Clarke—Girl I Love You

Humrush—KMD—Mr. Hood

Your heavy dream (won't fly)—Alec Bathgate—Gold Lame

My Friend Joel—Lem Jay—Sonido Uzumaki

Temple of the Mental—Material ft. Killah Priest—Intonarumori


Hoja De Trebol—Los Grimm—Hoja De Trebol single

Big Science—Laurie Anderson—Big Science

Tell Me—Lesbians on Ecstasy—Tell Me single

Can't Play Around (Larry Levan Mix)—Lace—Atlantic Records (0-89927a)

Dub Revolution (Part 1)—Lee Perry & The Upsetters—Scratch: Lee Scratch Perry Arkology - Reel I

No Limitations—L*Roneous—Imaginarium

Mama Marimba—Jarman, Joseph & Don Moye—Black Paladins

Crippled Child—A Certain Ratio—The Graveyard & The Ballroom

A Vague Sense of Order (Bloody Miles Mix)—Anton Fier—Dreamspeed/Blindlight

You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve—Johnny Boy—You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve single

If you enjoy it, lemme know!

Angry dad confronts abortion protesters

You tell 'em, Aaron. I stutter.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Might be too heavy for Superman to lift

After Meg Whitman's campaign literature has extolled the documentary "Waiting for Superman," and repeatedly slammed Jerry Brown for being in the pockets (or on the strings) of the teacher's union, the NY Review of Books takedown of the movie is worth reading. It's a bit long, but basically skewers the idea that charter schools are a panacea, something that I saw in Michigan back when I was working on the Ann Arbor Guide for SGI. We ended up running a sidebar (now lost to the sands of time) based largely on a couple reports that came out reporting that charter schools were by and large unstable money-sucks with terrible academic records, mired in terrible real estate deals and often tainted by insane religious indoctrination.

Sorry, guys, while public schools are fucked up, charters aren't a magic bullet. And I say this as someone who got lucky enough to go to the alternative schools in Ann Arbor.

I will also take this brief moment to stump for James Herndon's The Way It Spozed To Be and How To Survive In Your Native Land, both great, funny books about teaching and education.


This sounds pretty tasty and I would like to remember to try it. That is all.

Proof positive

I have been loving this Proof Positive album. With rhymes from my friend Matt G, and fantastic soulful production, I've been meaning to write up a review for a while. That'll have to wait, because it's too good not to just share it now. It's free too, all you bootleggers out there!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Zuke alorz!

Rachel, from LA, makes zukes with dill.

Alas, when I made 'em, kinda soggy and meh. (Is it weird that I don't want to badmouth bloggers in town, on the off chance I meet them?)

Zucchini remains a generally meh food for me. I made good tacos with them once, and would like to try Rick Bayless's

Digital imperfections

Consumed on Digital Imperfections.

To which I say, don't blame me, man, I shoot a Holga. It's interesting how this movement exists at the same time as the over-saturated hypercontrast images that you see in art shows, like the consumers finally got this hard-on for pictorialism.

For the fellas

Remember, if your girlfriend won't have sex with you because you haven't taken out the trash after telling her you would, That's witchcraft!

We Want a Better World, Mo

Maureen Tucker, drummer for the Velvet Underground, just granted an interview about her political views and her relationship to the Tea Party.

In it, she mostly comes across confused and cynical, railing against "socialism" in nearly the same breath as complaining about the lack of increases in social security.

But she articulates a view that I think is emblematic of a lot of the conservative discourse, and that I think can't be answered by simply snarking on her.

Tucker starts out by saying that the government can't and shouldn't provide all things to all people, which is a fair, if not exactly full, statement to make. She talks about how when she was growing up poor, she didn't have TVs or Levis, a sidelong attack on what she sees as the entitlement of the younger generation.

Part of that can be understood just by noting that she's old, and that this is a complaint made by old people throughout history, that young people don't know how good they have it, that they're decadent and demand more and more. Monty Python riffed on this, as did Dana Carvey. It's a complaint that's been around since Plato, with Socrates declaring that the grasping nature of the young will always corrupt governments from generation to generation.

But to acknowledge that as a complaint, Tucker should also acknowledge that when she was younger, she wanted TVs and Levis. And also that the country is a better place for having enough of a surplus to provide TVs and Levis for the poor (and that's leaving off the fact that when she was young, TVs and Levis were the new hotness; it's not like the majority of welfare recipients have flatscreens). She says she survived, but survival is the barest measure of a society. We're better off with TVs and Levis, and companies that make TVs and jeans are better off for us having them down to the lower income brackets. You can live without them, and maybe should, but most people choose not to and we are better off economically for that.

Tucker then moves on to a litany that's got at its core an ignorance and distrust of government. Which is understandable, given that idealistic Democrats are disappointed with Obama, from his handling of health care to his continued privacy violations and failures on LGBT issues, and that Republicans are livid over attacks on their privilege and have an established media apparatus that's the very definition of sophistry. The Republicans have retreated to the same rhetoric they used to fight against Roosevelt and the New Deal, but Obama's no Roosevelt — there are no fireside chats to reassure the nation — and the American people have, by and large, forgotten that Republicans were wrong about the Great Depression and wrong about the recovery and that their positions remain wrong today.

Progressives are also hobbled by a generally disengaged populace, especially on the part of the poor. The shift toward suburbanization has meant that people are alienated from each other and harder to organize, and the very availability of the TVs Tucker complains about means that more leisure time is spent with entertainment than with organizing for solutions. This isn't a novel statement to make — the California Supreme Court decided in Pruneyard v. Robbins that the modern suburban anomie and alienation required a diminishment of private property rights for the health of democracy. (It goes without saying that property owners detest the decision.)

Rather than trying to explain to Tucker that there's no such thing as a donkey museum, at least not in the US, that the TARP bailouts actually started under Bush, that no one is saying that you can't fly a flag or sing the national anthem, or that many of her other complaints are based on nonsense, misinformation and ignorance, and that taxes for most folks have actually gone down since Obama's taken office, or that you can't decry name-calling in one breath while calling all politicians cheats and liars in the next without being at least a little hypocritical, it's worth making the case (again, I know, it seems to never be enough) that we are working for a more egalitarian and more free country and world.

The health care reform isn't perfect — I would have preferred a public option — but it's a good start, and without an organized, coherent left (which only seems to come from dire crises), it wasn't going to happen. But the health care reform we got despite the best efforts of the insurance lobby will still save billions of dollars and thousands of lives. The banking reform was also a good start, and the bailouts of the auto companies not only saved thousands of jobs, but have now essentially paid for themselves. These were real successes, and there's a real danger in allowing the narrative from the left to be one of dissatisfaction with all things, rather than recognizing the incremental nature of progress.

That's how we beat the Mo Tuckers, by articulating the better world we want and showing real progress toward it. People are scared now, people are scared over their health and money and the changes to their culture, but pretending it's worse now than in the 1970s or 1930s or 1890s or even 1840s is ahistorical nonsense and shows a naive view of history. It's better now, and it's better because some politicians really do want to make things better, and those politicians are the ones who we largely elected in 2008, and we're better for it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Intruder "Death Scenes" 1989 unrated Slasher

Scott Speigel's Intruder, featuring Sam and Ted Raimi.

Also seen in Skinny Puppy's Worlock:

Hose! Hose! Hose that house!

After seeing that fire fighting was included in the Olympics of 1900, and searching for the reputed "full page" of Spaulding Almanac that described it, I found this instead, a Spaulding guide from 1910 that includes then-current records for hopping, sack races, and something called "stone gathering," which I've only been able to find references to either as a set of results and records or as "the now-defunct sport of stone gathering."

But what the hell was it?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Created by a league of extraordinary gentlemen

Parts one, two, and three of why the stories in Echo Bazaar are so enthralling.

The mind makes pictures from points

Constellation Records has been kind/wise enough to start putting nearly all their albums up on the web, streaming, for free. I've been writing a lot lately, and have been enjoying an album that I bought but can't seem to find, the ol' This is Our Punk Rock from Thee Silver Mount Zion Orchestra and Doo-Dah Band or whatever the hell their full name is. I'm a fair-weather fan of a lot of the Constellation stuff, where sprawling post-rock can also mean aimless noodling post-rock (though I bet it's pretty fucking tits live), but this I like, and they're encouraging me to amble my way through their catalog in a way that I would never have done without being able to just play whatever I wanted.

I may even end up buying the album again. Or maybe buying it for someone else. Cheers, Constellation, you win the internet music business!

More tab-closing cruft

Eugene Field's Tribune Primer sent me down the Wikipedia hole.

A reference to a printer playing Pedro for beer money led me to Three-card Brag.

I had no idea what a Herdic was, but it's a kind of cab.

And I don't know how I got to Ptolemy VIII, Land of Punt or The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, but they're all fascinating. (Of course, I'm the type of person who can while away an hour reading Indo-Roman Trade Relations.

I'm sure it'll all end up in a tasty stew sooner or later.

One hundred million sunflower seeds

Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds looks positively sumptuous.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"Jesus made God, not Adam and Steve"

I was trying to remember what some earnest skate punk told me down in Long Beach, but couldn't exactly and hoped I'd written it somewhere online. Searching led me to this, which is either sublime parody, mental illness or prodigious stupidity, but hilarious no matter what.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

No hands!

Bolivian president Evo Morales got gashed in a foul from a member of the opposite political party during an exhibition match.

He then drove a "penalty knee" into the guy's nuts. POW!

Who says soccer is boring?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Ned sed 90s rock

Ned Raggett's Top 136 albums of the '90s.

Raggett, a longtime contributor to AMG, is one of my favorite music writers by far. I don't always agree with him, like I actually enjoy rough and rootsy music and find a lot of the fey utopianism of Britrock embarrassingly naive, but his opinions are always well-considered, illuminating and coherent. He has a very well-articulated aesthetic of what he likes, and where that aligns with mine, I've learned a tremendous amount by reading his writing. Also, he mailed me a couple of Disco Inferno discs and I should probably take him out to dinner here in LA.