Friday, February 29, 2008

The Great Leap Forward

Stew's Passing Strange opened yesterday on Broadway, where they say the neon lights are bright and there's always magic in the air. The show has rave reviews at NPR, the NY Times and other outlets, so it could be playing there for awhile. Stew is on the cusp of making the great leap forward from "starving indie-musician" to "star of stage and screen."

I saw PS in the Fall of 2006 at the Berkeley Rep, and didn't think it had much of a chance of making it to the Great White Way. The songs were great, but the show seemed like it ran out of steam during the second half. At nearly three friggin' hours, it seemed about a half-hour too long. They've now cropped the running time down to 2:10 which is a good length for a musical. There's no reason for any play or movie to be more than two hours long.

In this NPR interview back in 2003, Stew talked about wanting to take his songs to the stage, since his roots were more in theater and film music than the indie rock of the Negro Problem and his solo albums. So Broadway isn't something Stew is "dabbling in", it's something closer to what he's all about. Still, the moral of Passing Strange is to not forget where you came from, and I'll always think of Stew first and foremost as the leader of the Negro Problem.

For today's leap day, here are a couple of songs from TNP's 1997 debut Post Minstrel Syndrome, and a couple of outtakes from the same Post-Minstrel period (Post-minstrel period. get it?). When I first heard this album ten years ago, "The Great Leap Forward" and "Club Girls Terrain" (the last untitled bonus track on PMS -- track 18 if you're playing at home) were the two songs that told me that this album was something special. This is another out of print record that should go back "in print" ASAP.

The other two tracks ("Amsterdam" and "Flying Naked Through The Air") are from a compilation called Closet Pop Folk. They're early acoustic demos that didn't make the debut album, but "Amsterdam" has been revived as part of Passing Strange.

The Negro Problem
The Great Leap Forward
Club Girls Terrain
She's Flying Naked Through The Air

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hillary with 2l's Hillary

Are commenters who refer to Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (senator from New York State, former first lady, and candidate for the 2008 U.S. Democratic nomination) by her first name engaging in "sexism". I keep hearing it, but still don't buy it.

For one thing, if people just say "Clinton", the first name that comes to most minds would be her husband, William Jefferson Clinton, 44th president of the USA. Here in California, most of the media refer to our female high profile politicians by their surnames. You never hear Madame Speaker called "Nancy", it's always "Pelosi". And our senators are always "Feinstein" and "Boxer".

Hillary is different. Nobody ever calls her "Clinton". There are no other famous women named Hillary (especially with 2 l's), so when people hear "Hillary" they usually think of Hillary Clinton. Notice that her web site says "Hillary For President" not "Clinton For President". So the cries of "sexism" are completely unfounded. I've probably already used up my quota of "quoted words" for this post!

On the other hand, referring to Hillary's Democratic rival by his full name (Barack Hussein Obama) seems a little heavy-handed. Mostly because it's mostly done by fringe right-wingers who emphasize the middle name ("Ba-rock HOO-SAIN O-Bama") to show how "Muslim" it sounds. Nobody ever refers to other candidates with their middle names. Look at this press release by the Tennesee Republican Party concerned about the future of Israel if "Barack Hussein Obama" is elected president. They also showed a photo of him dressed in "Muslim attire" in a trip to Africa. The only trouble was that the press release was a complete load of BS, forcing them to enter the following "clarification".
This release originally referenced a photo of Sen. Obama and incorrectly termed it to be "Muslim" garb. It is, in fact, Somali tribal garb, hence, we have deleted the photo. Also, in order to diffuse attempts by Democrats and the Left to divert attention from the main point of this release, we have deleted the use of Barack Obama’s middle name.
Translation: We got called on our crap and had to retract it. So in brief: "Hillary" is okay, "Hussein" is not okay. Unless you're talking about the candidates themselves, then it's the other way around.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dancing With Mr. D

In the comments to yesterday's Dusty-bashing post, the mysterious Mr. B asks if I might be better off talking about something I like that something I don't like.

Fair enough. Right now, I'm liking the Mr. D album Wings & Wheels. The album was recommended a couple of days a go by the fine folks at 125 Records, "especially if you're into Teenage Fanclub". My stats confirm that I am into TFC (my weekend run through all 4,760 Seconds of Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty Seconds pushed the Fannies to 100 plays, more than any other artist) , and I'm also squarely in the 125 Records demographic, so I decided to give the album a download (it's on emusic) and a spin.

Mr. D is actually a dude from Glasgow named Paul McLinden (formerly of the Gyres).  His sound is a little too close toward the "country" end of "country/rock" (more Sweetheart Of The Rodeo than Notorious Byrd Brothers) but it does remind me of Northern Britain-era TFC and some of their Scots contemporaries like Minibar and the Cosmic Rough Riders who mined the same Byrds/Burritos territory. Worth a download and a spin if you're into that sort of thing.

Why are there so many Glaswegian artists adapting the "California Sound"? Who knows?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

First clogging of Spring

The baseball season isn't really here until Dusty Baker's first "clogging up the bases" quote.

I think walks are overrated unless you can run. If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps, but the guy who walks and can't run, most of the time he's clogging up the bases for somebody who can run -- Dusty Baker, 2004

On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage... Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me. -- Dusty Baker, 2006

David Wright stole 20 bases last year so you don't have to worry about him clogging up the bases at the top of the order. -- Dusty Baker, 2007

Sometimes you get so caught up in on-base percentage that you're clogging up the bases. -- Dusty Baker, 2008
I don't know if Miles still reads my blog, but my sincere condolences to him and every other Cincinnati fan. They have a good team with lots of young talent, but with Dusty at the helm, they're going to lose 90 games again this year and get relegated to the American Association. Only the Pirates will prevent the Reds from last place.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Worthy of Oscar Knight

One of the commentators in yesterday's Carling Cup Final between Chelsea and Tottenham said that the way Tottenham players "sold" the 70th minute penalty that gave them a tying goal was "acting worthy of Oscar Knight".

I thought Oscar Knight must be some British character actor famous for his dramatic roles, or some international footballer famous for "selling" penalties, but couldn't find anything about the mysterious Mr. Knight via google. Turns out the commentator talking about "Oscar night". It wasn't until much later last night that I finally got it.

That's "Oscar night" as in the 80th Academy Awards (which were last night). I didn't watch the Oscars, and have not see any of the nominated films, so I didn't see any reason to watch. Apparently No Country For Old Men is pretty good, since it won all the awards. I'm glad that "Falling Slowly" won best original song (Once was my favorite film of 2007) and would have liked to see Glen and Marketa perform it, but that's what
youtube is for.

By the way, after Dimitar Berbatov converted that 70th minute penalty to equalize, Tottenham went on to beat Chelsea 2-1 in extra time and win the Carling Cup. It was a second half performance worthy of Oscar Knight. The Carling Cup should not be confused with the FA Cup (which is still in progress and down to the final eight the boys from Barnsley now have to face Chelsea) or the Champions League (which is down to the final sixteen). And all these cup competitions are independent from their various leagues.

In movie terms, it's like simultaneously competing for the Oscars and the Golden Globes, if these movie awards were all knockout competitions. So even though Atonement won the GGs, it would still have to face the mighty No Country in the Oscar semis.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Welcome To Sunday Morning

Of all the VU-related clips on the youtubes, this has to be the strangest. It should have been extended to seventeen and a half minutes!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rainy Day Rendang

It's been raining on and off all day, so I've been staying in and cooking rendang daging (a Malaysian beef stew simmered in coconut milk). It's kind of involved to make it, but the rewards are well worth the work.  

The first rendang recipe I found online was courtesy of my Canadian alter-ego Spicy Steve. Spicy Steve is the host of a Canadian cooking show, highlighting Southeast Asian cuisine. It looks like he ripped off some of my recipes as well as my first name!

Anyway, Spicy Steve's recipe for danging rendang is here. I modified it slightly because I don't have fresh galangal, kaffa lime leaves, or screwpine leaves (screwpine leaves?). I added red thai curry paste, which is the lazy Asian cook's secret weapon. It's like culinary duct tape. The preparation is the same.

Rainy Day Rendang

1 lb stew beef (aka cheap chuck)
5 Tbsp grated coconut, roasted in oven and ground.
2 Tbsp vegetable oil for cooking
1 14 oz can coconut milk
3 tablespoons Thai Curry Paste.


1. Heat oil in wok. Gently fry curry paste.
2. Add beef and stir fry for a few minutes.
3. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
4. Put in a crockpot and cook on low all day.

Serve with either plain rice or nasi lemak. Tradition dictates the latter. Beef cooked in coconut milk served over rice cooked in coconut milk. You can't get any more decadent than that. Actually you can. Spicy food matches well with a carbonated malt beverage that the Malays call "bir". Maybe you've heard of it? Beef cooked in coconut milk served over rice cooked in coconut milk washed down with a couple of cold ones. You cannot get any more decadent than that!

This dish has a wonderful aroma. It's only 4:30pm, and I'm all ready for dinner!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Jesus of Cool Outtakes

Nick Lowe's Jesus Of Cool album was reissued this week by Yep Roc for its 30th anniversary celebration.  The reissue is available on emusic, and has the original album plus a slew of bonus tracks from the Bowi ep (Nick's answer to Bowie's Low) and the U.S. version of the album (retitled Pure Pop For Now People to not offend us oversensitive Americans).

It could be because it's the version I grew up with, but I think Pure Pop is a much stronger album than Jesus Of Cool. The sequence of songs makes a lot more aesthetic sense. "They Called It Rock" is an improved version of "Shake And Pop", the two-minute studio version of "Heart Of The City" is superior the four-minute live version, and the songs added to the US version like "Rollers Show" were all top shelf. And even though The Jesus Of Cool is a very cool title, Pure Pop For Now People may be one of the best album titles ever.

Lucky for me, it's fairly easy to turn this reissued Jesus into Pure Pop by tweaking its sequence. This album in any name or sequence is certainly one of the gems of the era, a whole bunch of great songs all in a row. I also like that the new title Jesus of Cool [bonus tracks] could be scanned as "the Jesus of Cool bonus tracks".

The folks at Yep Roc left a few stones unturned though, and didn't include every Nick Lowe song from the JOC/PPFNP era. The three singles he cut after leaving Brinsley Schwarz are available as bonus downloads when you order from the label, and one side of each single also available here. I have these on a CD called The Wilderness Years which is really hard to find, but collects all the stray tracks that Nick Lowe recorded between 1975 and 1978. "Bay City Rollers We Love You" was his first attempt to get dropped by UA. It was the other side of "Rollers Show" single. Unfortunately at the height of Rollermania, it became a hit in Japan. Nick's followup single, "Let's Go To The Disco" (by the Disco Brothers) actually did get him dropped by his label. "Truth Drug" is the B-side his second single for Stiff (after "So It Goes"). The A-side was a Dr. Feelgood cover which isn't quite as interesting, but "Truth Drug" is almost punk rock. Take that Rat Scabies!

Three Lost Lowes
The Tartan Horde - Bay City Rollers We Love You
The Disco Brothers - Let's Go To The Disco
Nick Lowe - Truth Drug

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Supernatural Wynn Shares

For me, hearing that Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon are teaming up with Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck to make an entire album of original baseball songs is like being reassured that opening day is just around the corner. 2007 somehow passed without a new album from Steve Wynn or anything from the Minus Five, so they're both overdue for new material. And I'm of the opinion there should definitely be more songs about baseball!

Relatedly, does everyone know that Peter Buck's other band released their new single last week? It's not about baseball, but I still like it -- it has rocking guitars and stuff. If the rest of Accelerate sounds like this, it gives me one more reason to look forward to the start of Spring.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Very very very optimistic

Amy Winehouse has finally broken up Radiohead's post-Rainbows reign over the track charts, with her song "Rehab" rocketing to the #1 position last week over all the Radiohead songs.

Her most recent album Back To Black is also at #2 on the Billboard album charts, fueled by her eight Grammy awards, including one for "best new artist". Here's what Amy looked like five years ago, when she actually was a new artist. How cute and innocent she was!

Compare that to this recent photo of her.

Just like Britney, it's really sad to see someone's life fall apart in public. I was getting a strong "Kurt Cobain in Rome" vibe from the latest Amy Winehouse escapades, so it was nice to see her looking almost normal performing last week at the Grammys. She's performing tonight at the Brit Awards, where she could win another "best new artist" award. I don't think she's up for one, but winning best new artist is the first step to a new Amy, or a return to the old Amy.

Maybe someday her voice and talent will overshadow all those other things. At least I hope so.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

At the end of a storm lies a golden sky

Even though Liverpool were bounced from the FA Cup last Saturday, they rebounded with a 2-0 victory over Inter Milan (Internazionale) in the opening match of the final 16 of the 2008 UEFA Champions League.

The Champions League is a soccer superleague with all the elite clubs from various European leagues. They play a series of home and home matches (or "fixtures") over the course of the year to determine the champion. The games are carried live on ESPN2 in the USA, but they're in the middle of the day on weekdays, so working stiffs need to record them at a regular time. This works better when you don't check the final score online before you head home from work.

Inter is currently leading the Italian Serie A League by 11 points and Liverpool is in fifth place in the EPL, which wouldn't even be good enough to qualify for the Champions League if the season ended today. Their only hope for salvaging their season is to do well in the Champions League.

I usually cheer against all the "red" teams in the EPL (Liverpool, ManU, Arsenal) , but cheer for all English teams in the Champions League, because I know their players. Tomorrow Arsenal plays another Milan team (defending Champions League champs AC Milan) in another England vs. Italy tilt.  The return of the Champions League means always having something to watch on TV when you get home from work.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Roti John Pizza

The next installment in Hot Rox recipe corner is my version of Roti John, a savory french toast dish made at hawker stalls in Singapore and Malaysia. Traditional Roti John is made by dipping a sliced baguette in an egg and onion batter and served with chili sauce on the side. A perfect match for ice cold Tiger Beer.

My version is made as a pizza, with the chili sauce playing the role of pizza sauce and cheese added as pizza toppings. It uses pre-made pizza crusts instead of baguettes, and is baked like a pizza instead of fried. Adding mozzarella cheese (which isn't used in a lot of asian cuisine) creates a pan-cultural California style pizza that stands up to anything served at CPK.

Roti John Pizza

2 Mini 8" pizza crusts.
2 eggs (beaten)
1 handful green onions (chopped)
1 bunch of mushrooms (chopped)
1/2 mix of tomato sauce and sweet chile sauce
grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to hot (450F is pretty hot).

Spread the tomato/chili mixture (this is the "pizza sauce") on top of the crusts.
Beat the two eggs in a bowl and add the green onions and mushrooms, to make an omelette. Spread this egg mixture on top of the pizza crusts. Top with grated cheese and more onions. Cook for 10-13 minutes until the top browns.

Allow to cool for five minutes, then slice and eat. This matches well with beer, if you're concerned that you aren't getting enough carbs in your diet.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

iTunes Meme

Keeping up with flasshe, by copycatting his iTunes meme.

Total length?

11001 songs, 26:00:05:12 48.96GB

I was going to remove one 5:12 song ("They Are Night Zombies!" by Sufjan Stevens), to have exactly 11 thousand songs that are 26:00:00:00 long.

First and last songs (by title)

First: Aaja Aaja - Ahsa Bhosle
Last: 92 Subaru - Fountains of Wayne

Sort by time - shortest and longest…

Shortest: Harry Nilsson - Introduction (0:11)
Longest (podcasts excepted): Genesis - Supper's Ready (22:54)

Sort by Album - first and last…

Achtung Bono - Half Man, Half Biscuit
78 'til 79 - The Go-Betweens

Sort by Artist - first and last…

A.C. Newman
The 88

Top five played songs…
  1. Sound Of Your Mind - Shake Some Action
  2. Start A War - The National
  3. She Can Do What She Wants - Field Music
  4. Time Will Show The Wiser - Fairport Convention
  5. She Called Up - Crowded House

Find the following words. How many songs show up?

Sex: 22
Death: 40
Love: 404 (ha!)
You: 1334
Home: 90
Boy: 379
Girl: 326

First five songs that come up on Party Shuffle…
  1. Bandit Queen - The Decemberists
  2. Instead - Dressy Bessy
  3. Catapult - R.E.M.
  4. The Great Leap Forward - The Negro Problem
  5. Free World - Kirsty MacColl

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Poncing off to Barnsley

The city of Liverpool is famous for two things: The Fab Four and Liverpool FC.

One of those two things was eliminated from the FA Cup today after losing to lowly Barnsley in what they're calling one of the greatest cup upsets ever (whoever "they" are).

Liverpool is one of the top clubs in the world and Barnsley is in the bottom half of the Championship, or what used to be called "the second division". Barnsley is mostly famous for being mentioned in a Monty Python sketch ("Working Class Playwright").

Luckily the FA Cup is the great equalizer. It's a huge season-long knockout tournament between all the teams in the Football Association, with matchups drawn completely at random. It's completely independent from all the leagues, so lower division teams quite often end up playing against top teams, and sometimes even end up beating them. It's like an NCAA basketball tournament with twice as many teams and many more upsets!

Also, thanks to spending my early years as a Monty Python fan, I know by heart who won the 1949 FA Cup.  It was Wolverhampton Wanderers who beat Liecester 3-1.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What's so great about war, hate, and nonunderstanding?

As the fifth anniversary of the 2/15/2003 anti-war protest approaches the fifth anniversary of the 3/18/2003 Iraq invasion,
it's time to non-rhetorically ask what, exactly,
is so funny about peace, love, and understanding?

I always thought the song's chorus should be a call and response, like Edwin Starr's "War".

Q: What's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?
A: Absolutely nothing! Say it again!
Q: What's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?
A: Absolutely nothing! Say it again!
etc. etc. ad infinitum

"What's So Funny" has become a popular cover over the past few years. Here are a few recent live versions, including one by the songwriter himself. Over the last thirty years, the song that started as a parody has become an anthem.

Nick Lowe -
(What's So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding?
Coal Porters -
(What's So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding?
Steve Earle -
(What's So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

We belong together like pitchers and catchers

Who reported yesterday and today

Our pennant hopes around here are somewhere betweeen "low" and "nonexistent", but I'm still looking forward to the windup and the pitch and the crack of the bat, and the joys of garlic fries washed down with Gordon Biersch Marzen.

This is the first year since my re-introduction to baseball after my four year post-strike layoff (1995-1998) that I have absolutely no expecations for the local nine. The A's could go 62-100 this year, but I'll still enjoy those 62 wins at least 60% as much as I enjoyed their 103 wins in 2002. Their roster isn't going to strike fear into anyone, and looks a little lefty heavy, so they'll be especially vulnerable to left-handed pitching.

The joys of rebuilding from scratch!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I'm a supersonic guy

Before he formed the Rutles, Ron Nasty (under the pseudonym Neil Innes) was a member of the Bonzo Dog (Doo-Dah) Band. Here the Bonzos are performing a medley of their greatest hit, "I'm The Urban Spaceman".

Innes did this one-man band version of the song on Rutland Weekend Television a decade later, this trad-jazz arrangement a few years later, and this live version from the Monty Python "Live At The Hollywood Bowl" film a few years after that.

Innes was involved in the Pythons from the early days on, and wrote and performed a bunch of songs for the series and the films. It's a shame that Neil isn't getting enough credit for his contributions to "Spamalot". It only proves that Eric Idle is living up to his role as the greediest Python.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Laksa Ramen

Continuing with my series of quasi Southeast Asian recipes using everyday household ingredients, here is my recipe for a simple laksa, made with regular Top Ramen and spices.

I've started eating lots of Top Ramen since I started living alone a few months ago, which is like returning to college without being poor. I have a bunch of ramen recipes, and most of them involve throwing away the flavor packet unopened so it doesn't matter what kind of ramen.  I like to make it with one package each of shrimp and chicken with a little pinch of each flavor packet.

Traditional laksa is prepared by cooking noodles in a rich coconut-curry gravy and adding either shrimp or chicken, bean sprouts, shredded carrot, and fresh herbs (mint or basil). Even the simple version is best with fresh herbs and veggies as condiments.

I make it by making the noodles first, then draining them and stir-frying a spoonful of Thai curry paste (yellow, green, or red) in the pan, adding one can of low-fat coconut milk to make a gravy-stock, then adding the noodles and condiments. It's really good with pre-cooked shrimp, or leftover chicken, or whatever is on hand.

The core ingredients are..

-Two packages ramen (any brand or flavor)
-Thai curry paste (any color you like)
-One can of coconut milk
-Any fish or meat or vegetables on hand.

I have another recipe for a ramen char kway teow, using ramen to prepare a variation on what they call "Singapore Chow Fun" in U.S. Chinese restaurants. It has most of the same ingredients (except the coconut milk)  and everything is stir-fried. It's a great way to get rid of any kind of leftovers!

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's been a hard day's rut

So I'm going to continue my Rutland weeklong television series.

They don't write 'em like that anymore!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Please Please Hold My Hand Yeah Yeah

From 44 years ago today. The birth of a legend that will last a lunchtime.

When the Rutles travelled to America for the first time in 1964, 10,000 screaming fans were at Kennedy Airport to greet them.

Unfortunately they arrived at La Guardia.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

On The Beach

Spent the day today at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in Monterey, looking at views like this and watching people play golf better than I'll ever be able to (even most of the "Am" half of the field). Professional golfers are really good at what they do.

I've also noticed that low handicap celebs like Michael Bolton and Kenny G. prove that being a good golfer is mutually exclusive with being a good musician, because the best golf is played by people who make sucky music (Bolton, G, Huey Lewis, Glenn Frey).  

If a hurricane were to hit Pebble Beach during the week of the AT&T, it would probably be a net gain for the music world.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Love Is The Cure

If ever I was going to break my streak of consecutive days of blogging, this would have been the week. But I've made it through the whole week, and it's Friday. Here's a great version of an unusually happy song by the Cure.

And a handful of Cure covers in honor of Friday.  Yay Friday!

Boys Don't Cry - Kirk McLeod
Close To Me - The Get Up Kids
Friday I'm In Love -  Glo-Worm
In Between Days - Luka Bloom
Love Cats - Kezz Stone

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Year of the Ratt

For Chinese New Year, here's "Round and Round"

Memo to Flasshe: I thought you were going to take my bluff. I'm Not going to Not post until you don't post. 101 days and counting..

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

For Ash Wednesday, here's "Girl From Mars" by Ash. A really cool song.

These last two weeks have really tested my daily blogging habit, since I've had no time to post during the work day and no energy to post afterwards. It's like a neverending cycle. This is my 100th day of consecutive posting (all the way back to October 30th), so I'm thinking of taking tomorrow off. Even Cal Ripken took a day off after 2,632 consecutive games.

Maybe I'll start another streak of six weeks of not blogging for Lent? Apparently not blogging is the new blogging.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Throwing the California Primary

From the California Progress Report
California voter interest in this election is at what they call a “historical high,” which they attribute to the earlier California primary date, an unusually large field of candidates, and the fact that this is the first year since 1952 that no incumbent president or vice-president is in the running. Other factors cited are the ease of voting by mail, which a record number will use to cast ballots, and the ability of independents to vote in the Democratic portion of the primary by asking for a Democratic ballot.
I was one of the independent voters who asked for a Democratic ballot in this primary, mostly so I could cast a vote against Hillary.  I won't be able to do that in October when she's running against John Mc Cain or someone (strike that. it looks like McCain has the Republican nomination all but locked up). I'm still hoping for an Obama miracle on the Democratic, but I'll probably still vote for Clinton over any of the Repubs.

I was also one of the California citizens who voted by mail. I live in a district with fewer than 3500 voters on a strip of unincorporated homes between two cities, so we can't vote for any citywide offices or ordinances. I don't know if I've ever bothered to vote in a primary before, since it usually doesn't matter, but this year our primary is in early Feb, when it does still matter.

Of the state ordinances, I voted for the Indian gaming ordinances (more money in the State budget that doesn't come out of my pocket? Sign me up!) and against everything else. I don't think I'll get a lot of use out of the "politics" label in this blog, even if 2008 is an election year, but things are about to start getting interesting!  

Speaking of "interesting",what happened to Ron Paul? Has he dropped out already?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Metapollism 2007

This time last year, I scraped through the best-of music polls on metacritic to determine which albums from 2006 appeared in the most polls. Now that the Village Voice Pazz & Jop and Idolator's Jackin' Pop polls are in, here are the best-polled albums of 2007 according to metacritic.

  1. In Rainbows - Radiohead (565.32)
  2. Sound Of Silver - LCD Soundsystem (503.29)
  3. Neon Bible - The Arcade Fire (458.27)
  4. Kala - M.I.A. (404.25)
  5. Person Pitch - Panda Bear (289.18)
  6. Boxer - The National (239.15)
  7. Back To Black - Amy Winehouse (234.15)
  8. Mirrored - Battles (215.15)
  9. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon (189.13)
  10. Graduation - Kanye West (156.10)
  11. Magic - Bruce Springsteen (135.08)
  12. The Reminder - Feist (130.08)
  13. The Good, The Bad & The Queen (120.08)
  14. Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys (120.07)
  15. Untrue - Burial (119.08)
It seemed like every poll had either Radiohead or LCD Soundsystem on top, so it's not that surprising that they're #1 and #2. The numbers are higher because I changed the poll to go from 20-11 points instead of 10-1 points, so the weighted numbers would be more in line with the raw numbers. Here were the "most normal" music polls listed at metacritic.

  1. Idolator's 2007 Pop Critics Poll (3119.90)
  2. Village Voice's 2007 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll (2958.79)
  3. Billboard[Staff Consensus] (2813.74)
  4. Noripcord (2791.70)
  5. Prefix (2773.68)
  6. Spin (2736.66)
  7. PopMatters (2653.59)
  8. Lost at Sea (2597.58)
  9. The Onion AV Club [Staff Consensus] (2571.55)
  10. Rolling Stone (2564.54)
  11. Pitchfork (2466.53)
  12. [Editors' Pick] (2409.46)
Last year the Idolator poll had more voters than the Voice poll (497-494), but the Pazz & Jop had more than 100 more voters this year (577-452). The top tens in both polls were still nearly identical.

Village Voice's 2007 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll (a survey of 577 critics)
1. Sound Of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
2. In Rainbows - Radiohead
3. Kala - M.I.A.
4. Back To Black - Amy Winehouse
5. Neon Bible - The Arcade Fire
6. Graduation - Kanye West
7. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon
8. Raising Sand - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
9. Magic - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
10. Boxer - The National

Idolator's 2007 Pop Critics Poll (a survey of 452 critics)
1. Sound Of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
2. Kala - M.I.A.
3. In Rainbows - Radiohead
4. Neon Bible - The Arcade Fire
5. Back To Black - Amy Winehouse
6. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon
7. Boxer - The National
8. Graduation - Kanye West
9. Person Pitch - Panda Bear
10. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? - Of Montreal

Sunday, February 3, 2008

La bruja es muerte

I didn't really have a horse in this year's Super Bowl between two Eastern teams, so I found myself cheering for whatever team was on offense. When the Patriots scored to take the lead, I was glad that they'd finally shut up the 1972 Dolphins. And when the Giants started driving the ball, I was cheering for them to finally shut up the 2007 Patriots and their fans. When Eli hit Burress on the TD pass at the end, I was like "oh yeah!" and "oh no!" at the same time. At the end, I'm mostly glad that the Pats lost, even if it does mean cheering for a team from New Jersey. It was kind of a dull Super Bowl until the 4th Quarter, but ended up being kind of exciting.

My favorite commercials were the eTrade ones with the baby. There seemed to be a lot of Budweiser commercials. Do people still drink that stuff? I correctly guessed which songs Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers would play during their halftime show. I thought they would play "American Girl" and a couple of songs from Full Moon Fever. They ended up playing "American Girl" and three songs from FMF: "I Won't Back Down", "Free Fallin'", and "Runnin' Down A Dream". Is that album still that popular with the masses?

Just eleven days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Okay, campers, rise and shine

And don't forget your booties 'cause it's cold out there today! Today is Groundhog Day and the annual celebration of my birth song. Here's a version by Deni Bonet and Robyn Hitchcock, from "Duets with Deni".

And here's a strange version by 1980 David Bowie (from the music video "Ashes To Ashes") and 1980 Marianne Faithful, who for some reason is dressed as a nun.

Just two of the things you can find searching for
"I Got You Babe" on the youtube.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Never Mind The Camera Crew

It's now February and today is the 15th anniversary of the release of Plants And Birds And Rocks And Things by The Loud Family. At least the 15th anniversary of the album release show at the Great American Music Hall. Here's a video of the LF making the video for "Jimmy Still Comes Around".

This meta-video should be retitled "Jimmy Still Stands Around", because based on my experience at another LF video shoot, it takes an entire day of standing around to make one four minute clip.  And in the end, you just have to ask yourself if it's really worth it. They don't have the finished "Jimmy" video on youtube, but it's pretty standard band lip-synching in front of a screen stuff. That video didn't make anyone's life okay. But the album Plants & Birds & Rocks & Things made many people's lives okay, Scott Miller's welcome return in the age of grunge.

I can't find my CDR of the Plants release show, but it was a good one. It was raining, and I headed to the show after spending the entire afternoon listening to Phillipe Kahn expound on the wonders of Borland's new Paradox database for Microsoft Windows 3.0 (I've got the free coffee cup to prove it). The Loud Family were playing a high profile show at a big club (GAMH) for their brand new album, and literally tore the place up. Not "literally" literally, but you know what I mean. They played Roxy's "Re-Make/Re-Model" (which they used to play a lot) and ended with "Last Day That We're Young" from Lolita Nation. And I watched it all holding my free Paradox For Windows coffee cup.  

It was a good day, as we used to say back in the early 1990s. Here are some LF rarities from that era, including the demo of "Jimmy" from the Never Mind The Camera Crew tape, plus a few choice cover songs from those halcyon early days of the Loud Family.

The Loud Family
Jimmy Still Comes Around (demo) (S. Miller)
You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory (J. Thunders)
Horse With No Name (America)
Back Of A Car (Big Star)