Monday, June 30, 2008

More posts about buildings and food

The NaBloPoMo monthly theme for July is "food", which I can probably follow a lot better than June's theme of "home". I ended up missing one day of blogging in June, but should be able to blog every day in July, especially if I can talk about food. Look for daily updates of what I have for lunch every day throughout the month of July!

I think Flasshe has still been keeping up with daily posting for going on eight months now. I didn't reply to his abnormal culinary meme from last week because I could only think of one weird food habit that I have, which is that I tend to have eat the same foods on the same days of the week. Monday night has been "pizza night" for as long as I can remember, sometimes homemade, sometimes takeout, but almost always pizza on Monday. It goes back to watching Monday Night Football, but I do it all year, and don't even watch MNF anymore.

In today's "Music - What Happened?", Scott Miller explores music from 1967. I'm all over that year, as you might expect, and compiled a mix of some of his '67 songs. Nice to see Scott including "Waterloo Sunset" and something from the Beach Boys' Smiley Smile. I also agree that The Velvet Underground & Nico is a wee-bit overrated, but I still like it. 

Another blogging theme I've thought of for this Summer is to review all 24 Beach Boys studio albums between 1962 and 1980 (like I did for R.E.M. in March). I do own all the Capitol and Brother two-fers, but if I did something like that, I'm pretty sure my readership would be down to zero by the time I got to M.I.U. and L.A., and there would be quite a few two word reviews toward the end.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Viva España!

Hats off to Spain, for winning their first international soccer tournament in 44 years, after beating the Germans 1-0 in the Euro 2008 finals.  

The Spanish scored their goal in the 33rd minute when Fernando Torres chipped the ball over German goalkeeper Jens Lehman, and the Spanish held on for the rest of the game for the 1-0 victory. It's their first Euro cup title in the post-Franco era.

Now there's no more soccer (besides MLS) until the European leagues start up again in mid-August. Hopefully the A's will stay in contention, or else this will be a long Summer, sports-wise, for me.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's a wrap!

The comments Flasshe's post about Taco Bell coupons the other day ended up with a discussion of "authentic" Tex-Mex burritos versus "yuppie-style" California burritos.

I'm sorry, but San Francisco style "Mission burritos" are every bit as authentic as any other kind of burrito. A burrito is an inauthentic food product by it's very nature, so arguments about burrito authenticity are as misguided as arguing about East Coast and West Coast hip-hop. The Mission burrito has been bowdlerized by a bunch of national chains (none based in California, AFAIK), so it's a common misconception that they're a recent invention. They aren't.

And they don't have a lot to do with yuppies, but come to think of it, there were a lot of yuppies in the SF Mission during the dot-com boom! Maybe they all started burrito chains in other states after their Bay Area web startups went belly up?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pacific Ocean Dennis

Dennis Wilson's 1977 solo album Pacific Ocean Blue was reissued last week in a 30th anniversary "legacy edition" with an extra disc of bonus tracks from his unfinished second album Bambu.

According to this often-quoted AMG bio, Dennis was "the most obviously untalented Wilson brother", which is like calling Ringo the most obviously untalented Beatle: it's technically a true statement, but only because they were both surrounded by incomparable talent.

More than thirty years after its release, Pacific Ocean Blue stands up to any latter-era Beach Boys album, and stands over Brian's pre-SMiLE solo albums and Carl's two solo albums as "most obviously" the first and best solo album by a Wilson brother. (See, I can state opinions-as-facts too!)

POB was released on CD in 1991, but it was quickly dropped by the label and the album has been out of print ever since. And the Bambu material has only been available on bootlegs (I downloaded some of the tracks last year from the late jefitoblog), so this reissue has been long overdue. For anyone who's wondering why a 30th anniversary reissue of a 1977 album didn't come out until 2008, it's for the same reason that the 30th anniversary edition of Pet Sounds didn't come out until 1997. Beach Boys-related reissues just don't get released on time.

The reissued POB has been racking up rave reviews and impressive sales, and it's great to see this album finally getting some recognition 31 years after its release and 25 years after the auteur's death.

I've always wanted to compile a mix of the best Beach Boys song that Dennis sang and/or wrote, so this week's Friday muxtape is dedicated to "Beach Boy Dennis". Here are a dozen Dennis Wilson tracks from his Beach Boys and solo career, with emphasis on songs written by him and his brothers.

Beach Boy Dennis

1. "This Car of Mine" (from Shut Down, Volume 2, 1964)
This was one of Dennis's first lead vocals on a Beach Boys record. That AMG bio calls this a "novelty song", but it's one of their best car songs and one of my favorite early BBs tracks. This album also has a two-minute drum solo called "Denny's Drums", the first song "written" by Dennis, even though it sounds like a "drumming 101" instruction track.

2. "In The Back Of My Mind" (from Beach Boys Today!,1965)
Today! led off with a bona fide Dennis-sung hit (a cover of "Do You Wanna Dance?"), but this song was buried at the end of the record before "Bull Session With Big Daddy" and relegated to "and the rest" listing on the album cover. "and three more songs by Brian Wilson, woo hoo!"

3. "Be Still" (from Friends, 1968)
Friends was the first Beach Boys album to feature a couple of Dennis Wilson compositions ("Little Bird" and "Be Still"), so I flipped a virtual coin and chose the latter one, which sounds like a Dennis solo song. This is a nice track.

4. "Never Learn Not To Love" (from 20/20, 1969)
This song was originally called "Cease To Exist", and had lyrics by a struggling songwriter named Charlie Manson. According to wikipedia: "When 'Never Learn Not to Love' was first released by the Beach Boys credited solely to Dennis Wilson - with altered lyrics and a new bridge - Manson threatened Wilson with murder. The Manson incident gave everyone a scare in the Beach Boys' camp - especially after his well-known crimes came to light". Despite the undercurrents of plagiarism and murder, "Never Learn Not To Love" is a pretty decent song. If Charlie had only used his powers for good instead of evil!

5. "Lady" (Dennis Wilson solo single, 1970)
Dennis was the first Beach Boy to put out a record under his own name, with this single (b/w "Sound Of Free") by Dennis Wilson & Rumbo. Rumbo was Daryl Dragon (aka Captain of "and Tennille" fame). The original single is hard to find, but the songs are on the internet.

6. "Slip On Through"
7. "Forever" (from Sunflower, 1970)
Dennis Wilson was at the height of his creativity in 1970. As well as the solo single, he made a movie, and wrote three of the best songs on the Beach Boys Sunflower album. "Forever" is of my favorite Beach Boys songs, and Sunflower is one of my favorite albums.

8. "Make It Good" (from Carl And The Passions - So Tough, 1972)
Carl And the Passions is not one of my favorite Beach Boys albums, and is really a "Beach Boys" album in name only. But "Make It Good" (another Dennis Wilson/Daryl Dragon co-write) isn't half bad. Dennis suffered a hand injury during the recording of this album and was replaced on drums by Ricky ("Stig") Fataar.

9. "Mona" (from Beach Boys Love You, 1977)
Love You was the first Beach Boys album in nearly a decade with substantial contributions from Brian Wilson. Brian wrote and recorded the album mostly by himself, but Dennis sang lead on "Mona". His voice and Brian's sounded almost exactly alike at this time, so it sounds like someone harmonizing with their own voice.

10. "River Song"
11. "Pacific Ocean Blues" (from Pacific Ocean Blue, 1977)
A few months after the release of Love You, Dennis released his POB solo album. I don't have the remastered reissue (yet), so these are from the original CD. Which I also don't have, but in this age of P2P torrents, nothing is truly "out of print".

12. "Baby Blue" (from L.A. (Light Album), 1979)
"Baby Blue" was the last Beach Boys song sung by Dennis Wilson. It was a solo song from his Bambu session, and a duet with his brother Carl. L.A. has a couple other good songs (Dennis's "Love Surrounds Me" and Brian and Carl's "Good Timin'"), but it gets a negative billion points for the ten minute disco remake of "Here Comes The Night". Dennis and Brian recorded some unreleased demos in the early 80s, but this was his last-ever appearance on record.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


My brother is a Fresno State alum, so I thought I should congratulate his Bulldogs for their first ever national title in a men's sport. They beat Georgia two games out of three in a battle of Bulldogs to win the 2008 College World Series.

Fresno California is the new capital of college baseball!

FSU barely made the CWS field by winning their conference tournament, and they were seeded fourth in their regional (which is like being a 13-16 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament). They were the 51st best college baseball team in the country according to the RPI index, but they still ended the season as the best team.

That's just one reason why college football should have a post-season tournament to determine its champion like every other college sport does, including lower division football. In that format, any team that gets hot at the right time can be the champion.  Which makes things interesting!

In another tournament in a different sport, Euro 2008 is now down to its final two teams. My pre-tournament pick of "Germany and someone else" was correct, because the final two teams are Germany and Spain. They'll be playing for the championship on Sunday, and Germany will be favored, but I with be pulling for Spain. After Fresno State's win, this seems to be a week for the underdogs!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Roilin' in the years

Scott Miller's selection of songs from 1973 in his latest installment "Music: What Happened?" is really interesting. I created a companion mix for the first two installments (1966 and 2004), but would have trouble putting together annual mixes from the early 1970s.

I have a Time/Life "Hits of 1973" album that's pretty good, but the best songs ("Walk On The Wild Side","Hello It's Me", "Smoke On The Water") were released in 1972. The actual radio hits of 1973 were more hit and miss (mostly miss). "Tie a yellow ribbon round the playground in my mind, and send it on the midnight train to Georgia on the night that the Lights Went Out".

Scott's list did a pretty good job picking high points of 1973, but my mix from that year would include "I Wanna Be With You" and "Love Is In Motion". He said that he considers 1973 the peak of the classic seventies and one of his favorite music years, I'd be hard-pressed to assemble a full disc of songs from '73. It seems like a year when lots of artists followed up classic albums with less than classic albums, and when lots of bands from the 1960s lost their way. Here are a few examples.

The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main Street -> Goat's Head Soup
The Kinks: Everybody's In Show-Biz -> Preservation 1&2
The Who: Who's Next -> Quadrophenia
Led Zeppelin: Zoso (IV) -> Houses Of The Holy
Yes: Close To The Edge -> Topographic Oceans
David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust -> Aladdin Sane
Badfinger: Straight Up -> Ass
T. Rex: Slider -> Tanx
Neil Young: Harvest -> Time Fades Away

Now I don't dislike the 1973 albums from column B, but they're all less "classic" than their predecessors from column A. It was like a year when everyone went in to a slump at the same time.

1973 trivia: Did you know that Jim Croce died just one day after Gram Parsons died?

In other Scott Miller news, he's recorded a cover of Chris Stamey's "Cara Lee", which will be available as soon as this project at is fulfilled. It's currently at 39% ($158 of $403) so get your philanthropic friends to contribute! The Loud Family had trouble getting 25 customer reviews on amazon, so $400 of contribution might be a challenge, but anything is possible. Do it for the kids!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More internet awareness

The greatest quote ever, from John McCain's "e-campaign director."

John McCain is aware of the Internet. This is a man who has a very long history of understanding on a range of issues.

Yes, but is he aware of all internet traditions?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Eurofour 2008

Here's the final four for Euro 2008.


My prediction at the start of the tournament ("The final four will be something like Germany, Italy, France, and Spain (or Portugal)") ended up half right, if I get half credit for Spain. I was mostly just "picking chalk" based on FIFA rankings, but the Turks and Russians ended up crashing the semifinal party.

France didn't even make it out of the group stage, and the Spanish made it to the semis by defeating Italy 4-2 on penalty kicks yesterday after 120 minutes of scoreless catenaccio, saving the world from a Germany-Italy final which would be suited more to the European paint-drying championship. As it stands now, I'm pulling for Turkey and Spain, but the most likely final is Germany and Spain, or "Germany and someone else" as I said two weeks ago.

In sadder news, our world is a lot less funny today,
and here's my seven word eulogy.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Having a Rave Up With The Rubinoos

Last night I went to see the Rubinoos at the Great American Music Hall.

It was the first (and last) date on their "2008 World Tour", so they had tour t-shirts made up for the occasion. Of course I had to buy one to show I was there. It's like a regular tour shirt with all the dates on the back, except there's only one date on the back (June 21st, San Francisco).  

The Rubinoos don't play many local shows, and are usually opening for someone when they do, so it's a good idea to catch them when they're headlining. They've gained a much higher profile since the "Avril thing", so the GAMH was pretty full, with a lot of parents bringing their kids, which made a more engaged crowd than the standard indie-rock audience. It was like a sock-hop with everyone dancing and singing along.

They played all the old classics like their Avril song and their Tiffany song, as well as recent stuff like "Altamont" and "Go Go Tokyo" from their most recent album Twist Pop Sin, ending with "Rock And Roll Is Dead (and we don't care)", but rock and roll will never die as long as the Rubinoos keep playing at least one gig a year.

The opening act was a Yardbirds tribute band called the RaveUps. Tribute bands make great openers, because most people know the songs, and a Yardbirds tribute band can play pretty much all their hits ("For Your Love", "Evil Hearted You", "Shapes Of Things", "Over Under Sideways Down", "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago") and still have enough time for a six-minute rave up of "Train Kept A Rollin'". There was another band called The Rave-Ups back in the 80s (who kinda sucked imo), so I was glad it wasn't that band.

The show was MC'd by M.Dung (former DJ of KFOG's "Sunday Night Idiot Show") who spun some tunes between sets on his iPod. Dung hasn't been on the radio for awhile (his style doesn't fit the Clear Channel era), but he still doing Idiot Show podcasts, which I guess makes him a "pod jockey". "Rock'n'Roll Bay-bee!"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sweltering Afternoon

I'm not up to a full blog post today because it's hotter than the seventh circle of Hades here (and me with no AC), but I wanted to acknowledge that today is Ray Davies' 64th birthday. Happy Birthday Ray!

Even people who don't like musical instruments in videos should enjoy this video of the Kinks miming to "Sunny Afternoon" on a snowy afternoon.
Oh the irony!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sounds of Summer

I've updated second part of my summer muxtape for the first day of Summer. I've also combined it with last week's first part to create a 20 song "Sounds Of Summer" mix that's available as a two part download for the next seven days (or 100 downloads, wcf) .

Summer Sounds - June 2008
01. Danny McDonald - Soaking Up The Sunshine
02. The Yellow Ballon - Follow the Sunshine
03. Martin Newell - Summer Tamarind
04. Klaxons - Summer Song
05. Cliff Richard - Summer Holiday
06. The Corrs - Summer Sunshine
07. The Makes Nice - Waves of Summer
08. Squeeze - This Summer
09. Sparks - Over The Summer
10. The Pretty Things - Summer Time
11. Nancy Sinatra - Summer Wine
12. The Monkees - The Door into Summer
13. Daniel Wylie - Let's Go Surfing
14. Paul Kelly - Roll On Summer
15. Comet Gain - Just One More Summer Before I Go
16. Locksley - Into The Sun
17. Dave Clark Five - Here Comes Summer
18. Bruce Springsteen - Girls in Their Summer Clothes
19. The Frank And Walters - Summer Evenings
20. The Last - Every Summer Day
21. The Queers - Don't Back Down
22. The Rubinoos - Cruisin' Music
23. Dave Edmunds - Beach Boy Blood (In My Veins)
24. The Beach Boys - All Summer Long (Stereo Mix)
25. Art Brut - Sound of Summer

This cover was swiped from this album, which was the motivation for my mix, even though it contains just one song that was on the album. I just searched for "summer" on iTunes, extrapolated from there, and put the results in sequence.  Happy Solstice Everyone!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Are you aware?

One day in the life of an internet meme.

Monday 6/16 5:24pm:
A left wing political blogger comments on a post in some right wing political blog by block-quoting her quote then snarking on it without closing the blockquote. Some right wing troll complains that the quote isn't in the original post, by saying.
I am aware of all internet traditions and also of literary conventions in which placing something in quotes or in a blockquote means that your are quoting that person.
Tuesday 6/17 2:49am:
A couple of hours later, someone makes the claim that
"I am aware of all internet traditions" is now officially a meme.

Once something becomes "a meme", there's no stopping it!

After the meme gets lolcatted "I'm in yr internetz aware of yr traditionz", Yodad "Of Internet Traditions I Am Aware", and Yakoved "In Soviet Russia, internet traditions are aware of you!", there's the inevitable t-shirt.

But before everyone is aware of "I am aware of all internet traditions", it dies out..Just another day on the internet

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What The Whole Wordle Wants

Per Flasshe's request, here's a Wordle cloud made up of Scott Miller lyrics (java required, click to enlarge)

The lyrics were C&P'd from the stormville GT/LF lyrics post, which includes writing credits, so I had to remove words like "Scott" and "Miller" that don't appear in the lyrics to any song.

Here's another wordle cloud from the lyrics to R.E.M.'s Murmur, titled "We Walk Through The Wordle". (click to enlarge)

Words from choruses and titles seem to be weighted higher.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Johnny Too Bad

It looks like John McCain is having trouble finding a campaign song..

From The Independent
After searching for months, [McCain] finally picked "Johnny B Goode" – Chuck Berry's rock 'n' roll classic from 1958. The high-power guitar licks and "Go, Johnny, go" chorus put a spring in Mr McCain's step. When asked why he chose it, he quipped: "It might be because it is the only one [the artist] hasn't complained about us using."

Berry, 81, may not have complained about his song being appropriated by Mr McCain, but he has made it clear he would prefer Barack Obama in the White House. "America has finally come to this point where you can pick a man of colour and that not be a drawback," Berry said. "It's no question, myself being a man of colour. I mean, you have to feel good about it."

The anointment of Mr Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate was, he added, "definitely a proud and successful moment for all the people of this country – not just black people, but Americans in general".
After being rebuffed by Chuck Berry, the McCain campaign chose ABBA's "Take A Chance on Me", but Benny and Bjorn also said "nay" or "nyet" or whatever the Swedish equivalent of "hell 2 da naw" is.

Why are candidates using foreign songs? Obama uses U2's "Beautiful Day" and Hillary was using Celine Dion's "You And I". Aren't there any decent songs by U.S. Americans? Are there any Republican rock songs that John McCain could use? At this point, even the Nuge won't have anything to do with him!

Here's another foreign band from England with their 1972 version of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" followup "Bye Bye Johnny" (a song that may be appropriate in about five months).

Disclaimer: I supported McCain back in 2000, but he was different back then.. pro-choice, anti-torture, pro-habeus corpus, anti-warrantless wiretapping, and also eight years younger (but we're not supposed to talk about that!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

This Sporting Sunday

I missed another day of blogging yesterday, since I was swept up in the greatest sports day, maybe ever. Here were some of the highlights.

Early-Morning:I'm so used to watching soccer on weekend mornings that I instinctively turn on FSC when I get up. Yesterday they showed replay of the same Galaxy-Earthquakes game that I attended in person on Saturday night. Both of the Galaxy's second half goals were at the other end, so I didn't realize that Edson Buddle scored both of them. This means that Buddle had a hat-trick (three goals, which is a lot rarer in soccer than in hockey).

Mid-Morning: The Euro 2008 match between Turkey and the Czech Republic was one for the ages. The Turks came back from a 2-0 deficit by scoring three goals in the last 15 minutes to beat the Czechs 3-2. Today's international headlines have exercised nearly all of the pun possibilities of "the Turks" over "the Czechs". At least I haven't seen this pun, which is always a worry when anyone beats the Czech Republic in sports.

Mid-Afternoon: The A's swept the Giants in another Bayside Derby! The Giants were held to 4 runs in the entire series, and one of the runs came from Omar Vizquel stealing home on Friday night. Even though I was pulling for the A's in this series, I had to stand and cheer for someone my age (40+) pulling off a straight steal of home. Unfortunately, that's the only way the Giants can score. I don't get a daily paper, so I haven't been keeping track of the standings, but the A's are now 38-31, seven games over .500 and just 3.5 games behind the Angels. The Giants are ten games under, but still look improved from last year, despite their offensive woes.

Late-Afternoon: This is the first time that the U.S. Open has been on a golf course that I've played. Torrey Pines is a true public course that anyone can play, and the green fees are quite affordable. I played TP six years ago, and even though it was a completely different setup than the one they had for the Open, it gave me a whole new level of interest to remember that I had Appleby's putt on 13, and missed it left just like he did. In a show of solidarity with "guys my age", I was pulling for Rocco over that other guy in today's playoff, but I guess it was just not to be.

Evening: What a surprise, the Lakers won to stave off elimination, and live to play another game! Look for them to win the next one in Boston before losing the final, because the powers that be want this series to go seven. More games means more prime time TV which means more revenue for the league. Look for lots of foul calls against the Celtics in game 6.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Coliseum Clasico

I put my soccer fandom to the test tonight by attending my first-ever MLS game, a resumption of the California Clasico between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Los Angeles Galaxy.  

The game was moved from the Quakes regular home at Buck Shaw stadium to the more cavernous McAfee Coliseum in Oakland because this guy plays for the Galaxy now.

Like Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan, I had to see David Beckham in person before he retired, and this was my opportunity to do that. Forty thousand other people decided to do the same thing, so the Coliseum was filled as full as it can be with that silly tarp on the third deck. Watching the flow of the game, it was quite obvious that Beckham was the best player on the field. He didn't score, but he set up two of the Galaxy goals and was always at the right place. His trademark is the "set piece" off a corner kick or free kick, because he can almost direct the ball at will (just like that movie says).

Other than watching Beckham, the game itself was pretty uneventful. The Galaxy won 3-0 and the home side didn't mount much of a challenge. Also, the Oakland Coliseum configuration for soccer is really weird, with many of the seats miles away from the action. I hope it doesn't mess up the outfield grass like that other kind of football does.

Friday, June 13, 2008

More Sounds of Summer

I've been trying to upload a new mix to muxtape every week, and this week is the first of two parts of "summer songs". Summer starts next week (in the Northern Hemisphere) and here are a dozen songs to get a start on the season.

Sounds Of Summer (pt1)

1. "Soaking Up The Sunshine" - Danny McDonald
I added the "Northern Hemisphere" qualifier to the start of Summer because in the Southern Hemisphere (where Danny McDonald comes from), their Summer is our Winter, even though it evidently has the same surf and sun and two girls for every boy that Northern Summers do.

2. "Let's Go Surfing" - Daniel Wylie
Daniel Wylie (former Cosmic Rough Rider) is from Glasgow, and it might sound weird for a Scottish guy to write a surf song, except the North Sea has some of the best surfing in the world. Surfing the North Sea probably requires a strong will, and an even stronger wetsuit.

3. "Over The Summer" - Sparks
I wrote about Sparks earlier this week, and said that "Over The Summer" from Introducing Sparks (their sixth album) was one of my favorite summer songs ever. For that reason alone, I had to include it.

4. "Cruisin' Music" - The Rubinoos
This is a cover of a Raspberries song that probably wins a stuffed animal in early Beach Boys Bingo (references to surf, sun, cars, girls, and good rock& roll). Next Saturday I'm planning on seeing the Rubinoos in their first, last, and only show of their "2008 World Tour" (at SF's GAMH).

5. "Summer Wine" - Nancy Sinatra
Actually Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood (who wrote the song). A wine made from strawberries cherries and an angel's kiss in spring would be too sweet for me, but I'd take off my silver spurs to drink some with Nancy and Lee.

6. "The Door Into Summer" - The Monkees
This is a good song, with a title taken from a Robert Heinlen book. Game Theory used to cover it.

7. "Summer Song" - Klaxons
I downloaded this from the internet. According to the ID tags, it's from an album called My Diet Pill, which doesn't seem to exist. It's a good song though.

8. "Summer Evenings" - The Frank and Walters
The Frank and Walters are one of the best Irish bands ever, and this is from their latest album A Renewed Interest in Happiness. Actually it's from one of the singles off that album ("Fight") but that's not important in the iTunes era.

9. "Summer Sunshine" - The Corrs
Another Irish band. I was excited to that this is one of Scott Miller's five year old daughter's favorite songs. It was also a number one hit, in Indonesia. When five year olds and Indonesians both like a song, you know it's a good one!

10. "Summer Holiday" - Cliff Richard
One of my favorite moments from "The Young Ones" was this exchange between Rick and Suggs (Madness lead singer) from the "Boring" episode.

Rick: Do any of you lot know "Summer Holiday" by Cliff Richard?
Suggs: You hum it, and I'll smash your face in!

11. "Beach Boy Blood (In My Veins)" - Dave Edmunds
One of my best finds of this last year was Edmunds' Plugged In album from 1994 (his last album of all-new material), especially this song. I've got Beach Boy blood in my veins too, especially during the Summertime.

12. "All Summer Long" - The Beach Boys
The first corpuscles of Beach Boy blood started flowing through my veins for the first time when I heard this song at the end of the movie American Graffiti. "All Summer Long" was also the final song on Endless Summer album, so it's always symbolized the end of something for me. In this instance, it's the end of my mix.

Most of these were found by typing "summer" into the iTunes search box, but there might be an even better list of summer songs that don't have the word "summer" in the title. Such as?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One Thing Leads To Another

Disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who's facing charges of fixing games, filed a court document earlier this week stating that game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals between the LA Lakers and Sacramento Kings was fixed by the refs.

I remember that game as the one that turned me permanently off NBA basketball (permanently, until the Warriors dramatic playoff run last year). The Kings were dominating the possession, but the refs were going out of their way to call fouls on them, giving the Lakers 27 free throws in the 4th quarter, to create a revenue-boosting game 7 (won by the Lakers).

The officiating in that game was so horrible, and so much in favor of the Lakers, that it was obvious that the fix was on. NBA league history is full of bad calls that just happen to benefit big-market teams at crucial times, and it happens far too often to be chalked up to coincidence. Just thinking about that 2002 game makes me upset (and I'm not even much of a Sacto Kings fan).

Of course, as a convicted felon, Tim Donaghy isn't really a credible source, and NBA commissioner David Stern calls his allegations "baseless", but if that game wasn't fixed, it was the the worst-officiated sporting event I ever saw in my life. I found this breakdown on the youtube.

Meanwhile, the L.A.  Lakers are back in the finals this year, against the Celtics. I don't really have a horse in these finals between my two least favorite teams, but sources at tell me to expect an exciting seven game series with Boston winning the final game at New Boston Garden. 

The Celtics are now up 3-1 after tonight's dramatic second half comeback, so look for them to lose the next two before winning game seven, because that's the way the NBA has it scheduled to go down. Professional basketball is almost like professional wrestling.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Marks and Sparks

Sparks have been celebrating the release of their 21st album by playing their previous 20 albums in order over 20 nights at the Carling Academy in London, ending with the debut of their 21st album Exotic Creatures Of The Deep this Friday (June 13). 

In a fit of congruity, each of the 21 nights were priced at £20 each. The extravaganza kicked off the first weekend I was in London with their first two albums, Halfnelson (1971) and A Woofer In Tweeters Clothing (1972), and I was thinking of going except I wasn't sure about dropping 20 quid on 40 minutes of music, so I decided to pass.  

The next weekend (when I was also in London) was Introducing Sparks (1977) and No. 1 In Heaven (1979), but I didn't make it to those shows either. Introducing Sparks is one of my favorites by them, so I was definitely tempted by that show.

A bunch of Sparks' back catalog (including the long out-of-print Introducing Sparks) was recently added to emusic, so the rest of you subscribers can hear that album as well. Isn't "Over the Summer" one of the best summer songs ever? And doesn't every photo of Ron Mael look like some photo of a regular person that's been defaced by funny glasses and a Hitler moustache?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Unsafe at any speed

Ralph Nader is polling at 6% nationally in the latest Presidential poll. That's even above the margin of error, which is what is is to even consider voting for Nader in 2008.

Anyone who votes for Nader this year has the blood of 4094 US soldiers, and even more Iraqis, on their hands. There's just too much at stake to throw a vote away on "principle".  And that's even discounting the fact that Ralph is about as qualified to be President as I am (because I'm a U.S. born citizen over 35 too).

As ¡Jestaplero! would say "People are idiots (results higher for Nader voters)"

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bay Area Slow Transit

And Rarely Dependable Service

On the weekend before I started my vacation, there was a fire in the South Hayward BART yard, which affected the service on my line (Fremont) for a few days. It was slightly inconvenient, but thought I would spare the worst of it by being away while they resolved the problem, and everthing would be back to normal when I got back home.

It wasn't. One month later, we're still four or more weeks away from BART service being restored, and it's really frustrating.  Before the fire, my daily commute took 46 minutes .

8:00 Catch a Richmond train at Hayward station
8:22 After six stops,
         walk across the platform to a Pittsburg/Bay Point train
8:46 Get off the train at Walnut Creek station and walk to the office.

The fire on May 10th shut down the Fremont-Richmond line during the day, so I need to transfer twice, and the trains are out of sync, so my daily commute takes nearly 1.5 hours.

8:00 Arrive at Hayward station, wait 5-10 minutes for a SF/Daly City train
8:10 Board SF/Daly City train (time uncertain)
8:30 Wait 5-10 minutes for a Richmond train at Lake Merritt
8:40 Wait 10-15 minutes for a Pittsburg/Bay Point train at 12th St.
9:20 Get off the train at Walnut Creek station and walk to the office.

The ride is a half-hour longer each way, and it's the same in the evening. The constant waiting and changing is getting old, and it seems like BART doesn't really care. After the MacArthur maze caught fire last year, there was a lot of local media attention and public cooperation and everything was back to normal in a week, but nobody cares about some fire at the tail end of a BART line that only affects 5% of the commuters except the 20 thousand people who are actually affected.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Why you should never arrive late or leave early!

I didn't make it to today's A's-Angels game until a few batters in, so I missed Rich Harden striking out the side on nine pitches in the top of the first. Why did he choose to do it in the first inning?

The game ended up going to extra innings and I left after the bottom of the 11th to make it home by 5pm,  just missing Mark Ellis's walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 12th!  

So I attended a game with two historic feats by the home side and missed them both, even though I caught every pitch of the 3.5 hours in the middle.  

It's probably payback for seeing that triple play last weekend! 

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dance To The Eurobeat

The 2008 European Cup (aka Euro2008 - the third most popular sporting event in the world after the World Cup and the Olympic games according to ESPN) kicked off today in Austria and Switzerland.

The Euro cup is every four years, but I've only been following soccer since 2005, so this is the first one since I've been paying attention. International matches tends to be a lot more "defensive" (i.e. boring) than league matches, because the players don't play together that often, so there's not a lot of chemistry. And teams that represent nations come with a lot of nationalism and jingoism that is contrary to the spirit of athletic competition. That's the main reason that despite my raging Anglophilia, I'm not really "down" with England's national side. It seems to bring out the ugly National Front side of British culture (us against "the foreigners").

Luckily England didn't qualify for Euro2008, but even though it's nice to have the opportunity to watch guys kicking a ball around, I'm still not sure which country to support. I used to cheer for Holland during their World Cup runs in the 70s, so I still have a soft spot for those orange uniforms, but they don't have much of a shot. I also like Spain, since I recently visited there, and cheer against the favorites like Germany and Italy. Always cheer against Axis teams.

Here's the breakdown of the four Euro groups, with who I think will go through and who I'm pulling for in each group.   Off the top of my head since I don't know about most of these teams.

Group A: Switzerland, Czech Republic, Portugal, Turkey
Since Austria and Switzerland are co-hosting the cup, they both got seeded to the finals, which is unfortunate since they're both "pants" as the Brits say. I like Portugal and the Czech Republic to advance, and am pulling for Portugal because I like watching Cristiano Ronaldo, even though I can't stand his team (ManU).

Group B: Austria, Croatia, Germany, Poland
This is Austria's group. Germany and Croatia will advance. I think the Croatians were the "good guys" in the Bosnian conflict (Milošević was a Serb), so I'm pulling for them, even though the Germans will dominate just like they did 70 years ago.

Group C: Holland, Italy, Romania, France
I'm pulling for the Clockwork Orange, but Italy and France will advance. I'm a poet and I know it.

Group D: Greece, Sweden, Spain, Russia
I like Spain in this group, since I was just there. They look like a favorite but I don't know which other team will advance. Greece are the defending champs, but the Swedes and Russians have more international stars, so they're probably stronger.

After group play, the top eight teams (two from each group) advance to a single elimination tournament, like the World Cup. The final four will be something like Germany, Italy, France, and Spain (or Portugal) and the final will be Germany and someone else. Germany will be the winner, because the finals are in Austria (a suburb of Germany) but they lost the World Cup in their own coutry so you never know.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Go Bo Diddley

I have just one Bo Diddley album, a mid-80s budget best of called His Greatest Sides. I have the LP hanging on my wall, and when I look at the cover photo (above), I notice how cool and excited Bo looks versus how uncomfortable his pompadoured drummer and bassist look in the same photo. They seem to be thinking how those plaid suits and bow ties are going to affect their R&B cred, while Bo just exudes perpetual coolness, no matter what he's wearing. For he is Bo Diddley!

Bo Diddley shuffled off to his final great gig in the sky last weekend (a tremendous loss to both rock AND roll), but that beat will live as long as people are Ready to Rock. With a h/t to 2fs, here are a dozen examples of the Diddley beat in the form of a Friday muxtape. The songs are in vaguely chronological order.

Go Bo Diddley

1. "Bo Diddley" - The Shadows
The best way to start a Bo Diddley mix is with the song "Bo Diddley" by Bo Diddley himself, but I only have it on vinyl that isn't playable. Here's a 1961 version by Cliff Richard and the Shadows, shakin' it in their own WASPy way.

2. "Who Do You Love" - The Yardbirds
This is from the 1963 live set when the Yardbirds were touring with Sonny Boy Williamson. Asked for his opinion of the Yardbirds, Mr. Williamson reportedly said "these young British boys want o play the blues so BAD.. and they do!"

3. "Not Fade Away" - The Rolling Stones
These British boys could play the blues fairly good early on. This is a Buddy Holly song, but it sounds more Diddleyish than Holly's original version. Sometime in the last month, the Stones early catalog dropped off emusic, which kind of sucks.

4. "Magic Bus" - The Who
Unfortunately the eight minute Live At Leeds version doesn't fit in a 10mb muxtape window, so here's the shorter single version. That Keith Moon fellow was quite a talented drummer.

5. "Pills" - The New York Dolls
R.E.M. used to cover this song back in the day, and I had no idea it was a Bo Diddley song until I checked the writing credits on the NY Dolls album.

6. "Crackin' Up" - The Rolling Stones
Another Stones song. This is from their 1977 double-live LP Love You Live, which had three sides of forgettable performances from their 1975 World Tour, and one side of smokin' hot R&B covers from the El Mocambo in Toronto, including this reggaefied Bo Diddley number.

7. "She's The One" - Bruce Springsteen
A smoking live version of this Springsteen from the Born To Run tour (London's Hammersmith Odeon in November 1975 -- which means it comes before the Stones in chronological order).

8. "Bo Diddley's A Gunslinger" - Warren Zevon
Another live one, from Stand In The Fire. After I heard this song (which ended the original album), I started using "Bo Diddley's a gunslinger" as a catch phrase whenever I had seven spare syllables. It's still one of my favorite things to say!

9. "Wey Wey Hep Uh Hole" - The Soft Boys
One of the first songs Robyn Hitchcock ever wrote, at least the first that he managed to release. When he played the song solo in the early 90s, he apologized for the "sexism" , but the Beefheartian blues cliches are so silly that they're almost endearing (eg. rhyming "love" and "stove").

10. "Cuban Slide" - The Pretenders
This was a b-side to an early single. I'd never heard it until I downloaded it from here a few days ago, but the Bo Diddley beat is quite pronounced.

11. "I Want Candy" - Bow Wow Wow
Not as pronounced as this Bo Diddley beat. I'm still not sure how one would go about setting the summer sun on fire, but whenever I hear this song, I still want Candy!

12. "How Soon Is Now" - The Smiths
In the comments to 2fs posts, they mentioned Johnny Marr organizing arrangements around the Diddley beat. This is the most pronounced example of that. Under all the wailing and tremolo, the foundation of the song is still the Bo Diddley beat. When I saw Modest Mouse opening for R.E.M. last weekend, I had no idea that the bored-looking guitarist who looked like Johnny Marr actually was Johnny Marr. It's nice that JM has a steady job, but how the mighty have fallen!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Why Bevmo Rules

I was picking up some essentials at the local Beverages & More yesterday, when another customer asked if they carried any "lighter" beers. The employee asked what he meant by "lighter" beer.

Customer: "You know, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite,.. Lighter beer!".
Employee: "Sorry Sir, we don't carry those brands. You might try Walgreens across the street!".

After that exchanged, I noticed that it wasn't just the "light" varieties of these beers that they didn't have. This Bevmo store with thousands of microbrews and craft beers from around the globe carried absolutely nothing by Anheuser-Busch, Coors, or Miller.

I'd never noticed it before, probably because mass-produced "lighter" beer is like making love in a canoe. "Making love in a canoe, Bruce?" You know the rest!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Comedic Conchordance

Today is Wednesday, and you know what that means! Wednesday is my day to catch up with all things Flight Of The Conchords.

FotC's profile seems to be at an all-time high these days with a hit album (that debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts), a sold out US concert tour, and a hit TV show still in regular rotation on HBO with a second season scheduled for early 2009.

Virgin Atlantic airways is like Conchords central. The in-flight entertainment for my flights from SF to London featured two video episodes of the TV series as well as all six episodes of the BBC2 radio series that spawned it. There are a few differences between the radio and TV series (Rhys Darby's manager character is called "Brian" instead of "Murray", their one fan is a dude named "Kipper" instead of a woman named "Mal"), but many of their TV plots were taken from the radio shows. The Conchords radio show also has Neil Finn in a recurring role as Brian's "musical advisor". Hopefully Neil will get a role in the second season of the TV series. The radio series is described in the V-A blurb as "lovely in-flight entertainment", which probably just a play on the band's name, but the series does make a nice companion on a long plane trip.

Right after I got home last week, Flight of the Conchords played a couple of high profile Bay Area shows, and I didn't attend either of them (mostly because they both sold out in ten minutes), so I tried to imagine what they were like by reading the reviews.

Aidin Vaziri's review in the SF Chronicle said that "their songs weren't particularly adventurous or anything you would want to listen to more than once outside the hall -- Beck did their entire back catalog better when he did 'Debra'". But Aidin Vaziri likes Coldplay so let's ignore his review and move on.

Jim Harrington of the San Jose Mercury News was "skeptical that the band's mock-rock shtick would work on the live stage", but Jim probably doesn't realize that FotC were doing the shtick live long before they were TV stars.

The most useful local review I read was Jennifer Maerz of the SF Weekly who ignored FOTC's performance and reviewed the fans, from "theatrical laughers" to "sedentary farters". Reading Jennifer's review was the next best thing to actually being there.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Banyak bagus Barack!

Four years ago, after Barack Obama made his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, I thought that the Democrats had chosen the wrong candidate.  Four years later, I think they've chosen the right candidate.

It seems like I've spent my entire life voting against people in presidential elections (mostly against George Bushes), and it's really exciting to finally be able to vote for someone!  Like his lovely wife, I'm proud of my country for the first time in my adult life, but I'm trying to hold my excitement for the next five months. I'm hoping to really be proud of my country come November!

And since it won't be timely for much longer, here's one last chance to watch "Hillary 4 U And Me".

It's a catchy tune with a good beat, and numbers and letters substituting for words, just like the young kids do in their teletext messages! How did she lose this nomination with a campaign song like that?   

Monday, June 2, 2008

Frozen ropes and dying quails

Apparently R.E.M. sideman (and erstwhile Young Fresh Fellow) Scott McCaughey wore a Barry Zito Athletics jersey for yesterday's R.E.M. gig at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley.   Perfect East Bay concert attire.

Wearing a Zito A's jersey is the height of crossbay smack-talk, and reminds SF Giants fans of two things:
(1) Barry was good when he played for our team.
(2) He's not so good anymore, but he's making a big bucket of money, so you guys are stuck with him now. Ha ha!

McCaughey grew up in Saratoga, so he knows his Bay Area baseball rivalries, even if he has lived in Seattle long enough to be a Mariners fan. And he's a big ballfan, who's collaborated with Steve Wynn for a new album of baseball-themed songs called The Baseball Project, which is coming out this Summer on Yep Roc.

Steve Wynn is also a big baseball fan, but apparently Peter Buck isn't, even though he appears on The Baseball Project, along with drummer Linda Pitmon.
Me and Scott McCoy(sic) and Steve Wynn made a baseball-themed record. I don't knoiw anything about baseball so I just played on it. They're into baseball. I don't watch baseball or read about it or anything. But y'know, music is music. The songs were good songs - I just didn't know the people they were singing about.
The "people they sing about" on the first volume of The Baseball Project include Curt Flood, Satchel Paige, Ted Williams, and Jack McDowell. Maybe the second volume can have songs about Barry Zito or Matt Herges (but I guess he's been done already!).

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The animals how strange

Went to see R.E.M. last night at Berkeley's Greek Theatre. The Greek is a natural amphitheatre in the East Bay hills next to Memorial Stadium on the UC campus, easily accessible by BART, and a great place to see a show. It's fairly small by R.E.M. standards (with just over 8000 seats) so last night's show was completely sold out, with ticket buyers outnumbering sellers by a five to one margin.

The ticket said that the show started at 6pm, which I thought was when the doors opened, but when I arrived at 6:15, the first opening band (the National) had already started playing. Luckily I got to my seat in enough time to catch most of their set, including all my favorites ("Mistaken For Strangers","Slow Show","Abel","Start a War", there are very few National songs I don't like). I always feel for club bands who have to play outside in the daylight in front of a half-filled amphitheatre, but the National went over pretty well. They'll probably be headlining Greek-sized venues fairly soon.

After the National was Modest Mouse. Opinions seem to be divided on these guys, but I didn't know a whole lot about them, so I went in with an open mind and thought they were dreadful. They weren't really my thing, and just weren't very good. They seemed to go over really well with the younger kids who got dragged by Dad and/or Mom to see R.E.M., so maybe I just wasn't receiving what MM were transmitting.

After a long set by Modest Mouse and a half-hour break, R.E.M. took the stage at 9:00 sharp. In a two-hour set, they played 27 songs from all the albums in their back catalog (except Around The Sun, strangely enough), including most of the new album Accelerate.

Horse to Water
Little America
What's the Frequency, Kenneth?
Man Sized Wreath
Imitation of Life
West of the Fields
Hollow Man
Wolves, Lower
Walk Unafraid
The One I Love
Final Straw
Find the River
Let Me In
Losing My Religion
Living Well is the Best Revenge
Bad Day
Orange Crush
I'm Gonna DJ
Supernatural Superserious
Mr. Richards
Driver 8
Life and How to Live It
Man on the Moon

I usually get excited at R.E.M. shows when I hear something from Murmur or Reckoning. Last night, the second song was "Little America", and just after that they played "West of the Fields" and "Wolves, Lower".   They also played "Driver 8" and "Life And How To Live It" (both from Fables) back to back during the encore, and a couple of AFTP songs ("Ignoreland" and "Find The River") that I'd never seen played live before.    Another highlight was the stripped-down campfire singalong version of "Let Me In" with Peter Buck on keyboards, and three acoustic guitars by Bill Reiflin, Mike Mills, and Scott McCaughey.   

There was a funny story where Michael Stipe cracked up during the chorus of "West of the Fields".  He said when R.E.M. were rehearsing the song last summer in Dublin, he had to check the lyrics on the internet, and was amused to find out that the chorus listed as "The animals how strange. Try to stick it in".  Then he said "I wrote some dodgy lyrics in my early twenties, but I'm pretty sure I never wrote the words 'the animals, how strange'!".  And then Mike Mills asked him "Okay, what did you write then?" and Stipe replied "I don't have a fucking clue!".  That makes all of us!

Michael  dropped another f-word later when he said he was "so fucking proud!" of California for passing the same sex marriage initiative (it wasn't the voters, it was the legislature) and said "since we're playing in Berkeley, I can probably keep the political discourse to a minimum, but for anyone is curious, we're all voting for Barack Obama for President".    Good to know, I guess.