Sunday, November 30, 2008
It's called "His ND Xmas" after an old Mary Lou Lord song, and features mostly "downer" songs from the ND genre. For the parents in the audience, there are only a couple of curse words (of the "damn" and "hell" variety), but it's a little dark. Here's the cover, with the king of holiday depression feeling down like a clown, Charlie Brown.
HIS ND XMAS - Steve's Anti-Holiday Mix 2008/09
01. Culturcide - Depressed Christmas
02. The Weepies - All I Want
03. Blitzen Trapper - Christmas is Coming Soon
04. Chatham County Line - Oh! Santa
05. Jonathan Coulton - Chiron Beta Prime
06. Clint Coker - Dead By Christmas
07. Dave Ford - Have Yourself A Bitter Little Christmas
08. The Everly Brothers - Christmas Eve Can Kill You
09. The Fawns - Snow Day
10. Fleshtones - I Still Believe in Christmas
11. The Grip Weeds - Christmas Bring Us
12. Bill Kelly - Here Comes Christmas
13. American Suitcase - If We Make It Through December
14. Chris Isaak - Christmas On TV
15. Jason Ringenberg & Kristi Rose - Lovely Christmas
16. Keegan DeWitt & The Sparrows - Christmas Light
17. The Len Price 3 - It's Christmas Time Ebenezer
18. The Magnetic Fields - Mr. Mistletoe
19. Mud - Lonely this Christmas
20. The Bobs - The Night Before The Night Before Christmas
21. Buck Owens - Tomorrow Is Christmas Day
22. Pugwash and Friends - Tinsel and Marzipan
23. Red Star Belgrade - Xmas Day
24. Ryan Adams - Hey Parker, It's Christmas
25. R.E.M. - Merry Xmas Everybody
26. The Spongetones - Merry After-Christmas
27. Tommy Tutone - Santa I Got Your Number
28. Daddy Bone - Zombies Eating My Brain
It's available for the next seven days as a two part download
Download part 1
Download part 2
If anybody wants an actual CD, please let me know. I'm going to try to post about all the songs one at a time, so I might post them for individual download later.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thanksgiving leftovers are one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. Turkey is pretty good on Thanksgiving Day (and anyone who doesn't think so is either a vegetarian or someone who's never had either grilled or deep-fried turkey), but it gets better on the days after. A few slices of leftover turkey breast and pepper jack on sourdough with mayo and dijon makes the perfect sandwich. Turkey white meat is just like chicken breast, but better, and its dark meat is ideal for soup or curry.
My main conflict with dark turkey meat is "soup or curry", so I compromised and made a turkey mulligatawny, which I decided to call "mulligaturkey". Unfortunately, I didn't invent that term, but my mulligaturkey soup recipe is mine and mine alone.
My soup is based on this recipe from chow.com, but didn't include the coconut milk (because we didn't have any) and replaced the rice with more Thanksgivingy leftover faire (mashed potatoes and root vegetables -- parsnips and rutabagas). It's the same basic soup with the same spices, and a very creative use of Thanksgiving leftovers.
4 cups turkey stock
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and medium dice
1 medium carrot, peeled and medium dice
5 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups diced, cooked turkey
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup mashed other (squash, sweet potato, root veg)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (optional)
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, for garnish
1. Chop apples, carrot, and garlic, add spices (masala, cumin, cloves), and saute in a large stockpot with oil or butter (ghee) until apple is tender and onion is translucent, about 5-10 minutes.
2. Add stock (my turkey stock is just bones and water) and an extra cup of turkey gravy (if you have it). Bring to a simmer and cook for 8-10 more minutes, until vegetables are tender.
3. Add lime juice, mashed potatoes, and "other" (something orange is best -- sweet potato or pumpkin or rutabaga). My family is Norwegian, so we always roast rutabagas with our turkey on Thanksgiving. Stir the soup with a hand-blender, bring to a simmer, then add cooked turkey keep simmering for 20-30 minutes more.
4. Garnish with cilantro, lime zest, or plain yogurt.
If there were actual Indians at the first Thanksgiving, I'm pretty sure this is what they would have served on the days after Thanksgiving!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I made one of my rare ventures into clubland last night to see the Bye Bye Blackbirds and the Family Arsenal at the Bottom Of The Hill. There was also a third band on the bill (The Crazies Will Destroy You), but they didn't start until after 11pm, so I don't know what they were like. Might be the best band in the history of music for all I know.
The Family Arsenal have shared a few bills with the Blackbirds, and provide a good yin to their yang. Their sound can best be described as Shelter Records circa 1976. They should be produced by Leon Russell and appearing on a package tour with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (before they broke) and the Dwight Twilley Band. Paul Tyler even sounds like a perfect Petty/Twilley hybrid, and they even cover the DTB in their set. If they were a drink, they'd be bottom shelf bourbon and coke, in other words, the perfect band for the Bottom of the Hill. I don't get out to the BOTH that much anymore, but it's still probably my favorite live music venue in the entire world.
This was the first BBBs show in support of their new album, which means that they started with a bunch of new songs that weren't from it, but then played a few from Houses & Homes and its predecessor Honeymoon, and ending with a rollicking version of the (GP-era) Byrds classic "One Hundred Years From Now" with the Family Arsenal's Paul Tyler on third guitar. The wall of Telecasters was disrupted because one of the guitarists didn't have one, but it was close enough for Tuesday night at the Bottom of the Hill.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Don't eat too much, and go out and buy something on Buy Nothing Day just to mess with the system. I probably won't post tomorrow, because I don't have to anymore. Whutevah..I do whut I want!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
After the election, I started cutting off the MSNBC shows as well as Jon Stewart, even though I still can't drop the Colbert Report. This is like the political offseason, where there's a bunch of discussion about things that aren't that important, so I've also stopped reading most political blogs, but I'm still regularly checking in to Nate Silver's 538.com. He's even changed their motto from "electoral projections done right" to "politics done right".
Silver's idea to applying his sabermetric analysis to elections was almost as successful in the 2008 election cycle as Barack Obama's campaign. The PECOTA algorithm he developed for Baseball Prospectus is unbelievably accurate in projecting performance of baseball teams (guessing that the Tampa Bay Rays would make the playoffs last year for example), but there was some question whether baseball stats could extend to election polling.
There was some "meta-analysis" during the 2004 election, but it didn't go as deep or make as much impact as 538.com and other sites like Sam Wang's Princeton Election Consortium did in 2008. These sites analyzed the daily polling data in nearly real time to determine the projected win percentages, electoral vote, and popular vote totals for Obama and McCain, and ended up projecting what happened in the actual election.
Sabermetric analysis is often derided by people inside baseball as egghead wankery by geeks in their Mom's basement who probably couldn't hit the curveball. Even when it's practiced by folks like Oakland A's GM Billy Beane who actually played the game. There's a similar prejudice in the political world that these geeks don't know what's really going on -- they're just silly bloggers in their Mom's basement.
Stats have been used with a lot of success inside the sports world (where Bill James is a consultant for the Red Sox, and his sabermetric strategies are still employed by other organizations), but until this year (or perhaps two years ago) political campaigns were still run based on time honored legends and seat of the pants intuition. "Only Big states matter", "Democrats can't win in Virginia", "The Bradley Effect will keep Obama from winning".
When 538.com launched during the Democratic primaries, it was obvious which candidate Nate Silver was supporting (he's a Chicago guy after all), but his model showed no bias. And his objective analysis was just trying to determine who was "ahead" based on who won the latest caucus or primary, but who stood the best chance to win the big contest in November. They determined that Hillary Clinton had no chance long before anyone else did, and that John McCain was on shaky ground, when many experts (including comments here) thought he was sure to win.
538's greatest achievement after the election was throwing a wrench at the meme that California's Prop 8 passed on the backs of Obama's new African-American voters. One exit poll claimed that 75% of AAs "supported" Prop 8, therefore CA's homophobia was all caused by black folks. QED. I was upset by these theories for many reasons, but they all ran out of gas after Silver's post one week after the election showed how misguided that theory was. Statistics don't really "disprove" anything, but they do show that certain things are unlikely, like 6% of the population being responsible for anything based on an unscientific sampling of 6% of that 6% (around 0.36% of the voters).
There's also been lots of analysis of the recounts and runoffs in Alaska, Minnesota, and Georgia on 538.com, as well as interesting stories about Nate's adventures interviewing right wing hacks like John Ziegler. I wasn't sure what would become of that site after the election, but it seems like it's found a niche in the post-election world as "politics done right". Score one for the geeks!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Those were two of my favorite musical years, when I bought a ton of albums that I don't listen to anymore. In those years before the dawn of Napster and mp3s, I would buy CDs recommended by random people on the internet, and ended up hating a few, loving a few, and liking the rest enough to keep, but not enough to keep in steady rotation twelve years later.
One of those neglected titles I recently unearthed was the Posies' Amazing Disgrace. This album can best be described by its one sentence wikipedia entry -- it's "the fourth album by Seattle power-popsters The Posies and their final release for DGC Records". Even wikipedia contributors can't be bothered to write more than one sentence on this album. Which is a shame, because despite a few misguided production touches, it still rocks pretty hard!
"Posies hell", as Scott defines in his writeup of "Please Return It", is "seven minutes of sludgy, unparseable drop-string minor chords with scenery-chewing regret over personal excesses.. in harmony". Emphasis on the last two words, because Ken and Jon's vocal harmonies always shine through their worst excesses. I've seen so many shows where they've fallen on drunken ragged versions of half-remembered cover tunes, but just before they hit the bottom of the barrel, they'll nail a chorus in perfect harmony and all is well again.
Which brings me to this video that was posted on the 125 Records newsfeed a few weeks ago to carry Scott's fans through the off week of "MWH". It's Scott Miller and Jon Auer doing a duet on "Horse With No Name".
The late Richard Jeni said it best: "You're in the desert. You've got nothing else to do. Name your freakin' horse!!" The Loud Family covered this on one of Pravda's Star Power volumes, probably because the label thought it would be cute and ironic for a band with an album called Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things to cover "HWNN". It was an interesting version, but this one is truer to the original. Which doesn't necessarily equal "better".
There's also a youtube of Jon Auer's solo version of "Blackbird" from the same performance. It's a version of a song by a band called "the Beatles", from their self-titled album that came to be called the "The White Album". Which was released 40 years and 2 days ago.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. One of the coolest albums ever, which had the misfortune of coming out on the same day as the Beatles' White Album.
Andy Miller's 33 1/3 book on this album is probably my favorite one in the series. An ideal reading companion while listening to your Village Green reissue (in mono and stereo).
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Last night my brother and I went to San Jose to see the WAC intrastate matchup between Fresno State and San Jose State. My brother is a FSU alum who likes to see this game in even-numbered years when it's played up here, and sometimes I tag along because I like to watch college football in person.
The game was on national TV (ESPN2) with a 6pm local time, which is a tough time to get to San Jose from anywhere else in the area. We ended up arriving midway through the first quarter, but didn't miss much, because the entire first half saw both teams running up and down the field without altering the giant scoreboard. Mid-major conferences like the WAC usually have lots of offensive firepower, but there wasn't a whole lot on display last night.
The Bulldogs (FSU) and the Spartans (SJSU) were in the middle of the pack this year, and both battling for low-end bowl berths. A lot of Bulldog fans made the trip from Fresno, so it was a divided crowd, with a lot of good-natured banter back and forth. The game was tied 10-10 going to the 4th quarter, but FSU made a couple of late drives to win 24-10 going away. It looks like they're going to a bowl and SJSU is staying home this year.
In today's actual Big Game, another local team got eliminated from bowl contention as Cal beat Stanford 37-16. The Cal Bears seem to win all their home games and lose all their road games, but they play more home games, so they're heading to a bowl this year. With the lack of Bay Area sports success this year, it's refreshing to have at least one local team be somewhat successful.. Roll on you Bears.
Friday, November 21, 2008
ESFP - The Performers
The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.
The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The earphone just stopped working on one side, so I had to buy new ones. I'm particular about phones, and don't like in-ear buds that come with iPods, but also don't like the classic mini-headphone design. I found these Philips SHS4700 headphones at Target yesterday (regularly $19.99 on sale for $15.99), and they're pretty much exactly what I like. Great sound and comfortable fit -- the best of both worlds!
Listening to these is like hearing all my old albums in a new light. I'm going to fall asleep to OK Computer tonight, and wish I owned Dark Side Of The Moon -- isn't that supposed to be the best headphone album ever?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I've been a fan of the band since the first time I heard "Weather Song" on a compilation of original tunes by members of the loud-fans mailing list. The Crowd Scene stood out as being one of the three or four artists on that collection with actual musical talent instead of inspired auteurs (and since many of my loyal readers also contributed to that compilation, I should probably add that YOUR song was also one of the good ones by people with talent!).
"Weather Song" was the leadoff track on Turn Left At Greenland, which provided a higher-fi template for Graeme Davies' smooth tunes (somewhere midway between Glenn Tilbrook and Neil Finn) as well as his then & current wife Anne's complementary ones. One of my favorite albums of whatever year it came out.. 1998? Wow!
Ten years later they're back with a second album that's a bit more mature and understated, but every bit as good, at least so far. The album is streaming here with links to purchase, and also available for download here.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The Jonestown Massacre was just a week before the Moscone/Milk assassinations, and no matter how bad things are now in the S.F. Bay Area, they aren't as bad as they were then. In November 1978, I was in eighth grade and disco was still popular!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Here's one of his older tunes that I learned to appreciate when it was covered by Gene Clark of all people.
I've also changed my blog description for the rest of this month in Gord's honor.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Let Your "Light" Shine For Christ This Christmas Season!
Looking for an effective way to express your Christian faith this Christmas season to honor our Lord Jesus? Now you can…. with the “Original Christmas Cross” yard decoration.
Express your Christian faith with.. a burning cross? really! Forgetting all the ugliness associated with burning crosses (and I'm just not talking about Madonna's "Like A Prayer" video!), isn't the cross the symbol of the other end of Jesus's life?
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I dug up my old tape of Earth, Sun, Moon today, and even though there are still a few good songs on there, but intervening decades have not been kind to this album!
If there's a year that Scott Miller should've "gone rogue" and pick one of his own songs for MWH, 1987 is that year. None of the songs he selected are as good as "We Love You, Carol and Alison" or "The Waist an the Knees", or "Last Day That We're Young", or almost anything on Lolita Nation!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This transfer was what pushed me to attend the show, and I probably would've given the show a miss if it was at the Fillmore. The GAMH is a more intimate venue that's closer to the BART, and a much easier venture on a weeknight. And even this place wasn't terribly crowded. Maybe RH performing songs from IODOT just isn't as big a draw as it should be.
Still, it's always great to see Robyn -- when I look out at a sea of paunchy middle-aged white dudes with glasses and facial hair, I just feel like I'm among My People. The audience was 85% male, and the pre-show conversations at my table (it was a seated show) centered around Belgian ales and Peter Himmelman solo albums. "Now I'm in my element, I'm where I ought to be"
For the show, Robyn was joined by Tim Keegan and Terry Edwards for most of the show, so it wasn't a pure solo show, but most of the gig was taken from I Often Dream Of Trains. He didn't play the songs in the same order as the album: starting with the piano songs, "Nocturne" and "Flavour Of Night", ending with the title track, adding a few of the bonus tracks like "My Favourite Buildings" and "I Used To Say I Love You", and skipping "Furry Green Atom Bowl" (My favorite song. Just kidding, "FGAB" isn't anyone's favorite song!).
The entire IODOT portion of the performance lasted a little over an hour, and then they came back with an encore of songs of similar vintage, like "Raining Twilight Coast" which was written for the Trains album but not released until Eye in 1990, and "Goodnight I Say", which came out on the first Egyptians album.
When I saw Robyn a few months ago (opening for Nick Lowe), he played most of Eye in it's entirety, so I've seen two of my favorite RH solo albums performed live this year. I'd really like to see a Fegmania! show, but that's about the only other Robyn album I could handle from start to finish. Maybe his upcoming one Goodnight Oslo? That might be the best album of his career, who knows?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The Pitchfork 500 book dropped today with Pitchforkmedia's take on the five hundred best songs of the past three decades "beyond the typical Baby Boomer-approved canon of the Clash, Prince, Public Enemy, Nirvana, Radiohead, and Outkast", as their news release states.
Outkast is "Baby Boomer-approved"? Who knew? Pitchfork's list of songs covered is actually pretty decent, with tracks across many different genres. The five hundred songs come from 438 different artists, and the highest represent comes from Talking Heads with four songs. Ten other artists in the Boomer-approved canon (The Clash,The Cure, New Order, Outkast, Pavement, the Pixies, Prince, Radiohead, and the Smiths) get three songs each.
I like that they're ranking songs instead of albums, and didn't rank them from 1-500 or give them scores, but just listed them chronologically with a paragraph or two explaining why they were selected. It's more geeky than snobby, and a great way to hip the unhip to songs or artists they weren't hip to before.
The Pitchfork 500 is almost as worthwhile as as McSweeny's
"Fifty Years Of Popular Songs Condensed Into Single Sentences".
The Beatles- "I Want to Hold Your Hand" = I want to do it with you.
Marvin Gaye- "Let's Get It On" = I want to do it with you.
Led Zeppelin- "Whole Lotta Love" = I want to do it with you.
James Blunt- "You're Beautiful" = I want to do it with you.
R. Kelly- "I Believe I Can Fly" = I believe I want to do it with you.
AC/DC- "You Shook Me All Night Long" = We did it yesterday.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
This "Live At Kiburn 1977" concert is coming out on DVD next week, and making the rounds on PBS stations during their Fall pledge drive. During the show, it seems obvious that the band is rusty and unrehearsed, and doesn't want to be there, but they still manage to Bring the Rock. Watching Keith Moon at this stage is almost as sad as watching Brian Jones during "Rock & Roll Circus", partly because he looks lost and out of it, but also because he looks to be having so much fun while playing the music.
I got into the Who shortly after Keith died, with the dual release of The Kids Are Alright and Quadrophenia in the Summer of 1979, but would have loved to see the original band live. Even at their worst (and this Kilburn gig probably wasn't one of their better ones), they could still bring the magic.
I pulled out Who's Next last night, and that has to be one of the definitive sound recordings of the Rock era. I've kind of burned out on these tunes through the lifetime of radio plays, but they fit together so well. And I've heard this song (final track on the album) at least a thousand times, but it's gained a new resonance after last week's electoral results.
"Live at Kilburn 1977" is airing on PBS through November, so watch your local listings, and please to contribute to Your Public Television station to help them bring important events like this to Viewers Like You.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
1. Obama's Davids (Plouffe and Axelrod)
2. MLK's Dream
3. Howard Dean's 50 state strategy
5. U.S. Americans
1. John McCain
2. Sarah Palin
3. Joe the Plumber
4. Karl Rove Right Wing Politics
5. Marriage Equality in CA
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
He hasn’t been able to predict the future.He hasn't? Here's yesterday's Final pre-election projection from 538.
Our model projects that Obama will win all states won by John Kerry in 2004, in addition to Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, Florida and North Carolina, while narrowly losing Missouri and Indiana. These states total 353 electoral votes. Our official projection, which looks at these outcomes probabilistically -- for instance, assigns North Carolina's 15 electoral votes to Obama 59 percent of the time -- comes up with an incrementally more conservative projection of 348.6 electoral votes.
We also project Obama to win the popular vote by 6.1 points; his lead is slightly larger than that in the polls now, but our model accounts for the fact that candidates with large leads in the polls typically underperform their numbers by a small margin on Election Day.
And here are the actual votes (with NC's 11 EVs still on the table)
Barack Obama 63,764,326 (52.4%) (349 EVs)
John McCain 56,324,856 (46.3%) (169 EVs)
For a popular vote difference of 6.1% and an electoral vote spread of 349-169. The only state Nate got wrong was Indiana.
That's a scarily accurate projection of the electoral and popular vote, but John McCain's win percentage is still at 1.1% and I still won't rest until it's updated to 0.0%!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
The opening track on one of my recent holiday mix CDs is "Can't Wait Til Christmas Day" by Vince Vance & the Valiants, which has a line about stores putting up holiday decorations on the day after Halloween. Even after I found out that Vince Vance is responsible for both "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and that "Bomb Iran" song that John McCain likes so much, I still like "Can't Wait Til Christmas Day". It puts me in the holiday mood more than any other song. And stores actually do put up decorations on the day after Halloween.
I was at Rite-Aid yesterday morning (November 1st), and they had their Christmas cards and decorations out, and were already playing retail-friendly holiday songs in the store.
It's also the day that Peet's and Starbucks start offering eggnog latte (I'm a big fan of eggnog latte and think it should be available all year), so I guess the start of November is the start of the holiday season. Take it away, Andy!
This is the last day that we'll hear those seven fateful words ("the following is a paid political announcement"), but it's just the start of "whoop de do, and dickory dock, and don't forget to hang up your sock". Thirty days of November and twenty four days of December equals seven and a half weeks of Christmas music, which is probably a few more weeks than any sane person can handle. And maybe even more than an insane person like me can handle.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
fivethirtyeight.com currently shows John McCain with a 3.8% chance to win the election. This sounds like a done deal, but I won't rest easy until his win percentage drops to 0.0%, which probably won't happen for three more days.
I can't wait to start resting easy! In three more days, Nate Silver might have to go back to writing about baseball. Or maybe he'll start handicapping the 2012 Presidential race on 11/5/08?