Dazed and Bemused

Drunken recollections, boring anecdotes, and obscure references

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Late 911 Wears The Late Crown

Someone has taken my copy of Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet from it's honored position in the pile of papers on my desk. The transgressor will be harmed (unless it was me and I don't remember). To paraphrase Ann Beattie, "It's a myth that messy people never clean up. Sometimes they do, and when they do, They check their nests!".


You think you know me well

Just got finished with a meeting where we were discussing the security differences between VPNs and Internet-based Remote Client software. My analogy was between a nice girl who only dates men she's been introduced by close friends or family members, and the girl at the end of the bar who'll go home with the first guy who buys her a shot. I realize this is a sexist analogy, and I'd try to genericize it, but most men are such horndogs they'd go home with the first girl who let them buy her a shot.


Saturday, November 27, 2004

I wanna get drunk I'm gonna make it real clear

Met a couple of cool people at a bar I'd never been to before tonight, The Williams Tavern, on 17th near Penn. Got chased out of the LL by way too much of the kind of Stoner metal that consists of 3 wildly distorted chords and unintelligibly growled vocals. Nicely eclectic jukebox, if not as up to date as the one at the LL. Anyway these folks were arguing about the Rolling Stone top 500 Rock songs list, something about which I have some strong opinions of my own, and we talked music for a couple of hours. They're dragging me to this show. Based on the three songs available to download from the Merge records website, it ought to be great.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

But you did, but you did, but you did

Today I am especially thankful for the miracle of fermentation.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Started Out, Just Drinking Beer

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been fighting a cold/sinus infection for the last week and a half, and sleeping a lot. I did get out on Sunday to see Sideways, which I thought was incredibly funny ("If anyone orders any Merlot, I'm leaving!"), and also quite touching. Much as I liked it though, Garden State resonated a little more strongly with me, and that is my favorite of the year so far.


Saturday, November 20, 2004

Bicker, Bicker, Bicker, Brouhaha, Ballyhoo!

Holla back, peeps! New comment system, courtesy of HaloScan


I'm spinning around but I feel alright

So, yesterday I promised to try and explain the appeal of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I'm not sure I can succeed, but I'll try. This is a first novel from Susanna Clarke, though she has previously published some shorter pieces. It is set during the early 1800s, around the time of the English Regency, and the Napoleanic wars. The once glorious tradition of English magic has been lost, and the books written by the once great are argued over by groups or societies of theoretical magicians, mostly bored gentleman. One night at the regular meeting of one of these societies, a servant appears, and proposes a contract. His master will perform a feat of true, practical magic, but if he succeeds, the society must disband, and it's members cease to call themselves magicians.

Without telling you everything that happens, I don't how well I can describe things. Mr. Norrell, the first magician, moves to London to work for the government, and is introduced to London society by a pair of aristocratic rogues whose characters will be very familiar to anyone who has read novels of the period. Mr. Norrell is stodgy, opiniated, and difficult, but the government soon finds him invaluable in the war against the French.

Jonathan Strange is a much younger man. A dilettante aristocrat, he is inspired by hearing of Mr. Norrell's exploits, and begins to practice magic on his own.

The first part of the book is told almost in a series of interconnected vignettes, which introduce us to other characters, and very slowly advance the plot. Some of these make for wonderful stories in their own right. Sometimes charming, eerie, thought-provoking, none of them are boring. The language is very much in tune with the early 1800s setting, and the book is extensively and entertainingly footnoted (fond memories of Jack Vance were evoked for me).

This is a wonderful story, I'm struggling to try to explain it's appeal without resorting to reading the whole thing aloud. I will say that when I finished the final page I was saddened that it was over, and sorely tempted to begin again from the start.

Neil Gaiman: "Holidays are wonderful things. If you go on holiday you can read Susanna Clarke's novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (which, in my probably biased but not entirely uninformed opinion, is the best English fantasy novel written in the last seventy years: over 800 pages, and when it ends you're just sad there aren't another 800)"

Also enjoyed by many Ted Leo fans and Ted Leo himself. Check it out, kids.


Friday, November 19, 2004

The band in Heaven, They play my favorite song

I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to make a top whatever list for 2004. There has been a ton of great music released this year, and I just don't have enough listening hours to do it all justice. I've probably acquired 40 2004 releases so far, including the new Nick Cave double album (available on Emusic, check it out). I've also got 4 more on my list to download from Musicnet, including Dogs Die in Hot Cars, The Fiery Furnaces, Rilo Kiley, and Doug Gillard. I'm off all next week, so hopefully I can get caught up.

I'm really starting to appreciate the Musicnet subscription. For an extra $8.95 a month on top of an AOL account, you can download from a catalog nearly as extensive as iTunes, and listen to them on the same computer as much as you want. There are some downsides, inexplicably, sometimes one or more songs from a CD won't be available, and I hate the fact that it doesn't include a track number, or list them in the library in track number order, which makes making the proper album playlist tedious. Still, I get to hear a lot of stuff I wouldn't have taken a chance on if I was buying discs semi-blind, and it's handy when I get the hankering to hear something I don't want or can't afford in my permanent collection.

I'm starting to seriously hanker after an iPod, especially since my big multi-disc player at work is going wacko. It apparently overheats and starts jumping all over the disc, used to be after 3 CDs, then one, and this morning after being off all night it did it midway the first CD. I'll have to see about getting it fixed, fortunately I can ship stuff easily from the office. If I have to listen to CDs one at a time, or rip them to the hard drive while it's being repaired, wouldn't it make more sense to 'pod them in the first place? If I'd been smart, I would have just spent the extra money in the first place, and not bought the changer.

More later, including my feeble attempt to explain why Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a wonderful book everyone should read.


Monday, November 15, 2004

Don’t remove my head hurts much too much

I can't explain why I'm enjoying this album so much. On paper it's not my kind of music at all, but my ears know what they like. Perhaps I'm suffering from Election-related PTSD. They're playing in Denver on 11/24 at one of my favorite venues, though I doubt I'll end up going.


Sunday, November 14, 2004

Won't you stand up for the hearts of oak?

I just got back from the Ted Leo show, and I wish I could go see it again. It was incredible. He's even more energetic live than on his records, and I wouldn't have thought it was possible to play all those incredible guitar parts on stage. He said he was loosing his voice, but I really couldn't tell except on a couple of songs. He played just around an hour, and I could easily have listened to three times that. Highlights for me were Little Dawn from the new album, and I'm a Ghost from Hearts of Oak. The song he didn't do that I missed most was Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead, but he could have played his whole catalog and I wouldn't have minded a bit.

There were two opening acts, but we missed the first one, a local band called Ocean's Full. Next up was Lucero, and we caught most of their set. I liked them overall, some good songwriting, and good vocals, but a few too many generic instrumental bridges and guitar solos for my taste. I guess they're a favorite around here, since about a quarter of the people left after their set, to my surprise and relief, since the club was a little too crowded for comfort during their set.

The layout of the club was very odd. This was an All Ages show (which is why it was over by 11:15), and the club is basically one big room with the bar opposite the stage. They had the bar section fenced off, and if you wanted a drink you not only had to be one of the 25 lucky people allowed in the enclosure, but stay in there while you drank it. What happened of course, is that no one left once they got in there, so there were quite a few thirsty people, including myself and Flasshe.

Ted was just inside the exit doors after the set, chatting and signing autographs. Very approachable, didn't seem to have any of the big rock star vibe. He said how nice it was to be able to get a little extra sleep since they finished so early (Colorado law governing all ages shows, I guess). Any of my hundreds of readers in the Lawrence/Kansas City area should definitely catch his show Sunday night.

There was one jarring note. I saw a kid, looked like a stereotypical geek, maybe a gangly 15 or so, who looked like he was desperately trying to dress to look cool. What I noticed, though, is he had a spiderweb tattoo on his elbow. I know it's no longer only associated with the Aryan Brotherhood and other White Power prison gangs, but I think that's the association a lot of people would make first, and this kid didn't look like he had the confidence to talk his way out of a confrontation if someone did start one. I guess it's not my dog, though, but it wouldn't surprise me if he takes to wearing long sleeves if he starts spending a lot of time out of whitebread suburbia.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

Do you honestly believe, you could ever leave?

I was playing Jukebox Roulette at the Larimer Lounge the other day, and played a couple of songs from The Jealous Sound, who I had vaguely heard of. I've since downloaded the whole album, and I love this disc. I'm amazed it didn't make a lot of best of lists last year. Strong songwriting, great vocals, tight playing, lots of hooks, high energy, everything I like in an album. You can download a couple of cuts from the Better Looking Records website, The Fold Out, and For Once In Your Life


Friday, November 12, 2004

Time...For Flying Rockets

I've never been a big Electronica fan, but like most genres, the best stuff will get my attention, and the last Air CD is a fine example of the form. This is a tasty, tasty disc, and is now available on iTunes, though I'm pretty sure it wasn't a few weeks ago when I ordered the CD. The CD does come with a bonus DVD, though, which makes buying that way more attractive.

I've also been giving The Libertines a lot of play. This one is on the Jukebox at the Larimer Lounge, and I've been doing my part to spread the delicious happiness to my fellow denizens thereof.

I got Van Lear Rose this week, and I wish I really liked it. I just don't feel an emotional connection with most of the songs that I get in the country music I really like. This might be a case where Loretta Lynn is just too polished for my taste. I do like a couple of the songs a lot, most notably (and predictably) Portland, Oregon.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

I am a heartbreaking machine

Way cool potential news. Was chatting with the owner of the Larimer Lounge, and he said they've got lots of spots of slots in the jukebox they just haven't gotten around to switching out from when they bought the place, so if I bring in something cool, they'll dump something like Waylon Jennings or Merle Haggard and plug it in instead. First up, Shalini's "Metal Corner", which grows on me every time I listen to it, and which I think deserves a wider audience. Who knows, might even grow into a booking at the LL if they ever tour.


Hopping like a monkey on a holy toothpick

Saw an absolutely killer show last night, a band called Gogol Bordello. One of the regulars down at the Larimer Lounge told me they were absolutely not to be missed, and he was right. Think of a really musically talented Ukrainian Folk Troupe playing punk rock with the energy level dialed up to 11 and you might get some kind of idea. The crowd was totally into it, the club was basically one big dance party, with people on the edges pounding out the rhythm on the walls, tables or bar. My hands are sore from pounding on the bar my own self. I would go see them again in a heartbeat. Here's a quote from Rolling Stone which I think is pretty apt. "A Ukrainian singer, Russian fiddler, Israeli guitar player, Floridian drummer, Russian accordionist, and Israeli sax man walk into a bar. Then, if it's Gogol Bordello, they tear the place to shreds."

If I wasn't such a friendly drunk, the show might not have gone off, though. I was sitting at the bar during the opening act, and had just gotten a fresh Tanqueray and Tonic, and went to the rest room. When I came back, there was an attractive woman sitting on my stool, which was cool, but the lead singer from GB was playing with my drink while he was chatting her up, which wasn't really. I'm standing behind them, and thinking, "Well, he just wants something to do with his hands, and I can get a new straw". Then he gets tired with just stirring it and starts sipping. Eww. Bad enough he thinks a full drink sitting on the bar has been abandoned, but drink roulette is a game I'd try to avoid if I was going on in half an hour. I guess he likes Tanq though, cause he starts drinking in earnest. At this point though, the bartender comes by and asks me where the drink she gave me was, since she knows me and knows where I was. I point at the guy and say he took it, and she's cool enough to give me a fresh one on the house. I reach between the singer and the attractive woman to get it, and I see the light bulb go on in the singer's mind as he looks down at the identical drink in his hand and then at the immensity that is me. I just touch my glass to his (now), and walk down to the other end of the bar.


Monday, November 08, 2004

What is that sound? Where is it coming from?

Lots of new, to me, CDs today. Only time for one listen each, so no comments so far.

Juliana Hatfield-In Exile Deo
PJ Harvey-Uh Huh Her
Loretta Lynn-Van Lear Rose
A Girl Called Eddy-A Girl Called Eddy

Also just got an E-mail that Amazon just shipped Air-Talkie Walkie, and Neko Case-The Tigers Have Spoken. It's a great problem to have, but I've gotten about 15 new albums in the last few weeks, and there aren't enough hours in the day to give them all the attention they deserve. I think I might be about caught up with all the 2004 releases I'm interested in, though. Going to try to do a Best Albums list this year, but I doubt very much I can do a list of individual songs.


I just can't believe all the things people say

I haven't confirmed these results for my own self, I'll do that tonight after work hours, but this is really interesting.


In summary, someone did some statistical analysis of the percentages of registered Republicans and Democrats in counties that used optical-scan ballot systems, and noticed that in many counties where optical-scan was used, the recorded vote totals were far off what would be expected if people voted their affiliations, as an example, Baker county with 24.3% registered Republicans voted 77.7% for Bush.


All you're giving me is Talk Talk

Not that I expect lots of folks have been desperate to comment before and couldn't, but you should be able to now. I'd allowed comments when I set this up, but the default is to allow only registered users (of Blogspot, I assume). Anyone should be able to comment now, so let the Cialis spam commence.


Sunday, November 07, 2004

I don't have to have these dreams no more

Strange day today. Woke up bright and early for a Sunday, listened to more of the best of Guided By Voices, which I got from Emusic yesterday. Went out for breakfast around 9, and set some corned beef to cook when I came back. Watched the Steelers knock off the Eagles, then started watching the Broncos game. Start nodding off before half time, even. Fortunately the corned beef was done, so I just took it off the fire, washed up, and then lay in bed and dozed through the rest of the game. I must be getting old or something. Feeling pretty good now, hopefully I can stay awake through The Wire, and maybe even my DVRed Simpsons/Arrested Development.

My friend Flasshe just E-mailed me asking about the Ted Leo show this Saturday, so maybe I'll have company. I'm really looking forward to it. I've been listening to Shake the Sheets the last week or so, and really enjoying it, and Hearts of Oak was one of my favorites from last year. Never seen Ted live, but if it's half as good as the blackout show in NYC last year was reputed to be, it ought to be great.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Has left me retching, wretched on all fours

I'm still pretty blue about the lack of regime change, but it's time to go on, I think, as attractive as further wallowing would be. Maybe this will be the motivation I need to actually get involved at the local level, something I've always wanted to do. My brother-in-law did this last year, and he said it was a very involving and educational experience.

Yesterday was a good day for quieter and sadder music, lots of Elliott Smith, the Decemberists, Tanya Donnelly. One bright spot, Elliott Smith's "From a Basement on the Hill" turned up on EMusic yesterday.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

When they kick at your front door...

Can they please declare Kerry the winner right now so I can relax?

I'm too distracted to formulate a decent post, but I did pick up some new (to me, at least) CDs in the last few days. So far the standouts are Shalini's "Metal Corner", and The Walkmen's "Bows and Arrows". In the not enough listens to judge category are Modest Mouse's
Good News For People Who Love Bad News", Ted Leo and the Pharmacists' "Shake the Sheets", and The Libertines "The Libertines".