Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Keep my advent to yourself

I see in the NYT that a group of jazz musicians are interpreting Pavement. All the Amazon reviews are written from the jazz instead of the indie side of the line. And it is called Gold Sounds instead of Gold Soundz. Trivial, but telling? Then again when Apocalyptica covered Metallica using nothing but cellos, that sounded pretty cool. Look how metal those guys look though. They could be in Sepultura for all I know.

Now that it's gone, it's like it wasn't there at all that is. I saw this list for the top ten dot-com flops and I was a little sad to see that my old dot-com didn't make the list. In fact there is very little evidence for anywhere online or elsewhere. The old building (NW Thurman and 15) is now a day care facility. Dammit, this is two melancholy posts in a row. Ok this is pretty funny, it is a banned ad for the Xbox, which has some nice violent movie spoofs.

Know thyself

I used to think I was an independent, go it alone type. Over time I realized I really hate being alone and must have the company of people. Yes, man is a social animal,blah blah blah, but really I start to go nuts when I am by myself. When I drove cross country two months ago (in four days - bad idea) I was so starved for human interaction that I actually welcomed the 6AM drunk who sat at my breakfast table and ate half of my food. I truly understood this about myself when I visited Florence in an attempt to meet my friend Danielle (I was living in London at the time.) I never found her, so I was by myself in a town where I couldn't speak the language and the only book I had was Andre Dubus' Collected Stories. If Carver is vaguely sad, Dubus is out and out morose, not the sort of thing you should read when by yourself. No more travelling by myself, or at least it should be with a happy book.

2005 the Amazon way

With it's wealth of data and presentation skills, it's no surprise that Amazon's best of 2005 is the biggest. You get customer faves, editor faves and detailed genre top tens. For example, the editors picked the History of Love as the best novel of 2005, while the readers voted (with their dollars) for The Shadow of the Wind. In paperback at least. If you've not read Shadow of the Wind, I recommend it. It's a Spanish novel and fits in the literary thriller category. The comparison to his countrymen Arturo Perez Reverte is inevitable. I would say that Ruiz Zafon, author of Shadow, is a more vibrant writer, his prose is much more engaging and alive. His plot also holds together better than Reverte's, which often limp along at the end. Being literary it is filled with great sadness of course.

Didion's Year of Magical Thinking tops the Amazon best of list. If you don't know it, the book deals with the death of Didion's husband while their only daughter was battling for her life in the hospital. I must read this, but I should probably wait until my life has calmed down. The editors line up lots of obvious books but through in a guide to cool hotels, a photography book and a book about Star Wars posters. Iain Banks made the list as well. I have this one, but have not yet read it yet.

More of 2005

With it's wealth of data and presentation skills, it's no surprise that Amazon's best of 2005 is the biggest. You get customer faves, editor faves and detailed genre top tens. For example, the editors picked the History of Love as the best novel of 2005, while the readers voted (with their dollars) for The Shadow of the Wind. In paperback at least. If you've not read Shadow of the Wind, I recommend it. It's a Spanish novel and fits in the literary thriller category. The comparison to his countrymen Arturo Perez Reverte is inevitable. I would say that Ruiz Zafon, author of Shadow, is a more vibrant writer, his prose is much more engaging and alive. His plot also holds together better than Reverte's, which often limp along at the end. Being literary it is filled with great sadness of course.

Didion's Year of Magical Thinking tops the Amazon best of list. If you don't know it, the book deals with the death of Didion's husband while their only daughter was battling for her life in the hospital. I must read this, but I should probably wait until my life has calmed down. The editors line up lots of obvious books but through in a guide to cool hotels, a photography book and a book about Star Wars posters. Iain Banks made the list as well. I have this one, but have not yet read it yet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Is bad sex better than no sex?

Yes, but is bad sex writing worse than leaving out the sex? The Guardian has helpfully published the long list contenders for this year's Bad Sex writing contest. The competition is fierce, I won't bother quoting just go look, but I will say that it makes Penthouse Forum letter writers appear to be Booker class in comparison.

Coffee time

Not that people in Portland need any more coffee shops to visit, but today I went to Jackman Joe's.
It's on NW 16th and Marshall, under the 405. The decor and layout are excellent, we drank coffee in a little library. It also has free wi-fi. If you drink a mug rather than paper, a large coffee is only a buck, it's sweet I'm telling you.

My next show

Mark you calendars PDX peeps, Dec 30 at the Crystal you can see Sleater-Kinney, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and Quasi (yep I bet Janet will be tired). If you don't have the Woods or Face the Truth yet then put them on the holiday wishlist.

On the opposite side of the musical goodness scale, we have Billy Joel, scourge of radio listeners everywhere. Going to school with pile of NYCers I had to listen to that jackass all the time. Slate has a nice dis/retrospective.

The new Broken Social Scene takes about five listens to appreciate. So don't despair, keep listening. Maybe it will be fewer for you as listens 2-4 took place while I was painting and slowly being poisoned from the carbon monoxide being pumped out by our broken furnace (one of the bad, bad things mentioned below).

Amazon customers are stupid

This is old news, but Amazon has a best books of the millenium list. The list was compiled by taking Amazon customer votes, so the list is a strange mix of the sacred and the profane. Lot of classics, but Jurrasic Park, Robert Jordan (kill me now if that is as good as it gets), Rainbow Six????? ? SF gets some love with Stranger In a Strange Land, Ender's Game, Neuromancer and Foundation on the list. At least personal faves Karamazov and Gravity's Rainbow made the list.

I generally take a democratic approach to reading. One should read meaningful books, but there is nothing wrong with driving over to the wrong side of town for a date with some trash. This though is a list of the BEST, and Left Behind and the Celestine Prophecy do not belong on any such list. If the list is the best books published between 3 and 4 PM on July 6, 1999 maybe, but nothing more than that. Ayn Rand is on there, she may be wacky, but at least it is literature. Owen Meany is on there too, but I have already expressed my distaste for that novel. My only hope is that these readers can transition to something a little more literary.

A dreaded sunny day, so I meet you at the Cemetry Gates

Some people (like reader CG) seem to think that if you read the Christian Science Monitor you have to stop taking medicine or some such. Not the case! You may feel compelled to visit Mary Baker Eddy's grave though. Seriously, if you are in Boston or Cambridge, hit the cemetery, it is gorgeous.

The Monitor has a list of the best fiction of the year. It can serve either as a gift list or as a reminder that you have been reading shitty books all year. My only defense is that I was grad school for most of the year.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Christmas for conservatives

Have some conservatives on your holiday list? Then you should check out National Review's holiday reading list. I was pleased as punch to see that Tom Holland, author of the excellent Rubicon, has a new book on the Greco-Persian wars. (the only downside is you have to order it from the UK to get this year) Non-conservatives should take a look too. Yes, you will have to wade through "Why Liberals Want To Rape Your Children," but there are some interesting and thoughtful choices as well. I tried to find a leftish list from the Nation, the New Republic or the Atlantic, but came up empty. Sorry.

Give me something to stop the bleeding

Man, my shit sucks right now*. I'm not going to go all weepy on you, but let's just say if things can go wrong, they are. The next step would be a bio-terror attack on PDX. What is amazing is that David Rakoff's Don't Get Too Comfortable has me laughing out loud. The people around me at Cha Cha Cha were getting a little nervous what with all my titters and guffaws. Being paint covered and unshaven probably didn't help.

The book is marketed as trenchant analysis of the foibles of the upper middle class. There is certainly some of that in here. Rakoff gets sent to fashion shows, to be a waiter in a South Beach hotel and to ride the Concorde. He also goes on midnight treasure hunts and ponders the mystery of the Log Cabin Republicans. Rakoff is the sort of person I with whom I like spending evenings (yes, yes, ha-ha). He is articulate, cutting, observant and self deprecating. Some find him overly snarky, but he isn't cruel, at least to my reading. Only downside is that the book is short and you magazine readers may have hit some of these essays in the past.

*No interventions kids, it is all stuff that will pass, but sucks severely at the moment.

Let's hear it for the nerds

With all the cool kids playing World of Warcraft, what's a true nerd to do? I suggest you consider the upcoming Neverwinter Nights 2. While it is not massively multiplayer, you can (for free) log on to a server and play with your friends.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Blackened is the end

Back in my livin' in China days (93-94) I got sick a few times. I had the "kill me now" food poisoning just once, but I never need that again. You think you know pain? You know nothing. Never before or since have I experienced such complete body suffering. Anyway, that was a memorable acute problem. I had a chronic breathing problem, as breathing Chinese air is like hooking up a face mask to a running car engine. The environment is so compromised that cities are having to stop using their sources of water. The city in question, Harbin, was known for its Russian influence and its ice festival. Now it will be the Love Canal of China. The book to read (full disclosure, I own it, but haven't read it) is The River Runs Black, a study of China's environmental crisis. Some of the Government/China PhD candidates I met at Georgetown were convinced that place is going to fall apart. Take that with a can of Morton's, but also be skeptical of the China will crush us all talk.

Nor the nails of the cross nor the blood of Christ can bring you hope this eve

Do you like your novels dark and bitter, like your shriveled, decaying soul? Then you have probably already started reading James Ellroy. Ellroy has become synonymous with a number of things including: near dystopian depictions of American life in the 20th century; violence; small crimes tied to larger conspiracies driven by corrupt politicians and cops; a world where everyone is corrupt; epic length novels; experimentation in language and heavily damaged heroes who often are killed. Given this wealth of association, when you hear that a new novel reminds someone of James Ellroy you have to ask, in what way?

Michael Simon's Dirty Sally is set in Austin in the 80s. OK so Ellroy is all about LA in the 50s and 60s. There are brutal killings, a corrupt police force composed of homicidal rednecks and a few lonely outsiders. The local civic leadership is implicated in some nasty business that gets our hero, properly damaged and lusting after his dead partner's wife, into the shit. So yeah thematically it is much like Ellroy. The language isn't as good, but it is this guy's first novel. It is also much more brisk, capable of being consumed in a long evening. Ellroy will wear you out before that happens. I think his future books will be even better. That is often review code for "don't read this one, wait for later ones." In this case, if you like darkly toned mysteries, I say pick this one up.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sorry J

Bad news for reader J, who worried recently about hipsters discovering the Spare Room. Now, someone is blogging about it. The hipsters can't be far behind. There is always McPeet's which is so old school while still sitting on increasingly trendy Fremont.

Best of 2005

The Guardian asked a bunch of famous people (famous in Britain at least) to talk about their fave books of 2005. We actually learn why they like the book. This is much more useful, to my mind, that the NY Times best of 2005 list, which simply lists books that got good reviews in the Times. I so prefer personal recommendations and the Guardian are like secondhand personal recommendations. If, for whatever reason, you admire these famous people, then maybe you should look at their book recommendations. Not sure what goes on my best of list, as with books, I tend to jump years quite a bit. Top CDs of 2005 is another story.

Friday, November 25, 2005

That's what the fuck life is... one vile fucking task after another

Or at least so it seems sometimes. Today I had to rush finish painting the house. Painting walls is so bad that it makes we want to find new substances to abuse. Tomorrow we unpack the truck. We as in me and my equally out of shape friends. I hope we aren't cursing one another by the end. I'll probably start smoking, drink too much and get in a fight at a strip club. Oh sorry, that was my bachelor party. I'll have to try something better.

On the happy side, we just caught Walk the Line. Hats off to Reese and Joaquin for some excellent acting. Reese creeped me out a little since she looks EXACTLY like my sister in this movie. Normally they are slightly similar, but this was eerie, as in why is Johnny Cash hooking up with my sister?

Why markets (and PDX) are nice

I rather like this Marginal Revolution take on why markets are good to have. The author talks about how he has specific needs for peanut butter but really doesn't care about toothpaste while his wife feels the opposite way. As he points out, this argues against the newly fashionable idea that more choice is bad or somehow debilitating. Really, we only make choices about the things we care about, but for those we want lots of options. I for one want to see every beer on earth at the grocery. What galls me are the people who want to hold back the profusion of goods because they know better and want to protect me from the hazards of choice. These are the same paternalistic people who wag their fingers at drinkers and smokers. At the same time the God Warrior's people are rising on the right, the nanny staters are rising on the left. Thank goodness I live in happily libertarian PDX.

Powers 2

Tim Powers has a short story collection out in stores. This one hasn't got the promotion of Declare, I hope this doesn't indicate that Powers in on the outs. Sci-fi short stories are great, as they allow an author to throw a cool idea at you without necessarily having to resolve anything. I think this is why Stephen King's continues to excel at short stories as his novels have fallen off. Salon has a review of the book in which the reviewer compares Powers to Gibson, Dick and Hemingway. Yes, you will have to sit through the Salon commercial thing to read the article, but just tab over to Hype Machine and download some tunes while it loads. I recommend the Long Winters or John Vanderslice today.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

We can have playtime in my little playroom

My smut-addled readers, which would be most of you, will want to check the Williamette Week gift guide section titled "Sacred and Profane." The ladies on my list are sure to love the eight week stripper class. Those who need lighting will want to get their hands on the Tramp Lamp, a lamp made of sexy underthings. I could do without the nude hot tubbin' with hippies though.

Where to put the sci-fi?

I generally think the argument that the UK is more literate than the US is overblown. That said, you don't see that many newspaper articles like this one here in the States. The author describes her problems in arranging the books on her bookshelf. Does she put the high minded titles out for all to see and more questionable ones in the bedroom? Does she alphabetize, or categorize? What makes the grade for the living room?

I will soon face these challenges as we move back into our old house. I am sure I will end up hiding my genre books from guest's eyes unless they my copy is a class-conferring trade paperback. We used to alphabetize the fiction and organize the non-fiction, but then after the kids arrived all the books would be re-arranged on a daily basis.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I love your friends, they're all so arty

I am not the greatest Dandies fan, but I must admit that "You Were The Last High" is a great song. Watch the video here and bask in the pretension.

The lost King Kong scene

One of the most famous lost scenes in movies is the spider attack from the original King Kong. Legend has it that it was so scary that it was removed from the film. Later sources say it was dropped for pacing purposes. In any case, Peter Jackson has re-created the scene as part of the new DVD release of the original movie. Retrocrush has a good story on the topic.

Antipodean rock

I heard this song called "Beautiful to Me" on Launch cast. It is some light indie pop with alt country elements. The band, Little Birdy, is from OZ and and if you click on this link you can find the video. The video is not great, but you might like the song.

Another bookcast

Powell's new bookcast is up, for all you non-RSS users. Salman Rushdie is on this one, which makes me feel guily for reading Dirty Sally, instead of something more meaningful. Just in time for Thanksgiving and awkward family gatherings, Po Bronson brings his tales of family dysfunction and the underlying factors which hold people together.

If you like DC public radio, you will be happy to learn that Diane Rehm and Kojo Nnamdi now have podcasts. Kojo does a lot of DC insider baseball, but he is still good. Today's show generated a list of the best winter books of 2005, which is here.

Wait, the trust has gone, something's going very wrong

(Via Cup of Joe Powell) There is an amusing parody trailer for a biopic of Bush 43. It's not as good as the God Warrior or the Shining thing, so don't get too excited.

I push my fingers into my eyes, it's the only way to slowly stop the pain

Right now, the "quiet storm, soft and warm" type radio stations are going all Christmas all the time. That's cool with me, especially as I love the crooner stuff, Crosby, Sinatra and so on. Just like my taste in candy, I like my seasonal music and TV. That said, listening to Christmas radio is like playing Russian Roulette. While I might get a Crosby singing "O Holy Night," I might also get my least favorite song of all time....Christmas shoes. (link has lyrics and a sound file...if you dare)

It's the most maudlin piece of dreck to beset the airwaves, ever. You would need to have women and children crying non-stop for three minutes to top it. The song concerns a poverty stricken child who hits up a stranger for a few bones to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother. Just to turn the knife the little tyke says "And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight" That's right she might not make it to Christmas, sniff. I hate this manipulative crap. What's worse, the boy is sent to our narrator (by the deity, no less) to remind him that Christmas is not about buying presents. No, it's about dying mothers and self absorbed people who think God goes around and uses other's misfortune to make the righteous feel more righteous. I bet the God Warrior LOVES this song.

Come on now

I usually like reading Pitchfork dissing of a new CD (unless I like the CD). The review of the DFA79 remix CD is beyond me unfortunately. For example:

But the Braxe/Falke and Dählback joints here are so flimsy, that vocoder'd out Makuziak futuro-disco bullshit so obnoxiously tongue-in-cheek, I can't imagine anybody really psyched to hit up his neighb Fixed or Making Time party to try out his new Diesel hightops on the dancefloor.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dark clouds always waiting for you

You can bet that Frank Gaffney, author of the forthcoming War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take To Prevail in War for the Free World, is going to get a lot of air time on Fox News. They just love breathless those-damn-traitor-liberals won't let us defend our nation stories. Bill Gertz of the WashTimes takes a cue from Gaffney regarding the EMP (or electro-magnetic pulse) threat. Those of you who have read nuclear war fiction will recall that in addition to a blast wave, a heat flash that can set skin on fire and a boatload of radioactive particles, a nuclear explosion will create a pulse that can destroy unhardened electronics. This new threat assumes that an enemy nation will detonate a warhead in space, spreading the EMP effect across a great swath of the nation.

Yes the US is undefended against this threat. The US is also undefended against a 25+ missile nuclear strike and there are no plans to be able to deal with that, as it is economically unfeasible. Economics aside, there is little reason to fear an attack of this nature. If some nation sends a ballistic missile towards the US, they are going to get one or likely many more back. Even if the entire US electrical grid was shut down by EMP, the nuclear missile armed submarines could and bombers could still retaliate. It is difficult to conceive of a nation actually deciding to attack the United States in this way. It is equally difficult to conceive of a terrorist group acquiring a missile and a nuclear warhead small enough to be placed on the missile.

The US has enough real security threats with which to deal to spend much time on things like this. Gaffney has an almost theological commitment to missile defense. As such he is naturally attracted to threats like this one. People without that commitment should look elsewhere.

Sing a song about fucking

Now, those who know me will tell you I am no prude. Nope, not me, I like talking about things dirty, lascivious or smutty. That said, I am most displeased with the band calling itself....Morningwood. I even dislike their URL, which is Morningwood Rocks? Oh really? It rocks? According to whom? Not people who wake up at 6AM to active children I tell you. One of the last things I want to think about is Morningwood. I suppose we can have more band names about sexual misfortune. I look forward to bands like Whiskeydick, Cameltoe and Smegma.

I smell sex and candy

The eldest child was hit by pneumonia last night (he's fine). After a visit to the ER, I headed over to the all night Walgreen's so he could get his antibiotic on. In my post-midnight delirious state I was lulled into thinking that the new Cadbury's Limited Edition Dark Chocolate might be a good call. Why? The dark chocolate bar isn't that good, I would rather eat Hershey's Special Dark than that. Bad dark choc+raisins+almonds should not equal tasty treat, but hey I was tired. Who knows, maybe it is Hershey's fault since they make it here in the States. The Creme egg still rules.

On the British candy tip, myaybe if we are lucky we will get the Texan bar, a oldie that is being re-released. This bar gets the top rating on this British candy rating website. I was also excited to see there are many, many versions of the Crunchie.

Check out the kinky interracial candy threesome on the Cadbury website(you may need to refresh to get the image). The tagline is "Throughout history chocolate has been associated with romance and sharing." Is that all it takes?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Back to the well

Stephen King has put out Extra Special Edition of Salem's Lot. It's more or less the book equivalent of Pavement's re-release of Slanted and Enchanted. There isn't much reason to buy either unless you are a long time fan with lots more money than back in the day. OK, there's more reason to pick up the SE, since you may not have Watery Domestic or some of the B-sides. With the Salem's Lot, you get some short stories you have likely read already if you are a fan. And come on if you are willing to drop $35 on a book you can get for $7 in the same store, you're a fan. There are also some deleted scenes that are apparently more violent than in the original. This is probably the best of the Stephen King's but I don't know that I need to read it again.

I like the concept of adding content after the hardcover release. You see this in paperbacks all the time, particularly in non-fiction where events may reduce the value of the book's thesis. The authors of the Ice Limit published a web only epilogue after readers complained the book ended a bit too abruptly. I disagree, it may be my favorite of the Preston-Child books, but it was fun to get a little extra.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

More Packer and Assassin's Gate

I finished the Assassin's Gate and definitely recommend it. If you are pressed for time, read the Memorial day chapter which details with a dead soldier's father's attempt to untangle his complex feelings about the war and his son's death. You don't get the usual right v. left blather, but a normal person's attempt to understand.

Packer nicely elucidates why so much of today's political commentary is without value. It's worth quoting

The one slender American novel the war has produced so far, Checkpoint by Nicholson Baker, a dialogue over lunch in a Washington hotel room between two old friends, one of whom is preparing to assassinate George W Bush, was a perfect emblem of a political culture in which hysteria took the place of thought. Baker's novel had nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with the ugliness of politics in this country.... Iraq provided a blank screen on which Americans were free to project anything they wanted and because so few Americans had anything directly at stake there, many of them never saw more than the image of their own feelings.

I avoid so many books and articles on the war for this reason. Do you really think the Nation or the Weekly Standard are going to surprise you with a nuanced look at the war?

He goes on to criticize the right and left's knee jerk talking points response to each news item, which prevents any meaningful discussion of the war. Bush and the new conservatives denigration of public service comes into play as well. Because public service and public life are so poorly thought of in modern conservative thought (outside of the national greatness conservatives of course) Bush could hardly call upon the American people to do any more than shop. Judging by conversations in Washington this weekend, the lack of sacrifice by the broader public is bitter consolation for the soldiers in Iraq. The yellow ribbon sticker on the cars just doesn't cut it.

Roses really smell like boo hoo hoo

With all the Guerilla bar excitement, I seemed to have missed the blooming of the corpse flower in DC's botanical garden. I rather like the Post description of the flower's aroma "reminiscent of long-dead rat with just a hint of brie." People are lining up to take a whiff. When I heard about it, I cursed my bad luck at missing my chance. There is something strangely compelling about bad smells. Maybe our hyper-clean society lacks range in the stink department. Or maybe we are all still adolescent. I used to think this was a guy only thing as in "Dude, this reeks! Smell it!" But no. I have found chicks exhibit similar behavior. One female friend tried some dubious Czech candy and said "It tasted like ass. I'm saving one for you so you can taste it too." Nice.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

21st century liner notes

Matt lent me the new John Vanderslice CD for my trip to DC. It's good, kind of like the guy from Neutral Milk Hotel playing with a stripped down early Death Cab. Or something like that. Anyway, I like the song "Exodus Damage" which I didn't quite get. Turns out John's website provides liner notes and production notes. Turns out the song title is a Silver Jews reference!!! I like it even more now.


If you read Candyfreak, you saw that the Goldenberg family was considering selling their company, the one that makes the peanut chews. Well they did, which is all well and good, I imagine they want to retire and the candy biz is a tough one. Unfortunately, those that acquired the rights to the candy renamed them Chew-etts, which isn't even a fucking word. Anti-semitic to drop Goldenbergs? Maybe. Ridiculous? Yes. To go with the change, they made this Gen Y web site (apparently Chew-etts are the official candy of the Dew Action Sports Tour. Huzzah. )

It is interesting to note that on the Powell's site, those who bought Candyfreak bought a guide to homeopathy. I thought the homeopaths stay the hell away from super sugary treats.

Carrying pictures of Chairman Mao

I am about halfway through George Packer's The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq and I recommend it. An early review(in the NYT I think) said it cribbed too much from other books like Plan of Attack, Rise of the Vulcans and Squandered Victory. While these books are referenced and similar ground is covered, the bulk of the book is based on Packer's interviews he undertook as a writer for the New Yorker. Packer is a Clintonian national defense democrat, and he believes in using force to further humanitarian goals. This viewpoint gives him both sympathy and a distance from the war effort. It makes for a measured even tone, which is helpful because so much of what he relates is infuriating. The sheer incompetence of the Pentagon's "effort" at reconstructing Iraq is made evident time and time again. In truth, the Pentagon or more specifically, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, prevented the State Department from properly planning for the post-war, while not making any effort on its own.

Back in the cultural revolution, the Chinese communists had a saying "Better Red than Expert." In other words, for any given job, ideological purity trumped knowledge or skill. This is clearly the Bush administration's mantra as well. Actual experts in reconstruction, democracy and the Middle East were shoved aside in favor of properly conservative non-entities. We saw this again in Katrina where cronies in power screwed up. In Iraq, actual knowledge of state building carried a whiff of Clinton and another saying in Bush's DC is ABC or Anything But Clinton. It's all so junior high that it would be laughable if thousands of Americans and Iraqis weren't dead thanks to the failure at the top.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Serious cookie victory

On the way to my night out, I dawdled in DC's Union Station. Therein I spied an Italian cookie store which sold some attractive Amareti cookies. Amazingly these were the cookies I have sought for so long. So delightfully almondy were these treats that I took the smallest bites possible in order to prolong the pleasure. I am of course a double dumb ass. For one, they were in DC all the time I lived there. For another, you can probably get these things just about anywhere. Let's put that aside so that I might bask in the consummation of my long unrequited love for the Sienna cookie.

The deaf, the queers and the Marines

So I went to guerilla queer bar in DC. Good times, good times. The bar hit was Finn MacCools down in SE, not far from the Navy Yard. The normal gig is that a passle of gays descend on a straight bar and suddenly it's all house music. OK, not really. The bar was near the Marine Barracks so there were plenty 'o leathernecks, many of whom skeddadled upon seeing the man loving hordes. For some reason Gallaudet was representing, so it was also deaf city. Myself and my new friend Katie helped the deaf order some drinks. It's all about the love you see.

Prior to going all Ho Chi Minh, we went to another bar that had a scene one cannot find in the PDX. The bar was gay, middle class black and yupster all at once. Diversity is the rule down in the SE.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

FF mystery

Has anyone listened closely to the lyrics of "The Fallen" on the new Franz Ferdinand record? If not click here and download (avoid the remix.) Is it about the coming of the Antichrist? Is the Son of God pissed that we have not constructed a just world and hence he brings the ruin of the great? So hard to tell.

Best of what?

I earlier noted that Otto Penzler said that Charles McCarry was the best ever spy novelist. Penzler should know as he is the owner of the famous Mysterious Bookshop of NYC. After I read that I thought, is that such great praise? Aren't the good spy novelists British? I'm thinking of people like Le Carre, Maugham and Greene. Sure, we have Alan Furst on this side of the Atlantic, but he is mostly a noir sort of writer. Being the best American spy novelist is like being the best metal band from Nebraska, not a lot of competition.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

But I'm afraid to say that you're not one of them

As I have told you, Matt is attempting to sell more tunes via podcasts and other new media marketing techniques. Apparently, one of his tunes is listed on BitterSlut's break up song list. Can't you see the person who made the list madly typing long into the night with a bottle of Beam and two packs of Marlboro Reds?

BitterSlut is a pretty sweet name for a site. I suspected it was for people feeling remorse over making the beast with two backs one too many times, but in truth it is about broken relationships, so it is bummer city.

I've got a lot of good things coming my way

1) A job
2) Taking the kids to cut down a Christmas tree
3) More Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
4) Listening to the new Kojo Namdi and Diane Rehm podcasts
5) Making egg nog

A lot of places to go

The social calendar is full. I see the SSP kids tomorrow night. If I go to the school events post-graduation, does that make me a desperado? Friday night it is off to Capitol Hill with cousin John. John has an interesting bit on being gay at our high school. Then, if the stars align, then maybe I will hit the finest bar on the East Coast.

I've got a lot of things to do

They include:

Listening to the new Franz Ferdinand and John Vanderslice without over listening. The FF is a great rock record, which I find is much better than the first one. The lyrics are pretty dark as well. I think the FF boys are getting trouble from those Scots laydees.

Marvelling at the books I just got at Arlington Goodwill. They include Old Boys, a few from Carol Berg, three from Charles Todd and one from Arturo Perez Reverte. Old Boys is by Charles McCarry, the Big Star of the spy novel world. Everybody loves him, Otto Penzler says he is the best American spy novelist of all time, but most of his stuff is out of print. What gives?

Packing a truck and cleaning a house. I am self packing a tractor trailer at a 50% savings. If nothing breaks, I get to be a hero, if things crack, I'm a zero.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Diving for treasure

Books in the remainder bin present a challenge. Are they there because they suck? Most of the time yes. Think of everything Tom Clancy or Michael Crichton have written since about 1991. Sometimes though, a book's critical buzz leads to overprinting and so the bookstores have to move all those unsold hardcovers when the softcover comes out. This is the case with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

This book is not for everyone. As I wrote below, it takes concentrating. It is also is best suited for fans of both 19th century British fiction like Austen and Trollope, AND fantasy novels. Not semi-literate ones like the works of Terry Goodkind, but literate ones like Pullman's or Martin's books. She writes in the voice of a 19th century novelist with little asides like "He was somewhat goodlooking, but as is well known, a redhaired person cannot be truly good looking." Thanks to this a large section of the reading public is cut out. In addition, the book is over 800 pages in hardcover. This is due in part to her amusing digressions. One of the characters, who is a magician, is charged with interogatting a wooden mermaid on a captured French ship. Since she had been from harbor to harbor she had seen quite a bit. Once animated she proceeds to curse and beat every Englishmen that sets upon her. Little tales like these fill this book.

If you like books that create entire worlds in which to dwell for a few weeks, this is a good choice.

Dulles sucks

Sorry for the delay, I was flying to the hated Dulles. Most of you know the extent of its poor flying experience, so I won't belabor it, but I will say that I saw George Stephanopoulis looking similarly flustered by the whole thing, so I guess it sucks for everybody.

I brought too good a book for my plane book, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I couldn't concentrate what with the guy elbowing me and with Diane Lane fliting about the screen in the no doubt terrible Must Love Dogs.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The dreaded ninth

Reason has a good piece on the French riots. After taking some amusing pot shots at the more breathless commentary of the blogerati, Tim Cavanaugh argues that the Clockwork Orange predicted all of this. Parts of it are a real stretch, but it makes for an interesting read. Reason is a libertarian magazine so it is always looking for a chance to show the failures of the state, and this article is no exception.

I for one could never finish the Clockwork Orange, as the language, with its made up words, Russian-derived words and other bits was really just too much. Cavanaugh says that the book was actually an attempt to show that a readable Finnegans Wake was a possibility. I hate to say it, but I am just happy with the movie. It is one of Kubrick's better ones, methinks.

All Sarah, all the time

There are two new Slate articles on the Sarah Silverman movie, Jesus is Magic. David Edelstein does his job well, lauding the movie without spoiling it. Here is the key bit:

I have a list of 50 jokes that are instant classics—but giving away more would be an act of criminal selfishness. What I can promise is that the ratio of splendors to stinkers (there's one involving the World Trade Center) is about five to one—a winning ratio by any measure. When you get on Silverman's wavelength, you brace yourself for the joke—and then it swims up from behind, like the shark in Jaws, or it Jackie Chans you with some pretzel contortion you didn't think a human being (let alone a complacent princess) could execute.

There is another article on the site that explains to the anxious and sensitive that is OK to laugh at her edgy racist, filthy humor. Avoid unless you have seen the movie, there is too much revealed. And come on, do you need your hand held?

If it gets really, really bad

Yes, I know my regular readers are also regular Pitchfork readers, so this is semi-pointless, but Pitchfork is jumping on the worst covers ever bandwagon. The commentary is often more about the record than the cover and it is the usual snarky indier-than-thou. So as you might guess, the focus is on indie rock, but they also diss some rappers, some arena rockers and the Dead. Terrapin Station gets mocked, but hey that's an enjoyable record. I was playing once in 89 and it drew a hippie into my room. So maybe I it's a bad record. Quasi's Hot Shit also gets made fun of in a very strange way. Nothing else I liked gets the finger though.

One can hardly talk worst record covers without this classic list. These albums covers are truly bad. Need to blow about 20 minutes? Then look at this MASSIVE list of bad covers in categories like the God Squad, When Sex Rears It's Very Ugly Head and Gay and Lesbian Village.

As nerdy as I want to be

In addition to vampire stories, I like hard science fiction stories. I picked up a book by Charles Stross called the Family Trade at the library yesterday. I was torn because the reviewers compared to Zelazny's Princes in Amber books. I read the first of that series and found it flat out boring. On the other hand, Stross wrote Singularity Sky, which is awesome hard sf. Anyway, no risk since it was the library and I now am willing to reject a book if it is not exciting in the first 50 pages.

Stross, in his sf mode, incorporates interesting technological evolution (or if you prefer, technological intelligent design) with the related social evolution. I'm always annoyed by sf books that create worlds with vast new technologies allowing huge changes in social interaction, but somehow the political/social structure is basically the same as ours. Worse, some authors make the future into some kind of futuristic nineteenth century where nationalistic great powers fight with spaceships. People like Iain Banks, Ken MacLeod, and Alaistair Reynolds do a great job of blending social and technological change, all while telling compelling stories.

Bad 70s food

Joanna sent in this lovely set of Weight Watchers recipe cards from the deep dark 70s. This unpleasant looking melon mousse reminds me of a mound of pork I was once served in China. This one sounds like a Butthole Surfers song, Mexican Shrimp-Orange Salad. And it looks like an eighth grader's idea of a nice booze punch.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


With no grad school reading lists hanging over my head, I now have lots more reading time. Rather than give Powell's all my money, I head over to the Hollywood branch of the library. Today I got Midnight Mass by F. Paul Wilson. The intro note states that he wanted to see more crazy violent vampire stories like 'Salems Lot and no more fey vampire stories like those Anne Rice things. The Amazon reviews note that he clearly is referencing the excellent I am Legend. If you've not read it, go get it right now. It concerns the last human in a world full of vampires, which you have to admit would not be a great thing to be. You may recall the weak movie version called the Omega Man. The only item of note from that film is Charlton Heston's sweet interracial lovin'.

F. Paul Wilson may be best known for the Keep, made into a not great sci-fi movie. He is also known for his culty Repairman Jack novels. Jack is a combination McGuyver, Van Helsing and John E. Badass who deals with toy stealing scoundrels and beasts from alternate dimensions. The novels are trashy as all get out, but can be exciting if you like that sort of thing, like I do.

Let's get this over with, I'm drinking in an hour

So I forgot the iPod today. Not a big deal normally, but you see, I was painting. Lots of boring white walls. So instead of quietly weeping to Death Cab or zoning out to Hovercraft or rocking out to Metric, I just thought "Painting sucks, painting sucks, painting sucks." Sure, I could have done something productive with the brain cycles like thinking of something more interesting to say right now. No such luck friends.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Will the flood of nerdly goodness ever cease?

Tim Powers appears to finally be done with his latest book. Last I heard, it was going to have something to do with the movies and great dark forces. It's still in So. Cal. but now involves Israelis and some secret European occultists (the Illuminati? the Templars? Rosicrucians?). It will initially be published in a very limited and very expensive edition, but should be set at normal prices soon enough.

If you don't know Powers, then you should give him a try. He is a modern fantasist. His books are set in the real world we know, but involve fantastical elements. Last Call is about poker and Las Vegas, but games of poker in which your soul can be stolen. Powers is exceptional at making the fantastic believable. I think it because his approach is matter of fact. You simply believe it could happen. It reminds me of 70s-80s King who could so easily make your skin crawl. Doubters should take a look at the Powells "also bought" which includes David Sedaris, Jonathan Lethem and Neil Gaiman. You like those guys don't you? Here is a Powell's interview where he talks about researching and writing Declare, his last and my favorite of his books.

Amazon tags

I've used the Amazon wish list as a true wish list, but also as a reminder list of books that I might want to investigate. Amazingly this has not led to crummy gifts, but I could see it doing so. Amazon has now added tagging. You can tag an item with any word you want as in "gifts ideas for Mom" or "best books of 2005." These tags can be public so you can see what other people are tagging or they can be private. I would make "My favorite filthy books" private, but that's just me.

I like that Amazon is experimenting with letting the customers create alternate organizations of books and other products. It seems to be working on the Wikipedia and Amazon has the customer base to make it actually work. Of course, people will have to take the time to do it, but it is considerably less time than that necessary for writing a book review.

I won't get fooled again

At the library, I picked up John Darnton's Darwin Conspiracy thanks to a comparison to both Michael Chrichton and Ian McEwan. Later , flipping open the cover I saw he also wrote the horrendous Neanderthal, which concludes with the baddies being defeated by.....a boombox playing "Born in the USA," which apparently scares them back into their caves. Really, I swear. The reviews of the Darwin book are pretty mixed. I rather like the CS Monitor's put-down "...But as it is, however, the book is not burdened with too much substance." I fear that, like horror, the thriller genre is plagued by silliness.


Melissa comments that the first few chapters of Feast For Crows are bewildering. She now wishes she had re-read at least the last one. I don't think I have the reading bandwidth for that.

Meanwhile, Powells is putting increased stress on my fantasy reading list. On a recent wander through the stacks, I saw a number of staff recommendations including Lynn Flewelling 's Bone Doll Twin and Sarah Ash's Lord of Snow and Shadows. The Powell's staff recommendations are generally impeccable (can you say that? is it possible to be generally impeccable?) so I nearly bought both, but held back as I still haven't read some other fantasy.

Better comments on BSS

OK, so blogging post-show at 1Am is not a great idea. Anyway, here are some more focused thoughts on the show

1) It's nice to go to a show the genre of which is well represented in your town. Then the guest appearances really take off. I recall a Quasi show where Elliot Smith hopped on stage. At a recent Iron & Wine show, Janet Weiss took over the drumsticks for a song. So the Modest Mouse-Broken Social Scene combo was part of a general, but wonderful trend. If you live in Richmond, VA I wager you will have to attend underground metal to get a similar effect.

2) There was some indication that the Feist-Scene connection may be ending. They would probably get another female singer as they did when Emily Haines became Metric centric. In a Menudo like way, they could be incubating tons of Toronto talent!

3) The show was of near GBV duration. If you go, get some rest during the day.

Brief Broken Social Comments

Well Broken Social Scene was good. It was the opposite of the Arcade Fire show I saw in DC, where it started very well but collapsed under all the change-ups. This time, it started messy and built to a great finish. Feist opened and then she came out for the second half of the BSS show. This was probably the highlight. My fave song Cause=Time was only so-so, I am sad to say. They have a new female singer who did in fact sing Anthem for a Seventeen Year Old Girl. Issac and Joe from Modest Mouse appeared in the encore and played Out of Gas with BSS. That was sweet. These guys are really big on the banter, apparently some kid in the audience bummed $8 off the singer for parking, not realizing he was the singer of the band. This led to a story mid-show.

The crazy PDX indie dance lady was there, but she did not seize control of a giant portion of dancefloor real estates as is her usual move.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fair is fair

My international relations posts have mostly taken the centrist view of American foreign policy. If you want an articulate defense of the Bush doctrine you should look to Charles Krauthammer. Here he responds to some concerns of Francis Fukuyama.

Post-pc humor

DO NOT read this Rolling Stone article about Sarah Silverman. It gives away too many jokes from Jesus is Magic, which is, no joke, the funniest movie in years. I would gladly see it in the theater again, should it eventually come back to PDX. The RS article tries to decide if she really is as racist as her humor. I don't really care, she is just funny. Think of it this way, if jokes about whether there are enough Jews in porn or whether Martin Luther King, Jr. is all that are too risque for you, then you should stay away. You could go watch some Full House instead, you fucking loser.


I spoke with one of my many readers today about the Columbia Gorge Train thing. While it is called the Columbia Gorge Railroad club, it is located in NE Portland and is not far at all from the Rose Garden. So you have no excuse not to go.

The Mt Hood Railway runs out of Hood River, so it is in the Gorge. They run special train excursions throughout the year, including a Polar Express train, a Thomas the Tank Engine Train and a Wild West one. Good for the train fanatical.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Belgravia Dispatch recommends Adam Gopnik's now prescient piece on "pre-revolutionary" France. It does shed some light on what is happening over there now.

Gopnik wrote From Paris to The Moon a few years back. While it is mostly about living in Paris as an ex-pat, it has some of the best writing I have seen on what it means to be a Dad. So much of the writing on fatherhood is mawkish crap or sadly reflective stuff about failing to live up to some ideal. This book talks about the day to day experiences in a non-sentimental but still moving way.

Taming American Power

It's no secret that many people around the world, elite and otherwise, are angry at the United States. One of the great debates is whether this is caused by who we are or what we do. If it is who we are, whether due to culture or sheer size and power, then perhaps we shouldn't be concerned as it is a simply a fact of international life. If it is what we do, then we need to reevaluate policy. In Taming American Power, Stephen Walt argues that is both, there will always be resentment due to disproportionate influence of the U.S. but also that U.S. policy often increases this resentment and leads to actual resistance or opposition. Beacause there is an inevitable amount of opposition, his argument implies, policy choices must be made with care.

While the book's title makes it sound like it might come from the viewpoint of a Noam Chomsky or a Chalmers Johnson, it is actually a sober analysis of the foreign policy options of states that must deal with the U.S. Based on these options and the current direction of American policy, Walt reviews possible American strategies including the Bush doctrine, selective engagement (Bush 1 and Clinton) and offshore balancing. He likes the third choice, but even if you disagree, I think you will find his clear and succinct prose and analysis of immense value. Walt is a international relations scholar, but here he is writing for the reasonably informed non-specialist. He does an excellent job of distilling key concepts into terms anyone can understand. This is a great book to read if you want to understand how a country like North Korea or France deals with the U.S. or how states interact in general.

Sometimes books are hard

So I started to read Ali Smith's Hotel World last night. She starts out full kickin' As I Lay Dying with a five narrators, the first of whom is dead, and stream of consciousness style. I was so not up to it. Will probably pick it up later.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Matt + God Warrior + Metric

Matt is posting a song a day, he's a blogging madman. The first song is Motherfuckers don't Cry. Nice. There is also a new podcast with a few nice ones on it. The best is probably "The Damn Insane Asylum," definitely listen to that one. I dug the Minmae song, if you do too you will be happy to hear they are playing a free show at the Doug Fir next week. Free show means more cash for your Jaegar Bomb drinking. More Jaegar Bombs will make your pick up lines that much snappier.

The God Warrior just plain bummed me out. Her crazy rejection of anything even slightly different from her own viewpoint even freaked out her family. The poor kids looked so traumatized. And no doubt the other woman will see all the nasty things said about her and her dark-sided ways. I was going to say that undereducation has something to do with it, but I think she is just a nasty person. It was probably edited to make it look worse, but sheesh.

Did I link to Metric's Glass Ceiling? The studio version is good, but the live version includes gigantic drums and much angrier guitar playing. Guess you will have to go see them.

Fun with kids in PDX

If you have some kids or are entertaining them over a Nov. weekend, consider the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club. It's a large room filled with a giant train set that models 1950s Portland, the Gorge, a logging camp somewhere near Mt. Hood and the Bend area. There are about a dozen trains flying around the tracks and a wealth of detail. The lights periodically dim and tiny lights come on across the diorama. The amount of work the club members put in is incredible, they are artists of the train world. Take a kid and you will be very popular.

Dark tide rising

Dark chocolate is really making inroads into the broader market, even Hershey's is putting out a high end bar. They cost $2 , putting them in the Lindt league, but below the boutique-y brands. If Hershey's is getting in, maybe we will see a resurgence of dark chocolate across the board. It could be like Starbucks. Instead of driving out independent coffee shops, Starbucks seems to create a new demand for high quality coffee, which leads to towns having more shops. This could also happen with dark chocolate. Hershey's is pushing the anti-oxidant story with these, since the buzz is dark chocolate is healthy. That may be why they are including blueberries in one of the bars. I also think this is a big "How ya like me now?" to Cadbury's the Fruit and Nut of which only has raisins.

Geeks, your day has come

Melissa received her copy of Feast for Crows yesterday which means I have to wait, and wait. If you are familiar with the books, you have already ordered it, I wager. If not, check out Game of Thrones. Yes it is fantasy, but like Dune, the focus is less on the fantastical elements (there is little magic for example), but more on the medieval politics of families at war. Martin also avoids a number of genre cliches and problems. He doesn't mind killing major characters, the "evil" side in the conflict is presented in a such a way as to make their actions sympathetic, and the good side acts as people with interests, not as do-gooders. It is massively addictive stuff.

I imagine that Martin will spend the money from this book on his castle and knights collections. More power to him.

Be sure to click on both the Feast and Game of Throne links above. The Feast for Crows cover is understated and could be a book about any number of things. The Game of Thrones cover is clearly geeked out fantasy and will be somewhat embarrassing to tote around. Alright, you will feel like a big geek carrying it around. The new tasteful cover approach extends into other genres. Slate argues that Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes is a romance hiding behind a staid cover.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

VA and PDX

If you live in Virginia, I hope you voted, for the right person. I was going to be nice and friendly and say I hope you voted regardless of who you voted for, but that would be lying.

If you live in PDX, mark your calendars for Nov 18. The Division St. New Seasons will be tasting Dogfish Head beers. You should try them all, they are soooooo good. I am sad to say I will be packing a large truck that day.

I'm mad, revenge

I am reading David Bowker's How to be Bad. At this point the bad seems to refer to both evil and badass. The main character, Mark, gets involved with an ex- girlfriend who gets him to start killing people. Mark begins the book as a very 90s sensitive type who collects books about men by men (like High Infidelity and Iron John). His evil ex shapes into a real man through a series of killings. His girlfriend's enemies retaliate against him in a number of ways which increase his desire for vengeance. It is quite satirical and very funny. It is also a quick read. Bowker has a number of other books under his belt, maybe it is because he is British that I have missed him up to now.

If you like Elmore Leonard which often includes lots of death (although usually of bad people) while also being humorous, then you might also like this guy.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Radio is a sound salvation

Thanks to the kindness of a friend, I am going to see Broken Social Scene this Friday....yay! But Emily Haynes is on tour with Metric this Friday (in Big D), so there will be "Anthem for a Seventeen Year Old Girl"......boooooo.

Just in case you need more ways to listen to music on the computer, you should check out KEXP. It's a non-profit radio station out of Seattle that plays tons o indie rock among other stuff. Paul Allen threw a ton of money at them and now they play in other major metros and do all kind of cool things like stream concerts as well as ALL of their content. This thing will so destroy future productivity. Sorry to the cool kids already well aware.

Sending your head into another time zone

I have already discussed the dubious results likely when you combine hash and liquor, but I wonder if anyone has taken a close look at the combination of the chronic and tequila snorting. Past experimentation found tequila snorting by itself to be an annoyance while combined with the wacky a new and special experience. Very little info on the Web about this. Strange isn't it?

It takes a screw and a nut

Retrocrush has a Podcast, check out number 35 as a preacher tells us that butts weren't made for that. Retrocrush is a pop culture site that looks at classic pop culture items like the 70s plastic mask and smock Halloween costumes.

Tasty treats

Check out this woman's description of a regional French chocolate. She is French and writes mostly about food in France. Her descriptions are so detailed I thought she was a native English speaker.

DC seems to have lots of the salty oat cookies. I like the ones from Marvelous Market, although I like their spicy hazelnut more (sorry haters, the white chocolate works in this one.) Baking sheet has a recipe for DCist's version of Teaism's version. I generally am leery of the salty sweet juxtaposition, but in these cookies it works, maybe because oatmeal cookies have a muted sweet side. Speaking of Teaism, it is one of your better food bets in Dupont.


On the France situation, the blogs mostly stick to the ideological talking points, but Belgravia Dispatch has a nice commentary.

You got the look

The NYTimes briefly followed up on the story of how Britons are quite likely to buy a book merely to impress their friends. My favorite detail is the hedge strategy of carrying one book to impress and to actually enjoy. Presumably when on the bus with the commoners it is fine to read a mystery but you better have something weighty at the coffee shop. What's more helpful than impressing are items that will get people to talk to you. While carrying Fast Food Nation did wonders for striking up random conversations, I have found my Weather Channel fleece gets about three to four random people approaching me per day.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Teach the children well

You must be careful when buying kid's books, as there are often strange morals attached to them. I don't mean if you read this book to your kids, they will grow up to be BDSM practictioners, just that the basic moral lessons are a bit off. We've been reading Gerald McBoing Boing by Dr. Seuss, in which poor Gerald is born without the ability to speak communicating only through cacaphonous sound. He is ridiculed, ostracized by peer and familiy only to land a lucrative deal with a radio station thanks to his odd skill. Once rich, everyone loves him. The moral, it's not OK to be different, unless that difference makes you wealthy so people who spurned you can mooch off of you. I know I'm reading too much into it, but I think these stories influence kids.

Then there is Blue Rabbit and the Runaway Wheel, in which the Rabbit accidently causes a series of mishaps. When confronted by the victims, he just hops on his bike and is off. Way to teach responsbility. People will say I take it too literally, but that is how kids take things, literally. Saying it is OK to fuck people over is a bad idea.

I'm in love, with that song

Matt was kind enough to let me clone his iPod library onto my machinewhile I await the return of my computer with all my own files. It's fun to see the sort of things other people choose to buy (or steal). Matt is way more into post-punk than I for example. He also has inexplicably left out "His Latest Flame" on the Elvis greatest hits. He does have a pile of Replacements though, so I was able to listen to "Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out" for the first time in over a decade. I think Kurt was thinking of this song when he wrote "Floyd the Barber." Also the unbelievably good "Alex Chilton." If you have friends way into music, you have probably gotten the "what a crime it is that Big Star is underappreciated" speech, maybe more than once. I am guilty of foisting Big Black ( be sure to check on the Cheap Trick parody) on people, usually when they are trapped at my place and I have been drinking. So I can't really bitch.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Wishing I had something clever to say

I would have loved to have seen this, Ben Gibbard performing Complicated and I Want it That Way Live. On Complicated he can't help but crack up. Also note that the no doubt indie crowd seems to know the words to both songs recognizing them instantly and singing along at times.

Ignore the snarky dissing in this blog and listen to "You're the Reason I'm Leaving" on the new Franz Ferdinand. I love the cheerful nastiness of the song.

I'll always be...

Stereogum reports that Rick Rubin recorded the new Neil Diamond record in an attempt to give him the Johnny Cash treatment. You can listen to the entire album on MySpace. To fully satisfy your Neil Diamond jones, you should watch Neil Diamond Parking Lot, sequel to Heavy Metal Parking Lot. As Heavy Metal covers a Judas Priest show's parking lot, Neil Diamond Parking Lot covers the crowds entering an arena where Neil is playing. Less head banging and beer drinking at the Neil show. All of Kruliks' movies are available online, including King of Porn.

Friday, November 04, 2005

You tell me it calms your nerves, you just think it looks cool

Hey lushes, be sure to check out drinknation's top 100 drinks. Many of the drinks imply you might be getting some action. But you won't.

Twp sips from the cup of human kindness, and I'm shitfaced

My iPod died yesterday. It got the never before seen sick iPod icon. I took it to the Apple store and told them I had said icon. They gave me a new one. And then I left. This is what customer service is all about. I realize this is simple underpromise/overdeliver, but that doesn't mean I can't like it.

Speaking of shitfaced, I just tried this. It's warming like sweet, sweet love.

PDX Candy Peeps

A banner day in PDX candy. I went down to Haggen to check their supposedly kick ass candy bins. Holy fuck, it rules. They have all the boring usual suspects, but also Zagnuts, Tootsie roll fruit twists (I realize I am alone on thie one), dark chocolate espresso beans, jelly bellys and more. All this in the grocery store. Downside is that all the Haagens are in the darkest burbs, but if you are out there anyway be sure to stop in. I didn't see any cameras so I bet you can sneak some.

Not only did I spy the bins of plenty but I also picked up the Kit Kat Mint. I guess my emailing about new flavors worked! I was quite excited and enjoyed it very much. Sure it is just a regular Kit Kat with peppermint oil in the chocolate, but haven't we all been waiting for a minty Kit Kat?

DC humor

Mean but funny.

Some kind of monster

I just finished Some Kind of Monster, the Metallica documentary. The movie follows the 700+ day process of the making of St. Anger. It says quite a bit about the movie that I loved it despite not really liking much Metallica output since the Black Album. The focus is on the interaction between the band members, which includes a group therapist (at the astouding cost of $40K/month). The making of the album must have cost an ungodly amount of money. The new bassist Rob Trujillo got a $1M signing bonus, for example. I didn't like the clinical way the songs were created, it was like Photoshop rock or something. Pieces were taken from numerous takes and assembled into a final creation. Maybe that's how everybody does it, but I doubt it.

Since the DVD is out you get a zillion extra features. I recommend the visit to Kirk's house, which is crazy and features lots of skulls and dead animals, as well asa really strange section where Kirk goes to traffic school. If you have ever lived in California, you may have had to go to traffic school. If you don't your insurance sky rockets, but it is amusing that someone as hugely rich as he chose to spend a Saturday there.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Some jobs are better than others

Ted Conover has a cooler job than you. Not terribly surprising given that most jobs, including seemingly high powered ones, are tedious and boring. Conover writes books about sub-cultures. He becomes a member of the sub-culture and experiences life as a member, then writes about it. I am currently reading Coyotes, which concerns Mexican illegal immigrants. Conover sneaks across the border, works on a fruit crew and migrates from job to job. He has also written about being a hobo, a ski-bum and a prison guard. The focus is on the experience and Conover does a great job in communicating how different these lifestyles are from the more mainstream ones. While Coyotes is quite engaging, I am sorry to say there has been no mention of La Chupacabra.

God Warrior

So my rocking out last night prevented me from seeing the God Warrior. Did anyone have a chance to catch it, or better yet tape it?

Is Paris burning?

What is going on in France? Is it really bad?

I'm gonna learn ya my philosophy

Went to see Metric last night at the Doug Fir. Metric was great, really energetic. Emily Haines can get a lot more crazy than she can in BSS. The Doug Fir is a great place to see a show, as it is very small. The upstairs bar is nice as well, it is like a yupster version of Government Camp. What excited me most was the fact that the two West Coasters with whom I went out actually drank.

Now I love the West Coast, I like the attitudes I like the landscapes, but when it comes to going out, West Coasters need to STEP THE FUCK UP. You just bring a night out up and the pissing and moaning commences. The excuses flow like Nile but usually involve something weak like getting up early. The worst response is I just don't have the time. NO, you CHOOSE to not make time. It's like books. It drives me nuts when people say they have no time to read. Then stop doing some other shit you are doing and pick up a book. It's the same thing as exercise, you make the time. I will admit that reading and exercise are "healthier" than going out and drinking Jaegar Bombs, but the problem is the same.

What's worse, if you manage to get them out, West Coasters are damn scared of a buzz. They drink one beer, maybe two and then act as if they will be table dancing if they have one more. Now I am not advocating going crazy. You don't have to throw chairs around while singing Misfits songs. There's no need to get thrown out of a bar for having sit up contests. But cut loose, just a little, please, West Coasters.

This is not meant as an attack on the people I regularly see. Most of them can step to the real. It's a broader cultural problem.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Portland things

This weekend is the Catlin Gable Rummage sale, where one might find new threads as well as many a book. It's so big that it is at the Expo Center but you probably knew this already.

Also I learned a friend's sister owns Amnesia Brewing so drink there more often.

Mary Roach

Powell's has an interview with Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Spook. Stiff concerns cadavers and what happens to bodies after we die. Spook is about the afterlife, or the idea of one. It's a good interview that gets at some of the first questions people have, like did she get sick writing the book and if a hot person dies, are they still hot a few days later. She comes across a cheery, curious woman who tackles strange topics because she likes to find things out. I have been scared of Stiff, but maybe I will give it a try.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Impotent rage

I was talking with nbk and I learned he has missed one of the greatest Internet moments of all time. On a trans-pacific, worthless rock star Yngwie Malmstein was slagging on some gays and an irate passenger dumped a beer on his head. Then someone recorded his impotent sputterings. Classic. Oh how I fear his fuckin' fury.

Torture, torture it pleasures me

Since I have lots of free time on my hands, I am watching Season 3 of 24 in a few short days. This really is the way to watch these dramatic shows like Sopranos or Lost. Of course watching three or four Arrested Developments isn't so bad either. Anyway, as others have noted, the torture quotient just keeps going up. At the beginning of Season 2, the nuke plot is revealed during some really bizarre torture on a Chinese guy. In this season, CTU has a torture guy on staff, just walking around the office. Regardless of the efficacy of torture (look up Mark Bowden in the Atlantic if you have Lexis or something like it - the article is behind the subscription wall) it's a little disturbing that the moral aspects are not addressed, particularly in these days of Abu Ghraib. Also of note, the evil Nina Myers is particularly hot this season. She is also on E-Ring but that show is supposed to suck something serious, so I will have to give it a pass.

Fish eating

The Times has a story on researching old menus to note the changes in the consumption of fish over time. With all the over-fishing I worry we will be eating toad fish in 20 years. The Monterrey Aquarium has a handy chart of seafood to eat and seafood to avoid. The tricky thing is the farmed vs. wild vs. methods of fishing. We have a wallet sized one so you can remind yourself about town.


The kids came in hordes last night and I ran out of candy. I didn't even get the non-costumed, bored looking fifteen year olds. I am sad to report that I learned too late of the spate of religious candy available for Halloween this year. This ecumenical list has candies aimed at Christians, Jews and Muslims. The latter was described as Islamolicious. Who wouldn't want some of that? I'll tell you who, the God Warrior. Don't forget, she's on TV tomorrow night.

Also missing Halloween this year were the Brothers Chap, makers of the Homestarruner cartoons. Their annual Halloween toon came out early this morning. The fun in these are the random pop culture references. I won't tell you my fave (so as not to spoil it) but I was happy to see what may be the year's only Thundarr reference. I re-watched the earlier "House that Gave Sucky Treats," which is also interactive and features Cherry Clans.