Archive for September, 2006

Nerds on Politics

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

An associate of mine said words to this effect recently:

“The US is having a hard time installing a new operating system in Iraq because they’re doing it on faulty hardware. If Iraq’s hard drive is going to work it probably needs to be partitioned.”

Dead Pitchpeople

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

I can’t stand it anymore. The Gap commercial with Audrey Hepburn dancing to AC/DC makes me ill. Not because I dislike AC/DC or the Gap (I love the former and have no use for the latter), but because I don’t think Audrey would approve. I think it’s really quite sad that, once you’re dead, you’re apparently public domain and any coke-fueled Madison Avenue dinkwad can make you their dancing puppet.

Of course, now that I’ve said that…here are some digital mashups of the dead I actually enjoy:

DJ Danger Mouse’s The Grey Video (Jay-Z meets the Beatles)

BBC Radio 2′s Elvis and Friends advert

I should note that Danger Mouse’s video disclaims itself as pure experimentation for non-commercial purposes, and BBC Radio 2 does pay royalties on those artists’ songs when they are aired. So at least the puppetry of the dead isn’t being used for 3rd party profit in those cases.

The Dirtiest Thing on The Internet

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

As you may have heard, AOL released vast swaths of private search history data to the public recently. Now some crafty geek has made that data available for convenient browsing.

AOLSearchDatabase.com allows you to query and randomly view selections from the AOL data. Although users are identified only by an ID number, you’re able to view examples of the phrases on which they have searched. Frankly, I feel pretty dirty looking at it. But like a virtual car crash, I can’t look away. It’s an utterly fascinating series of psychological profiles of average Americans. Add to that the undeniably voyeuristic thrill of peeking into people’s search histories, and you have the makings of an ethical conundrum. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this. Maybe I’ll take this post down later, as AOL tried to do with its data, but for now I’ll just pretend that this information wants to be free. It’s interesting to note how difficult secrets are to keep in the Internet Age.

Setec Astronomy.

The Quest for Furniture Begins

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Saturday Katherine and I went sofa shopping. We found some contenders, but even more fun was lunch at Hooters. Neither of us had ever eaten at a Hooters, and we’re both big fans of intrepid dining[1], so we went. The food was horrible of course, but the atmosphere was enhanced by the Razorback game. I got Katherine a balloon that said “I ♥ Hooters.”

Sunday Heather and I drove around aimlessly in her mom’s convertible BMW. Great weather for it.

One year ago today, I landed in Houston to find this:

Hurrican Rita had just blown over and the airport was nearly empty. I had a hard time getting home. Full story from the vacation travelogue.

1.) Eating somewhere you’ve never even before simply for the sake of doing so.

Pretense

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

Rant time. One of the most tiresome canards of rock criticism is that clever musical ideas are automatically pretentious. Progressive rock, guitar solos, jazz fusion – anything that takes lyrics away from the equation – these are the most misunderstood and misrepresented concepts in popular music.

The reason I bring this up is this somewhat lighthearted article at Onion AV Club. It takes shots at instruments that somehow are intrinsically pretentious. As though the mere existence of a Chapman Stick in a player’s hands designates them as pretentious. They even go so far as to pick on Trey Gunn, implying that he treats conventional guitarists with “contempt” because he’s so “serious” and advanced with his avant-garde instrument, which is such a crock. They really want to believe that, because that would make them feel so much better about themselves disliking Gunn and the Stick. Trey’s just a guy with a weird instrument – the only reason to bag on him is because the writer feels inadequate that there’s this instrument and level of musicianship that he just doesn’t get.

Anyway, I’m not annoyed by the article itself, but the conventional wisdom in popular music criticism that underlies it. I’m just so tired of it.

The real truth is that so many rock critics distrust pure music. They only understand lyrics. They don’t particularly care about actual music because it’s far more difficult to write about music than it is about lyrics. And very often rock critics are frustrated musicians, so there’s tremendous resentment against skilled instrumentalists. Every rock critic worth his sour grapes will tell you that Yes are a bunch of pretentious asses who plays needlessly noodly wank, while the truth is that they are actually one of the most musically creative bands rock has ever produced. There’s this peculiar insistence that rock must be dumb, that every band should be as harmonically inept as the Ramones and that’s just moronic. And I say that as a Ramones fan. Apparently there’s just not enough room within the definition of “rock” for Joey Ramone and Rick Wakeman to coexist. Yes, they are polar opposites but they both make good music.

Personally I find critical darling Michael Stipe to be far more pretentious than, say, guitar shredder Yngwie Malmsteen. Both are just guys who do what they love to do, they play the music that they’re passionate about and they do it like no one else can. Isn’t that enough? So Malmsteen has been making the same record since 1985, hasn’t Stipe been doing the same thing? So Malmsteen’s music is lyrically boneheaded – he has a singular style that is often imitated but never duplicated. By the same token Stipe is a legendary lyricist (also often imitated) but from a purely musical standpoint REM is just the same boring major and minor chords. I love both these guys and it really bothers me that there are such divergent crowds who insist that I pledge allegiance to one or the other.

There’s so much more to music than the petty rules and politics people want to impose on it. It’s so much bigger than we can even imagine.

UPDATE: As usual, Strange Pup says in two sentences what took me this long-winded and semi-coherent diatribe to not say.

In Review

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

A fine few days. Friday I did the Hendrix Alumni Playwrights’ Theatre. I emailed a few people about it but I made the mistake of saying my parts were small so it might not be worth the drive, and this was dumb. The plays were highly entertaining and I should have forced everyone to come. Plus there was free cheese and snacks. Plus I played one of my roles as Mitch Hedberg, essentially. Everyone seemed to laugh at me a lot. But in a good way.

Saturday Heath and Mary Beth came in from Oklahoma City to visit. We watched the new Kicking and Screaming Criterion DVD with the old gang (Adnan, Kelly, Juan) and other fans (Katherine, Jason) over at Adnan’s swank new digs in The Heights. Apparently I’m now an adult as I envy him his IKEA furniture.

Which reminds me. I have money in the bank now. I’ve arrived at a point in my life in which I’m getting paid more and actually buying less. So it’s probably time to start buying things that normal people buy, i.e. furniture, a new TV, a better stereo system, etc. More on this story as it develops.

Also Saturday Bryan and I played a gig at Whitewater Tavern. It went well. I never really know how it goes, actually. I just stand there and play and no one complains. I wonder what I need to do for people to get excited.

Monday Danya and I went to see Nada Surf at Juanita’s. Great show. And long. I’m more than a little surprised that I’m still conscious right now. Afterward I met this girl Holly Ingebo, because I thought she was someone else. It’s going to continue to bug me, not knowing why she seems familiar. We talked briefly and were unable to figure it out. I mention this only because I want to put her name on the web so that maybe she’ll Google herself and contact me because I didn’t get her phone number.

They’re Getting Smarter

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

I got two emails today in my spam box that were very similar in structure and content. The first:

I’ve been on this project, that you were looking here at

http://www.whatevercrappyspamdomain.com/crappy

cebastian just told to me that you unquestionabaly became aware about the arrangment on feeling like you did in college, Oh forgot, there also great at supporting me on sheding those xtra pds.

Then the boy returned to one of the upper rooms, and in spite of the hardness of the glass bench was soon deep in slumberland And how about the next three gifts? inquired the boy, anxiously

The second:

Just wanted you to hear from u about the diet, was it at

http://www.anothercrappyspamdomain.com/crappier

geweyne narrated to me that you unquestionabaly heard about the info on droping pds, Oh forgot, there also great at helping me on getting lean again.

If there was any other place to go, I’d like to go there
At once a crowd of excited people assembled, shouting to one another and pointing towards him in wonder

Wow. Actual attempts at coherence and sentence structure. I like that they both use “unquestionabaly,” for some reason. An attempt at gravitas, perhaps? Next thing you know, they’ll be able to find Sarah Connor.

Vanity Fair

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

I used to think Vanity Fair was People Magazine for the Upper West Side, but apparently they’re snarkier and more inventive than I thought. Inside the October 2006 issue of Vanity Fair is a fake flap you can attach to a copy of The Weekly Standard. Check it out.

Sadly, in order to get one of these, you have to buy the latest issue of Vanity Fair, which is the All Suri Cruise Edition (see, I was right – a highbrow People Magazine). I’d feel more than a little dirty buying such a thing. Maybe I can surreptitiously snag the insert from a newsstand copy. What other choice do I have?

My friend Mary took issue with my dis of VF, as she’s a subscriber. She cited the excellent photography and political articles, and these are valid points, but I think my objections are mainly that it very often covers the same topics as People magazine (Tom Cruises’ baby, Jennifer Aniston’s relationships, Angelina Jolie’s drama), but in a more artistic fashion, with better photography….however the covers are still invariably celebrities and the primary reason people buy it is to read about famous people.

They sneak in some legitimate journalism, though – and I’ve noticed that Rolling Stone has taken on a similar pattern: put Justin Timberlake on the cover, and maybe people will happen across the articles on Darfur and Iraq. I guess I can’t blame them; celebrity sells. I suppose I should be thankful that they even attempt to edify.

It’s interesting that both magazines took their names from works of social criticism. William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair was a satire on high society opportunism, and Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” addresses a woman who has fallen from high social standing. And this month both magazines sport covers of two of the most vacuous idols of our society, Tom Cruise and Justin Timberlake, respectively.

I’m #1!

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Last June I made up a word, “inspiratorial,” and just today I discovered I’m #1 in Google for it, out of some 140 pages! I rule!

Most of the other sites in the SERP[1] are blogs, which means I’m more important than all of them. This feeds my little nerdy ego a glorious repast. Granted my ego is roughly the size of a walnut and I keep it in a barren cupboard, fed only by occasional trips to Banjo Center.

1.) Search engine nerd lingo for “Search Engine Results Page.”

Unkind

Friday, September 8th, 2006

This subtle anagram was mentioned in the crossword puzzle documentary Wordplay, and when Quentin, our graphics guy at the office, got a hold of a cache of several thousand corporate logo files, I had him make me this:

Dunkin Donuts