May 30, 2009

Not without Kewps, baby

Tony and I have already posted about our similar living situations, as well as weird coincidences that kinda happened to us in our professional lives.

There's also this one that I didn't bring up before: reading a bit of the sports blog from Tony's paper, I found out that the teams from the 'boro regularly play a team from Rockbridge County School. Funny that a frequent opponent of the teams from the 'ville is Rock Bridge High School in Columbia.

Unfortunately, Rock Bridge is good at basketball but doesn't have as good of a nickname as its crosstown rival, Hickman: the Kewpies.

I was going to have a post about other funny nicknames and sporting things I've come across in Missouri, but it wasn't ready. You'll have to wait.

Until then, another strange similarity of the 'ville and the 'boro (kinda). Tony already talked about going "over the mountain" to go to work. Here's a view from my side of the world: the Ozarks on U.S. Highway 63. Unedited (no Photoshop on the laptop), probabaly a lot shittier, but I get a similar vibe. A preview of what Chase might see on his road trip, even:

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May 24, 2009

But they all live in the basement (update)

UPDATE 5/24/09

The call came over the police scanner: cat struck by car at 11th and P-----. That's my territory. I was out of the office and to the scene in a minute, but the teens gathered at the corner had not seen a cat.

Around another block and another street over, I hadn't found an endangered cat. Then I saw Dirt Cat. Unscathed. Or perhaps struck by a car and unfazed. Dirt Cat lives. Here is a few months ago:

= = =
Original post

Photo of Dirt Cat by Chase.

Whenever I see Dirt Cat he is walking cautiously in the wide open. And he never sees me until I'm approaching at a sprint.

He looks like a bobcat in the face, a mangy dog otherwise, but ultimately he's a stray cat and perhaps a little slow. He lives in the basement of our house with Basement Cat, Weiner Cat* and Real Cat (otherwise known as Dust Cat, because he's gray, but he's also the least stray-like, and hence, real).

The first time I saw Dirt Cat he was creeping along the neighbor's fence. I chased him for fun and he led me right to his home: our basement. The next time he was creeping into a pipe: I surprised him at the other end. I also chased him with Chase, leading to the first-ever photo seen above.

The best chase happened about a week ago, when I started chasing him around the house. He way ahead and I think he slowed down, expecting me to be coming back the other way around, so when I caught up from behind he was peeking around the corner and had to bust tail all over again.

Finally, I chased Dirt Cat yesterday afternoon. Having just finished a juggling session I turned to walk home from across the street when, sure enough, here comes Dirt Cat, padding onto the lawn but unaware of me. See him bookin' it at the end of the video below:

* Weiner Cat has short legs and a long body.

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May 21, 2009

More Weird Hallway Smells

Just something I had to get off my chest.
Today I left my apartment for work and, in the entrance to my building, was greeted by the smell of breakfast food and b.o. It was the smell of the Pink Panther, or the Palace, fried eggs and hashbrowns, with a little sausage blended into the aroma, and a thick undercurrent of man sweat.
And there was a complete, fully burned cigarette in the grass outside- a perfect, king-sized tube of ashes.

May 16, 2009

Kerouac + baseball

No post usurpation intended, but !!!!!
"Among other things, Mr. Gewirtz has learned that Kerouac played an early version of the baseball game in his backyard in Lowell, Mass., hitting a marble with a nail, or possibly a toothpick, and noting where it landed."
From a wild story about Kerouac in the New York Times.

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May 15, 2009

Starting a new map

People seem to say goodbye in one of three ways. If they meet a person with whom they have almost no connection, they might wave only. If they meet an acquaintance, they'll shake hands. But if they say goodbye to someone meaningful, they generally hug.

Of the three, I like the hand shake least.

The longest (and best) goodbye I ever received from a friend was in the form of a hug. It lasted maybe 37 seconds (though I wasn't counting at the time), and it meant a lot.

I'm finished now with my four years of undergraduate work. My family came to graduation. A friend drove up from the south. I said my fair share of goodbyes...and I gave one distinguishable hug to a friend I've grown up with for the past 10 years.

Now I have a lot of time on my hands. I couldn't be more pleased.

Here's what I'm up to:

- Listening to a lot of Daniel Johnston. So much that everything I notice has lyrics (Tony mentioned this in his last post).
- The Meat Puppets new album, Sewn Together.
- My brother learning guitar rifts (Modest Mouse, Cake, "Thunderstruck," etc.)
- The new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album, still.
- Google Reader.
- Reading Palm Sunday by Kurt Vonnegut.
- Picking up Roberto Bolano's 2666 soon, a Silliman suggestion.
- Mapping my move to Arizona
- Finishing a playlist for the drive west...another flung-together list.
- Going to juggling club in Louisville.
- Getting MLB audio.
- Unpacking and re-packing to figure out what I really want to keep.

So on May 31 I'll start my drive to the Southwest United States. Here is the basic map of the journey.

DAY 1: Leave home. Arrive at Jack's apartment. Chill. Sleep.
DAY 2: Leave Jack's apartment. Drive. Arrive in Amarillo.
DAY 3: Chill in Amarillo with my friend, Brad.
DAY 4: Leave Amarillo for Phoenix. Drive. Drive. Drive. Arrive.

Three days later I start working.

The best thing I hear about Arizona, are the wild pigs that run around willy nilly in the streets. I bet someone could make a cool song about them.

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May 14, 2009

Discovering Daniel Johnston (updated)

Is everyone listening to Daniel Johnston without me?

Last night I watched The Devil and Daniel Johnston, a 2006 documentary on this extraordinary singer/songwriter. It taught me a lot about songs I already love, because so many artists have covered Johnston and so many others want to sing like him.

Johnston, who is still making music, writes musically sparse narrative ditties about silly things and love. He reminds me a lot of the Beach Boys, Mountain Goats, Bright Eyes, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, and early Of Montreal. I know Wilco and Tom Waits and Yo La Tengo have recovered covers and tributes. I recommend "I Had Lost My Mind," as an introduction, unless of course you are already listening to him and never clued me in.

When I think of the artists who have most formed my ear, and the timing of when I discovered each of them, I'm able to piece together pleasant narratives and an acceptable interval between discoveries. I have few ... regrets -- was not often blindsided.

Then I watched this Daniel Johnston doc and was sort of angry and definitely filled with a pleasant wonderment about everything yet to be learned.

I ordered two Johnston tapes, as that was his preferred dubbing medium, and one compilation CD. I've been using YouTube playlists on 'play all' mode in the meantime.

And I'm thinking a lot about the old 'toy' organ that a friend gave me and which I have upstairs, because I'm pretty sure it's the same kind Johnston used.

Johnston's music has so consumed me that I spent the day singing about everything: my abandoned baked potato, my moat and my boat, and my grass (the tallest in town).

He is also triggering connections to music including:

* "If You Can't Give Me Everything," Reigning Sound
* "I Felt Like Smashing ...," cover by Of Montreal
* "Sympathy For the Devil," The Rolling Stones
* "Cheating On You," Franz Ferdinand
* Bright Eyes

Lyric samples:
Tuna Ketchup
I saw her in the street
She was with her family
She didn't say anything
She just stopped and stared
And I like her

In the summer I worked with her
In an oil refinery
She wore a yellow suit in the rain
And I like her

I drew her some pictures
I made her po-oh-sters
I let her walk all over me
And insult me too
Cause I like her

She has red hair
And blue eye-ey-ey-eyes
I was looking for love
But all I got was a bite
And I like her
And I like her
And I like her

Well I made some mistakes but
I ain't learned a lesson
that I don't wanna hear about responsibilities
I got less important things to do

An Idiot's End
She looks at me like a gun cocked
And I'm afraid to turn my back
For fear of being loved
She leans forward for me to see

The lights of her majesty
She's tempting me with a razor blade
But time is money at a penny arcade
And there's monkeys in the shadows

And virgins afraid of being laid
The court jester holds up a light bulb and says
"All that is made is made to decay"
To know her is to love her
And I love her, but I don't know her

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May 12, 2009

I must above all things love myself...

Not to usurp any posts (seems like a lot from Tony and I this past week), but something I need some input on. Are these not the most glorious facial hairs you've ever seen?:

If I didn't know any better I'd think these beards were fake. But they're real, and they're spectacular. Glorious.

Oh, and that guitar sound is pretty cool too.

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May 11, 2009

Found it!

After about four unanswered calls to the local radio station and two hours of frustration Saturday morning, I finally put the band name with the song. "Permanent Scar," by a band named O + S, has been in my head for at least a week and you can hear it above. Their Myspace.

I've also been enjoying YouTube playlists lately. They can be used like a mix CD, so I've been working on a personal one of songs I've been listening to lately: take a listen.

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May 9, 2009

Took a drive

Bought a jug of juice, drove toward West Virginia. Stirred a turkey into flight. Saw a cow lick its back hoof. Glimpsed a turtle walking along the highway, south of Chillicothe, Ohio.

I saw steep valleys; a big boat on a trailer. Opened my window in Van Wert just as the town dump came into sight. Found Ohio farms smellier than Virginia's.

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May 8, 2009

Days of Graduation

Looks like I'm one of the few stragglers who can't make it for graduation. Which sort of makes me feel even more isolated out here in Mizzou-rah. Hell, Tim even flew out. From Washington. That's some commitment to see a tall bastard graduate (his words there).

Anyhow, since I couldn't physically be there I tried hard to rack my brains about an appropriate musical tribute to my soon-to-be fellow alumni. It's harder than it looks. My options were that Vitamin C song or this Drive-By Truckers song.

Obviously neither really fits the mood.

Instead I think I have another song that I'd like to send out to all of those future Hillsdale College grads out there.

(Like this: "You speak of helpless voids/ Discovering where strangers stay/ Here we are at the end of all things/ And its not so bad")

Alright! Watch out for life:

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May 6, 2009

Strange ad

This appeared alongside one of my news stories.

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May 4, 2009

Hockey, chocolate milk, SI

This post is long (unintentionally, but long nonetheless), so buckle up:

The new Art Brut album has three major things going for it:
1) The title.
2) The lyrics.
3) Frank Black's production.

About the latter: it almost sounds like a Pixies record.

Not that Art Brut sound anything like Black Francis' old band, but he handled the production as if he were producing the Pixies. Guitars, bass, vocals sound squeaky clean and distinct in the mix. Maybe the only thing that sounds un-Pixie-ish (how's that for a word) are the drums, which are sloppy and sort of muddled. But that might be intentional, because the rest of the album sparkles.

Take this song from an older album and compare to this song, "Alcoholics Unanimous." That bass bounces in and out clearly as if Kim Deal herself were plucking it. On another song on the album I noticed lead guitar lines that reminded me of something like Joey Santiago's solos on "Vamos" or "Bone Machine."

That's not to say the Bruts are musical virtuosos. Far from it, but that's not really the point. They're a fractured, shambolic garage band at their core. Something like a nerdier British Hold Steady or Replacements (to whom they dedicate a song on this album).

"Alcoholics" kicks off the album, and I was hooked right away. I don't know if it was the music or the lyrics, but they both just work (especially the backing parts: "I've been making mistakes/ Lots of mistakes!/ I'm hiding it well/ Not very well!/ But I don't feel great/ Last night we tried to warn him!").

The second song, my favorite, is called "DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake." It's an ode to youth. Or arrested development. Or something: "DC comics and chocolate milkshake/ Some things will always be great/ DC comics and chocolate milkshake/ Even though I'm 28/ DC comics and chocolate milkshake/ I guess I'm just developing late/ DC comics and chocolate milkshake/ I never got over that amazing taste."

I always hear the phrase "deceptively simple" bandied about regarding bands like this. But I think it's a BS term that doesn't really mean what people think it does (does it actually mean that it's difficult even though it looks simple, or vice-versa?). So I won't use that to describe them. I think a better term here would be "willfully simple" or even "coyfully simple" (if "coyfully" is even a word).

I remember seeing part of their set at Pitchfork a few years ago and walking away unimpressed. Seemed like bullshit to me, with bandleader Eddie Argos prancing around up there like a jackass and not singing, but kind of talking, over punk music. But I was also dehydrated and on the other side of the park. I'm glad I didn't write them off.

Argos seems to revel in sounding, on the surface, like a jerk who can't sing or can't write more than a few chords, but there's obviously something deeper there.


That little review was longer than I expected, so to my other point quickly. I recently purchased the David Halberstam-edited Best American Sportswriting of the Century. It's got some solid pieces, including a nice W.C. Heinz piece on Red Grange that I loved.

But so far, the one that intrigued me most was this one called "The Making of the Goon" by Johnette Howard (it's the second piece posted there, I couldn't find a legitimate copy). It's the only hockey piece in there (I think) and it is what it says it is, so I won't explain it any more.

Considering how much of Halberstam's book is about boxing (a whole section devoted to Mohammad Ali), it's kind of disappointing but not surprising that the only hockey story they can muster is about a fighter and, oh, not about superstars like Steve Yzerman or Wayne Gretzky, or about what I think might be the most difficult in the sports world (goaltending).

And then today I stumbled across this similar piece on the Washington Capitals' Donald Brashear, from the Washington Post. It's in the similar vein of "humanizing the hockey enforcer." It's good, but again, I wonder: can anyone write a good piece about hockey that isn't about goons? Anyone?


Finally, I bought the Zach Greinke Sports Illustrated yesterday, just so I could read Joe Posnanski's feature on him (for anyone not in the "know," he's now my new favorite sportswriter...seriously, if I could subscribe to the Kansas City Star I would just to read him, but they don't go this far south).

It's the first time I've purchased one in a long time - maybe three, four years.

The quality of the magazine has gone down, as Tony noticed on this space before. They ran a 10+ page feature on surfer Kelley Slater. Which is fine, except but the cover story on Grienke was two pages. And there's lots of filler (like 20 pages of BS in the front) before the actual articles. They could have done away with all of that crap and made each article longer and more substantive.

Disappointing, for a former subscriber.

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May 3, 2009


Spoon is the most confusing most underwhelming most surprisingly awesome rock band around. I would not call them epic, aggressive, or pretty.

They just write catchy, perfect songs. Memorable and simple songs.
= =
= =
Best Value: Spoon, free at City Fest, Detroit

Biggest surprise: Tapes 'n Tapes, Pitchfork 2006, Chicago
The Exit, The Empty Bottle, Chicago

Went beyond their recordings: Dungen, Magic Stick, Detroit
Andrew Bird, Rock the Garden, Minneapolis

Made me freak out: The Hives, Metro, Chicago
Wolf Parade, Magic Stick, Detroit
Of Montreal, 40 Watt Club, Athens

Felt important: Circulatory System, Athens Pop Fest

Most entertaining: The Hives, Metro, Chicago

Most perfect sound: Yo La Tengo, Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor

Best crowd/most deserving encore: Dungen, Magic Stick, Detroit

Most connected to crowd: P.U.S.A, Magic Stick, Detroit

Best pre-show venue music: EODM show, Magic Stick, Detroit

Best moments:
:: The Dungen show, which I find it hard to deny as the best concert I've ever seen, concluded with an unbelievably fuzzy blitzkrieg final number and a rather slow exit by the band. The crowd was furiously loud in hopes of an encore, and it came quickly. The band, who I found extremely genuine (they were hanging around before the show, friendly and eating Chinese take out), commented that they rarely play encores. I believe them. Then they blasted my face off again.

:: When Yo La Tengo played the Michigan Theater it was baseball playoff season, and before the first and second encores, Ira admitted he was sneaking looks at the Mets game backstage and apologized for the delay. Then they played "Can't Seem to Make You Mine," a Seeds cover.

:: When, during the first Hillsdale Battle of the Bands, Juny was playing the song about "he must be gay ... pink shirt" and during the rousing conclusion, his strumming and the reintroduction of the drums was slightly off and so believably human as it became sync again.

:: My Dad's good friend Bill caught a White Stripes drum stick amid a melee.

:: Jesse The Devil Hughes caught a bra, hung it on the mic stand.

:: More generally, in terms of energy and intrigue, I really enjoyed Spoon's frontman during "The Beast and Dragon, Adored," and the chorus portions of "Requiem for OMM 2," by Of montreal. I remember the Wolf Parade guitarist completely destroying a hanging chime.
Worst openers: Whirlwind Heat for White Stripes, Aragon, Chicago
Early Man for the Black Keys, St. Andrew's Hall, Detroit
Lamest crowd: Wolf Parade, First Avenue, Mpls
Worst doormen: The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor

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May 1, 2009

Bedside Regiments Music Video

Here it is:

Download the entire album free or buy a CD for $5 from the Ten and Six website.

Thanks to Carly and Kirsty for this video, and to everyone else for your support. 

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