September 29, 2010


On my day off today, I went to the record store in Champaign and this album beckoned me from across the store. I love me some Black Mountain but I initially wasn't sure if I was going to get it right away. That's until I actually went to the store and saw it in person. Honestly, Black Mountain, you know me so well. There is absolutely no way that I am not going to buy that album. I NEEDED that artwork, big, on vinyl.

I'm just now popping it on the turntable and I can already tell I am going to love it, album artwork aside.

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September 18, 2010

About A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange was, apparently, grossly misinterpreted. Some people took it to be a celebration of Alex, but Kubrick thought that he was obviously despicable. Taken in light of the fact that you aren't supposed to like Alex, and that he's obviously a fucker throughout the show, the final scene takes on a certain significance. Kubrick says to his audience "you can sympathize with this person." This fact, whether it's exhilarating, is disturbing.

In Dexter, I wonder whether there is enough self-consciousness that it can justify portraying a serial killer. The task of making a serial killer likable isn't a significant one. There's no trick to making a terrible person likable, at least not if you give them some time on the voice-over narration. Witness terrible teen shows if you need proof of that. With Dexter, it isn't even clear whether the serial killer should be disturbing.

Perhaps this is why it's groundbreaking, or cutting edge, or what-have-you. But I don't think there's anything great about making the worst about us seem likable. What's great is to demonstrate that the fact that the worst about us can seem likable should be shocking.

September 15, 2010

Then/than and extension

If you're going to write an article which trashes someone, your reasoning had better be straight. I had always applauded Slate for using straight reasoning, whether they are talking about Mad Men or the Wire, fucking someone up, or reporting the news.

I had always thought that Slate was top-notch. In this article there is some then/than confusion, and it really fucks things up. Here's why:

The idiom "... greater ... than" indicates an extensive magnitude. The number of tigers or toothaches or persons who don't like each other could all be extensive.

The "then" relationship does not turn on extension at all. When someone says "if sammy is a tiger with only one leg, then there is a tiger with only one leg," one says nothing about extension and makes a true statement.

It's important to recognize that the then/than distinction is not only grammatical, but makes a difference. Even though the words sound similar, and look similar, the logical relationship that the one indicates is utterly different from what the other indicates. When someone conflates the two, it really fucks up the prospect that the author has been reasoning well.

September 11, 2010

NYC + Boston + Dungen


Philadelphia is the only major East Coast city I have yet to visit.

This past weekend I went to New York to visit with good friend Lauren Chester. Two days later, I huffed it up to Boston to spend a couple of days with Drew Allison.

My journey started after I boarded a Megabus from Washington D.C. to Manhattan. Six long hours, one of which was spent in the Lincoln Tunnel.

Lauren lives in Brooklyn in a cool little community seemingly populated by mid-sized dogs eager for pets. Getting off the subway and climbing the steps into the street was a shock. Parts of the neighborhood sit in total silence.

We ate Thai and people watched for the first night.

The next day was packed and pleasant. Starting at The Whitney Museum of American Art, where we took in a Lee Friedlander exhibit: America By Car.

It was amazing. And, admittedly, I was swimming in Friedlander for the rest of the weekend. The photo exhibit really got me pulling my camera out a lot. I started noticing more reflections and really began to anticipate possible cool shots as people strolled down the street.

From there, Lauren and I made our way from the Upper East Side into Strand, a city bookstore that claims to have 18 miles of books inside. I found some cool stuff, but opted to save my money for a trip through SoHo and finally, Indian food at my favorite place to eat in New York, Panna II.

The best was yet to come.

As a special treat, Lauren and I went to a warehouse party in Sunset Park. Dubbed "Stranded in the Forbidden City", the party was packed with well over 1,200 creative types looking for ridiculous fun. Eight beers and one mixed drink into the night found both of us dancing with hundreds of others...excited about the silliness of it all.

Also at the party: sumo wrestling, a private circus, a jail, juggling, fire eating, fortune telling, tattoos (please read the comic behind us), tours and odd games.

We stumbled (literally) back to her place around 4 a.m. -- people were still streaming into the party. We were told it would go well into the morning.

The next day: Boston.

Drew and his girlfriend, Amy, were amazing hosts. Having moved recently from Cambridge to Brighton, I was the inaugural house guest. The setup of their place was great...and their record collection super impressive.

We crashed early that night, but only after an incredible dinner at The Publick House where I discovered I can actually like an IPA, so long as it's Belgian. Good stuff.

Amy and I ordered burgers. Drew got expensive mac 'n cheese. It was delicious.

The next day was epic.


We started at 11:42 a.m. in Cambridge at Boardwalk Cafe with a margarita and delicious plates of Mexican food(click the hand-drawn map for a larger version of the trip).


The next stop, perhaps the most refreshing, was at Charlie's Beer Garden (still in Cambridge) where we had Hoegaardens. You can find that on our list, along with other documents we kept for the journey.

We stopped in music venues, Chinatown, Little Italy and tourist central. We saw live statues, sailboats, more reflections and ate $1 hot dogs.



I think we actually became officially drunk once we reached Uniform. With a Golden Monkey and a Prima Pils in our stomachs, we moved on to the next spot: The Pour House for Newcastles and The Lower Depths for Stellas.



We met Amy and went to a bar near Fenway Park to eat chicken wings and finish out the bars with more Stellas.

Drew and I fell asleep on the train ride back to Brighton...and after one more Newcastle we crashed.

I woke up tipsy for my flight home.


Since getting back, the week has been perfect. Really.

Tony and I worked on our third story in the saga of Kim Romero, an American woman who married an undocumented Mexican immigrant and then struggled to get him back into the country legally. Her story is pretty amazing. Check out the story and the video.

We saw Machete...which was expected.

Finally, Tony and I went to Charlottesville last night and saw Dungen, who 'rocked our faces off.' The band, simply put, has complete control over their music. And between the old and new songs we heard I think we were pretty blown away. I really want the new album.

After a week of moving and shaking around, it'll be nice to settle in and chill out for a bit.

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September 8, 2010

Back to his herbarium

This morning Dr. John Reist submitted a letter of retirement, effective Friday.

"Well, all I did was send a letter to the head of the department. How did you find out about this?" he said, speaking from his office Wednesday.

Somewhat bewildered about the speed of news these days, Reist said several Collegian staffers had already approached him about his retirement.

"[A reporter] found this out, and I have no idea how," he said, chortling. "This is proof that there is a God and she is black."

Spliced between jokes about women, bread martinis and God, Reist said he looks forward to spending more time with his wife (who is not pregnant).

"I just felt that sometimes, all the sudden, this is the time to do this," he said.

Despite his leaving the college, the professor said he hopes to stay in touch with past students and wished a fond hello to The Sad Bears and their counterparts, respectively.

In his own words: Reist quotations. Reist in art


September 6, 2010

Central Standard Time

I'm the only Sadbear who currently lives in Central Time (aka, God's time zone).

It's not a "new" thing, I've been living in a CST state (or CDT, depending on the season) for more than two years. I actually prefer it: East coast baseball games start an hour earlier, which means they get over an hour earlier. (I can usually listen to Tigers games start to finish and still catch the end of the Cards). Same with prime-time and late night TV — Conan, back in the good old days when he hosted the Tonight Show, started at 10:30. 10:30!

But, given the hours I work, combined with the hour time difference, it's gotten increasingly harder to actually converse with people. Example: I don't consider 10 p.m., or even 11 p.m., an unusually late hour. But to try and call someone on Eastern Time at 11 my time, well, forget it.

I thought about how annoying this was, especially how weird and sometimes arbitrary time zones are, the other day when a colleague and I were complaining about how the press that we currently use at the paper routinely makes our paper look worse than a self-printed family newsletter. I think I suggested that it would be so much better if we were printed in Terre Haute, where our company owns another paper.

Him: "Yeah, but then our deadline would be an hour earlier."
Me: "Why?"
Him, staring at me for a minute: "Well, time zones... They're on Eastern time, remember?"
Me: "No shit... but it's only like an hour away. Guess I forgot."

I should have known this, of course. Terre Haute is almost exactly the same distance as our current printing press, yet it's on a completely different time zone. Might as well be a different country — it is, after all, Indiana.

It boggles the mind. I mean, obviously, I know how time zones work. And why they are necessary. And all that.

But it's disheartening to call someone back at, say, 11:30 after work — a still decent hour for the swinging single person (*snicker*) — and hear the person on the other line kinda shuffle and go "...hel-LO?" And then have to ask them "Oh, I'm sorry, were you asleep?" and then have to listen to them say, "No, no... well, I was, but it's cool. What's up?"*

*(Nevermind the fact that when they called earlier you asked them specifically, "Can't talk now, I'm at work, but can I call you back after work?" To which the usual reply is "Yeah, sure, I should be up." They never are. Don't believe them.)

So, damn this slightly offputting time difference!

My one consolation — it's nowhere near as isolating asas Chase felt when he was in Arizona. These Illinoisans are, after all my (original) people — Joliet, represent!*

*Just to note, the fact that I can tell people this now in Illinois gets me wide-eyed looks and a tremendous amount of street cred.

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September 5, 2010


So I wrote most of this when Carly, Econ, and Maggie were headed into town for Halloween last year. That they were coming into town reminded me of when Econ and I had listened to Strangers 50ish times and set off bottle rockets from the deck in the back of SadBear, and that got me thinking about the song. In any case, I think my take on this part of the lyrics of the song is basically right.

"Holy man and holy priest

This love of life makes me weak at my knees

And when we get there make your play

cos soon I feel you're gonna carry us away

In a promised lie you made us believe

For many men there is so much grief"

Surely this means the next line ought to follow from these. It says:

And my mind is proud but it aches with rage

"My mind is proud" must mean that the shit who says something about evil human nature or about the number of persons who just hate life while you're living right now says something that rightly tugs at your moral intuitions, so you squeeze out a dignified expression while looking for a place to gather yourself and remember that these types shouldn't get to you.

The whole line means: When ought anyone ever to interrupt someone for whom "this love of live makes me weak at my knees" with a reminder that somewhere someone hurts? Everyone knows that. So life must be about negotiating your ability to address grief sometimes, and otherwise to put it out of mind (Woody Allen couldn't do that) and enjoy something without reservations (Jeff Tweedy couldn't do that). If no one could do that, things would really suck.

September 1, 2010

Surf Bash

I spent lunch awash in the sounds of the Walkmen and I think we need to label their sound.

My nominees:

Surf Bash: Like fields of surf rock with more cymbal crashing.
City Surf 2010: Surf rock made more gritty and whiny, produced post 2000.

If we get enough submissions in the comments I'll post a poll and we can vote.