January 31, 2010

"Rivy's Jowls" and others from the vault



Videos soon to be posted on my YouTube include:

:: Econ and Chase catch a crab
:: "Bohemian Rhapsody" by the Hillsdale Graduation Weekend Singers
:: Malbec intimidates Pinot
:: Juan revs the Sunbird
:: Ten Second Film Fest submissions:

Rolling down a hill
Cow licks a pole
Katie lights her first match
Keep a lookout.

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One Interpretation of Handsome Furs


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFBXPA0YNAw


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January 30, 2010

A McGriddle, maybe

I periodically check in on journalist peers from past jobs and internships to see how they're doing. Some buy into a Little Caesar's franchise. Others become foreign service officers.

Others keep writing.

Slayings and suicide follow turbulent times, Chao Xiong, Star Tribune

Haugen was something of an enigma in Lewisville. Residents who can trace local family lineages back decades don't know where he came from, what he did for work or how he met Gronewold's stepdaughter Ashley Sullivan a tart-tongued cafe waitress and bartender who traded jabs with farmers and doted on her two sons.
Anarchy at the Mickey D's, Michael Miller, Toledo Free Press
According to the police report, Dushane pulled up to the McDonald’s at about 6:20 a.m. and ordered items including McNuggets. When she was told that the Main Street McDonald’s only served breakfast items after 2:30 a.m., Dushane had a number of options. One was to quickly peruse the breakfast menu to order something else, a McGriddle, maybe; another was to thank the voice coming out of the order box, drive home and return during McNugget hours.
Slain Playboy model, Francis X. Donnelly, The Detroit News
... friends also said the couple constantly fought, sometimes getting physical.
"It was oil and vinegar ... I don't know why they stayed together."
'Queen of Greektown' dies at 97, Doug Guthrie, The Detroit News
"She was just a lost soul out on the street. Sometimes she'd carry on and scream like hell, and I'd think it was because she'd gotten robbed again. But then, sometimes if you looked cross-eyed at her, she'd scream, too."
Detroit City Hall Insider, Joel Kurth, The Detroit News

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Scooby doin' #003

Sexy spats
Tyler Blanski
Diverging Diamond
The Art of the Steal
Keynes vs. Hayek rap video
John Edwards' sneaky shit
Journalists' online portfolios
Man banished (exiled?) from Missouri town
Jim DeRogatis Q&A with Justice Dept. on Ticketmaster merger


The (police) eyes' lies
Last week I was a juror in the trial of a man accused of selling a $10 bag of heroin to an undercover police officer. At the end of the two days of testimony, I concluded that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I also concluded that he should be acquitted.

Letter to Errol
Diorama-o-rama
A 4-page obituary
Rest in peace, anyway

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January 27, 2010

#003


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A weekly sampler of what we're listening to (new and old), and what we think you might like, too.

{LISTEN TO THEM ALL}

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NO DOUBT -- "Just A Girl"
On Tuesday afternoon I heard three different No Doubt songs on three different radio stations in the span of 30 minutes (and, curiously, they were on three different kinds of stations: the Waynesville "contemporary music" station, the Rolla college/ freeform station and the Jefferson City alt rock station). Luckily, this one was the third one they played, my favorite of theirs and the best. It brought back some heavy middle school nostalgia. I'm not sure if No Doubt is undergoing some sort of great popular re-assessment (I'm guessing no... I can't even remember the last time I heard a whiff of Gwen's solo career, much less with the band), but listening back to it again, I found Tragic Kingdom to be solid (if a tad dated). And, most importantly, that main guitar riff in "Just A Girl" still thrills me a bit when I hear it. It's that badass, and nearly perfect with the spirit of the song.

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BUILT TO SPILL -- "Liar"
I would not have liked Built to Spill a couple years back but their brand of jam rock is part of my palette right now. They're like Spoon in at least one regard: their brilliance, for me, is hard to pinpoint. No one thing stands out -- not instrumentation or vocals or lyrics -- but I've fallen in love with at least two songs per album on the three I've heard.

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EIFFEL 65 -- "Another Race"
Not my favorite song on this particular album, the first CD I ever owned, but it's definitely been great to listen to while driving to and from court lately. I associate a few things from childhood to this album...maybe the oddest being The Hardy Boys series. I read several of those books while listening to this album at night. Weird. And if anyone is curious, my favorite book in that series is #2 The House on the Cliff.

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BRIAN ENO -- "Here Come the Warm Jets"
I discovered Brian Eno through his Berlin Trilogy collaboration with David Bowie, particularly the song "Warszawa", which was chiefly written by Eno. Here Come the Warm Jets was released three years prior as Eno's first solo album (he is known for his prolific collaboration with artists such as Robert Fripp, John Cale, and David Byrne.) On this album, Eno treats the lyrics as little more than free-associative footnotes to a largely instrumental affair, with at least one song "written in less time than it takes to sing". The albums Another Green World and Discreet Music head in a more ambient (but not quite avant-garde) direction where Eno's classical influences become more clear, but Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) are best described as art rock presented in the glam sheen of the time. I can think of more interesting Eno songs to share, but this is one of the most accessible and is the one that kicked off my Eno pursuits.

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HANGGAI -- Unknown Song (I don't know Mongolian.)
Awesome band. That's all.

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WOLF PARADE -- "Kissing the Beehive"
I think it's their best work. It's the last track on At Mount Zoomer. The last section before the noise jam (shown in the video) is absolutely phenomenal. It shits on Apologies To The Queen Mary.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Peter Dering
A friend in Virginia, Peter works at a coffee shop near Chase and Tony. The shop is called "Mugshots," and is conveniently located just down the street from the county's circuit court. Peter enjoys music, film and anthropology.

COLD PUMAS -- "Jela"
This song is like a giant machine gun shooting Aderal at crowds of ADHD children running up a grassy hill fighting to be the first to jump into the sun.

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January 25, 2010

Secular bands and teachers

Spoon is the best for writing significant communiques because they always involve the feeling that this is all that matters, so I'd best attend to what I'm writing. This is one of my favorite things about my favorite professors at Ohio U: they're all so secular. They reinforce the idea that this can matter all by itself. Once one thing matters, why worry about another unless it presents itself?

Hooray for happily secular bands and teachers!

January 24, 2010

Scooby-doin #002

Sorry this is late. Should go up on Fridays.

Murder rap
Burden of bail
Dictatorship denim
News as commodity
Charting the Beatles
Johnny Weir is a real man
The geography of Seinfeld
The disappearing darkroom
Upcoming 2010 documentaries
How do we know if NFL defensive baacks are any good?
Peter Gammons says farewell to ESPN (and, presumably, the lives of all who don't have MLB Network)

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January 23, 2010

See you soon


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January 22, 2010

Cross-country bonding



I hope we'll all be watching together tonight.

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January 20, 2010

#002


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A weekly sampler of what we're listening to (new and old), and what we think you might like, too.

{LISTEN TO THEM ALL}

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THE BAND -- "King Harvest Has Surely Come"
Maybe it's all the Steinbeck and Mark Twain I've been (slowly) reading lately, but this song seems to have more relevance to me than it ever did before.

It could also be that I am slowly turning into my dad - or at least taking over his musical tastes. The Band is his all-time favorite band (whenever someone says that, it always turns into a "Who's On First" conversation).*

I truly believe "King Harvest" to be a musical equivalent of the mythical Great American Novel.

The lyrics describe destruction, despair and hope all in four minutes. Farmers, unions, industry. Horses. Petty arson. It's all there. Plus it has bitchin' electric guitar solos, and Robbie Robertson. What's more American than that?**

*Plus, don't they just ooze cool on this album cover?
**Nevermind that four of the five were Canadians...


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THE HANDSOME FURS -- "Handsome Furs Hate This City"
I'm not sure I've ever seen so many different live versions of a single song available on YouTube. That has nothing to do with music, but that has a lot to do with the Handsome Furs, right?

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LCD Soundsystem -- "North American Scum"
Nothing new here...but this song has been great for driving while an iced-over Virginia starts to melt. If I could submit a whole album, I would, and it would be the new Spoon album. Fourth year and running, Spoon still tops my list.

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TALLEST MAN ON EARTH -- "Where Do My Bluebird Fly"
Shallow Grave, an American folk album by a Swede, is the music of winter drear.

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THE BEACH BOYS -- "Surfer Girl"
I deliberated a long time this week between The Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl," from the album of the same name, and "You Still Believe in Me," from Pet Sounds. Although the latter will always have my love as a most touching song, I choose "Surfer Girl" as this weeks pick. Both songs display a very attractive (to me anyway), somewhat anamolous, idea of a love song (sung by a man) in which the male is... shall we say, the weakness in the relationship. No, to put it better, the male is not the one it's done to, but the one doing. This is opposed to the plethera of angsty "she hurt me" pop songs.

I chose "Surfer Girl" for two reasons. One, is it not simply a perfect love song? And not yet a love song, because the foundational line is "do you love me?" A lovely expression of uncertainty. The song contains the perfect Beach Boys image of the female: "I have watched you on the shore/ Standing by the ocean's roar." Woman vs. ocean, and which has more power.

And the second reason is even simpler. It is one of the first rock songs I ever listened to, on cassette tape, while searching through a large tub of Legos for the right piece to complete my spaceship.

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PAUL SIMON -- "Duncan"
My favorite part is the flute / recorder thing, but it seems to be
replaced with a violin live and I don't like it as much.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Erin Tabor
Our ked-wearing friend from Michigan with a penchant for dance, music, crafting and coffee.

YO LA TENGO -- "If It's True"
The first thing that caught me was that the intro echoes "I Can't Help Myself" by The Four Tops. Throughout the song we get these Motown influences, which always appeals to me. The rhythm kept by the piano and the underlying organ are just so pretty, and catchy. The song seems to be a Part II to track 1 "Here to Fall," where the speaker admits that a relationship is mixed with joy and sorrow, but his answer is to plunge into it anyway, to suffer and to love together. "I'm here to fall with you," he says. "If It's True" admits that indeed, there has been shortcomings, but they remain optimistic—it’s worth it. Ultimately, "It’s always better when you are near."

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January 19, 2010

I dig.


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January 16, 2010

Best man won't hang out with the girl band


Every so often, I have to re-listen to Sleater-Kinney just to make sure I'm still totally hot for all three of them.

(Yes. Yes I certainly am.)

Still think my favorite song of theirs is "Rollercoaster," mostly for Carrie's guitar playing (and, on this and every video of theirs, her badass rock moves). Am I alone in this? If so, which other S-K songs that tickle the individual Sadbears' fancies*?

*Although, as we all know, this might be the single best Letterman performance by any band.

I still pine for them to reunite just so I can be a fanboy at a show. But I also realize that two out of three of them are still actively doing things that I follow enjoy.

First, Janet Weiss is drumming for Stephen Malkmus*. Her presence (rather than some random session musician drummer) really helped make his last album even better. (Also, this video is of her playing drums in Quasi and focuses on nothing but her for two minutes. I enjoy it).

*I get really excited in this song when it seems like the song is ending the first time then Malkmus turns into Jimi effin' Hendrix or something and starts shredding a bit. Just thought you should know.

But more importantly, if you do not read Carrie Brownstein's NPR music blog already, then you need to. (It's about 100x better than the lame "All Songs Considered" blog*, so no worries, just read.)

*Who encouraged them to take that photo?

Finally, does anyone know what the hell happened to Corin Tucker? Because if she's not doing anything, I'll be pissed. Apparently anything anyone from S-K does is automatically awesome.

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January 15, 2010

Scooby-doin the chow chow #001

Map contest
333 movies in a year
Upcoming CD releases
Shout out to Beantown
Dave skewers the media
King of the Road (Rt. 66)
"I just want my wife's corpse"

Stereotyping people by their favorite indie rock bands (via Karen)
Phoenix
People who don’t listen to enough music.

Wilco
Guys who go to concerts to relax.

Dirty Projectors
People who like way too many toppings on their pizza.

A mighty 104
The man with the links
Calculating Charlie Brown
Linguistic trends (via Karen)
The market for human organs
World's longest dog tongue in action

Please suggestion links in the comments or e-mail thesadbear[at]gmail[dot]com.

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January 14, 2010

Popmatters > Pitchfork


Pitchfork has disparaged one of the best songs, or one of my favorite songs that you should like too. Popmatters is much better.

"Do You Realize" is one of my favorite things ever recorded. The sound of it sounds good, and it fits perfectly into the album, which is wonderful. There's this change in the rhythm after Wayne Coyne says "do you realize"and then says "life moves fast"--this pretty much makes the song. And the lyrics are really fantastic. That's what Pitchfork's review, written by Will Bryant, disparages, and it's criminal.

""Do You Realize" buzzes and clangs with overproduction" makes me think I just don't know what overproduction means. Please enlighten me, Mr. Bryant.

Changing the subject, for the time being, Popmatters gave All Hail West Texas a great review, but acted like the "Hi diddle dee dee" and "Hail Satan" lines detract from the album. Clearly this means Jeremy Schneyer doesn't quite get the album. (I know nothing about the man, and I'm sure he's a much better media critic than I am.)

His comment that "It’s almost as if, through Darnielle’s pen, a loutish West Texas man is suddenly given extreme insight into his own life and situation." is priceless. You just don't get criticism much better than that. I didn't like some of what he said, and then he demonstrated that he really does know why All Hail West Texas deserves a glowing review. Schneyer said something that means I would love to talk with him about why we disagree about those two lines.

The Pitchfork review couldn't even try for a status so lofty as Schneyer's. Bryant knows that it's not cool to be too enthusiastic about some things, or something, and then his line of thought drops off completely.

"And the minor-key Beatleisms of "It's Summertime (Throbbing Orange Pallbearers)" are wasted on more childlike philosophizing: "Look outside/ I know that you'll recognize it's summertime.""

Who the fuck would write such a thing? Thoughtful persons wouldn't. Bryant did. Why aren't you thoughtful, Mr. Bryant?

Surely this is a dead horse. The Flaming Lips played "Do you Realize" as their last song at Pitchfork, after all. This must mean Mr. Bryant's media criticism career has ended and no one takes him seriously anymore. Such is the lot of those who try to be media critics, and then say shitty thoughtless things about The Flaming Lips. You say something as stupid as ""Do You Realize" buzzes and clangs with overproduction," and the goddamn songwriter comes to the festival named for your own publication to prove you were full of shit.

I'm only being mean because publishing on Pitchfork means anyone whoever can be mean to you, and you should be used to it. Too bad I hit the topic so late. Mr. Bryant deserved it the second after he wrote the review.

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January 13, 2010

For those who aren't into the whole brevity thing

What if William Shakespeare wrote The Big Lebowski?

CHORUS
Ay, there’s a good one. How fares the Knave?

THE KNAVE
So foul and fair a day I have not seen.

CHORUS
Such a day, I mark thee, whereupon the winter of our discontent is ne’er made glorious summer. A gentleman wiser than myself did say that on some such days, thou exits, pursued by a bear, and on others, the bear exits, pursued by you.

THE KNAVE
By my troth, a good philosophy. Was’t of the Orient?

CHORUS
Nay, far from it. I mark well thy fashion, good Knave.

Enjoy the most excellent comedie and tragical romance of Two Gentlemen of Lebowski.

(Courtesy of Ryan.)

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#001


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A weekly sampler of what we're listening to (new and old), and what we think you might like, too.

{LISTEN TO THEM ALL}

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THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS -- "The Laws Have Changed"

This past year I discovered a newfound appreciation for the glory that is the New Pornographers. Maybe it was too poppy for me in years past, when I was going through my "punk-as-fuck-and-Fugazi-rules" phase, but I was an idiot back then. Anyhow, I could go for any song from Electric Version, which I have been spinning often, but I'll go with this one, mostly because I can't seem to shake Neko Case's vocal parts from my head— nevermind what they mean (probabaly nothing), just sing along and fall in love with her voice.
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SPOON -- "Metal Detektor"
Choosing my favorite Spoon album is impossible, but for a couple months I had at least eliminated A Series of Sneaks as a contender. Now I'm loving it more than ever and playing it on repeat. The tone and structure of "Metal Detektor" is so nice.
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THE ARCHIE BRONSON OUTFIT -- "Dart for My Sweetheart"
Maybe I'm late in the game, but I found these guys a couple of weeks ago and really liked their album Derdang Derdang.
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SUN RA -- "Shadow World"
"...as all Marines are riflemen, all members of the Arkestra are percussionists."
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WALKMEN -- "The Blue Route"
'Eleven sparrows on a line/ A hundred fire-flies outside/ Your tired eyes are open wide and you kept goin'/ What happened to you?'
This whole album, of course, is against my "better judgment," which so far has not been better, ever. It's just another album that I start out hating, then I ignore it, then it springs on me. I will say the album is way too long, but those lyrics have caught my... ear? The album as a whole, and especially those lyrics, express something that's been on my mind, and on my writing pad, and on little notes that I compose on blank bank receipts when I should be working, for months now. That is, the overwhelming desire to wander, coupled with the terror and misery of wandering. The idea of home. T.S. Eliot, in the "Four Quartets," says: "Home is where one starts from." He goes on to say, "Old men ought to be explorers." I look around me and begin to wonder how that's possible.
And I'm sorry Evan, the lead singer looks exactly like Dennis Quaid.
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DUNGEN -- "Satt Att Se"
I sort of rediscovered them today, I forgot how much I like them.
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EVERCLEAR -- "I Will Buy You A New Life"
I was going to reply that my song for this week would be
Everclear's, "I will buy you a new life." I'm not embarrassed about it.
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ANIMAL COLLECTIVE -- "For Reverend Green"
I missed Strawberry Jam the first time around, but listened to it on a car ride with my brother over winter break. As with Sung Tongs a couple of years ago, I've been listening almost daily. For Reverend Green is the song from that album that most readily comes to mind.

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January 7, 2010

Got no hat upon my head, no shoes upon my feet

In a recent WSJ roundup of best and worst jobs in terms of environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands, and stress, "newspaper reporter" came in at 184/200, behind bricklayer, dishwasher, and machinist. Thoughts?

According to the survey, reporters still have it better than stevedores and roustabouts.

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January 6, 2010

We should be flattered





This excites me. Apparently, I (and, by extension, the entire SadBear community), am a legitimate music critic. At least, according to Ha Ha Tonka's MySpace blog, we are not just a bunch of dudes who happen to write about music. They linked to our Best of 2009 post when talking about critics who named their album in the top ten of 2009. We're in there along with the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune's music writer and one of the DJs on Chicago's Q101.

Now, the only question I have is: Does this give all of us ins next time they play in our respective areas? I am eying that Off Broadway show with even more an interest now.

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January 5, 2010

Link List (ahh!)


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I'm on day #5 of my own "Project 365," and I'm finding I really enjoy the task of taking at least one photo every single day.

It's kind of funny how something like that would help me uncover more about nighttime Waynesboro than some of my own reporting. You start to notice a few more details about the place you live...what's going on in windows, on porches, behind doors, etc. In the past two days alone I've poked around the industrial side of the city, the dodgy neighborhood, even a tattoo shop.

Posting a single photo to my blog at the end of each day helps me feel accomplished, creative, alive and curious. And lately I've paired my daily posts with an episode of This American Life...always a good time.

I have a link list to share:

Photobucket Illustrating This American Life (!)
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January 4, 2010

Albums addendum

Not wanting to add to an already-too-long albums of the year wankery post (which I created), I also wanted to note that Stylus Magazine is back. Sort of.

The Stylus Decade. Savor it.

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Albums of the year



It's that time of year again. Yep: Year-end list season. We at the SadBear, along with a few compatriots, have taken it upon ourselves to compile lists of our favorite albums from 2009. Note that we are not exactly calling these the "best" albums of the year. These are simply a few albums released in 2009 that each of us found compelling. Top two, top five, top ten, whatever we thought was enough.

One thing is clear: We all have different tastes. There's not one album that appears on every notable list. Not surprising, considering our indidivual music tastes.

To see each person's lists and explanation of why we enjoyed the albums that we enjoyed, see after the jump.

Dan Silliman

Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard (and Jack Kerouac), One Fast Move and I'm Gone: Music from Kerouac's Big Sur - Especially the first song on the album, California Zephyr. I like the sweet optimism and resignation in the song. I like the use of the word "Zephyr," and the song really captures some great scenes of a cross-country trip and the whole spirit of Jack Keroauc's sense of being lost and at home at the same time.

-Steve Earle, Townes - I like Steve Earle. I probably like his versions of these songs better than the originals. I was also impressed by the way he did this whole project as a tribute that didn't tip over into hagiography or romanticization. At this point in my life I appreciate people who have and demonstrate a vision of art that's not about the Dionysian and self-destructive. I kind of felt Earle was rescuing this work from the stupid ravages of "look ma, I'm killing myself with art," and maybe this was his way of telling Townes and also Earle's own younger self that the music, actually, would have been better if he could have found away to settle down and be okay.

-Bob Dylan, Christmas in the Heart - Maybe I only like this because I'm an eternal Dylan devotee and also this album does a really good job at supporting the thesis of a piece I've been working on for way too long now about Dylan's religious development. But ... I actually think the album is hilarious and awesome. It sounds like a drunk uncle leading an egg nog sing-a-long, has the aesthetics of an AA meeting on Christmas Eve, and could easily be preformed by a Pentecostal Pastor caught up with the spirit of the season and crooning along to a "Season's Greetings" mix CD played on an oversized boom box in a store front church.

-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, "Home (single)" - I haven't heard the whole album and I am somewhat antagonistic towards anybody doing the faux-hippie thing, but I liked Home, the single from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. If I told you why I liked it, it'd sound like I was talking about what they have here in Germany at the "disco," like Lady Gaga or Justin Timberlake or even Madonna, and it is all those things, catchy and poppy, fun and danceable, and also it's weird, with like the aesthetics and sound of a one-man-band in the park and also a commune at the same time, which is a contradiction, I know, but one that makes you want add some music while you listen. Which is pretty cool. As is the whistling intro.

Mark Perkins

1. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
2. The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
3. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
4. Dan Deacon - Bromst
5. The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come
6. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
7. The Antlers - Hospice
8. Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs
9. Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer
10. Wild Beasts - Two Dancers

Jon Oatess

These are my five favorite albums, in alphabetical order (by title).

Flaming Lips - Embryonic
Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come
Animal Colelctive - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures
Wilco - Wilco [The Album]

Jack Hittinger

I have a list that's not really in any order of 2009 albums**. I thought I had a "Top Ten List" in which all albums were in specific order. But it never works out that way, so I ditched it. I guess I'll do it alphabetically by band.

-Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion— Remamber the term "freak-folk"? Sounds so dated now, especially that the ultimate prognosticators of it are doing full-on psych rock.

-Arctic Monkeys, Humbug— Josh Homme forever and ever, amen. These blokes actually have some muscle behind their Kinks-wannabe story-songs, and it kicks some major ass.

-Boston Spaceships, The Planets Are Blasted - Bob is in full-fledged Who-mode here with his own personal power trio. It's the best thing he's put together, since, jeez... Universal Truths and Cycles? And even that had like 18 tracks. This is short(er) and has virtually no throwaways— a rarity in the GBVerse. Supposedly the other album he recorded with them this year is even better (on top of the two or three solo albums which aren't as good), but I have not heard it yet.

-Ha Ha Tonka, Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South— My greatest-ever under-the-radar find. They're from Springfield so I sort of like to consider them "my band." Anyway, the album: Lots of foot stompin', hand clappin' and good ol' hillbilly twang filtered through Uncle Tupelo grage/ country punk and a tinge of the Shins.

-Grizzly Bear, Veckatimist— A little boring, yes, but perfect mood music. Great dynamics: The musical highs hit just perfectly after lulls in songs to warrant repeat listens.

-Mos Def, The Ecstatic— "Magnetic, the flows are athletic..."

-Neon Indian, Psychic Chasms— 80's tape deck lo-fi psychedelic electronica. Nostalgia music.

-Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix— I have never been to Paris, or Versailles, but listening to this is what I imagine living in France would be like: Walking by in the morning, drinking coffee and having lunch at an outdoors cafe in the afternoon, and going clubbing by night. Idealistic, yes. But Phoenix are the Platonic form of French cool.

-Thermals, Now We Can See— Hutch Harris. The man knows how to write a fucking guitar hook. Billie Joe Armstrong obviously needs to be taking notes these days.

-Wavves, Wavves— Washed out harmonies on top of distorted fuzz guitar. Basically, my wet dream when it comes to music.

**Other than all of that, I mostly just listened to a bunch of Neil Young, R.E.M., and Uncle Tupelo/ Wilco. Whoopie.

Tony Gonzalez

"Turns out I don't really listen to new music without having Jack as my roommate. Here are the albums I most obsessively listened to in 2009, by year of release."

Yip/Jump Music, Daniel Johnston

More Songs About Buildings and Food, Talking Heads

69 Love Songs, Magnetic Fields

Albatross: How We Failed to Save the Lone Star State with The Power of Rock and Roll, Fishboy

Dragonslayer, Sunset Rubdown

Chase Purdy

It's Blitz! -- Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Dragonslayer -- Sunset Rubdown

Heartbeat Radio -- Sondre Lerche

Middle Cyclone -- Neko Case

Noble Beast -- Andrew Bird

Evan Moran

I've been listening to Dragonslayer and Merriweather Post Pavilion, and that's about it as far as current year releases go.

Matt Schonert

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

The Thermals - Now We Can See

Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Part 2

Handsome Furs - Face Control

The Flaming Lips - Embryonic

Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

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January 2, 2010

Grades and Ramps


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Anytime I see a runaway truck ramp, I wonder. Some seem pretty reasonable, long stretches of gravel with ample speed-bumps. But there are some along I-64 in West Virginia...and along I-17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix that look absolutely nuts.

Actually, the grades of different roads interest me, in general. I think I've seen an 8%...for sure a 7%. But apparently those are just peanuts compared to what else is out there.

From what I can tell, there isn't an "official" list about the steepest paved grades in the world, but there has been a bit of controversy. For a long time New Zealand claimed to have the steepest with their staggering 35% Baldwin Street in Dunedin.

Photobucket Baldwin Street photo
Photobucket Information from a cyclist

At one point the Kiwis claimed Baldwin Street had a 38% grade, but once more precise calculations came out, it put several American streets in contention for the steepest title...particularly the 37% Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh.

That lasted for a bit, however, nothing has come close to Hawaii's Honokaa-Waipo Road (near Waipo). Although it is brief, it boasts 45%. Traffic is apparently restricted to four-wheel-drive vehicles only.

Here's a list of the steepest American streets:

1. Honokaa-Waipio Road, Hawaii - 45%
2. Canton Avenue, Pittsburgh - 37%
3. 28th Street (between Gaffey and Peck), Los Angeles - 33.3%
4. Eldred Street, Los Angeles - 33%
5. Baxter Street, Los Angeles - 32%
6. Fargo Street, Los Angeles - 32%
7. Maria Avenue, San Diego - 32%
8. Dornbush Street, Pittsburgh - 31.98%

Also, some other strange streets:

THE WORLD'S SHORTEST:
Ebenezer Place - found in Wick, Caithness in Scotland. It measures only 6 foot 9 inches in length and only has one address: 1 Ebenezer Place. It became an official street in 1887.

THE WORLD'S NARROWEST:
Parliament Street - connects Waterbeer Lane to High Streetand in Exeter, England. It was built during the 14th century. The street, which measures 45 inches at its widest point and less than 25 inches at is narrowest, used to be referred to as Small Lane.

WORLD'S CROOKEDEST STREET:
Lombard Street - This San Francisco street in has 8 turns in a 1/4 mile stretch. It was designed this way to minimize the steep 27% grade, which most cars couldn’t climb. With the twists and turns, the grade is only 16%. Lombard Street is one way only and the speed limit is 5 mph.

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January 1, 2010

Richmond? Richmond!

Our low opinion of Richmond -- based on a rainy trip and a snowy visit -- turned 180 degrees this week.

We started with the Design Sponge city guide for Richmond (they have many other great guides) and got ourselves to a great vegan lunch spot, some superb art galleries and a few cool shops.

I could see us living in Richmond.

Among our adventures I probably most enjoyed Page Bond Gallery (some favorites: images 1 and 9). A close second was our lunch at Ipanema.

Like Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Detroit, the city has its share of industrial might and blight, which I like, and its specialty shops are special.

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