August 28, 2007

Gaping Void

Often crass, but more often thought provoking, Hugh MacLeod has a great thing going with GapingVoid. What better of an example than one of his latest cartoon drawn on the back of business cards?

August 27, 2007

Not from Cincinnati Anymore

I withheld writing anything about the show because I was still trying to figure out enough about what was happening with it to make a coherent pitch. What I should have said weeks ago was "Watch John From Cincinnati!" HBO canceled the show, as networks continue to do to shows I like. The thing about JFC was that it was doing something very unique...but in the way that the show ended it's first and only season, there are so many unanswered questions it's not even worth discussing. It's such a waste. The characters were intriguing, the storyline was Twin Peaksy, and with actors like Ed O'Neill [whose character Bill Jacks may have stolen the show], Bruce Greenwood, Rebecca DeMornay, Luis Guzman, Luke Perry (even the idea that Zach Morris and Dylan McKay shared the screen was intriguing), the dynamic Paul Ben-Victor (who joins a list of multi-show HBO veterans for his role on Entourage [Season 3]), and even Jennifer Grey. The story examines many people who are at the bottom of the list of people you would expect miracles to happen to. The mysterious character of John comes into their lives and only really tells people what they're thinking, what others are thinking and to seek God. One character is raised from the ground, one character is raised from the dead, and all of the characters are actively feeling themselves change. I also thought it was interesting the way the characters all used labels for each other (the hairlip, the lawyer, the doctor, the chemist, the Hawaiian, the porn star, the skinny girl, and other not so nice labels too). It was fascinating and I'm sad to see it not coming back.

Imagine if other shows were cancelled after one season. Imagine the mythology of LOST ending with Jack and Locke looking down into the hatch. Imagine Friends ending with Rachel learning Ross loves her and not dragging the storyline on for 7 more years... Imagine The West Wing concluding with gunfire on the President and his staff but no resolution. Imagine 24 ending with Nina killing Teri Bauer. Imagine if the Sopranos ended anticlimactically with all four Sopranos sitting in a restaurant having dinner...oh wait.

Nothing in the new shows this year stands out as my next favorite TV show, so in the meantime I will continue to enjoy Entourage, Flight of the Conchords, Hard Knocks, and wait impatiently for LOST to return in February.

Speaking of LOST, some exciting stuff coming out of Comic-Con. I've always held back from writing about LOST on this blog, but it won't take long to find info...don't worry the producers are way too smart to let spoilers ruin anything for you. Why Email Still Rules

I had my first email address in 1996, it was I know full well that plenty of people had email prior to that, but I was still an early adopter as far as my circle of friends went. I think of the class that just graduated high school...they were born in 1989. It doesn't take much thought beyond that to both blow my mind and clue me into the fact that they've never really operated without the web...and in fact, it might be safe to say they haven't operated without the web as we know it today. Lots of innovations have come along since 1996 when I got my first email address, but email still remains one of the most powerful means of communication despite the innovations. If someone really wants to tell me something, the best way to communicate it to me is via email. Whether it's work, friends, family, etc. email still rules.

Communication experts tell you that only 7% of communication is solely through the actual words used. The other 93% of communication is through verbal and non-verbal tones and gestures that help communicate the message. In email, it's both a blessing and a curse to cut the 93% out of your message. It might be a challenge to convey tone or sarcasm or humor or all the other mediums of conversation. It might not give you the instant gratification, but there are other advantages. Responses can be thought out, articulated and measured. Information is documented and can be found later. I love the star feature in gmail. If I get an email that I either want to take more time later to read or reply to, I star it and every evening or morning if I'm too busy, I go to my starred mail and read and respond...rather than focusing on clearing my inbox as the task.

Today there's an ongoing movement to abandon email and rely strictly on other mediums like Facebook messaging, Myspace [which I'm in hate with right now] messaging, twitter, blogging, text messaging, etc. I don't think we're there yet, but I can see a day coming when writing someone a personal email is viewed as antique as receiving a letter in the know the hand written type...

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that email is a fundamental communication medium. If you're trying to get a hold of me any other way, you're likely just not talking my language. Though I still might want to be your "friend" on facebook or your follower on twitter...both of which can use email to find people in your contact list. It might be because email is the prime medium for communication in my job, or it might be my natural tendency for writing rather than speaking, or it maybe hanging on to the past...'cause 1996 was a great year. Incidentally, if you emailed me at the address, you're several lifetimes behind.

Another incidental. I didn't mention facebook back in June when I listed 6 things I wish you all had, but I'm coming around to it and if you're on it, look me up...or for all other things...


August 20, 2007

New Music Tuesday: Make the Right Moves

(photo credit: Ko(char *)hook)

I caught myself editing this post because I've been using too shiny of hyperbole to describe how excited I am that Josh Ritter's new album is downloading from iTunes as I type. I've been hearing snippets for a few months and everything I've heard leads me to believe that it's a great follow up to The Animal Years (#6 best album of 2006). When I saw Josh play at the Swedish American Hall just before I left California for Alaska, it was a sweet sweet cherry on the top of a wonderful sundae of live music in my time down there. Well, although I've begged a little, I doubt that Josh Ritter will be scheduling any Anchorage dates this time around...but at least he's supplying plenty of music to make up for it. If you've listened to any of Ritter's music, it's clear that his narrative style is reminiscent of Guthrie and Springsteen...if it sounds like he's smiling while he's singing, it's a good chance he is. The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter has all the promise to cement itself ready to top the 2007 list of best albums. If you're not convinced by my preview, do a little investigation for yourself. You can download the Paste Culture Club podcast from 7/27/07 for samples or his website. iTunes has the album for just $9.99 but it contains 19 tracks (5 bonus tracks) and you can't go too far on the internet without stumbling upon the leaked track "To The Dogs or Whoever." You should also take a swing at "Right Moves." Portland, he's coming at you for two shows at the Aladdin, so get out there and show the Idaho native some lovin' won't regret it. His tour, sponsored by Paste Magazine, and involves his full band. The dates are below.

Speaking of Paste, in answer to my issue of having not received a CD sampler in one of my magazines, their customer service department (pretty sure it's outsourced) added a month to my subscription as an apology.

Another note, while I'm taking the time for a rare post, if you're on Myspace, you'll need to check out the songs Matthew Ryan's been posting...lots of good stuff. I'm in hate with Myspace right now, but seeing as MRyan was the reason I started an account, I'm still loyal to his posted music.

03-Oct-07 Northampton, MA - Pearl Street Ballroom
04-Oct-07 Boston, MA Somerville Theater
05-Oct-07 Boston, MA Somerville Theater
06-Oct-07 Westport CT - TBC
09-Oct-07 Washington D.C. 9:30 Club
11-Oct-07 Charlottesville, VA - TBC
13-Oct-07 Lewisburg, WV - Carnegie Hall Performing Arts Center
14-Oct-07 Charleston, WV - Mountain Stage radio show
15-Oct-07 Ann Arbor, MI - Blind Pig
16-Oct-07 Chicago, IL - Park West
17-Oct-07 Minneapolis, MN - Cedar Cultural Center
18-Oct-07 Boulder, CO - Fox Theater
20-Oct-07 Boise, ID - Egyptian Theater
21-Oct-07 Seattle - Showbox
22-Oct-07 Portland - Aladdin Theater
23-Oct-07 Portland - Aladdin Theater
24-Oct-07 San Francisco - Bimbo's 365 Club
25-Oct-07 Los Angeles - El Rey
27-Oct-07 Tucson, AZ -Plush
29-Oct-07 Austin, TX - the Parish
31-Oct-07 Birmingham AL - Workplay
01-Nov-07 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
02-Nov-07 Nashville, TN - Exit-Inn
03-Nov-07 Louisville, KY - Headliners
04-Nov-07 Cincinnati, OH - Southgate House
0?-Nov-07 Carrborro, NC - Cat's Cradle - TBC
07-Nov-07 Philadelphia - World Cafe Live
09-Nov-07 New York - Webster Hall

Concert dates cut and pasted from email rec'd from publicist, so make sure to check with your local sources to confirm date and venues.

Also releasing 8/21 is the new Rilo Kiley, Under the Black Light (though not available yet at midnight EST like Josh Ritter). An album I was excited about until I heard the first single, "The Money Maker" and was a bit disappointed.

I should also mention that I've really been digging Eisley's new album, Combinations, it's pretty rockin compared to their previous work.

UPDATE: After listening to The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter most of the day today, I can thoroughly and whole heartedly recommend you pick it up. A little bit of everything for everyone.

August 15, 2007

YouTube Goes to the Source

Proving that search, online video and intelligent advertising aren't their only strong suits, Google/YouTube have called for Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert to be deposed in the Viacom v. Youtube lawsuit. I'm no lawyer, but in my mind genius. Both Colbert and Stewart are "Producers" of their shows (Stewart of both) and if, as suspected, clips of the shows are knowingly uploaded to YouTube by members of the staff, the Producers will either have to admit it or imitate the politicians they love to mock so much by using the Reagan defense. Either way, it's a page straight out of Aaron Sorkin's story line.

Law: Did you order the clips to be uploaded?

Colbert: Do you want answers?

Law: I think I'm entitled.

Stewart: Do you want answers?

Law: I want the truth.

Viacom: You can't handle the truth!

That's right, I believe Google/YouTube are putting Jessep on the stand in a move to get the case dismissed. Again, I'm no lawyer, but my guess is it'll probably work.


August 13, 2007

What Were The 90's All About?: 1999

It can be argued...
It can be argued that White Ladder didn't get discovered until 2001...
It can be argued that The Man Who didn't get discovered until 2000...
It can be argued that Californication was derivative of previous RHCP releases...
It can be argued that Blue (specifically "Never Let You Go") killed the 3EB momentum...

All of these things can be argued, but when it comes down to it these are the albums that sifted out of the gold pan that was 1999.

1. White Ladder, David Gray
2. The Man Who, Travis
3. Summerteeth, Wilco
4. Everything You Want, Vertical Horizon
5. Californication, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Honorable Mentions: This Desert Life, Counting Crows; No Angel, Dido; Mezzamorphis, Delirious?; When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You'll Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You Know That You're Right., Fiona Apple; Blue, Third Eye Blind

Don't be afraid to admit you were listening to Britney, Ricky Martin, J-Lo, or Backstreet Boys, just be glad you moved on in the next millennium...all except the re-patrioting ReckenRoll...

I Don't Sound Desperate

I swear I don't sound desperate. If you read desperate, it's probably your own stuff mixed in with my words. A week and a half ago two of my best friends got married. Because they were scheduled so close to each other, I was only able to attend one. Riche and Julia's magical ceremony was in the Alaska Botanical Gardens; small crowd, beautiful couple (you may have noticed the photos in my Flickr feed). Having a lifelong friend get married is fun because there are lots of stories and memories to share with his family as well as plenty of catching up. In a conversation with Riche's dad, I explained what I was doing for work these days, to which he replied, "who'd have thunk it." I learned time can fly for parents when it seems like yesterday we needed rides around town. [Sch]Metzger also got married down in Portland the same weekend. I've heard it was a beautiful ceremony with lots of sentiment. I would have loved to have gone, but the timing just didn't work. I've noticed a trend amongst the supposed A-list bloggers that they can quickly take a post about other people or companies and flip it into a post about themselves. Always trying to boost my merits as a blogger, I'll give it a shot here. When [Sch]Metzger and Riche were married (not to each other, mind you) it designated me as the last single guy in my circle of friends. The Mad Fishicist, The Freshmaker, Mike, Trudeau, they're all married. Like I said, I'm not that concerned about my status. Don't think I'm upset about this, don't think I'm soliciting help (there are enough people out there who feel responsible for helping), I'm just struck that when it all comes down to it, I'm pleased with my life. I'm pleased with my job. I feel blessed to be a big fan of all of the wives of my friends. I feel blessed to have so many friends. I'm not in a hurry to do anything, so again don't make this out to be desperation, just a good exercise in self-actualization. Realizing I'm content, realizing I'm pleased...sometimes that's the key. Anyway back to leaving whiskers in the sink, towels on the floor and baseball on TV. Now back to non-self-centered postings.

What Were The 90's All About?: Behind The Music

I'm having a hard time bringing the 90's album series to a close, although 1999 is just around the corner. There are other posts I plan on creating revolving around the music of the 90's. One aspect I thought might be interesting would be how I've put these posts together to this point. Other than the many faces of Bono post, the others all entailed a particular structure. Going in order of year helped, because I knew exactly what the topic of my next post was going to be. Sometimes structure is a good thing in blogging...sometimes it's just what you need to push through a pretty uneventful month.

I have a smart playlist created in iTunes that sorts out albums by year released. I edit the smart playlist to the year I'm researching. I press play and shuffle the songs. Sometimes this has taken longer than other times either because of the amount of great music or the number of distractions. Listening to the music while I do other things really helps me get into the time machine and journey back to the 90's. The project that I started out to do was to look at the most influential albums of the 90's, so there are lots of great songs that didn't make the cut, so I'll put together a 90's songs list for the one, two and three hit wonders that came to fruition in the decade. Several albums got left out because they weren't influential until much later or they might have been great albums, but I don't consider them influential. In the same way the decade is hard to define, so is an influential album without an entire post per album to justify my opinion, so a lot of biting of the tongue occurred. I take a look through the albums released during that year that I might not have representation of in iTunes (I have 115+ gigs of music with 26+ gigs falling between 1990 and 1999, so it's fair to say there's lots of representation) via Wikipedia. I try to put the top 5 in some sort of order but feel a lot better when I think that they aren't necessarily in order otherwise I'll want to go back and change them back and forth all the time. The topic generated a lot of discussion on and off (mostly off) the blog, so it struck a chord somewhere.

What's the next series for Whoever suggests the best topic wins the generous prize of thanks and recognition. And by the way, I've been listening to 1999 music for what seems like forever now, so the post will come along soon.

August 7, 2007

What Were the 90's All About?: 1998

1998...Madonna redefined herself, Shawn Mullins inadvertently invented a sub-genre, and again the music industry evolved a little.

1. Before the Crowded Streets, Dave Matthews Band (probably their one true masterpiece album)
2. Hello Nasty, Beastie Boys
3. Soul's Core, Shawn Mullins
4. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Lucinda Williams
5. XO, Elliot Smith

Honorable Mentions: Feeling Strangely Fine, Semisonic; Dizzy Up The Girl, Goo Goo Dolls; Train, Train; Teatro, Willie Nelson; Ozomatli, Ozomatli; Ray of Light, Madonna; The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill

What was going on with you in 1998?

August 5, 2007

What Were the 90's All About?: 1997

OK Computer might have been the masterpiece that defined the 90's (I've heard it compared to Sgt. Pepper's effect on culture in 1968). Matthew Ryan released his ambitious debut album with 6 songs that would show up on a greatest hits album if he made one. The tide turned in 1997 again with Sarah McLachlan becoming a household name and helping to bring her entire genre to the mainstream.

1. OK Computer, Radiohead
2. Surfacing, Sarah McLachlan
3. Pop, U2
4. Third Eye Blind, Third Eye Blind
5. Sound of Lies, The Jayhawks

Honorable Mention: The Colour and The Shape, Foo Fighters; Time Out of Mind, Bob Dylan; Urban Hymns, The Verve; So Much For the Afterglow, Everclear; Firecracker, Lisa Loeb; Mayday, Matthew Ryan

How do you remember 1997?

August 4, 2007

What Were the 90's All About?: 1996

It's not like 1996 was a thin year for music...because there are some epic albums, but in hindsight it feels more like a setting of the stage than an epic year.

1. Recovering the Satellites, Counting Crows
2. Being There, Wilco
3. Bringing Down the Horse, The Wallflowers
4. Yourself and Someone Like You, Matchbox 20 (if you don't trust me, give it a listen)
5. Fashion Nugget, Cake

Honorable Mentions: Crash, Dave Matthews Band; Tidal, Fiona Apple; Faithless Street, Whiskeytown; Odelay, Beck

August 1, 2007

iTunes: Again With The Driving Me Crazy

The latest oddity with iTunes (and I've been getting a lot of traffic looking for info on the alphabetizing issue I pointed out) is that I can't burn a CD if any of the songs have question marks in the title. I had to re-tag the song as well as rename the file in order for a question titled song to burn. I should clarify, the disk would burn, but it would skip the question songs. Strange things those Apple people probably overlooked while they were salivating over launching iPhone.