Friday, October 31, 2003

Odds & ends:

“Basically, it comes down to, I love playing football more than I love myself and my sense of pride and well-being. … I know keeping this secret is eating me up inside. But right now I don’t care. I love this game so much I won’t do anything to jeopardize it.” Those are the words of a closeted, current NFL player, from Mike Freeman's new book Bloody Sundays. So fuckin' sad. [Link via the Beaverhausens.]

Thank you, Sammy. Chi-town is where you belong.

DJ/rupture is one bad-ass motherfucker.

Is anyone really surprised that under this man's watch, the DoJ isn't incredibly non-white-male friendly? And that they'd edit their own report? Shock and awe, I tell ya.

All of the gang (+5) are now en route to DC to bowl in CHIT this weekend. Here's hoping they enjoy some well-rolling balls at the alley, and face-slapping cocks at the strip clubs.

Is it 4:30pm yet?! Daddy needs a drink; it's been a long day/week/month.

The good: it's about 90% certain that I'll be making the journey back to Indiana for Christmas (and it's only 90% because I don't yet have my e-ticket in hand). I'll be flying into Indianapolis on Christmas Eve and flying back to Norfolk late on the 30th, spending three days with my family near lovely Silver Lake, IN and three more with my favorite wanksta in Indy. [Yes, Scott, this means we need to make some plans - perhaps meeting for a drink here or here? Then again, perhaps I should hit the 501 by myself...] It'll be good to be in Indiana again, get back to my roots, and of course to spend some time with my family (I've not seen my baby sister in two years, my parents in over one, or my middle sister in about 9 months - and I haven't even met her new husband, as they married in Vegas, which I just couldn't swing). Of course, time with Stumpy, the #1 stunna, is always a beautiful and much-needed thing; he's been my best friend, my rock, the yin to my yang, for over 9 years now.

The weird: it's funny (that's funny-weird), but for some reason, whenever I talk with my parents, I feel the need to assure them that everything's "fine." I don't like them knowing when I'm down or depressed, because then they (especially Mom) worry, and there's really no need for them to do so. I mean, I'm an almost 33-year-old man (though I don't often feel like it); what good would it do for my parents to know that I'm feeling blue? Besides, blogging often makes for fine self-therapy.

The bad: damn it all to hell, I vow that this year Halloween's gonna be different, that I've gotten over (well, as much as one ever does) the fact that it's the day (11 years ago, R.I.P.) my beloved Grandpa passed from this mortal coil, and wha'happen? I still end up all kinds of "blah" for entirely different reasons. Dammit!

So, with my DC trip off and no set plans for the Halloween weekend, I make my own.

Tonight I'll hit the Naro, early - i.e., before the Rocky Horror madness - to see the opening night (locally) of Sylvia, the film about the life (and, of course, death) of the shockingly brilliant, plagued poet Sylvia Plath, with whom I was briefly obsessed in highschool. [I was an outcast, gay, depressed, voracious for poetry - yes, I know it's so surprising I was into Plath.] The early reviews are mixed-to-mediocre, but Gwenyth Paltrow's resemblance to the late Plath in the film's marketing is more than a little disarming.

Afterwards, I'll probably hit the Garage, and hope I don't get too annoyed by what I hope's not too many guys in bad drag. I'm not doing a costume, because I'm not going to any parties (I wish I could make yours!) and am not going to get all "done up" just to walk to a dive (gay) bar, which is what the Garage so proudly is.

And yet again, my home computer's on the fritz; I can do everything except get online. Oy. Maybe I just have bad computer karma? Or the RIAA has found a way to punish me for my sins?

I haven't spoken with Travis since Sunday, which concerns me. As this wise one and trusted friend pointed out last night, when you haven't talked with the person you're ostensibly dating in 5 days, that's usually not a good sign. I dunno, maybe I fucked up somehow - it wouldn't be the first time (in dating, not with Travis in particular).

Appropriately to today, lately I've been feeling like a bit of a ghost, just kind of quietly passing through.

Maybe I'll just spend most of the weekend drinking. I wish I were drinking right now.

Gentlemen, start your basketballs: the preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches poll is out, and to absolutely no one's suprise, Connecticut is #1 to start the road to San Antonio. At Big East media day yesterday, Huskies coach Jim Calhoun got very adamant about one thing in particular: no mo' UConn-BC games once BC hightails it to the ACC. Good on yer, Jim!

Purdue, by the way, would be 34th were the coaches poll extended that far.

And as if we needed more evidence that Californians are - um, different - comes this piece of legislation working its way through the CA Assembly, which would effectively make it illegal for CA schools to be members of the NCAA. What. The. Fuck?! Yeah, the Senators' motives are clearly good, but their methodology is a nightmare waiting to happen.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Um, John? I'm one of those who've been missing Paglia (you have to watch a short ad to read the entire interview) - and whether I agree or disagree with her, I hope this means she's back in the sociocultural sphere for good. Camille's like a really, really loud version of Gore Vidal, with a shorter attention span and a greater joy in pissing people off. Some of what she says is tired and pedantic, yes (she feels "sorry" for Dubya?!) - but some of it's vital, the kinds of things most folks are scared to say aloud ("Rush transformed the media landscape in America. He resurrected AM radio." I loathe him, but it's true). Her pair of essay collections should be required reading for every college student; if nothing else, she makes you think, the same way that being a fan (and defender) of Marilyn Manson forces me to rethink, defend, and ultimately reinforces my Christian beliefs.

I love me some Camille Paglia.

Oh sweet mother of [insert your favorite deity here], I heart The Wire. After a month of waiting - this is what I get for subscribing to their email update and not living in the U.K. - I finally got my hands, last night, on the October '03 issue, which includes The Wire Tapper 10, a double CD of avant-garde shiznit. And lemme tell you, this block is hot. I don't know the majority of the artists included, from SatanicPornoCultShop to Animal Collective to Gunter Muller & Toshimaru Nakamura. [The ones I do know are David Sylvian, Four Tet, Laibach, Ui, Jah Wobble, and Faust.] The sounds range from sound collage to free jazz to modern classical to glitchronic hip-hop to, well, Laibach (who, really, are a sound unto themselves, sorta-kinda). And the magazine is, as always, impeccable, with features ranging from Peaches's Invisible Jukebox to a behind-the-scenes on the recording of Miles Davis's Jack Johnson. Who wants to get me a subscription for my birthday? :-)

Odds & ends:

No, apparently Fox News could not be more stupid.

Recent blogposts I love:
+Chrisafer's new math
+Patrin's "if you hate Eminem, think about the Pistols" comments
+Erik's preview of the '03-'04 NBA season, with the splendid title "The Return of Kazaam"
+Scott's new spin on Hop on Pop

You may have noticed a new addition to the sidebar, a realtime ever-escalating count of the cost of Bush's dirty little war in Iraq. For details on how it's figured, et cetera, go here.

Travis noted the other night that Peaches's "Fuck the Pain Away" reminded him of a lobotomy patient. And yeah, it's fairly vapid. But that beat (as he also noted) is indisputably great, eh? I love the continually crashing cymbal - well, and any song whose first line is "suckin' on my titties like you wanted me."

Lost in Translation was even better the second time, further cementing it in my mind as the finest film of 2003 yet. I was nearly apoplectic during the "lip my stockings!" scene (just ask my coworker Anita, who actually shushed me because I was giggling so maniacally). And that soundtrack - oh! sweet nuthin'!

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Perhaps the best line I've read online all week comes from - shock and awe! -'s Jon Wiederhorn, who opens a news story on this week's Billboard Top 200 with this gem:

"Even at 58 years of age, platinum-haired rock legend Rod Stewart can still sell himself like a high-class hooker."

Ain't it the truth, ain't it the truth. And while I certainly wish he were doing something more interesting musically than taking on "the classics" (and making such a cash cow out of 'em), for sheer personality, I'll take Rod over dry-as-toast old Macca anyday. We need Rod precisely because he needs us, the publicity whore. God bless him for that.

More odds & ends, all-music edition:

This week's (month's?) lost '80s pop gem ready for re-evaluation is the Blow Monkey's "Digging Your Scene." I remember that for about 6 minutes in 1986, leader Dr. Robert sounded like the future, smarter than Green Gartside and with even slicker pop instincts.

With each successive listen, Sophie Ellis-Bextor's "Mixed Up World" hits my ears as the state-of-the-art electropop I believe it was always intended to. It might, just might, end up feeling more useful than (gasp!) Kylie's "Slow." But is it wrong that I find dsico's genius glitchcore Cuisinart reduction of SEB's "Murder on the Dancefloor" (retitled "Murdered Murder") more useful-cum-dare-I-say-essential? than both? [BTW, he too now has a blog, obviously (still makes me chuckle, though) named dsico suxxx.]

Dunno why it took me this long to realize that the rappers McEnroe reminds me of are Latyrx; McEnroe's song "Physics" (from his great 2002 album Disenfranchised) wouldn't sound out of place on their '97 Solesides one-and-only. It's got a similar lyrical flow to it, and similar, minimalist-never-simple production. I want more.

Listening to a Daft Punk BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix from 1997 today, I noticed the Oliver Cheatham record sampled on Take 5's UK-conquering "Make Luv" worming its way through the mix, back-to-back with Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Nots." This is why DP are Godlike.

I've never shied away from citing Robert Christgau as probably my most significant influence as a rockcrit - the man's too smart for his own good and writes it. As time has allowed today at work, I've been printing and reading his Pazz & Jop screeds through the years. Accordingly, my head kinda hurts, albeit in a good way.

I still say that the year's best rock album is Led Zep's it-came-from-1972-to-show-the-kids-how-it's-done triple live How the West Was Won. The fact that it was recorded 31 years ago doesn't dissuade me a bit; it came out for the first time this year, which makes it a new album in my view.

A coworker and I are heading to see Lost in Translation (she for the first time, me for the second) after work today, which reminds me to make a public plea: Matthew, please please PLEASE repost the mp3 of Bill Murray's character karaoke-ing "More Than This"! Please. I'm beggin' here, man.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Odds & ends:

Happy Birthday, GeekSlut! It's this Saturday, and he'll be the big 4-0. I think that even more than cards and gifts, the most appropriate way to celebrate is by going out and having some nasty sex in his honor.

R.E.M.'s obligatory new-single-tacked-onto-the-hits-record, "Bad Day," was originally written during the sessions for their '87 classic Document, and it sounds like it. That's a good thing, however - it's got that classic R.E.M. jangle to it, along with ever-marvelous backing vocals from Mike Mills, whose voice always makes a great contrast with Stipe's. The chord progressions into (and to a lesser extent, in) the chorus remind me of those in "It's the End of the World." Yay!

It just occured to me yesterday that Gerald Levert has been recording for nigh on two decades now. Wow. His new album's apparently pretty good (page down to "R&B"), but I'll always be a bigger fan of his work with his trio Levert. I'm especially besotted with their first R&B charttopper, "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind," which came a whole year prior (and is greatly superior) to "Casanova."

I never, ever tire of hearing Oran "Juice" Jones say "Now shut your mouth, 'cause you cold busted!"

Even noting their loss to the Panthers, you've gotta admit the Colts are looking pretty damned good right about now. And please, no "'72 Dolphins?" talk about the Chiefs; how 'bout we let 'em be the 8-0 '03 Chiefs instead?

Thanks to Frere-Jones and Woods for the linklove.

Is it wrong that I find cartoon characters Adam & Andy really sexy? Creator James Asal, by the way - everyone's doing it - now has his own blog.

Nastily feuding Lakers are good for the NBA. Well, good for all the other teams, which is fine with me. Phil's boys have supplanted the hapless Knicks as the team I most love to hate.

Just plain wrong. Kinda funny, but wrong.

For your listening pleasure, new downloads, a couple days later than usual. My mind's going pop, pop, pop, pop this week...

Believe it or not, one of the year's best pure pop singles has been made by an ex-Spice Girl - in this case, Emma Bunton, the artist formerly known as Baby Spice. Currently without a record deal anywhere, her manager started his own label for the express purpose of getting her music out in the market. Credited just to Emma, "Maybe" is a breezy, truly sunny delight, a spun-sugar confection utilizing bossa nova and some cleverly simple lyrics ("but now I definitely see/that maybe I'm in love"). This is what pop for adults (as opposed to, say, Hillary Duff for the kiddies) should sound like.

Sony didn't exactly go all-out on their reissues of the Michael Jackson catalog earlier this year (and who can blame them, really, considering Jacko's very ugly, very public feud with the hand feeding him), but they did grant us with at least one absolute diamond on the redone Thriller: it's a 1981 home demo version of "Billie Jean," and it's a revelation. An all-too-rare glimpse into the creative process, let alone from such a (former? then-?) giant as MJ, this is a very basic Casio-sounding synth-and-drum track topped by lyrics which were still in progress at the time - and that unmistakable, sterling, clarion call of a voice. Fascinating listening which further cements Michael as a genius in his own right (and for all his madness these days, let's not allow ourselves to forget his utter brilliance as a pop king).

Lots of work at work. Lots of work on/for Rock Me Tonight. Spending time looking at Christmas options. Oh, and this weekend's planned trip to D.C., sadly, is off, for various reasons. More when I'm able.

Monday, October 27, 2003

My weekend was a good one, albeit mostly quiet.

Went over to Travis's place about 1am Saturday morning - he works late hours - to spend the night (ce soir). I was sleepy, so we just watched TV and cuddled.

Saturday, he had to work, so I hung at his place (since he lives all the way across town and I, of course, don't drive), watching college football (Northwestern looked pretty good in their upset of Wisconsin - this weekend they come visit the wounded Boilers at Ross-Ade Stadium), putzing around online, and taking in chunks of a marathon of The Restaurant, which I hadn't seen before. Wow, this is entertaining television - mainly because every single person on the show appears to be a jerk. Head chef/owner Rocco DiSpirito is an ass, looking like a womanizing, not-nearly-as-fun version of Thom Filicia. Even those employees you want to initially empathize with - the waiters, busboys, and their ilk - end up coming off as whiny, complaining bitches. I'd never go to the restaurant (Rocco's on 22nd, if you're in NYC), but I'll certainly tune it - and a second season is coming.

After gorging myself on more TV than I had in months, I had to get out, and it was a gorgeous, pale linen-air kind of day, so after learning that Borders was only a mile away, I decided to hit the sidewalk. Stopped at a Goodwill en route and picked up two great shirts for $1 apiece, and then met my coworker Anita at Borders and edumacated her on the variety (or lack thereof, harrumph) of queer mags carried in chain bookstores. After a while (and after dark), I meandered back down Laskin Road back to Travis's for more TV, internet, and play with the kitties.

Yesterday found us taking in Scary Movie 3. Simple review: if you love the slapsticky work of David Zucker, you'll enjoy yourself. If not, you've already seen 95% of the best jokes in the commercials and trailer. [The Jenny McCarthy-Pamela Anderson opening scene is awfully funny.] Wait for it to come on cable. After a dinner of some always-tasty Tex-Mex at San Antonio Sam's, I went home early - it was a school night.

And that was my weekend.

If posting here seems reduced in the near-and-present future, it's because I took my own advice from Saturday and started a new blog to tackle the "R&B #1s of the '80s" project. It's titled Rock Me Tonight. Come back to the five and dime, Freddie Jackson, Freddie Jackson...

Saturday, October 25, 2003

From a telephone conversation this afternoon with Paul:
TI (referring to the Selector Remix of Clipse's "Grindin'"): "...and Sean Paul, back before everyone was annoyed by him."
PC: "There was never a point in time when I wasn't thoroughly annoyed by Sean Paul."

Odds & ends:

Inspired by similar projects by Michael Daddino and Tom Ewing, in which they attempt to review every #1 pop single in the U.S. and U.K., respectively, Michaelangelo Matos has decided upon a similar undertaking regarding the U.S. R&B charts, from 1942 to the present. It's titled Boogie Fever, and (of course, it's Matos) it's pretty brilliant. It also reminds me of my aborted project compiling the #1s on Billboard's R&B charts in the 1980s. And it inspires me to get my ass back to it. So I think I will.

Travis really does look angelic when he sleeps.

Saw Pretty in Pink, uncut, all the way through, for the first time in eons last night. Funnily, I was just listening to its attendant soundtrack this week; it's one of my all-time fave OSTs (alongside Peter Gabriel's Passion [for Scorcese's The Last Temptation of Christ] and '92's state-of-the-hip-hop-union declaration that was Juice). I've always been a huge fan of what I refer to as "the Molly trilogy," of that transcendent trio of films Ms. Ringwald made in the mid-'80s with director John Hughes, though Sixteen Candles and Pink resonate a big more strongly for me, since I so completely identified with Ringwald's characters in this pair: both girls are outsiders who long to break down the class divisions and go out with the cute, popular boy. Trust, I identified more than a little bit (though pink's never been my color). Additionally, I was part of the precise target audience for these flicks, being a teenager during Ringwald's halcyon days. With the news of an impending sequel to Sixteen Candles comes Chrisafer's suggestions for other updates of classic teen movies. But how dare he include Can't Hardly Wait amongst the other teen classics! Jennifer Love Hewitt, I know Molly Ringwald. And (to paraphrase) you're no Molly Ringwald.

How hot are these pics of Devon the Escort and his buddy Hoku? Hot like fire, methinks. Devon's nipples, especially, nearly make me weep. Oh, to have $300 an hour lying around, and be in San Fran this weekend...

Does anyone outside of Yankees fans really give a fuck about this year's World Series? [Based on their attendance figures, I've a hard time believing that there even are such a thing as Marlins fans, natch.] I know I certainly, don't, especially when there are college football games with mondo implications (BCS, conference title, and otherwise) this weekend. Foremost among them for me is, of course, this afternoon's Purdue-Michigan contest, with the Boilers trying to win in the Big House for the first time since 1966. Kirk Herbstreit likes our chances, and I've gotta say that I do, too (at the risk of sounding like a Homer). And how big is the pressure on the Wolverines? Not only do they effectively knock themselves out of the Big Ten running if they lose again, but they've got matchups with the two remaining undefeated teams in the conference back-to-back (Michigan State next week).

Britney & Madonna's "Me Against the Music" is one of those rare singles which is actually improved by its accompanying video - Madonna, especially, comes off much improved (and looks great).

Friday, October 24, 2003

Part of the reason I've not been blogging these past two days is work - i.e., I've had lots to do at work. [Today we were offsite all day, seeing ghetto mamas en masse.] Another part is that I've discovered the joys of making mp3 CDs - 800MB of mixed goodness. I'm using Adaptec, which for some reason doesn't want to let me print my playlists. But I can tell you that the first two discs are titled rock! and funk shit up. rock! is pretty straightforward and meaty, with an ample side of cheese in the forms of BulletBoys, Warrant, Winger,, and a few complementary side dishes ("Smack My Bitch Up," "Fuck tha Police"). funk shit up is a mix of weird stuff, some of it remixed or pre-mixed (album-length mixes from Daft Punk, DJ/rupture, and Soulwax) alongside covers (Black Box Recorder doing "Uptown Top Ranking"), rarities (a demo of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"), bootlegs, and some rare original productions (from people like this guy). Wanna know more details? You know what to do.

Do you want Congress to not repeal the Assault Weapons Ban? Or do you think that it should be legal to own semiautomatic weapons such as machine guns (which are not used for hunting, so don't even try to give me that line of bullshit)? If it's the former, do this one simple thing: join the NRA Blacklist.

"The dance commander's ready for sin."
- Electric Six, "Dance Commander" (Fire, Beggars Banquet/XL, 2003)

Take that any way you want, y'all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Odds & ends:

Start saving those pennies, kids. The 5-disc Johnny Cash boxed set, Unearthed - with four discs of unreleased material - comes out 11/25.

The same day, those Dixie Chicks release a double-disc live set, Top of the World, taken from their 2003 tour, which was the biggest moneymaker in country music this year. Take that, Toby.

How long until those 613,000 copies of Clay Aiken's debut start showing up in used-CD racks? And in case you're wondering what kind of people are Aiken maniacs, I read a letter from one a couple of weeks ago in Fred Bronson's "Chart Beat Chat" which shed some light on the matter: the writer stated that Aiken will change the world of music "as much as" Kurt Cobain. Let's see here: ridiculously gifted songwriter/guitarist whom many consider the John Lennon of his generation vs. runner-up on a glorified version of Star Search? Yeah, sounds about right...

Britney's "Me Against the Music" is growing on me more with each listen. It's got a nice, tough beat, and I love the way Brit spits out the song's bridge staccato-style. The weakest link? Oh, that would be Madonna, sadly, playing proud Mama to the woman she clearly sees as the heir to her throne. Maddy's apparently now reduced to commercially releasing remixes of her commercial jingles (that would be "Into the Hollywood Groove," y'all). I weep.

The first BCS standings of the season are out. We're #8! We're #8! If we win at the Big House this weekend, watch that rise. If we topple the Buckeyes in Columbus in 3 weeks (assuming we win over Northwestern and Iowa at home in between), respect our authori-tay.

In more shocking college pigskin news, apparently college guys like porn. Who knew?

Great post from Adam this week about being a bad fag.

Fascinating new politiblog: The Swing State Project looks at each state which was carried by less than 6 percentage points in the 2000 prez election and sees what the crystal ball says about '04. Great reading for political junkies.

Got all domestic-like with Travis last night, buying a microwave and DVD player at Target (that's correctly pronounced "tar-zhay") - hey, he just moved here like 2 months ago, cut the guy some slack - and then hitting Old Country Buffet for some tasty mac'n'cheese and hot fudge sundae cake. [Lord, I sound like a certain food obsessive up north!] Then we went back to his pad and took in some of I Love the '80s Strikes Back. Yeah, it's alternately called "We're VH-1, and we know how to ride a winning horse to death better than almost anyone," but I dare you not to be entertained upon hearing Rich Eisen talk about the Pointer Sisters' orgasms (re: "I'm So Excited"), et cetera.

I've never been a big fan of Elliott Smith; he's loaded with talent, but his music just generally isn't my style, though I was thrilled to see him Oscar-nommed a couple years back for "Miss Misery." Unfortunately it won't happen again - he committed suicide and has died at the age of 34. R.I.P., Elliott. Really, I hope you can rest in peace, something you found so difficult in life.

Fuckin' A, "Lucky Star" by Basement Jaxx featuring Dizzee Rascal rocks my body the way I wanna rock J-Tim's. It rocks me like a hurricane and kicks like a mule - especially played loud, on headphones. The Jaxx just push the meters into the red, up to 11, piling on everything they can think of and then taking additional suggestions from the audience (flamenco guitars!). Dizzee rips shit like a cheetah biting into a tender gazelle for dinner - is he the most important, not British, but from-any-land MC at the moment? "Lucky Star" is an incredibly subversive single (not song, single, as in available-in-stores - except in the fucking U.S., of course), bending over the pop form like PiL's "Public Image." [For those who've forgotten, it was Armand Van Helden who said a few years back that Jaxx had taken house music and "fucked it up the ass." Who's gonna disagree?] Just with this one single, they've upped the ante considerably, but when you add on the thoroughly smashing album of the year Kish Kash, Simon and Felix are clearly operating in another league now. Beyoncé, honey, I'm sorry, but you're gonna have to step down; there's a new single of the year in town.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction" was a massive top-10 hit all over Europe this summer, and makes excellent use of computer voice software. And it might be the best video of the year, so watch it. The definition of "cheeky," on multiple levels.

I'm over here.

What an... interesting, always interesting, past 48 hours or so. If I back it up to about 72 hours, it included a hot three-way, but I'm not doing that, so it doesn't. And now, wouldn't it figure, the damned monogamy question is looming, potentially on my horizon. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I now feel pretty comfortable referring to Travis (5th paragraph) as the new boyfriend. I'm often afraid that if I put to fine a point on such things too quickly I'll end up sabotaging them, but I'm fairly sure that's not the case here. He's not the slut I am (which is where that monogamy issue may come up in the future), and in fact, isn't like me in a number of ways, but that's good. Our differences honestly seem to compliment each other. No, we're not wearing rings or anything like that, but I enjoy his company, he seems to enjoy mine, and the more time I spend with Travis, the more I like him. And though I'm sure it will shock a number of people reading (are you sitting down? Are you?), we still haven't had sex. It's funny: I'll jump in bed with someone I've just (barely) met, but when it comes to someone I really like, I wait. I never claimed to be easily understood, or particularly rational.

Sunday night, Travis called and we went to Village Inn for dinner. I've never had bad food there, nor bad service (I swear, they employ some yummy-looking faggots as waiters there), and Sunday was no exception. Except that Sunday, my food was bad - as in, food poisoning-bad. As in blowing-chunks bad. Ew. However, I didn't realize that until about 3am. There was much more evening between dinner and, um, its reappearance. We were just kinda driving around when I realized we were heading down Holland Road, and I suggested to Travis that we stop by The Rainbow Cactus (still being fairly new to town, he'd not yet been there, and I hadn't seen one of their Sunday drag shows in some time). So we stopped, and got to talk with Kevin (a/k/a Ms. Kitty Kumere), DJ Airrick, and his paramour Lloyd (a/k/a Vivian's grandma), none of whom I'd seen in some time (Kevin eloquently pointed out, "Well, bitch, if you'd ever come out [to the clubs], you'd see people!"). Naomi Black was headlining the show Sunday night, and she looked great; she's lost a ton of weight and can do her Janet moves again. She's one fierce diva.

We left the Cactus about 1am, which is when the real fun began: Travis had locked his keys in his car. We called a coworker of his, who had a lock-picking kit. He couldn't get in the car. Travis's house keys were, of course, on the same keychain with his car keys. Then we went to his place, but his coworker couldn't get that lock open, either. Around that time was when my country-fried steak skillet decided to say hello again, which is always fun. We ended up getting a ride back to my place in Norfolk from said coworker, circa 4am. I'm frankly amazed that my lack of gastrointestinal fortitude didn't awaken my roommate. Travis was a doll to take care of me under such circumstances.

Monday proper, after I finally started returning to some semblance of normal, we took a cab from my place to Travis's to go to his rental office and get spare keys. After finally obtaining entrance to his pad (and his spare set of both house and car keys), we then had to call another cab to get back to the car, left in the Rainbow Cactus parking lot and mercifully still there. Then, everything back to the way it should be, we ventured back to his place to watch digital cable (the fact that Whitney Houston is no longer presenting the Local Weather Station truly saddens me) and play with the little baby kitten he found under his car three days ago. It's not more than a couple weeks old, and is appallingly adorable. It's so tiny it can fit in one hand!

To review: food poisoning - keys locked in car - new boyfriend. The good outweighs the bad, trust. Yay, queen!

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Odds & ends:

Jane's Addiction's "Just Because" is still a killer, roaring and head-faking you like the best Zep.

For the second issue in a row, I find myself recommending Rolling Stone. It's their "Women Who Rock" issue, with Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys, and Eve on the cover, but the single-page features on those three women aren't why you should pick this up. I mentioned the story Touré wrote about Lauryn Hill last week, but there's also a great rant by Michael Moore about the connections between Bush and the Bin Laden family, and most of all, a superb, long piece by Jancee Dunn on Dolly Parton. I'd excerpt it, but don't want to spoil the fun; suffice it to say there's more than one laugh-out-loud moment in the profile.

Until Mandy Moore covered it for her new record Coverage (in stores now!), I'd never figured out the line in Joan Armatrading's "Drop the Pilot" which follows the title exhortation. It's "Drop the pilot/Try my balloon." [Of course, the next line is "Drop the monkey/Smell my perfume." Armatrading sure has a way with words.]

I heart Yahoo! groups. Yeah, there's thousands and thousands covering a myriad of interests, but I like 'em for their natural purpose: providing free pornographic photos to the world. God bless you, Al Gore, for inventing the internet.

Damn you, Joe, it's all your fault. After his post last month about The Darkness, I gave current (U.K.) single "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" another spin, and you know what? Dammit, it's a fucking great pop-rock song in the truest sense - a rock song that makes for perfect, undeniable pop. It's got a hook as sticky as caramel and is so ridiculously over-the-top you can't help but raise your fist and scream along. I'm still not sold on the Darkness as a band-cum-concept - too many of their songs are a little too wink-wink for my taste - but "Thing Called Love" is pure sugar, in a "you've got the peaches, I've got the cream" sense. Find out for yourself; it's one of this week's downloads (to your right).

Of a similar ilk is the latest single by Detroit's Electric Six, "Dance Commander." The guitar work is reminiscent of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and the song's coda references "Danger! High Voltage!" For all the ink NYC bands like the Rapture are getting right now, Electric Six are making true rock-dance crossover - rock songs you can (and [should] want to) dance to. This is better by furlongs than "Gay Bar," and might even be better than the inimitable "Danger!" Get down, get down!

The Boilers are top 10, baby! Woo hoo!

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Well, well, well... there are only two teams left who are undefeated in Big Ten play, and - I dare anyone to tell me they predicted this at the start of the season - they're Purdue (26-23 winners over Wisconsin thanks to a FG with :03 left - Ben Jones made four of 'em today, while QB Kyle Orton threw a mighty impressive 38 of 55 for 411 yards with 1 TD and no interceptions) and shocking Michigan State (whose DeAndra Cobb had a 100-yard kickoff return to help lead the Spartans [along with QB Jeff Smoker's 252 yards] over Minnesota 44-38). MSU is now 4-0 conference, 7-1 overall, while the Boilers are 3-0, 6-1. This is not your Daddy's Big Ten, y'all, no it ain't. And it's within the realm of possibility that Purdue (#13 AP/#15 USA Today/ESPN) could find itself ranked in the top 10 when new polls come out tomorrow, for the first time in - in a reallylongtime. How long's it been, Stump? Please share your knowledge with our studio audience.

Remember Hurricane Isabel, which hit us one month ago today? Remember my trip to Kansas, 3 weeks ago? Well, I'm finally dropping off film from both (I took a roll of Isabel pics, and a roll-and-a-half in KS) today, so I should have 'em back next week and be able to post some pics. Which will be approximately 4 weeks after anyone cares.

In lieu of those, here's a photo of a hot, beefy lifeguard from Australia.

Odds & ends:

Is there something seemingly wrong about reading a book titled Boyfriend 101 while at a fuckbuddy's place? [That's a rhetorical question; no responses needed.]

Yeah, I picked up Mariah Carey's The Remixes. It's divided into two discs, one of club mixes, the other hip-hop. The hip-hop disc is utterly, sublimely slamming (and features Da Brat on almost every track). Jermaine Dupri is nasty, but has been very good to Mariah in the producer's chair. Full review coming.

Get your queer theory lit geek on with Chrisafer's latest post.

Midnight Madness, bay-bee! Are you ready for some college hoops? I know I am.

Friday, October 17, 2003

For the first time in the [Purdue football coach Joe] Tiller era there is experience, toughness, offensive balance, defense, special teams and leadership all at the same time.

That's's Bill Curry on one of tomorrow's major marquee matchups, 6-1 Purdue at 6-1 Wisconsin, which he considers a sign of the "changing of the guard" in the Big Ten. Michigan's vulnerable, Ohio State's vulnerable, Penn State frankly sucks. But Iowa's dangerous (again), and so is Michigan State, not even a year removed from their 4-8 campaign. [College football's feel-good story of the year is MSU QB Jeff Smoker.]

Tomorrow, in fact, is a major day in the Big Ten, with 3 games each involving a pair of ranked teams. In addition to the game in Madison (#12 vs. #15), there's #18 Michigan State travelling to #19 Minnesota in what should be a fun-as-hell shootout, and #8 Ohio State trying to bounce back from their first loss in 20 games as they host #9 Iowa. [The 7th of the league's ranked teams, #17 Michigan, essentially gets a bye week, hosting 1-6 Illinois.] Penn State? Indiana? Northwestern? Unless you're a fan of any of those teams, you don't care, and I don't, either, so why pretend?

If both teams in the Metrodome tomorrow score fewer than 40 points, I'll be stunned. MSU-MN is a battle of high-powered offenses, and should be great fun (noon, ESPN2). After last week's Red Soxian (or Cubbish?) slipped-out-of-our-hands loss to Michigan, expect the Golden Gophers to bounce back in a close dogfight. But if the Spartans pull off the win, Smoker and coach John Smith had better start getting mentioned for end-of-season honors.

Ohio State hadn't lost in 19 games until travelling to a very soggy Madison last weekend. Now, suddenly, they look fallable. Iowa isn't perfect, but Coach Kirk Ferentz is making a case for coach of the year honors for taking a team with very few returners from last season's 10-1 squad and looking like he'll do it again. Both teams are ranked in the top 10. This is a big game - but it's in Columbus. OSU is beatable, but will likely bounce back and top the Hawkeyes in a close contest.

And then there's my beloved Boilers, who if not for a 3-point season-opening loss to Bowling Green (the MAC's better than you think) would be undefeated. Wisconsin are ripe for a letdown this week, and may be taking Purdue as easier than they'll be. The Badgers' victory over OSU made every stand up and take notice that this is a team to be reckoned with - but as their home loss to UNLV (an embarassing 23-5) proved, they can be beaten at home. This will be rock 'em sock 'em football, the stuff autumn Saturdays are made of and for. Call me a homer if you will, but I think Purdue's ready to step up, and win by a TD.

Whoever you're rooting for, enjoy what should be another great Saturday of college football.

So the Yankees win again, blah blah blah. Is there anyone, outside of Yankees fans, who gives a damn or even wants to watch a Marlins-Yanks World Series? [Do Marlins fans even exist?] Yawn. After the amazing string of games in the playoffs, watch Fox have some of their worst ratings ever for a Fall Classic starting Saturday. And watch no one care.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Janine and I have been friends a long time. A long time: 23 years, to be exact. We've known each other - and been friends - since we met in first grade. Janine sent me an email today:


You were in my dreams a couple nights ago. We were both teachers, working with intermediate age students. I left my class for some reason and when I wandered back school had just let out. As children swirled around me running out of school, you approached, handed me a strangely shaped blue and white plastic object, and told me that you had confiscated it from one of my students. The bright blue side that I looked at had a picture of a scantily clothed man (looking like one of those 50s bodybuilders) and directions for the toy....which basically said that pressing a certain area of this object would release the scent of a man whore.


This says more than you realize, in all likelihood, about both me and Janine (or, as I called her in 4th grade, "J-9." I was into catchy nicknames back then; it didn't stick).

This is the mini-version of Myers-Briggs, and pretty much gets me, as it were, accurately. My scores broken down:
Extroverted (E) 55.88% Introverted (I) 44.12%
Intuitive (N) 67.74% Sensing (S) 32.26%
Feeling (F) 73.08% Thinking (T) 26.92%
Perceiving (P) 53.13% Judging (J) 46.88%

ENFP - "Journalist". Uncanny sense of the motivations of others. Life is an exciting drama. 8.1% of total population.
Take Free Myers-Briggs Personality Test

Jill Scott is divine, with a voice that can belt like Aretha (yeah, I said it) yet she also possesses Re's control. She's an around-the-way girl who can get as country as you wanna be but is also down with jazz and drum'n'bass. She cowrote the Roots' mondo hit "You Got Me" (y'know, the one with Badu - was originally Jill), and her debut, Who Is Jill Scott?, was a classic word-of-mouth slow-burner of an album, going platinum a year after its release, her profile slowly and surely getting bigger & bigger. Her second release was the half-live/half-studio Experience: Jill Scott 826+ (Hidden Beach/Epic, 2001), and it's here that we really see her talents in full flower. Vamping off her band Fatback Taffy, Jill oohs, aahs, vooms, and shoops her way through over an hour's worth of material recorded at a DC tour stop in the autumn of 2001. And on the album's not-entirely-successful second disc of studio tracks (the "+" in the title), she expands her sonic pallette, collaborating with British d'n'b merchants 4 Hero and attempting some different things (again, not always successful, but what hits, hits hard, and you've gotta give the girl props for stretching out rather than recording 9 more variations on "The Way"). Much like with Erykah Badu coming off her Live album, I can't wait to see what Jill's got next.

Odds & ends:

A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my roommate Michael, who doesn't look a day over 38. :)

The details concerning yesterday's NYC Ferry disaster are horrific - 10 dead, 42 injured, 3 more missing. Fortunately, Adam's fine (he's the only person I know whom I know takes the Staten Island Ferry). These are the kinds of things that make you thankful for what you've got.

I feel kind of sorry for Steve Bartman - but if you're a Cubs fan, you can't help but think of what might have been. The more I think about how close the Cubbies were, the sadder I feel.

Fortunately, to (partially) provide a balm for my raw emotions, I've been listening to Incognito's great 1996 album Remixed, a record full of positivity and love - and great, classic house tracks. Masters at Work work their magic on a cover of Side Effect's "Always There" (voiced by the phenomenal Jocelyn Brown) and provide a tidy dub of "Everyday" (as well as a Nuyorican Dub of "Jacob's Ladder"), Roger Sanchez offers three reworkings, including a truly Uplifting Club Mix of "Givin' It Up," and David Morales puts forth his take on "Always There" (utterly sumptuous). CJ Mackintosh (whatever happened to him?), Pete Rock, and Incognito leader Bluey's son Daniel Maunick also put their best feet forward onto the dancefloor, with Maunick's d'n'b take on "Barumba" a sexy, sinuous highlight. This disc never fails to brighten my mood, and for that alone, it's a keeper. Its passion and quality are delicious gravy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003


Doh! If against all odds, the Cubs somehow lose Game 7 tonight, someone in Chicago will hunt that dolt down and hurt him, really hurt him. I'm not saying it's right, mind you; I'm just saying it'll happen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Jayson Stark is one of's best writers, and his piece today about what it means to be a Cub fan over the years perfectly exemplifies why. An excerpt:

So in many ways, that Cubs loss Sunday in Game 5 in Florida could turn out to be a poetic stroke of unintentional genius. If the Cubs are going to the World Series, there's only one place they ought to clinch it. And that place sure isn't next to Exit 2X off the Florida Turnpike.

"It's probably fate," said Kenny Lofton, a Cubs fan as a kid, a Cubs outfielder now. "We get to go back to Wrigley and celebrate at Wrigley."

The coolest thing about that celebration, though -- if it happens -- is that it won't just be the Loftons and Sosas and Priors and Bakers doing the celebrating. It will be Billy Williams and Ron Santo and Don Kessinger and Ferguson Jenkins. It will be Rick Sutcliffe and Ryne Sandberg and Leon Durham and Bob Dernier. It will be Phil Cavaretta and Frankie Baumholz and George Altman and Peanuts Lowry. And of course, Ernie Banks.

Ain't it true? 8pm. Fox. NLCS Game 6. Go Cubbies! [Oh, what I'd give to be in Chicago, let alone Wrigleyville, tonight!]

"[A] monstrous orgy of CD-R mail-trading and playlist pimping": Nate's define-yourself-in-the-space-of-one-700MB-mp3-CD-R challenge, one of the finest ideas I've seen in eons. How would you do it? Read the rules, and if you'd like, toss your hats in my ring in the Comments box (I'm working on mine already, trust). Yet another great, obsessive idea from I Love Music, my favorite message board ever (when I have time to wade through the thick of it).

Monday, October 13, 2003

Odds & ends:

I can now talk about µ-ziq and type his name correctly, thanks to Webmonkey's special characters page (and thanks to Paul for the heads-up). Not that I actually have anything to say at the moment about µ-ziq; I just like making that "mu" character.

As seems to be the trend these days, R.E.M.'s forthcoming (Warner Bros. years) best-of, In Time, will feature a first pressing with a bonus rarities disc. It's got a rather yummy tracklisting.

When Travis and I went to see Kill Bill Volume One last night, I was appalled to see, about 5 minutes into the film, a woman walk in who was the complete epitome of "ghetto mama" walk in. The reason? Actually, there were two. First of all, she was talking, loudly, on her fucking cell phone (where are the courtesy police when you need them?). Secondly, she brought with her (what I assume were) her five count 'em five children, ranging in age from about 5 to 12. To see Kill Bill, which, will released by Miramax, ain't exactly a Disney movie. What was she doing, bringing a 5-year-old to see a 90-minute expletive-packed bloodbath like this? The phrase "there oughta be a law..." comes to mind. Disgusting.

Having more confidence is good.

Remember when the Brits referred to new jack swing as swingbeat? Why was that? Any bloggers on the other side of the pond care to share their theories? And speaking of new jack swing, how fucking great is Johnny Gill's "Rub You the Right Way" to this day, huh?

I received an email from Chuck Eddy today. for those who don't know, he's the Music Editor at The Village Voice. It was in response to an email I sent in response to an email I received from one of his interns, an email which is setting into motion the wheels which will lead to the realization of one of my greatest professional goals - and I don't care how melodramatic that sounds (no, it has nothing to do with being paid for sex!). To my utter shock and amazement, I've been invited to take part in the 2003 edition of the Voice's Pazz & Jop Critics Poll. Pazz & Jop is the nation's definitive music critics' poll, and has been since the '70s. The Voice polls every rock and pop critic in North America they can get to return a ballot to put it together. This is something which, frankly, I've fantasized about since I was 18 and reading the issue (which I still have, natch) in which Public Enemy and Sonic Youth finished 1-2 (with It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Daydream Nation, respectively). I'd read the comments and think to myself, "Someday, my comments are gonna be in there." And now, stunningly, it's a possibility. I thought that maybe in 5-10 years it might happen, after I'd gotten a few good bylines in some national magazines (goal, not dream, y'all), or perhaps sooner, if I got a position with an online zine/website. What I didn't expect to happen was to be invited to participate based solely on lil' Oh Manchester. Seriously, I know I'm gushing, but I feel like Miss America. As this wanker could most certainly tell ya, this is huge for me, up there with getting a byline in Rolling Stone. [Yeah, I know, it's not so good these days, but their last issue was very solid, and the new issue (featuring Missy, Eve, and Alicia on the cover) has a superb piece of journalism by Touré on "The Mystery of Lauryn Hill."] Of course, there's another big reason P&J is such a big deal for me. He started it. He's still the Pazz & Jop grand poobah. His name is Christgau. And he is funky.

Holy shit. If I'm responding this way now, I can hardly imagine what I'll be like when I actually get my ballot!

What we gonna do right here is go back - way back. Back in time...

So, since Friday I was spinning Masters at Work's Tenth Anniversary Collection Part Two, it only makes sense that today should feature Part One, which collects much of their best work from 1990-95. It's broken down by disc:
01: Vocals
02: Dubs and maw vocals
03: Beats and grooves
04: Tools and loops
Disc 01 is absolute house perfection, vocal house like you wish it always was (or at least always was during those years; some of the work does sound a little dated, circa 10 years on).

Amongst its highlights is Marc Anthony's "Ride On The Rhythm" - yes, that Marc Anthony. Back before he became the slightly boring if golden-voiced Spanglish crooner we know him as today, he was primarily a salsa artist, making occasional forays into the NYC dance scene, especially for his pals Kenny and Louie. Marc's voice sounds a little thinner back in the day, but no less powerful. And it's set like a diamond in a gold band against the house production of MAW.

"Love & Happiness (Yemaya Y Ochun)" by River Ocean featuring India is utterly timeless, with India singing mostly in Spanish (she's the heir to the legacy of Celia Cruz) and Kenny and Louie (her now-ex-husband) ramping up the drama as the track goes on, until it all culminates in a refrain of "love and happiness" and a simple, beautiful piano figure. She's not only the MAW muse because of her involvement with Louie Vega, but also because no one sings their songs better.

Then there's "Helpless (I Don't Know What To Do Without You)," from the film Jeffrey. The Masters took this track by Urbanized featuring Silvio - which, in all fairness, I likely wouldn't love as much as I do were it not featured in said film, which gets me every damn time - and mostly just extended and ever-so-slightly augmented it for their Kenlou Remix. They knew there wasn't much that needed to be done to this clean house track, so they didn't. The sentiment expressed here is classically MAW, all about unrequited love; I'd love to hear India cover it, even though her forté is often songs with a bit more ferocity (cf. "Backfired").

No one - I repeat, nobody - makes classic, classy vocal house like Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez and Little Louie Vega. No one.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Kill Bill Volume 1 is exceedingly violent (especially in terms of blood), incredibly shot, and ridiculously entertaining. It's not a masterpiece of cinema, no. But it is mostly pretty great. Uma Thurman gives a very brave performance as The Bride; I can't imagine anyone else in that role. Kill Bill is quite clearly a labor of love on the part of Tarantino, his homage to the samurai films which have so influenced his work, and it works. I'm definitely eager to see Volume 2. One caveat, however: Kill Bill was originally a three-hour film, which Miramax sliced into two parts. Besides questioning their logic on that level (since when is a three-hour film too long?), I understand - because this 1.5-hour film felt like three hours. That's not a complaint, just a response to the film.

The Marlins survived tonight, beating the Cubbies 4-0 and sending the NLCS back to Wrigley for Game 6. As much as I'd've liked to see the Northsiders start Prior and Wood in the first two games of the World Series, this is okay, too - it means that Wrigley's gonna be rockin' Tuesday night for the Cubs to advance to their first World Series since 1945. Bank on it.

Oh, and as ugly as things were at Fenway Saturday night, that doesn't change the fact that NYC Mayor Bloomberg is an idiot - and a partisan one at that.

Odds & ends:

Paul asked me yesterday if my "dance classics" project was going to turn into one of those massive mp3-CD ones of the type that Matos and Patrin are always doing. It wasn't, but then I thought, why not? So, no more updates on picks until it's done. Though I am going to wonder aloud why it's so fucking hard to find a copy of the radio edit of Lidell Townsell's superb '92 house crossover track "Nu Nu." Why?!

Damn. Well, I'll still take 5-1. The Colts are so a playoff team, baby - and this year, we're actually gonna win a couple of those pesky playoff games.

What an insane day of college football yesterday (memo to ESPN: can the contrived catchphrases. "Separation Saturday"? C'mon) - if you don't believe me, just check out the new coaches' poll. Purdue looked good topping JoePa's boys - the Boilers are looking like a very complete squad this year - but I'm nervous about next week, when we visit Madison. Especially after Wisconsin ended Ohio State's 19-game win streak last night.

Finally! Film geeks the world - or at least U.S. - over had Friday circled on the calendars, as that was the release date for the first film in 6 years from a certain Mr. Tarantino. Kill Bill Volume 1 has arrived - and Quentin's Umatastic martial arts extravaganza made off with over $22 million this weekend. Travis and I are going to see it tonight, and you know I'll have something to say about it afterwards. Yay, ultraviolence! [In the cover story of last week's Village Voice, RJ Smith called it "the most violent American movie ever made." Yowza.

Some may find this inconsistent with my oblique references to last night's trip to Raleigh (it's a free country, think what you want), but tonight'll be my fourth date with Travis. I've mentioned him previously; he moved here about a month ago from Las Vegas, and we struck up a fast friendship. And, well, now it appears to be moving nice 'n' slowly to a possible next level. He's cute, intelligent beyond words, clever, kinda shy (which is always sexy), and fun. As ever, watch this space.

I'm still a wholehearted Dean supporter, but am shall-we-say intrigued by General Wesley Clark. Now, of course, his campaign has a blog (whither Dean goes, so goest the rest of the Dem candidates), Generally Speaking. Great title.

I need some new adverbs - or to use less of them in general.

10/11/03, 945pm: I’m on the 12th floor of the Clarion Hotel-State Capitol in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina (Matt, I tried to reach you – damned unlisted numbers!). The Clarion is a round hotel, which fascinates and thrills me. It means that each and every room is angular, like a slice of pie. It also means that each and every room has a balcony, which makes me incredibly gleeful. Balconies are our friends (and as long as I don’t look directly down, I’m fine). Viewed from downtown, Raleigh/Durham is gorgeous: a downtown lit up like so many proverbial Christmas trees, surrounded by rolling hills dotted with radio towers amidst their blanket of trees. It turns out I’m only two blocks from Flex, Raleigh’s leather/bear club, which is a lot of fun – and if I have my way, will be even more fun than usual for me, tonight. I came down here with a friend to see how much trouble we can get into, and trust – I’m not worried.

After the frankly crap week I had, I needed an impromptu trip along these lines. The drive down from Norfolk was perfectly leisurely, meandering our way to 95 South via US 58. Lots of tree damage, more the further west we drove – reminders of Isabel, who seems so far in the past but in reality was proving herself a bitch barely 3 weeks ago.

10/12/03, 330pm: ...and a good night was had by all. Flex was fun; the local leathermen were having a bar night, which meant jello shooters and lots of guys in chaps and leather pants.

And I got further confirmation that apparently, not-thinking/realizing-you're-flirting is just as good as flirting. Since when is making conversation (about the Dem presidential candidates, no less) actually flirting? Well, I guess it just is. Thus, delightful to hear that apparently I'm rather good at flirting. I had no idea I was even doing it!

Laid around in bed until 10am this morning - blissful - and then hit a Golden Corral for their breakfast buffet (which has improved greatly, I must say) before heading out of the Triangle. Gorgeous weather today, sunny and in the 70s, so the drive back was v. peaceful.

Not a lot to tell, otherwise - well, what else there is to tell, I'm certainly not sharing here. Some - many? - of you will be happier that way. Those who aren't, feel free to let me know.

Just back from a lovely, much-needed overnight trip to Raleigh, NC, which I'll post about later today. But before I do anything, I want to alert everyone that Marcello Carlin is back with a new blog, which appears on first glance to (unsurprisingly) hold up to the impeccable standards set with The Church of Me. It's titled The Naked Maja, and his first posts discuss, amongst others, Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" and the new Belle and Sebastian album. I've said before, and will continue to do so: the blogosphere is so greatly enhanced by having Marcello as part of it.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Still working on the "dance classics" project. Thanks for all your suggestions, and keep 'em coming (use the Comment box, if you'd be so kind).

This week's downloads are now up (to your right), and they're both on the list.

Diana Ross came back big time in the late '70s once she embraced dance music - not simplistic, tacky disco, but dance music with strings, horns, and passion behind it, expertly written and produced. Two of her big hits pre-diana were "No One Gets The Prize" and "The Boss." Motown, in a genius move, had the two songs mixed together expressly for discotheque consumption, and the resulting 12" was one of the biggest dancefloor hits of 1979. For the first time ever, it's now available on a Diana CD, on the bonus disc to the diana: Deluxe Edition, just released - full of one dance classic after another.

Most people know Luther Vandross as a balladeer, but when he revs up and lets loose, he makes some sterling dancefloor tracks, as well - all the way back to Change's "The Glow of Love," sampled by Janet on "All For You." [Did you know that Luther also sang backup for Bowie in the '70s on hits such as "Young Americans" and "Fame"?] In 1998, for his first album on Virgin, I Know, Luther decided to toss the kids in the clubs a bone - and what a burnished-gold bone it is. "Are You Using Me?" is cowritten and produced by Masters at Work, and bears their signature stamp of funky guitar, swirling strings, and lush backing vocals. The best part, however, is that this scrumptuous musical sundae is topped by those perfect pipes of Vandross. It appears here in its Masters at Work Mix, extended from the album version. Masters at Work = classic. Luther Vandross = classic. MAW + Luther = need I really say more?

Additions to the list:
1. 808 State - Pacific (6:28)
4. Basement Jaxx - Miracles Keep On Playin' (Red Alert Remix) (5:56)
7. Bob Sinclar - I Feel For You (6:03)
9. Chaka Khan - I Know You, I Live You (Tony Humphries Mix) (7:47)
11. Daft Punk - One More Time (single edit) (3:54)
17. Fela Kuti - Expensive Shit (13:12)
18. GQ - Disco Nights (Rock-Freak) (3:57)
20. Indeep - Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (5:40)
21. Janet Jackson - Throb (4:35)
28. Machine - There But For The Grace Of God (7:12)
29. Madonna - Deeper And Deeper (4:54)
32. Moby - Everytime You Touch Me (Beatmasters 7" Mix) (3:52)
35. Odyssey - Native New Yorker (5:29)
39. Real McCoy - Come and Get Your Love (3:14)
40. RuPaul - Supermodel (You Better Work) (3:59)
46. The Gap Band - Early In The Morning (3:57)
47. The Gap Band - You Dropped A Bomb On Me (4:06)

[Can't decide which Gap Band track to go with!]

13. Fela Kuti & Africa '70 - Africa - Centre of the World (17:31)
19. Linda Clifford - Runaway Love (MAW rmx) (5:54)
28. René & Angela - I'll Be Good (7:25)

Still can't decide on Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover"... not sure just how danceable it is. But there's gotta be a Prince song on the list, right? Also, as you can see, I did add a Madonna track; I'd somehow forgotten how undeniable "Deeper and Deeper" is.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Odds & ends:

Enuff Z'Nuff - the tie-dyed hair metal merchants who had a minor MTV hit back in '89 with "Fly High Michelle" - have released 11 albums. Joe told me so, and their website confirms it, and also includes this shocker: one of the guests on their 2000 album 10 was none other than Billy Corgan. This blows my mind 69 times.

Kos has written the most well-thought-out, intelligent piece I've yet seen about the blogosphere and political process. It's really quite stellar.

After last night's post and its attendant project (which will assuredly be ongoing; thanks for all the comments thus far, and keep 'em coming), I'm unsurprisingly in a rhythm 'n' vibes mood/mode today, perfect for pulling out BBE UK's 2x4-disc Masters at Work anthology, Masters at Work: The 10th Anniversary Collection. I've been listening to Part Two: 1996-2000, especially disc 2, which includes, among other tracks:
+"MAW Expensive," their magnificent take on Fela Kuti's "Expensive Shit"
+the utter unalloyed genius that is the Nuyorican Soul remix of Roni Size/Reprazent's "Watching Windows," in which drum'n'bass effortlessly morphs into samba
+Atmosfear's "Dancing In Outer Space," which is simply future/past dancefloor magic, forward-thinking saxtastic space-trip disco fevah

Is it 4:30pm yet? This week has done nothing but drag, and I am so over it. Unfortunately, it's 3 weeks until my next (mini-)vacation (Halloween weekend in DC!). I'm already ready.

The Church of Me is apparently no more, but I'm keeping Marcello's blog linked because it features some of the most amazing writing I've ever read, and not just about music, either. Hopefully he'll grace us all with his new venture, whatever that may be, soon.

Yesterday saw Oh Manchester get at least 40 hits from folks looking for Go Home Productions' "Sly Beyoncé Walks Like A N*E*R*D," apparently after it was mentioned/"reviewed" by P----f--- (if you think I want hits from people looking for that, you've gotta be kidding). You're in luck - due to all the demand, Mr. GHP himself has put this magnificent Sly Stone/Beyoncé/Bangles/N*E*R*D soundclash back up for download from his website for a limited time. Get to it.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

I'm compiling a set of what I consider dance classics - songs which are not only very danceable, but dripping with soul (well, except for Bizarre Inc. - and yes, Tubeway Army's got soul), funky, and filled with life as it should be lived. This means no Thunderpuss remixes, no Madonna (sad but true), no "big disco classics" (generally too obvious). I'd like your suggestions, please - seriously. Leave 'em in the Comment box, if you'd be so kind. And to give you a feel for what I'm going for, here's what I've got so far:

1. Alexander O'Neal - Fake (3:56)
2. Barry White - Let The Music Play (3:34)
3. Bebe Winans - Thank You (MAW Mix) (10:14)
4. Bill Withers - Lovely Day (4:17)
5. Bizarre Inc. f/Angie Brown - I'm Gonna Get You (5:05)
6. BT - Blue Skies (f/Tori Amos) (Rabbit In The Moon Phathomless Blue Remix) (10:18)
7. Chic - My Forbidden Lover (4:39)
8. Dan Hartman - Vertigo/Relight My Fire (9:43)
9. Diana Ross - No One Gets The Prize/The Boss (6:41)
10. Donna Summer - Heaven Knows (5:58)
11. Eddie Kendricks - Girl You Need A Change Of Mind (7:45)
12. Everything But The Girl - Corcovado (Knee Deep Classic Ben Watt Re-Edit) (6:50)
13. Fela Kuti & Africa '70 - Africa - Centre of the World (17:31)
14. Heatwave - Grooveline (4:15)
15. Jennifer Lopez - If You Had My Love (Pablo Flores Remix) (8:57)
16. Jermaine Jackson - Let's Get Serious (3:30)
17. Julie McKnight - Diamond Life (Full Main Mix) (8:50)
18. Kenny Lattimore - If I Lose My Woman (M.A.W. Mix) (8:46)
19. Linda Clifford - Runaway Love (MAW rmx) (5:54)
20. Luther Vandross - Are You Using Me? (8:20)
21. Masters At Work f/India - Backfired (Promo Mix) (7:33)
22. Michael Jackson - Remember The Time (Silky Soul 12" Mix) (7:05)
23. New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle (6:42)
24. Nuyorican Soul - I Love the Nightlife (Disco 'Round) (f/India) (7:01)
25. Pet Shop Boys - Before (Classic Paradise Mix - Love To Infinity) (7:57)
26. Phreek - Weekend (8:15)
27. Prince - I Wanna Be Your Lover (5:51)
28. René & Angela - I'll Be Good (7:25)
29. Roy Ayers Ubiquity - Running Away (6:59)
30. Shannon - Let The Music Play (5:30)
31. Spiller - Groovejet (If This Ain't Love) (f/Sophie Ellis-Bextor) (3:47)
32. Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You (4:21)
33. SWV - Right Here/Human Nature Extended Mix (5:38)
34. The Brothers Johnson - Stomp! (4:08)
35. The Jacksons - Can You Feel It (4:02)
36. The Streets - Weak Become Heroes (Ashley Beedle's Love Bug Vocal) (8:13)
37. Tubeway Army - Are 'Friends' Electric? (5:23)
38. Whitney Houston - Queen Of The Night (CJ Mackintosh Remix) (3:45)
39. Womack & Womack - Teardrops (Extended Version) (5:03)
40. Yoko Ono - Walking On Thin Ice (Danny Tenaglia Mix ) (12:37)

Odds & ends, all-sports edition:

About time the NFL did something about Sapp. Warren Sapp, as good as he may be on the field - and he is - can be summed up in two words: fat-ass bitch (the hyphen makes "fat-ass" one word). You just don't run through your opponent's pregame drills. That shows absolutely no class. But Sapp's never been known for that, now, has he? Go eat some more lard, tubby. And don't bother calling when you go into cardiac arrest.

The Bucs are 2-2, so why are people like Chris Mortensen still picking them for the Super Bowl? I understand we're only 1/4 of the way through the season, but still.

Nothing against Annika Sorenstam, who is clearly one of the best athletes in the world right now, or the LPGA - but all you have to do to get into the Hall of Fame is play 15 tournaments 10 years in a row? I'm not saying I could do it, but just think if that were the case for other sports... in all likelihood, Keith Van Horn would end up in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Think about it.

Very good news: Leander Paes hopes to be back on the court in 2-3 weeks. And he doesn't have a brain tumor as originally thought/feared, "just" a parasitic infection - but that means he is, and will continue to, getting better. Can't wait to see him and Martina take the court at the All-England Club next year, where they're defending Mixed Doubles champs.

The NCAA is moving the 3-point line back. Good. Let's make it really mean something when you drain a trey.

100 Grand is the best candy bar ever. And thanks to its webpage, I learned that part of the reason it's so appealling is its "inherent association with money." I never knew!

I want the new Deluxe Edition of Diana Ross's diana album so fucking badly it's almost causing me pain. Sasha Frere-Jones reviews it in his new "Mixing Desk" column for Slate this week, too. Not only does it have the original album (her best ever, the one featuring "Upside Down" and "I'm Coming Out," and an album which led Robert Christgau to state that "not since Lady Sings the Blues has Ms. R. been forced into such a becoming straitjacket") it also includes the never-released Chic Organisation mix - amazingly, even though Rodgers and Edwards produced the whole album, their final mix wasn't used; Motown brought in someone else to create a more Ross-centric version for final release. And as if that weren't enough, there's a bonus disc of Diana dance mixes, and not those crappy boom-boom "club" mixes which have proliferated over the past decade. These are mixes like the original DJ promo-only edit/mix of "No One Gets the Prize/The Boss," heretofore never available on a Diana album, and the 10:25 extended mix of "Love Hangover." This is history, y'all; this is disco fever, dance nirvana. Who wants to get it for me? My birthday's in less than 2 months, you know...

I've been a fan of the mighty Sonic Youth going on 15 years now. During that time, they've put out a couple of the most important albums of their time. They've disappointed me on rare occasions, but they've never let me down. They put on one of the most ferocious shows I've ever seen (Bloomington, IN, IU Student Union, early '91, waited an hour and a half in 35-degree weather wearing just a sweat-soaked t-shirt, no coat, to meet them, and it was worth the ensuing cold, 'cause they're so fuckin' cool). And they've taken chances that no other band on a major label would ever dare (except, in some ways, Pearl Jam).

One of those ways is the way in which Thurston, Kim, Lee, and Steve (and now Jim) somehow got Geffen to agree to allow them to release other albums on their own SYR imprint. Foremost among those for me is 1999's Goodbye 20th Century, two discs of SY taking on contemporary classical composers from John Cage and Steve Reich to Christiann Wolff and Yoko Ono (!). It's one of my favorite Sonic Youth albums, ever. This is free form experimental noise at its finest, the natural guitarrorist companion to Ellipsis Arts' triple-CD comp/box-set OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music.

Sonic Youth, like Hendrix before them, have never been afraid of feedback, and in fact embrace it as another note, another tone. They're just as comfortable working in ambient, abstract structures as writing pop songs (see Dirty's "100%"). To me, they've always been the accessible epitome of the avant garde. Their music would have been the perfect accompaniment for the experimental films of Maya Deren back in the '40s, had they existed back then. SY are utterly fearless and utterly independent, never following anyone's muse but their own. They're true, honest originals, so much so that if they had never gotten together, we might not have known we needed to invent them.

Five crucial Sonic Youth albums:
Daydream Nation (Blast First! 1988)
Sister (SST, 1987)
Goo (DGC, 1990)
Goodbye 20th Century (SYR, 1999)
Washing Machine (DGC, 1995)

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

If you can get past the obnoxious Tripod pop-ups, there's a stellar archive of Prince in Print waiting for you. It's a painfully simple premise: interviews, reviews, news pieces, and some other various various & sundry, all about Prince, all collected in one place. Say what you will about him now, but don't forget that he's the most talented motherfucker to hit the music industry in the last 25 years.

Odds & ends:

Busy day at work today, which is why there's been basically no posting.

I moved the links/blogroll; it's now to your right, underneath the singles/albums/reading, in convenient, compact form.

Donald has finally revealed the details of his torrid affair with Choire, and they're quite - torrid.

Britney's back, as you may have heard. Her new single's finally hitting - it premiered on AOL Friday, is titled "Me Against the Music," and features Madonna. And it's nice. Not the gargantuan lez-fest some may have hoped for, what it is, is a very well-produced hard pop/dance track with Madonna big-upping her girl Britney, who's all about getting down on the dancefloor. Props must be given.

Damned California being in the Pacific time zone. Stayed up past 2am last night watching C-Span for recall coverage. Predictably, I'm dragging just a wee bit today. :(

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Schwarzenegger supporters, I believe nine inch nails said it best:

"Bow down before the one you serve
You're going to get what you deserve."

- nine inch nails, "head like a hole" (pretty hate machine, TVT 1989)

"No on recall" supporters, I'm sorry. I really am.

The School of Rock rocks like nothing that rocks hard has ever rocked hard before.

Seriously, this movie rocks. I never thought I'd long for Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Waking Life) to sell out and direct a big Hollywood movie - but that's exactly what he's done, except that a) it's no sellout, b) it's not your typical big Hollywood movie, c) it was written by Mike White (Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl), and d) it stars Jack Black. It also made $19.6 million in its opening weekend. Hello, Hollywood! And about fucking time, too.

Even though Black's costars (apart from the ever-perfect Joan Cusack and White himself) are a bunch of 10-year-olds, it's never truly cloying. The kids actual play their own instruments and do their own singing. Black, of course, does as well - as well as he ever does (if you know Black, if you know Tenacious D, you know exactly what I mean). His character is in some ways a variation on that he played in High Fidelity - and as much as I'd like to claim I'm the John Cusack character in that masterpiece, I'm not. I'm Jack Black's. So I identify, if only a little (shut up, you). Two of the film's "music supervisors" are Jim O'Rourke and Liam Lynch, and the original score was written by Craig Wedren, ex-Shudder To Think. This flick has got a fine-ass rock pedigree, and wears it well. Go see it. For those about to rock, I salute you.

"I went to a record store, and started at the As and ended at the Zs," she said. "I admitted to the fact that I didn't own a Joni Mitchell record, so why don't I just pick up her greatest hits and hear what she's all about? Then I bought [the 1971 classic] Blue and [1974's] Court and Spark. That's kind of how I discovered most of these artists. Once I had an understanding of who they are, I dove in and got to know them a little more by going toward their individual albums."

Yup, she's become a music geek, God bless her. That would be Mandy Moore, in case you're wondering. Coverage is looking more and more like the pure pop-rock album of 2003; full review coming soon.

Whoever googled this is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. [We're going to ignore the fact that it led you here - though if you follow the link, you can see why, and it's not my fault, per sé.]

I generally don't cook. It's not that I'm necessarily bad at it, it's more that I simply don't enjoy it (though I do make a mean grilled ham & cheese). But perversely, I love reading about and watching food - most particularly, Food Network. My roommate finds the combination (don't cook, but watch other people cook on TV) most amusing.

Honestly, Food Network inspires me, and makes me think - well, gosh, I could make that. Most of all I love Sara's Secrets, hosted by Sara Moulton, who's the executive chef of Gourmet magazine. She makes cool dishes in 30 minutes or less - and most of them don't seem that hard! One of these days, I'm actually going to try out one of 'em.

Yesterday, I went by the bookstore nearest to my office, which sells "used" magazines, cheap, and picked up the last two issues of Gourmet for $1.20 apiece. I was flipping through them - September is the "Food and Television" issue, and October is the Restuarant issue - and realized to my surprise that the articles looked really good, interesting topics (Julia Child, the advent of the TV dinner, a Q&A with the head of Food Network - and those are just three from the former) written well (Ben Fong-Torres now writes for Gourmet! Who knew? From Rolling Stone's '70s glory days to this, wow). I've not been disappointed; the writing really is fascinating, as are the travelogues and menus. Their food photography, of course, has little parallel - it's sumptuous.

The timing is funny, too; this week is Michael's and my turn to host our weekly dinner. He's making the main course(s), so I'm doing dessert. While on the phone with Mom yesterday, she mentioned a new pie recipe she'd gotten from a friend, so I asked her to email it to me. It's quick, simple, and is prepared a day in advance - what could be better? Here's the recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Pie:

+1 1/2 C cold milk
+1 package (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mix
+1 C + 2 T chopped peanut butter cups, divided
+1 carton (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
+1 chocolate crumb crust (8 or 9 inches)

In a bowl, whisk the milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in 1 C of chopped peanut butter cups. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into crust. Cover and freeze for 6 hrs or overnight.

Remove from the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining peanut butter cups. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Thanks, Mom!

Speaking of rolls (see below), Gaz is most definitely on one. Hot on the heels of his Summer 2003 volume - just one month later, in fact - comes an early-release Fall 2003 edition of his superb, strength-to-strength mix series Grand Theft Audio. The previous volume, as I mentioned, was his best yet, featuring killer tunes from Houston, Minus the Bear, and the Police (their jaw-dropping b-side "Once Upon a Daydream"), and had only one song I didn't like - and for me to agree with Gaz that much, musically, is really sayin' somethin'. Fall 2003 is more of the same: all killer, no filler. The hit-to-miss ratio isn't quite as high for me this time around - I've never gotten Grandaddy, the R.E.M. track from Vanilla Sky leave me a little wanting, and Someday I sound like garden-variety emo to me - but the good stuff is great. I've never heard of Kut U Up before, but their track "S&M Dens" is stellar, tough rock with a Fugazi influence while still having a sense of humor. Gaz nicely tributes the late Warren Zevon by including the Hindu Love Gods' cover of "Raspberry Beret." And in Gaz-likes-dance-music-shock, Fatboy Slim's "Song for Shelter" makes an appearance, as well - and watch for the hidden bonus track, which is quite a treat.

As always, Gaz invites new subscribers. Simply drop him an email with "Grand Theft Audio" or "GTA" in the subject line, include your (physical) address, and 4 times a year, bam! A free CD. What's not to like, really? Holmes is seriously startin' to rock the party that rocks my body.

Should I move the links & blogroll (that sounds like a sandwich, doesn't it?) back to the sidebar? Would you be more apt to check out my links were they on the same page as this here blog? Leave a comment and let me know whatcha think, if you'd be so kind.

A couple of truly awe-inspiring comebacks were made in the sports world last night. First, as all the headlines are reading this morning, What curse? The Red Sox came back from two games down and the brink of elimination to win Game 5 in the ALDS over Oakland, advancing to the AL Championship Series against - who else? - the Yankees. Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, the Colts pulled off "one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history" to come back from 21 down with under 4:00 left and beat the reigning Super Bowl champs the Bucs in Tampa Bay, 38-35 in OT. My beloved Colts are now 5-0 for the first time since '77 - back 7 years before the semis left Balto under cover of darkness. Next up is another unbeaten: Carolina visits the Hoosier Dome (and it'll always be the Hoosier Dome, no matter who pays how much to "own" its name, so fuck you corporate sponsors) this Sunday.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to Paul for redesigning Oh Manchester. I absolutely love the new design beyond words. You rawk. You're as great as Cupid and Psyche 85.

I must add twinkle twinkle blah blah blah etc. to the blogroll if only for these two reasons:
1. Dana pointed out a link to Annie Proulx's astounding short story "Brokeback Mountain" - one of my all-time favorite short stories.
2. This paragraph, which, had I been drinking milk at the time I read it, would have made said (albeit mythical) milk spurt out of my nose:

I got some safer sex stuff at one table, mostly out of curiosity (because I prefer my sex to be unsafe and preferably totally anonymous), and came away with pink dental dams, black condoms, and peach-flavored lube. Is this what they're teaching kids these days? "Be prepared to fuck Tawny Kitaen."

Also note the correct spelling of "Kitaen." Kudos.

Odds & ends:

I had a nice, tidy paragraph ready to post about Willie & Norah's duet of "Wurlitzer Prize," but then our network went down and I lost it. Summing up: their voices are a perfect match on a perfectly sad, wistful song for them to sing, one of Waylon's finer moments. Gorgeous.

Wishing I had a picture phone today, so everyone could share the love regarding this guy working next door, wearing overalls tighter than I thought possible with a pure white t-shirt underneath, bubble butt to weep over, lovely, perfectly shaped pecs, trim waist, and let-me-dive-in blue eyes. He's nearly making me salivate; he's that yummy.

I really need to come up with a phrase more correct than blog of the week, as I inevitably let said blogs stay up there for a good 2, at least. You should still read Daily Kos well, daily ('specially if you need a big, tall glass of haterade everytime you even think of Dubya). But it's time for a new one, and this time around, it's clap clap blog, the creation of Eppy - though I don't seem to know what his real name is - NYC man about town, member of not one but two bands, and a writer as fine as any I've stumbled upon in quite a while. He expounds on any manner of subjects, with a focus on music but including politics, New York life, and more, and does so so sparklingly - well, his is one of those blogs which sometimes makes me wonder, "why do I even bother?" Not that I'm planning on stopping, mind, but you get my drift. If you need a starting point, try his piece from last week on Jessica Simpson, and then advance through his various expoundings on OutKast. But really, just read it all. As Busta might say, this is the hot shit right here.

Speaking of the ATLiens, I'm still not fully convinced on OutKast's "Hey Ya" - it's just so, so power-pop, and if I want that - well, I don't. But the video is a work of art, like if Kurt had been a mondo George Clinton devotée and took a big mouthful of mushrooms before playing every role in the "Lithium" video. Only much weirder.

I know it's kinda showoff-y of me to even mention this, but it kicks ass so I'm gonna anyway: have I mentioned how nice it is to wake up and find you've received email from Scott Heim? Yay.

Can Linkin Park keep it up? I liked bits and pieces of their first album, Hybrid Theory, but generally got annoyed by their ubiquitousness - "In the End" is an alright song, but it was just everywhere. That hasn't seemed to be the case with this year's Meteora; they're back to their native environment of rock radio, which I never listen to. Which means it's easier for me to enjoy/appreciate them on their own merits. And I am.

First single "Somewhere I Belong" is solid, muscular hip-hop-influenced rock. But it's the follow-up that's really gotten to me. Once Isabel hit, you see, and we were reduced to listening to battery-powered radio, mine ended up on our local AOR station, FM99. While half-listening, I heard the start of a song, something with a string sample which sounded all turntablistic. My ear was caught - what was this? Once the rapping and singing came in, however, it was all over. I knew it was Linkin Park, and I knew I'd been reeled in. "Faint" recently hit #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, and deservedly so - it's one of the frankly freshest-sounding things there, solid if not particularly innovative, yet still forging its own path.

Are Linkin Park the future of rock'n'roll? Certainly not. They still have to find ways to adapt and broaden their sonic palette. But they're young, yet - and with time, they just might pull it off. They've got the rapping/singing balance down perfect, they work turntables into their sound without sounding as if they're trying to hard for cred, and their hearts seem to be sincere. I'm rooting for 'em.

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