Saturday, May 31, 2003

Personal to the people of western North Carolina who helped, or even thought about helping, to shelter Eric Rudolph, now in custody: in the words of Guns 'N Roses, you're fuckin' crazy. I mean, just when you think folks can't be any more stupid, you get this:

"My heart aches for him. What he did was wrong, I know, but I understand where he was coming from," said 63-year-old Sarah Greenfield of nearby Marble. "People around here, they take care of their own. You can't put a price on a man's head, and I don't know anybody who would have given him up, even for a million dollars."

Good to see your "heart ach[ing] for" a man who likely killed and injured numerous people, Sarah. You stupid bitch.

Is Joe Dumars smoking crystal meth? Whatever he's doing, a) he's an idiot, b) he's not going about it very well. Ric Bucher agrees. Larry Brown or no (and just to see how the Detroit organization reacts, I hope he takes the Houston job), really, WTF?!

J-Lo's "I'm Glad" (you know, with the Flashdance video) sounds like it's trying to sample "Just the Two of Us" but can't quite get it right. It has a real '80s feel to it - not like it could've been made in the '80s, but like a 2003 record making an effort to sound like it's from the '80s. Which, really, sums Jenny up right there.

"Oh My God" indeed. [Thanks, Nate, for the 411.]

Has anyone else noticed, or am I the last one, just how damned minimalist "It's All About the Benjamins" is (apart from Biggie's verse)? It's just a cymbal track, a looped guitar riff, and an occasional subsonic bass tone underneath the raps. Wow.

Trying to make the Winamp 3.0 random-play thing work and succeeding:

1. Suede, "Brass in Pocket (live)"
2. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, "Mast Qalandar (Massive Attack Remix)"
3. Karyn White, "Romantic"
4. Kronos Quartet, "Glass: Dr. Van Helsing and Dracula"
5. Pointer Sisters, "Automatic"
6. New Radicals, "You Get What You Give"
7. New Order, "Sooner Than You Think"
8. Cocteau Twins, "Winter Wonderland"
9. Billy Joel, "Allentown"
10. Blaze, "Do You Remember House?"

Very nice, if I do say so myself. And I do.
Ten more - I love this "game":

1. Armand Van Helden, "Little Black Spiders"
2. 2Pac featuring K-Ci & JoJo, "How Do U Want It"
3. Jody Watley, "Photographs (Remix)"
4. Goldie, "Timeless"
5. VHS Or Beta, "Lizard Cop"
6. Billy Ocean, "Loverboy"
7. Puff Daddy and the Family featuring the LOX, Lil' Kim and the Notorious B.I.G., "It's All About the Benjamins (Remix)"
8. Dolly Parton, "I'm Gone"
9. Morrissey, "Suedehead (live on Saturday Night Live)"
10. The KLF, "3AM Eternal"

Yet another Saturday-o'-fun with Chas. Began it having breakfast with him and the roomie at one of our favorite greasy spoons (biscuits and gravy, yay!), and then on to my third time seeing Chicago, only this time on the big screen (and from the balcony) at the Naro (our local arthouse/classic movie palace, complete with red velvet curtains in front of the screen). Reneé, Catherine, Richard, et.al. just seem to get better every time I see Chicago - here's hoping the DVD includes rehearsal footage. Then Chas and I headed north, to pick up my train tickets for next weekend - DC, here I come! Drove around aimlessly for a bit, hit a pizza buffet for dinner, swung through Office Max and picked up a box of neato 45rpm-simulation CD-Rs (which means you and you can inevitably count on getting some), rode out a couple of gorgeously nasty thunderstorms, and stopped both here and here without spending a penny! I rock.

Here's a new contender for the title of best website ever - right up there with Tha Shizzolator. It's Buffy's Swearing Keyboard. It's deliciously naughty. Filthy, really. And I praise The Tin Man for bringing it to my attention. Hours of fun, kids!

The video is a waste of time, but it needs to be said again (and again) that "Crazy in Love" by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z is killer, undoubtedly one of the tunes of the year. A heavy heavy backbeat, crazy horns (horny like Mousse T), B wailing away and her boy Jay-Hova on able backup, it's loud, it's messy, it's all over the place, and it's brilliant. I'm absolutely shocked that it's assaulting the US charts the way it is - I figured a record this great (even from two stars such as these) would be left in the cold. Expect to hear it banging away all summer, and like Loverboy, I'm lovin' every minute of it.

Jeff Cooper's taking a little sabbatical from blogging, not only because he's mad busy at the moment, but because he's so disgusted by the political climate these days. You'd do well to read his reasoning.

For the second week in a row, last night the roomie and I did Friday-night-at-the-movies-by-Naval-Station-Norfolk (for those who don't know, the biggest Navy base on the US east coast). And the eye candy this week? Mm-mm-good! Our selection this week was much better than last week's; we saw Finding Nemo. We are both all about the Pixar, and we weren't disappointed in the least. The animation is, of course, superb. [As an added bonus, before the film starts, Disney shows the first Pixar short, made a full six years before Toy Story; it's classic Pixar.] The story is very Disney without being schmaltzy (and I say this as someone who generally loathes Disney - yes, I know, cold black heart, blah blah blah): the little fish Nemo is lost on his first day of school, and his father Marlin has to overcome his fear of the ocean - and, more generally, of the unknown - to find him. Albert Brooks voices Marlin, and reminded me by film's end why he irritates me as an actor (that voice! oy!). His companion throughout the journey, Dory, is a fish with short-term memory loss (now you know it's Pixar), and is played very cleverly by Ellen Degeneres. It's difficult to talk much about the film without giving away its numerous twists and surprises, so just trust me when I tell you that it's a lovely film, akin to the other Pixar smashes (Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., et.al.) with a little less of the adult in-jokes - it's much more a kid's film, but is so well-crafted that it's a joy no matter what your chronological age.

Friday, May 30, 2003

The appeal of Lucinda Williams has traditionally evaded me. Yeah, she's talented, I've generally thought, but her music - songs and production - never struck me. Until now, until her new World Without Tears. All three tracks I've heard thus far are absolutely great, all raggedy-ass vocals, high plains slide guitar and Bonnie Raitt-ish leads, shambling rhythm sections, and truly superb lyrics. Not to mention the song "Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings," which has the title to beat so far in '03 (and should become the immediate anthem for every up-and-coming band playing the bars and dives). "Righteously" is a beat-up-and-bruised love song, an oddly perfect late-night companion for Jeff Buckley, the tart to his sweet. And just listen to the genuine twang in Williams' voice! "Sweet Side" is all about the lyrical twists - "you don't always show your sweet side" becomes "I've seen your sweet side" by song's end. Was I just being bundt cake-dense before, or has Lucinda's art advanced like crazy? Golly.

I know, I know, behind the curve: I'm not the first to blog it, but yes-oh-yes, Go Home Productions has fookin' done it again. Twice. Causing a buzz in inclined-to-like-boots-cum-mashups segments of blogland is "Shannon Stone," mixing the stone classic "Let the Music Play" with the Stones classic (I couldn't resist!) "Gimme Shelter." And of course it's marvelous. But don't miss the Christina-jamming-with-Grover Washington, Jr. "Dirrty Magic," either - now this is some shocking recontextualization! Funky '70s jazz fusion (much-sampled, possibly by your favorite rapper[s]) topped off with Ms. Panties-&-Chaps and her pal (er...) Redman getting naughty, dirrty, et.al. Just fucking download 'em, and thank me - and yourself - later.

DJ Spooky. Birth of a Nation. "Remixed." Wow!

In the last year, I've sold the bulk of my CD collection; they take up space, most of 'em I didn't play much if at all (I use what I call the "six month rule": if I haven't played it in the last six months, chances are I won't miss it - with exceptions, of course), and the ones I really love I just rip to my hard drive. But one I absolutely refuse to sell is The Best of Stephanie Mills: 20th Century Masters/The Millenium Collection. Good God I love her.

She got her first big break starring in The Wiz on Broadway. Don't hold that against her. [If Mills, instead of La Ross, had starred in the film, it would've been very different, and very much better.] Her first big hit was also her biggest ever pop hit, 1980's "Never Knew Love Like This Before." Its effervescence still bubbles, 20-plus years later. But then she got really good. She turned her back on the pop world, and worked it.

Mills put together quite a body of work in the '80s, a decade which saw her claim 5 #1s on Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart - and she did it using a revolving cast of writers and producers, nearly never using the same one(s) twice. Amazingly, her body of work sounds like just that; The Best of doesn't hop and skip from one style to another. Mills' strength was her voice, and every single she released spotlit it superbly. Yet she was also able to go from big, showstopping ballads (which many consider her strength, particularly The Wiz's "Home," which she rerecorded in 1989 and had another #1 with) to synth-driven, danceable tracks (such as that same year's "Something in the Way (You Make Me Feel)," written and produced by Angela Winbush) with utter ease. The production, yes, largely has dated. Heavy on the click-tracks and "Beautiful Ones"-lite synthesized drums, it holds a certain I-love-the-'80s charm. The songs, however, haven't aged a bit. Toni Braxton could sing the hell out of a showcase such as "Rising Desire," and I long to think how Aaliyah and Timbaland could've remade my all-time favorite Mills single, 1987's "(You're Puttin') A Rush On Me," all minimalist rhythm track and keyboard wash.

Stephanie Mills makes it all sound so easy, so honest, and so real. She's never gotten her just due in the pantheon of R&B greats; now's as good a time as any, right? Grab a copy of 20th Century Masters: The Best of - her best best-of still in print - and say Amen, somebody!

So since the quasi-sabbatical (that's what I'm callin' it, folks, get used to it) is over, I've updated the media stuff on the sidebar (to your left, passengers), and finally there's a new blog of the week (hope you got some extra hits from the extra week, Todd). It should be pretty self-explanatory: Devon the Escort's Diary. If you have any interest in gay sex, muscle worship, and/or, well, escorts, this one's for you.

Okay, enough of this fucking quasi-sabbatical.

One of the (two) best new-to-me bands I've discovered recently is Soilwork. I'd seen them mentioned on Joe's blog recently, but only mentioned, not really discussed. Then I started working on this impossible project regarding current big hits at college radio, and decided that I needed to download stuff from lots of genres. Lo and behold, there in the top 5 of the CMJ Loud Rock chart is Soilwork's new album Figure Number Five - and it's fucking sensational.

I don't have a lot of use for "new" metal (nu-metal I have even less of a use for, mind). Most of the real metal out there these days, like the stuff hitting at college radio, seems to fall into the black/death metal genre - and I don't find feeling like I'm on the wrong end of a steamroller enjoyable for hours on end. Maybe a song or two here and there (like that great "Babalon A.D." by Cradle of Filth), but that's generally it. And all the "kill-maim-destroy-blood" lyrics get tiring almost upon point of impact. When I need to experience the jolt I assume most fans get from these bands, I spin Appetite for Destruction, or N.W.A., or some good ol' Sex Pistols. [Does this mean I'm getting old? Don't answer that, please.] Or, in a better-but-still-needing-loud-and-fast mood, Andrew W.K. (in case you missed it the first time, here's why I love him).

And yeah, Soilwork occasionally has their "whooaaaaarrrrr" moments of "singing." But they're in the minority - what they generally do is spin the now-familiar Linkin Park formula of one guy "rapping" - in this case, he's more shouting, barking - and another singing, really singing, with a tone reminiscent of the guy from Fugazi, practically all-but crooning at points. The contrast is sublime (not Sublime). Gorgeous multitracked harmony - there's a surprise. Intelligent guitar playing, not "these go up to 11!" bombast, but meaty riffing full of nutrition. Lots of keyboards, used to augment, part of the band, not a gimmicky thing nor the sound of Eddie Van Halen's "Jump" work. They add texture and life to the songs. The drummer does what's he's supposed to do; he keeps the beat, bashing on relentlessly in time.

And yeah, I know that a number of this new breed of "heavy" bands are supposedly known for their thoughtful lyrics, but I didn't expect to come across writing like this:

"I rumble, I stumble
My memory starts to crumble
I can't refuse what's haunting my dreams
Have I stumbled?
On my way to a created perfection
I penetrate the gates of rejection"

- Soilwork, "Rejection Role" (Figure Number Five, Nuclear Blast, 2003)

That's good stuff. Actually, it reminds me a bit of some of the depressing/goth bands I so passionately loved in the '80s (and do, still, sometimes), like the Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, and Bauhaus (not to mention the industrial titans of the late-'80s). Alienation from society: who can't relate? Well, apart from the really popular people, and fuck them anyway. [Here I go, back in high school again...]

If I was 15, Soilwork would likely be my favorite band. As it stands at 32, they're quite a find, and I firmly expect to see them popping up on my end-of-2003 lists. Alongside DJ/rupture's Minesweeper Suite and another record I'll discuss soon, this is one of '03's long-players to beat.

Addendum: their official site seems to be down, but their official fansite, Soilworkers.com, is pretty nifty. And it would appear, based on their names, that the band is from northern Europe - I'm guessing Norway.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Excellent story in USA Today about the widows of war who are now, or will be, single mothers: "When President Bush announced on May 1 that major combat in Iraq was over, at least eight women whose husbands died in the war were pregnant or had given birth since their husbands were killed."

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Matos is writing a book on Sign "O" the Times; he's trying out various thoughts on his blog. We're very lucky - it's like reading the first draft!

Impending apocalypse update: "Sk8ter Boi," the movie.

Feeling somewhat better. Felt like poo when I got up this a.m., but a number of cough drops, extra sleep, and some OJ (with double the vitamin C!) have all helped. So far, no other signs of a cold. Or SARS. [Fingers crossed.] Going to crawl into the office now - and the damned thing is, this is the one week I don't want to miss any time, 'cause our boss is on vacation! Figures.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Sore throat, started as a tickle in the morning and has now progressed to full-blown I-feel-like-a-cranky-baby status. Went to the grocery after work and stocked up on feel-better stuff: yummy Robitussin honey lemon tea cough drops, Campbell's soups, saltines, and OJ. I don't sick get often, and when I do, it tends to be sinus/throat stuff that takes a couple days of Nyquil to knock itself out. But in the meantime, I get cranky. I'm actually going to bed before 930pm tonight, so I must not be feeling well.

Is it wrong, or pathetic, that the highlight of my (cloudy, drizzly) Monday was getting mentioned on GeekSlut's blog?

Monday, May 26, 2003

R&B of the '80s: part 1

R&B, or what passed for “black music” (as Billboard renamed such a chart in 1982; for 9 years prior it had been the “Hot Soul Singles” chart) in the 1980s was a slippery, conniving beast. At decade’s beginning it was a mélange of ‘70s soul, disco-influenced tracks, and balladeering. By the cusp of the ‘90s, it was a sea of new jack swing and, well, more balladeering. Hip-hop was making an impression, but more on the album chart than that for singles - only two hip-hop singles made it all the way to the apex of the Hot Black Singles chart in the decade, L.L. Cool J’s “I Need Love” (the week of 9/26/87) and De La Soul’s “My Myself and I” (6/10/89). However, as poppy as it got at times, the R&B world was never truly one of “black pop.” Using Joel Whitburn’s Top R&B Singles 1942-1995, I’ve examined the changing face of the genre throughout the ‘80s, using its charttoppers as example. I downloaded and listened to every bleeding one of ‘em - which means that I now have to admit to having “Ghostbusters” on my hard drive. Some of us are gluttons for punishment, I suppose. [And yes, it’s as bad as, if not worse than, you remember, but we’ll get to that once we arrive in 1984.]

The first thing that really struck me in this examination is the crossover - or, more appropriately, lack thereof - between the Hot Soul/Black Singles and Hot 100 (in theory, multi-genre, in reality, “pop”) charts throughout the decade. In 1980, only three of the year’s 14 #1s on the Soul (which I capitalize here as it’s part of a title) chart made it to the top of the pops. The next year, that number dropped to one, which was the case in ’82 as well. Three more made the double in 1983, with seven doing in in ’84 (alongside the aforementioned “Ghostbusters,” there were a pair from Purple Rain, as well as #1s from Footloose and The Woman in Red: hello, MTV-influenced soundtracks!). As for the rest of the decade:

number of Billboard Hot Soul/Black Singles #1s which also hit #1 on the Hot 100, by year
1980: 3
1981: 1
1982: 1
1983: 3 (two of which were by Michael Jackson)
1984: 7 (see above)
1985: 4
1986: 7
1987: 6 (three of which were by Michael Jackson)
1988: 5
1989: 2

It’s worth noting that midway through the decade, songs starting having much shorter stays atop the Hot Black Singles chart, leading to many more #1s. Here’s that list:

number of Billboard Hot Soul/Black Singles #1s each year, by year

1980: 14
1981: 16
1982: 13
1983: 14
1984: 18
1985: 20
1986: 25 (longest for four weeks, shared by three songs)
1987: 32 (longest for four weeks)
1988: 34 (longest for only three weeks, shared by three songs)
1989: 37 (longest for three weeks - only one song!)

It fascinates me that as the decade wore on, there were more songs topping the Hot Black Singles chart, and proportionately far fewer of them crossing over. For example, take 1989. That year’s two #1s which went the distance on both the Black and pop charts were Prince’s “Batdance,” and “Miss You Much” by Janet Jackson. Most of us old enough to, remember those singles. But what of some of the others? The year’s first #1 (1/7/89) was “Oasis” by Roberta Flack - which didn’t even dent the Hot 100. Next was Karyn White’s “Superwoman” (#8 pop, and the aforementioned three-week charttopper at R&B), followed by “Can You Stand the Rain” by New Edition (#44). Surface had three songs ascend to the summit of Hot Black Singles in ’89. One of them, “Shower Me With Your Love,” also went to #5 on the pop chart, but the other two (preceding and following “Shower”) didn’t crack the pop top 40. For every Soul II Soul (“Keep On Movin,’” 7/8/89/“Back To Life,” 10/7/89; #11/#4 pop) there was a Levert (“Just Coolin,’” 3/11/89) or Skyy (“Start of a Romance,” 5/13/89) who didn’t crack the Hot 100. So you’re left with this seemingly odd dichotomy during a decade when some utterly amazing records were being made - and were going unheard by the majority of the populace, whilst its largest minority was scarfing them up.

***

Fittingly, the first #1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart in the 1980s was by Michael Jackson (“Rock With You,” 1/5/80, 6 weeks). He had far and away more #1s in the decade than anyone else (9), and of course in many ways defined the decade both in R&B and pop - well, him and Prince. The funny thing is that neither Jacko nor the Purple One were particularly trendsetters, at least not so far as popular music went. Michael, especially, rode trends, or at least crested their waves. Prince was so far in his own world that even at the height of his commercial success, he was like no one else, and more talented than nearly every one else. “Rock” was also a fitting way to start the year itself, as most of the uptempo charttoppers in ’80 were still milking disco for its rhythms if not its style. This, however, was the black version of disco, and in some ways (even though it could be argued that everyone wants to) wasn’t meant to cross over. Shalamar’s “The Second Time Around” (2/16/80), the Whispers’ “And the Beat Goes On” (3/1/80), even the S.O.S. Band’s “Take Your Time (Do It Right) Part 1” (6/28/80) and Tom Browne’s “Funkin’ For Jamaica (N.Y.)” (10/4/80) - while the Shalamar and S.O.S. singles did go top 10 pop (the Whispers made it to #19, and Tom Browne didn’t even make top Hot 100), none of these sound innately pop, and listening to them now, I have difficulty imagining them on the radio betwixt the likes of Air Supply, Kenny Rogers, and Queen; perhaps it was the last gasps of disco itself which helped lift them across the crossover divide.

The year’s other #1 singles included the last one (yet) by the Isley Brothers (“Don’t Say Goodnight,” 4/19/80), a nearly brilliant, nearly rock-funk moment by Jermaine Jackson vis-à-vis Stevie Wonder (“Let’s Get Serious,” 5/17/80), Miss Ross wearing her perfectly fitting Chic straitjacket (“Upside Down,” 8/16/80), and the execrable “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang (12/20/80). Every year needs its low points to make its high ones look that much better, I suppose.

***

1981 was the year of disco’s death rattle, as it mutated/cross-breeded with P-Funk to make a new, unruly beast the following year. It wasn’t done just yet, though, as shown by hits from Lakeside (“Fantastic Voyage,” 1/31/81, ick), Yarbrough & Peoples (“Don’t Stop the Music,” 2/28/81, not much better), alongside Luther Vandross’ so Love Unlimited Orchestra-influenced “Never Too Much” (10/24/81). And then there was Earth, Wind & Fire.

“Let’s Groove” (11/28/81, and the year’s longest charttopper at 8 weeks) is a near-perfect record, a combination of the new breed of funk (Gap Band, Cameo, et.al., as evidenced in the song’s bassline), EWF’s classic Chicago-with-soul formula (horns!), and a groove that swings just hard enough but never breaks. Maurice White and company may have known that their prime was ending, and if they did, they went out with guns blazing - they wouldn’t have another #1 for nearly 6 years, and only graced the Black top 10 once in that timespan. “Groove” is discoish but not of it, riding a groove so easy it’s complex with vocals so soaring your practically enter the sky just listening. But wait, there’s more. That beast I mentioned above reared his head a year early, in the form of the Gap Band.

“Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)” (2/14/81) started the Oklahoma trio on a run of six top 5 singles out of seven releases over a three-year period, two others of which also made the top (we’ll get to those in ’82). There was nothing disco about this band; they were in many ways the godchildren if not directest descendants of George Clinton and his Parliament-Funkadelic mafia. As most of the time (if not always) with the f-u-n-k FUNK, the key is the basslines, and “Rubber” features their most towering one, sonically speaking; this record is nearly all bass, albeit with some whip-crack drumming tossed in so seemingly nonchalantly you barely notice it - that’s how good it is - and the divine, heaven’s-just-a-sin-away vocals of Charlie Wilson. And has anyone else noticed how almost all of the Gap Band’s most monumental songs are about getting dumped or dumping one’s lover? Just proves, again, the axiom that it often feels so good to hurt so bad.

Forgot to mention that Chas and I had another of our patented Saturday(s)-of-fun over the weekend. The center of it was seeing Down with Love, which is an utterly charming and delightful movie. Is it deep? No. Is it lovely, technicolored fluff? Damned right. Ewan and Reneé make a dashing pair. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Hah! Elsewhere in the blogsphere, Mike(sosoft) talks about cows.

Today in the US is Memorial Day, and I'm pointing you towards Danny's blog for a piece that you should read - to remember why we even have this holiday. It's not about three-day weekends and cookouts.

DJ/rupture's Minesweeper Suite is a phenomenal brainfuck of an album, kind of the Middle Eastern/North African equivalent of bhangra, a true soundclash: hiphop, Timbaland (who is his own genre anymore), acapella soul, musics I don't even know the names of (from the aforementioned places), reggae & dancehall, minimalist techno, turntable feedback, all clashing like a street rumble ending. Just ending, after the carnage and chaos. Future->forward, if not future->perfect. It's geniuses like rupture who are writing music's roadmap.

I know it might seem silly for her to still be doing it now, but I miss the days when Madonna was wielding riding crops and making out with Naomi Campbell. They were certainly preferable to hearing her talk about doing pilates.

Well, there's still something wrong with my poor 'puter (and thanks for the words of encouragement, Toddo), and I still don't know what exactly it is. Spent a good three hours scanning the hard drive yesterday, and another three defragmenting (thanks, Michael!), all to little avail. But it's basically functional (for the time being?), I didn't lose any of my files, and on the upside, whatever's corrupted MusicMatch prompted me to download Winamp, which I like, though it's a bit confusing. Or maybe you just have to be smarter than the program, which I'm likely not.

Two more things about Winamp:
1. The video quality is stellar.
2. Could someone, anyone, please tell me how I make it play tracks from my library at random? Oy.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

England, I have a question: what is wrong with you people?!

Justin Timberlake has released three singles now from Justified, each of them sterling pop gems and each of them better than the one before. And every single one has entered the UK singles chart at #2. I don't recall what kept "Like I Love You" from #1, but didn't mind it being a runnerup so much. "Cry Me a River," then, got stopped by the juggernaut that was t.A.T.u.'s "All the Things She Said" (their followup faltered in at #7 this week). But for "Rock Your Body" to get pipped at the post by the third week on top for R. Kelly's "Ignition Remix" is ridiculous. I mean, c'mon, people - J-Tim gives and gives for you. Why must you insist on denying him this ultimate prize?? [As a consolation prize, his album is still ruling its roost.]

And yes, I know the US singles chart is horrible. But we count on you Brits to do better, really.

I really, really hope Blogger gets their shit straight soon (some changeover to a new operating system, blah blah blah), 'cause I'm about through with having no archives post-4/01 and having the loading of other blogs (including, at times, mine) be so damned sticky. C'mon, y'all, enough with the growing pains already!

On a separate but related note, my fucking computer's on the fritz again - whether it's a virus or corrupted file, I know not yet. Hopefully, the roomie will be able to diagnose and fix the problem later today (I'm on his machine now). And would someone please tell me why I never seem to backup my MP3s?

"Because you're an idiot."
"Oh yeah, that's it."

- Heathers, 1989

Saturday, May 24, 2003

This is a collection of MP3s of every song played, or discussed (apparently), on all three seasons of Gilmore Girls. I don't watch the show - c'mon, it was on the same time as my beloved Buffster! - but do recognize that this is a pretty great collection of downloadable songs, fan or not. [Link via Fluxblog.]

The first ten songs at random from my Musicmatch jukebox:

1. Destiny's Child, "Bootylicious"
2. Wendy and Lisa, "Stay"
3. The Roots f/Nelly Furtado, "Sacrifice"
4. Talking Heads, "Girlfriend Is Better (live)"
5. Rene & Angela, "Save Your Love (For #1)"
6. nine inch nails, "Starfuckers, Inc."
7. The Smiths, "The Boy with the Thorn In His Side"
8. RJD2, "Good Times Roll, Pt. 1"
9. Musiq, "Dontchange"
10. Janet Jackson, "The Pleasure Principle"

And ten more:
1. Lloyd Cole, "She's a Girl and I'm a Man"
2. Shai, "Comforter"
3. Yes, "Leave It"
4. P. Diddy f/Usher & Loon, "I Need a Girl (Part 1)"
5. Lush, "Ladykillers"
6. Julio Iglesias & Diana Ross, "All of You"
7. Curved Air, "Back Street Luv"
8. Dirty Vegas, "Days Go By"
9. U2, "With or Without You (live)"
10. 2Pac f/Digital Underground, "I Get Around"

I really like both sets of ten which were spit out, but what's with getting almost all singles, no album tracks, et cetera? Weird.

I slept past noon, yay! That, to me, is part of what weekends are about: sleeping in. I don't have any big plans for this 3-day weekend, and there's enough rain scattered throughout the forecast to make me cautious about making big plans, anyway. Last night, for the first time in too long, went out with the roommate, nothing big, just dinner at our favorite burger joint, Kelly's (conveniently located across the street from our place), and then seeing The Matrix Reloaded by Naval Station Norfolk - we figured that with the Truman coming home yesterday, the eye candy would be on display; it wasn't. We later remembered that our fine men and women of the Navy get current films on their ships (as well they should). Generally, it seems that whenever Michael and I do something, we end up calling up our gang of friends, and making it a group outing. Which I love to do, don't misunderstand me. But it's nice to get to spend time just with him, as well - not only is he the best roommate I've ever had (that's ever), he's also one of my closest friends.

So what's on my weekend agenda, as it stands? Have some cleaning to do (glamorous, I know), some writing to work on (the aforementioned project is taking shape and slowly coming to fruition), am hoping to catch a showing of Down with Love (which looks deliciously frothy, like a fruit smoothie, plus stars the eminently appealing Reneé and Ewan), and who knows what else. I'm not stressing anything this weekend, just relaxing and seeing what comes up. Isn't that what it should be about, anyway?

Just-out-of-bed soundtrack: my favorite song by the Who, which, blasphemously, is "Eminence Front" (from their final studio album, 1982's It's Hard). All bad vibes, open space, unsettling keyboards, and Townshend at his best - which I find to be his subtleties, not his guitar-god excesses.

Friday, May 23, 2003

I don't even watch gay porn, but still love Gay Porn Blog. Dish and dicks, what a combo!

"We're here to do what we're to do."

...and that is a perfect explication of the moebius strip that is The Matrix Reloaded. As a film, it's fair. Dramatically, it's not really very good at all. As for the action? Everything I'd hoped for. That was the reason I went to see it, and I wasn't disappointed in the least. The much-talked-about 14-minute car chase scene is amazing. The script is convoluted and shot full of holes, but the effects are something to see, and I recommend you do. But if afterwards, you're left wanting, and need to see a flick full of great action and characters/plotting you actually give a damn about, go see X2 - now, that's the summer movie to beat.

There isn’t exactly a fine, ongoing tradition of the avant-garde finding mass popularity in America, so when something slips through the net, it’s all the more significant.

It’s always befuddled me that Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey,” of all things, was his first US top 40 hit (it crept up to #29). To listen to it now – well, for one, it doesn’t sound even remotely dated. It could’ve been made by someone in Berlin on his 24-track., maybe last week. Except it wasn’t; it was made by Gabriel in his home studio in the UK back in 1982. “Monkey” unreels itself like the best Trevor Horn production, adding layer upon layer until the song’s climax, its last moments, just Gabriel with a slight synth accompaniment, intoning (unintentionally?) sinisterly, “shock the monkey tonight.” And it’s just downright weird, particularly viewed through the prism of popular music at the time (the second British invasion, Hall & Oates, and lots of prefab pop-rock from the likes of Toto and Journey). The vaguely Asian ascending chord sequences (especially in the chorus), its heavy synth base (not in itself notable – groups like A Flock of Seagulls were certainly doing that – but the tone was so different; theirs were shiny and perky, not all eerie-sounding like these), and of course, Gabriel’s nearly indecipherable lyrics: these did not (and do not) normally add up to a hit single. At least, not here they don’t. [The UK, of course, is another matter, God bless ‘em.]

Tellingly, it was his only top 40 hit here until the barrage of singles from 1986’s So (led, of course, by his worldwide #1 “Sledgehammer” – good, but not up to the standard of his earlier work, largely by virtue of its sheer poppiness. I’m not saying that in and of itself is a negative, by any means, just that I find Gabriel to much more interesting the further out on the fringes of popular taste he pushes himself). America can only handle so much avant-garde, you know.

Okay, today's post regarding Yo La Tengo clinched it: The Devil's Radio has been added to the blogroll (under "links," to your left). [I love everything I've heard from Summer Sun thus far - expanding and playing with their sound and songwriting, and keeping it up to YLT's usual standard of greatness at the same time. Yay.] As have all the blogs/sites mentioned below in my Sherburne jizz-fest.

Non-musically speaking, added right-on Mavs fan James' Far from the Maddening Crowd, too.

The French Open begins next week, hurrah!

The bad news, according to ESPN.com:
"Agassi can concentrate on singles because he won't be playing mixed doubles with his wife, Steffi Graf. Her management company said Thursday she's pregnant with the couple's second child." Remember, Steffi promised to play mixed doubles at Roland-Garros with her husband if he won the Australian, which he did. Alas.

But the good news, the news most tennis fans wanted to hear:
"Serena and Venus Williams were placed on opposite sides of the field in the French Open draw Friday, meaning they could meet in their fifth straight Grand Slam final." For the first time in a year, this was in doubt, as Venus has slipped to #3 in the world, behind second-ranked Kim Clijsters. I know I'm delighted by this news.

Greg Garber, BTW, has an excellent piece on how US-France tensions could affect the 2003 French Open. Highly recommend.

Are you ready for some tennis?

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Hopefully you already got hepped courtesy of Simon R, but in case you didn't, the brilliant Philip Sherburne (he of the amazing, head-fucking Needle Drops over Neumu way) now - wait for it, even though you know what's coming -

- is one of us, a blogger. minima moralia. Get thee there posthaste.

Since I'm seeing a surprising number of bloggers sing its praises, I feel compelled to steal from Paul and point out that a "tepid exercise in smooth mediocrity" is exactly what I find the self-titled debut by the Thorns to be. [Paul disagrees heartily, as does Joe, amongst others.] I've never been a fan of either Shawn Mullins or Pete Droge, both of whom I think are largely hacks who got lucky with one (semi-)hit apiece. Matthew Sweet, however, I expect more from. Here's part of an IM from earlier this week with Stumpy, who knows almost as much about music as I do (and has almost as good taste) (please tell me y'all are picking up on my sarcasm here):

getstumpy (10:45:30 PM): Did I mention how much the Thorns sux?
massive3 (10:44:12 PM): Oh, yeah they do.
massive3 (10:44:14 PM): So boring.
getstumpy (10:45:48 PM): Every fucking vocal is layered.
getstumpy (10:46:02 PM): On the plus side, matthew is doing all the leads.
getstumpy (10:46:20 PM): But the songs are Sooooooo bland and the production is soooooo bad.
massive3 (10:45:15 PM): Yes, yes, yes.
getstumpy (10:46:46 PM): I told Sara it's like CSN sang a Wilson Phillips record produced by David fucking Foster.
massive3 (10:45:28 PM): It's like they made Sweet visit the planet of the pussy-men, or something.
getstumpy (10:47:02 PM): It does not rock.
massive3 (10:45:57 PM): In a James Taylor sense.
getstumpy (10:47:50 PM): No, there [are] one or two JT songs that don't make me want to committ suicide.
massive3 (10:46:40 PM): Fair enough.
getstumpy (10:48:07 PM): The Thorns record had me looking for sharp objects.
massive3 (10:46:47 PM): I always liked "Her Town Too."
getstumpy (10:48:20 PM): Yeah, that's not so bad.


You should know that Stumpy's such a Matthew Sweet fan that until recently, he still had on his Yahoo profile a pic of him and Sweet, circa 1995. He's seen him live more times than I know. So for him to say such things about the Thorns means it's pretty bad, kids. [Side note: ladies, d'you like Stumpy's pic? Then let him know. He's single and ready to mingle! Celine Dion fans need not apply. GBV fans of the female persuasion, on the other hand, should contact him immediately. That means right now!]

Annika Sorenstam rocks. I'm fiercely rooting for her to make the cut at the Colonial - not even as much because she's a woman as simply because she's utterly amazing. She might be better on the LPGA tour than Tiger is on the PGA, that's how good (and dominant) she is. And now she's proving she can hang with the men, not to mention the ridiculously intense media pressures. Cheers!

(Mythical) DC homo blog mafia update:
+Chris should be in Quebec by now. Can a brother get a table dance? Yes, he can.
+Ray's on the road this long weekend, too. And then there's his use of "get my kitten punched," which is still disturbing me vaguely.
+Meanwhile, Corey's kicking off his summer vacation by discussing free will vs. determinism.
+Jimbo got his handlebars ripped off this time - from his bike. And has returned to the Fu-Tang Clan. [Woof!]
+And I've got a bone to pick with you, Joe. Why didn't you tell me how fucking great Soilwork is?! Oh. My. God. [More on them soon, y'all.]

I'd damned well better see all of you in 2 weeks. Otherwise, I will be a very cranky Tom.

Did Ray-Ray really just use the phrase "get my kitten punched"?! Good God a'mighty, our lil' boy's gettin' all growed up... *shakes head, befuddled but secretly delighted*

In response to my earlier post today about high school, I got this very surprising email from the aforementioned classmate (the one I've known since 3rd grade, who emailed yesterday telling me about our upcoming 15-year reunion). He was on the swim team in high school, and played a cool instrument in the band, and always seemed popular to me. Shows what you think you know and what's really the case are often two different things. Had a great conversation with him on the phone today, too. Thanks, J. I'll see you in August.

[I've substituted names with initials, in the interest of protecting J's anonymity.]

... I also read your latest entry on your web site. It really blew me away. It's crazy how something like high school can have such an affect on people. I had no idea you went through such a bad time. But how would I? I was too busy with my sports/cheerleader friends. Right? Even though that's the crowd I ran around with, I was more comfortable and had more fun with the swim team and band. I suppose I was wanting to fit in also, and if [C] and [E] wanted to hang-out with me then I was more than happy to hang-out with them.

When I was in Jr. High, I had absolutely no friends. The friends I had in grade school ([H, H, G]) all found "cooler" guys for friends and I didn't have any luck at all making new ones. I didn't go to one party or to anybody's house to hang-out and watch movies or any of that Jr. High stuff. Why am I telling you this? I have no idea. I just wanted you to know I could somewhat relate if only a little.


I hope I was able to convey to J today just how glad I am that he did tell me. His email is a perfect example of why I am going to go to the reunion. People grow, people change, and people have wounds you don't learn about until many years later.

A chunk of a long, topic-jumping IM with Chris Fly Over today:

oulawdog:... Anything new on your end?
massive3: Nope, apart from re-connecting with an old friend from elementary school.
oulawdog: Interesting. The magic of the Internet?
massive3: That and the fact that he's helping plan our 15-year HS reunion (referenced in last night's post).
oulawdog: Ahhh . . . I skipped my 10 year to go to Florida.
massive3: I skipped my 10 year 'cause I was still too bitter (see today's long post).
massive3: But am planning on going to the 15.
massive3: Am about to post chunks of a really surprising email I got from him today - and I just talked with him on the phone for a good 1/2 hour. Small world.
oulawdog: I saw that. It sounds like High School wasn't a good time. I was the reverse. I had a blast in high school, but when I left closed the book.
massive3: *nods*
massive3: So things are keeping on in the Fly Over household?
oulawdog: Greatness. Everyone keeping on. I bought 4 CD's, at the used CD Store, for a dollar: The Soup Dragons, Spin Doctors, Red Hot [+ Cool], and Midnight Oil, also bought T "Nevermind" so he could hear how it all got started. So far, Baby Girl seems to like Spin Doctors.
massive3: Well, that's a shame. Maybe you should play her Nevermind, too.
massive3: As the great poet Snoop Dogg said, I have no love for ho's. Or the Spin Doctors. *G*
oulawdog: What's wrong with The Spin Doctors first album?
massive3: It's soupy, jam-rock crap with hideous lyrics and barely-competent playing. How's that?
oulawdog: Good enough. It has one of the best opening lines of a song though: "Been a whole lot easier since the bitch left town."
oulawdog: Now, after buying it again, I am firmly convinced that "Hook" by Blues Traveler is a direct slap at the Spin Doctors.
massive3: Oh, hell yeah it is, and justifiably so, too.
oulawdog: She [Babygirl] also digs the "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" mix on the Red Hot album.
massive3: That's a great record.
massive3: "Too Funky" is one of GM's best singles, ever.
oulawdog: That is decent. I mainly bought it for "Crazy" b/c I can't stand to buy a whole Seal album.
massive3: Oh, but his first album is GREAT, Chris!
oulawdog: It got worn to death by one of my best friends.
massive3: Ah, 'tis a pity.
oulawdog: While "Blue Sky Mine" is a great album, I also bought it mainly on a nostaglic trip it induced that took me back to the old 120 minutes show on MTV.
massive3: Damn, I loved that show - back when it was in its prime. Circa Kevin ------ and Dave Kendall.
oulawdog: Yep. Back when Kevin Seal was being moved around the time slots b/c no one knew how to harness his particular VJ genius.
massive3: AMEN, brother, amen!
oulawdog: You mentioned you turned your back on farming, any particular reason?
massive3: Because I hated growing up on the farm - because back then, the farm represented everything I resented. And was so totally foreign - the farm, and my Dad.
oulawdog: Ahhh . . . well, that explains it.
oulawdog: I can also appreciate that.


Do you need any more reasons why I dig on Chris, and vice-versa (if I may be so bold, Chris)? Stand-up guys are stand-up guys regardless of their politics, views, religion, profession (ha ha), et cetera. Y'all hear me?!

High school sucked. Four of the worst years of my life, period.

I was a scared gay teenager in a football-and-FFA world, the epitome of a square peg. The farm kids resented me because I rebuked my farming background. The jocks, because I wasn’t. The “in crowd,” because I wasn’t. [And how do you get in that, anyway? Is it just a matter of, as the LOX rapped, money, power, and respect? Or is there something more to it?] The burnouts because, in the words of Adam Ant, don’t drink/don’t smoke, what do you do? Read, and wrote in my journal, mostly (how I wish I still had my highschool journals – a lot of adolescent bile, to be sure, but likely a fair amount of genuine teen angst, as well, which I wish I could see again).

I’ve never been precisely certain why I ran cross country my sophomore year: was it an attempt to join an (not the) “in crowd,” to feel like I belonged in something other than the band (I played trombone, just like this cutie)? Was it to see cute, lean, muscled guys in the locker room? Was it to make my parents proud? Here’s what it did: it gave me, occasionally, a slight sense of accomplishment. It didn’t change my social standing in school, not even really with my teammates (though a few of the upperclassmen took pity on me, saw that I was at least trying, and treated me with respect, which didn’t go unnoticed). It infuriated my asshole band director, who wanted to make me choose between competing Saturday CC invitationals and marching band competitions (whenever possible, I chose the invitationals, as I loathed matching band passionately). It ended, chiefly, in tears.

With the hope that this entry hasn’t become too self-piteous – that’s not my intent here; I’m recounting/reporting, not looking for sympathy – let me tell you about the end of the cross country season. Manchester High School was known for excelling in CC – our boys’ team had made it to the state meet (only 16 teams, statewide) in previous years. We hosted our own Manchester Invitational, which drew teams and runners from across the state every October. But never before had both our boys and girls teams made it to state the same year, until 1985. I was excited. We were all excited. Even though I, along with 7 other boys, was only on the junior varsity team, we were part of the team. We’d trained and ran just as hard as everyone else, and were ecstatic. Until Coach Miller (also a math teacher) told us the news: the school couldn’t afford to send the entire team to state (cross country teams only have seven people running varsity). The top 12 runners would be going. Which meant that two others and I, the 15th man on a 15-man squad, would be staying at home. We were of course encouraged to go to the state meet and cheer on our teammates, but we’d do so on our own.

The school held a pep rally for the team – this was a big deal, sending both of our CC teams to state – to send them off, in the gym. After the pep rally, the gym cleared out, the team left. I sat by myself in the sea of hard, wooden seats, crying. The message I got from Coach was that even though I’d run my best just like my teammates, even though I’d gone through all of the same stuff, it wasn’t enough. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t important enough to go to state with the rest. I did go to the meet, with the parents of our #1 runner, who went to my church (and were much nicer than they had to be, a hallmark of a good person in my opinion). I cheered for my friends and teammates. But it wasn’t the same; my heart wasn’t there. It had been left back in the school parking lot, mangled under the wheels of the bus which drove the team to the state meet.

I didn’t run cross country again. And I always resented Coach for what I saw as (reasonably or not) his decision. Even when I had him senior year for a math class, trig or some bullshit, I never trusted him again, ever. I still wouldn’t. The damnedest thing is that when I think about it, when I look at our photocopied “yearbook” from that season, it still hurts a little bit. Like it does right now, writing this.

The boys team finished in 7th place at state, the girls in 12th.

Ladies and gentlemen, Exhibit A: loss of innocence.

For the record, I find Toby Keith vs. Natalie Maines much more entertaining than 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Received an email from a high school classmate today - actually, someone I've known since third grade. He's apparently involved with the planning of our 15-year reunion this summer, which I've been hoping would happen. I'll do my damnedest to be there, and I won't deny that at least part of the reason is to ask, how do you like me now?! In many ways, I'm a very different person from the kid I was in high school. I certainly like myself a lot more, and by and large love my life. This could be rather interesting...

[And yes, I know I promised more high school stories a while back. Be patient. They're coming.]

Lucinda Williams, Lamb of God, Akrobatik, White Stripes, Prefuse 73, Bill Frisell... think you know what my project is about? First correct answer gets some of its fruits for him/herself. [I know he can figure it out, but I won't disqualify him, 'cause I've gotta honor my kinda geekdom, yo.]

And with the end of Buffy comes the last Buffy review by The Tin Man. Agree or disagree, I don't care, just please read his beautifully-written summation of "Chosen."

I know, hardly any non-linky posting lately. Working on a project for myself, and for y'all. Coming soon.

As if you needed more reasons to loathe Avril, now she's hanging out with Fred fucking Durst and her next record will be - you guessed it - a live one. And as we all know, that's always a sign of a career artist (Badu and Jill Scott notwithstanding).

Evil wins! Marilyn Manson back where he belongs, at #1.

New blog to consider: Far from the Maddening Crowd, from gay hoops fan James. Welcome, brother!

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Buffy's over. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, just... over. Which, somehow, feels fitting. I think.

This much is certain: Joss Whedon knows we're all gonna tune into the season premiere of Angel - as if we weren't already - to see how it is that Spike gets to L.A. after, in his words, "see[ing] how it all ends." [Every Whedon fan/geek already knows that James Marsters is joining the cast of Angel, right?]

Spinoff: Xander follows Willow's lead, "goes gay," and ends up with Andrew! Who's with me?

In just under 12 hours, Buffy will be over forever. *sniff* It's gonna be a rough night, y'all.

The Paul Oakenfold remix of Justin's "Rock Your Body" is shockingly funktastic - it makes me rock my body. Delightful surprise from Oakey. Props to Stumpy for the heads-up. [He's alive, btw, and I have proof - he posted! But what's with that Wheat Thins thing??]

Monday, May 19, 2003

Last week's episodes of my Sunday night cable shows reminded me of a pair of great tunes, both over their closing credits.

Six Feet Under very effectively used Todd Rundgren's "I Saw the Light" as part of its closing scene and credits, as Nate sits in Lisa's (abandoned?) car and listens to the tape she had playing when she - disappeared? It's a gorgeous, wistful-ly song which always reminds me of Carole King - and should remind more people of how dead on Rundgren is when he is. Its slight sad tone fit like a glove.

Queer As Folk used an entirely different tactic, ending their episode with - shock! horror! - something that's not dance music, and that was so apropos for the scene, "Rough Boys," one of the few songs I really really love by Pete Townshend. It's as if it was used to say, yeah, you just saw Brian and Justin being tender with each other, but look out - here's (as Brian put it) his "11 o'clock." Rough'n'tumble, give us a kiss (and a punch) - that's Brian.

This week's SFU, btw, was a series of gut punches punctuated with the series' trademark dark humor. [Claire to Brenda: "Could you give me a ride? I have to go get an abortion." You know you shouldn't laugh, but how can you not?] I was amazed by David's standing up to Keith (about damned time!) and turned on by his make-out scene with Patrick. And Nate, what can you do with Nate? I can't wait to see how they wrap this season all up, in 2 weeks.

Good new musicblog to watch - impressed with what I've seen so far: The Devil's Radio. Show us (more of) whatcha got, Big E!

I’ve fallen in love with Shania Twain all over again. After taking a couple of months off, I returned to Up! last week, and to my shock and awe, found myself loving it even more than before. Now, I recently spent some time with her 1995 breakthrough The Woman In Me, and I like it, some of it. Most of its singles are great; most of the rest isn’t. But I’ll cut Shania some slack – that was the first album she co-wrote with husband (and producer) “Mutt” Lange. Maybe they were still figuring things out. 1998’s Come On Over was an advance (how can you even think of denying the genius that is “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!”?). Up!, then, is their quantum leap. As you already know, the album comes in three colors/flavors/versions, red for pop/rock, green for country, and blue for ethno-world fusion dance-pop. Each has its strengths, but the key here isn’t instrumentation, it’s these indestructible tunes. Shania’s not exactly Proust, no, but she generally plays to her strengths (mostly, upbeat Oprah-isms like the title track, and the ABBA-cribbing “C’est La Vie”). And musically, as many before me have pointed out, this is one giant hookfest that must have Max Martin shaking and drooling uncontrollably.

What first attracted me to Shania’s music was/is its sheer weirdness, the way she so shamelessly mixed fiddles and steel guitars with drums taken from Queen records (listen to “Any Man of Mine” and tell me the drums on that track aren’t a direct rip from “We Will Rock You”). She’s of country but not limited by it, and her refusal to play by the Nashville rules is precisely what’s enabled her to become a globe-conquering colossus. Think about it: the last country star to cross over in a worldwide sense was Dolly Parton. And you certainly can’t tell me that Dolly doesn’t have the same kind of barrier-busting nonchalance as Shania – not to mention that during her commercial prime, circa ’78-’83, Dolly had a similar sense for pop hooks wrapped in Nashville production. [This, of course, means that circa 2022, Shania will begin releasing bluegrass records.]

Personally, I find Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots irritatingly overrated. But I won’t question the demented genius of Flaming Lips leader Wayne Coyne, nor the heft of their live performances. The Gazzer and I saw the Lips in Chicago a couple years back, doing a $5 show in the shadow of Wrigley Park, and I had to leave because I couldn’t breathe. Not because of the crush of the crowd, though that was considerable – but because it seemed like between the crowd and the sheer energy of the Lips, all the air was being sucked out of the room.

Yoshimi’s “Do You Realize?” is a bit too much of a candy-colored “Bitter Sweet” symphony for my tastes, but “One More Robot” is a gorgeously sad, sweet pop record. I will never understand how a band so sheerly, delightfully weird as the Lips have remained signed to a major label for as long as they have – but I’m glad they have. Shame about the whole backing-up-Beck thing, though; saw their performance on Austin City Limits, and found myself nodding my head, thinking “Beck doesn’t need an art-pop backing band; he needs the JB’s.” It all seemed to fit with his new material, which just made it more depressing. [Suffice it to say I’m not a big fan of most of his last record. I fall much more on the Odelay/Midnite Vultures side of the Beck fence.]

Especially if you're new to blogging, this is worth reading: from today's New York Times, "Dating a Blogger, Reading all About It" (link via the scrumptuous Johnny A Go Go).

I guess Scott Weiland is the Robert Downey Jr. of rock, and nothing's gonna help him stay clean except jail. I say whatever works, as long as it keeps him from becoming another Layne Staley.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

I'm sure someone will tell me, but I'm unsure if it's fitting, sad, both, or neither that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, exiled to the wasteland of hip-hop in the US, have just scored their first hit on the other side of the pond since "Tha Crossroads" with a record, "Home," which heavily samples Phil Collins' "Take Me Home." And, scarily, it's actually kinda good - or at least, not bad. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that to my embarassment, I don't loathe (and rather like) the source material, back from the day before Phil was the abhorrent cretin of adult contemporary music he's since become.

Of course, it's somewhat pathetic that BTHN are reduced to such gimmickry these days. [I think I just answered my own question, kinda.] Remember "1st of tha Month"? "Foe tha Love of $"? Now those were smart bombs.

Chris and I were debating - almost arguing - over R. Kelly again today. His "Ignition Remix" has staked out a second week atop the UK singles chart, and I'm falling under its spell. Chris, of course, is wrong in his extreme hatred of Mr. Kelly, and said that he "just [doesn't] understand why" I like "Ignition Remix." Directed writing exercises are good, so here we go.

"Sipping on Coke and rum
I'm like, so what, I'm drunk
It's the freakin' weekend, baby I'm about to have me some fun."

- R. Kelly, "Ignition Remix" (Chocolate Factory, Jive, 2003)

The original version of "Ignition" is a smarmy, fairly vulgar and disgusting song akin to his '95 smash "You Remind Me of Something," replete with similar automative sex metaphors ("can you drive a stick?," et.al.). Its remix, however, is a breezy, laid-back, and thoroughly summery ode to just having fun and enjoying life. It includes the line "runnin' her hands through my 'fro" not once but twice. This is the sound of Kelly urging us - and trying himself - to forget troubles and just relax and chill. "Ignition Remix" is predictably bling-bling, but not appallingly so. And as Jess Harvell points out over at NYLPM talking about that phenomenal Freeway single, it's the '80s all over again in hiphop (and, to a lesser extent, but shown here, in R&B) these days. Kelly lathers the track's chorus (buried in the mix, listen closely) in Casio easy listening bodywash, while the whole record is mondo click-track and lots of "dum dum dum dum dum," ably accentuating his "no worries, mon" lyrics.

Despite myself, I love the "it's the remix to 'Ignition,' hot ''n fresh out the kitchen" line, as well. And lest you forget, Kelly's blessed with a voice so creamy, so practically edible that given the right material, he's irresistable. I mean, c'mon, his heavenly falsetto on the Old School remix of "Bump 'N Grind" is just flat-out stunning (it reminds me of his then-paramour Aaliyah, actually). He'll seduce you, he'll love your body down, he might bitch-slap or even (!!!) pee on you, but damn, it's hard to hate his music. And I for one just can't.

Tidy redesign over at Base58 complete with new downloads, including Autechre, Foul Play, some fine mashups, and Prince's "Erotic City"! Good on yer, bloke!

Is it just me or, video notwithstanding, doesn't J-Lo and L.L.'s "All I Have" have an almost wintry feel to it, a dorky-sweet song for curling up by the fire?

New blog of the week: superstar of midwestern public radio and television, great writer, reads Proust, ridiculously cute (see for yourself!), Toddo.

”…look for the ways to get from one to the other of those glorious moments when all the emotional stops are pulled, when you’re just so goddam glad to be breathing air… .”
- Chris Crutcher, Stotan! (Greenwillow Books, 1986)

Every so often I read “young adult” books, directed toward pre- and teenage readers. The quality of the writing is often just as good, if not better, than that of adult fiction, and I love a finely written coming-of-age story. It’s often a fine line; Gary Reed‘s Pryor Rendering is considered by most libraries an adult book, but Crutcher’s Stotan! isn’t. I’ve no idea why, apart from the fact that Crutcher’s known more as a writer for youth.

Stotan! is a splendid novel, one I fall upon and devour greedily every couple of years. It’s the tale of a quartet of high school swimmers: Walker, Lion(el), Nortie, and Jeff, along with their comrade Elaine and coach Max. In the midst of their senior season, the boys are beset with a myriad of hurdles to get over, including an abusive father (and many other twists I don’t want to reveal, lest I ruin the novel’s surprises), but stick together as four boys-becoming-men who are clearly much further along that path than they think. Even more than coming of age, this is a story about brotherhood, a bond that far too few people ever feel; no matter what twists and turns the lives of these four guys may take, they’ll always be there for each other.

I can’t read, nor think about, this novel without thinking of my own brotherhood. My sophomore year of college, ’93-’94, was my first year as an RA (Resident Assistant). Now, I attended a college of only about 1,000 students, and we only had five dorms – three coed, one women’s, and one men’s. I lived in the men’s dorm, Schwalm, which also had a bit of a rep as the “jock dorm.” The staff we had in Schwalm that year was nothing short of amazing, considering where we can from and where we ended the year. There were eight RA’s and an RD (Resident Director), and we were the most disaparate mix you could imagine. There was Rusty, the slightly odd runner (all bones and no fat). Joel was the soccer stud everyone envied, with a brilliant mind and perfect body (including a beautiful cock) and girlfriend (now his wife) who was gorgeous, athletic, and could drink anyone under the table (what’s not to like, really?). Wolfie was our self-proclaimed redneck – but also an art major. Our token hippie was Dean, the one we named “Treehugger” – all tie-dye and Lennon specs, now a Church of the Brethren minister. Morg played football and baseball, and acted like it. Fetrow was just a bit off-kilter while still being a classic football-and-beer kinda guy’s guy – for a staff photo, he had me help him pick out one of his fiancé’s dresses to wear. Dave, the head RA, was quiet, a thinker, a little bland. But he provided thought and balance. And then, of course, there was me, the back-out-of-the-closet Big Fag on Campus, literature- and music-obsessed, perhaps a bit too sensitive for my own good.

It’s quite a tribute to this group of guys that after I came out to them, at the tail end of the previous school year (by design, so they’d have the summer to process it), one of them (who’ll remain nameless, lest I embarrass any of them who might fall upon this blog) told a fellow RA something to the effect of “I ain’t workin’ with no fag, man.” By Christmas break, we were pulling break duty together, playing Nintendo and watching bad movies, not to mention keeping each other company when a nasty snowstorm knocked out our power for about 4 hours one deep December night.

From such a motley nontet we forged an unbreakable bond. At year’s end, we had an unsanctioned camp-out of campus, just the nine of us. There was a bonfire around which we were all seated, and lots of beer and bourbon – and lots of tears.

I was commissioned to put together a mixtape for our staff that year. I asked everyone to provide to songs: one which was just a favorite, and one which they felt summed up our year together. The choices, suffice it to say, were more than a bit varied; Wolfie offered Metallica’s “Welcome Home (Sanitarium),” while Mr. Bad Self Esteem (a/k/a me, at the time) gave up “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get” from Morrissey. But the most prescient choice – don’t laugh, please – was from Dave, who submitted “Blood on Blood,” from Jon Bon Jovi’s Young Guns II soundtrack. I was, of course, instantly predisposed to loathe the song, but to my surprise, when I listen to the tape now, it’s the one track I keep returning to. It’s a story of a group of brothers made from bonding, not from blood, in which the narrator admits at song’s end that it’s been years since he saw his comrades, but then points out

”If Jimmy called me up today, I’d be right by his side”

- the subtext of course being that Jimmy would need him for something, anything, and it wouldn’t matter what. That boils down the essence of how I feel about this group of men perfectly, something I was reminded of again recently by The Tin Man’s incredible entry last month on brotherhood. And you know what? As great as my friends are, as much as I love my life now, as fulfilled as I am in many ways, I do miss it, crave it, want it again. But I don’t even know if it’s possible again. Maybe it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Thank God I had it that once.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

I'm very, very disappointed in the governor I helped to elect, Virginia's Mark Warner. He's apparently decided to bed down with the Republican-in-Dem's clothing Joe Lieberman rather than support a man who can unite the Democratic party and bring it back to its core values, Dr. Howard Dean. I expected more from Warner.

I was asked, via email, what I think of the Beatles and Rolling Stones. That's pretty easy, actually.

The Beatles I respect, but don't actively enjoy. Never have. I know their music is ridiculously influentual, and that McCartney/Lennon was quite the songwriting duo - though honestly, I prefer their efforts apart to those together (Yoko Ono helped, not hurt, John musically, and McCartney's Wingspan comp is all the evidence you need regarding his post-Beatles life) - but I also find some of their material rather overrated. Their legend seems to precede any critical analysis of their work anymore. I firmly attest that Sgt. Pepper's is a good album, but by no means a masterpiece. My favorite song of theirs? "The Ballad of John and Yoko."

On the other hand, I'm definitely a fan of the Stones. Keith Richards is undoubtedly Chuck Berry's spiritual son/heir, Charlie Watts perhaps the finest "just keepin' the backbeat, ma'am" drummer ever, and in Mick Jagger they had/have the perfect strutting, king-of-showmanship frontman. If the blues had a baby and they called it rock'n'roll, then the Stones have been the nurse on call for nay on 35 years. My love for the Stones also keeps in line with the theory I recently mentioned of Quentin Tarantino's that everyone's either a Beatles or Elvis person. The Stones, like Elvis, give it up for black American music. I'm part of a minority of two which finds their finest moment to be - well, or which even defends - 1986's Dirty Work, one of the nastiest slabs of rock I've ever heard. The other guy in my corner, I'm pleased to say, is Robert Christgau.

Does that answer the question?

Friday, May 16, 2003

The ACC explosion continues - the official invites have been made to Miami, BC, and 'Cuse. I feel nauseous, as does Jim Boeheim.

I love the eerily connected ads that Blogger attaches, based on a blog's subject matter. Earlier this week, I was accidentally promoting a political news-and-views website. Today, I'm offering Shania's Up! at Amazon. More proof that the internet is a strange and wonderful beast.

I'm not sure Stephen, a/k/a GeekSlut has any idea what a beautiful writer and thinker he is. Read his latest post, and then listen to its corollary. [He has a lovely, deep voice, too.] The 'net, and the blogsphere, is better for him being a part of it.

The Matrix Reloaded is steamrolling its way into the history books, grossing over $42 million on its opening day. I'm hoping to catch a matinee tomorrow, if I can get a ticket.

Thanks to Mr. Woofy, I just discovered, to my shock and awe, that the weekend I'm going to DC - taking a vacation by myself, doing my own thang, having my first blogger meets - is the weekend of CapitalPride, a/k/a the gayest weekend of the year in Washington, D.C.

"My God! What have I done?!"
- Talking Heads, "Once In A Lifetime" (Remain In Light, Sire, 1980)

Chris has posted pics of some really cool silly putty art projects. And his baby picture! Unbearably cute.

June Carter Cash, one of the most important women in country music history - part of the legendary Carter family, who practically invented country music, wife of titan Johnny Cash, mother of Carlene, stepmother of Roseanne, and quite an artist in her own right - has died at the age of 73. Heaven's added quite a talent to its choir.

What always struck me about June was her extreme humility. When she accepted an award for her recently hospitalized husband last month at the CMT 2003 Flameworthy Music Video Awards, she said

“I accept this for him in all humility ... [Johnny]’s one of the most humble guys I know. He’s one of the best husbands that’s ever been. And he’s just one of the best country music entertainers I’ve ever known.”

Now, that's class. Go get some Carter Family records, get June's 1999 Grammy winner Press On, and listen to her '67 smash duet with Johnny, "Jackson" (from Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison). Then, thank the Lord that she walked among us. And pray for her family.

Ding, dong, the Lakers are dead!

Thursday, May 15, 2003

College sports, money, SEC championship rings being sold on eBay, and Miami to the highest (conference) bidder: ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski absolutely nails it. Amen.

Dinner was a success. Thanks for the assist with dessert, Chas!

Recognizing what's really important: Andy Katz on what ACC expansion means for basketball.

Addendum: Vitale's take.

Addendum 2: and from a football perspective, Kirk Herbstreit's view.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

It's hot, it's sexy, it's Friendster. I can not resist its lure... I am powerless...

In other news, I'm finally feeling more in the loop now that I finally got this phonewhore on the, um, phone. You're next. Nice post today - g'on witcha bad self, I say again! [He's practically got emeritus status, and he was my first real live blogger I ever spoke with.]

I'm hosting dinner for 8 Thursday night. I am so not a cook. I'm making tacos. I'm irrationally terrified. Good thoughts may be directed here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

We already know that
Rage Against the Machine - Zach de la Rocha + Chris Cornell = Audioslave.
Now, apparently,
Guns 'N Roses - Axl Rose + Scott Weiland = Reloaded.

I have no idea how this might sound, but I know I'm eager to find out. Of course, I'm also eager to find out what Chinese Democracy might sound like, but Mr. Axl Howard Hughes Orson Welles Rose doesn't seem in a big hurry. Does the word "megalomaniac" come to anyone's mind?

Tonight's Buffy was very impressive. Some thoughts:
+Very surprised the next-to-last-episode ever was so damned funny.
+Would they please let Andrew get a little sumpin-sumpin before the apocalypse?!
+Would they please let Buffy & Spike... oh, wait, look, there's Angel. I'm glad he's back, really glad. But not so thrilled about the fact that a) Spike saw it, and b) the First, of course, is spinning it to its (potential) advantage.
+[Regarding the previews] You had to know Caleb wasn't dead, didn't you?
+[Regarding the previews] Was that the opposite of evil Willow - Angelic (no pun intended) Willow?!

You've gotta give it up for Whedon and company - I have absolutely no idea how they're gonna finish this. In an hour, no less! But I sure as hell know I can't wait to find out. All we know so far is that Spike doesn't get staked, 'cause he's moving to L.A. and joining Angel next season. I'm still crossing my fingers for a Willow spinoff.

Finally, some interesting sports news.

ACC expansion is a BIG mistake, but it looks like it's happening. Why do I think it's a mistake? Because money's being put in front of the purity of athletics. Before you mock, yes, there is still some purity to be found in college sports. And I'm a college basketball fanatic, and this is only going to hurt the ACC in that regard - what happens to the round-robin format? The natural rivalries? Mike Krzyzewski and Gary Williams are less than thrilled at the prospect. Fortunately, Big Ten commish Jim Delany isn't apt to follow the ACC's lead. As a Purdue man, I've watched Delany very closely, and I'm very impressed; I feel nearly every decision he's made has truly been in the best interests of the conference.

Finally, it's nearly time for the French Open! And guess what Serena's saying? "I'm ready." Did everyone hear that?

Well, this certainly has to be considered good news.

Paul Kafka-Gibbons’ novel Dupont Circle (Houghton Mifflin, 2001) is a joy to read, like peach ice cream on a warm spring day. This is the second or third time I’ve read it, and I think I enjoy it more with each reading. It concerns a judge on the District Court of Appeals, Bailey Allard, a widower of 66, who takes a roommate into his large O Street townhouse. She’s a 26-year-old law student with whom Bailey ends up falling in love. In the midst of this, the Court of Appeals takes a gay marriage case, especially pertinent to Bailey because of his son Jon and Jon’s partner Peter, who’ve all but adopted Jon’s niece and nephew from his sister, who suffers from a veritable cocktail of depression and mental illness. The novel sounds soapy, but it’s not; it’s written with a calm grace and good humor by Kafka-Gibbons. I especially enjoyed reading it now that I have some familiarity with Dupont Circle and its surrounding environs myself, and will have even more after my trip there in early June (yeah, I’m excited – it’s been 3 years since I took a trip-cum-vacation by myself). The first time I read Dupont Circle, however, I still lived in Indiana, and enjoyed it greatly then, as well. As you likely will, too. I can very easily see this becoming one of those novels I come to read every year or so; that’s how highly I can recommend it.

Jenn thinks there should be a law against stupid lawsuits. And as if the suit against McDonald's wasn't good enough, now a California lawyer wants to ban Oreos. Jenn, dear, let's start the petition drive now.

Well, that didn't take long...

When in doubt, or absent some uncertain, focused inspiration, a (music) blogger blogs his mixes.

I closed out 1989 by making a mix for my friend Penny. At the time, Penny was the queen of jangle-pop and goth. She lived for any pearls to drop from the mouth of Michael Stipe, while loving Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy as well. As part of my eternal quest to get my guitar-centric friends to learn and love stuff of a more rhythmic tilt, I made Penny a mixtape titled newpowersoul, which I described as "a collection of pretty good dance music." My definition of dance music was, shall we say, rather big-tent. The point was to ease her into it, akin to giving her a gateway drug. I've never been certain (though I've been doubtful) that I succeeded; somehow, someway, I ended up with the cassette back in my possession. I like it quite fine, though, so it's not such a tragedy, and it makes a tidy snapshot of me at the time.

newpowersoul
side A
1. Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, "Freeze." I like it, and think Hitchcock is fairly amazing, but couldn't tell you even what album this is from.
2. Fine Young Cannibals, "I'm Not the Man I Used to Be." I've always found FYC to be horribly underrated. I mean, c'mon, great, great rhythms (two-thirds of 'em were in the Beat!) and that phenomenal voice of Roland Gift. They had a gift (sorry) for covers (see: "Suspicious Minds"), and a similar one with originals, this being a fine example, a stripped-down, late-eighties counterpart to some of the great Stax singles. Can't you just hear Otis Redding singing this?
3. Terence Trent D'Arby, "This Side Of Love." Speaking of underrated - yeah, he had the ego from hell, but had talent to back (at least some of it) up. Introducing the Hardline... was a smashing debut; his followup was even better, much further along artistically and in terms of songwriting. Great uber-Eddy twanging guitar, too.
4. Simply Red, "The Right Thing." Interesting to see the same arguments used to slag off Simply Red 15 years ago used on Jamiroquai now. Jamiroquai's more talented as a whole, but Mick Hucknall may be a better interpreter. In his prime, Simply Red cranked out one effortless pop gem after another; this was about midway through the streak. Check the bassline moving into the bridge.
5. Pet Shop Boys, "Love Comes Quickly." Because they're brilliant, that's why. Because Neil Tennant is the spiritual heir of Noel Coward and Cole Porter when it comes to songwriting. Because they're just as adept at slow as fast. I said, because they're brilliant.
6. Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler, "Back To Life." A generation of British R&B starts here.
7. Depeche Mode, "Personal Jesus." I've always preferred hearing the chorus as "reach out and suck face." Their first record to prove they actually knew how to play instruments that weren't keyboards - they were better for it.
8. 24-7 Spyz, "Jungle Boogie." Red Hot Chili Peppers + Fishbone - Living Colour = 24/7 Spyz. A wonder they didn't have a long, fruitful career. Their Kool & the Gang cover was equal parts naff and great.
9. Culture Club, "I'll Tumble 4 Ya." Their lightest, frothiest hit, here because I could (and to provide a contrast to the overwhelming machismo of the prior selection).
10. The Art of Noise featuring Tom Jones, "Kiss." Who better to cover one of Prince's greatest moments than Mr. Throw Your Panties In The Air? I mean, really? Jones singing with AON is so far absurd it comes back around to practically normal.
11. Skinny Puppy, "Testure." Don't ask; they seemed very au courant at the time.

side B
1. Salt-N-Pepa with E.U., "Shake Your Thang." Wherein SNP team up with the then-newly-crowned kings of go-go to take on the Isleys. Fun in a summer blockbuster kind of way, but by no means essential.
2. Blondie, "Heart of Glass." Well, really, what more do you need to know?
3. UB40 with Chrissie Hynde, "I Got You Babe." I told you this was a very, very loose definition of dance music, and that I didn't want to push too hard. UB40, I've always thought, pulled off that surprise - at least until they started becoming a wedding band in the '90s, cover versions, nothing but cover versions - a pop-reggae (reggae-pop?) band who were actually good. The entire Rat in Mi Kitchen record is excellent, as is the earlier EP Little Baggariddim, from whence this suprising Sonny & Cher cover comes. Chrissie Hynde? Well, she's always been a reggae kinda girl, even if her music didn't always show it (but don't forget, the Pretenders' basslines sometimes did).
4. Prince, "Partyman." We all make mistakes: when Prince met Kim.
5. Wire, "Kidney Bingos." Wire's first, circa '77 incarnation, as skittery punkers, never really torqued my wrench for some reason. But their mid-'80s comeback, hepping up the electronics and appearing as godfathers for the (then-)current generation, works a charm. What really struck me about '80s Wire, however, apart from their deliciously oblique lyrics ("money spines/paper lung/kidney bingos/organ fun"?!) was the chiming guitars, sounding like the sun rising over England after weeks of rain - the UK alternate-universe version of Peter Buck's Rickenbacker jangle, perched uneasily atop layers of production and keybs. A Bell Is a Cup Until It Is Struck sounded like truth in advertising to my teenaged ears. It still does.
6. The Smiths, "Panic." A myriad of commentators have since claimed that this song revolves around Morrissey's dislike of black music. But to me, an alienated Midwestern teenager, I took his words as tabula rasa. The radio did suck, yes, I could certainly understand feeling panicked myself as well.
7. Ofra Haza, "Galbi." She was the Israeli Streisand, or Madonna, or something. She could certainly fucking sing like few others - funny how voices sometimes sound stronger when you've no idea what they're singing. And the new wave/heavy synth f/x production backing her up actually upped the exotic ante. For a brief time, this sounded like the sound of a brave new world, maybe the way bhangra does now? The difference is that, globally speaking, she was a one-woman army. I wish she'd had reinforcements.
8. Pop Will Eat Itself, "Can U Dig It?" Can we take a minute to praise the genius that was PWEI, that really none of us, not even fans, realized at the time? Put it this way: add bootloads of samples, that particular British sense of humour, if not being, and more goofy intelligence to Linkin Park, and they're PWEI. Kind of. They were a rock band who understood the nascent DJ culture, tossing in as many odd, occasionally kitschy samples per minute as they thought they could get away with (and probably didn't care). On top went squalling metal guitar leads. And rapping. And nearly enough cheek to make Robbie Williams blush. But they weren't rap, or metal, or sampledelic merchants: they were a new thing, a hybrid, and we didn't know what to do with them, other than get get down. But damn it, they were brilliant, and so future-seeing it's still breathtaking. Oh, and this song, a public utterance of all of their beloved cultural totems, roolz.
9. Beastie Boys, "Shake Your Rump." Speaking of white boys rapping... remember when the Beasties still had a sense of humour? When they cared about the funk, and about jokes post-Licensed To Ill but pre-hangin' with Mr. Lama, "like Sam the butcher bringin' Alice the meat"? We could use 'em back, but I don't expect we'll ever get 'em.
10. a-ha, "The Living Daylights." So unfairly never given their due like you don't even know. The Norwegian trio made pop records, pure pop crafted from molten hooks and melodies, like few others in the late '80s. This, one of their highest moments, was a Bond theme, and is stellar, with just the right amounts of Morten's plaintive wail and a suspense-flick feel driving t'ings.
11. Living Colour, "Glamour Boys." Ah, what could have been. Oh, wait, it was.
12. Paula Abdul, "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me." Of the four top-5 hits from Ms. Vibeology's debut full, this is the one no one remembers, which is a shame, as it's the best of them all. More of that hard, dry dance-pop indigenous to the era (see: Janet's "The Pleasure Principle," et.al.) that so expertly makes your body rock, whilst Paula runs through the laundry lists of what you got that she don't need, 'cause she just needs you. Yeah, you.

The audio quality of this tape sucks. But if you'd like a copy anyway, holla.

Does anyone else ever get the feeling that he, he, he, and I make some sort of unholy blogger quadrilateral?

Monday, May 12, 2003

The blogroll wasn't just remixed/remodeled, it's moved.
Same with the links. They're over there, too.

Very interesting entry today by The Tin Man on blogging, especially considering that Chris and I were just talking about blogs and such - etiquette, how much you do/don't learn about people (and analyzing them therefrom), writing styles, et cetera. Things to ponder.

Speaking of, I'm going to revise/remodel the blog/linksroll tonight, I think. It's gotten too unwieldly and cumbersome.

Russell Simmons has been nominated for a Tony award. We've come a long way, baby.

Doesn't he have anything better to do than Fox specials and lawsuits? It's so sad, really. I was just telling someone the other day that Thriller still sounds amazing, to this day.

For those wondering &/or concerned, Jeffy is fine, just working too fucking much. He'll be back to the world sometime soon.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Email from Todd(o) in response to my Friday piece about easy listening:

Thomas

Reading your piece about WMRI brought back some memories for me of that
kind of radio. When I was a kid there was a station in Rochester MN that had
a similar format. "Easy Listening" with really good announcers and a
format that probably wasn't as eclectic at MRI but it was similar in that
there was a commitment to do something of quality. I grew up in central Iowa and
I used to pick up the station when FM propagation was just right.

A few years later, I read a piece about them in a trade paper... they
were one of the early adopters of the digital reel to reel format because
they said they were so committed to audio quality that they didn't want
their overnight listeners to be aware that they weren't live. They had been
recording at 15ips analog before that but the announcer's voice was so
deep that there was a low level of hiss on the tape.

I still remember reading that piece because it was symbolic of a
commitment to quality that I thought was nonexistent in commercial FM.
And now it truly is nonexistent. It's really too bad.

-- todd


A fellow queer radio geek! [Of course, he does work in radio and television.] Yay! [His blog's pretty great stuff, too, and you should check it out.]

It's Mother's Day, and I haven't posted anything about my Mom. Actually, I've never posted about my Mom. Well, good things (may) come to those who wait. [And my parents don't have this URL, and wouldn't want it anyway, trust.]

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, muthas, and Moms-to-be (fingers crossed) out there.

Drum'n'bass is awfully good cleaning music. Lest you wonder where I've been all day, there's your answer. Hosting dinner for 8 on Thursday, so today I cleaned: dishes, sweeping, trash, windexing the coffee tables, scrubbing the toilet. I even contemplated mopping, but decided against. I actually don't mind cleaning, provided I can do it my way. That generally means I've got the apartment to myself (the roomie and his bf, Bob [and his potential bf?], and Jenn went to Busch Gardens this weekend), so I can throw on some ratty clothes, crank up the jukebox (like I said, d'n'b mixes are the best), and just get to it.

Today's actually made a nice counterpoint to yesterday, which was another splendid Tom & Chas roadtrip Saturday, this one down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to putter around, search for the area's best radio station (it's WVOD - great station, bad website), and conclude the day with a mega-seafood buffet (pricey but worth it).

Random bizarre musical fact: the PM Dawn Remix of Jody Watley's sterling "When a Man Loves a Woman" (from her still-ace '93 full Intimacy) samples Jeru the Damaja's "Come Clean." Wha-wha-what?!

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Adam, Ray, you got two weeks, so I don't wanna hear a word from you little bitches about no longer being blogs o' the week, got it? *grin*

Which means it's (about) time for a new blog of the week, and let me say a word about the designation first. I know that I have two, sometimes disaparate, primary audiences here at oh, manchester. The first is music bloggers - that was (almost completely) what I originally considered myself, and those people (they should know who they are by now) were my initial inspirations. The second is gay bloggers, of which I'm proudly one. My bruhs are doing some of the best daily writing out in the blogsphere. But my point? Originally, I started designating blogs of the week to bring to the attention of the music folks some of the non-music blogs out there which I so heartily recommend. And for the most part, that's what I've kept doing. But this week, I break from tradition to spotlight my favorite music blog, period. He updates very regularly (that's important!), always has intelligent and clever observations on music (and oft times pop culture as a bigger picture), gives good email, posts weekly downloadable mp3s, and has pretty damn good taste in music, the stuff of life. His name, of course, is Paul. His blog is The Rub. You know the drill.

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