Friday, May 28, 2004

May be out of touch, blog-wise, for the next few days. Don't be alarmed. Have a safe and pleasant Memorial Day weekend, and take a moment to remember the sacrifices America's troops have been making for our freedom and liberty for centuries.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Speed round:

Take that, Asshole General Ashcroft.

The upsets continue at Roland-Garros.

Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose seems to get better, unbelievably, with each listen.

The automobile is the best invention, ever. Well, after devices reproducing recorded music. But it's a close #2. I'm so hearting my '86 Jeep Cherokee.

Finally, a classic album deserving of an expanded reissue.

When I think of Alice Cooper - not to mention Avr*l's fucking Dylan cover - I think of peace and unity, don't you?

Coming soon: my New England-ese glossary; it only begins with "wicked"...

And Morrissey, who notches the highest chart position of his career (in the U.S.) this week with You Are the Quarry's debut at #11 (so tantalizingly close to the top 10!), has signed (essentially - you say "supervising," I say runnin' t'ings) the original gangsta bitch, Nancy Sinatra, whose album sounds like it'll either be brilliant or horrid. But her first single's a Mozzer cover! The curiousity factor'll be through the roof, at least.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Because life really is what you make it - as I'm certainly finding out here in NH.
Because as Geoffrey understands, we all need more Gino Vannelli in our lives.
Because y'know what? I'm leaving the confessin' to past-present-and-future? King o' Pop Ursher from now on; you'll get occasional nuggets, but my personal life's my personal life, and if you need to know, you probably already do.
Because my life is so much more full here, and I'm damned busy, in good ways.
Because my beloved Pacers are gonna take out Detroit in 6 or 7, and then beat the T-Wolves - not the Lakers, ya heard? - to win the NBA championship.
Because, really, did I need to be posting 10x/day?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Which job do you think I'd be better-suited for: manager of a small, independent art gallery, or administrative assistant for a smalltown chamber of commerce? Votes and reasons in the Comment box, please. Details soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Observations made whilst flipping between music-video channels this a.m.:

I saw OutKast's "Roses" four times in one hour (once each on MTV, MTV2, VH1, and BET), and stopped for it every time. It's the video of the year until something knocks it off. [Jay-Z's "99 Problems" comes real close, mind.]

What is R. Kelly wearing in the "Happy People" clip? Is that - what? - a satin choir robe or something? And why's he wearing a tie on the outside of it?

Who's more useless, New Found Glory or Dashboard Confessional? Discuss.

Big & Rich's "Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)" is going to flop at radio, and I'm stunned they got it on CMT. Not only is its subtitle ride a cowboy, but the video is sexed-up - well, not quite to Color Me Badd proportions, but certainly much more than most clips found on CMT (especially considering it was immediately followed by Josh Turner's Jesus ode "Long Black Train" - kudos to whichever CMT programmer decided to go with that bit of cheek). It's pretty good, though, albeit high on the cheese factor (if this vid/single is any indication, they make Montgomery Gentry look subtle). And one of 'em, not sure if it's Big or Rich, looks like a gay pornstar.

And speaking of "Long Black Train," could that vid be a little more heavy-handed?

Here's why Jessica Simpson is no Cher: because, as "Take My Breath Away" shows, Jess can't even act in her own videos. Not even when lip-synching.

Monday, May 17, 2004

I know, I know, you all clearly think I've abandoned my churren (chirren? Ebonics spellcheck on Aisle 4, please), my beloved Rock Me Tonight and his little bro Doing It To Death (Part 1), seeing as how it's been nearly 6 weeks since I posted at either blog. But the fact of the matter is that they're gonna get an infusion of new love, soon. Woulda been today, in fact, except that something's fucked up with my sound card at the moment (yes, I so dearly need a new machine, I know. Donations accepted but not solicited).

In other news, taking up much of my time these last 6 weeks (give or take) - and keeping me from my usual prodigious standard of blogging output - has been new experiences. A lot of the impetus behind my move to NH was to shake things up in my life, and make big changes, and that's certainly been the result. For instance, last week, I made banana bread for the first time. It didn't turn out so great, but some of it was edible. And I tried, and learned from the mistakes I made, so there you go.

Tonight, I looked at a used vehicle - and I mean looked at, as in poked around, looked under the hood and such (it's a learning curve: had my roomie's father, who used to own an auto-parts shop, here for more-than-backup), in anticipation of possibly purchasing it. It's a white '86 Jeep Cherokee, in quite good condition (especially considering it's 18 years old), and it appears that it will, in fact, be my first-ever car. I spent much of this morning getting quotes on car insurance, as well, and will be going to take my driving test next week. My Dad asked me last night why I was "waiting so long" to take the test, and I replied that I wanted to make damned certain that I pass, no ifs/ands/buts.

This pic's close enough, I s'pose.

I'm gonna have a car! And a license! And insurance! Lord, I feel like such an adult.

From the FAQ at, news to bring joy to the heart of every lover of music videos - and everyone who feels they're art just as much as paint-on-paper or sculpture:

are there any plans to release a dvd compilation of your music videos?
yes. a comprehensive dvd is currently in production and will appear in 2004. it will be released by palm pictures as part of their new 'director's label' series (the same label that just released dvd compilations of the work of spike jonze, michel gondry, and chris cunningham). there will be interviews with most -- if not all -- of the artists i've worked with, a full-color fifty page booklet, and an extensive assortment of bonus materials.


About time. [Not to sound ungrateful or anything...]

I happen to like "The Ketchup Song," thankyouverymuch.

New mp3 from the WMRI 106.9FM... Volume 4 project today, Paul Davis's "Cool Night": a sterling example of what is truly soft rock.

We - the U.S., as a country, as a people - need agitators like Michael Moore, especially Michael Moore, now more than ever, oh yes we do. And if you thought Bowling For Columbine, or his acceptance speech at the '03 Oscars, pissed people off (or pissed you off), well... early word on Fahrenheit 9/11, which just premiered at Cannes, is that it's his most explosive work yet. Thank God for filmmakers like Michael Moore, not afraid to rock the boat and put their art where their convictions lie. I will so be in line to see this on its first day of release.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

I discovered today that every bit of public testimony before the 9-11 Commission is available online, in PDF, HTML, and in most cases, Windows and Real Media forms. It's all here, and is worth some of your time. [This week, the Commission travels to Ground Zero and hears testimony from former Mayor Giuliani, among others.]

Humid, damp, tossin'-an'-turnin' sleep, fever(ish) dreams, Louis Jordan's "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" playing over and over both in dreams and when I woke up and then forced myself back to more tortured sleep and then woke up 45 minutes later with a bloody nose, kleenexed it up, fell back into a half-dreamstate... was in bed for about 11 hours, probably actually slept 6 of those, maybe 7.

Friday, May 14, 2004

"Rick Rubin is simply the most important producer of the last 20 years."

If ya don't know, now ya know: a superb primer to Rick Rubin at, "What's Up With That Bearded Guy In The '99 Problems' Video?" [And if you haven't done so, you need to see the clip for "99 Problems," one of 2004's - and Jay-Z's - best.]

"You can tell this is the kind of chick who's had her tubes tied."
-Butt-Head, while watching Stacey Q's "Two of Hearts" video

Oh, praise be! MTV2 is now running original episodes of the greatest animated show of all time (yeah, I said it), Beavis and Butt-Head, in all their unexpurgated glory. Translation: the videos are included! Those were always the best part, and it kills me that they're not included on the DVDs. This shit still makes me laugh out loud harder than pretty much anything else on the tube these days. The word is classic, son.

Kid Rock's "Jackson, Mississippi" seems of another place and time - said place and time being late-night FM radio circa 1975. Here, the Kid effortlessly slides/sidles from sweet, strung-out multitracked Allmanisms into bluesy, rifftastic hard rock of the purest mid-'70s vintage while singing a somewhat convoluted lyric ("I feel like Jackson, Mississippi"? As my highschool English teachers would have asked, Why?) which fits in perfectly with the decade's ethos, seemingly (that decade, again, being the '70s - talk about a man out of time). "Jackson" is a nearly flawless single, easily Rock's finest since "American Bad Ass," but cut from another cloth altogether. Where "Bad Ass" was pure flash, a satin baseball jacket, "Jackson" is thick, durable corduroy. A-

I find it fascinating that All Music's Stephen Thomas Erlewine refers to the Rolling Stones' "She's So Cold" (in his review of Emotional Rescue) as a "revamped Chuck Berry rocker." I find it fascinating because the more I hear it, the more I hear it as the Stones' kinda-sorta take on new wave (it did come out in 1980). Not only does it hit my ears as new wavish, though, it's simultaneously of its time yet seemingly not of the Stones themselves. The drums, of course, are Charlie Watts at his most reliable, and the guitar riffs sound like Keef sleepwalking. [Don't misunderstand me: Keith sleepwalking is better than 99% of guitarists wide awake.] But there's something inherently Stonesy missing here, something that seems oh-so phoned-in. Maybe that's just Mick's laziness showing through, but whatever it is, it works. "She's So Cold" may be the least Stonesy of all of the Stones' singles, and works a charm for it. A-

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Those obscure objects of desire:
+WNG575, NOAA Weather Radio broadcasting at 162.525MHZ from Pack Monadnock, NH (here's their coverage map)
+dry Cheerios, the world's greatest snack food (and pretty healthy too, at least if you're not on those low-carb diets)
+Deanna Sclar's Buying A Car for Dummies (pretty much invaluable)
+WMRI 106.9FM: Where We Played Your Relaxing Favorites - Volume 4
+Usher's ridiculous chart dominance - I may not love all of his music (and particularly don't care for "Burn"), but I do love him as a star. He's had the #1 album and single in the U.S. for 6 of the past 7 weeks. Who does he think he is, the King of Pop? Oh, wait...
+USA Today: it's always gotten an unfair rep - much of their writing is much better than you (have reason to) think it is, especially regarding sports and entertainment.

"Proof" that bloggers have different brains (notice I didn't say "better," just "different") than everyone else. Link via defiant non-blogger Gaz.

Speed round:

I know the film's already come and bombed (though I still want to see it; I guess it'll be on DVD in 3 months or so), but you've got to admit that the poster for Connie and Carla is fairly superb.

Martina: yay! The Weinsteins (for once): yay!

Time for some good ol' Hoosier home cookin', I guess...

Geoffrey has a haiku to share about cicadas.

It's called damage control, Rummy. And a desperate attempt at face-saving.

5 of the most horrific words in the English language, when strung together: the return of Wilson Phillips. Besides their accounts, who the fuck thought this was a good idea?! The proof can be seen here (#16).

While wondering if anyone else is finding Blogger's "new and improved" as annoying as I am - and this just before parent company Google goes public...

First, quick update: had a lovely day meandering around Boston on Monday with Rich. Hit the Wharf, Boston Common, Fenway, the Old South Church, and Boyleston Street. Also drove through Cambridge, including M.I.T. and Harvard, on the way home. Tuesday and Wednesday I worked, lots. Ended up with an unexpected 10-hour shift yesterday, which required a good 20-minute soak in the hot tub afterwards, for my achin' feet.

Second, new downloads: I had a lovely write-up ready to go, but Blogger ate it. The short version, thus.

Kindred the Family Soul are a husband-and-wife duo on a jazzier, slightly more schmooved-out than Jill Scott (who discovered 'em) tip. Their album came out over a year ago but is just now starting to catch fire, thanks to Adult R&B radio and BET (especially Midnight Love, where I first heard/saw 'em). "Far Away" seems to be the proverbial iceberg's tip. You listenin', Ray?

There's a new PJ Harvey album coming next month, and she's playing some dates of Lollapalooza this year, which is all the reason I need to post her stunning I'll-have-my-way-with-you-whether-you-like-it-or-not,-darling '95 single "Long Snake Moan."

And from WMRI 106.9FM: Where We Played Your Relaxing Favorites, a pair of instrumentals (which I suppose we'd now consider "smooth jazz") par excellence. The theme from Taxi you may only know in its show-opening 66-second edit; pal around with the full 6-minute version of Bob James's gorgeous "Angela (Theme From Taxi)," why don'tcha? "Rise" you may only know by virtue of its sample in Biggie's "Hypnotize"; get acquainted with all of Herb Alpert's 1979 #1 smash, why don'tcha?

Whoomp, there it is, I thought ya knew.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Everything positive you've heard about Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose is true; it's worth - and earns - every iota of hype. There will inevitably be a backlash a couple of months down the road - "it's only 'cause she's old," "it's only 'cause she worked with Jack White," et cetera - and that'll be those people's loss, 'cause this is a fucking monstrous record. It really does feel like a career record, akin to Dylan's "Love and Theft" (most would say Time Out of Mind), or of course to one of Cash's quartet he made with Rick Rubin behind the boards (pick 'em, though conventional wisdom in this case says the first or fourth). Rose is destined to get compared in every review, every mention to those amazing Cash/Rubin collaborations, but that's further off the mark than you might think. As Rob Sheffield points out in his great review in Rolling Stone, whereas Rubin essentially didn't produce Cash - only sitting a microphone in front of him - White completely produces Lynn, adding rich layers of sound which accent and augment - instead of overwhelming - her voice and, most of all, her songs.

Van Lear Rose is the first album in Lynn's lengthy career on which she wrote every song, and it shows; I'd argue this is her finest collection of songs in one album ever. And White, incredibly, knows just what to do with 'em. "Have Mercy" is a shocking Loretta Zeppelin record (and in 1970 would've flipped everyone's wig), featuring such a bluesy bump-n-grind and such sexy singing from a septugenarian like you won't believe. "Miss Being Mrs." is a heartbreaker of the highest order, a highly personal track about the loss of her husband of many decades, Doo. "Little Red Shoes" feels like an anamoly, White channelling Daniel Lanois's work with, say, Emmylou Harris; it's a very spacious, stretched-out production against which Lynn does a kind of spoken-word narrative, reminiscing. It's evocative and gorgeous, and like the rest of this Rose, it works.

Much attention, of course, has been thrown at "Portland, Oregon," Loretta's sole duet with the lead White Stripe, and it's even better than you might expect, both of them howling over a squawling track (in many ways the most Jack-and-Meg-sounding song on the album) about the end of a relationship. But really, what impresses me so immensely about Van Lear Rose is the entirety of it; this album never lags, not a bit, and keeps up a sterling standard of quality from beginning to end of its 37 minutes and change. I honestly can't recall the last time I was so blown away by an album; it's likely been years. This is an instant classic. Some might even use the "m"-word; I'll save that for a couple months from now and reevaluate Rose then. But I'll tell you this much: it's gonna be damned hard for any one album to top Lynn's in 2004. A+

Saturday, May 08, 2004

I made a truly saddening discovery this morning. Not only does my once-beloved WMRI-FM, formerly the source for "relaxing and easy favorites" in northern Indiana, pretty much suck as just another "lite rock" (it's "light"!!!) station these days, but I came across this from Radio & Records:

Monday, January 13, 2003

State-by-State Transactions

WGOM-AM & WMRI-FM/Marion (Muncie)
PRICE: $1.63 million
TERMS: Asset sale for cash
BUYER: Mid-America Radio Group, headed by President David Keister. Phone: 765-349-1485. It owns 15 other stations, including WBAT-AM & WCJC-FM/Muncie-Marion, IN.
SELLER: Bomar Broadcasting Corp., headed by President Mike Day. Phone: 765-664-7396
FREQUENCY: 860 kHz; 106.9 MHz
POWER: 1kw day/500 watts night; 50kw at 499 feet
FORMAT: Talk/Sports; AC

It's not even owned by Bomar anymore! Oh, I'm so, so, sad. I know that unless you'd ever listened to WMRI - or heard me go on and on about it, enraptured (natch), this likely means nothing to you. But it's another piece of my youth and 20s gone, forever. No more Bomar! I weep.

Fortunately, I'm able to at least partially assauge my sorrow with the fourth volume in my WMRI tribute series, hot out of the CD burner.

WMRI 106.9 FM: Where We Played Your Relaxing Favorites - Volume 4
1. "Morning Dance," Spyro Gyra
2. "I've Never Been To Me," Charlene
3. "Angela (Theme from Taxi)," Bob James
4. "Rise," Herb Alpert
5. "Giving You the Best That I Got," Anita Baker
6. "Exodus," Ferrante & Teicher
7. "Cool Night," Paul Davis
8. "Constant Craving," k.d. lang
9. "So May It Secretly Begin," Pat Metheny Group
10. "Living Inside Myself," Gino Vannelli
11. "Feels So Good," Chuck Mangione
12. "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White," Perez Prado and His Orchestra
13. "Deacon Blues," Steely Dan
14. "The Theme from Hill Street Blues," Mike Post
15. "Love Is Blue," Paul Mauriat
16. "Just Once," Quincy Jones featuring James Ingram
17. "Songbird," Kenny G

I am so much more uncool than you'll ever know. Well, except for Johnny, who knows all too well. And Stumpy.

I'm gonna post mp3s of many of these over the next week or two. For starters, here's Spyro Gyra's "Morning Dance," one of the bedrocks of the smooth jazz format, which came out well before anyone had even dreamed the term. And from 1982, Charlene's top 10 hit "I've Never Been To Me," a landmark in bad taste and one of the whitest records ever released - and it was released, I kid you not, on Motown.

Friday, May 07, 2004

As I mentioned below, I'm trying to catch up on what I've missed online in the past 3 weeks. And Mash-up: Submeat vs. Snozzwanger makes me awfully, awfully happy (Snozz sent a v. nice "everything okay?" email during my protracted absence from the blogworld, as well). I believe I've just been re-re-remixed. :)

Were I to make a phat 0504 (which I inevitably will, soon) (Fred would call this "songs to download & sing"), it'd look like this:

1. "Have Mercy on Me," Loretta Lynn
2. "Portland, Oregon," Loretta Lynn (Duet with Jack White)
3. "If You Ever Stop Loving Me," Montgomery Gentry
4. "Break Down Here," Julie Roberts
5. "Come to Jesus," Mindy Smith
6. "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day," Eric Clapton
7. "She's So Cold," Rolling Stones
8. "Slither," Velvet Revolver
9. "Southern Fried Intro," Ludacris
10. "Smile," Lloyd Banks
11. "Jook Gal (Remix)," Elephant Man featuring Twista, Youngbloodz, and Kiprich
12. "My Band," D12
13. "Ch-Check It Out," Beastie Boys
14. "Roses," OutKast
15. "What's Happenin'," Method Man featuring Busta Rhymes
16. "Jesus Walks," Kanye West
17. "Reflection," Prince
18. "Still In Love," Teena Marie
19. "Rolling Through the Hood," Kelis
20. "Talk About Our Love," Brandy featuring Kanye West
21. "Confessions Part II," Usher

Some level/s of explication to come later, or soonish, or something. Remember, not only do I have pent-up blogging, but lots of online catching up to do. So be patient, please, kids; I'll try to make it worth your while.

Very speedy catch-up round, general housekeeping edition:

I'm taking The Noise of Art off my sidebar; it was (and still is) a good idea, but the timing was very off. Maybe someday. And speaking of (kinda), R.I.P., The Rub.

Will update the 2004 tracks list this weekend, as well as (hopefully) Doing It To Death (Part 1) and Rock Me Tonight.

My only exposure to new music the past 3 weeks or so has been the video channels. Montgomery Gentry's "If You Ever Stop Loving Me" is their best single since career-opener "Hillbilly Shoes," D12's "My Band" is the hilarious record Eminem's been driving for for years now, and I love the "Southern Fried"/"Blow It Out" clip from Ludacris 'cause it's two great tracks for the price of one (but hearing him rock it over guitars gives "Southern" the edge).

Speaking of housekeeping, did you know that the best way to clean glass in general, and windows in particular, is with newspaper? No streaks. Really. I do windows - the house has got so many (and so many in use), it's a must.

More soon - but that you can just take for granted right now.

I'm back. More soon - much more. I've got two-and-a-half weeks of pent-up non-blogging, whatchu thinkin'?!

Monday, May 03, 2004

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Back whenever my computer, currently not much more than a girlfriend in a coma, is, too.

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