Thursday, May 27, 2010

On Repeat: Tame Impala - Alter Ego

Perth-based Tame Impala have been the recipients of a generous amount of buzz in recent months on the heels of their 2008 EP and forthcoming LP Innerspeaker. Blog behemoths larger than myself (if you can IMAGINE) have stamped their seal of approval on their debut single "Solitude is Bliss" and its awesomely apocalyptic video. Myself, I prefer the melodic density of Alter Ego (below).

Perhaps mis characterized as psych-rock, the song opens with a pretty standard rolling guitar part that gets swept into a heady whirlwind of drums and spacey effects. They delicately toe the jam-band line for the first minute or so, nearly indistinguishable from Phish, et al before Kevin Parker's vocals echo into the frame and the Phish similarities end and late-era Beatles similarities begin. To my ear, Parker sounds exactly like John Lennon. And when I say exactly I mean I had to check my Zune to make sure I didn't shuffle to a Beatles B-side. There's an interesting complexity at work on Alter Ego, all the more impressive considering the band has but three members.

Parker's verses carry the song from melody to melody, bridging the energetic drum spurts and hurried bassline. Backing vocals push the song even further into Beatles territory, giving the major chorus of "...when the one from my dreams, is sitting right next to me.....and I don't know what to do" a warmth and depth that the Beatles were masters of in every iteration. Despite obtuse lyrics or other distractions, there was always a welcoming core to every song. Alter Ego taps into this phenomenon. Vague words, squiggly effects but decidedly more than the sum of its parts.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Infinite Jest

While SS's blog post today read like the sprawling itinerary of a woeful socialite, completing the book pictured above is my primary objective this summer*. Because the cover photo is in two dimensions, you may be think me unambitious or illiterate. Here is Infinite Jest from another angle.

1079 pages at my count. Well. Technically 981 pages with 98 pages of footnotes (which I intend to read). Now I've read long books before (IT is 1104 pages thankyouverymuch), but Infinite Jest is another matter entirely. If you aren't familiar with it, here's a synopsis from Wikipedia:

"The lengthy and complex work takes place in a semi-parodic future version of North America. The novel touches on the topics of tennis, substance addiction and recovery programs, depression, child abuse, family relationships, advertising and popular entertainment, film theory, and Quebec separatism."

It's author is David Foster Wallace, widely regarded as a genius and one of the most influential writers of the last 20 years. Wallace committed suicide in late 2008, but 1995's Infinite Jest is his magnum opus and a fixture on nearly every "Best of the Century" literature lists. I've read a few of Wallace's essays from his non-fiction work A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, including the eponymous 100-plus page essay about DFW's experience aboard a cruise ship which I count among the funniest things I have ever read/listened/watched (imagine a 3 hour long AFV music montage and you're close). To call Infinite Jest daunting is to call sumo champion Asashoryu "husky". It is dense, 388 lines are punctuated with footnotes that force you to flip to the back of the book, and it skips all over the place. Mercifully, thus far (through page 42), it still maintains the edge and humor that made his shorter pieces so successful. He doesn't flaunt obscure words or engage in superfluous descriptions to fluff up a page. Every line seems absolutely crucial in bringing you into the characters and the scene. A scary realization for a book over 1,000 pages long.

I have 97 days. As I am on page 42 now, that leaves me a cool 1037 pages, or 10.69 per day to finish it by the end of August. Sounds simple enough, but so do most things on paper. We shall see. I'll update on my progress as I see fit.

*Well, this and devise, film, edit a documentary short, but with SS gallivanting around New England that may well be on indefinite hiatus.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

UNGH (Na Na Na Na)

Sweet MARY/JESUS/JOSEPH it was a scorcher today! Thankfully I work in a laboratory with adequate air conditioning (provided you stay in a 2 foot radius of Vulcan/Picasso), but when I got to my car I nearly melted into my seat. When I got home I spent 20 minutes researching popsicle recipes and fashioned an elaborate scheme to steal a blocks of dry ice from work so I could freeze them instantaneously. Such was my desperation for a frosty confection this afternoon. Of course I didn't have the forethought to stock up on Fla-vor-ice in the event of a heat wave, it's May! Well shame on me because today I chewed on ice and dreamed of the delicious novelties of my youth. I've already mentioned Fla-Vor-Ice (which I was for Halloween a few years ago and handed them out at parties), but there really are oodles. Not all frozen delights are created equal. The only reasonable way to discuss this is in list form, so that's precisely what I'll do. Mind you, the opinions expressed here are my own, and therefore unequivocal fact.

1. Fla-vor-ice (also known as freeze pop)
There is no greater feeling in the world than opening the refrigerator and seeing the freezer fully stocked with these fruity shots. I mowed through these like that cat in the Fancy Feast commercials. Between April and September, the freezer was a revolving door for these morsels and you could find the wrappers littered all around the house with the tops chewed off and likely still attached in a row. A box (of 100) a week, between my sister and I. Well, technically we hid all the red ones in the back of the fridge (they are gross), but nearly a box a week. The flavor hierarchy: Pink, Green, Blue, Orange, Purple, Red. Note: Pink/Blue/Green are tied for first. Another note: Do not be fooled by imitations. If it does not have Fla-vor-ice emblazoned on the side, you will be disappointed. Accept no substitutes (MT).

Funny story aside: Once, when I was 6, my dad said that if I took the dog out to pee and didn't let him run away I could have a freeze pop when I got back inside. What did Cedar (RIP) do the second I opened the door? He ran around the yard like a buffoon. Did I let go of the leash? No. Did I get dragged around the yard like a rag doll and get scratched and scraped nearly beyond recognition? Yes. Did I get a popsicle? Yes. Was it worth it? YES.

2. THE O.G. Popsicle
I don't know the name of these, and frankly it doesn't matter. You know exactly what I am talking about. The double popsicles that you can split in half and share (if you're a moron). The only thing holding these back is the presence of a banana flavored pop. Don't get me started on a banana rant, but anything "banana flavored" is an abomination.

3. Popsicle brand pops
When I was a kid we didn't have all the new-fangled fancy flavors on the Popsicle brand website, but they did have Rocket Pops and Lick-a-color pops which both ruled. I preferred the lick-a-color because you could nibble off the layers, but Rocket Pops are good in a pinch or if you are at a friends house.

3. Sherbet
Sherbet is a dark horse here, I know. But it is really tasty, especially when it gets a little melty. Call me crazy, but sherbet>sorbet any day.

4. Push-up pops
Push-up pops get pity placement on this list. I remember loving them, but I also haven't had one in probably 15 years and eating one today would probably destroy any sentiments and tarnish precious childhood memories.
5. Fudgsicles:
Get out of here with Fudgsicles. They taste like frozen Chocolate swill. The only reason they aren't dead last is because they are on a stick.

6. Ice Cream
Ice cream is great, don't get me wrong, but refreshing it is not. No one in their right mind heads for the ice cream when they come back from a run. NO ONE. If you know someone that does, terminate your relationship with them post haste.

My family also made orange juice popsicles (we had a popsicle mold that got more mileage than any utensil in our entire kitchen) and routinely froze juice boxes of Ecto Cooler to go to town on with a spoon. My sister and I fought over these so ferociously that my mom had to label them for us and put them in separate quadrants of the refrigerator. I still stole hers anyway. I didn't list these because DIY popsicles and freezing abnormal things doesn't really count in the spirit of this list.

I welcome your comments.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I think my leg may have to come off. Despite egregious wounds I've been able to make my way to Mike's apartment to watch the game. We're currently sitting right next to each other with laptops watching the game (waiting for the tip-off). I can only hope the Celts have a better game than the ride I had.

8:49 Some actor from the Sopranos does a tequila commercial for 1800 Tequila. 1800 is the stuff that magically appears with John Lamb at parties around 1:00am. When the 1800 comes out you know it's about to go straight downhill.

Let me say that Dwight Howard's STUPID mustache makes him look like a French Croupier. If his shoulders weren't the size of my head (each) I would want to punch him in the face. Yes, he intimidates me to the extent that I censor my own thoughts.

What is the Orlando Magic's mascot? Is it merlin? Is it just a sparkly basketball like the one that appears on their jerseys? Whatever it is it's got to be ridiculous.

You may have realized that I don't know shit about basketball. Yes, I know what a f-ing shot clock is. It's a countdown timer for that runs down from 24. When it runs out you have to press "x" and shoot the ball from wherever you are on the court.

8:55pm Ray Allen is still sneering.

8:56pm And-one for Paul Pierce. I think his favorite part of basketball is getting fouls. I wonder where he ranks among the most fouled members of the NBA. After he retires he may have a career in professional soccer.

8:58pm I have no freaking idea what Inception (commercial on now) is about from the previews. All I know is that buildings are crumbling and turning upside down. It's like a MC Escher version of Batman.

9:00pm What is Stan Van Gundy's blood pressure. Has anyone talked to him about that? I think he may faint if he continues his absurd yelling. It also seems really effective with his players. Can you tell "really" is dripping with sarcasm.

What is Mike blogging about?


It's 8:30 and I haven't blogged today. Mostly because Sam harangued me into biking with him this afternoon and then administering first aid on his leg and his pride when he failed to unclip and "sack-o-tatered" himself all over Mass Ave. Sam and I will be liveblogging the game a la Bill Simmons until we pass out or run out of snarky things to say.

8:33PM EST I love these highlight reel intros, I always get chills, especially during the radio calls. No one makes memorable calls anymore.

8:34PM EST Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers both need a lozenge. Why do all NBA coaches have such hoarse voices? They need headsets or earpieces or sign language or something. Imagine if one lost their voice? Devastating.

8:36 God it must be so obnoxious working at a professional sports arena and having to hear "Welcome to the Jungle" 15 times a day.

8:38 Sam: "What is this 24 clock thing on....oh...the shot clock." This does not bode well.

8:42 How does Kevin Garnett get so sweaty so fast? It's been five minutes. Another bad job is post-game laundry.

8:46 There's a pretty tried and true formula for announcers. One guy with serviceable play-by-play skills and a silky voice, a recently retired player who can offer an "inside" player perspective and boom-shakala-laka wordplay when someone dunks, and another old player/coach who whines about officials and how the league has changed.

8:49 I can't tell whether using a Sopranos character in a Tequila commercial is supposed to be intimidating or cool. I'm going to buy some just in case.

8:55 Jeff Van Gundy is mad that Law and Order is off the air and talking about the World Cup. I think we all know which kind of announcer he is.

8:57 I feel bad for kids who are misled into thinking ordering a Miller Lite from a bar will gain you the respect and admiration of cute bartenders. Unless it is $2 Miller Lite night or they run out of PBR.

8:59 "RAY ALLEN YOU ARE THE CHOSEN ONE" The only way they could cross-promote Prince of Persia more is by either making the home team dress up in Persian military armor or letting Jake Gyllenhaal play the 3rd quarter.

9:02 Redick is too pretty for the NBA. Aren't white NBA players contractually obligated to have long hair or look like Mike Dunleavy (sprinted into sliding glass door as a child)? He must be a great wing-man for Gortat.

9:07 I don't like Jaguars (they look like fancy Buicks), but the XJ is S-E-X-Y.

9:09 Sam was using Luke's computer and now he is cut-off. He won't be reading anything I write until tomorrow morning. Sam and John are arguing about the merits of 3D, and Katie is rolling her eyes super hard.

9:11 Sam has an ABSURD bandage on his leg, like the kind people wear around their head in old-timey war movies. I don't know the extent of his wound, but I don't remember any shrapnel.

9:17 Rasheed Wallace is definitely the Rick James of the NBA, as evidenced by that last foul. "NO I DIDN'T FOUL HIM I WASN'T EVEN THERE! TALK TO MY LAWYER..................YEAH I REMEMBER RUNNING INTO HIM AND I'LL DO IT AGAIN"

9:21 Is Dwight Howard really pronounced "Duh-white"? Because I thought everyone but me had a speech impediment.

9:23 Sam and Katie are discussing strategy for dressing his wound and the medicinal properties of expired Neosporin.

9:25 Glen Davis, that air ball means that shot is out of your range. For future notice, if you can't dunk it from where you are, it is out of your range.


9:28 I think I could coach in the NBA, or at least until the All-Star break or they checked my references.

9:31 Shut up about Cold Case Jeff Van Gundy and your mom going to your Spanish class, have some shame.

9:36 Pierce plays basketball a lot how I played basketball in middle school. Spinning and flailing and generally out of control. They only difference is I didn't get the foul calls.

9:38 These AXE commercials with the sprinkler armpits are gross. Everyone agrees.

 9:42 How Rondo the flying squirrel sneaks lay-ups in around Dwight Howard is flabbergasting.

9:46 How can you have a beard in the NBA? I tried to grow a beard for like two weeks and it was beyond itchy. Can Rashard Lewis or KG really claim that being covered in sweat and around 9 other sweaty dudes isn't uncomfortable? I mean, I'm sure it's uncomfortable anyway, but beard is another matter entirely.


9:54 God these local commercials are almost as bad as NH local commercials. And your not fooling anyone COMCAST, I mean "XFINITY".

10:16 RAY ALLEN CAN STILL DUNK?!  Poor Vince Carter got posterized by a 34 year old Ray Allen.

10:17 Dwight Howard awoke Kevin Garnett's scary face. Beware Magic.

10:19 The zombie-shark commercial is almost as strange and uncomfortable as the sweaty AXE commercial.

10:23 God Perkins you are so dumb sometimes. Stay in the paint and shave your King Tut beard.

10:27 Someone is going to be ejected by the end of this quarter. You heard it here first.

10:32 John "And that's why you're called Big Baby" as Glen Davis licks his lips all Hannibal Lecter like.

10:37 Celtics take lead. Magic proceed to panic and self-destruct.

10:40 Sometimes I wish I could read lips for when I watch sports, and then I realize that the things they say will probably keep me up at night.

10:46 OK Doc Rivers, you can take Rasheed out now. He is going to have an arraignment in the morning if you don't.

10:47 Sam drops the word "heart" with 9:46 left in the game.

10:55 As I was thinking "Why is Big Baby still playing" he ties the game and the Magic turn it over. I take back every snarky remark Mr. Davis.


11:03 We all agree that courtside seats in basketball are the best seats in sports.

11:06 Sloppy is right.

11:08 Android is really cool, but the commercials for the Droid are really bizarre. Are they trying to sell exclusively to aliens?

11:13 Paul Pierce just had an adrenaline shot in that last huddle to summon that dunk. Or sold his soul to some unsavory character. I don't really care if we win.

11:17 80 seconds, Pierce decides he'll handle it. Tie game.

11:18 Tie game, 40 seconds. Miss. Bah. Time out.

11:20 Yes we looked up what "Low T" is. It's low testosterone. Duh.

11:21: WTF just happened. OT.

The quality of this blog post has dropped precipitously. Apologies. I'm going to watch the OT sans comments. Blogging is hard.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I went to Brooklyn.

A photo does not do Mediterranean Crispy Bread justice

Graffiti in-progress

Jenny bit me.

On break.

Guard-cat on duty.

Monster indeed. Look at those soulless eyes. Chilling.

Jenny has a blinking problem.

Could not be denied.


I blame Bieber as well. Go clean up that oil spill a-hole.



Thursday, May 20, 2010

On Repeat: Donnis- Underdog

Famed DJ A-Trak released Dirty South Dance 2 this week his electro-rap sequel to his 2007 mixtape of the same name. It's great for running/biking/etc, and you can download it here. While most of the tracks are remixes of successful hip-hop tracks (Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, Drake), one of the brightest cuts is "Gone" from unknown (at least to me) Atlanta native Donnis. So bright in fact that I downloaded his mixtape Diary of an ATL Brave (available here) which compared favorably to fellow 10.Deep compatriot Wale. While not nearly as strong as Wale's 2008 "Mixtape About Nothing", I can't get "Underdog" out of my head. While it may be a knock off of Wale's "The Freestyle", complete with infectious horn hook and breakneck verse, it surpasses it with the inspired Sly and the Family Stone sample that loops under Donnis' clever rhymes. It'll hold me over until Gucci/Weezy get back into the studio.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I love reading FFFFOUND! If you follow me on Buzz, you probably are already aware of this. Apart from the nifty fonts and logos, I especially like all of the old-timey photographs they have. While many are examples of masterful technique, most are affecting because they capture a fleeting moment whose subjects have long since passed. Everyone looks happy, dignified and more wholesome in these photographs than we are today. Maybe someday people will look at pictures of us the same way?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review: LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

We put our dog down yesterday. Well, technically my parents did and my sister relayed pertinent information to me. Abby was a Newfoundland/Lab mix and an a great dog. Recently however, her 13 year-old frame started to defy her, and like most large dogs, problems with her hip made it impossible for her to climb stairs. Her mobility took a bad turn early this week, and my parents were faced with an unenviable decision with barely enough information to make an informed one. Like any decision in life, the ripples from this choice were unclear and unsatisfying. We want to cling to what we have and hope things improve and come to us, rather than acknowledge the unsavory reality. These proverbial forks in the road become more and more frequent as we grow, but they don't get any easier. The key, I think, is conceding that you don't know, and doing what feels right.

This is probably the most awkward segue in the history of music reviews, but if any artist today can understand the crippling nature of choice and the paralysis of indecision it is LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. We all want to make something profound and meaningful, but feel wholly unworthy and embarrassed to set out on such a pretentious path. Much of Murphy's catalogue parries definition, and he revels in this imbalance. To some it comes across as cold and uninviting, but in reality it is him grappling with the same insecurities we all share, but not quite ready to face them. His eponymous debut was a glowing example of this, bursting with wall-to-wall dance tracks to shake you out of your glossy-eyed daze. Effective but slight. 2007's Sound Of Silver, while maintaining the same energy, had a tender pair of songs at its core that finally displayed some heart and sincerity. His earlier material was so tongue-in-cheek that you felt like a moron if you took any party of it seriously. On the epic, gripping "All My Friends" however, the lyrics drip with such arresting candor that there is no doubt his heart is on his sleeve.

On This Is Happening, he struggles with the same identity crisis, wanting to make you dance and cry at the same time, and hating himself for it. The result is an even more polar product, that somehow works beautifully. The opening track "Dance Yrself Clean" is a microcosm of this tug-of-war, lulling you into the promise of quiet introspection for over three minutes before erupting with a deafening synth purr and Murphy's muffled yell. You feel duped and foolish. And if the proceeding 5 minutes didn't validate preceding 3, you would have every right to turn the record off and label Murphy an asshole. He would probably agree.

If you listened on however, you would find a thoroughly rewarding experience that strikes a perfect balance. First single "Drunk Girls" rivals "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" as Murphy's most raucous number to date, while "All I Want" and its Bowie "inspired" riff casts off all sarcasm and lays his bruised ego front and center, come what may. "I Can Change" is a jaded, hopeful number that features more personal pronouns than his first two albums combined. Of course, it wouldn't be an LCD Soundsystem record without some petulant commentary and baiting, the kind found on the industry-damning "You Wanted A Hit" and the defiant "Pow Pow". All this maturity would be for not if the album didn't close with the brilliant "Home" which serves to crystallize that the preceding honesty wasn't an aberration. Here he admits that "love and rock are fickle things" and that "it won't get any better", but this time, his voice is of affirmation rather than resignation.

Monday, May 17, 2010


It's 6:23pm. I am gingerly sipping a coffee in Starbucks not 50 feet from Massage Therapy Works in Davis Square where I spent the last 45 minutes having every god-fearing knot, kink and crick stricken from my back and shoulder area. That's not to say I'm not still absurdly sore from playing Swedish most of Sunday afternoon, but my-oh-my do I feel sprightly.

I've never had a massage, and until recently, had resoundingly scoffed at the notion. It's not that I didn't think it had merit, it's I didn't think my life merited its benefits. I'm pretty tightly wound (despite my best efforts), but stressed? Pshaw. Well, if I was calm before, now I am sloth-tortoise-Ghandi-Darth Vader-Gumby calm. But to answer the burning question you are all wondering, I'm not sure how this will effect my blog. Will I be able to channel the same snark? Has my sarcasm-carriage pumpkined out? Let's find out.

I chose Massage Therapy Works because of their peerless Yelp reviews and their proximity to Arlington. When it comes to doing things in the Boston area, these are my primary criteria. Actually, those and price. Actually, mostly price. Well, MTW fit this bill perfectly. Their website conveniently allows you to schedule appointments online, and they have a wide range of therapists and specials at all times. Apart from being a bit  over-matched with the selections (Is it weird to have a girl? Is it WEIRDER to have a guy?? How long are massages?? Do I need a safe-word?), I was sincerely excited at the prospect of being relieved of my snarled shoulders.

My masseuse (Natalia) was a deceptive little pixie. Not deceptive in a bad way. Deceptive in a "How is this tiny girl going t-OWOWOWOWOWWW" way. She had full eyes like an intrigued kitten and nice toes. That's what I was able to gander from meeting her at the front desk and viewing the rest of the process through the massage table face-hole. She politely had me sign a waiver and led me to dim room with some Chinese proverbs on the wall and what sounded like underwater Mandolin trickling out of a CD player. She said to get undressed as much as I would like, lay on my stomach under the covers and she would be back momentarily. Yes, I got naked. Yes, I felt sheepish whenever she approached my lower back/bum area, but what can I say, Dangor is my middle name. To answer the rest of your questions before I go on:

1. I don't think so, but I didn't ask. I think it's illegal.

2. No, it was professional and I am not 13. Not even a little bit.

3. She asked me before we went in, but I didn't have to go.

It was about this time that Natalia showed her true colors. What opened with some gentle kneading that a well-trained housecat could probably muster quickly turned into a dizzying display of torque and leverage. She smushed and pushed muscles that had never before been subject to such sadism and they responded appropriately. She played my spinal cord like an upright bass. She told me to relax, and I earnestly tried to relax. I looked at her toes, I listened to the music. But I kept forgetting to breathe. Perhaps it's just me, but holding my breath is my response to moderate to severe pain. Not a great twist on fight or flight, I agree. It was unconscious, but obvious. It took nearly 15 minutes for me to come to terms with a stranger treating me like a misbehaved Kobe cow, but after she turned me over and went to work on my neck, I was the proverbial putty in her hands. I tried to figure out exactly what she was doing and with what but it was useless.  Here is my best approximation. A blowtorch traced the length of my neck while three (or four) gerbils gnawed at the base of my skull. A liberally-lotioned boa constrictor contorted around my neck and extended it to a dangerous degree. Where she found such amenable wildlife I do not know, but when I came to she told me to take as much time as I needed to get dressed. I put the $59 on my debit card and gave her a tip. She asked if I wanted to schedule another appointment, which I awkwardly dodged and scampered across Elm Street to get my bearing and to make sure there weren't any muscles flapping/rattling around back there. Everything seems to be accounted for, but I may be bleeding internally, in which case I will amend this post. If I do survive the next 48 hours, it has my highest recommendation.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Democracy

Sometime between the passage of the Health Care Bill and the Tea Party outcry that followed, it became fashionable for folks to focus their collective death glare on illegal immigrants. It's no coincidence that this is happening in an election year, but the vitriol on display in recent weeks has really been something else. From Arizona's unconsitutional new law that gives police perpetual probable cause to detain "immigrants", to Tim James absurd "English Only" campaign video parodied above and Dan Fanelli's too-crazy-to-be-real-but-it-is ad, Americans are being baited into an Us vs Them mentality that will serve to even further stratify an already divided populace. Just as politicians have been willing to sell their soul to tea-baggers for cheap political points, they are just as unscrupulous in trying to tap into other pools of unfocused anger.

It's true, many honest people are out of work in this country, but no one truly believes that illegal immigrants are the ones snatching great jobs from the jaws of hardworking folks. Illegal immigrants work long hours at terrible wages to provide us with fresh produce or to make sure that hotel accommodations are agreeable. They scrape and save and do tasks that 99% of Americans could not fathom doing at any price, all for the prospect of a meagerly better life for their family. In the immortal words of Mike Rowe, they make "civilized life possible for the rest of us".

So why aren't people riled up when a corporation outsources five thousand jobs overseas and leave ordinary Americans holding their hats? Because companies are engineered to be faceless, shapeless, sterile entities. They may receive a sound drubbing for a few news cycles, but they know people have a short memory. It's much easier for people to hate the stick instead of the person holding the stick. When we feel put upon we see complex issues in black and white and look for the first scapegoat that fits the bill. Sometimes this is a product of fear, but more often than not, it is anger at its core.

The central question that the American people need to ask themselves with hot-button issues like this is, "Which came first, the issue or the politician?" If these folks could table their fury for 5 minutes, they will see that these politicians aren't opening our eyes to an issue, they are orchestrating it. They stir the communal pot into a boiling fervor and ride its wave as far as it will take them. It is cheap, it is easy, but it works only with our consent.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On Repeat: Wolf Parade - What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)/Ghost Pressure

Say what you will about 2008's At Mount Zoomer*, but few bands released better albums last decade than Wolf Parade's 2005 debut Apologies to the Queen Mary. The playful synths, Krug/Boeckner's barked verses, the foot stomping choruses were charming and exciting and critically acclaimed. With a band of Wolf Parade's pedigree (Krug is in 3 other bands, Boeckner half of husband-wife duo Handsome Furs), you worry that the magic of their debut was simply a perfect storm, never to be assembled again. Upon releasing two new tracks last week off their forthcoming Expo '86, a sigh of relief was audible from hipster strongholds up and down the eastern seaboard.

Most apparent in these new tracks is the return of the synth lines that were so integral to the success of their debut. Between the dual guitar riffs and Krug yelping forlornly about "being sorry for things I do in my dreams", the synths add an extra melodic blanket and a new-wave edge to what is otherwise pretty straightforward garage rock. As a result, the new songs sound like an amalgam of the best parts of the first two records, taut and focused, yet still teeming with ideas.

What Did My Lover Say?

Ghost Pressure

*it's sprawling and unfocused.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

EDU: How To Make A Running Mix

As SS's most recent blog post has alluded, a good running/biking/pilates mix can transform a crappy workout into an enjoyable experience, and can push a good workout into another gear you didn't know you had. Most people (including yours truly) usually throw a bunch of songs they like onto their iPod and press shuffle. Making an honest-to-goodness running mix however, is an art. Even Nike themselves have commissioned several notable artists to make an original running mix for them. Artists from A-Trak to LCD Soundsystem have tried their hand at stitching together a series of tracks to mirror a typical workout arc. A steady, deliberate build, a pulsing, relentless peak, and a harmonious cool-down climax to let you catch your breath. Simple concept, but difficult to pull off. Mostly because everyone runs differently at different paces and with different needs. What pushes one person to run a 5-minute mile, may leave another dry-heaving in the bushes. Thankfully, the aforementioned musicians are professionals and the mixes they have created do exactly what they are designed to do, namely, make you forget how much you hate whatever you are doing.  

I spent a couple minutes thinking about the tone of SS's bike-to-work mix, before quickly concluding that anything short of gangster rap would probably result in his untimely expiration. When you are biking at 6AM, you need everyone of your wits about you, and a thunderous bass should go a long way in keeping you awake. That's not to say I didn't add a certain hipster 'je ne sais quoi', but I tried to keep it in check. 15 minutes and a few sequencing adjustments later, a 10-track, 38 minute opus was born. I opened with a shimmery, synth-laden track from N.A.S.A, peppered in a few hip-hop staples, a remix or two, and ended matters on a breezy, refreshing note. If you're interested in hearing what I came up with, "holler at me" on Gchat and I'll share a link with you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Facebook Is Not Your Friend

With a slew of articles last week deriding Facebook security lapses that allowed your friends to view your real-time chats, a privacy policy which increasingly shifts the balance of power away from users, and stories like this about CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Gizmodo and Wired have joined the growing drumbeat of people calling for users to disable their Facebook accounts and pioneer a new open-source alternative. They both make great points, but I'll be one of the first to tell you that Facebook jumped the shark long before the most recent accusations were brought to light. What catalyzed the death spiral of a brilliant idea was, say it with me, APPS.

Applications, while starting innocently, opened the data floodgates that is now impossible to close. It's as though Facebook realized, "You know, 95% of people go on Facebook because they are bored. If we can somehow get them to spend more than 45 seconds on the site, we can make a killing." From this realization, applications were born. What was once a quaint central location to share photographs and updates with friends, was now an advertising behemoth, using your very profile against you to "tailor" the experience to you, which is a fluffy way of saying, "sell you crap". The entire experience became littered with Horoscopes and Farmville accolades and other assorted buffoonery. Not long after, parents started to show up. Coincidence? I think not. And now, people are up in arms when it turns out that Facebook is a business, and that every single thing you do or "like" is funneled into a database in some underground advertising bunker, where executives are desperately trying to determine the next Dorito flavor. Applications laid the groundwork for the erosion of privacy, but forgive me for not having a lot of sympathy for people who sincerely want to know "WHAT FAIRY TALE DO I BELONG IN?". The anti-Facebook in this regard is Google Buzz.

Buzz does what Facebook should do (and once did), but in a slimmer, cleaner form. You can share and comment on interesting articles. You can post photographs and share thoughts. It is completely by and for those who use it, and is exceedingly easy to engage in or remove (just try to figure out how to delete your Facebook account). It fosters intelligent discourse and is seamlessly integrated with other Google features. Most importantly, Buzz is run by a company with the chops to have a static privacy policy and a team of engineers committed to improving the experience and making sure that what is private will remain that way. I'm sure I am preaching to the choir here (except you SS), but Buzz is not the dark horse underdog people have been dismissing it as. It may be niche product for information addicts for now, but the day will come when the SS Zuckerberg will start taking on water and people will run into the ever-loving arms of Google Buzz.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Engrish 101

With so many depressing news stories these days, sometimes a hearty chuckle is a nice distraction from the massive oil slicks approaching New Orleans or people trying to blow up Times Square. J-Fo and I had quite a chuckle at a few of these today, and J-La and I had a few more this afternoon in preparation for this blog post. If you don't know what Engrish (or as the NYTimes lamely calls it, Chinglish), you're behind the New York Times when it comes to pop culture and should probably quit the internet.

Here best evil translation. Try no smile, I promise.