Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What You've All Been Waiting For.

Not The Post, but A Post. You'll take what you can get, right?

I have placed Jacob on a plane back to the right side of the country, so am now free to sit at my computer for hours on end, unencumbered by voices saying things like "let's get some cold-brew coffee," or "don't you think we should jump into the Pacific Ocean right now even though it is so cold to make your bones ache? Even though someone got attacked by a great white in this very spot a couple of days ago?"

Remember the bloody foot photo I alluded to several weeks ago? Finally got the film developed. This is what happens when you step on a nail sticking out of an old piece of wood behind the chicken coop and then hobble down a small hill to get inside and then realize you should probably go upstairs and get your camera before washing everything off in the shower:

Included in photo above: flip-flop glistening with sticky blood, plastic bag I put around my foot when walking upstairs to find the camera, and a nice looking footprint. Below: Awesome.

In case you were wondering, the people developing your film do totally look at your photos. I went to pick these up yesterday and the guy at the counter said, "Was that real blood on someone's foot? 'Cos, man, that's a lot of blood."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I have, like, no earthly idea what you're talking about

Dubya tackles copyright law (via Rambler):

Q. Mr. President, music is one of our largest exports the country has. Currently, every country in the world — except China, Iran, North Korea, Rwanda and the United States — pay a statutory royalty to the performing artists for radio and television air play. Would your administration consider changing our laws to align it with the rest of the world?

THE PRESIDENT: Help. (Laughter.) Maybe you’ve never had a President say this — I have, like, no earthly idea what you’re talking about. (Laughter and applause.) Sounds like we’re keeping interesting company, you know? (Laughter.)

Look, I’ll give you the old classic: contact my office, will you? (Laughter.) I really don’t — I’m totally out of my lane. I like listening to country music, if that helps. (Laughter.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Old French Guy

I know some of you have been to Zucco, the French Diner on Orchard St. in the L.E.S. So tell me, friends, is this not a picture of Zucco's dad?

I found the photo on The Sartorialist, a site about, well, fashion. Uncharacteristic maybe, but this find made it worthwhile as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, if you've never been to the French Diner, it comes highly recommended. In fact, it's what made Ben and me want to move to the L.E.S. in the first place.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More Tours

Everyone's favorite Australian's, the Lucksmiths, are finally returning to the U.S.
So far the only dates I can find are as follows:

Sept. 23rd at Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA
Sept. 24th at Crocodile Cafe, Seattle, WA
Sept. 27th at T.T. and the Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA
Sept. 28th at the Knitting Factory, NY, NY
Oct. 4th at Emo's Lounge, Austin, TX

Tours, Tours

Here's a question. Does anyone else find this as strange as I do? Interpol and Liars at Madison Square Gardens? Maybe it's not so weird, actually (I can flip-flop just like that.) Jake says he doesn't see why Liars and Interpol are placed into the same category. It makes some sort of sense to me. They're both what every 18 year old guy wants to be, right? The guitars are loud. I love guitars. It is said that white people like guitars. You might argue that Liars are more about drums. Well, you're probably right, but do you think they're complaining about playing Madison Square Gardens? Wait, I lost the point.

Jake, you also say you don't get Interpol at all, or why people think they're good. I like them. I think they're good. Maybe not mind-blowing or anything. Not as good as Liars. But they have guitars, remember? And some decent hooks. And they are very good grey day music. I maintain that maybe you are just jealous. Quit reading this stupid blog entry and make some music already, okay?

Another thing: Since when are they on Capitol Records? Didn't they listen to my rant about major labels? I saw Carlos on the subway the other day and he had this big fat expensive watch on. Just you wait, friend. They will suck you dry, and your fancy watch too.

On a related note, you can now start preparing your wallets for the two weeks surrounding my birthday (I left out the Webster Hall shows for the obvious reason that that place makes me unhappy):

Gruff Rhys (Hiro Ballroom 9/21, Union Hall 9/22)
The Lucksmiths (Knitting Factory, 9/28)
Akron/Family (Bowery Ballroom, 9/30)
Mountain Goats (Bowery Ballroom, 10/1; Studio B, 10/2)
Caribou (Bowery Ballroom, 10/6)
Sunset Rubdown (Bowery Ballroom, 10/8 & 10/9)

I'm afraid I'm too lazy to list the dates in other cities. Sorry about that. This is just a list to remind me of what I'm doing in the fall. Kind of like how wish lists on amazon are only to remind you which books you want to check out at the library.

Speaking of Gross

Tell me if this isn't the scariest thing that could ever happen: Five squirming fly larvae pulled from man’s head.

He got injected with bot fly eggs when he was bitten by a mosquito in Central America. Bot flies lay their eggs on mosquitoes; the mosquitoes then transfer the eggs to a host where they mature until they're ready to come out (20 to 60 days!) So you could have bugs crawling under your skin for a while.

Here is a video of a botfly larvae being removed from a girl's neck. She said it didn't hurt, but apparently these things can be really painful, traveling from one part of the body to the next.

Sick. They have hooks to hold on.

Three Things

First of all: Jake, why didn't you tell us of this rival poop blog? (warning: gross) You link to it with no mention of its toilet talk?

Here is some news: I saw Transformers tonight. Sometimes these things happen without my knowing how. What is not news is that it sucked so horribly. That's right. It was horrible at sucking. It sucked so much that it didn't even know how to suck. (I have clearly taken too many headache pills.) I can't even go into all the reasons it was so bad, but here are a few:

1. Every time someone (robotic-car-person or human) opened his or her mouth I was forced to curl up into a fetal position. In all seriousness. It was very embarrassing.
2. Trying to be an adult version of a kid's toy which begot an 80's cartoon is impossible.
3. I don't care how old a pair of glasses are, complex maps that show up on holographic screens are not imprinted on them because an evil robot alien gazed upon them with his laser eyes.
4. Hoover did not build the Hoover dam.
5. Shameless product placement.
6. Too long.

At least the autobots looked cool when they transformed...

Here is a totally un-funny drawing about headaches:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fake July

You may notice that we have a disproportionate number of posts about the Mae Shi. This is not because we are obsessed with the Mae Shi. I'm not, at least. Not sure about Jake. Anyway, this is only tangentially related, and I'll show you how in a minute.

Last night I was in my car, driving somewhere (we do this a lot in California), and listening to KFJC. It's one of the most worthwhile stations I know of, even though it gets boring sometimes since you pretty much NEVER hear anything you've ever heard before. They played a song by the Gowns, and I made sure to pay particular attention since the announcer mentioned it included members of the Mae Shi. Gowns sound absolutely nothing like the Mae Shi, in case you were wondering, or in case you wanted me to say that name again. Maybe we should just name this blog "Gathering Evidence About the Mae Shi."

Here is a graphical representation of how the people in Gowns are related to other projects. Sorry, it is hard to read. I suggest clicking on the image:

Gowns are more whispering, less screaming than the Mae Shi. Luckily, they also use synthesizers occasionally. But not in an obvious way. This would make sense, as Ezra's dad pretty much invented the synthesizer. No shit! Check this Youtube video. That is all sort of besides the point because I think the Gowns are more folky than electronic-y.

I "acquired" the Gown's album, Red State, immediately upon returning home to further investigate. I love the internet. I say this everyday; that is how much I love it.

I think the first song on Red State kind of sucks. It's called "Fargo," as in North Dakota, and is that talk-singing that many people can't pull off well because it's sort of intimate in a bad way and reminds me of bad acting. It sounds to me like Erika Anderson (who is one third of the band) doing a bad impression of Kim Gordon reading a poem with a bit of music in the background. But don't worry, that song is short enough and then the rest of the songs come and you might like those ones better. I did.

I can't find a link to any of the songs I want you to hear, so maybe you should just go to their myspace page if you're interested.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

George Melly

Lovely obit of the flamboyant English jazzman and writer George Melly in this week's Economist. This is the first I've heard of Melly, but will nonetheless mourn the loss of a man who, among other things, saw in deafness "Surrealist word-games in which question and answer were unrelated, or only incidentally and wonderfully so: 'What is reason? A cloud eaten by the moon.'"

Incidentally, the other English "trad jazz" musician mentioned in the article, Humphrey Lyttelton, now 85, leads the horns on Radiohead's amazing "Life in a Glasshouse" (2001).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Words in the Way

New York Times classical reporting, never great, seemed particularly bad this week with this carping piece on, no kidding, liner notes from an album released in March 2005.

I hate pretentious writing as much as the author, and let's face it, modern classical inspires a lot of it but a) is a composer responsible for what's written about his music b) is there anything so confusing in the examples Holland cites and c) is the classical music beat so slow we actually need to make space for an article like this?

Also, if, as Holland writes, words get in the way, what of the music? The single paragraph at the end, tackling the apparently all-important issue of sound, doesn't give us many clues.

I'll blog more on Dalbavie and the spectral movement over the next few weeks. Contrary to what Holland may think, the music does say something new and is also unusually accessible, even sensuous.

Meantime, if you're interested, check this excellent post on Gerard Grisey's "Talea," a spectral classic if there is such a thing and one of my favorite pieces of music, period.

Monday, July 9, 2007

I Feel Like I've Been Duped

I recently joined Facebook and I am just sitting here wondering why. It's true that I got two invitations to join in the past week, have been mildly interested in catching up with a few friends of mine who I would have a hard time contacting otherwise, and the format seems to be better than the other social-networking sites I've seen (used, and dismissed). Facebook has some applications which link up with some of my favorite online time-wasters (last.fm and stumbleupon, to name a few.) But once I've reconnected with people (and have their e-mail, address, phone, etc.) I can see them in the real world, or at least contact them in a more private setting. Why bother logging into a site everyday just to talk to your friends? Doesn't that seem like an unecessary step?

People seem to post publicly on these sites: "on the wall" on facebook; "comments" in myspace; and, to a certain extent, "testimonials" on friendster. Why not just send them a private message if you want to say something like "great to hear from you" or "meet you at Starbucks in 10?" This sort of thing sets my insecurity radar off and frankly, annoys me. Communicating with people in a public forum when you could be doing so in private seems to go hand-in-hand with the need to show others (your friends, your ex, strangers who might want to meet or date you) how many friends you have and how much fun you're having with them. Does anyone really care? Do they care about your photos, your list of favorite movies, who your friends are and where they live?

But, yeah, someone does care, and that person is you. Or, in this case, me. Embarrassing as it is to admit, there is something very satisfying in the ability to look at a page that basically sums up who and what is important to you. I think everyone likes sorting and categorizing things, even if those things are our friends. From what I can tell, being able to visualize the abstract helps us, as humans, (only smart relative to other animals, not too impressive if you ask me) to understand our situation better. It's something that winds up making us feel secure and, well, satisfied.

So every time someone adds me as a friend (um, not like this has happened a lot) something goes off in my brain which makes me feel good. This may just be the honeymoon phase, but I like thinking that I can have all my friends in one place. That's something that wouldn't be possible in real life and, also, a pretty brilliant marketing scheme. The only reason I'd want the friends I stay in touch with regularly to join the site is to satisfy that need to categorize, but that's probably enough to get me to send the invite email that's set up for you when you join (no, I didn't send it to Jake, so I guess I've got some boundaries. I talk to him enough already, plus he'd just bring my cool factor down.)

I know I'll lose interest in this facebook thing in a few weeks (a few minutes if the feeling I've got after picking all this apart is any indicator), but will all that staring at my profile in between be bad for me? Will it make me more self-centered, or is the fact that I got there in the first place already an indicator of that? Not to mention, after I leave, my profile will stay up. That leads to a whole other issue regarding the willing surrender of privacy, doesn't it?

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Sound of Revolution

Though I'm sure you were as glad as I to have done with toilet talk, this comment, just added to an old post, should not go without readers. Writes "anonymous":
I'm glad this has been brought up because as it so happens I work at the same fancy law firm as the poster. Moreover, I work on the same floor and ergo use the same bathroom, and while I am not a lawyer, I admit that it's entirely possible that one of those noisy shitters could have been me.For a long time I agreed with the poster's position on noisy shitting. The sounds are as quirky as they are unpredictable, and like all things unknown in this world, we are quick to fear them. This need not be. I assure you, noisy shitting need not be embarrassing, and in due time, noisy shitting in the hidden presence of others can be a liberating, enjoyable experience.The
Anonymous Law Firm (henceforth known as ALF) provides the most serene,
civilized, and proper interactions known in New York City. Any service that
is performed by anyone for anyone must be accompanied with a "thanks," regardless of how inane or thankless the job may have been. Often, these "thanks" are communicated in single line e-mails between colleagues. For example, you might get an e-mail with the subject line "Thank," and the body reading "You." Complex hierarchies are established to provide easy to navigate routes for complaints, commendations, and inquiries. No consideration is left unconsidered. No minute or hour goes by unbilled. In this castle of perfect stone, nothing can subvert the sterility like the sound of feces being propelled through one's anus by the winds of sulphur. From behind the vanilla swing doors of a bathroom stall, anyone can subject the most feckless and elitist corporate evil-doer to the sounds of "embarrassment." Doing so can provide the shitter with immense joy. Just think: minutes ago Partner X was listening to a verdict from distinguished Judge Y. Now, he's listening to Halal chicken and rice from Thursday. Sucker.The truth is this: know your audience. It is important at ALF to not subject those on the same level, or worse, a lower level, to your sounds. However, should someone above you be in the bathroom (you can tell by their shoes), do not stall! From within that stall, you must go, and go violently, and loudly, and proudly. For every blast is the sound of revolution. Every blast is the echo of those poor souls who came before. Every blast is a devilish fist wave in the face of subjugation. So, dear poster, fellow user of the 24th floor bathroom, fear not the sounds of fury, for they sound not against you, but for you.
Oh, to write as well as one's readers. . .

Här kommer Pippi Långstrump

I wish I could say my recent absence has been for some valid reason, like bathing in the glory of our democratic independent state, but actually it's just because I rediscovered Worms Armageddon and am playing it like a total geek. I allow myself this simple pleasure, however, because it's one of only two games I like to play (the other being the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series, because Tony Hawk is a serious genius. Obviously).

Anyway, in between napalm strikes I looked up Pippi Longstocking (as you do) and noticed something sort of interesting. Here is a video of the theme song to the original Swedish series (later turned into 4 poorly dubbed English language movies):


It's sort of good, right? I mean, once you get over the semi-annoying child actor singing (which is actually really catchy and I kind of like, though it keeps me from falling asleep), it's kind of hip. Turns out the music was done by a famous (at least in Sweden) jazz musician called Jan Johansson. I'm not exactly sure how this works out, because he died (prematurely) in 1968 and the show started in 1969, but I'm not going to go through the whole rigmarole of researching that aspect. Instead I just downloaded two of his albums, Jazz på Svenska and Jazz på Ryska , which are his versions of Swedish and Russian folk songs, and I think they're pretty nice.

I don't listen to jazz; mostly because I don't know how or where to start, but also because when I think of jazz I think of those weird moments in David Lynch films where someone is playing the saxophone under blue lights and I don't know what's going on, nor do I like the sounds of the saxophone. From what I can tell, Jan Johansson's jazz is non-saxophone related and I can see why people like it. Jazz på Svenska (which means Jazz in Sweden as you probably could have guessed) is fairly minimalist -- just piano and bass. It's smart, and sounds complex and simple at the same time. You can picture what the old folk songs would have sounded like with other instruments because he takes care of all that with only the piano. Anyway, lucky you, I just found a video on youtube. Listen for yourself:


P.S. Pippi Longstocking was really cool because she had a horse that lived in the house and her dad was a pirate who left her home alone and she didn't go to school. Not to mention she had super-human power, a besides-the-point character strength. Basically my total hero. Also she apparently really loved coffee, an awesome attribute for a kid.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Holding Steady in Brooklyn

Too much time and ego means you search your own name on Google and turn up gems like this.

I'm the paralegal with awkward grammar; Alice, the musician's assistant in pink (!?) scarf. I don't think either of us were too thankful to be there.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Quartet with Catheter

If you can pull yourself away from toilet talk for a few minutes, check out this short essay on Morton Feldman's long String Quartet No. 2, written by one of the musicians who premiered it. Topping six hours, the piece creates problems for performers on all sorts of levels (not least - managing body fluids) but this one was surprising:

"Another big challenge, perhaps less obvious, is the act of playing very quietly. It actually requires much more physical energy to do less than more. Playing a virtuoso concerto that requires great technical agility is actually less physically demanding then playing softly, because we are accustomed to being in motion, not still. Downshifting both the speed and pressure of the bow goes against many years of training."

Using electronic instruments, where volume shifts are easily accomplished with knobs and pedals, I sometimes forget how tough it is to play quietly. But it is incredibly difficult: one tends to slow down, miss notes, lose pitch consistency.
Really curious to hear the piece now - and trying to imagine how one feels after six hours of repetitive music. This guy seemed to like it. Might try myself and report back. If you're in New York and curious, you need not commit.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Anti-Crap Sound

I was thinking about Jake's post this afternoon and wondering if there is some totally impractical way of reducing bathroom noise. It doesn't take much wondering to realize there is, and here's what I'm thinking: phase cancellation devices in bathroom stalls.

You've heard of those noise-canceling headphones, right? Well, those work on the principle that two sound waves that are out-of-phase with each other will cancel out. The closer they are to 180 degrees out-of-phase, the closer to silence the result is. It's like when you're in the tub and the water is getting cold so you run more hot water in and you start pushing it towards the back of the tub and it makes this wave back and forth but then eventually the waves sync up and flatten out and you can't seem to get the bath water in the back of the tub as warm as the water under the spigot.

So, what if MCW could go into the stall and flip a switch that was calibrated to the specific sound waves he emits during number two's? Maybe his sound waves have a frequency of 80Hz with an amplitude about 72 dB and a wavelength of about 4.3m. The machine would just reproduce those waves out of phase.

My whole theory breaks down, though, because it's not a constant sound he's making; it's intermittent, and probably random. Now, I may have absolutely no idea when I'm talking about (and I don't) but wouldn't that mean when no noise is coming from MCW there is a noise coming from the phase-shifter, and that noise sounds very much like MCW taking a dump? So then it'd only get quiet when he actually is pooping, and then you get to the point where which is more embarrassing?

Here is a photo of the graph I tried to draw when thinking about all this:

Crap Sound

I work at a fancy law firm and as one would expect the office is pretty tasteful. The lighting is mostly fluorescent, but tinted so it doesn’t look cold or strain the eyes. There’s expensive art up the walls (including some drawings by Sol Lewitt and Warhol), the air temperature is perfectly modulated, and office doors are thick so talking and other sound doesn’t escape into the halls.

In general, things are clean and quiet and, to me, anyway, pleasingly impersonal. So why, then, nearly every time I go to the bathroom, do I have to hear some uptight lawyer taking a noisy shit? It’s disgusting, humiliating for dumper and dumped-on alike, and totally out of place in the otherwise straitlaced corporate environment.

If I'm feeling gassy and sense someone else is in the bathroom, I usually flush a few times to block the sound. I thought this was known as a "courtesy flush," but I was mistaken. Turns out people are more concerned about smell than sound.

Since this is a waste of water, and no one else seems to do it anyway, I'd like to propose another solution: white noise generators. We have music and other camouflaging sound in almost every sphere of life – is there any reason we need to preserve silence in bathrooms? Would any of you mind a small box on the wall gentle whoosh as you go about your business?