KHOL plays like a college radio station without any ads, only free community announcements. Most of the djs play indie music either I already love or music likely to get my attention. Eagle and Talon fall into the latter category.
When I heard the Tight Score while driving around Jackson, I was hooked on the female duo and their catchy riffs, Casio keyboards, and overall fun sound. I spent the next day or two trying to remember the name of the band (Talon something?) and promised myself I would look them up. It took me a couple days, but I was pleasantly surprised that Tight Score isn't the only track I like on their album Thracian.
Thracian can be downloaded for free or a donation for a limited time here.
After a couple days of snow, the sun was breaking through the clouds revealing a beautiful blue sky. Thor and I took a nice long walk and watched the people tubing, snowboarding, and skiing at Snow King. More photos in my Flickr stream.
Thanks to the release of Sainthood this year and the special place Tegan and Sara's second album - If It Was You - holds on my top 5 albums, Tegan and Sara are the number one listened to band by me this year.
“When she stopped, [Tegan] was like, ‘That was really amazing, Sara. Did you write that today?’ And she was like, ‘Ah, that was Leonard Cohen.’ I was like, ‘Oh… Okay, so we still aren’t that good.’ ”
But they were good enough to write some pretty sweet indie-pop ditties of their own, including “Don’t Rush”, an insanely catchy and urgent synth-pop warning to slow down.
list compiled from last.fm music profile
For those of you who don't know, I'm a fan of soap operas. I grew up with Sami and Carrie Brady on Days of Our Lives. Spent my college years with Erica Kane's extended family on All My Children. Now, I flip between the towns of Llanview, Port Charles, Genoa City, Salem, and Pine Valley. I'll also mourn the loss of Guiding Light in a couple weeks.
Since the actors and shows who deserve the award are lucky to even make it to the nomination stage, I have doubts anyone I want to win will be invited up on the stage. Forget who will win. I just want to tell who I want to see holding the Emmy this Sunday.
Outstanding Drama Series: Nominees
Who I want to win: Honestly, I don't care about this one. AMC is the only one of these shows I watched in 2008, and the show was frustrating to say the least. Where was General Hospital and One Life To Live or even Guiding Light on this list?
Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team: Nominees
Who I want to win: One Life To Live.
Outstanding Lead Actress: Nominees
Who I want to win: Cooper is always amazing, but I'm going with Haskell. As much as I hate the cliché of a victim falling for abuser in soap operas, Marty did have amnesia, and Haskell played the part well.
Outstanding Lead Actor: Nominees
Who I want to win: Cosgrove. If Geary wins again, I'll throw things at the tv. Luke has not been involved in a decent story arc in years. Though it would be interesting to see married in real life couple Haskell and Kaye win a matching pair of Emmys.
Outstanding Supporting Actress: Nominees
Who I want to win: Williamson. Multiple personalities, child swapping, and loss of a spouse lead to the well deserved Emmy gold.
Outstanding Supporting Actor: Nominees
Who I want to win: Branson is great, and I'd like see Guiding Light win something. However, Anderson brings much needed spark to General Hospital, and he deserves to walk away with this one.
Outstanding Younger Actress: Nominees
Who I want to win: Storms without a doubt. Storms and Anderson are golden on General Hospital.
Outstanding Younger Actor: Nominees
Who I want to win: Smith, Jr. should win, and Bonilla should not be on this list.
This summer both ABC and FOX rolled out two hour tv movies set in space as pilots. One succeeded and is very unlikely to be picked up. The other was terrible and has been picked up for a limited run.
The space nerd in me got a little excited about these shows, but I had to keep my expectations in check to prevent severe disappointment. One of my projects in university was to point out all the technical inaccuracies in the movie Space Cowboys related to aerospace engineering. I would have loathed being assigned any television series which works on a smaller budget and more pressure than a movie starring Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones.
The Fox entry was Virtuality. A crew of 12 are on a ten year journey to the Epsilon Eridani star system. The "virtual" in the title comes from the virtual reality program each crew member can customize for when they are sleeping. The unseen threat to the crew is introduced within virtual reality.
On ABC, Defying Gravity premiered last week. The eight person crew is going to Venus. Again, there is an unseen threat which we are told very little about in the pilot. It's referred to as Beta and determines who is going on the mission by infecting the original commander and engineer with a heart condition.
Unfortunately, the drama introduced in Defying Gravity is not from the unseen threat or a space tragedy, but from the relationships between the characters. The characters are whiny and there is even a crack when the commander and engineer are replaced with the two female leads exes. Virtuality also struggles with the character drama, but it's more realistic. There's VR infidelity between the commander and the botanist. A gay couple who candidly discuss the tension imparted on their relationship on such a long mission. And we get to see the beginnings of friendships and conflicts which would have developed throughout the series.
Both shows employ the tired tactic of a show within a show to let us get to know the characters as well as convey technical details. Virtuality's reality show within the show uses confessionals a la Real World along with the technical walk-and-talks which also appear in Defying Gravity.
In Defying Gravity, the perceived gravity on the ship is explained by nanos included in objects and the clothing the astronauts are wearing. This an intriguing way to explain away the gravity. Virtuality doesn't explain how the astronauts are keeping their feet on the floors of the ship.
The moment I geeked out was when Defying Gravity introduces a reconfigured MMU (manned maneuvering unit) which NASA introduced during the shuttle program though it was quickly retired in 1984. The idea of the MMU is a space nerd's dream. Basically, its a jet pack which allows an individual in a space suit to tool around in space untethered to any larger vehicle.
Despite Defying Gravity making the space nerd seem cool again, I enjoyed Virtuality far more. Defying Gravity airs Sundays on ABC at least for a few more weeks though I don't see it lasting into the fall. Virtuality is likely done for good.
Julian Plenti's album was released this week. A week or so ago, I received an email from Matador Records with a link to a couple of tracks from Julian Plenti is...skyscraper and immediately loved it. When the album was released this week, I scooped it up, and I have not been disappointed.
The overall sound of the album varies from track to track with Fun That We Have sounding like Wolf Parade and other tracks reminding me of Chin Up Chin Up.
Taking a look at my listening habits for the last week on a Monday. I love Last.fm.
The first single from Michelle Branch's new album was released last week, and it quickly became one of my most listened to tracks on Last.fm for the week. Sooner or Later is closer to The Wreckers' country sound than Branch's solo albums which is a bonus.
All tracks from Metric's new album, Fantasies, are still in heavy rotation with Gold Guns Girls my favorite. And Mel from American Indie turned me on to Noah and the Whale. I'm still trying to decide if just like 'em or love 'em. A few songs have hints of Broken Social Scene which doesn't fail to endear them to me.
Cage the Elephant were also new listens this week. Their performance on Letterman was intriguing enough for me to seek them out, and I have not been disappointed.
While I like the NewsGator feed reader application for Macs, I have been using the online version more frequently, and I have yet to download the desktop app to my new Mac. So the news that NewsGator is no longer going to be available online is disappointing.
Not only is NewsGator Online going away, it's synching with Google Reader. Does Google really need to control everything.
Why Google Reader/Google Synch? We looked for the best online reader companion, and online synchronization platform option, for our consumer applications … and of course have had tons of requests for synch with Google as well. Google was clearly the best option for an online companion to the consumer readers we’ll continue to innovate and support.
And there is going to be ads now.
On August 1st, the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offered a limited run of discounted 10 day lift passes. The local paper announced all the passes were handed out last year by 8:30 am, and I groaned. The $115 discount, however, got my ass out of bed at 6 am on Saturday and down to Teton Village.
I arrived at 7 am with a few other people, and the two parking lots were packed. Some kind sole who was working the parking lot pointed me to an unconventional position which Daisy fit in easier than any SUV.
Walking up the mountain, the line wound around the music hall and up past the Teewinot lift and Bridger Gondola. The photo is the view down from my spot in line, and you can't see the start of the line which is at the ticket office below Nick Wilson's.
There were a ton of dogs running around off leash, but Thor remained at home. The tone of the mostly local crowd was generally light with a lot of discussion about coffee cups running dry. Free coffee was offered. Everyone in the group which got in line at seven was confident about getting a voucher.
At 8 am, the vouchers were handed out to those in line. Everyone got one by 8:45 am, but the last voucher was handed out to the very last person in line. It was close.
Once you had a voucher, you could either stay in line and get your pass (in person or via snail mail) now or come back before 2 pm to get your pass. I was already in line, so I stayed to get my pass. Overall, it took about 3 hours on a Saturday morning, but it wasn't a horrible experience and worth the savings.
Let's take a moment to document my adoption of a dog named Thor. Thor was his given name. Not caring about naming animals (only modes of transportation it seems), I am going with Thor even though it is not really fitting for such a sweet dog.
Thor was rescue dog from the Star Valley shelter. They brought over some animals to Jackson on Sunday when I picked up Thor. The people at the shelter were very kind and even called to check in on Thor and asked me to give him a hug from them because he was so special. (Donate to the shelter or your local non-kill shelter if you can.)
The sad story about Thor is that he was brought to the shelter by a family who really didn't want to let him go. Due to the economy, the parents of four young children had to give up Thor after the father lost his job. Although it would have been great if his original home could have kept him, I'm glad I am able to provide him with a good home where he will get amble attention.
Thor is about two years old and a pit bull mix though he doesn't have an ounce of mean in his body. (His chew toy might disagree, but it's still in one piece.) It will be interesting to see if Thor lives up to his namesake after the first thunderstorm, or if he cowers into the corner like most dogs. He'll still be called Thor "Dog of thunder" regardless.
Right now, Thor is chasing rabbits in his dreams. Or at least that is what I assume he's doing since he's barking a bit in his sleep.
As for where [Veronica Mars]'ll go from there, Thomas hasn't quite nailed that down, but has plenty of ideas. "[The story is] 70 percent broken in my head. I've been struggling with one plot point, and I'm hopeful [that I will] figure that out. On the dry-erase board at my house there are Veronica Mars plot points that I want to see, so it is at least there."
One of my photos from Amsterdam's Red Light District is included in an online travel guide, Schmap.com. A couple weeks ago I was contacted via my Flickr account asking for permission to use the photo as it was in consideration for inclusion in an update to the Amsterdam guide. This week the guide was released with my photo.
Amsterdam was my favorite destination in Europe (full photo set), so it's kinda cool to see one of my pictures included in a travel guide for the city.
Katz Bagels (& mediocre pizza) axed the crazy alien flying in a giant bagel from their signage recently. What is going on in my old neighborhood? Next thing they'll tell me is that B&K Cleaners will be overtaken by the Mob.
There's a before picture on Flickr where you can see the flying bagel in all its glory.
Hopefully, you don't need another reminder to get out and vote today. Many I know have already voted either absentee or early voting where available. Those of you, like me, who have procrastinated should get out and vote today. Regardless of your political beliefs, it is important that as Americans we take full advantage of our rights to choose our leaders.
Because of my procrastination, however, I will be voting in Wyoming this year. Wyoming allows qualified individuals to register to vote at their polling place which is great. I'll get to register and vote at the same time.
I am slightly disappointed to not be voting in San Francisco this year. I am much more familiar with the city and state politics (plus it's much more interesting - just check out Proposition K), and there is a very important proposition on the California ballot: Proposition 8.
Proposition 8 comes down to discrimination regardless of your beliefs on same-sex marriage. The vote for Proposition 8 is a vote for the right to discriminate against citizens of the United States. We have arrived in the 21st century (even without the flying cars). Our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents still remember the fight for the right of women to vote and civil rights marches. Are we seriously going to regress back to a day where you and I could be walking down the sidewalk side-by-side and not have the same rights? It's an antiquated proposition and just plain ludicrous.
Click here for a real quick run down on Proposition 8. (It's a short article that gets right to the point.)
Not sure where to vote? Election Protection has a wealth of information and a phone number you can call.
It's October 9th, and it's snowing here in Jackson Hole. Big giant flakes of snow. I was not prepared and had to purchase a toque after breakfast at Bubba's. Here's Daisy experiencing her first taste of snow:
It's a rainy day here in Jackson Hole. A perfect day to read a good book. And I finished reading the first Umbrella Academy book, Apocalypse Suite.
As the title suggests, The Umbrella Academy are fighting to prevent the apocalypse. Sound familiar? Sounds like the plot of most comics, science fiction, Whedonverse, etc. stories, but there's a reason why it is so popular. We long to see good overcoming evil, and Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá do justice with first installment of The Umbrella Academy. (Let go of Way's rockstar status, and look at him as a kid who's been reading comic books forever.)
The next installment of The Umbrella Academy is Dallas with the first issue releasing in late November.
There might be a green light in the red planet's future. AMC is looking to outer space as it beefs up its slate, developing a series project with writer/executive producer Jonathan Hensleigh based on the sci-fi novel "Red Mars." "Mars," a 1992 novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, chronicles the inhabitants of the first human colony on the planet.
I'm a bit cynical on this announcement. Robinson's Mars Trilogy is my favorite set of science fiction books. However, the cost of a television show to portray the series is going to be astronomical. Does AMC have the money to produce a show the quality of Battlestar Galactica? Or will look like a bad tv movie?
The the concept reminds me of Earth 2 which wasn't given a chance to fulfill its promise of colonizing a new planet. Robinson's story is focused on the characters first which gives it an advantage as a character driven drama, like Battlestar Galactica.
It will likely be a couple years before we see the results of this discussion. In the meantime, I'm going to re-read the Mars books.
Today is the premiere of the third season of Friday Night Lights on DirecTV. Due to some odd circumstances, I'm actually going to be able to watch the show in real time on an HDTV. As you may or not be aware, I've moved back to Jackson Hole where I am currently staying in a vacation rental where one of the amenities is DirecTV on a very pretty television. Personally, I have no interest in getting DirecTV as cable with my TiVo suits me just fine especially since everything else is available online in some form. Though it is nice to get to watch one of my favorite shows without having to wait for it or download it illegally.
This summer I borrowed my brother's copy of H. G. Bissinger's book on which the TV show is based. The book chronicles the life of a town which lives and dies by the Permian high school football team in 1988. The struggles of the residents of Odessa outside of football are comparable to current events. In an election year, the first President Bush has a campaign stop in Odessa, and the town's economy goes up and down with the cost of oil. It's an excellent read. The book is controversial as it paints an honest portrait of the town of Odessa, and it was understandably not well-received after it's release by the community.
The movie based on the book, however, was a disappointment. Unlike the television series and book which focus on the entire town, the movie narrows its scope to the football season. I tolerate football mostly because it is a large part of my family's life (my brother is a punter on his college team, my stepdad calls the high school games for local radio). The book focused on the community and football. The television show excels at exploring the relationships, high school, and small town politics with the common thread being football. The movie's emphasis on football is where it fails to live up to the expectations set by the book and the television show. Unfortunately, I saw the movie sometime during the second season of the television show, so my opinion is tainted and maybe a little too harsh.
The television show is often dismissed by the pasty award shows, but it is comparable to other overlooked greats such as The Wire in the quality of production, acting, and storytelling. It's not about just football, and I think it is hard for some to move past the uniforms and see the realistic stories of the hard-working people in the middle-class town. Television viewers seem to seek the escapism of the shows with far-fetched portrayals of snotty rich kids instead of Friday Night Lights. It's been a struggle for Friday Night Lights to remain on the air even though its relatively inexpensive to produce. Only a bizarre deal between NBC and DirecTV is keeping the show in production. Watch it.
File under What will they think of next, MoreCowbell gives you the opportunity to literally add more cowbell to any audio file you upload to their site. You can also add more Christopher Walken, or a combination of the two. It's a hilarious idea for a great time waster. Have at it!
In preparation for Uh Huh Her post I am in the progress of writing, I've uploaded "Not a Love Song" and added more cowbell. (The non-cowbell version is significantly better and you can listen to it here.)
|Make your own at MoreCowbell.dj|
I really want to like the website Bandsintown.com though living in a larger city seems to be a requirement. If I still lived in San Francisco, I could opt-out of all the emails I was receiving from the local venues and just visit Bandsintown.com to get informed on the upcoming shows.
Bandsintown.com uses your location and Last.fm record to display weighted links, similar to a category or tag cloud, for all bands playing in your area. You can adjust the date range, price, and distance to change the results. The site relies on user input to expand the venue details and write reviews, placing Bandsintown.com somewhere between Yelp and Last.fm.
The Events page on Last.fm offers a similar feature without the fancy options to adjust your range and prices, and Bandsintown.com relies on Last.fm to recommend shows in your area. You can't have Bandsintown.com with Last.fm, but you can use Last.fm Events without the need for other tools. Bandsintown.com has potential until Last.fm - which is already established - adds more options to their Events page.
Interesting news to wake up to this morning. John McCain selects "gun-totting" Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice-President. Over the next two months, we are going to get to know everything and more about Palin. (Her Wikipedia article has already been updated with her status as McCain's running mate.)
My first thought was this McCain's attempt to woo the uncertain Democrats who don't necessarily like Barack Obama. Most of the uncertain democrats are women, some of them are Hillary Clinton supporters. Palin finished her speech with references to former women who pushed at the political glass ceiling: Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton. (The response to Clinton's mention was both claps and boos.) These mentions cemented the key reason why Palin was selected.
Waiting to see how some of the narrow-minded Republicans respond. This announcement makes the Presidential campaign even more interesting.
Can Rob Thomas accomplish the same feat as Joss Whedon and produce a successful feature film based on a canceled TV show? From Ask Ausiello:
The creator of Veronica Mars was sitting down with his beloved, lamented series' star, Kristen Bell, to discuss bringing the cult hit to the big screen. "Kristen and I ran into each other, and we did discuss a Veronica movie," confirms Thomas, who says he has also had "a few conversations" with Mars executive producer Joel Silver.
Whedon was able to accomplish a rare feat by completing the movie version of his short-lived show Firefly. Serenity may not have produced Harry Potter-like numbers, but it was successful. Veronica Mars has a similar cult fan base which continues to place fan videos on YouTube at an alarming rate years after it has been canceled. If Thomas does manage to get everyone on board and release this film, it would be the most anticipated film release for me in a decade.
After our false start, Buster did get to the vet today and was given a bath and a pedicure. We also made the acquaintance of a feisty, small dog named Lewis.
Adjusting to small town life again was not easy, especially when I didn't have a car. There are some perks. Non-perishable goods generally cost less. A 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke is over a dollar cheaper. Gas never exceeded the $4 dollar mark here. However, the humidity in Kansas and the onslaught of mosquitoes has not been a pleasurable experience. Fresh produce of the "exotic" variety is scare or overpriced. (I miss avocados.)
It was not a lazy summer. We did manage to finish refurbishing the kitchen at my folks' house, and I finally managed to clean up my corner of the basement this summer. Now, I'm getting ready to load up Daisy and head back to Jackson, Wyoming, next month. I'm already excited about the upcoming winter of snowboarding in the Tetons, and I'll be there early enough to get in some hiking before it starts to snow in October.
Upcoming will be a post on the new Uh Huh Her release. Study up. There will be a test.
After nearly five years of not having a car, I purchased a Toyota Prius which I've christened Daisy. Typically, I'm not big on naming inanimate objects, but I found myself typing Daily when adding my car to the garage on Fuelly. However, I can't help but say "Daisy. Daisy Adair." every time I greet my car.
The car comes with big responsibility, but with any toy, it's an opportunity to purchase new gadgets. The Prius includes an Aux jack which works with my eighteenth-century iPod. To get the car to charge the iPod battery, however, I had to purchase an extra jack. The Kensington LiquidAUX is working out great, and the sound is good.
Fuelly calculates your miles per gallon after each fuel up, and you can compare your driving statistics to others with the same car type and the EPA Estimates. Almost makes me wish I had to fuel up more in order to get stats. Now, I can track mileage on trips, see quickly how much I've spent on gas, and anyone can follow Daisy's stats on Fuelly here.
Things are happening...
It has been two years since their last release, so I'm not sure what that means.
I've started listening to ILYBICD again. Or maybe for the first time. While I always liked Fear Is On Our Side, I listened to it once maybe twice, and it quickly got lost in the shuffle of my digital library. That's the good and bad of having a lot of music in various formats. I may forget about a band or an album, but I also get the fulfillment of rediscovering the sound all over again.
Finding the right album at the right time while performing some mundane task is really important for me since I work from the nearest wi-fi spot and not an office. The music helps to drown out my surroundings, draw in my focus. Music also has a way of making me feel less alone. The right music can keep the motivation going. I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness' moody tones sprinkled with '80s keyboards have been perfect sounds to fill the void lately. The long instrumental sessions hinting of Explosions in the Sky without becoming repetitive. ILYBICD is definitely not a replacement for Explosions in the Sky in my library, but Fear Is On Our Side lies somewhere between The Killers and Explosions in the Sky and was created by kids who listened to the same cds and tapes I did in the 80s.
Whatever is happening in Austin with I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, I'm looking forward to a second album.
Back when ABC Family was the dead zone for repeats of mediocre family friendly sitcoms, I would never have thought I would watch their original programming. The re-airing of the entire run of Everwood is what got me to the channel. Sandwiched in between 7th Heaven and Gilmore Girls, I was fortunate enough to get a second chance to watch Ephram woo Amy through four seasons, and I was able to forgive the channel for airing the 700 Club.
Now, ABC Family has a slate of original shows that are a sound alternative to the lazy programming on the major networks. Previously, I wrote about Kyle XY which also airs on ABC Family. The writing is witty (fitting in well with Gilmore Girls reruns). The cute casts are mostly unknowns who hold their own among the older recognizable face or two filling the "adult" roles. The original made for tv movies are less than stellar, but I recognize that I'm not the target audience. (Cutting Edge 2 and Cutting Edge 3? Way to tarnish one of my favorite movies.)
The show I most looked forward to watching this spring was Greek. The premise of the show is a coming of age comedy set within the confines of three Greek houses at a small state school. I was reluctant to watch at first. Irresponsible frat boys? Keg parties? Ridiculous pass the candle rituals? None of this sounded like something for me. (I had roommates in college who were in sororities. That was as close as I wanted to be to the Greek system.)
Flying to somewhere (Kansas City?) I sat beside a girl who's laptop was playing the pilot episode. I couldn't hear a thing, but I was intrigued from the moment Spitter got his nickname. It only took one episode to get me hooked.
The setting may be the Greek system at CRU, but the story of the two siblings becoming reacquainted as adults is the source of much humour and the most heartfelt moments. Rusty is coming of age and figuring out who he wants to be. His older sister, Casey, is the "it" sorority girl, to Rusty's engineering major. (The running joke through the pilot is that Casey never told anyone she had a brother.)
Two love triangles fight for the affections of both Casey and Rusty. Rusty trying to decide between the party fraternity Kappa Tau led by the charming Cappie, or the polo shirts of Omega Chi. Omega Chi's Evan and Cappie just happen to be the current and former loves of Casey respectively, and both boys want to be a part of her life.
One of the minor plots revolves around Calvin, who is gay, and his acceptance as a member of Omega Chi. Deputy Leo plays Calvin's love interest, and it's nice to see Max Greenfield again. The spoiled daughter of a Senator, Rebecca, is Casey's nemesis who fights for the attention of everyone in Casey's circle. Rusty clashes with his roommate, Dale, who fronts a Christian rock band and starts a group (USAG) whose sole purpose is to eliminate the Greek system. Dale is the source of many laughs in every episode he's in.
There are two episodes left this season, but you can catch up at abcfamily.com.
While in Paris and visiting the infamous haunt of Hemingway, Shakespeare & Co., the young girl behind the counter was trying to drown out the live pianist in the back with a track on the computer which instantly caught my ear. (I'm a sucker for a girl playing the piano.) After spending a few minutes looking at books I couldn't carry, I coughed up the nerve to ask the cashier who she was listening to. "Kate Nash" was the reply in an English accent.
I was a little surprised to learn it was Kate Nash. While I had heard of her, I had never been compelled to download the album. After downloading Made of Bricks, though, I wasn't necessarily jumping up and down at my new find, but as I had in the book store, I was enjoying some of the tracks. The piano melodies are good, but the lyrics result in an eye-roll or two when it feels like Nash is trying to hard.
If you too have yet to discover Kate Nash, give the tracks Frank uploaded at Chromewaves a listen and state your own opinion.
This recently neglected blog is going to get new life. Over the next month, I will be taking a vacation and traveling and hopefully blogging. I've already ventured from San Francisco to Kansas to visit my folks. On Thursday, my mother and I will fly to New York for a long weekend. Afterwards, I will be flying solo from Newark to Paris for a couple weeks. Pictures and Tweets will be posted to document my travels.
In preparation for our trip to New York City, I've been reading the New Yorker. Today, I finished an excellent article about the MPs who found their morality tested unexpectedly at Abu Ghraib. Exposure by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris focuses on Sabrina Harman and her photos and letters detailing the treatment of prisoners. The article was written from interviews done for Morris' documentary, "Standard Operating Procedure".
One of the most interesting aspects of the article were the real stories from the MPs behind some of the pictures we have associated with Abu Ghraib. While the stories don't make the images any less shocking, it was easier to sympathize with the captors who were ordered to degrade the prisoners.
Posted at 9PM Central time.
The Reason are a Canadian band that has been around for years. However, they have yet to really make a mark as their music fails to stand out from the other guy bands (The Killers, The Stills, Birdmonster, etc).
Fortunately, The Reason have maintained their friendship with a Canadian band that is on the rise, Tegan & Sara. Sara Quin lends her songwriting talent to a single track on The Reason's 2007 release Things Couldn't Be Better.
Unfortunately, the song featuring Sara is the only standout track on the album.
While I could complain about my sporadic access to hot water this week or the lack of power on my block for twelve hours this weekend, we all know there are more pressing concerns in the world. This week the country's oil issues hit close to home when a 810-foot-long container ship hit the Bay Bridge releasing 58,000 gallons of oil into the bay.
The area has been blanketed in a thick fog for a couple of weeks but this is typical weather here at 8:30 in the morning. No other ships in recent history have rammed into the bridge and investigations into the incident are ongoing. The Coast Guard is blaming the ship's pilot; the pilot is saying that the Guard gave him the okay. We'll probably be hearing about the case for months while it will take volunteers even longer to clean up the area.
The oil spill has already impacted the Bay Area. A triathlon on Treasure Island today became a biathlon as the swimming portion was canceled. The start of the crab season has been delayed and sport fishing has been closed.
During my sojourn home, I read an interesting article in the New Yorker on Paul Watson who is the man behind the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society.
Raffi Khatchadourian paints Watson as a controversial environmentalist whose extreme tactics are not supported by other major environmental agencies. (Watson was kicked out of Greenpeace.) He and his crew of mostly unpaid volunteers seek out fishing ships in the world's oceans and impair the ships to prevent them from continuing to hunt and fish. This tactic also puts his crews in danger. In seeking out a Japanese whaling fleet, Watson's ailing ship the Farley Mowat set out "to end its days at sea as a battering ram in the service of marine life."
Depending on the interpretation of laws applied to the oceans, specifically the U.N. World Charter for Nature, Watson's activities are illegal.
No country regards ramming, disabling, or scuttling ships to be legal activities, and, except on rare occasions, even naval ships cannot lawfully interfere with foreign vessels on the high seas.
This has caused Watson's ships to be stripped of their flags by countries who did not support his actions. When the Farley lost its flag in Australia, Watson ran a Sea Shepard flag up the line and told his crew that they were "on a pirate ship."
While Watson is fighting the good fight and his concerns about illegal fishing of endangered oceanic animals is admiral, the actions he takes are questionable. Read Khatchadourian's full article online at newyorker.com.
Unlike the beloved Bert on Sesame Street, I've never been all warm and fuzzy about pigeons. I usually wear a look of disgust when I see someone feeding them. However, I've never had a desire to punt one into the endzone either.
Yesterday, I Twittered about a pigeon that was stuck in a contraption on top of the roof my south facing windows look out on (click for my POV). (By the way, the sound of a pigeon trying to escape from an aluminum bowl resembles nails on a chalkboard.) The pigeon was still there today and had a visitor who appeared to be laughing down at his doomed brethren (see sketch). This was starting to bother me a bit. I was concerned about the pigeon. Not knowing how long it takes for a pigeon to starve to death, I really did not want to struggle with that guilt for a long time, but I wasn't sure what to do.
In a bit of random Friday conversation at work, we ended up chatting about pigeons. My co-workers care as much as (if not more than) I do about not letting helpless things suffer. They
demanded encouraged me to take action, and immediately, I was sent a phone number for the local SPCA.
I went on the roof to check on the pigeon before calling to confirm that the pigeon was alive. It was in the vent and trapped in the space below the inner dome with nothing to grab on to and not enough room to spread its wings.
I called a few numbers before I got to the right one. The only number that matters is 415 554-9405 which I suppose you can call for your animal rescuing needs in San Francisco. I didn't get the feeling the guys on the phone cared about the pigeon trapped on the roof, and I was feeling a bit silly about calling. However, a woman showed up a couple hours later in an official looking khaki uniform with a net ready to go into action. She seemed to care even about the lowly pigeon. Within a minute, the pigeon flew away. She said that pigeons usually nest in those spaces, but this pigeon was unable to get out. It doesn't say much about the intelligence of this particular pigeon.
This experience sadly was the most interesting episode of my week.
As with most bands the are composed of a couple, the band ends with the relationship which can be brutal for both the band and the listeners. In the case of The Mendoza Line's last album, the listen is rewarded with some great songs and some throwaway b-sides.
Lane: Need I mention the rock 'n' roll casualties from intraband dating?
Rory: I know they're numerous.
Lane: Not that there's not success stories. I mean, you've got your Cramps, your Yo La Tengo, your Kim and Thurstons.
Rory: Sonny and Cher, the Early Years.
Lane: Plus, you've got bands that have survived breakups: No Doubt.
Rory: Wish they hadn't.
Lane: X, Supertramp, The White Stripes. But in the negative, you have...
Rory: Sonny and Cher, the Later Years.
Lane: Jefferson Airplane, Fleetwood Mac. I know of two country music stars whose backup singers shot them in the groin.
Rory: Whoa. That's wicked hate.
Lane: Listen, I'm going to play two Rilo Kiley songs: one pre-Jenny/Blake breakup, one post. Tell me if you hear a quality difference.
The third track on 30 Year Low is a treat for all listeners who urn for the perfect fuck you song after a relationship ends. The opening line of 31 Candles tells you right away where the song is heading: "You left me in the bar for the skirt with the acoustic guitar." And she doesn't go easy on him throughout the rest of the song either. "Thirty-one candles don't a woman make. You didn't ever give me nothin' always take take take."
MP3: 31 Candles - 30 Year Low
Another highlight is Aspect of an Old Maid which is a duet with Okkervil River's Will Sheff.
Kyle XY is an hour long drama focused on the introduction of a mysterious teenage boy, Kyle, into the lives of a nuclear family in Seattle. Kyle has no memory of his life before he appears naked in the woods covered in goo at the physical age of 14-16. Imagine being dropped into sophomore year of high school without the experience of junior high (an idea that is easily a worst nightmare award winner). Plus, we get to watch as Kyle tries to figure out his origins, including a missing belly button, and stumbles upon a bio tech conspiracy that may lead to his own demise.
What can other shows aimed at the younger viewers who can't stay up late enough to watch Lost learn from Kyle XY?
Kyle XY is the show I most look forward to this summer. It helps to make the time between May and September go by unnoticed.
Although I've lived in San Francisco for almost 4 years, I have yet to get a California driver's license. This is not a problem since I don't own a car. However, it is annoying when the bartender has to take the extra time to locate the DOB on my Kansas license. "It's in the center," I tell them which really isn't of much help when staring at a small piece of plastic.
My birthday is approaching and thus my license is expiring. I considered not renewing or just getting a new Kansas license next time I was home, but I recently started using Zipcar.
Zipcar lets you reserve any of hundreds of cars parked around San Francisco for a few hours or a day for a modest fee. It's cheaper than renting a car, and you can't walk two blocks in the city without seeing a few Zipcars waiting for someone to drive them. It's really easy and all done online or through automated voicemail.
Now, I'm driving more and need to have a valid license, so I decided to head down to the DMV at 1377 Fell Street and get a California license.
First, schedule an appointment at the California DMV website. People looked at me enviously as I cut to the front of the line to collect my initial form. Besides the line cutting, my wait was minimal and my number was called within 10 minutes. (I still recommend bringing something to read or a crossword puzzle.)
Since I didn't drive to the DMV, I don't have any information on parking though there were several open spots on the Monday morning when I was there.
Not only did I need my passport (or birth certificate), but they also wanted to see my Kansas license. (They punched a hole in my license at the end which is highly annoying as it is my only proof of age until I receive my new license.) They also do not take credit cards, only cash, check, or debit cards. My fee was $27. I'd recommend bringing your own writing utensil as many of the chains on the counters no longer connected to pens. (Nothing is fill in the oval so no number 2 pencil is needed.)
The queue for pictures was long-ish but moved quickly as no one requested multiple shots.
The written test was 32 questions, and you can miss up to 6. (I missed 4.) The questions are annoying. Do you stop at a yellow light or wait for the signal change? What? It depends on your relative location to the intersection which is not clarified in the question. Fortunately, you can bone up on which way to turn your wheels when parked uphill by browsing the handbook or taking a sample tests on the website. The sample tests are loaded with questions related to trucks and trailers, but I didn't have any of those on my Class B test.
It takes 4-6 weeks to get the new license. Update: I received my new license in the mail within a week. In the meantime, I have to rely on my defaced Kansas license and a piece of paper.
Another update: Tickets are not available at any Amoeba store. Only by listening to KFOG or on the day of the show at Café Du Nord.
UPDATE: According to the Spoon mailing list, tickets will be given away. Here are the details:
...we'll be at Café Du Nord in San Francisco. You can win tickets by listening to KFOG and/or buying Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga at Amoeba (Berkeley) on 7/10. There will also be a small stash of tix sold at the door (for cheap) on the day of show. No advance tickets for this one. Rogue Wave opens.
KFOG Presents: SPOON There will be NO ADVANCE TICKET SALES for this show. All tickets will be sold day of show. Please continue to watch our website for further updates/details. Thank you!
Thank you, too, for managing to do nothing other than make me want to know more.
I'm not even sure if the show is at Cafe du Nord or the Swedish American Hall, but with tickets not being sold in advance, it means waiting in line more than once. Hmm. Saturday is my day off, but normal people also have that day off. Am I going to be able to get in? If the show is at Cafe du Nord, it will be packed with sweaty hipsters, but at Swedish American Hall there is seating and more space. (I saw Britt Daniel solo at Swedish American Hall, and it was awesome. (Read about that show.)
Even a mediocre Spoon album is better than 99% of everything else being released, so you should purchase Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga on July 10th when it is released.
While the rest of the world goes on about their lives, I'll be refreshing cafedunord.com every hour to find out more.
Ah, June is almost over which means that Pride is over and fireworks will soon be polluting the sky. The pomp and circumstance of Pride does not interest me, so my participation is limited to watching parades from the sidelines and going to see movies at the queer film festival, and Frameline 31 screens hundreds of films throughout the Bay Area for two weeks each June.
Itty Bitty Titty Committee was the closing night film I attended. Producer Andrea Sperling won the 2007 Frameline Award which was presented before the movie started with a far too long retrospective followed by a few speeches.
Sperling's wife, Jamie Babbit, is the director of Itty Bitty Titty Committee and was also in the audience to introduce the film. IBTC is a look at a feminist radical group fueled by a soundtrack of all your favorite Riot Grrrl bands. It's a fun film with some fantastical moments at the end that were only forgotten by the making out montage closing the film. If you don't take the film too seriously, it is easy to enjoy. The acting and production values are better than many films with bigger budgets. (Watch the trailer on YouTube.)
A few members of the cast and crew answered questions after the film, including Nicole Vicius, who played Sadie the worst-girlfriend-ever; Daniela Sea, who got the most applause, not for her character Calvin, but for her part on The L Word; and Guinevere Turner, who had a glorified cameo as a reporter. Babbit fielded most of the questions. One audience member was concerned about the excessive smoking by the characters in the film. There is a campaign to keep smoking out of the queer community that is building steam. I've seen posters on the sides of Muni buses in the city. Babbit, a non-smoker, said that the entire cast smoked which contributed, but smoking by twenty-something members of a radical group is not uncommon.
Audience Award Winner, Vier Minuten (Four Minutes), was the stand out of the three showings I attended at Frameline. A story of a piano teacher at a women's prison in Germany as she connects with a jailed prodigy. The film weaved glimpses of the present with Nazi activity in the same prison during WWII. The piano teacher was the common link between the two eras. It's a beautiful story about the relationship between these two very different women. I forgot to vote, so I'm really glad this film won the Audience Award.
The Look of Love was the title of the shorts program at the Roxie described as a "collection of shorts highlight[ing] the ups and downs of searching for love." The shorts ranged from okay to bad to awful. Licorice, Last Exit, Running Home, and Jo FM were the highlights.
It's always potluck when selecting films at Frameline. You have to purchase tickets in advance for most films, and usually, there is very little known about the film. I really happy with my choices this year, and I recommend both full-length features.
I just finished reading Anatomy of Deceit which is an awesome study in how citizen journalism is necessary to keep both the government and the easily influenced media in check.
Marcy Wheeler writes about how bloggers scooped the media. The book combines the articles published on various political blogs to paint a vivid picture of what lead to the government leaks that lead to the outing of a covert CIA agent and the personal assassination of Joseph Wilson.
If you have any interest in political corruption, media studies, or, as is my case, anything CIA related, I highly recommend this book. It is a quick read at just over 100 pages with extensive notes and timeline if you are interested in the details.
The book was published shortly before Scooter Libby's trial, but you can continue to read about what is happening at The Next Hurrah.
“People go to Yellowstone one time in their lives with a few hours at Old Faithful,” said Jon Catton, an independent environmentalist who has worked on the issue for eight years. “You can hear the hiss and splash of Old Faithful, the howl of a wolf, or the persistent buzz, whine and roar of snowmobiles.”
As someone who has driven a snowmobile through Yellowstone to visit Old Faithful, I like the idea that the number of gas powered vehicles driven through the park was limited. The previous compromise of limiting the number of snowmobiles to 250 seemed like a good deal that allowed the snowmobile tour businesses to continue while taking into consideration the scarring to the natural landscape that is caused by the mobiles.
In news related to the area, one of my favorite authors, Tim Sandlin, has released his latest book, Jimi Hendrix Turns Eighty. Sandlin lives in Jackson, Wyoming, which is just south of Yellowstone National Park. Many of his books, including the GroVont Trilogy (the namesake of this blog), are set in Jackson Hole.
I finished reading The Kite Runner today. Khaled Hosseini's story starts with Amir's childhood in Afghanistan before the Taliban destroyed his homeland and chronicles his family's escape to San Francisco. The real heartbreak occurs when Amir faces his demons (literally through a far-fetched coincidence) when he goes back to Afghanistan as an adult to discover surprising truths and right his and his father's mistakes. Despite many grim scenes, the book ends on a hopeful note and is riveting throughout its nearly 400 pages.
Unfortunately, the book is being made into a movie. The filmmaker's decided other areas are more picturesque than the Fremont where Amir and his father live after moving to the US as scenes were filmed seemingly everywhere in the East Bay except Fremont.
From good to bad...I saw Because I Said So this afternoon. Mandy Moore is adorable but that's about all this movie had in the positive column. Lauren Graham was underused as were all the supporting cast (except Tom Everett Scott who was annoying as one of Moore's suiters). I wonder if there were originally subplots with the supporting cast. Most of these actors we watch weekly deliver on their own television shows, but in this movie, you barely even noticed them. I think Piper Perabo's ass got more screen time than she did.
Skip Because I Said So and see Catch and Release if you need to see a chickflick this weekend.
Kink.com did indeed buy the Armory at 14th and Mission to use for filming fetish porn. The Armory's architecture was inspired by Moorish castle architecture, and the directors at Kink.com were particularly excited by details like a "dungeon-like basement," the stone staircases, and a drill court that covers an acre.
Hee. This is a couple of blocks from my apartment. I used to walk by this place when I actually left my apartment during the day. (Ah, I miss those days!) The building is a really interesting structure, and I always wondered what it was used for. Now, I know it is going to be used to film porn. Fun!
The new cameras that are going to be installed on 16th & Mission will be able to film the porn stars during their commute.
The San Jose Sharks lost tonight, but Cheechoo and Thorton will be starting in the NHL all star game. I really know nothing about hockey, but I like to say Cheechoo.
January seems to be the month for the cable networks to introduce all their new shows or begin the new season of old shows.
Dirt is the FX submission. The only pre-show hype I initially paid attention to was Carly Pope's introduction as the lesbian informant "Garbo" by episode three. (Pope was great as "Sam" in the short-lived Popular.) Though the critics were throwing around negative adjectives like confetti even before the new year. After watching the pilot Monday night, I'm intrigued and impressed. The world of tabloid editing in Los Angeles looks glamorous when helmed by Courtney Cox and parade of writers who look more like actors than the kids you sat next to in journalism class. All of the characters on both sides of the camera are desperate for vindication and will go to extremes to get what they want. Maybe I'm so far removed from "Hollywood" that it is easier for me to see the fiction in it all. The part of the show that most impressed me was the surrealism surrounding the schizophrenic photographer. The cinematography was beautiful when it was raining blood and the show put on by pill bottles destined to be cast in a Blue Man Group show.
Dirt airs Tuesday on FX and repeats several times throughout the week.
From the New York Times - San Franciscans Hurl Their Rage at Parking Patrol:
Burdened with one of the densest downtowns in the country and a Californian love for moving vehicles, San Franciscans have been shocked in recent months by crimes related to finding places to park, including an attack in September in which a young man was killed trying to defend a spot he had found.
This is why I do not want to own a car in this city. I probably spent less than $50 last year on transportion around the city. That includes several trips to the airport and the occassional cab ride.
You definitely do not need a car in the city. If you live in the Eastern peninsula, the T-Third Line will get you from point A to B. A result of the Third Street Light Rail Project, the T-Third Line runs up and down third street connecting Downtown to Monster Park. And starting on January 13th, you can ride on the weekends for free! Full service does not start until April 1st. Unfortunately, this new line doesn't really benefit me unless I become really lazy and would rather switch trains and ride an extra 15 minutes to walk 3 fewer blocks in SOMA.
The dream to provide wireless access to everyone in the city may actually happen. Mr. Mayor has signed an agreement with Google and Earthlink. Don't cancel your DSL or cable internet service though. The speeds are slow and the additional monthly fee for an upgrade isn't really worth it. The full details of the agreement are available here. Speed and security are the most obvious concerns for those of us that work and play online. It will be nice to not have to look for "Free Wi-Fi" signs before patronizing a coffeshop or bar, but I'm not giving up my home service.
Centered around Megan Hickey's achingly plaintive voice and mournful lap steel, The Last Town Chorus trades in sad, slow-burn country vibes with enough spaciness to achieve low orbit.
That one line from a post at the always excellent Chromewaves sent me to eMusic where the debut album from The Last Town Chorus was available for download. As much as I love the look and feel (scratch-n-sniff) of an album, I thrive on the immediacy of downloading music: Change Your Mind (mp3)
From an article in Dusted Magazine online:
Megan Hickey may be the first person inspired to start a band in order to realize country’s affinity with polished ‘80s dream-pop. “Standing in my living room on 4th Avenue in Brooklyn,” Hickey recalls, “I had a sudden and certain feeling about a musical sound – the push of solid ethereal pop (a la Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas) and the pull of country songs, all doused in the feeling of life in New York City.”
It is not surprising that their cover of Culture Club's "Do you really wanna hurt me?" (mp3) is amazing.
Their new album Wire Waltz is only available overseas at the moment but is scheduled to be released in North America this March.
When I did I become someone who listens to country music? Maybe I just needed to find the right musician to spark my interest. I used to loathe country music. Of course, my music collection at this time consisted of mostly Madonna, Bobby Brown, and the rest is even more embarrassing. Now, I do not hesitate to listen music I would describe as country or alt-country. Lap steel. Twang. "Three chords and the truth." I love it.
Did you know that vegging is an actual word in the dictionary? File under "What I learned today" and forget it.
veg (věj) Pronunciation Key intr.v. vegged, veg·ging, veg·es Informal To engage in relaxing or passive activities. Often used with out.
The scientists are weighing in, trying to calm fears about the Big One.
"These three quakes are minor occurrences," said David Schwartz, a USGS geologist. "The fact they occurred within four days has to be looked at as random and coincidental." The quakes occurred in what experts called a "pocket" of the Hayward Fault that is prone to quakes. Although it is somewhat unusual to see three quakes in such quick succession, they said, it is not unheard of.
I've lived in San Francisco for over three years, and I've felt four quakes--three in the last week. Now, I can recognize the difference between an earthquake and someone slamming a door in my building.
I discovered this article as I sit here drinking a glass of red wine. (It was a long, hard day in the salt mines.) Read it only if you can deal with humans being compared to mice.
Can you have your cake and eat it? Is there a free lunch after all, red wine included? Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging report that a natural substance found in red wine, known as resveratrol, offsets the bad effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and significantly extends their lifespan.
Like most new bands, I rarely remember where I first heard about them. Usually, I listen to a track on a blog and notice that the cd is only $10 when purchased directly from the band site, and I order it. Two weeks later when it arrives in the mail, I look at the return address, shrug, and tell Mailbox Guy that I have no idea what this is. He replies, "Well, then it's like getting a present. It's your birthday and you didn't even know it!" (He's an overly chipper Mailbox Guy.)
With The New Tragedies, I probably first read "...from Kansas City..." and immediately went to their website hoping they didn't suck.
I feel as though I should know about all the bands from the Kansas City/Lawrence area since I'm from there. (Unless the band was a hit in the college bar scene in the late 90s, I'm probably not the first to know any more.)
And here a few tracks from their album VanityVanity. Think Ryan Adams with Jenny Lewis on backup vocals with a little bit more rock than pop stirred in with the country. It's good and slightly different than anything else I'm listening to right now.
Monday Morning Makeup (mp3) (Remind me to include this in a songs about Mondays post later.)