Thursday, September 30, 2004

Friday, September 24, 2004

Take me out to the museum

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s Baseball As America will be ending its Washington DC run on October 3. It’ll move on to St. Louis next. Here’s the tour schedule. We’re lucky to be in a time when exhibit design is at a peak- improvements in technology allow designers to realize beautiful visuals, while the research into how people learn best has led to some great ideas in interactive exhibits, involving touch, sound and video as well as text. The exhibit design in Baseball As America is excellent both visually and contentwise. If you’ve been to Cooperstown, you’ve probably seen most of the exhibit’s objects. Our favorite highlights were the Honus Wagner card, the letters to Hank Aaron from supporters and from racists (very touching and chilling), and an awesome, detailed scrapbook made by two young brothers in the 1900s. Leave yourself plenty of time, the exhibit covers a lot. We caught it during its run at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (no, we don’t know why it’s at the Natural rather than American History), with our baseball guru, Hector. Here’s his report:
Beyond a seven-foot chicken lay the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s exhibit on baseball this summer. It offered images to observe, descriptions to read and artifacts to grasp – a gala showing-off of the sport’s history, artwork and physics.
Hands-on encounters with baseball’s artifacts highlighted the gala.
Patrons squeezed the handle of bats that the famous swung, whether it was Ed Roush’s bulky club or Rod Carew’s nimble twig.
Children learned how to grip a pitch for a four-seam fastball, a curve, a change-of-pace and a knuckleball. Fortunately for safety’s sake, no one had to worry about errant throws or pick-up contests – the horsehides anchored, the bats securely strung to the wall.
In addition, the exhibit presented a lot for the eye to behold.
How about a large original Norman Rockwell painting? He illustrated umpires weary of rain while the two managers bickered at ol’ Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NY.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


Tomorrow I leave for the hills of San Antonio, for 2 weeks. I leave you with a live Pixies gem. In the meantime, The Keoki and SugarDuck will keep you happy.

Where is My Mind - Live in Spokane, WA 4/24/04

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Spelling Test

Take this challenging spelling test from I'm not telling what I got wrong, but rest assured, you'll be surprised what you miss, too.

Link via bookslut.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Johnny Ramone lost his battle with prostate cancer earlier today. Story here.

To Johnny, Dee Dee, and Joey: I remember you.

Give to the American Foundation for Urologic Disease.

Henry Butler, Etta James mp3s

Ivan is about to inflict its own sort of jazz to the French Quarter. It's also raining here in D.C., and the atmosphere is right for a little jazz-tinged blues. Or blues-edged jazz. Whatever.

Here's "Henry's Boogie," from Henry Butler's 2004 release, Homeland (you can stream two more full songs here). The New Orleans piano legend injects the body and soul into this boogie-woogie throwdown. Here's hoping that he and his piano boogied out before Ivan lays waste to "Nawlins."

And speaking of injecting the body and soul into a throwdown, Etta James sends the grit on the floorboards dancing with her cover of Muddy Waters' well-tread Got My Mojo Working, off her 2004 release, Blues to the Bone.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Review Review

Sean of Said The Gramophone panned the Pitchfork review of the Arcade Fire's new album, Funeral. I agree with him, but the act of reviewing a review seems lawyerly to me. Maybe it just reminds me of the presidential campaign, with each side discrediting the other's statements and positions. Anyway, not important. STG has two mp3s that you want: one from the forthcoming Ed Harcourt album and a classic Richard Thompson track.

By the way, the Arcade Fire's new CD is stunning. Preview a couple of mp3s here.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

The Slacker's Bible

"Bonjour paresse," French for "Hello Laziness," is an essay-pamphlet, an "ephlet," that gives the disillusioned, disgruntled, and utterly unmotivated tips on succeeding, or at least avoiding getting fired, in the in-between world that is middle management. Story here. Subtitled "The Art and the Importance of Doing the Least Possible in the Workplace," it includes the "10 Commandments for the Idle." Commandments 1 - 5:
No. 1 You are a modern day slave. There is no scope for personal fulfilment. You work for your pay-check at the end of the month, full stop.
No. 2 It's pointless to try to change the system. Opposing it simply makes it stronger.
No. 3 What you do is pointless. You can be replaced from one day to the next by any cretin sitting next to you. So work as little as possible and spend time (not too much, if you can help it) cultivating your personal network so that you're untouchable when the next restructuring comes around.
No. 4 You're not judged on merit, but on whether you look and sound the part. Speak lots of leaden jargon: people will suspect you have an inside track
No. 5 Never accept a position of responsibility for any reason. You'll only have to work harder for what amounts to peanuts.

And from the MSNBC news article:
You sit next to idiots, loathe office bonhomie and crave escape. You're half- crazy with boredom, pretend to work when you hear footsteps and kill time by taking newspapers into the washrooms. Your career is blocked, your job is at risk and the most ineffective people get promoted to where they can do least harm: management. You recoil at jargon, consider the expression 'business culture' an oxymoron and wish you had the guts to resign. If this is you, help is at hand.

Coming soon to the self-help/inspiration aisle at a bookstore near you.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Gleason on Dinah Washington

From this article:

Washington's fast, intense approach to life -- despite its ultimately fatal perils --rewarded her with rich material for her music. She "had a full, sophisticated attitude towards life that was reflected in the way she sang," music critic Ralph Gleason wrote shortly after her death. "Many singers on stage are merely little girls singing romantic songs. Dinah, like Carmen McRae and Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith, was a woman singing about life. And she made you believe."

Amen. That's what we want from artists, isn't it? We want them to make us believe.

Ding Dong the Witch is Going to Retire in 2 Years!!!

Eisner to retire in 2006
"It has been a fantastic Disney ride for the past twenty years," Eisner wrote in a letter sent to Disney's board of directors. "Ups and downs to be sure, but filled with great satisfaction in building this wonderful creator of classic American culture into one of the premiere [sic] entertainment oriented companies in the world.

"My affection for Disney will never retire," he wrote.
Not to mention his affection for the gabillions of dollars he got paid! Every year! Meanwhile you had to take out a loan to bring a family to his parks!

And So It Begins

Were we right or were we right? Kitty Kelley has already affected at least one voter...
What if George Bush really did have a coke habit an he is chasin down Osama bin Laden some day an he is closin in on Osama bin Laden an goin "oh I'll get you Osama bin Laden" an Osama bin Laden drops a bag a coke an George Bush is so overpowered by his desire to snort coke that he lets Osama get away?

Pop Music and Racial Identity

From this Sunday's Book World:

Can black musicians rock? Should white kids like rap?

They seem like foolish, indeed racist, questions, but they still get asked. Popular music is a tool millions of young people use to construct personal and tribal identities, and, for better or worse, rock is identified as white kids' music, hip-hop as black. It's not primarily a question of the musicians' competence but of cultural capital and ownership.


Neate wanders the planet, hoping to find places where hip-hop means more than sneaker brands and bling bling. In Tokyo he encounters crowds of gangsta-wannabes and cornrowed, skin-darkened fly girls, whose embrace of hip-hop at first strikes him as entirely superficial. "Hip-hop here? It's like they read it from a book," a black American expat scoffs. Probing further, though, Neate concludes that hip-hop fashion is one way for Japanese youth to assert some individuality in a maniacally conformist society.

Materialistic America: A Myth?

New research shows that people prefer new experiences to new possessions. From Virginia Postrel's article, "The New Trend in Spending," in yesterday's NY Times:

In fact, the trend toward emotional value is exactly what psychological research would predict. Particularly as incomes rise, people find that additional experiences give them more pleasure than additional possessions.

In research reported last year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Leaf Van Boven of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Thomas D. Gilovich of Cornell University used two surveys and a lab experiment to test whether people reported greater happiness from "experiential purchases" or "material purchases." In almost all cases, they found that subjects preferred experiences to goods.

But aren't experiences and their memories non-material possessions? Does going on a luxury cruise fill the same void that buying a luxury car does, and if so, is it any more meaningful? Maybe the need or desire to "collect" experiences is just another form of materialism. Or maybe I'm just blowing hot air.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Who beat Ken Jennings in "Jeopardy!"?

According to an AP Entertainment story, "A report posted Wednesday on TV Week's Web site said the brainy software engineer lost in a show taped Tuesday, walking away after his 75th straight game with about $2.5 million overall in cash and prizes."

Did he lose? The article doesn't say. It doesn't matter anyway, because as another great Jeopardy champion once said: sometimes when you win you really lose, and sometimes when you lose you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose you really tie, and sometimes when you tie you really win or lose.

Story here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Nouvelle Vague mp3s- Guns of Brixton, Love Will Tear Us Apart

Nouvelle Vague is French for "new wave," and in Portuguese, means "bossa nova." On their self-titled album, they cover punk and new wave staples from such bands as Joy Division, the Clash and XTC, and give them the "Brazilectro" treatment. You can also stream "A Forest" and a 5-minute video from their website here.

The Clash's Guns of Brixton
Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart

Oh, Kitty!

Well, it's Bush's turn to get smeared, from a source finally worthy of the Swift Boat Vets. Trashy unauthorized bio writer Kitty Kelley's book about the Bush family will be released Sept 14. Forget what the Bush administration has done for the last 4 years that would actually affect the average American. What will stick in the public's head is: W. does lines at Camp David when his dad was prez! Young Bush pays for a girlfriend's abortion! We love it!!! Bring on the freak show!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

New Releases From Kings of Leon, Frank Black, and Blues Explosion


You hate Pitchfork. But you must grudgingly admit that it's an indispensable source of breaking news on music. For the upcoming Kings of Leon sophomore release, A-Ha Shake Heartbreak, They've got the lowdown, track listing, and supporting mini-tour dates. They're opening in D.C. at the Black Cat!!!

Blues Explosion (formerly the Jon Spencer...) is also releasing a new LP, Damage, on September 28. The album
"features collaborations with DJ Shadow, David Holmes and Dan the Automator, along with Plastic Fang producer Steve Jordan and Alan Moulder (My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain). As if that wasn't enough (and it isn't), guests on the album include singer Martina Topley Bird, New York no-wave icon James Chance, and Public Enemy's Chuck D."
Story here.

FINALLY, Frank Black will release the double-album, Frank Black Francis, mid-to-late October. Pitchfork tells us of the 2 CDs:
"One will document of 15 previously unreleased pre-Pixies solo demos, while the other will consist of 13 Pixies songs Black recently recorded with frequent Pere Ubu collaborators Andy Diagram and Keith Moline (aka Two Pale Boys)."

I know what I'm spending MY Christmas savings on.

Madonna Imagines No Possessions, No Religion

At a concert in France, Madonna dedicates a live cover of John Lennon's Imagine to the victims of the Russian hostage crisis. I wish I could get my hands on an mp3 of that. The news story is here. Accompanied by the most appropriate Madonna photo, "the kiss."

The Shins Cover Postal Service

The Shins' version of We Will Become Silhouettes is just as good as the one on Give Up. I'd love to hear a melancholy version of it, though, maybe with some gentle fingerpicking. I think it would have made a great Sinead O'Connor song, or The Sundays. Maybe even Beck.

XTC live mp3s

"K-Rocking in Pasadena" includes Mayor of Simpleton, Senses Working Overtime, Dear God, and several others.

Link via largehearted boy.

Kids Abandon FM Radio in Favor of Internet Music

The story, from the Globe and Mail, mentions, which features several good webcasts, including "Under the Radar."
Link via largehearted boy.

More Evidence That Music Makes You Smarter

Researchers at the University of Toronto concluded that taking music lessons raises IQ scores. Their study also showed that children who take drama lessons improve in adaptive social behavior. Short news summary here.

Before you send the kids to their piano or voice lessons, though, consider sending them to learn the organ. You'll make a grand contribution to society by reducing the national organist shortage.

If you want to ensure they pass on the family genes, may I suggest the wise investment of guitar lessons. From Geoffrey Miller's Evolution of human music through sexual selection:
Consider Jimi Hendrix, for example. This rock guitarist extraordinaire died at the age of 27 in 1970, overdosing on the drugs he used to fire his musical imagination. His music output, three studio albums and hundreds of live concerts, did him no survival favours. But he did have sexual liaisons with hundreds of groupies, maintained parallel long-term relationships with at least two women, and fathered at least three children in the U.S., Germany, and Sweden. Under ancestral conditions before birth control, he would have fathered many more. Hendrix’s genes for musical talent probably doubled their frequency in a single generation, through the power of attracting opposite-sex admirers.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Art Spiegelman's "In the Shadow of No Towers"

Graphic novelist Art Spiegelman speaks with the New York Times on his new post-9/11 themed comic. Also, listen to him, Chris Ware (author of "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth"), and other graphic novelists talk about their work in the "Multimedia" sidebar on this article. Here's the Guardian piece on Spiegelman and his work.

Howl's Moving Castle

Miyazaki's new movie is making news at the Venice Film Festival. Download a peek here (.mov format). Link via Online Ghibli.

Allison Stewart on the Fiery Furnaces' Sibling Squabbling

In Washington Post's Arts section:
Unlike Noel and Liam Gallagher of the British band Oasis, rock's other notorious sibling act, Matt and Eleanor Friedberger -- otherwise known as the Fiery Furnaces -- don't violently dislike each other. Matt did stab his younger sister in the leg once, but that was a while ago, and probably an accident. Still, in most cases, the Friedbergers would probably prefer to avoid each other.

But the surprise success of the duo's sophomore release, the wordy, nautical-themed, sort-of-prog-rock, sort-of-indie-rock "Blueberry Boat," means the siblings must now endure the prospect of a tour. Together. In a van...

Meanwhile, the Guardian calls Blueberry Boat "a crashing disappointment." Of course, a while back, Pitchfork gave it a glowing review. I can relate to both perspectives. On the one hand, it sounds fresh and utterly different than anything I've heard in years, and is courageous in its lyricism. On the other hand, the lyricism is a bit rock meant to aspire to poetry?

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Afternoon Steam

Listen to four steamy, subtle tunes from Eleni Mandell's new album, Afternoon. In "County Line" she even makes yodeling sound soulful and sexy. "Yellow Light" recalls The Cowboy Junkies, but Eleni's voice sways us, and grabs at our hearts, where Margo's makes us fade into a trance.

White Stripes Live DVD

The White Stripes' live DVD, "Under Blackpool Lights," is due out Oct 26. News via Kingblind.

Straight Talk From Will Ferrell

Behind the scenes at a G.W. Bush campaign commercial.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Colin Powell on Sergeant Presley and Elephant Gangs

From an interview with P.J. O'Rourke in The Atlantic Unbound.

P. J. O'ROURKE: Really?
SECRETARY POWELL: I met him when he was in the Army. I was a lieutenant; he was a sergeant. He was in the neighboring regiment—or combat command, as we called it—in the Third Armored Division in Germany.

We were in the training area one day and I was driving my jeep around and suddenly came upon this unit from the other outfit and there he was. And so I went over and shook hands.

He was a good soldier. You never would have thought he was anything but a soldier. He had a pimple on his face and everything else. He was not a big star. He was just another soldier.
P. J. O'ROURKE: I'll be darned. Well, good for him.

Here Secretary Powell waxes philosophical on elephants and rhinoceri:

SECRETARY POWELL: You've heard the wonderful story about the elephants? This was at a game reserve in Botswana or somewhere. They had found a dead rhinoceros, and they couldn't figure out who had killed it. The rhinoceros doesn't have any natural enemies. They looked and looked and found that there were these elephants, male elephants, that were killing rhinoceros. They were young elephants that had been brought from another reserve far away, but they had been brought just as two adolescent male elephants, and—
P. J. O'ROURKE: An elephant gang.
SECRETARY POWELL: An elephant gang. And so the game keepers didn't know what to do. They didn't want to kill them. And it occurred to some guy, very early one morning he said, "I've got it." They just went and got some older male elephants. They brought two male elephants, adult male elephants in with these teenagers, and within a few months, problem solved. The teenagers didn't know how to act. The male elephants made it clear to them: "Excuse me, boy. This is not what elephants do. We don't go around chomping on rhinoceri."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Bye Bye, The Scream

Now, we have never been a huge fan of Munch. We find his art a bit obvious (life sucks, so I'll paint a huge screaming mouth face?), which is why he, along with M.C. Escher and Gustav Klimt, appeal so to adolescents just discovering art (I liked the other two just as much as anybody when I was in high school, I'm not pretending I didn't). But you should have outgrown them by the time you're in your twenties. However, we have to give him credit for coming up with one of the alltime iconic images. So in memory of The Scream, we thought some words on Munch from the great art critic Sister Wendy might be enlightening:
The Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was a gloomy man, perpetually haunted by illness, madness and death, who used all his psychic weakness to create electrifying art.

Munch began painting in Oslo, where the predominant style was social realism, and it was only when he went to Paris in 1888 that he began to experiment. Van Gogh's swirling, emotive brushwork is detectable in Munch's more disturbing paintings, but he was also attracted to the work of Gauguin and the Symbolist painters, and he became close friends with the Symbolist poet Stephane Mallarme.

He began to use the Symbolists' stylized forms, decorative patterning, and highly charged colors to express his own anxieties and pessimism. A precursor of Northern Expressionism, he was one of those great artists whose main intention was to make an emotional statement, and who subdued all the elements of a picture to that end.
And here's The Onion's tribute.

Mousse T on fluxblog

Get the mp3 for "Is it cos I'm cool" at fluxblog. Perpetua says, "It's hard not to get caught up in the sweep of this song as it shifts from post-punk bass chug to full-on glam rock to orchestral grandeur in the space of four minutes..."

Music Will Collapse Your Lungs

Really. The medical journal Thorax reports on several cases of lung collapse resulting from loud music. From the Yahoo news story:
Reporting in the medical journal Thorax, they describe the cases of four young men who suffered a lung collapse -- technically called pneumothorax --that appeared to be triggered by loud music. Three of the men were at a concert or club when the pneumothorax occurred, while the fourth was in his car, which was outfitted with a 1,000-watt bass box because he "liked to listen to loud music."
The fourth guy's lungs collapsed because he also liked to torture the neighborhood with his music, and is an idiot. Let this be a warning to all those who hang out in the Circuit City parking lot on the weekends. Don't turn it up to 11 while you're in the car. Here's another morbidly entertaining paragraph from the Yahoo story:
Noppen said he and his colleagues suspect that loud music may damage the lungs due to its booming bass frequency, which can be felt as a vibration going through the body. The lungs may essentially start to vibrate in the same frequency as the bass, which could cause a lung to rupture.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Latest Jism Research

HOT!! Important research reveals a fact previously known exclusively by a tiny fraction of the male population: masturbation can lower your sperm count.

Equally astonishing, other revolutionary research shows that fat girls should exercise to lose weight.

The Comas - Hologram & Moonrainbow mp3s

Two more songs from Conductor, the new Comas CD. Moonrainbow has that light folk-electronic feel, and develops, via instrumental layering, an atmosphere reminiscent of Starfish-era Church. And damn, that guitar note that hovers over the verses is just right. Hologram strums along confidently, and then the tense guitars come rumbling in. Conductor is one of those rare albums that is accessible the first time you play it, and grows better on subsequent listens.