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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Monday, February 28, 2005

iSamRad.com

My friend Sam has a cool web site up with some applications that he wrote for managing eTiVo shows, creating a diary using Microsoft Access, and interfacing with Halo 2 XBox Live statistics via Microsoft Excel. He's also got some excellent pictures up to including this one from the Morton Loggers' Jubilee:



Get 'ir done

Dewey vs. McCullough

Has it really come to this, a 4th grader out stumping for Bush's social security plan? I hope the Dems counter with Erik Per Sullivan (Dewey from Malcolm in the Middle). Now how cool would that be?


Dewey says 'Leave Social Security Alone'

Counting Crows at the Oscars

Counting Crows performed 'Accidently in Love' from the Shrek 2 soundtrack last night at the Oscars. Definitely not their best song or live performance, but it was cool to see them get the chance to play such a big event. In true Oscars style, Adam Duritz even managed to get on some people's worst-dressed lists. Also interesting was seeing a big bald dude playing with the band, presumably a replacement for the recently departed Matt Malley.

UPDATE: Rolling Stone has an article about Dan Vickrey's hand-made 'I Heart Scarlett' (Johansson) shirt.

In other Crows related news, Duritz was on a media blitz before the big event. He showed up on several interview shows although my TiVo missed most of them due to the fact that he was often billed as 'Alan Duritz' or 'Adam Durwitz'. No respect I tell ya. He didn't get much love at the Oscars either as Prince managed to mangle most of the band members' names (as well as the names of most of the other nominees he introduced).

If you're bored you can check out the transcript from Adam's recent interview on the Tavis Smiley show can be found here.

"I'm on a losing streak right now. 0 for 2. I expect to pick up a third loss this next week at the Grammys." - Adam Duritz correctly predicts the future on the Tavis Smiley show

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Support the War, Not the Troops

The Onion has a funny satirical editorial titled 'I Support the Occupation of Iraq, But I Don't Support Our Troops'. Actually, it's a little scary to think about the fact that it's basically just the reverse logic of the people who think you can't be against the war and support the troops, but I digress.
"It is ridiculous that my 'heart' is somehow morally or ethically obliged to 'go out' to the troops. In fact, had the troops not been put to productive labor by the sheer might and institutional authority of the U.S. military, a good number of them would be sitting around bars, drinking and gambling."

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Huskies vs. Arizona

Today we went to the UW basketball game against Arizona. The #14 ranked Huskies played another great game beating the #9 Wildcats 93-85 to secure their 22nd straight home victory.

Some random highlights/observations:

  • Nate Robinson is still my hero, if there's a more exciting player in college basketball I sure haven't seen him. Today he went off for 22 points including several key baskets at the end of the game. My favorite was a clutch driving lay-up by the 5'9" Nate over 6'10" Channing Frye with just over a minute remaining in the game.
  • Tre Simmons is really good. Last time we saw him play he scored a career-high 29 points. This time he added 24 more. He had the first 9 Huskies points going 3 for 3 from 3 point land at the start of the game.
  • This was the last home game of the season, and thus the last home game for seniors Tre Simmons, Will Conroy, Hakeem Rollins, and Alex Johnson. If Nate leaves for the NBA, it could be his last home game as well.
  • Arizona's Channing Frye is a beast. He dominated the Huskies scoring 30 points on what felt like 15 dunks, (it was actually only 5). It's no wonder that's he projected to be a first round pick in this year's NBA draft.
  • The Huskies student section was entertaining as always. Tonight they held up signs of what they claimed to be Channing Frye's cell phone number (Paris Hilton would've been proud). Every time he went to the free throw line they would recite the number. Frye denied it was really his number though saying:

"That was so funny. Too bad it's not my real phone number. I want to say congratulations to them for getting close to my number. The area code was right."


Nate the Great!
Photo By Rod Mar/Seattle Times

Breakin' The Law, Breakin' The Law

The Guardian has a cool article about two British students who are planning an 8-week trip across America in which they plan to break some of our dumbest laws. Their crime-spree itenerary includes:

  • Riding a bike in a swimming pool (California)
  • Hiring a boat to go whale hunting (Utah)
  • Taking a nap in a cheese factory (South Dakota)

If they come to Washington state they should have plenty of stupid laws to choose from including:

  • Having a lollipop
  • Buying a mattress or meat on Sunday
  • Pretending their parents are rich
  • Catching a cold and then walking around in public

You can find the dumb laws for your state at: DumbLaws.com. Oh, and if you think these are all just silly old laws that have been on the books forever, don't forget Virginia's recent attempt to ban droopy-pants.

Friday, February 25, 2005

I Wanna Walk Up The Side of a Mountain

Grandaddy's new video for "Nature Anthem" roxors!

Creases Make Your Shoes Look Bad

The Seattle-PI has a fascinating article today about people waiting up to 57 hours in-line outside of NikeTown to score a pair of new retro Air Jordans.

The whole article is interesting, but my part is:

"Rankin owns 120 pairs of shoes, which he refuses to wear more than three times each ("creases make your shoes look bad")...

Asked by a reporter if [he] would consider selling [his] collection on the online auction site, the answer was a resounding no.

"I have to keep them -- they are so rare," said Rankin, who sounded vexed by the very idea of turning a profit with his beloved shoes."

Apparently these guys are relative light weights compared to some people out there though, as evidenced by this article about Ruben Santamaria who spends almost $2,000 a month adding to his shoe collection!

Drive-By Truckers "Dirty South" DVD

Woo hoo! Looks like the Drive-By Truckers are releasing a DVD of two August 2004 performances at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA. The release date is currently set as March 22nd, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon. In my opinion they're one of the Top 3 or 4 live bands out there today, so I'm betting that this is going to be an excellent disc.

Track Listing:
1. Where The Devil Don't Stay
2. Tornadoes
3. The Day John Henry Died
4. Puttin' People On The Moon
5. Carl Perkins' Cadillac
6. Sinkhole
7. Never Gonna Change
8. Cottonseed
9. The Buford Stick
10. The Southern Thing
11. Decoration Day
12. Marry Me
13. Goddamn Lonely Love
14. Lookout Mountain
15. Daddy's Cup
16. Danko/Manuel
17. The Living Bubba
18. Outfit
19. Women Without Whiskey
20. Shut Up And Get On The Plane
21. Careless
22. People Who Died (Jim Carroll Band cover)


Thursday, February 24, 2005

More Music Than You Can Shake A Stick At

Tonight I spent the last of my Sonic Boom gift certificates from the holidays. Here's what I picked up:
  • Clem Snide - End of Love - One of my favorite bands, so I've been waiting for this one for awhile. I'm really excited that 'Made For TV Movie' made the cut, but what's up with the little kid singing background vocals? The live version of the song is much better. Favorite line so far is from the song "End of Love": "Guess what your pain has been done, to perfection by everyone, and the first thing every killer reads is Catcher in the Rye."
  • M Ward - Transistor Radio - Been waiting on this one for awhile too. Another excellent album from an superb artist.
  • Sage Francis - A Healthy Distrust - His major label debut. It's weird to see him not doing the indie thing, but so far it sounds good.
  • Mountain Goats - We Shall All Be Healed - One of those rare albums that actually drew a compliment from a Sonic Boom clerk, though I then immediately lost all credibility since I missed them when they played at the Crocodile earlier this month.
  • V/A - Live From the Morning Alternative - $6.99 gets you this excellent compilation of mostly live performances from 107.7 The End. Better yet, all proceeds from the album are going to support the Vera Project. Included are tracks by Damien Jurado, Death Cab For Cutie, Harvey Danger, Visqueen and several other local bands. It's labelled as Volume 1 too, so here's hoping we see another edition dropping soon.
While I'm at it, when we were in Victoria we swung by a cool indie record store called Ditch Records. I managed to limit myself to only one CD for the ride back:
  • Of Montreal - Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies - I'd been meaning to pick up one of their albums for awhile and I figured I'm in Canada...Of Montreal...I know, I'm a dork. At any rate, if you want to check them out they have a bunch of MP3s for download on their site including a cover of the Shins' "Know Your Onion".

Barry, Barry, Barry

MLB.com has the full interview transcript from Bonds interview on his first day at Spring Training. Bonds came out swinging, alluding to the reporters being liars and denying that his performance has anything to do with being on steroids. Here are some of the more interesting quotes:
Q. Do you personally think the steroids have been a part of baseball in the last 15 or so years?
BARRY BONDS: You know what, I never -- truthfully, I never really paid any attention to it nor did I really care because I worried about me. That's it. I was good then and I'm still good.

Q. Do you view the use of steroid as cheating?
BARRY BONDS: As cheating? I don't -- I don't know what cheating is. I don't know cheating, if steroid is going to help you in baseball. I just don't believe it. I don't believe steroids can help you, eye/hand coordination, technically hit a baseball, I just don't believe it and that's just my opinion.

Gwen Knapp has an interesting editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle in which she responds:

"I have lied about Bonds, too, but not in the way he meant when he went after the media at his spring-training debut on Tuesday. The first time I saw him in 2001, I said to myself: "He's juiced.'' I didn't say it in this column because, again, I didn't have proof. But I was sure of it."
She goes on to compare Bonds to a Karl Rove client based on the way he dodges questions and somehow shifts the blame to the media. Pretty interesting read if you get a chance.

Sir Roger Penrose

Tonight we saw Sir Roger Penrose speak at Town Hall as yet another installment in the Seattle Science Lecture Series. Penrose was in town to promote his new book titled The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe.

I'd normally give you a well wrapped up synopsis here, but the notes I took are worthless. Penrose came across as the quintessential absent-minded professor jumping from one train of thought to the next and never staying on any one topic long enough for me to actually jot down anything meaningful. This is not to say he was boring, it was actually quite the contrary. He had a great sense of humor and it was mesmerizing to watch him bounce around from topic to topic. At one point he just started showing us random diagrams he drew for the book. One example he showed used special mathematical notations that he had developed to represent concepts from physics, but we got no explanation of what any of the symbols meant or how they were relevant. In another one he put up a weird looking diagram and said this is a "3-D drawing of something". I'm telling you, it was awesome!


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Books #8 and #9

On my Victoria trip, I finished up two more books in my quest to knock out 50 this year.

Book #8 was McSweeney's Issue #15. The theme this quarter was Iceland. The book was printed there and over half of the stories came from Icelandic writers. While McSweeney's is always excellent, I'd have to say that overall this was one of the more disappointing issues I've read. It wasn't all bad though. My favorite piece was the first story in the book, "A Precursor of the Cinema" by Steven Millhauser. It was a really interesting story about a guy named Harlan Crane who was either a really good illusionist or the most under-rated inventor in history. Part of what makes the story great is that I have no idea whether it's fiction or non-fiction. It's written as non-fiction, but I can't find anything about Crane on the web, so maybe it's all made up. Either way it's a great read. I was also pleased to see the new issue includes a story from Univeristy of Florida professer, Padgett Powell. Go Gators!

Book #9 was Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries 1971-1973 by Jim Carroll. I really enjoyed reading The Basketball Diaries, and since this book is the sequel I was excited to pick it up. Although it didn't quite live up to its predecessor (what sequel ever does), it was still a really good read so my excitement turned out to be well warranted. A word to the wise about Jim Carroll is that both of these diaries are all about sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, so if that isn't your thing I'd stay away. If that doesn't scare you off Carroll provides a fascinating look into the underbelly of the New York City drug scene in the 1970's. Some of the best moments in Forced Entries come during often hilarious cameo appearances by Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, William S. Burroughs, and the Velvet Underground. One of my favorite entries is titled 'Rock 'N' Roll' where Carroll talks about how his friends want him to front a rock band but he doesn't think he could ever do it:
"...I respect craft. I believe in technique...and my singing abilities are so serious a handicap that it would take a whole new scale to make the entire thing less than ludicrous." - Jim Carroll
The irony of the entry is that by 1980, The Jim Carroll Band would release its first album Catholic Boy.

On to book #10...

The Butchart Gardens

On Saturday we drove from Victoria up to the Butchart Gardens. While they weren't nearly the spectacle they're supposed to be in the summer, they were still quite pretty. Here are a few of my favorite pictures that I took before we settled in for a nice long afternoon tea in the Butchart home.


A cool lookout over the Sunken Garden


Water Fountains near the Sunken Garden


Spring Prelude...aka what it would look like if you came at the right time of year

Victoria, B.C.

The weekend trip to Victoria was a blast. Here are some of the more memomable moments:

  • A fancy schmancy corner suite at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa. Thank you Hotels.com!
  • Trying to figure out how the heck you say Tsawassen (the location we caught the BC Ferry from).
  • The Re-bar which is a great veggie friendly restuarant in Bastion Square.
  • Kevin Bacon narrating a terrible IMAX titled 'Forces of Nature'. Makes you wonder if he's just doing movies now to improve on his 6 degrees connections.

I'll spare you the rest of the details for now, but I present to you some pretty pictures.


A double decker bus!


The Parliament building all lit up for night


The Empress Hotel (side view)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Vacation!

I'm taking off tomorrow afternoon to head up to Canada for an extended weekend stay in Victoria, B.C.. Should be a grand ole time. It's going to be a computer free trip, so no updates until I get back.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Robot Armies

While I have to admit that an army of RoboSapiens sounds pretty frickin' cool, I find this article in today's New York Times extremely scary.

"If you could invade other countries bloodlessly, would this lead to a greater temptation to invade?" - Robert Finkelstein, president of Robotic Technology

Do these guys not watch movies or read sci-fi books? Everyone knows that ROBOT + WEAPONS = BAD.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a cool site for networking with business contacts. It can be a great way to find a job, find people to fill an open position on your team, or just meet people working on projects similar to your own. It's basically Friendster for work. If you know me look me up and I'll add you as a connection.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My First Concert and Record

A couple of common interview questions I keep seeing in music magazines are:

  1. What was the first concert you ever attended?
  2. What was the first album you ever purchased?

Inevitably the artist gives an answer like the Kinks, Black Flag, Neil Young or something else that's way too cool to be true. I can never tell if they're just suffering from selective memory or if they're actually making stuff up to sound cooler.

At any rate, for me the first concert I can remember attending was with my parents at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, Colorado. I guess this would've been around 1987 or 1988. We actually saw two concerts at the fair, and for the life of me I can't remember which one was first. One was the country band Highway 101 who had some big hits in the late 80's such as 'Cry, Cry, Cry' and 'Whiskey, If You Were a Women'. The other show was a reunited version of The Mamas and the Papas. I don't remember much about either show except that they were outside and we got to watch the shows from a picnic blanket on the side of a hill. I do remember the The Mamas and the Papas playing 'California Dreaming' which to this day is one of my favorites.

The first cassette tape I can remember purchasing with my own money was DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's He's The DJ I'm the Rapper. I remember getting it at a flea market in St. Augustine, Florida while we were on vacation visiting my grandparents. I can still recall blasting 'Parents Just Don't Understand' from the stereo in my room, and thinking that I was so cool. That and the fact that 'Nightmare on My Street' was kinda creepy. Good times, good times.

So there you have it. Nothing fancy, but at least it's true :-) Oh, and for what it's worth, I'm pretty sure I had a copy of Debbie Gibson's Out of the Blue before I had the DJ Jazzy Jeff album, but I didn't buy it myself so I'm not counting it. She did rock though.


See he's the DJ...Will Smith on the other hand is the rapper. Got It?

Roots Rock Weirdo

Last night we celebrated Valentine's Day by going to see Robbie Fulks at the Sunset Tavern. If you ever get a chance to see Robbie play live, I highly recommend it. Every time I've seen him he's put on a great show, and last night was no exception. At his shows you can always count on a high energy level, a healthy dose of humor, and some excellent old-school country tunes.

There was no opening act, so Robbie and his band played two sets. In addition to a bunch of old favorites from his albums, some of the highlights included: a song from his new album which he said should come out in May, 'Fountains of Wayne Hotline' in which he poked fun at FOW's formulaic song-writing, a rockin' cover of Michael Jackson's 'Black or White', a special Valentine's Day version of Bob Luman's 'Lonely Women Make Good Lovers', and a solo acoustic cover of Cher's 'Believe'.

Before the show Robbie swung by KEXP to do a live performance. I don't see it on their archive yet, but it should eventually get posted here. In the meantime, you could also stream it from here, the show was at 5pm on 2/14/05. Here's the set list for the KEXP performance:
  1. We Live A Long Long Time (Jimmy Murphy cover)
  2. The Orphan Train
  3. Lonely Women Make Good Lovers
  4. Never Could

Monday, February 14, 2005

Neal Pollack on the Grammys

Neal Pollack has a nice write up on the Grammys (which I didn't see so I'll take his word for it).

Congrats to Wilco who pulled in two, one for Best Alternative Music Album and one for Best Recording Package.
"I can't say that having Grammy nominations means an enormous amount to us. I don't see it as being a validation of anything. To be really blunt, I don't have a lot of respect for the artists that have won Grammys. On the other hand it's very exciting to be nominated for a Grammy because it makes your parents happy." - Jeff Tweedy

When 4 Is 7

Hobart #4 is book #7 of 2005 for me. I picked it up at a recent reading and decided to go ahead give it a go while it was still fresh. As with most short story collections, the book was a bit hit and miss, but there were some definite winners. My personal favorites were:

Sunday, February 13, 2005

TiVoToGo Continued

It took almost a full month since I signed up for the 'priority' list, but today the TiVo finally downloaded the software update for TiVoToGo. Observations so far:
  • Transferring shows is painless. You can easily see the shows you currently have on your TiVo and just click the check mark next to the ones you want.
  • The downloaded content looks pretty good. I watched a couple of things using Windows Media Player and the shows look about as good on the computer as they do on the TV (note: I don't have HDTV and I record shows in the Medium Quality mode, so if you are a videophile you may not be as pleased).
  • The TiVo desktop software sucks. By default the TiVo server runs in a medium performance mode and starts everytime you reboot your machine. The software bogged my system to a hault. Once I figured out what it was I was able to drop the performance mode to low and set it no to start on reboot, but it's frustrating that it can slow down your machine even when you're not actively using the software.
  • There's no way to transfer shows from your PC back to the TiVo. This would be a cool feature, but it looks like once you've moved things to the PC that's where they live.
  • Content copied from the TiVo is DRM protected, so you need to enter a password any time you want to play a file. If you want to burn your shows onto a DVD you'll need to buy the Sonic MyDVD software from TiVo. A hack for converting the .tivo files to .mpeg (and hence freeing them from the DRM) has been posted, but at this point it's still a pretty technical hack that requires monkeying around with a DirectX tool.

Sweetheart: Love Songs

I swung by a Starbucks this morning to get my morning caffeine fix. Sitting on a counter display was a copy of one of their new Hear Music compilations titled Sweetheart: Love Songs. They usually do a pretty good job with their compilations, so I picked it up out of curiosity. As I looked over the track listing I was blown away by the depth of quality they've put together this time. The CD features artists such as M. Ward, Neko Case, Old 97s, Calexico, Jim White, Sondre Lerche and others covering songs by such bands as The Kinks, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Joy Division, and The Smiths. Needless to say, I had to pick up a copy. Damn you Starbucks, why must you be so cool?


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Today we went to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center. As expected there were lots and lots o' flowers. Here are a few of the better pictures I managed to snap.



Friday, February 11, 2005

The Future of Music

Wilco is running a drawing for a gold record plaque commemerating Yankee Hotel Foxtrot's 500,000+ U.S. sales. You can't win if you don't enter. In other Wilco related news, Wired just ran this article dubbing them 'the future of music'. Best quote:


"If Metallica still needs money then there's something really, really wrong." - Jeff Tweedy

In order to raise money to support the independently operated PixiesMusic.com, the Pixies have donated copies of several out-of-print DiscLive shows from their recent tour. The CDs can be purchased from American Laundromat Records for $20 a pop. Get 'em while you can. By the way, did anyone catch the Pixies tearing it up on Austin City Limits recently? Thank you TiVo!

New daddy Patterson Hood has posted a rough cut of the song 'Granddaddy' from his upcoming solo CD. You can check out a full solo show from February 5th here.

ClemSnide.org has 3 new live MP3's posted: 'Collapse', 'I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire', and 'When We Become'.

You can check out tracks from the Brian Jonestown Massacre's Tepid Peppermint Wonderland here.

BandToBand.com is a cool site for seeing the interrelationship of the members of various bands. I wonder how many degrees of seperation there are between the Misfits and Kevin Bacon...

North Korean Nukes

Here's some disturbing news:

“We ... have manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration’s evermore undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the [North].” - North Korean Government

And it looks like it's not just North Koreans who believe it:

"A U.S. official told NBC News’ Robert Windrem on Thursday that U.S. intelligence would not dispute reported estimates that North Korea had six to eight nuclear weapons, noting that the Energy Department had said it could have as many as 10 or 12.

'What the North said today confirms what our intelligence has been for more than a decade,” the official said on condition of anonymit
y.'"

Is it just me or does it feel like we're pissing off a lot of countries lately? Iran, Russia, North Korea, Great Britain, France and Germany. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come over the next four years.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ticket to Ride

6 down, 44 to go.

A couple of days ago I finished Larry Kane's Ticket To Ride: Inside The Beatles' 1964 & 1965 Tours That Changed The World. Kane was the only American reporter to follow the Beatles through each stop on their first two American tours. His book covers his experiences with the band as they move from city to city.

I bought Ticket To Ride after seeing Kane read at the University Bookstore a few months ago. In person his stories were really interesting so I had high hopes for the book. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed as I started to dig into the book. While there were indeed plenty of interesting stories, Kane's writing style felt formulaic and choppy. His background is in broadcast journalism, so I think his personality translates much better when he is speaking than it does in print.

Despite the less than stellar writing, there were still plenty of interesting things to take away from the book. Here are a few of the things that I found to be the most interesting:


  • The ticket price for most of the shows on the Beatles' first two tours was about $5.50.
  • Most of the concerts on the tour were only 33 minutes long.
  • The famous Shea Stadium show in 1965 had a crowd of 55,600 which at the time was the largest audience in music history.
  • It was really interesting to me to think about the fact that concerts as we know them today didn't exist before the Beatles' tours. People just didn't go out to see bands live in a stadium type setting.
  • The crazy fan scenes in A Hard Day's Night weren't an exaggeration. A good chunk of the book is dedicated to talking about all of the crazy schemes fans tried to get to meet the band, all of the security issues around getting the band from place to place, etc.

David Grinspoon

This evening we saw David Grinspoon read at the Pacific Science Center. Grinspoon was in town to read from his book Lonely Planets : The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life as part of the Seattle Science Lectures Series. The book is about the history, science, and philosophy of the search for extraterrestrial life and won a 2004 PEN Award for the best research in a non-fiction work.

Tonight's lecture focused on the recent findings of the Mars rovers and the Huygens probe that landed on Titan in January. Grinspoon's particular area of interest is in how the findings from these projects have shown encouraging results in our search for life. The lecture covered some of the same areas that Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke about when we saw him three weeks ago, but it also went into new findings that have just surfaced in the last few days. It's exciting to see how much we are learning from these projects. Grinspoon has collected links to a lot of the stuff he spoke about tonight as well as links to other interesting websites related to these issues on his Lonely Planets site, so I won't go into much detail, but here are some of the random facts from the lecture that I found most interesting:

  • The two Mars rovers are called the Spirit and the Opportunity. The Spirit originally landed in Gusev Crater which we expected to be a dried lake. Initial evidence from the Spirit seemed to contradict our expectations, but as the Spirit made it's way out of the crater into surrounding areas we began to find evidence that water had indeed existed on Mars at some point.
  • The rovers were crash landed on Mars using an air bag system that helped ensure their survival.
  • Given the evidence of water, we believe that Mars could have once been home to life. There are currently plans in place to go back to Mars in 2009 to do further studies.
  • The rovers were only expected to last 90 days, but they've now been going for over a year!
  • The surface of Titan appears to be very active which could indicate that it is still very young in its development phase. An active surface is probably more hospitable to life than an inactive surface like Mars.
  • We've found signs of a liquid methane rain fall cycle on Titan.
  • Based on evidence coming back from Huygens we are much more excited about going back to Titan for more in depth studies.


NASA Photo of Mars


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Best Baseball Names

I present to you the 20 best names in Major League baseball.

  • Rocco Baldelli - Boxer, porn star, or center fielder?
  • Jung Bong - Bevis and Butthead would be proud.
  • Boof Bonser - Legally changed his name from John to Boof after 2001 season. Nice.
  • Chris Bootcheck - I've never seen a boot check, but I'll bet they're popular in Texas.
  • Milton Bradley - Rumored to be involved in trade for Parker Brothers.
  • Homer Bush - Mmm donut of mass destruction.
  • Francisco Butto - I don't know if you pronounce his last name as Butt-o, but you should.
  • Coco Crisp - Awesome.
  • Bartolome Fortunato - Tampa Bay traded this guy. You don't trade a guy name Fortunato.
  • Byung-Hyun Kim - Best name to say. Try it, you'll like it.
  • Nook Logan - This guy is super fast. I guess you would be to if you had a name like Nook.
  • Corky Miller - The name Corky just won't ever be the same after Life Goes On.
  • Wily Mo Pena - According to his bio, "Name is pronounced Willie Moe PAIN-ya". The man so nice they named him twice.
  • J.J. Putz - With a name like Putz, J.J. seems like a pretty good call. Seriously, try to come up with a better first name. Jim Putz? John Putz? Told you.
  • Kenny Rogers - You've got to know when to hold them. Know when to fold them.
  • Marco Scutaro - MARCO?.....scutaro MARCO?....scutaro
  • Terrmel Sledge - Pro wrestler, porn star, or left fielder?
  • Tim Spooneybarger - Hey, it could've been Forkeybarger.
  • Tommy Whiteman - Sounds like someone Pam Grier would chase in one of those 70's blaxpoitation flicks.
  • Kerry Wood - Valley girl, porn star, or pitcher?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hobart #4

Tonight I went to the Hobart #4 launch party at the University Bookstore. Hobart is a small Michigan-based on-line literary journal of the McSweeney's ilk. The reading tonight featured Ryan Boudinot who was the guest editor of issue #4, Heidi Barack who did most of the art, and Ray Vukcevich and Matthew Simmons who both contributed stories to the issue.

I have seen Ryan Boudinot read a couple of times before, the first time with Dave Eggers and the second time with Neal Pollack and Stephen Elliott. The first two times he read hilarious pieces (including this one called 'The Sofa') which were largely responsible for my interest in seeing him read again tonight. The highlight of the night though belonged to Vukcevich who read an excellent story titled "The Button", his contribution to the new issue. Vukcevich came by train all the way up from Eugene, Oregon, just to participate in the reading.

In addition to the contributors present tonight, Hobart #4 also features stories by Rick Moody, Aimee Bender, Sjon (an Icelandic writer who has written lyrics for Bjork), and Brian Ames, so it's quite the deal for a mere $10.

Monday, February 07, 2005

ASSSSCAT

The Upright Citizens Brigade is taping a pilot episode of ASSSSCAT (Automatic Sprinkler System Shutdown Siamese Connection Alternative Television) at the UCB Theater in NYC. The performance will feature the four UCB members, Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, with special guest performers from shows such as Saturday Night Live (Tina Fey, Horatio Sans?), Late Night with Conan O’Brien (Andy Richter) and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Stephen Colbert? Rob Corddry?). No word yet on when or where the show might appear on TV.

Anyone want to fly me to New York? Please?

Thursday Feb 24th
Free Admission
Ticket limit 4 per person.
Location: Chelsea Studios 221 W 26th St



Trackback

I just used HaloScan to add Trackback functionality to my blog. You can find a good overview of what trackback is on the Movable Type website. If any of you Trackback aficionados out there wants to give it a whirl to help me see if it is working, I'd appreciate the feedback.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

American Dad

Fox debuted a new animated show after the Simpsons tonight. The show is titled American Dad and is from Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy. After seeing the first episode, I'll be surprised if it stays around for long before it gets the axe. The main reason I say that is because the humor seems to be on the liberal side which I wouldn't expect to fly for long in Rupert Murdoch-land. Then again, I can't believe they actually picked Family Guy back up, so what do I know?

The show's hero is American dad Stan Smith, a gun-toting, flag-waving, terrorist fighting, red-state loving CIA agent. 18-year old Hayley is his ultra-liberal daughter. Toss in an all-American mother, a geeky son, an alien, and a gold fish implanted with the brain of a former German Olympian skiier and you've got the recipe for a new Fox pilot.

The episode shown tonight had a few funny moments, but all in all it felt way too much like a copy of Family Guy. Don't get me wrong though, even if it ends up just being a Family Guy rip-off it'll probably still be better than 90% of the crap on teevee. Anyways, American Dad is not slated to start running regularly until May, so hopefully there's still plenty of time left to iron out the kinks.


"Thank You, Super Bowl"

When was the last time that the best thing about the Super Bowl was the half-time show (last year's super gaffe not withstanding)? With this year's game ending up being a bit of a bore and the commercials continuing to be a let down (although I did like the P-Diddy Diet Pepsi ad), Paul McCartney's half time show stole the show in my mind. There are not many artists capable of successfully entertaining such a large diverse crowd, but Sir Paul stepped up to the challenge. The show was itself was simple and didn't include any of the typical over-the-top flashiness that has marred Super Bowls past (though he did have fireworks and video screens). Note to future Super Bowl show directors: it's amazing how well a straight-forward rock show can work when you actually bring in a talented entertainer and just let them do their thing. McCartney played four songs: "Drive My Car," "Get Back," "Live and Let Die" and the essential "Hey Jude". I'd like to think this is the start of a trend, but something tells me I shouldn't hold my breath.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

My Saturday Haul

I got loads of new and exciting things today. I'm not sure how it happened as I really didn't spend much money, it was just some kind of magic culmination of things I'd ordered long ago, gift certificates, etc.

Amongst the loot:

The first three Drive-By Truckers CDs. The first two DBT albums, Gangstabilly and Pizza Deliverance were just re-released last week. They'd been out of print for quite some time and were near impossible to track down, so it was great to see these become available. In addition to picking these up, I also got a copy of Alabama Ass Whuppin' which is a live CD that features many of the songs on the first two albums and a cover of the Jim Carroll Band's "People Who Died". Sonic Boom was running a special give-a-way, so in addition to my CDs, I also ended up lucking into getting a signed copy of the CD booklet from Decoration Day.

In addition to my DBT purchases, I also picked up a copy of the new Matt Pond PA EP Winter. I've been wanting to check out a Matt Pond CD for awhile, so when I saw that this EP includes covers of a Neutral Milk Hotel song and a Neil Young song I was hooked.

My Bright Eyes' CDs finally showed up in the mail today. So far I think I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning is the stronger of the two new albums. I was pleased to find that "Landlocked Blues" is a different version of one of my favorite Bright Eyes songs, "One Foot In Front of the Other" which originally appeared on the Saddle Creek 50 compilation.

At Half Price Books I found used copies of Nick Drake's Way To Blue and Laurie and John's Arabella. The Nick Drake album I picked up because (a) he's Nick Drake and because (b) the only album I had of his was Pink Moon. I've been wanting to check out the Laurie and John CD for awhile, so I was pleased to see it sitting in the used bin. John Stirratt is the bassist for Wilco and his twin sister Laurie played in the band Blue Mountain. From the brief chance I've had to listen to it so far it sounds like a nice pop record, so I have high hopes for it.

A couple of weeks ago I subscribed to Tablet Magazine. They're running a subscription special where you can get 2 CDs plus a one-year subscription for $20. Today my first issue showed up and included with it were my two CDs: Hard-Head Woman: A Tribute To Wanda Jackson and Kimya Dawson's Hidden Vagenda. The Wanda Jackson tribute is a Bloodshot Records compilation and has a bunch of good people on it including: Neko Case, Robbie Fulks, Jesse Sykes, and the Bottle Rockets. Kimya Dawson was one of the lead singers in the Moldy Peaches. Her new album has received mixed reviews, but I tend to dig the l0-fi stuff, so I'm hoping that it's something I'll enjoy.

It wasn't only music that found it's way to me today. I also received issue #15 of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. The theme this time is Iceland (Tropical Icy-Icy) and it looks as beautiful as always.

The last piece of today's haul is The Brak Show, Vol. 1 on DVD. I can't even tell you how excited I am about this one. Brak is the man. All Hail Brak! Seriously.


A Bunch More Music Stuff

The 2005 Sasquatch Festival line-up looks awesome! The Pixies, Wilco, The Arcade Fire, Bobby Bare Jr., Modest Mouse and more!

Jesse Malin has released a new live DVD titled Star*Smile*Strong. A full track-listing can be found on the One Little Indian site. You can also check out a clip of the song "Brooklyn" here.

Hip-Hop head Sage Francis has 4 MP3's from his new album A Healthy Distrust posted on the Epitaph Records website.

To all of my Gainesville friends, be sure to check out Centro-Matic's show at the Common Grounds on February 24th and Jason Isbell's (of the Drive-By Truckers) solo show at the Market Street Pub on February 20th. Both should be excellent shows. Color me jealous that I can't be there to catch them.

David Byrne showed up at a recent Arcade Fire show to sing with them on Naive Melody (This Must Be the Place). A clip of his performance can be found on the Daily Refill. The Arcade Fire also recently appeared on Conan O'Brien where they played "Laika". An AVI of their appearance is available for download here. If it doesn't play in Windows Media Player, you may need to download your own codec. I was able to solve the problem on my machine by installing ffdshow from SoundForge.

A bunch of White Stripes MP3s are available for download here.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

I recently finished book #5 in my 50 book challenge, David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. Having completed this guy, I've now read all four of Sedaris' major books: this one, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Naked, and Barrel Fever. Although I've found them all to be somewhat amusing, I'm not sure why he gets as many accolades as he does. For instance, take these quotes from the back cover of the book:

"Sedaris has a satirical brazenness that holds up next to Twain and Nathanael West." - The New Yorker

"If wit were measured in people, David Sedaris would be China: His talent is that huge." - Denver Rocky Mountain News

While you might be able to convince me that Sedaris belongs on the list of the wittiest authors of the last decade or so, I have a hard time believing that people really would put him in the same class as someone like Mark Twain. The books have their moments but come on people, there's way funnier stuff out there if you just look a little harder. Jon Stewart's America the Book made me laugh out loud. Neal Pollack's Anthology of American Literature made me laugh out loud. Sedaris' sister Amy's book Wigfield made me laugh out loud. Dress Your Family made me chuckle a couple of times, but it just doesn't hit me on that same level.

That's not to say the book is without merit. For instance, anytime Sedaris writes about his brother "The Rooster" it is hilarious. If he ever puts together a book that's nothing but stories about his brother I'll be the first in line to pick up a copy. There are lots of other entertaining short stories in the book, so all in all it's worth the read even if it's not worth the hype.

Car v. Telephone Wire

Ever wonder who would win a fight between a car and telephone wire? You can find the answer to this age old question here.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Spelling Bee Faint

We just saw this clip on Cheap Seats of a kid fainting in the 2004 Spelling Bee and then getting back up to correctly spell the word. Awesome! Seeing the clip reminded me of the excellent documentary Spellbound which explored the outrageous competitiveness possessed by a lot of the participants in these bees.


UW vs. USC

Tonight we went to the see the #13 UW Huskies men's basketball team take on the USC Trojans. UW easily dominated the game winning 99-69. Here's a some of the more memorable moments:
  • Tre Simmons rained in 3 pointers all night ending the game with a career high 29 points. He had a chance to get to 30 but ended up bricking two free throws before getting subbed out.
  • The Husky students were chanting 'Rodrick's better' at USC guard Lodrick Stewart. Rodrick is Lodrick's twin brother who recently transferred from USC to Kansas. The Stewart twins played high school ball at Rainier Beach here in Seattle, so the UW fans consider them to be somewhat of traitors for ditching their home town school to play elsewhere.
  • Bobby Jones had an awesome rebound in the second half. After securing the ball he forced his way down the lane and tried to throw down a monster jam only to get blocked by the rim. Doh.
  • The Husky students going wild when little used, but much loved Zane Potter entered the game
  • The Husky band mocking the USC fight song before launching into their own.
  • The Garfield High Dance Squad performed at half-time. A little kid on the sideline was trying to dance along with them much to the delight and amusement of the crowd.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

National Signing Day

With all the talk about today's State of the Union Address, you'd almost forget (unless you went to an SEC school) that today was also the first and most important day of the national signing period for college football. On this day all of the college bound high school football prospects can sign and send their letters of intent officially declaring their college of choice. Although no one really knows how good any of these kids are really going to be, it's lot of fun to watch the hoopla surrounding the event and to participate in trying to prognosticate how much these guys are going to improve your favorite team over the next 4-5 years.

I'm pleased to say that by all accounts my main man Urban Meyer came in and did an excellent job for the mighty Florida Gators. Most sources ranked the Gators recruiting class somewhere between the 8th and the 14th best in the nation. Not too shabby given that Meyer got a late start due to not starting his new job until after Utah's appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Some of the highlights of this year's class appear to be Avery Atkins, Nyan Boateng, Jon Demps, Dorian Munroe, Reggie Nelson, Josh Portis and Ryan Stamper. It should be fun watching these guys over the next few years. Go Gators!

You can see how your favorite team did here.

Welcome to Palatka

My mom sent me this funny picture of a bar in Palatka, FL. If you can't make out the text on the wall it says "Parking - Pickups Only (dogbox optional)". Gotta love the south. Posted by Hello


Flag Football

Last night we kicked off another season of Seattle Gator flag football, by getting waxed by a team called Slip Critical. We're playing in the Underdog Sports League which has nothing to do with Underdog, but is in fact a sports league. The highlight (lowlight?) of the night for me was getting schooled by Donald Watts on a long pass that ended up being a jump ball. Yes, the same 6'-4" Donald Watts of University of Washington basketball fame. You do the math 5'8" guy who can't jump vs. 6'4" guy who was an honorable mention All-Pacific-10 Conference Shooting Guard. Good times.



Imagine something like this only with a football instead of a basketball