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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

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Scott H. Biram

Scott H. Biram's chronically underrated The Dirty Old One Man Band just missed my Top 10 last year. Based on my first few listens to his new disc Graveyard Shift he's likely to be right back in the running again this year. Anyone credited in the liner notes for "lead and harmony vocals, CB radio, loudspeaker, breathing, harmonica, gut all acoustic & electric guitars, Hammond B3 organ, homemade footstomp board, hi-hat, tambourine, claps, hambone, bible thump, special effects and random noises" has got to be good. Don't believe he's the real deal? Check the bio.
"Scott H. Biram won’t die. On May 11th, 2003, one month after being hit head-on by an 18-wheeler at 75 MPH, he took the stage at The Continental Club in Austin, TX in a wheel chair--I.V. still dangling from his arm. With 2 broken legs, a broken foot, a broken arm and 1 foot less of his lower intestine, Biram unleashed his trademark musical wrath." -- from Bloodshot Bio

Stream songs from the new disc on MySpace
Been Down Too Long (mp3 from Graveyard Shift)
No Way (mp3 from from Graveyard Shift)
Whiskey (mp3 from The Dirty Old One Man Band)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

On The Road Uncut

Great to see that Kerouac's On The Road is finally going to get a proper release in its unedited original version. I hope the publishers release it as an actual scroll rather than as a plain old bound paper back. Unlikely, but how cool would that be?!

This little nugget from the article makes me wonder how they plan to handle the ending:

"Some specialists say they prefer the unedited version, which features a different first sentence than the published novel, as well as a more abrupt ending.

A cocker spaniel owned by one of Kerouac's friends apparently ate the last section, according to Jim Canary, the head of special collections conservation at Indiana University's Lilly Library"

Will the re-release just cut off where the scroll ends or will the publishers tack on an ending based on the currently published version?

CNN on the scroll
BBC on the scroll


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Friday, July 28, 2006

Chorizo

Today the Milwaukee Brewers announced that they're adding a fifth sausage to their infamous sausage race roster. Where's Randall Simon when you need him?

Oh Brewers, why must you be so hilarious?

"I had been out looking for a fifth starter, and realized that was very difficult. As important as a fifth starter is to a franchise, a fifth sausage is important, too." -- Brewers Manager Doug Melvin

"I am very humbled to be in the presence of so many world-class wieners, but hopefully I can bring a little something new to the table, and Brewers fans will welcome me into their hearts and grills" -- Chorizo

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Band of Horses on Letterman

Okay, thanks to Pitchfork I know this has been posted all over the blogosphere already, but I like it and darned if I'm not going to post it too. Besides, I told you I was picking "The Funeral" for song of the year back in April and I'm sticking with it. For bonus footage you can check out the regular ole music video here.

In Persuasion Nation

George Saunders' In Persuasion Nation was book #28 on my '06 reading list.

With this collection Saunders has added yet another fine achievement to his already impressive resume. The man who brought us the classic CivilWarLand In Bad Decline and its steller follow-up Pastoralia, is back with yet another superb set of satirical short stories that paint a bleak but oddly familiar image of a future society in which consumerism and other social shortfalls have been taken to the extreme. Some of my favorites from the new book include: "Jon", "My Amendment", "Christmas", "Bohemians", "Commcomm", and "I CAN SPEAK" which you can hear Saunders read here.

The book has its own website, so I'd recommend checking that out for more info on the book. It's chock full o' reviews, descriptions, downloads (including Tony Danza reading a Saunders story) and all kinds of other cool stuff. You can also join the Saunders Army and get cool stuff.

"This to me is not America.

What America is, to me, is a guy doesn't want to buy, you let him not buy, you respect his not buying. A guy has a crazy notion different from your crazy notion, you pat him on the back and say, Hey pal, nice crazy notion, let's go have a beer. America, to me, should be shouting all the time, a bunch of shouting voices, most of them wrong, some of them nuts, but please not one droning glamorous reasonable voice." -- excerpt from George Saunders' "My Flamboyant Grandson"

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Rivet Magazine

Cool, my blog recently got a shout out from Seattle-based culture magazine Rivet. Right back at ya, Rivet.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hometown Heroes - National League Edition

A couple of days ago, I posted my choices for the American League Hometown Heroes. Here are my choices for the NL:

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks
Selection: Luis Gonzalez
Change: Curt Schilling wasn't there long, but I'd probably still take him over Jay Bell

Atlanta Braves
Selection: Hammerin' Hank Aaron
Change: Drop Phil Niekro and add Greg Maddux, or my personal fave Dale Murphy

Chicago Cubs
Selection: How could it be anything other than Mr. Cub himself...Ernie Banks
Change: Drop Ron Santo or Fergie and add Slammin' Sammy Sosa (no McGwire, no Sosa, no Palmiero..hmm)

Cincinnati Reds
Selection: Tough call on this one...I'll take Johnny Bench
Change: Shame to not see Barry Larkin on here, but not sure who you'd drop...Tony Perez?

Colorado Rockies
Selection: Todd Helton
Change: None

Florida Marlins
Selection: Dontrelle Willis just for the fact he's still there
Change: Drop Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine add Gary Sheffield

Houston Astros
Selection: Hard to pick against Nolan, but Biggio's been there twice as long and gets my vote
Change: Drop Dierker add J.R. Richard, drop Jimmy Wynn add Cesar Cedeno

LA Dodgers
Selection: Jackie Robinson
Change: None

Milwaukee Brewers
Selection: Robin Yount
Change: None

New York Mets
Selection: Tom Seaver
Change: Drop Tug McGraw add Dwight Gooden

Philadelphia Phillies
Selection: Mike Schmidt
Change: None

Pittsburgh Pirates
Selection: Roberto Clemente
Change: None though it's tempting to drop Kiner and add a young (and skinnier) Barry Bonds

St. Louis Cardinals
Selection: Stan Musial
Change: Drop Albert Pujols (for now) add Rogers Hornsby

San Diego Padres
Selection: Tony Gwynn
Change: Sadly I can't actually top Brian Giles...Benito Santiago? Garry Templeton?

San Francisco Giants
Selection: Willie Mays
Change: None

Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos
Selection: Andre Dawson
Change: Drop Livan Hernandez, Brian Schneider, Jose Vidro and Rusty Staub, add Dawson, Tim Raines, Vladimir Guerrerro and Larry Walker

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hometown Heroes

At today's Mariners' game we picked up ballots for Hometown Heroes, a new fan voting based list of the most outstanding players from each Major League baseball team. Here are my American League votes (I'll post my National League choices soon), as well as the one change per team I would make if I were writing the ballot (with special thanks to Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups which came in quite handy in remembering other potential candidates).

American League

Baltimore Orioles
Selection: Cal Ripken Jr.
Change: None

Boston Red Sox
Selection: Ted Williams
Change: Drop Jim Rice add Wade Boggs

Chicago White Sox
Selection: Luke Appling
Change: Drop Minnie Minoso add Eddie Collins

Cleveland Indians
Selection: Nap Lajoie
Change: Drop Larry Doby add Jim Thome

Detroit Tigers
Selection: Ty Cobb
Change: None

Kansas City Royals
Selection: George Brett
Change: None

California/LA/Anaheim Angels
Selection: Nolan Ryan
Change: Drop Jim Abbott add Nolan Ryan

Minnesota Twins
Selection: Harmon Killebrew
Change: None

New York Yankees
Selection: Babe Ruth
Change: None

Oakland A's
Selection: Rickey Henderson
Change: Remove Catfish Hunter add Mark McGwire

Seattle Mariners
Selection: Ken Griffey Jr.
Change: Drop Jay Buhner add Randy Johnson

Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Selection: Aubrey Huff (sadly)
Change: Drop Wade Boggs (he only played two years). Add Delmon Young...err make that Randy Winn?

Texas Rangers
Selection: Ivan Rodriguez
Changes: This one needs at least two. Drop Jim Sundberg & Rusty Greer, add Rafael Palmeiro and Charlie Hough

Toronto Blue Jays
Selection: Joe Carter
Changes: Drop Pat Hentgen add George Bell, while you're at it drop Tony Fernandez and add Carlos Delgado

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Pirates 2

We saw Pirates of the Caribbean 2 last weekend. Perhaps you heard of it? It's this little low budget film with Dead Man's Johnny Depp and actor's actor Bill Nighy.

Despite the film's stellar credentials (ignore Jerry Bruckheimer and that Hobbit dude) my film mates and most critics didn't seem too impressed. I on the other hand am not ashamed to say I thoroughly enjoyed it even if it wasn't as stellar as the first (did people really think it would be?). The effects in this one are better and Depp is back in full form as Keith Richards the Pirate. It's good times. Disclaimer: You should know that I'm in the small minority of people who actually thought that the Matrix 2 didn't suck.

Anyways, you should definitely know going in that much like any good epic it's two and a half hours long. Once you know what you're getting into you can plan appropriately. In other words, you'll want the large popcorn and the small soda. Oh and no matter what people tell you it's not worth staying all the way to the end of the credits to see the 'bonus' footage. Seriously.


Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Book #27 on my '06 reading list was Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
I'm not going to write a ton about this one since a) I actually finished it quite some time ago and I've just been too lazy to actually post about it and b) since it's a relatively recent novel and was fairly popular it's easy to find detailed reviews all over the internets. If you're looking for a good summary of the book check out Wikipedia. You can also find a brazillion reviews on MetaCritic or get a taste of the book by reading an excerpt.

The novel centers around nine-year old Oskar Schell, a young boy who has recently lost his father in 9/11. Oskar is an inventor, a vegetarian, a jewelry designer, writes letters to Stephen Hawking, and somehow toes the line between being wise well beyond his years while still remaining a naive young child. Foer's work is packed with big ideas and complex characters like Oskar. He weaves his way through several literary devices, narrative voices, flashbacks, photos, post-modern techniques such as a chapter in which red ink marks up all of the grammatical and spelling errors, etc. Juggling around so many ideas is something only a few authors could even aspire to. Foer doesn't always succeed, but the fact that he is able to come as close as he does to pulling it all off is a tribute to his talent.

All in all I enjoyed the book though I'd recommend reading Foer's debut novel, Everything is Illuminated, first if you aren't familiar with his works.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

The Joy of Vinyl

This weekend I finally got a turntable set up to listen to all of my old records, and I couldn't be happier about it. After listening to some of my existing collection including a healthy dose of the Stones' Beggar's Banquet, I decided a trip to the local Half Price Books was in order. For a mere $14 I was able to pick up old albums by Carl Perkins, Webb Pierce, Kenny Rogers, Earl Scruggs & Lester Flatt, and Willie Nelson. I'm looking forward to continuing the bargain hunt at the other local stores, garage sales, etc. It's especially exciting since there are a lot of great old records that have never been released on CD. Next step is to figure out how I can convert vinyls to MP3 so I can listen to them on my computer too.

The weekend wasn't all vinyl, but it was pretty loaded with music bargains. On Saturday we hit the West Seattle Street Festival where I happily raided Easy Street's sale getting CDs by South San Gabriel, Shearwater, The Dead Ringer Band, American Minor, The Damnwells, The Waco Brothers, Richmond Fontaine, Mia Doi Todd, and a KCRW Compilation for $20. Not too shabby to score 9 CDs + 5 vinyls for about the cost of two new CDs.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

World Cup Soccer Dives

If you watched much of the recent World Cup you'll probably appreciate this clever video. Clearly players don't really spend any time actually practicing their fake injuries though. Otherwise how would you explain all of those terrible acting jobs?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

McSweeney's #19

Book #26 of my reading list this year was McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #19.

The best part about McSweeney's #19 is the wonderful packaging. The 143 pg. softback issue comes in a beautifully decorated cigar box filled with a variety of WWII style propaganda/paraphernalia. It's unclear to me how much of the material is newly written and how much if it is reprints of real documents. Several of the items seem to fall in the latter camp, but then again they may just be real well done. Anyways, I'm not sure if each box is the same, but included in mine were:
  • a 64 pg booklet titled 'A Pocket Guide to the Middle East'
  • a handy card with Air Raid Instructions
  • a flier enlisting young men of seventeen to consider joining the Marines
  • an underground Communist flier titled 'The Big Plot'
  • military orders for a 'Rainbow Mission'
  • a short Marine pamphlet titled 'The Stuff That Wins'
  • a leaflet from the Civil Defence titled 'Some Things You Should Know If War Should Come'
  • a 1961 DoD pamphlet titled 'Fallout Protections - What to Know and Do About Nuclear Attack'
  • a CIA memo from Donald Rumsfield titled 'The Impact of Leaking Classified Information'
  • a pamphlet titled 'Your Horoscope Tells You How You Can Help the Republican Party Win'
  • a pamphlet on War Pensions
  • several letters from a Nelson Squires to his brother Fred
  • a black and white Halloween photo of some kids in what appears to be a Communist classroom of some sort
  • a black and white photo of several kids on kots in the woods

Sadly, the actual literary journal in this issue isn't nearly as interesting as the packaging. T.C. Boyle's so-so novella "Wild Child" makes up the majority of the issue. "Wild Child" is the story of a young boy who is abandoned in the woods and grows up as a wild animal. Upon discovery he's brought into society and 'domesticated'. It's a story that's been oft-told, and Boyle's take on it isn't much different. Oddly Boyle attributes the story to Dana Halter, a character from his new novel saying that Dana's "interest in identity and language informs 'Wild Child' with a dimension that I alone would be incapable of achieving." Weird.

Aside from Boyle's work the remainder of the issue is primarily made up of short stories centered around three paintings which line the inside front and back covers. All in all pretty ho-hum.

On a side note, I was disappointed to find that the journal I received was incorrectly bound. Following the table of contents the copy I received starts with page 22 and 23, jumps back to pages 4 and 5, bounces forward to 18 and 19, etc., etc. Around page 20 things get back to normal so I was able to read from the second story on to the end of the book with no problem. Not sure if I was just unlucky or if this was a common problem that affected a wide run of issue #19.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ed Helms Does Microsoft College Recruiting

Here's a pretty clever recruiting video from Microsoft featuring The Daily Show's Ed Helms. It's not Daily Show quality, but not bad compared to your typical corporate recruiting video. Between this and the recent announcement that Demetri Martin will be doing a Vista marketing campaign, it looks like Microsoft is starting to build a monopoly on Daily Show correspondents. Next step, announcing Jon Stewart as Bill Gates' replacement (assuming Stewart's not with his buddy Stephen Colbert in the White House by then). Remember, you heard it here first.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mac vs. PC Ads

Check out these funny mock Mac vs. PC ads from VH1's Best Week Ever. They're pretty meta.

Bumbershoot Take 3

The full Bumbershoot lineup was announced this weekend and although it's still a rather disappointing year from the music standpoint the overall festival is shaping up to look pretty sweet.

First and foremost I'm thrilled to see that The Upright Citizens Brigade is going to be bringing ASSScat to the comedy festival. UCB is pretty much the bestest thing ever, and it's not often one can get out to NYC to partake in their genius. Speaking of bestest things ever the cast of VH1's Best Week Ever is coming, as is Tinkle which one can only assume is still starring David Cross. All in all the comedy side of things is looking top notch.

On the music side, there are no knock out additions, but picking up Spoon, The New Pornographers, The Thermals, and Derby helps fill out the reduced three day line-up.

Aside from the comedy and music it looks like there will be plenty of great ways to wither away the three day weekend. Between roller derby, Flatstock, John Moe, Chuck Palahniuk, art shows, the 1 Reel Film Festival, and the 826 Seattle benefit (Dave Eggers, Sarah Vowell, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), Stephen Merritt, John Hodgman and Jonathan Coulton) who's going to have any time to listen to music anyways?

Take 2
Take 1


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"You Are My Joy"

I recently spent a ton of time putting together a indie rock mix tape for a wedding. Turns out that finding good wedding songs isn't as easy as one might think. A bunch of the songs I thought would make wonderful wedding tunes turned out to either be break-up songs or mean-spirited upon closer listening. And that frankly will not fly. Alas, after searching high and low I finally came up with a set list I feel pretty solid about. Since a lot of work went into it and I'm sure it's not the last wedding mix tape that'll ever be made I present it here for your listening/copying pleasure. I've got another 2 or 3 discs worth of stuff lined up which I plan to track order soon, so I'll try to get those posted at some point too.

"You Are My Joy" Wedding Mixtape Vol. 1
1. Reindeer Section - You Are My Joy
2. Fruit Bats - When U Love Somebody
3. Billy Bragg & Wilco - California Stars*
4. Iron & Wine - Such Great Heights%
5. Ben Lee - Gamble Everything For Love
6. Big Star - I'm In Love With a Girl
7. Old 97's - Question
8. Magnetic Fields - The Book of Love
9. Rogue Wave - Everyday^
10. Nada Surf - Blonde on Blonde
11. Math and Physics Club - Sixteen and Pretty
12. My Morning Jacket - Sooner
13. M. Ward - Let's Dance**
14. Townes Van Zandt - If I Needed You
15. Whiskeytown - Crazy About You
16. Beck - True Love Will Find You In The End#

* Lyrics by Woody Guthrie
% Postal Service cover
^ Buddy Holly cover
** David Bowie cover
# Daniel Johnston cover

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I'm Baaaaack

I'm back in Seattle although with all of the time zone changes I'm not sure I even know what day it is anymore. For instance, why do I keep hearing fireworks going off outside? Ah well.

Anyways, the whole trip was wonderful and we had an excellent time in both Oslo and Stockholm. I'm sure I'll type up more details at some point, but in the meantime I've posted a whole slew of pics from the trip on Flickr. Most of the scenary type stuff should be visible to everyone, but to see the whole kit and kaboodle you'll need to be marked as 'friend or family'. If that describes you and you'd like access send me a Flickr request or drop me an email and I'll help you get it set up.