Monday, February 27, 2006

Old TV

Don Knotts died last Friday. I wouldn't say that I was a big Knotts fan but hed did manage to make me laugh a lot. When I was in elementray school, the local Fox affiliate (channel 5) used to rerun a lot of golden-age television in the mornings. Every summer I would watch hours of that stuff in the mornings before heading out to goof off in the afternoons. The main staples were Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Andy Griffith. Two episodes of each over the course of three hours...yes, I watched a lot of television.

I'm glad that Fox aired those old shows because I otherwise probably wouldn't have been exposed to them. I don't think I would have made an effort to "seek them out" but the fact that they just happened to be on and I was/am lazy and television-addicted enough to watch them worked out in the end for me. They were good shows and they (Lucy especially) can still make me laugh today.

However to end on a moribund note, I would like to point out that Jack Tripper and Mr. Furley have now passed on to The Great Beyond. Do you think Janet or Chrissy is next?

Friday, February 24, 2006

I hate Peter Angelos/I hate Comcast

The Nats TV schedule for this coming season has been announced. WDCA 20, the one channel I can watch Nats games on because Comcast is my cable provider, will be airing 36 games. 36. 36 out of 162. If you whip out your calculator that works out to a shade over 22%. Where I went to school those kind of marks garnered you an F.

On the other hand, Peter Angelos's MASN network will be airing 154 games. But I can't watch those games because Comcast refuses to carry the network due to an ongoing legal dispute with Angelos regarding broadcasting rights to Angelos's Orioles. I don't know who I hate more; Comcast for not giving in and just taking the broadcast deal that Angelos is offering, Angelos for being such a bastard that he extorted his way into controlling the Nats' broadcast rights, or Major League Baseball for being such pussies that they let Angelos get away with it.

The fact remains that Angelos has been squatting in the DC market for years. While he thinks that the return of baseball to the District will hurt his franchise in Baltimore (which it will), he's been making an unrealistic killing due to the disappearance of a legitimate mid-atlantic rival. Well that's over and somebody needs to stand up to him. How does MLB expect to find a serious buyer for the Nats when there is hardly any TV money on the table. Dammit!!

In the meatime I will have to get my basbeall fix (when not going to RFK for about 30 games this season) by watching the Cubs on WGN and the Braves on TBS.

The Delinquencies of My Youth

I was driving in to work this morning listening to my favorite radio show and the boys were talking about one of their favorite subjects, the shit they used to steal from their jobs in high school. Even more amusing was that the phone lines lit up with people (ok, guys) calling in to share their stories of joe-job theivery. I myself didn't call in but I thought I would share my experiences. Hopefully the statute of limitations has expired on these crimes although relativlely speaking, they're not nearly as bad as some of the shennanigans other people have pulled.

My first job was working at a Little Ceasar's "Pizzeria." I started out washing pots and pans and eventually worked my way up through the "sauce-and-cheese" station, "pizza landing" station, cash register, and pizza making positions. No, I never lifted any cash. But whenever the owner/manager or her top assistant manager weren't working we were making the most disgusting pizzas man has ever seen for our own consumption. My specialty was the Meat Bonanza. Start with one large pan pizza (they were square-shaped at L.C.) that has been pre-sauced-and-cheesed. Cover every square-inch with a layer of pepperoni. Next, eyeball a good pound of sausage and spread an even layer on top of the pepperoni. Add more cheese to hold everything in place, brush any visible crust with garlic-"butter" and parmesan, and then garnish with a fistful of bacon.

At Ceasar's the pizza oven worked like a conveyor belt so you put the pizza in one end and about 7 minutes later it pops out fully-cooked at the other. Well this little pizza would take at least 12 minutes to cook so we would have to keep reaching in with this long metal prong to drag the pizza pan back to the near end of the oven. Otherwise we would be chowing on semi-frozen sausage and uncooked dough. Yum.

Good times were had there. I definitely did more grifting when I got my job at BlockBuster (best job ever) but that's a tale for another day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Quote of the Day

I just read this in an interview The Onion did with Isaac Brock. I get the distinct impression that the guy is a dick (what tortured artist isn't?) but this is a great line. I hope it's true.
When I was a kid, this guy I knew, he lived in an apartment next to me, and
I traded him some Screaming Trees singles for a Dodge Dart.

"I nearly lost you there...'duh-duh-duh-duh'...and it's taking us somewhere."

Sweet Oblivion is a good album but the Singles soundtrack is better. I think I still have my dub of that lying around on a 90-minute TDK somewhere.

Don't beleieve the hype

I'm off the UK Hype Machine. No more even entertaining the notion of picking up another album from some British Isle posterboys for the post-punk/garage-rock/rock resurgence. In fact, I'm not buying anything from any band from anywhere that is somehow squeezed into that categorical descriptor by various music news outlets (I'm looking at you Pitchfork!). I've been burned in the last year or so by the following bands who somehow ended up with my cash in their pockets:
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Libertines
  • Ambulance Ltd
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Half of them are British, all of them allegedly wonderful, and none of them got more than 2 spins on the stereo. Four boringly consistent albums that...whatever. I don't have the energy for it. Suffice to say, as a result of my experiences I will never purchase albums by the following bands:

  • Babyshambles
  • TV on the Radio
  • Test Icicles
  • Arctic Monkeys

The last band being the subject of an article in today's WaPo that spawned this little screed in the first place.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


In an attempt to maintain what little hipster/indie cred I have I thought I should post something about new music since it's been a while.

I recently picked up the latest album by New Radiant Storm King (which just so happens to be on the "What's Spinning" list to your right) which features one Peyton Pinkerton who's day job is playing guitar for Joe Pernice in the Pernice Brothers. I originally looked into NRSK because I am always impressed with Peyton's guitar work, especially live. Peyton has a much more experimental/out-there playing style than one would expect right away after listening to a few Pernice Brothers albums, but the signs are there and NRSK work is cool because at times Peyton will really take off. The two of their several albums that I own are Hurricane Necklace and the latest, The Steady Hand.

The band, which has been around for a while, garners frequent comparisons to My Bloody Valentine and the first track on TSH shows why. It's a brief instrumental number that nicely segues into more "pop" material with some cool flourishes all throughout. Not a "great" album but it is growing on me since I am a gear slut and love all of those funky sounds Peyton wrangles out.

Moving on though, the real reason I mention the album is because along with it I received a CD sampler of several other bands on their label, No Karma. To be honest, I usually pitch these because they are often filled with a lot of crap but I've been spinning this at work for the last couple of days and plan on checking out a few of the bands:

La Pieta
New Sense
El Oso

New music rules.

Time after time

The WaPo is shedding a little light on the debacle that is standardized timekeeping in the state of Indiana. If you never knew how screwed up that state is when it comes to time zones and daylight savings time, just take a look at the graph in the article.

Growing up in VA but having family out in central Illinois meant that at least twice a year I was driving across the midwest to visit my grandparents. After receiving my first digital watch when I was 7 or 8 (an anal-retentive kid's dream) I religiously monitored the time of day and regularly made certain that my watch was accurate with whatever I felt was the greater offical time source that day. Moving to VA a couple of years later and spending summers and X-mas's driving back and forth along I-70/I-72, I would update my watch as we crossed the Eastern/Central time zone boundry each time. Of course this proved to be difficult because I never had a clear understanding of where the hell the time zones changed.

I did know that it was somewhere within Indiana but not exactly where. I would ask my dad every trip but I don't think he had a clue. I'm surprised he didn't go insane on those 13-hr rides because my mother and sister would typically sleep the whole way while I would ask what time zone we were in, how far to Illinois, and if I could put one of my tapes on the tapedeck. Anyway, he would eventually get tired of me asking "has the time changed yet?" and just tell me yes. We could have still been in Ohio and he just wanted me to shut the hell up.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Waning ambitions

It is becoming more apparent that my zeal for graduate school is quickly fading. The part of my brain that enjoys the challenge and the subsequent stimulation is being way overrun by its suicidal other half who wishes to be destroyed by alcohol and multiple hours of appointment television. This education thing that I've gotten myself into is ruining my weekends beyond the typical sense.

I knew this was going to be even more difficult than my last degree but I thought I had some reasonable expectations. I fully understood that a good deal of my evenings and weekends were going to be spent burning through engineering pads and mechanical pencil refills. Not a problem. But what I forgot about was the way in which school cannot only consume a chunk your free time but also psychologically ruin the remainder of it. Friday nights are much less fun because I spend the night thinking "the longer I stay out, the harder it's gonna be to do my homework tomorrow." Saturdays are a show because instead of going to the Home Depot and Bed, Bath, & Beyond (if I have enough time), I'm packing off to the library to get some work done. Yet I'm not nearly as productive as I could be because I spend most of my time there dwelling on the fact that I should be elsewhere. As for Sundays, those are the worst of all. Just like when I was a kid Sunday is the day when you are acutely aware that the weekend is over, it's your last chance to finish whatever homework that needs to be done, and you know that you've got 5 days of work and school bullshit to look forward to...and then the cycle repeats itself.

On a road trip last fall a bunch of my buddies and I went up to Penn State to execute our Fantasy Football draft and party in a college town. At the end of the night after spending hours drinking in the bars, someone decides we should go over to the pizza slice joint where everyone gets their last-night fix. Of course the line is out the door and around the block full of kids in desperate drunken need of grease and cheese. At one point my roommate screams out "I already went to college! I don't need to wait in line for an hour for pizza anymore!" He then turned away and began stumbling down the street. That's how I am now beginning to feel. I've done this before. Twice. Do I really need to put myself through this again just to hang another piece of paper on my bedroom wall?

I've got 13 months left before I turn 30. As I fritter and waste the hours I keep returning to the advice that one F. Bueller gave me as a kid:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a
while, you could miss it.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Heading up to State College, PA this weekend with a buddy to visit his folks and drink in a college town. We head up there 2 or 3 times a year and each time it becomes more and more obvious that we are not in college, and have not been very a good while.

The first time we went drinking there a few years back somebody asked us if we were alumni. We were just sitting in a bar consuming a case of Rolling Rock pony bottles but I guess it was evident even then. At least in that instance there was a measure of uncertainty when asked. These days there is no question that we are in fact old and not in school. The delusion of sustained youth...

Anyway, this weekend I'm going to pretend to be a professor. Gotta find some tweed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


No matter how many times you play out a conversation in your head, it never sounds the same out in the real world. Maybe some questions are better left unasked until after Valentine's Day.

If an economist were to critically analyze today's Hallmark Holiday, he would recognize all of the sad internal crap that single people are forced to confront one day a year as an externality. That is, an unintended consequence (often a negative side-effect) as a result of trade. Now if you view V-Day in terms of cartoon cupids and Hershey's Kisses there is a very sweet and innocent facade. I mean, what could be bad about a day when people are encouraged to express their inner-most (positive) feelings for their loved ones. Certainly there is no malicious intent behind the holiday. However if you examine the externalities associated with this event, it's almost like there is a terrible monster lying in wait.

It struck me that in terms of imagery, V-Day is similar to Frankenstein's monster throwing the little girl into the pond or Lennie strangling bunny rabbits in Of Mice and Men. These innocent and naive creatures are so unaware of not only their own strength but their ability to wreak havoc on others

So it seems from now on my subconscious will be associating Feb. 14th with Shelley and Steinbeck. Weird.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Goodbye, So Long, and Farewell.

Tonight is the night when Arrested Development airs for the last time. Fox in its infinite wisdom has decided to broadcast the final 4 episodes (after choosing to not option the back-9 of the third season) in a row tonight. Against the Olympics Opening Ceremony. With no advertisement whatsoever. What a tribute. But I guess we should be thankful we get to see them at all.

Only time will tell but I contend that this show could one day be viewed as the finest sitcom in television history. Yes, possibly even besting Seinfeld (the reigning champ) and Cheers (the sentimental favorite). I don't blame Fox for cancelling the show because it is the right business move. The ratings are aenemic and most people who are aware of the show either don't get it or downright hate it. Either way it was time to go. But I am disappointed in the way that Fox treated this Emmy-winning masterpiece in its last days. Stretching out a mere 13 episodes from October to February with no hint as to when they would be aired seems unfair and ridiculous. At least show a little advertising love and let the people who watch the show (read: love and adore the show) where to find it.

In the end however what's done is done. With that I bid the Bluth family goodbye, so long, and farewell. I look forward to watching you endlessly on DVD.

(News links here and here.)

Diamonds are Forever

Eugene Robinson has an interesting take in today's WaPo on why Kanye West may have been "snubbed" at the Grammy's. At one point he does make mention of Kanye's "George Bush doesn't care about black people" comment and how that may have played into the Album of the Year voting, but I doubt that. Practically speaking, how many people in the Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences would really be that offended by a George Bush slur?

But for whatever reason Kanye didn't win even though I think his album was far and away the best of those nominated. (And as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am not a hip-hop guy but...) One of the things that might make the Grammy's more relevant than the mere "Nielsen Event" that it is would be to focus not so much on what was fleetingly popular at the moment, but what really stood out that year with some staying power. Take a look at that list of Grammy winners in the previous post. How many of those albums have real staying power?

Thriller and Joshua Tree I am convinced will live on as landmark albums well into the future. Hell, they already have so far. Graceland to some extent as well although I doubt you'll ever hear anything other "You Can Call Me Al" on the radio. Anyway, I think the Kanye album could be one of those. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, not so much.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I didn't watch the Grammy's last night and until I read the paper this morning, didn't even know who was nominated. However it appears that ('gasp') U2 won the Album of the Year award for How to Dismantle an Atmoic Bomb. Interesting. A bold choice indeed. I thought there were some really good albums that came out this year so I don't know how I overlooked that one. Maybe I'm not with it enough to understand what goes into the Grammy Process. Maybe we can work this through together. Here is a list of some of the past winners for Album of the Year:

Grammy Awards of 2006:
U2 for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Grammy Awards of 2005:
Ray Charles & various artists for Genius Loves Company
Grammy Awards of 2004:
OutKast for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Grammy Awards of 2003:
Norah Jones for Come Away With Me
Grammy Awards of 2002:
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Grammy Awards of 2001:
Steely Dan for Two Against Nature
Grammy Awards of 2000:
Santana for Supernatural
Grammy Awards of 1999:
Lauryn Hill for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Grammy Awards of 1998:
Bob Dylan for Time Out of Mind
Grammy Awards of 1997:
CĂ©line Dion for Falling Into You
Grammy Awards of 1996:
Alanis Morissette for Jagged Little Pill
Grammy Awards of 1995:
Tony Bennett for Unplugged
Grammy Awards of 1994:
Whitney Houston for The Bodyguard (soundtrack)
Grammy Awards of 1993:
Eric Clapton for Unplugged
Grammy Awards of 1992:
Natalie Cole for Unforgettable
Grammy Awards of 1991:
Quincy Jones for Back on the Block
Grammy Awards of 1990:
Bonnie Raitt for Nick of Time
Grammy Awards of 1989:
George Michael for Faith
Grammy Awards of 1988:
U2 for The Joshua Tree
Grammy Awards of 1987:
Paul Simon for Graceland
Grammy Awards of 1986:
Phil Collins for No Jacket Required
Grammy Awards of 1985:
Lionel Richie for Can't Slow Down
Grammy Awards of 1984:
Michael Jackson for Thriller
Grammy Awards of 1983:
Toto for Toto IV
Grammy Awards of 1982:
John Lennon & Yoko Ono for Double Fantasy
Grammy Awards of 1981:
Christopher Cross for Christopher Cross
Grammy Awards of 1980:
Billy Joel for 52nd Street

The point I'm trying to make re: the relevance of The Grammy's is summed up quite nicely, I think, by the preceding list. But just to make sure we beat it to death sufficiently let's take a closer look. Now, I am a bit of music snob but I do listen to a LOT of music and a wide variety of it at that. While one may disagree with me on what I think a great album is I am fairly certain that I am not that far out of whack when it comes to opining on what is a marginal or even bad album. That being said, a few comments regarding the list of the past 25 or so Album of the Year winners.
  • I'm not gonna mess with Thriller. Jacko may be a freak but that album is silly good.
  • OutKast was indeed an "outside the boxxx" choice in 2004 (when compared to the voting patterns of years past) but the cynic in me suspects that "The Academy" members were more interested in appearing hip than actually contemplating the "best" album.
  • There are three soundtracks on this list. Three. Three albums of music from or about a major motion picture. Three pieces of work that served as a secondary backdrop to another artistic medium (one of which is nothing more than a greatest hits collection).
  • Seriously, how badly has that Alanis Morrisette album aged? "Did she go down on you in a the-a-ter?" Isn't it ironic that no one listens to that album anymore?
  • Joshua Tree is an incredible album but U2 20(!) years later is not so money.
  • See above statement in regards to Santana, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Steely Dan.
  • Question: Who's more boring, Christopher Cross or Norah Jones? Answer: It doesn't matter.
  • And lastly, no you are not seeing things. You did just read that Phil Collins, Yoko Ono, Lionel Richie, Natalie Cole (dueting with her dead father), and yes even Toto are also Album of the Year recipients.

Given the above facts all I'm syaing is that maaaaaaybe this award isn't quite the honor that some make it out to be. Celine Dion? Things that make you go, hmmm.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dangerous Times

Inspired by an article I read today I'm going to make a very broad and sweeping assessment of what I think people of a certain ideological proclivity fear most about our country today. Here goes:
  1. Gayness. Anything gay. Gay movies, gay fashion, gay people, gay marriage, dog shows, whatever.
  2. Illegal immigration. (Pretty cut and dry.)
  3. Not Christian-y enough.

Now I must admit that I don't have any polling data to substantiate the order of these items (or even their presence on this list in the first place) but I think this is a pretty accurate interpretation based on the media info I digest daily. So based on this list, if these are the problems that plague us most I ask you this question, Is this such a big deal?

Seriously. If we do indeed live in a world where the most significant social ills involve personal lifestyle choices, people wishing to provide affordable labor to the market, and citizens excercising their individual liberty then I would say that we're doing alright. Hell, I'd say we're doing damn fine. Just imagine such a place...

Monday, February 06, 2006

State of Nature

Instead of working on PowerPoint slides this morning I spent 20 minutes reading this essay/article from the WaPo on the public discourse concerning evolutionary theory. Now I won't even humor arguments for "intelligent design" as an alternate theory to evolution because it is a waste of time. These two arguments exist in completely separate worlds as evoltuion is studied, discussed, and tested within the paradigm of the Scientific Process whereas "ID" is confined to the unanswered questions of evolutionary theory and underpinned only by speculative anecdotes. I could rant enlessly (and probably nonsensically) about this but I won't.

What struck me most about the article was the portion of it that examined what motivates people to try and shoot down Darwinian thinking. Yes, I think that a great portion of ID's support comes from people and organizations with religious and specifically anti-secularist agendas. (With the remaining fraction being filled with scientifically trained contrarians looking to stir the pot.) But I also believe that people resist evolution because they mistakenly view it as an affront to human existence. That it somehow robs us of what makes humanity special. However as I see it, evolutionary science does no such thing.

Darwin's theories attempt to (successfully, I believe) explain how the natural order as we experience it today, came to be. Within that context alone the world is frightening, cruel, dispassionate and a place where human life would be described by Hobbes as "...nasty, brutish, and short." But that is not the whole story. Darwin's theories merely observe the world through a "biological" lens not a social or anthropolgical one. It is an attempt to explain why we have two hands instead of one or three but not why it is better to befriend your neighbor than to make him your enemy. That is left to the philosophers as it should be.

There is so much room outside of evolutionary science to discuss the need for morality, justice, compassion, and purpose that I fail to see how these concepts could ever be threatened by a culture that rejects the "scientific principles" of intelligent design. If people who support ID wish to bring the merits of Christian or even just humanist principles to the forefront of the public discourse then bring them on. These ideas need to be discussed. But to try and work them in via some scientific loophole is not only disingenous, but it misrepresents the subject altogether.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bonnaroo = Boring

I just read that both Radiohead and Tom Petty will be "headlining" this year's Bonnaroo Festival. I am anti-festival to begin with because the sets are short and vanilla, the sound is always awful, and they're riddled with high school kids looking for an open venue to consume weed and X. But that's a rant for another day.

Today is Bonnaroo specific and I must say I can't think of a moring choice of acts to sign on for top-billing. I saw Tom Petty at the Patriot Center during my junior year of high school. It was awesome...and a long time ago. In the many many years since I like to think that my tastes are are a little more defined and in 2006 I don't see a need for "legacy acts" like Petty anymore. As for Radiohead, I need to control myself because I could go on for days.

They were the coolest band in the world in 1997 but it's been a long time and several shitty shitty albums since then. If they promised not play anything after the first half of OK Computer I would be all over it. But the reality is that Bonnarro attendees will be treated to 12 hours of standing in the mud waiting for the main act only to suffer through a meandering set of Tom Yorke's catterwalling over Moog experiments. No thank you.

Not that I would attend but I say this to the Bonnaroo bookers (much like I wanted to ask the DNC in 2004), is this the best you could come up with?