Monday, December 13, 2004

My Top Ten of 2004:

1. Fiery Furnaces – Blueberry Boat.

2. Wilco – A Ghost Is Born

3. Animal Collective - Sung Tongs

4. Mike Watt – The Secondman’s Middle Stand

5. Liars – They Were Wrong, So We Drowned

6. Mission of Burma – ONoffON

7. Deerhoof – Milk Man

8. Will Johnson – Vultures Await

9. The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come For Free

10. TV on the Radio - Desperate Youths, Bloodthirsty Babes

Excluded: Brian Wilson - SMiLE, which is really a long-delayed 1967 release. If it were on the list, it would be #2.

Close but not quite: Mekons - Punk Rock, Iron & Wine - Endless Numbered Days, Madvillain - Madvillainy, Shearwater – Winged Life (traded places with TV on the Radio)

Haven't heard but mean to, 'cause I think I'd like 'em: Panda Bear, R. Buckner, the New Year, Ted Leo, Mountain Goats, Stereolab, Tom Waits, American Music Club, Carla Bozulich, Nels Cline, Arcade Fire, Oneida, Hella, MF Doom (Mmm... Food), McLusky, controller.controller, and Comets on Fire.

Great re-releases: Talking Heads - The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads, Can's first four albums, and the Go-Betweens' 4th-6th albums.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Just in time for Christmas! Get your copy of Lost in the Grooves today!

Check out the bad-ass Cafepress site!
Slim Gaillard Tip-tappin' Wall Clock by Tom Neely

From the people who brought you the Bubblegum book (Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth)! With essays from Jim O'Rourke, George Pelecanos, Rick Moody, Richard Meltzer, Deniz Tek, Metal Mike Saunders, Gary Pig Gold, Mark Prindle, Ed Ward, Steve Wynn, Derrick Bostrom, Peter Bagge, and High Hat contributors Erin McKean, Joe Boucher, and William Ham. Oh yeah, and me. Writing about Richard Buckner's Devotion + Doubt and The Hill, the Go-Betweens' 16 Lovers Lane, the Feelies' The Good Earth, Jandek's Blue Corpse, and the Mekons' The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen and OOOH!. Just fuckin' get it already. Be the coolest kid at your school, office, or construction site. And then go out & spend that Xmas loot on the gems written about inside.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Get your inner 8-yr-olds ready:

You Are From Uranus

You shine with brilliant creativity, and you're more than a little eccentric.
You love everything unusual and shocking. You're one far-out chick or dude.
Anything unconventional excites you - and you have genius potential.
Just don't let your rebel side get the best of you, or else you'll alienate everyone.
Your original thinking and funky attitude is all you need to be you.

My car died. Combine that with my dead dog and rural Alabama roots, and I have to start wondering whether my pregnant wife is going to run off with my best friend and all my hootch.

Anyway, it's a blown head gasket on a 97 Subaru Outback. We don't have the $2500 to fix it, and even if we did, we'd have to wonder about the wisdom of spending so much on a $4K car. So we're looking at replacement vehicles with the room to tote a baby (and all the accompanying detritus) and a big dog (and all the accompanying crud). It looks like our hate-on for SUVs, like our circa 1997-2002 hate-on for cell phones, might finally be subverted by preference (as in "we prefer to bring our helpless baby with us when we take the dog to the park."). Because we haven't completely lost our minds, our major considerations are fuel economy, roominess, and affordability, all with certain give-and-take. Also, since my wife's car is 10 years old and has 120,000 miles, we might try to buy two vehicles at once. It's a Honda, so it'll run for a while still, but it's also been broken into 4 times and stolen once in the last two years. The driver's side window has been worked on several times, but still doesn't roll up right, and it drives kinda funny now. So, yeah, maybe it's time to lose it for one with one of those bitchin' newfangled alarm systems.

Replacement vehicles we like so far:

  • Toyota Matrix, which is surprisingly roomy inside. New ones list at $18-$20K. The one we drove was at 28/34 on the fuel economy scale, and would work as long as the dog sat mostly still. We could add a roof rack to go on vacation. Eventually, the baby will get to be large enough to kick the hell out of the backs of the seats, though. Despite all this, the Matrix might be our go-to car.
  • The Honda CR-V. Yes, an SUV. New ones list for $19-$23K. The one we drove was at 23/29 on fuel economy and was absolutely great. Lots of room, roof rack for vacations, seats that fold up or come out, hidden compartments galore. We like.
  • The Honda Element. Another SUV, although one that drives like a minivan. New ones list for $17-$23K, but they don't sell as well as the CR-V. Fuel economy similar to the CR-V. The roominess and plastic inside are good. The lack of a center seat in the rear for baby is bad. Might be able to get a good deal on one, though.

Don't like:

  • Scion xB. It's tiny in there, y'all.
  • Toyota RAV4. Loud & handles like shit. Maybe the sales guy shouldn't have put us into an unsold '04 model. They get great gas mileage - 25/31 - so I want to drive another one before we write it off.

Anyway, we'll see. There's two Honda dealers in the area with used Matrixes (Matrices?) on the lot, so maybe we can work a deal for a CR-V and a Matrix for something approaching affordable. Preferably they'll just give them to us.

Monday, November 29, 2004

David Smay and Kim Cooper discuss Lost In The Grooves on NPR's Talk of the Nation.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I had to put my beloved 12-yr-old dog down this morning after a short struggle with lymphoma. She was such a good and sweet dog -- usually, at least. I'd had her since I was only 20, and I feel like the best part of me just died. She was very clever and could escape from almost anything, and there's lots of funny stories to go along with that, but I'm crying too much right now to tell them. I miss her so much already. I know it was her time, but she didn't deserve the pain she experienced in her life, especially at the end. When the vet injected her, the look of peace in her eyes was almost too much to bear. I told her I loved her and that she was a good dog, the best dog. Then I told her to go to sleep, and her heart stopped.

Aw, Molly. You were my constant companion as I became an adult. You were the best thing that could have happened to me when I found you, and you brought me to the best things in my life. I wish I could have been a better owner for you; you deserved better than you got. I loved you so much. I miss you terribly.

Here's my sweet dog at 7 months with her puppies and first bad haircut.

Here she is in summer of that year, running on the beach:

Here she is with me at Lake Jordan, NC, in the fall of 1997:

Here she is with the girl who is now my wife (she took an instant shine to Em, which helped bring us together) at Lake Jordan on the same day:

And here we are up in a tree that day:

She was very lively then, bounding through the undergrowth and diving into the water without a care in the world.

Here she is leaping through a field on an excursion to East Carolina in the summer of 1998:

Here she is showing affection to my best girl on the same trip:

Here she is with my best girl in the mountains of NC in the fall of 1998. One of my wife's co-workers used to think that Molly was a monkey from this picture.

Here she is at Guadalupe River State Park in TX. Thanksgiving 2001. Look how happy she is!

Here's me & her at the Hill Country State Natural Area, TX, in April of 2002.

Here she is with my wife by a little creek on that same trip. What a pretty couple!

Here she is on her back for some belly-lovin' at my 30th birthday party in May 2002:

This is two weeks later, shorn for summer, with my wife.

Shorn for summer in our backyard later that day. Everybody always thought she was a puppy with this haircut. She's 10 yrs old in this picture.

This is her in her crate with the cat in Spring of 2003.

And, finally, here she is in a field of beautiful Texas flowers, looking like I always want to remember her, in Spring 2003. I didn't include any recent pictures because she started declining in Summer of 2003, and I don't want to remember her in decline. I'm sorry to ramble. I loved her so much, and she's gone. She was one of a kind. RIP, sweet Molly.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Baby music last night:

Both mother and baby fell asleep before the end of "He Loved Him Madly."

I also finished Neal Stephenson's excellent Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World, which are all damn bricks) at last. The ending was a bit deus ex machina, especially the unlikely and uncharacteristic coda for Jack and Eliza (c'mon Neal, couldn't you have built a bit more foreshadowing in there -- I mean, I know you love the characters, but I'd like to know how the hell you end up with the three of them together in such a situation), but I like how Stephenson built the slight magical reality of the end of Isaac Newton's arc and foreshadowed the Industrial and American expansionist future with the Waterhouse & Shaftoe arcs. Stephenson is a very compelling writer (at least when he's not writing awful science fiction), and he seems to be as unwilling to end his narratives as I am to finish reading them. I loved his Cryptonomicon, which follows the descendents of these characters through World War II and the late 1990s.

I'm not the only one disturbed by the statistical unlikelihood of the election results.

A poster named 'TruthIsAll' on the forums laid out the questionable results of Tuesday's election in succinct fashion: "To believe that Bush won the election, you must also believe: That the exit polls were wrong; that Zogby's 5pm election day calls for Kerry winning Ohio and Florida were wrong (he was exactly right in his 2000 final poll); that Harris' last-minute polling for Kerry was wrong (he was exactly right in his 2000 final poll); that incumbent rule #1 - undecideds break for the challenger - was wrong; That the 50% rule - an incumbent doesn't do better than his final polling - was wrong; That the approval rating rule - an incumbent with less than 50% approval will most likely lose the election - was wrong; that it was just a coincidence that the exit polls were correct where there was a paper trail and incorrect (+5% for Bush) where there was no paper trail; that the surge in new young voters had no positive effect for Kerry; that Kerry did worse than Gore against an opponent who lost the support of scores of Republican newspapers who were for Bush in 2000; that voting machines made by Republicans with no paper trail and with no software publication, which have been proven by thousands of computer scientists to be vulnerable in scores of ways, were not tampered with in this election."

Monday, November 08, 2004

George Bush, 1946-2018

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I'm getting choked up listening to mp3s of Barbara Jordan addressing the 1976 Democratic Convention.

Keynote Address -- listen to it, dammit.

>A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good. A government is invigorated when each of us is willing to participate in shaping the future of this nation. In this election year we must define the common good and begin again to shape a common future. Let each person do his or her part. If one citizen is unwilling to participate, all of us are going to suffer. For the American idea, though it is shared by all of us, is realized in each one of us.

>And now, what are those of us who are elected public officials supposed to do? We call ourselves public servants but I'll tell you this: We as public servants must set an example for the rest of the nation. It is hypocritical for the public official to admonish and exhort the people to uphold the common good if we are derelict in upholding the common good. More is required of public officials than slogans and handshakes and press releases. More is required. We must hold ourselves strictly accountable. We must provide the people with a vision of the future.

>If we promise as public officials, we must deliver. If we as public officials propose, we must produce. If we say to the American people it is time for you to be sacrificial; sacrifice. If the public official says that, we [public officials] must be the first to give. We must be. And again, if we make mistakes, we must be willing to admit them. We have to do that. What we have to do is strike a balance between the idea that government should do everything and that idea, the belief, that government ought to do nothing. Strike a balance. Let there be no illusions about the difficulty of forming this kind of a national community. It's tough, difficult, not easy. But a spirit of harmony will survive in America only if each of us remembers that we share a common destiny. If each of us remembers when self-interest and bitterness seem to prevail that we share a common destiny.

>I have confidence that we can form this kind of national community.

>I have confidence that the Democratic Party can lead the way.

>I have that confidence.

>We cannot improve on the system of government handed down to us by the founders of the Republic. There is no way to improve upon that. But what we can do is to find new ways to implement that system and realize our destiny.

Here's the mp3 of her Statement on the Articles of Impeachment of Richard Nixon.

>My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution.

Jesus, Barbara. We need you more than ever.

I had a post prepared yesterday on the hypocrisy of electing a lying, cheating, self-righteous creep for his moral values, but you can pretty much write it yourself in your head.

Check out some of my links on the left, especially Ludic Log:

America is not a place: it has never been a place. It is an idea, and it travels with you. Give up on the people if you feel the need; they're people just like any other. Give up on the place, if you must; it's a wonderful place, beautiful and satisfying, and I have never seen its like, but it is just a place. But don't let go of the idea. We made the idea, and we can do anything we want with it, regardless of other people's notions of what it should be. That's the real strength of America: it can be anywhere, even with one man alone in a room, anywhere in the world.

And Tom Blog:

How one should react to these circumstances seems entirely a matter of personal choice, but right now I can sympathize equally with the suicidal, the expatriate, and the armed revolutionary. “Don’t mourn – organize,” is what Joe Hill supposedly said before a Utah firing squad cut him down, and that seems like an outstanding posture for all true-blue activist types to adopt. On the other hand, the real problem is America itself, and that’s a question even the smartest political animals on the left rarely seem to get a handle on.

From Salon, asking what now?:

Mark Crispin Miller is a media critic, professor of communications at New York University, and author, most recently, of "Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order."

First of all, this election was definitely rigged. I have no doubt about it. It's a statistical impossibility that Bush got 8 million more votes than he got last time. In 2000, he got 15 million votes from right-wing Christians, and there are approximately 19 million of them in the country. They were eager to get the other 4 million. That was pretty much Karl Rove's strategy to get Bush elected.

But given Bush's low popularity ratings and the enormous number of new voters -- who skewed Democratic -- there is no way in the world that Bush got 8 million more votes this time. I think it had a lot to do with the electronic voting machines. Those machines are completely untrustworthy, and that's why the Republicans use them. Then there's the fact that the immediate claim of Ohio was not contested by the news media -- when Andrew Card came out and claimed the state, not only were the votes in Ohio not counted, they weren't even all cast.

I would have to hear a much stronger argument for the authenticity, or I should say the veracity, of this popular vote for Bush before I'm willing to believe it. If someone can prove to me that it happened, that Bush somehow pulled 8 million magic votes out of a hat, OK, I'll accept it. I'm an independent, not a Democrat, and I'm not living in denial.

And that's not even talking about Florida, which is about as Democratic a state as Guatemala used to be. The news media is obliged to make the Republicans account for all these votes, and account for the way they were counted. Simply to embrace this result as definitive is irrational. But there is every reason to question it ... I find it beyond belief that the press in this formerly democratic country would not have made the integrity of the electoral system a front page, top-of-the-line story for the last three years. I worked and worked and worked to get that story into the media, and no one touched it until your guy did.

I actually got invited to a Kerry fundraiser so I could talk to him about it. I raised the issue directly with him and with Teresa. Teresa was really indignant and really concerned, but Kerry just looked down at me -- he's about 9 feet tall -- and I could tell it just didn't register. It set off all his conspiracy-theory alarms and he just wasn't listening.

Talk to anyone from a real democracy -- from Canada or any European country or India. They are staggered to discover that 80 percent of our touch-screen electronic voting machines have no paper trail and are manufactured by companies owned by Bush Republicans. But there is very little sense of outrage here. Americans for a host of reasons have become alienated from the spirit of the Bill of Rights and that should not be tolerated.

Dan Payne is a Democratic media consultant and columnist for the Boston Globe.

1. Forget the unity stuff. When Republicans lose, they set out the next morning to challenge, undermine and overthrow the Democrats. Democrats are no less united against George Bush than they were the day before Election Day. Stay unified; stay on Bush's case.

2. Hire a strategist, not a fundraiser, to run the Democratic National Committee. The ability to raise money is valuable, but the ability to design and execute a strategy is crucial.

3. Develop values issues, such as Internet censorship, the export of white-collar jobs, stem cell research, etc. The DNC should send every Democratic official "What's Wrong With Kansas?" by Thomas Frank. Learn how the Republicans ate our lunch, using values issues to smother economic self-interest.

4. Target baby boomers. This cohort is anti-authoritarian because they grew up during Vietnam, Nixon and Watergate. Now, this demanding audience is facing retirement pretty much clueless. They need (and expect) economic protections, like long-term care and a solid Medicare.

5. Get thee out of Washington. Move the party apparatus out of D.C. Democrats are cut off from the real world and talk to each other too much.

6. Admit Karl Rove beat us. He outsmarted and out-organized unions, 527s and party organizations. Getting anti-gay marriage measures on 11 state ballots didn't hurt either.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Lost in the Grooves merchandise. I especially love the Sonny Sharrock meets Space Ghost hat and the My Name Is Roosevelt Franklin onesie.

Speaking of onesies, our pre-baby's musical interlude last night was:

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Vote-pairing: if you live in a predetermined state, just do it.

I've been playing music for our unborn baby at night with a set of headphones over his or her mother's belly (while I listen in on my own headphones).

So far, the choices have been:

Who knows whether these choices going to help or warp my child? Texas Child Protective Services might!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

LIVE Jandek mp3s posted on Teaching the Indie Kids to Dance Again. You can't fake that shit.

It's Charles Lindburgh vs. Grover Cleveland here in Travis County, TX.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

From Atrios: The NY State Comptroller, a large shareholder in Sinclair Broadcasting, questions the business sense of showing an anti-Kerry movie on the evening of the election.

I almost forgot to mention the weirdest news ever. Jandek apparently played live in Scotland. For fans, live Jandek was herefore considered as likely as an intelligent debate on federal monetary policy by the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and George W. Bush. Just like that, the world has changed.

In other exciting news, Slate is finally predicting a Kerry win. A world where Jandek shows his face in public to play music isn't the same dour place it was a month ago. Nope, it's a completely different dour place.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Jon Stewart ripping Crossfire suckups Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson a new one.

Dumb-but-irresistable online test results:

The intelligent punk. Tuff and Smart. I may be able to maintain a train of thought long enough... What the fuck was I talking about?

I need to step away from the tie-dye. I smell too good to be a hippie and my dad is probably a cop. Being a hippie is not a fashion craze, man. It was a way of life, in the 60’s, man.

I could go either way. Deep into the madness of nights filled with coding CGI-Scripts and online role playing games, or I could become a normal user. Good luck!

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Cary, NC, United States
reachable at firstname lastname (all run together) at gmail dot com

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From Here To Obscurity, founded ca. 2003, population 1. The management wishes to emphasize that no promises vis-a-vis your entertainment have been guaranteed and for all intents and purposes, intimations of enlightenment fall under the legal definition of entertainment. No refunds shall be given nor will requests be honored. Although some may ask, we have no intention of beginning again.

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