« January 2008 | Main | March 2008 »

February 29, 2008

useful things, no. 11

The eleventh in an ongoing collection of functional webpages and dork-like tools (excluding any/all Google programs)

o The Belkin Podcast Studio looks totally dope, though I lovelovelove the DL elegance of the iTalk and can't imagine it'd possibly improve on that.

o C86 is a mixtape app. (Word, xian.)

o A time calculator. Super useful. Crappy interface.

o Ask Sunday. Still wrestling with morality of outsourcing interview transcription tasks, but that's topic for another post. That aside, this is a sort of an amazing idea, and I might have to try it on general principle.

February 28, 2008

grapefruit league links

The Mets lost 4-2 to the Tigers in a split squad game today. Welcome back.

o Dunno how I missed this when the Voice ran the story in September, but ex-Mets pitcher/current Mets announcer Ron Darling is apparently a huge jazzhead.

o Digaman hipped me tonight to the existence of the fantasy baseball league that existed only in Jack Kerouac's head. Really.

o Despite the utter failure of the Mitchell Report to create any kind of closure with the steroids era, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are speaking in gestures as weirdly elegant as their records are grotesque. That is, one can imagine John Chancellor's narrator in Ken Burns' Baseball reading off their narratives. The latest installment, far less reported than Clemens' escapades on Capitol Hill, involves Bonds personally driving from spring training camp to spring training camp looking for work, while threatening to go play in Japan. (Thx, Russ.)

o SNY's feature on the best Mets brawls would be a whole lot cooler with video clips. But it's still pretty cool.

o The Times Bats blog reports on Mets' pitching coach's Rick Peterson's observational skills. According to Sports Illustrated, Peterson spent the off-season "read[ing] Eastern philosophy and [drawing] sketches of his players."

o A classic meditation by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould.

February 27, 2008

sudden ylt

Yo La Tengo at Rififi
Invite Them Up with Eugene Mirman and Bobby Tisdale
26 February 2008
no Georgia, Todd Barry on drums

Come On Up (The Young Rascals) (download)
Mr. Tough
Big Day Coming (fast)
Bobby's Girl (Lesley Gore) (download)

February 26, 2008

have read/will read dept.

o I'm so completely bummed I missed the virtual recreation of the Columbian Exposition's White City last week in Chicago. Perhaps next time. (Thx, Fangs McVegan.)
o The New Yorker on the ambiguous moral complexity of carbon footprints. Only a page or two in so far, but brilliant.
o Daniel Chamberlain's Arthur essay, Uncle Skullfucker's Band. (Good recommendo, El Shmo.)
o A meaty Oxford American piece on late Weavers singer Lee Hays. (Courtesy digaman.)
o I'm sad that the Coen brothers' longtime imaginary editor, Roderick Jaynes, didn't win a Best Editing Oscar last night.
o One of Dont Look Back's Mr. Joneses speaks out.
o A new Velvet Underground song!

February 25, 2008

"a sign of the times" - petula clark

"A Sign of the Times" - Petula Clark (download) (buy)
b/w "Time For Love" (1966)

(file expires March 3rd)

Like the Beverly Hills Teens theme, Petula Clark's "A Sign of the Times" is a random melody that got stuck in my head as an adolescent, and waited like a latent dopamine trigger for literally decades until I remembered the song and downloaded it. My introduction to it was a cheesy Banner Day montage in the same Amazin' Era Mets video that yielded Dick McCormick's "79 Men on Third," and which was also my first exposure to "Changes" by David Bowie, whose chorus illustrated several dramatic trades in Mets' history (like the Midnight Massacre that sent Tom Seaver to the Reds in 1977). Somebody could sample the big horn fanfare, but unlike the Chi-Lites' "Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)," which yielded "Crazy In Love," I don't spend the whole song waiting for the part to return. It serves its function, introducing the "Sesame Street"-like progression and getting to Clark's sweet, lovely vocal. I'm totally in love with the "maybe my lucky star" chorus, which wasn't included in the video, and could be the basis for a perfectly serviceable tune itself.

February 22, 2008

"summerteeth" & "spiders (kidsmoke)" - wilco

"Summerteeth" - Wilco (download)
"Spiders (Kidsmoke)" - Wilco (download)
recorded 19 February 2008, Riviera Theater, Chicago, IL

(files expire March 1st)

It was a pleasure to arrive home the past two nights to discover Wilco webcasting from Chicago. Their five-night stand at the Riviera, during which they attempted to play every song from their primary albums, seems to mark a new phase for the band. By forcing that many songs back into the repertoire, many of which were probably dropped initially for some practical reason, some quite necessarily were a bit looser than others, like "Summerteeth." Where Wilco's sets at least once played at stateliness, there is now a Dead-like comfort, especially taking into account the two-set format of the shows. It works both ways, though, and the nooks have never been more detailed, like the 10-minute Neu-groove of "Spiders (Kidsmoke)," in which the band pushes decidedly out from Glenn Kotche's elastic/metronomic krautrock.

February 21, 2008

"eighth of january" - the kentucky colonels with scotty stoneman

"Eighth of January" - The Kentucky Colonels with Scott Stoneman (download) (buy)

(file expires February 27th)

Thanks to Rev for turning me onto this recording of Scott Stoneman and the Kentucky Colonels performing "Eighth of January" at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles in 1965. In the audience that night was Jerry Garcia.

I get my improvisational approach from Scotty Stoneman, the fiddle player. [He's] the guy who first set me on fire -- where I just stood there and I don't remember breathing. He was just an incredible fiddler. He was a total alcoholic wreck by the time I heard him, in his early thirties, playing with the Kentucky Colonels... They did a medium-tempo fiddle tune like 'Eighth of January' and it's going along, and pretty soon Scotty starts taking these longer and longer phrases -- ten bars, fourteen bars, seventeen bars -- and the guys in the band are just watching him! They're barely playing -- going ding, ding, ding -- while he's burning. The place was transfixed. They played this tune for like twenty minutes, which is unheard of in bluegrass. I'd never heard anything like it. I asked him later, 'How do you do that?' and he said, 'Man, I just play lonesome.' (Garcia, c. 1985, via Blair Jackson's Garcia: An American Life)

By the time the music made it to tape -- which is to say, in reality -- it was five and a third minutes, proving Garcia's memory to be about as blown as any Deadhead's. He's not wrong either, though. (See also "Cleo's Back" for the further secret history of the Grateful Dead.)

February 20, 2008

frow show, episode 38

Episode 38: Uh, What's the Opposite of Joe-mentum?

Listen here.

1. "Boss Intro" - Capcom Sound Team (from Megaman II OST)
2. "A Sign of the Times" - Petula Clark
3. "Frow Show Theme" - MVB
4. "Obamareggaeton" - Amigos de Obama
5. "Nowhere Man" - The Beatles (recorded 7/1966 Budokan, Tokyo)
6. "Supernatual Superserious" - R.E.M. (from Accelerate)
7. "I Got the Drop On You" - Mike Doughty (from Golden Delicious)
8. "Political Science" - Randy Newman (from Sail Away)
9. "Dawn Mist" - Eugene Wright and His Dukes of Swing (from Sun Ra: Early Recordings)
10. "Eighth of January" - The Kentucky Colonels with Scotty Stoneman (from Live in L.A.)
11. "The Real Morning Party" - Marco Benevento (from Invisible Baby)
12. "Miami Ice" - Icy Demons (from Miami Ice)
13. "Ganon's Castle Under Ground" - Koji Kondo (from Zelda: Ocarina of Time OST)
14. excerpt from "Osorezan" - Geioh Yamashuriogumi (from Osorezan/Do No Kenbai)
15. "Whispering Hope" - Daniel Johnston with Yo La Tengo (recorded 1990/04/02 WFMU)
16. "Brazil" - Geoff Muldaur (from Brazil OST)

February 19, 2008

two upcoming tech docs


BLIP FESTIVAL: REFORMAT THE PLANET trailer from 2 Player Productions on Vimeo.

February 18, 2008

obama arcana

"OBAMAREGGAETON" - Amigos De Obama (download)

(file expires January 25th)

For fear of jinxing anything, I resisted the urge to post this on Super Tuesday Eve, but I like the implications of this Obama reggaet├│n tune. For starters, credited to the organization Amigos De Obama, it's instantly historical novelty, sung to the absolute rhythm of its time. More, it highlights another, less devious, musical aspect of the Illinois Senator: his name.

Last week, Mom wondered if Obama would be the first President whose name ended in a vowel. He wouldn't be (see: Fillmore, Monroe, Pierce, Coolidge), but her point about Presidential homogeneity is well taken. There certainly haven't been any men of Kenyan descent in the Oval Office, and consequently none whose names roll from the tongue quite like Obama's. Hence, the genuinely new music. (Yeah, it came out last June, but who's counting? See translation.)

And, while we're on the topic: There's something reassuring but also a bit cognitively dissonant about a silk-screened Obama "The Time is Now" poster in the front window of a tarot card reader.

February 13, 2008

they say that santa fe is less than 90 miles away...

"Albuquerque" - Neil Young (download) (buy)
from Tonight's The Night (1975)

Well, here I am.

February 12, 2008

stengel

If there was ever any doubt that baseball is an oral culture, peep this letter written by legendary manger Casey Stengel to sportswriter Ira Berkow in the '70s, when Casey was in his 80s. Quoted in Robert Creamer's superb Stengel, it was a bit of a shock to me to realize that Casey -- a raconteurish encyclopedia cataloguing a lifetime of players, plays and stories -- was barely literate.

Dear Ira: Your conversation's; and the fact you were the working writer were inthused with the Ideas was great but frankly do not care for the great amount of work for myself. Sorry but am not interested. Have to many proposition's otherwise for the coming season. Fact cannot disclose my Future affair's. Good luck. Casey Stengel, N.Y. Mets & Hall of Famer.

Man, my spell-check loves Casey. Didn't write in the passive voice, though!

February 11, 2008

"79 men on third for the mets" - dick mccormack

"79 Men on Third for the Mets" - Dick McCormack (download)
from An Amazin' Era video

(file expires February 17th)

The baseball stories are increasing with the imminent reporting of pitchers and catchers to spring training this week. Today brings us a Times profile in which we discover that third baseman David Wright actually refers to himself as "D-Wright." Uh, right on?

Relatedly, I spent some late night hours over the weekend revisiting An Amazin' Era, the delightfully cheesy Mets retrospective produced just before the 1986 season. Included therein is the above song, "79 Men on Third for the Mets," folksinger Dick McCormack's novelty tribute to the nearly 80 players who'd covered the corner for the Mets between 1962 and 1985. (Though the video doesn't include the '86 season, McCormack manages to fit in the newly acquired Tim Teufel, who played one game at third later that year.) It's super toe tappin'.

Anybody got info on this Dick McCormack dude? The infranet reveals the existence of a "We Didn't Start the Fire"-style number he wrote summing up the 1987 season, though it looks like some lawyers nastygrammed it. Oh, bother.

February 8, 2008

have read/will read dept.

o There are probably many points in the last quarter/half-decade of pop history where one could argue that cuteness was becoming a little too prevalent, but Sharon Steel has fun trying anyway.
o Kevin Kelly on "Better Than Free."
o The London Times on McSweeney's, etc..
o Anecdotal evidence suggests that pitchers, including Pedro Martinez, repeatedly threw at Jeff Kent to help Hall of Famer Tom Candiotti's fantasy baseball team. Does this count as gambling?
o Google engages in some techno-corporate warfare in China over mp3s.

February 7, 2008

twofer tuesday (on a thursday) #1: vashti bunyan's "diamond day" & pavement's "spit on a stranger"

"Diamond Day" - Vashti Bunyan (download) (buy)
from Just Another Diamond Day (1970)

"Spit on a Stranger" - Pavement (download) (buy)
from Terror Twilight (1999)

Vashti Bunyan, at least pre-rediscovery, seems exactly the type of obscurantist reference point tailor made for Stephen Malkmus. Whether or not he had her 1970 single "Diamond Day" anywhere near his bedheaded skull when he wrote "Spit on a Stranger," the lead cut from 1999's Terror Twilight, I've got no idea. Either way, given the autumn-burnt originality of "Stranger," it's not to accuse the Pavement leader of anything, except maybe getting a melody stuck in his head, and repurposing it for contemporary circulation.

February 6, 2008

frow show, episode 37

Episode 37: Barackgammon.

Listen here

1. "Vocca Rossa" - Corrado Lojacono (via WFMU's Beware of Blog/Listener Marty)
2. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" - Them
3. "Frow Show Theme" - MVB
4. "Run" - Gnarls Barkley
5. "Love Loves to Love Love" - Lulu (from Love Loves to Love Lulu)
6. "Casting Agents and Cowgirls" - Busdriver (from Roadkill Overcoat)
7. "Back to the Grill" - MC Serch feat. Nas and Chubb Rock
8. "Jimmy" - Of Montreal
9. "Baby Strange" - T. Rex (from The Slider)
10. "Et moi, et moi, et moi" - Jacques Dutronc
11. "The Modern Age" - Jeffrey Lewis (recorded 2002/07/31 Peel Session)
12. "Fools" - The Dodos (from Visiter)
13. "Never Learn Not To Love" - The Beach Boys (from 20/20)
14. "A Cloud In Doubt" - Flying (from Faces of the Night)
15. "Diamond Day" - Vashti Bunyan (from Just Another Diamond Day)
16. "Spit on a Stranger" - Pavement (from Terror Twilight)
17. "Red Flag on the Gondola" - Flipper's Guitar (from Three Cheers For Our Side)

February 5, 2008

vote hard.

Even as I plan to vote for Barack Obama tomorrow, Will.i.am's "Yes.We.Can." video kinda scares the shit out me, because it lays Obama bare. I am frightened by how easily the Senator's cadences transform into music, how easily the simple harmonies pull melodies from his speech. And all, more or less, without content. When it boils down to it, I like Barack Obama because he's got a good beat and I can dance to it. It won't be the first time I've put my money where the music is.

February 4, 2008

xelor!

Thanks to MITU for turning me onto Dutch filmmaker/graphic artist Roel Wouters (aka Xelor), whose one-take Gondry-like shorts are immaculately conceived and executed. I love the human progress bar in "Grip." Not so much into the tunes, but dizzamn.

February 1, 2008

two weeks.

An oncoming cold, a new millionaire pitcher to wonder idly about, and some Roger Angell to peruse. I'm going to bed, ideally to dream of "raising my mid-game gaze from the diamond to observe the gauzy look of departing rain clouds lifting from the jagged rim of some distant desert peak, and then entering that in my notebook (with the pen slipping a little in my fingers, because of the dab of Sea & Ski I have just rubbed on my nose, now that the sun is out again and cookin gus gently in the steepl little grandstand behind third base)." We all dream of dreams.