February 2010 Archives

Die heretic!

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A recent email exchange about Linux distros reminded me of this great Emo Philips routine:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"

He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"

He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"

"Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.

Weekend Random 10 - Feb. 28

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  1. It's A Good Thing - That Petrol Emotion (Children Of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The Second Psychedelic Era 1976-1996 (Disc 1) 2005)
    It's A Good Thing
    That Petrol Emotion
  2. CmR - General Fuzz (Inner Sunset 2004)
    11 CmR
    General Fuzz
  3. Rock Lobster - The B-52s (Time Capsule 1998)
    Rock Lobster
    The B-52's
  4. This Ole House - Shakin' Stevens (Into The Anxious 80s: New Wave Hits of the 80s 1995)
    This Ole House
    Shakin' Stevens
  5. Song Of The Kite - Private Lightning (Private Lightning 1980)
    Song Of The Kite
    Private Lightning
  6. Circle Of Steel - Gordon Lightfoot (Gord's Gold 1975)
    Circle Of Steel
    Gordon Lightfoot
  7. One Of My Turns - Pink Floyd (The Wall 1979)
    One Of My Turns
    Pink Floyd
  8. The Spider's Stratagem - Dead Can Dance (Into The Labyrinth 1993)
  9. The Sinking Feeling - The The (Soul Mining 1983)
  10. Touch And Go - The Cars (Complete Greatest Hits 2003)

A mostly olde skool New Wave collection this week, with some real local flavor. We open with a cut from a great 4 CD collection from Rhino, Children of Nuggets. Then we follow it up with some great free music from General Fuzz - highly recommended electronica when working at the keyboard. Then a classic from The B-52s and a cut from a nice little CD which gathers a bunch of hidden 80s New Wave gems. Speaking of hidden gems comes a song from a great local band and, sadly, their only release. But luckily, Private Lightning is finally all available digitally here. Then we have some folk rock by the (still alive!) Canadian folk/rocker. A great cut from the classic Pink Floyd CD, The Wall follows, then one of my favorite 4AD bands, Dead Can Dance, from one of my favorite CDs of theirs. Then we move on to one of my favorite 80s New Wave CDs from The The. And we wrap it up with another Boston band, the much more well know Cars, who have become a great favorite of my girls. What goes around comes around, I guess.

Oh, and I think I finally figured out why some of my MP3 uploads to Vox weren't finishing correctly and thus not showing the cover art work. Looks like Vox does't like the ID3v2.4 tags, it wants ID3v2.3 tags. Once I converted them (using the wonderful kid3 ID3 utility), the uploads work flawlessly. Yay!

Book Review: A Cold Day In Paradise

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My rating: ★★★★✩

After I added The Lock Artist: A Novel to my To-Read queue, Steve asked if I had read any of author Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series. I had not, so I added it to my queue and found it at the library just a few days later. A Cold Day In Paradise opens the series and it is one excellent read!

Alex McKnight is an ex-cop from Detroit who moved back to his old summering place, Paradise, Michigan, where his dad built a set of hunting and fishing camps. He left the police force after a particularly violent episode of his and his partner's and lives a quiet life now. But a milquetoast friend with a gambling problem and his lawyer convince McKnight to help out when the friend is a suspect in a couple of bookmaker murders. Some "locked room" problems ensue (like the fact that the prime suspect is purportedly locked away in jail!), as do some pretty brutal shootouts, while all the time McKnight is trying to figure out a past relationship.

I liked the writing a lot. It wasn't hackneyed at all, leavened with some humor and some pathos. Once again, though, I thought the plot behind the murders to be wildly complicated and was sure there must have been a better way to solve the "problem". And there were a couple times that I had an better idea of what he should have done next. But it didn't get in the way of the action and I enjoyed McKnight's take on the world. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series, Winter of the Wolf Moon.

2 Swedes walk into a theater...

Went to my first concert of the year - a Swedish double feature of El Perro del Mar (Sarah Assbring) opening for Taken By Trees (Victoria Bergsman) at the Brattle Theater. I had seen (and loved) El Perro before but I was really intrigued to see Taken By Trees, Victoria Bergsman's project. I really like the Pakistani-flavored sounds of her latest release, East of Eden. And I really really love her version of Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine:

El Perro del Mar's set list:

  • Let Me In (Love Is Not Pop)
  • Change Of Heart (Love Is Not Pop)
  • L Is For Love (Love Is Not Pop)
  • Party (El Perror Del Mar)
  • Gotta Get Smart (Love Is Not Pop)
  • Blue Moon
  • A Better Love (Love Is Not Pop)
  • Shelter
  • Heavenly Arms (Love Is Not Pop)
A Better Love
El Perro Del Mar
A short but sweet set. Blue Moon, which she introduced by saying it was an "oldie", goes back so far that she even had a "cheat sheet" for the lyrics (which, of course, I grabbed:) She rocked out more than the last time I saw her. The backing band was really solid and rhythmic, and I really enjoyed the songs, although most were from her latest CD, Love Is Not Pop, which I don't have. More patter with the audience than before too, although her claim that she had never been to Cambridge Mass before is wrong, as I saw her 2 years ago with Anna Ternheim and Lykke Li. But as I go to maybe three shows a year, and she probably does a hundred, I don't blame her for getting confused!

After a short break, Taken By Trees' set began with a video montage of her trip to Pakistan. Interesting choices of videos, from calm, serene, landscapes, to some sort of violent protest. Then the same band came out, only with Ms. Bergsman singing the lead, and adding a keyboard player, who she later said was new to the band.

Taken By Trees set list:

  • To Lose Someone (East of Eden)
  • Only Yesterday (Open Field)
  • Greyest Love Of All (East of Eden)
  • My Boys (East of Eden)
  • Anna (East of Eden)
  • Too Young (Open Field)
  • Day By Day (East of Eden)
  • Lost and Found (Open Field)
  • Tidens Gang (East of Eden)
  • Watch The Waves (East of Eden)
  • Summer Sigh (encore)
To Lose Someone
Taken By Trees
Again, a very enjoyable set, especially the opener. I really like that song and it's inventiveness and power was really captured when played live. She mentioned one song was written for her cat (I believe Greyest Love of All). Lucky cat! While El Perro del Mar played guitar on a few songs, Ms. Bergsman was content to contribte tamborine to a few songs. But her voice is really beguiling and the encore rocked.

I got to talk with them both after the show, as they came out and signed CDs. I teased Sarah about forgetting her previous jaunt to Cambridge and she signed the Love Is Not Pop CD "Promise I'll remember next time! Sarah" - pretty funny! Unfortunately, I didn't get Victoria to sign the East Of Eden CD, as there really isn't anywhere to sign it. But I did ask her why Pakistan and she answered - why not? She said she always loved the drums and winds of Pakistani and Indian music and so went to investigate. I should have asked her if she was a Bollywood fan. But both were engaging to talk to and it's nice to get the chance after a fairly small show. I should have brought my camera and gotten a picture with both of them, as my cell phone camera is the pits, especially in badly lit places like a concert hall. Oh well.

Book Review: Tropical Freeze

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My rating: ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩

I liked the first Thorn book (Under Cover of Daylight), despite its idiosyncracies, that I immediately grabbed the second book in the series, Tropical Freeze. Very similar to the first, especially in its way of telling the "mystery" from all points of view, including both the villians and the heroe, so there really isn't any mystery, just wondering how Thorn will figure it out and what he'll do about it.

Tropical Freeze focuses on the brother and sister team of Gaeton, ex-FBI agent, and Darcy Richards. Darcy is the weather forecaster for a local TV station and her neighbor has an unhealthy obssession for her. Gaeton is now working for a shady operator, Bernie Cousins, and wants to see what his high school chum Thorn can find out about him. Thorn delves into the darker side of Cousins' "rent-a-cop" business, as well as getting involved in Darcy's life and problems. Once again, things come to an explosive finale.

A book with a truly cynical view of human nature, James W. Hall does a great job of inhabinting the various characters, both good, evil and neutral. Each has their own voice and he does a good job with Thorn keeping it all tied together.

It is still a little weird, getting the story told, contemporaneously, from all the various viewpoints. But it does let Hall explore the dark, and in this book, truly crazy, side of things. While I appreciate Thorn's creativity in using whatever is at hand to solve the problem, sometimes it goes overboard. Much like I wonder when killers have overly complicated schemes, Thorn's schemes sometimes seem to overwraugt for what they are trying to accomplish and prone to collapse if everything doesn't go precisely according to plan.

So this one get marked down a notch from the first one. I would say 3.5 stars, as it was still fun to read. And I will continue to follow along in the series. Next up is Bones Of Coral.

Tropical Freeze
James W. Hall

Birthday Random 10 - Feb. 14

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  1. Someday I'll Understand (Love Will Be My Mirror) - El Perro Del Mar (From the Valley to the Stars 2008)
  2. Baby Doll - Laurie Anderson (Strange Angels 1989)
    Baby Doll
    Laurie Anderson
  3. Say You Love Me - Fleetwood Mac (Fleetwood Mac 1975)
    Say You Love Me
    Fleetwood Mac
  4. Franz Kafka At The Zoo - The Clean (Anthology 2002)
  5. Nothing At All - Kasey Chambers (Carnival 2006)
    Nothing At All
    Kasey Chambers
  6. Day Tripper - The Beatles (1 2000)
    Day Tripper
    The Beatles
  7. Tears Are In Your Eyes - Yo La Tengo (Prisoners of Love 2005)
  8. Tenderness - General Public (Living in Oblivion: Greatest Hits of the 80s, vol. 4 1994)
    General Public
  9. Exchange - Massive Attack (Mezzanine 1998)
    Massive Attack
  10. After Midnight - J.J. Cale (Anyway the Wind Blows: The Anthology 1997)

So for this birthday edition of Weekend Random 10, it seems we're going anthology. Five of these songs come from various collections. We'll start off with another lofi special from El Perro Del Mar, then a wonderfully humorous song from the ever inventive Ms. Anderson. The eponymous Fleetwood Mac cd was actually their eleventh record, but the first with Buckingham and Nicks in the lineup, which moved the group to supergroup status. Our first anthology is even entitled Anthology and includes a huge handful of songs from a very influential New Zealand New Wave band, The Clean, who have recently released a new one one called Mr. Pop, which sounds great as well. Then we go a little Down Under country with Kasey Chambers. And a repeat performance from the 1 collection and an early Beatles pop hit. And the 3 CD Yo La Tengo collection Prisoner Of Love is a great introduction to these master songsmiths and in fact was my first purchase from them. But not my last! The Living in Oblivion series is a wonderful collection of 80s New Wave music. I have 3 CDs and want more of them! First heard Massive Attack just a couple of years ago and loved it, especially the collection called, oddly enough, Collected. And they have a new one out, Helgioland that is at the top of my To Buy list. And we wrap it up with the J. J. Cale collection of more lofi, well crafted songs, oft covered, never matched.

A Fresh Look at Cows

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Just over the email transom comes this joke, an update on the cow joke:


You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.
You feel guilty for being successful.


You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.


You have two cows.
The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.
You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.


You have two cows.
The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
You wait in line for hours to get it.
It is expensive and sour.


You have two cows.
You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.


You have two cows.
Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk
the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.


You have two cows.
You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.
You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are
surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the
analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses.
Your stock goes up.


You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.
You go to lunch and drink wine.
Life is good.


You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and
produce twenty times the milk.
They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.
Most are at the top of their class at cow school.


You have two cows.
You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give
excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.
Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.


You have two cows but you don't know where they are.
While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.
You break for lunch.
Life is good.


You have two cows.
You have some vodka.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You have some more vodka.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.


You have all the cows in Afghanistan , which are two.
You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private parts.
You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives
to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.


You have two cows.
They go into hiding.
They send radio tapes of their mooing.


You have two bulls.
Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.


You have one cow.
The cow is schizophrenic.
Sometimes the cow thinks he's French, other times he's Flemish.
The Flemish cow won't share with the French cow.
The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow's milk.
The cow asks permission to be cut in half.
The cow dies happy.


You have a black cow and a brown cow.
Everyone votes for the best looking one.
Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally
vote for the black one.
Some people vote for both.
Some people vote for neither.
Some people can't figure out how to vote at all.
Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you
think is the best-looking cow.


You have millions of cows.
They make real California cheese.
Only five speak English.
Most are illegal.
Arnold likes the ones with the big udders.

Things On Tuesday

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Things I Love

  • R10.6 wanting to stay after basketball practice to work on her layups and shots. It's great to see your kid passionate about something. She takes her responsibility as the best on her Gr. 3-5 in house team very seriously.
  • Napster. Yes, Napster. It's a really nice online music site, having nearly everything I've looked for. I don't really like buying MP3s, as I prefer to have the CD, for the quality of the sound in my home theater system and to rip it myself (I know, how quaint). Now, if it only had more "social" features.
  • Skiing with the family. I don't think I have more fun with my kids than accompanying them down the slopes.
  • Metacritic - a great site that aggregates web reviews of music, movies and computer games. Fantastic resource.
  • Linux Format magazine. The best, bar none, Linux magazine out ther. Big, colorful, informative - what more can you ask for?
  • Heartless Bastards
Things I Loathe

  • Getting upset at my kids. It can be so frustrating to be a parent and just try to get things done, like teeth brushed and lights out. But I really need to figure out a way to get it down without the high blood pressure.
  • Not having the time to go skiing with the family. With so many other things the girls are into, it's hard to find a time for skiing. But I must.
  • This time of year in sports. Not much of a basketball fan, no local football, baseball or soccer teams in action. Only hockey, which I love, but the Bruins only play twice a week or so.  Spring training is in only 2 weeks though!

New Massive Attack

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My favorite "discovery" from a couple of years ago, Massive Attack is coming out with their first album in 7 years, Heligoland. Have a listen on NPR.org until it comes on on Feb. 9:

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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