Saturday, May 31, 2008

Post 400, and why the blog challenge has taken a break.

I'm in Ireland! I guess I should have made that more clear. Anyway, I'll be back online (for serious) as of June 11, and in the meantime emailing intermittently.

ps. Ireland is nice.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Exciting! Plus, album list 30-11

For all of us!

30. The Arcade Fire- Neon Bible- I'm still not too sure this is the followup record we were all hoping for. It's got its ups and downs. I like how they've defined their image more, and I'd still vote for them as one of the iconic 00's bands, but "Intervention" and "Keep the Car Running" might be the only songs I enjoy outside the context of the rest of this CD.
29. Air- Talkie Walkie- Despite what my dad would say, a record by two French guys isn't necessarily bad. "Venus" has great chords, "Surfing on a Rocket" and "Cherry Blossom Girl" are catchy and hummable, and "Alpha Beta Gaga" deserves points for Aaron posting a clip of himself playing it on a keyboard and saying "help what is the name of this song?"
28. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Fever to Tell- Before this disc, I never imagined a CD being so simultaneously loud and sexy. I know few CDs that flat-out rock more than this. Plus, "Maps" and "Y Control" are both classic.
27. Beach House- Beach House- Speaking of moody music, I'm not sure if this record has any discernable vocals. It's like patterns in an oil spill or like drifting in and out of consciousness on a summer day.
26. Crystal Castles- Crystal Castles- My most recent favorite. It's half moody techno and half screamy! Like an angsty teen! But in the context of glitchy bleepy electronic, it sounds, you know, not absurd.
25. The Beatles- Abbey Road- Ram, I'm starting to come around, "Her Majesty" might be worth it. The Beatles at their jokey best.
24. Belle and Sebastian- Tigermilk- These guys are in the vein of the New Pornographers in that I'd really just like one or two discs of their best stuff instead of many CDs of so-so songs. But their best songs are really catchy and happy. Goes well with smoothies.
23. Justice- + ("cross")- Usually I enjoy CDs that go home. Between huge squelchy beats and their decision to release just about every song as a single, these guys (two Frenchmen again!) go big. That's cool.
22. LCD Soundsystem- The Sound of Silver- The first disc was okay, but this one is great. Seven-minute songs, almost minimalist, but with words. And it hit some mainstream success, too!
21. The Earlies- These Were the Earlies- I can't say enough good stuff about this psychedelic, twangy, yet somehow a little electronic CD. If you like the Flaming Lips or any jam band, you might like the Earlies, Of course, they have a little self-restraint.
20. Jens Lekman- Night Falls Over Kortedala- I'm a sucker for Swedes. Cancel that. I'm a sucker for Jens Lekman. His tunes are just so sweet! And yet, they have this hipster irony to them too.
19. Balkan Beat Box- Balkan Beat Box- I guess they have a few CDs. I want them. This blast of Eastern-European and Middle-Eastern-inspired rock tunes made me want to dance, air-drum, and join a brass band.
18. Belle and Sebastian- Push Barman to Open Old Wounds- If a band's going to put out a lot of singles and EPs, like B&S, they darn well better release a compilation disc like this. It's all over the place, but scores a few big hits and a lot of little hits.
17. Portishead- Dummy- Julie's right, this is one of the sexiest CDs of all time.
16. Bloc Party- Silent Alarm- Of all the new British-accented sort of punk bands, you know, Arctic Monkeys, the Vines, Art Brut, and their boring ilk, this album is the only one that gets it right. Maybe it's the driving basslines, maybe it's the guy's voice, maybe it's just overall a little more inventive.
15. Hot Chip- the Warning- I imagine at one point these guys and the Barenaked Ladies were good friends. Then, one Christmas, Hot Chip got a bunch of electric keyboards, and BNL got a major label deal. Hot Chip, however, still rocks.
14. Jens Lekman- Oh You're So Silent Jens- Another in the Belle and Sebastian compilation-of-EP's category, and another in the pretty-boy-sings-sweet-songs category. Did I mention he uses a lot of samples?
13. Liars- Drum's Not Dead- Probably the weirdest CD in my top 15, this raw tribal drum-heavy CD is best enjoyed on a camping trip to an Incan ruin.
12. Mates of State- Bring it Back- They conjure up sunny fields like whoa. Plus, drums and electric organ? That's neat.
11. Beirut- Gulag Orkestar- These guys, however, conjure up autumn days in Eastern Europe with family members and a lot of horns. I don't know how he sounds so European, just being a college kid from the states. Also, he might be younger than me.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I guess I did blog yesterday, sort of, although at 1:15 AM

but here's something for today: Adam Werbach, former president of the Sierra Club.

Got an hour? Listen to this.
Don't? Read this.
Even less time? Try this.

The point, in fewer words than I normally would because I've been sitting at the computer all day, is this: environmentalism needs to get bigger. We need to stop saying "save the polar bears" or "save the bald eagle" and start pushing a holistic way of looking at the world. Werbach calls it a "blue" movement, in addition to the "green" movement, which advocates sustainability (although he doesn't use that word) in everything. Not just the environment. He talks about a lady he knows who was part of some Wal-Mart program to set sustainability goals, and one of hers was to lose weight. (she was very overweight, it wasn't just a vanity thing) She said, yeah, the environment is important, but she is important too, and a healthy environment and an unhealthy her is not a good situation to strive for. Being green is an aspect of it, but it's too narrow-minded on its own.

Want a good political analogy? Look at fundamentalist Christianity. They have a goshdarn unified vision of the future, and they get a lot done. And they're nuts! Imagine what a movement with a unified vision of the future that ISN'T nuts would do!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The recipes are up!
Full-text searchable! Arbitrarily taggable! Permanently online! Accessible from anywhere!

This is the best way to put recipes up! I have just entered 111 recipes over three hours! Aaaiiee, today is still my day to blog!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Phantom email pain

You'd think I'd learn by now. This happens every semester. I come home and, all of a sudden, there are no emails anymore. I still sit checking it every four minutes, but nothing ever arrives. To compensate, I employ a steady rotation of checking other websites, blogging, and eating a lot (mostly cereal). This leaves me feeling like hell most of the time. Wait a minute, I have to go check my email.

Umm, still nothing. This makes me cry out for some sort of human contact, like "Hello world, where are your souls on a Wednesday night? Perhaps I can find another person by checking Facebook again. Maybe someone has written something witty on someone else's wall, and that little touch of humanity will tide me over until the morning."

Ooh, naw, hey, maybe I can blame this on the suburbs! Because, of course, once you get here your soul gets sucked out. (they send it to Champps Sports Bar, where it makes a nice dipping sauce for crappy chicken wings.) And "ooh naw hey" sounds like a hippie chant OR a vocal warm-up exercise.

Still no email.

Oh my god eat less meat.

Watch this video. I finally did. It's 20 minutes. Or, if you're at work, read this article.

A few key points:
- The US kills 10 billion animals per year. That's 30 per person.
- If you eat good food, that doesn't make you a vegetarian or a locavore or a hippie or whatever. You can pick labels for yourself if you want, or you can just be someone who eats good food.
- The government is not our ally in eating food that will make us and the planet healthy.
- Experts who know what they're doing (I don't know his sources, sorry) recommend 1/2 lb meat per week. We eat 1/2 lb meat per day.

I watch things like this and kind of want to become vegetarian. Or, here's a nice compromise: a 90% vegetarian. If you eat 21 meals per week (call it 20 for roundness's sake), what about being vegetarian for 18 of them? Then, for those awkward times when you're out with your family or friends and there are no non-meat choices, or when you really crave a steak or a fish, go for it, twice a week.

And, I mean, stop eating junk food. But that's up to you, and it has more of a local effect. If everyone ate Snickers all the time, we'd all get fat, whatever. But if we all eat meat all the time, we'll destroy the world.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My health, my weight, cooking vegetables, and recipes online

Let's go with "cooking vegetables" first. Here's an article. (the gist: cooking food can be better for some foods, like tomatoes, because they gain more lycopene, vitamins, etc.) My counterargument is that it's not all about the vitamins. How can we say something is healthier just because it has more vitamin C or something? Maybe it also loses some vitamin X that is actually ten times as important as vitamin C. At any rate, it does raise my eyebrow again at the Raw Food movement. (I still fully intend to participate for a while, though...)

Okay, my health and my weight: I'm still addicted to cereal, and I just weighed myself today, and came in at 153.

OMG DISCLAIMER: I know weight is not a good measure of health. If you go by BMI, Lebron James is 27.5, which is "overweight." In fact, if you look at two people who look the same, and one is heavier, he's probably healthier, because more of his body is muscle (muscle is denser than fat). SO, maybe your waist size and how good you look in the mirror is a better measure. BUT, weight is the only number I have to track my health, and I am easily swayed by numbers, so I probably put too much stock in it.

OMG DISCLAIMER PART TWO: I know I'm healthy! Skinny even! But I am (probably unnaturally) concerned with staying skinny. I find obesity, or even overweightness, really pretty disgusting, because it's the only outward sign of American-rich-white gluttony that I can see, so if I were overweight, I'd feel like a big slob. At the same time, I realize that many overweight people are that way because of genetics (or some other factor they can't control), and that many overweight people lead healthier lives than I, even. Not really a fair judgment, is it? Well, my conscious mind knows that, and I just have to keep telling my subconscious.

I feel like about 160 is healthy for me (based on what? I dunno... BMI?), and I've gone between 153 and 167 over the last few years. I used to lift weights, which would explain things perfectly: I put on some muscle mass, then I lost it again. Fine. I now eat pretty healthy (except for the cereal thing) and I exercise every day, maybe not enough, but it's a good 20 minutes of hilly biking that I actually do every day, and sometimes more. (occasionally less, like when I'm home in Westlake...) Also, I lost a notch on my belt, and my pants are getting baggier, even. Usually I have a pretty good (although not great) body self-image. So if I can continue the same way for the rest of my life and hold steady in the 150's (plus more if I ever start lifting again), I'm pretty happy with that.

I guess, in summary: fuck you Hollywood for my warped perception of healthy and prejudice against large folks, fuck you Hollywood + the media + society for making me take too much stock in one number, but thank you random chance + genetics for giving me a healthy body so it doesn't really matter.

Last: recipe storage. I found a cool notepad site, Helipad, that lets me write notes plus arbitrary tags, and search through them and sort by tags. It's almost exactly what I asked for. There's also Google Base, which is (uncharacteristically) a little clumsy to create a new document. You can submit a feed, but to have a feed, the items have to already be hosted somewhere. Also, it makes everything public, while Helipad keeps them private. But now I'm thinking the best thing would just be to create a recipe blog! Put each recipe on one post, and you can add tags and search just like on Helipad. Plus you get a free RSS feed, and you can search by date added to see how your tastes change. I guess it makes it public, though, too, but my recipes are no huge secrets. Also, I like the idea of putting them on something Google-hosted, because it's not going anywhere. I'm not sure what Helipad's reliability is like. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Aaaagh, part 2

I have met my match in terms of food squeamishness twice in one day. I don't think I remember the last time that happened. Ewww! Ewwwwwww!

I think, though, someone might someday be able to convince me that this is okay. Still not sure about the Ortolan Bunting. God! What is wrong with you people?!

A list of albums, continued, but maybe a couple sentences per CD now.

50. The Notwist- Neon Golden- Maybe the most melancholy electronic record I own, really movie-soundtracky stuff. Try "Pick Up the Phone"; it's not sad, so much, it's just so melancholy.
49. Interpol- Turn On the Bright Lights- Tracks like "Obstacle 1" and "Obstacle 2" prove that Interpol was really only a great band when they were writing songs with "obstacle" in the name (but boy do they dress snazzy!).
48. Outkast- Speakerboxxx/The Love Below- "Hey Ya!" may be the best song released in my lifetime. These guys are the Beatles, or at least the U2, of hip-hop.
47. Orbital- the Middle of Nowhere- This CD alone got me started into serious techno. Thanks, Magma Books in London, for playing it. If you think techno is all blips and bleeps with no soul, listen to "Otono" or "Nothing Left" off this album.
46. The Beatles- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band- Thank you to my friends for helping me realize that the Beatles are not just another oldies relic, and that they make some of the best music ever. "A Day in the Life" may be the best song not released in my lifetime.
45. Tally Hall- Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum- much as I will talk about these guys as the next Beatles, this record isn't there yet. It's too patchy and boy-band-ish. But it totally deserves this spot for memories of many Tally Hall concerts, and all my friends like them.
44. Tegan and Sara- the Con- Catchy and innovative pop sung by two girls. How could I NOT like it?
43. Sufjan Stevens- Come On Feel the Illinoise!- I don't like folk, I don't like neo-folk or or singer-songwriter or anything without some sort of electronic amplification, but I mean Sufjan is just so dreamy.
42. Grand Buffet- Five Years of Fireworks- Not so much for the CD, as these guys are terrible recorded, but incredible live. I have many happy memories of Grand Buffet concerts. This may also be the only place that Will's, Sarah's, and my musical tastes overlap.
41. The Flaming Lips- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots- A concept album that doesn't suffer from concept album syndrome or from Flaming Lips syndrome. Every song is solid, dystopic, sci-fi, and yet very human.
40. The Beatles- Rubber Soul- Maybe the most consistently good Beatles album, because the only songs I ever skip are "Michelle" and "Girl".
39. The Beatles- Revolver- I'm so divided on this album. Huge highs! Eleanor Rigby, And Your Bird Can Sing, Taxman! But also Yellow Submarine? Come on, guys!
38. Sonic Youth- Daydream Nation- Finally finally got into these guys and claimed a bit of indie cred (and shared taste with my Uncle Jim) right before I saw them play this album in Barcelona. If you're a child of the 00's, think of them as the pre-Broken Social Scene and listen to this album five times and maybe the whole fuzzy thing will sink into your head as it has mine.
37. Los Campesinos!- Hold On Now, Youngster- The last good pop record I've picked up, it's full of yelps, but worth your time anyway.
36. The Knife- Deep Cuts- If it were just "Heartbeats" fifteen times, this disc would still be worth the money. As it is, it also includes "You Take My Breath Away", as well as bits of icy weirdness like "You Make Me Like Charity" and (lol) "Hangin' Out."
35. Radiohead- In Rainbows- Here is the one part in my list where I cheated, I left
34. Radiohead- Kid A- three Radiohead albums in a row to avoid actually
33. Radiohead- OK Computer- categorizing or work in this arbitrarily constructed ORDERS OF ORDERS WHAT IS THIS MONUMENT we are all organized Vaguely ominous PORTENts masking ambiguous CONtent we hope that you choke
32. Talking Heads- Remain in Light- Well I love these guys, David Byrne's voice is singular, their jerky style is just how I dance, they're nerds but quality musicians, Pitchfork says this is their best album, and it contains cool rhythms AND "Once in a Lifetime".
31. Junior Boys- So This Is Goodbye- Speaking of icy techno, these guys are too cool for school. Oddly, they remind me of lazy warm Maastricht days.

Animal rights protesters are pansies

Kicking and screaming about foie gras? Wusses. Making a fuss about battery-farmed chickens? Lame. See, REAL badass animal rights activists protest against Ortolan Buntings.

(humor aside, ewww. I'm no animals-have-feelings-too kind of hippie, and I'm all for innovative food, and these birds probably still suffer less than battery chickens, but ewww! That is like something out of a horror movie. That is The-Cook-The-Thief-His-Wife-and-Her-Lover-esque cruelty. I mean, it's cruel even if animals don't have feelings too.)

Also, this is not a joke.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gift ideas

The blog challenge: I'm losing already! Well, we can start it today if you like. I blame family and graduation.

And before I dash off to the grocery, as I am wont to do, let me throw this out there as my first blog challenge post. It's appropriate around now, and if you know me, you'll know why (hint: it's my birthday in about a week!).

Preface: I don't think this post makes me particularly self-centered; I think it makes me conscious of my role as a consumer in this world. I don't enjoy the custom of gifts, as it guilts people into buying things that other people do not want. But I understand the desire of others to commemorate me on this anniversary of me popping out of my mother's womb into a world that might self-destruct before I do.

Things to get me that I will like:
- experiences, preferably with you. Tickets to a concert that we both like would be awesome! Or take me out to dinner or lunch, I would certainly enjoy that. Or for a drink, or for a mid-afternoon snack, or to a folk festival, or a lecture or artistic or comedic experience. Even if it's cheap, and especially if I wouldn't normally go to it.
- consumable things that I like to consume. Examples include beer, tea, uh, fancy liquor, or any packaged food with a different language on it. Examples do not generally include wine, although I can't say I'd mind. I will think of you as I consume this item. Then I will recycle the packaging.
- things I need. Of course, you probably don't know what I need, and if I really needed something, I'd buy it myself, which leads us to:
- gift cards. For stores I like. Which are... well... almost by definition, not national chains. (there are exceptions: Chipotle, REI, uh, and probably others...) Or even unofficial gift cards: you could give me some money and say "buy some clothes with this," and I would, and that would be nice. Or if you said something that I didn't want, like "buy a new watch with this", I would just buy something else and smile and lie to you. But then we don't have the waste of you buying me a watch that I'll never use.
- nothing! You can buy me nothing! I will not be offended, because I am officially asking for nothing! You could put some nothing in a (reusable) box; then I would be thrilled because you would be the first person to actually listen when I say I want nothing!
- or of course, something that you put a lot of time into, with some meaning. Those sentimental sort of gifts are always nice.
- last but not least, cash is actually fine. I won't think you thoughtless. I will think, "you don't have to get me cash" and maybe I would spend it taking you out for an ice cream cone. Everybody wins!

Really. Make the world a better place. Or at least, refrain from making the world a worse place. Stop waste. Please. I love you anyway without you adding another THING to a landfill and another debt to your credit card.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Email records, and the blog challenge.

Hey. First question: I have a bunch of old emails from my times at CMU. I'm transitioning to my Gmail address. I'd like to keep my email records around (they're handy to check sometimes, like "what was that dude's email address?" or "did I ever send that info to that guy?"). Ideally, I'd just forward them all to my Gmail account and archive them. But there are like 15000 of them. Does anyone have a solution for this problem?

Second: I aim to post one post per two days. This is to keep pace with Sarah. (You may know her. If you do, she links to her blog on her Facebook account. If you're just a random dude or creepy internet person, then you wouldn't know her, and that's the point.) She wants to write more. Sort of like a guy who runs along with you while you're training for a marathon, I will blog with her, to keep her to the pace of one post per two days also. Plus, I wouldn't mind writing more.

Guidelines: I must post once every other day, starting tomorrow. A day is 12am to 11:59pm. It can't just be "here's a link, look at it"; there must be some substance or creativity to it. It doesn't have to be anything deep or particularly good. I'm not the writer here, she is. And besides, she doesn't have to write anything particularly deep either, she just wants to write something regularly, because apparently that's important if you're a writer.

(if you'd like to join in the blog challenge, maybe that would be fun! all my friends' blogs that I know about, I like, so I wouldn't mind if you posted more.)

And I'm first, and it starts tomorrow. Whoo-ee!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One part nostalgia, one part honest recommendations, one part Did I mention I like making lists? ... #88.3-51

Okay, this is dumb and self-indulgent, and it's not even really a top-n list of ANYTHING, I guess technically it's a list of "albums I have listened to at Carnegie Mellon that I really like" or some sort of desert-island itunes library... but take it for what you will, I liked making this list, and it serves a couple of honest purposes:
- for my own memory
- maybe you haven't heard these albums, and would like to check them out
- I sure do like making lists.
I put CDs on here if they had a big product of quality * how much I like them * the memories they bring back.

Without further ado, #88.3 to #51, and I'll limit myself to one sentence each, tops:
88.3. The Shins- Chutes Too Narrow- I didn't want to put the Shins on here at all because they're so blah, but at one time I did really like "Kissing the Lipless" and "Saint Simon" and maybe I still do.
88. The Field- From Here We Go Sublime- Maybe the techno-iest of my techno indulgences, this minimalist repetitive disc is at once relaxing, trance-inducing, and dancey.
87. Prefuse 73- One Word Extinguisher- Somehow all the glitches and the rapping and the rhythms all come together in some jangly mess.
86. Mylo- Destroy Rock and Roll- WRCT rec from Danny Orenstein, I think, this is a little cutesy and a lot infectious dance pop music.
85. Steve Goldberg- Steve Goldberg and the Arch Enemies- more for the memories, thanks to Will recording/mixing this disc, but it's still good if not excellent pop, and from a CMU student!
84. Bat for Lashes- Fur and Gold- Sometimes I love beautiful icy female voices over dark, brooding, backgrounds (see: Portishead), but I can't fall in love with the whole disc because it's a little slow.
83. Tom Vek- We Have Sound- "A Little Word In Your Ear" sounds classic already, also memories of German class with Prof. Hallstein for some reason.
82. Voxtrot- Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, and Wives- if this were a full-length of the same quality, it'd be much higher.
81. The Rapture- Pieces of the People We Love- somehow rises above most of the British-sounding dance-punk bands, and I could listen to the opening four bars of "get myself into it" on repeat for literally minutes.
80. Beck- Guero- Hasn't aged as well as other Beck albums, but this second dose of Odelay hit me at the right time and struck a chord, if you will.
79. The New Pornographers- Electric Version- I still think, if these guys made just one album of their best songs instead of like four okay power-pop albums, it might ascend, body, soul, and liner notes, into heaven.
78. The National- Alligator- Thank god somebody is singing a pop/rock CD with a powerful bass voice, plus these guys rock and I kinda wish I put them higher.
77. The Prodigy- Their Law: the Singles 1990-2005- now THIS is energizing, and it makes me wish I got into them in the 90's instead of just hearing and ignoring "Firestarter."
76. The Flaming Lips- Zaireeka- I've listened to it once, and it was last Friday, but it's a cool experiment, and props to them for making a CD that forces you to get people together and have an event.
75. BOAT- Songs That You Might Not Like- Unnoticed by others and overrated by me, this sloppy pop CD still brings me back to Florida and airports.
74. The Beta Band- The Three E.P.'s- Hey, can we all get all excited over "Dry the Rain" again?
73. Pixies- Doolittle- Ram and Aaron, I'm sorry this is not in the top 10, but I think I'm just a half-generation too young to REALLY get into them, which is not saying I can't kinda get into them.
72. The Books- Lost and Safe- This one's for Daniel Dewey, and I have often wished I had an ipod with this CD on it so my average walk in the park could become a movie with soundtrack.
71. Sigur Ros- Takk...- And this one (along with Agaetis Byrjun) has made me wish I were on the side of a grand mountain overlooking rolling green hills on a cloudy day that threatened storm; fairies optional.
70. Gil Mantera's Party Dream- Bloodsongs- For the experience of seeing them live, which is one of those things I will probably never forget, for better or worse.
69. Joan of Arc- Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain- Thanks, Joe McD, this made my sophomore year a little more dark and twisted in a sort of immature way, and I think that's all a compliment.
68. The Unicorns- Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?- I can't point to when exactly it wormed its way into my consciousness, but I do know at some point I heard "Jellybones" in Skibo, and I thought "what song is that, because I love it!"
67. Ratatat- Ratatat- This bit of crunchy electronics is so Sam McUmber, and Sam McUmber is a cool dude, and this CD is a cool CD.
66. Pavement- Slanted and Enchanted- Mostly, for the indie cred.
65. Girl Talk- Night Ripper- Woo Pittsburgh, and his mashups are spot-on, and I want to be him (except without all the drugs).
64. Sly and the Family Stone- the Essential Sly and the Family Stone- Hi, I'm white, I like the poppy upbeat SatFS but I can't get into "There's a Riot Going On", and by the way, thanks Adam Jaffe.
63. !!!- !!!- Still impossible to Google, these guys were my first favorite dance-punks, and I didn't even know it.
62. Flotation Toy Warning- Bluffer's Guide to the Flight Deck- Well-crafted, still brings up the hopelessness feelings of Godspeed! you Black Emperor in about 1/3 the time, maybe only because of the theremin.
61. Various Artists (as selected by Hot Chip)- DJ Kicks- I would love to make a CD like this, which not only flits from Hot Chip to obscure German techno to "I Got a Man" by Positive K seamlessly, it makes it seem like they couldn't go together any other way.
60. The Go! Team- Proof of Youth- The reviews all said their stuff lost its edge and this CD was just more of the same, but I love that same, and it's all worth it for the (instrumental) pre-chorus of Keys to the City, and have you seen them live?
59. The Fiery Furnaces- Bitter Tea- Tough to pick out a second FF album, but this one does get me feeling the worldwide travel and Southeast Asian jungles, and ooh, it sounds like that witch's hut scene from Pirates of the Caribbean 2 looks.
58. The Avalanches- Since I Left You- Will probably go down in history better than Girl Talk, as it's more polished, but I still envy all-samples records.
57. My Bloody Valentine- Loveless- I know I'm supposed to LOOOVE this pioneering groundbreaking genre-defining shoegaze record, but really, I only love it.
56. Eels- Electro-Shock Blues- I still say these guys are a little hit-or-miss, but it's one of a few CDs that really brings back the slanty shanty and summer 2006 for me.
55. Stars- Nightsongs- Also a little hit-or-miss, the hits are the kind of music that almost makes me cry, and have you heard their cover of "This Charming Man"?
54. TV on the Radio- Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes- Better than Cookie Mountain, this disc is one of few that I feel is really yelping and reaching and creating very primal sounds instead of staying within a safe, distanced indie niche.
53. Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend- overrated, sure, but I like it, and Sarah likes it, and if for no other reason, it deserves a spot on this list because it will always bring me back to spring 2008.
52. The B-52's- Cosmic Thing- maybe I'm cheating on this one, because my parents used to play it when I was a kid, but when I rediscovered it, I dove in headfirst to one of the most fun records I will ever hear.
51. Gnarls Barkley- St. Elsewhere- mainstream, sure, but unlike most flash-in-the-pan pop stars, these guys are the real deal, and I hope they go down in history as one of the highlights of the '00s.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The List Is Coming.

I made a list of the top 88.3 albums of my college career. Beej thought this was silly. Obviously he doesn't understand my really great love of both music and making lists.

I'm going to write something about them, though, so I won't put it up just yet. But soon!

Why do I keep reading Consumerist...

oh yeah, it's for links to stuff like this: a brilliant skewering of yogurt commercials.

( being a big ol' blog full of people writing in and complaining about Best Buy, Verizon, any and all airlines, Wal-mart, etc., complete with comments about how much the companies suck. I started reading it, thinking it'd be the kind of thing I like, and sometimes they have good advice on how to get your issue fixed. But a lot of times it's just whining. But then, well, sometimes they have funny things like this.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I quite unwittingly gave a great gift the other day

The year's ending, and my research project is wrapping up, so I wanted to get a gift for my advisor, Noah. He's been great all year. It's been a pleasure working with him, even all those weeks that I came in and said "I didn't do anything last week" or "Oh my god I'm a failure help." I'm still bewildered by research and grad school, but everyone's got to start somewhere, and thanks to his moral support, I'm not ruling out grad school for the future. In fact, I sort of imagine that someday I'll say "It's time to go back to school." Or maybe not, we'll see, but I feel like maybe someday I could do it.

Anyway, I wanted to give him a gift for all his support. I know he likes wine, and his main computer is called "malbec." I worked with this computer for MONTHS before I learned that the other computers were called "cabernet" and "chardonnay" and stuff and I realized "malbec" was a wine. So I figured a bottle of Malbec would be a nice gift. I picked one out at the ol' state-run wine and spirits shop, pretty much at random, although they only had like three Malbecs and this one was the prettiest bottle, so okay, cool. And it looked like it was an okay bottle of wine, although I don't know from wine. I figured maybe it would be good, or maybe it'd just be a joke, "ha ha, malbec, like the computer."

He sent me an email to say thanks for the wine, and that it should age a few years, so he'll keep it safe until then. I thought, okay, haha, I bought a crummy wine that might be good in a few years. But then I thought again, and I realized: that's awesome! Someday in a few years, he'll be picking out a bottle of wine, and he'll say "wow, this malbec was from Dan! I remember that project we did together, back in my early days of professorship and his early days of undergraduate research! I wonder how he's doing now!" or something. I mean, not that remembering me is any big treat, or I'm a great gift giver (like I said, it was accidental), but I'd love it if someone gave me a time-capsule gift like that.

(okay, not wine, because like I said, I don't know from wine, and (unlike everything else) I don't particularly care to, but like whiskey or something. Anything that should age, and is then consumable. What a cool gift!)

But yeah. My research project, at least my part, is done. I'm happy about that. I'm not too proud of it, but it's something, and undergrads don't usually come up with earth-shattering results anyway. Thanks again, Noah, it's been a good experience, and I couldn't have done it without you.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Dear The Media: please stop.

I've got this little Google News feed on my home page, it gives me the five biggest stories aggregated from papers around the world each day. And every day since Monday, there's been something about the Josef Fritzl story.

Granted, it's pretty much the most fucked-up thing in the world. If you haven't heard about it by now, and you're just reading the article for the first time, I'll give you a minute to get over the "oh my god" factor involved in this case. It's terrifying, I mean, it's one of those "true life is worse than horror movies" sort of stories. Eeurgh.

BUT! Does it deserve a place in the news? No! It's a case of a few people. This guy should get sent to jail for life without parole. The victims should all get all the medical, therapeutic, emotional, and educational help possible. A few other loose ends need to be connected: apparently he was a convicted sex offender and then he adopted a kid; how did that happen? and so on. And then the case should be closed. Just like the OJ Simpson case, just like every other macabre story the media drums up.

What's the rationale behind plastering this story on the front pages of newspapers worldwide? If you have an argument that it's not just sensationalism, let me know. The world is fearful enough without these awful tales lurking in your mind. And poor Austria: this story is being reported as the "Austria dungeon case" or whatever. Will tourism to Austria take a hit? Will people start thinking of this beautiful country (I've been there, it's beautiful, and the people are friendly too) as "the kind of place where people lock their incestuous families in horrific dungeons"? Crime there is no worse than anywhere else; in fact, judging by these stats, it seems like a safe place. (the only high rates are for suicides and rapes, both in small 20-country studies, and data for rapes tends to be unreliable, I guess)

The poor family too! I'm sure they're keeping the media away from them, but meanwhile people are gawking at the whole thing. In coordination with Julie Brown's plea to leave Britney Spears alone, I'd like to ask everyone to leave this poor family alone. Seriously.

And do not be afraid of scary guys locking incestuous families in horrific dungeons. It happened once. Be more afraid of getting hit by a car. You run the risk of THAT every day.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bar: did they beat me to it?

Think bars
Click on "think5". Try the "red berry" one. Read the ingredients list: vegetable powders, fruit concentrates, "soy lecithin" (still don't know what that is), trendy stuff like spirulina and green tea extract, and some olive oil and salt and stuff. Seems good to me. What's the catch? Maybe:
- all these powders. I assume they just dry the vegetables and then grind them up. If that's all there is to it, seems fine with me.
- the fruit concentrates. Think about apple juice from concentrate, which really doesn't have much of any nutritional value (that is to say, it doesn't have much whole apple, just peeled apple mashed up and concentrated). Is that what's going on here?
- the dreaded "natural flavors" (could be anything) at the bottom.

Still, it sounds like they are doing what I aimed to do with the Bar project (which I'll keep working on). I'd buy it. I wouldn't replace all my vegetables and fruit intake with it, but I'd eat it instead of some other bar. Most energy/protein/nutrition bars are either mostly grains, nutritional-sounding sugars (like "brown rice syrup" and "date extract"), or some weird "soy protein isolate" that tastes like hell and is probably not even healthy. So I'd go for a mostly-fruit-and-vegetables bar.