Saturday, December 31, 2005

Top Albums of 2005 - #1

1. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm


So here we are. Number 1. When I first made a draft of this list, Bloc Party wasn't even on it. I had forgotten that Silent Alarm actually came out this year. I've been listening to it for so long, I just normally assumed that it came out earlier than it actually did. But it did come out this year, so here it is. Their debut album tops the charts.

What can I say about Bloc Party? I burned this disc up for months upon months, culminating with seeing them a few months ago, and you know what? The album still sounds as fresh today as it did on my first (illegal) listen. They may have the best rythmn section going right now. The bass and drum just drive their songs--and drive them very fast.

But Bloc Party is more than just a Gang of Four knockoff, which becomes very apparent listening to the disc by the time you get to "Pioneers". The difference? The lead singer's sensibility. This disc will stand on its own for years to come. I look forward to their next (and the one after that). I predict great things for Bloc Party. Standout tracks? All of them.

Of course, this doesn't even consider Silent Alarm Remixed, which could probably merit inclusion on its own. I figured that one Bloc Party album was enough though.

Happy New Year everyone! Normal posting (sans lists) will resume next week.

NP: Bloc Party - "Luno (Bloc Party vs. Death from Above 1979)"

Friday, December 30, 2005

Top Albums of 2005 - #2

2. The National - Alligator


This album has been climbing the ranks of this list ever since I first started jotting down albums about a month ago. Ever ranking I gave seemed too low, until now that is. It's probably a bit of a crime that The National was overshadowed by the hyped surrounding their opening band on their tour (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!). Nevertheless, this album stands solidly on its own.

The tracks on the album range from rocking to somber and the lyrics from serious to almost silly at times, but I keep coming back for more. The album works whether you're working, sitting around the house doing a bunch of nothing, or driving. In any case, this is the album that inspired me to check out the band's back catalog, and that's saying something.

I'm not going to list any standout tracks here because they are all solid and my favorites change with my mood.

NP: "Mr November" - The National

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Top Albums of 2005 - #3

3. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday

I'm not really sure how to describe this ablum. Whereas many of the top albums of this year echo the best of the 80s all mashed together, The Hold Steady jump right over that. Instead, they seem to draw inspiration from the 70s, pre-disco, pre-punk. I'm thinking Chiliwack, Bad Company, and Foghat. That said, they don't sound like a 70s band. They merely take some of the better features of that music and integrate it.

Combine that with some of the smartest stories and interesting delivery that I've heard in a while, and you have one great album. Separation Sunday has an epic sweep to it. I can't decide if it's flirting with being a concept album or not, but all the songs seem to follow a sort of progression. This is one of those rare albums that really improves a lot when you listen to it in its entirety.

Separation Sunday has a number of standout tracks, including "Your Little Hoodrat FRiend," (which had me singing along on my long road trip last week), "Stevie Nicks," and the last track on the album, "How a Resurrection Really Feels."

NP: The Hold Steady - "Your Little Hoodrat Friend"

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Top Albums of 2005 - #4

4. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary


The latest wave of the Canadian music invasion, Wolf Parade's album arrived with almost more hype than it could bear--the next Arcade Fire, the band that was supposed to break out from Montreal first, etc. With such hype, it's amazing that the album wasn't a huge disappointment. All I had to go on before the actual release date were some live recordings for the CBC, and what I heard there was good. I didn't think a whole album could sustain the energy these tracks displayed.

Boy, was I wrong. And how. The album is full of energy,dissonance, hand clapping, and (I imagine) foot stomping. While the comparisons to the Arcade Fire are to my mind wrong (aside from the whole Montreal thing), Wolf Parade creates further comparisons--David Bowie and Modest Mouse--but none fully capture their essential sound. Yes, you can hear the impact of Modest Mouse's lead singer producing the album, but that's about where it ends. Wolf Parade creates much more joyful music, where the dissonance and oddness aren't end in and of themselves.

Stand out tracks from Apologies to the Queen Mary include the opening track, "You are a Runner, and I am my Father's Son" which gets the album off to a great start. My personal favorite song is "Shine a Light" which was the first song of theirs I heard by downloading the CBC live tracks. I defy anyone to listen to it and not nod your head or tap your foot (or both and drum on your desk to boot). One other notable track is "Ground for Divorce." I'm hoping that they make an appearance in Atlanta very soon.

NP "Shine a Light" - Wolf Parade

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Top Albums of 2005 - #5

5. British Sea Power - Open Season


The sophomore follow up to their debut, The Decline of British Sea Power, this was one of the most anticipated albums of the year for me. Their first album was one of my top albums of 2003, so I looked forward to this one quite a lot. Given it's placement on this list, it obviously didn't disappoint me.

While I loved their first album, it was at times inconsistent, especially in the production value. Open Season suffered none of the same problems. While it lost a bit of the raw edge of the first album, by smoothing down the sharp corners, they achieved a much fuller sound. Many of the albums on this list hearken back to the 80s in their sound. We've had band compared to Gang of Four, Joy Division, and the Cure, among others. British Sea Power use a bit of this sound as well, but their sound recalls Echo & the Bunnymen at their height (for those of you that know me, you know that is a high compliment indeed).

The album has a number of outstanding tracks, including the opener "It Ended on an Oily Stage," and the anthemic "Please Stand Up." (A backwards homage to James perhaps?) My favorite track on the album, however, is "Oh Larsen B," which can only be described as a love song to an iceberg. All this together puts Open Season in my top 5.

It didn't hurt that it was my favorite show of the year.

I know I'm a day behind here (due to unforeseen parental computer problems). I'll catch up tomorrow with numbers 3 and 4.

NP: "Oh Larsen B" - British Sea Power

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Weekly Music Report

As days of traveling approach, I have to post this one day early. According to Last.fm, I listened to the following musical artists the most last week.
  1. The National
  2. Death Cab for Cutie
  3. Swervedriver
  4. Afghan Whigs
  5. The Charlatans UK
  6. My Morning Jacket
  7. Blur
  8. Wilco
  9. Echo & the Bunnymen
  10. Pavement
This will likely be my last post this week, but I'll be returning after Christmas to continue my top 20. Until then, Happy Holidays everone! [Ed. Note: Bill O'Reilly is coming for you buster!]

NP: NPR's All Song's Considered

Top Albums of 2005 (6 - 10)

Continuing my list this week, we enter the top 10. Here are albums 6 - 10 of my 20 favorite albums this year (11 - 15, 16 - 20, honorable mentions).

10. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
The minute I heard the first track on disc one, I was hooked. How can you not like "Daft Punk is Playing at My House." Throughout my summer shuffling, it seemed like every time I'd pick up the iPod to see who was playing the sound I was totally grooving to at the time, it was LCD Soundsystem. Also recommended, "Yr City's a Sucker."


9. Sufjan Stevens – Come on Feel the Illinoise
A whole of lot lists have this album at number one with a bullet, and it was easily the most blogged about music of the year. Some people love it. Some people hate it. And don't get me wrong, this is a great album (top 10 after all), but I don't put it in my top five (though it could rise or fall a couple of spots depending on my mood.

8. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

The other most blogged about band of the year. CYHSY are quite the Internet success story, parlaying online buzz into something pretty big. This was THE album for a lot of people. It's too inconsistent to crack the top five, but when it's on, it's really on. I look forward to many more good things from them.


7. Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
Anther English import in a year that saw a lot of them. This album didn't have the hype of Bloc Party's, but it does what it does very well. What is that you ask? It rocks (even using bits and pieces of an 80s sound, which seems to be so much the vogue these days. Recommended track, "I Predict a Riot," but there are many that are stand outs (top ten and all that).

6. Spoon – Gimme Fiction
I can't believe this isn't a top five album still. This was the toughest decision that I had to make on this entire exercise. Any other year, it could be the best or second best of the year. But that is the nature of such lists. With Gimme Fiction, Spoon continues to deliver the goods. I think this album even improves on their last, Kill the Moonlight. "Sister Jack" may be the best driving song of the year, and who could resist the swagger of "I Turn My Camera On." There's really not a weak link on the entire album. Unfortunately, I missed Spoon live, which probably would have been enough to vault the album into the top five.

Next week, I hope to devote a post to each of my top five albums throughout the week, building up to my favorite album Friday week. I'll have to do something to fill my holiday hours after all.

NP: "Starting Point" - Moose

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Full Circle

Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the web, now has a blog. Welcome to the conversation that you started!

NP: "Don't Bang the Drum" - The Waterboys

Another Good Reason to Live Intown

My Congressman.

Posting will be light this week, as I get ready for the holidays (much as most of you are probably doing). There will be the obligatory music posts (10 - 6 best albums and weekly music report).

NP: "Killing Armies" - Wolf Parade

Friday, December 16, 2005

Friday Music Report

According to the good folks over at Last.fm, I listened to the following artists the most last week:
  1. Wilco
  2. Hüsker Dü
  3. Pavement
  4. Beethoven
  5. Feist
  6. Elvis Costello
  7. Joy Division
  8. Echo & the Bunnymen
  9. Stellastarr
  10. Iron & Wine
Finally, I seem to be mixing it up a bit (aside from Wilco and Elvis Costello).

NP: "Better Time" - French Kicks

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Internet Explorer vs. Firefox

Why didn't anyone tell me how bad IE makes the formatting here look? Go switch already! (I do promise to try to do a little better in the future though.)

NP: "July Junes" - The New Pornographers

Top Albums of 2005 (11 - 15)

Continuing my list this week, here are albums 11 through 15 of my favorite albums of the year (16 - 20, honorable mentions).

15. Iron & Wine – Woman King and In the Reins (with Calexico)
Yes, I know this is two albums (and two bands even), but neither would qualify as a full length album. I just couldn't let any list of the best of 2005 not include something from Iron & Wine. Sam Beam's music has absolutely captivated me--and it's not even normally my cup of tea.


Each album seems to be about the perfect length as is. To make either of these albums any longer to allow them to qualify for a list with more strict qualification rules would likely take away some of their power. And the addition of Calexico to the mix works very nicely.


14. Gorillaz – Demon Days
Damon Albarn and his animated company have done it again, this time adding Dangermouse to the mix. This album picks up right where the last one lets off, letting Albarn continue to explore the ground he was beginning to break with Blur. I listened to this album almost non-stop right after I got it, and for much of the year, I was convinced it would make my top 10.

13. The Spinto Band – Nice and Nicely Done

I only recently discoved this band, but what's not to like. Great harmonies, infectious melodies, and smart songwriting. I know it will sound like pop to many ears--and it is. But, it's pop that is so well done that it makes anything else that gets pop-like radio airplay seem merely pedestrian by comparison.

12. My Morning Jacket – Z
Despite all the problems this album has had due to its copy protection (thanks Sony), it really is the most focused work by My Morning Jacket to date. Gone are the expansive, sometimes chaotic song selections and there's a little less falsetto, but what remains is an album that really hangs together as an album, which is really hard to do in age of file dowloads and iPods on shuffle.

11. Sleater Kinney – The Woods
This may have been one of the most anticipated releases this year, and it didn't disappoint. The Woods does a great job of capturing the band's live energy and translates it to bits and bytes. It took me a while to warm to some of the more warbly vocal moments, but when you just want to drive (and drive fast), this album may be one of the best couple of the year.

That does it for 10 through 20. Next week, we'll examine the first half of the top 10, and I'll reveal the top five and all other albums receiving consideration during the week after Christmas (sadly too late for you to buy any of them for the music aficiados in your life [Ed Note: Like anyone would listen to you anyway]).

NP: "I'll Believe in Anything" - Wolf Parade

Amen, Sister

Happy Holidays. Who was it exactly that declared war on Christmas again?

NP: "Shanty for the Arethusa" - The Decemberists

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dear France

A New Orleans homeowner writes France, asking them to renogotiate the Louisiana purchase and buy Louisiana back.

NP: "The Plan" - Built to Spill

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Trip Around the Music Blogs

Since it's the holiday season, I'd like to send out holiday greetings to all the bloggers that have turned me on to such great music this year. These are some of the blogs I visit on a semi-regular basis that highlight music, so I thought I'd show them all some holiday link love.

Each of these bloggers does a great job commmenting on music, and they have all allowed me to expand my musical taste and collection. Keep up the good work everyone!
Sorry the list is so long, but all of them deserve the shout out.

NP: "Trainer" - Pinback

Support Your Local Rock Band - Mantissa

Here's a new, hopefully somewhat regular feature here: support your local band. From time to time, I hope to post links to the pages for some worthy bands in Atlanta. First up, Mantissa.

I hang with these guys from time to time, but I only just now heard some of their music, and it's worth a listen. Hopefully, I have some mp3s of theirs to post soon, but in the interim, head on over to their myspace page and listen to some of the samples (I especially like Lorelei).

NP: "Future Boy" - The Catherine Wheel

The Evolution of the Alphabet

Here's a nice animation of the evolution of the alphabet. I've always had an interest in this, going back to looking at precursors to our alphabet in the Encylopedia at my grandmother's house. This animation elegantly captures all that.

NP: "The Unpredictable Landlord" - Bedhead (I'm finally catching up on the U.S. side of the U.K. vs. U.S. mix Vllacky)

Monday, December 12, 2005

More Music Listmania

Stylus Magazine weighs in with their top 50 singles of 2005. This list is much more comprehensive than any that I could come up with since it embraces so many different genres. From their selections that jibe with my musical tastes though, it sounds pretty accurate.

The real question now is, with the continued rise of electronic music downloads (legal or otherwise), how relevant is the single anymore?

NP: "Gods Will Be Gods" - Echo & the Bunnymen

Friday, December 09, 2005

World Cup Draw

The waiting is finally over--the world cup draw is over. All the group matches are set. I'm a little disappointed that the U.S. isn't one of the top seeds and that Mexico, who the U.S. has owned outside of Mexico City, did.

How will this work (for any World Cup rookies)? A team plays each of the other teams in their group (3 games). You get 3 points for each win and 1 point for each draw. After the opening three matches, the two teams in each group with the most points advance to the knockout stages. (Any ties are decided by the number of goals.)

Here's how I see it right now. Teams advancing listed in order of finish. All predictions are guaranteed to be inaccurate or your money back:

Group A
Germany, Costa Rica, Poland, Ecuador

This group shouldn't challenge the hosts much at all. Costa Rica, their opponent in the competition's opening match, was dreadful down the qualifying stretch, and Ecuador is the weak link in my opinion from South America. Germany, Poland advance.

Group B
England, Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden

You've got to hate to see Sweden in this group if you support England. They just can't seem to beat the scandanavians. I like Trinidad to be entertaining, but still come in last. Sweden and Paraguay should battle for second. England, Paraguay advance.

Group C
Argentina, Ivory Coast, Serbia & Montenegro, Netherlands

This is it. The group of death. Argentina is, well, Argentina. Ivory Coast tore through Africa during qualifying, and the Netherlands probably should have been seeded. Normally, I'd go with the underdog Ivory Coast, but they are newcomers, and although I like them to surprise Argentina, they go home early. Netherlands, Argentina advance.

Group D
Mexico, Iran, Angola, Portugal

This is the coulda shoulda group. The group that could have been the U.S.'s had they gotten a top seed. I don't know anything about Angola, and that usually doesn't bode well. Portugal, Mexico advance.

Group E
Italy, Ghana, U.S., Czech Republic

Ouch ouch ouch. So the U.S. dodges group C, but ends up making the second hardest group. This one is almost too hard to handicap, but I won't let that stop me. The U.S. needs to soundly defeat either Italy or the Czechs to make it easy. Italy struggled a bit of late, but the catennaccio will carry them through. I think the U.S. advances as well using goal differential. ItalyCzech Republic, U.S. advance (it's my blog, I'm allowed to be a homer). (Update: I really thought better of this selection over the weekend.)

Group F
Brazil, Croatia, Australia, Japan

Australia's dream ends here. Japan played to well in the qualifying; I don't see them crashing out. Brazil is a perennial favorite to win the whole thing. Brazil, Japan advance.

Group G
France, Switzerland, South Korea, Togo

One of the two groups where I was hoping the U.S. would land. France struggled mightily in qualifying, but they can never be ignored. Togo is making it's first trip. Switzerland? See Australia. South Korea, France advance.

Group H
Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia

The easiest group in the competition. As inconsistent as Spain has been, they should still advance easily. Can Shevchenko carry Ukraine past the first round. Can Tunisia or Saudi Arabia finally make some noise? Not this time. Ukraine has been too hot. Ukraine, Spain advance.

Now for my travel arrangements. The first three games for the U.S. are in Gelsenkirchen, Kaiserslautern, and Nuremburg. I'm leaning toward the final match against Ghana in Nuremburg. This will probably be the make or break match for the U.S.'s hope of advancing. I'd also get to see Japan Croatia match if I get there a few days earlier. Time to start pricing things.

NP: "Kasey Keller" - Barcelona

Top 20 Albums of 2005 (16 - 20)

2005 has been a fantastic year for music. So, I'm going to capitilize on that and cash in with my top 20 albums of the year. As much as I listen to music (and that's a lot), I don't listen to nearly enough to create anything I would consider a definitive and comprehensive list. This list represents the 20 albums that I've enjoyed the most this year. Feel free to agree or disagree, and to convince me of the error of my ways. The worst that could happen is that I would discover something new.

In any case, picking only 20 albums to represent this year was really hard. The first time I made the list off the top of my head, I ended up with 31 albums (and Muzzle of Bees beat me to that idea). Trimming that additional 11 was hard work. When I reveal the final five, I'll list the others that I thought long and hard about.

So without further ado, the top 20 begins with albums 16 through 20. For the next three weeks (the rest of the month), I'll continue the countdown five albums at a time.

20. Okkervil River – Black Sheep Boy

I only recently discovered Okkervil River. I'm glad a did. Anyone that knows my musical taste will know that I'm a sucker for a bit of twang and a bit of organ shimmer. Okkervil River supplies both.




19. Sigur Rós – Takk

I'm not sure what to make of Sigur Rós. I'm a relative newcomer to their music, having only discovered their ethereal but addicting songs this year. All I know is that I keep looking for it on my iPod, whatever the situation. This album was a lifesaver on especially long travel days.



18. Feist – Let it Die


Broken Social Scene member, Leslie Feist, provides the #17 album of 2005. I'm not usually draw to singer-songwriter music, but this is a great exception (even if that description isn't especially descriptive). Her show inspired me to run out and grab this outstanding album.



17. Broken Social Scene – Self Titled

I really liked Your Forgot it in People, so I eagerly anticipated this release. At first, I was honestly a little disappointed. I thought it a little too chaotic at times (which is to be expected from such a large collective). It has really grown on me though. I suspect that if I were compiling this list sometime next month, it would crack the top 10.


16. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema

This list is suddenly looking awfully Canadian isn't it. Dan Bejar's work on this album convinced me to give his solo project, Destroyer, another try. And any band that can take advantage of Neko Case so well would be hard pressed to fail. Add all this to Carl Newman's songwriting talents and success ensues.



Related: Top 20 Albums of 2005 (Honorable Mentions)

NP: "Learn How" - Mission of Burma

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following artists the most last week:
  1. Swervedriver - Many thanks to Kenyon, my favorite bartender, for completing my collection of this band. He's right. Mezcal Head rocks.
  2. The Charlatans UK - Their self titled CD is still the only one that my friend Senior and I have in common in our collections.
  3. Echo & the Bunnymen - I just couldn't quite put Siberia in my year-end top 20. More on that later.
  4. Blur - Maybe I should start combining Blur and Gorillaz, since they seem to transition seamlessly from on to the other in my ear.
  5. Death Cab for Cutie - I still don't like Plans nearly as much as Transatlanticism.
  6. Wilco - Yes, I know I need to buy Kicking Television.
  7. Stereolab - I never remember hearing them this much, or really at all for that matter.
  8. Elvis Costello - Have I ever told you all how much my iPod loves Elvis Costello. I can't go an hour with it on shuffle without it trying to play at least one Costello song. I have a lot of his music, but not that much.
  9. The Clash - Still the only band that matters.
  10. Robyn Hitchcock (& the Egyptians) - Has anyone heard his new album, Spooked? Apparently, it features Gillian Welch and has a countryish feel. Color me intrigued.
NP: "Lucky Man" - The Verve

The Poetry Archive

Poetry, at its heart, is a spoken art. So, I was especially excited to find The Poetry Archive, a collection of recordings of poets reading their own work. Right now the selections are a bit light, but they have poems by Browning, Tennyson, and Wilbur among them. I won't make this a list of links to the specific poets' pages, but I encourage you to go explore a bit.

I will make one exception to this however: W.B. Yeats. Yeats is perhaps my favorite poet, and the site has a recording of him sonorously intoning "The Lake Isle of Innisfree", the poet and poem that single-handedly turned my head towards poetry.

Picture the scene: Spring term, junior year. I'm an English major who has almost completed his major requirements, and who has, thus far, pretty much avoided any poetry beyond the Renaissance. To prepare for a comprehensive exam that I would need to pass to graduate, I needed to fill some holes between Beowulf and DeLillo, so I took a entry-level survey course to learn a little about Victorian literature. I think the course title was "Browning through Auden".

I hated this class. I hated all the stories, poems, and novels that we were reading. And I hated the professor's cheerleading for works that I really couldn't enjoy. I didn't really hate how easy it was. After my first paper, the professor called me into his office to try to convince me to switch majors to English. "Uh, I am an English major who'll be writing an honor's thesis next year," I replied. Good, good.

So we get to Yeats, and the professor confesses to the class that he doesn't really like him, but that to be complete, he really has to teach him. Great, I thought to myself. I haven't liked any thing that he thinks is good, how bad is this going to be. The assignment began with "The Lake Isle of Innisfree".

I've read that poem exactly once in my life.

Yes, you read that right. Once. It just stuck. I can still recite it on command. I went on in a single day to not only read the Yeats assignment, but also to read all the Yeats contained in the textbook. I then went to the bookstore and bought the collected poems, which I finished over the following summer. I haven't been the same since. It opened a whole wonderful world for me. Keats was next, and Wordsworth and Coleridge and Whitman and Lowell and Jarell and... the list grows quite large. But that poem started it all.

NP: "Dreams & Light" - The Wolfgang Press

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Top 20 Albums of 2005 (Honorable Mentions)

Starting tomorrow nad over the next four weeks, I'll be posting my choices for my favorite albums from 2005--five each week. Of course, there's no shortage of such lists come the end of the year, but this will represent my favorite albums.

But, before we get started on the top 20 tomorrow with my weekly music report, I thought there were a few albums that deserved some attention even though they don't really qualify for a 2005 top twenty for one reason or another.

Here are my honorable mention albums, along with some explanation as to why they don't qualify for the main list.

The Editors - The Back Room
The only reason I don't have this one ranked high in my top twenty is that it's only available in the U.S. as an import. I'm sure to most of my readers, this is splitting hairs, but I have to draw the line somewhere. All that said, this album manages to out Interpol, well, Interpol. I've been listening to it a lot lately, and I keep think that Antics would be a whole better if it sounded like this rather than retreaded the ground they covered in Turn on the Bright Lights.



Wilco - Kicking Television
Each of Wilco's last three albums would have ended up on my end of the year list, but I don't know about this one mainly because I haven't heard it yet (I'm already hopelessly behind listening to he music I've recently acquired). So why include it on this year-end list? Well, because it's my list, and any album that begins to capture what Wilco has become live certainly deserves consideration. In the end though, I think I'll reserve the list for studio albums.



Rilo Kiley- More Adventurous
The reason this one didn't make the list? Well, it was released in August 2004. I know that was plenty of time for me to get to it last year, but I didn't listen to it until early this year. I only managed to discover Rilo Kiley by way of The Postal Service. But, any list of albums that I've really liked this year would have this one in the running at the very least. So it gets an honorable mention.



NP: "Moongirl" - Stellastarr (no extraneous asterisk for you)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

UK Scientists Explain Beer Goggle Effect

Scientists in the UK have completed a study that purports to explain beer googlesgoggles. I can only imagine what it was like to be a subject of this study. Oh, wait, that's what I called college.

Just a quick hit to assure you, loyal readers, that I'm still around. It's been a challenging week at work and at home regarding access to that Interweb thingy.

NP: "Shine a Light" - Wolf Parade

Friday, December 02, 2005

I Certainly Don't Disagree


Click the image to enlarge.

Friday Music Report

According to Last.fm, I listened to the following musical artists the most last week:
  1. Afghan Whigs
  2. The Replacements
  3. Blur
  4. Echo & the Bunnymen
  5. The Microphones
  6. Death Cab for Cutie
  7. Spoon
  8. Wilco
  9. Elvis Costello
  10. The Clash
And for each of these bands, I'm truly thankful.

Keep an eye on this space for my favorite 20 albums of 2005, which I'll begin recounting next week.

NP: "People You Meet" - Bishop Allen

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I Miss Acedemia

What an odd way to begin your day at the office.

NP: "Ma Solituda" - The Catherine Wheel

Washing Your Car is Useless

Since there's always a landscaping crew around to blow leaves and assorted detritus on it.

NP: "Untitled (8)"- Sigur Rós

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Unreleased Neutral Milk Hotel Songs

In the course of my daily surfing, I ran across something especially interesting. The creator of Shannon's Arty Arty apparently lived in the same house as the now reclusive Jeff Mangum. To make a long story short (the long version is worth it though), she ended up in possession of some demos Jeff had recorded, and she has made three of them available for dowload on the site. (via My Old Kentucky Blog)

UPDATE: NeutralMilkHotel.org has another one.

UPDATE the second: I was so excited upon seeing this, I totally missed the song at My Old Kentucky Blog. You Ain't No Picasso also has one. If I keep this up, most of my daily music blog reading will be represented in this post.

NP: "Weekly Strategy Team Status Meeting" - The Action Items

Georgia's Annual Ten-Commandments-a-Thon

Grabbing Sand provides a nice summary of certain of Georgia's lawmakers' annual push to figure out a way to allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in courtrooms across the state. The post provides a short history of this effort, some explication, and a killer punch line.

NP: "Secret Broadcast #1" - The Earlies

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Geology of the Genesis Flood

The Institute for Creation Research is at it again--this time with a paper purporting to explain the tectonics of the Genesis flood. They are trying to take something that on it's face looks like science, in this case geology, and subvert to serve their ends. By avoiding biology and their evolution bogeyman, the thinking is that they side step any "Scopes" references and get one step closer to having their a priori wordview accepted as a posteriori science.

The thing is, geology as a scientific discipline is just as rigorous as biology (ask any of the geologists I used to work with). One of the bedrock principles of modern geology is the principle of uniformitarianism, which, simply stated, posits that the same processes that shaped the earth occurred then as they do now. This principle, when first elucidated in the 19th century was just as controversial as Darwin's theory, even though it is basic common sense. Occam's razor and all that.

Now if things occur in the past the way they now, that sort of rules out the flood doesn't it (not too mention a total absence of evidence in the archeological record). I mean, where did all the water (and resulting sediment) go? Did both miraculously dissappear into thin air. I don't see much of that happening today, do you? The only thing miraculously dissappearing is sanity.

In fact, the only thing in geology that would get them any closer (and only a very little bit at that) is the tectonically destroyed historical continent Pangaea, but that would open the door to the geological and palentological concept of time that they so detest because it allows the amount of time evolution would require--way more than the biblical 6,000 years.

Now naysayers of science would counter that the story of the flood spans so many cultures that it must be true--universalizing what was originally a local legend into a universal truth. Think about it, if the Tigris and Euprhates river valley experienced a 500-year flood, it certainly would have seemed like the end of the world to that localized population, and would be long remembered. The fact that other cultures have similar stories doesn't matter a whit. Most human civilizations began in flood plains. Floods happen in flood plains. Ergo, every once of these early civilzations probably experienced such a flood separately, and (to underscore my point) at different times.

The story of the flood serves a useful moral purpose in the building of religion, but I wouldn't advise using it as a meteorological report, much less geology.

UPDATE: Well, the Kansas School Board has gone and done it. They've redefined science so that it no longer is limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena (Webster's be damned).

Maybe we should revisit this definition as well:
su·per·sti·tion. Pronunciation: "sü-p&r-'sti-sh&n. Etymology: Middle English supersticion, from Middle French, from Latin superstition-, superstitio, from superstit-, superstes standing over (as witness or survivor), from super- + stare to stand
1 a : a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation b : an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition
2 : a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary
To make it:
su·per·sti·tion. See science.
The theory of Intelligent Falling is set to take off now. Gravity, like evolution, is only a theory after all. With 61,100 Google hits, it must be onto something.

NP: "Forbidden City" - Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Weekly Music Report

OK, so I'm a day late. I spent yesterday recovering from the amount of food I ate on Thanksgiving day. But, without further ado, here were the top 10 musical artists for me last week according to Last.fm:
  1. LCD Soundsytem
  2. The Spinto Band
  3. Echo & the Bunnymen
  4. The Wedding Present
  5. Wilco
  6. 22-20s
  7. Steve Earle
  8. Nada Surf
  9. The Velvet Underground
  10. Lou Reed

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Anniversary

Looking back at my archives, I see that my first entries on this, my third incarnation of a blog, occurred a year ago today. My previous attempts either evolved from a blog to a full-on employment search support site or just faded due to my lack of time. My initial entries here were actually the cream of the crop (scotch) from a previous incarnation.

Over the last year, I created 176 posts, averaging a post every two days or so over this time. My posting frequency has increased lately though. I started with one or two regular readers, now I have between 40 and 50 daily readers if StatCounter's count of returning visitors can be believed (and the trend lines are looking good). I've also moved from blogspot to my own domain (update those links).

I had no idea this experiment would last this time around. I started blogging to brush off my writing skills when I wasn't doing much copywriting. My topics were all over the map in the beginning, since I just wanted to keep my writing muscles exercised. Since then, its purpose has evolved a bit to provide more commentary, and a few central topics have emerged. Also, I seem to sense a nascent community here as well (even though its numbers are still small).

Overall, I guess I'll stick around since this whole blogging thing has become rather central to my week (if not day). And since I've always thought anniversaries and birthdays are great times to look ahead as much as you look back, it's a good time for some goals. With that in mind, here are some things I'm thinking about for the coming months:
  • More St. Mary's posts as I have time to edit and revise my current notes (on the idea of mountains, blue-ridge geology, and southern appalachain flora and fauna)
  • A year-end music report (c'mon, you know you love lists)
  • More posts, more frequently
  • A migration from Blogger to WordPress, so I can begin to tag and categorize my posts (anyone have tips and tricks?)
  • Design tweaks based on the migration (nothing too radical I promise)
  • Expanded permanent content
  • I may even add ads, or is that just a horrible idea?
Have a happy Thanksgiving break everyone.

NP: "Ihop" - Luna

NPR Podcasts

For those of you with iTunes, I highly recommend checking out some of NPR's podcasts. NPR offers a lot of these. You can browse them now, or subscribe through the Apple Music Store in iTunes.

Currently, I'm listening to today's NPR Story of the Day podcast about hunger among the working poor in Smyth Country, Virginia. Sadly, I'm familiar with many parts of this story. I never wanted growing up, but I remember food drives, especially around the holidays, and my Dad working for the Hunters for the Hungry.

To totally change a depressing subject, NPR's all song's considered is also very good.

Housekeeping: Google Analytics

Google Analytics, their new web statistics service, launched last week. I currently use StatCounter, and I've been pretty happy with the data that they provide with their free service. However, I thought I would give Google a go at as well. If any of you are interested, and want a gmail account to make it a bit easier, just drop me a line.

I installed the code here last week, but only began receiving reports today (a lag time that I was none too happy about). The data that Google gives me though, seems like it's an improvement on the other free services (StatCounter, Sitemeter). So for now, I'll run both, see which one I end up liking the best, and report back.

NP: "Russian Autumn Heart" - The Church

Friday, November 18, 2005

Roy Keane Leaves Manchester United

This is shocking. I'm not a United fan by any stretch of the imagination, but this caught me entirely off guard. He was their captain and the enforcer in the midfield. More than that, Roy Keane has been the rock upon which ManU has built its success. Despite his temper and his contentious relationship with manager Sir Alex Ferguson, I find it hard to believe he's just walking away from the club afer 12 years (an eternity in sports). In his time with the club, ManU has been the most successful team in England. Their dominance has only recently waned with the rise of Arsenal and more lately, Chelsea. It's only fitting that he's leaving ManU the same year that Viera left Arsenal given the contentious, physical battles they've participated in against one another over the years.

I can't imagine he's completely done though. He's only 34 and has a couple of years left in him. I wonder where he's off to now. First, the big spenders. Chelsea, while they can afford him, doesn't need yet another midfielder. The thought of him at Arsenal is laughable. And he really doesn't fit the mold of a Real Madrid midfielder.

Here's a thought. Why not Wigan. They are currently second in the premiere league, which no one, including me, expected. I'm sure he could help them stay up this year. My best guess, however, is that he'll end up in green hoops with Celtic.

NP: "Underwear" - Pulp

Holidaze Mix

Just in time for the holidays, here's a small sampling of what I've been listening to lately. There's something here for everything from digesting prodigious amounts of turkey to wrapping presents.
  1. Grounds for Divorce - Wolf Parade
  2. Windsurfing Nation - Broken Social Scene
  3. They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh! - Sujan Stevens
  4. Dark is Light Enough - The Duke Spirit
  5. Dead Man's Will - Iron & Wine and Calexico
  6. No Way Out - Immaculate Machine
  7. Marginal Over - Wilderness
  8. Love Will Tear Us Apart - José González
  9. Jumpers - Sleater Kinney
  10. Down Like Disco - The Dandy Warhols
  11. No Key No Plan - Okkervil River
  12. Soul Meets Body - Death Cab for Cutie
  13. Luno (Bloc Party vs. Death from Above) - Bloc Party
  14. Sing Me Spanish Techno - The New Pornographers
  15. Curtains Close - The Arctic Monkeys
Note: Any mp3s that are posted here are posted for a limited time only. Download first, listen later, save bandwidth. If you like anything you hear, go buy the album to support the artist (and keep me out of hot water).

Friday Music Report

According Last.fm, I listened to the following musical artists the most last week:
  1. Wolf Parade
  2. Swervedriver
  3. Echo & the Bunnymen
  4. The Clash
  5. The Wedding Present
  6. Stereolab
  7. Afghan Whigs
  8. Pulp
  9. The Charlatans UK
  10. Death Cab for Cutie
If Last.fm actually could read what I listened to on my iPod away from my computer, I'm sure that Broken Social Scene, The Stone Roses, The White Stripes, and The Spinto Band would have made the list since I listened to them while tooling around Michigan last weekend. Yeah, that White Stripes. What else am I going to listen to in Detroit? Ted Nugent? I think not.

NP: "Rag Doll" - Shots Fired

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Arctic Monkeys are Coming

Last seen on my Dog Days Mix, the Arctic Monkeys are now turning up in Salon, where Audiofile provides a concert review. If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, hit the Dog Days Mix page and download one of their tracks.

NP: "Nightwaves" - VHS or Beta

Darts at The Usual®

Some character named Master Shakes has provided helpful power rankings for the darts players at The Usual® blog. I can't argue too much with my ranking. I can beat most of those above me on a given day, but consistency can be my hobgoblin. It all depends on how the bulls fall.

NP: "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" - LCD Soundsystem

World Cup Field Set

After yesterday's playoffs, all 32 nations have now qualified for the World Cup next year in Germany. Here's a list by region.

Africa
The big surprise here is the absence of Nigerian and Cameroon, who've acquitted themselves very well in the last few world cups.
  • Angola
  • Ghana (welcome back!)
  • Ivory Coast
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
Asia
This group shapes up according to form. No real surprises here, as Bahrain loses to Trinidad & Tobago in a playoff. I guess they didn't deserve five spots from Asia after all.
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Korea
Europe
Always the largest contingent. I don't want to be around if Croatia ends up playing Serbia & Montenegro. Surprises? The lack of Ireland and Denmark, who had been qualifying regularly.
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • England
  • France
  • Germany (Hosts)
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Serbia & Montenegro
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine
North America
The group I know the most about obviously. The U.S. wins and qualifies earlier than they have during their modern run. I'd relish another game against Mexico on this stage. Congrats to the Soca Warriors.
  • Costa Rica
  • Mexico
  • Trinidad & Tobago (their first trip)
  • United States (finishing first in their region)
Oceania
This really surprises me. I thought Uruguay would take care of them without a problem. Welcome back anyway Socceroos.
  • Australia (after a 32 year drought)
South America
Losing that playoff has to hurt a bit. Argentina and Brazil are always favorites.
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • Paraguay
I'll wait until after the draw to figure out exactly where and when I'll be heading across the pond for a couple weeks next summer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ticketbastard

I just bought tickets to see the Drive-By Truckers next weekend at the Tabernacle. (Will I be seeing you there El Gray?)

The list price for the tickets? $25. A little pricey, but no problem; I bought two.

Now for the fun part. How in the holy hell does $25 x 2 = $70.35. It must be the new math.

First, U.S. customers are no longer allowed to pick up the tickets at will call when using Ticketmaster (no link for them). No, that would cost them a little bit of change. Instead, they charge $2.5o to deliver the damn tickets by e-mail for God's sake. Whatever happened to the Internet decreasing costs? I mean, sending an e-mail doesn't cost a thing over and above the connectivity costs they already have to pay. This is over and above the ridiculous service charge (now $6.75) they tack on as a hidden cost to every ticket they sell.

The cost of a damn ticket should be the cost of the damn ticket. How much of this goes to the artist and venue anyway? Probably not a hell of a lot. They're making money hand over fist on us poor fools because we have no alternative.

It's time to bust this monopoly up beyond all recognition.

NP: "Perfecting Loneliness" - Jets to Brazil

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Worst Album Covers of All Time

Our friends over at Pitchfork have compiled a snark-filled list of the worst albums covers of all time in their own inimitable way. My favorite:

Why is this one my favorite out of all those horrible, horrible choices? It's Corey Feldman... singing for God's sake. And the album art matches the shudder-inducing thought of what this must sound like.

I also have to love the inclusion of Dirty Work by the Rolling Stones. As old as they may be, they shouldn't be wearing such colors.

UPDATE: I fixed the image display problem. So now, I'll have Mr. Feldman on my site for all eternity (however long that is in Internet time).

UPDATE II: Head on over to Dilettante in Distress to check out her selections for worst album covers.

NP: "It's All Gonna Break" - Broken Social Scene

Monday, November 14, 2005

A 40 Degree Shift in Temperature

Around 40 degrees leaving Michigan, and almost 80 back in Atlanta. Normal posting should resume as soon as I remove my cold weather clothes.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The War on the Environment - A Momentary Cease Fire

Knowing full well that it will make no difference in the long run and that it's only a giveaway to oil companies, Republican leaders in the House temporarily abandoned the drive to open ANWR to drilling. They figured out that it was threatening the passage of a bill to cut spending, which may be in danger without the controversial provision anyway.

At least it's a start, even though we all know that they'll figure out a way to sneak it into another bill somewhere down the line. Hopefully, it will be off the table until that scary bunch is ousted.

NP: "Monday Morning" - The Church

Thursday Music Report

I know this is a bit early, but I'll be out of town starting early this evening (and probably not able to post), and I don't want to miss the one regular feature this place has. Without further ado, here are the musical artists I listened to most over the last week (Last.fm profile):
  1. Afghan Whigs
  2. The Futureheads
  3. Sufjan Stevens
  4. Spoon
  5. Neutral Milk Hotel
  6. The Arcade Fire
  7. The Editors
  8. Swervedriver
  9. The Hold Steady
  10. Rilo Kiley
I'm also working on a new autumn music mix for your listening enjoyment. I should have it ready by next friday, if not before. So, here's your last chance to take advantage of the Dog Days Mix.

NP: "Subzero Fun" - Autolux

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

One Red Paperclip

He trades it for something larger, and that for something even larger, until he turns that paper clip into a house. Watch his progress. (via boingboing)

NP: "Shoot You Down" - The Stone Roses

Top 50 Independent Films

Yet another list to debate. Empire Online has compiled a list of the top 50 independent films. Some of these seem a bit odd to me, since calling a film indie to me says almost as much about its subject matter as it does about how it was made. I realize this is misguided, but it is based on the independent films that I have seen (probably about two thirds of the list actually).

I'm sure there won't be much argument about their number 1 film (go ahead, you can guess without me even telling you). But, strangely, it has lost a bit of its bloom for me over the years. Two trick pony? Perhaps.

NP: "I'll Believe in Anything" - Wolf Parade

Monday, November 07, 2005

Top 100 Internet Moments

Because we like lists, and I remember a lot of these. I do think there are a few truly "Internet" moments he missed that merit inclusion.
Of course, these may just say really bad things about my surfing habits over the last 10 years. He does get bonus points of remembering Mahir though (I kiss you!). (via kottke)

UPDATE: Another missed moment from the comments:
UPDATE II: The organizers of the webby awards have also released a list of 10 Internet watersheds moments. So, I'll add Matt Drudge's part in the whole impeachment distraction to the list as well. I was probably just repressing it anyway.

NP: "Cigarettes" - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

Vatican Supports Science

File this under surprising but welcome news. A Vatican cardinal said yesterday that the faithful should listen to what science has to offer, and warned that religion risks turning into ''fundamentalism" if it ignores scientific reason. They still remember being on the wrong side of Galileo.

He went on to point out that science in turn should listen to religion on certain things as well, citing the development of nuclear weapons as a chief example. I'm no Catholic, but the whole thing had me nodding my head. (Luckily, stem cells didn't come up in the article.)

As I've said before: Let science be science and religion be religion. Mixing them together, as the current crop of creationists try to do, cheapens both of them.

UPDATE: Found a link that actually worked.

NP: "Something Lost" - Long Pigs

The Boondocks

As some of you may know, I'm a big fan of Aaron MacGruder's comic, The Boondocks. It's part of my morning ritual. Caffeine, check. Boondocks, check. Doonesbury, check. Work? Oh yeah, I'd better get on that.

So I've been anticipating the TV show on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim for a while (warning: site takes a long time to load, but is has a neat comic panel interface). It's also been getting a lot of publicity on the sides of buses here in Atlanta, as well as a few billboards.

It finally premiered last night. First impressions? I liked it generally, but the voices will probably take some time to grow on me. They don't quite match what I hear in my head when I read the daily strip--except for Granddad, who was right on. MacGruder is pretty heavily involved with the show, so I'll trust his original vision will be presented, and I'll just have to adjust.

And yes, that was Ed Asner who provided the old, rich white guy's voice. He even looked like him a bit.

NP: "Carry the Zero" - Built to Spill

Friday, November 04, 2005

Become a Republican...

In 10 easy steps. So much for critical thought!

NP: "St. John the Gambler" - Townes Van Zandt

Inside John Peel's Record Box

This is only a little late for John Peel day. Apparently he kept a special record box of 142 singles, and The Times publishes a list of what was in the box.

I'm surprised by the relative, uhm, obscurity of most of the box's contents. I suppose I should be glad I knew about any of them because, let's face it, I'm no John Peel. Now, someone needs to collect mp3s for all these and set them free on the Internets.

UPDATE: The folks over at the I Love Music message board have undertaken the task of freeing these mp3s for the people. Go check it out.

NP: "Conversations" - The Posies

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm stats, here's the music I listened to the most last week:
  1. The Charlatans UK
  2. Swervedriver
  3. The Clash
  4. Wilco
  5. Death Cab for Cutie
  6. The Church
  7. The Dandy Warhols
  8. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
  9. Beck
  10. Broken Social Scene
I'd say that's pretty representative.

NP: "Falling Away with You" - Muse

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Still Here

Work has turned into a bear this week, so just bear with me. Normal ramblings should resume shortly.

NP: "Eighties" - Killing Joke

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Branding States

Business Week has an interesting feature on how states try to brand themselves, from license plates to mottos to flags. It focuses quick a bit on Georgia's use of the peach, especially on the license plate. Strangely, the example plate they use hasn't been in use in Georgia for a number of years. Here a image of the current plate that's on my car--definitely an improvement from the airbrush, but still in keeping with the peach theme.

At least they didn't highlight the newest plate, which has been appearing slowly. Definitely not as cool as the previous one. Putting URLs on things is so 1998.

There's no mention of Georgia's flag either, but I suppose that's because it's changed so many times over the last few years. I suppose the partial nudity kept Virginia's flag out. "Virginia is for Lovers" got high marks as well.

NP: "OK Apartment" - The Oranges Band

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Other Football

This isn't a post about Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Tottenham this morning, even though I could go on and on about how each half was a different game and if the squad that played most of the second half had started it, they probably would have won.

Instead, it's about how much the game has grown in the U.S. After the game, I went to get my hair cut at my usual barbershop, but this time I was wearing my Arsenal jersey. As soon as I had taken off my sweatshirt, one of the barber's said, "Hey, Jerry, there's an Arsenal fan down here." And the two of them (the younger two of the four barbers) began giving me a bit of a hard time.

Now Peachtree Battle barbershop is in the middle of college football country in Atlanta ("How 'bout them Dawgs" and all that), but they knew enough to know about Arsenal's struggle's this year. Heck, I was shocked they even recognized the jersey. If soccer has made into this barbershop, it's a lot farther along than many in the media would have you believe.

Of course I asked them who they supported. Their reply?

Wait for it.

Chelsea of course. (I asked if they were Yankees fans too, but they just laughed it off.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Music Report

According the my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following musical artists the most in the last week:
  1. Broken Social Scene (20 listens)
  2. Immaculate Machine (11)
  3. The Clash (9)
  4. Bloc Party (7)
  5. Sigur Rós (7)
  6. The Wedding Present (6)
  7. The New Pornographers (6)
  8. Death Cab for Cutie (6)
  9. Blur (6)
  10. Mission of Burma (5)
Broken Social Scene tops the list because I've been exploring their new, self-titled LP. You Forgot It in People is one of my favorite albums of the last couple years. I'm trying hard to like the new one as much. It just seems so much, well, messier and chaotic. Sometimes three muddle vocalists is not a substitute for one. It's still a pretty good album, just not as good as their previous effort.

In other musical news, I'm still pretty bummed that I missed The National last Saturday night at the Earl--damn cold.

NP: "Mondo Bongo" - Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros

Thursday, October 27, 2005

ChiSox End 88 Years of Frustration

As most everyone in North America knows by now, the Chicago White Sox won their first world series in 88 years last night, so no link is required. But I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate the team and the fans. And to Ozzie Guillen, who I always enjoyed as a player. I was lucky enough to see him play in Atlanta toward the end of his career and I always like the pure joy he brought to the game. He was a nice change from the rest of the very business-like Braves.

As a Red Sox fan, I know exactly what you are feeling right now White Sox fans. Enjoy it. You'll still be pinching yourself for weeks.

NP: "The Present" - Bloc Party

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Chaucerian Shaft

Something dirty? A lost fragment of the Canterbury Tales? Nope. Just song lyrics. Ya damne righte!
"Wha be tha blake prevy lawe
That bene wantoun too alle tha feres?
SHAFT!
Ya damne righte!

Wha be tha carl tha riske is hals wolt
Fro is allye leve?
SHAFT!
Konne ye?"

Now this is why Al Gore invented the Internets. Read the whole thing. (via Mefi)

NP: "A Million Miles" - The Wedding Present

Monday, October 24, 2005

Time's 100 Books Again (Sort Of)

Like an alcoholic to whiskey, I can't help but come back to this topic again and again and again. This time, though, there's a twist. The Morning News has collected a bunch of one-star reviews of these books from Amazon.

Some of these are absolutely hilarious. My favorite is for Gravity's Rainbow:
“When one contrasts Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five with this book, it’s like comparing an Olympic sprinter with an obese man running for the bus with a hot dog in one hand and a soda in the other.”

As far as it goes, I think this review is accurate, but it really misses the point of the sprawling genius of the book. Go check out the rest. (via kottke)

NP: "Fun to Be Happy" - Love Tractor

Friday, October 21, 2005

Jarvis Cocker Sings Again

But it's not, sadly, in a Pulp reunion. This time, he's contributing a song to the next Harry Potter soundtrack for the next Harry Potter movie. Oddly, I think it's probably a good match.

For the moment, the song is available for download. So, if any of you have been missing Mr. Cocker's voice ever since Pulp decided to call it quits (or if Relaxed Muscle isn't for you), head on over there to check it out.

Update: Song gone from initial link. Try here.

NP: "Someone Something" - Spoon

Friday Music Report

According to Last.fm, here are the ten musical artists I listened to most last week:
  1. The Clash (10 tracks)
  2. Nada Surf (9)
  3. The Charlatans UK (9)
  4. Echo & the Bunnymen (9)
  5. The Wedding Present (9)
  6. The Drive-By Truckers (8)
  7. The Jesus & Mary Chain (7)
  8. Spiderbait (7)
  9. Afghan Whigs (7)
  10. Death Cab for Cutie (7)
No one who knows me will be very surprised with that list. I'm sure that The New Pornographers and the National will be on next week's list, since they both have shows in Atlanta this week. The top track of the week was "Electricity" by Spiritualized with four plays.

NP: "A Certain Romance" - Arctic Monkeys

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mike Luckovich's Blog

Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Mike Luckovich, now has a blog. I think this is a good example of how mainstream or more traditional print journalism (or even other non-traditional bloggers such as corporate PR) can use blogging to engage with their community of readers.

Political cartoons, and political satire in general, inherently will cause some controversy because of their subject matter. Here, the cartoon itself and the pre-exisiting voting cabability is paired with comments and posts. By giving his readers a chance to comment directly, and engaging with them directly, Luckovich has the opportunity to explain himself, out idiots for just what they are, or otherwise just have fun with it.

For example, he's currently offering to pen a pro-Bush cartoon on a subject of his readers' choice, if they can find something they can still support about the President. (Not surprisingly, most of the Bush supporters ideas weren't pro-Bush, but anti-liberal, creationism-loving rants.)

NP: " Bank Holiday" - Blur