Friday, September 30, 2005

A New Movie Trailer

Shining. Make sure you take the kiddies out to see this heart-warming family film!

This is just brilliant. A bit of editing makes all the difference in the world.

NP: "Daily Mutilation" - The Posies

The War on the Environment (II)

Now the second front opens. Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act, one of the more successful environmental laws enacted in the country. Specificall, they eliminated the features of the law that limited development in areas of "critical habitat."

This means that developers, whose only interest is in the bottom line, will be free to do just about whatever they want, despite it's impact (immediate and continuing) on the environment. When will these people realize that you don't shit were you eat. While I have my differences with some of the tactics employed by environmental groups, at least they realize that our health as a species is inextricably linked with the environment we inhabit.

Call it the selfish reason for environmental protection. We should protect the environment because we kind of need clean water (most water pollution is caused by runoff from development, not from chemical companies).

When will Americans realize that these guys aren't acting in anyone's interest but that of people who have more money than God and who don't give two craps about anyone else's immediate surroundings.

Coming soon to an unspoiled area near you, a parking lot and dozens of McMansions! (Or maybe it's already happening.)

NP: "Been Caught Stealing" - Jane's Addiction

Friday Music Report

It's Friday already? That must mean it's time for a music report. According to my profile page at Last.fm, I listened to the following artists the most last week:
  1. The Charlatans UK
  2. The Transplants
  3. Swervedriver
  4. Afghan Whigs
  5. Elvis Costello
  6. Wilco
  7. Echo & the Bunnymen
  8. The Clash
  9. Supergrass
  10. Nada Surf
Not really any surprises there, other than The Transplants, which a friend gave me to check out this week (I'm witholding judgment so far). So, I guess there's not much to comment on this week.

Neutral Milk Hotel will probably dominate this list next week thanks to the Dilettante in Distress, who prodded me to really explore their considerable goodness. (Thanks Vllack!) Pitchfork recently used the UK release to revise its rating upward to a 10.0 for In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.

This is just another in a recent string of bands that I somehow missed the first time around, but that I am really getting into right now (Swervedriver, The Wedding Present). I don't know if I was just spaced out or if I was too focused on other types of music at the time, but I find it strange that I missed these bands entirely, while really like very similar and almost contemporary bands. Well, at least they are getting their due from me now.

Do any of you have bands like that?

NP: "Day of the Lords" - Joy Division

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Party of Accountability and Responsibility?

Or the party of corruption, ineptitude, and cronyism. Actually, I think one word covers all that--greed. Tom DeLay, their leader in the House of Representatives, has been indicted.

All hail the Mayberry Machiavellis.

Isn't this the same type of thing that ultimately led to the Republican takeover in 1994?

UPDATE: It seems his colleague in the Senate has his own problems too.

NP: "Congressional Dubcision" - Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - I swear this is random iTunes at work

Literature Map

Along the lines of What should I read next? Literature map is a nifty site that can give you some insight into what other authors you might enjoy. Instead of giving you a list of books you may enjoy, it displays a web of authors (Thinkmap's Visual Thesaurus is a very good example of the way the data points are represented). Those authors that are closest to the one you entered are the ones, according to this, you are most likely to enjoy reading.

I ran this through a couple of test runs, and by and large, the results seem to be pretty relevant. Take, for example, what the service returns when you enter Don Delillo. The number of names returned, compared to some of the other authors I tried, is a bit low, but that makes it easier to talk about. For instance, some of the closest writers to Delillo are Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Umberto Eco--sounds about right to me, though the Dostoevsky may be a bit of a reach.

Once you get to the outer reaches of the web, however, it starts to break down. (Tom Robbins? Hello?) I have a feeling that a lot of these writers on the outer reaches would show up for just about any literary author I choose to investigate. In any case, it's something cool to play around with if you have a bit of time to kill.

NP: "Essex Dogs" - Blur

Odysseus's Tomb

Has apparently been found. It seems that archeologists had been looking on the wrong island all along. Instead of being on modern Ithaca, they now place the tomb on an entirely different, but neighboring island, Kefalonia.

Archeologically, I have no idea how to rate these claims, but according to some of the background in the linked article, Kefalonia seems more logistically suitable as the site of a major Mycenaean city. Even the ancient Greeks needed water last I checked.

Archeologists were silent on whether they found a tomb full of 50 suitors.

NP: "Look Here" - The Clash

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Time Marches On

It seems like more and more of these are coming along these days. Happy seventh birthday Google!

NP: "Nobody's Twisting Your Arm" - The Wedding Present

CMJ's 25 Most Influential Artists of the Last 25 Years

Because we love lists, I present this for you reading pleasure. CMJ ranks their 25 most influential artists of the last 25 years. I find this intesting because this timespan almost exactly matches my conscious music-listening lifetime. From the first album from the number one artist on the list (which I've owned on vinyl, cassette, and compact disc) to today (as shown in whom they've influenced).

Why bother listening to CMJ? When I was in college, and everything now know as "Alternative", "Indie", or "Post-"something or other was then known simply as college rock. It's sometimes hard to remember that in the days before Nirvane (B.A.E), college radio stations were really the only places in the U.S. that played much of the music that I and many of my friends literally grew up on. Heck, a borrowed version of the CMJ 500 a few years ago shaped much of my music aquisition habits (filling in the holes I had in my collection).

My favorite excerpt:

23. REPLACEMENTS
Two generations of mood-swingin' janglepunks remember the Replacements adoringly. The Replacements, however, probably don't remember anything at all. Between bouncer-taunting on-stage antics (kicking perfume into an unsuspecting crowd, passing out on stage on a major label's dime) and their even rowdier backstage antics (pissing all over their rented Winnebago, pissing in hotel ice machines), who knows where they found the time to invent an idiom where tender, mature introspection and brawny brat muscle meet in the parking lot to share a cig and listen to Alex Chilton. (CRW)
Thank You: Big Star, New York Dolls, Kiss
You're Welcome: Wilco, Evan Dando, Ryan Adams
I probably would have listed The Replacements higher on the list (hey, I was once known in faraway Portland, Oregon, as Replacements-dude after all). There assessment and influence mapping is really spot on. I still have a mp3 of Wilco covering "Color Me Impressed," where Jeff Tweedy opens the song saying, "Everything we do is based on The Replacements." Of course, they only know about three-quarters of the song, so they have to shift into "I Wanna Be Sedated." It's still one of my favorite mp3s in my iTunes libary.

I also dig that they include Uncle Tupelo (number 17) and Superchunk (number 25). I'll leave it up to you to check who is number one on the list though. All things considered, it's not really a surprise.
NP: "Color Me Impressed" - The Replacements (these don't always happen in a vacuum)

Updates

I'd like to take this chance to highlight a new addition to the list of Flannel Approved sites: Blue Ridge Blog. Take a surf on over and check out her great photos of western North Carolina. I found it this morning, and as of this writing, you'll be greeted with a great picture of the Blue Ridge (or is it the Smokies?) shrouded in their eponymous haze. There are lots of other great images to feast on as well--including broccoli!

Of course this reminds me of where I grew up and brings my mind back to the St. Mary's River. There's a new St. Mary's post forthcoming. Really, I promise! [Ed. Note: We've heard that all before.] Actually, I have a few in process, one dealing with the idea of mountains, especially those that cradle the river. I'll then turn to a brief overview of the Geology of the area.

Also, I hope to have brief reviews of a couple of the new Echo & the Bunnymen' album, Siberia (which I'm listening to right now).

NP: "All Because of You Days" - Echo & the Bunnymen

Bloc Party + The Tom Collins

Last night was the long awaited Bloc Party show at the Tabernacle. It really has been long awaited since I discovered them on the Internets about this time last year when Banquet hit me like a pile of bricks. So I assiduously searched for every track of theirs I could find. I eventually bought the CD about two months after I had somehow amassed all the tracks anyway. The only other time Bloc Party has played Atlanta was at Music Midtown in June. I missed it because, well, it was Music Midtown and the last thing I want with my music is a lot of mud, rain, and drunken 18 year old Gwinnetians puking in my general vicinity. So the Tabernacle it was.

We arrived about half way through the opening band's set. The Tom Collins, a local band, somehow got the enviable job of getting the crowd ready for the main event. I had no idea what to expect. We had heard a couple of their songs at The Usual before we left for the show, and to be honest I wasn't that impressed by the sound. The band was much better live, bringing quite a bit of energy. They were a very tight band, even if their sound still had a bit too much Led Zeppelin lurking in the background for my taste. Their website has a couple of songs available for download here.

Bloc Party took the stage about 9:30 (somewhat early comparitively) after being introduced by a DJ from the local alternapop radio station. A few glitches in their first few songs didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd, and they hit their stride about three songs in with the aforementioned Banquet,about the same time the drummer removed his shirt. This may be the first show I've ever seen with a completely shirtless drummer. Maybe he was channeling his inner Tommy Lee or something.

Gratuitious display of skin aside, the band proceeded to rip through their set. I haven't seen a crowd at the Tabernacle ever display the energy I witnessed last night. The floor actually was bouncing up and down (think Schewel's Warehouse in 1991 for those who know). After about 45 minutes, they closed the set, but returned for two encores (something I haven't seen in a while). The stand out tracks of the evening were Banquet and The Pioneers (which closed their first encore).

Two friends who were unfamiliar with the band really enjoyed the show, so I'll go with their judgment. I would probably too predisposed with my judgment. Anything that didn't suck would have worked for me at this point. I'm happy to say that they did anything but.

This is just the first of many great shows coming to the ATL this fall, so my wallet will be suffering. Wednesday night, The Walkmen will be visiting The Earl, followed by Tenement Halls on Saturday. Tenement Halls is the new project of Chris Lopez from the Rock*A*Teens, and I think I like the newer stuff even better than the Rock*A*Teens, though that may be blasphemy here in the Old Fourth Ward.

I don't have a ticket to either show yet, but I hope to catch at least one of them.

NP: "Masterplan" - My Morning Jacket

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Music Report

According to my profile (brought to you by the good folks over at last.fm), I listened to the following ten artists the most over the last week.
  1. Nada Surf - I got a copy of their newest album, The Weight is a Gift, from a friend. While I don't like it as much as Let Go, it's still worth a listen
  2. The Clash - I have a deal with a friend of mine. Whenever either of us hears a Clash song on the radio, we call the other so we can both hear. It happens more rarely than you think.
  3. Stellastarr* - I also just got a copy of their self-titled album. They have the same vibe as Bloc Party, and I'm still trying to figure out if "Pulp Song" is some kind of tribute.
  4. Swervedriver - Raise has now been added to the jukebox at The UsualTM and there was much rejoicing.
  5. Death Cab for Cutie - As much as I hate to say it, I may be skipping this show next month. There are too many good shows coming, I have a very low tolerance for the 99x vibe that is bound to be present--even though I seem to be among the minority is really enjoying Plans.
  6. The Charlatans UK - Nothing to see here, move along.
  7. Elvis Costello - Does anyone else think that Elvis Costello is sort of the Woody Allen of music? You either love him or you think he's overrated. Count me among the former.
  8. Blur - I'd like to think that Gorillaz is how Blur would sound today (with a few more guitar licks) if they'd stayed together.
  9. The Connells - Just a bit of a hangover from my trip back to Lex-Vegas and some sickly sweet nostalgia.
  10. Wolf Parade - Wow. That's really all I can say about this band and their new album, Apologies to the Queen Mary. They were supposed to be the first band to break out of the Montreal scene. Too bad no one told The Arcade Fire.
There are no tracks that really stand out this week. I listened to a whole bunch of songs a couple times each, so no special mentions.

In other music news, I just got my tickets to the Bloc Party show Monday night. I'll post a full report Tuesday morning.

NP: "Love Will Tear Us Apart" - Joy Division

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fun with Search Terms

Every once in a while, it's good to remind yourself that searching the Internet can still be a dicey proposition, regardless of how awesome Google is. For example, according to my referral logs, if you search metacrawler for "findells sex staunton", this site is the fourth result. Of course, this post will now guarantee that it's the first result if anyone were ever to search those terms again.

What have y'all been putting in the comments anyway?

UPDATE: I'm not just some goofball pervert, so I thought I'd include where I originally found this random string of terms.

NP: "I'm a Wheel" - Wilco

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Free Opera

I don't know how many of you are still using Internet Explorer (no link really necessary for IE), but I thought it worth noting that Opera is now free. I use Firefox myself, but giving Internet users a choice of browser, rather than hamstringing them with the bloated browser that ships with their PC is always a good thing.

Either of these browsers, in my opinion, beats the pants off IE in a head to head matchup (tabs, customized looks, etc.), but Opera's biggest drawback was always the presence of banner ads in the browser itself. Recently, they offered free licenses for their 10th anniversary, which was probably anticipating their ultimate move to a free browser.

Now, instead of making money from advertising or from selling the software outright, Opera hopes to make money through the Internet searches directly from their browser. The results then will bedirected to Google or other search engine advertising, which will give Opera a cut. This model is interesting, especially since Google search is integrated directly into Firefox. I definintely have to give them credit for the attempt though. Most people don't care about the source for their results as long as it gets them the information they need. And this is Opera's audience.

NP: "Congregation" - Afghan Whigs

PostSecret

Simply astonishing and sometimes disturbing. I really don't have anything else to add (via sweetfrenchtoast).

NP: "American Guns" - The Transplants

Monday, September 19, 2005

Avast Ye Scurvy Dogs!

Arrrr!

If ye have no idea what I be speaking of mateys, the off to Davy Jones's locker with ye (or just visit here). It should make earning ye pieces o' eight today interesting today, especially the meetings.

So yo ho ho and a bottle of rum me hearties.

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

NP: "Worms" - The Pogues

Friday, September 16, 2005

If You Thought the Shock Getting out of the Car Was Bad...

How about generating enough electricity to ignite the carpet. Really, I'm not kidding.

NP: "Undertow" - Lush

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm user profile, I listened to the following artists the most over the last week:
  1. Bloc Party
  2. The Clash
  3. Swervedriver
  4. Pulp
  5. Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
  6. Afghan Whigs
  7. Stereolab
  8. The New Pornographers
  9. My Morning Jacket
  10. Neko Case
That's about what I'd expect since I just got a copy of Silent Alarm Remixed. I'm also pretty excited about the fall concert season. I'll be seeing Bloc Party in a little over a week, I just missed Idlewild, and Death Cab for Cutie and The New Pornographers are coming in October. The Decemberists and My Morning Jacket are also upcoming. I'd better start saving my money.

NP: "Changes Are No Good" - The Stills

Thursday, September 15, 2005

What is a Decade in Internet Time?

I was recently doing some research into potential freelance writers my company could use on a few upcoming projects, and I was struck by someone mentioning "getting bit by the Internet bug in 1997". On its face, that isn't such a strange statement. What was strange to me was how late that seemed initially. Thinking about it though, 1997 is a lot farther away from now that it is from when I first started fooling around with the Internets.

This is sort of my 10-year Internet anniversary. I can't really pinpoint the exact date, but 10 years ago sometime in the early fall, the Internet and the Web became a very large part of my job description. Since I was the only one with any interest in this new medium who was in the office most of the time, it became my job to start formulating an Internet strategy for the company where I then worked and to design their website for them (which, thank God, I see that they've finally updated--about four years too late).

To put this into perspective (some information from A Computer Geek's History of the Internet):
  • My company got most of it's information online from gopher sites
  • Yahoo had been in existence about a year and a half.
  • Netscape had only been available for a year
  • Netcom was a major ISP
  • Amazon.com had just been launched
  • Windows '95 and Internet Explorer had just come out
Seems like a long time ago doesn't it. (But in a way it still seems like yesterday.)

For someone in my position, its hard not to be a little nostalgic, especially at the "go-go" days of the Internet gold rush. Sure, I'm the first one to poke fun at some of the excesses of the time. (Does anyone else remember boo.com?) But, the truth is that I--and a lot of other people--help to build something most people take for granted today. In fact, most of you, at one time or another, has a seen a webpage with my fingerprints on it somewhere, even if it's not obvious or something that's ignored like a ad banner. In any case, there's been a lot of water under the bridge.

Despite numerous bouts of unemployment and underemployment since the bubble burst, it's been worth it I guess. This just seemed a good place and time to look back a little for a couple of reasons. First, I really like what I'm doing now, and the company I work for is cool in all the good 90s ways while still being stable. And second, this site is my third (or fourth if geocities counts) foray into what has become known as blogging, so it seems appropriate to think about such things here anyway. Thank goodness there aren't any versions of my earlier attempts still cached somewhere (at least as far as I know).

NP: "The Day After the Revolution" - Pulp

Google Blog Search

I've been hearing rumors about this for quite a while. Google has launched a blogsearch service. While it's still in beta (I haven't seen anything about it on Google's main page, I've taken it on a couple of trial runs. So far it seems to work really well, which is about what you'd expect out of Google searching anything. For example, searching St. Mary's Wilderness brings up my relevant posts pretty quickly.

It seems that the search uses a site's RSS feeds to index it. This means that search information will be even more timely for the blogsearch, which seems like a nifty trick.

NP: "Gridlock" - The Pogues

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pick a Path to Tragedy!

Ever wondered what it would be like to be one of Shakespeare's protagonists? Ever play Zork or some other text adventure game? Then you need to check out Robin Johnson's The Most Lamentable and Excellent Text Adventure of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (via boingboing). And I realize that my knowledge of Zork probably opens a window to my inner geek, but it's the Shakespeare angle I'm most interested in really.

After playing with this for awhile, I begin to see why Hamlet was a nut case. Oh, and I wouldn't try fighting Othello either. I suppose I'll find Lady Macbeth in the washroom--those damn spots are murder to get out.

I can't decided if this is brilliant or annoying. I'm leaning toward brilliant right now, but we'll see how much of my afternoon I end up wasting on it.

UPDATE: At least it ends happily for Juliet and probably Richard III.

NP - "Thinking About You" - Ivy

If Goths Ruled the World

It would look somthing like this. My favorite.

UPDATE: fixed link.

NP: "Dreams" - TV on the Radio

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Just in Time for Christmas!

As some of you may recall, Georgia was recently in the news for trying to display the ten commandments in various public spaces. Really, this is write up there with the "gravity is only a theory and not a fact" stickers they tried to place in Cobb County science books (all to support their Intelligent Falling notion of course) as far as Georgia news goes. It seems that everytime something like this comes up, it's usually is from the bright-red Atlanta suburbs.

Well, this July, sanity finally prevailed when the ACLU sued Barrow County over their version of the rock tablets, and the presiding judge ordered the commandments removed from public property.

Now, to raise the funds to cover the court costs (all of which could have been saved if someone had actually read the First Amendment), Ten Commandments-Georgia has placed the offending item up for sale on eBay. Have any of you got a spare couple of thousand laying around that I could borrow to find this an appropriate home? Darn, I didn't think so. [Ed. Note: that picture of Zell Miller is pretty scary so click the thoushalt.org link at your own risk.] via mefi.

NP: "Everything Changed" - The Charlatans UK

Monday, September 12, 2005

What's That Song?

Alex Chilton is alive and well after being rescued by helicopter from New Orleans. I still haven't seen the latest on Fats Domino though.

NP: "Ride Into the Sun" - Luna

The Guardian, Refreshed

The Guardian released a preview of it's new Berliner format today on their blog. The big news is that they've gotten rid of their very distinctive mixed serif and sans serif masthead and have replaced it with a new font designed especially for them.

I like the new look, and I wonder how this will transition to their online presence. I'll be watching their website for the forseeable future to see how it shakes out. What do you think?

NP: "How a Resurrection Really Feels" - The Hold Steady

Friday, September 09, 2005

Friday Music Report

According to my profile at Last.fm, I listened to the following artists the most over the previous week:
  1. Modest Mouse - 12 songs
  2. The Clash - 9 songs
  3. Wilco - 5 songs
  4. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - 5 songs
  5. Luna - 5 songs
  6. The Jesus and Mary Chain - 5 songs
  7. Death Cab for Cutie - 5 songs
  8. Pulp - 5 songs
  9. Swervedriver - 5 songs
  10. Stereolab - 5 songs
The most listened to song of the last week? "Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! If you haven't heard these guys yet, believe the hype.

In other music news, Death Cab for Cutie made their major label debut last week with Plans. It continues their move toward introspection, but it is definitely worth a listen. It certainly helped make the seven hour drive to Virginia last weekend a bit better.

NP: "The Devil May Care (Mom & Dad Don't)" - The Brian Jonestown Massacre

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Worth A Thousand Words

Hat tip to Brandy.

NP: "Acuff-Rose (Live)" - Uncle Tupelo

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Proof the Internet Can Be a Strange Place

While looking at my referral logs, I see that a visitor here was referred from a Mariah Carey pictures blog. Huh? I'll just let this one go without further comment. The ground is just way too fertile for snark.

NP: "Up In Heaven (Not Only Here)" - The Clash

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Back to the ATL

I made it safely back to Atlanta after a weekend in the mountains. This is what I learned:
  • The weather up there made it very hard to return to the smog and humidity in Atlanta
  • My niece can run at full speed with a soccer ball at her feet (right, left, no matter)
  • I'm still a pretty good shot--at skeet anyway as there were fields ready for dove hunting
  • Real country ham is damn tasty
  • The Findells are still a very tight band, even if they are covering the Statler Brothers
  • You can eat a good meal in Staunton for pretty cheap
  • St. Mary's falls still look the same (much of the upper river and trail seems to have escaped the damage caused by Isabel)
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is some of the best driving that I know of
  • Col Alto is a pretty decent hotel
  • Frank's still makes great Calzones
  • The Palm's still has that ridiculous "Justification for Higher Education" poster in the corner
  • Lexington really needs another bar
  • And Lexington rarely changes
  • No matter where you travel, the traffic in South Carolina is guaranteed to suck
I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday weekend.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Early Friday Music Report

Since I'm off to Virginia tomorrow morning, here's an early weekly music report courtesy of Last.fm:
  1. Wilco
  2. Blur
  3. Pulp
  4. Swervedriver
  5. Lou Reed
  6. Afghan Whigs
  7. Elvis Costello
  8. The Charlatans UK
  9. The Stone Roses
  10. The Magnetic Fields
I'll probably be a bit quiet until after the holiday as my Internet access will be spotty and slow. Normal posting will resume next week. I plan on taking a holiday from CNN as well.

Where is FEMA?

Privatized and crony-ized to the point of non-existence, that's where. What is it with Republicans and their fetish for privitization. How many hard lessons do we need to live through to make them realize what is blindingly obvious to even the most casual observer: it doesn't work for things on this scale.

I'm not anti-business or anything, but what we have to remember is the raison d'etre for businesses: to make money. Not to help people. Sometimes, you need some "big" government. Just ask the citizens of New Orleans and Biloxi and Gulfport who where too poor or had no means to evacuate. They aren't stupid, as I'm sure Neal Boortz is saying right now, but they simply did not have the necessary resources. And now they are stuck, and nothing can help it seems.

When does the Bush administration have it's performance review anyway. I get one every year.