Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Music Wrap Up: The Top Album of the Year

#1 – The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America


What can I say? It’s the year of The Hold Steady. It’s pretty amazing that last year’s Separation Sunday made my top five and now, Boys and Girls in America is my best album of 2006 (questionable cover art aside). All my minor quibbles with the last album have been addressed. Boys and Girls in America, named for a Jack Kerouac quote, is much tighter than any album the band has made to date, but it still keeps its expansive flavor. Epic rock songs if you will.

From the rocking "Stuck Between Stations," a song that seems to depict many 30 somethings I Know all too well, to the more conventional closing number, "Southtown Girls," there’s not a single dud on this album. And all the songs seem to go back to the source of the albums name: “boys and girls in America have such a sad time together.”

When everyone else seems to be looking at the 80’s as their inspiration, The Hold Steady unapologetically gets their chops straight from the mid-70’s. And it works very well. There ain’t no keyboards here—just an organ. I really can’t say enough about this album.

Of course, their tremendous live show helped their cause. Unfortunately, I didn’t heed Craig Finn’s advice and call in sick the next day.

NP: "Manta Ray" - The Pixies

Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Music Wrap Up: Album #2

#2 – Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood


This is where this list gets really, really tough. In almost any other year, this would easily be the top album of the year for me. Not that settling in at number two is such a bad thing. Although this album came out early in the year, it has constantly stayed in my rotation.

On Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko Case sings more abstract songs than she has in the past, but the songs don't suffer at all. In fact, they are more suited to her unique vocal talents. You don't get distracted too much trying to discern some sort of narrative to the song. Instead you get caught up in the pure power of her voice and the music itself.

Neko case is today's Patsy Cline. You can't listen to her music without being utterly captivated by The Voice. Why Nashville, caught in its own navel-gazing, doesn't notice stumps me.

When I saw her live earlier this year, a friend of mine was attending her first Neko Case show. I could literally see her break out in goosebumps when Neko belted out her first notes supporting Kelly Hogan. This album showcases that voice at its best. I certainly hope that she doesn't totally abandon The New Pornographers, but I still look forward to many other albums from her like this.

NP: "This is Our Emergency" - Pretty Girls Make Graves

2006 Music Wrap Up: Album #3

#3 – Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Show Your Bones

The second album by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones, was released with what seemed like little fanfare, at least compared to their previous effort. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was because the first single, "Gold Lion," seemed like such a departure from their earlier work. While this is only anecdotal, many of my friends didn't care much for that song when they first heard it.

Of course, this lack of fanfare was an absolute shame, because this really is an outstanding rock record. This time out, the band really showcases Karen O's vocal talents—I wonder if Siouxsie Sioux is getting royalty checks from the band. All the songs here are definite departures from their biggest song to date, the plaintive "Maps." These are more confident and energetic, which really is the sweet spot vocally for Karen O. In my opinion, the album peaks with "Phenomena" and "Honeybear", midway through the album. I hope the band continues to build on the foundation they've built on this recording, and I look forward to more from them in the future.

NP: "Help Me Mary" - Liz Phair

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week.
  1. The Charlatans U.K.
  2. Joy Division
  3. Pixies
  4. Preston School of Industry
  5. Catherine Wheel
  6. Prefab Sprout
  7. Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  8. Swervedriver
  9. Wilco
  10. My Bloody Valentine
I've decided to do away with the random 10 I've been experimenting with over the last couple of months; it doesn't seem to add anything and doesn't show anything about my actual listening activities. Of course, if anyone feels strongly that it should stick around, just let me know in the comments.

NP: "Major Label Debut" - Broken Social Scene

Thursday, December 28, 2006

2006 Music Wrap Up: Album #4

#4 – Sunset Rubdown: Shut Up I Am Dreaming
Last year, my list was very heavy with Canadian bands, but thus far this year, there are notable only by their relative absence. Finally, Here are some Canadians for you. Sunset Rubdown is a side project by Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug. Though, it's one of the more satisfying feeling "side projects" that I've run across, since it feels more fully formed than a lot of primary projects one will find out there these days.

I originally had this album even higher on this list. That is until I listened to it again last week. That doesn't mean that I don't love this album, and I definitely rate it as top five, but the memory of seeing Sunset Rubdown live had elevated even beyond what the album presents. While he album loses a little of the raw energy that is ever-present in the live show, it's still Mr. Krug at his foot-stomping, yelping best.

NP: "So-Called Dangerous" - The Fall

Monday, December 25, 2006

2006 Music Wrap Up: Album #5

#5 – Band of Horses: Everything All the Time


Now to the top 5 albums of 2006 with an album per post. I will wrap the list up by the end of the week. In this spot we have Seattle’s Band of Horses release, Everything All the Time. This album has much going for it. It fulfills the promise shown by their earlier EPs, as well as an unexpected maturation of their sound. This record taps the same roots of inspiration as My Morning Jacket, with soaring guitars and epic sounds—sounds that flirt with being bombastic, only on this record, they work. The songwriting at times evokes R.E.M.’s obscure phases, but when something sounds so good, it’s just silly to quibble over storylines or narrative from the lyrics.

Nobody will call Band of Horses pioneers in this sound—that distinction belongs to bands like Wilco and My Morning Jacket—but they have discovered a way to make a damn listenable album nonetheless. Sometimes the firstest isn’t always the bestest.

Friday, December 22, 2006

2006 Music Wrap Up: Albums 12 - 6

#12 – Jim Noir: Tower of Love
I first became acquainted with Jim Noir during the World Cup; the song "Eanie Meany" was featured very prominently in Adidas's ads during the competition. That song got stuck in my head and I had to find out more. The rest of the album is the same. Jim Noir draws more inspiration from the Beach Boys than either The Beatles or Rolling Stones, and it makes for a perfect background soundtrack for just hanging around or entertaining.



#11 – The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers
No we know what The White Stripes would sound like if they weren't just half a band (i.e., had a bass line somewhere lurking in their songs). A lot of people thought this was a rather light-weight effort considering the star power lent to it by Jack White and Brendon Benson, but I thought it worked very well. "Steady as She Goes," is a fantastic, straightforward rock and roll tune that will roll around in your head for weeks if you aren't careful.



#10 – Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere
Fun. Pure fun. I would never have guessed that any album that prominently features Cee-lo would end up in one of my year end lists (just not my bag generally), but here it is nonetheless. I defy anyone to listen to this album, especially "Crazy", and not find themselves moving in time with the music.

It's been out for quite a while now, but it still sounds as fresh to me as it did when I first heard it.


#9 – Lucero: Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers
I'm sure that this album's inclusion on my year-end list will surprise very few of you who know my listening tastes well. I guess I had to get some southern rock on the list since I was a little disappointed with the Drive-By Trucker's last album (at least compared to their previous two). Well, Lucero certainly fits the bill. They get better and better with each album.





#8 – We Are Scientists: With Love and Squalor
When I first made up my draft list for the year, this album wasn't on the list. It's not because I don't love the album (I do), but because it came out early in the year. It had already assimilated itself into my more permanent rotation. I'm really disappointed that I missed their show at the Roxy in October.






#7 – Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins: Rabbit Fur Coat
If you had asked me last December what I thought would be on my year-end list for 2006, I think this is the only album that I would have put on that list, even though I had only heard a single song at that point, the outstanding "Rise Up with Fists". Well, the rest of the album is just as strong, including a nice cover of the Traveling Wilbury's "Handle with Care." Adding the Watson Twins was a masterstroke for Jenny Lewis. Their sound matches the songs she has written here perfectly.


#6 – TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain
A lot of year-end lists have this as their top album of the year. While I'm also enthusiastic about this, I'm not quite that enthusiastic. I'm not sure really how to describe TV on the Radio's sound. All I can say for sure is that they make really interesting and literate music that challenges me at every listen without becoming an dreary exercise. Besides, they have the best 'fros in the business.





NP: "Lost in Boston" - The Walkmen

Friday Music Report

The weekly version. According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week:
  1. Pavement
  2. The Charlatans
  3. Sufjan Stevens
  4. Luna
  5. Supergrass
  6. Pulp
  7. My Morning Jacket
  8. Afghan Whigs
  9. Pixies
  10. Catherine Wheel
What? You expected Christmas music?

To provide a slightly different window into my musical tastes, here are 10 songs drawn randomly from my iPod:
  • Looks Just Like the Sun - Broken Social Scene
  • There Is No Such Thing As Love - The Dears
  • Decent Days And Nights - The Futureheads
  • 24 - Game Theory
  • Hideaway - Ivy
  • Be Kind & Remind - Rogue Wave
  • 24 Hours - Shack
  • Sleeping Pills - Suede
  • The Other Jesus - Swervedriver
  • I Can't Stop Smiling - Velocity Girl
I hope to begin posting my year end list later today.

NP: "Like Eating Glass" - Bloc Party

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

2006 Music Wrap Up: Honorable Mentions

Now that I've listed my favorite shows of the year and showed the albums I actually listened to the most in 2006, it's time to get to my favorite albums of the year. This is not meant to be an "end-all, be-all" list, since there are a lot of worthy albums that I didn't listen to for whatever reason. This list merely reflects my taste and my listening habits. Some of you may find it valuable, some of you may not. At the very least, I'd like this list to make you think or respond or call me a raving lunatic (well maybe not that last one). Or even do your own list!

But before I can get to the list proper (and there are 12 items on it this year), I thought I should highlight a few albums that for one reason or other didn't make the list. Call this introduction to the list the honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention #1: EditorsThe Back Room
You may recall that I included this album in the honorable mention category last year. I still stand by that inclusion since I had been listening to it a lot, even though it was only available as an import at the time. Once it came out in the U.S., I was still listening to it quite a bit.

Whatever the weird timing of its release, I still like this album quite a bit, even though I'm not sure it would make it into the top 12 (10 is too few) albums of 2006 though. Last year I was working with a much larger list—too large for my current schedule. In any case, if you have a chance to see these guys live, do so. Even if they don't have the material to support a long set, what time they play, they rock hard.

Honorable Mention #2: Snowden Anti-Anti

I've only begun listening to this album lately, even though it came out in August. It has been mesmerizing me over the last few weeks though. I call it out for special attention now for a couple of reasons: 1) I've been listening to it a lot and 2) It's the first time since I've been doing this that an Atlanta band has merited any kind of consideration in the year-end kudos.

I haven't had the chance to see Snowden live yet, but I certainly hope to remedy that situation early in the new year. They've been touring constantly, most recently with Forward Russia!


Honorable Mention #3: Bishop Allen – 12 EPs

They make the list for releasing an EP a month over the course of the year. I don't even know what image to link to for this one. I'm certainly not going to included 12 separate images, so this one will have to suffice. You have to admire a band that stretches it's creativity so, putting out so much original material in one calendar year.

And the funny thing is, a whole lot of it is damn entertaining. Some of it is even captivating. Hopefully, they will be able to cull some of this material down, add a few more songs, and then make a full length album. Then relax a little bit. They've certainly earned it.

I'm not going to list all the albums that I considered for my list this way, but I thought these two deserved a little extra attention for the reasons stated above. Now, before I begin the list proper (hopefully tomorrow), I thought I'd list those albums that I considered for the list that didn't quite make the cut. I'm not going to say anything about any of these individually (I'm not Pitchfork after all), but I did enjoy them all, just not quite as much as the ones to follow:
I'm sure once I get through my top dozen, there will be others you think should be represented, but I'll deal with them then.

NP: "Memorial" – Explosions in the Sky

Super Realistic Flies

And by flies, I mean those things you tie to the end of a piece of leader and connect it back to a fly-rod. I used to do a bit of fly fishing, and even less fly tying, but I've never seen anything quite like these.

The main point of most fishing flies is to catch fish, and since fish don't see quite like humans, I'm not sure these would work any better than the flies you by at your local tackle shop or at Orvis. That said, they are pretty amazing to look at, and I can certainly appreciate the effort that it took to create them. (via mefi)

NP: "Congregation" - Afghan Whigs

Sunday, December 17, 2006

2006 Music Wrap Up: Most Memorable Shows

I didn't attend as many shows this year as I did last year, but the shows I did see were all very good. I'm just lucky that way I guess. Since it's the time of year to reflect, here are the five best shows that I was able to take in this year. Click the links below to see my original reviews.

#5: The Wedding Present + Sally Crewe + Tentonic

#4: The Church + Rob Dickinson

#3: Neko Case + The High Dials + Kelly Hogan

#2: Sunset Rubdown + Beaver + One Hand Loves the Other

#1: The Hold Steady + Sean Na Na + The Secret Service

Ordering this list was darn difficult, and there weren't appreciable differences between any of these shows. Harder still was leaving shows off the list. Daniel Lanois springs immediately to mind here.

NP: "Gold Lion" - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week:
  1. The Hold Steady
  2. Wilco
  3. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
  4. Echo & The Bunnymen
  5. Guided by Voices
  6. Neko Case
  7. The Charlatans U.K.
  8. Catherine Wheel
  9. Maximo Park
  10. R.E.M.
NP: "Love You Too Much" - The House of Love

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tom Snyder Interviews The Clash in 1981

And shows just how clueless he actually is.


NP: NPR - All Songs Considered

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2006 Music Wrap Up: What I Listened to the Most

It's December, so everyone who is anyone in the blogsphere is doing their end of lists. Even though I'm not an A-List music blogger [Ed. Note: More like the J-List], I'm no exception.

Unlike last year, however, I'm not going to just throw out what I thought were the best albums of the year. In keeping with the spirit of my Friday Music Report, I thought I would start with those albums that I actually listened to the most over the last year (all stats by Last.fm). So without further ado, here are the albums I listened to the most over the last year:
  1. Elvis Costello & The AttractionsGet Happy!!
  2. Yeah Yeah YeahsShow Your Bones
  3. ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of DeadSource Tags & Codes
  4. PylonHits
  5. The Hold SteadySeparation Sunday (3)
  6. Billy BraggBack to Basics
  7. Echo & the BunnymenEcho & the Bunnymen
  8. The NationalAlligator (2)
  9. SwervedriverJuggernaut Rides '89-'98
  10. Sufjan StevensIllinoise (9)

The numbers in parentheses indicate where I had these albums ranked in my year-end list last year. Wow, I would never have guessed I listened to Elvis Costello that much, but as I've said before, my iPod does have a seeming affinity to Mr. McManus's work. Interestingly, only one album from this year made the list, so you can probably make the assumption that you'll be seeing more about it in a week or so.

In the coming days, I'll continue this list fest with a list of the best concerts I saw over the last 12 months, and then begin counting down albums (only a dozen this year).

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week:
  1. Wilco
  2. Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
  3. Echo & the Bunnymen
  4. Guided by Voices
  5. Neko Case
  6. The Charlatans U.K.
  7. Catherine Wheel (No exact site found)
  8. Maximo Park
  9. R.E.M.
  10. Game Theory
There's no random 10 this week unfortunately, as I don't have access to my music library from my work laptop right now.

NP: "Keeping up with You" - Moose

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Landed

So I just got back from training in Boston for my new gig (it sort of snowed). Three and a half days without Internet access kind of sucks just for the record. So I thought I'd check in. Once things settle down, we should get back to normal. Stay tuned [Ed. Note: Please].

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Music Report

According the my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week:
  1. Neko Case
  2. Pulp
  3. Echo & the Bunnymen
  4. The Replacements
  5. The Futureheads
  6. The Pixies
  7. Sonic Youth
  8. The Pogues
  9. Saint Etienne
  10. Ted Led & the Pharmacists

I think I can safely say that the only place you'll see some of those bands next to one another would be in this list.

Now for another view into my music library. Here are 10 songs drawn totally at random from my iPod:

  • Senior Breakdown - The Soundtrack of Our Lives
  • Angel is the Devil - Steve Earle
  • Dumb - Nirvana
  • Walking with a Ghost - The White Stripes
  • Gold Lion - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Prison Shoe Romp - Sixteen Horsepower
  • It's Destiny - Rock*A*Teens
  • Chardonnay - Game Theory
  • Same Way of Saying - Pavement
  • Gloria - Patti Smith

NP: "Tralala" - Lush

Thursday, November 30, 2006

We Were For Muslim Extermists Before We Were Against Them

Happy 20th birthday to the Iran-Contra Scandal (The sale of arms was confirmed by Ed Meese on November 25, 1986). I wonder why this anniversary isn't being noted as much as, say Watergate? Maybe there are just too many other Republican scandals in the wind right now. Really, what's the scandal scorecard looking like these days? Even my most rock-ribbed Republican friends would have to admit that the scandals seem to accumulate more under their administrations. I mean really, what have the Democrats got? A blowjob and a couple of pardons? Don't even start that Whitewater or Vince Foster nonsense either!

Back to Iran-Contra. I remember the hearings on this like they were yesterday, and even then, I was appalled that the executive branch would so flagrantly do an end-run around the constitution. How on earth did so many people avoid incarceration? Oh that's right, "I don't recall."

Funny side note to the whole affair. I went to college with Oliver North's eldest daughter and son. I even had classes a lot of classes with his daughter since we were both class of '91 and English majors to boot (both were incredibly nice by the way). On the day of my graduation, as I was walking to the ceremony with my parents, we ran into Oliver North who shook hands with me and my parents. To this day, I have the mental image of the distaste etched on my father's face as he towered over Mr. North while shaking his hand (North is only like 5'6" tall and my Dad is 6'2"). Well done Dad!

Yikes! It must be Ronald Reagan week here at Flannel Enigma. [Ed. Note: I never expected to see that sentence here ever.]

NP: "I Wanna Sleep with You" - The Psychedelic Furs
(C'mon, you just knew this one would have to be from the 80s)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The World According to Ronald Reagan

In a handy map!

The scary part of this is that much of those who purport to speak for the right seem to believe this is the way the world should be (I'm looking at you Rush Limbaugh, but then again, you are hard to miss).

I suppose this means that I'm back from my moving hiatus. Amazingly, we are about 90% done setting up the new loft.

NP: "Leaves Me Cold" - Lush

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Moving Update

One move is complete (mostly anyway). I'm still in the process of unpacking though. Between that, cooking a big turkey for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and preparing for my new job that begins on December 4, posting will probably continue to be light.

NP: " (I Want to Be an) Anglepoise Lamp" - The Soft Boys

Friday, November 17, 2006

Revisiting My Top Five Albums for 2005

Inspired by a post at gorilla vs. bear, I thought I too would look at how I feel about my top five albums from last year fared in my opinion after having a chance to listen to them all year. Here's how my original top five looked last year:
  1. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
  2. The National - Alligator
  3. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
  4. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
  5. British Sea Power - Open Season
I still listen to these albums somewhat regularly, so I didn't fare too poorly in what I picked. However, there were some albums that I didn't rate so highly that have only improved with age, which says something about their staying power. If I were ranking 2005 right now, the top five would look like this (orginal rankings in parenthesis):
  1. Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise (9)
  2. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary (4)
  3. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday (3)
  4. The National - Alligator (2)
  5. Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene (17)
Bloc Party would still make my top ten list, but I'm sure British Sea Power would fall a bit farther down (though I still really like the album). As for Broken Social Scene, here's what I said last December:
[This album] has really grown on me though. I suspect that if I were compiling this list sometime next month, it would crack the top 10.
Or top five! Overall, I didn't do too poorly in my estimating skills. Three of the original top five are still there, while the other two new additions were at least in my top 20. I'm not sure why Sufjan Stevens didn't make the top five the first time around. Maybe I was just a little burned out on him from the incessant chatter about the album on the music blogs. Illinoise, however, has more than held up for me. I probably listen to it more often now than I did last December.

I'm not sure I have a top 20 list in me this year for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, 2006 hasn't been the year 2005 was for music—at least not for music I've been listening too (and I'm sure I've missed my fair share). Second, that took a lot of work and since I'm going to be settling into a new loft and a new job this December, my focus will be elsewhere.

I probably won't be able to help myself and will do a top 10 though. And what do you think the chances are that The Hold Steady will be in the top five for consecutive years [Ed. Note: That's pretty apparent you big fanboy].

NP: "Making Friends and Acquaintances" - Cursive

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week:

  1. Pulp
  2. Blur
  3. Hüsker Dü
  4. Uncle Tupelo
  5. Sufjan Stevens
  6. Radiohead
  7. Johnny Cash
  8. Crowded House
  9. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
  10. Spoon
I believe that's the first time that Radiohead has made this list, which may surprise some of you.

NP: "Sour Shores" - Portastatic

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The First World Cup Hat Trick Was Scored by an American

FIFA amends the records to credit Bert Patenaude with the first World Cup hat trick. After lengthy research and confirmation from the US Soccer Federation, he has been retrospectively entered in FIFA's records as the first player to score a hat trick in World Cup history. He scored three goals in the USA's 3-0 victory over Paraguay on 17 July 1930 during the first World Cup.

Good things happen on July 17. Trust me on this.

NP: "You've Sealed My Fate" - Swervedriver

The Story of Bicycle Pants Man

OK, so this one is for my readers who are familiar with Atlanta. A local documentary film maker has put together the story of Willy Terry, a local character fond of hanging out on Ponce de Leon Avenue in a pair of bicycle shorts that, shall we say, enhance his masculinity—no matter what the weather. You know you know who I'm talking about.

So if you've ever seen Mr. Terry and wondered what the heck was up with him (or more likely what the hell is in his pants), here you go (via Cable and Tweed):
Warning. Not safe for work (sans headphones). It's nice to see so many familiar faces turn up from my 'hood. These are the things that make me love living on Ponce. Now that I'm moving next week, I'll have to learn a whole new set of characters.

Now I want to know about the "Why Lie I Need a Beer" guy at North Avenue and the connector exit.

NP: "Keep Me" - The Black Keys

Monday, November 13, 2006

Changes Afoot

Lots of changes are occurring for me right now, seemingly all at once. First, I am preparing to move, and I hate moving. Second, a new job is in the offing as well. Accordingly, posting may be light until I get into my new place next Monday and the employment situation is completely sorted out. Normal posting will resume then.

NP: "Stalemate" - Nada Surf

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week:
  1. The Hold Steady
  2. Wilco
  3. Echo & the Bunnymen
  4. The Charlatans U.K.
  5. Luna
  6. Swervedriver
  7. Franz Ferdinand
  8. The Wedding Present
  9. Pavement
  10. Pulp
Now, here are 10 songs drawn totally at random from my music library using iTunes' smart playlist feature:
  • Serious Bird Woman (You Turn Me On) - Robert Pollard
  • The Tall Grass - Favourite Sons
  • Like A Pearl (live) - Portastatic
  • There Is A Light That Never Goes Out - The Lucksmiths
  • Stop, I'm Already Dead - Deadboy & the Elephantmen
  • Water Wings - Superchunk
  • Shake Your Hips - The 101ers
  • If You Knew - Neko Case
  • Jennifer - The Brian Jonestown Massacre
  • Hounds Of Love (live) - The Futureheads
NP: "Another Morning Stoner" - ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Good Guys Win

The house at least. Say hello to Speaker Pelosi.

Sorry Gollum. (Though it's unimaginable that you were super excited tonight.)

UPDATE: Now the Senate is looking interesting. Go Jim. Go Claire. Go Jon.

UPDATE II: Please Virginia, be sane. Don't elect Gov. Disney to the Senate again. Here we go. Recounts likely.

UPDATE III: Webb says he wins. Hallelujah! Let the recounts begin. Thank you Richmond.

UPDATE IV: Not so much in Georgia. We did hold a contested seat or two (not sure exactly of the exact numbers since John Lewis [bless him] is my representative.)

FINAL UPDATE: Allen should take the advice of GOP representatives from 2000 and retreat quietly in the political night. Webb won. Get over it. Blue congress!

"The votes are in, and we won"
- Jim Webb

I Voted


Did You?

(And here's some voting music for you)

NP: "The Revolution Starts Now" - Steve Earle

Monday, November 06, 2006

Weekly Music Report

I was traveling to D.C. on Friday for a wedding (pictures here), and I was unable to get the stats for the previous week. So I guess that part of the music report will skip its first week.

I can, however, provide you with 10 songs drawn totally at random from my iPod:
  • When You Come - Crowded House
  • Whatever's Cool With Me - Dinosaur Jr
  • Positive Jam - The Hold Steady
  • You Are What You Love - Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
  • Murdermile - The Kills
  • Silver - The Pixies
  • Faron - Prefab Sprout
  • Wake Up - Rage Against the Machine
  • Rude Mood - Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Building Skyscrapers In The Basement - Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
NP: "The Infanta" - The Decemberists

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sing, O Goddess, the Anger of Achilles

In the original! Learn to speak ancient Greek.

NP: "As If I Hadn't Slept" - Idlewild

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Inside Beethoven's Symphony No. 3

The San Francisco Orchestra provides a very cool, interactive guide to Beethoven's Symphony No. 3. I don't know a lot about classical music (listening to Karl Haas notwithstanding), merely that I like quite a bit of it, so I found this guide very instructive. This is an excellent use of Flash to allow users to directly interact with something that isn't inherently visual.

NP: "Like a Pearl" - Portastatic

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Soundtrack of My Life

As seen at the Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers. Here's how it works:
  1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
  2. Put it on shuffle
  3. Press play
  4. For every question, type the song that's playing
  5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
Here's how mine played out:

Opening Credits:
"Hurt" - Johnny Cash (Ouch, I certainly hope that doesn't set the scene)

Waking Up:
"Dumbells" - Mission of Burma

First Day At School:
"Veronica" - Elvis Costello

Falling In Love:
"Rudy Foolish" - Matt Sweeny and Bonnie Prince Billy

Breaking Up:
"On Repeat" - LCD Soundsystem

Prom:
"Coal Black Horses" - 16 Horsepower (this is getting all Carrie on me)

Life's Ok:
"Crush" - Smashing Pumpkins

Mental Breakdown:
"Elvis" - Longpigs

Driving:
"Spiders (Kidsmoke)" - Wilco (a damn good driving song if I've ever heard one)

Flashback:
"Of All the Things We've Made" - OMD

Getting Back Together:
"The Wake of Medusa" - The Pogues (what the hell kind of relationship would that be)

Birth of Child:
"Dimensions and Verticals" - Say Hi to Your Mom

Wedding Scene:
"Someone Says" - Editors

Final Battle:
"Chance" - Big Country

Death Scene:
"Two States" - Pavement (this is getting kind of eerie now)

Funeral Song:
"Spine" - Bettie Serveert

End Credits:
"Lucy Doesn't Love You" - Ivy

This would make for quite a strange movie soundtrack. Such is any life I guess.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Klinsmann Confirms Talks with U.S. Soccer

Telling us what we already knew, Jurgen Klinsmann confirms talks with U.S. Soccer. This comes on the heels of some unofficial leaks that he was on the short list of both the U.S. and Mexico.
"Absolutely I’m interested. I kind of needed some time to reflect after the World Cup. I’ve been in touch with Sunil and had several conversations, all very positive."
When this possibility first surfaced immediately following his outstanding job of guiding Germany to the late stages of the World Cup, I was immediately for it. With the unimaginative job that Bruce Arena had turned in, I thought his willingness to shake things up was just the thing to keep U.S. Soccer from backsliding.

I still think he would be a good option, but I've had a lot of conversations about this with some very savvy soccer friend, and now I don't think he's the only option that can ensure building the program. Other interesting names, like Jose Peckermann, have surfaced. His work with the Argentine youth system alone bears a good long look. His only downside would be his lack of knowledge of U.S. soccer in general, but he wouldn't be afraid to make everyone earn a spot (I'm looking at you prima-Donovan).

A lot of folks also still think that the coach will have a more American flavor. (Klinsmann at least lives in California.) Of the best candidates in this pool, I think Peter Nowak, current coach of DC United, and Steve Nicol of New England are the best bets.

So that gives you a pool of what are probably the top four choices from Sunil Gulati will choose next month. What do I think? I would be very happy with either Klinsmann, Pekermann, or Nowak. Although each of these candidates is very different, they could all improve the standing of the game and the U.S. and the performance of the U.S. teams.

If we're going to live in fantasy land for a moment, Ideally, a combination of Pekermann and Klinsmann/Nowak would be best (thanks for the idea Xavier!). Leave the overall structure and development to Pekermann and leave the coaching to either Klinsmann or Nowak. I'know this idea isn't really workable, but it would probably do wonders for U.S. soccer.

In any case, it's looking like Klinsmann is the number one candidate. Hopefully he, or someone, takes the job real soon.

NP: "Gravity" - Pylon

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week:
  • Bettie Serveert
  • The Wedding Present
  • The Charlatans U.K.
  • Billy Bragg
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • The Delgados
  • Elf Power
  • The Connells
  • Spiritualized
  • Dinosaur Jr.

For an completely different kind of look into my music library, here are 10 songs drawn totally at random from my library using iTunes' smart playlist functionality:

  • "Thirteen" - Johnny Cash
  • "Sound Check (Gravity)" - Gorillaz
  • "Little Fern" - Portastatic
  • "Knock Knock" - The Hives
  • "Isolation" - Joy Division
  • "Hell is Chrome" - Wilco
  • "Decoration Day" - Drive-By Truckers
  • "Cut Me DOwn" - Lloyd Cole & the Commotions
  • "Cars and Girls" - Prefab Sprout
  • "A Wooden Horse" - British Sea Power

NP: "This Is What It Should Have Been an Hour Ago" - Ocelot

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Do You Like Pho-Tography?

A wink's as good as a nudge to a blind bat, eh?

OK, it's a night of housekeeping here. I've finally updated my Flickr page with lots of new photographs, including the wedding last weekend, my Chicago trip, new St. Mary's pics, and more.

My photographic output is not nearly as prolific (or as good) as sweetfrenchtoast's photos or El Gray's photos, or GrabbingSand's photos, but oh, well, onward and upward.

More Tinkering Under the Hood

So I've switched things up a bit around here. The stacked sidebars at the right were kind of bugging me, so I thought I try something different. What do y'all think? Suggestions are welcome of course.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Coke Donates Land in Atlanta for Civil Rights Museum

Coca-Cola has donated land in downtown Atlanta for a National Civil Rights Museum. Good for Coke. And good for Atlanta. When you think about it, Atlanta makes a lot of sense for a civil rights museum, given its connection to the King family. It certainly would be better for the city than the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which Atlanta recently lost. Such a museum would complement the Georgia Aquarium nicely downtown.

NP: "Her Against Me (Featuring Ruby Belle)" - Afghan Whigs

An Exclusive Club


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere is:
1
person with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

(via OW)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music last week:
  1. Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
  2. Echo & the Bunnymen
  3. Swervedriver
  4. Death Cab for Cutie
  5. Bettie Serveert
  6. Wilco
  7. Joy Division
  8. Sigur Rós
  9. The Clash
  10. The Charlatans U.K.
Nothing really surprising there. For a completely different view into my listening habits, here is a random 10 songs drawn from my iPod.
  • The Marriage - Billy Bragg
  • Roseablility - Idlewild
  • Ocean Spray - Manic Street Preachers
  • New Boy - The Connells
  • Lost In Space - Luna
  • Hummingbird - Wilco
  • Ghosts of American Astronauts - The Mekons
  • Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand
  • Black Math - The White Stripes
  • A Parable - Clem Snide
NP: "I Can't Stand It" - Bettie Serveert

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Another Atlanta Institution Closing

Very sad news my friends. I found out this evening that The Silver Grill (not the Silver Skillet and their faux red-eye gravy) is closing December 22. Now, where will I go for cornbread that tastes like my Granny's and chicken and dumplings and fried chicken!

If you've never been, definitely drop by before the end to have the best fried chicken in Atlanta (voted so multiple times by Creative Loafing), share the ups and downs of Georgia football with Kevin, and fatten yourself up for at least one day.

I'm going to miss it. Where else will I go to eat when I have no idea what I want to eat. Any ideas? And don't tell me about the Silver Skillet. Son's Place is my best guess right now.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More Web 2.0 B.S. Buzzwords Than You Can Shake a Stick At

Following up on my post about the overuse of buzzwords, especially in the Internet industry, here's some more buzzword bingo: The Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator!

Some of my favorite examples:
  • reinvent peer-to-peer communities
  • disintermediate user-contributed blogspheres (and you'd thought I made up that word)
  • integrate long-tail value
Anyone else find any favorites we can ridicule?

Related: Web economy bullshit generator.

NP: "Mercenary Song" - Steve Earle

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week.
  1. Sufjan Stevens
  2. The Hold Steady
  3. Death Cab for Cutie
  4. Wilco
  5. Pavement
  6. Doves
  7. My Morning Jacket
  8. Broken Social Scene
  9. Swervedriver
  10. My Bloody Valentine
Continuing the new, random sampling feature of this report, here are 10 songs drawn totally at random from my iPod:
  • White Light - Gorillaz
  • Rabbit Hole - Year of The Rabbit
  • Quick Painless & Easy - Ivy
  • Night Light - Sleater-Kinney
  • Mr Malcontent - Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
  • L.A. - The Fall
  • Hey Now! - Oasis
  • Heavy Metal Drummer - Wilco
  • Hand In Hand - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  • Dreamaniacs - Bettie Serveert
NP: "Tom Courtenay (Georgia Version)" - Yo La Tengo

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein

David Barsalou has scoured the comic word to locate the source images for many of Roy Lichtenstein's paintings, and compares the original images side by side with Lichtenstein's paitings. presented them both side-by-side. Here's a sampling (and perhaps my favorite painting):


For the record, I think this exercise shows how accomplished Lichtenstein was since without fail, his paintings are huge improvements over the original images. I was lucky enough to see the above at the High Museum, and it is absolutely incredible.

NP: "Avery Island; April 1st" - Neutral Milk Hotel

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tribe Pride. Get It?



The NCAA apparently does not. One of my alma maters, The College of William & Mary, has lost its appeal to the NCAA over the use of its logo, which includes a couple of feathers to indicate its nickname, the Tribe. The NCAA, however, has deemed that the nickname itself is just fine.

Now, I'm all for removing hints of our racist past from the ranks of sports mascots—Redskins is racist now matter how you slice it—but how the NCAA is going about this is just ridiculous and incoherent. How on earth is the spear on Florida State's helmet acceptable, where two feathers, totally divorced from any other native american symbols unacceptable.

I'm not too upset about this, but it seems the schools that are being told what they can and can't do are mostly those schools that aren't big football powerhouses.

NP: "Meantime" - The Futureheads

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Disney Recognizes Piracy as a Business Model

Disney's co-chair recognizes piracy as a business model during her keynote address at Mipcom. Here's a key quote: "[Piracy] exists to serve a need in the market for consumers who want TV content on demand."

She went on to say that the company would be relying on their content to drive everything moving forward, giving it primacy of place to drive traffic and create demand. However, Cory Doctorow responds: (@ boingboing.net)
Content isn't king. If I sent you to a desert island and gave you the choice of taking your friends or your movies, you'd choose your friends -- if you chose the movies, we'd call you a sociopath. Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about.
Something to always remember, especially in my business.

NP: "This is Not What You Had Planned" - The Wrens

Friday, October 06, 2006

Salman Rushdie in Atlanta

Salman Rushdie will join Emory as writer in residence. Hopefully, in addition to his brief periods of teaching over the next five years, he'll find time to do a local reading or two.

I haven't read a lot of his works, just Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses, so maybe I ought to brush up a bit. Any one got recommendations?

NP: "The Lament of Pretty Baby" - Cursive

Friday Music Report

According to my profile at Last.fm, I listened to the following artists the most last week:
  1. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
  2. Broken Social Scene
  3. Swervedriver
  4. Sufjan Stevens
  5. The Hold Steady
  6. Echo & The Bunnymen
  7. Afghan Whigs
  8. Blur
  9. Pulp
  10. The Walkmen
To provide another cross-section of my musical tastes, here are a random 10: songs drawn totally at random from my iPod using the smart playlist function of iTunes:
  • The Boy With The Thorn In His Side - The Smiths
  • Sky Starts Falling - Doves
  • Shake The Sheets - Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
  • Phenomena - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Heaven Adores You - Earlimart
  • Give My Love to Kevin (Acoustic) - The Wedding Present
  • Coolin' By Sound - Pavement
  • Come into Our Room - Clinic
  • Coma Girl - Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
  • $1000 Wedding - Gram Parsons
Obviously, I'd be remiss if I didn't say it's been a pretty awesome musical week, seeing both Sunset Rubdown and The Hold Steady, but if I went on any more about that, it would just be boring.

NP: "Junior Kickstart" - The Go! Team

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Hold Steady + Sean Na Na + The Secret Service

OK. Now's the time for a superlative. The Hold Steady are the best rock and roll band in America.


Take away all the adjectives: no "indie", no "progressive", no "post" anything. They just rock and roll. Spin has called them the best bar band in America too, so I'm not too far off the reservation. I'm going to depart from my usual style here and start by talking about their headlining performance last night at the Earl.

They opened with the opening track from Boys and Girls in America(Pitchfork Review 9.4), "Station to Station." It started there. The crowd was pumped. The band was pumped. The sound was huge. Loud. And lead singer Craig Finn was frenetic and magnetic.

You can't really be prepared for their stage presence just by seeing them during set up or sound check. As one of my friends put it, Craig Finnan looks like your high school English teacher, and is probably just as literate. But once the performance begins, all that just melts away. And it did for about an hour and a half as they pulled material from all three of their albums. Highlights for me were "Your Little Hoodrat Friend," "Station to Station," "Stevie Nix," and the final encore, "Most People are DJs," which ended up with a good portion of the audience on stage. Bonus points to whomever loaned Craig their Twins jersery for the first encore; he said it made him feel 10 feet tall, but truth be told, he performed like he was 10 feet tall all evening.

If you don't know this band, and you like bands with a huge sound that just flat out rock, I heartily recommend that you check them out.

Sean Na Na had the unenviable task of warming up the crowd for the headliner. Walking into the Earl, I really had no idea what to expect, but I was impressed. The band was a good pairing with The Hold Steady and got the crowd warmed up nicely. During the show, I discovered that I knew one of the tracks, but I still couldn't tell you the name of it. I'd see these guys again live and will do some googling to see what else of theirs I can find.

I don't have much to report about the first act, The Secret Service. I only caught about three songs, but I can report that they were loud. And fast. And the lead singer played a flying-V, which is something you don't see much these days.

NP: "Duress" - Swervedriver

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Limbo in Limbo

Pope Benedict XVI will end the Catholic doctrine of Limbo. As strange as the concept of Limbo sounds to those of us who were reared as protestants (and I imagine it's even weirder for Atheists and adherents of other faiths), it made a certain logical sense that virtuous people who did not have any opportunity to convert were not doomed to an eternity of pain. According to the article:

Limbo is traditionally held to be the place where the souls of children go if they die before they can be baptised and so freed from original sin.

It is also the fate of “holy people” such as the prophet Abraham who lived before the time of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe offered mankind redemption through his death and Resurrection.

I always thought Limbo, based on my knowledge of it from the Inferno, would been a pretty cool place to hang out. Imagine a poker game with Socrates, Abraham, and Caesar.

What's next on the chopping block, Purgatory? (Don't even get me started on how weird that one looks to Protestants.)

NP: "The Avalanche" - Sufjan Stevens

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sunset Rubdown + Beaver + One Hand Loves the Other

Saturday night, I went to the new Lenny's to see Sunset Rubdown. It was my first time in the new Lenny's and I have to say it was a good place to see a show. It has probably double the capacity of the old bar, and everything is still cleanish (though I'm sure that will diminish over time).

I arrived early since I had a feeling this show would sell out, but as it turns out it didn't (more on that later). I had plenty of time to swill High Life while waiting for the first band to take the stage (which seemed to take forever). Eventually, however, local band On Hand Loves the Other started its set. They certainly didn't fit the bill of the usual act at Lenny's (which is now billing itself as Atlanta's CBGB's): the band consisted of two keyboards/synthesizers, a cello, and a lead singer. They had my interest piqued, but in the end the music was way too melodramatic for me and the singer kept singing in a falsetto. I think they've probably listened to "Bohemian Rhapsody" a few too many times. A couple of my friends enjoyed them, but they just weren't my cup of tea.

The next act, Beaver, was a complete shift of gears: very stripped down. I enjoyed this set quite a bit coming to listen with no knowledge of the music whatsoever. Beaver sounded a little like the Moutain Goats with great moments of Mangum-esque sound straight out of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.

Then there was the main attraction for the evening, Sunset Rubdown. Originally, a side project of Spencer Krug from Wolf Parade, the group has expanded to include members from Pony Up! and XY Lover. Sunset Rubdown's sound doesn't fall far from the tree musically speaking. It's very similar to Krug's contributions to Wolf Parade. As for the show itself, I don't know if I have enough superlatives at my disposal. They rocked and rocked hard (even with an accordian). Spencer Krug is a very talented musician and songwriter. I had only heard a few of their songs before the show, but I definitely enjoyed all the material they played. If you don't know these guys, I recommend them very highly. This was the best show I've seen in quite a while.

On to the attendance. Where were you Atlanta? This show should have been a sellout! The crowd that did show up got a treat though and they showed a lot of energy throughout.

Now, if Wolf Parade would only swing through town.

NP: "Boo" - Pinback

On the Road Meets Google Maps

Littourati is mapping Kerouac's On the Road with Google Maps. Each post covers a section of the journey with a map, a quote from the book, and some further background information. An example: Creston, WY.

As the site says:
Literature often describes places we are curious about, regardless of whether we know them or not. This blog maps the journeys laid out in selected books and offers reflections corresponding to the various stops. Happy traveling!

I look forward to checking back on this from time to time. I wonder if he'll attempt Moby Dick.

NP: "For Today I Am a Buoy" - Antony & the Johnsons

Monday, October 02, 2006

New Robert Frost Poem Discovered

A new Robert Frost poem has been discovered at UVA. The poem, entitled, "War Thoughts at Home," seems particularly topical right now.

The poem will be published for the first time in the Virginia Quarterly Review (available today). Robert Stilling, the poem's discoverer, discusses the find and provides some details and quotes from the poem in question.

NP: "Citrus" - The Hold Steady

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week:
  1. Blur
  2. Swervedriver
  3. Wilco
  4. The Charlatans
  5. Afghan Whigs
  6. Supergrass
  7. The Boo Radleys
  8. Modest Mouse
  9. The New Pornographers
  10. Neko Case
To provide a more balanced view, here are 10 songs drawn totally at random from my music library:
  • Ray Ray Rain - Bettie Serveert
  • Suit of Lights - Elvis Costello & The Attractions And Confederates
  • Fever Dream - Iron & Wine
  • Dance Of The Seven Veils - Liz Phair
  • Honey White - Morphine
  • It's Great To Be Here Again! - The Posies
  • Babies - Pulp
  • Holland - Sufjan Stevens
  • Our Days In Kansas - Tullycraft
  • Say Can You See - Wilderness
My iPod is obviously thinking of the Dilettante in Distress.

And one more thing. Here's something odd and fascinating—a banjo version of "O Fortuna!" from Carmina Burana: Sandy Bull - Carmina Burana Fantasy. Spooky.

NP: O2 Arsenal Podcast

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Google Reader Redux

Google has updated Google Reader. I posted about this when Google first introduced Reader about a year ago. Now, they've updated it quite a bit, and the results are quite an improvement.

They've addressed all the little annoyances that have been building up (though not enough to try feeddemon again) very well. Now, you can view your feeds according to how you've tagged them. This makes this a much more logical experience than before when the default was a long list. For example, I can either read or ignore the feeds from my music blogs without having to scroll through them or ignore them while I'm working on something else.

All and all, given my hour or two with the changes I'd say "job well done". They've managed to fix some of the things that were starting to annoy me without breaking the whole thing altogether. If you rely on RSS as much as I do, give it a whirl.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Grammar Questions

I just overheard a grammar question at work! No really.

It concerned the correct spacing around an em dash (—). For the record, no spaces are required on either side.

Small things like this make me smile. And yes, I know I'm a grammar geek.

NP: "Stevie Nix" - The Hold Steady

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Speaking the Truth to Power

Olbermann does.

Current events is a nightmare from which I'm still trying to awake.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Buzzword Bingo!

For those of you who don't work in Internet technology, this may be of very little interest to you. For those of you, like me, who work in technology, we have a nasty little secret: our industry relies a gibberish of buzzwords to attempt to communicate. I'm positive that this isn't a big surprise to anyone, but we have to say: Enough is enough!

I've seen this my entire professional career. It started making "use" into utilize, turned into turn-key, cooked up soup to nuts, pausing midway to disintermediate, and now it utilizes solutions to solve problems (even I'm scratching my head at that one).

I've been railing about this problem for years, editing all the crap out of any document that crossed my desk, but it keeps cropping up. The worst offenders seemed to come from the big consulting companies (I'm looking at you Accenture).

At one former company, we even played "Buzzword Bingo" during company-wide videoconferences or other meetings. It's quite easy. Make a list of buzzwords. Place a check next to one of your buzzwords every time you hear it at the meeting. At the end, the person who guesses the most correctly wins the game. My personal best performance occurred in 1999 at a company-wide teleconference. I chose the terms "special sauce", "incentivize", and "900 pound gorilla". I kid you not.

It's been so bad for so long that it has (of course) inspired a parody. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Web Economy Bullshit Generator. The sad thing about this is that all these still meaningless buzzwords still show up surprisingly often, even though this parody is at least six years old.

What is the Problem Exactly?
As the article points out, "solution" used to a good word with a fixed and clear meaning. Now, it's used so much in the industry that it has become meaningless. I mean, does "business solutions" mean anything to you? A few years ago, I fought a protracted, and ultimately useless, battle to not include this word any where on the site I was helping to redesign and re-write. Even my current company has "solutions". Solutions to what problem, I'm not really sure.

Just Use "Use", Don't Utilize It
My first encounter with buzzwords was with the seemingly innocuous word, "utilize." Of course, this means to add utility to. However, I began seeing it used where the much shorter and more elegant "use" would be preferred. I'm not sure why this occurred. Maybe they think those extra syllables mean that it's a "smarter" word than the alternative. I say bullshit.

Being Smart Versus Sounding Smart
The running theme with all the buzzwords popping up boil down to using complex words to connotate ideas that don't require that level of complexity. This ignores one of the foundations of good writing: never use a 25 cent word with a 10 cent word will do.

Using buzzwords don't make you sound smart, they only make you sound like you're trying to sound smart.

A Solution to Solutions?
If you want to communicate clearly and concisely, remove all buzzwords from your writing, or as a former co-worker of mine marvelously put it: eschew obfuscation.

As with most things pertaining to the written word, you don't have to look any further than Hemingway for sage advice:
Be careful.... It is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply.
This passage from The Garden of Eden has adorned every office or cube at every job I've ever worked. Working with words is my career, and I use it as the guiding principle for every bit of writing that I write or edit. It doesn't matter if the writing is for a mass audience on a Fortune 500 company's website or for my yearly review. I'd encourage everyone in the tech industry to do the same.

UPDATE: 37 Signals and Lifehacker jump on the bandwagon. And that example isn't that far from what I actually see.

NP: "Brand New Cadillac" - The Clash

To Autumn

Today is the first day that there is a distinct hint of Fall in the air. Although the leaves haven't begun to change, the skies are crisp and clear, and the breeze has just that touch of coolness that indicates that my favorite season is finally on the way.

In honor of this, I point you to what many folks think is the finest poem ever written in English: To Autumn, by John Keats.

Full disclosure, I've always found Ode to a Nightengale much more interesting.

NP: "Lover's Town Revisited" - Billy Bragg

Friday, September 22, 2006

50 Worst Things to Happen to Music

Since Friday is all about music here at Flannel Enigma, I thought it would be appropirate to bring you Blender's 50 Worst Things Ever to Happen to Music:
49. That dude that yells "Freebird" at every rock show

. . .

40. Parrotheads
For millions, Jimmy Buffett isn’t just a guy who writes songs about putzing around the Caribbean — he’s a shining symbol of the “good life.” That so few of them will get any closer to this life than hanging out in a dank bar called The Banana Boat, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, sipping a frozen daiquiri and waiting for their turn to karaoke “Margaritaville” is monumentally depressing.
I won't give away any of the top 10. Some of it makes sense.

NP: "Coldsweat" - The Sugarcubes"

Friday Music Report

According to my Last.fm profile, I listened to the following music the most last week:

  1. ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
  2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  3. Wilco
  4. Swervedriver
  5. Uncle Tupelo
  6. Elvis Costello
  7. Blur
  8. Sigur Rós
  9. Luna
  10. British Sea Power
And for a random sampling of my musical tastes, here are 10 songs from an iTunes random smart playlist:
  • Disenchanted - The Church
  • Clap Your Hands! - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
  • Everything Is Good For You - Crowded House
  • Go Home, Get Down - Death From Above 1979
  • No Dark Things - Echo & the Bunnymen
  • Breet - Film School
  • El Captain - Idlewild
  • Failure - Kings of Convenience
  • X.I.Y. - Pinback
  • Tunic (Song For Karen) - Sonic Youth
NP: "5 - 4 Vocal" - Pavement

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lewis and Clark: What Else Happened

This coming Saturday is the bicentenniel of Lewis and Clark's return to St. Louis after their voyage of discovery that extended white America's knowledge of this continent to the Pacific ocean. With that in mind, I'd certainly recommend Lewis and Clark: What Else Happened.

This blog not only provides daily updates (save for a period of time when New Orleans, the source of the blog, was underwater) from the Journals of Lewis and Clark, but also provides historical tidbits about what else was happening elsewhere in the world while the captains were on their two and a half year adventure.

I've actually made it through most of Lewis and Clark's Journals, so I look forward to exploring this site a bit more thoroughly. The Resources page on the site gives a number of jumping off points to find out more about the expidition.

NP: "New Dawn Fades (Live)" - Joy Division

The Classics in Your Inbox

Too busy to read? No matter how odd a premise that sounds, given the opportunity to provide a solution to a problem I didn't even know I had: DailyLit.com. This service will e-mail you bite size chunks of classic works in the public domain via e-mail at whatever frequency you request. Not sure you'll find anything to read? Here are a few examples of how it plays out (three I've read and one I haven't, extra points to those who guess correctly):
I'm not sure how some of the poems will work in a plain text e-mail format, but I thought I'd pass this along for your consideration.

NP: "All Good Naysayers, Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace!" - Sufjan Stevens

The Office vs. The Office(s)

Coinciding with the premiere of what may well be the best American comedy sitcom tonight, Slate's Liesl Schillinger compares four versions of The Office--two of which are complete re-imaginings of the original British version for France and Germany.

I think the writer is on to something when she talks about how each of the four versions reflect something of how each culture relates to its work life. For example, I enjoyed the original BBC version, but the U.S. version premiering tonight on NBC strikes much more closely to home.

NP: "Disco Man" - The Damned

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pirates Part II



My pirate name is:


Black Tom Read





Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. Even through many pirates have a reputation for not being the brightest souls on earth, you defy the sterotypes. You've got taste and education. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
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Pirates

In honor of talk like a pirate day, I give ye The Pirate's Realm matey. Arrrr.

Arrr!

NP: "Shine a Light" - Wolf Parade

Monday, September 18, 2006

Atlanta is Nation's Most Wired City

I'm never very trusting of such lists, but it's still kind of cool that Forbes calls Atlanta America's most wired city. There's probably a lot of truth in their caveat about the high population in the suburbs artificially elevating the ranking, but wireless hotspots are still popping up all over the place through the metro area. Of course, I rarely get to the suburbs to confirm my suspicions in this area.

NP: "Kill Them with Kindness" - The Satellite Rides

R.E.M. Inducted into Georgia Music Hall of Fame

R.E.M. was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Saturday evening. While these days it's probably more in vogue to make fun of R.E.M. than to praise them, I feel like this event should still be noted with appreciation for what they were and what they meant to music in general.

During my formative years in the 80s, most of the music you could hear on the radio was pretty terrible (we tend to forget that as we age I guess), and my discovery of R.E.M. and other underground bands like the Replacements kept me going musically in the redneck wilderness that was my high school (or at least I thought so at the time). Knowing who these bands were allowed you into a certain "in" circle of those who musically got it. And yes I know I was an arrogant little bugger. And chief among these badges were R.E.M. and the Smiths. So, I'm pretty happy that they were thus enshrined, even though the large R.E.M. collection there gave me the impression that it had already happened.

I was also lucky enough to catch their live performance from the awards show on the local PBS station. Bill Berry rejoined the band onstage for a three song set, and the band without Michael Stipe then played back-up band to Gregg Allman for a performance of "Midnight Rider" (and somewhere in Atlanta Senior's head imploded).

So without further ado, here's their performance from Saturday evening. And yes, I'm still searching for the mp3s.



Their induction is nicely timed with the release of And I Feel Fine: Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987-- a retrospective of their years with IRS records which really should remind all of us that back in the day, R.E.M. were pretty damned good.

UPDATE: What he said.

NP: "Zurich is Stained" - Pavement