Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Monday, March 01, 2010

Things That Are Upcoming

I haven't been to any concerts, and relatively few unconferences for a while. Since it's now officially March (bunny bunny, rabbit rabbit), here are a few upcoming things that I'm looking at for March and beyond (mostly beyond):

* Shamrockfest, Saturday, March 13. Separate entry about this forthcoming.

* TransparencyCamp 2010, Saturday and Sunday, March 27-28, GWU, DC.

* Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Monday, April 5, 9:30 Club. Saw them live from the wings at VirginFest in 2008.

* Hot Lava, Tuesday, April 6, Black Cat. They were one of the openers for Dressy Bessy at the Black Cat. I bought the album. They're pretty good.

* Hirshhorn After Hours, Friday, April 9. First one of 2010. Tickets aren't on sale yet. I haven't been to After Hours or the Hirshhorn for a while.

* Fol Chen, Wednesday, April 14, Rock and Roll Hotel. Have had them on my tourfilter watchlist since I heard about them on NPR.

* The Apples in Stereo, Sunday, April 18, Rock and Roll Hotel.

* The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race, Saturday, May 1. Seems to be the official date, though the American Visionary Art Museum web site hasn't updated it yet.

This would also mark the anniversary, and my first trip back to Baltimore since my car got broken into at last year's race. (Also, I still haven't produced and uploaded the videos I took last year. If I try skating with the homemade fig rig again, I'll need to do something about wind noise.)

* TEDxPotomac, Thursday, May 20. I was at the organizational meeting at BarCamp DC, and have been lurking on the listserv and group since then, though I haven't really done anything for it.

So, it looks like things pick up in the spring. See you then.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Christmas Miracle (of Sorts) and Christmas Music Musings

GPS trip summary from Christmas Eve:


Wanting to avoid the bulk of the traffic, I left at 7:45pm (though I probably could have done just as well leaving a lot earlier, this being Christmas and not Thanksgiving).

I actually would have left 15 minutes earlier, but a neighbor's guest had gotten his BMW X3 stuck in a plowed snowbank -- isn't traction control supposed to keep that from happening? -- so I spent a few minutes helping to dig them out. Not sure how much I helped, but it felt right.

Anyway, I got in just at 11pm. Total travel time: Three hours and 15 minutes, averaging just under 70mph, which is really good for me. I don't usually go more than 80, the 90.2 max speed shown above notwithstanding -- I only did it to get past a left-lane hog on the 2-lane section of the NJ Turnpike; he keep speeding up to block me when I moved to pass.

Christmas Music in Review
I've gotten detached from Christmas as the years have gone by. I didn't send a single Christmas card this year, and could barely be bothered to stick a suction-cupped decoration light in the window. I guess that you really need kids to keep the full effect.

Another contributing factor is that I don't really listen to music on the radio very much any more, so I don't get to hear much Christmas music. I made an effort to seek out Christmas tunes on the drive up (aided by a dead cassette player keeping me from using my iPod), though it only reinforced the notion that broadcast terrestrial radio sucks (especially in that stretch around Delaware, in the zone between the DC, Baltimore and Philly stations).

Even with on-demand music mooting most of the old-fashioned seasonal rationing of Christmas music, it's still not a real Christmas to me, unless I hear a few classic tunes -- "classic" as defined by what was popular when I was 12-13, those formative years that lock in your childhood tastes:

* My must-hear song is Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? which holds up really well, even with all the "Wow, is that really Bono/Sting/Boy George?" that comes with it.

* Christmas Wrapping, by The Waitresses. I always found it an amusing contrast to their other hit, I Know What Boys Like. It suffers from no lack of airplay.

* Feliz Navidad, by Jose Feliciano. Nothing more needs to said. I also associate it with the Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (they both come from the '70s and the song is used in the special), which I haven't seen in years, but still makes me tear up remembering it.

* A late entrant for me is Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You. While it's a good song, I heard it an inordinate number of times on the drive up.

* A few Christmas songs that are good year round include The Kinks' Father Christmas, U2's version of Baby Please Come Home, The Pogues' Fairytale of New York (the last of which I don't really even think of as a holiday song).

* The Bing Crosby and David Bowie collaboration Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy, which is supposed to be part of the Christmas canon, but I haven't heard it on the air.

* Outliers from the era: Sarah McLachlan and Barenaked Ladies version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings from the 90s and the Beach Boys' Little Saint Nick.

There are a few others -- classic standards, mostly, and some of the lesser 80s songs, like Strange Brew's Bob & Doug Mckenzie's 12 Days of Christmas (though, notably, not Bruce Springsteen's Santa Claus Is Coming to Town -- never liked that one), but finally, Christmas for me isn't complete without this song:

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Breeders Notes

The DCist writeup of the Breeders show Friday night at the Black Cat pretty much covers everything (much better pictures, too). Just a few things:

* Had to drive through some fairly torrential rain on the toll road to get there (microburst-y stuff, intense but it cleared up by the time I got on 66). People were going 40 on the highway. It was dicey at times.

* Got good parking just around the corner and got in a bit before they opened the upstairs doors. I got a beer in the Red Room and watched the neat, orderly queue, which featured many folks who had obviously first seen them in the 90s.

* Despite my Tweet early on, it did get pretty full, and might have even sold out.

* The band was solid. They seemed like they were having a lot of fun, too.

* Did not realize at the time that substitute bassist Josephine Wiggs was in the original band, nor that she was also one half of Dusty Trails (a CD I picked up from the 88 cent bin at Sounds on St. Marks a long time ago, and that I listen to a lot)

* Did not get any good photos; was a little too far back. They were also enforcing the "no video" policy with a strobing flashlight (which I was tempted to counter with my own, but didn't)

The Breeders' Kelley Deal on violin, Josephine Wiggs on bass.

* Was gratified that they got Cannonball out of the way early, even if it is a favorite. Hate to see signature songs cloistered away in encores. 9 seconds of it:

* As noted, stood next to some variety of man-child who felt it necessary to incessantly yell "Kelley!!!" as if she had forgotten her name, or was fending off the end of the world.

* They did leave us wanting more, in that the encore was a little lacking. But it was a good show.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Upcoming Things, Starting... NOW

Here's another edition of stuff that's going on, some of which I might go to, others that simply signify that I'm an interesting, multi-faceted cosmopolitan with eclectic tastes, and not an aging surburban homebody:

* The upcoming social media stuff I wrote about in the Network Solutions blog; I won't repeat it all here, except to say that tonight is the Washington Blogger Meetup, 7pm at Madam's Organ (2nd floor.)

I should also make it to TechCocktail DC 6 (8/27); CongressCamp (9/12-13); and probably a few other things that pop up, like the CrisisCampDC meetup at Whitlow's (Saturday, 8/22, 11am... brunch?), Web Content Mavens, and so forth.

* However, I'm not as confident about making it to any of the DC Beer Week events (or even the non-official extensions, like Brew at the Zoo, or even last night's Terrapin beer tasting at Galaxy Hut).


* Friday, August 21: The Breeders at the Black Cat. I didn't make the show the last time they hit DC, though when I made noise about it, a startling number of people said "Breeders? Who are they?"

* Wednesday, September 2: Apopytgma Berzerk at the 9:30 Club. I forget where I'd heard of them, only that I'd had the band written on the post-it note in my wallet that used to serve as my used-CD watchlist. I just have one of their early album, but it's good, though their Wikipedia entry suggests they've shifted styles as well as lineups, but who knows.

* Sunday, September 13: Adams Morgan Day Festival. It's on the same day as the second day of CongressCamp; maybe make it a twofer.

* Friday, September 18: Moby, late show at the 9:30 Club. Hrm.

* Wednesday, September 23: KMFDM at the 9:30 Club. I'm not the hugest industrial fan, but I do have a few of their albums (I would get into moods every once in a while.)

October has a bunch of other stuff, including the Raveonettes, Mike Doughty, Crafty Bastards and the Dulles Plane Pull, but all that will come later.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 03, 2009

When TV and Movies Enhance Music Appreciation

I find it interesting how hearing a song used as part of a TV or movie soundtrack can strengthen my connection to it, or makes me appreciate it in a whole new way.

The most recent example of this was hearing The Chemical Brothers song, "Alive Alone" (vocals by Beth Orton) during a key moment in the Virtuality pilot (which I actually liked a lot). I was familiar with the song (Exit Planet Dust is an awesome album, to state the obvious), but I can't say that it had any special grip on me. But after seeing it used in the Orion drive detonation sequence (at the 50 minute mark if you watch it online), it made me like it a whole lot more.

This isn't the first time this has happened. Other times include:

* Seeing Soul Coughing's Super Bon Bon during the cold open sequence of an episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets

* When the Propellerheads' Spybreak! plays during the lobby shootout in The Matrix.

* The epic use of Inna Gadda Da Vida during the climax of Manhunter. If you know the scene, nothing more needs to be said. If you don't, well, I pity you.

If the director knows what he or she's doing with the soundtrack, the song will match the tone and content of the scene -- they're using the song to reinforce the impact of the visual and action. (And I guess it also happens with music videos, so nothing new there.) But I still find it interesting how the opposite effect occurs, whereafter you associate the song with the scene.

I guess I'm easily impressed.

If you've got an example of a song that you ended up liking a whole lot more after seeing it used somewhere, feel free to share.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Sunday in Koreatown

I went back up to the homestead for Easter weekend. Because I am hellbound, I don't usually make the trek back, so I didn't realize that every Christian-minded person on the Eastern Seaboard makes the pilgrimage up/down I-95. I guess it wasn't too bad.

After a lazy Saturday at home and Sunday services, at Mom's suggestion, we went to NYC to get some Korean food and look at the pretty flowers (alas, Macy's was closed Easter Sunday).

But the food was good -- we ended up at Kum Gang San on 32nd St. in Koreatown, NYC.

We had Bul go ki:

Shot from above:

More photos, including random strangers, and Times Square, in the full set: Easter in Koreatown, 4/12/09.

The trip home was just slightly-below average. Gas in NJ was $1.89 (cash), about 15 cents cheaper than in Virginia, which is par for the course. I made it back in just over four hours, though as I twittered, 95 in Maryland sucked, enough so that I did the 695 swing-around, taking the Key Bridge (which is actually a pretty nice drive, especially if you like refineries).

The drive gave me a chance to catch up on a few NPR Music podcasts, including the Heartless Bastards show from NPR's SxSW concert podcast. I also listened to the Liz Phair 'Exile in Guyville' show from The Troubadour, which was okay, but I thought the accompanying interview was great.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Things That Are Upcoming

A few upcoming DC-ish tech and other things that I'm looking at:

* Wednesday, 9/18, 7pm, September Washington Blogger Meetup, RFD (near the Verizon Center): Last month's meetup was something of a minor fiasco, as we were dealing with the dog days of summer, plus a Web Content Mavens meetup at the same time in the back room. I'll try to set up my laptop around 7pm (towards the back of the main bar); you can also send me a direct message on Twitter, @joelogon.

(Unfortunately, I'll have to miss Trademark 101 at Network Solutions at 6pm -- maybe someone will Utterz it or something.)

* Thursday, 9/18, 6pm, TwinTech II, Avenue (by the Convention Center): Come see if you can tell the NVTC folks from the scruffy startup types.

This conflicts with a kickball game, but seeing as how I jacked my back this week, I will probably go and network/try to pick up loose startup floozies ("Hey baby, I'm a venture capitalist.")

* Wednesday, 9/24 [Multiple]: Social Media Club DC September Meetup -- Social Technologies in Associations and Non-Profits, Fleishman-Hillard, 6pm / Web Content Mavens September Meetup -- Selling Social Networks to Senior Management, RFD, 7pm.

Both seem to be interesting topics (if you're boring, like me), and they're only a few blocks apart. I might try to stop by both.

* Saturday, 9/27, noon to 7pm, Clarendon Day Festival. Oh, it'll be fun, just go.

* Sunday, 9/28, 10am to 5pm, Crafty Bastards, Marie Reed Learning Center at 18th & Wyoming in Adams Morgan. Come for the crafts, stay to gawk at the hipsters.

* Tuesday, 9/30, 9pm, Dressy Bessy, Black Cat.

* Thursday, 10/2, 6:30pm, TECH Cocktail DC 3, 1223. Yes, I'm a mooch. A Web 2.0 mooch.

Looking out a bit further into October, the Heartless Bastards are playing the Black Cat, The Ventures will be at Birchmere. And now that I'm wearing contacts again, I can finally wear a mask or other head-enclosure, so I should start thinking about Halloween (oh, and the DC Zombie Lurch is scheduled for November 1.)

More DC tech-ish stuff at DCTechEvents.com.

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 15, 2008

That Last Rep Was Probably a Mistake

I jacked my back a little bit at the gym this afternoon. It's okay as long as I don't need to sit on the floor. Or touch my toes.

I was doing squats -- after 6 weeks of doing 20-rep sets, I switched to 5-rep sets (I hadn't been making too much progress anyway -- still haven't conquered the "eating right" portion of things. Though I was able to fit into my suit a couple of weeks ago).

Now, the free weight racks were taken, and I didn't feel like waiting, so I went over to the Smith machine. It locks you into the vertical axis, which was okay for the warmup sets, but it was a mistake for the work set.

The right side of my back had been a little sore, so I was already favoring it a bit. I went for one last rep (I figured out last week that by widening my stance, I could get closer to parallel without making my knee feel funny), when I felt a silent little ping in the lower left part of my back.

I set the weight down in a rapid, but controlled fashion. I did finish the workout in half-assed fashion, but we'll see what Mr. Advil has to say about this tomorrow.

In other news, the Adams Morgan Street Festival was Sunday, and it was middle-of-summer hot. I walked up and down the hill a few times, ran into Martin, got my usual pad thai and Jamaican beef patty (but no chicken on a stick or steak in a sac), but didn't end up taking any pictures. Not even of the "No curry, no spices" faux-thai stand, the "Pad Thai, Corn Dog" stand, the Madam's Organ festival boycott storefront, or anything else. I was uninspired. That, and thinking about my backlog of photos.

I also spent about an hour in the CD store, at first to cool off, but then looking through the discount racks. Emmet Swimming and Republica for 15 cents each, then taking a flyer on Eiffel 65's Europop, Sister Machine Gun's Burn and Liz Phair's Juvenalia for a buck each, and then two BRMC albums (B.R.M.C. and Howl) for a bit more.

Saturday, caught Chuck Brown at the Kennedy Center Open House (after some GPS- and parking-related misadventures), then went to hang out on U Street for a bit.

Anyway, I think I will take that Advil now.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 08, 2008

Evidently, I'm Stuck on Any Pop Song With a "Hey, Mickey" Cheerleader Beat

Here are some of my recent CD purchases, paired with the cross-promotional and marketing opportunities that influenced me into buying them:

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy. Sure, I knew them from that one song on The Crow soundtrack, and was overexposed to Just Like Honey thanks to Lost in Translation. But despite prodding, I never really twigged to how much bands I like (or should like) were influenced by them.

Anyway, I finally decided to go to the source (well, I also have Stoned & Dethroned, but that doesn't really count), thinking all the while of that scene from High Fidelity:

In an older entry about Pulp, commenter Sylvia pointed me to UsedCDSearch, which worked out pretty well.

The next two were recent $7.99 loss leaders at Best Buy:

MGMT, Oracular Spectacular. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I was first exposed to this song in a Wonkette item about a supposed (and obviously fake) 'DC Prep' TV series trailer. But it's a catchy tune.

The Ting Tings, We Started Nothing. Again, already aware of them, thanks to the iPod commercial with Shut Up and Let Me Go (which I don't particularly like -- it's kind of annoying), but the Great DJ video interested me greatly when I saw it at DC9 a couple of weeks ago, so I took a flyer on the buzz.

My ears are currently bleeding because I've been listening to That's Not My Name on infinite repeat.

Apparently, all it takes for me to get irrevocably stuck on a pop song is for it to use a "Hey, Mickey" cheerleader beat. (With handclaps. Handclaps are very important.)

It's happened before with Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend (yeah, I've contributed more than a few views to the YouTube video's 100 million views. Hey. Hey. You. You.), although That's Not My Name is a lot more layered.

Though I have drawn the line at the Lil Mama Lip Gloss song, which is saddled by a concept and lyrics too stupid for words.

I guess it's a good thing that there just aren't that many pop songs that rely on the cheerleader beat.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 28, 2008

Things That Are Upcoming: DC Fark Party, Music, Matchbox, Meetups & More

Here are a few things I'm interested in. I say this even though I didn't catch a single Fringe show this time around (which I had mentioned), nor did I go see Spiritualized at the 9:30 Club (which I hadn't):

Southern Culture on the Skids at the 9:30 Club, Thursday, 7/28. Doors 7:30pm. $15. I'd never really paid much attention to them, but I'd signed up for a Yep Roc Records freebie and ended up listening to some of their stuff (curse you, Internet marketing!). Alas, I have a potential kickball game on Thursday (weather and playoff victory permitting), so I'm a very tenuous maybe for this.

DC Fark Party (with a scheduled appearance by Drew Curtis), upstairs bar at The Big Hunt, Saturday, 8/2. 8-10:30pm. Free (If you don't eat or drink. Which would be a silly thing to do.) DC Farkers and lurkers of all sorts are expected to attend. (NPR coverage is undetermined at this time.) I'll definitely be there.

Virgin Mobile Festival 2008. Pimlico Race Course. 8/9-8/10. $100/day or $175 for a two-day pass. Premium parking +$25. Chances I will attend: Vanishingly slim, but I had an embarassing empty spot between weeks. Here's a tip: Pay for a parking pass and tailgate -- you can should be able to hear the main stage act from the parking lot.

Social Matchbox DC, at TeqCorner in McLean, Thursday, 8/14, 5-8:30pm. Free. More networking. Try not to swarm the venture capitalists. Also a definite for me, as it's right around the corner from where I'm working.

Suzanne Vega, at Birchmere, Monday, 8/18, 7:30pm. $35. Outlook hazy at this point. Try again later.

August Washington Blogger Meetup, RFD, Wednesday, 8/20, 7pm. Kick in a buck or two towards Meetup costs (and get the wifi for free). I'm planning on attending.

Liz Phair, 9:30 Club, Thursday, 8/28. 7pm doors. $25. I'd like to attend. Not sure at this point. [7/29 update: Sold out now. As Voltaire said, there's a certain inevitable futility in indecision.]

That's it for August so far. September gives us the Dulles Plane Pull (9/6), PodCamp Philly (9/6-9/7), Twin Tech II (9/18), and Crafty Bastards DC (9/28). More updates as events warrant.

Of course, there'll be the usual interspersion of DC Tech Events and so forth.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" Is a Terrible, Terrible Song

This is just a followup to my Twitter item on the subject, but I heard the new Kid Rock song on the radio tonight. It's apparently called All Summer Long, and it's also apparently really, really awful.

One might think that a song that mashes up Sweet Home Alabama and Werewolves of London would at least have some humor value associated with it, but the song just plods along, and has some of the worst rhymes I've ever heard.

The song nominally uses an AAB rhyme scheme. But the very first line is problematic:

It was 1989, my thoughts were short, my hair was long.

There's supposed to be a rhyme in there somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can find it. So the song starts grating from the very beginning.

The second verse also tries to rhyme "sand bar" with "campfire," but that's barely even worth mentioning here.

Then we get to the chorus; here's the AA rhyme:

And we were trying different things
We were smoking funny things

Yes, a self-rhyme is still technically a rhyme. But it's really grating. And it's also terribly grating.

And of course, it's in the chorus, which means we get to hear it two more times.

Naturally, the song, as terrible as it is, will be a big hit (possibly achieving "song of summer 2008" status), since there's a WWE tie-in and a bunch of bikini girls in the video (I refuse to embed it).

Finally, just to be clear: I don't begrudge Kid Rock his crossover chart success. Picture was kind of schmaltzy but relatively inoffensive -- it was basically his spiritual cover of Islands in the Stream. But this song is just awful.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 02, 2008

I Fell Asleep to Girls Gone Wild... and Now I Have Steel Drums Stuck in My Head

The headline comes from a twit this morning (I don't like calling them "tweets"), and it's all true: I fell asleep on the couch last night with the TV on, in the heart of late night infomercial hell.

So for most of the day today, I've had the Girls Gone Wild steel drums stuck in my head.

The only way to lose an earworm is to replace it with another; my nuclear option is the Chipmunks version of Achy Breaky Heart (for a while, I wasn't sure it actually existed, or if I'd conjured it up in a particularly bad fever dream -- and even if you haven't actually heard it, you can hear it, right?)

In this case, I was able to ditch it with the Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters version of Tonight You Belong to Me from The Jerk, which is a much sweeter and far more pleasant song to have stuck (you can hear it here -- embedded mp3).

Looking on YouTube, though, there's a very nice version by user ShelleyY -- I've included it below. Enjoy:

Now, to finish a few things and head over to the inaugural Friday Night Live in Herndon.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Raveonettes at the Black Cat, and a Look at Things That Are Upcoming

Saturday night, I went to see the Raveonettes at the Black Cat. I'd originally tried to make a bigger group outing out of it, but that didn't work out. Especially since the show sold out, and I'd selfishly and short-sightedly only gotten two tickets (and I'd only bought them Saturday afternoon, succumbing to nervousness and something resembling "experience.")

Actually, having that second ticket caused me some measure of consternation; it was simultaneously too much and not enough. Fortunately, Ryan ended up accompanying me, so I didn't end up having to scalp it (which had been a possibility at one point).

After some really bad luck parking, we finally made it inside while the opener was still playing. (Black Acid -- don't know much about them; not bad, though they seemed to be channeling a progression of styles.)

We settled in next to the sound board, where Ryan attempted to put the whammy on the sound guy, by gazing intently on a random section of the board until the sound guy adjusted it:

"My mind to your mind... your thoughts to my thoughts."

Then, the Raveonettes came on -- they split between playing previous hits and stuff off the new album (which I bought at the show). They were pretty tight and sounded fine.

I broke away at one point to try to get some photos -- unlike prior attempts, I only came away with one moderately usable pic:

Sharin Foo

After the show, we headed back to meet up with some folks in Arlington, but by the time we got back, things had pretty much broken up for the night.

Oh, and after some discussion and a little research, I've come to realize that I'd had a mistaken notion of what constituted shoegaze music. I apologize for the (notional) inconvenience.

In other news, I had planned on replacing the bathtub faucet handles and spout this weekend -- bought the hardware, the tools and the plumbers grease and all -- but chickened out/got lazy/procrastinated my out of it. I'll get around to it eventually -- originally, I was just going to replace the leaky valve stems, but the hardware is really grody, so I figured it'd be worth it to just change everything. (Sure, I want to convert the master bath to a corner shower unit eventually, but one thing at a time.)

Things That Are Upcoming: Let's see -- Monday is Social Matchbox DC, which is right down the street from where I'm contracting in McLean, so I'll be there.

I haven't seen the cherry blossoms in a few years -- to be honest, it's looking like I'll skip it again this year -- we'll see what the weather and my schedule looks like mid-week.

Friday is Hirshhorn After Hours -- I haven't been to one yet, but it's on my list of stuff to do, especially since the Hirshhorn is my favorite museum.

Saturday, Mike Doughty plays at the 9:30 Club.

Looking out a little further -- PodCampDC is the weekend of April 18th.

The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race is May 3rd, and the following weekend is SkateDC. Which means I should probably dust off the skates now. (The "getting back in shape" bit of it is optional, though recommended.)

I also registered for June 13th's BlogPotomac. It's only $75 and it's at the State Theatre -- if nothing else, it gives me an excuse to visit the Beach Shack.

The days, they may drag, but the weeks and months just fly on by, don't they?

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post-Christmas Roundup, Part 1

It took a grueling six hours to drive from New Jersey to Virginia this afternoon.

That includes an hour crawling on the New Jersey and Delaware Turnpikes; two pit stops (including time to brush off a "out of gas, can you help me out" hustle), and about an hour at the Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

So it actually wasn't all that bad.

Of course, I apparently brought back some sort of cold (although it's possible it's been incubating since Friday) -- I've got a sore throat and the crawly chills all over.

I've got a whole lot of pictures from Christmas Day and the surrounding events that I need to get up, though I really just want to stay horizontal right now. I just watched 300, which I picked up at the Virgin Megastore on Broadway on Christmas Day (hey, it was just about the only thing open) -- after all the buildup, all the hype, I just have to say:

What a visually interesting, overwrought piece of melodramatic crap.

The 300-inspired memes were more interesting than the movie.

Also, yet again, I bought a CD I already own -- Belle & Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister (anyone want a free CD)?

At this point, I have to add them to the "make sure you don't already own the CD" list of bands, which includes Throwing Muses, Cocteau Twins, Stereolab, and Mazzy Star (and I've only got two of their albums).

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Grevious Error: No Rap, No Hip-Hop and Ned Devine's Studio 30-Something

I haven't been yet, but apparently Ned Devine's Irish Village in Sterling has a "Studio 30-Something" every Thursday night, where they play "No Rap, No Hip-Hop, Just the Best Music of the 80's and 90's"

Being a child of the 80s and 90s (and at this point, "child" is a term best used loosely), this is of interest to me. However, I find the "no rap, no hip-hop" emphasis a little disturbing, because:

1. It carries vaguely racial connotations.
2. It eliminates a lot of really good party music from that era. (Note that "really good" does not preclude "really cheesy")

Now, assuming that #1 is just an extention of that old saw, "I like every kind of music -- except rap and country" (and why do those two always get lumped together?), #2 is still really troubling, because this blanket prohibition leaves out such 80s & 90s party-rap favorites and proven dance floor fillers such as [artist names link to Wikipedia, song names point to YouTube]:

* Wreckx-N-Effect's Rumpshaker
* Anything by Rob Base (which, er, just means It Takes Two or Joy and Pain)
* Snap!, The Power
* Young MC, Bust a Move
* House of Pain, Jump Around
* Sir Mix-a-Lot's Baby Got Back
* Sugarhill Gang's Apache (which I've talked about before)
* C+C Music Factory's Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)
* Vanilla Ice, Ice Ice Baby
* MARRS's Pump Up the Volume (which is technically house/dance, but still)
* Tag Team's Whoomp There It Is (I hate this song)

That's an even dozen songs right there. I'm sure you have your own additions.

I'd started percolating on this entry when I first heard the ad on the radio, but it gained additional relevance when I saw this item on Metafilter today: The Top 10 Rap Songs White People Love. There's a lot of crossover between the two lists (ooh, The Humpty Dance, good call. O.P.P. -- can't believe I missed that. Though Biz Markie... don't think so.)

Anyway, while I'm sure you could waffle by claiming that some of these are actually house or dance, I submit that no dance night can truly have the "best music of the 80s and 90s" with such a blanket prohibition in place and thus say, "Mr. Ned Devine's, tear down this wall!"

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Making an iPod nano Carrying Case From an ID Badge Holder

After annoying my friends with incessant "nano... nano" IMs, I finally rejoined the iPod nation (I've been without since I lost my Shuffle for the second time) -- I picked up a black 8 gig iPod fat nano at the Apple store in Tyson's Corner last night:


Leaving aside the fact that it was a repackaged return -- complete with fingerprints, fully-charged, formatted for PC, and identified as "Bill's iPod" (I decided not to care and just reformatted it, renaming it "JoelogoNano") -- I'm now playing with it.

Carrying Case: Free Is Better Than Cheap

I don't have any accessories, save for an all-purpose car charger I picked up for future need, so I did something I'd done with my old shuffle: I took an extra ID badge holder (the clear vinyl kind with the zip-lock top and clip -- any good cubicle dweller will have some) and used it as a carrying case:

Show the screen through the back side of the case, which is clearer -- the front side has kind of a matte finish.

It fits perfectly. Note that it's upside down -- this is because the nano headphone jack is at the bottom. This actually works out, which I'll get to in a moment.

I also looped the headphone cord through the lanyard holes, to provide wire stress relief.

Here's what it looks like, clipped to my cargo pants pocket:


"Hey dumbass, it's upside down!", right? Ever wear a wristwatch on your belt? (I did for a while. Nickel allergies.) Same principle -- when you lift it to look down at it, it'll be right-side up:

Down is up.

The scroll wheel and buttons works fine. You can see the screen perfectly -- the vinyl actually sticks to it (I don't think it'll leave any residue), so it doesn't slide around (which was a problem with the old shuffle).

The clip is secure enough, though I'll put a rubber band around the snap loop so it can't come loose by accident. You can also run a lanyard through the holes if you want to wear it around your neck, or maybe put it on a retractable reel.

Now, I don't know that I'll be wearing it too much this way, since I mostly just got it for car use, and you have to take it out to dock it, but it works as-is, with no modifications. And what more do you want for free?

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 14, 2007

Upcoming Shows (to Which I Might Go)

When: Tuesday, 9/18/2007, 7:30PM
Who: Suzanne Vega
Where: Birchmere
Cost: $35
Probability: 70%

When: Wednesday, 9/19/07
Who: The Apples in Stereo
9:30 Club
Cost: $15
Probability: 95% (Also the night of the DC Blogger Meetup Group)

When: Thursday 10/25/2007 and Friday 10/26/2007
Who: Cowboy Junkies
Where: Birchmere
Cost: $45
Probability: 99% (at least one show)

When: Sunday 10/28/2007
Who: Over The Rhine
Where: Birchmere
Cost: $19.50
Probability: 95%

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Last.fm Artists I PWN

A little while back, I was listening to my iTunes at work, which is hooked into Last.fm (as expected of any social media type -- remember, anything worth doing is worth sharing, right?)

Here's my profile. I haven't really spent much time with the social discovery aspects of Last.fm (or put much effort into the tagging/rating/metadata bits of it), which is why I noticed with a start that I showed up as a top listener of The Positions:

Joelogon outed on Last.fm as a top listener of The Positions

(For a little bit, I thought the band photo was one of my Clarendon Day shots, but it's not.)

So, over time, I've been keeping an eye to see when I come up as a top listener (I assume there's an app or a search or a feed somewhere that'll show this, but my methodology was just looking up when I hit a more obscure track).

Here's what I see so far:

* Steve Coleman and Metrics ("I put so many kids to sleep, my specialty is pediatrics.") -- I got this after I heard it in a Tower Records listening station. Go figure. I remember when Hutch was driving us to a show, and this CD came on. We were both shocked that someone else knew the group.

* Tallulah -- I got this one from CDBaby after hearing a song of theirs ("Untied") as bumper music for a This American Life episode. They have a song about bacon, too. It's good.

* Clang and Zen Cowboys -- Both of these were acquisitions from the 88-cent clearance bin at Sounds on St. Marks back in the 90s. (The Maps of Google says it's still around, which is surprising, yet pleasing, to me.) Took a flyer on Clang since the album was named "Pol Pot Pie" and it has a track named "Shroud of Urine," which is not great, but the rest of the album is good. The Zen Cowboys album is really good, though (and I don't even like... whatever genre it is they are).

Now, looking at my Top Artists chart shows it to be a little skewed, since I don't have my entire CD collection ripped and it's not catching any of my home or laptop stuff. (And how can Kaiser Chiefs be #5 already with 115 plays? I only picked up the albums last week! Probably left it looping overnight or something.)

That raises the question -- do people try to game Last.fm so they show up as top listeners? Kind of pathetic, but I wouldn't put it past people -- recognition is recognition, right?

Anyway, last trip to my parents' house, I unearthed a bag of CDs. (I'd given them to my sister way back, thinking she could trade them in, but with the stipulation that she had to listen to each one at least once before doing it. Guess she never got around to it.) It's got all sorts of obscure, 88-cent bin goodness, so maybe I'll...

Nah, that would be silly.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Something From AT&T That Doesn't Suck

I had the TV on just now, and an AT&T commercial came on. It features a band -- a girl on keyboards and a guy on drums -- playing a show in a club; the shot pulls back and shows all the happy cellphone users in the crowd bopping along (and presumably bootlegging the show with their phones).

It's a 15-second spot, and you only hear the song for about 10 seconds, but the tune is impossibly catchy:
I checked out the url featured in the commercial, Then Ewatt.com (hey, that's what it says), which had no relevant information, but The Google has the ad on the first page of results -- the song is "For The Actor", the band is Mates of State, and they've got 4 songs for download on their MySpace page.

Another band for the list (which needs refreshing, anyway -- most of the bands I would go see live are defunct in one way or another).

Labels: , , ,

Why Didn't Someone Tell Me About Pulp?

I'm not sure how, but I managed to completely miss Pulp back in the 90s.

That changed recently when I saw this clip of William Shatner covering 'Common People' with Joe Jackson and Ben Folds on the Tonight Show in 2004 (can't embed it, unfortunately).

I was watching it for the Shatner kitsch factor, but then Joe Jackson jumps in with his vocals and the song really takes off. It especially starts kicking ass when they duet.

(Take note around 2:19, when Jackson laughs a bit in reaction to Shatner over-emoting on the "everyone hates a tourist" line.)

Anyway, it rocks. I was curious about the original, which also rocks:

I'm kind of obsessed with both versions right now. I keep playing them back-to-back, then all of sudden, I see an hour has gone by.

And while I doubt I'll pick up the Shatner Has Been album, Different Class is definitely on my list.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Used CD Store Shuffle

It'd been a while, but I went to the CD Cellar on Sunday (actually, both locations -- Clarendon and Falls Church -- more on that in a sec).

While I was there, I experienced yet another occurrence of the Used CD Store Shuffle (note: also occurs in bookstores), where you're working your way down the table, and someone is coming at you from the other direction, and eventually, you'll get a section or two apart.

Obviously, if you're right next to each other, you'll get in each others' way, so then you skip over a section or two, then when it's "safe," you come back from the other direction.

Anyway, I was in Clarendon and did some damage (though I didn't find any Pulp CDs, which were high on my list), then went to the Falls Church location -- here's what I ended up with:


* Banco de Gaia, Farewell Ferengistan
* Belle and Sebastian, If You're Feeling Sinister
* Dressy Bessy, Electrified (from the 1 buck bin)
* Kaiser Chiefs, Employment
* Kaiser Chiefs, Yours Truly, Angry Mob
* Mazzy Star, Among My Swan
* Stereolab, Emperor Tomato Ketchup
* Throwing Muses, House Tornado
* Pete Yorn, Day I forgot

Additionally, not only did I nearly get my car trapped in the back parking lot of the Falls Church location (guided out only by the kindness of a stranger -- though I'm fairly sure that what I did was a topological impossibility), but the Mazzy Star album? Already own it.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Glaring Error in the Beastie Boys' 'Paul Revere'

Every time I listen to the Beastie Boys' Paul Revere (which is probably more frequently than would be considered healthy), I always change one lyric in my head. The verse goes:
Pulled out the jammy -- aimed it at the sky.
He yelled, "Stick 'em up!" and let two fly.
Hands went up and people hit the floor.
He wasted two kids that ran for the door.
Now, the line that goes:
He wasted two kids that ran for the door.

should be:
He wasted two kids who ran for the door.

The two kids are people (even after being wasted), and as such, should be referred to using the pronoun "who."

So I always make the correction.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Scary Occurances in DC Radio

I heard the "...from the Ledo Pizza Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center" tagline for the first time tonight on WTOP. It frightened me.

More scarily, I swear I also heard a promo/commercial for the "Carrier air-conditioned broadcast something or other" on 94.7 The Globe.

I guess that's one way to fight global warming (which is part of their eco-friendly positioning). It ranks right up there with Bush's Call for Development of National Air Conditioner.

I also scared myself this evening. I couldn't remember the tune to Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend (the hook of which may or may not be stolen from the Rubinoos' I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend), so I actually sought out the video so I could listen to the tune.

I guess I was more scurred of not being able to recall the tune than I was afraid it would get stuck in my head. Again.

Lastly, in a non-scary thing, it's too bad that Unzipped got the axe from 106.7's 7-10pm lineup.

However, it's bad-bad that they're exclusively doing reruns (as far as I can tell, which isn't very), and not labeling them as such.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Night Blogging

Yeah, I'm blogging at home -- alone -- on a Friday night. But no fear -- it's not like I'm going to be watching Friday Night Videos (unlike, say, most of my middle school years).

I'm heading out in a half-hour or so. Not going to make it all the way into Adams Morgan for the blogger happy hour, but it's something.

In the meantime, UFC is on Spike.

Along the way I noticed something disturbing: Hitch is on right now on both TBS and TNT.

I'm not sure what movie would warrant simultaneous multi-channel showings, but I know that Hitch is not one of them.

Other thoughts:

* Z100 (WHTZ) in New York used to do a Friday 5 O'Clock Whistle. Maybe they still do. They would play a steam whistle sound effect, then play Todd Rundgren's Bang the Drum All Day, then Loverboy's Working for the Weekend.

I still associate those songs with Fridays.

* Amy Winehouse's Rehab -- heard it for the first time yesterday. Talk about a throwback sound -- it feels like it should be in the next Austin Powers movie.

It's a little gimmicky. Let's see how many hit songs she gets.

* That Lip Gloss song -- heard it for the first time in the gym this week (they have XM): Catchy beat, but what a stupid, stupid song. Not to mention one big consumer fetish song.

Okay, out of here.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Show Report: The Raveonettes at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 3/16/07


Last Friday, I went to see The Raveonettes at the Rock and Roll Hotel (and I have to thank either Brightest Young Things or Pandahead, since I didn't know about the show until I saw an entry about it in the DC Blogs Live feed).

Here's the full Flickr set photo set.

Getting There = Significantly Less Than Half the Fun

This was my first time going to Rock and Roll Hotel, and I almost didn't make it. I got a super late start in, and I misplaced the directions at least 3 times. (Apparently, putting them in my pocket instead of my laptop bag -- which then went into the trunk -- was too difficult a concept to grasp.)

Then, I hit a snag following the directions from the site (E St NW, Left on 17th St NW, Right on H St), because police cars were blocking the intersections where I needed to go.

I parked and looked around -- I finally figured out why: The damn communist hippie antiwar protesters were gathered around the White House. And they were going to make me miss the show.

Eventually, between the suggestions of a helpful MPD motorcycle cop and the compass on my mirror (head northeast), I got to the club at around 11pm. I'd already made it that far andLink the ticket was paid for, so I figured I'd catch the tail end of the show from the back of the room.

Thank You, New Jersey Turnpike

In a fortunate turn of events (for me), the band had hit some snow and ice leaving New York, got stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike for 16 hours, and didn't take the stage until midnight.

The club feels very much like the Black Cat, especially with all the yutes running around (it's all-ages). So I was pretty much surrounded by children (literal and actual).

I was able to snake my way up to the front and squeezed up against the right speaker stack, so I was able to rest my camera on the monitor (which is why most of my photos are angled up slightly).

The Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner sets up.
Sune Rose Wagner sets up.

Now, I had a 50-50 shot, but I just happened to pick the side closest to Sharin Foo, who is hot. She's got the Danish thing going, of course, and has great gams (see how most of my photos are oriented portrait-style? That was a choice.) And her last name is "Foo." Score.

Sharin Foo

Anyway, because I couldn't move, all the photos pretty much look like this. I took over a 100, (whittled down to 88 in the set), and these are probably the best of the bunch (damn rock stars won't stay still for a photo).


There were a lot of cameras going off, and a lot of camera flashes. I only used mine a few times.


For some of the later shots, I tried the Auto ISO (1600) setting, and bumped down the exposure level a bit. Just playing around.

One of the few flash shots I tried.

Sune generates some feedback. Note: Legs.

So, it was a good show. Afterwards, I skipped the "Sharin Foo & Sune Rose Wagner DJ Set" (the floor of which showcased some of the worst dancing I've ever seen), and went to the bar upstairs to look around.

An interesting space, though I'll have to try harder (and be less drunk) do get some decent pictures.

There was also a gaggle of Gallaudet students (I'd noticed the stage manager downstairs using ASL to talk to the sound tech during setup, which seems like a useful club talent) and various other flavors of young hipster. I hung out for a bit, then left around 2am.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Amazing New Way to Listen to Your iTunes Collection

Late last week, I discovered a great new way to listen to your iTunes collection (it should also work for most other digital music playing software). It's real easy:
  1. Open iTunes
  2. Sort by "Artist" (It should automatically group an artist's songs by album -- if not, you may need to choose "Album by Artist" or sort again)
  3. Uncheck the "Shuffle play" mode
  4. Hit the "Play" button and listen to the songs (this is crucial) in sequential order!
This is revolutionary. I may try to submit a patent.


Sadly, this "discovery" is due to the fact that my primary music device has been a 1-gig iPod shuffle for a while, and my portable behavior has affected my desktop listening behavior.

After being on shuffle mode for so long, I also find that I'm a lot more impatient with songs, hitting "next" after only a few seconds.

Forcing myself to listen to songs in album order really helps when I'm trying to stay in the flow of something -- without some smarter song/beat/genre matching, shuffle can be awfully jarring at times.

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Scavenging the Cooling Corpse of Tower Records

When we last left my very manly Sunday (two weeks ago), I was on my way home from the canceled Over the Rhine show at Jammin' Java.

Driving home on Route 7, I passed by the Tower Records and saw the "Going Out of Business" sale signs:


I'd thought they'd already been liquidated, so feeling a powerful mix of nostalgia, curiosity, and bargain lust, I pulled a U-turn.

I hadn't been to that particular Tower in a while, but I always liked going, especially when I worked in Vienna, because:
  • It was open until midnight
  • The listening stations were okay (they lacked a fast-forward, though). It was where they would showcase their featured CDs, which were usually loss-leaders and thus, relatively non-overpriced
  • The magazine section, of course, was pretty good
  • It was two doors down from the Ranger Surplus Army-Navy store.
So I'd spent my fair share of time and money there in the past -- though there were plenty of occasions where I would just go in, browse for a little bit, grab a free City Paper and leave.

They were in their last 10 days (which means they're toast now), and as the sign said, "Sorry, we have NO new releases":

No New Releases

Inside, the shelves were pretty bare:


CDs were 60% off, DVDs 50%, magazines 90%. This, of course, meant that for the first time, Tower was selling reasonably priced merchandise.

The bare shelves and the fixtures tagged for sale made it a pretty depressing scene -- you can check out the DCist article that came out a week after I went (Tower Bids Final, Low-Priced Farewell), as well as the Post article (For Tower Records, End of Disc) -- they both have the tone and substance captured pretty well.

My purchasing calculus went like this: At 60% off, it made new CDs slightly cheaper than trying to buy them used. Not sure if they still got SoundScan credit, though.

I could have waited a few more days to get a deeper discount (20%, as it turned out), but I didn't feel like losing out, especially after an hour or so scavenging.

I ended up buying 10 CDs. The first two were 2 bucks each; the rest averaged around 7 bucks per, so the final damage was about $66:


I pretty much stuck to artists with whom I had at least some familiarity, and I ended up with:
  • Dada, How to Be Found
  • Banco de Gaia, You Are Here (At 2 bucks, I took a flyer on it. There are a couple of good tracks on it, I'm going to have to give it a deeper listen.)
  • Durutti Column, The Best of (This one's for you, Biffko. Well, figuratively, anyway.)
  • Josh Rouse, Subtitulo (I think I actually read the Pitchfork Media review for this one, which savages it, but I have one of his other albums and saw him open for Cowboy Junkies, so I got it anyway.)
  • JunkieXL, Today
  • Air, Moon Safari
  • The Heartless Bastards, All This Time (I'd first heard about them on All Things Considered; I was listening to this in the car during the drive; it's really good)
  • The Donnas, Gold Medal (I can't be certain from the spine, but I'm pretty sure that's it) Update: Okay, I was completely wrong; The Donnas was a previous purchase from the CD Cellar; that CD is Mojave 3, Puzzles Like You
  • The Charlatans UK, Simpatico
  • Shonen Knife, Genki Shock (Come on, it's Shonen Knife)
So it was a pretty fruitful trip.

I'm going to miss Tower, though vulturing the liquidation sale brought me back to New York, where across the street from the Tower records at West 4th, there was a Tower Clearance Outlet that had some really random stuff (including dirt cheap pr0n DVDs -- score!) upstairs. It used to be a staple of my NYC visits.

Anyway, I wonder what's going to end up in that space.

Labels: , , , ,