Friday, September 28, 2007

Hotel Chevalier

Just spotted this on the Apple trailer web site. You can download this short Wes Anderson film (basically a prelude to The Darjeeling Limited) for free on iTunes. Haven't watched it yet, but I downloaded it to watch later...

Iron & Wine Whining

So Iron & Wine have a new album, "The Shepard's Dog." Though I have the new CD, I've only listened to it once, so I can't really review it. I will say that it's a bit of departure from Sam Beam's earlier stuff. A little busier instrumentally, and a lot of faster songs. Not a bad change of pace necessarily, but definitely different.
This post is more for the I&W show I saw last night at the Orpheum here in Boston. I don't have the set list...sorry. He played mostly new songs and I'm not familiar with them enough. What's more, the Orpheum was not the place to see a show like this. Though I'm very grateful to my sister for giving me tickets for my b-day, this show didn't hold a candle to when I saw Beam at ACL last year. Here's why:

--As previously mentioned, he played very few old songs. This is understandable when you have a new album out, but still...

--The lyrics were virtually unintelligible, at least partly due to where we were sitting. We were in the orchestra section, under the balcony, putting what I'm pretty sure was an old fashioned tin roof directly above us. Acoustically challenged seats, to put it lightly.

--It was hot as balls. It was probably about 90% humidity outside, and 100% hippy sweat humidity inside. Rarely have I perspired that much while sitting still. At least I didn't have to worry about peeing during the show since I was becoming massively dehydrated as it was.

--The typical Boston college student meatheads were out in full force. One dude a bit behind us screamed out "Kingdom of the Animals!" after nearly every song. Then there was the douche up in front of us screaming "Free Bird!" after every other song. Seriously, who still does that? The Free Bird thing was never that funny to begin with, but it jumped the shark like 8 years ago. Mr. Free Bird was almost always followed by a loud "F&%$ you!!" by a guy over to our right. These three guys went through the "Kingdom of the Animals"-->"Free Bird!"-->"F&%$ you!!" routine at least three times over the first half hour of the show. Normally I would put my annoyance down to just being old, but no, I'm pretty sure everyone else was pretty much fed up with them after round three of these shenanigans.

--After the regular set, I hear the guy sitting directly behind me say, "I'm not sure I like the direction he's going in. It's kind of like Dylan going electric, ya know?" Guess what, dude? Your hipster license has just been revoked. If you're going to make pretentious comments, at least find a more apt (and less dated) comparison than "Dylan going electric."

--I can't even remember which song Sam Beam played for his encore (though it was definitely one of his older ones), but I do remember that he forgot the words TWICE. Pretty craptastic way to end a show.

So yeah, not the best show ever. I think there was a lot of potential, though. There were eight people up on the stage--three of whom were percussionists, including the regular drummer. It's definitely a much fuller sound now. That said, my favorite songs were still the ones with just Sam Beam and his guitar, accompanied only by his sister on violin and backup vox. I think I can get used to the new stuff though--this new album could be my Iron & Wine for more upbeat occasions; I'll save his older albums for melancholy days.

For anyone out there completely unfamiliar with Iron & Wine, please don't let this post discourage you from checking out his music. "Our Endless Numbered Days" and "The Creek Drank the Cradle" are two of the most beautiful albums I've encountered over the past five years. Please check him out, and consider this post a bad concert review, not a bad artist review.

Things I'd Like to Own, But Don't....Yet

Two categories: 1) T-shirts, this all got started a long time ago when EJP got me an Onion tee that read "Your favorite band sucks." 2) knick-knacks (aka crap to those who cannot appreciate the brilliance of such novelties).

Back it the day, you had to know how to time using the space-bar, or you might starve...

I don't know why, it's just funny to me. Sigh.

Really just want to make all the little kiddies cry. It's also how you identify the true wackos out there.

I think there might be several ways to interpret this one, can you guess which way I do?

Knick-Knack, Paddywhack:

Now remember, the Holiday season is drawing near, so give the gift that shows how much you care.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Since my sense of humor pretty much stopped maturing at about 15 years of age, the shows that I missed the most after swearing off TV were those of Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. Luckily for me, the good people at Adult Swim started streaming most of their shows for free over a year ago, so I can still get my fix. With all due respect to the Squidbillies, my favorite addition to the Adult Swim line up is Frisky Dingo, the follow-up from the good people who brought us Sealab 2021. You pretty much have to watch the episodes in order from the beginning (the one downside to the show), but the pay off is huge. It's absurd, creative, infinitely quotable, and very, very funny. Killface is pretty much the best...character...ever. It's well into its second season now, but the first season is available on iTunes (and probably for free on the internets somewhere). And if anyone is wondering what to give me for the holidays, I'm assuming season 1 will be released on DVD before too long.

"This bird....reeks."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down

I don't know why I missed this before, and it wouldn't surprise me if everyone is already aware of this, but if not, you should know, if you're a true toaster. SciFi has a page setup so that BSG fans can create their own short videos. To aid fans, they have put up several tools that you can use including videos, sound effects, and music. You can watch videos that were made there as well. Amusing if nothing else. Also several hundred fan constructed videos up on YouTube, just search 'bsg fan vid'.

Also, if you haven't visited this site, how can you call yourself a true fan?

Even though ya'll have technically been posting cookbooks--which certainly fall within the originally intended content of this blog--it strikes me that there's no reason why food and beverages shouldn't be included in our list of things to blog about as well. Good food, as Clyde Squid will no doubt attest, can be art. And there's a reason they call it "craft" beer.

Speaking of craft beers, if you guys have access to Dogfish Head beers, I highly encourage you to check them out if you haven't already done so. The brewery is out of Delaware (who knew Delaware could produce anything cool?), so I don't know if they've spread too far out of the northeast. They're Indian Brown Ale is definitely one of the tastiest brews I've ever consumed. I'll often have one for dessert because I like to savor the flavor without food polluting my palate. That said, it's still a good match to a number of savory meals, according its web site. I haven't tried many of their other beers, but my favorite local liquor store manager once assured me that "Goddamn they make a hell of a good beer."

I'm not feeling pretentious enough to go on about how it tastes like chocolate pine trees sprinkled with fruit bat dandruff, with a smooth finish. I'll just say that I recommend it and be done.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


When I was in New York last fall, I made a point of eating at one of the Les Halles. It was the best meal I have ever had, and I've eaten at a lot of "upper" establishments. French bistro is my gastronomic soul.

Last weekend, I made several dishes from Anthony Bourdain's cookbook (including, and most importantly, steak tartar). Me and my friend Tobermory ate with carnal relish whilst watching Alabama's football triumph.

You have to be crazy, and know the right people, to make the recipes. It's not for amateurs. But even if you have no intentions of ever making the food, the read is worth the buy. And smoking a joint is required when properly preparing snails.

Watch his show, now on DVD, when you can. It's not all about gross-out, despite what you may preconceive.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I will always hold Buffy the Vampire Slayer the TV show in a special corner of my heart since Annette and I did a lot of bonding as we watched the entire series together. Also, it was just a kick-ass show, and I am an unabashed fanboy when it comes to all things Joss Whedon. In case you haven't heard, Joss recently started season 8 of Buffy, in comic book form. He's no stranger to comic writing (he's done a bunch of X-men stuff, and others), and he manages to capture the characters and the essence of the show perfectly. I guess that makes sense, since they're his characters. The art is cool, and much like the show, the comics manage to convey humor, angst, and general creepiness quite handily. I would actually say the creepiness factor is amped up a notch since there are no special effects/budget/FCC constraints on the comic. The newest story arc that started with the latest issue stars Faith(!) and is looking really good so far.

So if you were a fan of the show, read these comics (I should mention that there have been Buffy comics out there for a while, but I haven't read them and new ones pick up right where season 7 leaves off and are closely supervised and/or written by Joss). If you're not a fan of the show, go rent all seven seasons and watch it. Season one is a little slow, but it picks up in a big way after that.

Can we get a Firefly comic now, please? Please, please?

NBC to Offer Free TV Downloads

If you're like me and do not have cable, it's always nice to have options for watching TV. For some of my fixes, like Battlestar Galactica, downloading episodes from iTunes was the solution. For other shows, including 30 Rock or Heroes, streaming free versions were the way to go, but now, NOW, NBC is trying to stick it to Steve Jobs, as they are offering free downloads of their TV shows via NBC Direct. Sweet. Of course there are caveats, there always are.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan

Need a new diet plan? Try retro, like 1974.
The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan.
Enjoy. Mmmm good.

Thanks to Tenacious D for enlightening me and providing me with this quality site during my time of decreased dietary self-indulgence.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arts and Crafts at RB's L-C

So my sister has lots of talented friends--musicians, artists, writers all. But today I'm putting in my plug for her friend Mandy, who makes these thingamajigs called skullknockers and sells them over the internets. They're essentially carefully cut naugahyde stitched together and stuffed with T-shirts and a walnut heart, and they have lots of character. She makes critters of land, sea, and air, and when I asked her to make an extra special stink bug for Linus' 6-month birthday, she did an awesome job with that, too. Here's a picture of Stinky, and I wrote about that more on my other blog this morning.

Anyway, I've watched Mandy make these things, and it doesn't look easy. My fingers got tired just watching her stitch naugahyde. But the important thing is, they look cool, and they're all one of a kind. They're pieces of art, they're toys, they're funky pillows. They are whatever you want them to be. Please check out her site--if not to buy something, then to admire her work. I mean, c'mon. This a cute squid, as far as squids go.

James Murphy, Pop Rocks, and Patron

Austin City Limits 2007

Notable events from my third excursion to Austin, TX.

I like Patron. Bought a bottle for myself at the beginning of the trip and drank most of it by the end. I don't think I have a problem, but I have found that the one liquor I was made to drink is tequila.

Seeing Spoon at La Zona Rosa on Thursday night. Probably the best performance by them that I have witnessed, and finally getting to hear them play Metal Detektor live. Tight. I'm in agreement with those people who think horns just make music sound better.

Going to the LCD Soundsystem after show at Red 7, which kinda reminds me of Hell, a bar in Chapel Hill. Their motto "No Exceptions, No Bitching, Fuck You" was cute, as was the fact that the doorman for some reason thought I was George Michael, go figure, but it did lead to some interesting bathroom innuendos. Getting to see Britt Daniel of Spoon and of course James Murphy of LCD just hanging out at Red 7, and the Kaiser Chiefs, if that's your thing. Eating Pop Rocks. I guess this is the candy of choice for indie rockers. Seeing the end of Lady Pterodactyl - "We guarantee you will not see any younger (or cuter) girls rocking the synths this year."- austin360. I think my friend, Jaysus, was intrigued by the gumption of those tots and wanted to strike up a conversation. For the record I beg to differ on the cuter comment.

Emo's for The National. In short, it blew. Not because the band was bad, but rather the stage is a hole in the wall, and it was packed, thus making viewing the band nearly impossible. In addition, I was late because I stayed for the entire Arcade Fire set and was only able to catch the last few songs of their set, although I was happy to learn that they played the same setlist the next day at the festival. Interesting to note that a member of Wilco (Pat Sansone) and The Cold War Kids (Jonnie Russell) was present to witness the show, as they were standing right next to me. I think The National is about to blow up, but you know I kinda hope they don't for purely selfish reasons.

Being 30 feet from a fire that threatened to burn down the festival...guess that was this year's substitute for a Ben Kweller bloody nose. I did see a guy wearing a Revenge of Kweller t-shirt, but others that I thought were better included a fifty year-old redneck wearing an orange hunting cap as well as a Smith's t-shirt or the guy with the tee 'hangin with my gnomies' ... at least I thought it was funny.

Top sets of the festival for me:
1) The National
2) LCD Soundsystem
3) Spoon (La Zona Rosa)
4) The Arcade Fire
My Morning Jacket
Andrew Bird

Some setlists. It's how I roll. I'm a nerd like that.

Spoon - Setlist 09/13/07 - La Zona Rosa

My Japanese Cigarette Case
Don't You Evah
Stay Don't Go

You've Got Yr Cherry Bomb

They Never Got You

Rhythm and Soul

The Ghost of You Lingers

Metal Detektor

The Fitted Shirt
Don't Make Me a Target

Vittorio E

Small Stakes

I Summon You

I Turn My Camera On


The Beast and Dragon Adored


Black Like Me

Eddie's Raggae Chips and Dip
The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine
The Underdog
Jonathon Fisk
Me and the Bean (Britt solo)

-thanks Jaysus for the setlist

The Arcade Fire - Setlist 09/15/07

Black mirror
Keep Cars
No Cars Go
Antichrist Television Blues
The Well and the Lighthouse
Ocean of Noise
Power Out into Rebellion
Wake Up

The National - Setlist 09/16/07

Start A War
Mistaken For Strangers
Secret Meeting
Baby, Well Be Fine
Squalor Victoria
Slow Show
All the Wine
Racing Like A Pro
Apartment Story
Fake Empire
About Today
Mr. November

For Clyde Squid

This is what happens when you mistake a squid for an octopussy.


Yes, as a matter of fact, I do love our new coach.

Wouldn't you (watch the video)?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I Like The "Not Screaming" Part

I posted a great video of squid-birth at my other blog. Mammals are gross!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Surprisingly, Yet Mostly Unoriginal, Scary Fun

Over the weekend, one of the many great movies I watched was Vacancy (with Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale). The plot from beginning to end is not original; but the directing, acting, and cinematography is. The movie is actually a well-produced 60's drive-in horror flick, and it is obviously aware of it (the opening credits alone give you all the proof you need).

All said, I was actually scared in a way that I haven't been since Blair Witch, and for many of the same reasons. The characters were flawed. Not overly so, but totally believable and sympathetic. The horror was tactically real; the victims knew what was coming and reacted to it. But, unlike so many bad thrillers, the heroes/victims were believably scared and acted as such; and the villains were just as believable and also flawed. That dichotomy led to some great tension, a tension that most horror movies never achieve.

Great scary fun; I heartily recommend it.

Note: the director also did Kontroll, which is fucking great.

Note 2: one of the directors of Blair Witch made a great movie called Altered. Rent it if you can: it's a surprise cult hit. He and the writer of that movie are making another movie, and I can't wait. .

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Rocket Science" vs. "Thumbsucker"

So I actually went to a movie tonight. Since the rest of my little family is still in Germany, I decided to see my first film in a theater for over half a year. It was kind of slim pickings at the theater down the street (and I was not up for driving anywhere), so I settled for "Rocket Science." The trailer was amusing, but I was kinda like, Oh, another coming-of-age-indie-flick. More importantly, the plot is basically identical to "Thumbsucker", which came out a couple years ago. Basically, a socially disfuntional teenage dude with an unfortunate trait/habit (stuttering for RS, and, umm, thumb sucking for Thumbsucker) joins the debate team in an effort to escape loserdom. Along the way, both protagonists encounter a girl who basically uses them and breaks their hearts. But they recover and are stronger for it. Both movies are also home to a cast of wacky secondary characters, including a guidance counselor/dentist who is trying to cure the protagonist of the aforementioned unfortunate trait/habit. So who wins this battle of remarkably similar films?
Tone: Though the plots are similar, Thumbsucker is substantially darker than RS. The former is a drama with comedy elements whereas the latter is more of a comedy with some serious elements. Both manage the balancing act relatively well, so your appreciation of one over the other might just depend on you mood. Winner: Depends on your endorphins on the day of viewage.
Thumbsucker's characters and scenarios are essentially ramped up versions of those in RS. Or, since RS came later, it's a toned down version of Thumbsucker. Thumb-sucking is certainly a quirkier trait than stuttering. Both female love interests go toy with the protagonists' emotions (did I mention that both these movies are a bit misogynistic?), but Thumbsucker's vixen is daytime soap mean. And though the dentist in Thumbsucker (played surprisingly well by Keanu Reeves) is the funnier character, he's a little too wacky compared to the more cohesive guidance counselor character of RS. Winner: Rocket Science.
Thumbsucker had far more big names, besides Keanu: Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'onofrio, Vince Vaughn...and overall it shows. But even the relatively unknown lead in Thumbsucker, Lou Pucci, made a more convincing thumbsucker than Reece Thompson did a stutterer. Winner: Thumbsucker.
This one's a toughie. Most of the Thumbsucker soundtrack was written and performed by The Polyphonic Spree, punctuated by some very nice covers by Elliot Smith (including a cover of Cat Stevens' "Trouble", which is excellent). I bought this soundtrack after seeing the movie almost two years ago and I still listen to it--I'm not a huge fan of the Spree, but this album worked for me. I don't own the soundtrack to Rocket Science since I just saw the movie tonight, but I'll probably get it. Most of the songs are written and/or sung by Eef Barzelay, the lead singer of Clem Snide and one of my favorite song writers of the last several years. There's also some Violent Femmes fun thrown in there for good measure. Winner: Tie.

(addendum: I got the Rocket Science soundtrack and it is indeed good. The music is anway...unfortunately there are also several tracks that are comprised of dialogue from the movie, a la the Clerks soundtrack. I don't care how clever a movie's dialogue is, I generally don't want to hear it on a CD. It's just not as funny taken out of context.)

OK, I gotta wrap this up. I apparently have too much time on my hands when my family is out of town. Anyway, I'd call Rocket Science the winner here. I can envision watching it again, whereas though I enjoyed Thumbsucker, I have no desire to watch it again. These would make an interesting double feature for anyone who hadn't seen either of them, so once Rocket Science comes out on DVD, I suggest everyone do just that, or you're lame.

Books I Read Over Vacation

So I finished one book I'd previously started and completely read another book while I was in Germany, and they probably couldn't be much more different.
The first was Schroedinger's Ball, by Adam Felber (of Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me fame). A quick and fun read, with a bizarre mixture of physics, metaphysics, sex, Gen-X angst, and some silliness. But probably the my favorite aspect of the book is that it almost all takes place within ten minutes of where I work. The descriptions of the roads and squares in Cambridge at the beginning of the book are spot-on, so if you've been here before you'll smile knowingly. If you've never been here, this would give you a good taste of what the atmosphere is like here in Harvard Square. The main characters are also regulars at the Abbey Lounge, a very real dive bar here in Cambridge where the Bison Whisperer and I saw The Figgs play many moons ago. Anyway, it was entertaining, very slightly thought-provoking, and something to pick up when you're not up for a particularly serious read.
As opposed to The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. I won't say much about this book since it's gotten tons of publicity already, with a just little help from Oprah. I am a little curious to know what the average Oprah viewer thought of this grim, post-apocalyptic tale. I'm still digesting it in my head a little bit myself, which suggests that it was indeed a pretty good book if I'm still thinking about it now. There are some scenes of genuine, stomach-churning horror, but also some scenes that border on saccharine. Ultimately, the book is about the relationship between a father and son, so I guess it hit me pretty hard since I'm a relatively new father. I was a little unsatisfied with the ending, but overall I'd say this book deserves the attention it's getting. Have any of you read it yet? I'd be interested in knowing other people's thoughts.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

An Unexpected Find

I'm with my I'd Offer You Some, But They Mine friends this weekend, and we went to their local strange tanning booth/used book store right down the road today. I regularly look for an entertaining/ridiculous Christian-based eschatology or creationism book (I got this one last time). But while looking through a stack of books about Jesus and infinity, I found a precious jewel.

Have you ever read Cordwainer Smith? If not, I recommend getting his complete short story collection immediately and reading it beginning to end: it is some of the strangest, compelling, and--best of all--cohesive short story science fiction ever written. No one figured out that his little-read, seemingly unrelated short stories and his one sci-fi novel were actually all parts of one huge story until long after he died.

So here's another cool thing about Cordwainer Smith: he wrote one of the first--and still one of the definitive--books on psychological warfare during WW2. It's called, oddly enough, Psychological Warfare; and he used his real name for it...Dr. Linebarger. Guess what I found in the stacks of this backwater used book store for $4? The second edition of this book (revised shortly after Korea). It's been out of print for years; when I found it I let out a gay geek gasp.

Smith/Linebarger led a life less ordinary; you will die a lesser person if you do not explore his works. I was lucky to find one of his nonfictions ones.

The Foo Fiighters Are Dead To Us

While I loathe linking to Mother Jones, here is a great reason never to buy any Foo Fighters music: they are HIV deniers.

Instead, buy Brian Grillo's CDs (old-school CD here). Grillo was recently featured in Newsweek (click on "The Faces of HIV" on the right and go to picture 3).

No one has ever "seen" any microbe or virus kill or sicken anyone. Then again, no one has ever "seen" the earth go around the sun. This despicable brand of anti-science ranks with creationism.