Showing posts from December, 2009

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Real Estate

This week’s Tuesday Is For Tunes band is Real Estate. But first, let’s have a disclaimer. Yes, I found this band by reading Pitchfork. Yes, I am an indie scenester fuck, who has been known to succumb and follow a trend or two. Yes, I’m okay with that.

Now then, Real Estate has crafted songs composed of lovely tones that are rambling across space and time all the while reverberating against the firmament as they go. Listening to their song Beach Comber makes me want to skip through a sunlit field of ripe wheat with a dog at my heels. Sure the guitar and some of the percussion instruments evoke scenes of folky-minded beach bums at first listen, but that is definitely not what is going on here. This is everything about that, but with the self-serving jamming, rampant appropriation of reggae music, and effects indulgence strained out, and then reduced to its best essences.

Plus, I might argue that although the sounds are nothing revolutionary, their composition is original. It’s well-lay…

New Camera: FujiFilm FinePix J38

This is my second FujiFilm point-and-shoot. I wish I could afford a Nikon D70 right now, but that's just not in the budget. Since I had to make do, I went with this FinePix J38 I got for Christmas (recent college grads can't be choosers). Once again, I am well satisfied. For what you get, FinePix are an excellent deal for the price. 12.2 megapixels, compact design, and all the versatility with different lighting situations that has come to be expected from FujiFilm. I feel like this brand gets overlooked since they don't produce a lot of professional-grade DSLRs. For real people who need to take outdoor vacation photos, to indoor pet photos, to nighttime party photos, this camera is great. So far there are only two cons. First, it only has 3x optical zoom. Second, with the fancier lighting settings there is a significant delay between taking the photo and previewing it. However, at the price point of $100, these sort of issues are only to be expected. Here are some photos …

The Weekly Roundup: 12.25.2009

Book Thieves
When I was in California, I stole The Dharma Bums (1958) by Jack Kerouac. That is the only thing I’ve ever stolen in my adult life. I was reading it in the bookstore, because I didn’t have any where else to go besides a room I had rented in a seedy motel until I could find a place to live. It was really speaking to me, since I was going through a period of troubled travels. I looked down at the price on the back of the book, and thought, “I can’t afford this, and I bet Kerouac never wanted enlightenment to cost this much anyway.” So, I just got up, and walked out with it. A couple years later, I gave it to my brother to read on his six-month trip to Bolivia. I just felt that by stealing the book I had given it a transient existence that needed to be passed on. According to The New York Times, I am apparently far from alone in my Kerouac theft; though as a woman, a minority among book thieves.
Essay: Steal These Books by Margo Rabb
This Monday: A Summation in List-Form

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Dawes

Introducing Tuesday Is For Tunes. Starting this week, every Tuesday I will feature the best new band or musician I managed to come across the last week.

This week: Dawes. I first heard this band when XPN played their song, When My Time Comes. I was lying in bed willing myself to get up on only 3 hours of sleep, and an entirely cynical point of view, when I heard these utterly sympathetic, empathetic, vocals sing out, "the only piece of advice that continues to help is that anyone making anything new only breaks something else". I was stunned. How did they know to sing what I needed to hear at that exact moment? Before I could completely register what I had just heard, I was hit with another golden lyrical line, "you can stare into the abyss, but it's staring right back". Goodness! Was that a Nietzsche reference? I think that was just a Nietzsche reference! What was this amazingness being transmitted across time and space especially for my ears? Dawes.


The Weekly Roundup: 12.18.2009

Gang Related Activity Growing on Reservations
During westward expansion, and all that manifest destiny crap, the media propagated an image of "the last Indian", as if all the native people had magically disappeared, and the land was now vacant and for the taking. Somehow that image, despite being about 150 years old, seems to have stuck around. I sincerely doubt the average American ever wonders about the current state of Native Americans. The truth isn't good: even a couple of centuries is not enough for a population to rebound from ethnic cleansing. Indigenous people have the highest poverty rate by far, and the sociocultural consequences are serious.
Gang Violence Grows on an Indian Reservation by Erik Eckholm
The PhilPapers Surveys conducted a survey of philosophy faculty members, PhDs, and graduate students to find out what contemporary philosophers think of great philosophical questions, some classic and some eclectic. Preliminary results and analysis o…

By Plane

I took these from a plane on a flight from Vancouver to Detroit. Thanks to the atmosphere and triple-paned windows, the pictures initially came out very grainy and cyan-colored. I did some fancy filter editing in Photoshop to correct the color balance. They're still pretty grainy, but I kind of like it. It makes them look a little like vintage photos from the 1970s.
After Before Views like these are one of the many reasons I love flying. I consider having the window seat an imperative no matter how many times I may have to awkwardly climb over other passengers to get the aisle. Oh what beautiful planet we live on, composed of blues and browns and greens in infinite combination that wrinkle up in to mountains and down to the sea! It is more than worth embarrassing inconveniences to witness.

The picture with the water is of the Strait of Georgia with Vancouver Island in the background. However, I'm not quite sure which mountains these are. Does anyone out there is the great intern…

When true simplicity is gain'd

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Simple Gifts (1848) by Elder Joseph Brackett
I grew up singing this Shaker dance song as a hymn in my Unitarian Universalist church. I've always sort of passively liked it, but recently I've been thinking of it more actively.

We live in the most hectic age in the history of humanity. While the trials and tribulations of previous generations may have been deeper, there is no way they were more varied. I am regularly thankful for my civil liberties, car, gas stove, and hot, running water. On the other hand, my great grandmother never had to play the delicate game of balancing her professional, personal, social a…

The Weekly Roundup: 12.11.2009

A Muppet Family Christmas
My mom recorded this off the television the first time it aired, 1987. Ever Christmas since, it has been a tradition to watch A Muppet Family Christmas on Christmas eve. It is a really impressive, funny, singable special, which somehow managed to feature most of the muppets made at that point, including the Sesame Street Gang and Fraggle Rock. Also, it has an appearance by Jim Henson, himself. As you can imagine, our recorded VHS is no longer in the best shape. So I went online to try and find a DVD version, and was disappointed. According to MuppetWiki, the USA releases have certain sections edited out for music rights reasons. Lame. To ease my pain, I did manage to find an unedited version of the movie in clips on YouTube.
A Muppet Family Christmas (Part 1)
A Muppet Family Christmas (Part 2)
A Muppet Family Christmas (Part 3)
A Muppet Family Christmas (Part 4)
A Muppet Family Christmas (Part 5)
Sea Lion Navy
Have you ever heard the play on words "The Right To…

Let's Talk About Race, America

Asian students from South Philadelphia HS are boycotting their school by refusing to attend class. The protest is in response to racial violence that has been escalating for over a year.

It made me really happy that this actually got some press coverage. I heard it on my local NPR station, WHYY, in a report titled Asian students boycott Phila. school by Susan Phillips. This is once again proof that racism still exists, and has dangerous consequences. It’s also an important reminder that the race issue in American is not strictly about Blacks and Whites. America is multi-racial, and most Americans are proud of that diversity. However, that means that racism in America is also a multi-racial issue.

After Obama was elected president, I heard talk about how his win was proof that we lived in a post-racial society. What a load of crap. When I was kid around other kids, who were all too young to be socially conditioned towards political correctness, I experienced racism daily. What kids do, …

Good Morning Heartache - Billie Holiday

Good morning heartache, you old gloomy sight
Good morning heartache
Thought we said goodbye last night
I turned and tossed until it seems you had gone
But here you are with the dawn
Wish I’d forget you, but you're here to stay
It seems I met you, when my love went away
Now everyday I start by saying to you
Good morning heartache… what's new
Stop haunting me now
Can't shake you no how
Just leave me alone
I've got those Monday blues
Straight through Sunday blues
Good morning heartache, here we go again
Good morning heartache, you're the one who knew me when
Might as well get used to you hanging around
Good morning heartache, sit down

Good Morning Heartache by Irene Higgenbotham, Ervin Drake, and Dan Fisher
*Originally recorded by Billie Holiday (1946)
This song has gotten me through several heartbreaks already, and once again it has come to my rescue this week. I find such comfort and advice simply in Billie Holiday's intonation. The lyrics are excellent: I love how heartache is per…

The Weekly Roundup: 12.4.2009

Introducing The Weekly Roundup. Starting this week, every week I will post a list of some of the best things I've found in the last seven days.

The Point
The Point is a fable conceived by Harry Nilsson, who later developed it into a animated film featuring original songs he had written. It first aired on television in 1971, and was later released on VHS and DVD. If you were born in the 1970s or early 1980s to liberally-minded parents, you may have watched this movie as a kid. Otherwise, you've probably never heard of it before. Like many animated films made by hippies for children (I'm talking about you, Paul and Linda McCartney), it is impossible to watch The Point and not be reminded of an early music video or an acid trip. It was a little overwhelming for me to understand as a child, but I loved this movie anyway, because the video release version is narrated by Ringo Starr. Between listening to The Beatles and watching Shining Time Station, I developed a deep love of Rin…

50 Great Voices for NPR

NPR is trying to compile a list of 50 truly great voices from around the world and a range of eras. For the most part contestants seem to be singers, who usually performed solo, and had success in the last 100 years. I suppose that’s only fair. Singing with a group is very different than singing solo, which allows for more virtuosity and must stand alone as a performance. Also, we can only judge singers for which there is a significant record of their voices, so anything from before 1900 is probably out.

A while ago, I vaguely remember hearing about this, and thinking I ought to send in recommendations. Regrettably, I never got around it. Now, NPR is asking people to vote for their five favorite from the finalists they’ve selected. Predictably, since I didn’t submit any contenders, I was a little disappointed to see some, in my opinion, amazing voices missing. Notably:
Mariah Carey – “I’ll Be There”
Buddy Guy – “Out In the Woods”
Big Mama Thornton – “Hound Dog”
Common – “The Light”
Mos Def…