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Sunday, February 29, 2004

Krauss, Carolina, Cats

Watching the Oscars... just saw two songs with Alison Krauss singing - one with a superfulous Sting and the next with a superfluous Elvis Costello. Her voice is so strong that those two were completely outgunned - I think they knew it. It's good to see her gettting recognition on that scale - two songs in a row on the Oscars. She's been a fan of mine and my wife's for years; and we've seen her in local auditoriums two or three times - always amazing. I much prefer her older stuff, since she's now turning into more of a pop/ballad singer, and leaving her bluegrass roots behind. But you can't deny her voice, no matter what the material.

Moving to Raleigh:
In early 97, my wife and I were living in Albany, NY. She was sick of her job and I was working from home and bored. We decided we'd move to Raleigh, NC, because the bio-tech and prorgamming fields were booming there. So, one late-March day, we drove the 11 hours from Albany to Raleigh for a weekend, to see what we could find. We listened to an Alison Krauss CD that I had bought her for her birthday (i think, maybe christmas) on the way down, and we both were stunned by Krauss's voice - crystal-clear, unstrained and effortless - amazing. The CD was "Every Time I Say Goodbye" - when she was still doing mostly bluegrass, and before she started doing so many adult-contemporary ballads. The bluegrass and, of course, her southern accent felt more and more at home the further south we went.

I-85 from Petersburg, VA to the NC border runs between straight solid walls of long-leaf pines - for two hours, it's beautiful. And when you get out of the pines, in late-March, North Carolina is full of flowers - dogwoods, Bradford pears and redbuds are all blooming, planted pansies are everywhere, the grass is green and there's no snow at all. Coming from the frozen gray slush of upstate NY into that was like landing in Oz. So, we rented an apartment that weekend and moved down the next month.

Today, we drove up to Richmond, VA, to visit a cattery. This place raises "Siberian" cats. My wife would love a cat, but I have super-sensitive (though not super-severe) pet allergies and this breed is touted as being better, for whatever reason, for people with cat allergies. So, we went up I-85 to check out these cats, to see if I could stand to be around them.

And the results....

...there's really something to the claims. I can normally feel my allergies start within just a couple minutes of being in a place where a cat lives or has been, and I never touch a cat - that will usually give me a rash. But we read the claims about these cats and thought we'd give it a try. And even though the claims said I had a good chance of showing no symptoms at all, and I was fully armed with all the anti-histamines I could find, walking into a house full of cats required a leap of faith.

But, we were there for about an hour, in a room where five adult cats played. I had two or three of them on my lap and I even did the unthinkable - on purpose, I rubbed my eyes after petting the cats (I couldn't get myself to put my face in their fur, though). And, it took about an hour before I noticed any symptoms at all - my eyes finally started itching. If these were typical housecats, I would've been gasping for breath, itching and sneezing after an hour. But, alas, I did feel something, so that means they're not totally non-allergeneic (for me anyway). I think we're going to do another trial with me on Zyrtec for a week prior. And if that works, maybe we'll get a cat.

Anyway, on the way home, we got to drive back down I-85, which made me think of that Alison Krauss CD and that first drive down to Raleigh from NY. And then, there she is on the Oscars, blowing Sting and Costello out of the water.

The second drive down from NY was a nightmare. I was driving this big-ass U-Haul truck, alone, with all our stuff, my wife following in her car. The truck wouldn't do more than 45 uphill, nor more than 60 on level ground; it was the biggest thing I'd ever driven - without even counting the flat bed trailer with my precious Hyundai Excel perched on the back. And the AM radio sucked. Outside of DC, I got stuck on a cul-de-sac , trying to find a place to eat; we went down the wrong road and ended up in a housing development and I couldn't get the truck with the trailer turned around to get back onto the main road. After a few minutes of beep-beep-beep-beep backing up, I managed to get it so I couldn't even go forward any more. All the men in the neighborhood came out to help me unhitch the trailer with the car on it, get the truck aimed out of the cul-de-sac and put the trailer back on. Embarassing, frustrating nightmare.

Oh, and I had a huge Bojangles sweet tea at 10:00am today. I'm still buzzing 13 hours later. :)

I'm very allergic to cats. I can tell within two or three minutes if a house has a cat, and sometimes I can tell if a person owns a cat just by sitting near them. First my eyes start itching. Then my nose starts running. Then, if I don't escape quick enough... asthma. Unfortunately, my wife loves cats.

Well, she recently heard about this special breed of cats that, for whatever reason, is less allergenic than other breeds. . So, we're off to Richmond VA to visit a breeder to see if the claims are true. If they are, I suspect we'll be coming home with a very expensive little cat. Yikes.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Saturday, February 28, 2004


I had a big post up on all the different fun things my friends and I would do with fire when we were young and irresponsible. Then I realized that some stupid kid somewhere is going to find this and learn how we made a torch out of a tube of model glue and then he's gonna try it in his bedroom and kill himself and his sister and I'm gonna get sued. So, I took the post down. It's a shame I can't pass on this wealth of pyrotechnical knowledge, but alas, the world is full of dumbasses and our society would hold me responsible for their actions.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Friday, February 27, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Thursday, February 26, 2004

One in a million

Calpundit wonders about the mechanics of the TV romance shows like The Bachelorette. I'll quote 75% of his post, here:

    The draw of these shows is obviously their romantic lure: we get to watch in astonishing detail while a couple falls in love. But doesn't the format of the show make it a little too obvious just how mechanical the whole affair is? After all, on every single one of these shows, all you have to do is give the guy/gal 25 members of the opposite sex for a few weeks and bingo! With almost computerlike precision they fall deeply in love with at least one of the contestants — and usually with two or three of them.

    How is it possible to retain our fantasies about the ineffable and mysterious qualities of love under these circumstances? Or our common notion that the people we choose as our mates are one in a million? Why does this all-too-obvious refutation of romance nonetheless seem romantic?

Excellent question. I won't touch it.

After ripping 150 or so CDs to my iPod, I have a collection of some 1700+ songs. That's a lot: 4.5 days or something. I've always been a album-oriented listener, not a single-oriented listener, so on the iPod I just scroll through the Artist / Album listing and find an album I want to play. Albums are listed alphabetically, so my A Tribe Called Quest albums are always at the top of the list. This got me to thinking...

Is there any hip-hop out there that compares favorably to ATCQ ?

I have a couple of Beastie Boys CDs and I like them, too. I liked Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet, back in the day. But that's about it. I've tried a bunch of other stuff here and there over the years, but I've never found anything that eschews the blatant mysogeny, macho chest-thumping and silly bling-bling materialism that most popular hip-hop relies on. I'm not a dance/party music kindof guy, so all the Wave Your Hands In The Air stuff doesn't do it for me. I DL'd the Gray Album but it hasn't done anything for me; compared to ATCQ, JayZee sounds monotone and uninspired, and hearing the White Album all chopped-up in the background just makes me want to hear the real White Album. What I've heard of Eminem on the radio is clever and impressive, but it doesn't really make me want to buy the whole album. And, the All Music Guide, which I consider about 70% accurate calls ATCQ's The Low End Theory "perhaps the best hip-hop LP of all time" - am I doomed to disappoinment because I started at the peak?

So... I want to be down wit it but I don't know where it is.
Take off your skin

ClosetMonster has a large gallery of Photoshopped images of women taking off their skin to reveal the robot/monster/whatever underneath. Apparently it's a fetish...

Many of the images I saw were pornographic, so you might want to avoid opening this at work. Very strange stuff.

Via SomethingAwful.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 50mm reversed on 105mm macro

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


The Daily Show last night was tres strange. After an opening segment where Stewart did his usual stuff (mock Bush, mock the Dems, mock the weather in Idaho, etc.), he had right-wing author John Podhoretz on for a book-promotion/interview. Podhoretz has just come out with a book that attempts to set the record straight about Bush - how he's a great guy who misunderstood by those evil liberals, "Bush Country: How Dubya Became a Great President While Driving Liberals Insane" is the title. (yeah yeah, blah blah blah).

So, Stewart is in his fair and balanced mode, talking past the book and trying to get at the heart of why politics is so polarized and viscious these days, giving Podhoretz a hard time because the right gave us 8 years of bat-shit crazy Clinton bashing in the 90's and how nothing's changed but the direction of the hatred these days, so why is the right surprised, etc.. Podhoretz is saying that this book tries to clear up a bunch of myths about Bush (Bush isn't a moron, he's not a lightweight, he's not a racist or crazy, etc.) and in the process he makes a few statements praising Bush, and the audience giggled, snickered and outright laughed at him. Bush is not worshipped by Daily Show audiences, or by the Daily Show writers, so this was nothing unusual; every Daily Show episode is full of jokes that mock Bush (and other politicians), and they usually get big laughs, except when they cross the line into just plain mean and the audience gets squeamish.

What was unusual was that Stewart started pooh-poohing the audience for laughing at things that, had he said them, would have been jokes. When Podhoretz said something like "Bush is doing something revolutionary by making the country and the world safe for Americans and their interests", the audience snickered. If Stewart had said the same thing, the audience would've snickered too. But Stewart began acting disgusted and condescending towards the audience; and as the interview went on, he started saying that the general public is stupid and that his audience is a bunch of stoned "hippies" and how they're examples of the mindless political polaraization that's wrecking public discourse, blah blah blah. Yes, he often makes fun of the audience, but this time it didn't seem like a sly wink, it seemed more like an apology to his guest.

If Stewart is disgusted by the state of political discourse, maybe he should find a job where he's not making fun of politics and politicians every night ? Even if he does go after both left and right (not equally, but close), his job is to make politicians and world events seem silly, trivial and worthy of mockery. If he wants to do a serious talk show, maybe he needs to get a job on one of the Sunday AM shows.

Very strange. Maybe I'll watch the replay tonight to see if I just misunderstood Stewart's reaction.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Scripture, Religion, and Mainstream Music

Interesting list over at Dappled Things: songs that reference the Bible, Catholic liturgy or other Judeo-Christian sources.

I sent him two I could think of off the top of my head:

Pavement / Baptiss Blacktick : "I'm just waiting waiting for the baptist / that sad suck-off left me in Damascus". John the Baptist, of course.

Cassandra Wilson / Solomon Sang : "Vanity and precious stones / Weigh you down just the same / But when he lay down with Mekeda / Solomon sang". All about King Solomon, of course.

Via Charles Murtaugh.

OK, so the trick is... if you're using a USB connection to your iPod dock, don't plug it into a USB hub! I don't know if the documentation mentions this or not. I had to go to the Apple tech support forums to find it out. You'd think for the money, they'd put a sticker on the USB cable that tells you about this ?

But, now that it's not on the hub and is going directly to one of the on-board USB ports, I'm transferring songs no problem: 700 down, 600 to go (that's 3.5 days worth of music) - and that will only take up 1/3 of it. Wow!

Yes, all the songs are legal.


Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Monday, February 23, 2004

iCrash, iStall, imaP.O.S.

So, I finally got my iPod USB cable! I immediately installed the iPod software... errr... well, I immediately found out I needed Win2000 Service Pack 4. So I downloaded that and installed it. Then I installed the iPod software... well... err, I tried, it locked up. I rebooted, tried again. And.... it installed! Then I ran it... errr... well, I tried to run it, but it never came up all the way. So then I killed the stalled process with the Task Manager and tried again. It came up! I pointed it at my music folder, and it started, all by itself, to sync-up.. err... well.. it copied a few songs over, then gave me a message about the drive door on my G: drive (which I don't have). Then iTunes crashed again. Restart iTunes, it stalls, kill the process, start again, it starts copying files... gets through 30 or so, stalls again, complains about my (non-existant) drive G:....

Fucking piece of shit.
Saturday with the Nazis

Saturday, the wife and I went to see the white supremacists hold their rally at the capitol building in downtown Raleigh (photos here). It was scheduled to start at 2:00pm, so we went down around 1:00, got a parking spot and something to eat, then walked up to the spot designated for the counter protest. It was a beautiful day to be outside: 70F, sunny and clear.

By 2:00, hundreds of counter protestors and spectators were surrounding the capitol building, shouting, talking politics, standing siliently, waiting for something to happen, taking pictures, playing drums, etc.. The "Bo Diddley" beat seems to be a favorite of protest drummers, and I got to hear it for nearly three hours. I'm still singing "Not Fade Away" (the Grateful Dead's version from that live album) and "Hand Jive", two days later.

The Black Bloc gang was there, faces covered (sometimes). But they didn't seem to cause too much trouble, aside from a smoke bomb and some pushing and shoving. But even anarchists hate Nazis, and were mostly just waving anti-Nazi signs, instead of trying to bring down the capitalist Big Brother state.

The police maintained a solid line between the protestors and where the Nazis were supposed to be. But, by nearly 3:00 there weren't any Nazis. Were were they? There were certainly no sympathizers in the crowd, though we did see one really old man who looked lost and confused, wearing what looked like a Nazi uniform under his jacket, being escorted around by a couple of cops. Eventually, someone spotted the Nazis and the KKK guys hiding in a parking lot behind a fence where a bunch of dumpsters lived and a hundred or so protestors went over to shout at them - the cops, of course, wouldn't let anyone anywhere near the parking lot, so people had to shout at them from across the street. At some point, the Nazis left the parking lot, though I didn't see how they did it - maybe they were taken in the unmarked police vans I saw near them.

Speaking of cops... there were Raleigh police on foot, on horseback, in cars, vans and helicopters, in riot gear, in plain-clothes and in normal uniforms. There were state police on balconies, on foot, wearing gas masks, behind shields. They weren't taking any chances.

So, there were hundreds of protestors surrounding the capitol when, an hour late, the Nazis, the KKK, and a few friends came marching into view, waving flags (various Nazi flags including a black SS flag with a skull, a 13-star American flag, a couple of different Confederate flags, etc.). All counted, there were maybe 30 of them. When the official press photographers were allowed up near them, they nearly outnumbered the Nazis. And people in the crowd with professional camera equipment probably outnumbered the cops. The photo opportunities were definitely a big draw.

Then the idiots started giving speeches with the PA system they'd set up: the first guy spent some time blaming the Jews for the Iraq war, another tried to make the case for sending black people "back to Africa", etc.. It was hard to hear them, since they were hundreds of feet away and the protestors kept a pretty constant "booo" going. And, we didn't really want to hear what they were saying anyway. So, after a half hour or so of shaking our heads in disgust at what we could hear, we left.

It was nice to see that a gathering of racists would draw a crowd of protestors that outnumbered them by a factor of 20 or so. And, it was a nice day to be outside. So, overall, not a bad way to spend a few hours.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 28-80mm

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Nikon D100, 70-240mm

See the rest of the pictures from Saturday afternoon's white supremacist rally, here.

This is a followup.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Friday, February 20, 2004

Speaking freely

America's Nazi Party, along with the KKK and the White Revolution, is going to hold a rally at the state capitol in Raleigh tomorrow. According to the local NPR station, their permit was for 50 people to attend. A counter-rally a couple of blocks away has applied for a permit for 500 people.

I'll try to get some pictures.

Nikon D100, 50mm 1.8

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Ummm.. no.

Mel Gibson's father on the Holocaust:

    "They claimed that there were 6.2 million (Jews) in Poland before the war and after the war there were 200,000, therefore he (Hitler) must have killed 6 million of them. They simply got up and left. They were all over the Bronx and Brooklyn and Sydney and Los Angeles.''

So, Hilter wasn't such a bad guy after all!
Soda Hack

MacMerc instructs us on how to hack the Pepsi iTunes giveaway - complete with diagrams.
Regular turkey bacon club, plain, lettuce only, and WiFi

Schlotzsky's is going to start offering WiFi access in its restaraunts. Since I don't drink coffee, the wireless access at Starbuck's does me little good. But, I do eat Schlotzsky's turkey bacon clubs (with a root beer). This would definitely be enough to get me to stop by one of their stores, if I was travelling with my laptop.

Good for them, and me.

Cumin and saffron flavored KitKats.

Nikon N80, Kodak BW+ 400, 105mm macro

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


Just got my iPod. And before I even turn it on, I gotta say... Apple has the absolute, hands-down best packaging of any company I've ever seen. Just opening the box was fun. And taking each part out of the box and taking it out of its individual wrapping was fun, too. The attention to detail is astounding - even in the packaging. Each piece is wrapped and arranged in the box in such a way that it displays the part in addition to keeping it safe in transit. I can't wait to start using it. Apple rocks.

The only drawback, and it's a big one for me, is that it doesn't come with a USB adaptor; I have to order that from Apple. If my PC had a FireWire port, I wouldnt care, of course. But it doesn't. So, it'll be yet another four days of waiting - in addition to the four weeks I waitied for the eBay guy to send me the iPod...

Twinkle twinkle

BBC NEWS reports that "twinkling in the sky is a diamond star of 10 billion trillion trillion carats..."

Maybe DeBeers will be the first company to commercialize space.

In the mid 80's, when I was in my mid-teens, my mom lived in Terryville CT for a couple of years . When I would go there to visit in the summer, I'd generally split my time between fishing at a nearby pond or playing Tron at a local deli. Sometimes, though I had to walk "downtown" to the larger stores to buy stuff I couldn't find at the deli. This walk always took me past a little brick house on Main street with a sign in front that said "Lock Museum of America". I didn't believe it; a museum of locks, of all things ?? Here, in this little building, in this little central Connecticut town ? Well, one day I went in and looked around. Not surprsingly, it was full of locks and keys (!!), and I learned that CT was the home of Mr Yale (as in Yale locks).

But what I really learned, or actually what I realized, was that pretty much anything can have its own museum; and that the words "National" or "American" don't necessarily imply grandeur or enormity. This is something I should've realized earlier, having been born in the tiny city of Corning NY, home to the Corning Glass Museum, and just down Rt 17 from the National Warplane Museum and the National Soaring Museum, among others (all fine museums, of course.)

I bring this up, because I found a little entry on girlhacker about another little New England museum; this one for buttons.

More museums here.

Nikon N80, Delta 400, 105mm macro

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


I use Eudora as my email client and I use Norton AV as my anti-virus software. Norton has an option to check incoming emails for virsuses, but it's error-prone; it will often screw up its own settings and lose track of the login name and password it needs to actually go get my email. That's sub-optimal. So, I disable the incoming email check. But... when Eudora downloads an email with a virus attached, Norton's "auto-protect" feature sees that something (Eudora) is trying to write a file containing a virus and it deletes the file immediately (often before the attachment has finished downloading). And then, because it's so very proud of its accomplishment, it throws up a big yellow message box for me to click. But, at the same time, Eudora panics, because it can't download the attachment like it wants to, so it beeps, and tries to download that attachment again; Norton sees that a file with a virus is being written, deletes the file, puts up a message box, Eudora panics, and so on.

During periods of high virus activity, like the past few weeks, where 1 of every 5 messages is a virus, I have to disable the Norton auto-protect feature entirely in order to get my email. Sub-optimal.

Is McAffee better than this ??
Oh, the places I've been

States I've visited:

This summer I think I'll be able to add Colorado to the list.

Interestingly (to me), I've hit every state on both coasts (and if I wanted to count layovers in airports, I could add Texas, to nearly complete the Gulf Coast, too). In fact only 1/6th (4) of the states I've been to have no ocean coastline - though three of those have Great Lakes coastlines, which is nearly the same thing. Only little landlocked Vermont has no access to a significant body of water (yes, Lake Champlain is a pretty big lake, but it's no Lake Superior).

Make your own damn map, here.

I'd like to recommend that everyone who is interested in the history of things, trivia and arcana take a look at snarkout.

For example, here it discusses how we got our current calendar; here it discusses how Valentines Day came about; here is a discussion of the continuing history of "Adventure" games (ie. Adventure, Zork and other text based puzzle games). All fascinating stuff, IMO.

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

Monday, February 16, 2004

Hey, how much you want for that hymen?

Plastic has a strange story about a student in the UK who wants to auction off her virginity:

    Ms. Reid's inability to get a handle on her student debt directly led her to take the extreme measure of selling her virginity. Although she "qualifies for a Government loan of £3,000 a year," this, according to her, "is less than half what she needs to cover fees and other outgoings." Indeed, "to pay her tuition fees and living expenses," she "works three shifts a week as a waitress. She often does 12-hour shifts, which means sacrificing lectures to make £4.50 an hour." As she explains, "The way things are going, I'll leave university £15,000 in debt. That's why I am taking this drastic action."

And, by the way, she's a lesbian, and her girlfriend says "I won't be there in the room with her when it eventually happens but I will be very nearby."

Clever girl. I wonder if she could get a spot on the next "The Apprentice"...
Train train train

Sitting in a training class all week. Luckily, it's a C# / web programming class, so they had to leave IE on the machines. Sweet. So I can surf and learn, at the same time.
The war on carbs

defective yeti outlines the latest political battlefield: The War On Carbs:

    "When I was Governor of Vermont, no one ate their pizza crust!" Dean boasted in a fiery speech given at a recent rally. "And when I become President, we're going to go after Big Bread! We're going to go after Big Potato! We're going to go after Big Sugar and Big Cracker and Big Muffin, yeeeeargh!'"

Nikon N80, Delta 400, 105mm macro

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Buena vista, anti-social club

via Electrolite

US blocks Cuban Grammy nominees:
    US authorities have refused to let five Cuban Grammy Awards nominees travel to Sunday's ceremony in Los Angeles.

    Musicians up for best tropical Latin album award - including veteran star Ibrahim Ferrer - have not got visas.

    Ferrer, 77, told press in the capital Havana: "I am not a terrorist. I couldn't be one. I am a musician."

The Buena Vista Social Club album, the only Latin music I own, is one of my all-time favorite records. It's a collection of songs from legendary (pre-Castro) Cuban musicians that American musician Ry Cooder recorded in 1997. Footage of the recording sessions and Cooder's trip in making the record were used in the wonderful film documentary of the same name.

The album is terrific stuff. Even in their 60's, 70's and 80's, these guys recorded songs with tremendous energy and soul. I don't understand any of the lyrics, but the energy behind the words is unmistakable. And, even though listening to it sometimes makes me feel like I'm in a Mexican restaurant (such is the extent of my exposure to Latin music), I find myself wanting more - but not knowing where to begin.

Anyway, these old musicians can't come here because there's a ridicuolous embargo against their country, Cuba, a country that's no more communist than one of our largest trading partners, China, and no more repressive than China, Saudi Arabia or any other countries that we're more than happy to trade with.

How petty.

Nikon N80, Kodak Gold 100, 28-80mm

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Nikon N80, Fuji Superia 400, 28-80mm

Friday, February 13, 2004

Do not operate heavy machinery

    A 19-year-old former National Honor Society member has been accused of robbing a gas station and leading police on a high-speed chase.

    Karl Leonard's attorney says his client's recreational use an over-the-counter cold medicine made him temporarily insane.

Full story, here.
Usage guidelines

As you'll learn in Adobe's handy Grammar and Trademark Law (combined) 101, Photoshop is not a verb:

    Trademarks are not verbs.
    CORRECT: The image was enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software.
    INCORRECT: The image was photoshopped.

    Trademarks are not nouns.
    CORRECT: The image pokes fun at the Senator.
    INCORRECT: The photoshop pokes fun at the Senator.

    Always capitalize and use trademarks in their correct form.
    CORRECT: The image was enhanced with Adobe® Photoshop® Elements software.
    INCORRECT: The image was photoshopped.
    INCORRECT: The image was Photoshopped.
    INCORRECT: The image was Adobe® Photoshopped.

    Trademarks must never be used as slang terms.
    CORRECT: Those who use Adobe® Photoshop® software to manipulate images as a hobby see their work as an art form.
    INCORRECT: A photoshopper sees his hobby as an art form.
    INCORRECT: My hobby is photoshopping.

Yes, a repost from the weasle

Sometimes when loading a page, for what seems like no reason at all, Internet Explorer will freeze for a few seconds - no response, no spinning globe or waving flag - nothing but dead frozen window space. Sometimes, in those few seconds I am as furious as I can be.

Nikon D100, ISO Eq 1600, 50mm 1.8

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Listening to:

The Rapture: Echoes. Sounds like mid-80's Cure - maybe Japanese Whispers era, especially the vocals, which sound like they could almost be Robert Smith. Dark, spare and aggressive but still full of pop hooks and probably danceable (don't dance, feel unqualified to judge by that criteria). A strangely upbeat, happy tune near the end, "Love Is All", seems out of place, with its jangly, Big Star-esque guitars. But I can live with it.

The Postal Service: Give Up. Recalls mid 80's synth pop (New Order, OMD, etc). Listening to it sometimes makes me feel like someone who can't let go of 1986, but then I remember that I really f'in hated the mid-80's; 82-88 (ie. grades 6-12) was easily the worst time of my life. Anyway, it's not a strict 80's rip-off record, there are modern elements in there. Enough babbling, here's what it's really like: it has a modern-retro feel that would be perfect iPod or VW bug commercial.

Polyphonic Spree: The Beginning Stages of... . ahem, speaking of iPod commercials... This group of 20+ members makes stuff that sounds a lot like Mercury Rev did back in the early 90's: symphonic, psychedelic, meandering; and a little like Neutral Milk Hotel did in the mid 90's: like a travelling folk carnival. Unspools into a tape-manipulation wank at the end.

Nick Drake: Pink Moon. And speaking of VW commercials... that great VW commercial, where the 20-somethings would rather drive around in their car listening to Pink Moon with the top down, rather than go to the bustling house party, probably sold more Nick Drake records (yes, me too) than all the critical accolades he received in the 30 years since he died. Some of his CDs even have a little label "As seen on the VW commercial!" But it's really a great album - dark, haunting and bleak as anything, yet beautiful.

Nikon N80, Fuji Neopan 1600, 105mm macro

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Sony D7

All images Copyright 2004-2005, cleek.