Cleek has moved to
Update your treasure maps accordingly.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Constantine? Really?

While I always thought he was too smug, fake and insincere, he was one of the better overall performers of the bunch - certainly miles ahead of Scott, Anthony and that wooden Barbie doll. And I always assumed he'd make it into the top three at least. But to lose to a guy who hasn't hit a right note in weeks (talkin bout you, Scott)... awful.

Something Awful vs The Mars Volta

There's a fantastic track-by-track review of a Mars Volta record, over at Something Awful

Here are some of my favorite bits:

    At five minutes and ten seconds, the guitarist sounds like he’s repeatedly trying to play a guitar lick but screwing it up every time. If The Mars Volta intend to paint vivid pictures with their music, it’s working: if I close my eyes, I can see a teenager on a stool in Guitar Center trying to impress us with his avant-garde (i.e. out of key) riffs. Oh sweet, speaking of that: at five minutes and thirty seconds, we’re treated to some wicked fuckin’ tremolo dive-bombs! Rock that Squire Budget Strat, junior! Oh god, there’s like eight minutes to go before I’m even done with the first track. What the heck have I gotten myself into?


    Uh oh, thirty seconds in, it sounds like the singer is getting a little agitated! He screamed a little bit and I think I know why: a chorus seems to have escaped his lips. The thing he feared most in this world, a conventional element of rock and roll, has unintentionally passed through him. Or maybe he’s just nonplussed because he seems to be channeling Geddy Lee. Fifty seconds in, he tells us that he’ll “never sleep alone.” Of course not. He’ll always have his insanely overblown musical ego by his side.


    Okay, this song is even more boring than the song with the forest noises. It has a rudimentary tune, but it just sort of plods along with no direction like a senile outpatient with no family to pick him up and take him to the zoo, so he just sort of wanders around in his little hospital robe talking to whoever he happens to mistake for his dead son. Oh shit, I just made myself a little bit sad. Thanks a lot, Mars Volta, you dicks.

Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times, "yes".

Monday, April 25, 2005


Waste an hour designing your own South Park characters at the Planearium!

Start your iPods

This week, the iPod starts me out with:

  1. Spoon - 30 Gallon Tank. Not their best song.
  2. PJ Harvey - Man-Size. A bit abrasive for 9am Monday.
  3. John Pizzarelli - Kisses In The Rain. Ah.. soothing.
  4. Radiohead - Optimistic. I wish...
  5. Replacements - I Don't Know. One of my least-favorite Replacements songs.
  6. Dinosaur Jr. - No Bones. Some nice kick-the-amp sounds near the end.
  7. Makers of Smooth Music - Little Rug Bug. Someone wrote a silly little song about their baby.
  8. Blonde Redhead - Swing Pool.
  9. Death Cab For Cutie - The New Year. Is this used in a commercial yet? Sounds like it should be.
  10. Jimi Hendrix - Red House. "I know her sister will."
  11. Sonic Youth - Against Fascism. "It's the song I hate."

So. This morning, the iPod rubs me the wrong way with a fistful of abrasive songs.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Was reading Panda's Thumb yesterday. The article was about so-called "soft tissue" found attached to T-Rex bones. Creationists are crowing that this soft tissue proves a 6,000 year old earth, since there's no way soft tissue could last that long. A reasonable first try at a debunking, no doubt.

But to make that challenge, creationists have to ignore the fact that the bones were found in rocks that were dated by literally dozens of different chemical, radiometric and geological techniques, and found to be 70-million years old.

For me, the killer sentence of the PT write-up:
    If these people are able to ignore geology, chemistry and physics, why do they even bother to lie about biology?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Tame Azalea

Nikon N80, Fuji Sensia 100, 105mm macro

The Number Of Fucks In Deadwood

Ever wanted to know the ratio of "fucks" to "cocksuckers" in an episode of HBO's Deadwood ? How about the number of "fucks" per ten-minute segment of each episode ?

No ? Then don't visit this site.

Good Love Gone Bad

I finally got around to buying Derek & The Dominos' "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs". This means two things:
  1. I've had "Bell Bottom Blues" stuck in my head for the past week
  2. I actually paid for a copy of a song that, thanks to classic rock radio, I never need to hear again, ever - the titular "Layla".

Greg* Duane Allman was a truly great guitar player, though.


* - i swear i'll never keep it straight. i even looked it up this time. was still wrong.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Fun at work

Now this is a company dedicated to customer service.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Nikon D100, 70-240mm

And, of course, the ever-popular white dogwood.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Start your iPods

This week, the iPod starts me off with:

  1. Waltz #1 - Elliot Smith
  2. Happy The Man - The Cure
  3. Rap Promoter - A Tribe Called Quest
  4. It Ain't Easy - David Bowie
  5. I Looked At You - The Doors
  6. Lately - British Sea Power
  7. Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1) - Yo La Tengo
  8. If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day - Robert Johnson
  9. Stockholm Syndrome - Yo La Tengo
  10. Major Leagues - Pavement

Once again, Yo La Tengo moons the gods of probablility. There are 7 YLT albums on the iPod, estimate 100 songs. There are 4,300 songs on the iPod. The odds of having YLT show up twice are pretty slim. Having them show up three times, even, um, slimmer. Whatever

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Nikon D100, various lenses

This week is wild azalea season, here in the NC piedmont region. The trees that produce these guys only grow in shady areas around streams. They produce dozens of circular bunches of these flowers, and after the two weeks are up, turn into unremarkable spindly little trees. I think these are my favorite NC flower.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Wisteria Three

Nikon D100, 28-80mm

Friday, April 15, 2005

More Wisteria

Nikon D100, 28-80mm

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Isn't she lovery

I just got this in a spam. I have no idea what they're trying to sell, but the spelling mistake had me giggling. Right below this (which was embedded in the email as an image, not as Chinese (?) text), is a link to something_lovelyangel_something. So, they were able to get it right in one spot, but not in another. Or maybe it was intentional? Whatever. It amused me. Lovery.

The Fragrant Strangler

Nikon D100, 28-80mm

This is wisteria. I'd never seen it until I moved to the south; it's everywhere in the south. It's a vine that grows up and around other trees and plants or buildings, phone poles, etc.. For a couple of weeks in spring, it produces these huge grape-like clusters of perfumed flowers, turning the edges of forests light-purple. If it wasn't for the pretty flowers, though, it'd be just another fast-growing southern vine, taking over everything it can sink its tendrils into.

Here's the infestation where I took the above picture.

Nikon D100, 28-80mm

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


For some reason, my little corner of the office smells like someone's cooking Rice-a-Roni nearby. It's smelled that way for hours. I'm starving.

Caesar's Bath

A new game, via Matthew Yglesias: : Caesar's Bath. Here's how it works:
    Behold, the Caesar’s Bath meme! List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over. To use the words of Caesar (from History of the World Part I), “Nice. Nice. Not thrilling . . . but nice.”

Well, that sounds like fun: a list and an excuse to bitch!

  1. College Basketball - Though not for the reason Yglesias gives. I actually don't watch any sports on TV outside of a few Olympic events, the Super Bowl and maybe some of the World Series. I like watching live baseball; Mrs Cleek and I make it a point to catch a game at whatever stadium is nearby when we visit a new city, and we usually do three or four Durham Bulls games every summer; and I like watching live hockey (though I wish it games were a bit shorter). But sports on TV ? And the whole bracket / fantasy league / "remember that one game, from 15 years ago?!" mentality ? Not for me.
  2. .Net - Yes, it's nice to be able to use a friendly language like C# instead of an abomination like VBScript. But the fact remains that you're still stuck writing in three languages, in two environments, to do try to do things the web was really not designed to do.
  3. The Fiery Furnaces - "How cute and clever can we be before we cross the line into twee ? Well, that was easy! Shall we try for obnoxious ?"
  4. Texas Holdem - Sure, it's fun. But is it really the Pinnacle of Poker? Whenever we play, we spend half the time trying to remember the bidding rules and educating the novices on all the silly jargon: "River", "Flop", "Big Blind", "Turn", "Burn em", etc.. And yet, that's all we play when we get together. What ever happened to good ol 5 card draw ?
  5. 24 - The first season was good enough. The second season became so unrealistic that it would make me giggle at the sillyness. During the third season turned into a comic book and I stopped watching. Apparently, it's still a big deal - everyone at work can't wait to talk about it.

Oh, and then you're supposed to pass it on to three other people. That's tough, since I can't think of three people who read this who have blogs of their own. :)

Monday, April 11, 2005


    "AeroSith is a band of costumed Star Wars characters who perform parodies of rock songs but with a comedic twist."

Apparently their songs use actual dialogue from the movies as the lyrics.

mm k

Starting line-up

The iPod starts the week with:

  1. Townes' Blues - Cowboy Junkies
  2. Ride - Liz Phair
  3. Djed - Tortoise
  4. How To Make A Baby Elephant Float - Yo La Tengo
  5. Cluck Old Hen - Allison Krauss
  6. Evita - Smaller Animals
  7. Mama Cita - Blonde Redhead
  8. Here Comes a Regular - Replacements
  9. Yuri-G - PJ Harvey
  10. Tough Guy - Beastie Boys

So, I think that's 9 songs from 1990-1996 and one from a band that has been declining steadliy since then. Sigh. I do put new music on the thing, but the damn iPod never plays any of it.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Now this is a blog entry - great comments, too.

the Mammoth Cheese

Obsidian Wings is celebrating National Poetry Month by posting various Classics and Great Works. Today, they give us "Ode on the Mammoth Cheese", which begins:

    We have seen the Queen of cheese,
    Laying quietly at your ease,
    Gently fanned by evening breeze --
    Thy fair form no flies dare seize.

It, and the others like it, are all brain-curdlingly good.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Ten fucking stars

I found this 1991 review, by Steve Albini, of Slint's Spiderland record, and thought I'd archive it. Spiderland is one of my favorite records of all time, and Albini is a minor guitar hero of mine - as well as an entertaining writer and critic of the music industry. Anyway, this post is mainly for my own reference, but you can read it if you want.

    Since about 1980, America has been host to an ever-increasing parasitic infestation of rock bands of ever-dwindling originality. It seems there is no one left on the continent with an aspiration to [p]lay guitar that hasn't formed a band and released a record. And that record sounds a little bit like Dinosaur Jr.

    Trust me on this; all but maybe three of those records are pure bullshit.

    My primary association with rock music is that I am a fan of it, though listening to the aforementioned nearly killed that. In its best state, rock music invigorates me, changes my mood, triggers introspection or envelopes me with sheer sound. Spiderland does all those things, simultaneously and in turns, more than any records I can think of in five years.

    Spiderland is, unfortunately, Slint's swansong, the band having succumbed to the internal pressures which eventrually punctuate all bands' biographies. It's an amazing record though, and no one still capable of being moved by rock music should miss it. In 10 years it will be a landmark and you'll have to scramble to buy a copy then. Beat the rush.

    Slint formed in 1986 as an outlet and pastime for four friends from Louisville, Kentucky. Their music was strange, wholly their own, sparse and tight. What immediately set them apart was their economy and precision. Slint was that rare band willing to play just one or two notes at a time and sometimes nothing at all. Their only other recording, 1989's Tweez hints at their genius, but only a couple of the tracks have anything like the staying power of Spiderland.

    Spiderland is a majestic album, sublime and strange, made more brilliant by its simplicity and quiet grace. Songs evolve and expand from simple statements that are inverted and truncated in a manner that seems spontaneous, but is so pricise and emphatic that it must be intuitive or orchestrated or both.

    Straining to find a band to compare them with, I can only think of two, and Slint doesn't sound anything like either of them. Structurally and in tone, they recall Television circa Marquee Moon and Crazy Horse, whose simplicity they echo and whose style they most certainly do not.

    To whom would Pere Ubu or Chrome have been compared in 1972? Forgive me, I am equally clueless.

    Slint's music has always been primarily instrumental, and Spiderland isn't a radical departure, but the few vocals are among the most pungent of any album around. When I first heard Brian McMahan whisper the pathetic words to "Washer", I was embarrased for him. When I listened to the song again, the content eluded me and I was staggered by the sophistication and subtle beauty of the phrasing. The third time, the story made me sad nearly to tears. Genius.

    Spiderland is flawless. The dry, unembellished recording is so revealing it sometimes feels like eavesdropping. The crystalline guitar of Brian McMahan and the glassy, fluid guitar of David Pajo seem to hover in space directly past the listener's nose. The incredibly precise-yet-instinctive drumming has the same range and wallop it would in your living room.

    Only two other bands have meant as much to me as Slint in the past few years and only one of them, The Jesus Lizard, have made a record this good. We are in a time of midgets: dance music, three varieties of simple-minded hard rock genre crap, soulless-crooning, infantile slogan-studded rap and ball-less balladeering. My instincts tell me the dry spell will continue for a while- possibly until the bands Slint will inspire reach maturity. Until then, play this record and kick yourself if you never got to see them live. In ten years, you'll lie like the cocksucker you are and say you did anyway.

    Ten fucking stars.

Congress may extend daylight-saving time

Sweet !

But why?
    "The more daylight we have, the less electricity we use,' said [Rep. Ed Markey], who cited Transportation Department estimates that showed the two-month extension would save the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil a day.

10,000 of some things is a lot. Is is a lot of oil ?
    The country uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day.


A Glorious Rant

Athenae has something to say about those who cheered the Iraq war, but boo pictures of the war:

From On Messengers and Shooting:
    "Freedom isn't free, you say, giving me the impression that whatever other xenophobic homophobic fundie whackjob tendencies you harbored, at least you understood that for your bravado somebody pays a price. I hope you got a receipt, because it sounds like freedom's a little more expensive than you counted on. In fact freedom's so fucking expensive you can't stand to be told what market price is these days.

    Freedom isn't free, you miserable chickenshits. You cheer the war, you love the war, you love the troops, you support the troops. But to recognize their sacrifices would diminish your pleasure so you send the images away."

The rest is just as, umm, expressive.

Some can't drive 55

Driving home from work Friday, I get to Rt 55. I need to make a left onto 55 to head south to my little suburb. Where the road I'm on meets it, 55 is on a hill and a curve; and the road I'm on meets 55 at an angle and a hill of its own, so it can be a tough merge - you gotta creep up pretty close to the northbound lane to get a good view of the traffic. So, I do. There are two cars in back of me waiting for their turn - they creep up anxiously.

Everyone else in town is already on 55 south making the same commute I do, the line of cars is going less than 20 mph, and there's a stop light about a half-mile south of me causing backups. So I need to wait for a hole to open up. I see a hole coming my way, maybe 200 yards off. Traffic on 55 N is light (and so, moving much faster than 55 S), but it's looking like it'll be all clear when that hole gets to me. So, I wait.

I've been at the intersection maybe 15 seconds total, when I hear tires squealing, and out of the corner of my right eye I see that the guy in back of me has had enough of my goofing around and is going to make a break for it. He's gonna try to get into this 3/4 car-length hole that's passing us on 55 S. Picture it: he's making a left turn onto a two lane road by going around me on my right, uphill, at an angle to the road. He has essentially no view of the traffic situation. So I see him, and for a half of a second, two thoughts occupy my brain simultaneously: "Wow, what an asshole!" and "But, what about the car ... ?"

Smash. He gets his nose into the road and immediately gets it smacked by a car zipping up 55 N. He stops dead, his front end sprayed all over the road. The car that was going north continues basically north, but now with a little hint of west. It bounces off two cars in the line crawling down 55 S, where it trades in its western momentum for some eastern momentum and ends up in the ditch on the right side. The beautiful paintjob hopelessly marred.

The dumb guy gets out of his car, gives me a look like "whew, that was close", and runs down the road to see if anyone is hurt. I consider ranting at him for being such an asshole driver, when I realize he's responsible for a four car accident - he's gonna get some sharp words from the people whose cars he wrecked, so I hold back my righteous anger and call 911 instead.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Brown dwarf, or red giant?

Hey bub, have you heard the good news on sphincter bleaching?

Monday, April 04, 2005


Prepare for war:
    "...when you start sticking us together, without more targets, it's a recipe for disaster. It is, in fact, a classic definition for war: two or more groups that are socially alienated (and already exhibit slightly hostile tendencies towards one another) that are placed in competition for the same limited resource. Do the math.

    We’ve already started creating spies and moles... monitoring their targets and raid times. A guild has been reduced ... to a single self-defining goal: survival."

This is what happens when a reckless and fickle God decides he doesn't like the way his worlds are providing for him. Consider yourself warned.

Monday Morning Music

After the 9:30am meeting where we discussed The Various Ways In Which I Got It Wrong, I ran back to my cubicle to start my iPod and forgot about everything I should've remembered from the meeting.

First songs of the week:

  1. The Lilys - The Tennis System (And Its Stars)
  2. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
  3. Nick Lowe - Cruel To Be Kind
  4. Flaming Lips - Race For The Prize (2)
  5. REM - Carnival of Sorts
  6. REM - Cuyahoga
  7. Led Zeppelin - Candy Store Rock
  8. Yo La Tengo - You Can Have It All
  9. Neil Young - Cortez The Killer
  10. Pavement - Sepentine Pad

    That tells me: I need to get more music written after 1996.

National Poetry Month

April is, that is.

So, here are a couple of my all-time favorites:

    Overnight, very
    Whitely, discreetly,
    Very quietly

    Our toes, our noses
    Take hold on the loam,
    Acquire the air.

    Nobody sees us,
    Stops us, betrays us;
    The small grains make room.

    Soft fists insist on
    Heaving the needles,
    The leafy bedding,

    Even the paving.
    Our hammers, our rams,
    Earless and eyeless,

    Perfectly voiceless,
    Widen the crannies,
    Shoulder through holes. We

    Diet on water,
    On crumbs of shadow,
    Bland-mannered, asking

    Little or nothing.
    So many of us!
    So many of us!

    We are shelves, we are
    Tables, we are meek,
    We are edible,

    Nudgers and shovers
    In spite of ourselves.
    Our kind multiplies:

    We shall by morning
    Inherit the earth.
    Our foot's in the door.
    -- Mushrooms - Sylvia Plath

    so much depends

    a red wheel

    glazed with rain

    beside the white

    -- William Carlos Williams

Cherry a la mort

Nikon D100, 105mm macro

Friday, April 01, 2005

Papal Procedure

I wonder, is the process required to elect a Pope ISO 9001 certified ?

About Cassandra

So, we went to see Cassandra Wilson last night.

Unlike last week's Robyn Hitchcock show, this was in a proper auditorium, with padded seats, no smoking and no beer; and the crowd was a lot more diverse - the guy two seats from me was dragging an oxygen tank; the woman in back of us was so big she couldn't fit in her seat and had to wedge herself in sideways; lots of people dressed up for the night; a couple down in front were wearing technicolor animal print faux-fur pants and hats with bright silky shirts and long beaded dreadlocks - grooovy.

The band was great. Cassandra sounded great. There was a drum solo. They played songs from Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Billy Holliday, Bob Dylan, Sting, Van Morrison, etc.. Still, it seemed like she only did a dozen songs, even though she filled up nearly two hours - most of the songs were long, with extended intros, solo sections and endings. I got two songs on my little camera. They came out OK - good enough for souvenirs.

For some reason, I expected she'd be a serious and humorless diva, and that she'd basically duplicate her songs as recorded with a lush and lavish stage show full of new-agey lighting and washes of keyboard strings. All wrong. She was relaxed and laid-back (the very first thing she did when she walked out was kick off her shoes); she improvised her vocal parts on nearly all the songs I recognized - changing her phrasing and melody considerably from the records, and made it sound effortless and fun. I suppose that's what a good jazz singer does, but this was the first time I'd seen a singer of her caliber, live. Sure, some rock singers mess with their delivery a little bit here and there, but very few would start a verse, sing it double-time with a totally different melody, and expect (and get) the band to follow them immediately into a chorus - all of them enjoying the change-up. I know if the singer in any of my old bands had tried that, the rest of would've just played out the rest of the verse as we'd rehearsed it, after exchanging puzzled looks - if we were even paying attention to (or could even hear) the singer.

And not that it really matters, but she's much shorter and older than I expected. Even though I've seen her on TV before, I had this mental image of her looking more like Vanessa Williams - thirty-something, tall and slinky (maybe it's that shot of her back on New Moon Daughter). Well, she's not tall, and not really slinky; and she's actually 50. It's amazing what a camera can do...

Next show, MerleFest - 110 bands, 4 days / 3 nights of camping and bluegrass/country/etc music - Loretta Lynn! Alisson Krauss! Del McCoury! Buddie Miller! Bela Fleck! Etta Baker! The Chieftans! Ricky Skaggs! Yahoo!


Sony P7

Cassanda Wilson, at NC State

All images Copyright 2004-2005, cleek.