Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Horoscopes for 2011

Aquarius (The Water Bearer) - Jack Nicklaus, Linda Blair, Oral Roberts, Paul Newman, Wayne Gretzky, Tom Selleck, Oprah Winfrey, Farrah Fawcett, Dan Quayle, Eva Braun, Alice Cooper, Garth Brooks, Burt Reynolds, Charles Darwin, John Travolta
Honour your partner with lavish gifts and sexual favours. The eventual (far, far from timely) rewards will be worth the extra effort. Vegetables could be problematic this year. Best to stick with meat and breads.

Pisces (The Fish) - Spike Lee, Bruce Willis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Albert Einstein, Rupert Murdoch, Ralph Nader, Elizabeth Taylor, Chelsea Clinton
After a few months of desperate effort, you will finally hit the jackpot with your funniest Internet comment ever. However, basking in the glow of the awe and laughter will be short-lived as a commenter with superior intellect will quickly put you in your place. Other than that, it's a fairly quiet year ahead. Stay away from fire.

Aries (The Ram) Matthew Broderick, Aretha Franklin, Leonard Nimoy, Diana Ross, Elton John, Eugene McCarthy, Hammer, Christopher Walken, Rheah Pearlman, Wayne Newton, Harry Houdini, Betty Ford, Pete Rose, Adolf Hitler
Additional iron in your diet will help with correcting your unlikeable personality. Regardless, a rumour at work will prevent you from participating in most social activities. Trust no one and pull the trigger on buying those new pants you've been thinking about (finally!).

Taurus (The Bull) Queen Elizabeth II, Robert Oppenheimer, Jack Nicholson, Barbara Streisand, Rudolph Hess, Orson Wells, Karl Marx
Your grandson will finally get married. However, the wedding will be spoiled by an embarassing faux pas...an unfortunate result of your boorish behaviour. On a positive note, the recreational vehicle you have been trying to get rid of will finally sell for a decent price. Use the money to smooth over ruffled feathers. Low cut tops and short skirts will serve you well this year.

Gemini (The Twins) Bob Dylan, Bob Hope, JFK, Clint Eastwood, Brigham Young, Liam Neeson, Gene Wilder, Johnny Depp, Donald Trump, Steffi Graff, Barry Manilow
Two words - cosmetic surgery. New boobs, pecs, lips, nose, etc. Nothing is too crazy or expensive. However, setting trends is never easy. All that backlash is due to jealousy. By November you'll have the last laugh. Avoid the sun and running shoes.

Cancer (The Crab) Meryl Streep, H. Ross Perot, Geraldo Rivera, Huey Lewis, Sylvester Stallone, OJ Simpson, Don Knots, Cat Stevens
This is the year for a comeback. Clear up past misunderstandings and try again with all your heart. People can be very forgiving. Worry more about how you look than about what people think. It will all come down to your new image.

Leo (The Lion) Mick Jagger, Arnold Schwarzenneger, Andy Warhol, Neil Armstrong, Whitney Houston, Fidel Castro, Napoleon, Roman Polanski, Tipper Gore, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Clinton
Expanding your mind requires new experiences. Water-skiing, polo and racquetball all seem like really good ideas. Ride the bus more. You're not as good of a driver as you think you are.

Virgo (The Virgin) - Sean Connery, Mother Teresa, Michael Jackson, Bob Newhart, Peter Sellers, Refrigerator Perry
Good fortune may come in the unlikely form of an angry dog. Avoid latex-based paint, take out food and cooking lessons. Experimentation with drugs could lead to fun times and new job opportunities. Be careful though. One of your close relatives is not who they claim to be.

Libra (The Scales) Olivia Newton John, Truman Capote, Randy Quaid, Gandhi, Sting, Charlton Heston, Oliver North, David Lee Roth, Evel Knievel
Holy shit! People are trying to murder you! There's probably some sort of microchip in your clothing and/or food. Stop eating and wearing things. Things will calm down in late April, but for now, you're pretty much screwed.

Scorpio (The Scorpion) Picasso, Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, Larry Flint, Simon & Garfunkel, Leon Trotsky, Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Young, Erwin Rommel, Rodney Dangerfield, Billie Jean King
It's all comin' up Scorpio! Don't dismiss the power of the frequent customer card (Sub club, Ice Cream Shop, Etc) as a world of riches hides just below the surface. Free sandwiches can easily become so much more.

Sagittarius (The Archer) Tina Turner, Bruce Lee, Winston Churchill, David Carradine, Sinead O'Connor, Steven Spielberg
Penny stocks hold the answer to your financial independence. Regular "risks" don't apply to you. It's all pretty much free money. Don't let others participate in your good fortune. Nobody is on your side.

Capricorn (The Sea-Goat) Conrad Hilton, Mao, Denzel Washington, Jon Voight, Val Kilmer, Joseph Stalin, Mel Gibson, Elvis Presley, Rod Stewart, Howard Stern, Martin Luther King, Andy Kauffman
While rants, prejudicial behaviour and iron fisted rule may have caused you problems in the past, don't give up on your convictions. The world might finally be ready to hear what you have to say. In blog form.

Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Best Of

This has been a really strange year for music. I don't know what to think about it. I'm not sure if it's just me getting old, or what. Anyhow, my list for 2010.

Songs that I liked

Ariel Pink - Fright Night (Nevermore)
This album is fairly eclectic. It didn't make it in to heavy rotation, but this song is quite amazing.

Wolf Parade - Yulia & Oh You, Old Thing
The more I think about it the more I'm disappointed in this album. The last four songs should have been released as an EP. These two in particular are amazing.

Liars - Scissor & The Overachievers
These songs take me back to their wonderful self titled album. The rest doesn't stack up.

Dr. Dog - Shadow People
I don't know why I like this band or this song. Really catchy though, in a classic rock sort of way.

The Arcade Fire - Wasted Hours
This is a hauntingly lovely song. There's other moments on the album but I really do like this song.

Stuff that really bored me and I didn't think it would

Superchunk - Majesty Shredding
Superchunk was never great as a super-poppy punkish band type entity. They got great when they mellowed out over the last few albums. I don't like this trip back in time. I struggle to listen all the way through. This actually makes me a bit sad. I actually bought tickets to see them and forgot about the show. Totally missed it. That's not a ringing endorsement.

Les Savy Fav - Root For Ruin
I can't recall any song on this album.

LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
This is the swan song?

The Thermals - Personal Life
I listened to this album 5 times. What the hell?

David Cross - Bigger and Blacker
Oh my god. This is so unfunny.

There's actually just a really huge list of things that slot in to this category. Caribou. Belle & Sebastian. Department of Eagles (yes. I know. Stuff written and recorded years ago. Still...) Figurines.

Stuff that was almost there

The Walkmen - Lisbon
There's no Walkmen bangers here, but I liked it.

She & Him - Volume 2
Volume 1 wasn't even all that great, as an album. It just had 4-5 really fantastic songs. I've listened to this a bit. Once again, there are some great moments here. Just less so than the first one.

Really good stuff

The Morning Benders - Big Echo
The first few times I listened to this, I really liked it. Saw them live at the Media Club and they blew me away. These kids are good.

Girl Talk - All Day
Man, what a guy. He does several things here, but the biggest thing he does is that he elevates almost every song. I wish that he would be a bit more subtle at times (for example, at the end, it would have been way better if he hadn't used any of the vocals from Imagine and just left it with the melody). This guy blows me away. Even though you can probably only listen to it a few times.

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Bradford has had his moments over the last few years. But when you couple this with the last Atlas Sound, it really shows that he owns this moment in time. Their live show is pretty damn great. He's putting out an amazing album every year. It's all very impressive.

Beach House - Teen Dreams
True story. I had no idea that it was a woman singing until I saw them live. And, from the same show...

Bachelorette - My Electric Family
Ya, this didn't come out this year. So what?

Aziz Asnari - Intimate Moments...
Yes. I know. Not music. The encore sucks, but this is an amazingly funny piece of stand-up. I only listened to it once, of course, but it was memorable.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Infinite Jest

I finished Infinite Jest last night. It took me a long time to read. I'm embarrassed that it took me so long to read this book, but it was such an experience. Like I've really worked over the last few months.

I'm still searching for meaning and a bit baffled at what I read. There are just so many great things about this book. I feel like this is the Ulysses (not that I've read that) of our generation. Without spoiling anything:

1) I started this book twice. I didn't notice it at first, but the first chapter is absolutely hilarious and I was surprised that I missed that the first time through.

2) If you decide to read this book, keep a notebook beside you and write down notes about each character. I wish I had done this.

3) This was published in 1996. His ability to forecast the future of information dissemination and network television is eerie.

4) Probably 3/4's of the way through the book there is an exchange between the Mom's and Mario. Not much is said in this exchange but it left me with a really profound feeling. Like I had been standing there. Like I had an incredible fondness for Mario and an idea of who he was. I feel sad that I don't actually know him.

5) The way that David Foster Wallace gives out information is very interesting. He hints and suggests and then finally tells you what is going on almost like it's already obvious or like he's accidentally let something slip. I don't think I have such subtlety within me.

Update - Coincidentally, Slate just posted an old interview with David Foster Wallace. It was done in 1998 and DFW says "I've never been on the Internet". He barley knew how to use a computer at this point. He used a typewriter. Somehow, this makes his sci-fi predictions in Infinite Jest even more impressive. Not that he's predicted the rise of the Internet or anything. Just some of the consequences.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Have you listened to the new Girl Talk yet?

I've often thought that Greg Gillis must have sound/colour Synesthesia. His ability to take stuff on the craziest end of any spectrum and put them together into something that sounds awesome makes me feel inadequate. He's just that good. Check the Wikipedia notes.

Feed the Animals turned me off a bit. I started to feel old and didn't really give it the time that I gave Night Ripper. But this new album...man...what a kick in the face. It's just too awesome.

The Ramones? Fugazi? The Gza? There's gems all over the place. And as Pitchfork said today, the pace of this album kind of makes you want to sit and listen to the whole thing. I like it. Quite a bit.

Interestingly, the spellcheck in Firefox doesn't seem to like "ipod" or "iPod". Weird.

Update - Speaking of iPods...why does the touch just decide to go on shuffle sometimes? Confused the hell out of me. I was stressing for the last half hour trying to figure out why what I was listening to wasn't lining up with Wikipedia.

Another Update - Globe and Mail article on Synesthesia.

Monday, November 22, 2010

there's nothing on

A little while ago people started calling all those HBO dramas and post-Simpsons sitcoms "quality tv." The irony, predictably, was that the moment that term started circulating, new shows suffered a giant dropoff in quality.

Quick recap: when movies dedicated more and more resources to the blockbuster model, and when TV saw ratings drop across the board except for in ultra-cheap reality TV, small networks picked up a lot of writing and acting talent, and gave them a long leash to create 12-episode, novelistic series. These series did everything with character and plot that blockbusters and reality TV weren't doing--or all those high minded ideals about "storytelling" that writers and actors were trained to revere. Meanwhile comedies went surreal, following the Simpsons' model of the (mostly all male) writer's room, where they'd throw jokes around, try to crack each other up, and script whatever worked. Arrested Development came and went, and proved that live action absurdism could work. 30 Rock and Modern Family followed.

Problem is, each new version waters down the formula. Boardwalk Empire substitutes period costume and politics for the malignant everydayness of the Sopranos' New Jersey, which was precisely why that show was brilliant: it didn't glamorize the mafia. Justified takes what I think was the best scripted of the HBO shows, Deadwood, and turns it into a present day backwoods morality play about as sophisticated as the Dukes of Hazzard. With Treme, which I actually quite like, you get all the wide-ranging sociological insight of The Wire, but without the essential plotting motor of cops chasing robbers. Treme's hook? Admittedly incredible music. But is that enough to sustain twelve hours of terse characters negotiating their lives in a devastated city?

I'm not even going to bother with sci-fi after Battlestar Galactica. Partly because that show never lived up to its brilliant first season. But everything after it is laughable.

That leaves Mad Men, Dexter, the Office, and Weeds, which are all, in a sense, holdovers from the "new golden age" of a couple years ago. All of them great, but all of them have proved themselves capable of truly disappointing individual seasons. And all of them, I think, are close to ending, with nothing on the horizon to replace them. Glee? Almost unwatchable pageant television with not quite enough snark to redeem it. Friday Night Lights? Possibly the most sinister bowdlerization of a pretty good source movie I've ever seen. Breaking Bad? Never quite lives up to its intial set-up. Walking Dead? The zombies themselves think the show's a little slow and clumsy.

Just something to remember as Boxee and Google TV and over-the-air Digital Cable roll out in upcoming months and years. If Hollywood's putting money back into TV content, that's not necessarily a good thing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

My 15 Albums

Okay. Using Evan's criteria. The 15 albums that I have probably listened to the most in my life. I will try not to edit too much, but there's probably some total crap that I've flushed from my brain. In reverse chronological order...

The iPod Years

The Walkmen - A Hundred Miles Off - I don't get why people didn't like this album more. Those that like it love it. But there aren't many of us. As well, I'm starting to think that the Walkmen could be the best live band in the world. It sounds just like them but with the energy turned up a few notches. Isn't that exactly how it should be?

The Thermals - The Body, The Blood, The Machine - There's just so much energy in this album and every song kind of brings something to the table. They've mellowed and polished with the last two and I think they need to get more manic to become this band again.

Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary - The songs on this album are 1-12 on my iTunes play count. By a fairly significant margin. What can I say, this album is nearly perfect.

Wilco - A Ghost is Born - I didn't catch on to Wilco until this album. People labeled it experimental but they don't know what they're talking about. Okay. Ignore "Spiders".

The Mini Disc Years (Not a long period of time)

The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat - Man, this album did not leave the old mini-disc for a month or so. I think this is the last album that I ever listened to completely through at least every day, sometimes twice a day. It blew my mind. I wish I had play counts on this sucker.

The Unicorns - Who Will Cut Our Hair... - It seems like some of the best bands can only exist for a certain period of time before they implode under their own colossal magnitude. Or put out one good album and then start to really suck. I'm okay with that, but I'm sad that the remnants of this band can only provide a small little tease of what could have been.

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Source Tags and Codes - What the hell happened to these guys?

The Discman Years

Swingin' Utters - S/T - A pretty great album that still gets the occasional listen. They've shown flashes of brilliance on other albums, but this guy is pretty solid all the way through.

NOFX - So Long and Thanks for all the Shoes - Punk in Drublic got a lot of airtime, but this thing has stood the test of time. What a great album. I don't listen to it very much any more but it's just solid throughout. It stuck around for a while.

Fugazi - Red Medicine (All of them, really) - What else can you say.

The Beatnuts - Street Level - This should have ended around track 13 or 14. Until that point, I think it's one of the greatest rap albums ever.

Gob - EP - This is just a short little ep but I listened to it so much. It's too bad they couldn't have done more with it.

The Walkman Years

The Pixies - Doolittle - If Alec Eiffel and The Sad Punk were to magically appear on this album, it would become an unstoppable force that could potentially cause the Universe to end.

Janes Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual - This album made me feel alright about Junior High, somehow. It made me happy that something so odd was out there. Especially the last few songs that don't get much credit. Three Days...Of Course...

The Violent Femmes - S/T - Man. I listened to this album so much through my early Junior High years. I am saddened about what this album became. Saddened. This was actually the very first cassette I ever bought.

That's fifteen. I guess I really did leave out some stuff I don't want to think about. Arcade Fire Funeral? Ya, probably. Nirvana Nevermind? Yep. Propagandhi How to Clean Everything? Yep. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Clap Your Hands Say Get Off the Fuckin' Stage!). Egads...probably. Anyhow. These are definitely 15 albums that got a lot of rotation and still leave some sort of imprint on my mind.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Baseball

Life just published these photos from the 1955 World Series. Pretty incredible stuff. Can you imagine...

1) A time when baseball was the #1 thing that anybody cared about.
2) A time when New York had two teams that mattered, staring at one another from across the river.

And those two things come together. Amazing.

World Series starts tomorrow. I still don't know who I will be cheering for. I never really did get 100% behind San Francisco. But we'll see where it all takes me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why (Postseason) Baseball is Awesome

Almost all postseason sports are good. But, I've lost interest in basketball the last few seasons. And my interest in hockey dries up pretty quickly if I don't have a team that I'm actively following. But I always come back to playoff baseball. There's always a team to get behind.

I think part of this is that we're just so far removed from any baseball team that it's easy to start cheering for others.

As well, it's possible to hate a team through one series and then cheer for them the next. I mean, Philadelphia last year? No way. Until they start playing the Yankees. Then I like them. Now they have Roy Halladay and I want to cheer for them. Same thing this year. I wanted the Rays to win and Texas beat them. Boooooo Texas. But now that I'm watching Texas play and I can follow all their storylines, I love 'em.

As well, the game, while not slow, has enough breaks that you get all these little stories about what's going on behind the scenes. Cliff Lee's kid had leukemia and he had to jump from his cab last year and hop on the Subway to make it to the game on time? Awesome. Not the leukemia part, but you know what I mean.

But the chief thing that people don't get about baseball...it can break open at any moment. A team can be down by 5 runs, they get a few hits and all of a sudden another hit can tie the game. Maybe 10% of games are blowouts decided before the final couple of innings. How many hockey games are like that? Every single pitch has a tremendous amount of anticipation to it. It's beautiful.

Lastly. Greg Zaun. Man, Greg Zaun is awesome. Best commentator in sports. He doesn't get to say much as he only comes up every few innings during commercial breaks, but he's just so interesting. Stories about everything.

I fell in love with him a few years ago when he first started. At the end of the coverage they had the "Jerry Whatever His Name is wardrobe furnished in part by Z-Zegna. Greg Zaun's wardrove furnished by..." and then there was this little dis-embodied Greg Zaun voice saying "Greg Zaun." Just so awesome.

Watch baseball.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It gets worse, sports fans

So I'm happy to learn I'm not the only one reading Puck Daddy over on Yahoo sports. This little item alarms me. It's about new fan-participation arena games that use motion sensor technology, and it's coming to a live hockey game near you.

A long time ago, a playwright named Bertolt Brecht wanted to shake up playhouse audiences. He developed a whole bunch of different techniques for this ("Brechtian" ones, yep). He wanted play audiences to be more like audiences at sporting events: loud, taunting, exuberant. Presumably, although he never said so, drunk.

But most of all he wanted play audiences to be know-it-alls. Sports audiences will boo an athlete if he performs badly. They'll question coach and strategy. They'll let the ref have it when a call gets blown. They'll do this all in real time as the game unfolds. Brecht wanted these kinds of boisterous, engaged spectators at his plays.

But look at where we're headed instead. Some fucked up mass Pavlovian experiment. Stadium sized bar trivia and Wii games. Virtual tug of war? Seriously? I've been to NHL games; I know a lot of people aren't there for the virtuosity of athletic endeavor, or for the slow unfolding of strategy and matchups. But christ, you don't have to encourage the bright-lights-loud-noise set. Too many of them can already, inexplicably, afford tickets. Why they go to hockey games and not a laser light show is beyond me.

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't suspect that whoever designed this garbage isn't laughing his head off every time he sees 15,000 people screaming and waving their arms like someone set their shoes on fire.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Life isn't so bad

I found this off boingboing. Anyhow, it's one guys recollections of his two years in prison. It's long, but very interesting. It gets fairly philosophical at the bottom. Worth a look.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Love to win, hate to lose

I like to read Yahoo sports blogs. I check the hockey one quite consistently and keep apprised of the other ones when the seasons dictate. They're easy to find...over on the right hand side of each one are links to one another.

Anyhow, Puck Daddy, the hockey one, has this Justin Bourne guy writing for them who, it sounds like, used to be a minor league hockey professional. Interesting, interesting stuff. Especially this post.

He talks about love to win vs. hate to lose and it makes total sense. However, I think we need to extrapolate this further. Into the real world.

Think about it. How many of us are content to just kind of hit the cruise button once something (life, generally) is good enough? How many of us have a good idea, but just don't hav the drive, ambition, whatever to take it to the next step? It's all the same thing. There's just some people out there that are hungry for things to a level that the rest of us are not.

I know, it's not that simple. But I think if you were to look at the difference between the top 1% of achievers and the rest of us, you would see some of these qualities in them. Lots and lots of people have the talent/brains/eye/ideas. Not many know what to do with it or how to make the most of it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Football. No, the other kind. No, the other other kind.

Random sports headline of the week: the two teams in the Australian Rules Football championship game played to a tie. In the event of a tie, the Aussie Rules say you have a re-do. Not overtime. No shootouts. You play the whole game again.

(A week later they replayed it and one team blew the other team out.)

I think the Aussies might be on to something. FIFA should pay attention. Except in soccer they should make them play it over on the spot. Fuck you, get back on the field and do it over. Think that wouldn't change the strategy of all those teams playing for the tie?

Actually. Couple other Aussie rules they could think about while they're at it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Infinite Jest

I've been reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace for some time now. Months really. It's the second time I've started it. I'm only 219 pages in. There's a good 981 pages total. Plus a good 100 pages of footnotes.

Anyhow, I was back on page 199 a few days ago. It's really taken me that long to understand the significance of a throwaway conversation he just kind of threw in to the background of one of many threads within this story. It's a perfect argument/anology for just kind of getting off your ass and doing something without fearing failure. Accepting failure. To somewhat paraphrase.

"Suppose I were to give you a key ring with ten keys. With, no, with a hundred keys, and I were to tell you that one of these keys will unlock it, this door we're imagining opening in onto all you want to be, as a player. How many of the keys would you be willing to try?"

"Well I'd try every darn one."

" Then you are willing to make mistakes, you see. You are saying you will accept 99% error. The paralyzed perfectionist you say you are would stand there before that door. Jingling the keys. Afraid to try the first key."

How perfect is that?

The Amazing Race

A year or two back, I would never have admitted to anybody that I was an Amazing Race fan. I mean, it seemed kind of ludicrous that this would be something I would be interested in. And it's not something that really hangs around in my brain. I don't even remember who won the last installment and that was only a few months ago. But there's just too many perfect moments on this show and it makes it one of the greatest things on television. *Examples:

S17 - Episode 1 - Yes. Just last night. A chick gets hit by a watermelon IN THE FACE! Not even gently. Like...you just could not believe how hard this thing hits her. IN THE FACE! Beyond awesome.

S14 - Episode 1 - The Cheese Rolling Challenge. Magical, magical television. I don't know how people didn't die.

S13 - Episode 9 - The weird little Frat Boys attempt to do a Russian March and they defy physics. It's like the Elaine Seinfeld dance except real. And better.

S12 - Episode 1 - There are a lot of terrible couples in the Amazing Race. I think it was Nathan & Jennifer in this one. Entertaining throughout. He argues with a donkey in this episode. It's like the entire world is out to get him and his girlfriend is leading the charge.

This really is the ultimate show for laughing at others misfortune. I urge you to watch.

*Ya, ya. I know. These are kind of spoilers. And I hate spoilers. I hate it when anybody talks about anything even remotely involved with a show. I don't care what you think. I want to find out by watching the show. But many of these probably showed up in the promos for these very shows. So they're not really spoilers.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fine. FINE.

OK, a post. Lord.

I'll keep this simple. That 15 albums meme has been going around facebook, and I posted mine there. I took the assignment to mean "post the 15 albums you've done the most listening to." So they were mostly older, or at least the intensive, repeated listening happened years ago.

But here are 5 albums I've been listening to a lot lately. They're not necessarily new. I might do this again in a month or so. Meanwhile, you all should post 5 of your own. Or talk smack about these in the comments. Whatever, biters or haters, up to you.

Robyn, Body Talk 1. She's everything I've ever wanted in a girl. This one's more subdued than her last album, but still pretty perfect pop. Just grabbed Part 2, which sounds okay, if a little more disco. I like the triple album strategy a lot. Who else does such a thing? Oneida. That's about it.

Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos. I'm late to the African jazz/funk/rock thing. The Robert Christgau site and a totally amazing Nova Box Set I downloaded a while ago convinced me that it was more than a fad built up by Pitchfork and Vampire Weekend. This album is amazing.

Big Boi, Sir Lucious Left Foot. Really solid, even the skits, which are thank christ kept short.

Primal Scream, Screamadelica. I totally missed this the first time around. Well, I pretty much skipped all of British rock in the 90s. But in my defense these guys always got lumped in with Stone Roses. They're not Stone Roses. They're actually listenable.

Queens of the Stone Age, s/t. I didn't miss this one the first time around. But it's been years. In the meantime they got a big, non-Kyuss following, and I stopped bothering because they were on the radio. Whatever the reasons, it took me this long to remember that I really like this record. It's sort of like if shoegaze did meth instead of E.

Also been listening to new Walkmen (good - but Hamilton's ennui sounds more forced than before); Black Mountain (I like them darker than this); Ratatat (good background music when I need to get something done); Best Coast (I don't get it); Flying Lotus (I think I'm starting to get it); LCD Soundsystem (I've decided I like hearing James Murphy talk about music more than I like hearing him play it).


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Videos

The Ken Block Gymkhana videos are pretty awesome. Here's the new one, plus Jalopnik talking about it a bit.

As well, this video of close calls is just amazing to watch.


Travis Pastrana Mount Washington Hill Climb, raw footage and Red Bull Video. Crazy.

Monday, September 13, 2010


We've been drinking a lot of cider lately. We've tried so many different ones. American ciders. British ciders. Canadian ciders. We keep going back to Strongbow, honestly. Blackthorn is pretty good too. Most of the boutique American ones have something a bit off. And Canadian cider is just generally weird.

Anyhow, this link to make your own cider seems very interesting. If you've ever brewed your own beer, it sounds similar. A bit easier really. I would do more of this sort of thing but I'd like to figure out a cheap way to filter and carbonate. Oh, I'd ferment in a carboy as well, which they leave out. And sterilize, sterilize, sterilize. God...I used to really hate dealing with old bottles. Need to figure out a way to keg this stuff. Actually, it sounds pretty easy.

Update - Boingboing is now talking about moonshine. I like it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pitchfork top video's of the 90's.

Oh boy. I feel a little bit old. A little bid sad. A little bit sentimental.

Try to watch "1979" without crying a little bit. Good lord. I feel like I just wasted 32 years of my life by not effectively wasting my youth. But I guess it's hard to really put your finger on exactly what effective youth wasting is and what it should look like.

Other awesomeness:

Wilco looking like a bunch of teenagers.
Ol' Dirty Bastard.
What is the Scenario? It's amazing how manic that song can feel but how slow it feels in this video.
Spike Jonze is everywhere. Or...was.
The Pharcyde.
The Blur Milk Carton just stole my heart.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Life imitates art

This is along the lines of "you can't make this shit up" (unless you already have and turned it into a move).

So, Global TV has already picked up on it, meaning everybody in the entire world has already probably heard about it...but think of how funny this is. A guy. Accused of being a terrorist. Auditioned to be on Canadian Idol once. And sang an Avril Lavigne song.

Why is this so funny?

Well, first up, this story appears to have already been turned into a movie starring Hugh Grant. I saw the first 15 minutes of it and now I'm going to be forced to watch the whole thing just to see how it all turns out.

Next...Avril Lavigne? You'd hope it was at least a Cat Stevens song or something from A Tribe Called Quest. How embarassing is this for somebody trying to prove themselves as a hardened hater of the west?

Or...is the overwhelming stench of failure after banishment from a 2nd rate karaoke competition enough to force one into a life of terrorism? Is realising that you've chosen the crappiest song in the entire universe as your vessel for your five-minutes-of-fame enough to drive you to extreme measures? How does he feel about Sum 41? So many questions.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A bike video for everyone

I saw this video and it's just too good not to share. Helmet cam stuff usually kind of sucks, but the perspective of a rider winning second place in a major competition is something you don't get to see very often.

Update - August 20th - There's another interesting video of behind-the-scenes Berrecloth preparing, riding in and then dealing witht he aftermath of the contest.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not just Real Estate is Fucked...

Oh boy. This is heavy. I was re-exploring my reading list that I posted a week or so back. I stumbled upon this article by Matt Taibi that furthers what I was talking about with respect to real estate prices last week. It actually digs a little bit deeper than the Michael Lewis article I was talking about before. I was just going to add an update to my other posting, but it feels like it deserves it's own moment in the sun.

The Matt Taibi article puts some meat on the bones of where mortgage backed securities were created, how they were allowed and where they came from. It paints a shocking picture of the investment landscape and basically makes me fear for my financial life. Just read it. It's shocking, shocking stuff.

Two things really come to mind from this article. Number one, I feel stronger about my opinion on real estate. What has kept me out of the Vancouver market over the years is the irrationality of it all. I haven't bought because it hasn't made sense. Every time I compare the numbers of renting to the numbers of buying, I get a bit freaked out and lose my nerve. I've even made it to the point where I've put offers on places. At that point, the bidding war that has commenced has scared me off. Deep inside me, I'm not willing to throw money at something just so that it can be mine.

Up until 2008, the Canadian market closely followed the American market. We went up as they went up. We dipped when the American economy fell apart. And then...things got weird. All of a sudden, you could buy a mansion in the states for no money at all, and Canadian real estate was rebounding. The reason for this was:

1) Canadian banks were more solid than American banks due to stronger regulation.

2) We didn't have sub-prime mortgages and therefore our housing market was on solider ground.

Now, after reading this article, I have a better understanding of it all. I finally can understand where the frenzy came from, how things became so inflated and why it all collapsed. I heard it all before, but it didn't really make sense.

But Canadian real estate didn't rise in a vacuum. Our prices rose as American prices rose as the rest of the world rose. Without that American bubble, we would not be anywhere close to where we are today. We had a direct benefit due to American house prices rising in a ridiculous fashion. We just didn't have the secondary crazy mortgage speculation directly fueling our fire. We had crazy mortgage speculation in the US fueling crazy real estate appreciation in the US fueling crazy real estate appreciation in Canada.

But it all really comes down to people buying houses that they can't afford, borrowing tremendous sums against the rising value of that home, banking on that value always rising.

How are we any different? We have all of this, the only difference is that our sub-prime mortgages are backed by a government agency, CMHC. The only difference is that when our house prices dipped, our entire economy did not imploded because we hadn't made the same gambles selling of this horrible mortgage debt and because it was the government backing the loans. So we recovered. But all the underlying symptoms are there. We still have a drastically over-inflated real estate market being bought up by people that can't really afford these homes, with incredibly long mortgages at ridiculously low interest rates with almost no money down, ratcheting up their lines of credit and credit card interest to pay for all the new crap that they need and to cover off the fact that they can't actually afford to be doing what they are doing.

I don't think this is sustainable.

Now, the other thing that this article brings to mind, number two if you will, is that it's scary that an article like this gets no coverage and no response. Now, I am taking a leap of faith in believing everything that this article says. But it seems to me that it's incredibly well researched and draws from facts of the past. That's what makes it believable.

Now, if one magazine and one author can put together a case like this, what exactly is the government up to? What are larger "news" organizations doing? It's just all so incredibly scary I don't know what to think. Why isn't anybody doing anything about it?

And the final point about cap-and-trade. Sweet jesus. I've long thought cap-and-trade is the stupidest idea ever. The shear amount of money that would need to be spent and government intervention required just to figure out the baseline for each company would be staggering. I don't even know how they would figure it out. How do you account for every delivery truck and every smokestack across and entire continent? You just can't. It would be much simpler to tax the fuels and chemicals that create the problem in the first place. Much, much simpler. I could never figure out why anybody would push for cap-and-trade. I never considered this side of things. And for the first time in my life, I'm questioning the motivations of people pushing for something that I firmly believe in.

What a crazy, exciting, interesting, depressing article.

Update - August 19th. I just finished reading this. It's more of a scientific analysis of exactly what I just wrote about. It's just...wow...unbelievable.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Beyond Inspiring

I read this story about a family that built a shed on there remote land and turned it into a cabin. This is just too awesome. I want to do something like this.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Driving Videos

Oh my gosh. These videos are crazy. You must, must, must watch #10 (Pike's Peak - also linked here directly). #7 is crazy as well (old school rally), the thousands of people scattering out of the way just in front of the car! The footwork! Crazy.

Okay. Fine. I'll embed them. Actually...no...no I won't.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why Real Estate in BC, and Therefore Canada, is Fucked

I decided to read a few articles from my past post on magazine articles today. I cam upon "The End", by Michael Lewis in Portfolio magazine. This is a great article. I have read many articles on the financial collapse in the last few years. None of them have made any sense to me. This is a great article because it explains that things collapsed because none of this stuff made any sense to anybody. Which somehow makes me feel better.

Think about it. Think about past articles. Well, the market collapsed because banks repackaged sub-prime loans as AAA rated bonds and re-sold them, then, when the real estate market collapsed, they were worth nothing. That is as far as they would take it. Nobody would ever try to explain why that happened, how it happened or what it actually meant. Now I know it's because there is no answer to that question. There's no logical answer for why it happened. But nobody ever just came right out and said that.

So, on to why Canada is, as I said above, fucked. Page 3 or the article, maybe one third of the way down...

There’s a simple measure of sanity in housing prices: the ratio of median home price to income. Historically, it runs around 3 to 1; by late 2004, it had risen nationally to 4 to 1. “All these people were saying it was nearly as high in some other countries,” Zelman says. “But the problem wasn’t just that it was 4 to 1. In Los Angeles, it was 10 to 1, and in Miami, 8.5 to 1.

So, let's analyze where we're at. Start pulling data from places. Here, here, here.

Let's start with the City of Vancouver proper. Average January 2010 real estate price, $638,000. This includes, condos, townhouses, everything. Median family income (I would guess that the average would actually be substantially lower than that, as when you analyze other median/averages, the top end salaries pull the averages up), $80,127.

That's a ratio of 7.975. Worse, I don't think they are considering people owning shitty little condos when they consider a ratio of 3 to 1 as being healthy.

So, now, I hear you. Vancouver is crazy. The rest of British Columbia/Canada will be fine.

Average real estate price, British Columbia, $492,000. Median British Columbia household income, $65,780. Ratio, 7.479. It's hardly better. An entire province running ratios referred to as crazy for a swanky American major Metropolitan area. It's crazy.

Now, if you still aren't convinced, I referenced this page up above, but here it is again. Apologies if they've updated the data by the time you read this, but you can trust me that I'm telling the truth. Anyhow, look at the chart right at the top page. This is based on a 25% down payment and a 25 year mortgage, purchasing in what I must assume is Metro Vancouver based on the prices given.

2 story detached - Average Price $716,000 - Income to carry mortgage, $141, 600
Detached bungalow - Average Price $635,800 - Income to carry mortgage, $126,000
Townhouse - Average Price $476,300 - Income to carry mortgage, $94,500
Condo - Average Price $362,700 - Income to carry mortgage, $72,400

So, this is saying that if the average family manages to scrape together a down payment of $90,675, they'll have enough income to buy the average condominium or perhaps get in to the bottom of the townhouse market. Then, if they decide that they don't want it anymore, they'll be able to put the $1,154 they could get in the open market for rental income towards their $1,800 in monthly expenses (mortgage and property taxes) and make out like bandits!

This is crazy. This makes no sense. Even using these extremely generous mortgage guidelines there are not enough people to keep this going. There's too big of a spread in the statistics.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Interesting Photography

Linking to stuff from boingboing is a bit of a cop out. But I was really taken by these two stories this week.

First up, is the story of the guy who took a photograph of himself every day for 18 or so years. It's a very interesting story. Please check it out.

Next is a bunch of colour photographs from 1939 through 1943. The quality of these images is amazing. It's hard to get it through your mind that they're 70+ years old. Link is here. Some of my favourites below.

Friday, July 30, 2010

For days when you are bored at work.

I have seen links like this before, but this seems to be a pretty good one. Straight from boingboing, the "Best Magazine Articles Ever".

Lot's of David Foster Wallace, including the cruise article I talked about a week or so back and one about string theory that I'm certain Evan will get excited about (sorry...it's actually about tennis). I also just read the Federer article, which is just about the most thorough description of a sport I've ever read.

I attempted to read one the Tom Wolfe article about Nascar a year or so back, but Tom Wolfe can be really annoying sometimes and I couldn't get more than a few paragraphs in. Even the title of the article is annoying.

And I read this Errol Morris article about stupid people not knowing that they are wrong a month or two back. I think I posted it on my other blog (god, that sounds terrible). Part 2 is is about hysteria and mental disease. Part 3 is about Woodrow Wilson's anosognosia and its consequences. Part 4 is more of the same and Part 5 tries to bring it all back together.

Other than that, I have a lot of reading to do.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Just like Gary Mason but not a completely unintelligible full of shit asshole.

There was a boingboing link to one of David Mitchell's Guardian articles today and I enjoyed it so much that I went back and read a few of them. A memorable line from each...

The boingboing link in question about the burqua ban..."As long as people aren't wearing crotchless jeans outside primary schools or delly boppers with attached sarklers on pertrol station forecourts, we've all got a right to wear exactly what the hell we like and I can barely believe that we're having this debate."

This one about Rupert Murdoch, blogging, media and all sorts of other things. I don't have a moneyshot for this one.

I'm not actually sure what his point is here...but I'm sold by anything with a line like "In the middle ages, having a candle, a bowl of gruel and a roof migh have felt like party night."

It's all pretty great stuff.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Wolf Parade Post

I feel like everywhere I turn today, it's all Wolf Parade.

The Tyee.

Exclaim! (Look at how fat Spencer Looks!)

Okay. Only two articles. But stumbling upon two articles in the span of an hour or two makes it feel like it's everywhere. So I have a few points to make about Wolf Parade.

1) Andrea and I talked about this a few days ago when I posted about classic rock cruises. I was on the fence then, but now I'm certain that in 20 years I hope it is Wolf Parade that decides to put together a cruise for nostalgic losers. I think that they could really fill a week up with all of their side projects and that I could really enjoy that between trips to the buffet.

2) Wolf Parade play the Vogue on Sunday night. I think we have seats a few rows back from the front. That feels really weird to say.

3) Expo 86 hasn't really blasted me in the face with musical happiness. It's solid, but I'm still trying to decide what I really think about it. However, the final two songs Yulia and Cave-O-Sapien really do it for me. Catchy in their simplicity.

4) I am neither a Dan nor a Spencer guy. Honestly, how can you pick? Yulia is Dan, Cave-O-Sapien is Spencer. Modern World is Dan, Father's Son is Spencer. On it goes. How do you choose? I would imagine that Dan has lots of leather and skull paintings in his home while Spencer has lots of drawings and books.

5) I hope that Evan can fill the comments section below with tales of his brother doing stupid things that are subtly related to Wolf Parade and its members.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010



in its heart of hearts, wanted to be this--

but wound up basically being this:


Friday, July 16, 2010

A rock critic that you want to read

So this guy, Robert Christgau, is apparently calling it quits after a long career of music writing. I started flipping through the pages on his janky looking site, and he's kind of amazing. In the sense that he's an amazing writer, first of all, but he's also mostly right most of the time. You should check out his piece on "avant-punk." He basically defines all the bands that led up to punk happening in the late 70s. The list is pretty standard now: Velvets, Iggy, MC5, Modern Lovers, etc. But the thing is, he wrote that piece in 1977. So here's a guy who saw through punk's so-called reinvention of rock when it was happening. That's points. Big points.

Anyway. You guys have any rock critics you think are worth following?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Books are sometimes hard

I have several books that I've tried reading over the last few years but just can't make it over the beginning hump. Gravity's Rainbow is the worst one for me. I've started that thing at least two or three times but I can't make it past the first quarter. I've also started David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and just been unable to push on through. I will try both of these again, but when this happens, I feel sad and dumb.

I enjoy reading but I'm seldom looking for (or seeing) a deeper meaning or theme. I like a good story and these books make me feel like I'm not smart enough to get it.

So I've been reading a fair amount of Chuck Klosterman lately. Eating the Dinosaur is remarkably current and I very much enjoyed it. Sex, Drugs and Coco Puffs didn't quite do it for me. None of the topics were very near to me so it didn't resonate. I'm on to IV and it's really quite fabulous.

One essay/article/piece has been especially captivating for me over the last few days. He writes about his experience on a Styx/REO Speedwagon/Journey themed cruise. It reminds me of an article I read a few years ago about a similar Barenaked Ladies themed cruise. It got me wondering...

Twenty years from now, which current bands are going to be playing at suburban casinos and hosting themed cruises? Is my future self going to be interested in something like that? What band would force me to take part in something like this? What's the next frontier for washed up musicians?

Anyhow, in Klosterman's essay he references a David Foster Wallace essay about a week-long cruise. I just finished reading it. It's so oddly descriptive. It's an amazing(ly long) read. It also makes me imagine David Foster Wallace on a cruise, holed up in his room, standing in strange places observing everybody, just being an all-around pale skinned weirdo. I think that if one had encountered him in real life he would have come across as a person too strange to befriend. Like the weird guy in your high school that didn't talk to anybody, wore lots of black and spent most of his time writing in his notebook (actually, I was pretty good friends with a guy like this. He didn't wear black though). It's a shame, really.

How Entourage could make your girlfriend/wife/partner just a little nicer

O.K., I'm still on the Entourage kick a bit. Besides helping me see Homies in a new light, I think Entourage is the best show to watch with your girlfriend/wife/partner to see the relationship between Ari Gold and Mrs. Gold. In short, I think Mrs. Gold is a sexy Mother Teresa and a role model for women everywhere.

So, why this show could be good for you and your significant other? Because Ari is an asshole. Huge asshole. But his wife is cool with him, and no matter how bad "you" could be, you couldn't be as big an asshole as Ari Gold. So when you are acting like a dick around your girlfriend/wife/partner, if you watch enough Entourage together you might get her thinking "Wow, he's being an ass, but it could be worse. He could be as bad as Ari Gold, and his wife is fine with him. I wonder if other women act like Ari Gold's wife? I bet they do. I think I'll let that comment slide."

This would be the start of a whole chain reaction where we, as men, can push that boundary and get away with more and more and more. As long as Mrs. Gold keeps acting calm, and smiles, and looks hot as hell, more women will see that as the norm and change their ways. Gentlemen, time to introduce the ladies/partners to Entourage.

How Entourage and Jersey Shore made me a better person

I have been totally hooked on Entourage for the last month or two, watching all the old episodes via tvshack. Before that I did the same with Jersey Shore.

All this TV got me thinking about how these shows have changed my perception of 1) homies that wear pajamas and sideways ballcaps, and 2) Guidos. Before these shows, I HATED people like Turtle or "The Situation" or Ronnie with a passion, particularly Guidos. Very strange since I love most things Italian (cuisine, Vespas, cars). Off topic a bit, but I find it's the same with the French Canadians. As a group, I generally hate French people but I like the cuisine. That's a different story; back to Guidos and Turtle.

So, after watching Entourage and Jersey Shore, I wish I had a bunch of buddies like Turtle or "The Situation" (scratch Vinnie, he's a little bitch). I find myself being more open to guys like this when I'm at the gym or playing ball. Somehow I started saying 'Bro' and 'yo' all the time, and I like it. I find myself not " hatin' " so much, and just rolling with it. Weird how a TV show could do this to a person.

Anyway, I have a new respect for Guidos, for Guidos chicks, for dudes who wear pajamas and sideways hats. All I need now is a French Entourage instead of one of those awful TV shows where French Canadians just make stupid faces all the time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mechanically Blended, Soft-Serve Ice Cream Confectionary Treat

If you've watched TV over the last two months, you've seen an ad for the Dairy Queen Blizzard. I quite liked the first one, I think mainly because the idea was fresh. I also just figured out that the Dad played his "yelling man" character in past Dairy Queen ads.

I completely forgot about the second one, with the clown. It kind of sucked.

And the third one just stretches the concept out way too thin.

But even though the idea is getting a bit annoying and stale, every time I see one of these ads I have to mentally restrain myself from getting in my car and going to buy a Blizzard. I don't want ice cream. I don't want a Frosty. I want a Blizzard. An Orea Blizzard specifically. Immediately. As large as I possibly can carry.

I think these ads have resulted in my buying exactly one small Blizzard in the last month, but this is only due to my insanely strong willpower. A weaker being would crumble and be up a good 15-20 pounds. Why are these ads so effective? Are they effective, or could you just show a video of a Blizzard for 30 seconds and get the same results? Does anybody else feel this way?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sure it's culture. It's on the internet.

You ask for more posts, this is what you get.

David Harvey is a leading Marxist geographer who writes about economics. He's been lecturing about the crisis since before it started, and counts as one of the genuine canary-in-the-coal-mine figures out there, who saw everything coming years ago. This is one of his recent lectures, but someone decided to animate it. It's been making the academic rounds this week.

Two things here: all university lectures should be animated. Departments should hire full time animators to stand at the front of the room and draw. Second, I think Harvey's the only guy making sense of what's happening out there right now. The transfer of crisis from the financial sphere (2007-09) to a national economies (2010- )is where we're at, now that the banks have been bailed out and are making money again. And it's a big problem that isn't going away. Welcome to the double dip.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Internet is fun!

First up, I kind of like Formula 1. It's kind of a soap opera, that drags out for a few months and features really fast cars. But I think a fan back in the 70's had more to cheer for. Check out this video of Gilles Villeneuve. It's like a Monty Python sketch. Look at him wave at the crowd as he drives around with his rear wheel trailing behind him. Listen to the crazed announcer. It's amazing madness. I love how everybody is really excited that he could have killed them all. That's what is lacking in society today. A sense of danger.

Next, I've been away for a few days, so I think I missed the original posting. But this video about the HTC phone vs. the iPhone makes me cry it's so fantastic. I was more impressed when I thought the guy that created it had animated it himself and just used some kind of text-to-speech software to create the dialogue. That he just typed some shit into a website and this video popped out makes it a bit less impressive. But I'm inspired, nevertheless.

Incidentally. What are you guys up to? Evan, you seemed to be off to a promising start. Now...what? JD has at least started his second posting. He seems to have lost his train of thought, probably due to his cat finding a ball of yarn, but at least he's started something. Tell us a cat story, JD. I know you have many.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The only thing that you need to know about the World Cup

Look at these two photographs. Tell me that you don't want to see a movie about the US World Cup soccer experience starring Shaun Majumder. Not since Sarah Palin/Tina Fey have we had such a match made in heaven. Speaking of which...why isn't there a movie about the Sarah Palin run for the vice presidency starring Tina Fey? And yes, that is my second reference to Sarah Palin on this blog.I'm serious though. All I could see when I watched the USA play was Shaun Majumder running around playing soccer. It was very disconcerting.

Coupon culture

These stories where people eat while spending ridiculously low sums of money due to crazy amounts of coupon usage come up every once in a while on boingboing. Every time I read them I am momentarily fascinated and start thinking that maybe I should start looking at coupons. Please, take a minute and read what this guy did on day one. It's crazy. It's almost unbelievable.

And that is where it all breaks down for me. I think that there is something in my brain that doesn't allow me to believe that this is possible. So I don't bother doing it. I think that all I really need is one coupon success. One coupon site filled with...I don't know...coupons for bacon and coconut milk and I'll finally force myself into doing something about it.

On a similar note, we stopped at Cost Cutters in Blaine last night on our way home. It's about 500 meters from the Truck Crossing Border. It's crazy. We bought...

2 pounds of Tillamook cheddar for 6 bucks.
2 containers of Hagen Daaz Ice Cream for $3.50 each.
2 giant bags of Gorilla Munch, Organic, Gluten Free corn puffs for 5 bucks each (they're 12 up here)
1 bag of sketchy looking beef jerky for $3.50
A bag of dried ancho chilis and a bag of california dried chilis for about a buck each. Huge bags!
A giant bottle of gluten free soy sauce for 7 bucks (12-14 up here)

Now, back to the coupons. I found this site that gives you lists of coupons. And the main problem is that I don't want to buy most of this stuff.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dude's Guide to Cooking Thai Quickly, Yo!

When I first got into cooking it was to pick up chicks. It work(ed). Now, in a town where the Teriyaki Roll is comprised of cold rice with pieces of breaded chicken fingers wrapped inside, my skills have naturally blossomed.

So, Recipe #1 is my evolving basic, quick Thai curry that can be tweaked with almost anything available. This is easy easy easy, and I wish I knew it when I first started cooking. I would have picked up more chicks.

Basic Thai Curry
1 14oz can coconut milk - I like Arroy-D brand, cheaper stuff is too watery.
1 tbsp curry paste (green, red or yellow). Thai Kitchen brand is fine.
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves - shredded (use scissors) - I get these at Chinese grocers.
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock (I use the cubes)

1) Heat big pan or pot (which has a lid) at moderate heat (5).
2) Add 2-3 tbsp of condensed part of coconut milk. Add curry paste, mix together to ensure you have a consistent mixture without any clumps of paste.
3) Add remainder of coconut milk.
4) Add fish sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar. Stir. Add lime leaves and stock. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer on low for ~20-25 minutes, depending upon what you add.

That's it for the basics. It now depends upon what kind of curry you want. I like to stick with two to three vegetables and a meat or tofu, and sometimes I will add caramelized onions as a topping. I serve it with jasmine rice.

Recommendations (add once the curry is simmering):

Green Curry
Paste - green
Veg - green pepper (add at end 5 minutes before serving)
Veg - mushrooms or eggplant
Meat - chicken or pork (add once you have the curry on simmer)

Red Curry
Paste - red
Veg - red pepper (same as above)
Meat - chicken, beef slices.

Paste - red + 1 tbsp peanut butter (crunchy is best)
Veg - red pepper
Veg - potato (cut into thin slices, these will take ~ 25 minutes to cook).
Meat - chicken or beef

An art film about how art films suck

I don't know what kind of press this thing is getting right now. But when I heard someone made a film about graffiti art, and that it was playing in Vancouver while I was there, I had to take a look. The long trailer tells most of the story:

But it doesn't tell the whole story. "Exit" is essentially two movies in one: the first half, as advertised, is a documentary on "street art," or really a making-of documentary about a strange French guy who was making a documentary on street art. But it takes a turn a little past halfway and becomes something different. A film about an art hoax? The film itself as an art hoax? The last half hour takes everything the rest of the film did and throws it into question. We know that graffiti art has always been hostile, at least implicitly, to established genres and forms of art: it's out on the street while they're scratching their chins in galleries. This film shows graffiti art taking on art documentary, an established form in its own right, and turning it inside out. It's amazingly well done.

It also connected a few dots for me: I didn't know, for example, that the Shepherd Fairey of those ubiquitous "OBEY" stencils is the same guy who made the iconic Obama poster for the 2008 elections (and then got sued for it). So the film also works just as a documentary, too.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

James Murphy says old people are okay.

I once tried to talk to James Murphy. I had a VIP pass to the LCD Soundsystem show in New York (because I'm just that important). I had a bit too much to drink though, so it didn't really work out all that well. It was actually really awkward because it was like me and him and maybe four other people. It hurts to get ignored like that. I talked to the singing/keyboarding girl instead. She was really nice. She guided me to another pub down the street where I ended up watching a Suns/Spurs playoff game with a Hasidic Jewish guy. I barely made it back uptown. I'm actually surprised I made it back uptown.

Anyhow...I read his interview in Pitchfork today. This loosely counts as culture. He talks about how old people are pretty much awesome and things created by old people are better than things created by young people (not quite). Old being thirty. This gives me some comfort.

So I just think it takes a couple decades to kind of clear your brain now. So it makes more sense to me that I could find my footing when I was 30 instead of when I was 19. It seems a little more clear. You know, novelists are older now. Things are happening later in people's lives. They're kind of living lives and then creating things about the lives they've lived. Rather than being an artiste at an early age and coming out with a ball of fire. That energy has been co-opted because you haven't immunized yourself yet against media. It's easier to get swept up things then take a couple of years to get over your, like, indie rock hangover. I'm scraping the fucking Quarterstick Records crust out of my eyes when I'm like, 27. You know, "Why am I playing in 5/7? How is that fun?"

Monday, June 21, 2010


Typically, if I walk into a show and see some girl up front with a laptop and a keyboard I go looking for a beer to dull my senses so that I'm slightly less aware of the sonic gut punches that are soon to follow. I'm sure that many a great album has been created this way but it seldom makes for an interesting show.

And that's what was so shocking about Bachelorette. With little more than the above mentioned equipment and a Windows 95 style light show, she killed it. Not in the "wow, I actually kind of danced!" sort of way. More in the "I could have listened to that shit for hours!" kind of way.

Each song would start with a basic drum beat and then she would slowly add layer upon layer over the next few minutes to produce a complex room full of sound. After the show, I "tracked down" the album (My Electric Family) and I've given it a solid amount of play time. The album is good, but it oddly feels like some of the intricacy and spectacle of it is lost in recording. Regardless, it's worth tracking down and keeping your eyes open for the live show.

Being There

I was introduced to Hal Ashby in this Slate article last year. I saw Harold and Maude shortly thereafter and it kind of weirded me out a bit. I put Being There on my list but it was tough to find and Harold and Maude didn't provide for enough motivation. We finally tracked it down at Limelight and I'm still grinning and thinking about it now.

The beauty of this movie is how current it remains. With the emphasis our current society put on "TV experts" and analyzing every word, action and picture to death, this movie becomes even more funny. I can imagine Sara Palin watching this film and wondering why she hadn't seen the cameras. Go watch it.

And then read the Roger Ebert review...only after though. It makes me feel better for liking this movie.

Also, particularly on point today, via boingboing, this article on how stupid people don't understand that they're stupid and the problems that this creates. Can't wait for parts 2-5.