06 August 2009


Hey followers of haphazard bloggery, particularly those based in the Brooklyn area, come check out my band tonight, Thursday, August 6. Yeah, I said it. Mine. The other three bands that are playing are all seriously awesome and check-out worthy, but we, Warmth (or "Warmph" if you're so inclined, which I am), are opening. That means we get this party rolling and, boy, will we ever. Here's the sweet, sweet flier.

I know, I know, I should have posted this a few days ago for fair warning, but we were busy practicing! Practice is important if you want to be good at anything. Except for blogging, of course.

22 July 2009

Eagle Twin —The Unkindness of Crows

Back in March a few friends returned from SXSW with real good things to say about a couple bands they caught down in Austin. One of those bands was Eagle Twin, the new project from former Iceburn "collectivist" Gentry Densley. At the time I was not aware of the connection and, really, there isn't too much to suggest one—aesthetically anyway—between the two. The Iceburn Collective was, for the sake of brevity, a music-major's hardcore band that, over time, morphed into a sprawling avant-garde jazz ensemble. I'm not familiar with their whole catalogue, but what I know never ceases to impress; straight-up punishing, heady, hardcore jazz in the early days to free-form jazz improv later on. Good stuff that I need to get further into, but I digress...

Eagle Twin, on the other hand, is a far cry from the cerebral hardcore-cum-jazz of Densley's former work. Here, with his baritone guitar, he has teamed up with drummer Tyler Smith to form a wondrous hybrid of doom on their debut, The Unkindness of Crows. "A hybrid of 'doom' and what?" You may ask. That's where this duo gets interesting.

As they hail from Salt Lake City, there is a noticeable lack of the "sludginess" found in their peers from more humid climes. Eagle Twin, much like Kyuss or Earth's Hex album, is a strictly desert West affair. Wind howls, blows sand and tumbleweed and carries your scent off to the scavengers who've taken brief refuge from the sun. This is monolithic stone, canyons and salt flats; a harsh, yet majestic landscape that holds a deep echo of banditry, solitude, peace and foreboding. Think of the forgotten country Americana of Hex occasionally interspersed with Kyuss-ian grooves and you'll have a rudimentary idea of Eagle Twin.

While the Kyuss comparisons might be a bit of a stretch, their low-end fire rumble was always Dr. Gonzo tearing through Death Valley. Eagle Twin keeps toward a slower, Earth-like pace, but with more growl and grime—here a mixture of sand and motor oil—seeping through. These towers of doom happen to also be new labelmates, as The Unkindess of Crows is being released by Southern Lord. I highly, highly recommend picking this up and checking them out live, as they'll be touring with Earth (yay!) and Pelican (blehh, boring) later this fall.

YOB—The Great Cessation

Following the breakup of Middian after numerous hassles and setbacks, Mike Scheidt has returned with a reformed YOB and a new album. Though bassist Isamu Sato left for good following 2005's The Unreal Never Lived, drummer Travis Foster is back with new Middian (I'm an idiot) bassist Aaron Reiseberg filling Sato's spot. The result of this collaboration is The Great Cessation, an album that could just as easily been dubbed a Middian record (if not for those sue-happy jackasses in Wisconsin) as much as a YOB record.

Given that I can listen to The Unreal Never Lived repeatedly without ever remotely glimpsing boredom, it would take quite a feat for this trio to top that record with their new release. Still, I'm finding The Great Cessation to be a very enjoyable listen. It's not as demanding a listen, the riffs being generally more straightforward with less overt psychedelia, but there is something to be said for this record's simplicity.

I know a few people whose major complaint with YOB had been their tendency to meander and repeat excessively. There is little of that here; the songs are shorter and more focused, much like those on Middian's sole release, Age Eternal. However, the tempos have slowed again to proper YOB levels, eliciting those strains of dread and feelings of being gradually dragged ever downward.

So far my only issues with this record is the lack of immediately memorable riffage. For all its supposed excesses, The Unreal Never Lived had these in spades and some of the major themes and phrases on The Great Cessation seem more like b-side material from those sessions. They're all still really good, but they don't blow me away. Perhaps with some time and a few more listens I'll find myself humming these at work or something, but at the moment it's still too new.

Despite any minor complaints that I have at the moment, I like the album and consider it a continuation of good form. It's not perfect, but I wouldn't have expected such right off the bat. If these guys gel—which, given their somewhat shared histories shouldn't take long (again, dumb by above implication)—a follow-up to this record could be the cat's tits. Regardless, I'm gonna keep my eye out for any tours because I've never seen YOB live and I wouldn't consider catching these songs any sort of disappointment. This may not end up being one of the top records of the year, but I highly recommend picking it up because it could be a rather impressive grower, if not an immediate "whoa!"

14 July 2009

Joyeux 14-Juillet!

Do something French, like burn a prison to the ground or dress up and clean stuff in a sexy way, like these darlings!

13 July 2009

Fun With Sports Headlines

Normally someone else points these things out to me. Not today, no, I got this one all on my own:

Ronaldinho promises to fill Milan's Kaka gap

Haha, that's funny.

09 July 2009

Bust Out Yr Tape Decks, The Dead Hand Is Here

Good ol' boy and local low-end superstar Tony Gedrich (he of STATS, Extra Life & Archaeopteryx notoriety) has a new cassette tape label called Damage Rituals. Forget vinyl as a lasting medium, you can put these mothers in your pocket (unless you're a giant fat person in which case you'll have to eat a few of those Snickers first) and have a legit excuse to use the forlorn and jilted ghetto blaster that's sitting in your closet.

Mr. Gedrich teamed up with John Delzoppo of Cleveland's Clan of the Cave Bear and put together Dead Hand: Human Machines: a righteous mix of 27 wacked out, awesome bands for your listening nightmares. Some of these bands I knew already but now there are a bunch more I'm going to have to check out because ALL of these tracks are awesome. That's right, there isn't a stinker among them. I'm not going to list all the bands and link to them—everyone is listed on the Damage Rituals myspace page—but among the greats here are VAZ, Yukon, Animal, Zs, Child Abuse and Drunkdriver.

If you're looking for mp3s or any shit like that you're outta luck. This is all magnetic tape lovingly contained in beautiful plastic: material of the future! It sounds like a tape, plays like a tape and if you treat it badly, it will unspool all over your significant other's leg (if you have one, which I highly doubt). Go dig $6.50 out of your digital couch before Billy Mays screams at you from the great beyond and paypal that shit to Tony & John, you will not be disappointed.

02 July 2009

Incredible Fireworks Crotch Fail

Oh man, this is great, just in time for the holiday!

via the consistently incredible Sportress of Blogitude [SoB]

01 July 2009

Sixty Symbols (of Physics & Astronomy)

Tonight I got one of the best assignments I've so far received writing for Tilzy.tv (My review is now up here); I got turned onto Sixty Symbols. A project by Brady Haran, filmmaker-in-residence at Nottingham Science City, Sixty Symbols is a series of short primers that explain the significance of some of the most important concepts in physics and astronomy. Let me tell you it's absolutely fascinating and completely brilliant. At the moment I've only had the time to watch a few of these (and there are still more being produced), but I'll be spending an inordinate amount of my upcoming free time checking the rest out.

To get a taste watch this one one Jupiter:

29 June 2009

Margaret Atwood - Year of the Flood

Have you read Oryx & Crake yet? Well you have until September 22 to pull your head out of your ass and digest it. And while you're at it start taking survival courses because, if civilization continues to head in its current direction, we'll all be needing them. Atwood's near future feels a lot like the one whose soundtrack was written by GodspeedYou!BlackEmperor.

The coasts have drowned, deserts have expanded, urban zones have devolved into ghettoized brownfields and the upper echelons of society dwell in fear behind the heavily-surveiled walls of scattered corporate compounds. Governments are no longer relevant, if they even exist. Here, in the compounds, the brains work towards creating a plasticized, genetically-altered "utopia". To anyone who has read Oryx & Crake this landscape and the horror of the book's finale
is all too familiar.

While Jimmy and Glenn (of O&C notoriety) play out their destinies in the compounds, out in the "pleeblands"—the decimated, near-anarchic urban wastes—the tales within the Year of the Flood are being fleshed out. They reveal, over the course of twenty-five years, the first-person accounts of several people affiliated to various degrees with God's Gardeners, a religious sect whose leader, Adam One, has perfected a sort of squatter-punk synthesis of deep ecology and gnostic christianity. The gardeners are trying to preserve an unadulterated human relationship with nature and its mysteries, however misguided it may at first appear, though they may be the last hope when the technological world collapses.

Margaret Atwood, being Margaret Atwood, is going to make you think and at the same time make you incredibly uncomfortable with your own beliefs. Think religion is a sham and a waste of human energy? Prepare to loathe Adam One for his blatant hippie charlatanism whilst agreeing with some of the more radical tenets of the gardeners and the revelations of their theology. As an atheist who makes solid attempts to live in an ecologically-sound manner, this all gave me fits.

Fits are all well and good, but what about the causes of this near-future societal and natural collapse? Humans are clearly to blame, but not necessarily for the reasons so many would argue presently. Sure, warnings about climate change went unheeded as did those of overreliance on technological innovation to solve human problems. The main culprit of our problems has been an inexhaustible hubris; that we think we can outsmart and manipulate nature as we study its ways. There is clearly value in learning, studying and admiring nature and its processes, but it's when we begin to think we can control for an outcome we desire that the hydra appears.

Just as today too many people have an uncomfortable—if not downright hostile—attitude towards the presence of chaos in nature, Atwood's future of the "waterless flood" (which is better understood if you're already familiar with Oryx & Crake) is a security nightmare on account of this obsessive-compulsive disorder, much like if the first world suddenly plunged into the third. Frankly, the scenarios outlined here don't seem that far-fetched because there's no reason why it won't happen. Do-gooder organizations are constantly trying to plan for this type of future, but this future cannot be planned for and that is THE problem to which humanity has to acclimitize.

The easiest thing to do, of which I'm certainly guilty, is to laugh and shrug off the corny pseudo-religio-environmental spiritualists because most of their philosophies are half-baked and specious. However, as is clear with God's Gardeners there is merit in such philosophies (hence a major reason why religions are still around) because they allow people to act even when they don't fully understand why they're acting. If this makes sense then it should be clear why I was having fits and yet loving this book at the same time.

I'm not sure the last time I felt so completely intellectually challenged by a book that, simultaneously, so fully entertained me. There is constant action—often with disgustingly violent outcomes—and the ending never gives itself away, suspense building until the finale. This "review" does so little justice to a book that I hope receives major plaudits when it hits shelves. We were lucky enough to get an advance copy at work and I took my time reading it because I didn't really want it to end. I just read Oryx & Crake a few months ago and that blew me away. Now this arrives as a sort of companion volume. I'm not sure how they're going to market it, but it stands alone as a novel and there doesn't seem to be any indication that it will be marketed in connection with O&C.

So mark your calendars for September 22. I have to stop rambling because this will just get more and more disjointed if I continue. Margaret Atwood, you are an absolute genius. The type of genius that crushes my spirit by writing the best goddamn book (fiction or poetry) possible that, yet, inspires me to wrack my brain for something 1/10 as worthwhile and hope it means something to someone. Bravo. Again.

17 June 2009

Utter Negligence...And 2 Awesome Shows

Please forgive me, for though I did see a modern dance performance last night—putting me in the running for "Most Cultured Knuckledragger" on this here internet (Though, sadly, not on that other internet.)—I've otherwise been a lazy and a boring person. However, I'm pleased to report two upcoming shows that are probably gonna rock like that ancient Yucutan metor that killed everything. Go to them.

Tonight, June 17
Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow St.
8:00 pm

Animal — Do they write that? Is that improv? Are you...you're dancing again. Well I'll be...
Upsilon Acrux — groovin' spastic LA robotparty rock'n'roll
Multitudes — I don't know anything about these guys, but I'm intrigued.

(i think that's the correct order, with Animal headlining.)

Tomorrow, June 18
Death By Audio, 49 S.2nd St Williamsburg (btw Kent & Wythe)
8:00 pm
$ ?cheap, though

STATS — one of my personal favorites, they've got a new ep out.
Upsilon Acrux — see above. go see them twice, it'll be worth it.
Clan of the Cave Bear — i wish this would have been the soundtrack to that awful old movie

(again, pretty sure STATS is headlining this one)

So now you have no excuse to stay indoors; even I am going outside. And then back inside for rad music. Oooh, this is exciting! You know what else is exciting? Good modern dance. Yeah, and I'm not just saying that because I have a vested personal interest in the matter. I'm actually looking forward to going to another one. I'll leave it at that lest some fanatic assail me for shattering his/her illusions of my crapulent twit-dom.

30 May 2009

STATS - Marooned

Lately I've been waiting for that awesome big something to come along, smack the last of the awful sickness I've had out of my face (I was down for the count with who-knows-what for a week) and, by extension, give me something actually sick to write about. Thursday comes along and in my emailbox appears a note from the STATS dudes offering up their latest e.p., Marooned.

Not so many weekends ago, while hanging out with bassist Tony Gedrich (who also plays in Extra Life, worth checking out), Tony busted out the unmastered recordings. A bunch of us rocked out to them and probably drooled a little more than Tony was expecting, so I had baseline expectation of what I was gonna hear. Also, STATS has been playing this stuff for their past few live shows, but one can never quite be sure how it's all going to transition from the live set to the recorded tapes.

Well I can now unequivocally state that this three-song, 19 minute e.p. is bloody-nose inducing. They really cranked the low-end here for maximum womp. There's no way to say this without sounding like a total tool, but STATS is fucking groovy. Groovy math. You wanna get a bunch of epileptics with Tourettes to boogie? This is the perfect band for that. Give them earplugs, too, because it's necessary.

Big dumb smiling, mouth-breathing, gut-evisceratin' jazz tunes. These guys are friends of mine and perhaps the nicest guys around and always a hoot to play shows with; I've called them the most underrated band in Brooklyn and I stand by that. STATS creates the most thouroughly thought out goofball music that's not actually goofy or stupid, but just what awesome rock 'n' roll music should be. For thinkin' folks. Mischievously dark and, yet, positive. It's gonna give your kids their first cigarette, show 'em dirty magazines and help with homework just to keep on your good side. Because they look like good kids and yours shouldn't be hanging around with those dirty long hairs down the street with the illegal firecrackers.

Not murderers or rapists!

So now that I've said all this crap, how do you get your hands on Marooned? At the moment they have it available for free download, all you have to do is email them at [statsbrooklyn at gmail.com] and they'll send you the link. Then go donate some money to them for their efforts (paypal info will be in the email) because they put way too much effort into making these awesome songs extra awesome. To get a feel for what this is all about visit their myspace where they've posted the track "Yo King". I dare you to try and get it out of your head. I also dare you to figure out how they piece their songs together because, frankly, I find the prospect of an actual answer too daunting and frigtening to ask them.

27 May 2009

These Dirk Nowitzki Photos Were Rather Prescient After All

My friend Stefan has long had a major mancrush on Dirk Nowitzki and a few years ago was lucky enough to meet the big German personally. Stefan's family has deep ties with the local Ukrainian community and during the summers they have lots of interesting cultural events out in various rural spots outside the city. One of these events is a sort of "Tranny Prom" that, while unfamiliar to most Americans, remains a cherished—and rather progressive!—part of Ukrainian culture.
When Stefan asked Dirk if he would join him for the festivities he, apparently (and this is just Stefan's word), was delighted. These kind of events are pretty big in Germany, too, and not at all something he'd been able to do much since coming to the states. Stefan's parents got some photos, of course, and though I'm sure he didn't want all his friends to see them, his sister posted some on her Facebook profile.
What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Well, today ESPN.com featured this headline that, contextually, seemed to make no sense:
Report: Tests show Nowitzki woman pregnant
"Whoa, who does the editing over there, eh?" Yeah, seems silly! However, for the few of us in the know, this is hardly a surprising revelation and unfortunately for Stefan, he seems to have blown his chance at being the father of a future "gigantic great white basketball hope".

20 May 2009

Kids In The Hall - Potato Salad

I've been watching the NHL Playoffs on some feed from Canada. 1) I love that the commentators are so polite with one another; they're very agreeable (one of them is even named "Gord"!). 2) Listening to them and then seeing the Canadian commercials has made me nostalgic for my formative years:

13 May 2009

Powell To The People!

Yesterday I had the good—and random—fortune of meeting actor Keith Powell when he came into my store looking for an Edward Albee play (I forget which one now). You may recognize him from 30 Rock and/or Law & Order and/or some commercials, but I recognized him because I wrote the review of his hilarious web series Keith Powell Directs A Play for my Tilzy.tv gig.

Normally I don't try to chat up the celebrities that come into the bookstore, but since I had a "personal connection" I felt it was a no-brainer. He seemed genuinely enthused that I had liked his little pet project (and probably also that I recognized him) and told me that he's waiting to hear back about financing for a possible second season of KPDAP. It was one of those "Hey, people can be really cool!" moments that kinda made my day. In return I thought I'd try to spread the word about Mr. Powell's talents, so go check out his website, www.PowelltothePeople.net, where you can find a bunch of shorts he's done. In the meantime, get started on KPDAP right here with the first episode:

12 May 2009

I'm An INTRONAUT Fanboy!

This weekend I became calendrically older and, thus, had to drink excessively, which I'm using as my excuse for not posting. But the real reason for my lack of anything lately has mostly been because I've been listening to the same 20 songs over and over again. (I also read Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake which was incredible, but as I have the galley of her fall release, Year of the Flood on the way, a future post will be dedicated exclusively to that...).

For some folk listening to the same fists-full of songs is commonplace. Not for yours truly, as I, to keep from "overdoing it", am chronically compulsed to listen to something different (not necessarily new) every couple days. The last two months have been completely different, however, as I have listened to at least 1 Intronaut song per day. I've never done this before, as far as I can recall, even when I had my first musical crush on Dinosaur Jr when I was 13.

I first saw Intronaut in 2006 when they played Rocky's (or Rockstar or "the mermaid bar" or whatever name of the week it had at the time) here in Brooklyn with Mouth of the Architect and a few other bands. For whatever reason I kinda forgot about them until late last summer, just about the time Prehistoricisms came out. Of course, I was unaware and didn't hear that album until January, but by that time had completely digested the Null and Void eps and chewed the cud several times over.

This past weekend, for my birthday, they came through NYC opening for Mastodon alongside Kylesa, though I wasn't there because Mastodon's new album is garbage and a few of us stubbornly refused to get tickets until it was too late. So I missed out on seeing them. Anyway, hopefully they'll be back around this way and I can fully appreciate their extraordinary aurallingus skills live. Maybe someone will make a new music video for one of their songs, say..."The Cavernous Den of Shame". That song is awesome. Here's one for "Australopithecus" done by Sera Timms. It would appear she took filmmaking lessons from Adam Jones (of Tool, not "Pacman" Jones).

07 May 2009

Bernie "Pretty" Purdie - 16th note shuffle

Thanks to Chris for this; it'll put a little air in yr high-hat...

03 May 2009

Rep. Alcee Hastings Seems Like A Cool Guy

This is awesome. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fl.) reads a bunch of...well, just watch, it's great.

I highly recommend watching the other video in the original post, too. [kissingsuzykolber]

02 May 2009

Thoughts to Nurse On: Torche & Harvey Milk

Now that I have secured future passage to the July 26 Torche/Harvey Milk show at MHoW, feel free to go secure your own. Last time I saw Torche was about 3 years ago at the now-defunct Siné. I recall being very impressed, but there was little to indicate at the time of what they would soon be capable. This is exciting, particularly since I'll be missing Intronaut and Kylesa next weekend. I think I've listened to at least one Intronaut song every day for the past month or so. They're gooooood.

(Also, while I'm here, apologies for the lack of posts. Little of public interest has happened to me lately.)

20 April 2009

Dave Cullen - Columbine

For those who are not aware, today is—besides International Weed Smoking Day and Hitler's Birthday—the 10th anniversary of the "incident" at Columbine High School. It's an odd trifecta of coinciding anniversaries and, added to the gloomy weather here, unhelpful in distilling any sort of positive vibes from the day. This particular Columbine anniversary also means that it's been ten years since I graduated high school, as I was also a senior when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold attempted to "out-mayhem" Tim McVeigh's demolition of Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal Building.

What? Did you just ask me to define "out-mayhem"? Why didn't I just call it a "school shooting" like so many people have done for the past ten years? Well, I'll leave the nuts and bolts of this to journalist Dave Cullen, whose new, exhaustively researched book, Columbine explains nearly everything you could possibly want to know about this seminal closing event of 20th century America. I say "nearly everything" because there are some things nobody will ever know about this, but Mr. Cullen seems to know all the rest.

Having come of age during a period of media-induced fear and hype over school shootings I'm sure I'm not alone in being a bit morbidly fascinated with them. Combine that with my sociology background and picking up this book was a no-brainer. I had done some minor researching into Columbine a year or so ago and it was Cullen's original stories for Slate that initially caught my attention (though I didn't make the connection when I first picked up the book) and had me thinking differently about the whole ordeal. Columbine wasn't a school shooting perpetrated by some disaffected loners; this was a botched massacre whose plan was hatched by one popular, intelligent—though psychopathic—kid with an intense hatred of mankind and his suicidally unstable friend.

The evidence for this is now overwhelming, but it wasn't easy unearthing it. Though Cullen was there from the beginning, he outlines how the county sheriff mangled the investigation and did a similarly poor job trying to cover up that fact. Many myths
surrounding the shootings that are still taken as gospel are exposed to extreme scrutiny and none of them survive. The mass media—a few local papers excepted—did an incredibly poor job of separating facts from a good storyline and it was those early mistakes faulty judgment that spiraled chaotically into the school shooting narrative familiar today.

Cullen's book is valuable not only as a history of the actual event and a record of all the threads that became knotted this day ten years ago, but also as social reading of mass media and information dissemination. The narrative took on a life of its own that defied clearly contrary evidence and fed back into the ongoing tale of sterile, fearful suburbia. Utilizing the personal effects of the two killers, Cullen revealed the true nature of Eric and Dylan, the psychopath and the seeker who practically dared the folks around them to discover their heinous plot. The two who, because of the faulty profiling of the "school-shooter type", were able to plan their attack because, frankly, most people never suspected them as the loners ready to snap (one mother, whose warnings were ignored, excepted).

Columbine is one of the best non-fiction works I've read in a while and there's little doubt that Cullen poured all his energy into making it a work of art. His portraits of all the involved parties, from the parents to administrators to teachers to fellow students to law enforcement, are sympathetic and caustic in all the right proportion. And while there are clearly parties that are more at fault than others, Cullen never sinks to any immature blame games. The descriptions of psychopathy are engrossingly chilling and the pain of all the affected families and individuals bites the reader no matter how much you try and disengage. A commendable achievement in journalism and a noteworthy work of social history.

19 April 2009

Newcastle United FC - Silver Linings For the Black & White

Earlier today my beloved Newcastle United suffered a 1-0 loss to Spurs that will almost surely see them prepping for life outside the Premiership. For the past few weeks I had been holding out hope that points at Stoke and Spurs would get them out of the red zone, but after picking up just one point in these two crucial games, it's almost certain the Toon are going down.

It's tough to accept such an outcome, but the reality is that the team and organization are a shambles. For too long the club have clutched delusions that they are a "big club" who should be constantly challenging for European places. Refusal to rebuild and owners more interested in milking a religiously loyal fanbase have contributed to the current situation. In fact, Premier League survival could very well be more damaging to the club on the whole than relegation.

Why have I come to this conclusion? First of all, once the emotions cooled and supporters accepted their new position, they (we) could finally embrace that Newcastle United is not the big club so many think it is. We haven't won anything in 40 years and, despite the large fanbase and high-capacity stadium, don't pull much weight or much respect with casual fans. Players with high wage bills end up at St. James' because other, smarter clubs refuse to pay for overpriced vets in the twilight of their careers. Relegation would help shed a lot of this dead weight and make room for the lot of young academy kids who deserve more first team experience.

Of course the club would lose some key performers if they went down, but really, would we miss most of them? The only people who really impressed me this year were Bassong, Gutierrez, Guthrie and Carroll. The latter three would do well to stick around, though it's unclear if they would, while Bassong would almost definitely end up at Arsenal. (As an aside, I think a central partnership of Kolo Touré and Seb Bassong could be a massive step forward for Arsenal and I'd like to see that if Newcastle do go down.) Steven Taylor had a decent season and may stick around for a season just to fight for his home side and get them back to the Prem. Relegation would be a good test to see who sticks with the side and who wants to play mercenary and ship out.

Additionally, the challenge of the League Championship is one that would provide valuable managerial experience for Alan Shearer if he does, in fact, stick around. As opposed to some of the lofty, unreachable goals that the club has set for itself, winning the Championship (or at least securing promotion) is a more than reasonable goal for the club.

As a loyal supporter of the club it most definitely stings to think about relegation. That's for dysfunctional rivals like Mackems or the Smoggies. But that's where we Toon fans find ourselves and we should keep a positive attitude about the positives that relegation could bring. The past few seasons have been a continuous series of failures and a clean slate for some true rebuilding could be the boon this club needs.

15 April 2009

Hammer, Zubaz & Legititude!

Yeah, Yeah, it's been waaaaay to long between posts here, but I've been busy and also (pat on back forthcoming) I got into the New School's creative writing program. Hooray for me! That doesn't justify the non-posting, but I was both excited and not thinking of here.

Anyway, per my usual morning routine I checked out Deadspin this morning to find this post on Hammer's "2 Legit 2 Quit" video. InGameNow put together the lineup of then-stars featured in the video to see how "legit" Hammer's picks were back in 1991. Looks like Hammer was a better judge of ability than of finances (or religious philosophies). As the proud owner of an authentic MC Hammer tshirt (that I wear as regularly as it's washed, which is often) and former youthful owner of several pairs of Zubaz brand pantaloons (apparently they still make these...frightening!), my interest was immediately piqued and my blogmuse (bluse?) beckoned.

What do we find here? Mostly Bay Area athletes and a couple random folks like "Dush" Clemens, Neon Deion and both the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders. Hammer also tossed a bone to us white dudes with the Chris Mullin cameo, an awesome pick since I used to rock Mullin's Golden State #17 jersey through most of middle school (along with various flannels that I still possess).

Watch the vid and go check out the Legitness rankings at InGameNow.

31 March 2009

New Converge Track

In my roundup of the Converge/Genghis Tron show from last Friday I mentioned that Converge played two new tracks from their upcoming album. Turns out Metal Injection filmed the set and will be posting it in installments, which is pretty rad. Here's one of them, head over there to check out the rest of the set as they get it up (tee hee)...

30 March 2009

I Found the "[pre]" Tag

Man, sometimes I can be such a pleb. Aside from the fact that my poetry is probably mediocre at best, I stopped posting my work because I was getting frustrated trying to format lines and spaces in Blogger. A few months back when this problem started to become a headache, I searched around but only found other poets' and editors' laments about the obstacles to properly formatting poetry online. Perhaps most of those complaints were old because, sure enough, today I discovered there's an html tag, [pre], that retains preformatted material. Not sure how I missed it all the times I spent looking for tags that would help me format poetry, but it definitely exists and is definitely helpful.

So as I continue to await word on whether or not I get into a master's program in the fall, I've resumed posting my better* work over at Quietly Take To The Ship.

*—I may be a curmudgeon, but I'm no Philip Larkin

28 March 2009

Converge, Genghis Tron @ Europa, 3/27/09

Last night, as most nights at this Polish dance club-cum-hardcore venue, was an odd one. Six bands on a lineup that featured three who hold their own as headliners. According to the bill there were to be three bands (Ceremony, Rise & Fall, Pulling Teeth) before even Genghis Tron took to the stage. Coliseum was to follow GT and then Converge would top it all off.

A rather large cohort of us pregamed while the openers did their thing. None of us had heard of any of them (not that that means much), but we figured with limited energy to use, we'd rather spend it all on the big fellas. We got word that GT was playing at 11, so we headed over just before that. When we arrived some medicore hardcore-ish band was playing and nobody could tell us who they were (which should say something I think).

Tron set up their lights and keyboards then proceeded to rock. I went to college with these guys and even played with Hamilton (in a band called Storm the Bastille, hence the name of this blog). Though I supported these guys early on, I wasn't a huge fan of their early material and it really took me until last year's Board Up the House to enjoy their work. That album is pretty brilliant and now I'm getting more into Dead Mountain Mouth though I think their latest is a much more coherent, enjoyable listen. It's still challenging and disparate, but the elements all congeal perfectly whereas the earlier stuff was a bit jagged and awkward.

Anyway, I'm super stoked that GT have done so well for themselves and made a record that a lot of folks pegged for best of '08. They are awesome live and if anyone is on the fence about them, take a listen to Board Up the House. Oh, and they threw in a Big Black cover for good measure. I can't remember the title, though, because I'm lazy and stupid. But it was awesome.

When GT's set was done, they shocked the whole lot of us by announcing that the mighty Converge was on next. What happened to Coliseum? The shitty band we entered to, though they were using Coliseum's equipment, was emphatically not Coliseum. This was a huge letdown, as a bunch of us really wanted to see them. The last time I tried to catch them—at the old NorthSix—I got booted for immaturely bodyslamming a guy who kicked me in the back during the set. I don't really engage in pit antics, especially now, so I figured I'd last the whole bout this time. So it sucked that we missed them. The end.

Converge came on and took maybe three breaths between songs their whole set. It was one into the next which made for a pummeling, energy-filled performance. I've been lucky enough to have seen these guys for quite a few years now, but this was one of their best shows. The pit wasn't overwhelming to the point of ruinous, so that was a major plus, but they also pulled out the usual crowd faves like "The Saddest Day", "Locust Reign" (a particular favorite of mine), a couple from Jane Doe ("Concubine", "The Broken Vow"), a few from You Fail Me ("Last Light", "Eagles Become Vultures", and a bunch of new ones from No Heroes ("Heartache", "No Heroes"). I know I'm forgetting a couple at this point, but they also managed to squeeze in two brand new as-yet-untitled songs from the album they'll be recording in May. Both were fucking rippers, so there's no sign of letup from these guys. As long as Jacob refrains from singing on the upcoming record it should be all gravy.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It would be remiss of me to mention the origins of this blog and not post the actual song. Sure, I'm totally exposing Hamilton's pre-GT life (sorry dude), but I can also lay my claim to being GT's 4th member, as I'm 87% positive that my (lack of) drum skillz led directly to Ham's use of programmed drums. (No, I no longer play drums, as a few years ago I returned to the guitar, which I am much, much better at.) If anyone likes this Storm the Bastille (not to be confused with the PA screamo band) track, get in touch.

Storm the Bastille - "Spaceship Bastille"

23 March 2009

The Murder

Hola amigos, just stoppin' in to let you know Chad, Matt & Rob have a new interactive adventure up that you should go check out. I won on the first try!

These guys are awesome. If you haven't watched any of their videos, go do that now because I know you're just procrastinating anyway.

18 March 2009

Kylesa - Static Tensions

Man, I've missed seeing Kylesa the past couple times they've come through town and now I'm feeling kinda silly about being lazy like that. In some fashion or another I seem to have missed every advance review of their latest, Static Tensions, that just came out yesterday. I knew it was coming, but I just didn't read anything about it. That's probably for the best anyhow, since my ignorance left me with no biases going into this listen.

Gotta say I'm quite pleased. They still have the awesome sludge/psychedelic/hardcore thing going on, but they up the ante a bit by throwing in some more metal riffs into the mix. I've always enjoyed Kylesa's vocals; Phil's and Corey's gruff, tuneful deliveries contrast beautifully with Laura's haunting, angel-of-doom-in-a-nightmare singing. I also love that Laura just plain piledrives her own growls in there for good measure just to revel in the fact that she can sing and scream in equal measure. I could be mistaken but I think she has more parts on this new one than I remember, though I'm most likely wrong. Anyway, I really dig it.

When I first heard that they'd be opening—alongside Intronaut, whose latest, Prehistoricisms is rapidly growing on me—for Mastodon I was a bit taken aback. There's the whole heavy Georgia thing they share, but Kylesa has always been more "hardcore" in my mind than "metal" (not that they're exclusive). This album changes that for me, as it's a much more "metal"-ish release and snuggles them nicely in that ambiguous zone between labels that's often the signifier for an original, noteworthy act. Not sure why they have two drummers, still, as I couldn't notice any points where it's actually necessary (no Dale & Coady f'n around anywhere to be heard) and, thus, is superfluous. But the drumming is solid, if unspectacular and provides a foundation for the other three members to experiment a little more (perhaps this aspect is why they're still "hardcore" in my head).

Definitely worth picking up, in my opinion, and this may have pushed me back into the "yeah, I'll hit up the Mastodon show after all" camp. Well done and now I know what I'll be listening to on my way to work tomorrow.

17 March 2009

The Most Fun I've Had In Years

March Madness is upon us, which also signals the time of year when many a whimsical "final four" type bracket appears to help us keep sanity at work. I wish I had know of this before, but Name of the Year is hosting its second annual "Name of the Year" Tournament. Throughout 2008 people sent in their favorite goofy (and real!!!) names as candidates for this award. Filling out one of these brackets is far, far, far more difficult than doing an NCAA bracket. It's also way funnier.

Print out brackets and get your friends together for a tournament that really matters: the Best Name of the Year.

14 March 2009

Addendum to Crack the Skye

This afternoon, in between working on some posts for Tilzy.tv, I've been taking in another listen to Mastodon's latest to see what kind of effect it has on me during non-drunken weekend hours. It's not as terrible as I originally thought, and "Divinations" (the song with the awesome video) is pretty rad, but overall this is an album of filler material.

While chatting right after the first listen, I made the comparison of Mastodon to Tool, with the caveat that Mastodon was able to squeeze in one more awesome album before releasing a steaming pile of overproduced radio bollocks. I absolutely hate everything Tool released after Ænima and although I'm enjoying Crack the Skye more than Lateralus (10,000 Days was just an abomination in my book), that isn't saying much.

As I said in my initial post a lot of the vocals on here are just too saccharine and radio-safe (though I'm typing to Scott Kelly rocking on the title track and this part I do like, until the background comes in and ruins it). One thing that's apparent is that these guys are trying new things and experimenting. While that's great and ultimately necessary, I'm wondering why nobody told them that they don't have the chops to sing, nor does the vocal style they've appropriated fit with the rest of their sound.

The most egregious examples of all my issues with this album can be found in the fourth track, "The Czar". This track is little more than consumer pabulum and makes me question a lot of the decision-making of everyone involved in its production (kinda like the film Showgirls). Every track on the album (the final track, "The Last Baron", was not on any pre-release copies, so I've yet to hear it) has at least a few parts that rip, only to be pulled back down by what is presumably an experiment gone awry, but after a decent intro "The Czar" afterward fails in almost every respect.

After Blood Mountain came out it was pretty clear that Mastodon had crossed a bridge. No longer were they going to be beasts of sludgy, hardcore-influenced prog metal, but that was fine. A maturation process occured for them as a band and, though it took me a couple listens to really get into parts of that album, I really came to love it. I don't get that vibe from this latest effort at all. With a few more listens I'll come to accept it and enjoy parts of it, but overall I'm just not happy with the results. I was expecting something different, but they took some different turns than I would have.

In an email about this to my boy Wayne over at Hooks So Big I mentioned that the vocals weren't my biggest problem, but after this listen, I think they actually are. "The Czar" sucks and all, but the title track and the opener, "Oblivion" could have been fucking killer ripping tracks that were undone by shitty vocals (Scott Kelly excluded). I concluded that email to Wayne by saying this:
I NEED THEM TO ROCK ME LIKE AN AFGHAN ADULTERER not rock me to sleep. you know what album has great clean(er/ish) vocals, great melodies and harmonies and also rocks the fuck out? Enslaved's Vertebrae. i can't stop listening to that motherfucker and it keeps getting better. that's what i was hoping from mastodon and they didn't really deliver.
So I guess these are my final thoughts on the matter for a little while. As a topic of conversation this album has certainly been on many, many people's lips, which is a good thing. Intelligent disscussion about music is always a good thing, some measure of consolation here at least. I'm still torn on whether or not I want to see this performed live, but as far as I know the shows are sold out or anything, keeping my window of opportunity open lest I decide to take the leap through.

Anyway, time to put on some Morbid Angel and get back to writing for work.

11 March 2009

Mastodon - Crack the Skye

It's everybody's least favorite phrase to hear, but it must be uttered; "I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed."

The other night—last Friday, to be precise—Nick, Sam and I were engaging in our usual bout of drinking post-BSG. At approximately 4AM, sufficiently greened and oated, we put on a copy of Crack the Skye that Nick had gotten (actual album drops 3/24). Here are the unedited notes that I jotted down about 6/7ths of the way through the album:

it kinda blows. i'm disappointed
i r can make and will make a better
album than this.
there is no ROCK! you left
it all out and overthought.
some passes, phrases, riffs
work, but not for length

right now i'm still kinda freaked out
because these are the first
Mastodon songs I've ever
No Good. Ugh.
You heard that correctly, I did not like it. Sure, I saw the (awesome) video for "Divinations" and that song is pretty good, but let's all admit it would have been one of the weaker tracks on Blood Mountain. As it turns out that is the best song on the album by a distance.

I'm not at all sure what the fellas were thinking, perhaps they were thinking too much. Nick's theory was that they all got carried away with people discussing all the singing on Blood Mountain and went that direction. While the singing was a little much (almost, but not quite as bad as on Cynic's new record Traced In Air, which is instrumentally great and vocally horrendous), I'm most disappointed in Brann. His rhythms are far too straightforward here, like he decided to dumb himself down so that people could groove on the guitars or something. Well, the guitars don't really groove and a lot of the passes are unremarkable and boring; the rhythms are tweaked just as a cover-up attempt at making a bad part more interesting.

For the past few days I've avoided posting anything regarding the album because I needed to do a bit of grieving. Now, I've accepted the fact that Mastodon have made a bad album, it was probably just a matter of time. If they're as good as we've all thought and seen, they'll follow this up with something spectacular. Unfortunately, this spark of hope does nothing to help me resolve my quandary over whether to attend their upcoming Brooklyn show in May. It's the day after my birthday and Kylesa (whose new album I've yet to hear) and Intronaut (whose latest, Prehistoricisms is pretty good, but a bit too wanky and disjointed) will be opening. I'd really love to see them. The major question is if I want to listen to Crack the Skye in its entirety and upon this listen, I'd rather not...

04 March 2009

2009 Is Going To Be A Kickass Music Year

If early signs are any indication of how the whole year may transpire, 2009 could turn out to be an amazing year for heavy music. I just caught Witch last week and, though it wasn't as great a performance as I would have hoped, it was a good warm up. Perhaps the economic climate is such that bands have no choice but to hit the road (which is paradoxical, since fans presumably have less money to spend at them), nevertheless they're out and they're out en masse.

I didn't get to Atlanta's Scion Rock Fest, but by all accounts it was pretty awesome. That event alone should portend good things for all things heavy, at least in the short term. If corporations are going to sponsor entertainment events, I'd much rather have them fund an event featuring the top tier of heavy music than, say, some sporting event (though what happened to Nachtmystium was stupid and unfortunate).

Anyway, here are some of the things to look forward to this year:

* Melvins silver anniversary shows
* Mastodon: new album, Crack the Skye (release March 24)
and tour with Neurosis
* Converge: tour w/Coliseum & Genghis Tron. (And recording in May, from what I hear)
* Kylesa & Intronaut will be opening for The Haunted & Nachtmystium and then switching gears to open for the Mastodon/Neurosis tour!

All this will be happening between now and the end of May. The Mastodon/Neurosis/Kylesa/Intronaut shows here in NYC/BK will be an incredible birthday gift for yours truly and I'm psyched to see Converge and Genghis Tron at the end of this month. Maybe the second half of the year will suck taint, but if this first half proves as incredible as it looks on paper, then it'll take something catastrophic to render the whole year even mediocre.

Looks like I was completely wrong about the Neurosis thing. My mistake, I guess I misread the report from Scion.

27 February 2009

Witch @ MHoW (2/25/09)

So Wednesday night a group of us lads had put a few back and headed over to the Venue-Formerly-Known-As-Northsix. That old spot had it's charms, especially downstairs with the fishtank, though I can't think of anyone that considered it a "great" spot for a show. The Bowery-run establishment that has replaced it, however, has been a mixed bag and lacking any charm of its own fails to raise the bar.

Sure, it's the biggest venue in the neighborhood and draws great lineups (pretty much anything that N6 would have had still comes here), but I haven't noticed an improvement in sound and there's definitely a regression in experience. Just because the old steel support beams are gone and the place has been turned into a mini-Bowery doesn't mean all our minds have been erased. It's really a further example of the creeping homogenization of culture (in the city, across the country, etc. blah blah blah).

I didn't exactly mean to come on here and complain about the venue, but as I think back on Wednesday's show, it really was rather lacklustre. The band shouldn't be to blame, in fact they seemed a little off themselves. Looking around the floor, there were definitely fans heartily enjoying the set, but there also seemed an inordinate number of people who appeared to there just to be there.

For Witch? Have they garnered that type of casual fan now? Hey, more people willing to come out and support the band and their music is great from both the spreading-the-gospel and the financial standpoints. However, it can certainly make for a duller live experience and I think that may have thrown the band for a loop. Last time I saw Witch come through the crowd was super into everything and the band fed off it, getting the crowd more enthused in turn.

I know my whingeing is not going to solve any of these perceived issues and may just make me look like I think I'm some guardian of what is right and true in music. Far from it. I don't have much money to spend on tickets, so when I go to shows I want to be there amongst other music lovers who are there to get into the bands. If you're not into what's going on, why are you there? Just to be seen at the show? If it is that kind of narcissism motivating people to attend shows then I think folks have a right to be bothered, particularly if the band (in this case Witch) shows up and brings their A material.

The next show I've got on my schedule is Converge @ Europa, a month from today. Hopefully I'll have better things to report on the experience (that is, unless the kickboxers decide to show up and ruin it for everyone. Fuck those kids.)

26 February 2009

Joseph O'Neill - Netherland

I finished O'Neill's Netherland about a week ago but hadn't had time to write anything on it here. Too many folks have written reviews of it already, and, frankly, I'm feeling a bit lazy today (saw Witch last night, more will come on that later) so I'm not going to post any real review of the book.

What I will say is that I enjoyed it immensely, particularly the portrait O'Neill paints of some under-the-radar neighborhoods Brooklyn. The story itself is enjoyable and you'll learn more than you ever thought you would about the sport of cricket.

If you need any extra motivation to pick this up, just today the PEN/Faulkner Foundation named it the winner of its annual $15,000 prize. (I could really use fifteen grand, so Mr. O'Neill, if you're feeling generous and looking for a worthwhile charity, I know a good one right here in Brooklyn. Don't worry, I won't spend it on weh-weh.)

Anyway, go read this book.

23 February 2009


Not sure if this is from today or last week, but Scientific American posted a list of a few things individuals can do to boost their brainpower, even later in life. Tabloid magazines publish this kind of stuff all the time, but SciAm being SciAm, this list is far more interesting. Among the things that aren't exercise or meditation (both kinda boring) are:

* Drink coffee and eat blueberries. That's fantastic news, because I just ate a blueberry muffin with my morning coffee. Actually what they say is eat your fruits & veggies (duh) and cut back oh saturated fat (also duh). Stimulants can also boost brainpower, though cocaine and amphetamines are not the preferred choice (also also duh). SciAm would also like you to, "[t]ry to limit yourself to fewer than 100 cups a day. That much coffee contains about 10 grams of caffeine, enough to cause fatal complications.

* Play video games. No joke, this is #4 on the list. I don't really play, but most of my friends do, so that should make them feel smarter (despite all evidence to the contrary). Playing video games has been shown to "improve mental dexterity, while boosting hand-eye coordination, depth perception and pattern recognition."

* Listening to music. I would add playing music to this list as well as qualifying what counts as "music". Listening to top-40 radio is not going to make you smarter though it has been shown to make people's personalities far more banal. Also, that Mozart-in-the-womb theory has been discredited, although listening to his Requiem should be mandatory for all humans. As far as music making people smarter, I recommend jazz, math rock, tech-y metal, modernist composition, and Beethoven.

18 February 2009

Homo Evolutis

This talk is beyond fascinating; the implications of Enriquez's predictions are sure to cause a minor tempest in the coming months and years. Also, he has nearly the same voice as Thomas Lennon, which is mildly disorienting.

10 February 2009

Inside Steve's Mind

I'm watching this for my Tilzy.tv gig, so I won't be writing about it here, suffice to say it may be the funniest thing I've ever seen:

06 February 2009

2012 Redux

A little over a year ago I reviewed a book in these hallowed electronic pages called 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. That review mainly consisted of an ad-hominem attack on its author, Daniel Pinchbeck, for which I am marginally regretful. Not because the book is good, or its ideas are worthwhile, but because I failed in my objective to shine light on a tremendous pile of stupidity and, instead, flinged mud at a messenger. At the time an opportunity arose in which I could (and should) have criticized convoluted new-age spiritual garbage, but I got lazy faced with the prospect of actually having to re-read the book to really pick it apart and expose its lack of merit.

Fortunately all I got was a weak type-lashing from the author in my comments scolding me for being a bad boy. Unfortunately, the beast has returned, new tome in hand culled from the vast storeroom of vacuity that is his website. Titled Toward 2012, it's clear Pinchbeck has a fetish and is determined to mine it for all it's worth, presumably until three years hence, when Y2K happens all over again. Dwight Garner just reviewed this for the NYTimes and, while much subtler than I in his criticisms, pretty much labels the book a steaming pile. But first he had to provide some context and so blurbed Pinchbeck's previous book thusly:

In a previous book, “2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl,” Mr. Pinchbeck seemed to want to have it both ways about earth’s fast-approaching deadline. He didn’t entirely dismiss the possibility of Armageddon, but he used his book as an occasion to urge humanity to come together to stop global warming and heal the planet in other ways. Maybe, you know, we can head this bad juju off at the pass. Mr. Pinchbeck also wrote about crop circles, alien abductees, experiences with poltergeists, ingesting psychedelic mushrooms and practicing “new ideals of erotic freedom,” but never mind.

I read that and laughed, reminded of exactly how far removed from any rational thought this material is. The mention of "new ideals of erotic freedom" nearly made me lose my coffee all over this keyboard, since it was belittling Pinchbeck's views on that topic in particular that got me in trouble in the first place.

Seeing this review on the screen as I set myself up here at work this morning got me thinking about people close to me who go in for this sort of thing (Garner does mention "woo-woo friends" in his review). It makes me a bit depressed to know people are desperately reaching for meaning in a universe devoid of any such enduring thing and, thus, cling to outrageous anti-scientific and pseudoscientifc claims in books such as Pinchbeck's.

Just yesterday Scientific American posted a story, "Finding Control In Chaos", whose subtitle read: Feeling helpless leads to see nonexistent patterns. The article is short, I recommend reading it, but the ultimate point is that test subjects imposed fictitious order on situations in which they lacked control. I've found among people who are into new-age or vaguely spiritual "philosophies" that acute lack of control over their place in the universe and an intense desire for meaning to show its face.

This isn't a rare phenomenon by any stretch. In fact, it's probably the default human setting as far as anyone has determined. Our imaginations are a wondrous tool, but to deny ourselves the use of our rational functions is as criminal as denying our imaginations for rigid logic and order. We have the capability for dialectical thinking, for synthesizing our logical functions with our imaginative capacities. It would be to humanity's benefit for us as individuals to take advantage of this. Wallowing in shallow pools of pseudoscientific drivel and spiritual horseblather is a waste and proponents of this kind of thinking should be seen as the hucksters and contemporary snake-oil salesman they are.

05 February 2009

Let's Be Smarter About These Cuts

In all the hubbub over extra flim-flam in the economic stimulus packages (hey, I got a package they can stimulate! Heyo!...Try the Prime Rib!), a lot of folks have been discussing what, exactly, to cut from the proposed Senate bill. Step up, Ben Nelson (R-CO) and Susan Collins (R-ME). These two centrists (I can vouch for the latter, but not so sure about the former) have put the following cuts on the table:

Among the initiatives that could be cut are $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $14 million for cyber security research by the Homeland Security Department, $1 billion for the National Science Foundation, $400 million for research and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, $850 million for Amtrak and $400 million for climate change research. But so far, none of the suggestions come close to being enough to shrink the package on the scale proposed.

What a horrible, atrocious idea these particular cuts are!!!! Now I need to know what they want to keep in this bill. These are all things we desperately need, am I fucking crazy? Increased science funding? Yes. Better rail system? Yes. Research on STDs? Yes. Arts? Who needs to spend money on the arts during a depression? If you're seriously asking that question, I don't want you near my tax dollars, because you're fucking scum. Fuck you.
I'd go on longer and with more obscenities, but my lunch break is almost over and I have to finish eating.

Hey, Nelson and Collins, go jump off a fucking bridge!


update: I f'd up in my haste to post on this. Ben Nelson is a conservative "Blue Dog" Democrat from Nebraska. My mistake. However, this doesn't change his status as a complete douchebag.


I'll get back to posting this weekend, hopefully, but in the meantime (and really, I can't stress this enough) throw your goddam razors away...

(thanks to Andrea for the image)

28 January 2009

Video, Or It Didn't Happen

"We had this patient who suffered penile fracture after running across the room and trying to penetrate his wife with a flying leap."

That such a scenario could even occur has just completely blown my mind.

26 January 2009

Diamond Dave

If you have important things to do, by all means do not go to this page!

23 January 2009

Enjoy Your Friday

I have to admit Waffle House is pretty stellar, but this is the most redneck wedding I've ever seen.

22 January 2009

Brooklyn, Friday, Jan 23

I probably won't be writing anything for a couple days because I'm prepping for this. It's gonna be awesome. Come join us if you can. It's free.

Here's a map!

View Larger Map

21 January 2009

Something From LA Worth Paying Attention To...

As far as I'm concerned, and I've never been there, Los Angeles is a cesspool of filth flarn filth. However, that doesn't preclude a few beautiful flowers rising out of the poop from time to time. For anyone who lives out there, there are a couple comedy groups worth paying some mind...

Chad, Matt & Rob (and Jonah, too)

I wrote about these guys about a month ago for Tilzy.tv and thought their stuff was great. Unfortunately it was my first article for that site and pretty much a piece of turd. So my apologies, fellas, for being a shitty writer. Anyway, the other night I went back and watched some of the shorts that I hadn't had a chance to view. Great stuff.

Keep an eye on them because, according to Rob, they're working on another interactive feature, a tv pilot and maybe more episodes of The Alibuys (which is hysterical). I'm excited, you should be as well.

Convoy Improv

Alright, so this long-form improv trio happen to be good friends of mine from college. They're also fucking improv champions. How good are they? Well they won the UCB cagematch 44 times in a row. If they had continued their streak they would have broken a little-known physical law established Richard Feynman (Fernie gets his science wrong here) which would have caused the trio to implode immediately upon their 45th victory.

Anyone who lives in LA needs to go see these guys so you can say you knew about them before they blow up (possibly literally) to become supergiants (although they will inevitably become white dwarf stars).

Luckily for anyone reading this (especially Mr. Alex Berg, the blonde one above) I'm not at home or else I would definitely post a picture of Berg's nuts on the internet (yes, I do have one, it's awful). But I'll save that for any future blackmail purposes. WATCH YOUR BACK, BLONDIE!

11 January 2009

Books In Review...Sort of

A few people had asked me to do a little feature on my best books of 2008. It's a sensible request given that I work in a bookstore and sometimes post about books that I've read or am reading. Putting together a quality post about new books in the same way that's done with music is a different order altogether though. Why? Because I tend to not read new books when they come out with the same frequency that I find new music. Most of what I read during the past year was "catch-up" material, classics and whatnot that I'd never had a chance to read. I don't even bother trying to stay abreast of "new, up and coming" authors (and I'm barely able to do that with bands/musicians).

Nevertheless, I did read a couple new books this year that I really enjoyed. Both of these I did "reviews" of: 2008 Booker Prize winner Aravind Adiga's
The White Tiger and Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence (I also happened to read Midnight's Children about a month ago and it surpasses the glowing review I gave to Enchantress...). The other day I started Joseph O'Neill's Netherland (which made the NY Times "Top of 2008" list) and I like what little I've read so far. I also read the first story in Jhumpa Lahiri's new short story collection Unaccustomed Earth. The prose was elegant and the story exquisitely crafted, but overall incredibly depressing and gushing with sentimentality. Not really my kind of material, though I wouldn't mind being blessed with her gift for diction.

It's really one of the paradoxes and conundrums the modern role of publishing that someone who works in a bookstore and writes doesn't really read contemporary fiction, somehow expects to have a future in this business. Then again, people seem to fall all over themselves to buy the latest David Sedaris or Chuck Klosterman or some new age claptrap or mystery/thriller pablum. I write poetry and barely anybody reads that anymore, including myself. I could hardly name you any new, worthwhile poets to check out, yet for whatever reason I hope to find myself in their company. Well, really I don't think anybody wants the company, we desire to exist on the next step above. And we all clamber like the living dead over one another to enter creative writing programs. Madness I tell you, pure madness.

One good piece of advice that I feel entitled to give, however, is "Go Read!" Seriously, go buy some books and read. Forget tv or movies or whatever for a while. We're dying a slow, agonizing death and we word-lubbers aren't going to be the only ones who rue the day publishing dies. It's the one thing I'm bound to get sentimental about.

09 January 2009

You Can't Eat This Much Precociousness!

Liam interrupted an ongoing email discussion about the current situation in Gaza with a link to this youngster. Not only can this kid cook (what is he, like 5?!), but I'm sure he'd figure out a way to mediate a cease-fire and broker peace between Israel & Palestine while telling a story about cookies.

Take it away, Julian...

06 January 2009

Brains & Competition

Yesterday, Jonah Lehrer (of Seed Magazine) posted a great find from The Boston Globe's "Ideas" section about brain functioning under different competitive scenarios. It appears that humans retain their competitive nature only up until a point and that when a group becomes too large to be competitive within, the brain essentially shuts itself down.

In one study researchers observed different sized groups taking test like the SATs and found that in small groups students performed much better than those in large rooms with many other test-takers. It appears that when in small groups, a participant is able to better size up their competition. Test-takers who were housed in a large room had lower scores, presumably because they were overwhelmed by the amount of competition they were up against.

An unrelated study looked at similar phenomena from a different angle. In a supermarket a display of jams was set up for customer taste-tests. When only 6 competing jams were used, sales increased among the products displayed. Then, when 30 different jams were displayed for the same purposes, people basically wanted nothing to do with them. There was such an array of choice that their brains short-circuited attempting to make any sort of decision. However, the study also found that when products were placed into categories—however arbitrary—people had a much easier time choosing a product or making a decision.

These findings seem completely plausible to me judging by my own behavior as well as what I've seen in my non-scientific daily observations. Give people small groups in which to operate and they find it much easier to orient themselves. I know in dealing with music, as seemingly arbitrary as "categorizing" bands and sounds can be, it is really helpful for our brains. Providing a label creates a foundation from which to analyze and associate; from that beginning one can make all sorts of further connections and establish their own web of knowledge. If you were to take a random assortment of bands and have someone start picking out the "best" (for lack of better example) bands in that pile, that person would have a panic attack. But if you had them organize that pile somehow and then pick out certain elements, they'd have a much easier time.

As far as competition goes, some commenters wondered how professional athletes (as one example) operated on such a high level in the face of this research. I contend that the best of the best don't even consider most other humans viable competition, and thus render them out of the picture. From a young age they've most likely—and clearly I'm assuming here—picked out a few other talented individuals against whom they could compete on a high level. At each stage (high school, college, pro, etc.) the categorizations of who matches their skill is refined. I think the same could be said of any endeavor, whether it's basketball, soccer, painting, poetry, furniture design, gardening, politics, etc. Folks who engage in these activities who have a desire to be good at them always find markers against which to measure their competition.

Back to the original point of the study, although this kind of competition in humans appears obvious, I think it's great that science has shown it to be an observable phenomenon and non just some folksy, anecdotal thing. Also, the fact that there are clear limits to the efficacy of competition amongst individuals is a great thing. Now, when some economists come along and make the claim that more and more actors in a market is good, we have this evidence to back up the counter-argument. Some competition is a marvelous thing, too much competition is a waste of everyone's time.

I Love Lunchtime

I don't know if anyone out there is familiar with East Village Thai, a tiny (as in very, very small) place on E.7th street, but they make the best motherf*#%ing massaman curry* in the history of mankind (that I've ever tasted). For the uneducated, massaman curry (at least at EV Thai) contains both avocado and cashews.


How can you seriously top that? I haven't the foggiest idea. Before lunchtime I was in a decent mood, having finished up another piece for Tilzy.tv, but now I'm in a really great mood. Just because of this curry. Now, of course, I'm in desperate need of naptime, but that's a different story altogether.

*For the record I get mine vegetarian, because I'm a weenis.

02 January 2009

The Cleansing Sting of Economic Collapse

The other day I was shelving books at work and came across Marshall Berman's All That Is Solid Melts Into Air. It was the subtitle, "The Experience of Modernity," that actually caught my eye, as I tend to gravitate toward any work that demonstrates a willingness to explore our epoch's deepest paradoxes. During my short stint at The New School For Social Research, we had to take a core curriculum class called, "What Is Modernity?" Since then I've been endlessly fascinated with definitions of modernism, postmodernism and the debates between adherents and critics of both. (Personally, I'm of the belief that "postmodernism," or the postmodern condition," is merely a minor stage of the "modern" era, but I don't have the room to explicate all this here.)

I wasn't sure what to expect from Berman's book, since it's shelved in the Literary Criticism section, but flipping through I immediately had to sit down and start reading (a luxury I actually have at work). Part One focuses on Goethe's Faust as the premier work that spans the fissures out of which the modern era has grown. Unfortunately, I've never read Faust, though as soon as I have time I'm doing so. Most people are familiar with the terms "faustian" or "a faustian" bargain, but Berman points out that all too often those terms are used poorly and in situations that don't quite fit the allegorical mold. Anyway, that's not what I'm writing about at the moment (though with some more time to think, maybe I will in the future).

While I was intrigued by Part One and stormed through it, I was really looking forward to reading Part Two, which revolves around The Communist Manifesto. I can't tell you how many times I've read this work, and my own copy (in The Marx-Engels Reader) is highlighted and marked up beyond recognition. Berman's take on it is fascinating, and now I'm going to have to read it all again. He describes it as the first true work of art of the modernist period despite the fact that it is all but ignored when works of Marx's contemporaries—like Baudelaire, Flaubert, Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky—are discussed.

Berman notes that Marx was stunningly prescient in envisioning the course of the bourgeois project. In fact, Marx, more than any of capitalism's cheerleaders, makes the case for the world-altering power of capital and its never-before-seen ability to liberate people from the binds of previous social and religious systems. Capitalism was (and is) notoriously unstable, though while Marx saw this as virtue, it was a facet that the major proponents of the emerging system kept shushed in the corner, out of the spotlight.

To this day you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone writing about the transformative glories of capitalism with the same poetic gusto with which Marx wrote. However, Marx believed that this transformative power, this era in which "all that is solid melts into air," would lead to continuous revolutions and the rise of a new kind of man. As capital must always expand, it must always destroy to clear room for newer, more efficient methods and products and ideas. This was the major paradox of Dr. Faust's activity in the world as well as something the Futurists would embrace just prior to WWI ("We want to glorify war - the only cure for the world"). Capitalists have always been the world's truest nihilists in this regard.

Still only in section 2 of Part Two, Berman touches on Marx's "theory of crises." Here, suddenly, the theoretical, the allegorical, the metaphorical all peeled away to today. Berman's words from 1982 display Marx's words from 1848 which mirror 2008. (Call it synchronicity, coincidence, whatever, but when I got home and opened my Marx-Engels Reader, my bookmark was on p. 445, the second page of Marx's "Crisis Theory". This book has been in a box for months.) This is what he writes, on page 103:

Here we are in the midst of a growing worldwide economic depression. And you know what? Millions of people are frightened, but I'm not. People are scared because they've tried to build comfortable lives in an uncomfortable world. There is no rest, no respite. Capital will not let you rest, because if you do, it will destroy you like every other obsolete barrier it faces. Your future will become like that Philemon and Baucis, consumed in cleansing fire to make space for the new tower.
I hardly consider myself an apologist for capitalism, but it has its virtues. I admire the Futurist project for its liberating lack of sentimentality and its nihilistic dedication to destroying the obsolete. Of course, this always means that once all those old traces have melted away, one must find a new solid to burn for fuel. But there is plenty of shit that capital has produced that many of us would love to burn, clear away, to make room for something better. (And if you're averse to the concept of burning, think of it as dismantling and recycling the usable elements.)

So here's to a new year of destruction and creation, of Shiva Nataraja triumphantly dancing upon the defeated dwarf of ignorance.