12/30/2004

so I drove through Virginia a couple times this christmas, and I have to say, Virginia has a lot of weird signs along the interstate. The first one I saw was one saying "Entering Virginia's Technology Corridor." That's a fine idea, and would make sense if it were in Northern Virginia, where companies like Worldcom and AOL area based, but it's actually in rural Southwestern Virginia, including technology hotbeds like Pulaski and Botetourt Counties (pronounced bot-ee-tot, a cool name). The sign announcing you are entering the corridor is not in a town or next to a computer factory or anything, it's in a hilly area with no houses around, and the only technological thing you see is a cell phone tower. So I guess the cell phone tower is the most high tech thing these folks have seen in awhile, so they decided to dedicate a corridor.

Another sign I like are "Entering Highway Safety Corridor" and "Leaving Highway Safety Corridor." Virginians sure seem to like their corridors. There's only one of these corridors on the entire trip and it's about two miles long. This sounds to me like my complaint about Drug Free Zones: does this mean that the highway is dangerous everywhere except for this 2 mile safety corridor? Why not make the entire highway a safety corridor? And what makes the highway safer here? Are the trees along the road soft and squishy? Are the rocks illusions?

And then there's the "Certified Business Location" signs, when you go into a town or county, like "Welcome to Roanoke, a Certified Business Location." But not all of the towns and counties are "Certified Business Locations," which I guess means they are free to rip you off in those places. Or maybe there aren't any businesses there, just people bartering stuff. "I'll mow your lawn for a foot-long meatball sub."

And finally, the other signs they have for going into and out of the town of Salem are funny. Enstead of "Entering Salem" and "Leaving Salem," it's an order; the signs say "Enter Salem" and "Leave Salem." I want to get a spray can and write "OR ELSE" on them. And what's even funnier is that the border of the town of Salem seems to cross the Interstate a few times, because you pass 3 or 4 "Leave Salem" signs, but there aren't any corresponding "Enter Salem" signs. It looks like they don't want anyone to visit. Maybe it's because Salem is also part of the Technology Corridor, and the residents are busy working at such high-tech places as the Shoney's and Waffle House.

12/21/2004

so I think it's funny that whenever you go to a restaurant, especially a chain, all of the ingredients are always "famous" or "premium." Like that stuff is actually famous anywhere. If you go overseas, people don't say "Oh, you are American! Do you eat the sausage from Pizzeria Uno? I love the ice tea at Cracker Barrel!" I mean, just say it's good or something, or farm-raised or say where it's from or something like that. If you have to tell people that something is famous, then it's obviously not.

12/20/2004

so I had been wondering for some time about the funding for the group opposed to bringing baseball to DC, "No DC Taxes for Baseball." This question first came to me when overnight, literally thousands of nice, printed signs appeared all over the city, and literally every lamp post in some parts of the city. I had asked in various places, like the Adams Morgan list serve, where the funding came from, and had always been told by people the funding came from from non-profits and groups like that, nice ones like DC Action for Children, Save DC Parks and Play Spaces, and Wider Opportunities for Women. However, WTOP Radio just posted this story saying that 20% of the group's budget came from a guy named Robert Siegel, who owns a bunch of porno theaters, adult bookstores, and gay nightclubs on the proposed site of the stadium, and who thus obviously would be opposed to it for financial reasons. I think this is ridiculous for a bunch of reasons, one being him having such a shallow and short-term viewpoint. I mean, you can put a nightclub anywhere! And secondly, the group's website, www.nodctaxesforbaseball.org just happens to not mention him as a donor. It makes me wonder who else gives money to the group and isn't mentioned, like Orioles owner Peter Angelos?

12/17/2004

so I want to move to this town.

That's awesome. I also like that it's between the towns of Cuckoo and Old Bandana. I think my goal in life is to become Mayor of Bumpass.


so the band Manitoba was forced to change its name to Caribou recently, which I think is really stupid. Apparently the lead singer of some band called The Dictators, whose stage name is Handsome Dick Manitoba, sued Dan Snaith, the main guy from the band Manitoba over copywright infringement, and Snaith was forced to give up. This is so stupid, as for one thing, you'd have to be a moron to confuse "Handsome Dick Manitoba" with Manitoba, and the band Manitoba has been around for awhile anyway, he has a few albums and has been on tour. And he has to be more famous anyway, at least in my opinion, I consider myself fairly knowledgable and I've never heard of the Dictators. I mean, lots of stage names include names of real people. Should Marilyn Manson change his name, because people might think he is Marilyn Monroe or Charles Manson? How about Howlin' Pelle Almquist from the Hives, he ought to be sued by the blues singer Howlin' Wolf, right? How stupid.

But anyway, "Caribou" is a good band, they do interesting electronic rock stuff, and you should check them out.

http://www.caribou.fm/index.php

12/16/2004

so DC council chair Linda Cropp appears to have killed the deal bringing baseball to DC, which makes me furious. After saying all along she was in favor of the deal, she added an amendment yesterday to the financing package requiring 50% private financing, which was not part of the original deal with baseball. Baseball replied that this was not part of the deal, and it's wholly unacceptable, and stopped all sales and publicity for the team. The deal the city made with baseball wasn't the best deal, but I think it's the best we're going to get, and none of the money comes out of DC citizens' pockets anyway, it's all paid for by big companies, the owners of the stadium, and by taxes on stuff bought at the stadium (2/3 of which will be bought by people from Virginia and Maryland.) Meaning over the long run, it's adding money to DC coffers. It's ridiculous, because the city and baseball had a deal, and then Linda Cropp kept adding things and saying "add this too, and this, or else there is no deal." I've heard her maneuvers called an "ambush," "bait-and-switch," a "poison pill", etc etc. There are some good points in the Post today, Michael Wilbon says that Cropp is right to bring up objections, but she should have done so months ago, before the deal was agreed to by both sides. Instead, months ago she was sitting on the dais with the Mayor and baseball officials, saying how happy she was to get the team. Then all of a sudden she changes her mind, which is pretty obviously to try to get votes for her upcoming mayoral run. And Thomas Boswell makes the point "what if baseball commissioner Bud Selig did the same thing?" What if after we signed the deal, he kept adding other requirements? Obviously, DC residents would be furious. So how must baseball feel now? In short, it's ridiculous. Unless something huge happens, like Linda Cropp backing off her schemes or a private financier coming forward, we won't have baseball here next year, and probably not for a long, long time.

Linda Cropp's email address is lcropp@dccouncil.us, and her office phone is (202) 724-8032. Please call her, as she said today that her phone was ringing off the hook, but most opposition was coming from outside DC, that "her constituents oppose baseball."

12/15/2004

so here's a mini-review of a cd i got awhile ago:

Clinton - Disco & The Halfway To Discontent

Clinton is Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres from Cornershop (who had the hit song "Brimful of Asha" from "When I Was Born for the Seventh Time" a few years ago), and their album "Disco & The Halfway To Discontent" sounds just like what it is, a dance music side project, and like many side projects, it sounds kind of half-assed, or at least unfinished. Basically it's funkier, sparser, and more electronic and with fewer lyrics than your average Cornershop album. And like Cornershop's other alubms, it still includes influences from the 1960's and Indian music, as well as a lot of samples, and it has the vocal quirks Singh likes to use like monotone singing. The album is alright overall. It's kind of repetitive, especially the more boring tracks like "Electric Ice Cream (Miami Jammies)" despite the funny title, "Before the Fizz is Gone," "Sing Hosanna," which is apparently a cover of a hymn or that old "Red River Valley" song, and "Hip Hop Bricks," which reminds me of Daft Punk's song "Teachers," where lots of bands (or something) are listed off. And even the best tracks on the album, "Giddian di Rani," and the Avalanches-lite, sample-heavy "Welcome to Tokyo, Otis Clay," feel like they aren't finished. A lot of songs on this album are like the Crusades: they start out like they're going to kick some ass, then they fall apart, or at best, just wander around doing nothing interesting. The bonus tracks, "David D. Chambers," and the better-than-the-original "Fila Brazilia Disco Frisco" mix of "People Power in the Disco Hour" are good as well, but they tell me that Clinton's song titles are too long. And it's not a good sign when two of the best tracks on an album are the bonus tracks. If all of the tracks had as much going on as the "Fila Brazilia Disco Frisco" mix, the album would have been more interesting, although maybe Singh and Ayres were going for the sparse sound. This is apparently a political CD, but I didn't get that impression from the frequently random/uninteresting lyrics, which are sort of spoken in Singh's usual way. In short, it's good background music and there are some bright spots, but I'm glad I got it used.

12/13/2004

so I think it's ridiculous that so many pro athletes are getting DUIs. (Redskins rookie Sean Taylor, for instance.) It seems like it happens so often to athletes, and it's not like it's hard to avoid driving drunk. First off, if you're drunk, one of your buddies or the bartender or whatever shouldn't let you drive. That's just common sense, call a cab. But secondly, all of these guys are millionaires, why don't they just hire a damn driver? He can be a hanger-on or whatever, come to the bar or party with you, hang out, not drink, then drive you home when you're drunk. I mean, I'd do it. Give me $100 bucks, NBA player, I'll drive your Escalade home. Or maybe I'll form a company, DC Drunk Athlete Chauffeuring. We can be on call 24 hours a day, serving all locations in the metro area. And we won't comment on who rides back with you! Well, unless we're subpoenaed, I guess.

In other news, I found this cool site about a proposed redesign of the Volkswagen Westphalia camper van, it looks awesome. Maybe they'll call it the Rhineland. Little geography joke there.

http://www.verdier.ca/
(there's an English link on the bottom of the page)

12/10/2004

so i'm trying to grow a beard but it's not working too well - it's a lot thicker on the left side of my face than on my right. it's weird, i don't really know why it does that, since it's not like i got a face transplant or anything. if i really want to have an even beard, i think i'll have to give the right side a few days' head start. maybe i sleep on the right side of my face or something and that keeps the hair from growing as fast. or maybe my parents just gave me crooked genes.

12/09/2004

freethrow


freethrow
Originally uploaded by squidpants.
So I finally got some photos uploaded from my camera phone of a couple GW basketball games.

The first two are free throw shooting by a Mt. St. Mary's player at GW's home arena, the Smith Center. GW won 81-58. They view is from my seats, which are pretty good as you can tell. Especially for $39 bucks!

The third photo is the GW-Randolph Macon exhibition game, taken from the student section at the Smitty.


The view from my seats
Originally uploaded by squidpants.



macongame
Originally uploaded by squidpants.

12/07/2004

so GW basketball had a big weekend, which is pretty awesome, beating #9 / #11 Michigan State and #12 Maryland (extra awesome), and we're now ranked #21 in the country on one poll, which is the first time we've been ranked in awhile.

But the funny thing I wanted to mention was that I went to the game with Morgan State (a small historically black school from Baltimore) and our dance team did routines to songs by Hot Hot Heat and the Killers. I thought this was pretty bizarre, usually the dance team (and every dance team, ever) do their dances to stuff like "We like to move it, move it" and the Jock Jams megamix, not hipster indie stuff. It was funny, to say the least, I guess whoever chose the music was some indie guy who wanted to let everybody hear some good music. And it is pretty good, but not what you expect a dance team to use. It would have been funnier if the dancers had acted like hipsters, dressed all in denim or something, smoking Gauloises and drinking PBR. But then if they were hipsters, that means they wouldn't be dancing at all, and a team like that would only be appropriate at art school, and of course art school people usually don't like sports. I wonder what they'll play next game, maybe Franz Ferdinand or the Faint or the Rapture or something. Maybe the girls will dance like the machines in the "Take Me Out" video.
so here's my new concert list. it's really small, which sucks. i guess most of the good bands go home for christmas, but the bad ones keep touring

SAT JAN 29 Bright Eyes w/ Coco Rosie and Tilly and the Wall 9:30 Club SOLD OUT!

Late Janish - The Arcade Fire - 930 club. SOLD OUT! Damn hipsters.

MON JAN 31- THE BRAVERY $7 backstage 9:00 Black Cat

Fri Feb 4- is a "Lottery"--in which attendees chosen out of a hat
perform with each other and some WIT players for a paying audience. 7:30 DCAC

Sat Feb 5- is a showcase for the many awesome college improv
troupes in the area. 7:30 DCAC

SAT FEB 6 - Kings of Convenience $16 IOTA

Sat Feb 19 - Mary Timony, Panoply Academy, Horses, Edie Sedgwick 9:00 Warehouse Next Door

TUE. FEB. 22 - Le Tigre w/ Lesbians on Ecstasy & Measles Mumps Rubella 930 Club $15.00

THUR FEB 24- TEENBEAT 20th anniversary featuring UNREST(reunion), EGGS (reunion), +/- (PLUS MINUS), TRUE LOVE ALWAYS, THE FONTAINE TOUPS, JONNY COHEN $12 Black Cat mainstage 8:00

FRI FEB 25- TEENBEAT 20th anniversary featuring TUSCADERO (reunion), VERSUS (reunion), FLIN FLON, ADEN, HOT PURSUIT, HOLLAND $12 Black Cat mainstage 9:00

TUES MAR 1- RACHEL’S, IDA $13 Black Cat mainstage 9:00

SAT MAR 5- AMBULANCE LTD, VHS OR BETA $12 Black Cat mainstage 9:30

THUR MAR 10- ASH $13 Black Cat mainstage 8:30

FRI MAR 11 - Hot Hot Heat, 9:30 Club

12/06/2004

so i think i am going to invest in some chap stick companies. they say you should invest in stuff you use, and those guys must make so much money off of me. The tubes are small and round and can roll away easily, and I never finish a tube because I always lose them first. I think i'm listed in their prospectus as their ideal customer or something. I'll use a tube for like 3 days then it'll disappear. Then I'll find the tube 6 months later behind my bed but lose it again two days later.

12/02/2004

so I write record reviews from time to time, here's one I have been working on for awhile, "Ringodom or Proctor" by Head of Femur. I heard them on launch.yahoo.com, which i like to hype a lot.

Head of Femur takes its name from Elvis's appearance on the EdSullivan Show, where in order not to expose kids to his swivelling hips, the cameramen weren't allowed to show anything below the top ("head") of his femur. A cynical person might call them a less-angry, catchier version of Bright Eyes, but the band is more complex than that, sounding a bit like Camper Van Beethoven or an indier They Might Be Giants mixed with 80's alternative and power pop. An indie-rock orchestra with no fewer than 8 people on stage when I saw them in September, Head of Femur's sound is also a little reminscent of Belle and Sebastian and the Decembrists, especially with their use of a lot of acoustic instruments. Most of the songs are fast and have multiple distinct parts and I notice new things each time I hear them. The guys have They Might Be Giants' and the Flaming Lips' strange sense of humor as well, with odd song titles and their webside listing various members as playing "trumpet, attitude," "weird guitar," "stunt vocals," and so on.

Their debut album is called "Ringodom or Proctor" and while I have no idea what this means (and the band's reply was "to the best of our knowledge it has to do with ringo starr and witches in the puritan times,") the album is an interesting and a fun listen that gets better each time I hear it. The songs are all fairly dense and complex, with a lot of instruments and many distinct sections, part of the reason that the songs grow with each listen.

The Bright Eyes influence is obvious in songs like "80 Steps to Jonah," and "My Dad, My Cousin... and Ronnie," with plaintitive singing (lead singer Matt Focht's voice sounds just like Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst) and confessional and conversational, though often hard-to-follow, lyrics. This influence makes sense though, as Focht and three other band members are or were in Bright Eyes (and keyboardist and drummer Ben Armstrong played in Oberst's old band, Commander Venus.) However, the band doesn't sound like a Bright Eyes knockoff, having catchier melodies and complex songs, along with apoppier, sunnier sound.

Opener "January on Strike" starts out slow and is reminiscent of Bright Eyes, then abruptly stops, changes course and becomes catchier. It's a short song and leads well into "Curve that Byrd," my favorite song on the album. It has a fast, whistle-along melody with slightly drony singing that shifts in the middle to be more gentle and catchy. As with a lot of the album, the lyrics don't make a lot of sense, but it's an likable song anyway.

The toe-tapping "80 Steps to Jonah" has an interesting beginning with fast xylophones and cymbals, then goes through numerous different iterations. Again, Focht's voice sounds just like Oberst's, but the variety within the song makes it interesting.

"Acme, the Summit of a Mountain" sounds like a lost college rock song from early the 80's, with quick cymbals and an power-poppy vibe. I was singing parts of it to myself afterwards, especially the "I don't wanna go to tech school" section of what might be called the chorus. It's also a little reminscent of They Might Be Giants' earlier songs, as it's slightly kooky and a little homemade sounding. "Science Needed a Medical Man" is also reminiscent of early TMBG, being fast and catchy with a start and stop beat.

A few songs miss slightly, like "The True Wheel," a cover of a Brian Eno song, which sounds like the triumphant music played during a key scene in an 80's teen movie, and its falsetto singing is a little annoying. "Money is the Root of All Evil" is also a little annoying, the band sounds like they just thought up with the title phrase and are trying to make a serious statement by singing it over and over.

Album closer "The Car Wore A Halo Hat" sounds like older Flaming Lips, with the strange title, the swirling, slightly psychedelicinstrumentation, and the echoing vocals.

In all, "Ringodom or Proctor" is a little weird and reminds me of alot of other things, but the diversity between the songs and within each song makes it an interesting indie record, worth some repeated listens. If the album were a little more focused or tighter, it would be not just interesting but great. As of now, it's still good.

http://www.headoffemur.com

12/01/2004

so what is up with eskimo boots and ponchos women are wearing all of a sudden? is fashion from the edges of the country "in" all of a sudden? will it keep moving outwards, and women will be wearing stuff from siberia and central america next? i guess I don't understand women's fashion, since it seems like every year there is some ugly thing that women start wearing. i mean, eskimo boots look ridiculous, especially when girls tuck their jeans into them. is there some sort of mass brainwashing that girls get when a new clothing item comes out? "must wear new thing, must ignore that it looks bad." and the same thing with those knit ponchos. unless you are leading llamas in the Andes, ponchos aren't for you. and when I see 8 year olds at the mall wearing ponchos, it means that the fashion trend is over. just stop.