Saturday, December 25, 2010

What's on my Best of 2010 mixtape?

Publish it! No more changes or tweaks! Here is my Best of 2010 mixtape. Please note that the tracks appear in no particular order as far as rank is concerned, but are arranged in the order I prefer to listen. 15 tracks made the cut, which is limited by how much I can burn onto a CD. If you would like the 1.1 hour long mixtape, please let me know.

Please understand that the list is only from music I've actually heard. There is no way for me to have a comprehensive list like actual music critics. If 2010 is anything like 2009, I will soon have to make a "Part 2" playlist from all the songs I discover in 2011 that were actually from the previous year. From reading a bunch of Best Of lists already out there I will be picking up more 2010 albums from the various gift cards I've received (i.e. The National, LCD Soundsystem, Mumford & Sons). The list has two motivating factors: to be a snapshot of what I was listening to at that time (and also what concerts I had attended) & to highlight a couple songs or acts that may be new to people who don't follow music as intensely. I love Best of Lists that include unknown acts - I need them to help me discover new music.

Picking the "Song of the Year" was increasingly difficult as I had a nice opportunity to see many of the mixtape songs live. Typically, hearing a song that I really like live has a way of elevating it to a new plateau in my mind. Land of Talk's "Quarry Hymns" was the leader in the clubhouse. I was highly anticipating their new album, and loved their performance of this song when they came through town. Broken Social Scene's 2010 album was not their best, and my dual love of "Sweetest Kill" and "Texico Bitches" basically split the vote in my head. Even though I heard both songs performed live, only one could make it to the mixtape - and none of them would be able to vie for Best Song of 2010. A late charge was made by Freelance Whales' "Generator (Second Floor)" which might have been controversial because some sources has it as a 2009 release. Allow me to pitifully confess: one of the reasons I wanted to see them live earlier this month was knowing how tough of a time I was having picking the Best Song this year and wanted to have my doors blown off hearing it live. It was a great performance, but not enough.

Yeasayer was a huge find for me this year. At one point, not seeing them when they were here in late April was my largest regret of the year. Thankfully, I will be seeing them December 30, which is too little too late for "Ambling Alp" to get the push it would've needed. Therefore, the biggest regret of 2010 was not seeing Foals. Buy me many strong drinks and I'll tell you why the night of their sold out Lincoln Hall show is the worst night of my 2010. However, don't let my personal misadventures take anything away from the overall excellence of that album - with "Black Gold" being my favorite track.

If it wasn't for the emotional baggage at no fault to anybody (especially Foals), their album would've won Best Album in my mind. But instead the accolade goes to the debut effort by Beach House. There are many songs of theirs I love, but have chosen "Walk In The Park" for the mixtape.

I will always remember playing Drake's "Fancy" for MySister in my car between a Wedding Ceremony & Reception in Milwaukee and watching the awe inspiring SNL performance of "Power." The selections by Flying Lotus and The Walkmen were hidden gems from free albums legally downloaded (in these cases from NPR and Spin magazine).

Awarding the Best Song of 2010 meant having to go back to the reason why I love mixtapes: sharing music I don't think the recipients have heard yet. There was one song I made sure was included on most mixtapes this year: "No Big Deal" by S Dot Schumacher. It was a song that hit true from first listen and doesn't feel any less false more than 10 months later. A song that dropped just before the artist turned 30, it's a hilarious mirror held up to the common actions of single women that I know all too well. It is the only song that I feel needs to be embedded in this post and if there's one song I want you to hear this year, it is it:

Sadly, one of my favorite musical moments of 2010 isn't included in the mixtape. As you can see, nothing from Girl Talk's excellent All Day effort made the cut. Since Gregg Gillis dropped his latest album for free download, his track "Down for the Count" was on my working playlist for the very fact that when I first heard the section that played Young MC's "Bust a Move" over Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" I was punching the [increase volume] key on my keyboard repeatedly - almost upset that there wasn't a level 11. It was kind of like Jack Bauer clicking his empty gun at Victor Drazen at season 1's conclusion. However, the Girl Talk album really is best listened to as an entire album, with the "tracks" acting only as arbitrary navigation points - it's tough to sandwich in the gem.

If you are reading this, I would love to see your Best of 2010 list - especially if it includes songs that I have never heard! And let me end this with a quick repeat: If you would like the 1.1 hour long mixtape, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How did I get on ABC's Nightline?

I wasn't the only one at the 9th Annual Lebowski Fest in Louisville, Kentucky.
Nightline correspondent Jeremy Hubbard was there with a camera crew.
Four months plus later, the piece was finally aired last Friday night.
The segment is an excellent, brief, explanation of Lebowski Fest. (Please go watch it)
You might still be confused as to why people like me love that movie to this extent, but at least you'll know a little more about our party.

I was in the background twice. Both more unspectacular than the next (my camera is completely covering my face in one - however the picture was worth it!)

I'm wearing a green shirt and a large straw hat ("Obviously, you're not a golfer") located just under the armpit of eventual Best Costume Winners, "Stranger in the Alps"

To understand both of those references requires an insane amount of knowledge of The Big Lebowski.

The piece ended on our bowling lane. I was throwing rocks with a great trio from Cincinnati which included the eventual winner of the "Best Walter" costume award. You can see me setting up for a superior camera angle.

I was more than ecstatic to sacrifice a chance for vanity to get the picture and capture a great moment for Bob.

I got both a Before and After!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Do you want 3 reasons to watch Breaking Bad?

This is my plea to get those who are not watching Breaking Bad to take the opportunity to start.
AMC is going to systematically start replaying the entire series during the overnight, DVR friendly, hours starting this Friday.

Here are 3 reasons, I could list more, but I don't feel like writing (and know you don't want to read) too long of an essay.

#1 Bryan Cranston
He's the actor that plays the lead role of Walter White. But if you haven't seen the show you probably have the narrow minded perception of The Dad from Malcolm in the Middle. In an unfortunate coincidence, the first 3 minutes of the show's first episode (embedded below***) features Cranston in tight white underwear briefs not unlike the kind he wore in the former Fox sitcom's opening title sequence. The comparisons, in character and every way imaginable, end there. Bryan Cranston is the three time defending Emmy winner for Best Actor in a Drama Series for this role. If you are someone who loves Jon Hamm in Mad Men, Hugh Laurie in House or Michael C. Hall in Dexter - know that Cranston has beat them all three years in a row. It's not a fluke. It's real. (side note: Aaron Paul won the Best Supporting Actor Emmy this year to complete the Actor sweep for Breaking Bad)

#2 There are stories of good people doing bad things and bad people doing good things - but this show is neither.
Breaking Bad is a perfect name for a show that shows deconstruction. The story is of a man becoming something new, something worse, and the journey that leads to piece after piece falling apart to the detriment to himself and all that come into his association. It's haunting in its reality. Breaking Bad is not a comedy. Although there are traces of tension relieving black humor from time to time, this show is not positioned as a distant comedy like Weeds (a show that, as its poor timing circumstances must hurt, also has suburban domestic drug dealing as a main plot driver).

#3. The cold opening sequences
Every episode of Breaking Bad contains a bonus short film that happens to air immediately before the opening credits, or at least that's what it feels like to me. Instead of describing this point further, here is how the show began it's first*** episode...

***2013 UPDATE:
The original YouTube video doesn't exist anymore - I was only able to find a French dubbed version, which if you are like me and have seen it enough times it doesn't matter... But if you haven't seen it, I hope it makes you want to watch the real version more (since it seems especially daunting not knowing what Walter is saying!)

I sincerely hope you'll want to continue watching after this tease and set your recording devices. It's going to be a wonderful trip for yours truly - as I've only seen these episodes a few times and can't wait to pick up on the nuances I have certainly missed.

Monday, December 6, 2010

He fixes the cable? (It's video, Dude.)

Oh my, what a beautiful web address it is:
Go watch that video.
Go watch that video. (Mr. Lebowski asked me to repeat that)

I knew they were coming.
If you read* my posts, you knew it too.
You'd think I had one leg longer than the other - the amount of circles I walked around that Nightline camera crew for I attempted to get into the background of more shots that I could count... I succeeded twice.

Paused DVR glory! You're allowed to blink once as long as you don't blink the second time I appear in the background.

It was great to see friends like the entire "Chinamen with Lebowski's Legs" Philly foursome get a moment in front of the camera. However, it was an utter shame the famous Mrs. Jamtoss fell victim to the red pen of Nightline's editor.

The highlight of the overall strike of a piece was it's conclusion. I was on the lane with the eventual "Best Walter" (and Trivia 2nd place winner I might add!) and pictured the before and after of the most clutch roll in Lebowski Fest history!

Dios mio, Bob.
*If you haven't read my posts... I guess you just weren't listening... but I do recommend at least two of my posts from this past July:
My Favorite Picture From the 9th Annual
My Top 5 Garden Party Pictures[TQ]

Do you support Child Abuse?

You got me Internet, I hope you're happy.

This whole "change your FB profile pic to a cartoon from your childhood" might be a total sham - or even worse.

A Facebook spokesman said: "We’re concerned with the suggestion that paedophiles could use this successful viral campaign to target young people. This is not the case."

What made me change my profile pic? Especially when I'm very confident I'm in the top 5% of those in regards to level of profile picture selection obsession? Let's take the easy route and blame MySister (sidenote to MySister: sorry).

She sent me a text message wanting help changing her profile picture. (I had cropped and chose her current one.) So after telling her an easy way, I decided I might as well change mine as well because it was a weak moment and didn't want out of that party. The movement to change to these cartoons seemed more popular than the movement to change to a celebrity look-a-like. I'm thankful that I didn't follow suit with that fad (some of us can't stand our supposed doppelgangers).

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children probably liked the attention, but I don't know if they saw any more funds because of it. They got a Twitter follow from me this evening - even if it was out of total guilt for being a sucker.

Time to go back to the profile pic of my choosing, and the revamped Facebook Profile that is going to make it hip to complain about Facebook again. By the way, who still remembers the old design? FB is here to stay. If Jesse Eisenberg couldn't take it down, who could?

Learning of this was a bit of a downer for me today. If you, like me, need a pickup - here's a new video by Pretty Lights:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Do you really love "travel"?

It's 2:53 AM as I begin this post. While staring at the inside of my eyelids I had a thought - a fake conversation that I'm never going to have in reality. It compelled me to bump my computer out of its sleep and type.

A note to any body who happens to read this with two x chromosomes and is not currently in a relationship - you may want to stop reading now. Also, if you are additionally someone who hasn't yet ruled out me as being potentially attractive - I wholeheartedly beg you to stop reading. what do you like?
I love travel, love.
Oh? Where have you gone?
Nowhere yet, but it's a high priority. It's a goal, I know I'll do it.
I'm sure you will.
Are you being sarcastic?
No, that's a sincere comment... but... Would it be more accurate to say that you love the idea of travel?
Or is your love a blind faith based love.
You don't like travel?
It's great, the limited places I've been.... It's not Rome, but have I mentioned what a gem of a discovery the city of Louisville was?
It's not the same, you haven't been to Europe.
Have you?
You know what I mean.
I have friends that sincerely love to travel - they've been places like Spain and China - it's a thrill for them to be surrounded in a culture that's not American. I think it gives them a perspective on their life.
What's your point?
Is it an escape? What is the fuel behind your passion? My theory is that you are in love with the concept or the idea of travel and since you haven't traveled you obsesses on it's thought.
Wow. You are so cynical.
What if I told you I loved skiing.
Do you?
No. But if I said I did, you'd believe me - right? It's a perfectly normal activity to say to enjoy.
But what if I said I loved skiing, but have never been skiing - wouldn't that be odd?
But you could still want to go skiing. I've never been skydiving but totally want to someday.
Okay, that makes sense - but you don't say you love to skydive and I don't say I love to ski... By the way, I do want to ski someday.
What's wrong with you?
I'm not done with this skiing thing yet. It's a luxury to me, the activity. My family had a few vacations growing up, but it was almost based around a family reunion or wedding. And to be blunt, skiing is an expensive venture - our family wasn't jetting off to Aspen on holiday. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Maybe you can go as far as to think I have a bit of jealousy over those that have skied? I don't know, you know?
Oh go screw yourself.
Why are you so adamant against travel?
I'm not against travel. The highlight of my last month was booking my next airplane ticket. The out of proportion importance of travel, especially among people who haven't traveled to the extent of their preaching baffle me.
Look, I'm not a shut-in. Can't you see how if someone went to the Paris of Kentucky and enjoyed it that it would be safe to assume that it would be more enjoyable on a larger extent? That is why I want to go to Asia and Africa... I've already been to Alabama.
That makes sense.
No shit.
Goodbye. You really have that asshole switch don't you? No wonder you're so great at getting a first date and couldn't get to a fourth without a passport and a map.
They told me my passport would arrive in four to six weeks.
Good luck with that.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When does technology outwit a Mother's intention?

MySister and I found a Care Bear gift in our parents' basement. There are a bunch of items down here, primarily books, that our Mom wanted to see if we thought could be donated. Seeing as how the Care Bears gift comes with a VHS tape.... it's not donate-worthy. However, it also makes it a keeper!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

[Jack Bauer yell] WHO DO YOU WORK FOR!?

Nine years ago, during the 2001 World Series (that had to take place in November due to the world stopping on September 11) FOX began advertising their new drama 24.

Every commercial featured a scene with Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) yelling, "WHO DO YOU WORK FOR!?" to a seated Sarah Clarke (Nina Myers). I was interested.

Truth be told, I missed the pilot episode - and if my friend hadn't recorded it on VHS for us to watch later I might have never started watching the show... But I did... I watched them all (even after I knew the show was going downhill for good). Oddly, the friend who had recorded the pilot stopped watching - complaining, "The entire show takes place talking into a cell phone." I didn't realize how prophetic that complaint was... Both for the show, and our society.

An announced attempt to break the Guinness World Record for longest television viewing made me wish I lived in Hollywood. It's a tie-in to the show's last season's release on DVD. Even though I hated the last season, and only bought the show's first five seasons, I would've loved to have been one of those diehards watching hour after Jack Bauer hour. Odds are, by how quickly the theater got filled, I wouldn't have had a chance to get in unless Chloe opened up another socket just for me.

It took me longer searching YouTube for a clip to end this post with than the actual writing. But I think I picked a good one. 24 really didn't give much comic relief during the suspense, but when it did - it was awesome.

For the record, I posted that picture of Jack Bauer from the last seconds of Season Four to aid in the following confession: Once I found out the exact sunglasses used in the scene, Serengeti Medium Aviators, I got'em for myself.

Monday, November 22, 2010

When is it appropriate to use a cell phone at a poker table?

On Sunday I spent some four hours grinding out a small profit playing $1-$2 No Limit Hold'em, which will be a great contribution to the Vegas trip I booked less than 48 hours prior.

It was worth the hour drive to the best poker room in the Chicago Area: Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana. You get some oddballs there, as with any poker room.

Take for example, a man from Italy who had a plastic grocery bag with him filled with DVDs of Dark Shields along with laminated 8x11 glossy stills of him "in character." This man had a gold chain around his neck - a gold chain highlighted by not a cross or something you'd expect to see on jewelry. It was his name, "DJ Steve."

The entire table teased him for nearly the entire time he was at the table. He was trying to sell DVDs at $10 each. He was also telling us that he's also filming The Assassin (IMDB page not available). He asked me if I wanted to buy a DVD. I told him I was going to wait for the Director's Cut extended Blu-Ray edition, which got a chuckle from the dealer. I then turned to the dealer and said, "By the way, it's already on my NetFlix instant queue, so why would I buy it here?"

Even though he had actual DVDs and laminated movie stills - it it wasn't for my iPhone and more specifically my IMDB app, I never would've believed it. But here he is - no IMDB nonetheless.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What's the stupidiest mistake you've made on iTunes?

I've said many times, especially on this blog, that I prefer buying mp3s on Amazon over the iTunes Music Store. However, I'm still prone to making purchases like it was 2007.

After hearing a song by The Field on the epically wonderful All Songs 24/7 stream, I looked up some other tracks on YouTube. A day later, after seeing that the album was like priced on Amazon and iTunes I decided to throw a little business Apple's way (since they seem to be struggling?).

You know when you click purchase, and a window pops up saying, "Are you sure?"
If you're like me you often go, "Damnit, I clicked it - didn't I?"
Guess what sports fans, I bought the wrong album. Look at how the two different albums look alike!

Who knows why - but I went ahead and bought the album I intended to initially purchase a minute later. My intention was to write a post about how I stumbled into a wonderful bounty of music... But I hate that other album I never wanted to buy... And it seems to be infecting my enjoyment of the other album.

It's very frustrating. Some days I feel like a smart music shopper. For example, yesterday I wrote about an amazing concert that only cost me $15 (note: FREE PARKING too!). This misadventure cost me a total of $19.98... I honestly can not remember the last night I spent close to $20 in digital music on one day. Rest assured it will be a while until that is repeated.

And you can bet that spending binge won't be through Apple.

By the way, here's the song I used to like that started this mess:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How did the Spanish band Delorean reinforce my faith in strangers?

To know me is to know that I'm prone to over analysis.
It's time for one of those moments, with an added dose of linking unrelated events that really aren't linked at all.

Might I suggest having the song "Deli" by Delorean serve as your background music to this post?

The story of last Wednesday's concert at Lincoln Hall might have begun in July 2008, a couple weeks before the 7th Annual Lebowski Fest in Louisville, Kentucky. I had purchased 3 passes to the event (which ended up selling out) but it turned out I would be making the trip by myself. I sold the two passes to two strangers - a couple from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

That couple, Tara & Dan, became quick friends and remain the gold standard that "Achievers" (Fans of The Big Lebowski) are not one-dimensional. We quickly discovered that many of our musical tastes overlap - but not all, which is where the beauty lies. Since we first met over 2 years ago, we still keep in touch and like to bring new music to each others' attention.

Fast forward to last month, October: my month of Twitter immersion, where I stumbled upon this blog post from someone who is followed by Lost in Concert (another great Twit-find, for the record). The blogger of easy tiger. is a much more prolific concert goer than yours truly - and with an overlapping taste of music that reminded me of Dan & Tara. It was an insta-follow as far as I was concerned. It was the post casually mentioning Delorean, and their upcoming concert, that started my personal scouting of the band.

After a couple weeks of sampling nearly every YouTube video of the band's songs, I made the decision that I was going to try to get to this show. Yeah, it was on a Wednesday Night (a night usually reserved for basketball), but did I mention that the show was at my new favorite Lincoln Hall? Normally, I'm more focused with providing specific friends with full albums weeks in advance to get them as hyped as I am for a show. This time, I just casually Facebook posted a live version of the above track along with another live performance of a different song with an open invitation looking for someone to join me.

Much to my surprise and delight the aforementioned Tara stepped up! She was going to be in town for a major convention and wouldn't mind catching up with me while checking out a new band. She wasn't 100% certain though - it was going to have to be a game time decision due to how exhausting long days on a convention floor can become. That's why I didn't buy tickets in advance. However, I did contact Lincoln Hall (though a chat function on their website that I've never used before) and got a table reserved for us in the balcony.

Trying to continue my "thinking smartly ahead" plan I stopped by Lincoln Hall on the way to picking up Tara to buy tickets. The Lincoln Hall guy told me he was expecting the show to sell out shortly after doors opened. Initially, I had dismissed that as salesmanship but a Lincoln Hall tweet noting a recent rush of ticket purchases got me nervous. I was only able to buy one ticket, for myself, per Lincoln Hall policy. If I'm going to love their ticketless operation - and the anti scalping side effects that occur - I quickly accepted that I would just have to get Tara back to the venue quickly. Tickets remaining: 40. Well, 39 after my hand was stamped.

Being in the Lincoln Hall balcony was a first for me, normally I want to be as close to the action as possible. However, Tara doesn't have the height-specific luxuries that I have which makes being up front good for me and a obstructed experience for her. Not to mention she was later thankful for having the table and seat during the opening acts to help rest her feet (which I learned some 24 hours later included a broken toe). The songs I recognized from my YouTube tour were awesome, and the songs that I didn't recognize convinced me to buy the band's album.

I'm awful at "concert blogging" but the one thing that I took away from Delorean's performance was the enthusiasm - especially that of the keyboardist. If I were to ever have the musical ability to be in a band, I would most likely have antics similar to his. Not since the excellence of Phoenix's touring drummer had my attention been such in demand for someone not fronting a group.

If Tara had not commented on my Facebook post, I wouldn't have gone to that show. To a larger extent, if I had not been so oddly prone to talk to strangers, I never would have met Tara. And to take this to an inconceivable extent: My entire experience last Wednesday seemed to create an odd sense of self validation. In the past 3 years I've made a conscious decision to pursue my interests with more zeal (i.e. pursing my love of Lebowski, going to more concerts, and not being afraid to approach strangers). I was very thankful to Tara, and I told her such... Best drinks I've ever bought for a girl! (Note: Dan and Tara are now engaged. More proof that married, or soon to be married, women love me.)

As a post script to this great concert, I sent a message to another stranger. No, not the blogger that initially pointed me into Delorean's direction (although I will direct-message this post). Another great find is the blog Amanda's Music Selection. The writer of that blog is in Toronto, and we all know how I feel about music from Canada! We have been trading messages about musical acts and future concerts we are excited about (I'm seeing Freelance Whales, she's seeing Wolf Parade). Turns out Delorean is making a stop soon in Toronto - she may check'em out. I hope she does - if only to keep this wonderful world of strangers spinning.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Do you want to go to Vegas with me?

Start the countdown! 117 days until Vegas!

Oh God, I'm out of control giddy right now.
Seeing as how I've made quite a few concessions for this trip, you'd think my excitement might be tempered, but no.

I've never been on Spirit Airlines before... That's gonna change.
I said I wouldn't take a Red Eye home from Vegas again... That's no longer true.
Last night I swore I'd never pay more for a hotel bill in Vegas than airfare... but...

Because I used all my "Chase Ultimate Rewards" on the plane ticket along with taking the hot Red Eye fare with Spirit - I chopped by plane ticket down to a crazy low $149.05.
That's $149.05 outta pocket for the round trip muthafaaaaaaa!
(Understanding Spirit makes their bread with checking luggage and the like, I'm still going to have to navigate around any extra fees they may throw at me)

Now for the hotel, the Red Eye wrinkle means one less night I need a hotel. And that extra night was going to be one of the more expensive nights, which led me to dump my last idea of staying in an off strip motel. I picked Imperial Palace for it's location directly across the street from Caesar's (and their great late night poker tournaments) and an awesomely easy lazy stroll to my much beloved Wynn Property.

Yeah, IP isn't gonna make any panties drop - but that's not why I'm going to Las Vegas. I've also settled with the bad joke I'll be running into the ground over the next 100+ days:

Where are you staying?
"The Palace"
Caesar's Palace?
"No, the real palace - Imperial Palace."

(Then I'll start quoting a piece of the below clip from City Hall in a reference that nobody will get)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How often will the NFL Network reference the Bears one '85 loss tonight?

25 years ago the National Football League Chicago Cook County Bears of the National Football Conference Central Division did the following:

  • Wrote and Directed the Oscar wining Amadeus
  • Intimidated Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Developed an AIDS vaccine
  • Negotiated a Gaza Strip peace agreement
  • Created the concept for the iPhone
  • Lost a night game in Miami.
Go Bears!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How do you spell Palestine?

Just a quick, Song of the Moment, post as I'm heading out tonight for a late night concert...

I heard this track in the latest All Songs Considered. Since I mentioned a friend in yesterday's post - this post (specifically this song) is for my former roommate - who always holds Palestine close to his heart.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Should you care that The Beatles are on iTunes?

Today's big music news was the announcement that The Beatles are now available for purchase on Apple's iTunes Music Store. It prompted a lot of jokes and a general feeling of who cares. I even participated in some of this feigned anti-hype.

Leave it to the wonderful Alyssa Milano to set me straight:
To all of you saying "what's so amazing about the Beatles on iTunes? I ripped the cd's yrs ago?" It's not abt U. It's abt younger & future generations that rightly believe cd's R archaic & wld otherwise not have access 2 the greatness. My future children won't have access to cd's. But they will have access to iTunes. Do you think I wanted to listen to my dad's vinyl when the auto-reverse Walkman came out? Hell no. (end of rant)
She's absolutely correct. I'm thankful that I was able to get the entire Beatles catalog from a friend who, unlike me, wasn't raised in a house devoid of music. This same Beatles Giver has a good bit about how our generation has lost sight of good albums, and won't be able to pass music onto the next generation. To paraphrase the highlight of his stance, "What are people going to tell their kids when asked what they listened to? 'Uh, whatever was on YouTube.'"

In the logistical sense, how will we pass along music to our kids - literally? Are we going to toss Junior a flash drive filled with mp3s that we want listened to while operating the family hovercraft? I don't even understand how couples share music today? Do you take her, in sickness and in health, in Shania Twain and Fatboy Slim? (I will know I'm ready to marry someone when I start learning how to use iTunes' Home Sharing)

For the record (no pun intended), this news isn't as important to me as the yesterday's music news. Speaking of Yesterday...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Were you able to download Girl Talk's new album?

When I started writing this post, I had not yet downloaded Girl Talk's newest album. While I was sleeping last night, Gregg Gillis (stage name: Girl Talk) tweeted that his album All Day was available for free download. It's apparent that many people are happy to hear this, as the website isn't able to handle the onslaught of demand created by the revelation. But I was patient - hell, it's a free album and I wasn't complaining. (Especially because by the time I was wrapping up my post I had successfully completed the download!)

This news really made my Monday. And I found the process of how the news was spreading interesting - seeing which outlets were quicker than others sharing the info. Without a doubt, Twitter just positioned itself better in my mind: If you want to get pictures of children from people you barely know quickly, Facebook is there for you. But today, I wanted awesome free music. News of this event was completely absent from my Facebook feed.

Here's the time line from Twitter this morning (all times are Chicago time zone central) from the few sources that I follow:

I compiled this list during my lunch break. After which there were many other mentions and exponentially more retweets (of which yours truly would fall into). Still, it was a tough afternoon at work as I knew the world was abuzz with Girl Talk and an entire population chronicling the 373 samples.

My mind was kept at ease because of something I had done the previous Friday: Purchasing four tickets to the Girl Talk concert more than four months away. It's time to right the wrong from NYE'09!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Is The Walking Dead worth watching?

After seeing the first four hours of AMC's The Walking Dead, I'm able to confidently recommend it to others. Please set your DVRs accordingly - you'll want to catch the all but certain mini marathon which will run soon to get new fans current.

I had mixed emotions after the 2 hour premiere. It was beautifully shot and scored, with the perfect "slow burn" storytelling I was hoping to see. The only thing that was holding me back from instant acceptance were all the damn zombies. For someone who is not a horror movie watcher, let alone lover, giving this show a test might have been asking a lot.

The show's second episode was a turn in that wrong direction. Although I grew tighter with its characters, it was a very "zombies are chasing us, run run run" kind of an episode. I really needed the show to present itself for what it was going to be after that. Choose a lane.

Tonight's episode is what I hope to see tons more of. It was back to the slow burn and set the stage for what this show is really about: humans trying to survive and cope with a new reality, morals and decisions.

Fellow fans of Lost will find that a familiar, and warm, feeling. But here's the great spin on The Walking Dead. They are up front with their unbelievable flavors: Zombies and the Apocalypse. It won't lure you into a "what would you do after a plane crash?" mindset only to unleash smoke monsters, movable islands, time travel and a church-of-farting-rainbows-that-looks-a-lot-like-purgatory-but-isn't-purgatory.

Also, the show's already been picked up for another season after this one concludes. It's a show you can feel safe picking up knowing that it's going to continue. (In a related note, those of you with unwatched Rubicon episodes on your DVR can go ahead and delete those because that show was put out of its mercy earlier this week.)

Will The Walking Dead be the show that restores my faith in dramatic television? I hope so.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Did I just sleep in a sports bar?

It's 5:40 AM. Moments ago I woke up. Moments from now I'll be ND bound. Tailgating awaits us.

Due to the early start, I drove down to my friend's house in Addison, IL last night and slept on the futon in his basement sports bar, which is outfitted with the memorabilia he's collected throughout the years.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Is it too early for Christmas, er, Holiday Music?

I love Christmas music. My family only had two Christmas Music albums (Johnny Mathis & The Carpenters). We ran those cassettes into the ground!

However, I can't handle it before Thanksgiving. I had to avoid the newest blog I follow today because of the title. I'll happily return to the specific post in two weeks.

Finally, I only like "the classics" of the genre. I like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, A Charlie Brown Christmas and the two albums from my Christmas youth. I have zero interest in hearing about Taylor Swift's Silver Bells or Clay Aiken's Silent Night.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Read the Erik Larson book yet?

I've read The Devil in the White City. Truthfully, it didn't blow me away like most people who have read it. I read it about three years ago, well after most of my friends and Mom had read it. After I saw more people reading it on the eL, I read it more as a requirement for living around Chicago than anything else.

All my tepid remarks on the nonfiction work aside, I was damn near ebullient when I saw the above tweet. Leonardo DiCaprio would be perfect as the charismatic serial killer. And you just know there will be a dynamite director that's going to set the scene at the 1893 World Fair. Hopefully IMDB's 2013 projection isn't too far off.

(By the way, I am posting this on November 11, DiCaprio's birthday)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Am I a Notre Dame fan?

Please allow me to guide you through the very complicated relationship I have with my feelings in relation to the University of Notre Dame. ND is a part of my family, nothing will ever change that fact. And nothing will make me not proud of it either.

My Grandfather graduated from the University
My Grandmother worked in its library.
That's where they met, fell in love, and married in the log cabin chapel* on its campus.

My Mom, the daughter of said Grandparents, is one of four kids that has three degrees from the University between them. One Uncle has two (undergrad & law) and my other Uncle the other. Although my Aunt didn't go there for school, she married a "Double Domer" (undergrad & grad, MBA I think but am not quite sure) and has three kids that graduated from the University as well. In fact, my Aunt's youngest child (my cousin just a year older than me) was able to baptize his first born at the log cabin chapel* a couple years ago.
*yes, the same chapel

My Grandfather went on to work for the University. He managed "the A.C.C." (now called the Joyce Center), which is the twin domed building next to the football stadium:
My Grandparents are actually both buried on campus, in the official Notre Dame cemetery.
Are you starting to get the point?

The bench dedicated to my Grandfather on campus.
My Father, Mother, MySister and I total zero degrees from the University of Notre Dame. But we weren't shunned from such awesome benefits such as MySister seeing her first concert (Loverboy), me seeing Sesame Street Live and the occasional awesome seats for a football game. Most significantly, my parents had their wedding ceremony in the Basilica. (Click here if you want to know what the hell a Basilica is, or here to just see where my parents got hitched)

I was raised to cheer for the Fightin' Irish. The kind of fan that would yell at the TV like crying bloody murder at a phantom clip during Rocket's Orange Bowl Return and saving the Flanagan SI cover.

Then I decided to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I'm sure if you ask any ND fan, they wouldn't consider their relationship with MU a rivalry. Even though ND hasn't played anybody more in basketball than MU, their fans seem to think first and last with football. I used the fact that Marquette doesn't have a football team to proudly continue my fandom for the Irish while on campus at Marquette. Ask my college roommates to describe how passionate I was watching the games - they'll probably answer with an impersonation I assure you is not embellished.

Then my crazy fandom came to a crashing end in December 2002. Having graduated the previous May, I was thrilled to see that MU and ND had scheduled a game for ESPN's Big Monday (this was before MU joined the Big East - they now play yearly). At the time my Grandmother still had awesome basketball season tickets and I drove my Dad and I to South Bend. Dwyane Wade was starting to get noticed nationally and the new polls released that day had Marquette ranked #10 (the highest I have ever seen them ranked since I became a fan). We lost that game. My misery was capped off by the student section chanting "O-VER-RA-TED." I felt so awful I asked my Dad to drive my car home... Ever since that day, I've never been the same rooting for the Fightin' Irish. Even though that season Marquette went on to the Final Four, my strongest memory from that season was that awful night at the A.C.C. (I don't call it the Joyce Center).

Many people hate Notre Dame. Words like abhor and loathe could even be used. Reasons for people thinking this way are varied as a strong kinship with a fellow rival (such as Michigan) to an opinion that the institution is an example of entitlement and arrogance. Some hardcore pro-ND people even go as far as to believe the hatred is tied to the University's Catholic identity and know that some people just love to knock it... (They also like to cite jealousy, which of course doesn't improve the perception of others)

But some of the strongest fans of the University of Notre Dame that I know are family members I've known my entire life. I love them. Of course I'm biased. Sure, I'm know many people may have a conceited jerk at their company with Rudy as their screen saver - but that guy would've been a jerk no matter where he attended school. Not to mention, all schools have their pompous preachers. I like to judge my opinion on schools by the people that I've known from those schools. For example, I can't tell you how many people - great people - I keep meeting who are Purdue Boilermakers. It makes me root for their team more each year...

Incredibly long blog post story short: I have way too many great experiences with the University of Notre Dame to not be a fan of the place... The team, on the other hand, is another story as I have major reservations around its sports program not limited to rivalries with Marquette (I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the gigantic bag of wrong that led to the recent death of a student videographer.). Sadly, I know I have family members that think I root against ND - their interpretation of my lost 100% loyalty. However, my positive experiences outweigh any negativity.

Which is why, when offered a spare ticket to this Saturday's game at Notre Dame Stadium, I happily insta-accepted.

In closing, there is a quote from comic/actor Brian Posehn from when he was interviewed on the Nerdist Podcast (the 35th minute of episode 42 to be exact) that sums up how I feel about ND, how I like them, and how I don't really like it when other people hate on them...

"I love [heavy] Metal [music] like my retarded cousin... like I can make fun of them... but anybody else... don't make fun of my retarded cousin"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Do you download the free songs off has the track "lovers' carvings" by Bibio is free to download for a "limited time." I downloaded this song last year, also for free. It's not known to me if its been free the entire time from then until now... but that's besides the point.

This is a high quality tune - landing itself into into the first draft when I compiled by best songs of 2009... It's worth checking out, especially for the price.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Have you seen it all?

"Have you seen the great wall?"

"All walls are great if the roof doesn't fall."

When the below embedded song came up on shuffle the other day, it forced me to face the fact that its been ten years since I saw Dancer in the Dark at the Oriental Theater in Milwaukee. Anytime I'm asked to name the best movies I've seen, this film always comes immediately to my mind. I remember seeing it on the Thursday night before something new was going to push it out of the screen. After telling her I was planning on going to it alone, my friend Christina (a fellow Björk fan) joined me. It's rough to admit, but I have never been as emotionally affected before or since in a theater.

It's not a movie for everybody. One of my closest friends openly laughed at its ending. Also, my fan loyalty for Björk had me in the most accepting mindset possible for this experimental film.

The accompanying Selmasongs album was also very much loved by me. Highlighted by "I've Seen it All" (featuring Radiohead's Thom Yorke), which was a song that was on near perpetual repeat walking to class in the weeks that ensued. It was nominated for "Best Original Song" that year at the Oscars. Yorke was supposed to accompany Björk in the performance - along with an entire Orchestra in the background. However, the song was shorted for time - and all that people remember today is a swan dress.

Every year the Oriental Theater in Milwaukee sells its movie posters of the past year. I scouted out that day in (by then 2001) and woke up early on a Saturday to take the half hour bus ride needed to secure the above poster... Which proudly hangs in my condo to this day.

I can not recommend the movie to you. If only because there is a high chance that you will not like it and I do want to express to you why I love it so much. On the other hand, I think the song is beautiful for all and think you would like hearing it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Do you want to go see Freelance Whales?

Go download one of the best songs of (year undetermined) for free!
Freelance Whales, on the front page of their website ( and MySpace page (, are giving away "Generator^Second Floor" for free.

I have two tickets to see them the first Thursday of December at my favorite venue: Lincoln Hall.
Looks like that self-made-promise of not buying tickets until I know exactly who I'm going with didn't last.

By the way, you can also download the track "Location" if you are signed up on Daytrotter.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I know you are, but what am I?

I am a fan of Pee Wee Herman. Have you seen Pee Wee's Big Adventure recently? If you liked it then, you will like it now. It's actually the first "movie" I watched after downloading the NetFlix app for my phone (MySister can attest to this fact).

"Pee Wee's Playhouse" was the last "kids" show I watched on Saturday morning when I was a kid. Shortly later in my life my Saturday mornings were filled with Zach Morris and Ahmad Rashad.

[I'm not going to get into the career valley of Paul Reubens here, or make a joke]

Pee-Wee's back - that's what you need to know. Earlier this year he reinvigorated the 'Playhouse in a Los Angeles theater. People my age, who were kids in his prime, were more than willing to pay for the flashback.

It seems the show was successful enough to bring him out to Broadway. To help promote the show, there was a free photostrip app (free download) which I acquired the day it debuted in the iTunes Store. As you can see, I posted my first effort.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Have you heard the new All Songs 24/7?

If you haven't heard NPR's newly launched All Songs 24/7 streaming music channel, check it out. Well, only if you like the same kind of Indie Rock that I love...

Every day I'm thankful that I can listen to my own music at work. I've been solely an iPod guy while many others plug into Pandora or their XM/Sirius feed thorough their computers. There are a few computer applications/programs I use that can't be muted and my headphone cord is just a tad too short to make a comfortable stretch from the jack to my ears. However, push came to shove when I forgot to charge my iPod and was facing dead silence at work.

Luckily, my backup is my phone - and I was able to finally try out the All Songs 24/7 offering from NPR's app. (note that the same feed is available though the

The All Songs Considered program turned ten years old recently. The crew behind it gathered every song from their ten years of episodes to provide the content for the 24/7 stream. I've been listening to it for a significant time each work day for the past two weeks and haven't heard a song repeated yet! What I love the best is that it's a lot like if my iPod was on shuffle, with how it seems to play one of my favorites that I happen to own about twice an hour.

This afternoon, for example, it played a song that I remember really digging when it was on the show - but I never ended up buying the song... The below track by Flying Lotus was the musical highlight of the afternoon:

All Songs Considered has been one of my favorite podcasts for the last two plus years. It was an undisputed #1 until recently losing it's top spot to Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, but that's a different story.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who wanted to be in Red Eye for a week?

One of the people I follow, Elliott Serrano (@GeekToMe), passed along a contest by an editor at the Chicago Tribune's microblog Five on Five. I heard that opportunity and hoped to lazily wedge my foot into the knocking door.

Mr. Serrano tweeted that Five on Five was the path to his blog. Cue delusions of grandeur. Or at least, delusions of free paper temporary notoriety. "Yes, I think it's apt for me to have a week long showcase since my blog already has a question theme." Or maybe this fantasy conversation would mention that it was destiny?

Look how close I came!

I wrote to the winner, @downers89, "congratulations.... I type that as insincerely as one who was the 1499th follower can."

Admittedly, I only clicked follow for this contest. However, I'm not going to unfollow like a bunch of us greedy tweeters did. Mr. Moore's on a follow tryout, which he'll surely pass if he is as useful as his @GeekToMe associate.

Maybe I'll try to get into this thing the old fashioned way of answering the five questions of others in the hopes of being contacted? Time will tell. But I'll tell ya: getting that thing would've been quite a bump to my narcissism.

In a related note, all my friends are probably happy I didn't win this because I would've been in everyone's grill that entire week demanding they pay more attention to Red Eye than a baby on a ledge.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Have you eaten a McRib?

I love McDonald's.... Immensely... I can put in a majorly huge order if so destructively motivated. Screw it, I'll eat an entire white bag of hot fries if given the opportunity. So, with that being said, how is it that I've never had a McRib?

It's such an iconic menu item. You hear of its reappearance like a rumor in the wind. And it disappears with as much mystery. Even people who don't like McDonald's like this item.

While standing in line at lunch at maybe it's polar opposite counterpart, Panera, I saw a tweet from a local photographer, concert/music enthusiast, Will Rice confessing his McRibless life.

It got me to thinking... Who else is out there? I'm not just talking about Vegetarians. I'm interested in people who willingly go to McDonald's but have never ordered the McRib.

Mr. Rice also mentioned, via Twitter, that he has also abstained from the Big Mac. This doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me because we've all had the components that make up the Big Mac in other menu items. Whether you know it or not, you've probably eaten a Big Mac. On the other hand, there's no sideways route to the McRib.

Tell me: Have you or have you not eaten a McRib?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What did I do without Facebook?

A man I just met last night told me that it takes a couple months to "find your voice" on Twitter. He may be on to something, for all I know I spent the majority of my "month off Facebook, but on Twitter" not knowing who to be or what to say on Twitter. By the end of the month I finally settled upon a picture to post, name to use and bio to write.

So what did replace my time during October? Did I do something productive? Not really. I ended up spending a lot of time thinking about my blog (and more time writing). I changed my top logo, updated my far too outdated profile picture, widened the layout and tweaked the design template.

I understand that most people don't go to this site unless they click a link from their Facebook feed. Also, I don't think anybody would read the 20 posts written during the hiatus (which is the 3rd highest volume number in the five years I've been blogging). Here are the three posts I was most proud of, that if you have some more time to kill, that might be worth a click:

*Which is not saying a lot. Double because some of the comments are from me thanking the strangers that commented. I wonder if there was some search that disgruntled fans were typing into Google that was pointing them in my direction. Regardless, it's a post that was tough for me to write, but very self gratifying.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Are you a narcissist?

Kevin Pollak once asked me if I was a narcissist.

My level of narcissism has been precisely defined. It's at the relatively high level that propels me to write three different blogs because I think people actually want to read what I'm writing. However, it is not in the mesosphere range necessary to thrive on Twitter.

From another, more brutal, perspective: People who know me, who tolerate and understand me, are more prone to read my blog than the strangers of the Twitterverse. And that's more than okay with me. I'm not very comfortable putting myself out there with well choreographed tweets to build a base of followers.

I'm in the midst of an identity crisis... A virtual (social networky) identity crisis. I thought Twitter would help me think though this... I'm still thinking...

That sideways comment aside, I do think Twitter is worth it.
If you spend a lot of time online, and rely on it for infotainment, you should be on Twitter... But know who you want to be on Twitter. Most users fall into either active or passive categories. Those "actives" are not just the people that tweet what they had for lunch (those people give Twitter a bad reputation). The better "actives" have a definite strategy behind their tweets. They tweet consistently but not extravagantly, usually around the same time of the day and are wise to talk as much (if not more) about others than themselves. They want people to follow and aren't shy to follow others. They use their real name.

Although in my most vivid narcissist dreams I have followers in the 5 digit range and get retweeted daily, that's just not going to happen unless I do something entirely stupid [like fall ass backwards into unwanted infamy]. The other way to get a huge follower base is through a lot of networking, more self promotion and hard work. More importantly, my content is not where it needs to be to prevent strangers "unfollowing." (A feeling that somehow stung more than a FB defrinding)

One more negative aspect of Twitter I can't deny: I feel like I'm stalking. I almost wish there was more of a permission stage when I want to follow a stranger... I want to declare why and my intent for the follow. But most people on Twitter want to be stalked. They use it as their stalker bait engine. Although I was appreciate to have received the track I had blogged about, it was still somewhat of a shock.

For now I'll continue on Twitter passively. The twenty or so comics I follow are more than great. God help them if I ever see them in an airport terminal or something. I might even "unlike" some of the overlap from Facebook because I think Facebook works best with people you know and Twitter works best with people you don't. It will still be an enjoyable experience to see what's trending and participate in odd hashtag games. More importantly, I'm gonna win free tickets to a concert by retweeting if it's the last thing I do!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Did you watch the first season of Covert Affairs?

Honestly, I never thought I'd think of Piper Perabo as anything more than the outline of her character in Coyote Ugly. That was an awful way to judge an actress - judging a role not seen in its entirety, but only from clips of TV Spots and Trailers.

If you saw the first season of the new USA draction (get it?) Covert Affairs you were probably as pleasantly surprised by Perabo as I was. She's not going to be nominated for an Emmy, but she made the show a fun and interesting watch although I did have issues with some of the direction the writers chose.

There are a lot of shows out there that are quazi-throwbacks to shows such as The A-Team or even The Incredible Hulk in which the viewer is required to suspend some belief to rationalize a bunch of lunacy in the plot or characters. But it's a refreshing watch - these shows such as Justified and the new Hawaii 5-0. Not every show needs to be held to standards such as The Wire for cultural relevancy or 24 for nonstop intensity.

And for me, trying to open up to new shows in a post Lost world, I take comfort in the entertainment a perky new CIA agent running down trains and foiling international plots in the interest of National Security provides.

By the way, I did hope to continue my recent Monday theme of "Woman of Note over 30" but I needed to post this a day earlier for two reasons. I already have a post I've been wanting to post on November 1 and today is actually Parabo's birthday. Once again, if not for IMDB's front page of new birthdays, I would have assumed she was well under 30.

Pieper, I hope you enjoy the company of Minka, Amber, and Kim.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What is the cost of free HBO?

I was hesitant when I first read "FREE HBO FOR 3 MONTHS (NO STRINGS ATTACHED)." I actually asked a couple friends if it was legit, and there was really no meaning to not think it was such since it did come from my Cable TV provider, not some unrecognizable 3rd party. It was agreed that the offer was a mix between banking on people either falling in love with HBO and will be convinced that they need to pay going forward or that people may be too lazy to cancel it once the free period ends.

The true cost was experienced today, as I waited until just a day before offer expired (I wanted to wait in order to have as much content available in On Demand as possible before the clock started ticking). The final step in the free sign up is a required "chat session" with the Comcast Analyst completing the order. But, it's worth it. I'll take 15 minutes of my day and typing "no" three times to their other special offers that are not free. I think that Comcast is willing to give me 3 months of HBO in order to have my undivided attention to sell me more of their products (since I don't pick up their telemarketer calls or open their mailed literature).

What's first? True Blood boobs, Entourage anal sex jokes, Real Time liberalism, Boardwalk Empire blood, In Treatment psychoanalysis or (insert Matt Damon movie title here)?