Archive for July, 2008

Spa Breakfasts and the Endless Loop

July 17, 2008

I was having breakfast at the Westin in Coutyard Square in Alexandria,VA. The whole hi-end spa fee was a little eerie. Especially when you the hotels promotional channel featured an attractive, professional looking young woman mentioning “mature, adult films” as one your options

When ever I am in one place for too long, and feel a wee bit trapped, i dream of being in an endless loop of that place. I particulary had that dream in my old high school during winter, when wrestling and rehearsals kept me there seven days a week sometimes. The dreams weren’t nightmarish, just strange. I’d pass the time spotting variations on reality, just going with it.

The  Chemical Brothers’ ‘Star Guitar’ video, a favorite, captures that feel perfectly.-

Alexandria and it’s environs really evoked that sensation. It’s like driving through canyon’s of brick and sandstone. The newer construction, trying to capture the colonial feel,  just leaves a sense of vertigo, as buildings merge into each other without distinction.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s pretty, people are really nice, and I’m sure that if I wasn’t staying in the hole in spacetime that is Courthouse Square, I wouldn’t be feeling the full effects of realtemporal disruption.

Ah, technobabble and over-priced hotel breakfast. The two great tastes that go great together.

As for why I was in Alexandria, that’s a secret I’ll never, never tell.

XOX…. damn, I need more cofee.

By the by, this was the first of hopefully many posts began on Word-To-Go on my TungstenE2. Working out a check on Excel-to-Go, I realized I had a portable tool that would actually let me get some writing done on they fly, without lugging around a laptop and all the paranoia that comes with it.

We’ll see where this one more step into cheap ass portable computing takes me.

THE GRAND TOUR- and yes, I’m way too like that guy in High Fidelity.

July 15, 2008

So I’m on my third day of a stay at home vacation, and I’ve just started a monumental project.

No cleaning up the damn place isn’t monumental. Just time consuming. And you wouldn’t believe the progress I made in the kitchen in just a couple of hours. I may, I don’t know… start eating in there with a book instead of sitting with bad posture in the entertainment area watching ‘Weeds’ on DVR and trying to figure out why I bother with the show.

No.. the Grand Tour of the CD collection. A to Z, baby.

The first time I heard of someone doing this was about ’95, a long time friend, Chris Warner, had started through his collection. Now, I can’t tell you from many how many he had, but while I go beyond the shallow end of the pool that is music, he went all the way to the deep end. Zappa, Zorn, Gwar, Beefheart… the artists people might have one or two cd’s of to show off how cool they are, he really gets and digs

So his Grand Tour was more dangerous than most folks. He got through it… astoundingly unchanged.

My collection, while consisting of way too many cd’s ( no mom, I’m not selling them all after putting them on hard drive and DVD. After all, either could fade way too soon, and constantly archiving the archive is just not a goal in my life at this time.), will be less of a journey to the heart of musical darkness.

No Mariah, Celine, Britney, Barbara, Bette, Osmond or Slim Whitman. Some may appear on Soundtracks, but that’s it.

Everyone has their own rules on how to take  Grand Tour, certainly their own alphabetization of their collections. Whether to list “The Who” under T or W. Whether Wes Anderson should be considered an artist ( for musical purposes. As much as he can show some room for growth, c’mon. This is a filmmaker who speaks in hope. GIVE IT UP FOR HIM!)

The strict Grand Tour is simply that. You listen through your entire collection, A-Z. Each Artist/Group sorted alphabetically, then chronologically. Ideally, you keep some record of it (Spreadsheets do the geek mind good), and find some CD’s that suck enough to either dump after copying, or suck so hard you just sell the fuckers. No questions asked.

My Grand Tour is not so doctrinaire. I’ve set some rules for the sake of sanity, speed, and the hope to dig consistently deep enough into my collection I don’t give up out of boredom somewhere around Depeche Mode or Erasure ( dude, Erasure made a LOOOOOOOOOOTTTT of CD singles.)

1) If a CD has been listened too repeatedly enough, you may log it as listened too and move on.
“A Life Less Ordinary.” Listened to death. First CD in the collection. Know it, love it. Why waste time revisiting it when I know will again, and again?

If there is any doubt, or you can’t recall listening to the CD within 2 years, then keep it on the Tour.

2) Group Hopping- Systematically skipping back and forth in your collection when faced with a huge number of CD’s by a particular artist/group

If you’re an obsessive, a geek, a completest or some form of freak I don’t currently have the definition for, you will make every effort to have every CD by a group in your collection. I don’t just mean the albums. I mean the cd singles, the imports with songs you wouldn’t get in the US until you buy the ‘best of’ cd that includes an extra cd with the songs you bought the imports to get, and so forth.

(I pity die-hard Green Day fans. Not for liking Green Day- the boys rock. But Green Day Fans they have to track down every CD Green Day puts out as another band, and decide whether to sort them under Green Day, or the band the name used for that project.

Green Day die hards- i raise my Excederin to you.)

I mentioned Depeche Mode and Erasure above. U2, James… heck, imagine the dilemma if if I had a sizable Dead or Stones presence in my collection?

Group Hopping is allowable, but only in batches of 2. In otherwords, after listening to two CD’s ( or at least 4  EP’s) by a single artists, you are allowed to skip to the next artist. HOWEVER, you must maintain chronological order.

3) Actual CD’s versus Downloads- Should you include virtual albums in the Grand Tour?

This is a big one. For some folks, the majority of their collection is on a hard drive, hell, the majority of their collection may not even be paid for. We all have had lapses when it comes to copyright protection, but the Grand Tour is an epic undertaking. Simply turning on iTunes and activating a playlists lessens it.

Here’s my take on cd’s vs. downlods- Unless your collection is overwhelmingly downloads, the Grand Tour should be actual CD’s first, with a virtual tour second. Use of iPods for ripped albums is allowable, but not ideal.

And making CD back up of downloaded albums isn’t the worst idea, and would give you poor home stereo system a chance to sing. It’s feeling very neglected these days.

If your collection is overwhelmingly downloads, then yes, a virtual Grand Tour is appropriate. Just stick to the rules, and listen to each album one at a time. Just listening through a playlist of kazillions of songs undermines the chance to listen to each album, AND increases the chance of it all becoming background noise.

Why take a Grand Tour if you aren’t going to take in the sounds?

Oh, and if you find the majority of your collection is illegal downloads, why not start looking online for used CD’s? Check out local record stores- besides full price, you can find some great bargain bins, particularly at Virgin these days. Or buy the downloads from a legal online entity of your choice.

The artist may not get all the money they deserve from these sales, but at least someone who worked to get the music out there will get paid for it.

4) Breaks In The Grand Tour- taking time off from the tour to listen to CD’s out of order.

Now, breaks kill Grand Tours dead. No two ways about it. Breaking requires the utmost discipline.

You should only break if

– you are mixing a high priority compilation ( and yes, I know mixes are copyright violations. I’m in the black ethically on this one, and recognize it.)

-you get a new CD that you have to listen to for professional reasons. This happens so rarely for most of us, but some folks have a job based on keeping current in music.

-you get one CD by a new artist that you have to listen now or you will absolutely die. Literally.

Look, avoid breaks in the Grand Tour. You will be a better obsessive for it.

So any Grand Tour stories you want to sure? Special rules you’d like to add?

Join the Confusion.

Salon Reviews “Y-The Last Man.”

July 15, 2008

It’s been a good day, net wise. Finally posted and did some replies, Added some more folks to my blog roll.

Yay, accomplishing one or two things.

I also caught up on Salon, where Douglas Wolk was reviewing “Y-The Last Man.” Now, Wolk’s review is pretty good, except he argues that Y is really putting a “wig on the world”, that it’s the women don’t really act like women in it.

Well, the bad news is my response is a mess grammatically. Some of the points are dropped.


The good news, is despite the mess that it was, my post was one of the Editor’s choices. Hopefully I stand firmly in the gender equality realm, rather than with the feminist back lash crowd. There are some dudes who really need some hugs, from the look of some of the responses.

Most importantly… go buy “Y.” It’s worth a trip to your nearest comic store, even if you are not a comics reader.

And I’ll take more care in the crafting of my internet blather.
Here’s the original review-

Duffy- No Restraining Order Required.

July 14, 2008

The nice thing about working too much in insane schedules is you can more easily opt in and out of hype. You let artists pop in and out of your consciousness until you finally give during the monthly/bi-monthly media splurge

Duffy I’ve been hearing good stuff about, and she is one of those people who are designed at a genetic level for me. Gaelic, having a nicely retro look, actually possessing her own eye-brows, incontestably a talented singer, and also responsible for her own sound and content. Yeah, she has writing partners, yeah she survived a “Welsh Idol”, but the girl found her own place in the North Atlantic Blue-Eyed Soul Movement ( aka, really, really white girls singing old school style soul. And yeah, they ain’t all Blue Eyed. Why North Atlantic? Cause they ain’t all English, kid. That’s why.)

Plus a song called “Warwick Avenue?” I lived there. Have nice nostalgic connections, even at least one last good bye there that haunts me to this day.

In a nice way.

So having bough the album, watched some videos, let my eyes drift over those lovely cheek bones, yeah.

No restraining order required

Of course I have my Siren Obessions. Lilly- still dig her, but Lily has to prove she has another album in her. I had to reassure Nina Persson I still have a place for her in my heart, and pondering whether Britta Phillips over all coolness is multiplied by having been Jem, or expanded exponentially by having been Jem.

(Hearing her belt “BAYYYYYYYYYYBBEEEEEEEEEEEEE-EEEEEEEEEEEEE!” less than ten feet awayat Max’s in Hoboken on New Years Eve… yeah, time was spent deciding whether Dean was to be more hated, respected, or congratulated>)

But back to obsessing or not obsessing about Duffy.

Is she rilly rilly cool? No. rilly cool? Yeah

I’ve listened through Rockferry a couple of times, and the songs just sound a little too similar. The real emotion the lyrics promise never comes through.

Through no intention of her own, she comes across as a safer Amy Winehouse. And Amy Winehouse, as any one who really has their head too far up music’s a…. uhm, follows music really closely, well to you owes it all to Sharon Jones and the Dapp-Kings.
So, Duffy, we can just be acquaintances. I will enjoy your songs, and let others obesses.

But let it go. Really get that growl in there. And someday, maybe you will be ready for the summons.