Friday, August 26, 2005

A moment

I was laying in bed with Anna tonight while she was going to sleep. This is a pretty common thing as she's kind of in a stage right now where she doesn't want to go to sleep by herself and needs/wants someone to stay with her until she falls asleep. And I really don't mind because I'm usually kinda tired myself and it's a good way for us to be together, especially after I've been at work all day. Well anyway, we were laying in her bed and we were watching Cher's Believe Tour DVD on her TV. In a fit of I-don't-know-what, I asked her, "Anna, will you always watch Cher with me?" And she threw her arms around my neck and said "Yeah, daddy!"

It's moments like those that melt my heart and that you can't put a price on.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Feels like I'm going to lose my mind...

For reasons not-quite unexplained, I've really been into "Borderline" these days. It's one of the best of Madonna's early works--one I really wish she would perform live now. There were a few weeks when rumors coming out of Madonna message boards were saying that "Borderline" was part of the Re-Invention Tour set list. Alas, it did not end up being on the set list, much to my chagrin. Although "Burning Up" (another of my faves from the early days) did make the list, I would have loved to hear "Borderline."

So this morning, before Anna got up, I put on The Immaculate Collection DVD and cued up "Borderline." For kind of a throwaway video (in sharp contrast to videos like "Like A Prayer," "Vogue," and even lesser known tracks like "Deeper & Deeper" and "Bad Girl") it really holds its own. Perhaps its because its one of those original videos from around the time that MTV was born. Sometimes it's hard to tell which came first, Madonna's videos or MTV. They were a perfect match--of course, now that MTV doesn't play videos, it's not surprising that her later videos have less of a pop cultural influence.

I'll always love "Borderline." It was probably the song that brought me into the Madonna fold. And she looks so darn young in that video! It's almost hard to believe it's the same person.

(And for those of you following along, the reason I'm so into "Borderline" these days is due in no small part to Rob Thomas, who covered "Borderline" for some acoustic concert somewhere, an mp3 of which inevitably ended up on the web and consequently in my collection.)

Here's to hoping that she heals quickly from her tumble from the horse, and that when she tours in 2006 she'll be playing "Borderline" at long last.

(picture courtesy All About Madonna)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Another one for "the more things change..." file:

I found out the other day that Barbra Streisand is releasing a new CD in September called Guilty Pleasures. This is cracking me up because this CD is a "follow-up" of sorts to the 1980 CD Guilty. Both CDs were collaborations with Barry Gibb, both CDs featured a cover shot of Babs and Barry. Guilty Pleasures is even using the EXACT SAME FONT & FORMAT for the album title. Check it out:


Those of you who know me well know that I'll be purchasing this CD first thing on September 20th. (I wonder if I have the day off work that day.) This is kind of exciting because while I don't expect any barn-burners a la "The Main Event/Fight," it has the potential to be a little more exciting material that Babs has put out in the past few years.

I e-mailed this to Jeff and he called me last night and he said "My God! It looks like Barry has his hand up her ass or something! And did they get him out of the nursing home?!?" Time may have not been good to Barry, but at least Barbra rethought that Ogilvie home perm.

Salon.com | Is Dolly Parton antiwar?

Salon.com | Is Dolly Parton antiwar?

This is a great article that's making the rounds in the blogosphere. It's currently the most blogged Salon.com article. While the author kind of hems and haws around it, I'd wager a fair amount of money that Dolly has more liberal political leanings than most other country singers.

The author mentions how Dolly probably "cannot afford to go all Dixie Chicks on her red-state fan base." I'd say the red states are a tiny fraction of her fan base. Anybody with as much of a gay following as Dolly undoubtedly has is almost 100% not subscribing to the neo-con philosophy the current government has put on the country.

Go Dolly! I knew there was more to like than rhinestones, big boobs and tragic-comic songs like "Evening Shade" and "Daddy's Moonshine Still."

Suspend me in time


Yesterday I was at the park with Anna. She was having a great old time playing on an old fire engine with some other kids while I read my book and listened to my iPod. Well, while I was sitting there, the Olivia Newton-John song "Suspended In Time" from Xanadu came on. And I couldn't help but think back 25 years when I first saw that movie. We bought the soundtrack (on 8-track tape even!) on the way home from the movie and I listened to it until it was worn out.

Here I am, 25 years later, *still* listening to "Suspended In Time" (this time on a digital music player) watching my nearly 4-year old run around. Am I suspended in time? It sure feels like it sometimes. The more things change, I tell ya.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Great mail today

I got my Casey Stratton live at the Intersection CD in the mail today!! I was a little hesitant about buying it--only because they said it had "bootleg" sound quality (i.e., it was recorded from the audience) so I wasn't sure that it would be worth 28 bucks, but heck, it's helping Casey pay his rent so what the hell? Well, it's really awesome. 2 CDs--an hour and 50 minutes total. Casey sounds great and it just makes me eager as hell for DIVIDE to come out this fall (October 11th if all goes according to plan.)

Probably my favorite part of the whole CD is that I finally have a decent recording of "Opaline" until DIVIDE comes out. I remember hearing that song when Casey performed at the m-Shop here in Ames and turning to one of the other Yahoo! group members and saying "Which CD is that from?" because I knew that there was a lot of stuff that I hadn't heard. Alas, it was from the upcoming CD. Someone captured video from that concert and put it on the web but the sound quality was not the greatest, so this is fantastic. I can't wait to hear the studio version.

This baby is going into heavy rotation on my iPod, I can tell already.

(photo courtesy of A Shift Inside)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Power puff skeletal remains

Over here, there's a guy who has drawn the skeletal systems of popular cartoon characters. This one, is by far my favorite.


Check out those eye sockets!! It's almost as if something from my nightmares has manifested.

Summer Upbeat Mix: Volume 1

I’m finally getting around to posting my Summer Upbeat Mix track list. I know there’s at least one person eager to read it and I’ve been exceptionally delinquent in getting it on here. Personally, I think it’s probably the best one that I’ve ever done—and I thought last year’s was pretty dang decent. So without further adieu, here’s volume one.

  1. New Order – “Dracula’s Castle” I downloaded a handful of tracks off of New Order’s new CD, Waiting for the Siren’s Call. Wendy is a big New Order fan, but I’m pretty much a fair weather one. I love “True Faith” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” but hadn’t really listened to much else by New Order. Well, I couldn’t resist a track with the name “Dracula’s Castle” so I bought it based on the 30 second sound snippet on iTunes. A great return-to-form for New Order.

  2. Amy Grant – “Happy” I got this track from Jeff who had bought Amy Grant’s CD Simple Things and been disappointed (as he usually is with impulse CD purchases.) Admittedly, it’s not her strongest outing, but this song kicks off the CD and is a great one. Easily one of her best secular pop songs in a great long while.

  3. The Killers –“ Mr. Brightside (Romantic Radio Edit)” I got turned on to The Killers via the fantastic Jacque LuCont remix of “Mr. Brightside” on iTunes. (Incidentally, if that remix is any indication at all of what might come of his collaboration with Madonna, November just got that much further away.) This remix came from arjanwrites.com, which I read because it has great links to new music. I love how the song got kicked into high gear + you’re never entirely sure who Brandon Flowers is talking about.

  4. Gloria Estefan – “Cuba Libre” One morning as I was waking up, Heidi was playing the all-dance CD Gloria did a few years back. And for some reason, this one stuck with me. I’ve always been fond of Gloria’s Spanish language stuff, especially recently because her English-language stuff seems so uninspired. I heard “Always Tomorrow” in Borders the other night and was reminded how bad she can really be, but this song is really fun.

  5. Amber – ”Above The Clouds” This song plays over the end of last episode of the third season of “Sex & The City.” I tried like mad to figure out what the name of the song was and then one day, I stumbled across the information online (and I remember Googling it quite seriously.) Unfortunately, it wasn’t available on iTunes. Fortunately, it was available at the local library.

  6. Sinead O’Connor – “Mandinka” This is a bizarre song that I added because I rediscovered it this summer. It makes no freaking sense. But I love it. Oddly, it wasn’t the first song by Sinead O’Connor I heard—it was “I Want Your (Hands On Me)”—featured rather prominently in one of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies—can’t remember which.

  7. Everything But The Girl – “Missing (CL McSpadden Unreleased Powerhouse Mix)” A great remix of EBTG’s classic 90s song “Missing.” Truth be told, I think I’m probably more fond of the original version of “Missing” (i.e., the non-dance one) and I’m amazed that I don’t have it somewhere in my MP3 collection.

  8. Dave Matthews Band – “American Baby” I came this close to buying the new DMB CD, but when I heard that it was copy protected and couldn’t be transferred to iPod without significant effort, I pretty much said “Screw this, I only sorta like them anyway.” I bought this song off iTunes as a prerelease. It’s not really “upbeat” so to speak, but it’s a good summer song. I’m surprised I didn’t hear more of than I did. Of course, I barely listen to the radio at all, so I really haven’t the slightest idea how it did chart wise.

  9. Casey Stratton – “Blood” Casey Stratton is my discovery of the year. He’s another artist I discovered thanks to arjanwrites.com and I have pretty much bought up just about everything I possibly can that he’s recorded in the last 4 months. I purchased his absolutely great major label debut, Standing at the Edge, off iTunes piecemeal using winning Pepsi caps and there was a time earlier this spring that I didn’t listen to anything but Casey. I even got Heidi to listen to him, and our musical tastes don’t always coincide all that well. I love this song so much—the minor key, the syncopation, everything about it (ok, save maybe the heavy breathing at the end.) I saw him perform it live here in Ames last April where I picked up a couple of his old CDs when he was indie. And he’s going to be indie again, having severed his relationship with Sony in favor of promoting himself. Check out Casey. He’s freaking awesome.

  10. Tina Turner – “Nutbush City Limits (The 90s Version) This was always one of those “eh, it’s ok” songs on Tina’s Simply The Best collection. But years later, I just couldn’t stop listening to it this summer. My one recollection of this song from college is being at this friend of my roommate’s house and he was playing this song saying “I just have to play this for the DJs down at the 620 (local gay bar in Iowa City.) And it’s got a pretty fun dance beat. Plus you just can’t beat the first line “Church house/gin house/school house/outhouse.” It makes me laugh every single time.

  11. Dolly Parton – “Rocky Top (Live)” I’ve been dying for a recorded version of Dolly doing “Rocky Top” forever. I downloaded a version of “Rocky Top” back in the Audiogalaxy days labeled as being Dolly, but ended up being the Osborne Brothers. Well, this one just kicks ass. Dolly is as cornpone as ever on this opening the song with a reference to the previous song on the set list, “Little Sparrow”: “Now personally, I think I should have called that song “Little Pigeon”—took a big dump on his head and flew to Rocky Top.” And she sings the hell out of this. But my favorite part of the song is after the song’s over and she says “Whoo! That was a high note there on the end. My thong’s a-ridin’ up.” Disturbing to think about Dolly wearing a thong.

  12. Gwen Stefani – “Hollaback Girl” This was a song that I absolutely hated when Gwen’s CD came out. I thought it was annoying and stupid and I just never got into it. But, by God, they made it a single anyway and then the damn thing crawled into my brain and stuck there. Some great mash-ups have been done with this song, my personal favorites being the mash-up with “I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow” from O Brother Where Art Thou? and the one where they combined it with “Need You Tonight” by INXS. I’ve really grown to like this song a lot now, which is saying a lot considering how much I hated it to start with.

  13. Scissor Sisters – “Filthy/Gorgeous” I love the Scissor Sisters. They are so campy and over the top, I just can’t get enough of them. And this is Heidi’s favorite Scissor Sisters song. It became the theme song to one of her characters in her WIP, so we listened to it A LOT this summer. Anna even sings along to the chorus, which is equal parts disturbing and cute.

  14. Delerium – “Underwater (Mauve’s Dark Vocal Mix) This song played over a Club Babylon scene in the second season of “Queer As Folk” which Heidi and I are devouring on DVD courtesy of Netflix. Heidi’s been into Delerium for a while now, and their remixes are really great. I’ve never even heard the original version of “Underwater,” but this one was worth a purchase on iTunes. Come to find out, it also made the cut for the “Queer As Folk” Season Two soundtrack which I’m sure we’ll acquire eventually.

  15. Billy Joel – “The Entertainer” This is one of my favorite obscure Billy Joel songs. Well, not really obscure because it is on his Greatest Hits CD, but it’s not one you think of when you think of Billy Joel. It’s basically a cynical take on fame and the music industry—and the really funny thing about it is that it’s such a damn happy song. It came from one of Billy Joel’s first albums, so apparently he was a quick learner in the music biz. I love it because the synthesizer music reminds me of a kid’s show that played on PBS when I was a kid called “All About You, my sole memory of which is the episode about how you shouldn’t hide in refrigerators.

  16. Green Day – “Holiday” Until earlier this year, I had never purchased anything Green Day had ever done. But I downloaded the whole blasted American Idiot CD off iTunes because it appealed to my liberal sensibilities and because I loved the two lead off singles. And this just follows in the footsteps of them. I love how angry they are and how satirical the whole CD really is. Definitely a highlight of the summer.

  17. Madonna – “Guyom’s 77 Track Megamix” It is absolutely not hyperbole when I say that this is hands down the best Madonna megamix I have ever heard. It clocks in at only seven and a half minutes, but it is so tight and so well blended it’s hard to remember that it’s not an official release. While I think the 77 track thing is a bit of a stretch (I count only 7 or 8 songs that are prominently featured), it is the mixing of “Vogue,” “Deeper & Deeper,” & “Express Yourself” over what is basically the bassline and instrumental of “Music” that is the truly amazing thing. I never get tired of listening to it.

And with that, I’m done for now. This took a damn long time to write, so Volume 2 may be a few days in the offing.

File under: Most unlikely break in a cold case

Where's Judge Crater? Letter offers clue.

I was surprised to stumble across this information on the web yesterday--and I can't even remember how I did it, probably via Drudge Report or something (I know, I know, my liberal sensibilities shouldn't be able to handle it!)

When I was a kid, this was one of those cases that totally fascinated me. I was obsessed with missing persons, unsolved crimes, etc.--probably still am, otherwise why would I be blogging about this? I remember reading this book in the Fairview Elementary library -- Missing: Stories of Strange Disappearances -- that had a chapter on Judge Crater. I must have checked that book out a hundred times--that and The Haunting of America.

Personally, I'm not sure why there was ever much doubt about what happened to Crater--it seems like a fairly straight-forward organized crime hit to me. Much like Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance, it's like "Duh! The Mob got him of course!" (although there will always be other theories.)

So maybe this missing person case from my childhood (and oddly enough, way before I was even born) will finally be solved. I'll sleep a lot easier at night. ;)

iPod stats


Got this from another blog and thought it seemed like fun:

Top 10 on my iPod:
  1. 501's -- Let The Night Take The Blame
  2. Barbra Streisand -- Here We Are At Last
  3. Helen Reddy -- Peaceful
  4. Casey Stratton -- Lament
  5. Crowded House -- She Goes On
  6. Diana Krall -- Black Crow
  7. Eurythmics -- Brand New Day
  8. Robbie Williams -- Beyond The Sea
  9. Annie Lennox -- Why (Live Piano Version)
  10. Barbra Streisand -- On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)

Random 10 on my iPod:
  1. Jewel -- Intuition
  2. Madonna vs. The Human League -- The Power of Human
  3. Deborah Harry -- Lip Service
  4. Casey Stratton -- Ocean
  5. Blossom Dearie -- I Won't Dance
  6. Gary Jules -- Mad World
  7. Mary Chapin Carpenter -- Grand Central Station
  8. Chris Botti -- 1984
  9. The Pointer Sisters -- Jump (For My Love)
  10. Erasure -- Reach Out

Saturday, August 20, 2005

5 bucks a gallon for gas? Expert sees it in 2006

5 bucks a gallon for gas? Expert sees it in 2006

Last night when we were in Iowa City, I was a little bit dismayed that it cost 28 bucks to fill the not-even-empty tank on our Mazda 626. It makes me exceptionally happy that we don't have a gas guzzling SUV and that I'm not filling two gas tanks like we used to be.

This is a little bit frightening. Gas prices are going up, but nobody in the country is doing anything different. I was watching something on one of the Sunday talk shows last weekend that gas prices currently are high enough for people to bitch about it but not high enough to change their driving habits. In other words, it translates into oil companies making money hand over fist.

And the crazy thing is that there's no coverage in the media how gas prices are going to trickle down into every part of the economy. Wal-Mart depends on cheap gas to be able to rape and pillage the countryside, er, I mean offer low prices on consumer goods. How long will they be able to keep that up. And, like it or not, Wal-Mart has become something of a bellwether for the economy.

It'll be interesting to see where this goes. It may just be a blip, but if not, I predict it will expose suburban sprawl for what it is--the worst misallocation of resources in the last century.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

SOLD

It only took 18 months, but as of 3:30 pm today, our house in Washington was officially sold. The closing was today, I had to cough up around $12,000 to sell the house (still trying to work my head around that one--paying to sell a house.) But I guess that's what you get when you invest in property in a small town.

No matter what happens now, at least I'm out from underneath it. It's someone else's baby now. The "long overdue" business that Heidi and I had to attend to in Washington was the unearthing of St. Joseph--it seemed like incredibly bad karma to keep him buried in the yard after the house was sold, even though it took him long enough. Personally, I don't think it was St. Joe at all. About mid-July, we drew a cartoon of the house on a Post-It Note and stuck it on the bathroom mirror, with the word SELL written on it. We figured, with that kind of thing on the bathroom mirror, it won't ever be far from our minds. And call me crazy, but more things happened with that house since we did that than in the 16 months prior.

I'm glad to be out of Washington. When we were there last weekend, it seemed so much more redneck than it ever did when I lived there. I remember thinking to myself, "oh man, I dodged a bullet not having to send Anna to school here."

So goodbye house. It was the first house I ever bought, and I'm not likely to ever forget it. But I'm sure glad I'm not paying the mortgage (and utilities and insurance and taxes) on it anymore as well as the house I own in Ames. 18 months of that was more than enough.

This is the nadir, I guess. This is the most (I hope) that I will ever owe. We can only climb out from here.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Superhero

I don't usually do these blog quiz things, but I couldn't resist this one (gakked from Casey Stratton's blog)

Batman
Congratulations! You scored a super 65%!
Cool, calm and powerful. Whilst your actual super abilities may not be anything too dazzling, you have earnt the respect of both friends and enemies in response to your amazing fighting skills, strategic combat and experience.

Luckily you have access to the greens which can fund all your majorly cool gadgets, vehicles and weapons! Also, you're reluctant but still accepting to the idea of having a teammate/side-kick, which just makes everything a whole lotta fun, doesn't it now!

On the down side, you've probably suffered some sort of trauma at a young age (that's why we don't talk to the old man near the swings, kids).

Similar to the Wolverine, your past is a base for your current motivation, undertaking some kind of personal vow in search of justice. All in all though, you're one tough nut. There's not a lot of people who have the minerals to go up against you, and you're experienced enough not to get cocky and let the little things like never finding happiness get you down!



My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 58% on Heropoints
Link: The Which SUPER HERO are you Test written by crayzee69 on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Friday, August 12, 2005

Small town Iowa

We drove down to Washington, IA tonight to see my in-laws and to sign some paperwork pertaining to our house here. While we were driving down here, I was wondering why rural eastern Iowa doesn't seem as Texas Chainsaw Massacre as rural western Iowa. I mean, they're the same state, not all that different of demographics (although the eastern half of Iowa does seem to be a little bit more urban--well as urban as you can get and still be Iowan) and peppered with the same type of small towns that pretty much make up the whole of western Iowa. And I think that the biggest reason it's not all Leatherface scary is that it's not flat. It's that simple.

Driving through towns like What Cheer, West Chester and Sigourney made me realize how happy I was to leave small town Iowa. It's not like I sit around in Ames and pine for the days of living in Washington (although I do miss the Chinese restaurant here) replete with its local politics of name, rank and how many relatives you have buried in the local cemetery. You can live in a small town for 60 years and still be a stranger to most and "that new guy" to pretty much everyone. There was a time when Heidi and I thought that we were small town people, having been raised in small towns. But it seems that any more, the liberal/progressive politics that we feel so strongly and living in small towns are pretty much mutually exclusive. And let's face it, rural Iowa is pretty conservative and that's not likely to change. We can talk all about how Iowa's a swing state, but the fact is that if you look in places like Story County where Ames is--Story County went pretty solidly for Kerry, if you look at the results from the individual precincts, it was mostly just Ames (the "city area") that voted Kerry, the rest went pretty much solidly Bush. I remember reading something around the time of the election that even Illinois, which is pretty darn blue and almost a sure bet in the Democratic column, would pretty much undoubtedly be a red state if it weren't for Chicago.

So rural Iowa = red. But, unfortunately, rural Iowa also = dead and dying. It's everywhere you look when you drive through small towns. We've abandoned our small towns for suburbs to big cities--and our big cities have become donuts. I shudder when I think about living in a small town again. It frightens me how insulated they are and how much they can cut themselves off from the outside world. It makes me so glad that I left the one we lived in, no matter how much it might cost me in terms of dollars. It was worth every last penny.

But still, it's sad to see small towns shriveling up and blowing away in the wind.

Blog in a coma

Like a main character from that Robin Cook novel, my blog seems to have slipped into a late summer coma. Not to fear loyal reader(s), I should be back shortly. Work's been really busy and plus, Heidi and I are finishing up some long overdue business (more on that in a few days.)

I did get my brand new 20 GB iPod with a color screen and everything, so that's news, I guess. My original iPod that I bought about 16 months ago finally died, or more accurately, the battery finally died. When I bought it last year, I bought one of those product replacement plans from Best Buy, so all I had to do was jump through about 14 flaming hoops, send my old iPod back and they sent me a voucher for the full purchase price! So the upgrade was at basically no cost to me. It doesn't get much better than that. The only part that sucked was I was without my iPod for about 2 weeks, but I managed.

I think the thing I like best about the new iPod is the cute little album artwork. But that's me being a music geek.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Undead in SF

Zombies descended on San Francisco last weekend.

Personally, this is my favorite of the pics. Althought this one is definitely a close second. Would zombies really need to wear glasses?

(via Metafilter)