29 February 2004

Since I'm now a registered California voter, I will be voting in Tuesday's election, and for the first time in my life I've had to make real decisions on what measures and candidates to support. (Minnesota doesn't usually have measures on the ballot, and I've only voted in general elections where the choice of candidate was clear.) The hardest choice was the $15bn bond measure to cover the deficit. Issuing bonds is bad; I'd rather see taxes go up, especially property taxes which are kept absurdly low rate due to Proposition 13. But according to the Legislative Analyst, who visited Flora's budgeting class, Sacramento sees no other way out. In addition, the bond issue is linked to another proposition which requires the legislature to pass a balanced budget, which seems like a good idea (though it may backfire on me and result in even more cuts to the UC budget). So I think I'll vote for it. The measure that increases bridge tolls to pay for BART improvements was a bit easier to decide on. As for the measure that increases Alameda County sales tax to pay for emergency medial services, I think I've lived with Noah long enough to be swayed to his point of view that sales taxes are evil and regressive, and anyway it's already over 8 percent. Now let's just hope I don't get seriously hurt in the next 5 years.

Choosing which presidential candidate to support is tough. I spent some time Friday night reading Kerry's and Edwards's web sites, in hopes of finding some tangible difference on policy issues. Alas, I was foiled; both sites give positions on many issues, and all of these positions are incredibly vague: "We will win the war on terrorism"; "We will create 300,000 jobs," etc. Since the two were pretty much indistinguishable, I was forced to resort to instinct: call me a Southist, I trust a Massachusetts senator to stand up for what I believe in more than a North Carolina one.

But there are seven other candidates on the ballot, and while none of them have a chance of winning, one could in theory vote for them. And in fact, while Dean may have had some serious flaws as a candidate, his platform and his track record as governor (actually running something) impress me more than Kerry's. (And my friend from Vermont really likes him.) Dean's web sites are still encouraging people to vote for him to ensure that the convention has "progressive" delegates. However, to get any delegates from California you need to have at least 15 percent of the statewide vote, which seems unlikely to happen for Dean. So the question is: do I throw my vote away making a statement for Dean, or do I join the herd of Kerry sheep? Stay tuned!

While I was in the process of reflecting, I turned my thoughts to today's hot-button issue, gay marriage. As far as I can tell, the Democratic candidates support "civil unions" that confer the same rights and benefits as marriage, but just has a different name. In trying to figure out if I could live with this, I asked myself the following: what if I had two heterosexual friends who told me they were having a "civil union"? My instinctive reaction is that whatever commitment they've made is not as deep or as binding as marriage. I don't want to be "civilly unified" one day; I want to be married. Since I see a tangible difference between the two, "civil unions" are insufficient. For true equal protection under the law, everyone should be allowed to use the word "marriage."

Here endeth Dave's Political Rant.

27 February 2004

Today I had a sudden epiphany of an Onion headline that has yet to happen but really should:

Math TA'S Strike. Demand Free Coffee, Girlfriends.
On the walk to my house there's a rather long stetch where there's a guardrail next to the road so there's not really enough room for two people on the sidewalk.

We've lived her for 6 months, and today, for the first time, I was walking home late at night and there was someone walking down the hill the other way. It was a bit awkward to see someone walking in the dark and know you're about to have to squeeze past and you have to say something or else it's all just too tense.

26 February 2004

Freudian slip:

"And almost all the visitors to Vegas look for opportunities to step away from the slot machines or crap tables for a few hours, which is why so many shows and performers thrive there."

(From an espn.com article on possible new homes for the Expos.)
Last night I finally saw Monster, in which Charlize Theron does, as advertised, create one of the greatest characters in the history of the cinema. I don't think I've ever seen an actress give a more fully worked-out performance. Like Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York or Gollum in The Two Towers, Theron begins as an awesome special effect, then creeps her way back towards humanity. Just the way she throws her hair back from her forehead is enough to make you believe again in the possibilities of screen acting.

It's a shame that the rest of the movie isn't better. The film seems to have condensed around Theron's incredible presence, like dew on a mountaintop, and neither the screenplay nor the supporting performances are as fully realized as they should be; Aileen Wuornos is fully imagined, but her victims and victimizers aren't. I was reminded of Taxi Driver, another film about desperation and violence that centers around a landmark performance, but which generously develops an entire world around its tormented central character, so that De Niro rages against his city without overwhelming it. Still, it's a testament to the potential evident in Monster that I'm even making the comparison. As it stands, Patty Jenkins doesn't quite have the generosity of spirit to direct a movie like Taxi Driver, but someday, perhaps, she might.

25 February 2004

By the way, if anyone is going to be in New York this Sunday, you're invited to my fizzy, classy, trashy Oscar party at 7:00. As it stands, the guest list is currently short on straight men. (God knows how that happened...)
My false sense of deja vu is really getting out of control. Cary Tennis has a particularly good column today. It ends with a reference the following line from this poem:

Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love:
I, with no rights in this matter,
Neither father nor lover.

My first thought was "wow, that's a great quote, it'll have to be an away message." But within about two minutes I was thinking "it sounds awful familiar where have I heard it before?"

And now I can't decide whether I have heard it before or whether my mind is just playing tricks with me.

24 February 2004

Tonight I went to a nice little dinner party thrown by David Speyer and Erin Larkspur. Fun was had by all, and Erin's pie crust was as good as advertised.

Anyway, I was biking there done cragmont, a little side road in the berkeley hills. There's no one but me on the road for nearly the whole ride. But at some point I see this very old man with skinny legs scurrying with small steps accross the road off in the distance. As I get closer I see that he has a tweed jacket and is carrying a single ski pole (which he wasn't actually using as a walking stick, that would have made too much sense) and has dark socks going up to his knees.

It is about at this point that I realize that he has no pants.
Remember back when the most interesting thing about The Passion of the Christ was that it was supposed to be in Aramaic with no subtitles, and the most controversial thing about it was that maybe those Roman soliders should be speaking Greek instead of Latin? Surprisingly enough, few of the reviews mention either issue, although I believe that subtitles have, in fact, been added. Which was probably inevitable; after all, we wouldn't want the audience to miss any important plot points, right?

As for the movie itself, I generally feel the same way about it as I did when Irreversible first came out. As a cultural critic, I'm probably going to see this movie eventually, but in a year when I haven't even seen Bertolucci's The Dreamers yet, I can't actually envision myself walking into the theater to see what Roger Ebert describes as "the most violent film I have ever seen." He also notes:
I said the film is the most violent I have ever seen. It will probably be the most violent you have ever seen. This is not a criticism but an observation; the film is unsuitable for younger viewers, but works powerfully for those who can endure it. The MPAA's R rating is definitive proof that the organization either will never give the NC-17 rating for violence alone, or was intimidated by the subject matter. If it had been anyone other than Jesus up on that cross, I have a feeling that NC-17 would have been automatic.
It's a shame, because there really aren't enough Monica Bellucci films to go around, and I've already decided to avoid two of them. Well, three, if you count Tears of the Sun.
The Gray Album is really addictive. I think I'm most fond of "Encore" (which segues nicely from "Glass Onion" to "Savoy Truffle" halfway through) and "December 4th" (which samples "Mother Nature's Son," I think). And the fusion of "Helter Skelter" with "99 Problems" is so compelling that I'm having trouble imagining either song any other way.

The only annoying part is that I no longer own a copy of The White Album for purposes of comparison. In the old days, the solution to this problem would have been as easy as a trip to Dave's room.

23 February 2004

Huh? Johnny Depp actually won the Screen Actors Guild award??!! I'm speachless. Does that mean he actually has a shot at the oscars? I really thought Penn or Murray were the only serious contenders.

22 February 2004

According to this article, DJ Dangermouse is also responsible for a mash remix of 50 Cent and, uh, Suzanne Vega. ("In Da Club" meets "Tom's Diner." I haven't been able to find this online, but needless to say, I'm curious.)
I've quoted film critic David Thomson on Arnold Schwarzenegger on this blog before, but after reading this article in the New York Times, which notes that Schwarzenegger would back a constitutional amendment allowing a foreign-born national to be elected president, I can't help but quote him again:
What will the world do if, on learning the explanation that anyone born in Ganz, Austria, cannot be president, Arnold says "Why, baby?"
What, indeed? Here's a thought to give any Democrat the night sweats: Arnold and Rudy in 2008.
I just got back from seeing Girl With a Pearl Earring with Tamara, which was much more involving than I had expected; I was expecting a rather dull literary adaptation, but the movie is surprisingly absorbing and suspenseful. The highlight of the afternoon, however, was the most exhilarating series of previews I've seen in months: The Clearing, Spartan, Dogville, and especially Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. After a bleak couple of months, we finally appear to be emerging from the post-Christmas dog days of the cinema year. It's enough to make you happy about going to the movies alone.
Before it gets too out of date, I should metion my Valentine's Day. I spent the day in Portland with Lisa, my friend Anthony from high school, and his wife (!) Kylene. Basically we spent the whole day drinking. First we went out for lunch, where we each had a beer. Then we went to a sake factory, where we sampled eight different kinds of sake. Then we said, "let's keep drinking!" so we went to a winery and tried four or five different wines. Then we went back to Anthony and Kylene's place and decorated cookies, made fondue, played games, and drank more wine. Quite a nice day indeed.
I too spent much of yesterday evening playing Taboo, with a bunch of mathematicians rather than a bunch of actors. It was quite fun, but we were pretty much all models of grim efficiency. In fact, we worked through the entire deck.
Today I'm listening to the commentary track on the DVD of Spellbound, which is extraordinary: it's humbling to realize how many wonderful moments its director and editor were forced to cut away, given that the finished movie has more life and incident than just about any other movie I've ever seen. Hearing them describe these agonizing choices is a reminder of how fertile the process of documentary filmmaking can be, and how everyday life, with its infinite branching of interlocking stories, can be much more surprising than most works of fiction.

Here's one example. One of the most memorable segments in the movie involves Neil and his father, who puts his son through an incredible regimen in preparation for the spelling bee. What the film doesn't reveal is that Neil has a severe stuttering problem, which explains, in retrospect, how little he says in the movie. And then you realize that when you see his father praying at the spelling bee, as the director notes, he isn't just praying for his son to win, but praying that he won't be disqualified by stuttering in the middle of word and accidentally saying a letter twice.
I had a lovely time at Tamara's party last night, playing Taboo with a bunch of actors who gave consistently clever and entertaining answers, as well as a girl named Jessie, whose Taboo game needs to be seen to be believed. By contrast, I looked, and felt, like a model of grim efficiency. (I take my Taboo seriously...) I also made the mistake of trying to convey the word hobo by shouting, "Um, these people carry bindles! Bindles!", forgetting that most people don't love hoboes as much as I do, and don't know that bindle is the technical term for the kerchief that hoboes carry at the end of a stick. (I owe this piece of information to The Simpsons, whose legendary writer John Schwarzwelder loves hoboes even more than I do.)

Anyway, many thanks and happy birthday to Tamara, who starts her new job tomorrow.
Two more fun tidbits from Roger Ebert's Movie Answer Man column:

1. Pursuant to our discussion of a certain beautiful, if relentlessly grim, starlet and the end of a pier, in the deleted scenes of A Beautiful Mind, there's apparently a moment where Russell Crowe dreams of Jennifer Connelly running down toward a dock on a lake. As Ebert says, "I'm beginning to have that same dream."

2. Ebert writes: "You know how on the Letterman show, Dave sometimes whispers in a guest's ear at the end of a segment? Whenever I'm on the show, he recites Steak 'n Shake's 'four ways to enjoy,' which are, of course, Car, Table, Counter and (their spelling) Takhomasak." No comment.

21 February 2004

Last night I went out with a large group to celebrate a friend's birthday. At the end of dinner and drinks, I witnessed a once-familiar ritual that I hadn't seen since college: everyone mentally estimating what they owe and tossing their cash into a pile at one end of the table, with a couple of former math concentrators puzzling over the bill and trying to make it all work. The only difference was their indignant announcement after everyone had contributed: "Uh, guys? We're two hundred and fifty dollars short."

I do love New York...
The paper of record writes:

Budget travelers up and down the Northeast know Fung Wah as the original "Chinatown bus." The company was the first to start running vans and buses between Boston and New York at bargain rates, becoming something of a cult phenomenon. Today, it is just one of many players in the hypercompetitive Chinatown bus industry. With companies locked in a price war, rates have plummeted on Fung Wah's route, reaching a new low last spring at $10 for a one-way trip to Boston. Yes, $10.

20 February 2004

Oh yeah, and before it's officially too late west coast time: Happy Birthday Tamara!!
I want this in T-shirt form, or at least as a poster.
A couple days ago I ran accross this CNN article about DJ Dangermouse's critically acclaimed, but illegally recorded Grey Album.

As the name suggests, DJ Dangermouse took the a cappella version of Jay-Z's Black Album and remixed beats and instrumental tracks from the Beatles' White Album. The result is somewhat odd, but oddly charming. Aside from the tracks with Rolling Stone recommended (99 Problems (over bits of Helter Skelter and Change Clothes (over speeded up harpsichords from Piggies) I'm kind of fond of What More Can I Say (over music and some backing vocals from While My Guitar Gently Weeps).

The audio files are available for streaming (illegally on the part of the website owner, but I'm not sure whether streaming a copy once is illegal or fair use, ask your lawyer) at this site and information on the typically ineffective mass internet protest planned for next week can be found at this site.

Anyway it just seems that this is the sort of thing which would fascinate Alec and be the subject of lunch conversation for a week.
Somehow last week my bitter annoyed post on Valentine's eve got posted, but my That was the best Valentine's day ever! post never got written.

I think this has to do with the fact that i fell asleep half-drunk on the floor of the living room of one of my friends at 3am and then spent all day Sunday in the city and came back and hosted a texas hold 'em tournament. (23 people showed despite their only being one days notice, finding chairs was a bit chaotic.)

But anyway, it was still the best V-day ever.

Me, two of my best friends in the dept., one of my other friends in the dept., and 3 of their friends (one who lives here, two visiting) all went out to the city. We had dinner at a cute little resteraunt on Haight street, which was full of couples having a quiet and apparently miserable time. We on the other hand had a blast. I have never before in my life been so happy to be one of the single people, everyone else (except one couple) really just didn't seem very happy.

After some excellent food, 3 bottles of wine, and a waiter with a preposterous French accent (who looked just like Alan Rickman playing Prof. Snape) all 7 of us piled into a VW golf (2 people in the trunk) and went careening accross san francisco to this delightful bar in the mission (the attic, on 24th street at mission, right accross from the Bart station). The person wiht a car went home to take care of her puppy, but the rest of us stayed at the bar for several hours, dancing to british music circa 1977-1983, doing body shots, getting roaringly drunk, and jsut have a splendid time.

Then we caught the last Bart back to Berkeley, went back to AJs where he made us pancakes and we all fell asleep in the living room.

Just splendid, I couldn't have been much happier.

Well, I'd have been a lot happier if I could have slept on a sofa and not on the wood floor.

Oh yeah, and a real blanket instead of a pink bathrobe.

But it was still great.
There's an article in today's Wall Street Journal about the financially troubled ship The World, essentially a posh gated community at sea where you can buy a $2 million apartment aboard a luxury cruise ship and just, well, live there for the rest of your life. The ship's web site is pretty intoxicating:
Take your favorite home and place it on a private yacht. Then sail to the most exotic places on earth. Take all your favorite stores and restaurants, and locate them within 300 feet of your front door. Add a staff of 300, daily maid service, a dry-cleaning service that picks up and delivers, good friends, adventure and 24-hour room service. Now, you get a feel for what life is like on The World.
As the site puts it, "Join or leave The World at any port you please, at any point along her continuing circumnavigation. Stay onboard for a month…three months…a year…or an entire lifetime." Unfortunately, things aren't quite as rosy as they seem. Residents were particularly annoyed by the fact that the ship's owners, desperate to make ends meet, began inviting unwashed tourists aboard for $300 dollars a day, which was "as if a Rolls-Royce had morphed into a taxicab." In the end, the residents bought out the owners of the ship, and are currently attempting to rent more apartments to a higher class of clientele.

Studio residences with verandas start at $850,000, which, frankly, isn't a bad deal, when you consider that you're also buying designer furniture, a maid service, lifetime health club membership, a nonstop vacation, and daily meals for two, forever, not to mention all kinds of upper class intrigue and incestuousness, I imagine. It's a tempting investment. When the revolution comes, and the capitals of the world are burning, this little ship might end up being the last stand of the bourgeoise. (Now there's an idea for a novel...)
From Roger Ebert's review of Osama, a movie I'm hoping to see this weekend:
Who will go to see "Osama?" I don't know. There is after all that new Adam Sandler movie, and it's a charmer. And "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" is opening, for fans of campy trash. I'm not putting them down. People work hard for their money, and if they want to be entertained, that's their right. But brave dissenting Islamic filmmakers are risking their lives to tell the story of the persecution of women, and it is a story worth knowing, and mourning. In this country Janet Jackson bares a breast and causes a silly scandal. The Taliban would have stoned her to death. If you put these things into context, the Jackson case begins to look like an affirmation of Western civilization.
Not to mention these women, too.

19 February 2004

Just returned from a lovely evening in San Francisco with a gaggle of Cambridge alumni. I had choir rehearsal, so I arrived at the reception an hour late, right in the middle of the Vice-Chancellor's address. She sounded some familiar themes (the endowment must grow, fees must go up, there will be need-blind admission and need-based financial aid), and the people I talked to aftertward said things to the effect of "she's a smart cookie" and generally expressed confidence in the direction Cambridge is headed (sentiments which I share). As she was being ushered to a dinner at the British Consulate she stopped for a quick hug and "Things-are-well-with-you? / Yes-things-are-well-with-you? / Yes" and I got to bask in the glow of celebrity for a brief instant.

Afterwards I joined nine other Emmanuel alumni for dinner at "Sam's Grill" in the Financial district. I spent much of the evening talking to Hugh Richmond, an Emmanuel graduate who's been teaching English at Berkeley for about forty years. He had much insight to offer on the political movements of the '60s. All in all, it was a very enjoyable English evening -- we talked about English things in the presence of much wine. I even found myself slipping back into my English speech habits ('mobile phone,' etc.). I hadn't had an evening like that in a long time.

18 February 2004

In other news, Disney has bought the Muppets, an evil triumph of Episode III proportions. As the Wall Street Journal notes, "Disney...believes it can reinvent the characters going forward, by expanding beyond their normal puppet realm and using them as the basis for computer-generated 3-D versions." Hmmm. Apparently neither Disney nor the post-Henson Creature Shop seem to realize that the appeal of the Muppets has always derived from their comfortable existence in the everyday world, which is what makes a show like Avenue Q so irresistible. Instead, they've meandered off into fantasy projects like Treasure Island and Muppets in Space, with increasingly wretched results. Far better to do Muppets at Harvard, as I suggested years ago. (Although I'd still love to see the creators of Avenue Q given a chance to produce their dream project, Kermit, Prince of Denmark.)
Thanks to Andrew Tobias for pointing me to www.tradesports.com, an Irish betting exchange that allows you to buy "futures" on damned near anything, including the outcome of the upcoming presidential election. Futures are priced between $0.00 and $1.00, with the price reflecting the probability of an event taking place. For example, the "Lord of the Rings wins Best Picture" future is trading around $0.84, which seems about right. On the other hand, the "George W. Bush wins the election" future is trading at $0.65, which seems somewhat overpriced; I'm pretty sure that it will look like a much closer race sometime over the next few months, so this might be a good future to short (and a rather depressing future to contemplate).

Of course, the really ingenious thing would be to hedge, by assigning an estimated dollar amount to your emotional or financial pain at the prospect of Bush being elected, and then buying an equivalent amount of Bush futures, thereby obtaining some monetary compensation for a Republican victory. I'd do this myself, but then again, isn't that what tax breaks are for?

16 February 2004

From the "Money (That's What I Want)" file:

Last week, rumor had it that a New York hedge fund might end up owning the Beatles song catalog. According to an article from last Wednesday's New York Times, Michael Jackson has a $70 million loan from the Bank of America that comes due tomorrow. If he defaults, the bank ends up with the catalog. However, Jackson's financial consultants are working to extend the loan until 2005 with the backing of an undisclosed hedge fund, which would take possession of the catalog if Jackson doesn't repay (which seems like a plausible scenario at this point). As this article from a hedge fund industry rag notes, this would leave the Beatles catalog in the hands of a shady group of arbitrageurs and speculators, which I'm sure is exactly what John would have wanted.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, it turns out that the truth is somewhat less colorful: only the Jackson catalog, which is worth perhaps $70 million, is collateral for his particular loan. The Beatles catalog, which is worth more like $900 million, isn't at stake. So at worst, some hedge fund will end up with the rights to "Smooth Criminal" and "Remember the Time," which is probably a cultural travesty of some kind, but which falls well short of a sign of the coming apocalypse.

(I don't think that this is my company, by the way. On the other hand, they don't tell me anything around here.)

15 February 2004

14 February 2004

In weird news... Aubrey and Jason?? What the hell?
So I spent the evening dancing at a club in the city. It was fun enough... Though the girl whom one of my friends has been trying to set me up with was amazingly weird (she hid in the corner at some point and then later started crying for no apparent reason), and the really hot girl in our party ended up making out with someone else in our party (and I lost a dollar out of it too, my one friend said they would make out before the end of the night, i disagreed... it took him less than 5 minutes to collect.)

That's just my long way of saying happy valentine's day everyone...

11 February 2004

I have created a personal web page. Feel free to bookmark it and check back regularly. However, since it has mostly professional info, it's probably not going to change very often. Comments are welcome.

10 points to anyone who can figure out when and where the photo was taken.
Apparently there's a new student porn magazine at the alma mater. Not sure what to say about that.
As planned, I saw the Super Furry Animals in concert on Monday, which I'll have to confess was a bit disappointing: I admire the mellow, goofy, soulful side of their albums, and in concert they weren't so much mellow and soulful as they were loud. I did have a fun time trying to describe their music to the girl at the coat check, with a nod to Dick in High Fidelity: "They're kind of Radiohead-ish crossed with a post-Pet Sounds pre-Good Vibrations Beach Boys kind of thing, but, you know, uh, Welsh."

09 February 2004

Today I received an invitation to meet the new Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University at a reception in San Francisco next Thursday. I'll be sure to send a report.

08 February 2004

Seeing as none of us is unemployed and we all have ethernet (except maybe Nat?), does anyone else think we should change this blog's description?
This week's Movie Answer Man column finally addresses one of the most perplexing questions in movies today: the irresistible attraction between Jennifer Connelly and the end of a pier.

(This inexplicable phenomenon, evident in Dark City, Requiem for a Dream, and House of Sand and Fog, always reminds me of my favorite lyric by the Beta Band: "Wish you were here / Tied to the pier...")
I really should stop reading the New York Times wedding announcements; they're starting to give me ideas. Take this story, for example, about a couple who met through the Teach for America program. They hadn't seen each other for ten years when he looked her up in the Teach for America database and sent her the following e-mail:
Where are you?
How are you doing?
Are you married?
A year later, he proposed to her under the Brooklyn Bridge.

(Sigh. The passive-aggressive implied e-mail proposal. Why do I have the feeling I'll be resorting to you one of these days?)

07 February 2004

The juxtaposition of these two New York Times articles, one about the White House mess, the other about gay penguins, reminds me that I really, really miss Bloom County.

06 February 2004

According to merriam-webster, a cockle is some sort of a mollusk. It's also a weedy plant. I don't really know which one can reside in one's heart, or which one needs warming.

Also, has anyone every eaten a cockle? Illicit cockle harvesting sort of indicates that someone somewhere is eating them.
A few hours ago, I turned down an invitation to see Cheaper by the Dozen with a couple of attractive and extremely available girls from work, in favor of seeing In America by myself. Why I turned them down, I'm not sure. (I was probably still smarting from last week's Tad Hamilton debacle.) But before my movie started, wandering in the rain, I began to seriously question my sanity. Is it normal to prefer seeing a good movie alone to seeing a bad movie with a couple of girls? Am I a crazy recluse now?

It only took two minutes of In America to make one thing achingly obvious: I am the sane one here. And you should all see In America.
This article begs the question: what the hell is a cockle?

05 February 2004

We're having a party on Saturday, and last night was spent in preparation, culminating in the amusing spectacle of five college graduates sitting around a table trying to figure out how to order a keg.

03 February 2004

I've been home sick all day, doing a little bit of math and a lot of web surfing, especially as the primary results started to come in. At one point Clark was beating Edwards by 7 votes in Oklahoma -- with 74% of the precincts reporting.

A quick click through the four major Democratic candidates' web sites is rather uninspiring. Dean's is the best, but they're all too cluttered. However, I do like this interactive map from John Edwards' site. Start in 1980 and keep your eye on the big blue state at the top of the map as you click through the years. Go Twins!

(Here are sites: Clark, Dean, Edwards, Kerry.)
After typing all that, I'm tempted to post my own iPod playlist, of course, but this week it's completely dominated by Phantom Power by the Super Furry Animals, so it wouldn't be very interesting. You should check these guys out, though; as I've said on this blog before, this band is almost too good to be true. I'm seeing them in concert next Monday with Rachel, whose ex-boyfriend Sean "introduced" me to the Furries in a rather roundabout way that I won't bother explaining. Best songs to download illegally include "Juxtaposed With U," "Presidential Suite," and my current favorite, "Bleed Forever." Also worth a listen is "Receptacle for the Respectable" from 2:04 to 3:26, a shudderingly perfect fragment of an otherwise okay song. It includes my favorite lyric of the moment: "Subtle as a mailbomb to the head / You came to me..."
The celebrity lists on iTunes are a nifty idea. Contributors include Michael Stipe, Ben Folds, Liz Phair and John Cusack, Moby, Counting Crows, and a host of less reputable characters, like Avril Lavigne. I note in passing that Moby's list includes "Questions in a World of Blue" by Julee Cruise, which is unimpeachably cool. I could fill this blog with sample playlists, of course, but won't, mostly because I can't cut and paste from the iTunes window. I'll confine myself to retyping some of Michael Stipe's liner notes, which I figure Noah would be interested in reading:
For Friends Who Need to Breathe and Stop
I just tried to make a mixtape like the ones I do for friends and them for me when you're going through something and want to know that someone is putting some effort and thought into your everyday. Call me sentimental.

I'm a terrible DJ, but I worked to make it ebb and flow, so that you get up, then down, then bitchslapped then discovery and epiphany, then up then down and all over again. There are a lot of different kinds of mixtapes but this one is for right now, it's a little bit release and a little bit thought and a lot of gesture, what you want for wallpaper, or if you go from wallpaper-to-attention really fast. You can sing along and marvel at all these different voices and what they're putting forth--it's really about the voice and then production which can be slippery but in each case here I think someone stepped up and made it real...Of course I couldn't keep this mixtape to 20 songs so just trust me and deal with it. A glorious 31.

I included a few medleys, the most obvious and chokeup to me personally (I've sung it opening for Radiohead in D.C. once) being "Landslide" live ("this song is for daddy" or whatever--yowww!) into Tori into Bread. It's the same song, each brilliant, each with very different voices. I love that about pop music. It thrills me.

All my love--take it light, take it strong.

Anyway...I'm not going to retype his entire list, but it opens with a live version of "Beautiful Day," segues into "Thank You" by Alanis Morissette, includes "Ashes to Ashes" by David Bowie and "1959" by Patti Smith and the Dolly Parton version of "I Will Always Love You," Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River," and the aforementioned medley of "Landside" by Fleetwood Mac, "Winter" by Tori Amos, and "Everything I Own" by Bread. It concludes with "Breathe and Stop" by Q-Tip. I'm tempted to just download the damned thing and burn you a copy.
I hear the itunes has a bunch of celebrity playlists... I can't see them because windows 98 isn't supported, so Alec could you give us a report?

02 February 2004

There are a handful of articles out today about the fifth anniversary of The Blair Witch Project, all noting that the careers of those involved with that particular phenomenon haven't exactly caught on fire. (One of the actors has gone back to his old job, moving furniture.) As for the directors, their intended followup, a wacky comedy called Heart of Love, was shelved more than a year ago.

Heart of Love sounds like it would have been a fun project, though. It would have starred Don Knotts and, um, Gallagher.
This poor guy used to work at my company. Tomorrow, he's taking the witness stand against Martha Stewart.
There's an amusing article in today's New York Times about Yale secret society Skull and Bones, which counts both John Kerry and George W. Bush among its former members. It's unclear whether they ever wrestled together in the nude, however. (Is there such a thing as Kerry/Bush slash fanfic? I'm afraid to find out.)