Sunday, March 27, 2011

Departure Style

1. intro
2. "The Bridge" - Jean Grae (prod by RJD2)
3. "The Love You Left Behind" - Syl Johnson
4. "Cease and Persist" - El Ten Eleven
5. "Tuesday" - Grass Widow
6. Don't Step on a Man When he's Down" - Don Covay
7. "When I Was a Flood" - Electric Owls
8. "Just Test" - Bayard Lancaster
9. "Luck's Run Out" - Little Fish
10. "I'd Rather Be Blind, Crippled, and Crazy" - O.V. Wright
11. "Mom and Dad" - Middle Brother
12. "Walk Away" - Rachel Goodrich
13. "Nuclear Ambition, pt. 2" - Man's Gin
14. "You're Not the Only One" - Black Pistol Fire
15. "Old Beirut" - Lynn Taitt & the Jets
16. "Fredericks" - Tom & Fredericks
17. "Piranhas Club" (live at SXSW) - Man Man
18. "Just Walkin' in the Rain" - The Prisonaires
19. "Dance the Night Away" - Colleen Green
20. "Reasons to Quit" - Phosphorescent


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Civic Whinnying

I feel like I write this post every couple of years. The reason I feel like that is because I'm certain I do. What happens is that someone puts out an article, essentially questioning the intelligence of the average American. It will cite examples of one in 5 people can't identify Abraham Lincoln or think that Judge Joe Brown serves on the Supreme Court or something.

This time it was Newsweek. They interviewed 1000 members of the U.S. citizenry and found that:
  • 29 % couldn’t name the vice president.
  • 73 % couldn’t identify a reason why we fought the Cold War.
  • 44%were unable to define the Bill of Rights.
  • 6% Don't know the date of Independence Day.
and then it goes into some more specifics before listing how bad our country's knowledge of world (or even American) events compare to those of other nations.

and I (with I presume everyone else) then get a little depressed and blame the educational system or MTV or something.The article cites a study which found that since before World War II our civic knowledge decreases annually at an average of just under 1%, which I found pretty appalling. Not the number, really, but the overall trend.
I figure those numbers were never all that great to start with. I mean, by the end of the 18th century, I'm sure there was a sizable faction of the populace who couldn't be bothered to give a shit about that sort of thing. "We paid your damn taxes, now leave me alone and get off my lawn." We as a nation were hurdling ourselves into more useful pursuits. Industry. Agriculture. Wood lathing. Legislatin'. drinking.

But now is not the now of twenty years ago. We have information. VAST amounts of information constantly at our fingertips, now. I can learn more in 78 hours in front of a computer nowadays than the entirety of what I took away from college. So how could our civic knowledge not be improving? Maybe we're replacing the pursuits we turned to so long ago with celebrity news and fluff.

and don't get me wrong, because I'm as guilty as anyone of this. I know an alarming amount of information about the casts of the Twilight movies and Glee, which is insane because I haven't seen ten seconds of either.

Anyway, reading these studies always get me wondering how I would do, especially since I seem to be so upset by people not knowing them. So I went and took a few online practice tests. I scored a 92, 96, and a 94%. For some reason, I really raw a blank on Woodrow Wilson.

So then, because I'm an idiot, I decided to take the Canadian citizenship test and got something like 8 40% scores in a row. I think something might've sunk in, though because I just took one and got an 80%. Nice!

But at the end of the day, who cares? Is being able to name the Vice President going to make you a better person, or feed your kids at night? of course not. This is *luxury* knowledge that we don't need to survive or make a living, but it's damned advisable to have.

What pisses me off though is that there are so many people (on every side of the political spectrum) who are wailing that it is time to take the country "back", or claiming to be "true Americans", or so their t-shirts tell me. But when our civic knowledge is that much in the shitter, isn't it fair to assume that a lot of these people might not be able to pass a citizenship exam for the nation they claim to represent? If people have to learn this shit on top of our crazy-ass language, culture, and food serving sizes then I think it's only fair that we all do to.

   So I guess the moral of this story is don't call anyone else out on their shit if you don't know it yourself.

I'm not all that smart. I mean, I do okay, but I'm not smart smart. I live with a smart person and I know that there's stuff in her brain I won't ever comprehend. and I'm okay with that. Tom Scharpling says he isn't smart, but he's "crafty; like Bugs Bunny". I'm not even that. But I'm curious as all hell and I will look up pretty much any question that pops into my brain. I guess it's kind of fortunate that I want to do that for a living...

update: In a spur of the moment Supreme Court Justice test, I just completely blanked on Elena Kagen

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

also, I need to redesign this site if I'm gonna keep this up.

it's spring, damnit.

I'm still on this...

i am.

I sat down to write up something on the duality of good and evil last night (seriously! well, as told through the lens of a video game, but still!), but got emotionally wrapped up in the story of the Fukushima 50 and once they were withdrawn I was drowsy and a little sick from what I hope is allergies.

So my next few days are busy. We're going to be going to the Sixers/Clippers game tonight, renting a car early tomorrow morning, then driving to San Francisco to see my brother for a few days before driving back home, then going straight into LA for a James Jean art exhibit, dinner, and the Paul F. Tompkins show. Sunday I have to work all day. But Sunday night, assuming I haven't passed out from exhaustion, I'll be able to get it all down then.


a guy can hope.

Also, I've just begun putting together the most ambitious mix I've made since the demise of the cassette.

And I'm in the process of hooking up this site to my RSS feed (so that I can broadcast things here from there), but it's more confusing than I thought so it'll take a bit. But yeah, get ready to be annoyed with the amount of posts here.

until then, GO SIXERS.

PS have you been reading Paul F. Tompkins' American Idol recaps or Tom Scharpling's Celebrity Apprentice recaps? If not, you should get over there and do it, they're amazing. I don't watch either show and I'm enjoying them...

Friday, March 11, 2011

   I get into the library today to discover that I'm working on the Earthquake section today, which is a little sad.

   The book on the right though is an amazing 1907 account of the recent earthquake's effect on California wilderness. This is the kind of nerd stuff that gets me super excited, these old bound manuscripts and stuff. I just wish that little barcode wasn't on the outside cover like that...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Apologies in advance for this

Yesterday morning, I began writing a post and it fell further and further by the wayside as the day went on, thanks to the deadly combination of work, exhaustion, Angry Birds, and Netflix Instant. It wasn't a particularly profound post (don't hold your breath for those), but I'm making a serious effort to keep up with this thing, and it was something. Here are some bullet points from my aborted post:

-This Charlie Sheen thing is out of control. I don't wanna talk about it, and I'm sick of reading about it. But the thing I find the most strange is that this has all happened before. We knew 15 years ago that he had drug/alcohol/hooker issues, and he was for the most part vilified. So does it just take dickish catch phrases and unfettered arrogance to make it work for the public? Or just a hit TV show? Why does Mike Huckabee attack a consistenty reasonable Natalie Portman for only being engaged when she's pregnant and not him? I don't give a shit what he does and with who, really, as long as his kids have nothing to do with it. But when someone with his proclivities is insisting on having custody of his children, then by all means we should be firing away at him.

Okay, that's it. I'm sorry to even bring that up, especially since the cycle appears to have run its course for the most part. But there's my weeks-late analysis of the whole thing. Also, for all his bluster and arrogance, I bet Rip Torn -at 78- could still mop the floor with him.

-The other overriding point is that you should be thankful I almost never forward/post/tweet the petitions and stuff I go through every day. It usually annoys me when other people do it to me, so I'm trying to keep that courtesy.

That's it!

Up next: Netflix as a political barometer?

Thursday, March 03, 2011


When I was a kid, for a while I was obsessed with S.E. Hinton's books. Her books were great, and at a time when I hated most of what I read in school, something attracted me to her work, which probably felt to me as punk rock as anything I'd ever read. There was a whole continuity she'd created, filled with inequality and smartass kids and drunk adults. It felt like a world much closer to real life than the dumb Red Badge of Courage ever presented to me.
One of her books, probably one considered to be for older kids, was That Was Then, This is Now. You might remember the movie, which had Emelio Estevez and... Craig Scheffer? Something like that. Anyway, the book revolves around these teenagers growing up and falling into drugs and love and crime or something. But in it there's a kid who is obsessed with M&Ms. He holds his face up to the open bags to look at them*.
 Less surprisingly, he falls into a bad way with drugs and eventually goes missing or something. Look, it's been over 20 years since I read that book (which is not the one I mentioned at the beginning of the main post, in case you were wondering). But ever since then I think I have a buried association in my mind connecting M&Ms and drugs. Stay in school, kids.

*Not surprisingly, he is called M&M. Whether or not this had any bearing on a young Marshall Mathers III is beyond my ken**.

**Footnote within a footnote's footnote! I can't keep up with all of this.


FIRST, I would like to apologize to anyone subscribing to this site in an RSS feed, because I'm sure it looks like I'm losing my shit live on the internet, and I'm not. I get really frustrated with the inability to add footnotes to my posts, so I've made an attempt at hyperlinking them. I'm sure I've done a shoddy job of it, but it was an experiment so I'm okay with shoddy. Besides, it's taken up more than enough of my feeble brain just to keep track of this stuff...
So I’ve been gone for some time. I apologize, which I believe I’ve done in my last four-dozen posts. Things are improved since my last frantic, since deleted post. Instead of working 3 no-pay jobs, I’m getting paid for 2 of my 5 jobs. Closed from the ranks of unemployed I now find myself simply underemployed, affording my time enough to post again. Not that I’ve been quiet. Between twitter and the awesome, rotting husk of google buzz, I remain pretty active online. But still, this is my pet, and I have neglected her. My writing muscles dry and atrophy. I could fill out a job application blindfolded and spinning, but I doubt I could give you more than a few pages worth of an idea before giving up or getting distracted by something else. I’ve removed myself from equipment, communications, and occupation to sit down and work up some sort of transmission from my brain. This sounds refreshing when I type it out, but as I type this up in a work processor I’m still sitting on an uncomfortable couch that reeks of BO farts in a coffee shop. So instead of whining I will start. Recent ideas I’ve had for posts (that were never written) include the dark side of Springsteen hits, my thoughts on the Keith Richards biography*, the really fucked up book that many of us read in elementary or middle school, my time at Kanye West’s Tweet Academy, and recent book reviews*. But none of those things are on the docket for the day. Today I’m thinking about…
I’m pretty much hooked on pretzel M&Ms. They’re amazing. I’ve never really liked the original M&Ms. I’d usually go for a Reese’s Pieces if I was looking in that neighborhood of the candy world. But the peanut M&M is on to something. The almond M&M was also a short-lived blessing. But the pretzel M&M is a pretty much perfect candy. Note: Wikipedia tells me that they’re bringing back the crispy M&M in 2011. BOSS.
But this is not the point. I’ve been thinking about just how unique my (and quite probably your) specific generation’s lot in life is in just about every possible way. And generation is a stupid word, used frequently enough out of convenience and generality, but then that’s probably what this is, so why not use it, right?
Generations in this country have typically been defined by wars, or the results of them. Vietnam was a new type of war, and look how that jilted society at the time. Now, we’ve got 2 wars going on and half of us couldn’t give a shit because things are getting scary enough here. What does that say about us and our mindset?
And what about the internet? Surely that will define us in some way. Especially since my specific age group is the last in America who didn’t have the internet until they were adults. 15 years later and it has changed pretty much the way most of us do everything. I work sometimes with 19 year-old kids who have no idea what it’s like to use a phone book or a card catalog or hand write notes. or Blow the dust out of a Nintendo cartridge or use a pen to spool tape back into a cassette after it was eaten?. Remember when identity theft seemed like some exotic crime reserved for episodes of Knight Rider?
And it’s not just the conceptual aspect of how much this technology has permeated our lives, but the physical as well. Think about the difference between the amount of time the average person spent sitting in front of a computer screen has increased in the past 20 years. Or how much better the average typing speed has gotten? Our bodies are probably already physically adapting to this type of lifestyle. The children born today will already be nudged evolutionarily in a direction more suited to this. Such is life.**
But what aside from wars or technology define us? That pretty much feels like everything, and not in a slight sense, either. I mean everything***. Still, though, there’s stuff like child predators and peanut, which have always existed to an extent but not like they do today. The death lurch of rotary phones. Red M&Ms.
You thought I forgot about the M&M thing, didn’t you? Well SHUT UP I did not. Just a little sidetracked is all.
They didn’t make Red M&Ms when I was a kid. There was some sort of cancer scare over a red dye used in many foods at the time (but interestingly not in M&Ms****). It never bothered anyone that they were gone, apparently, or that the same dye in question continued to be an ingredient for virtually every other candy in America, it was just a fact of life.*****
Sometime in high school or something they came back, and I remember being excited about it, like it was something we’d been waiting for our whole lives. Which in my case was. But the crazy thing is that I just learned very recently that they were only outlawed in 1976. For some reason I thought like only people that were 100 years old remembered red M&Ms. But now, it was very specific to an eleven year period. I feel like they came back when I was late in high school, but it looks like they were back before I even entered middle school. A short window probably to anyone not in the throes of adolescence at the time.
Also, don’t forget that there used to be tan M&Ms. Has anyone EVER requested tan food?
As I said, generations are bullshit. The Berlin Wall or the Challenger explosion doesn’t define who I am any more than it does my parents. 9/11 changed life for every single American, not just people in their early 20s. I doubt that June 6, 2001****** is the BC/AD moment for many other people. These moments are define us just as much as we define them. The Tiger Woods thing from a couple of years ago probably had as much impact on some people as Altamont had on others. So why not center who I am with the absence of red M&Ms from the American marketplace? As a child in that time, this had enough of an impact on me*******. As a fan of cheap candy, it continues to. And who better than to throw my lot in with than the cheap candy fans?


*this will be done if it takes me a year. I promise.


**until, of course, when the apocalypse happens. Then they’ll be far, far less adapted to survive without the cushy padding of a technological infrastructure. THAT, my friends, is when we take back the planet from our adapted hellspawn.


***If a caveman from 1990 showed up at my doorstep a la South Park and asked me to update him on what happened since he was frozen, I’d probably just say “war and the internet” and he’d be like “oh, that’s it?” Then it would take me 10 months to explain exactly what that means.


****Though it is less than exciting to note that M&Ms still use a dye which is banned in much of Europe and not recommended for children.


*****Remember how green M&Ms made you horny? What the shit was that about? Is that just a byproduct of outlawing alcohol for teenagers or something? How did that even make sense? I forget, I think brown ones had some sort of effect on people, too. Ridiculous.  Presumably, the tan ones made you really, really boring.


******Game 1 of the NBA Finals, in which I watched the Sixers beat the Lakers in LA at my favorite bar of all time with my favorite person of all time.