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Monday, August 28, 2006

Street Beat! 

Outside my window, it is lightly raining, and there are men working on the framework of an apartment building being put up on 7th, walking around on beams and using blowtorches. Yay!

posted by Jack, 10:40 AM

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Dear J. K. Rowling, 

I am afraid that I do not have too much to report from America. It may be that the heat of Summer has slowed me down, I have used this excuse before and like the sound of it.

I did have the opportunity at work during a lapse in higher brain functioning to play a bit of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the Game Boy Color - did you know that someone at some point found it appropriate to design the floor of Gringott's in that game with large and consipicuous stars of David?

I just watched Days of Heaven, I believe that John Williams may have cribbed some notes for your Harry Potter films from Ennio Morricone's soundtrack to the escape scene at the end. (Or possibly Leo Kottke's, he evidently wrote some of the music, although I suspect the piece I am referring to was Morricone's. Regardless, I found the score to be a bit much. The film in general was a lot more artificial than I had been expecting. I guess the lesson is that life is full of surprises or something, whatever, Netflix was right that this was a "beautifully shot period piece.")

Yank and Sue got married, although you maybe already knew that. I went to Sleater-Kinney's last New York show, got my refrigerator replaced... We moved to new offices on Friday, where I'm to have my very own desk, at least for the time being, I guess. I put a little coffee table in my bedroom, we'll see how long that lasts. I'm worried I'm going to kill or cripple myself on it one morning.

Does our touching and lively correspondence remind you of Dear Mr. Henshaw? I see from some earlier notes of mine that Wikipedia suggests to educators using the book in classes that "[s]ome of the projects that can be researched are monarch butterflies, life of a truck driver, and catering businesses." I learn a lot of things from Wikipedia. Consider:

"In 1957, [Harlan] Ellison decided to write about youth gangs. To research the issue, he joined a street gang in the Red Hook, Brooklyn area, under the name 'Cheech Beldone.'" - (I have modified, J. K., the quotation mark succeeding Beldone to bring it more in line with my views on appropriate punctuation.)

Also, "Another fact about Rip Taylor is that he did not learn how to drive a car until he was 44.

"Prior to becoming famous, Taylor was a page in the Senate. He was also conscripted into the Army and served in the Korean War."

I also learned this, although it seems that you are almost certainly already aware of the fact: "In 2002, an unauthorized Chinese-language "sequel" entitled Harry Potter And Leopard Walk Up To Dragon appeared for sale in the People's Republic of China. This poorly written book (the work of a Chinese ghost writer) contains characters from the works of other authors, including Gandalf from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and the title character from L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. Rowling's lawyers successfully took legal action against the publishers who were forced to pay damages."

I won't speak to the necessity of qualifying the book as having been "poorly" written, although I believe that you may have misstepped in addressing this issue. It seems to me that the happiest and wisest solution would have been to bring the author under your employ, although I am sure that your lawyers may have been operating without your direct supervision, so please do not take this as chiding.

Anyways, I've learned a lot of things lately, probably about 75% of them from Wikipedia, but I should go play now.

With affection,

posted by Jack, 11:35 PM

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Hulkbusters 

Now, far be it from me to suggest that any particular individual member of the Hulkbusters may not have made quite as much of a contribution to catching the Incredible Hulk as the rest, but I have to say that Carolyn Parmenter's training as a "marine scientist" may not have been ideally suited for Hulk acquisition or busting.

posted by Jack, 1:26 PM

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Local tips from a New Yorker 

Here's a fun game to play next time you're in New York - if you need to ask someone a question about having ridden on the JMZ line, you can say, "So, you took the JMZ, huh?" That way, it will sound like you're talking about James Iha.

You're welcome!

posted by Jack, 5:46 PM

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Netflix, through the use of science, is now able to tell me how similar I am to my friends. Results below. Warning: if you are one of the below mentioned friends, you may experience mind blow.

Janicak: 82% similar
Vali: 82% similar
Chun: 81% similar
Klein: 80% similar
Wrenshall: 78% similar
Bob: 77% similar
Dubbin: 73% similar
Koh: 63% similar
Podolsky: 63% similar
Borer: 62% similar
Harvey: 58% similar
Holmes: 51% similar

There you have it, folks. Science!

In conclusion, Janicak - you gave The Animal three stars? On a related note, did you know that Sean from Survivor season one was born ten years before me less one day? That would be a lot easier to express if it were, for example, ten years and a day or something. Anyways, think about it. That guy was kind of a moron, I hope I'm not like him.

posted by Jack, 11:47 PM

Music Data 

I have an "iTunes" playlist of my 101 most played songs. The distribution song lengths is actually pretty unexciting. Let me tell you about it.

The longest song is a slight 6:50 (that's right, it's "Purple Bottle," my 57th most played song, although it was the first song on Feels that I "dug on," so think about that). The shortest is :22. I think it goes without saying that it's Magnetic Fields' "BBC Radiophonic Workshop" from Holiday.

Anyways, of the top six songs (vis. length) (from the selection of my 101 most played songs), three are by Animal Collective, two are by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, and the other is from the soundtrack to Katamari Damacy. It was in reviewing this data that it struck me that my 101 most listened songs (this data is from basically the past 13 months) are more contemporary than I would have suspected given that I am a major league lame-o and way too lazy to pursue contemporary music with more than half-cocked attention. The results I obtained from reordering my "top 101" list by year rather than song length may well shock the crap out of you, so please prep yourself appropriately. I'll mention quickly here that both CYHSY songs are "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth"; one is the album version, the other is a live version from South Street Seaport. Wow, I've come to lead a very dorky life.

Anyways, to begin another paragraph, I've evidently spent the last year giving contemporary music a great big old chance. Which has worked out well, there are many charming young musicians out there. But I could scarce imagine how little attention I have lavished on artists of prior decades (I think, friends, principally, of the two decades spanning 1960 up to about 1979).

My topses have a single song from 1924. Frequent readers will have anticipated that this is Ma Rainey's ur-Rocking "Shave 'Em Dry Blues" which flips my damn wig how hard she rocks.

We skip quickly to the 1960s, where we find twelve songs, SIX of which are by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. The remainder is filled by the Paris Sisters, Françoise Hardy, the Marvelettes, the Beatles, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and the Aerovons. Also, six of those tunes are from 1962, while a round zero are from the sainted year of 1967. In fact, there are also zero from 1968. Zero songs from 1967 and 1968? Am I going crazy? Yes.

The 1970s! How many beautifully perfect rock albums were recorded? How many groundbreaking punk albums shook the world? The new wave, disco, funk... this was a wonderful decade for music.

I have one song from the 1970s, it's David Bowie singing the super old-school "The Prettiest Star." (Bolan Stereo version, to be specific). Boy, that's a beautiful song.

Jump cut to the 1980s, where six songs appear. BTW, two of them are by the Clancy Brothers and one's by the Pogues. Thanks to the Raincoats, the Breeders (with a Sebadoh cover), and Galaxie 500.

The 1990s, my teenage years, see a full thirteen songs. Vaselines, Hole, Unrest, Wax, Belle & Sebastian, the Dubliners, Sleater-Kinney twice, Yo La Tengo, and The Magnetic Fields four times. I have always claimed to prefer Volume 2 of the 69 Love Songs - how did Volume 1 come to dominate the presence on my top 101? From July 2005 until now? Who can say?

That leaves sixty-seven songs from the 21st century, about two thirds any way you slice it. Indeed, fifty-three of them are from 2004 until the present. Although, actually, I suspect there's one or two songs that snuck under my radar of purging songs with artificially recent release dates due to CD rerelease nonsense. My point is - here's an old man like me who still finds pleasure in new music. This means no more than that WXRV, the River 92.5 in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is going to be playing The Cloud Room and Silversun Pickups and Happy Bullets in a year or two to ease us old motherfuckers through our coffee soaked commutes in whatever hybrid bus we have to travel on the in the dystopic future. My point is this: you young dickheads don't understand a single thing about anything and will never understand the music of the Clancy Brothers and if my stupid kids want to complain about listening to the Thermals, than you know what? Kids? Why don't you get jobs and radiation shields and then you can run the stereo? Which is an old-fashioned word for music system from back when I was a young man and music came in two channels, and one was on your left and one was on your right and we knew where we stood?

posted by Jack, 2:59 AM

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I Read It (on Wikipedia - does "reading something" even count if it happens on Wikipedia?) 

Regarding the Pastafarian [stet] religion devoted to the Flying Spaghetti Monster [stet, darling, I'm sorry], "...essentially invoking a reductio ad absurdum argument against the teaching of Intelligent Design..."

With all due respect to Pastafarianism, I don't know whether to feel worse for the word "essentially" or the phrase "reductio ad absurdum." Or the word "argument." Or, in the interest of bipartisanship, the word "teaching," although it is used in the very direct participle form and not the more distant more purely noun form that the excerpt may suggest. I find the grace and maturity to not have emotional responses to the use of the word "design," nor the most glaring and already-discussed-to-sufficient-length use of any other words in the immediate vicinity of "design." But really, I was moved to write out of sympathy for "essentially," and I believe that spirit was rightly motivated.

Music: Petra Haden's The Who Sell Out
Mood: Frustrated with just everyone involved in this Creationism stuff!

posted by Jack, 2:53 AM

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dear American Government, 

I hear you are maybe (per my elevator's information screen) going to implement a gas ration. Please do so. Please implement a gas ration. Please drive people to carpool, to take public transportation, to drive motorscooters... Please have a gas ration. Please do whatever you can. Please employ the underemployed to retinally scan people at gas pumps, if that seems like a cool, fun idea for our government. Please do whatever you have to. But, yes, please ration gas. I know this will be crippling for massive segments of our economy - please take some time out of your day to prepare for that before you do it. Maybe a decrease in the increase of our defense spending would help? Maybe levelling or reducing our defense spending would help? That was awkward advice; to "level" could be interpreted as to reduce to nothing, and I'm not a naïf, I know that we need to spend money on defense. Anyways, "thanks" for governing us. I've come to hate the current President's Cabinet, but I don't want to "start" anything.

posted by Jack, 5:39 AM

Monday, August 07, 2006

Per Wikipedia, 

August 8th is Ghost Festival in China and Father's Day in Taiwan. Anyways, visit the Wikipedia entry on Ghost Festival to learn more about the story of how "Mahāmaudgalyāyana Saves His Mother From Hell."

posted by Jack, 11:07 PM

Good-bye To The Old Soup Strainer 

Yep, just shaved the ol' moustache off. I look terrible! This was a horrible mistake!

posted by Jack, 7:51 PM

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Has anyone heard about Mel Gibson? 

He apparently got drunk and said some really rude things about Jewish people!

posted by Jack, 2:50 PM

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bulletin Board! 

* Does anyone I know have a account? Let's talk, about you inviting me to!

* Is anyone else going to Webster Hall tonight? Let's talk, and have a fun time playing together at Webster Hall, tonight, for the big Sleater-Kinney show!

posted by Jack, 5:58 PM

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Peace Reigns 

Today, with little fanfare, a quite small posted notice above the mailboxes, a twenty-five cent price hike, and an inexplicable scent of kitty litter, our laundry room reopened. Our landlords apologized for the inconvenience. And after the storm, Rossini's "Ranz des vaches" from William Tell sounded across the land, and we had a small happy reminder that the nay-saying doom-eyed Al Gores of the world are not always right.

Competition for the room is, as yet, light. Fine for this guy, who had been looking forward to giving his comforter cover and a few stray T-shirts a good scrubbing. Sure, the basement window no longer has any glass in it! Just a set of iron bars! So what, it makes me feel more like I'm in a castle. I think everything is going to be okay.

posted by Jack, 7:58 PM


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