MonthMarch 2001

Cooperative technology

     Yesterday was my day off. On my days off, I am extremely abusive of the ‘snooze’ button on my alarm clock. Sometimes to the point where the alarm clock just gives up and ceases to sound the alarm at 9 minute intervals (Incidentally, I am really good at quickly figuring things out when multiples of 9 are involved. All the credit goes to my alarm clock). At any rate, yesterday, every time the alarm would go off, the phone would ring. But there wasn’t anyone on the line. This happened like four times. So either whoever was calling me had insanely perfect timing, or my alarm clock and cordless telephone are conspiring to double team my lazy ass.

     Amusing recent Weezer tour poster.

     New release watch: Either this or this is supposedly the cover to Radiohead’s forthcoming Amnesiac. Or maybe one of these ? You can read a review of the new material here. You could bid on an overpriced four-track sampler on eBay, or just download three tracks for free, here, here, and here. Additionally, this is the cover art to the forthcoming third Tool full length. Bits and pieces of info on the Tool album can be found here.

Also, from the mailbag:

     “You probably already know this but I saw a copy of the latest issue of Magnet and they had an article titled “Being Steve Malkmus”. I thought “That sounds familiar” and then I remembered I saw that phrase on your site a while back. Just thought you might like to know.

     Here’s the original article, which I wrote in December 1999 while I should have been studying for a final.

     Finally, you may have noticed a little yellow iconic representation of a 3.5″ floppy disk in the title frame above. This is an experiment. All the downloadable files that I link to and later go looking for when I have a fast connection will be listed there. The factor that will determine whether this experiment is a success or a failure will be how motivated I am to continue doing it. Yes.

Busy times

     Where the hell have I been? Good question. But before I answer I’d just like to address anyone who is reading this because of the article in this past Saturday’s Detroit News and Free Press. You should probably visit this site, which is much more interesting. It features the artwork of my late brother Chris. Today’s piece was recently discovered in an otherwise empty sketchbook by his art teacher, Mr. Rhealt.

     Now, on with the autobiographical Drivel.

     The last week or so has been ridiculously busy for me. Last Friday, after practicing, some friends and I went to see The Amplitude‘s first show in Ann Arbor. For those of you not in the know, The Amplitude contains one Martin D. Smith, whom I’ve been in roughly eight bands with over the years. They impressed everyone with both their first-show-composure and the sheer height of their bass player.

     From there, we drove all the way to East Lansing, where we spent a disgustingly large number of hours drunkenly sitting around in an oval-esque formation, apathetically refusing to get up and change a Cure cd that was so badly scratched that it skipped roughly every third second. This large block of time was divided relatively equally between ‘catching up,’ and playing a bastardized movie game.

     The game works like this: You pick a movie and name two actors in it. The next player can then pick either actor and has to think of another movie with that actor in it. Actors can be repeated but movies cannot. Play continues around the circle until you look at the clock and realize five hours have elapsed.

     We ended up arriving back in Livonia at roughly 7 am. Waking up in the back of a van with the sun up was very weird. I went to bed for a few hours and woke up just in time to eat lunch and start tearing apart “the basement” for a show that evening.

     The show was a benefit for WHFR, and took place at Windy and Carl‘s Stormy Records. We actually played really well considering the fact that we are us. Relatively few mistakes or grave technical errors. People clapped, and we were happy. I bought a Talking Heads 45, ate pizza and went to bed exhausted.

     So concluded my spring break. But no one (including myself) really took my spring break all that seriously since I’m only enrolled in one class.

     The following week was a blur of work, school and appointments which culminated in a ridiculously busy weekend. Somewhere during the week, I managed to have a few (Cue circus music) Barnes & Noble adventures!

     The first involves a guy who had ordered an album by a group called A3. Those of you who watch the Sopranos will know them as the folks who do the theme song. Fully understanding this story will require some knowledge of how the order process works at B&N.

     When an order actually comes in, the customer is called and the item is put on hold for a week. If they don’t pick it up within a week, the item is placed in the “Better call these lazy people again” pile. Apparently he had come in to pick up his order after the one week mark, but before he got his “Stupid forgetful person” call, and the person who helped him on this fine day didn’t think to look in the idiot pile.

     Of course, I ended up being the one to obliviously make the second call. Now either the guy was having some fun with me (Most likely) or he was a full blooded sicilian. As soon as I said I had an order on hold for him he let out a long winded sigh and said “The Sopranos fellas, right?” Immediately following my affirmative reply, he began to explain the situation to me at breakneck speed, concluding his tirade with: “Looks like someone’s gettin’ it, and looks like it’s you. Don’t go nowhere.” Click.

     He never showed up, unless it was after my shift in which case I’m not too worried about it (ha!). This isn’t the first time I’ve had my life threatened by a customer.

     When I worked at a used record store I had a run-in with a drunken Rolling Stones fan. We had a ticketmaster there, and The Rolling Stones were playing somewhere huge (I forget where exactly). He came in absolutely shitfaced, and began demanding that I use some ‘tricks’ to get him a pair of $300 seats cheaply. He could not be convinced that I had no way to change the price of these tickets. When the police that my coworker had covertly called showed up, he absolutely freaked out, and turned to tell us that we would “die for this” as he was led out.

     The Police, being morons (This is required), led him across the street to the bar he had come from, so it wasn’t long before he was back in the store. In the interim, he had managed to forget that he was supposed to kill us. So no one died that time either.

     This past week has also seen the emergence of a new character at B&N: “Has figured out how to turn the water pressure way up on motion sensitive urinals and is partial to doing so right before we close so that the urinals overflow immediately after Adam uses them” guy. This particular villain struck two nights in a row last week, and I was stupid enough to piss immediately after closing on both nights.

Finally, some free tips on how to be a better customer:

For Women:

  • Don’t wear a fur coat to a chain bookstore. No one thinks you look classy, and that oprah book in your hand proves that you’re not, so give it up.

  • Don’t have really long fingernails and rap them on the counter in a precise manner. This is guaranteed not to get you better service.

For Men

  • No matter how many times you read about it in business books, using someone’s first name in conversation whenever possible is not always the right thing to do. If you’re just being friendly, don’t sweat it. If it’s more like: “So, ADAM (Dramatic pause so that my inferior register-jockey brain can comprehend the fact that you addressed me by name) you say it will be here within the week? If I have any problems with it, I’ll just remember to talk to ADAM. But there won’t be any problems, right ADAM? Thanks again, ADAM.” then you should probably kill yourself because no one likes you anyway. While sternly using my given name at key junctures in the negotiation of a retail transaction WON’T make me regard you with fearful respect, it WILL prompt me to point you out and inform the other booksellers of your “insufferable prick” status. This goes double if you look like you just walked out of a tailor.

What else?

  • Nymb played a CD release show in Ann Arbor on Friday. Their new full length, “So This is How it Is” is avaialable at the Suburban Sprawl site.

  • I am officially calling that Colby will win ‘Survivor.’
  • Also: There are two mp3’s from the forthcoming Ted Leo Full length, “The Tyranny of Distance,” available here and here.

Solving international problems

     If I had my way, this is how the Michigan state quarter would look:

     That will be all.

Pee Wee League

     If you live in Michigan, be forewarned that the Recital will be playing this Saturday at Stormy Records in Dearborn with Red Shirt Brigade and Arcaid. Doors at 7:30, three bucks gets you in. You should probably go.

     Apparently the people behind Punkrock.net tried to sell their domain for 20 grand on eBay. It didn’t work:

“i’m cancelling this auction, as well-known spammers (the folks from buddyhead.com) are attempting to purchase my domain. i have no desire to support their unethical and illegal activies. sorry, folks!”

     Those crazy kids at buddyhead also got ahold of a copy of part of Weezer’s rider for the Yahoo Outloud tour.

     Reprodepotfabrics.com is so great. The spawning grounds for a myriad of dumb ideas and ill-advised crafts projects. What they do is make reproductions of old patterned fabrics. So many dopey possibilities.

     The Infamous Proust Questionaire.

     Has everyone seen the latest Spin? With the way-creepy looking picture of old Paul Reubens (AKA Pee Wee Herman)? Okay. Just checking.

     Speaking of Pee Wee, betcha didn’t know there were tons of dopey video clips available for download on his official site, did ya? Yeah, I thought not. Dig in (right click and ‘save target as’): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33. You’re welcome.

     Aw, screw it. Now all I’m finding is Pee Wee stuff. This insanely devoted fansite has pretty much everything you could ever need. Need a clip of Mr. Reubens’ scene in ‘Matilda?’ Got it. It’s in the ridiculously complete video clips section. Need a version of PC Solitaire incorporating Playhouse characters? Got it. In the Games section, of course. It even has a magazine cover gallery and a fan stories page. Check this one out:

     I worked as a drug counselor and held group sessions on Saturday mornings. Unfortunately, my schedule collided with pee wee’s playhouse time so to utilize therapy time in the best possible manner — I made all of my addicted patients watch Pee Wee’s playhouse!!!! it quickly became all the rage amongst my patients and the Saturday sessions became the most important part of their treatment and before long – even the ones that didn’t have to come in on Sat AM, would wander in with coffee in one hand, looking for a place to sit. This was one of the most effective group session strategies i had ever come up with.

     Many of my regulars are clean to this day and reminisce about the good old days when we quit taking life sooooo serious all the time. I even had them shouting at the ‘secret word’ at appropriate times and everyone had their favorite character- Mine of course was always ‘P.W.’ himself.

     It wasn’t long, before we all added and “-O” to the end of each persons name and this has continued on to this day!!! It wasnt just on Saturdays either, it went on through the whole week, the months and years. There was a sad feeling among all of us when we heard of his arrest. Beleive me, my patients thought it was a major bum deal — We really had a lot of healing to do and did this by discussing how “the man” (yeah, the LAW) was always out to get ya!!!

     Our love and support never faltered!!! If we only would have had internet access back in those days — It was a difficult time for many of them and when it looked like someone might slide because they were so down, We’d uplift the spirit by saying special kind words like “i don’t make monkeys, i just train ‘em” and ‘I’m a loner dottie, a rebel…”

     When the occasional would be backslider talked openly about a desire to use again, we’d say “Its not for sale FRANCES!!!” then we’d collectively decide what the secret word was of the day and to make it easy – we’d make it a word that we knew the person would use eventually, like “methadone” or ‘syringe’ or something special that everyone liked and voila’ — just like that they’d get all better. During a regular counseling session, if a patient said something like “yeah, but…”


     I’d quickly respond with “Let’s talk about your big but…Simone”


     There was something magic happening, then, something very magic indeed.

…and here’s an article that’s better than the Spin one.

Proprietary Corduroy Print Technique

     Below please find an example of what happens when you go see Weezer on a tour that Yahoo sponsored so they have giant cut outs of Weezer and they take your picture for free but you wore corduroys and put the picture in your back pocket and sat on it and were unaware that the combination of free color photography, corduroys and buttsweat would cause such a violent reaction.


     Also of note is the fact that Adrian Tomine, who does ‘Optic Nerve‘ supplied the art for the tour t-shirts.

     Additionally, the show was good fun. I missed the first band, saw most of the Get-Up Kids set, and obviously all of Weezer’s set. Hits were played. Sing alongs were had. Drinks were drunk.

Virtual Tracks

     Since I know you all care so much, here’s an mp3 of the most recent song to come out of my basement. It’s not totally done yet, so I didn’t bother making a perfect quality file, but I’m pretty proud of how it came out (And also of the fact that Rob was on a cruise ship in the Caribbean so I got to play drums on it). Ha!

Right click here and select ‘Save as.’


     You see, I’ve had my analog four track for upwards of six years now, which means I’ve gotten really good (If I do say so myself) at getting the best possible quality out of it, and I’ve developed all sorts of startegies for recording and mixing different insturments. I recently upgraded to digital 8 track, and soon after, reluctantly realized that I’d have to learn how to do everything all over again.

     Digital machines have these things called ‘Virtual tracks’ which are a pain in the ass to learn, but a godsend when you realize their potential. Gone are the days of having to record a bass part, a guitar overdub and harmonies all at once, starting over every time someone messed up. Now we can record essentially as many tracks as we want.

     The only problem I had was in the mixing stages. The first two songs I recorded went through roughly 20 cycles of mix, burn, get in car, listen, and reject. At any rate, I think I’ve finally got the hang of it. If you do download it, let us know what you think.

     Death Cab for Cutie played in Detroit last week. I was gonna go, then I wasn’t, then at the last minute a friend got out of an exam early and talked me into it. Of course, I ended up being glad I went, as Death Cab were incredibly tight, and they actually played some older songs. I finally got to hear ‘Champagne from a Paper Cup’ live, and they even played a cover of Bjork’s ‘All is full of Love,’ complete with the throaty-nonsensical-Icelandic yell in the middle. The And / Ors, on the other hand, were a huge disappointment. I had never heard them going in to the show. All I knew was that they counted Jejune’s Arabella amongst their members. Unfortunately, they also have a guy who apparently stole Evan Dando’s voice and likes AC / DC a lot.

     Moving on, I suppose now would be as good a time as any to rave about what a great show Sportsnight is. It’s on Comedy Central on Thursday nights, and it is officially my new favorite show. Amazing camera movement and Altman-esque (See: The Player) visual story telling. All this in a soap-opera / sitcom! Hot damn! Why didn’t anybody tell me about this sooner?

     Also TV related: My friend just let me borrow the Sopranos DVD box set. I’m four episodes in and already 100% hooked.

     The new Suburban Sprawl website is now up and running. Go there to view the clips of Red Shirt Brigade on MTV’s Undressed. Also: Southern has picked up the SSM catalog for distribution! Hooray.

Some random links:

Chris Ostafinski says:

Remember seeing Ted Leo and hearing that song that goes “If I don’t like someone I stop fucking them?” It’s frequently on Napster and it’s called “You Always Hate the One you Love” and it’s as good as you remember it. Now get busy.

..and he’s right.

Observations made while not observing Tivo

     Usually the impetus for me posting here would be me wanting to find something out on the internet, finding it out, thinking ‘Hey, that’s kind of interesting,’ and then posting it here. That hasn’t happened a whole lot lately, and I’m not sure why.

     No, wait – I just figured it out. Tivo is the reason why. And also I’ve been working on the Suburban Sprawl site. At any rate, be forewarned that this is one of those extremely disjointed grab-bag posts.

First, a bunch of loosely-related music stuff:

     So I saw the New Pornographers awhile back. Their Drummer had stick-twirling down to such a science that even fellow artful-stick-twirler Damon Atkinson would have been in awe. He also played the perfect drumkit (Rob, you especially should read this part): a four-piece with high hats and a crash / ride, nothing else. And it sounded great. Their new CD is so pop it hurts. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

     I also bought the new Tortoise album, ‘Standards,’ and I must say, I don’t see why this record is getting such great reviews. It’s not bad but it’s not a perfect album by any means. Yes, I’ve listened to it several times (at work even!). The silkscreened jewelcase is nice, but I like ‘Millions Now Living…’ way better. But that’s just me.

     I also got the new The Stereo full length for free. To fully appreciate my opinion of this CD, you’re going to have to allow me a rather pitchfork-ian analogy. Here goes:

     Remember the Sonic the Hedgehog video games? How whenever you moved Sonic too close to a ledge he would flail his arms either side-to-side or in windmills (depending on how close to falling you were) to keep his balance? Well The Stereo are a lot like that. On past releases, they’d be moving along at a respectable clip (for a pop punk band, of course) and then somehow manage to ruin it. Thankfully, they do that a lot less on this record than they did on the last one. Make no mistake, there are still a few moments when Sonic goes over the edge – the inexplicable four bar break for unaccompanied double-time handclaps in ‘On My Sonar’ and the extremely ill-advised and awkward sounding falsetto bits on the third song being perfect examples. But beyond these ultimately forgivable oversights of judgement, ‘No Traffic’ is a perfectly acceptable sing along pop punk album. Not anything that will break new ground by any means, but it sounds nice (Listening to this as a home-recorder will make you insanely jealous of J. Robbins ability to manipulate guitar sounds), and it’s catchy, too.

     You may or may not know that the new Dave Matthews record came out tuesday. I bring this up only because Barnes & Noble Inc. decided that this event was significant enough to issue a commemorative Gift Card featuring the album art. The only other artist that B&N has deemed culturally significant enough to be singled out in gift card form thus far has been Dr. Seuss. So, yeah that’s kind of scary. The arrival of these giftcards puzzled the entire staff at the store where I work.

     If you ever find yourself in a gift-giving situation where you’re not sure what to get someone and opt for a gift certificate, and you’re pretty sure the gift recipient would enjoy glancing at Dave Matthews and Co. occaisionally while browsing, head right out to your nearest Barnes & Noble. Also: a fun game to play at any music store is ‘Guess who is here to buy the new Dave Matthews.’ This is a very easy game to win.

     If Scooby Doo was as large a part of your childhood as it was mine, this video clip will probably give you just cause to hate Hollywood: [11.9 MB high-quality version, 6.2 MB not-so-high-quality version]

     Just for the hell of it, you should probably know that Captain Underpants is all the rage with the literate youth these days. If this offends you, here is their version of an apology.

     Ha.

P.S.
     You should definately know that there is an awesome 8-page Pixies retrospective in this month’s Mojo, and anyone who can find me online video clips of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly from ‘True West’ will automatically become my best friend ever. Additionally, I’d like to point out and apologize for the fact that I began three sentances in this post with the word ‘And.’