Hey, how ya been? Remember when I used to actually write stuff here? Man, those were the days, huh? Well hey, I actually put some new stuff up here. Crazy, I know. At one point in time, I had planned to go through all this crap and sort of divide it up into categories, but the list of links and stupid anecdotes just kept growing until I gave up on ever imposing any sort of order on the whole mess. As it stands, the whole thing kind of reads as a stream of conciousness recounting of all the stuff I’ve been looking at online and / or doing for the past month or so.

     The video for The White Stripes “Fell in Love With a Girl” is done in dumbed-down lego mosaics. It would’ve been cooler if they had gone through and done each frame of the footage as a mosaic. If anyone wants to pay me to devote my life to making such a video, get in touch.

     In other Detroit rock news, The Sights appeared live in the FOX2 news studio a week or so ago, and you can download a massive video file of their appearance here. Looks like Nate of Judah Johnson and Buddyhead fame is playing keys for them these days.

     The purpose of their appearance on FOX2 was to promote the Hamtramck Blowout, which happened last weekend. If I was on top of things, I would have posted an update here urging you to go see both of the bands I am currently a member of in their respective time slots, but I didn’t because I am a giant slacker. The Recital also ended up making an appearance on FOX2 news, primarily because we were one of the first bands to play. You can download a digital recording of our fleeting fifteen minutes here. Those of you who are upset about having missed yet another chance to witness my musical prowess can console yourselves by attending one of the following all-ages shows:

  • On Saturday, March 16th, at Mr. Muggs in Ypsilanti, I’ll be playing drums with the Pop Project. Also appearing will be a whole damn handful of bands, as it appears to be an all day ordeal. I’m not sure what time this shindig kicks off, but it looks like we’ll be playing sometime around 9PM.
  • On Monday, March 18th, at Stormy Records in Dearborn, I’ll be playing bass with The Recital. Also performing will be Lisboa. All the proceeds from this show go to WHFR 89.3 FM, so you should go. Show starts at 8PM (Sharp!)

     While I’m already boring you with band-related crap, two more quick things:

     The Recital played in Ohio awhile back at the venue where Harlow played back when Bands on the Run originally came through town. All the disclaimer signs and what have you from the taping were still proudly displayed. Not surprisingly, the club had an extremely sleazy “Makeout room” in the back, and I had the following conversation with a rather colorful ‘Local:’

Me: (Watching RSB play)
Her: Ahhhhhhhhhh! (Turns to me) Nothing like a good OVULATION!
Me: (Leaving)

     We’ve also been recording on a super nice 2″ analog 24 track with Norm Druce in Owosso, Michigan. His studio is in an old machine shop, so the natural reverb is pretty great. To see a panoramic photo thingy I put together by standing in the center of the room and taking pictures as I turned in a circle, click here.

     …and now it’s time for a little section I like to call “PROTRACTED DISCUSSION OF WRITERS WHO FAVOR FOOTNOTING AND ALSO SOME WHO DON’T” or “HOT NERDY BOOK ACTION.”

     I’m in the middle of my third attempt at conquering David Foster Wallace’s mammoth ‘Infinite Jest.’ It’s going slightly better than my first and second attempts which both ended in the first 100 pages. For those of you who appreciate the nuance of the footnote but don’t have the time to wade through 1200 or so pages, I would reccommend ‘The Mezzanine‘ by Nicholson Baker. The book is under 200 pages in length and takes place over the course of one man’s ride up an escalator – but you learn all about him through the footnotes that drive the story. So yes: highest kempa.com recommendation. [Actually I just heard back from one person who I recommended it to who hated it and I guess I should amend my recommendation: if you consider being called ‘meticulous’ to be a compliment (ie you are mildly OCD and / or at least partially insane and /or an engineering student), you will really, really like this book. If you thought ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ ROCKED then you might not. But hey, if ‘The Mezzanine’ isn’t for you and you were into Bridget Jones, then you should read ‘MISadventures‘ which is a pretty good chick-ish book I read on my break one day because I couldn’t find anything else to read.]

     Hey, did you know that the new issue of Dave Eggers’ quarterly literary journal McSweeney’s is out? This one is of the same format as issue #4: a bunch of stories individually bound and then rubberbanded together. So far I’m not very impressed with this issue – it seems that a lot of the irreverence and humor is missing this time around. The cover touts a contribution from Chris Ware – but don’t get too excited, because he only supplied the cover to the Michael Chabon story.

     Those of you looking for some new Chris Ware material should check out the latest issue of Nest magazine, as the first installment of a regular ‘Strip’ appears. Also newly available is the Chris Ware lunchbox, which is really quite great. Just look at the main panel illustration, and check out the typically Ware-ian description:

“Remember gym class, being called names, and getting spit on? Well, here’s the “Rusty Brown” lunchpail — the perfect companion for children who are used to dining alone. Decorated with popular images from the new serial beginning in “The ACME Novelty Library” series of picture books and pamphlets, this one is sure to be just the thing to display for a short time, put in a closet, and then eventually throw away. Four color, embossed, and solid metal — so that it really hurts when somebody bigger than you smacks you on the side of the head with it.”

     Anyway, remember three paragraphs back when I mentioned Dave Eggers? Well, I was going to segue into further Eggers-centric discussion, but then I started talking about Chris Ware for too long for the segue to make any sense, so now I’m using this coincidentally very Eggers-esque device to bring our little discussion back to Dave Eggers. Got that? Okay, good, here we go:

     Speaking of Dave Eggers, there’s been some speculation in the press that his sister Beth has committed suicide. This speculation appears to be at least partially based on the fact that Ms. Eggers, a lawyer, did not pay her California Bar dues for 2002. Her reaction to HBWOSG, which she felt presented her inaccurately, veered from somewhat hostile to a grim acceptance pretty quickly after the books release [The second link was at onetime Beth Eggers’ ‘retraction’ of some of her earlier comments. It appears to have been removed from the McSweeney’s site]. The Eggers-penned forward to the paperback edition (Which dealt in part with the book’s reception) is conspicuously absent from the current paperback edition, as is all the paperback-only footnoting. If this is at all interesting to you, then (1.) you are a giant dork, and (2.) you should know that all sorts of obsessive Eggers-watching goes on here.

     If you’re a fan of Tom Perrotta, you can hear him reading a chapter from ‘Joe College’ in MP3 format right here. Unfortunately it’s not one of the better passages in the book. If you’re not familiar with Tom Perrotta, he wrote ‘Election,’ and also the superior short story collection ‘Bad Haircut.’

     I went solo to see Michael Moore on his book tour as it rolled into Ann Arbor This past Tuesday, and boy, was I glad I did, as Mr. Moore showed the audience an epic rough cut of his forthcoming documentary “Bowling for Columbine.” The film deals with the issue of gun violence in America, but not from the usual “Get rid of all guns” perspective, as Moore is a card carrying member of the NRA. Two of the most intelligent interviews in the film are with Marilyn Manson, who seemed surprisingly (to me at least) insightful, and South Park Creator Matt Stone, who is obviously a very smart guy. You may remember his straight-faced article on the beauty of math from a few years back. Well I went hunting for it online again but couldn’t find it. It looks like the site that originally hosted it has been deleted. All I was able to find was this quotation from it:

     “I became aware of an underlying superstructure that tied all my math knowledge together. Although I had no idea how to define that superstructure, just being aware of it was a big step… When the rays of mathematical structure do puncture the clouds of one’s monkey brain, one sees, or rather feels, the interconnectedness of totality. All these different formulas and graphs and infinite series that you have learned and mastered your whole life all actually describe different parts of the same thing.”

     At any rate, Moore also scored an interview with NRA head honcho Charleton Heston, who manages to come off as a supreme racist during his brief interview. Also of interest to fans of Michael Moore is this transcript of an interview with Bill O’Reilly. The result: a festival of smugness. O’Reilly attacks with his unique brand of “I’m all politics-core smart” smugness, and Moore counters with his “I’m all politics-core and I didn’t sell out” sort of smugness. A smugness standoff is achieved.

     Those of you into hearing a good interview with the late Charles Schutz, you can download some really good interview MP3’s here. [Ah crap – I’ve been sitting on this update so long they’ve changed the interview subject to Robert Crumb. Bah.] Incidentally, shortly before his death, Schultz was interviewed on 60 minutes. It was an insanely depressing interview, completely in contrast to the interview linked above (In which he is almost self-congratulatory). If anyone ever stumbles across a transcript and or recording of this interview online, remember that I really, really want it. Thanks.

     …and now a pile of music-related links:

     Holy Crap! Did you see Thom Yorke on the grammys?! If not, click here, now! He looks like a YETI these days! While Thom was running around all Yeti-like, he also stopped in on an acoustic Beck show where they performed a cover of the velvet Undergrounds “I’m Set Free,” a pretty nice-sounding MP3 of which can be downloaded here. This MP3 is hosted by Injektilo-ftp.com, where you can find all sorts of live Radiohead and Sigur Ros goodness (Another good Radiohead download site is here). Hop on that shit. By the way, if you’re all about Radiohead, you should know that they added a bunch of new merch to Waste.com. Highlights include cups, and a book by resident artists Stanley Donwood.

     Tiny Telephone has always had a great selection of MP3’s but I hadn’t checked back in awhile. There’s some great stuff there, including a Bright Eyes song that I didn’t know existed, a clinic song I don’t have, a demo version of an Elliott Smith song, and an interesting video by a band called For Stars that shows the studio takes that actually produced the song synced up. Not to mention about 100 other MP3’s you should hear. So yes. Go download some good music. Oh and before I forget, here’s the story on that Bright Eyes song:

“Better Looking Records will be releasing a series of 7″ from the Album Leaf (Jimmy Lavalle from Tristeza’s solo thing) and each release will feature a different accompanying guest artist. The debut release features Conor Oberst and is due for release in the coming few months. According to Paul Fischer of better looking, Jimmy recorded some stuff and sent the material to Conor for him to add to. Conor returned it back to Jimmy for final mixing.”

     Matador records is streaming the Jon Spencer blues explosion video that features both a spastic Winona Ryder and a Drum-set-kicking John C. Reilly. So all you high speed connection folks: stock up on the spastic Winona and crazy C. Reilly.

     So you know that album, ‘Pinkerton,’ by Weezer, right? Well I guess it was originally supposed to be rock opera set in space, and that studio versions of several songs that weren’t released were recorded. You can read up on the history of this weird concept album that never was here, and ferret out many of the songs on audiogalaxy.

     I’m on an unashamedly over-the-top power pop kick these days. I’m relatively new to the Jellyfish, but holy cow, they’re pretty fucking good. Anyone know if this box set ever came out? I’m also listening to a lot from The Flashing Lights (Flawlessly produced Canadian pop) and The Zombies lately (My copy of the box set is missing the 2nd disc – if you have the ‘Zombie Heaven’ boxset and feel like burning me a copy of the 2nd disc, then that would be pretty rad). So yes. In case you were wondering, I mean.

     Since we all knew it wouldn’t be possible to make it through the entire update without some nerdly Arcade-based links, why don’t we just get ‘em out of the way now? One of the greatest things I’ve stumbled across in awhile is the web page of a guy who only collects arcade game prototypes (ie games that were never mass produced). His collection can be seen here, and some highlights include Beavis and Butthead and Marble Man machines. The Marble Man page is probably the most interesting, as it chronicles how he obsessively assembled the parts of the machine over a three year period. Crazy.

     Oh, I forgot to tell you I went to an arcade auction. If you ever have the need to see the largest concentration of greasy guys who own roller rinks EVER, go to an arcade auction. I went just to see what it was like, and assumed everything would be top dollar, so I didn’t bother registering to bid. It turns out this was a mistake, as towards the end of the afternoon they were letting perfectly good cabinets with minor electrical problems go for $15. Next year I will begin using my nerdliness for PROFIT! But I digress…

SUMMARY OF THE DORKIEST CONVERSATION I’VE EVER HAD: WITH DIAGRAM

     When naming your band, you must ask yourself several important questions. First and foremost should be: “Will we ever release our music in the 12″ Vinyl format?” If the answer is yes, an appropriate follow-up question would be: “Does the type of music we will be releasing appeal to those who would typically alphabetize 12″ vinyl?” If the answer to both of these questions is ‘Yes,’ then the orientation of the chosen band name within the context of the alphabet as a whole must be given careful consideration.

     Danger zones within the alphabet lie in the ‘A’ and ‘Z’ sections. These zones are dangerous because they are vulnerable to stress and wear imposed by the collector who does not have enough records to properly fill the shelf on which they are stored (See figure 1). If these records are left as such for long periods of time, the album stored on the bottom of the stack (Often an ‘A’ or ‘Z,’ though the proliferation of compilation records containing music by “Various Artists” has made the ‘Z’ section significantly safer.) can eventually be warped by the force imparted by the other records on the shelf.

Fig. 1: The stress imposed on the end records by all the other records (which are inadequate in number to properly fill the shelf) is greatest on artists whose names begin with the letter ‘Z’ (See point ‘A’ in the figure above). Alternately, records by artists whose names begin with the letter ‘A’ would bear the most stress were the records to fall in the other direction. It is in this respect that we see how the force of gravity becomes a variable in the naming of a band and / or musical project.

     The ideal course of action if the chosen name of your musical endeavor begins with the letter ‘A’ is to either make music that will appeal to the financially well-to-do vinyl enthusiast who can be expected to adequately fill his record shelf, or make music that will appeal to those who don’t alphabetize their vinyl records, thereby putting your faith in the odds that your albums will end up not on the ends, but in the center of an accumulation of records.

     This second scenario begs the question of desirability: if your albums are to accumulate in the center of a stack it would follow that they would be less likely to be played by the casual listener. This argument, however, is beyond the scope of this summary of a conversation I had.

     When I saw Amelie AGAIN, I noticed something kind of neat. In the beginning, during the likes/dislikes montage, we learn that Amalie enjoys skipping stones. Before she does each of her three “good deeds,” she finds a flat stone, and puts it in her pocket. Before she finally attempts to do something in her own interest, she goes and skips each of the three stones, and they skip approximately a billion times each. Stupid little details like that make insane people like me smile. These things are in stark contrast to what makes the average moviegoer smile, like FUCKING ROLLERBALL KICKS ASS BRO.

     If you were ever obsessively into Canadian popsters Sloan then you are probably familiar with the names Laura Borealis and Catherine Stockhausen. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me to elaborate:

Laura Borealis:

     Artsy gal who dated Chris Murphy at one time. Is credited in both ‘Smeared’ and ‘Twice Removed.’ She’s got her own website now which is of interest for a number of reasons. First of all, you can check out some of the indie rawk videos she directed in the late 90’s, all of them pretty good. For those of you too lazy to go to her page and see what’s available, here’s the breakdown:

  • Superfrindz – ‘10 Lbs.‘ Download Matt Murphy of The Flashing Lights fame’s first music video (And speaking of The Flashing Lights, click here to read their hilarious tour rider), in which he appears to be wearing a children’s size medium t-shirt. The song is great, too.
  • Eric’s Trip – ‘ Viewmaster‘ Subpop Canadian Lofi, ho!
  • Sebadoh – ‘Ocean‘ The infamous ‘Lou Barlow crying’ video. So great.

     Also available at Laura’s site is information on her upcoming arthouse movie, which stars members of both Sloan and Eric’s Trip. Clicking here gets you a complete cast list, not to mention a picture of Andrew Scott in Leather pants. Bonus.

Catherine Stockhausen:

     Artsy gal who has supplied the photographic skills for just about every East Coast Canadian record released in the last decade. She’s also got a new website, and there are some great candid shots of all sorts of Canrock bands including Sloan, The Superfriendz, The Flashing Lights, Eric’s Trip, The Inbreds, Hardship Post, Plumtree, The Deadly Snakes, The New Pornographers, etc. in her photo gallery here.

     If you’re oblivious to all this canadian rock business, you can listen to Michael Barclay talk about his monstrous new book ‘Have not been the same’ (Hi speed / Low speed) which discusses the last decade in Canadian rock music and deals extensively with some of the bands mentioned abouve. It’s almost worth tracking down just for the chapter on Sloan, which was actually really well done and informative.

     In case you are sitting at work and needing online games to play, here are two that kept me amused all through boring lectures I should have been paying attention to:

  • Take it Easy.’ Nerdy puzzlish game using tiles and numbers and math and other things you probably hate. But wait: it’s the FUN kind of math!

  • Farkle.’ A crazy dice game that makes no sense at all at first but after you play one round you are totally addicted and that lecture about the anthropology of business is the furthest thing from your mind.

The best 99 cents I’ve spent on a record in quite awhile:

     After listening to the record, I’ve determined that a fitting subtitle would be: “…well I’m here to tell you that you’re fucking NOT. And you’re not HAPPY either.” This is like, the jackpot of samples, I swear.

A heap of completely unrelated links:

  • This is something you should definately make an effort to see: a short film exploring the outing of Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street fame: Ernest and Bertram. Worth whatever trouble you go to to see it for the ‘sad’ version of the theme song alone.

  • Photos and video clips of Sloan making asses of themselves in animal suits on a Canadian talk show are here.

  • An interesting site about ‘Circuit Bending‘ (“An electronic art which implements creative audio short-circuiting”) can be found here. To get a better idea of what this is all about, check out their gallery of ‘altered’ Speak and Spells.

  • Chris Hatfield dug up a link that archives what kempa.com looked like back in March 2000, when I first made the move to an actual domain after getting booted from the AOL servers.

  • I finally found a site that is hosting some Adventures of Pete and Pete clips (Albeit very short ones). Available are brief clips of Artie, Stu, and… Artie again. If anyone out there would like to assist me in completing my collection of original Pete & Pete episodes, please do. I would forever be in your debt, you see.
  • Click here to see pictures of the flexidisc GN’R used to promote Appetite For Destruction. Clicking here allows you to listen to the contents of the flexidisc: Izzy and Slash explaining the significance of ‘Night Train.’ Thank you, internet.

  • Have you ever been sitting down, trying to solve a rubiks cube (NOT standing up, trying to solve a rubiks cube), and thought: “You know, this would be a lot easier if I just built a machine out of legos that can solve a Rubik’s cube by itself.” Because this guy did.

  • A really cool animated web-clock thing.

     This update was brought to by the Financial columnist in my local paper, who apparently insists on being called ‘Timbo.’ Way to go there, guy. Because we’ll all trust our money with someone called ‘Timbo.’