This looks like it’s going to be one of those updates where I post a lot of links to other people’s stuff. This is because I haven’t done that in a long while, and the pile of magazine clippings and feverishly scribbled notes to myself is becoming unmanagable. I’ll get all the usual rambling out of the way first, and then make with the linkage.

     I’m pulling double duty as The Recital and the Pop Project both play this Friday the 16th at The Halfway Inn in Ann Arbor. There is an online flyer here, and approximate directions can be had here. This will be the first time I miss a Sloan show in the Detroit / Windsor area in roughly seven years. Also, if anyone wants to see Sonic Boom playing Spacemen 3 songs at the Magic Stick for free this friday instead of either show mentioned above, get in touch.

     The other night I bowled a 150. This is odd because I suck at bowling and I’ve only bowled one other time in the last 5 years. Even odder is the fact that this game included a turkey (3 strikes in a row). Gobble gobble.

     This weekend I went to a party with the best theme ever: everyone brings a mix tap/cd, and throws it in a container of some sort upon arrival. When leaving, everyone reaches into said container and removes a mix tape / cd. Genius! I got a cd with a good songs by Trembling Blue Stars and Album Leaf on it. But then, I cheated.

     My cd was assembled at the absolute last minute. I listened to it on the way to the party and realized I had put a song that ends in one solid minute of feedback in the middle of the CD. Then, I proceeded to leave the cd in my cd player, and put the empty case in the container o’ mixes. Fortunately (Or unfortunately, considering the content) the person who got my empty case came back for the CD.

     I also managed to spill two containers of liquid on the exact same chunk of carpet. These spills resulted from two separate lapses in coordination, occurring hours apart from each other. Hurrah!

     So there was this woman in Barnes and Noble the other day. She was buying books, but that wasn’t the important part. The important part was that she kept calling her son “Dude.” It was obvious she was his mother because he kept calling her “Mommy,” but she kept saying things like “Hold on a minute, Dude.” and “Hey Dude, there’s your book!” She did it so often and in such an offhanded manner that it didn’t seem to be a joke or anything. She never emphasized the word as someone saying it for comedic effect would, and the son never reacted like this was out of the ordinary. The only satisfactory solution my brain could come to was that she had named her son Dude, which is possibly the greatest thing ever.

     Also: There was a woman in this weekend who bought a Harry Potter movie calender. This woman was of the “Inspect each item on the reciept REALLY DRAMATICALLY after the purchase is complete in order to intimidate cashier” school of shopping. Now, “Harry Potter Movie Calender” doesn’t fit on the reciepts. In fact, it gets abbreviated to: “Harry Potter Movie.”

Her: (Pointing angrily to reciept) What is this? I didn’t want a Harry Potter movie.

Me: No, that’s this (holding up box that obviously contains a calender).

(Pause)

Her: But we thought it was a calender.

Me: It is.

(Pause)

Her: (Pointing at reciept) But it says movie on here.

Me: (Opening box, showing her that it is in fact a calender.) Right, it’s a Harry Potter MOVIE calender. It’s got scenes from the movie.

Her: Ok, that’s a calender, but why did you charge me for the movie?

Me: Ma’am we don’t sell the movie. This item on the reciept is the calender (Shows her that prices correspond.)

Her: But.. why does it say… if.. Hm. I’m not sure if I want this then. I’ll come back. (Walks away scrutinizing reciept.)

I hate people!

     Really dorky thing you should do, even if you’re not really dorky, because then really dorky people will have something to do while you’re off “painting the town” this December:

     Mystery Science Theatre 3000 has been a favorite show of mine for a long time, much to the chagrin of basically everyone I know. They haven’t been making new episodes for quite awhile now, but the Sci-Fi channel has been playing reruns on Saturday mornings. This December, it will be going off the air indefinately. “MSTies,” as fans of the show are called (Stop laughing!) are pushing to get Sci-Fi to run a farewell marathon. Here’s how you can help: On November 24th, send email to program@scifi.com saying you support the idea of a marathon. There is a very poorly designed website providing information on more involved ways of contacting Sci-Fi, if you’re into that. Thank you.

     Bonk Music in the UK stumbled upon some fan mail written to porn stars. Naturally, they decided to record it as spoken word and put the result out on a 7″. Their site offers a sample MP3 here, as well as three sample letters (1, 2, 3). They’ll also sell you a t-shirt with a few of the letters lovingly silscreened across the front. Did I mention the MP3 is read in a stuffy british accent? Because it is. And if it doesn’t make you laugh for roughly an hour, then something is wrong with you.

     Two good sites that deal with unusual instruments:

The first is a site about the late Harry Partch and all the instruments he built. This page has a drop down menu at the bottom that lets you select from a list of his creations. Each instrument has its own page with a photo and text describing it’s construction and function. Examples:

Cloud Chamber Bowls
From 10 to 12 tops and bottoms of 12-gallon Pyrex carboys (the bottoms are inverted). At the University of California Radiation Laboratory, at one time, centers were cut from such carboys for use in “cloud-chamber” experiments. Played on the edges with small soft mallets, also on the flat tops. The bowls give a bell-like tone, and each has at least one inharmonic overtone. When one of them breaks it is virtually impossible to find an exact duplicate.

Chromelodeon I
Reeds are inserted for a 43-tone-to-the-octave scale. Thus, an acoustic octave covers that many keys and reeds, successively, and measures some three and a half keyboard octaves. The scale is in just intonation, and each tone is a frequency ratio to a fundamental, shown on the keyboard by colors. With the thirteen sub-bass reeds, and the stops for higher and lower tones in the second cell row, the total range of the instrument is from the lowest piano C to the third C# above middle C, slightly more than five acoustic octaves. All the other instruments are tuned to the Chromelodeon.

     The next site deals with the “first viennese vegetable orchestra.” Basically, it’s a bunch of crazy folks who play music made completely with vegetables. At the end of each performance, they throw their instruments into a stew, and eat them. Genius! Click here to view their site, here to browse some of their instruments, and here to download an MP3 sample of their work.

     I was recently sent a link to this insanely huge collection of archival and public domain footage. If you’re a crazy “DJ” type, this looks to be the one stop shop for loading up on zany “samples” for next time you “spin.” Alternately, it’s a bunch of cheesy old video to watch. File under: Things that may or may not have been projected behind Man… or Astroman during a live performance (Actually, that gives the impression that it’s all space / science related, which it’s not. For example, here are two (1, 2) stop motion animations of dancing cigarrettes, produced by Lucky Strike in the 1940’s. Yes. Yes!)

     If you’re in the mood to hear a few dozen kids belt out slightly “off” arrangements of Beach Boys and Bowie songs, then click here and be dazzled by the 60 piece Langley Schools Music Project. A quote from Hans Fenger, the “Supervisor/Arranger” of the project:

     “I knew virtually nothing about conventional music education, and didn’t know how to teach singing. Above all, I knew nothing of what children’s music was supposed to be. But the kids had a grasp of what they liked: emotion, drama, and making music as a group. Whether the results were good, bad, in tune or out was no big deal — they had el├án. This was not the way music was traditionally taught. But then I never liked conventional ‘children’s music,’ which is condescending and ignores the reality of children’s lives, which can be dark and scary. These children hated ‘cute.’ They cherished songs that evoked loneliness and sadness.”

     If you’re too lazy to click over to the page, here are direct links to MP3’s of their versions of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and the Beach Boys’ “In My Room.” I stole this link from scrubbles, which has had tons of good audio links lately.

     Fellow Bjork fans who don’t already know about it will probably be pretty excited to find out that Bjork Remix Web exists. It’s a Japanese website that hosts scores of remixes of almost every song Bjork has ever committed to tape. There are even remixes of b-side covers, such as this super-good mix of “I Remember You.” (For those who’ve never heard Bjork’s original mix: it features only her voice and what sounds like an autoharp. This mix has full instrumentation.) If the prospect of sorting through hundreds of remixes to find the diamonds in the rough is unappealing to you, you’ll also be happy to learn that there is an extensive peer review system in place, and most reviewers are painfully honest when a mix isn’t worth the bandwidth. Someone with a fast connection should download all the good ones and send me a cd.

     Maybe you already knew that you can tour the crazy top secret 14 million dollar cold war bunker in West Virginia that was declassified in 1992? I did not know this. This seems interesting to me. Perhaps I am insane.

     This is the “secret” site that was put up to coincide with the release of the latest Spiritualized record. Everything is in realmedia. Bah.

     It looks as though I’ve exhausted my pile o’ links. Just a quick question: does anyone remember that movie about obsessive record collectors that showed at last year’s CMJ? What was it called? And did it ever get released? Thanks!