Friday, May 30, 2008

A Game

Copied directly from everybody's favorite Irish music hobbyist forum:

The first article title on the page is the name of your band.

The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.

The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

You can actually get some strangely workable results from this. For example, here's the cover of And Those Who Don't, the someday-to-be-released album by my as-yet-unformed band Embroynal Carcinoma:

Update. Oooh. Here's Other Things than Power by Composite Superman:

Thursday, May 29, 2008


So there I am, training Imelda the intern on our mailing system, when I feel an odd slithering sensation down my left leg, followed by a tiny metallic clink on the floor.

We stand there for a minute, the two of us, contemplating the shiny 8-gauge barbell ring that (minus one of the screw-in ball ends) has just fallen out of my pantleg.

"Excuse me," I finally say, bending and scooping it up. "I'll be back in just a minute."

Scott McClellan is still a tool

I mean, good for him for finally coming clean and letting his hair down, and I'm looking forward to reading his book. I hope it does some good in helping Americans understand the reprehensible evil the Bush administration has wrought on this country and the world. I hope it explodes like a bomb in the media, taking out everybody who had anything to do with making this illegal war happen.

But Gods' teeth, he sure took his time about it. Shame he couldn't have blown that whistle before the 2004 election. Or maybe when he finally quit in 2006. Or really anytime before now.

In any event, Robert Wexler wants to haul him up in front of the House Judiciary Committee for a thorough grilling, and wouldn't that be a joy to watch. Damn it, I'm still hoping for impeachment. As I've said before and often, I won't be satisfied until I see Bush and Cheney tarred, feathered, and ridden on a rail across the Memorial Bridge. But I'll settle for Congress growing a pair and doing their duty.

Oh, and 111 nations have agreed to a ban on cluster bombs, and guess what, the United States isn't among them. Because, you know, we need them to further the spread of democracy and stuff. Isn't it depressing how unsurprising this is? Remember when we used to be the good guys?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Olbermann on Clinton's RFK Reference

Laying it on the line in vicious, filed-teeth mode as usual.

To not appreciate, immediately--to still not appreciate tonight--just what you have done is to reveal an incomprehension of the America you seek to lead ... A senator, a politician, a person who can let hang in mid-air the prospect that she might just be sticking around in part just in case the other guy gets shot has no business being, and no capacity to be, the President of the United States.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sometimes I think fast enough

It's early afternoon in Dupont Circle. I see her about twenty yards away, standing in the middle of the sidewalk, waiting for me. She's maybe twenty, cute as a hot fudge taco, wearing Teva sandals, cargo shorts, a few little string bracelets, and a Greenpeace t-shirt. She's carrying a clipboard. Bloody hell.

I glance around. There are people walking near me, but nobody close enough to use as a screen. I'm busted. She's smiling a bright sunny young outdoorsy herbivore kind of smile. She knows she's got me.

Understand, I'm a member of Greenpeace, and I support Maryland PIRG, and I work for a major science policy advisory group that's doing important work to help raise public awareness of climate change. My treehugger cred is pretty well-established. I'm just not in the mood to be hustled. It's a beautiful day and I don't want to waste a second of it explaining to a canvasser why I'm not a bad person if I don't want to give her money.

Inspiration strikes: I remember a story I read once about how Alfred Hitchcock dealt with a similar situation. I wait till she's just taking breath to say "excuse me sir, can you spare a moment for Greenpeace?" and I whip out my cell phone as though it's just rung. I start talking.

"Dude. About fucking time you called me back. Listen, there's blood all over the apartment. I said there's blood all over the fucking apartment. It's all over the bathroom and the living room. We're gonna have to replace the fucking rug. There's even some on the ceiling. What the fuck were you doing in there, man? Look, you're gonna have to clean that shit up. No! Dude. You clean it up. It's not my fucking mess."

I pass the canvasser. Out of the corner of my eye I can see her staring at me as I go by, uncertain of what to say. I snap my phone closed and disappear into the crowd.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Urban Verbs Again

This is where I was last night.

This was my first time seeing a band that changed my life a quarter-century ago. It was an hour and a half of High Awesomeness. I do kind of wish that Roddy had been off-book (music stands have no place in rock & roll), but eh. At this point they have nothing to prove. What a great show.

NPR is going to have the audio of the whole set available here sometime today.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dance dance dance dance dance to the radio

Oh, my gods, what a beautiful day. What a perfect, gorgeous first-third-of-a-three-day-weekend.

Yep, just puts me in the mood for Joy Division.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Farewell to Anagrams Mix

Just a few things I've been meaning to blog about in the last week...

  • Last Friday, the cocoon that's been hanging by my front door all winter finally hatched.

  • I got my first order from Polyface on Saturday: chickens, bacon, eggs. I thought I had ordered some pork butt too, but it must have slipped off the radar. The bacon is old-school country stuff, meaning chewy and way salty; I love it, but a little is almost too much. I've roasted one of the chickens with some tarragon from Lori's amazing garden, and it went down very well.

  • I installed new pickups in the Squier Jagmaster that I bought a couple of months ago. The Jagmaster is kind of the redheaded stepchild of Fender's Jaguar/Jazzmaster/Mustang family, the main differences being that (1) it lacks the more esoteric electronics of the Fender models, and (2) it's carved by a CNC machine in China instead of one in California. It's a nice comfortable guitar, but the stock pickups seemed to be voiced for metal. Not that that's a bad thing--they sounded great with tons of distortion--but I never got clean tones out of them I was happy with. The pickups I replaced them with are GFS Fat Pats, and they're much more balanced. I can still go out and burn villages with this guitar when the situation requires it, but I can also take it to ice cream socials and tea parties. Very cool.

  • Saturday I bought a new bicycle lock, a new spiffy red-and-black helmet, some chain lube, and a bell. The bike shop I went to had about eight or ten different kinds of bells: some that went brrring, some that went dink, some that went pingping. They had a couple of those absurd rubber-squeeze-bulb horns too. I was tempted, but in the end I opted for a bell that makes a loud authoritative DING. It's glossy black. Very, er, manly. When I got home I realized that in getting all wrapped up in which bell to buy I'd forgotten the main thing I'd wanted to go shopping for: new pedals. Spacey little consumer, I am.

  • Did you see this?

    That's Alex Castellanos, a GOP consultant, saying it's right and proper to call Hillary Clinton a bitch because she's strong and abrasive and aggressive. And women, we all know, aren't allowed to be like that. Classy guy, eh? I bet he's a big hit with the ladies.

    Things are going to get really ugly between now and November. I can't wait to see how McCain's camp courts the ignorant racist vote.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


So Thursday night I'm pushing my cart through my local Giant, and this kid comes running up the aisle, imitating an airplane, or possibly a motorcycle. "Pbpbpbbpbpbpbbpbpbbppp!" he goes. He's about four or five. He stops in front of the bulk coffee bins and grabs a big handful of French roast beans. He munches them down. Then he runs on past me. I hear him tearing down the next aisle. "Pbpbpbpbpbpbpbpbpbbpp!" he goes.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

California rocks.

In contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation ... [A}n individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.

... In view of the substance and significance of the fundamental right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples.
Here's the ruling.

As Glenn Greenwald rightly notes, the one issue at stake is whether the provisions of the California State Constitution, in light of how they have been interpreted by that state's Supreme Court in prior decisions, have been violated by the exclusion of same-sex couples from the legal institution of "marriage." It's nothing but cold hard legal reasoning at work: if the state allows straight people the right to marry a person of their choosing, then obviously gay people should be allowed that same right. The key legal issue (quoting Greenwald again, you really should go read his analysis) is "equal treatment by the State as a secular matter, not defining 'marriage' for religious purposes." Which makes this whole thing that much more delicious.

I say this with total confidence: ten or fifteen years from now, this will all be settled and we'll be looking back on this era the way we look back on the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. It's absolutely inevitable.

(Oh, and did you know that six of the seven judges on the California supreme court are Republican appointees? How cool is that?)

Commuting: A Quandary

Would the fitness-promoting and cost-saving benefits of riding my bike to work outweigh the sheer suicidal lunacy? That's the question that's occupying my mind these days.

I live in Takoma Park, Maryland and work at a place I like to call the Cosmodemonic Institute for Science Policy, which is just below Chinatown. It's a ride of some seven-and-three-quarters miles down Piney Branch and 13th St. If I cut across on R St. over to 7th, I can make the whole ride on DDOT-designated bike routes. There's even a handy map that I can wave weakly from my stretcher as I'm being loaded into the ambulance.

Seriously, as long as I get up early enough to beat the worst of rush hour, I can't imagine a more pleasant way to start my workday than pedaling in a leisurely fashion to work as my city wakes up around me. I could get to work, shower, and probably still have time for breakfast and the Post crossword before I have to get down to business.

On the other hand, the seven-and-three-quarter-mile ride back home is almost all uphill.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

My song for today

(From the thoroughly awesome comic/blog Married to the Sea, via A Tiny Revolution.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Does anyone still fall for this stuff?

Hello Instructor

I'm Mark Will from Paris,France.during my search for a Bagpipe lesson teacher that would always take my Daughter (Sarah) and I found your advert..Your advert looks great and it is very okay to me since you specialize in the area i am seeking for him.
Ok, so this piques my interest for several reasons. Firstly and most importantly, I'm not a bagpipe teacher. I do teach flute and guitar. But bagpipes? I've never claimed to play bagpipes, let alone teach them. As for my "advert," I had one on Craig's List for a while, and I also had a thoroughly lame website advertising my lessons--my flute lessons--but because I'm extremely slack, both of those have long since expired. And all that aside, dude seems to be confused about his child's gender. Yep, this is a scammer.

My Daugther would be coming to USA. Before the end of this month for a period of time and with her friend for 4 Months.She is just 16yr Old and also a beginner, i want you to help me teach lesson during her stay.

So, kindly let me know your charges cost per week's, in order for me to arrange for her payment before she travels down to your side.

I should also like to know if the their is any Text Book you will recomment for her as a beginner so that she will be reading privately at home after the lesson during her stay.

Please Advise back on;
(1). your charges per 1 hour twice a week for 4 Months?
(2).The Day and time you will be available to teach her During the week?
(3).Tuition address?

I will be looking forward to read from you soonest.
Best Regards,
Mark Will
See, the way this works is that I'm supposed to reply and say something like "Sure, I'll happily teach your little hermaphrodite an instrument I've never played for the extremely low price of $4,000. You understand that teachers of my stature normally charge a premium for their services, but I'm giving you a bargain because I admire your prose style."

And he'll reply, "Yes, your price seems perfectly reasonable, and my daughter is very excited to be taking lessons from you, bless his pointy little head. Due to complications resulting from the dismal exchange rate that are too mundane for the conversation of gentlemen such as ourselves, I shall send you a cashier's check for $6,000. Please deposit it and forward the excess $2,000 to my financial adviser, Monsieur Grosse-Putain."

"Certainly," I'll reply. "These arrangements seem entirely sound and logical to me. I see no downside. I shall begin interviewing interpreters at once." Of course the cashier's check will be a forgery, and I'll only discover this after I've sent $2,000 to a stranger.

I've heard of this kind of scam being tried on people selling stuff over the internet, or looking for roommates, but this is the first time I've heard of it being used on music teachers. I want to play this guy. The only thing that keeps me from having some fun with him is that since he knows my email address, he knows my name, which means he could conceivably do me some damage if I piss him off.

It's a shame, really. I'm having such a slow week.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


See, this is what happens when I start revising my links.

Update. Oh, and as long as I'm plumbing the incredibly twisted and perverse brilliance of Joel Veitch, can you imagine a world with hover bacon? (I'm not going to embed the video because it plays automatically over and over, and there's no stop button, and it's extremely shrill and peculiar. And shrill.)