Saturday, January 17, 2004

Top 100

100: Episode 10 of the 4th season of The Sopranos. Christopher, in a heroin haze, accidentally sits on Adrianna's dog. Later, when Adrianna returns home and discovers the calamitously squashed mutt under Christopher’s ass, he stands and mumbles, “It must have crawled under there for warmth.” Hands down one of the funniest, most disturbing moments in the series so far.
099: Sitting outside and eating dinner on New Years Day in Miami Beach; excellent company, savory food, and exceptional beautiful people watching. Cathy and I shared some cannoli for dessert and my brother in law thought our waiter smelled quite nice. A thermometer near out table read 70 degrees.
098: I do hope to have my best of 2003 list done and up by the end of this month, covering the usual trinity of films, albums and books. Then again, maybe I won’t. Judy Blume anyone?
097: Sasha Frere-Jones's blog includes numerous admirable photos. December's are particularly nice.
096: On now: LFO- Sheath (nice!)
095: Sometimes, after consuming one too many Diet Cokes, my stomach up and rebels by turning sour and gassy, the result, no doubt, of all that carbonated phosphoric and citric acid. What else is this drink doing to my innards? I imagine the aspartame dangerously carving itself into my stomach lining, the caramel colors sanding down the enamel of my teeth and the potassium benzoate defiling my liver. Note to self: cut back on the freakin’ Diet Coke!
094: Is nostalgia a symptom of bitterness? More a matter sentimentality and wistfulness, I tend to think. Sure, maybe there’s a few dollops of remorse that can sour into bitterness if not properly cultivated and accepted for what they really represent. My nostalgia is of the golden-hour variety. It’s unabashedly idealized and wistfully romantic. It’s aural equivalent is a song sung by Joao Gilberto. It’s infused with saudade.
093: My new Oral-B toothbrush not only has special blue indicator bristles that will let me know when I need a new toothbrush, it also includes a comfort grip! The evolution of toothbrushes offers ample proof of invention being the mother of necessity. See what a little healthy capitalistic competition spawns? If comfort grips and tax cuts won’t keep the great unwashed sated, I ‘dunno what will!
092: Lately I’ve been thinking that I’m smart enough to imagine what it is I want and too stupid to get it. How to change this?
091: Let us praise LimeWire. I’m especially pleased to have finally scored a copy of the Prophecy Theme, the single Eno/Eno/Lanois contribution (recorded around the time of the Apollo soundtrack) to Lynch’s Dune soundtrack. The rest of the Dunesoundtrack was provided by Toto.
090: I recently bought CD’s for the first time since May of last year. I find it usually takes about 3 or 4 listens before I can really say how I feel about an album.
089: The Lloyd Cold and the Commotions album Easy Pieces, which was their second, is really just about as good as Rattlesnakes. Of all the old album’s of my teenage years that I’ve recently been reacquainting myself with, this is probably my favorite.
088: I need to see Return of the King again. The first time I saw it I came down with a splitting headache (is there any other kind of headache?) about 3/4 of the way through and simply wanted to lay down. At the end, when the credits were rolling, all the teenage girls in the audience cooed when Orlando Bloom appeared.
087: I’ve often thought George Winston leans more toward a brand of folksy piano plonkings then anything resembling new age. I mean, there’s no Tangerine Dream or Enya in his music, right? Maybe it’s that he performs live in thick wooly socks and has a beard. I don’t listen to him much these days, but his version of The Holly and the Ivy got a lot of play this past Christmas.
086: I never fall asleep right away.
085: My wife does.
084: Sometimes this makes me jealous. I wish I could fall asleep that fast.
083: Somebody needs to make a 6 CD set compiling the best of Ghanaian highlife. It could come packaged with some palm wine.
082: I have way too many CD’s with liner notes written in Japanese.
081: In the complicated world that we live in I find myself taking solace in the fact that Tiger Woods is fighting the good fight by questioning the PGA’s standards on drivers.
080: Have you ever been in one of those situations where you’re talking to a couple people who know each other well (they could be partners or they could just be a couple folks who share the same office space) and as you’re standing there saying whatever it is you’re going on about, you notice that these people are, every now and again, giving each other looks…looks that impart insider information to the other person based not only on what you’re currently saying, but information based on past conversations these people have had about you. These looks say, “see what I mean,” or “he’s/she’s doing it again,” or “can you believe this?” We need this to stop, or at least stop caring.
079: We are moving back to Chicago in less then three weeks. The current temperature in Chicago is 19 degrees. Here it’s 55. I’m going to miss the weather here something fierce.
078: I like random jottings.
077: Johnny Depp made a hilarious stinky pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean. Will those Oscar bastards please stand up and recognize his swashbuckling greatness here? Put him up along Sean Penn’s performance in Mystic River, damnit!
076: I am not used to having children giving me hugs.
075: I say this because some of the kids in the classroom where I’ve been helping out recently have been known to unanticipatedly come over and hug me as I’m about to leave. I usually hug them back with one arm, reaching over and around to reassuringly pat them on their backs before gently pulling them away.
074: In a year or two, I imagine, such behavior will come to seem excruciating uncool for them. For now, it’s purely uncalculated.
073: There are some nights when having to sleep disappoints me. Same thing with eating. All this sleeping and eating is taking up way too much valuable time. We do these things out of biological necessity, and most of the time (a healthy majority) I’m happy to comply with this bottom line, but that doesn’t mean I have to be appreciative.
072: I do really like pastries. Especially those found at Mike’s Bakery in Boston. Whenever the USDA launches the new food pyramid standards I hope they stress the importance of dough, custard and cream.
071: Cathy has done much to redeem the value of food and the eating experience in general. Just the other night she made some hella good risotto.
070: Inevitably there are those nights when I fight going to sleep. I’ll try and keep reading until I reach the end of chapter. But sleep always wins out of course. My eyes will fight the good fight- they’ll keep open and continue scanning the page, but the brain will grow weak, it recedes into its cubby so that when the words enter, anxious to be processed, they go ignored and unidentified. At this point I turn off the light and accept that it’s time drool onto my pillow.
069: Does Carl Craig still record under his 69 moniker?
068: They’ve been working on the new houses next door to us for over a year now. I think on some days it’s like one dude next door pounding nails into a random board.
067: Songs that I’ve recently been acquainted with (and in at least once instance, reacquainted with)
066: It’s Immaterial: Driving Away From Home- My brother Greg originally introduced me to this song. He used to bring home these great mix tapes from college, filled with snippets of his roommates’s record collections and various college radio shows. I first heard the Art of Noise, Elvis Costello and OMD (among others) on these tapes. I later found and bought the 12” of Driving Away From Home my senior year in high school. I believe it’s still slowly warping in my parent’s basement along with some killer New Order singles. Of course, I’m of the age now that my parents have every right to toss whatever of mine that might be still residing in their home provided they use some discernment and separate the wheat from the chaff.
065: Underground Resistance: Jupiter Jazz- Back in the early 90’s it seemed like a lot of folks were concerned about the interrelatedness of jazz and techno. I suppose it was an attempt to legitimize the music- to separate techno it from the mindless dance floor connotations and fuse it with the great American legacy of jazz. In any case, this is a brilliant slice of early 90’s techno that managed to rise above the bait and deliver. Not jazz and way too poppy to be techno, despite the name.
066: Badly Drawn Boy: Something To Talk About (Four-Tet Remix)- Been listening to a lot of great remixes lately. This one scores via the deft manipulation of twinkling guitar samples and some swinging snare grooves.
065: Brian Eno: The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)- Rian Malan wrote a great history of this song for Rolling Stone (it’s also included in the 2001 edition of Da Capo’s Best Music Writing which is where I first read it) that’s definitely worth checking out if you ever get the chance. Eno’s version is one I’ll happily play for my future children. When that time comes I’m committed to compiling mixes of appropriate children’s songs from the likes of Penquin Orchestra Café, Nobukozu Takemura’s Childisc productions, Cocteau Twins, Plone, Poi Dog Pondering and Ringo’s Good Night off the White Album, a song that should be sung to all children everywhere, every night.
064: Harold Budd and the Cocteau Twins: She Will Destroy You - - Was ever there a greater dream pop collaboration?
063: Depeche Mode: World In My Eyes: - May be my favorite Depeche Mode song, certainly my favorite album. Violater made up a big part of the soundtrack to my freshmen year in college at Ohio State. This was pre-Nirvana breakthrough, when Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order and REM were all making appearances in the top-40 with songs like Personal Jesus, Just Like Heaven, True Faith and It’s the End of the World (And I Feel Fine). I remember hearing this album being played out of the windows between the two large dorms where I lived in the Spring of 1990, the sound turned murky with reverb as it bounced between the two buildings.
062: Dntel: (This is) the Dream of Evan and Chan (Superpitcher Remix)- I’ve never heard the original version of this song, but this remix takes a few basic materials (one of which includes a devastatingly effective bass line) and builds itself into a heartsick anthem.
061: I’m writing this with the door open on January 10. The high in New York City as of a few hours ago was 5 degrees. Such geographical differences in temperature fascinate me. Millions of people are freezing their asses off right now, scarves up around their noses, fingers curled into fist inside their gloves while I’m enjoying the breeze blowing through our open door as it tickles my cheek. Did I mention I’m going to miss the fine weather we have here? A couple of our friends who live in L.A. call it “relentless pleasentness.”
060: Electric Six (With Jack White): Danger! High Voltage - Returning to my days at Ohio State, I’m reminded each time I hear this song that there was a bar along High Street that played only ACDC and the Cult on Sunday Nights. This cut would have fit right in. Like the Cult, is production slick and macho and way over the top.
059: Frank Sinatra w/ Nancy Sinatra: Something Stupid- Technicolor pop.
058: Harold Budd: The Room (Fila Brazilla Mix)- Fila Brazilla is pretty hit or miss with their remixes. They’re never bad, just kinda middling at times. When they’re on, as is the case with this one (the first time I’ve ever heard Budd remixed) they manage to beat just about every other group or artist still exploring the down-tempo genre. It’s super chilled (the groove rides unobtrusively below the gauzy romance of Budd’s piano streams) and tinged with just the right shade of funk. A couple years ago they actually hooked up with Budd and recorded an EP’s worth of material that I’ve yet to come across, though if this is any indicator, I gotta catch up to it!
057: Captain and Tennille: Love Will Keep Us Together- They had a variety show once, right? I never did get to see Poi Dog Pondering when they were including covers of Love Will Tear Us Apart into Love will Keep Us Together in concerts back in the early 90’s, though I still think it was one of the most inspired couple songs I’ve ever heard of. Love Will Keep Us Together must have delighted a lot of folks who later went on to adore Kathy Lee Gifford.
056: Dianna Ross: I’m Coming Out- Because we all could do with more gay anthems in our collection. Nile Rodgers was just on fire in the early 80’s, producing other great disco fuelled tracks for Chic (his own band), Madonna, Sister Sledge and David Bowie.
055: Cameltoe: Fannypack- I missed out when this teenage novelty hit came out last year, but it was definitely a big hit with the family over the holidays. Our favorite line: “Is your crotch hungry girl, ‘cause it’s eatin’ your shorts!?” Fix yourself, girl.
054: The Whistle Song (Sound Factory 12” Mix) Frankie Knuckles- The aural equivalent of curtains billowing in an early summer breeze sometime after midnight.
053: John Barry: Out of Africa (Main Theme)- May be the last really great soundtrack work John Barry did. Nobody has ever captured sweeping epic grandeur better.
052: Johnny Cash: Sunday Morning Coming Down- Cash owns this song.
051: Junior Senior: Move Your Feat- This one is like a throwback to early 90’s pop rave, It’s deliriously cheesy.
050: Justin Timberlake: Rock Your Body- Unabashed update of Michael Jackson’s Off the Wallproduction that works. Best Neptunes production ever?
049: Killer Mike: Adidas- “All day I dreamed about…All day I dreamed about sex.” Flow like a mountain stream in spring.
048: That’s enough for now.
047: I very much enjoy drinking red wine from small jam jars.
046: One of the great joys of volunteering at the elementary school is overhearing some of songs the kids sing when jump roping. The other morning, on Martin Luther King’s birthday, I was getting my bike out of the racks when I overheard a group of three girls singing, “And before I’d be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave…” Nice.
045. I received a deck of Muppet Uno cards for Christmas. It’s pretty awesome.
044. I also received a pack of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans (jelly beans, actually), which includes such flavors as dirt, ear wax, and vomit. After tasting the disturbingly lifelike replication of sardine (I don’t even want to know what shit the flavor companies in Jersey are mixing together in their labs to achieve this!) I felt it best to skip the booger, spinach and black pepper.
043. The other morning I woke up, stumbled into the kitchen and managed to step on a mouse.
042. We’ve been having a mouse problem of late. I suppose that’s ‘cause our place is surrounded by a rather large garden.
041. I didn’t kill the mouse but I did manage to break its leg. At first I thought I had stepped on a sock. When I turned on the light (it was still dark out) I saw something out of the corner of my eye.
040. It was a terribly sad sight. The mouse was wildly shaking and dragging itself in circles.
039. With Cathy’s help we managed to scoop it into a trash bag. The bag shook. Cathy said, “We should probably put it out of its misery.”
038. We thought of just dumping it in the garden, but we imagined it would just die a slow, agonizing death.
038. I took it outside, placed the bag on our patio and dropped a flowerpot on it. Twice.
037. I felt awful.
036. Zadie Smith’s follow up to White Teeth, The Autograph Man, really ain’t all that. Too fussy is my consensus as of 100 pages in…and the insights of the characters seem distressingly hackneyed, no? This wouldn’t matter if the first two thirds of White Teeth hadn’t been so great- showed such potential…Sophomore slump?
035. Mourid Barghouti’s I Saw Ramallah asks a lot of questions, but I like it, especially the constant shifts in time.
034. Somebody gave Cathy a calendar of outhouses for her 30th birthday. January, for example, features an old tilting outhouse that looks forlorn but usable in Bodie State Historic Park in Bodie, California, while August’s outhouse is a stunner, surrounded as it is by granite cliffs and pine trees somewhere in the Misty Fiords National Park in Alaska. What makes the calendar so great is that the maker’s of this calendar could have lazily mined a kitschy sensibility that I fear quite a few folks would have found appealingly hilarious- but instead of taking such a route, they’ve gone and offered 12 glossy shots of rustic outhouses that Martha Stewart would be proud to wipe her ass in. It’s refreshingly earnest I guess.
033. Lynn Ramsey’s follow up to Ratcatcher, Morvarn Caller, suffers the same problem as David Gorden Green’s All the Pretty Girls. It’s pretty nice to look at (some beautiful cinematography), but it’s ultimately so enamored by the epiphanies/transcendence of the mundane that it sinks itself in evanescence. Still, I like what she does with sound design a lot.
032. If all of Eastwood’s Mystic River could have been as evocative and peculiar as its final 10 minutes, then it might be entirely deserving of all the kudos it’s been getting. As it stands, you got some great performances (and accents!) and, in the very least, a mainstream film that, due to the status of its director, was allowed to end on a note of somber ambiguity.
031. Is Astor Piazzolla’s music histrionic enough? Ha!
030. Late last year the New York Times included an editorial lamenting the many difficulties endured over the past year by the state of California. Some of those unfortunates included wild fires, mudslides and, of course, the recall that put Arnold fucking Schwarzenegger in the office of governor. The Times editorial staff hoped that 2004 would be far kinder to the state, which was a nice enough sentiment when you consider that heaps of this country eye California with contempt- what with all those fake breasts, immigrants, new agers/hippies and natural disasters, we’re all just asking for it anyway- we get what we deserve, right? Sigh. Maybe I would have shared such a sentiment myself if I hadn’t spent 2 1/2 years living here. Which is to say, I’m gonna miss it here, fault lines and all.
029: We’re taking the Amtrak from Emeryville, California to Naperville, Illinois, with a two day lay over in Denver.
028: We’ll have our own sleeper car. We figure Amtrak must have recently been subsidized ‘cause the trip includes all meals and is relatively cheap. This is going to be a lot of fun!
027: I can’t wait to experience Chicago in spring. That first warm weekend day in April when the entire city awakes from its collective winter hibernation and heads outside.
026: Yeah, I finally found Fennesz’s remix of Junior Boy’s Last Exit!
025: Let’s hear it for the right album at the right time! Jeff Parker’s Like Coping got me sorted earlier this week. Nothing mind blowing, but so far as jazz guitar goes, I like Parker’s mellowness and Chad Taylor’s shade-like drumming. Thanks to Joe’s mighty jukebox for this one!
024. What’s really the take amongst mythologists on Joseph Campbell? Campbell’s legacy looms pretty large over the entire field, what with those Bill Moyer’s interviews running every few months on PBS and Star Wars fans and Deadheads still gathering together at the Shire to discuss the hero’s journey and the unleashing of their inner Dionysus. What do those in Shire of Humanities departments across the land think about the quality of Campbell’s research? Shoddy? Outdated? Right on? I made it through Primitive Mythology and about half of Oriental Mythology sometime back in the early 90’s when I was pretty riveted by such stuff. (I still am, but probably not with the same kind of fervor.) I picked up a copy of Creative Mythology for $3.95 at Powell’s Books in Portland a few years back, but I haven’t yet felt compelled to spend the time with it, but I’m hearing some distant rumbling.
023. I recently retired my old wallet. This was the same wallet I recurrently pretended to answer like a cell phone.
022. One of the greatest mornings in my life began with waking up in New Orleans.
021. I’d like to be quicker with my e-mail responses. I have immense respect for those with fast reply turn around times. I’m far more plodding then I’d like to be.
020. I’m really looking forward to making an ambient mix for my mom this afternoon. She just began taking Yoga classes and is hoping to do it at home in a relaxing environment. Probably more major chord ambient stuff, not the amorphous and without edges variety- more Spring into Summer than Autumn into Winter.
019. William Carlos Williams’s poem, This Is Just To Say, may be just about my favorite poem ever. I think what does it for me is the final stanza, the “Forgive me/ they were delicious/ so sweet/ and so cold.” The poem itself is as succulent, compact and deliciously fleeting as the plum it describes.
018. I still don’t have a title for my album.
017. One of the first jazz album’s I ever listened to was Dexter Gordan’s Dexter Calling.
016. I can remember seeing The Burning Infernoat a drive in theatre.
015. Trading Places was the first rated R film I ever saw at the theater.
014. The soundtrack to Ghost World is excellent. (13 more to go!)
013. I really need to fiddle around with digital video. I’ve been meaning to edit together something from all the footage I recorded over the Christmas’s of 2001 and 2002 for a while now. I know how it’ll start. The introduction will be of a New Years Day fireworks display Cathy and I saw (and recorded) off Navy Pier as we drove by on Lake Shore. Best Introduction Ever!
012. Aphorism corner: There’s not much that is worse then being inertia in the center of action.
011. There are millions of people who will be sad when Friends goes off the air. More than one newspaper headline will read, Farewell to Good Friends.
010. A few restaurants I’m looking forward to frequenting again once we move back to Chicago, beginning with Mia Francesca, which has expanded from like 2 restaurnts to a dozen in the time we’ve been gone. Their entrees are pretty rich, so I doubt we’ll eat there all that often, but it’s always been pretty damn good Italian fare.
009. The Lincoln, still the undisputed heavyweight omelet champion!
008. Café 28
007. The Bongo Room
006. Ethiopian Diamond
005. P.S. Bangkok- red chicken corn curry here I come!
004. Andies
003. Udupi Palace
002. Café Iberico
001. Resi’s Bierstube, especially during the Summer when you can sit outside and order the German

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