Friday, September 29, 2006


I’m glad Cat Power sobered up. The song that quite possibly has meant the most to me so far this year is The Greatest, the first cut on her album of the same name. I first heard it late last December, just before Abby was born. It surprised me, the first time I heard it, lush with Moon River strings and cottony smooth Teenie Hodges soul.

Abby is talking. Or mimicking. Probably both. Words are coming out of her mouth anyway. “Daddy” last Monday. “Dora” last Wednesday. “Grandpa” on Thursday. Then nothing quite so crisp and intelligible for the past week. She's letting her teeth grow. And she’s moving. Insatiable needs to climb legs, roll, tumble and climb again. She sees many things that she must, absolutely must, get a hold of and she zeroes in on them with great singular purpose if not an accompanying patience. And she’s dancing now, too-- with an excited wiggle whenever the rhythm catches her.

If I were to write an autobiography, this particular chapter of my life would be titled: “Crushed Cheerios Underfoot.”

In one of her New Yorker reviews Pauline Kael called a film (and I can't seem to find or recall just what film this was) "pleasantly bananas.” That’s exactly what I thought of Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz when when I managed to check it out (Comcast On Demand, under “Free Movies,” offers a healthy dose of old classics, crap and Hollywood curiosities such as this one) a couple weeks ago during Abby’s morning and afternoon naps. It was completely, pleasantly bananas. It ends with its protagonist (Roy Schneider, just a few years post-Jaws) performing a deathbed musical with Ben Vereen (just a few years post-Roots) as the MC. Hollywood didn’t make another musical as completely and pleasantly bananas until Moulin Rouge 20 years later.

I adore a lot of vocalists who’ve multi-tracked their voices. But none of them has so consistently emotionally walloped me over the years like Marvin Gaye’s multi-tracked vocal masterpiece, What’s Goin’ On. It’s my favorite vocal performance of all time. In fact, when the Motown marketers or the Gaye estate are planning the next reissue it should be requisite that an a cappella version of the entire album be included. This way we can luxuriate in his heartbroken doo-wop meditation. I think the party chatter that begins the album is still one of the coziest, funkiest and downright coolest slices of introductory ambience ever committed to magnetic tape.

It’s hard not to care when Ohio State finally has a great quarterback in Troy Smith. And is ranked #1. I usually don’t care at all this early in the season. I am truly a fare weathered Buckeye fan. While reading for school last Saturday I found myself moving incrementally—from checking in on the score via Yahoo to feverishly watching most of the third and then all of the fourth quarter on TV. At the beginning of the fourth quarter Troy Smith had one of those plays that cause excitable, tension prone viewers like myself to spontaneously uncoil from our chairs and leap into the air while manically pumping fists in the air and shouting boasts and brags. Here’s how Joe Drape described it in last Sundays NYT’s:

Smith, who came into the game as the nation’s third-most efficient passer and had not thrown an interception in 152 attempts, was struggling as the Nittany Lions’ defensive backs consistently bumped Ginn and company out of their routes.

Two minutes into the fourth quarter, on second down and 9 on the Penn State 37-yard line, Smith dropped back to pass and immediately felt pressure. He rolled right, and then did what Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel tells him never to do: he reversed field.

Suddenly, Smith was on his own 47-yard line.

“The first read wasn’t there,” he said. “I tried to come back and look to the other side of the field, but it was kind of clogged and crowded, and I just tried to improvise and keep things going. The Penn State defender was making ground on me.”

Robiskie, a sophomore and the least heralded member of the Buckeyes’ receiving corps, had run a hitch route to the sideline and recognized Smith was in trouble.

“I just wanted to work to get open because I know he can always make a play,” Robiskie said of Smith.

As Robiskie angled to the middle of the field, Smith launched a rocket. The ball split Penn State defensive backs Tony Davis and Anthony Scirrotto, hit Robiskie in the shoulder pads and carried him into the end zone.

“Smith made a super play,” Paterno said. “You can’t give up big plays in a game like this.”

Troy Smith, who was 5 years old when I was a Buckeye freshman.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Digital Libraries

One of the benefits of taking a class in a computer lab is that I can toss interesting links my professor shares with us into my blog to take a gander at later. My understanding of digitizing issues, especially as they apply to libraries, is minimal at best, so any chance to expand my understanding is a good thing. Maybe you're interested too?


Center For the Study of Digial Libraries

Scrolling Forward

Information Ecologies

Open Content Alliance

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Boogie Music Time, 11:57

I’ve been slowly dilly-dallying and tidying about on the follow up to my last self-released album, Bomba Charger, for almost 5 years now. I never intended on it taking so long. It’s been recorded in dollops, a scattering of evenings here, a sad Sunday afternoon there. I did it the Quaker way and recorded only when the spirit moved me, an animating force that I reckon would look a lot like this.

I began recording new tracks for it in January of 2002, back when Cathy and I had been living in Berkeley for about 5 months and we used some holiday financial largesse to purchase Pro Tools in the form of a Digi 002. Pro Tools, for those who don’t know, is one of the most popular and widely used pieces of music production gear around. Chances are that any music you’re hearing these days has been recorded, edited and/or mixed using Pro Tools. I have one of their home versions. So, in any case, by the time we moved back to Chicago in February of 2004 I had accumulated roughly 45 songs in various states of maximalist disarray, most constructed using the sounds found on my trusty Yamaha CS1x, or sounds I fed to my equally steadfast Akai S20 sampler. Most were in need of some heavy tailoring.

And I’m close to finishing it now. But there’s still editing aplenty- and I’m still hoping to rope Dennis into a few more vocal bull-sessions- and then there's the frequently distracting addition of Reason to my arsenal-in addition to school, Abby and other bits of deliciousness vying for my time- all of which means that, realistically, I’ll probably have the whole thing completed and in folks hands by late Winter, early Spring of next year. Really.

Here’s why. Reason. Love it. Can’t wait to start jacking the beats, tweaking acid runs and dropping low frequency oscillations. And a bed of sequenced samples whispering in the breeze. It’s been my crush a long time now. Ever since Blue Monday on WMMS and my walkman. It’s time to boogie with the soul of the new machine.

Why Isn't the Pentagon Reporting The Good News?

From today's Washington Post:

Rising sectarian bloodshed has pushed violence in Iraq to its highest level in more than two years, and preventing civil war is now the most urgent mission of the growing contingent of 140,000 U.S. troops in the country, according to a new Pentagon report released yesterday.

But why aren't they reporting the good news?

No, wait! George is hot on the trail of some much better news! Things could be far worse, you know, and it's not really quite a civil war. Just bloody ups and downs. We just need to buck up and sacrifice more of that deficit spending and some soldiers lives before all will be made whole again. Otherwise Iraqi terrorists, who hate freedom, might kill your children.

One positive thing I've seen of late is that some polls are beginning to show, at long last, a slim majority of the public beginning to view Iraq as separate from the war on terror. Over the next two months, the administration and its lackies will be doing all they can to subdue that skepticism.