Bringing you Nervous Music since October 2003



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Muxtape 2

"When New York Was New York"

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A random selection from my archive:



Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives


My Wishlist

Moment of Zen


Moment of Zen (inspired by Tim's Koans)

Courtesy of Timmay

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    Sunday, October 31, 2004

    We built this city on skull and bones

    Despite all the differences between the two presidential candidates, they do share one thing in common. There is, of course, their alma mater, but also the fact that they both belonged to The Order of Skull and Bones. Here's a photo of the secret society's building on the Yale campus.

    Skull and Bones building

    The spooky, nearly windowless building is sealed with padlocked iron doors. Who knows what happens in there? There are plenty of observations and writings, including a CBS News story (the accompanying photo is incorrect -- they captured a shot of an adjacent building instead). And here's the broadcast in Real video format.

    It really seems that the hype around this cult-like organization is fairly unsubstantiated. I guess it's more fun to speculate about the Bonesmen in order to keep the conspiracies alive. Case in point: a bad Craig T. Nelson movie.

    Happy Halloween! And don't forget to vote Tuesday!

    Thursday, October 28, 2004

    Red Sox Win! Red Sox Win! Oh My Lord The Red Sox Win!

    AT LAST!

    Wednesday, October 27, 2004

    I haven't felt this way since I was -58

    There's no doubt that, as I type this, legions of New England sports writers are feeling the anticipation of a momentous occasion this evening -- and I don't mean the lunar eclipse. Some are likely dusting off that perfect article they've always hoped to publish but never got the chance to because of an inevitable letdown by Boston defense, or offense, or both. Others are surely banging their heads against a wall wishing there was a better thesaurus out there that could tackle the magnitude of it all. It was an amazing..err, no.. magnificent..mmm, no.. stupendous.. no. I guess lack of sleep can severly affect one's lexicon.

    Strong black coffee is keeping my eyes open this morning. The last two weeks have basically been a blur. Seeing as baseball fans are keen on stats, it's safe to say this is the 14th time in as many days that I have seen little sleep and lots of baseball. I'm exhausted, and if you're a Red Sox fan, you're exhausted too. But it doesn't matter because we'll be able to sleep soon enough.

    I'm not inferring that it's time to bring out the brooms yet (sweep! sweep!), but the momentum is on our side, and I can't think of any better way to cap off this stretch of sleep deprivation than a World Series title the night before we head to Boston.

    Tomorrow we'll be on our way to the capital of Red Sox Nation to celebrate the marriage of two close friends. With any luck, there'll be another reason to celebrate too. But I'm a lifelong Red Sox fan, so I'm packing my rally cap just in case.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2004

    Lorem ipsum shama shama

    Everyone needs a little dummy text once in a while, right? Maybe you're working on a layout for a new brochure, or putting together a template for an e-mail distribution, or creating the best darn "apartment for rent" sign in the world. At some point, it may be helpful to scrounge up a handful of words to be used as filler so you can check out the overall impact of the work without stressing over content.

    Sure, you could just go with the traditional "Stuff goes here. Stuff goes here. Stuff goes here." method. But this repetitive pattern doesn't lend itself well to a realistic depiction of the finished product.

    That's why Lipsum was created to generate dummy text so you don't have to. Well, I just found out about another Lorem Ipsum generator with an added feature to download the randomized text as HTML or plain text.

    Dummy text is fun!

    Lorem ipsum aperiam postulant definitiones ad eum, id nonummy perpetua ius, est ea volutpat postulant. Eu audire epicuri reprimique ius. An his utamur aliquam luptatum. Eu pro nostrud albucius atomorum.

    Not a fan of Latin? Then use Ungreek to generate dummy text using passages from the Old Testament or Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" or the Dada Manifesto or the Esperantists' Manifesto or the Canadian Constitution or... you get the picture. I leave you with some Esperanto:
    Kiel universala komunikilo Esperanto estas unu. La Esperantokomunumo estas unu el malmultaj mondskalaj lingvokomunumoj kies parolantoj estas senescepte du. Registaroj emas konsideri la grandan diversecon de lingvoj en la mondo baron al komunika! De sinesprima komunikado asociigxo!

    Monday, October 25, 2004

    Tracks of the Week: Halloween

    Ministry "Everyday is Halloween" - A classic track from 1984. If you've written off Ministry as a scary, industrial group that makes a lot of ruckus, then you haven't experienced early 80s Ministry, their best phase. Toss this gem onto your mp3 player, jump on the subway and belt this song at the top of your lungs. Buy it.

    Tino "Doomsday Dub" - Jack Dangers is a British electronic music artist who usually records under the moniker Meat Beat Manifesto. Every so often, though, he'll drag a couple friends into the studio and record as Tino. Each volume has a different theme (Halloween, Christmas, Mambo, Dub) and the records are meant to be used by DJs as short interludes to help match tracks and juggle beats. But the Tino albums, although intentionally repetitive, are great for everyday listening too. Buy It.

    Saturday, October 23, 2004

    Four buckaroos

    Somewhere in between adding Ken Burns Baseball Disc 1 and Zatoichi to my queue this afternoon, Netflix changed its homepage to announce its new subscription model beginning November 1st. They're lowering the standard 3-at-a-time Unlimited monthly cost from $22 to $18. Plus they've introduced a new 2-at-a-time (4 rentals per month) program for $12/month. I need to do nothing to save $4 starting next month. Win!

    Just call me the lucky lock lad

    It's amazing what the mind can dig up when you least expect it. I just brought a few things down to basement storage. I haven't grabbed anything from storage in a few months, and as I approached I realized it was locked with a combination lock. Did I remember the combination? Had I written it down anywhere for safe keeping? No. Suuuper.

    But I started twisting the dial and suddenly my fingers took over and *sha-bam* I got it open on the first try. It's amazing what can be tucked away in the ol' brain. And to think my combination was simply 35 - 10 - ... whoops! You almost got me.

    Friday, October 22, 2004

    A wish for foliage

    I wish the wonder of foliage lasted more than two weeks every year. It's been an incredible commute through central Connecticut this fall. I can't remember the last time I've seen colors this brilliant. Brilliant!

    Thursday, October 21, 2004

    I haven't felt this way since I was 10

    This is incredible! Unbelievable! (and not like last year's "unbelievable")

    Finally. F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. It's like winning Metroid. Finally beating down Mother Brain in Game 7. Except now the road ahead of us is another round hoping to beat Mother Brain a 2nd time to show Samus Aran's real identity!! Huh?

    Am I making any sense? Did I lose you on the video game reference? No matter. We're headed to the World Series, baby! First time since 1986. I haven't felt this way since I was 10.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2004

    Less fartsy, more artsy

    New Haven is finally getting a decent arthouse theater. Up until now, they've had a nice 4-screen theater in York Square. But it's very slow with changing its titles, and it could use a little sprucing up.

    But now, the renovated Temple Square area is getting a Criterion Cinema in November. First-run independent films shown on 5 screens in modern comfort. It pairs an old-school sidewalk box office with the amenities of what you'd expect in the new megaplexes. Ooh la la. Let's hope the ticket prices won't be outrageous -- although I'm sure they will be.

    Now all this city needs is a decent music store. Cutler's over-priced, underwhelming selection doesn't cut it.

    Monday, October 18, 2004

    Tracks of the Week: Ambience

    Erik Satie "Gymnopedies No. 1" - A good way to kick things off. You can't get too much more influential than this track. The Gymnopedies trilogy has been used as a foundation for countless film scores, tv and radio advertisements, and electronic music. This lilting track will float its way around your room and nest itself in your wallpaper (especially the fuzzy kind). Satie was known to be very eccentric. My favorite fun fact about him: When asked his profession, Satie would say he was a gymnopedist, a made-up word. Buy It.

    Electro Organic Sound System "Peculiar Softness" - Boston-based electronic artist Jake Trussell is best known by his DJ name, DJ C. But in the mid-90s he created some sublime music under the name Electro Organic Sound System (EOSS). Chris and I saw him perform a bunch of times when Jake was in the Toneburst Collective. Actually, they once visited Bates College for a very cool show in the Silo. Although traces of The Orb, Future Sound of London, and other early 90s ambient/electronic acts can be heard, EOSS maintains a unique spin on the genre. This track never fails to relax. Out of print.

    Sunday, October 17, 2004

    Finally living up to its name

    I've decided enough with the revolving background patterns every week. I've almost run out of pattern images, and frankly, many of them were too obnoxiously bright or bold to really enjoy. So I'm sticking with the current one. I find something comforting about it and it seems to give off a wintery feel. So, good timing I guess.

    I've also decided to change things up a bit here. Since I started this site, I've been trying to keep up my daily listening habits with the "Listening" area in the sidebar. Well, now it's time to *share* the nervous music.

    Yup, I'm diving into the exciting world of the mp3 blog. Not wholeheartedly, mind you. I won't be going the way of Music for Robots, Tofu Hut, Mystical Beast, or Said the Gramophone. But I do plan to post two tracks each week in the new "Listening" section. With each new offering, I'll add my two cents in the form of a regular blog post. The two tracks will be somehow related to a weekly theme noted by the title of each post, kinda like You Bet Your Life's nightly secret word.

    The burgeoning phenomenon of mp3 blogs seems to be, dare I say, accepted by some music labels and the mass media. For those reading this who know me (roughly 100% of you) know that I have a deep love for music. All I want to do is occasionally share a fun/strange/goofy/fantastic little track with you.

    Once the week passes, the songs will no longer be available. There is no archive. If you're the creator or copyright owner, and wish to have a song removed, just leave me a comment. I'll see it and swiftly remove the track.

    We'll kick things off tomorrow with the first two tracks. I hope you enjoy what I have to offer. Nervous Music is finally living up to its name. Happy downloading! And hey. Buy the album.

    Saturday, October 16, 2004

    Soy vey!

    Last night's dinner included four incarnations of soy: Udon noodle soup with tofu (soy #1) and miso paste (soy #2), edamame (soy #3), and soy/ginger sauce on our gyozas (soy #4). Boy oh soy, that was soytainly a lot of soy.

    Friday, October 15, 2004

    What's in a name?

    I once explained why I call this site Nervous Music. And recently Mike explained the naming of his site. Now check out a list of company name etymologies. Some of the more interesting ones are:

    Akamai - Hawaiian for "clever, intelligent and cool."

    Atari - From the board game Go, "atari" is a Japanese word to describe a position where an opponent's stones are in danger of being captured.

    Kinko's - From college nickname of founder, Paul Orfalea. He was called Kinko because he had curly red hair.

    Nintendo - Nintendo is composed of 3 Japanese Kanji characters, Nin-ten-do the first two of which can be translated to "Heaven blesses hard work"; do is a common ending for any store.

    Six Apart - Company co-founders Ben and Mena Trott were born 6 days apart (in September 1977).

    Starbucks - Named after Starbuck, a character in Herman Melville's whaling novel, Moby-Dick.

    Yahoo! - An acronym for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle. The word Yahoo was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book Gulliver's Travels.

    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    Favicon fiesta

    For the most part, web browsers are now supporting favicons -- that little 16 pixel by 16 pixel image that can show up to the left of the URL in the Address Bar. I know that Internet Explorer began supporting favicons with version 5.0 (although not for the Mac platform). And all others like Opera, Safari, Mozilla, Konquerer, etc. should display them just fine.

    If you can see mine, then you should be seeing a tiny photo of Simone's face. If you want to see lots more, check out the MpP Favicon Gallery. Rollover the images and you'll (usually) get an enlarged version of each favicon and a quick description by the site's owner. Click on the icons and you'll be sent to the site -- a good way to waste an afternoon.

    And when you're done with that, here are 401 more.

    Need more? Okiedokie.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2004

    How do you like dem... pumpkins?

    Relaxing in a patch while we wait for the Great Pumpkin (Charlie Brown).

    Pumpkin patch

    Pumpkin patch

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    OK Boston fans

    If you plan on watching the ALCS, I have a few things to help you out. Here and here and here and here and here. Oh, and don't forget your rally cap.

    How do you like dem apples - part deux

    Now for some close-ups. I'm all about the Macoun (first photo). Alyssa's all about the Golden Delicious (other two photos). We also got a bunch of Cortlands and Jonagolds, plus a few Magness pears.

    Macoun apples

    Golden Delicious apples

    Golden Delicious apples

    Monday, October 11, 2004

    Running the apple gauntlets

    Autumn in New England wouldn't be complete without a day of apple and pumpkin picking. We spent a couple hours at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, CT wandering through rows and rows and rows of apple trees -- about 20 varieties in all. More photos from our excursion coming soon. I've gotta find a place for all these apples first.

    Lyman Orchards

    Lyman Orchards

    Sunday, October 10, 2004

    Flippin' flapjacks

    You ever make so many pancakes that when you get to the bottom of the mixing bowl all you want to do is make the world's largest flapjack? I made one this morning that the cat could use as a warm blanket.

    Saturday, October 09, 2004

    Hands-down the best moment from last night's debate

    KERRY: Ladies and gentlemen, that's just not true what he said. The Wall Street Journal said 96 percent of small businesses are not affected at all by my plan.

    And you know why he gets that count? The president got $84 from a timber company that he owns, and he's counted as a small business. Dick Cheney's counted as a small business. That's how they do things. That's just not right.

    BUSH: I own a timber company?


    That's news to me.


    Need some wood?

    Friday, October 08, 2004


    I usually avoid memes, but it's Friday and I'll give this one a shot:

    "Turn your MP3 player on random and list the first 15 tracks it plays (regardless of how embarrassing they may be)."

    1. American Analog Set: Magnificent Seventies
    2. Grace Jones: Pull Up to the Bumper
    3. Kid 606: Never Underestimate the Value of a Holler
    4. Ken Nordine: Chartreuse
    5. Duke Ellington: I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) (Live)
    6. Comets on Fire: The Bee & the Crackin' Egg
    7. Slag Boom Van Loon: Moon Base Alpha (Matmos remix)
    8. Raymond Scott: IBM MT/ST - The Paperwork Explosion
    9. Blitter vs. Hrvatski: Nuclear Cats Get New Home
    10. Iron & Wine: Upward Over the Mountain
    11. Cocteau Twins: Lorelei
    12. Einstürzende Neubauten: Stella Maris
    13. LCD Soundsystem: Losing My Edge
    14. Tino: Wolfman Is Everywhere Dub
    15. Sonic Youth: I Dreamed I Dream

    Lordy that's embarrassing. How 'bout you?

    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    Space is the place

    Space tourism. I see the marketing ideas already:

        "My parents went into space, and all I got was this stupid t-shirt."

    Credit card
        "Don't leave the stratosphere without it."

    Bumper sticker
        "This car climbed Mt. Washington. And then it was hit with falling booster
         rocket debris."

        "Got millions?" (with photo of rocket fuel on upper lip)

    Any other ideas?

    My birf certificate says I'm one years old

    Yay! turns 1 today. I never thought I'd make it a full year. But here I am. Still posting regularly about web development, Connecticut life, cats and nervous music.

    I didn't start out with any hoopla, or deeply moving introductions, or "1, 2, 3, testing, test, does this blog work?" Just a simple observation about how goofy Netflix's recommendations can be.

    I'm so silly, if I could bake a cake for a website, I would. Actually I suppose I *could*. It's just that the computer wouldn't know what to do with it. The cake and its burning candles would just sit there in front of the monitor, taunting it, until it burned down the computer, along with the rest of the house.

    So with that reference to pyromania, I say HAPPY BIRTHDAY and let's hope I can continue to keep up this tomfoolery.

    Party time

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    Mmm... chewy candy cars

    It's almost 4pm which means it's time for the usual late afternoon slump. Luckily I made a run to IKEA last weekend to load up on some Swedish treats -- lingonberries, Glögg, D'aim bars, and Bilar chewy candy cars.

    I remembered to bring the rest of the Bilar to work today. Man alive, these go stale fast! Mmmmm... stale chewy candy cars.

    Don't fiddle with your speakers, it's s'posed to not sound like that

    I visit BBC's Music site every couple weeks. They have a good section on Experimental music. Many of the links they provide are offsite, but occassionally they'll have a great article on a particular artist or genre.

    Today's new headline caught my eye because it includes a photo of Leon Theremin, the Russian inventor who created the theremin. The photo highlights the BBC's "Quick Guide to Experimental" article (a quick read if you're interested).

    What I find most amusing, however, is the sound sample they provide to introduce the article: John Cage's 4'33" which is 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. It was a "groundbreaking" piece that Cage debuted in 1952 where the musicians are instructed to remain silent for the duration of the performance. On one hand, I can see what is getting at here:

    "There are probably as many reactions / meanings / interpretations of 4'33" as there are possible realizations. And that will always be the undisturbed, elusive, quite timeless beauty of this piece. Aside from all these considerations, it is charmingly warm and disarming to simply share this peaceful moment (unselfconsciously) with the rest of the audience."

    But for BBC to provide a Real Audio stream of silence that lasts almost five minutes? I'm not sure if this is brilliance or a webmaster's idea of a joke.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    Defensive design that's too offensive

    I just had a not-so stellar experience with Netflix customer service, which happened coincidentally as I'm reading "Defensive Design for the Web" (How To Improve Error Messages, Help, Forms, and Other Crisis Points).

    I reported to Netflix that I failed to receive Hitchcock's The 39 Steps after it was mailed out on September 25th. They replied:

    "Per your request, your Netflix membership has been cancelled, effective . [sic]

    Please return the following titles by their specified due dates:

    Due Date            Title

    Oct/09/2004   The Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Disc 1
    Oct/09/2004   Underworld

    We hope you enjoyed the service and will consider returning some day.

    -Your Friends at Netflix"

    Whoops! I merely reported a missing DVD. I didn't cancel my membership! Strike One.

    So I replied:
    "Ummm...I just reported that I never got The 39 Steps.. and I received a response stating that my account has been successfully cancelled. I didn't cancel though, I only reported a missing DVD. I would like to continue the Netflix service. Please advise."

    I clicked Send and a few moments later I received an "undeliverable" message from Netflix stating that my reply will never make it to the customer service team. They don't allow you to simply respond for further assistance to make matters right. Strike Two.

    Instead I had to visit their online Help, navigate through a bunch of forms, and then report the problem all over again to their customer service team.

    Meanwhile I checked my account at and it seemed that everything was OK and my queue was still active. Regardless, though, I wanted to be doubly sure that they didn't cancel my account. So I awaited their reply.

    A day later, I received their reply. Strike Three? No, not at all. Check it out:
    "Dear Sean,

    Due to a technical problem, you may have received an email indicating your account was cancelled. Please disregard this email as it was sent in error. We sincerely apologize for any confusion this may have caused and assure you that your account is still open and active.

    In the hope of accommodating you for the trouble you have experienced, we have issued a bonus disc voucher for you to use at your convenience. To redeem this voucher, log into your account and access your Rental Queue. Then click the "Use the Bonus Disc" button located at the top of your queue. Please note your bonus disc will be in addition to the movies you normally have out. You will then need to return 2 DVDs to receive the next movie in your queue.

    As always, we look forward to serving your DVD rental needs and thank you for your membership.

    -Your Friends at Netflix"

    Terrific! I really wouldn't have cancelled because of this little mix-up anyway. But, as I said, I wanted to be sure my account wasn't affected. Netflix came through with a very polite response and a freebie movie. Good follow-through customer service and now I can walk away with a positive experience from these folks.

    Monday, October 04, 2004

    Thinking outside the fox

    First the Web Standards Project launched Browse Happy, then Spread Firefox appeared with the "Preview Release" of the browser, and now we have Defending the Fox. The community that Mozilla has attracted is making some unique strides to raise awareness of this little browser.

    Defending the Fox encourages Firefox users to report websites that don't support the browser in the hopes that the sites will be fixed over time. Each entry lists the description of the problem and (a welcomed follow-through) the contact information to reach the site yourself.

    I'm disappointed that one of the websites run by my previous employer is on the list. Not only does it not support Firefox, but it claims that it only works with Internet Explorer 5.x and higher. Yikes.

    Sunday, October 03, 2004

    Got something to say?

    Then submit it to the Urballoon. I wish I could think of something I'd want broadcasted at the entrance of City Hall Park in New York. If you have something to say, submit now, today's the last day to get in on the action before the projections begin at 7:30pm.

    Saturday, October 02, 2004

    How do you like dem apples

    This weekend West Haven is having their annual Apple Festival on the town green, a 30-second stroll from our home. I wandered over this morning and couldn't find an apple in sight (aside from a few caramel apples being sold at the concession stand). There were, however, dozens of craft tables, including a woman selling *diaper* cakes and *diaper* wreaths. Should I be concerned?

    The kids were having fun with the face painting and the moonwalk and the horsie rides. In one corner of the green, an intense auction was going on. I overheard the auctioneer trying to start a bid for a computer monitor at $1. From what I could tell, there were no takers. A few moments later I heard him say, "Now how about a starting bid of $2 for a set of these beautiful golf clubs?" ... silence ... "Allrighty then, let's say $1.50."

    No apples, but their farmer's market wasn't bad so I picked up a few things. Walking home, I stopped by Nick's Restaurant, a greasy spoon where you can get a large breakfast with coffee and OJ for $4. That's exactly what I did, and I was the only one who had to order food formally. Everyone else who walked through the door had their usual in front of them by the time they reached their seat.

    I saw a waitress rinse off a pacifier with Diet Coke for a colicky kid. The cook could've been a Frank Sinatra stunt double (read: same face, but slightly huskier). And I'm pretty sure I was sitting next to Deano.

    Sometimes Saturday morning just feels a bit like a David Lynch film.

    Friday, October 01, 2004

    A little sketchy

    For your Friday amusement: A drawing of a woman (image size ~ 1MB).

    Next: Check out this terrific post from Engadget. Pure genius.