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Muxtape 2

"When New York Was New York"

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Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives


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Moment of Zen


Moment of Zen (inspired by Tim's Koans)

Courtesy of Timmay

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    Monday, February 28, 2005

    Tracks of the Week: Dot

    Tupilaq "Married the Dragon" - This track appears on the compilation The Knights Who Say Dot from the Swedish label Dot. The album was one of my all-time favorite finds. When it was first released I figured I wouldn't be able to find it stateside at a reasonable price. But I was in England that year (1997), and spent a day in London -- the majority of that day wandering the shops of Camden. Found the CD in Rhythm Records for 8 £. The album is a fantastic little ride through melodic techno, electronic funk, and wacky drum 'n bass. Lots of fun! Out of print.

    Wire "Dot Dash" - Wire is one of those bands I really should've gotten into long before last year. But, for whatever reason, they escaped me and I just recently discovered their music starting with their debut album Pink Flag which has a couple extra songs (including this track) on the CD release. I think this could be my favorite song of theirs. It's pure post-punk poppy perfection. Buy It.

    Saturday, February 26, 2005

    Southwestern Corn and Pepper Pot

    A quick dash to the grocery store to pick up a few things turned into a massive shopping run this afternoon. Not sure how that happened, but we walked away with about $100 worth of groceries. Good ol' Coinstar shaved $16 off the grand total, though, after unloading fistfuls of dimes, nickels and pennies. Gotta save those quarters for laundry.

    We bought enough ingredients to make Southwestern Corn and Pepper Pot, a delightful soup to warm us on another cold evening. (Is it spring yet?) Here's the recipe if you'd like to give it a try:

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (2 turns around the pan)
    1 medium onion, chopped
    3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 cup chipotle salsa
    1 can diced tomatoes (I like the "no salt added" kind)
    3 cups frozen corn kernels
    2 cans vegetable broth
    a handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
    coarse salt and black pepper, to taste
    1 scallion, thinly sliced

    Heat a deep pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, garlic, and peppers, and sauté 3 minutes. Sprinkle with cumin. Add salsa, tomatoes, corn, and broth. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallions. Perfect with a nice loaf of your favorite crusty bread.

    Friday, February 25, 2005

    Welcome to the information superhighway

    This site is under construction. Five little words that quickly proved to be a big no-no in the web development community. But back in the mid-90s, who knew? We all thought we were saving face with our cute "under construction" announcements:

    This site is perpetually under construction.

    It gave us the ability to tell our audience that although you may not be impressed with what you see, don't worry, it's under construction, you see, and things will be worked on posthaste.

    Those were the days. Teaching ourselves HTML in college so we could produce fun webpages with lists of hobbies, or academic projects, or other bric-a-brac that allowed us to put our own personal stamp on the internet. Except back then it was called the Internet.

    We were amazed by the concept of the hyperlink, and stunned that our creation could be published on the World Wide Web moments later. (In some ways, I'm still stunned.)

    We wrestled with frames, moving backgrounds, auto-playing MIDI music, and the <blink> tag. We were on top of the world.

    But somewhere along the line, our college accounts were erased. Even the wonders of the Wayback Machine couldn't find So sad. The World Wide Web lost its free spirit to the growing pains of the late-90s dot-com boom and eventual burst. But we still have wonderful reminders of those adolescent days like Geocities 1996 (a tongue-in-cheek tribute executed with perfectly valid and semantic XHTML and CSS markup) and articles like A Vernacular Web.

    I'll never forget those trailblazing early days, even if it was just a period of half-truths and animated gifs. It's great to think back on how much fun we had. If you'd ever like to reminisce with me, you can always:

    Link it? Are you kidding? I'm not getting spammed.

    Thursday, February 24, 2005

    Blue, blue, electric blue

    Have you ever noticed that listening to certain songs on your stereo can produce an ominous, vibrating hum? If you have, then it may catch you off guard. The low rattling can sound like your speakers peaking out.

    I think this is called hitting the fundamental frequency (if not, someone please set me straight. maybe it's this new "ajax" everyone's talking about?). Anyway, I've noticed this phenomenon every so often but today was the mother of all rattling hums.

    In my car I was listening to David Bowie's Low and at the chorus of "Sound and Vision" an unearthly rumble shook my speakers. Bowie apparently hit upon the fundamental frequency. I tried to recreate it on my home stereo but no dice. Here... why don't you give it a shot. It can be your own little Fundamental Frequency Bowie Experiment. If it doesn't work then, hey, I'd like to think I've given you a pretty good song.

    Bonus Track of the Week: David Bowie "Sound and Vision"

    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    A Pawful of Dollars

    Our cat loves spaghetti westerns. I'm sure of it. She has to, because I don't know how else to explain her behavior while watching them. When I saw A Fistful of Dollars a few months ago, she got on her hind legs and pawed at the base of the TV during the opening credits.

    At the time, I thought it was a bit strange. But meh, Simone's certainly done stranger things. But she never did it again... Until now.

    Last night I watched For a Few Dollars More and sure enough she was at it again, pawing at the TV. This time I figured she was reacting to the whistles and clatter of Ennio Morricone's theme music. But when I played it on the stereo, she completely ignored it. So she must just be a big fan of Sergio Leone's films. That's the only way to explain it.

    I'll have to rent The Good, the Bad and the Ugly next to see if she's behaving this way because of a) the film score, b) Clint Eastwood, c) the explosive gunfire, or d) a disturbing mix of all three.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    Vimeo, the new Flickr

    Vimeo has taken cues from the success of Flickr. Same concept, but for videos instead of photos. I think this could really take off. Especially if they host more funny clips like Downtown.

    Monday, February 21, 2005

    Tracks of the Week: Shapes

    Squarepusher "Port Rhombus" - Before Tom Jenkinson of Squarepusher delved into jazz fusion on his late 90s albums, he was working up a storm with his fierce bass playing and drum programming. This track pre-dates my two favorite Squarepusher albums Feed Me Weird Things and Hard Normal Daddy, but I think it's the best thing he's produced. It has it all: frenetic percussion, gorgeous bass lines, and a deadly melody that rises up from the chaos. Out of print.

    Jan Jelinek "Silver Circle" - In stark contrast to "Port Rhombus," German electronic producer Jan Jelinek offers a spellbinding, mellow treat here. Exclusively from the Staedtizism 3 compilation, this track straddles the lines between jazz, weird funk, hip-hop, and microhouse. So I'm tossing this in a brand new genre I like to call minimalist glitch lounge hop. Buy It.

    Saturday, February 19, 2005

    Like two idiots on a curb

    I just recalled a silly thing that happened while on our trip to the Florida Keys in January -- an overheard conversation on Duval Street in Key West. For those of you who have been to Key West, and particularly Duval Street, know that it's a crazy place, even on a Monday night in the middle of winter.

    We passed a group of young 20-something guys who were three sheets to the wind. As they walked by, the conversation went like this:

    Stumbler #1: Hey man, take a right. Take a right, right here.

    Stumbler #2: Huh? Why?

    Stumbler #1: There's a spot over there. There's a parking space.

    Stumbler #2: What do you need a parking space for?

    Stumbler #1: Oh.

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Securing your wireless email

    If you regularly check your email via an open wireless network (like at a coffeeshop, university, or British train), then you should definitely read Douglas Bowman's "Secure wireless email on Mac OS X" article. It's geared toward Mac users, but Windows users should give it a glance too because the solution of SSH tunnels is platform-independent.

    Once you're set up with the secure email glaven, you can play oh the EveryVideoGame in oh the comfort knowing all your messages are with the encryption and the mwa-hey, and the hurrrn. (Thanks Chris!)

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    Has it been a year already?

    Feels like I was just talking about the Red Sox arriving to Fort Myers. Here we go again. The pitchers and catchers reported today, and Schilling sported a classy t-shirt.

    PowerBook Part II (AKA How's Honest Abe?)

    Thank you everyone for saying PowerBook prayers for me. Apple Support has had it for about a week now, and no significant updates are available. Actually, I phoned them yesterday to get the scoop and they said that my case had accidentally been put on hold due to a system glitch. Super. But they were very apologetic and said someone would begin inspecting my PowerBook within the hour. 24 hours later and there's no update via their Repair Status site.

    So for now, I'll just hold my breath and thank my lucky stars that Abe's alive. Abe Vigoda, that is. You can install a Firefox extension to let you know about Abe's current status. (Eric, thanks for pointing this out.) Abe Vigoda is currently alive. My reaction to this "technology"? Just because you *can*, doesn't mean you should.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    Find me: Haberdasheries in Tuscaloosa

    Basil pointed out the launch of Google Maps last week, and the hope it'll trump Mapquest. What I love about Google's new map service is its ability to find locations based on general searches. For example, pizza in New Haven, wifi in Somerville, and ballparks in Phoenix.

    Yes, Mapquest and Yahoo can do these searches too, but not as elegantly. You can argue that Yahoo continues to offer the better, more accurate service. I'd probably agree for now (e.g., Yahoo is the only service where you can pinpoint public transit stops), but I believe Google will eventually catch up and be the most aesthetically pleasing [in other words: fly] choice. I'm already loving the single search field to enter both category/business name and location. They're like the Amazon of mapping software in terms of ease of use.

    I've used Google Maps twice already and it worked just fine for me. I'll continue to use it to get from point A to point B, and as the technology continues to evolve, I'll use it for points C, D, and E too.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    Shake a leg if you want some Charles Atlas

    For those of you into ambient melodic post-rock music (a la Tortoise, Stars of the Lid, Labradford, and even Brian Eno), you might dig Charles Atlas. For a very limited time you can download the San Francisco trio's most recent album To the Dust from their website. But hurry! They said it would be available only on Valentine's Day. But it's still up this morning! Hop to it!

    I love independent radio

    As I type this, I'm listening to a request I made on WZBC, my favorite Boston-area radio station. I've never heard an on-air DJ as excited as this guy was when I called. Apparently it was a slow morning and he was just itching for the phone to ring. He was playing lots of melodic indie rock, so I asked for some Charlene. He chose to play "Shot Down" off their 2002 debut album. Good song; great record.

    I miss being able to flip on 90.3 to get a daily dose of ZBC. At least I can still tune in via the web. And they have a blog with concert updates and mp3s now too!

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    Tracks of the Week: Love

    DJ Krush (featuring Zap Mama) "Danger of Love" - Finding tracks for this week's theme was a cinch. A quick search in iTunes uncovered 308 songs with the word "love" in the title of the artist, song, or album. The tricky part was trying to narrow it down to two songs. I could've been a jackanapes and offered up Mr. T's "Mr. T, Mr. T (He Was Made For Love)" from his atrocious Mr. T's Commandments album. But that would be too mean. So instead you get this amazing track by DJ Krush collaborating with the all-female a cappella African quintet Zap Mama. Buy It.

    Colder "Crazy Love" - Colder's debut album Again got a lot of flack from the critics. Derivative, they called it. Treading on the sacred ground of Joy Division and other post-punk bands from the late '70s and early '80s. I think it's actually a nice little album, and I enjoy this song in particular. It has a nice rolling dubby beat reminiscent of the Krautrock era. You can decide for yourself. If you dig this track, then the rest of the album is worth searching out too. Buy It.

    Sunday, February 13, 2005

    More books

    Speaking of books, how about more books? On the way to visit my parents this weekend, I stopped off at the Traveler Food and Books for a quick bite and some free books.

    The restaurant now offers up to 3 free books per patron. I had a terrific honey mustard chicken wrap, and walked away with a Mary Higgins Clark novel for my Mom and Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II for my Dad. And I grabbed a fun photo book called Work + Iconica = Play which will provide great fodder for CD covers whenever I make mixes. It was the best I could do in a makeshift library filled with Danielle Steel and Joan Collins claptrap.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Books books everywhere, and not a moment to read

    I've been on a book buying frenzy lately. I don't know why -- I don't have time to read all this stuff with my current schedule. Plus I got a bunch of books for Christmas, so what am I doing buying more?

    Do you have a pile like this building steam in your home?

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    A prayer for the PowerBook

    I love my new PowerBook. I think it's the coolest darn thing. But there's one problem. It seems that the hard drive is making a strange bouncing/clicking sound that, although isn't particularly loud, is above the threshold of "normal" in my opinion. Apple Support doesn't have much to tell me because this is the brand new model just released last week. It could be the 100gb hard drive (the first time they've had this in the 12" PowerBook), it could be a malfunctioning motion sensor (also a new feature), or a malfunctioning audio driver (which popped up in the G3 models), or it could be normal hard drive movement (although I doubt this very much).

    I've been very vocal on the Apple Discussions board in hopes of finding others who have experienced this problem. It seems there are a handful out there. So maybe this is a universal issue affecting all of the new 100gb 12-inch models. Who knows? No responses have turned up yet from my messages to,, or online Apple Support.

    So all I ask is that you say a little prayer for my PowerBook which, in less than 2 hours, will be in the hands of DHL on its way to Memphis for investigation. I included a nice little note explaining the problem and lots of documentation from the discussion boards. All I can hope for is that they find something abnormal and can work on a solution. I just don't want to endure the "sound" for the life of my PowerBook. It would, in all honesty, make me go insane.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Where's the Little Man From Another Place?

    I subscribe to a few photo blogs using Bloglines. It's a nice way to break up all the content with a photo or two each day. I loved this photo so much I just had to share. It screams Twin Peaks! All it's missing is the Little Man From Another Place doing his finger-snappin', jazzy little dance. Oh, what the heck, you got me in the mood. Here's his theme song:

    Bonus Track of the Week: Angelo Badalamenti "Dance of the Dream Man"

    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Let's defenestrate the partisans!

    Merriam-Website Online has unveiled its 2004 Words of the Year based on online lookups. "Blog" topped the list. No real surprise there. But I just love that "defenestration" made the list!

    Did you know that The Defenestration of Prague started the Thirty Years War?

    In 1618, Bohemian Protestants in Prague threw two Austrian Catholic imperial regents out of windows at Hradcany Castle in punishment for violating previous agreements guaranteeing religious freedom.

    But don't be concerned: They weren't killed because they fell onto a pile of garbage (mostly straw) which had accumulated in the castle moat.

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Tracks of the Week: Street

    Bobby Womack "Across 110th Street" - Little-known crime drama from 1972, "Across 110th Street" finds Anthony Quinn as an aging cop butting heads with a young recruit trying to catch crooks who are...blah blah blah. Actually not a bad movie at all, but the film's also a nice vehicle for Womack's soundtrack. If you're a fan of Isaac Hayes ("Shaft") and Curtis Mayfield ("Superfly"), then you'll love this track. Buy It.

    Amon Tobin "Stoney Street" - Pulled from Amon Tobin's debut album Bricolage, "Stoney Street" starts off the album nicely. It has a great little groove between trumpet and violins throughout. Although I wasn't terribly impressed with his live show (basically he DJed his stuff without much creativity), his recorded output is wonderful and I'd suggest starting here if you want more from this Brazilian DJ. Buy It.

    Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Those cars are definitely not obeying the speed limit

    We've all seen the Mapquest-like driving directions that businesses post on their websites. Usually you click on "Contact Us" and you'll see a miniature map of street intersections and highway exit numbers. That is, unless you're the Langham Hotel in Boston. Go ahead and visit their homepage, then click on the "Location Map" in the right-hand menu. You'll get a pop-up (Flash required) that looks like SimCity. Impressive.

    Friday, February 04, 2005

    What's your Starbuck's density?

    The newest blog meme circulating these days is a contest to see how many Starbucks are in a 5-mile radius of your home/work/school/lean-to. Jason Kottke kicked things off last week with 169. It seems the record right now is 170 (in NYC somewhere).

    My Starbucks Density? A measly 2.

    But hey, if you wanna talk hair and nail salons, I have all you jokers beat.

    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    The Red Baron has released a fun new tool called artPad. Check out my masterpiece! OK, I know, it stinks. But it was my first try!

    Part of my masterpiece

    The Name Of This Band...

    ...Is Talking Heads. Tim posted a review and mp3 from this re-issued double live album two weeks ago. Based on his recommendation, I ordered the 2 CD set which arrived yesterday, and I must say, Wow. This is an incredible live collection of early Talking Heads. I love the No Wave feel of their early stuff. It kinda disappeared later in their career. Even if you're a casual fan of Talking Heads, you need this.

    Incidentally, this album put me at the 1,500 mark for CDs, and I'm not sure if I have a better set of live songs anywhere else in my collection. Do yourself a favor and go buy it from Amazon. It's $22.99. What's that? $11.50 a disc? Definitely worth it.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    Six more weeks

    UGH. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning which means we're in for six more weeks of sub-zero temperatures and no street parking. Fantastic.

    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Apples to oranges, and back to apples... again

    It started with my iPod purchase last April. And here I am making another switch. I just bought the newest version of the G4 Powerbook introduced yesterday. I'd like to think I've always been a Mac guy, but that's not completely true. Maybe I'm just another user jumping on the bandwagon. Whatever the reason, let me back up a bit to try to explain how I arrived at this purchase.

    The truth is I grew up with Apple. My dad, now retired from teaching high school, used to bring home a computer from the lab every summer for me to tinker with. I think it started with an Apple II. And each year the technology would get progressively better and soon I was playing around with a IIc. At some point we purchased a IIe (with dual disk drives, baby!) which got me all the way through high school. Even with an Apple in the house, the arrivals of new summer computers continued each year, with the IIGS, the Mac Classic, the Mac SE, and so on.

    I bought a shiny new Mac LC just before heading to Bates, and that little machine, my friends, got me through all four years with minimal problems. Even when I started my first full-time job seven days after graduation, I was trained on a Mac. It wasn't until a year and a half later in the winter of 1999 that I was formally introduced to Windows and the PC.

    Around this time, I was getting up to speed on web development. I had to, it was my job. The tools at my disposal were Microsoft software -- Visual InterDev and the like. I quickly gravitated to the Microsoft platform and fell out of the Mac loop almost immediately. (So there's a thing called Panther now? And Safari? And what's with all these "i"'s?)

    Now that I'm removed from the "Microsoft shop" of my previous employer, I've had time to explore other web development options, and software in general (hence my many posts about Firefox). It's becoming crystal clear to me that I'd be more productive (and have more fun) getting this work done on a Mac. Can I totally vaildate the purchase? No, not really. But considering sharing files between Mac OS X and Windows these days is very easy, it just made sense. Plus with my schedule of bopping around to three different clients, a notebook was in my near future anyway. I just decided to take the Apple plunge instead. But, my current desktop PC need not fear, there's no way I'd forget my Compaq Presario in the process. I love it and I'll continue to use it all the time. He'll just need to share the limelight now.

    So, in a few days, there'll be a knock at the door with the delivery of my new 12" Powerbook. In the meantime, I need to get up to speed on this thing they call Panther.

    [UPDATE: Gee whiz. In my haste to post about the purchase, I failed to thank the two people who helped me immensely (read: emails back 'n forth all weekend) to come to my decision. So, thank you Brian and Basil! Next time you're in New Haven (or wherever we meet up), dinner's on me!]