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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


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Moment of Zen


Moment of Zen (inspired by Tim's Koans)

Courtesy of Timmay

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    Thursday, December 29, 2005

    Our first home!

    This week has been super crazy. We're packing, preparing, and patiently waiting to move into our new home. We're able to move our things in, but we can't technically live there until the papers are passed, and that's been delayed until early next week. Not the greatest thing in the world, but as long as we can get our belongings over there this week, it'll be good. The movers are scheduled for tomorrow morning. In the meantime, we're moving over a few things today. Got the chance to snap a few photos downstairs before the battery on my camera fizzled. So photos of the upstairs will be forthcoming.

    Monday, December 26, 2005

    Tracks of the Week: Hiatus

    First off, Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you all had a safe, fun, and relaxing holiday. For those of you not celebrating Christmas, I still certainly hope you had a terrific weekend. Happy Holidays!

    This week's theme isn't "Hiatus" - I'm actually going on a bit of a hiatus from the Tracks of the Week. I'm gearing up for that wonderful year-end tradition of the top albums countdown. The first half of '05 was slow for me, but I seemed to really gain some steam the last few months and picked up lots of new, great music. Stay tuned for my picks. I may be a little delayed in pulling the list together. It takes some time, plus I've had a little thing going on lately called "closing on our first home."

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, on WiFi

    Do any of you fine folks mind pointing me in the direction of my next wireless router setup? As you know, we're moving into our new home soon. My current wireless router is: 1) only a Wireless-B, 2) going on almost three years old, and 3) starting to act up a bit and dropping the connection every so often. Although I can't tell if the latter is completely due to the router or my ISP, it might be high-time to upgrade anyway.

    There are a lot of choices on the market these days, but I've really only had experience with Linksys. They seem to be the leader in PC-based personal networking, and I have no qualms with them (as I haven't been able to get to the bottom of the occasional connection drop). I'd just as soon stick with them unless you have other recommendations. I could go with a Mac-based router like the Apple M8799LL/A AirPort Extreme Base Station with Modem and Antenna Port which is much more expensive than the Linksys hardware. But how's the range?

    So that leaves me with three different Linksys choices. The first two are similar aside from the "SpeedBooster" option which costs $20 more. And is it worth the extra moolah?

    Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router

    Linksys WRT54GS Wireless-G Broadband Router with SpeedBooster

    Linksys WRT54GX Wireless-G Broadband Router with SRX

    The third choice above is a new breed of Wireless-G called the WRT54GX. According to the packaging, it can plow through walls and floors more powerfully than the other ones. We'll have two floors and a back deck with our new home. So maybe it makes sense to go all out with this one? It's still less money than the AirPort Extreme. I also plan to pick up an AirPort Express to carry the new G signal a bit further, and extend music throughout the house.

    I'm very interested to hear your opinions and experiences. Please drop 'em in the comments if you don't mind. Dank ewe veddy mush.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2005


    By a show of hands, who here knows about Dial-A-Mattress? They've been around forever, yet I've never been able to understand the marketing campaign for their phone number: 1-800-M-A-T-T-R-E-S - leave the last 'S' off for savings!

    If that were the case, then you wouldn't get the savings, right? You leave off the last 'S' for savings = no savings. Hm.

    If I had to write the jingle, I'd say: 1-800-M-A-T-T-R-E-S-S-S-S - pile on the 'S's for savings, yo! And I'd also say 'yo' to connect with today's youth.

    Monday, December 19, 2005

    Tracks of the Week: Noise

    Beat Happening "Noise" - Should I follow up last week's noise with more noise? Thematically, yes. Sonically, no way Billy. This week the tracks are more mellow and possibly more appealing despite the noisy theme. Tim had some Beat Happening in college. I never really got into them until I picked up You Turn Me On recently. It's a solid album, and this track features vocals from their only female member Heather Lewis. Buy It.

    Múm "Please Sing My Spring Reverb" - From 2001's Please Smile My Noise Bleed, Icelandic darlings Múm join a handful of remixers to offer up a gorgeous EP of electronic melodies. I picked this up shortly after discovering their debut album Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today Is OK which I highly recommend as well. Great music for trimming the tree, if you live on a glacier. Buy It.

    Friday, December 16, 2005

    What I've been diggin': Five (more) things

    This summer I posted a few items I had recently discovered and really enjoyed. I figure it's time once again for a similar list. Hope you enjoy.

    CrapCleaner: Chris introduced me to this very helpful (albeit crudely named) Windows app. What sets it apart from all the others is its ability to kill all your temporary internet files from all installed browsers, to empty your recycle bin and log files, and to clean up your registry (carefully, I might add) all at once. Of course it's very customizable so you can just pick and choose what you want it to do. All this and it operates at lightning speed. It's hard to imagine that despite my ongoing commitment to keep my CPU free and clear of junk, CrapCleaner was able to step in and clear out another 500MB worth of crap. You can download CrapCleaner for free and start cleanin'.

    Bin 555: Wyndham Estate of South Eastern Australia has produced a Shiraz that has become the flagship of its winery. It's in unbelievable demand right now, not unlike Northern California's Stag's Leap a couple years ago. Bin 555 is very reasonably priced. You can easily find it for under $12, and I've seen it at larger discount retailers for as little as $6.99. We first stumbled upon it while eating lunch at Piattini on Newbury Street -- one of the few eating establishments on that road that won't empty your wallet. Gone are the days of Two Buck Chuck. We'll be entertaining with Bin 555 (ahem, when we get it together to entertain). Try their Bin 444 too, a berry and currant laden Cabernet Sauvignon. It's delicious.

    SmartWool socks: OK, so I've known about these for quite a while. But I recently picked up two new pair. Everytime I wear them I have to ask myself why do I wear anything else? These are the ultimate socks. Yes, they'll run you $10 or so; sometimes over $15 depending on the style. But they are sooo worth it. Unbelievably comfortable and warm, they wick away moisture and the lighter styles are great for summer too. Just remember to turn them inside out when washing so they don't pill. Buy yourself a pair of SmartWool socks.

    Drunk'n Caribou: This is a bit of an overlap from the summer list, but for some reason I just can't shake the iced coffee these days. We've quickly slid into the holiday season yet I'm still reaching for that tall glass of iced coffee, specifically Drunk'n Caribou from Moose Creek Coffee. Its combination of cinnamon, cloves, and orange with a splash or two of Caribbean rum is the perfect blend for a freak still drinking iced coffee in December.

    Ice Dozer: I cheated on this one. I don't actually own it. But I feel compelled to offer something that could really help you this winter if you live in snowy climates. Keep quiet, Tim. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's broken dozens of ice scrapers over the years. Either they're too small or too wimpy. And when it's 7am and you have to get on the road, there's no time to mess around with the equivalent of a jagged credit card. So I'll be buying an Ice Dozer shortly. It'll come in handy when I get the short end of the stick with our new one-car garage.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    More ways to control your blog-reading addiction

    So maybe you're not like me and you don't have close to 200 weblog feeds that quickly fill up with new posts every day. Maybe you have no use for tips on how to control your blog-reading time. But then again, maybe you do. Maybe you're an info junkie just like me. I tend to quickly browse before work during the week, but then spend some time sifting through longer articles on the weekends. All of this is time-permitting of course, and lately there's been very little time.

    Here are a few ways to make your reading time more effective. I mentioned you can set up a Probation folder to keep those new feeds in a holding pattern until you're ready to commit it to your permanent list. But this new article has a few more helpful tips, including organizing your feeds by frequency or importance rather than topic. I like that.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Woot! There it is

    I'm sorry. That's an awful title for a post. But I'm sticking to it. Woot! is an online store whose motto is "One Day, One Deal." Simple, and effective.

    You have one day to get your grubby hands on some cool gadget at an unbelievable bargain price. (Cue the obnoxious mattress/carpet/furniture sales guy.) Woot! has an RSS feed which is precisely how I discovered the Virgin Boomtube EX. List price is $200. Amazon has it for $60. Woot! trumped them all and practically gave it away for $30. So I couldn't resist.

    Now that my Boomtube is here, I love it. I already have a nice set of Klipsch speakers for my laptop, but they're hardly portable. The Boomtube will be good for trips - I'm looking in your direction Timmaay. Plus they crank out some nice sound. The EX model has more powerful bass than the basic model, plus a nod to Spinal Tap with volume control that goes to 11. You know, if you need that extra push over the cliff. Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Tracks of the Week: New York

    Television "Marquee Moon" - When I think of NY bands, I think of quite a few. But there are a couple that always top the list. The 1970s seemed like such a cool time to be in NYC to soak up the music. Television was just one of the many bands that popped up in the mid-70s. Their brand of rock was stripped down garage rock. Their crowning achievement Marquee Moon (the album name and its centerpiece title track) influenced countless post-punk bands who would emerge from the city years later. There's no denying that this is a guitar rock album, and they did such a fabulous job with it. Buy It.

    Velvet Underground "Sister Ray" - Rewind another handful of years and you'll reach the Velvet Underground. You can hear VU's influence in Television, and about 80 buhjillion other bands too. To me, they are the ultimate NY rock band. If we played that word association game and you said "New", I'd say, "Things a weirdo would say." No, actually. I'd say Velvet Underground. Someday I'd love to wander through lower Manhattan while listening to White Light/White Heat. So naturally this song is lifted from that 1968 album. Here you get a 17-minute wall-of-sound epic, and don't complain that it's a bunch of claptrap and nervous music. Buy It.

    Friday, December 09, 2005

    Too many Tanooki Suits

    Despite the 13,488 hours I've spent playing Super Mario Bros. 3, I never stumbled upon any of these lost levels. You'll find Gold Cheep Cheeps and Green Parabeetles. They're not terribly different from their counterparts, but they are a little more evil, kind of like doppelgangers roaming the hidden worlds of the game. You can mess with the unfinished levels a bit and expose weird software bugs. Just what you want to do on a snowy day.

    [UPDATE: And if you want to expose a hidden little treat with Google, search for "peppermint" or "Christmas" and you'll see a decorated AdWords column.]

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Counters and serifs and bearings, oh my!

    A fascinating article in last week's New Yorker entitled "Man Of Letters" introduces us to the foremost expert on typefaces: Matthew Carter. Unfortunately the piece doesn't seem to be available online. But you can read it in the December 5th issue. What I find most interesting about the article, aside from Carter's impact on the world of typefaces, is the approach taken by designers when starting a new typeface:

    According to Tobias Frere-Jones, a type designer in New York at Hoefler & Frere-Jones, designers don't regard the alphabet as a linear sequence. Instead they tend to see round letters ("O," "G," "C," "Q"), square letters ("H," "F," "L," "T"), and diagonal ones ("A," "W," "X," "Z"). The classic approach to type design is to begin with the capital "H" and "O."

    "Just drawing the 'H,' there are a number of choices to make," Frere-Jones says. "How substantial? How wide? Are there serifs, and, if so, how broad, how thick? When you get to the 'O,' you have to decide how heavy the heaviest part of the letter should be. There are reasons it can't be the same as the 'H.' If the heaviest part of the 'O' is the same as the heaviest part of the 'H,' the 'O' will look too thin, because the 'O' reaches its heaviest weight only for a moment, whereas the 'H' gets to hold that maximum weight all the way to the top. Also, if you draw the capital 'H' and 'O' at the same height, that 'O' will look too short, so the base of the 'O' has to fall a bit lower than the 'H,' and the top has to rise a bit higher for them to seem compatible.
    Incidentally, Carter prefers to start with the lowercase "h" and "o." I wonder if he uses FontExplorer X by Linotype? I do, and it's a wonderful free utility to keep all your font ducks in a row on your Mac.

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    Tracks of the Week: Closer

    Closer Musik "Departures" - I just discovered this 2002 album last week. It's wonderful. Apparently it was one of the first big albums on the German electronic label Kompakt, but got the re-release treatment recently. Half of the tracks feature the vocal stylings of Matias Aguayo who, as All Music puts it, sounds as if he recorded his takes "while preening in front of a mirror." A little silly, yes. Tongue in cheek, most definitely. But certainly worth a listen if you like your slithering sleazy techno mixed with melodic tech-house. Hmm...going on four years old now. How'd I miss this one? Buy It.

    Hood "The Negatives" - 2005 saw the release of another quality Hood album: Outside Closer. This time around their lo-fi sound seems a little less, well, lo-fi. This track in particular sets aside the glitchy ambience and echoey effects and delivers a riveting opener to the album. I've been told their live shows are solid, especially the talent of their drummer. Based on their last two records, Hood has cemented a place in that short list of "blindly-buying-their-new-one" because these boys from Leeds seem to do no wrong. Buy It.

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Get hooked on icons

    I have Oslo Atmosphere. Who wants to trade? Sign up and let's get going!

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Flash at its best

    This animation could very well be old, but I certainly have never seen it before. Check out the crazy fighter stickin' it to the enemy with his crazy stick-figure ninja moves.