Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ph.D.

I learned earlier today that my application to the Ph.D. program in Higher Education at the U of M was accepted for Fall 2006 admission. I feel very vindicated right now. As an undergraduate at the U I struggled for my first couple of years with bad grades and lack of direction. It feels great, exactly 20 years after starting as a transfer student at the U, to begin work on a doctorate.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Technics SL-1200 MK2

My new turntable arrived yesterday afternoon, and she's awfully purdy. I had to wear shades as I took it out of the box, so that I would not be blinded by its beauty. When I was a kid I used to hang out at places like Team electronics and LaBelle's and study the various turntables. I wanted a good turntable so badly, but somehow never managed to actually purchase a quality one until now. Having spent a few hours last night spinning records with my SL-1200, I definitely understand what all the fuss over this turntable is about. If you Google the SL-1200 you'll find that there are tribute websites to this turntable, and even a Wikipedia page.

The SL-1200MK2 has endured since 1979, kept alive by audiophiles and DJs. At 30 pounds, the SL-1200 is a heavy piece of audio equipment, designed to withstand years of abuse by club DJs. I don't intend to abuse my SL-1200, but it's nice to know that it can handle heavy use, 'cause I'll be using it plenty.

Monday, March 27, 2006

On my turntable: John Lennon - Mind Games

Mind Games (1973) is one of my least favorite Lennon lps, but perhaps unfairly so. Listening to it now I enjoy it very much. I do find the song "Mind Games" just mildly annoying, but the rest of the album is consistent, with a signature Lennon production that seems to include lots of reverb on everything. There are some very catchy non-hits here, including "Tight A$", "Intuition", and "Only People".

My first exposure to Mind Games was on 8-track, during the late 70's when clearance bins were overflowing with discounted tapes. I remember listening to this and George Harrison's Dark Horse quite a lot on my little Lloyds 8-track machine. This album was recently remixed and reissued for CD, as well as an audiophile LP through Mobile Fidelity. If anyone's heard the new Mobile Fidelity mix, I'd love to hear your comments!

Turntable watch

My new Technics SL-1200 touched base in HODGKINS, IL at 4:31 this morning. Stay tuned for more up to the minute turntable coverage!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

G.W.'s hard hat

This makes me laugh:

People of Faith Capitol Rally

Before work this morning Leo and I stopped at the Capitol for the People of Faith Rally. The place was packed with supporters of gay unions & GLBT families, and it was touching to see so many different religions providing the message that many churches do not support discrimination, and how wrong it is to use God in this hateful political ploy.

During the rally, Rabbi Aaron Brusso of the Adath Jeshurun Congregation profoundly stated:

"It does not matter if you are born a slave; a human being should be free. It does not matter if you are a woman; a human being should vote. It does not matter if you are black; a human being should be a citizen. By what right does it say that if you are born a gay or lesbian, you are not a human being?"


Another speaker (I didn't catch his name) raised a very good point when he said that churches will continue to have gay & lesbian members as long as churches continue to baptise gay and lesbian babies. Take that, haters! Seriously, it was a powerful moment at the Capitol, and I'm glad we were able to be there. According to an article at the StarTribune, it's expected that close to 2,000 were in attendance at the rally. Kickass.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Charming

Photo from yesterday's rally:
So, um, where exactly is "home" supposed to be? Homoland? Gayville? These supporters of the "marriage amendment" sure seem like delightful people.

For more pictures from the rally, visit the gallery at OutFront.org. While you're there, learn more about what you can do to stop, or at least fight, the hate.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Opponents of gay marriage rally at capitol

So there was a rally at the capitol today. In attendance were self-proclaimed "religious" folks, fighting desperately to save marriage from the gays. According to an article at KARE11.com, the "Reverend" Wes Wheatley said to the crowd that without an amendment, "We are opening the door to untold, destructive evils for our next generation. The environment for raising morally, sound, normal, straight children, will be in grave jeopardy."

Normal, Straight children?? How insulting to all families that don't fit the traditional, straight mother and father mold. Last year Leo & I volunteered at the state Rainbow Families conference for GLBT families. I've never seen so many happy, well adjusted kids in my life. This amendment is pure BIGOTRY. A lot of amendment supporters are now saying that they are angry at being called bigots simply because of their beliefs, but what else can you call it? The goal of this amendment is to strip a specific group of Minnesotans of their rights. This has never happened in the history of the state. People should not be allowed to vote on this, just like people were not allowed to vote on interracial marriage in the 1960's. If you consider yourself "religious", do something good like feed the hungry or shelter the homeless. Open your damn eyes people.

Monday, March 20, 2006

New Prince released Tuesday, 3/21

On my CD player: 2003 Trimester One

The most obvious benefit of these archival CDs is having a 'audio journal' of sorts. The downside, I'm learning, is that CD's are susceptible to deterioration that can render them unplayable. Kinda sucks. This compilation CD from 2003 is one such disc. Skips like crazy in the car, but it appears to be playing OK on my work computer. I'll probably need to back up all of these CDs soon. Proof yet again that vinyl is the superior format!

2003 Trimester One:
1. "Fox Hills" - The Negro Problem
2. "In A World Gone Mad" - Beastie Boys
3. "Do You Remember R&R Radio - Kiss
4. "Your Life" - Subject to Change
5. "Jeepster" - T.Rex
6. "Tear Off Your Own Head" - The Bangles
7. "The Prophecy of Daniel & John the Devine (six-six-six)" - The Cowsills
8. "Big Yellow Taxi" - Counting Crows
9. "Lime Green Sweater" - The Negro Problem
10. "All Possibilities" - Badly Drawn Boy
11. "Waiting For Our Time" - Styx
12. "I Was Borm To Love You" - Redd Kross
13. "Amnesia" - P.M. Dawn
14. "Tiny Decision" - Aluminum Group
15. "Something That You Said (single version)" - The Bangles
16. "My Friend Jack" - Death By Chocolate
17. "United States Of Whatever" - Liam Lynch
18. "Never Without You" - Ringo Starr
19. "Ahmnot Madatcha" - The Negro Problem
20. "Peacekeeper" - Fleetwood Mac
21. "We Want Peace" - Lenny Kravitz
22. "I Wanna Be Around/Friday Night" - The Beach Boys

Saturday, March 18, 2006

On my turntable: Bee Gees - Trafalgar

What a great album. I just picked this up today at Cheapos, having previously owned it only on CD. The LP sounds great, especially the bass. Trafalgar (1971), which features the group's first US #1 "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart", was the 2nd album to feature all three brothers since their 1970 reunion. Yet, despite this "reunion", almost half of the album's songs are practically solo tracks. Of these, Barry's "The Greatest Man In The World", "Don't Wanna Live Inside Myself", and Maurice's "It's Just The Way" are standouts. Even with its lack of full group writing, one of the album's greatest strengths is its cohesiveness. Trafalgar is probably one of the Bee Gees' best albums, or at least one of my personal favorites.

My copy of
Trafalgar has a sticker from Wax Museum on it. The Wax Museum was one of the Twin Cities' most prominent new & used record stores in the 70's and 80's. They've been gone from the scene for quite a while now.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The New Cars!

The new song, "Not Tonight", far exceeds my expectations. It's classic Cars, and it totally rocks. check out the video below!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

2006 Quarter 1

The first three months of 2006 have been pretty good for new music! Here's my Quarter 1 CD, assembled just last night.

1. "Our Love Was" - Splitsville
2. "Black Sweat" - Prince
3. "Perfect Stranger" - Cheap Trick
4. "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" - Emmylou Harris
5. "Too Many Tears" - Elton John
6. "Love Sweet Love" - Supraluxe
7. "The Wolves Are Out Tonight" - The Green And Yellow TV
8. "Sometimes The Sun" - The Lashes
9. "Spanish Bombs" - The Clash
10. "Laurel Canyon Blvd." - Van Dyke Parks
11. "Hazel Eyes" - The Darkness
12. "Mine Exclusively" - Big Star
13. "Turn It Over" - Ceremony
14. "Goodbye Sunshine" - Ceremony
15. "Be A Man" - Hudson Brothers
16. "Retouch Me" - Kathy Valentine
17. "Rubber Traits" - Why?
18. "Tummy Ache" - Chris Brown
19. "Not Going Home" - The Elected
20. "We" - Neil Diamond
21. "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever" - Sammy Davis Jr.
22. "Long Long Day" - Hudson Brothers
23. "Mom's Food Chain" - Amy Borkowsky
24. "No Sleep Blues" - Incredible String Band
25. "Van Dyke Parks" - Van Dyke Parks
26. "Spanish Flea" - The Doodletown Pipers
27. "Don't Look Back" - Cowsills

The Jacksons & Dom DeLuise

This is from the 70's Jacksons variety show, and it's downright bizarre. The dancing is fierce, but it's a bit surreal to see Dom "Disco Dom" DeLuise dancing & singing with them.

"The Proper Ornaments"

The Proper Ornaments
(written by Chris Dedrick, performed by The Free Design)

Ba Ba Ba...
Ornaments of Life, ornaments of life
There’s your brand new car, sir, here’s your hat and gloves
There’s your pretty wife, sir, whom you almost love

There’s your color TV set and your impressive pad
There’s your little baby girl you’re almost glad you had
Such a pretty dress, miss, such a graceful walk
Bubbling femininity, authoritative talk
There’s your man he’s prominent; treats you like a queen
All your little secrets kept, your reputations clean
The proper ornaments of life.

Gotta have status
have a paid vacation,
have an intellectual education
ornaments of life
proper ornaments of life

fur coats, jewels and laces, bright red lipstick, big cars, money, tuxes and top hats
hide behind the mask of clothes and makeup: ornaments
There’s your brand new car, sir, here’s your hat and gloves
There’s your pretty wife, sir, whom you almost love
There’s your color TV set and your impressive pad
There’s your little baby girl you’re almost glad you had

What’s behind that countenance
What’s behind the lace,
What is in your mind and heart
Thats hidden by your face
Behind the ornaments in your life?

Ba, ba, ba.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

KISS - "Talk to Me"

Here's an obscure video clip of Kiss performing a song from the underappreciated Unmasked album. Notice Eric Carr on drums, who had just replaced Peter Criss (although I believe Anton Fig is the actual drummer on the recording). This is one of my favorite Ace Frehley songs.

Super cool website of the week: RetroJunk

www.RetroJunk.com

Monday, March 13, 2006

On my turntable: Journey - Escape

Call it a guilty pleasure. Whatever. Escape (1981) is a great album. Some people consider this Journey's big sellout album, but it's full of so many great songs, so who cares? When I was a sophomore in high school, everybody and their sister's cousin's neighbor owned this album. It was played at every underage kegger you went to. Perhaps I love it because it's part of my high school soundtrack. Whatever. Escape rocks. It's also a very easy find at used record stores or eBay, so you've got no reason not to pick it up, if you don't already own a copy.

40 plus 4 days

The birthday weekend was pretty spectacular. My friend Jan from Portland stayed with us for a couple of days. She had two job interviews lined up with the city of Minneapolis that will hopefully result in Jan and her husband Brad moving back to Minnesota soon! On Friday my friends threw a kickass birthday bash for me and three other friends. We ended up watching a 1981 Journey concert DVD which was far more fun than you'd imagine. I also got some very nice gifts (thanks friends!). Forty is fun.

So today was the day that I was gong to go get my tattoo. However, for the past week my turntable has been acting up, which has led to my decision to use the tattoo funds towards a new turntable instead. I want to get a really good turntable, the Technics SL1200MK2. The SL1200MK2 is a bit of an industry standard for DJ's, and I've read some really good reviews. It is not cheap, but will probably be the last turntable I'll ever need to buy.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

On my turntable: R.E.M. - Out Of Time

In 1991 I was a college senior, a brand new vegetarian, musician, record store employee, and self-proclaimed environmentalist. When Out of Time was released that same year, it almost had a hippie throwback quality to it, which really resonated with me at the time. Listening to it now on shiny happy vinyl makes me all tingly inside.

One of the most obvious differences between the LP and the CD is the sound of the bass. You can really hear Mike Mills' bass strings on the LP, something that I don't recall noticing so much on the CD. The only downside to this LP is the way Warner Bros has been cheap with its latest batch of pressings. There are no liner notes, no inner sleeve, which in terms of packaging makes this inferior to the CD. I think there is a SimplyVinyl pressing of this album, which may be worth hunting down.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

We Got The MEAT?

Papa John's has a new commercial using the Go-Go's "We Got The Beat". Oh how sad. I shake my head. Sooooo sad. Oh my goodness.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

On my turntable: Crowded House - Woodface

Hearing this now, there's no doubt that Woodface (1991) is one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time. It is definitely my favorite Crowded House lp. The SimplyVinyl pressing that I obtained this week sounds gorgeous, considerably better than the CD, in my opinion. Not that the CD sounds bad, but the vinyl pressing just sounds so sweet.

In '91 I was fortunate enough to attend a private record release party that Capitol sponsored for Crowded House at the Calhoun Beach Club in Minneapolis. The band played a small set, and then did a meet & greet, where I was able to get their autographs and get my picture taken with Neil Finn, which was a total gas. I later met Neil again at a solo show that he played at the Guthrie, and he was a real swell guy.

40 minus 1 day


This morning I had breakfast with two of my super cool coworkers at Al's Breakfast in Dinkytown. I've been walking past Al's for twenty years, but never stepped inside prior to today. This teeny, tiny restaurant, which seats only 14 people at a time, is packed with history. Al's Breakfast is so well known that it has its own Wikipedia page. I'm very glad I went, as it was a nice way to start the last day of my thirties.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Constitutional Contractors

Banning Adoption

Excerpted from Margaret Cho's blog, very nicely stated:

I was listening to a debate on banning gay and lesbian adoptions last night on the radio, which made me so furious, even more mad than the ever present LA early evening traffic in front of me. There are so many children in the world who need parents, and these people are trying to keep them from finding homes, because of their own need to somehow demonize homosexuality and define it like it is some kind of inherent weakness. It makes me sick and it makes me want to be in a mosh pit with them so I can throw an elbow into their face.

What exactly do these homophobic idiots think is good for children? For them to just waste away unwanted and unloved in the system because at least they won’t be exposed to Project Runway? The Dinah Shore Golf Tournament? I happen to think that gays and lesbians would be better at taking care of children, because the truth is, it is hard to be different in this society, no matter what is said about tolerance, and how many new holidays are created, and when you have to struggle because you are not like the rest, you just tend to be better than the rest. They try to reason that the break up rate is high for homosexual couples, but when every other heterosexual marriage ends in divorce, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle ‘non-committal’?

Margaret Cho and Bruce Daniels

Animated short. This is pretty funny:

Monday, March 06, 2006

40 minus 3 days

Forty feels old today. I feel run down after the weekend, which included a full day at work on Saturday meeting prospective freshmen & their families, and four hours at church yesterday. I have a headache and my gut feels like I ate too much cheese (not that I ate any cheese, that's just what it feels like). Today 40 indeed feels twice as old as 20, when I seemed to have the energy for everything, at least when I was healthy (Crohns did slow me down from time to time). Not that I miss being 20. Not at all. Yeah, maybe I should just get in shape so I can quit my bitchin'.

Liberty for all

Excellent letter in today's StarTribune:

There appear to be no depths to which some Republicans are unwilling to stoop. Witness last week's stepped-up attacks on the civil rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

As a child I learned to pledge allegiance to our flag, ending with the words "with liberty and justice for all." Not for some, but for all.

Instead of spending their time and money on bigoted, hatemongering television ads and CDs, why not spread it around where it will do some good? Hey, March is Minnesota FoodShare month! Try feeding the hungry.

The Red Carpet

This country is way over-obsessed with celebrities. Fewer things in our culture annoy me more than the excitement generated over the red carpet at award shows. I watched about five minutes of the pre-Oscar show last night on ABC, and two of the correspondents were gushing about having just seen "Nicole Kidman wearing ivory". Who gives a shit?? Yet, for the next week people will be gossiping about how lovely so-and-so looked, or how gaudy someone's outfit was. "It's all about the glamour." Oh really. I thought it was about handing out awards. It is, after all, called the Academy Awards. Why don't they just have Red Carpet shows, without the awards? Just get all the hoidy-toidies and Joan Rivers, and stick them on a red carpet for an hour. I can only imagine how incredibly obnoxious today's Entertainment Tonight will be.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Sanctity of Marriage

The homily at today's mass included a great message, which was delivered to a packed house. The topic was, appropriately, lent, and how to use this time for looking at the distractions in our lives. On the topic of marriage, the priest said that we need to stop using homosexuals as scapegoats for the state of marriage in this country. He offered instead that we look at divorce of existing marriages. He suggested we stop working 65 hour work weeks that fund a lifestyle that we don't need. He advised that we all make time to listen to each other, which may require turning off the television, the radio, the video games.

It felt very affirming to be in a Catholic church, in the parish of my choice, hearing such a message. I hope that eventually people will realize how ridiculous these constitutional marriage ammendments are. Show me one straight marriage that has ever been hurt by a gay civil union. It makes no sense.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

March 9, 1966

I've learned of three songs that were recorded on the day I was born, which is 40 years ago next week:

"God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys

"Rainy Day Women #12& 35" and "Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine" by Bob Dylan

It's pretty cool knowing that one of my favorite Beach Boys songs was recorded on my birth date. If anyone knows of other songs recorded on this day, feel free to let me know!

H.R. Pufnstuf

The opening credits, just as I watched them every Saturday morning after my bowl of Kaboom! cereal:

Jack Wild, RIP

I just learned that Jack Wild, who played Jimmy on H.R. Pufnstuf, has died of cancer at 53. It's always sad to hear that someone from your childhood has died, and Jack Wild's death indeed has me feeling pretty sad today. My thoughts go out to his family.

I was barely a preschooler when H.R. Pufnstuf was on tv, and I *loved* it. I had the soundtrack EP (available by mail order from Kellogg's), and watched the show religiously. My first lunchbox in grade school was (you guessed it) H.R. Pufnstuf. I still remember the day I picked it out (I believe it was at Zayre's Shoppers City). In our kitchen, my partner & I have a personalized autographed photo of Billie Hayes, who played Jimmy's nemesis Witchie Poo on the show.

Guess I'm a fan.

Stop animal testing!!

Animal testing is senseless, cruel, and wrong. The best thing that we can do as consumers is to simply not buy products from those that test on animals. I found a good list of companies this morning at TheVegetarianSite.com. Check it out, and be informed!

Companies that still test on animals

Let the celebration begin...

In seven days I will no longer be in my thirties. I've already had some people asking me "how do you feel about turning 40", as if I've been diagnosed with a terminal disease. For me, forty feels great. I'm healthier than I have ever been in my adult life, I have a wonderful loving partner, a job that I enjoy, a cozy place to sleep at night, great family and friends, and two sweet little house rabbits. Forty feels like more of a new beginning than 30 did.

So for the next seven days I plan to celebrate the countdown to 40, and likely annoy everyone in the process. But hey - you only turn forty once. I plan to have fun with it.