Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On my turntable: Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full

I would like to personally thank Sir Paul for making this record. I'm listening to it now for the first time, and am pretty confident that this is, in my opinion, the most accesible McCartney record since Flowers in the Dirt (1989). That doesn't mean that I haven't loved Chaos & Creation (2005), Driving Rain (2001), or Flaming Pie (1997) - I think they are all excellent albums. What makes this album different is that I'm listening to it thinking "Oh, this is a good song. Wow - I really like this one too. Jeezus this is a good album!" Right now I'm three songs into side two and there's only been one song so far ("Gratitude") that hasn't gotten get me excited. "See Your Sunshine" and "Only Mama Knows" sound very much like Wings.

What sucks about my copy of this LP is that it's defective and I need to return it. Grrr. I hate returning things. Hate hate.

Vegan raspberry muffin

Bordertown Coffee makes the most friggin' amazing vegan muffins. I walked into a burning building to get one once. OK, the whole building wasn't on fire, but there was a fire in the building, and the fire department was there. I had made the mistake of leaving my muffin in my office when they evacuated us from the building, so I had to sneak back in to retrieve it. I'm telling ya, that's how tasty these things are.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I've been Simpsonized!

Simpsonized Jeff

Fridge cam

On my turntable: Tipsy - Uh-Oh!

Over the past couple of years I've taken a risk on a number of artists after hearing a couple of tracks online. I heard Tipsy on my Pandora station a few weeks ago and my ears perked up. After a little online searching I found the double LP, Uh-Oh! (2001) on sale at MiddlePillar.com for $10. I'm on my first listen as I type this and I love it. It's a mix of lounge, bossa-nova, electronic, and exotica styles. Tipsy hails from San Francisco, sounding at times like Japanese artists Fantastic Plastic Machine and Pizzicato Five. This music makes me want to hang tiki lamps across the clothesline and mix up some blender drinks with little umbrellas in them.

Quote of the week: Jerry Casale (DEVO)

From a 7/25 article in Rolling Stone:

“We live in a subhuman mean-ass society where everyone has learned to be totally disgusting and spiritless. It starts at the top and trickles down. When you have an administration like we have, everybody learns that ‘fuck you’ is the rule of the day. Every time the president speaks it’s a painful example that de-evolution is real.”

Libertyville abortion clinic demonstrations

This is fantastic. The Pro-life demonstrators interviewed in this video all believe that abortion should be illegal, but none of them have thought about what the punishment should be for having an illegal abortion. Brilliant.

CLICK HERE to view the video.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

"Lighten up, Francis"

"Z" is for The Zombies

The Zombies are one of my favorite groups. I was lucky enough to see Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone perform on two different occasions at First Avenue. Both times they hung out by the merchandise table to sign autographs for fans, something you don't see very often. Later this year all four surviving Zombies are scheduled to play their masterpiece Odessey and Oracle (1968) in its entirety, which I hope they release as a DVD.

Hope you enjoyed my little A-Z! Thanks for reading.

My favorite Saint

"Y" is for Yes

Catchy, melodic, intense, sometimes dark, dynamic, beautiful. Prior to this album the band had lost its two most visible members, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman, who were replaced by The Buggles: Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. The combination worked -- Drama (1980) sounds like a Yes album, with just a slight New Wave sensibility. Drama may not the "best" Yes album, but it's definitely my favorite. An amazing piece of work.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Leo received a sweet little special delivery from the Basilica today, congratulating him on his Nursing license. It's awesome being a part of this community.

Thanks, everyone - Lissy's cupcakes are delicious!

"X" is for XTC

I got into XTC through the first album they recorded as The Dukes of Stratosphere (shown below). At the time I don't think I even knew it was XTC - I bought the album because of the ultragroovy cover art. By the time Oranges and Lemons (1989) was released I considered myself a fan. Right now I'm listening to 1986's Skylarking, which is also a decent album. I especially love "Earn Enough for Us".

I must add that I did not realize "Ballet for a Rainy Day" was an XTC song. I became more familiar with Dane Peterson's recent version and assumed he wrote it. Both versions are great.

Dukes of Stratosphere - "The Mole From the Ministry"

Friday, July 27, 2007

"W" is for Wesley Willis

The first time I heard Wesley Willis I was in my car listening to AM770 Radio K. The song was "Rock & Roll McDonalds", and I thought it was one of the funniest things I'd heard in my life up to that point. Wesley sang songs about his favorite bands, stuff that got on his nerves, pretty much whatever was on his mind. Very punk rock. He finished each song with "Rock over London, Rock on Chicago", followed by a line from some commercial, such as "Wheaties - the breakfast of champions" or "Musicland - we got what's hot."

Wikipedia entry

"V" is for The Vines

Although I think Vision Valley (2006) is by far the best Vines record, Winning Days (2004) has the best cover art. Seriously, artwork this cool should not be restricted to a tiny compact disc sleeve. The music on Winning Days is great too, although nothing comes close to the greatness of last year's "Don't Listen To The Radio".

"U" is for Urban Dance Squad

Urban Dance Squad was a great band. Their show at First Avenue (1990?) was one of the best live shows I've ever seen. UDS was a super high energy mix of rock, hardcore, hip-hop, and funk. They were great because they were sincere - there was nothing contrived about what they were doing. Their 1990 debut album is one of the best albums from that year, and the breakout single "Deeper Shade of Soul" is a summer classic. Great memories.

"Deeper Shade of Soul"

Once Upon A Dream

This is a promotional film I just found for the Rascals' Once Upon A Dream (1968), one of my all-time favorite albums. Very groovy - I never knew this existed.

Herman's Hermits - "Museum"

From the Smothers Brothers show, 1967. This is my favorite HH song, written by Donovan:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Look Through My Window

Bordertown Coffee, Dinkytown, USA.

I love statistics

OK, I don't really "love" statistics. I'm trying to cultivate a positive attitude towards stats, as I am registered for an 8xxx level Stats course this fall. Even though I've taken two stats courses in the past, including one at the graduate level, I don't feel competent. I want to get over that. I want to embrace the beast that is statistics! I want to grab stateestics and geeve it a beeg keese! Anyway, my adviser seems confident that I'll do fine in the course. So I purchased the textbook for my class at half.com, since it cost $125 at the university bookstore. Outrageous.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I Wanna Be Well

Allow me to quote the immortal lyrical genius of The Ramones by saying:
"Yeah, I wanna be well
I wanna be well
I wanna be
Want I want I want I want
I want I want I want I wanna
Yeah, I wanna be well."

You regular readers of my fancy blog will know that I've been dealing with a bit of a flare-up with my Crohn's disease, which is a drag. I get infused with an intravenous drug every seven weeks, which for some reason has stopped working. After living virtually symptom free (for the most part) for years I'm suddenly faced with the headaches and frustrations of chronic illness. Sucks. It doesn't help matters that I have such a hard time asking for medical help sometimes. I know it's not rational. Part of it is fear I suppose, that I'll be told to see a surgeon or something. Well I bit the bullet and met with my gastroenterologist today. He and I decided to try increasing the dosage of my infusion to see if that helps. If that doesn't do it, there is a new injection drug that has been approved for people like myself who stop responding to infusion treatments. It's nice to have options.

Hypocrisy of the new Bush Executive Order

Steve Watson at infowars.net has written an interesting perspective on the new Bush law. If the law is really enforced, it should be the Bush administration that gets punished. As Watson puts it, "The only Americans destabilizing the peace in Iraq are the ones who invaded it." Amen.

Total Hypocrisy Of New Bush Executive Order

With flying colors

We learned this morning that Leo (my partner) passed his nursing boards yesterday. What a Smarty McFarty Pants. I am super duper proud of him. It's hard to believe the whole nursing school journey is done, for now at least - until he goes on for the Masters. Way to go, Puddin'.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"T" is for Three O'Clock

The Three O'Clock are one of my favorite bands of all time.

This European import of their first e.p., Baroque Hoedown (1982), features three songs not included on the U.S. version: A cover of the Byrds' "Feel A Whole Lot Better", "In Love In Too", and a great cover of Pink Floyd's "Lucifer Sam". "In Love" and "Sam" were issued in America as a fan-club only single; being an obsessed fan, I was of course in the fan club (see pic of my fancy membership card).

Bush's new "Executive Order"

I'm not sure what to think of this. I think it means Bush has made it illegal to protest against the Iraq war. Read it and judge for yourself (click here):

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

Look Through My Window

7:07 AM, Coffman Memorial Union.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Simpsons Personality Test

You Are Lisa Simpson

A total child prodigy and super genius, you have the mind for world domination.

But you prefer world peace, Buddhism, and tofu dogs.

You will be remembered for: all your academic accomplishments

Your life philosophy: "I refuse to believe that everybody refuses to believe the truth"

Let the countdown begin...

I've got just twenty work days left in my current job. I've stayed in this job longer than any position I've held in Higher Education, partly because it has given me the opportunity to do a nice variety of interesting things. It also doesn't hurt that get to work with some really cool and funny people. My colleagues are rock stars.

Of course, not everything about the job has been a picnic (no job is perfect). The worst was having to deal with an office bully situation. Yuk. Seriously, I don't wish this on anyone. I was the target of a bully or two in grade school, and being bullied at work as an adult is almost as bad. I thought about reporting it, but around the time I started documenting specific situations the bullying decreased. Through the process I did manage to do some research on workplace bullying, so I know how to approach this in the future if it happens again. Bullies are sad, sad people.

I've been feeling for the past year that I have gone as far as I'm going to go in this job. The time feels right to focus on the PhD for a while. It is comforting knowing that I'm not running away from this job, though. I'm moving towards something new that will expand my skills set and broaden my opportunities. I reckon that's far better than growing stagnant in a position because I'm afraid to take a risk.

The building in the above photo (taken in the early 1900's) will be my new workplace starting next month. Built in 1886, it's the oldest existing building on campus. Being the U of M history geek that I am, I'm pretty jazzed about working there.

"S" is for Scissor Sisters

I like Ta-Dah (2006) as much as the first Scissor Sisters album, maybe even a little more. They're one of the hardest working bands in show business right now, and I hope they stick around for a long time.

"R" is for Ramones

One of the greatest live bands in history.

New Prince trax

The full CD comes out on Tuesday 7/24, but you can listen to two of the tracks right here!

The One U Wanna C
Future Baby Mama

"The One U Wanna C" features Wendy Melvoin, and is one of the better songs I've heard so far. "Future Baby Mama" is generating a bit of a buzz at urban radio, from what I've read. Check them out & let me know what you think!

"Q" is for Quasi

I miss my friend Amy. She lives in New York now doing some fancy record company business stuff, which is perfect for her. Whenever Amy says "I think you'll like this" she's usually right. Quasi's Field Studies (1999) is one such album. It just arrived in the mail one day with a post-it from Amy instructing me to give it a listen. I've since bought each new Quasi record, but Field Studies (1999) remains my favorite, especially the song "Under A Cloud".

"P" is for Prince & The Revolution

A review of the new Prince album Planet Earth in today's Star Tribune compared it to Prince's psychedelic era, albums like Parade (1986) and Around The World In A Day (1985), which I'm listening to now. I never want to come across as a fan who won't let go of the Purple Rain (1984) days. Still, I miss the colors that Wendy & Lisa added to Prince's records. Aside from their voices they added little flourishes and textures that were downright interesting, if not gorgeous. I'm eager to hear Planet Earth from start to finish, because I like the songs I've heard so far.

I Love My Shirt

Do you have a shirt that you really love,
One that you feel so groovy in?
You don't even mind if it starts to fade,
That only makes it nicer still.
I love my shirt, I love my shirt,
My shirt is so comfortably lovely.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"O" is for Osmond

I chose this in honor of my friend Jan, whose favorite song in the world is ""A"- My Name Is Alice". She friggin loves that song. I can't say that I blame her - it's a catchy number, but I think Jan has an unhealthy attachment to the song. I'm just sayin. Her name is Jan, not Alice.

I first bought this album when Jan & I were roomies in grad school. I had bought a cheap turntable at Radio Shack and some dirt cheap records at Ernie November, Mankato's coolest record store. I got a bunch of Osmonds records @ 5 for $5, including this gem, Donny & Marie - Featuring Songs From Their Television Show (1976). A masterpiece.

"N" is for Michael Nesmith

I'm a big fan of the First National Band LPs (the red, white, and blue albums), but not much else by Mike Nesmith excites me outside of his awesome contributions to The Monkees. Still, the man invented MTV and sorta created the country-rock genre that bands like The Eagles made so huge in the 70's. So yeah, he's a bit of a legend in some ways. He released a brand new CD called Rays this past year that I've not yet bought, and I'm not sure I will. If anyone reading has heard it I'd love to hear your opinions.

"M" is for Paul McCartney

Flowers In The Dirt (1989) includes two of my all-time fave McCartney songs, "My Brave Face" and "This One". McCartney seemed lost throughout most of the 80's, with one misfire after another: Pipes of Peace (1982), Give My Regards To Broad Street (1984), Press To Play (1986). With Flowers he seems less interested in being hip with the kids, and more focused on his strength as the greatest pop songwriter of all time.

"L" is for The Lemonheads

Car Botton Cloth (1996) is not my favorite Lemonheads LP. I give it three out of five stars. The band seemed to be fizzling out around this time and just sort of faded after this record, although their "comeback" LP from last year was a very nice return to form.

On my turntable: Beastie Boys - The Mix-Up

Fresh from the record store.

Pretty cool stuff.

Friday, July 20, 2007

"K" is for The Knack

I've probably said this before, but The Knack is one of the best live bands on the planet. Their 1998 show at The Cabooze is one of the best I've ever seen. They just tore the place up.

I bought this record on the day of its release, Valentine's Day, 1980, at Bojangles record store in Columbia Heights. Although the cover art sucks, this is is a great record. It was recorded in something like a week, which resulted in a very energetic, urgent sound. It is probably my third favorite Knack LP, behind Get the Knack and Round Trip.

"J" is for Jermaine Jackson

This is Jermaine's Thriller. That's not to say it's as good as Thriller, but it's Jermaine's essential record, I think. There's several great songs (and some not so great), mostly "Dynamite", "Tell Me I'm Not Dreamin'" (w/Michael), and "Do What You Do", which always reminds me of the Residence Hall Dining Center at UMD, where I would frequently hear the song on the radio.

"I" is for Iffy

Back in 2002 a coworker lent me Iffy's Biota Bondo CD, which Leo and I listened to a lot while driving around that summer. That fall we scored some free tix to see Iffy out at Canterbury Park, which was a gas. I've not yet seen Biota Bondo on vinyl yet - does anyone know if it exists? This here is the 12" of "Can O Cope", one of our favorite songs from the album.

it's alright, yeah, uh, oh...

"H" is for High Llamas

Leo picked this one.

I don't have much to say about Beet Maize & Corn (2003) that I didn't already write in my previous entry about the album.

"G" is for Great Nation

Great Nation was a somewhat visible Minneapolis band in the 1980's. Around 1991/92 I played bass in a band called Go Figure with two of the Great Nation guys, Paul Dick and Rob Browne. They were excellent musicians and all-around good guys. We did a dozen or so local gigs before disolving. Paul or Rob - if you're out there give me a shout - I'd love to hear from you!

"Beat The Wall" (1986) is a good song. Very 80's. I have no idea if it sold well on a national level, although I see it from time to time in the local section of area stores (I bought this copy at the now defunct Know-Name Records in Dinkytown).

"F" is for Jason Falkner

The LP version of Can You Still Feel? (1999) features different artwork than the CD version, plus two extra songs.

I've not listened to this record in quite a while and I'm really enjoying it!

"E" is for Electric Light Orchestra

As a concept album, Time (1981) isn't particulary great, but as an ELO album it's phenomenal. This is the CBS Half Speed Mastered pressing, which I obtained this past year.

I heart it.

Check out my ticket stub from ELO's 1981 "Time" tour:

Quote of the week: Jay Bakker

In reference to LGBT people and faith:

"Don't let the bastards get you down. Christians aren't God. Religious people aren't God. God loves you, just where you're at... just the way you are, no matter what you've done. God loves you whether you love him or not and there's nothing you can do about it. As far as the negative and judgmental stuff goes, realize that Jesus has a crappy fan club. Just don't give up!"

full interview

God bless America

It's 1:00 in the morning and I've stumbled across this video that just strikes me as hilarious. Enjoy:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"D" is for The Doors

Waiting for the Sun is my favorite Doors album, but I like this one too. I was very into The Doors when I was around 13, but lost interest pretty quickly when the new wave bands started happening. I never really understand all the hero worship surrounding Jim Morrison, and I imagine it had to suck sometimes for the rest of the band, to have all of this constant focus on the singer. The Doors definitely had a distinctive sound of their own, which no doubt lends to their staying power so many years later.

"C" is for Cheap Trick

According to my writing on the inner sleeve, I purchased this in June, 1980. Found All The Parts (1980) featured four previously unissued Cheap Trick tracks, along with the great bonus 7" single "Everything Works if You Let It", featured in the 1980 film Roadie.

"B" is for Bangles

The Bangles released this self-titled 5 song EP in 1982. Many fans consider the record, with its upbeat folk-punk and raw energy, to be the best thing the band has done.

The Bangles are one of a handful of my favorite bands that I've never seen live. That will change next month when the band plays First Avenue on 8/23. Kickass.

"A" is for Annette

I decided to try something new with my turntable selections, working my way from A to Z. I'll probably lose interest halfway through the alphabet, but it seems like a fun idea for now.

Beach Party was one of a trio of Annette records that I blasted from my freshman dorm room at UMD. Looking back, it's a damn miracle I didn't get my ass kicked. I had a bit of an obsession with Beach Party movies that year, sparked by my interest in the Beach Boys, who sang a duet with Annette on the theme from The Monkey's Uncle. I even joined the Annette Funicello fan club, and had a framed 8x10 of her in my room. Perhaps I should have kept that last bit to myself.