Monday Music Miscellany

I saw the new Pussycat Dolls video on MTV this morning and noted that "Big Snoop Dogg" made a guest appearance on the track. I feel like their should be some Hip Hop authority that you have to apply to in order to get a name change. It would provide a central listing in order to know who is currently named what, and serve to avoid problems like the horrible Dr. Dre debacle of the late 80s and early 90s.

In other news, I have become fairly addicted to The Pipettes album. It sounds like what would happen if Phil Spector went crazy for the New Pornographers rather than shooting people. They also happen to have one of the best names around right now.

Also, in local music news, Chris Richards of Q and not U and Ris Paul Ric fame will be running the Post's weekly music chat on Wednesday.

And finally, the new Spin magazine recommends that you go see The Apes at the Warehouse Nextdoor tomorrow. It is a remarkably good suggestion from a remarkably bad magazine, so I suggest you take them up on it, but bring earplugs.



After my last post, I was looking through the Homestead's website and dreaming of being rich and decadent. Listed under their outdoor activities is, and I really have to quote it, is:

"Falconry (Seasonal)
Known as the "sport of kings," falconry is one of the oldest of the field sports with a history that stretches back nearly 4000 years. Learn about this unique form of hunting with trained birds of prey, including falcons, hawks and owls, at The Homestead's Mews. Beginner and intermediate lessons are available. At the conclusion of the lesson, the guest is given the opportunity to be photographed with the bird."
I think that it might be the greatest place on earth, although I think I now have to delete all of the Clash songs from my Ipod.

Where I Am Going?

In the past few days I have had a few people at work ask me if I had any vacation plans. When I responded that I didn't, they all suggested that I take some time off. And while this may be a veiled suggestion that I look haggard and need to go to bed earlier, I think that it is a good idea. I guess it is possible that everyone I work with is just sick of me.

The problem is that I don't have any idea where to go. Thus I am engaging in my first bleg. I must say that I have avoided these for so long because I find the word "bleg" repugnant. So a couple of stipulations:

  1. I am planning for either late September or early October.
  2. I am thinking about taking a week off.
  3. I won't fly. I hate flying. I can't believe people volunteer, much less pay, for the experience.
  4. I like driving. A driving tour, say down to Nashville and Memphis is an idea I have thought about.
That is pretty much it. So let me know what you all think. Also, does anyone want to accompany me? I do have friends, right?

Also, as a confession that is sure to shock everyone, given my druthers I would hole up here and drink myself stupid for a week. You may think that the Homestead is a very waspy, and it is. You may also think that it looks like the locale for "Dirty Dancing," and it does. But it was here that I learned that the best way to get over a hangover, and a pretty healthy whiskey hangover at that, is to have an hour long full body massage and a good steam. In case you were curious, yes I do disgust myself sometimes.


I Got Teddy in the Fourth...

One of the worst things about RFK prior to the grand re-opening was the Presidents race. The team had an animated video of Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Jefferson racing around a DC. The announcer claimed that each President represented a section, and if you clapped hard enough tinkerbell would come back to life the President for your section would win. I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but they only had about 4 different animations and your clapping did as much for the Presidents as Terrell Owens is going to do for the Cowboys this year.

Probably the greatest thing about RKF's re-opening is that the team now has four people wear 10 foot tall costumes of these Presidents and race from right field to about home plate. It is pretty great. If you go to a game, the race happens in the middle of the fourth inning.

The problem is that the race is still scripted, but I wonder who would win in a race between the Presidents on Mount Rushmore. I think all of the presidents have pretty good upsides, except for one. I think we can all agree that Jefferson would lose every time. I think Washington would be in the best shape, Lincoln has the most heart, and Teddy has that competitiveness that drives him to win at any cost. In fact, Teddy has already attempted to use a golf cart only to be disqualified. I just can't come up with any good reasons why Jefferson would win. In my mind I picture Jefferson as kind of a dandy.


The Art of Score

I realized today that I have not yet extolled the glories of keeping score at a baseball game. It is really one of the best things in sports.

For those of you who don't know, scorekeeping is a way for baseball fans to keep track of what has happened in a baseball game using a series of symbols. Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation here, with pictures! Tommy has observed that keeping score jives well with my obsessive nature, and he right. But keeping score can be fun even if you don't feel the need to straighten up everywhere you go.

When you keep score you know what has happened in the game up to that point, but you are also able to pick up on game trends quicker. You can see that a certain player is pulling the ball, or that the pitcher is inducing a lot of ground ball outs. You might even notice that a certain All-Star is flying out a lot and decide to hold it against him for the rest of his career. When you keep score you get a sense of the story of the game.

Keeping score also helps pass the time a baseball game. I know that some people are prone to complain that baseball games are too long, and nothing happens. When you are keeping score you have plenty of things to keep track of: the last play, inning totals, substitutions, some people track every pitch. It can be overwhelming. I promise that the game will just fly by.

The most important about scorekeeping is that when you are doing it everyone in your section knows that you are better than them. They look over, see you with your book, and know that you are a bigger and better baseball fan than them. It is the sports equivalent of wearing the perfect ironic t-shirt at the Black Cat.

So let me encourage you to take up scorekeeping as a hobby. Here is a link to some free scorecards that you can print out on your company's dime. You will learn a lot about baseball, and before you know it you will be wasting time at work reading up on statistics rather than the dating lives of various Washingtonians!

I stole the picture from Tommy, here is the original.


Who is their PR guy?

There is a church in Arlington that has one of those signs outside that is usually used to give the title of the upcoming sermon. Recently they have decided to take advantage of the recent weather.

A couple of weeks ago, during the deluge that had us all appreciating a good sturdy bucket, they had, and I am paraphrasing, "That Noah story seems more real, doesn't it?" I just couldn't figure out what the church was hoping to achieve with this statement. Are they hoping non-believers will think "well there was a flood in the Bible and now there is a flood in the 12th Street Tunnel, so the Bible must be true! I better get me some churchin'."

I think that the message is even worse to believers. I read it as: "Remember when God flooded the world to kill all of the sinners? Well, if you put a little more effort into those rice crispy treat men (poorly tied licorice bows) you made for the bake sale then maybe you would still have carpet in your basement."

This was all well and good, but when I drove by yesterday they had "Hell seems more real now, doesn't it?" This is absolutely the worst message for a church to send. Sure a Washington heat wave is uncomfortable, but not so bad that I am going to get up early on a Sunday.

I think the main problem is that they are reacting to the weather. They should be tailoring the sign future weather events. Like say, if the forecast calls for the sky to rain blood, that is the time to jump and try to get the butts in the pews.



I while ago I wondered if there was any truth to a rumor involving Eagles fans throwing a Redskins fan of the upper deck of Veterans Stadium. Well, thanks to Metroblogging DC I think I have found the truth. According to the New York Times, the heroic Redskins Fan only had parts of his costume thrown off of the stadium. The Eagles fans were nice enough to break that brave soul's legs in the parking lot, where presumably it would be easier to get to the hospital. So, in the interest of fairness let me apologize to Eagles fans everywhere. You are an inspiration to us all!


It has begun...

I just learned that the copiers in my office order their own replacement supplies. Humanity is screwed.

It's All In The Family

I spent this weekend in Central New York at a family reunion. It gave me a good chance to see family that I hadn't in a while, and visit the old alma mater. It is reassuring to know that my family remains as crazy as ever. And while I won't blather about most of what happened, it is probably standard family reunion craziness, I did learn some interesting things this weekend.

First, when my Great Great Great Grandfather was shopping for a cane he saw fit to purchase the model with a sword hidden in the handle. No one is really sure why he felt that he needed a sword on him at all time, or why the sword needed to be hidden. I choose to believe that he was a crime fighter of some kind, but maybe I am reading too many comic books. This cane was passed on to my father this weekend. Given the current "CRIME EMERGENCY" that we are experiencing in the city, I think it might be a good idea for me to start carrying it around. I would be unstoppable.

Second, my 6 year old cousin knows all of the words to "My Humps" and has even created a dance to accompany her acappela rendition. I guess the question is what would you choose between Barney and The Black Eyed Peas?

Finally, I have joked (well half-joked) in the past about how my wife will not have a say when it comes to first name of our first son. He is going to be named Charles, and there isn't much that she can do about it. The first born male in my family has been named Charles for 5 generations. If she has a problem with this, then maybe we shouldn't have gotten married in the first place. I know this is sexist, and patriarchical, but she can pick the middle name. I think of it as equality, I pick one name and she picks the other, as long as it is not something stupid like James or Allen.

What is weird is that I spent this weekend with a lot of people who really believe in keeping this tradition alive. I mean aside from canes with swords, this is all we really have to pass on. We have factions in my family that haven't talked in over 20 years due to an incident with a cheeseball that went uneaten and, according to the aggrieved party, under-appreciated. If they can be this spiteful over a ball of cheese, literally by the way, I don't know what these people would do to me if I broke the naming tradition. Ordinarily I wouldn't be too concerned, but I also learned that I have a relative who lives in the Adirondack Mountains and makes a living as a trapper. So he has experience tracking and killing things, although on the plus side he claims to have a good recipe for beaver burgers.

I have known this for a while, but I learned this weekend that I am in fact the only Gr/ay male in my generation, including second cousins. So in addition to keeping the naming tradition alive, I actually have to keep the family alive. I actually heard the phrase "it is up to Charles." I already suck enough at meeting people. I really don't need the fate of my family resting on my ability to talk to strangers, much less be charming. I imagine this is how Henry VIII felt, except of course that I don't have Estates, or Titles, or the Crown of England to worry about. There is a Gr/ay New York, but the only thing I know about it is that is has a cemetery.

This is of course, mostly insane. But sanity usually not the first adjective used to describe my family. We even have the medical records and court documents to prove it. On the other hand, I do love my family a lot and I am proud to be counted among them. I know it seems like a very old fashioned idea, maybe you have to be raised in my family to understand it, and I clearly can't really explain it. I just think it would be sad if the Gr/ay family died out.


When Stars Get Hurt

A long time ago, Tommy had a website that featured among other things the video of Pacey from Dawson's Creek getting a basketball thrown in his face. We would just watch the clip over and over again. What was mildly amusing once became brilliant when seen about 10 times straight. I am pretty sure that that one moment was the highlight of Dawson's Creek.

In a similar vein, let me link to a video of Jared Leto's band performing at the 9:30 club. If you fast forward to around 3:20 you will witness Jared falling, and not gracefully mind you, on his head. It is pretty great, but I really need to find some way to edit it so I can watch the relevant section over and over again. I should mention that I don't have speaks attached to this computer, so I have no idea what any of it sounds like. I have a feeling that that may be the preferred method.

I was originally not going to post it, but in the comment section for the video people were complaining that the video was being used to make fun of Jared Leto. I remembered that I am not a good person and felt compelled to link to it. In case and 30 Seconds to Mars fans come over, let me say that I have nothing against Jared Leto or 30STM, I just think it is funny when famous people hurt themselves. Really funny. Is that so wrong?


Merriweather: The Gift That Keeps On Giving...

So I accompanied some friends to the Ted Leo, Broken Social Scene, Belle and Sebastian show at Merriweather Post on Saturday. While I looked forward to the concert, I did dread going to Merriweather. In the past, I have had problems getting the venue in time for concerts, or finding that I couldn't see the stage from the lawn and that the screens are broken. I actually hate the venue.

The people that I went with hadn't been to Merriweather before, and had only my complaining to guide them. Well, we got there in plenty of time and found seats, proving that every complaint that I had was unfounded and that I was a liar. Great.

So we settle in and enjoy a nice, albeit abbreviated set by Ted Leo. Then Kriston and I got up to walk around and see what we could see. We walked over to where they were selling T-Shirts, because you need a T-Shirt to prove that you were there and other people were not. As we are perusing the merchandise a bee just flies up and stings me near my eye. Without provocation! At first, I am not sure that I got that I got stung, it just kinda feels like something flew into my eye. Then Kriston confirms that my eye is in fact starting to swell, confirming that I did in fact get stung.

The people at Merriweather were nice enough to give me a bag filled with ice, and I spent most of the rest of the concert sitting on the lawn holding a bag of ice to my face. For the rest of the night my eye just kinda hurt, but nothing too bad.

When I woke up on Sunday, my eye had started to swell. It looked like had been in a fight. Which was nice, I may have gotten a swollen eye but the assailant ended up broken with his guts all over the pavement. How often can you say that?

When I woke up this morning, my left eye had pretty much swollen shut. This completely freaked me out. I almost woke up Tommy to have him drive me the Emergency Room. I ended up getting in touch with my parents and my aunt who is a nurse. It turns out that this swelling is completely normal, and could continue for a few more days. It was comforting to hear that a life threatening allergic reaction would have already occurred. I took some over the counter medication and the swelling has gone down considerably. I am back to being a bad Thom Yorke impersonator.

The moral of this story is that Merriweather Post Pavilion is the worst music venue in the country and if you go there you will get stung by a bee. In addition to never going back to Merriweather, I have decided to carry a spray bottle of bee killer on me at all times and wear it on my belt like a wild west gunslinger. And not any nice "environmentally-safe" bee killer, but industrial leave a trail of bodies and anything else that gets in the way serious as shit bee killer. I am considering having my chemical-engineering friend Jeff concoct something so potent and deadly that it can't be sold commercially. So bees, you are on notice!


I Am a Hate-Filled Bastard

Last night at the DCist Happy Hour I realized what an awful person I am. While I am not the most gregarious person, I found myself opining at length on various topics. It was later when I took stock what those topics were that I realized the monster that I have become.

Apparently the only things that feel passionately about, and am willing to discuss at length are: atrocities committed by Philadelphia sports fans, and my general hatred of Mormons and Utah. I don't know exactly how this happened. I am not quite sure when I went from passive dislike to intense hatred. I assume it was a smooth transition.

The problem is that my hatred has created a singular focus. Rather than be content to just be irritated when I run across say an Eagles fan, I go out in search for examples in an act of self flagellation. Sure it hurts as swells of blinding anger rush over me, but it also feels so good to be right.

I think the problem is that I find myself only speaking really passionately when I am acting like a hate-filled little bastard. And there is more to me than just hate, or at least I hope there is.

In other news, this might be the single most offensive movie to hit theaters. It is one thing to glorify drug dealers and murders, but the sadistic fans of a franchise that hasn't actually ever won anything? I mean at least a drug dealer provides jobs for the community, what has an Eagles fan ever done?

Also, fans of Big Love might find this Salon article interesting. And yes I realize that the people in question are not recognized by the official Mormon church.


Does That Make Him Crazy?

One of the books that I am reading now is "The Vintage Guide to Classical Music" by Jan Swafford. It is a series of essays about the life and work of the great composers.

What I love about that book is that all of the great composers are crazy. We like to envision our classical composers as respectable staid individuals. I am almost through the romantic period, and I have met a good number of alcoholics, beggars, and a surprising number of artists driven insane by syphilis. A lot of these guys could give Keith Richards some competition in the decadent, self destructive race. It is really quite fantastic.

I just finished a section on Tchaikovsky, and there is a passage that is to fantastic and must be shared with everyone.

"Though during an early attempt at conduction he [Tchaikovsky] had developed the hallucination that his head was falling off (through the piece he held on to it with one hand)." Page 321