Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

"Dream Lover"

Bobby Darin sounds positively square next to Ben E. King. The first thing I noticed is that in the chorus, Darin resolves to the root of the tonic chord. King drops down to the third, which sounds a little hipper. King phrases behind the beat and takes some liberties with the melody, adding drama and strengthening the narrative voice. Darin sounds relaxed, but rather unimaginative, although it's probably just as well he doesn't plead like King.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Good Morning

My landlady woke me up at 8:30 this morning when she let herself into my apartment.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Insight from Daniel Schorr

On Wednesday's All Things Considered, Daniel Schorr observed of President Bush, "Lying as a matter of convience has become almost a conventional technique." About two and a half minutes long, it's a short piece but, as is typical of Schorr, there's plenty of information crammed into it. Listen to the whole thing here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mike Wieringo

Just found out one of my favorite comicbook artists suffered a fatal heart attack last Sunday (Aug 12). I was just rediscovering Wieringo's art via his internet presence, and perhaps even took for granted the diligence with which he kept his fans in the loop. My friend Dan-David hipped me to Wieringo's artwork when he gave me a stack of Sensational Spider-Man comics, all in Hebrew. I went out and bought the corresponding English copies, so I could try and learn some Hebrew. Mostly, I just read books in English and really started to dig on Mike Wieringo's style.

The first thing I remember noticing is how he draws a chin. The guy just really knows how to draw a chin (fig. 1). His lyrical visual style (fig. 2) has developed a bit of an edge in the past ten years (fig. 3). Wieringo's return to Spider-Man felt like he had come full circle as a comicbook artist, seeing Marvel's flagship hero through an era of major changes, i.e. Marvel's Civil War.

Judging from the online response to Mike Wieringo's passing, it seems like he was a popular guy in the comics community. He was also a health nut, supposedly, which makes his heart attack that much more tragic.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

We Are Jolly Laddies, We're Riders of the Night

Came across my fraternity's entry in Urban Dictionary.

"The greatest fraternity that ever existed. Composed of individuals who are [. . .] known for being non-discriminatory towards everybody and propagate freedom for all men of all creeds." (source)

For a something slightly more objective, you may want to try the actual Pi Lambda Phi website. There's an in-depth history of the fraternity, a list of famous Pi Lams (e.g., Sandy Koufax and Rodgers & Hammerstein), information on their activities philanthropic and educational and humanitarian, etc.

You can skip all that shit because it's boring. All you need to know is the Creed of Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity.

The Creed of Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity
  • That all Men are created Free and Equal.

  • That no Society of Men can flourish unless Members of that Society are endowed the Opportunities and Privileges of Freedom.

  • That Freedom implies the Elimination of Prejudice -- That the Elimination of Prejudice means a Better Understanding 'twixt Men.

  • That it is incumbent upon me to fight for such Freedom even with my Life.

  • That it is incumbent upon me in my Personal Life to be devoted to the Highest Standards of Honesty and Justice.

  • That because my Country is dedicated to the Highest Standards of Freedom and Justice for all Men of all Creeds, I hereby pledge Allegiance to my Country, and to its National Symbol.

  • My parents raised me by these and other, similar values. It's worth mentioning that my parents are Pi Lams. My Dad is an active alumnus; my Mom's status is less official, and that's a story for another time.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    Time Isn't Just a Magazine

    Anyone else ever notice Lynyrd Skynyrd is kinda shaky about keeping time? I can only cite "Free Bird" and "Tuesday's Gone" as examples, since those are the only two Skynyrd songs I really listen to, but in both tunes the band seems to exhibit the same tendency to rush a little bit.

    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    John Scofield's A-Team

    John Scofield has a new record coming out on Emarcy, and it looks fantastic.

    The album finds Scofield once again in the company of what he calls his "A-Team" - bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bill Stewart. [. . .]
    Joining the trio is a four-part horn section featuring Roger Rosenberg on baritone sax and bass clarinet, Jim Pugh on trombone, Lawrence Feldman on tenor sax and flutes and John Swana on trumpet and flugelhorn.

    Scofield's reputation as a hip alternative to the piano has been well documented since the 1970s, in ensembles ranging from saxophone/guitar/bass/drums to trumpet/guitar/bass/drums to trumpet/saxophone/guitar/bass/drums. As far as I know, this is his first outing in a medium sized, guitar-only group.

    If this sounds at all interesting to you, bassist/composer Alexis Cuadrado cut a record, Visual, with a sextet of similar instrumentation (alto sax/ten sax/tromb/gtr/bass/drums) that I highly recommend. If you're feeling adventurous, Nels Cline has a sextet record of Andrew Hill compositions, called New Monastery; the sextet includes cornet, clarinet, and accordion.

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    The Story of BOB

    David Lynch recalls Killer BOB's origins.

    Monday, July 30, 2007

    Commemorative Elvis Plates

    Remember those commercials for the commemorative Elvis plates? "This commemorative Elvis plate is a very special rare, limited edition, collectors item." As a child, I didn't understand why anyone would want to buy dishware for display, as opposed to conventional, use. Twenty years later, I can dig a Fiesta collection, but the appeal of a commemorative plate remains to me a mystery.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007


    I think I'm developing a taste for Lynyrd Skynyrd. I was watching My Name Is Earl the other day, and there's a scene where Jason Lee sings "Free Bird" to Norm Macdonald (brilliantly cast as the son of Burt Reynolds). I had barely noticed that for all the flak it gets, "Free Bird" is pretty nice tune, when it dawned on me that I was hearing the tune for the first time. I've been aware of the song's "Stairway to Heaven"-like reputation since I was 13, when my friend Jeff and I found "FREE BIRD" carved into a desk in our English classroom.

    It's implausible enough that I'm 24 and I had never heard "Free Bird" until a week ago, but it's compounded by the irony of all those scholarly musical pretensions I've been passing off as expertise. This is even sillier than that time I found out Buster Poindexter is really David Johansen.

    Monday, July 02, 2007

    Terry Gross

    "She has an extraordinarily sexy radio persona," adds Timothy Ferris, author of "The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report," who has been a "Fresh Air" guest several times. "I've never met her, though I feel like she's a friend. But when you are in that booth and her voice is being digitally beamed into the studio -- well, it is an incredibly sensuous experience." (source)

    If you know me, you probably know I like NPR. You also probably know I'm a big fan of Terry Gross, host of the radio program "Fresh Air." I like "Fresh Air," but mostly I listen to it because of Terry; in fact, I probably pay more attention to her than I do to the guests.

    I think part of the reason I'm frum today is because I bonded with Rabbi Simcha Levenberg, then a shliach at the Chabad of Amherst, over our shared passion for NPR and Terry Gross. Simcha's wife, Cyril, recalled that I would show up for Shabbos dinner once or twice a month, and Simcha and I would have the same exact conversation we had last time. We'd be laughing hysterically while everyone else was like, "Didn't you guys already have this conversation?"

    Thursday, June 28, 2007

    Close to home.

    I guess this is how metalheads felt when Spinal Tap came out. Jessica Abel hits the nail on the head with this illustration. That guy was me for about a three year period, peaking during my sophomore year of college.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007

    Religious Jews have lots of sects.

    From A frummies guide to labeling and judging other frummies:

    Issurdox- Everything is strict in your house. You check your lettuce under a lamp with a magnifying glass. Your gasoline has to be kosher for pesach. You dont eat matzo on Pesach except for the first night because it may become gebrokts in your mouth.

    I haven't checked out the rest of the blog, but Frum Satire looks promising based on that one extensive, and largely dead-on, glossary.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Rilo Kiley! Julie! Other related marital news?

    I just happened upon a gallery of photos from a Rilo Kiley/Nada Surf concert I went to with Barak, Julie, and Marissa. Nada Surf didn't impress me, but Rilo Kiley really knocked me out. The band was tight; Blake, in particular, exhibited some solid, versatile technical facility as a guitarist. Perhaps even more impressive was seeing him play his ass off without showboating. He and Jenny also charmed the hell out of the audience. They're very charismatic and have a ton of presence.

    In related news, I spoke to Julie the other day, and she's recently engaged to her boyfriend. Congratulations, Julie.

    I think Mendy's wedding is this week. When I ran into him at 770 a few weekends ago, I think he told me it's on the 28th. I'd have written it down, but it was Shabbos day. As I recall, that was the Shabbos when someone threw a whole bunch of trash in the cholent.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    I rarely laugh at these things.

    Most, if not all, of the comedy videos I've seen online are boring unless you were there when it happened. This one is actually pretty hilarious.

    Caution: not intended for the exceptionally chaste.

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    Tzadik Leaves eMusic!

    I just went to eMusic to download an album or two from my Jewish Music list, and guess what? Three out of the four albums are missing. Guess what else? The missing ones are all on Tzadik. Guess what else? Tzadik left eMusic. The Washington Post ran an article about it a few days ago.

    Indie labels plan to pull out of digital service
    DENVER/LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - A handful of independentrecord labels are poised to launch what they are calling a'revolt' against digital subscription service eMusic, citingunhappiness with the company's pricing model as their coreconcern.

    Perhaps because the link is way at the bottom of the site, just above the fine print, the eMusic message boards seem to be populated mostly by core members. There are plenty of stupid posts, but good discussion happen pretty frequently. One topic that caught my eye was Tzadik alert! There's also a long thread if you're interested in the community's response. Lastly, there's a commendable post by the eMusic CEO, David Pakman, at 17 dots.
    A healthy digital music business needs a variety of business models and a variety of price points, just like the movie biz (think theater, DVD, pay-per-view). What we offer to record labels is the opportunity to sell their product to a customer who’s passionate about music and will buy it in large quantities — if the price is right. eMusic is the “long tail” — we don’t sell many hits, but over two-thirds of our catalogue of 2.5 million tracks sells at least once every quarter. That’s far above and beyond iTunes. eMusic sells music that doesn’t sell anywhere else.

    So I guess I won't be able to download that Jewish music I wanted to check out. I'm disappointed that Tzadik has left eMusic, but I'm not discouraged. There's a ton of music still available, and new releases are always coming in.

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    Pointless Kvetching

    I try to make it a point not to publicly slam other people or, in this case, other websites. Especially when they have little significant bearing on my life. I just find myself really annoyed by the Shmais website. Call it a loss of composure. Call it constructive criticism. Call it talking shit about a generally benign online presence.
    Anyway, have you ever noticed how annoying all those ads are on Shmais? The page content is literally lined with graphic advertisements, mostly for local businesses. It's not so much the volume of ads that bothers me, but that they're all animated. Also, legibility is a problem with a lot these ads. Bitmap typefaces would probably help when the text gets too small. Better judgment would probably help when the text/background color combination renders the type unreadable.
    It's worth noting that is a good tool for keeping up with the Lubavitch community; I find the simcha announcements especially useful. As a community bulletin board, the site is effective, if not aesthetically appealing.

    Saturday, March 17, 2007


    My friend Olivia was recently published in the Summerset Review. Her story "Babydoll" is one of my favorites that she's written.

    Friday, February 16, 2007

    Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Nerd Alert

    The novel I'm reading seems to contain no f-ligatures. It bothers me that the typesetters didn't use f-ligatures when they set the type for this book.

    Sunday, February 11, 2007

    Helpful Kitchen Hints

    Gut woch. Today we learn how to open a can of chicken soup with a jar opener. For this lesson, you'll need a can of chicken soup and a jar opener.
    Step 1: mutilate the can.
    Be careful not to cut yourself.

    Wednesday, January 31, 2007

    Tu B'Shevat

    The following is from Celebrating Pleasure, a good article by David Aaron on Tu B'Shevat, the new year for trees.

    An apple is not just an apple; an apple is a blessing. Maybe I could believe that apples come from trees, but a blessing could only come from G-d. If I really contemplate the mystery and miracle of the taste, fragrance, beauty and nutrition wrapped up in this apple, I see that it's more than just a fruit--it is a wondrous loving gift from G-d. When I taste an apple with that kind of consciousness, I cannot but experience the presence of G-d within the physical. When I recite a blessing before I eat and acknowledge it as a gift from G-d, I reveal the divinity within it, and the transient sensual pleasure of the food is transformed, because it is filled with eternal spiritual pleasure. The food then feeds not only my body but also my soul. However, when I eat without a blessing, it's as if I stole the food. Perhaps it will nourish and bring pleasure to my body, but it will do nothing for my soul. The soul is only nourished when it experiences its eternal connection to G-d.

    There's also some unintentionally hilarious word choice in the article, but I'll leave you to find that on your own.

    Sunday, January 28, 2007

    I'm back.

    I really like Geoffrey Nunberg. I just listened to him read an essay he wrote on the non-apology.

    Basically, we know everything there is to know about non-apologies by the time we're seven: you make appropriately contrite noises, and then you go on to point to extenuating circumstances, disclaim any malign intention, and minimize the offense. As in, "Okay, I apologize. But he started it. And I was only kidding. And anyway, it was washable ink."

    You can listen the whole thing here.