Saturday, July 30, 2005

Icy sparklies

Ok, I promise this is not turning into a music blog. Truly.

Here is a band for people who want to like jazz, but have failed. (Like me.)
It's a hodgepodge, no, I shouldn't say that, because it's icy clear Norwegian electrojazzpop instrumental stuff. Chilly! Can you believe it's on the mainstream radio there? Check out "All I Know Is Tonight" or "Oslo Skyline" from their latest release. Here's a freebie off their website. Day

Question: How many readers do you need to affirm that your blog is worth existing? What do you think?


Jaga Jazzist
“What We Must” [2005]

I enrolled in Jazz Appreciation last year in the hopes of learning to like what is called the only American music form that actually originated from America. Sadly, it didn’t work, for I left the class with an appreciation for jazz’s rich history and its technicalities, but did not embrace it as pleasurable listening. Recently, I came across this Norwegian band whose music could be described at worst as a cross between easy listening jazz and blips and bleeps. But they deserve more credit for creating a sound that is highly textured, lush, and boundless, a far cry from the cheesy elevator music we are forced to endure nowadays. Their current single, “All I Know Is Tonight,” has been playing on airwaves all over Norway, an eight-minute song packed with bouts of jamming, interwoven themes, multiple climaxes and spacey silences. (If that isn’t a testament to European radio, I don’t know what is.) Some purists may stick their noses up at what they might call watered down jazz, but here’s a counter argument. Movie soundtrack compositions are generally considered to be inferior to classic music, but we all know that this distinction does not bar them from being any less breathtakingly beautiful. In that respect, I found myself enjoying Jaga Jazzist’s musical “icescapes” without any guilt. On their website, the band lists their various influences, which include Bjork, Radiohead, Miles Davis, My Bloody Valentine, Emmylou Harris, Justin Timberlake, Eric Satie, Leonard Cohen and David Bowie, to name a few.

Recommended if you like: Sigur Ros, Coltrane, Tortoise, Instrumental Post-Rock

Friday, July 29, 2005

On Bullshite

Can you tell..? Hehe. I don't feel like I could ever be a real reviewer. You must have a endless supply of adjectives and knowledge about everything older. Well, that's what blogs are for, practice and subpar-ity.

I applied online to volunteer at ACL yesterday. Everything looks pretty good, except that they started taking applicants at the beginning of July. Oh well, I'll probably have a good chance next year, seeing as how one of the positions is working with the kids and boy should I have experience in that.


"Take Your Carriage Clock And Shove It" - Belle And Sebastian
"Push Barman To Open Old Wounds" [2005]

Scottish band B&S's latest is a compilation of all their hard to find EP's released under their old label Jeepster. For those listeners who aren't familiar with this twee pop band, they've been making sweetly orchestrated pop coupled with clever lyrics since the early 90's. As for their influences, think Nick Drake and the Smiths plus a bit of the Charlie Brown theme song. This particular song harks back to their older material and lacks the synthy spark characterizing the direction in which they are currently moving. I marvel at how boyish lead singer Stuart Murdoch manages to croon curse words and still make his songs flow like honey through our ears. "Take Your Carriage Clock And Shove It " just pushes the clouds away, a perfect soundtrack to a delicate and soft summer day spent outside in the sunshine.

You can download this track at Insound.

And if that doesn't work, it is also offered at Amazon to registered users.


Official Feist review:

"Mushaboom" - Feist
"Let It Die" [2005]

I don't know much about blues, jazz, or folk music, but it seems as if Leslie Feist has really got her roots down. In the past, the singer has lent her sultry vocals to the Kings of Convenience, labelmates Broken Social Scene, and who'd have guessed, shock rocker Peaches. Then she decided to become her own band and this album was the result. If we must define by hopping genres, she could probably be labeled as the "indie" Norah Jones. The first single, "Mushaboom" sounds so vintage that it might make you want to buy LPs again. In it she paints the dreary scene of city life ("second floor living without a yard") but its gentle lilt puts the bounce back into your step. A fan describes her music as "stripped down, sensual pop music, with a touch of jazz and trip-hop around the edges." Recommended if you (secretly) like the aforementioned Norah Jones, French pop, or exploring hype.

Last Day of Work!

Watching and waiting.

Cute cute! Watch this woman, she's lent her voice to the Kings of Convenience and Broken Social Scene before and now she's her own band, Feist. She could be described as the "indie" Norah Jones, I guess. Gaw, I hate labels. Find "Mushaboom" and feel the vintage. (Pst, try Hype Machine on the right.)

IKEA opening in Dallas next Wednesday. Hello house furnishings!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I think about this today

"If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

C. S. Lewis, The Weight Of Glory. (New York: Macmillan), 1980, pp. 3-4.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Before musing over the Texas Executive Authority

For the sweet: "Camera Shy" - The Lucksmiths

I'd really like a MAXI Swatch, a huge watch for the wall. It would really make our house special. Of course, they aren't making them anymore and are worth $100+. For a plastic clock! I may have to settle for the regular sized one then. How's this? It's a reissue style from 1993. So are we moving towards the 90's now? They have a Maxi version too. Sweet!

Funny how your perspective of a peer changes once you find out that they are older/younger than you are. It shouldn't?

In the movie Robots, the thing I remember best is the scene where a male robot accidentally goes into a women's restroom and makes a ruckus. But what I noted was that the sign on the male bathroom was an electric plug and the sign on that of the female was an outlet. Clever. It seemed pretty suggestive to me, though.

I finished rereading To Kill A Mockingbird yesterday at work. So in essence, I was getting paid do it. Most people probably had to read it in jr. high, and back then, I did not get all the hype and more importantly, the message. I spent most of thinking time getting annoyed with Scout probably, a baby in my terms. I like it better now. Has anyone seen the Oscar-winning film? There's something about me not being able to completely understand and get small town southern society. It's a pretty common backdrop of a lot of classic novels. My loss, I guess.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenien

Aiya, I'm at the Apple Store again today. Sheesh. The speakers are acting up. But they're being way stealth about it, like working right before I drive there and then not 30 minutes later. Eesch. There is absolutely no reason why I have to be in the way north west Plano area, except for this. OK, waiting.

Been trying to work on this a little. A Japanese designer guy made a template for the huge Nike Dunk shoe, and you can cut it out and make a paper model of it. The thing is to work your colorway expertise and see if you can design a good one. It's pretty hard and I've been relegated to markers really, b/c I don't know how to modify pdf files. Computers confuse me. The file. The guy's website. He made some pretty good ones.

Watched Around the World In 80 Days with the familia, '56 version. I figured it'd be good since it won an Oscar, but I am wrong again. Either be bored to tears by "classic movies" or disillusioned and let down by the new ones. Well, I am set to watch Crash today at the Angelika, should be good.

-- Man, watching Crash reminded me of some of the better reasons why I watch movies. I now realize that me saying "every American should watch it" is a pretty naive statement. Rather, those who can afford to spend big bucks going to the theater are the the ones who would benefit from the lesson learned. An honest and emotional social commentary on racism, prejudice, sexism, etc. Geez, I cried like the whole way home. --

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Bigger Pictures

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Today I left class upset about Social Security. I'm way behind, I know. The original intent of the program was to offset effects of the Depression on the elderly.. that's not applicable anymore. How about teaching people how to plan ahead and SAVE? I guess that's what the 401k's for.

Finished the mcoker mix CD, although you will have to burn it onto your own disc, since we're not in friendly proximity. I have provided all the links, let me know if any are dead. Find it at Hark Music Express, to the right.

Got my shoes in the airmail from Hong Kong, Le Coq Sportif slip ons. But they're too small. Phooey.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Make music enjoyable

Only a few mp3s for your magic. They're better than my paragraphs anyhow.

Sufjan Stevens : The Lord God Bird
About a beloved bird of Arkansas. Article. Gorg, as usual.

And then once your spirit is quieted, let in some melodic dementia.

It works and it's called Xiu Xiu:
Clowne Towne
Bog People [new for 05]

To become calm again, listen to "The Lord God Bird" once more before going to bed.

That's it!

Love, Frances

Phones injure, China not feeding Japan

Snippet of an article in the Dallas Morning News-

Study: Cellphones quadruple crash risk

07:46 AM CDT on Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Using a cell phone -- even a hands-free one -- while driving quadruples the risk of getting into a crash with serious injuries, a study finds.

Research released Tuesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that using a hands-free device instead of a handheld phone while behind the wheel will not necessarily improve safety.

"You'd think using a hands-free phone would be less distracting, so it wouldn't increase crash risk as much as using a handheld phone. But we found that either phone type increased the risk," said Anne McCartt, one of the study's authors and the institute's vice president for research.

[More reason for not using the cell during transport; broken bones, loss of bodily fluids, death, anyone?]

"Food means having to say you're sorry"

Tue Jul 12,10:33 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) - Japanese customers must apologize for their country's wartime occupation of China before getting a seat at a restaurant in former Manchuria or find another place to eat, Japan's Kyodo news agency said Tuesday.

No Japanese had tried to enter the restaurant in the northeastern Chinese city of Jilin since it started the new apology policy and hung a sign that read "Japanese people barred from entry."

"We totally welcome those Japanese customers who can correctly view history," the manager, surnamed Tian, was quoted as saying.

"But as for those customers who still refuse to admit to history, we want to say we don't like them."

Staff at the Western-style restaurant were told to ask Japanese customers who walked through the door to give their views of Japan's 1931-1945 occupation of parts of China, including the northeast, and to turn away those who did not apologize and share the owner's opinions, Kyodo said.

Many Chinese feel Japan has never owned up to atrocities committed during its occupation, including the 1937 Rape of Nanjing in which Beijing says as many as 300,000 Chinese men, women and children were slaughtered by Japanese troops.

The 1948 Tokyo war crimes tribunal found Japanese troops killed 155,000 people, mainly women and children.

China has repeatedly asked Japan to "take history as a mirror" and "correctly" view history to repair ties between the two countries, which this year have sunk to their lowest point in decades.

[Hmm, China is being like this because they do have a point about past Japanese brutality that has been hushed up. But currently, I am more incensed at the Chinese government than at Japan's war crimes of the past.]

Friday, July 08, 2005


Recent happenings:

A family of three is staying at our house for a few days, to make up for the three that left our family last week. Their daughter, Esther, is going to be a freshman at UTA or UTD and it's been neat getting to know her. She is kinda shy though, but she does play the drums. Rock it, girl.

I had lunch with Benjie (UT RUF campus minister) today, though it was cut short by me having to jet off to work. He came up to Dallas to help out his grandma (!) fix up her house. It really stinks to be old living in this day and age of nursing homes, medication prescriptions and ageism (discrimination based on age). The last one kinda gets me after learning about it more in psychology and thinking about the elderly in my own life. I'm not really looking forward to being old, but I will rest in the hope that my family will have enough sensibility to treat me like a real person, someone who was once their age. But back to Benjie, we were having a conversation about the types of worship music and he said, "I think it is a sign of immaturity when we cannot accept something that is permissible to God." It sounds about right to me, and I'm guilty of it.

Isn't this a good line?
"I was the landscape in your dream
and all my mountains were on fire"
yowza! Add some tinkering xylophones and you've got a song.

My official birthday party is tomorrow! It's been exciting checking the updates on and a grand total of ten are coming. I invited thirty-five people (raided the gmail address book), but I had already decided that a turnout of at least six would do it. Do you see the title? I ordered my own cake and it wasn't until after I hung up that I thought it'd be funny to have the iced message be random letters and keyboard symbols. It's probably better that I didn't, for I fear that my girl friends would consider it much too absurd for the likes of me. There's always next year. I think we're going to watch "March of the Penguins," if no one objects too loudly, because surprisingly, it got pretty good reviews (Metacritic). It's a National Geographic (I think) documentary on penguins and their mating lives. The babies'll be cute for sure.

A couple days ago, my brain turned off and I watched a few episodes of the WB's "Beauty and the Geek." It was surprisingly normal for a contest reality show produced by jokester Ashton Kutcher and I imagine that it must have gotten pretty unsufferable in that house for both the primped up, shapely "beauties" and the socially awkward, girl-shy "geeks." They all became good friends though, and one girl even fell for a nice guy. I wonder if they would consider switching it up, as in smart girls and hot guys. It probably wouldn't go so well, seeing as how females in general are more tolerant of physical unattractiveness than males are. I'd hate to be in a reality show anyhow, knowing that everything is artificial that they're out to get you in a position, no matter how embarrassing, that looks good on TV.

Quick, d/l this song by SS off Amazon. It's deeply moving, the story of a friend dying of cancer. "Casimir Pulaski Day"

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

He Comes Dividing Men From Brothers

Because my 'b' key was too sensitive (that's why all the typos), I took my laptop into the Apple Store and now the keyboard is getting replaced and I won't get it back til the end of the week. Hmph. I guess I can deal with a pc for a few days.. ; ] I also visited my friend Karen at the United Colors of Benetton at the same mall .. working retail is real work! Fortunately, the girl is good at tending to people and tidying up places, so she doesn't really try to shirk any duties.

Also, today "Illinois" came out (I know, I talk about Sufjan way too much, I'll stop soon enough) but surprise, because of murky artwork legal disputes, the record company Asthmatic Kitty was advised to stop selling it and are frantically asking their retailers to do the same. It as something to do with the Superman on the cover upsetting DC Comics. Darn! I knew I should have pre-ordered what is now considered a collectors item. An hour ago, I ordered it off some cd website, hopefully they haven't gotten the memo and will ship the original edition to me in a few days. They're already being sold on eBay for $75. Ridiculous.

Finally, finally, I got "Ok Computer" for my birthday. It was so good hearing it after maybe two years, I dunno what took me so long! I think I can appreciate it on a different level now, not so much teenage emotion. Do people still think it's the best album of all time? Isn't that a slap in the face to all their influences, or to even older bands that were considered greats?

I am sleeping on a brand new mattress, a Simmons Beautyrest with a pillowtop, ah! Doesn't seem like a big deal, but it really is a nice upgrade compared to my old mattress, with the familiar spot that tended to creak every time I tried to breathe. I used to talk about getting a Tempur-pedic mattress someday, but then I decided that I was joking, since only astronauts use them. No, but really, it really is too much money, you'd rather buy a Powerbook.

Here's something I've been musing over recently. For people who have very strong personal beliefs/opinions/views on current "hot topics," if it is correlates to the modern way of thinking, how much of the thinking is theirs and how much of it has to do with being a product of the age in which we live? I am not trying to judge or anything like that, but here is the best example I could think of: how many people who tolerate/uphold homosexuality now would hold the same views if they lived 50 years ago? Would they do it at the expense of their reputation, family, and business? I think not. If society permeates so much of our thinking, why do we so often embrace it so strongly as our own? I haven't taken Sociology or any classes in the Social Sciences, so I'm probably just stating the obvious..

Saturday, July 02, 2005

20 15 20 15

(newly edited)

Happy birthday to my brother Samuel! (And me!)

Am thinking about buying a new bike, a hybrid to be exact. Here are the models I've narrowed it down to, all around the same price range:

Trek 7300 $$$$
Specialized Crossroads Sport $$$
Raleigh SC40 $$$
Motobecane Jubilee Deluxe $$$$

I've test ridden the first three, except that the Trek was an FX (no front suspension) and it was a Crossroads Elite. The most comfortable one by far was the Specialized. It was so cushy and laidback, like riding on air. However, it seemed a little too relaxed and not for aggressive riding at any time. On the company website it is listed under "comfort;" it looked very recreational. The bike was pretty high (therefore a higher center of gravity), but I really liked the higher handlebars. The Trek FX was pretty rigid and reminded me of a mountain bike- it didn't treat my butt that nicely. The regular 7300 has seatpost suspension like the Specialized, so I want to ride this particular model before deciding. The Raleigh, in terms of comfort, fell in between the other two models. To me it wasn't as flashy and impressive, but it felt alright. I appreciated that the sport model (SC) had 26" tires that were a bit fatter than the thin ones on normal hybrids. I want to be able to ride off a curb and go over occasional gravelly or grassy areas without worrying about having the right tires. I'm just using this bike to get from home to school, which doesn't require much fanciness. I just hated the low handlebars on my old (mountain) bike, it kinda ached my back when I had to go up those long Austiny hills. All these other bikes are selling for about list price but I saw the Motobecane on selling for almost 50% off. Sounded like a good deal, almost too good? Mcoker, maybe you can eye the specs and tell me how it looks. Of all places, there happened to be a store in Plano, so I got to ride it around a bit. The salesperson made sure I knew that these were being sold wholesale (-> much cheaper price) and were the best bang for my buck as opposed to the other brands who have to make up for so much advertising vs. Motobecane, a brand with who few are familiar. And free service for life! So basically, I am looking for a bike with:
- higher/adjustable handlebars
- suspension seatpost
- front suspension
- the right tires (26")

Trek 7300 vs. Motobecane Jubilee Deluxe. If I get the Trek, how much of what I'm paying is for the Lance Armstrong name brand?

I don't know much about bikes. I wish I did, like be able to fix and adjust my own (like a flat tire!), know about quality parts, biking dynamics, go on real rides, stuff like that.
Later: I read some articles on that expelled a few cycling myths. Smooth tires are absolutely the best for roads/pavement, no tread is necessary. Both types will get slippery when wet. Braking in the front will not cause you to fly over your handlebars- it's the recommended way to brake in normal conditions. Riding in too high of a gear will overexert your body = bad. Tires: a wider front and narrower rear increases cornering traction and overall shock absorbency. Sheldon Brown also said to stay away from hybrid tires (on the Motobecane) since they don't do great on either surface. Hmm, I guess I should take that into consideration. Should I get a road tire for the back?