Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Take Five

I'm out of town for some medical BS and whatnot. Sorry about the lack of posting. I'll try and put something together in the next few days.

A few things I've learned after 24hours in Orlando:

There's new buildings EVERYWHERE. I used to complain about how they just kept building out and creating massive urban (and suburban) sprawl. Well, now they've not only built out but they're knocking down the old to put in the new. I barely recognize this town now.

I think there's a Florida law that demands that Fox News be played at senior citizen volume in the waiting room of every doctor and specialist in the state. Hey docs, "Fox, Friends and Fascism In The Afternoon" doesn't exactly make for a relaxing wait.

While eating bar-b-que and digging the piped in K-92 Country FM I was feeling a little blue. Then, The Charlie Daniels Band came on the radio. "Devil in the House of the Risin' Sun" brought me back just fine.

Ben and Jerry's now makes a Black and Tan ice cream. It's apparently made with "stout cream." Holy crap.

While it's positively gorgeous in Chicago right now (about time, eh?), it's already 24/7 air conditioning season here. No punch line. Just oppressive.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Back Scratchers Anonymous

It’s hard to escape the scum in Washington. The round-n-round, federal-corporate circle jerk is the cavity in the tooth, the turd in the punch bowl, the hitch in the giddyup. It’s at once responsible for the rise of America as an international superpower and at the same time responsible for the decay and betrayal of the very tenets of that same America.

The rise of the military-industrial complex coming out of WWII was and still is the ultimate betrayal of the hopes and dreams of this country’s founding fathers. Big Money’s corrosive effects on Democracy is painfully evident now more so than ever. There’s a million people who can lay it out better than I right now, so I’ll just point in a few directions.

The shadowy Carlyle Group is the subject of a Danish documentary shown free here. (Note: it starts in Dutch for the first couple minutes, then remains in English until the very end.)

The documentary, Why We Fight, covers similar ground, but from a more historical perspective. Watch it here.

And an interesting new take on this old sell-out is big news these days. You’ve heard the buzz about all the illegal wiretapping going on in the good ol’ land of the free these days, right? Well perhaps you didn’t know that it’s not exactly the government who’s keeping track of your aural comings and goings. Apparently, much of the dirty work has been outsourced to the private sector. Wonderful.

So, they can whip up a war and send us out to die, they can pervert the nature of our Free Enterprise economy and grow fabulously wealthy off our tax dollars, and now they can practically watch us live our daily lives. God Bless America, allright.

UPDATE: And how could I have forgotten the reacharound AT&T has been giving to peeping Uncle Sam as has recently been discovered?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Support Our Oops.

This is kinda all over the netisphere right now, but it's too funny to pass up:
The BBC tried to get tech guru Guy Kewney to comment on Apple music and the proliferation of mp3 technology. They accidentally went on the air with some poor guy who was only at the BBC to apply for an IT position. The expression on his face when he's mis-introduced is absolutely priceless. Then he decides to ride it out.

The clip on YouTube.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Photo Post

Photo By Eric Hulse
Istanbul, Turkey 1997

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Looking For A Laugh

I need a laugh today. A bunch of laughs. Who couldn’t do without a laugh on a cold and rainy day like today, anyway? I mean, for fuck’s sake it’s halfway through May, you’d think Chicago came outta winter, hit March and just got stuck there. I suppose it could be worse. It could be snowing. (I’m told in all seriousness that it has indeed snowed here in May before—though no one can agree on exactly when.) But I’m ready for summer, dammit. I’m ready for bike rides and backyard bar-buh-ques. I’m ready for wearing shorts and getting a suntan. I’m ready to day goodbye to the Tamale man and hello to the Helado man. Sometimes in the midst of all the rocking out and the political teeth-gnashing on here, I forget about the funnier things ‘cross the internet. I hereby apologize.

If you’ve never checked out The Sneeze, do yourself a favor and wait no longer. The blog has had me chucklin’ for some time now. His ongoing experiment in the levels of human endurance, “Steve Don’t Eat It,” is a great place to start.

Joan Rivers is really never on my radar. Ever. But a friend sent me this clip of her on an Australian TV award show. You may notice she’s acting a little… uh, off.

The Reverend Rick Mackin publishes a zine and has released a book of his sarcastic and satirical correspondences to Corporate America. Picking up where the master, Lazlo Toth (Don Novello), left off he reverses the flow of absurd information we're bombarded with in our great consumer culture. His blog publishes some of the letters and other genuine Mackin insights.

Downstate Illinois auto mechanics rock and rollers, Cunt Puppet, make the perfect rock and roll to bring to your next NOW meeting. Well, not really... then again, maybe. Their crass, southern-fried, perpetually pubescent rock and roll may or may not be an act but it’s certainly a whole lot of fun. If only the oversexed, mullet wearing, NASCAR fans of my youth were as brilliant as these guys. And don’t forget to take some time and read the song lyrics… you just might learn a thing or two about picking up women.

And of course, Gainesvillian, Patrick Hughes continues to keep ‘em in stitches with tales about the less-than-high points of his youth over at Bad News Hughes.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Heavy Rotation Redux (2-Fer Tuesday Edition)

There's been a few albums that have grown on me lately. They're albums that I liked a bunch when I first heard them but recently I've noticed I'm digging them even more that I did a few months ago. Usually this happens to music that you don't love from the get-go. The kind that, after a while, works its way into your neural net and launches some kinda synaptic tet offensive; a guerilla warfare between the hemispheres of your brain. And without even realizing it, you've internalized some weird love for some songs that you'd previously been antagonistic to or ambivalent about. But not here. I really dug these albums right off the bat. But for whatever reason I'm now totally in love with them. Must be springtime, eh?

Side project of Mono-Pause/Neung Phak mastermind Mark Gergis. Porest's sound is a deliciously crude mix of sample-heavy, pan-Middle Eastern pop and political head-rapping. All of Gergis' projects are the work of a master meme-shifting, bomb tossing, prankster-provocateur and his Discordian tendencies fly at full mast here. Numerous perspectives compete against and alongside one another in a caustic expression of frustration with our brave new, post-9-11 world. Indeed Porest is a great example of the violent reaction that should result when art and politics meet. Often the result is watered down or childishly black and white. Tourrorists! is stinging, catchy, shocking, funny, and outrageous in turns.
Here's a decent review. Here's a funny review by someone whose head it went over. And here's a fantastic interview with Gergis and members of his wonderful Southeast Asian sideproject, Neung Phak.

Not exactly instrumental and not exactly "song" oriented, the juggernaut that is Devil Music thunder through their compositions with the force of a runaway locomotive. Urgent yet psychedelic; their take on rock might, on a paticularly foggy night, be compared to a more cinematic Shellac or Lightning Bolt... maaaaybe*. Go! is a wild ride from start to finish. It's full of strange arrangements and unexpectedly heavy hooks. It's their second official rock album and about their 8th release as one incarnation or another. You see, the basic lineup is as a three-piece with drums, guitar and affected violin drenched in backing keyboards (supplied by the double-duty violinist). They also perform film scores and modern classical music as the Devil Music Ensemble where the group expands to include a bigger string section (sometimes up to a 40-piece orchestra). Why Devil Music haven't made a bigger splash is a mystery. Maybe they're just another in a long line of Boston bands to be criminally ignored. Who knows.

*Defining bands by naming other bands is an odious sin in the record review world as far as I'm concerned. I'm a hack for using this tool, I know. But I'm just about out of gas for the day.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Brian Costello Show

Today, Saturday, May 6th, if yr in Chicago get yrself to The Empty Bottle by 3pm for Chicago's best and bravest live talk show, The Brian Costello Show with Brian Costello. I'll be doing the Ed McMahon again. Guests include: Rick Kogan, Marianne Murciano and musical guests Pearly Sweets. Houseband: The Billy Carter Band.

Come on and get drunk before sundown with the rest of us jagbags.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

So Not Unfunny

WaPo opinion columnist, Richard Cohen has a piece in today's paper about his take on Stephen Colbert's speech in front of/at the President and the Press this past weekend. It's title, So Not Funny should give you an idea of his opinion on the affair. The article itself comes across as less rational argument than touchy shout-down from someone who was part of Colbert's target audience... er, target-ed audience I should write. Anyway, Daily Kos' Georgia10 has a good run down of the situation here. (BTW, check out the Chicago Reader's great article on her.)

Cohen's piece left me a scratchin' my noggin trying to figure out exactly where he was coming from and why most of the press about the dinner that night has either completely ignored Colbert's torching or painted it as a rude and unfunnny gesture. I'm certain it's got plenty to do with Colbert painting the media as complicit lapdogs and little to do with humor and political blovation, or the lack thereof.

I was moved to kick out a letter to Cohen about all this. It's not exactly a work of art, but I think it conveys my sentiment just fine.

RE: "So Not Funny"
Washington Post, Thursday, May 4, 2006

Well, it's nice to see someone putting the "ass" back in "assessment."
Hey, wow! Now I'm being funny. Ya know, everyone always told me I'd make a great comedian... or newspaper columnist. But alas I've grown up to be neither.

Anyhoo, how you can assign ("ass" again... damn I'm good!) some kind of sliding scale--rude, brash, brassy--to dissent is bewildering. While I agree the routine was by no means side-splitting, I fail to see how that was Colbert's goal. His aim was obvious: derision couched in various degrees of witty humor, or attempts therein. You're by no means wrong to wear the opinion that he simply wasn't funny, but to claim that his wasn't a gutsy, witty act of political courage is to buy into some illusion of prestige and royalty... the kind of treatment the press has given the Bush administration since that terrible morning in September of 2001, if not since the national clusterfuck that was his 2000 election.

Colbert's point was to dissent. Publicly. Loudly. And, sure, rudely. It perked the ears and pricked the skin of a notoriously aloof, walled-off, micro-managed President. (And really, is getting marginally vicious with a guy who's political bodyguard is the historically vicious Karl Rove really rude for its content or just cuz the attack was waged outside the normal arena?) It did the same to a press core that so many of us feel has sold its soul just to stay in the game with these guys. And perhaps that's why you come across as hurt as you do in the column. Colbert's guns were trained on you as much as they were on our dear leader. Your indignation at the speech hits none of the right buttons, attacks no particular point. You simply seem miffed at the gall of some sharp-tongued whipper-snapper; like a grandma scolding the potty-mouthed youth of today for playing on her lawn.

But you know you're right on at least one point. I do agree it's sad that this has become the state of political dissent in our great nation. It's sad that we of like mind get so wound up at something that's clearly not the call of the revolution nor the second coming. But our reaction should give you a clue as to the nature of the terrain these days. To say Colbert risked nothing is to ignore the vast corpus of evidence to the contrary over the past five years. It's to ignore The Dixie Chicks, Jeremey Glick, Cindy Sheehan, Nicole and Jeff Rank, Michael Moore, Tim Robbins, Neil Young and hundreds of others who've caught hell in one form or another because they dared emote their political opinions. And to be sure, not a ONE of them had the opportunity and/or the stones to let loose mere feet away while the objects of their un-affection were obliged to sit quiet and still.

Whether your column was steeped in outrage for an entertainer's lack of decorum and protocol, or whether it was more sour grapes at being included in said entertainer's indictment, your beef doesn't seem to be at all about someone being particularly funny or not. Your column does, however, seem to be written by someone who, to borrow the spirit of a phrase, doth protest entirely too much.

Thanks for your time,
Bryan Delano III
Chicago, IL

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

YouTube Wednesday

Everyone's on the YouTube bandwagon already, right? As a free, user-fed repository of all things video, it's a truly democratic version the of Video on Demand service pushed hard by every major cable TV outfit in America.

Of course there's talk about the legality of it all. For a free service, YouTube reportedly spends a great deal of time and moola cross-checking the legality of the videos posted. It's just that the combination of the sheer volume of submitted clips and the internet's somewhat murky legal terrain makes policing a distinctly inexact science. So, in many cases the management has simply opted to let "infringement-questionable" pieces stay loaded on the site until they're asked to remove them. This is part of what makes YouTube a wonderful site. It's also what could lead to future legal troubles given the contentious nature of "Free and Fair Use" in our modern world. Bottom line: enjoy YouTube while you can, cuz these days, there's blood in the water and there's always greed in the souls of men. **UPDATE: See this process in action!

I'd wanted to post links to music videos and live music from some of my favorite bands/artists, but I found a veritable treasure trove of wonderful Cocteau Twins material. So, I'll leave it at that for today. They're the kind of band I'm always finding different reasons for liking... or different things to like about. They've got this enduring greatness that, though it aint for everyone (oh, those endless arguments), inspires a swooning devotion in their fans. If you've never been able to get into them, perhaps it's time to reevaluate your opinion. Who knows, you may've just had to grow into them.



Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Eat Rocks, Shit Sand

Soul-crushingly busy day full of dull, dry number crunching. Anyone wanna make me a job offer? Maybe somewhere I can dust off that old English degree. Maybe get a little, god forbid, creative from time to time. Maybe get the hell away from credits, debits and Account Rec's. Got any leads? Anyone?

But as much as I hate this place, at least I've still got time for some linkage:

Why not check out a great article in the Austin Chronicle about the return of the great madman rock-and-roller, Roky Erickson. It's from December but hasn't been widely circulated apparently.

And speaking of rock and roll, someone's finally made a song-lyric database that's devoid of BHO's, spyware and re-directs. Meet LyricWiki.org.

Or perhaps chew on Michael Scherer's analysis of just what Stephen Colbert's little insurrection (see Sunday's post) means in the grand scheme of things.

How 'bout Rollie St. Bacon's take on "The Liberal Media" in Chicago?

And considering the great news for freedom loving people everywhere coming out Mexico today, just what are the folks at Epicurious getting at with today's Recipe of the Day?