Thursday, August 31, 2006

Weirdest Album Cover Ever?

I think so, yes.

(those magicky mushrooms surrounding the little girl with the heart says it all, i think..)

(ps. what's with the christmas gnome ???)

Thinking Out Loud

Is there a word or term for the limbo between apartments? That gray time when you are running back and forth between two apartments? When half your stuff is in one place and the other half in the other (or at least it feels that way) And situations come up when you need something and you think, "Oh shit! It's in my other apartment!"

Something like "residence-confusion"? Maybe "living doubly"? How bout a cool "bohemian" ?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Something I threw together at work to promote a big Super Sunday-like phonathon coming up. Not really practical, but I thought it looked nice. We ended up keeping the tagline I came up with ("the war is over...") and that made me happy.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Pi Room

".. people would go into the pi room, and their brains would become quiet, and they would emerge relaxed.."

Image snatched from Doug Coupland's website via his nytimes blog.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hook me up. Burn me down.

Check it.

"A film for people who love music and buildings and watching buildings burn down."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More TV-Talk

(or, How to Kill Time During Work Without Really Trying)

Deadwood Recap: "The Catbird Seat" (warning: spoilers.)

Can I just scream, on behalf of all the people who watch the show, FINALLY!!!

After waiting ALL season for the fireworks to kick off between Hearst and the camp, it finally (finally) starts with an unlikely murder and even more unlikely shooting in Hearst's own hotel. But, I'll take it slowly (see: subtitle).

Bullock isn't around. He's "campaigning" in the nearby town of Sturgis. In the beginning of the episode, him and his crew are debating whether he should continue his campaign away from Deadwood and somehow decide that he should. Despite the attack on Alma Ellsworth last week that had him rushing back to town. Basically, they decide that he'll have to rush back when - not if - the war begins.

Hearst meets with two black-suited nameless henchman (who else misses Col. Turner?) and intones a simple but ominous line, "You're clear on the order of the killings?"

Farnum is still in his cubbyhole of an apartment, still having not wiped off Hearst's spit from a previous episode. It is another degrading and sad moment for this punching bag of a character. A part of me starts to feel bad for him, but then I remember he's a loser and everything that is happening to him he made happen himself or deserved in account of his awful treatment of his slave worker and erstwhile confidant, Richardson.

Next scene finds Ellsworth, one of the best characters of the show's three year run and fifty character roster, having a very long and involved discussion about Alma with a dog. One of the henchman shows up and puts a bullet in Ellsworth's forehead.

The next scenes blur together into an excited rampage of violence and fright. Alma reeling with grief in the middle of the thoroughfare, Utter running into The Gem shouting, "Ellsworth's been shot!" are classic Deadwood moments. Everyone realizes what's going on and immediately reaches for weapons. There's a strange confusion in the air as the characters - much like the audience - have no idea what's going to happen next.

What happens is as dramatic as you can imagine. A character who has come dangerously close to irrelevant in this new season, Trixie, sees Ellsworth's body being dragged through the camp and decides she's sick to fucking death of this fucking Hearst guy. She pulls her trusty gun from her trusty bra and jabs it into her dress. She then takes her shirt off and parades right past Hearst's guards in the lobby of the Grand Central, who are as you can imagine distracted, and marches right up to Hearst's door. He is fearless and a little dumb. He opens the door, greeted by not one display of exposed flesh but two, and is completely surprised by the gun in her hand. She fires, but misses her intended target - his black, greedy heart - and hits him in the shoulder. She flees, while the guards scurry up the stairs strangely (and unbelievably) ignoring Trixie.

Meanwhile, Swearengen is sheltering Alma again while Utter goes to fetch Sofia and Jane (tragically underused) watches over the kids in their tree-shaped school house. The battle, it seems, is underway in a quiet way.

Hearst, guarded well (this time), marches through camp with blood pouring down his arm on the way to the doctor. A chilling scene follows as the Doc mends Hearst's bullet wound not five feet from Ellsworth's cold body.

Sofia is thankfully returned to Alma, where she has the sad duty of informing young Sofia about Ellsworth's fate. Sofia demands to see Mr. Ellsworth, to "feel his beard" one last time. Alma and Al and then Alma and the Doc have very interesting conversations about Sofia and what happened to her family way back in the beginning of season 1.

Bullock finally returns (again) to comfort Alma and Sofia. He doesn't really do or say much (as usual), but gives them all good hugs. Mrs. Bullock, as usual, is absent from all important things during the course of the episode.

There's a charming scene between Richardson and Jewel, fourth (possibly fifth)-tier characters in the Deadwood hegemony.

One of my favorite characters enters the scene with as much fanfare as one would expect of such a lofty and high-faluten individual, Wu. The exchange between Wu and Sweargen is important, but lacks the pure fun and silliness of their earlier conversations over the last three or four episodes. But there was a wonderful moment at the end when Wu gets up close to Swearengen, locks his middle and right index finger together and says, "HANGDI!" which I believe means best friend in Chinese. Swearengen gives him a nod, a "Hangdi!" and sends him off to collect his 150 chinks from Custer City.

Next week, the war begins (or ends?) in earnest with the season/series finale.

But, fellow Deadwood fans, don't fret! Regular episodes of the show may be over, but HBO is planning two (that's right, two!) Deadwood TV-movies (read: long episodes) for sometime in 2007. I'm guessing one of them will involve the summation of the Hearst storyline and the second will involve the famous Deadwood fire that destroyed the town in 1879.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Goodbye Stargate SG-1!

With a heavy dose of sadness, I learned today SciFi Channel has announced that it is cancelling Stargate SG1 after 10 seasons.

This announcment comes on the heels of last week's "200," the wild 200th episode of the series that featured, among other things, a puppet version of SG1, a Star Trek and a Wizard of Oz sequence, and an SG1 version of Buffy and Farscape. It was funny, although loaded (*cough* overloaded) with injokes. The payoff was supposed to be the return of Richard "MacGuyver" Anderson as Jack O'Neil, but he just sort of came back and cracked some jokes. There was no real action or danger. Couldn't he have killed one of those Baal clones, just for fun?

But, anyway, SciFi unsuprisingly cancelled SG1 and renewed Atlantis, which has never sparked my interest, unfortanetly, despite my love of all things Stargate. Maybe with SG1 going off the air, I'll give Atlantis another shot. With my old flame Star Trek off the TV air and now my longtime friend, SG1 gone as well, my TV will be disturbingly quiet. Thank the Gods for Battlestar Galactica!!

The ironic thing is that SG1, in my opinion, has picked up speed over the last two years. The Go'uld story has been done for three seasons and last year's introduction of the Ori as Big Bads and the welcome arrival of some fresh blood into the cast reinvigorated the series. The decision to focus (at least in the first quarter of this tenth season) on stand-alone episode is an odd one, but the Ori episodes will apparently kickstart as of this Friday and I'm looking forward to what they come up with, especially in light of The End of Everything. Right now, they have the Ori looking like some unsumorntable mountian pass, with their ships blowing up everything in sight without getting scratched by the good guys. I predict a very grim and darkening future suddenly looking bright and winnable much like the finale of SG1's best episode, season 7's The Lost City. Should be fun.

As the saga that began with a much-loved film starring Kurt Russel in 1994 ends, I find myself in a reflective mood. I started watching SG1 in response to my awful reaction to Star Trek's hick cousin, Enterprise, and couldn't have been happier with the drama, the fun, the humor, and the action of SG1's early seasons. I was so enthused, I made my friends watch endless hours of the show and for awhile there, we were definite, um, whatever you call Stargate fans. Middle-season syndrome kicked in and a lot of bad episodes followed which I watched, thankfully, alone. After leaving San Francisco and my fellow nerd-loving friends, my Stargate love didn't diminish, but actually increased, though the episodes may not have been as original and fun and interesting as the past, it partly reminded me of those calm and wonderful afternoons watching SG1 episodes when we should have been doing homework or something equally productive. In its last years, SG1 managed to impress the hell out of me a few times by its ability to tell its own brand of storylines. And yet at the same time, I felt like they had gotten so good at telling their stories, they didn't push the envelope anymore or try bold new things, because the same old things were so comfortable to them. So, this decision is probably for the best.

Goodbye Teal'c, I''ll miss you, even though you haven't really done anything interesting in two years. Goodbye Sam, I'll miss you, you were one of the best and most consistent elements of the series, I'll cherish every last page-long technobabbley diatribe. Goodbye Mitchell, you the best thing to happen to the show in years. Goodbye Valla, your inclusion into a regular series role was the smartest thing the producers could have done after last year's uneven season. And goodbye Daniel, I'll miss you most of all. You came so far. A wild-eyed and innocent boy in the movie, a distraught husband intent on finding his wife in the early seasons, your dramatic death, your even more dramatic return, and all the wonderful and passionate things that happenned in between. Even though you left the show for awhile, I never got the impression from watching that you were bored or unhappy to be there. For that, me and all the other fans, are grateful.

To the hardworking writers, producers, extras, set designers, special effect artists, and everyone else that worked on the show, I thank you for your years of hardwork and for ten wonderful years of Stargate SG-1.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lollapalooza 2006 was..

A celebration. A tradition. A party. A gathering.

It was a festival, but maybe Mega-Festival is more accurate. Huge. Massive. In both space, people, and berth. The incredible lineup of 100+ bands is enough to make someone's head spin and it was so complelety overcrowded, it reminded me of some kickass band in a tiny club. Still, it was incredibly organized and perfectly timed. Very little sound trouble, no overlap. Bands were absolutely forbidden to go past their allotted time (much to fans disappointment), but it ended up making the whole thing flow surprisngly well.

Pitchfork criticized it as a "hotel festival" catering to the older "stroller"-crowd. And yes, there were much less dirty unshaven hippies walking around wearing Umprhey's McGee t-shirts, but is that a bad thing? Yes, there was some strollers. And yes, there were a lot of drunk college kids. And then there were lots of teenagers.

Truly, there is never been an all-encompassing style, taste, genre overlap than Lollapalooza 2006. If you came, you almost definitely saw one of your favorite bands. Headliners were Death Cab for Cutie (cool young people like Shawn and I), Kayne West (younger and cool and hipper kids who listen to shitty music most of the time and good music occasionally) and The Red Hot Chili Peppers (old people).

Not only was the lineup impressive as gold, but the setting was perfect. Chicago is GORGEOUS. After two years of flat Miami, this spiky wonderland of modern and recently modern archeteicture was eye-opening. Gothamesque (is that a word? it is now.) The festival was situated in Grant Park, right in the heart of downtown on the lakefront. Centered by the Buckingham Fountain (popularied in Married With Children), it stretched across two huge fields with four large stages and four smaller intimate stages set into the trees. There was music everywhere, whispering on the wind in the distance or pounding up close as you rush by to catch the end of someone's set. Surrounded by beautiful buildings, listening to some of your favorite bands, it's an extremely memorable experience.

Musical Standouts: Stars. Canada's forgotten little art-indie-band put on an impassioned set full of broad and beautiful strokes and lots of lots of heart. My Morning Jacket, from Kentucky, played like champions, perfectly comfortable on the second largest stage in the festival, playing for a fraction of the audience the other "big" bands got. They were electrified on stage and I ate it up, gyrating and dancing like a drunk teenager.

Death Cab for Cutie pack so much more of a rock out WOW! factor live than they do on their records, especially the more recent work which has the glossy professionalism of Serious Musicians. But live, they are like kids again, obsessed with the sound guitars and drums make when played loudly and in tandem. They played for over an hour and a half and it was a full on assault of Rock! Notably, the extended "We Looked Like Giants" with Ben Gibbard on guitar, then drums, then guitar again. "Transatlanticism," just like last time, was like an epiphany.

Our second day started off well with some great Chicago deep-dish pizza. Delicious stuff. At the festival, it was kind of a waiting day for some of the big names in the evening. Still, we enjoyed sets by Feist, the impressive Calexico, and a little bit of the Go-Team. And then it was time for The Flaming Lips!
Now, I've seen the shtick a few times now. I've seen the balloons, the Space Bubble, the confetti, the extended coda to Yoshimi. And it still kicked ass! Wayne's voice seemed a little hoarse, but they were still able to rock out with a big helping of festival standards (Race for the Prize, Do You Realize?, etc) and a few of the newer and prettier tracks. Didn't play the brilliant "The ambulance Driver," though, much to my disappointment. Still, any day with the Flaming Lips is a good day. (Side note: walked past lead singer and ultimate indie rocker, Wayne Coyne, in downtown Chicago the next day. I said, "Hey Wayne! Great show last night." He smiled, said, "Thanks" and walked another a couple steps before being waylaid by other Lollaers wanting his picture. I was proud of myself for not being a fanboy, but damn, I would have loved a picture with Wayne and I.)

An unforgettable moment followed the Flaming Lips show. Right after it ended, right across the field, another great and favorite band, Theievry Corporation, started up their set. It was like going from one pyschadelic extreme to another. We were still walking and dancing across the field. It felt great, like the way life should be every day. And as for Theievery Corp, they killed. I've seen them before in a small intimate setting and I just didn't feel the same power as on their records. But, as the sun set on another beautiful day in Chicago, they rocked out with highlights from all their records. The always enteraining Corporation came out and sang in multiple languages. Lolla founder Perry Ferrel came out and sang "Revolution Solution" to feasts of applause.

The next day brought more bands and tons more people. Sunday, in Lollapalooza, was so full and epic, it was dizzying. (Maybe it was the heat.) And though we got tired and drained, the one band we were waiting for all weekend came on second-to-last and we rocked out like we've never rocked out in our lives. Broken Social Scene came on for forty-five glorious minutes and played their hearts out. They brought the whole band. It was a party onstage and off. Their songs, especially those off the second album, make so much sense played live with the full force of a dozen members on guitar or horn. The epic "Shoreline" and "Ibi Dreams of Pavement" were soaring and could be heard across Lake Michigan and into Canada. The quiet and beautiful "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old" sung by four very talented ladies was great and a momentary chance to catch our breath before dancing and going all crazy. The fans cheered for almost twenty minutes after they were done, begging for "one more song! one more song!" and booing the Red Hot Chili Peppers as they started across the field. It was an unforgettable performance and the realization of a dream of mine to see Broken Social Scene perform that I've had for almost five years now.

So, to sum up, Lollapalooza was (is and always will be hopefully) an incredible experience for every music fan. I went to Lollapalooza '96 ten years and had a wonderful time with a group of fellow high schoolers. Ten years later, I had a great time as an adult. If there is a Lollapalooza 2016, I will be there, proudly, with stroller in hand.