Saturday, February 27, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 115: Pop Culture Principles, Part 1

The podcast's back with special guest Ric Dube, who joins me to discuss the underlying themes behind pop culture trends. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- 'Twas a dark and stormy night

- Ric's dropping some science

- Wardrobe malfunctions at the Super Bowl (Janet Jackson, Pete Townshend)

- Super Bowl has older halftime acts every year

- All movies use fish-out-of-water premise

- On TV shows, star always has a wacky neighbor

- Dube's Principle of Ballistic Karma: 'splosions only get the bad guy

- Slow motion is a key indicator

- "Dolls should never be seen outdoors"

- Kumar: A-Team Principle of Ammo Dispersement

- That background noise is rain pounding on the windows

- '80s action shows always have bad guy's car flying off a ramp

- Dube's Principle of Unadvanced Technology

- Glasses are always a prop

- Ric's 5th grade teacher was disgusting

- Computers in TV shows or movies are totally unrealistic

- Things Ric wants to do someday: Guess someone's password from trivial fact about person

- Kumar: The Principle of Hard Rock Album Progression

- Artists always say the new album is way better than the previous one

- Every celeb thinks he or she can write a children's book

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- The New Pornographers - Your Hands (Together)

- Broken Social Scene - World Sick

- Black Rebel Motorcyle Club - Conscience Killer

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The New Pornographers song is on the forthcoming album Together on Matador Records, where you can download the song for free.

The Broken Social Scene song is on the forthcoming album Forgiveness Rock Record on Arts and Crafts Records. Find out more and download the track for free here.

The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club song is on the album Beat the Devil's Tattoo on Vagrant Records. Find out more at . The song is courtesy of RCRDLBL, where you can download it for free.

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. Visit Budget.com/CompCon and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Mixology: Sweatmusic, Vol. 12

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

Sweatmusic, Vol. 12 (6/3/89)

Contrary to the name of the tape, this is neither a workout mix (I wasn't doing much working out back then) nor was it the 12th in a series. I was still living at home in Kingston, NH, about three weeks after graduating from UNH, and a mere two days before starting work at my first post-graduation job as a reporter for the Peabody Times (RIP).

My dad gave me my first CD player as a graduation gift, so by this point I had a handful of CDs. The first one I bought was The Cult's Sonic Temple, which had just come out. I also remember hitting the Strawberries in Newington, NH, with my buddy Chris Pollet and getting some reduced-price CDs: Joe Jackson's I'm the Man, The Police's Outlandos D'Amour, the soundtrack to the Who's Kids Are Alright movie, and Jimi Hendrix Live at Winterland. This was in addition to the fairly large vinyl collection I already had. This tape features songs from CD, vinyl and even my cassingle of a U2's "When Love Comes to Town" that had the Patti Smith cover on the flip side.

I wanted to make a new mix to listen to in my new Hyundai Excel hatchback while I schlepped the 45 minutes from Kingston to Peabody every day
. After a few months, I tired of the commute and living at home and moved down to the North Shore into a rooming house in the Magnolia section of Gloucester. Anyhoo, on this particular evening, it was particularly hot and humid as I made the mix, so I came up with the clever title based on that alone.

The mix is primarily classic and hard rock with a few newer songs mixed in. A couple from the Who, one from their peak in the early '70s and one of the better songs off the mixed bag that is 1981's Face Dances. The Joe Satriani song reflected my waning love of wank guitar; for a few years, I listened to a lot of that stuff: Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Tony McAlpine. Satriani and Eric Johnson were the most tuneful of those guys, so this song didn't feel totally out of place on this tape. I gave a Can-Rock shout out to Max Webster, one of my favorite bands growing up, and Red Rider, whose "Lunatic Fringe" got a revival in the Matthew Modine wrestling flick Vision Quest.

Listening to this the other day, I realized how much I had loved Robert Plant's first solo album Pictures at Eleven. It wasn't a huge departure from his Zeppelin sound, but I liked his guitarist, Robbie Blunt, a lot. Doobs and I were discussing this album the other day; he called "Slow Dancer," the song on this mix, "Kashmir Jr." Which is true, but I still liked it. Cozy Powell played drums on it and another song on the album; Phil Collins played on everything else.

I listened to this tape a fair amount that summer but it eventually got lost in the shuffle. Hadn't heard it in years before I dug it out a few days ago. It's a great document of a fun time of my life, literally my last days of freedom before I joined the working world.

Side A: It's Not the Heat
My Wife (live) - The Who
I'm the Man - Joe Jackson
Fire Woman - The Cult
Drive My Car - The Beatles
Hole in My Life - The Police
Foxy Lady (live) - Jimi Hendrix
Dancing Barefoot - U2
The Crush of Love - Joe Satriani
Check - Max Webster
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - AC/DC

Side B: It's the Humidity
Hey Hey My My - Neil Young
Gallows Pole - Led Zeppelin
Big Ten Inch Record - Aerosmith
Mean Street - Van Halen
Little T&A - The Rolling Stones
Listen Like Thieves - INXS
Slow Dancer - Robert Plant
Another Tricky Day - The Who
Lunatic Fringe - Red Rider
One Foot Out the Door - Van Halen




Hole in My Life:



Antoher Tricky Day:

Monday, February 22, 2010

State of Shock

In the grand scheme of things, Team USA's upset win over Canada last night in the Olympic men's hockey preliminary round wasn't as big as the 1980 win over the Soviets. How could it be? After all, this was a team of NHLers beating another team of NHLers. But still, nobody expected the Americans to walk away with a win over the pre-tournament favored Canucks.

I sure didn't. But I also knew that USA goalie Ryan Miller is one of the best in the NHL and that if he got hot, his team would have a shot, even against the vaunted Canadian juggernaut. And sure enough, he had a masterful game, stopping 42 of 45 shots in the 5-3 win. Defenseman Brian Rafalski scored in the first minute of the game and the US squad held off a furious charge at the end of the game, which culminated in Ryan Kesler scoring the most exciting empty netter I've ever seen, diving to beat Canada's Corey Perry to shove the puck in.

It was an electrifying game and despite being buried on MSNBC, it had even non-hockey fans raving about the sheer excitement and skill on display. It didn't hurt that the stakes were a lot higher than a regular season NHL game and that there were no commercial interruptions during the periods to break up the action. The ratings for the game were huge, albeit not as huge as the audience NBC had for its ice dancing extravaganza last night (22 million); but I'd bet as many if not more folks would have watched the game had it been on NBC.

The win meant Team USA had run the table in the opening round, winning all three games and securing a bye and top seed in the medal round. The Americans get an extra day off while Canada will have to win three games in four days to get to the gold medal game next Sunday. Next up for Canada is a game with Germany tomorrow night and if they win that, Russia on Wednesday. The US takes on the winner of Switzerland and Belarus in the quarter-finals.

The previous three USA entries into the NHL-infused Olympics featured the old guard of American hockey: Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano, Chris Chelios et al. Although the Americans lost the gold medal game in 2002 to Canada, the other two entries were dismal failures. This time around, USA GM Brian Burke built a younger, faster, stronger (and much more inexperienced) squad with a goalie who could match up with any of the other top netminders in the tourney. It was a gamble and Burke and coach Ron Wilson (both of the Leafs) was quick to paint his team as serious underdogs compared to the powerful teams from Canada, Russia and Sweden. Although the team looked a little shaky in the first game against Norway, it has gotten better with each contest.

The Americans still must win three games to capture the gold, the country's first since that storied win 30 years ago. The US entry in the 1996 World Cup beat Canada to win that event, but nobody but hockey devotees was paying attention then. And nobody was this time around until last night's win. Now the nation's eyes are focused on this team. It'll be fun to see how they respond this week.

I find myself in an interesting position watching this tournament. I love it for the superbly skilled play and the passion that playing for one's country brings to the games. Normally, I root for Canada since that's where I was born and spent the first 14 years of my life. But I've spent the last 28 years here in the U.S. and part of me wouldn't mind seeing the Americans win it all. There's still a lot of hockey to be played and if yesterday was any indication (the Russia-Czech game was great as well), it's going to be an exciting week. I'm going to enjoy every second until the NHL season resumes and the Leafs are back to depress the hell out of me.

Let it go!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mixology: Tryptophan Junkie

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

Tryptophan Junkie (11/28/99)

This cassette is the very last mix tape I made before my Teac double cassette deck bit the big one. It was the fall of 1999 and Deb and I had just moved in together after getting engaged. We were living in a cool apartment near the ocean, but also a 10-minute walk from our favorite Irish pub. A month earlier, I had started working at a new job in Stoneham, as an editor at a dotcom called Webnoize. The Internet economy was booming. Things were good.

Most of the mixes I had made featured songs I was listening to at the time, but for this one, I wanted to collect a lot of my favorite indie rock and punk tunes. Side A kicks off with a few newer songs and then delves back into an exploration of great songs over the previous 25 years. The title reflects all the turkey gorging I did that long Thanksgiving weekend.

It's a pretty rockin' collection. About a month or so later, the tape deck, which I had picked up in 1988, stopped working. I didn't make another mix until 2002, when I got a CD burner for our PC.

Side A
Losing California - Sloan
Hum - The Sheila Divine
Who Was Around? - Bob Mould
Electricity - Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Chupacabras - Chixdiggit
Human Torch - Rocket From the Crypt
Id Slips In - New Bomb Turks
That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate - Mission of Burma
To Hell With Poverty! - Gang of Four
Something's Gone Wrong Again - Buzzcocks
Magnificent Seven - The Clash
We Want the Airwaves - The Ramones
David Watts - The Jam
Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell - Iggy and the Stooges
The Stonecutters' Song - The Simpsons

Side B
Gouge Away - The Pixies
Come Anytime - Hoodoo Gurus
Killed by Love - The Pursuit of Happiness
Nirvana - The Cult
FFF - Public Image Limited
What's Going On - Husker Du
Bastards of Young - The Replacements
Eric's Trip - Sonic Youth
Lake of Fire - Meat Puppets
Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More - Mudhoney
Half-Ass Monkey Boy - Mother Love Bone
Negative Creep - Nirvana
Gun - Soundgarden





The Jam:


Hoodoo Gurus:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 114: Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind

Another episode of the podcast is up. Special guest Dave Brigham joins me to discuss society's fascination with UFOs. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- Interest in UFOs stoked by book "Chariots of the Gods"

- Dave's interest is mixed with mockery

- Close Encounters of the Third Kind was huge

- The UFO subculture is as interesting as UFOs themselves

- If actual alien was captured, nobody would believe it

- Bigfoot sightings are still popular

- The X-Files kept all the conspiracy stuff alive

- In NM, Dave was too drunk to visit Roswell

- Dave vs. the armless panhandler

- UFOs have contributed much to pop culture

- Dave talks about his UFO concept album and novel

- UFO-related songs: Jay's favorite is Gary Numan's "Down in the Park"

- Dave says Flaming Lips' movie "Christmas on Mars" is bad

- Dave gives shout out to the Ass Ponys

- Jay hates the Stone Temple Pilots

- Dave: Split TV seasons are annoying

- Dave reflects on his childhood, UFOs

- 2012 doomsday scenarios loom

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- Japandroids - Art Czars

- Yeasayer - Ambling Alp

- We Were Promised Jetpacks - Ships With Holes Will Sink

- Los Campesinos! - The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Japandroids song is the first of a five-part singles series. Download the song for free at Stereogum.

The Yeasayer song is on the album Odd Blood on Secretly Canadian Records. Download the track for free here.

The We Were Promised Jetpacks song is on the album These Four Walls on Fat Cat Records. The Los Campesinos! song is on the album Romance is Boring on Arts and Crafts Records. Both songs are courtesy of IODA Promonet:


These Four WallsWe Were Promised Jetpacks
"Ships With Holes Will Sink" (mp3)
from "These Four Walls"
(Fat Cat Records)
Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at eMusic Delivery
Buy at Rhapsody
Buy at Napster
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Amazon MP3
More On This Album



Romance Is BoringLos Campesinos!
"The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future" (mp3)
from "Romance Is Boring"
(Arts & Crafts)
Buy at Napster
More On This Album



The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. Visit Budget and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Almighty Thud

By all measures, yesterday was a busy day. I got up and ran 18 miles in the morning, took the girls skating in the afternoon, and made dinner for Deb and the girls in the evening. On a normal Sunday night, I'd be chilling in front of the boob tube. But after putting the girls to bed, I schlepped into Cambridge to meet up with my man OJ to catch a rock show at the Middle East. The band in question was We Were Promised Jetpacks, a Scottish post-punk quartet that until they took the stage last night I was almost completely unfamiliar with.

Jay had scored a plus-one for the show and put the word out Friday to see if anyone was interested in going. I only knew the band by their name, but the price was right and I trusted OJ's judgment. Besides, I'd been digging some of the other Scottish acts that have emerged in the last few years including Frightened Rabbit and Los Campesinos.

The Middle East downstairs was nearly sold out for the WWPJ/Bad Veins show, which took me by surprise because it was a Sunday night and Valentine's Day, and because I had barely heard of this band. Right from the start, the mostly college-age crowd went nuts for the Scotsmen, shouting every word to every song during the 55-minute set. The band only has one album, plus assorted singles and a new EP, but it would have been nice to have an encore.

Frontman Adam Thompson looked a bit like a young Black Francis as he belted out the band's anthemic songs; he and lead guitarist Michael Palmer built a wall of noise while powerhouse drummer Darren Lackie pounded away. The audience matched the band's passion during songs like "It's Thunder and It's Lightning," "Keeping Warm" and "Short Bursts," often drowning out Thompson's vocals.

Openers Bad Veins played an entertaining set, with singer Benjamin Davis' melodramatic vocal style reminiscent of the Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser. The duo (Sebastian Schultz was outstanding on drums) was accompanied by pre-recorded tracks, while Davis played guitar and sang through a jerry-rigged old-school telephone receiver at times.

Even though I didn't know any of the songs, the WWPJ show was a testament to the power of live rock in a small venue. It was transfixing and exhilarating to be part of that packed house. It's the kind of thing that seems increasingly rare on the bigger stages these days. You need to look in the small clubs to find it. I'm glad I was able to witness that power Sunday night.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mixology: Rockin' the Hiz-zouse!!

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

Rockin' the Hiz-zouse!! (6/17/98)

This is one of the few mix tapes I have that was actually made by someone else, namely my good buddy Phil. I had forgotten I even had it until last week when I found it among a bunch of other tapes.

He loves music as much as I do and it shows in this tape, which is an excellent combination of classic rock and newer (at the time) stuff. He even threw some Coltrane on the second side, which was an inspired choice.

I own most of the music on this tape, but there's a few songs I don't have, like the ones by Tori Amos, Dead Milkmen and Jerry Harrison. All things considered, a good collection that I was glad to rediscover.

Side A
What a Life - Juliana Hatfield
Daughters of the KAOS - Luscious Jackson
Treasure (Whatever Happened to Pete the Chop) - U2
What She Said - The Smiths
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Tori Amos
If 6 was 9 - Jimi Hendrix
Fillet of Sole - Dead Milkmen
Monkey Man - The Rolling Stones
Mesmerizing - Liz Phair
Dandelion - Tracy Bonham
Grew Up Fast - Tom Petty
The Loner/Cinnamon Girl/Down By the River - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Side B
Giant Steps - John Coltrane
Happiness is a Warm Gun - The Breeders
Dusted - Belly
Voice of Harold - R.E.M.
Cruiser - The Cars
Crosseyed and Painless - Talking Heads
Bittersweet - Hoodoo Gurus
Bloom - Gigolo Aunts
Man With a Gun - Jerry Harrison
Sister Disco - The Who
How Many More Times - Led Zeppelin




KAOS:



Cruiser:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 113: Get in the Van

The podcast's back with special guest Dave Brigham as we discuss the fine art of the road trip. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- Dave used to do "big house tours"

- Dave and buddies bought a boogie van for big road trip

- Van broke down before they even left

- No destination in mind

- Diet of hot dogs, carrots and beer

- Got to Santa Fe, NM, but altitude was tough

- Went to Albuquerque, rented house and found jobs

- Stayed three months

- "Eat, drink, work"

- Jay did a road trip to Montreal that same spring

- Six years ago, Jay did another Montreal trip

- Jay was ill, decorated the breakdown lane all the way back

- Dave did long trip right after college graduation

- Saw Skinny Puppy play in Montreal, looked for Letterman's house in CT

- Dave and Beth drove to Toronto, then Madison, WI, then Chicago

- Jerry Springer sighting; then watched OJ Simpson chase on TV

- Jay and family drove to Disney few years ago; 22-hour drive

- Dave remembers family train trip gone awry

- Jay remembers family vacations to Florida in '70s

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- The Drive-By Truckers - Birthday Boy

- Spoon - Written in Reverse

- Future of the Left - The Hope That House Built

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Drive-By Truckers song is on the album The Big To-Do on ATO Records. Find out more and download the song for free here.

The Spoon song is on the album Transference on Merge Records. The song is courtesy of IODA Promonet:

TransferenceSpoon
"Written In Reverse" (mp3)
from "Transference"
(Arts & Crafts Mexico)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
More On This Album



The Future of the Left song is on the album Travels With Myself and Another on 4AD Records. Download the track for free at Beggars Group USA.

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com, a leading supplier of athletic footwear, apparel and sports equipment. Use these codes and save some cash: AFCOMP15 will get you 15% off any order at Eastbay.com; AFCOMP20 will get you 20% off any order of $75 or more at Eastbay.com; AFCOMPFL will get you 15% off any order at Footlocker.com.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography at his blog.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Power to the Punk People

Saturday Night Live in recent years has been a mixed bag. Most shows, you get one or two funny sketches, a dependably funny Weekend Update, a musical guest who may or may not be good, and a whole lot of filler.

This past Saturday, Them Crooked Vultures was the musical guest so I knew that part would rock, and I didn't have high hopes for host Ashton Kutcher, who has gone from somewhat amusing himbo on "That '70s Show" to annoying star of lame romantic comedies. The show was actually pretty funny from beginning to end, including Andy Samberg as Rahm Emanuel hilariously ripping into Sarah Palin. But the best part of the show was at the very end, when Fred Armisen, Kutcher, Bill Hader and TCV drummer Dave Grohl played an old hardcore band reuniting at the singer's daughter's wedding. It was a terrific goof on '80s political hardcore, with frontman Armisen proceeding to trash the room while ranting against Al Haig and Ed Meese. Sheer awesomeness.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Mixology: On the Radio

Mixology is a recurring feature in which I take a look at one of the many mix tapes I made over the years. Some are better than others, but all of them are fun to revisit.

Now it's time to check in with one of the first mix tapes I ever made. I believe this was the second or third. It was recorded in 1981, I think in June; I never actually wrote the date down. Tonight's the first time I've listened to it in probably 28 years. The case is long gone, if I even had one. It's recorded on a cheap-ass Cycles 60-minute cassette, the kind that you used to be able to get at a K-Mart-type stores in a package of four for $4. I'm amazed that it's still playable after all these years. The sound quality's pretty shitty, but it was fine for 13-year-old me. The transitions are pretty rough at times, too.

The tape doesn't even have an official name because at that point, I was just using my clock radio with a built-in cassette deck to record songs I dug off the Toronto FM rock stations CHUM-FM and Q107. At the time, both were pretty cool AOR (album-oriented rock) stations. They hadn't become overly formatted by then; when a new record came out like Rush's Moving Pictures, they would play a whole side or even the whole album. Now, both stations are still around but very different--CHUM plays Top 40 and Q107 is a classic rock station.

These were the years when I was really becoming a rock fan. Listening to these stations was like going to school. I actually first began listening to CHUM-AM, which was a Top 40 station, in the mid- to late-'70s. Eventually I got into rock more and moved over to the FM dial.

The tape is a combination of rock radio hits of the day and "classic" tracks (although the phrase "classic rock" had yet to be coined; hell, the guys in the Stones, Beatles and Zep were still in their 30s). There's a fair amount of prog rock in the form of Yes, Supertramp, Queen and the Moody Blues. The Yes song is actually from 1980's Drama, the only album without Jon Anderson on vocals. He and keyboardist Rick Wakeman left the band and were replaced by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, who were known as the Buggles (whose sole claim to fame was recording "Video Killed the Radio Star," the first song played on MTV in August 1981). Horn went on to be a big-time record producer and Downes was one of the founding members of Asia.

Another song is from a one-hit wonder band called Diesel. The Dutch band actually hit #25 on the U.S. singles chart with the song, "Sausalito Summernight," but the song was HUGE in Canada, making it all the way to #1. The song had a decent guitar solo, which I guess is why I liked it. There was a thunderstorm happening when I recorded the song; you can hear the static periodically throughout the recording.

The tape's also heavy on the Zeppelin and Queen, with three songs each. Surprisingly, there was little Canadian content; just the April Wine song "Wanna Rock." There was an actual Canadian Content rule that required stations in the Great White North to play a set amount of music by Canuckian artists; the figure was at 30% in the '80s. Which meant plenty of Rush, Triumph, April Wine and lesser-known (to U.S. listeners, anyhoo) artists like Max Webster, Trooper and the Ian Hunter Band.

This tape got a lot of play after we moved from Toronto to Richland, Washington, where the one rock station sucked out loud. At the time I lived there, there was no DJ and the station would just run pre-set playlists of Top 40 songs over and over. Stuff like Michael Jackson, Hall and Oates, Steve Miller Band; man, "Abracadabra" was on all the time back then. Occasionally, you'd hear a deep cut like Cheap Trick's "Gonna Raise Hell," but there was never anyone telling you who it was or what album it was on. So I just listened to my three or four cassettes a lot, as well as my growing record collection. In '82, I got my first Sony Walkman (which seemed amazingly portable at the time but was frickin' HUGE by today's standards) and then I started taping a lot of my records, admittedly in a low-fi way; you could hear my dog barking on a few of those tapes.

So this particular mix tape ends with Billy Squier's "The Stroke," which was probably THE rock song of the summer of '81 to my mind. Just enormous. And then I'm letting the tape run out while I type and I hear a dorky teenage voice that I recognize as...well, me: "Ah, the sweet sound of silence. After a long tape, you'll finally hear silence. So...take it away, silence." A few more seconds pass and then I start doing some comedy. I start making a remark about Bo Derek's rack and then in another voice say, "Kumar, you're still on the air!" And then begin another joke with the same result. Then the tape finally ends. Totally forgot about that nerdtastic little bit. But perhaps that's the beginning of my podcasting career in a small, goofy way.

On the Radio (6/81)

Side A
Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin
Tempus Fugit - Yes
It's Only Rock n' Roll - The Rolling Stones
Bloody Well Right - Supertramp
Stop Draggin' My Heart Around - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Stevie Nicks
Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
Flash - Queen
The Voice - The Moody Blues

Side B
Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne
Sausalito Summernight - Diesel
Kashmir - Led Zeppelin
Wanna Rock - April Wine
Rock It (Prime Jive) - Queen
Need Your Loving Tonight - Queen
The Stroke - Billy Squier
Classic comedy from 13-year-old Jay Kumar

Jon Anderson-free Yes:



Bloody Well Right:

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 112: Even the Losers

The podcast's back with an installment of Driving With Kumar. I discuss the mental anguish of rooting for losing teams as I drive to and from work. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- Tough times for fans of Toronto teams

- The Leafs' suckiosity tougher to deal with now that I watch every game

- Considered not watching anymore

- Season's become a car wreck; hard to turn away

- Switching allegiances is out of the question

- Leafs made a couple of big trades over the weekend

- How do fans stick with bad teams?

- Case in point: The Pittsburgh Pirates

- New Orleans Saints are a nice story after years of mediocrity

- My Super Bowl prediction: Colts (but rooting for Saints)

- Blue Jays won World Series in '92 and '93

- Jays were horrible first several years

- Lately they've just been thoroughly mediocre

- Winter Olympics are about to start

- Looking forward to hockey tournament

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- Los Campesinos - There are Listed Buildings

- Calories - The Mortal Boys

- The Red Pens - Hung Out

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Los Campesinos song is on the album Romance is Boring on Arts and Crafts Records. The song is courtesy of IODA Promonet:

Romance Is BoringLos Campesinos!
"There Are Listed Buildings" (mp3)
from "Romance Is Boring"
(Arts & Crafts)

Buy at Napster
More On This Album



The Calories song is on the Calories/William Split 7" on Tough Love Records. Download the track for free at Drowned in Sound.

The Red Pens song is on the album Reasons on Grain Belt Records. Download the song for free at Clicky Clicky.

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service. Go to Budget.com/CompCon and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Let Me Lie to You

Happy Groundhog Day! Checking in after a long weekend in New Jersey. Sunday night saw the broadcast of an annual occurrence I've grown less and less interested in over the years: The Grammy Awards.

Apparently, Beyonce won a bunch of awards and there was a tribute to Michael Jackson, and Taylor Swift and the Black Eyed Peas were there and who really gives a crap. Well, I guess somebody does because the Grammy ratings were up 35% this year. But don't count me in among that group. I saw about 30 seconds as I was changing channels.

Award shows in general don't interest me, except for the Oscars and Emmys, but even with those I often disagree with the results. But the Grammys are especially annoying because there's so much great music out there that doesn't get recognized or appreciated; instead, we see whatever bands have the most marketing money spent on them by the labels. Which is fine, but don't expect me to watch.

I'm perfectly content to listen to what I consider great music. The last few days, I've been listening to a lot of Afghan Whigs stuff, mainly their classic albums Congregation and Gentlemen. If you haven't heard them, you should. And if you have, you know what I'm talking about: