Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mixology: Jason Voorhees Sings Motown

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.

Jason Voorhees Sings Motown (10/29/88)

My senior year at UNH was a lot of fun. I had just completed a summer internship at the Peabody Times that confirmed my desire to become a newspaper reporter. It also gave me a semester's worth of credits that left me with only three required courses to take to graduate.

Of course, I had no desire to leave school early, so I spaced them out over the full year and took some other stuff just for the fun of it, like Writing Poetry (with future Pulitzer winner Charles Simic). The previous year, I was the news editor at The New Hampshire, spending 30 hours a week at the paper. I decided to step back from that role into a reporting position, writing a regular column and helping create Laphos, a humor supplement. But mostly, I just partied a lot and enjoyed the last vestiges of a responsibility-free life.

My roommates and I were in our second year in our off-campus apartment and things were good. There were four of us crammed into a two-bedroom flat, but it still beat living in the dorms. As with some of my previous mixes, I made this tape in anticipation of a party we had.

I don't remember the party, but the mix is full of the mostly mainstream music we were listening to and watching on MTV. U2 was HUGE and Rattle and Hum, the movie was about to come out; my roommate Rob had already picked up the album. Coming after the magnificence of The Joshua Tree, anything was bound to be a disappointment and Rattle and Hum was, although to be fair, it wasn't meant to be a proper studio album. It was a collection of studio and live tracks designed to go with the documentary, which was originally envisioned as an arthouse pic to play a small run. But the movie went over budget and the band's success turned into it into something bigger, but it stiffed at the box office. Still, there are some good songs on the album and "When Love Comes to Town" with BB King is a great track.

The mix is a pretty fair representation of what we were listening to at the time. Yeah, Sting, Clapton, Hornsby, Mellencamp. It is what it is. But you can see the evolution into alt-rock as I worked the Cure, REM, and Midnight Oil in there. The Van Hagar track is probably the only song of theirs that I can stomach these days and the DLR song came from his second, less good solo album. And you've gotta love a party mix that ends with a Midnight Oil song about Australian aboriginal rights. If that doesn't say party, what does?

The side names come from the infamous McDLT sandwich that McDonald's was hawking at the time. If you were a sentient being at the time, you remember it:




Side A: Hot Side Hot
When Love Comes to Town - U2
Be Still My Beating Heart - Sting
In Today's Room - Squeeze
Early in the Morning - Robert Palmer
Mystify - INXS
Miss You - Eric Clapton
Tunnel of Love - Bruce Springsteen
Cherry Bomb - John Mellencamp
The Valley Road - Bruce Hornsby
Brothers in Arms - Dire Straits

Side B: Cool Side Cool
The Boy in the Bubble - Paul Simon
Dance Little Sister - Terence Trent D'Arby
Blind - Talking Heads
Hot Hot Hot!!! - The Cure
It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) - R.E.M.
Sweet Fire of Love - Robbie Robertson (with U2)
Finish What Ya Started - Van Halen
Damn Good - David Lee Roth
Pour Some Sugar on Me - Def Leppard
Beds are Burning - Midnight Oil



The late great RP:


Hot x 3:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 120: Feel the Pain

I'm joined on the podcast for more rock talk by special guest Jay Breitling as we discuss music as a torture device. Listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- Dig the live studio audience: Ric, Karen, Amy and Chloe

- Baby Breitling rocks

- U.S. military used music to torture prisoners at Gitmo

- Also used rock against Noriega, Branch Davidians

- Let's dwell on the negative

- Pizza arrives

- Kumar: CSN's "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" tormented hungover party guests

- Breitling: Ramones tape stuck in cassette deck tortured his family

- Kumar: Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride" evokes painful memories

- Follow-up singles from one-hit wonders popped up on MTV in the '80s

- Breitling: Aqua's "Barbie Girl" is the worst of the worst

- Kumar: The unholy trio of Bryan Adams/Rod Stewart/Sting with "All for Love" was brutal

- Breitling defends the honor of Bryan Adams

- Milli Vanilli attempted many comebacks after lip sync disgrace

- Celebutantes make albums: Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton

- Breitling actually listened to this dreck in the name of research

- Mariah Carey's Glitter soundtrack ruined songs by Robert Palmer, Foreigner

- Kumar: Mariah is vocal equivalent of wank metal guitar

- Spencer Pratt = tool

- Kumar: 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up?" is truly horrible

- Dance mixes make bad songs even worse

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- Teenage Fanclub - Baby Lee

- Bettie Serveert - Deny All

- The Whigs - Kill Me, Carolyne

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

The Teenage Fanclub song is on the album Shadows on Merge Records, where you can download the song for free.

The Bettie Serveert song is on the album Pharmacy of Love on Second Motion Records; download the song for free at Planetary Group.

The Whigs song is on the album In the Dark on ATO Records; download the song for free at TheWhigs.com.

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com, a leading supplier of athletic footwear, apparel and sports equipment. You can find gear from top brands such as Nike, Adidas and Asics. The promo code AFCOMP15 gets you 15% off any order at Eastbay.com; AFCOMP20 gets you 20% off any order of $75 or more at Eastbay.com; and AFCOMPFL gets 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.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Nobody Gets Me But You

There are few things you can count on in this crazy world of ours, but one of them is that Spoon won't let you down. They're about as consistent a band as you're going to find.

I met Senor Breitling at Cornwall's in Kenmore Square last night to enjoy a few pre-show beverages before heading over to the House of Blues. Doors were at 6 and the show was supposed to start at 7. We figured we'd skip the opening act and catch Deerhunter and Spoon starting at 8. So of course, we get to HOB and Deerhunter was finishing up their set.

Spoon hit the stage at 8:35. The show was sold out, and while there were nowhere near as many oldsters as last week's Feelies show at the Middle East, I spotted many geezers jammed in with the young hipster crowd. I'm guessing it's because the band isn't overtly offensive in any way and they kind of appeal to the NPR crowd. I had to laugh when the lady next to me, who was in her 50s, was plugging her ears whenever the band used a little feedback.

Lanky frontman Britt Daniel was in fine form as he led the four-piece through an 80-minute set that was heavy on their latest album Transference and the two previous (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and Gimme Fiction). The crowd reaction was pretty polite, but Spoon doesn't play a style of rock designed to fire up the mosh pit. They're more a band that locks into a cool groove and provokes a steady head bob. Highlights included "I Turn My Camera On" (a favorite of the Kumar girls), "Got Nuffin," "Written in Reverse," "The Underdog" (replacing the horns from the studio version with piano), and "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb."

After last Friday's marathon Feelies gig, I was prepared for at least another half-hour of music, but at 9:55 Daniel announced that the next song was their last. He noted that there was a 10 p.m. curfew so the club could hold a dance night, just like the old Avalon used to do. Pretty weak. Oh well, it gave me and my fellow geezers a chance to get home and get some much-needed sleep.

The Spoon video my girls love:


Written in Reverse:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Marching Through Your Head

I'm a big sports fan, but I've never been a huge college hoops fan. Still, every time March rolls around, I've filled out an NCAA tournament bracket. Not because I ever thought I had a chance to win, but simply because the tournament's a lot of fun. I literally watch no games during the regular season, so all I have to go on is an article or two I read before I make my picks.

This year, I read a Sports Illustrated article about the underdogs who have a good shot to pulling off upsets in the first round, so I incorporated some of those into my bracket. And sure enough, I was doing pretty well after the first set of games. But it wasn't the underdogs who did me in, it was the heavy favorites that I picked who one by one were eliminated. I was tied for first in my work bracket going into Thursday night's games, but I had already lost half of my Final Four teams and my runner-up, so I knew I wouldn't go far. I had picked Syracuse to win it all, but they were knocked off Thursday night. And just like that, I'm officially done.

It's not a big deal. You have to be really lucky to win one of those things and I'm just not emotionally invested enough in it to get upset about it. Sticking with college sports, the NCAA hockey tournament has begun and my alma mater UNH is already making some noise. They had stumbled in the Hockey East playoffs, getting shutout by Vermont twice to lose in the first round. They still got an invite to the NCAAs and went up to Albany last night to knock off Cornell 6-2. If they can beat RIT tonight, the Wildcats will make it to the Frozen Four, which would be a nice achievement for a team nobody expected much from this year.

I have been pleased with the recent effort of the lowly Maple Leafs lately, who since the Olympic break have been playing some good hockey. Granted, they have no shot of making the playoffs, but with GM Brian Burke completely turning over the team, they're suddenly the youngest team in the league and are winning games. They still have trouble scoring, but the goalies and defense have been good and suddenly the Leafs are winning games in overtime and the shootout. There's only one guy, Tomas Kaberle, who was on the team two years ago. And Burke may trade him in the offseason for some more offense. Right now, the team's hoping to move up a couple of spots in the standings so Boston (who the Leafs traded their first round pick this year and next for Phil Kessel) doesn't get a top three draft pick.

And don't look now, but the baseball season looms on the horizon. The Blue Jays are in a similar position as the Leafs: lots of young talent, not a lot of proven veterans. They also have the disadvantage of playing in the AL East with stacked (and rich) opponents like the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. Oh, and they traded the best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay, after the end of last season. Most folks think they'll win 75-80 games this year and I can't disagree with that assessment, but they have some good young starters, so maybe they'll surprise a few people.

At any rate, I've got to start preparing for my fantasy baseball draft, which I'm hosting here at the world headquarters next Saturday morning. I have done zero research so far and I'm going to see the Drive-By Truckers play the night before, so I should be in good shape.

Burnin':

Monday, March 22, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 119: New Frontier

I'm joined again on the podcast by James Gralian as we continue our discussion about podcasting and the slow death of radio. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- Jay digs Smodcast and other shows that feature two people talking

- James likes You Look Nice Today

- Podcasts have no boundaries

- Podcast listeners make investment in time and money

- Radio listening can be very passive

- It's a good time for audio-based entertainment

- No FCC limits on podcasts or satellite radio

- Internet radio licensing rates are fairly reasonable

- Lot of buzz around podcasting 2-3 years ago

- Ask a Ninja turned podcast into a book, iPhone app

- Talk radio still does well, especially sports talk stations

- Podcasting allows for 1:1 relationship with show

- Podcast audience will continue to grow

- #PodcastFriday on Twitter tries to get word out on shows

- HD radio is a total bust

- Radio's running out of options

- Kids used to find out about new music from radio and later MTV

- Tweetcasts: James gets podcast guests via Twitter, like reverse call-in show

- More feedback would be nice

- There's room for everybody

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- Happy Birthday - Subliminal Message

- Future of the Left - adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood

- The Libertines - Time for Heroes

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

The Happy Birthday song is on the band's self-titled album on Sub Pop, where you can download the song for free.

The Future of the Left song is on the album Curses on 4AD. The Libertines song is on the album The Best of the Libertines on Rough Trade. Download the songs for free at http://www.beggarsgroupusa.com.

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. 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 at his blog.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mixology: Slammin' Summer Tunes

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.

Slammin' Summer Tunes (7/15/92)

This was the first tape I made after trading in my old Hyundai Excel hatchback for a bigger sedan, the Hyundai Elantra. The car had way more pickup than my previous putt-putt of a vehicle. It was a pretty fun summer. I was the lead reporter at the Peabody Times, the Blue Jays were on their way to their first of two consecutive World Series, and I was enjoying life as a 24-year-old.

I saw an up-and-coming band called Pearl Jam play at Axis, a tiny club on Landsdowne Street in Boston, just before they joined the second Lollapalooza tour; a month later, I also saw Soundgarden play next door at Avalon before jumping on the same tour. I also saw said tour at Great Woods in Mansfield (now known as the Comcast Center, I think). Other shows I caught included Matthew Sweet touring behind the classic Girlfriend album opening for Robyn Hitchcock at Avalon; the Black Crowes at the Orpheum in August; and in November, my brother and I saw Mudhoney at the Paradise and Alice in Chains and the Screaming Trees at the old Channel club.

Red Sox tickets were a lot cheaper and easier to get back then; I saw the Jays play the Sox at Fenway six times that season for the mere price of $7 each for bleacher seats. Visited Toronto in late September and saw the Jays play the Sox and Brewers on their way to wrapping up the division title. On the way out of the city, I picked up a six-pack of Labatt's Blue, which I drank when the Jays clinched the division, beat the heavily favored Oakland A's in the ALCS and then knocked off the also heavily favored Atlanta Braves to win the World Series. I only had one bottle left by that point, but it tasted sweet. And even though it was after midnight into the morning of Sunday, Oct. 25, my buddy Eric (a Sox fan) came over with a bottle of champagne. Good egg.

With the exception of the first song (which I will admit to liking because it was catchy and sung by the dude from Red Rider, a band I dug as a kid in Toronto), this tape holds up pretty well nearly 18 years later. It starts off bluesy, gradually gets heavier and heavier, and then works its way back to the blues with Stevie Ray Vaughan's great "Life by the Drop." It was a great soundtrack for a fun summer and lead-in for a terrific fall. Little did I know that the following year would be a massive bag of crap. But at least I made the most of '92.

Side A
Life is a Highway - Tom Cochrane
Sting Me - The Black Crowes
Only Fool in Town - Gary Moore
Wham! - Stevie Ray Vaughan
She Runs Hot - Little Village
Spanish Moon - Arc Angels
One Shot - Tin Machine
The Big Wheel - Rush
Jerry Was a Race Car Driver - Primus
The Power of Equality - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Prisoner - King's X
Porch - Pearl Jam
Right Turn - Alice in Chains

Side B
Into the Void (Sealth) - Soundgarden
Lithium - Nirvana
Bring the Noise - Anthrax with Public Enemy
Grip - Rollins Band
New Jack Theme - Living Colour
Got Me Wrong - Alice in Chains
Black - Pearl Jam
Funky Monks - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Ghost of a Chance - Rush
Solar Sex Panel - Little Village
Black Moon Creeping - The Black Crowes
Life by the Drop - Stevie Ray Vaughan




Dog will hunt:


Yeah, boyeeeeeeeeee:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Deep Fascination

'Twas a long, strange week that started rather terribly with all the rain and flooding and cleanup and ended in the glorious exhaustion that followed last night's Feelies show. Thankfully, our basement is finally somewhat dry, thanks to hours and hours of work by Deb, her mom and me, pumping water out and removing ruined old boxes of stuff. We've all been sore and tired from the extra hours spent down in that dank, musty unfinished space.

Wednesday night, I was saddened to hear of the death of the great Alex Chilton, who scored a #1 hit ("The Letter") with the Box Tops the week I was born in 1967. He went on to form the legendary Big Star, a band that made three amazing power pop albums in the early '70s but never got their due; they influenced countless other bands including REM, the Replacements and Wilco. Chilton's post-Big Star output was erratic, but the band was beloved and was supposed to play a show at South by Southwest tonight. It will be a tribute show, instead. I've been listening to Big Star a lot the last few days.

Last night, I headed into Cambridge, where I got together with OJ to do some podcast recording. We had a live studio audience, with Doobs and Karen hanging out; we were all going to the Feelies show at the Middle East later. We talked about our top picks for songs as torture devices and our rock roots. It was good stuff, with Doobs chiming in on occasion.

We made it to the club at 10, just in time for the Feelies to hit the stage for the first of their two sets. The Feelies are another underappreciated yet extremely influential post-punk band, with four albums spanning from 1980 to 1991 before they broke up. They reunited in 2008 and have played occasional reunion gigs over the 18 months or so, but there's no talk of a new album.

Last night, there was no opening act. I figured they'd play two 45-minute sets and sure enough, the first set ended right at 10:45. We were in the back of the mostly full club and could only barely see the heads of frontman Glenn Mercer, guitarist Bill Million and bassist Brenda Sauter. There was a lot of gray hair in the joint (including mine), even more than the first reunion gig at the Roxy back in October '08. The set started off rather sedately and Mercer was pretty stationary for the most part, unlike the last two times I saw the band. Still, the band picked up momentum as the set went along and Mercer ripped off some impressive guitar solos. There was a 45-minute break, which seemed excessive; I figured they could have just played another half hour and been done with it.

We moved up closer to the stage for the second set, and it was a good decision. Mercer came out and seemed fired up, jumping around with reckless abandon on the tiny stage and wringing the notes out of his guitar like he was pissed off at it. He doesn't say much of anything on stage when he's not singing and he never takes off his shades, but you could tell he was throwing himself into the performance more. As the night wore on, I fully expected the band to wrap things up at 12:15, but they just kept going. In addition to the band's classics like "Fa-Ci-La," "Deep Fascination" and "The High Road", they played covers of the Beatles' "She Said, She Said," REM"s "Carnival of Sorts" and the Stones' "Paint It Black."Soon they went off the stage but came back for an encore. And another. And another. After the fifth, it was about 12:50 and the club actually turned on music, which is the usual sign for folks to start leaving. We had almost made it to the stairs when the Feelies came back out and played two more songs. In all, they played SIX ENCORES and 135 minutes of rock. It was an exhausting and transcendent experience.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 118: Radio Nowhere

The podcast returns with special guest James Gralian, who joins me to discuss podcasting and the slow death of commercial radio. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- James hosts The Rink podcast (http://www.rinkpodcast.com)

- James got into podcasts after getting an iPod

- Worked as a radio engineer

- Wrote hockey blog for years and wanted to do more

- Plane flies overhead

- Don't listen to commercial radio anymore

- Playlists are shorter, formatting has taken over

- College radio is still great

- Since '96, consolidation has killed radio creativity

- Podcasting is a labor of love

- The fine art of podcasting while driving

- James started site called Podcasters Unite (http://www.podcastunite.com) to begin conversation about podcasting

- Operating in a vacuum

- Podcasting is more than Internet radio thanks to time-shifting element

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- Quasi - Repulsion

- We Were Promised Jetpacks - A Far Cry

- Beach House - Norway

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

The Quasi song is on the album American Gong on Kill Rock Stars. The song is courtesy of RCRDLBL, where you can download the song for free.

The We Were Promised Jetpacks song is on the EP The Last Place You'll Look on Fat Cat Records. The Beach House song is on the album Teen Dream on Sub Pop Records. The songs are courtesy of IODA Promonet:

The Last Place You'll LookWe Were Promised Jetpacks
"A Far Cry" (mp3)
from "The Last Place You'll Look"
(Fat Cat Records)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at eMusic Delivery
Buy at Amazon MP3
More On This Album

Teen DreamBeach House
"Norway" (mp3)
from "Teen Dream"
(Arts & Crafts Mexico)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
More On This Album

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com, where you can find athletic gear from top brands such as Nike, Adidas and Asics. The promo code AFCOMP15 gets you 15% off any order at Eastbay.com; AFCOMP20 gets you 20% off any order of $75 or more at Eastbay.com; and AFCOMPFL gets 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, March 15, 2010

Six Months in a Leaky Boat

More like six hours in a leaky basement...Today was entirely not how I expected it to be. I had a lot of work to do and had a meeting-free day in which to do it. Figured I'd get a lot done, get home at the normal time, record a podcast and generally chill out. Unfortunately, our basement had other plans.

It had been raining pretty heavily since Saturday night and we figured we'd get some water in our basement; there are cracks in the foundation, so we usually get a little. And for the larger amounts, our sump pump would kick in and pump the water out. But this morning, it wasn't working and there was about four inches of water in the basement. We had a call in to our plumber to have him swing by and get the sump pump going again. But we never heard back from him and by mid-morning, my mother-in-law had already spent a few hours in ankle-deep water, bailing the nasty stuff into her washing machine and using the rinse cycle to get rid of it. Pretty smart, actually. But she needed help, so I went home at noon and spent the rest of the day clearing out the water.

The basement is unfinished, mainly just a repository for old junk and boxes of stuff. Figuring the plumber wasn't going to show up, I called in a neighbor from down the street who had lent us his spare sump pump. He came over to check out our pump and we determined that there was nothing wrong with the pump, it was the outlet the thing was plugged into. No juice there. We hooked up the other pump across the room and ran the hose out the dryer vent and were in business. The water's down below the pump now, but we also spent a lot of time removing water-damaged stuff from the basement. There's a lot more work to do.

But at least it stopped raining finally. This was the worst rainstorm we've had since May 2006, when we had some flooding as well, although not as much. Some towns got nearly a foot of rain. The good news is the weather is supposed to warm up in a hurry, hitting the 50s and 60s for the rest of the week. When the basement finally dries out, we'll be getting rid of a lot of unnecessary junk. The garbage crew will get a workout this week.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mixology: Reidsie Rocks!

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.

Reidsie Rocks! (7/10/99)

Everybody's got pivotal moments in their life to which they can point. The summer of 1999 was pretty huge for me. At the time I made this tape, I was about three weeks away from getting engaged to Deb. It wasn't a matter of if, but when. We had already discussed the ring and everything, and I had it, but it was finding the right time to spring it on her. It was about a week before John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane went down near Martha's Vineyard, causing non-stop media coverage, and two weeks before Woodstock '99, which was best remembered for the riots that took place.

In the meantime, I decided to make Deb a tape, not because I needed to win her through the power of mixology, but just because I wanted to give her something cool to listen to. I threw on some stuff I knew she already dug, like the R.E.M. song, but most of it was stuff I thought she'd dig. I included a fair amount of cool late '90s chick rock from folks like Liz Phair, Elastica, Tracy Bonham and Luscious Jackson, and some good mid-tempo rock from Beck, Chris Whitley, Sloan, Morphine and Matthew Sweet, among others. A solid effort. I'm not sure why I included "Song for the Dumped" by the Ben Folds Five, since there was no dumping and I wasn't saying "Gimme my money back, you bitch." I just liked the song, I guess.

The name of the tape derives from a nickname I had given her, since her name was Deb Reid Siegel. This was probably the third mix tape I had made for a girl; the first two relationships didn't work out well, so I guess the third time was the charm. Deb liked the tape and it got a lot of play on road trips for the first few years afterward, until CDs started taking over.

Anyhoo, nearly 11 years later, we're still together, so I guess the tape was the clincher. That's what I'm going to tell myself.

Side A
At My Most Beautiful - R.E.M.
Bobcaygeon - The Tragically Hip
At Flat as the Earth/Automatic Love - Chris Whitley
Wishlist - Pearl Jam
Scar Tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Tropicalia - Beck
Circles - Soul Coughing
When I Grow Up - Garbage
Johnny Feelgood - Liz Phair
Sharks Can't Sleep - Tracy Bonham
Stutter - Elastica
Better Than Nothing - Jen Trynin
Superconnected - Belly
Naked Eye - Luscious Jackson

Side B
Rachael - Buffalo Tom
Walking After You - Foo Fighters
One Hit Wonder - Everclear
Thinking of You - Lenny Kravitz
Early to Bed - Morphine
Song for the Dumped - Ben Folds Five
Sinking Ships - Sloan
Evangeline - Matthew Sweet
Natural One - Folk Implosion
Eurotrash Girl - Cracker
Trip Through Your Wires - U2
Love Rears Its Ugly Head - Living Colour








Early to Bed:



Dumped:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 117: Pop Culture Principles, Part 3

I'm joined on the podcast by Ric Dube as we conclude our discussion of pop culture principles. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- More things Dube wants to do before he dies

- Dube's Principle of the "Ta Dah!" Garment

- Kumar's Principle of Songs with "Rock" in the Title

- Billy Squier's "Rock Me Tonite" video ruined his career

- Dube recounts his interview with Vanilla Ice's old manager

- Ric had the first interview with Tommy Lee after the sex tape with Pam Anderson broke

- Sex tapes 101

- Dube's Principle of Polarized Visitors

- Talking racist Disney cartoons

- Sloppy audio edit

- Hollywood loves token racially diverse groups of friends

- Dube's Principle of Polarized Point Spreads

- Kumar's Fat Buddy Principle

- Is she really going out with him?

- Dube needs to see Teen Wolf

- Dube's Principle of Broadcast Prescience

- Why Hot Tub Time Machine is a great movie title

- Ric rips into Must Love Dogs

- Crappy movie titles are commonplace: It's Complicated

- Kumar's Rules for Movie Remakes

- Dube's Principle of Deadly Precipitation

- Dube's Principle of Conflicting Civic Missions

- Pharma, Urban or Bard

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - The Mighty Sparrow

- Zeus - Marching Through Your Head

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

The Ted Leo & the Pharmacists song is on the album The Brutalist Bricks on Matador Records, where you can download the song for free.

The Zeus song is on the album Say Us on Arts and Crafts Records. The song is courtesy of IODA Promonet:

Say UsZeus
"Marching Through Your Head" (mp3)
from "Say Us"
(Arts & Crafts)

Buy at Napster
Buy at Amazon MP3
More On This Album


The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. 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 at his blog.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

D is for Driver

Hey, just checking in because I haven't all week. It's another one of those weeks that has flown by so quickly I didn't realize it. Blink your eyes and all of a sudden it's Thursday. Not always a bad thing.

So Lily turned 6 on Monday. She was so excited for the past few weeks. I remember that giddiness about birthdays. We're throwing her party on Saturday; six of her buddies will be coming here for an animal-themed bash. Should be loud. Hannah's a little jealous of the early birthday attention; she turns 8 at the end of April.

Yesterday, I spent much of the afternoon and early evening schlepping around, picking up my mom from the airport and taking her home to NH. She spent the last two months in India and had a great time. With any luck, she'll have missed the worst of the winter weather...unless it returns. She was pretty shocked to see no snow and temps in the 50s yesterday.

Spent a lot of time hanging around at the airport waiting for Mom to get through customs. Here's my favorite song about an airport (well, it's named after the airport code for Toronto's Pearson International Airport):

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Mixology: Tales from Degeneration Hex

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.

Tales from Degeneration Hex (9/23/94)

After having a generally lousy year in 1993, things were looking up for me by the spring of '94. I had moved back to Beverly after renting a room in a house located in the middle of a field in Middleton for several months. It was cheap, but one of my roommates was a 68-year-old divorced dude who liked walking around in his boxers all day. Not exactly my idea of a fun living environment. I also had been working as a design editor at the Beverly Times (RIP), which was okay, but I had to be at work at 5 a.m. everyday, which meant I had to wake up at 3:45. This wasn't sitting well with my body; I felt like I was getting an ulcer. I was swilling Maalox like it was water because it seemed like anything I ate was aggravating me.

Finally, a reporting job opened up for covering the courts, which was a pretty cool gig; I applied and got it. Between that and moving back to where most of my friends lived, life turned around almost immediately. I was rooming with three women (all of whom were engaged or about to be), but they were all friends of mine and were all cool. I was able to get back on my regular sleep schedule and I liked my job again. All was right with the world. Well, I still didn't have a girlfriend, but things in that area would improve in due time.

The summer of '94 was a lot of fun. I played a lot of softball and tennis, drank a lot (I mean a LOT) of Pete's Wicked Ale, and caught some good shows around town (Soundgarden in Fitchburg, the Bosstones and Bill Janovitz at the Middle East). I spent a week in Austin visiting my brother, who had moved down there to attend UT law school. It was hotter than Hades, but a good time. I saw a couple of rock shows while I was there: The Velvet Crush at Emo's (still wear the VC t-shirt I bought from the guitarist before the show) and Pork with Jesus Christ Superfly at the Electric Lounge (looking at the show listing I still have, a little-known band named Spoon was fourth on the bill later in the week).

I put together some good mixes that year, ones that I still break out from time to time. It was a good time for the alt-rock scene. In the wake of the whole Seattle grungesplosion, Green Day had paved the way for pop-punk with its awesome Dookie album. There were great albums released from artists like Frank Black (Teenager of the Year, a true classic), Soundgarden (Superunknown), the Beastie Boys (Ill Communication) and Superchunk (Foolish). And the fall was looking to continue that trend, with Sugar's File Under: Easy Listening and Sloan's Twice Removed catching my ear. And I had just picked up an album by some guy named Jeff Buckley, whose song "Mojo Pin" had a cool Zeppelin feel to it.

This tape has a dumb name, but it kicks serious arse (despite the presence of a Live song. I even saw them at the Paradise that year. It wasn't long afterward that I grew sick of them.). And in the end, that's all that matters.


Side A
Citysong - Luscious Jackson
Sure Shot - Beastie Boys
Self-Esteem - The Offspring
When I Come Around - Green Day
Gift - Sugar
Feel the Pain - Dinosaur Jr.
Stranger Than Fiction - Bad Religion
Divine - Rollins Band
Milquetoast - Helmet
Freedom Rock - Frank Black
Saving My Ticket - Superchunk
She - Anthrax
Piece of Mine - Sons of Hercules

Side B
Thursday - Morphine
I Alone - Live
Sleeps with Angels - Neil Young
Ted, Just Admit It - Jane's Addiction
Big Dumb Sex - Soundgarden
Pretty Vacant - Sex Pistols
Come Out and Play - The Offspring
Burnout - Green Day
Your Favorite Thing - Sugar
Grab It - Dinosaur Jr.
Root Down - Beastie Boys
Energy Sucker - Luscious Jackson
Incomplete - Bad Religion
Thalassocracy - Frank Black







Is that Freedom Rock? Well, turn it up, man:


Mmm, toasty:

Friday, March 05, 2010

Old and In the Way

I don't need too many reminders that I'm getting older. I'm not hung up over it. It's just a plain fact.

Today I saw a story in the local paper that a Peabody guy who was convicted of murder in 1992 was getting out of jail on parole. That stuff happens. But then I realized that I actually covered the guy's murder trial back in '92. You know you're old when a dude you saw get convicted and sent away to jail has already served his time and is out. Wow.

It was a strange time when I covered the trial. I was working for the Peabody Times as city reporter and had just moved into this very house, albeit into the apartment downstairs. The trial was in Lawrence, which was in the midst of a string of unsolved arson fires. The Rodney King beatdown by LA cops had just happened, resulting in the LA riots, and things were just tense in general in the nation.

The trial lasted two weeks. The defense attorney claimed his client acted in self-defense and alleged a vast conspiracy by the Peabody police. It was pretty wild stuff, but ultimately the judge wouldn't allow the allegations to be admissable in court. I was pretty exhausted after full days in court and then coming back to write the stories for the next day's paper. But it was notable in that it was one of the few instances that I received overtime. And it was pretty fun to get out of the usual grind of City Council meetings.

Tonight we went to an old-school newspaper goodbye party for my good friend Susan, who left the Salem News today after 18 years as a reporter and editor there. It was good to see some of my old newspaper colleagues again. It's weird to think I haven't worked at a paper in almost 15 years (yeah, I write a running column for the News, but that doesn't count). I left because I was burned out after six years in the biz; it was definitely a grind. I had no idea newspapers were going to be in such dire straits a few years after I got out. I was just ready for something different. And that was when I was still single.

Now life is very different indeed. We had to leave the party at 9 to get the kids in bed. I was in my PJs 10 minutes after we got home. Times have changed.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Completely Conspicuous 116: Pop Culture Principles, Part 2

I'm joined on the podcast by special guest Ric Dube as we continue our discussion of 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:

- White Men Can't Judge (on TV)

- Dube's Principle of Inevitable Communication

- Kumar's standard requirements for benefit songs

- Need at least one non-singer involved

- To win an Oscar, actor must gain/lose large amount of weight and/or become ugly

- Karen's Principle: Dumb actors only play characters that have their name (e.g., Tony Danza)

- Who the Hell Does That? Only on TV is a gift box lid wrapped separately from box itself

- Everybody leaves one side of dinner table open (for camera)

- Kumar: Rod Stewart Suckability Quotient

- Others that qualify for this list: Clapton, Sting, Phil Collins, Dave Navarro, Elton John

- Dube: Synchronicity album was beginning of the end for the Police

- Collins went from prog-rock drummer to frontman to solo artist to actor to hammy soundtrack artist

- Disney soundtracks = big bucks for Elton, Collins, Sting

- "Against All Odds" was first of many power ballads for Collins

- Jay blames Michael Mann for acting careers of musicians: Collins, Nugent, Sheena Easton, Glenn Frey

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union

- The Morning Bender - Promises

- The Riverboat Gamblers - Robots May Break Your Heart

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

The Titus Andronicus song is on the forthcoming album The Monitor on XL Recordings. The Morning Benders song is on the album Big Echo on Rough Trade Records. Download the songs for free at Beggars Group USA.

The Riverboat Gamblers song is on the album Underneath the Owl on Volcom Entertainment. Find out more and download the track for free here.

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com, a leading supplier of athletic footwear, apparel and sports equipment. Use promo code AFCOMP15 to get 15% off any order at Eastbay.com, AFCOMP20 to get 20% off any order of $75 or more at Eastbay.com and AFCOMPFL to get 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, March 01, 2010

Gold Soundz

It was epic. What more can you say about the gold medal game between Canada and the U.S. yesterday? It was fast-paced, there was great goaltending, a stirring comeback, and a thrilling OT winner for the home team. Better yet, the game had everybody talking about hockey. It was the most-watched hockey game in the U.S. in 30 years, since that storied 1980 team won the gold. Granted, the Americans fell short, but they had an unexpected, exciting run that had them wearing silver by the end of the tournament. Non-hockey fans became familiar with names like Ryan Miller, Patrick Kane and Zach Parise, and that's a good thing.

I actually watched the game on a houseboat in Charlestown, believe it or not. I was hanging out with James Gralian, the host of The Rink podcast; he's from Colorado but in town for work. We watched the game and the recorded a show for his podcast and one for mine. I've been a guest on his show a few times before, so it was fun to meet him in person for the first time. As I mentioned last week, I was kind of torn over my allegiances in the game. I've always rooted for Canada, but this U.S. team won me over. I'm certainly not disappointed that Canada won, but when Parise scored with 24 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, I was as fired up as James. It would have been pretty incredible had the U.S. won, but it was a fitting end for Sid Crosby to score the winner on home soil. James hates Crosby so he was pretty bummed, but you've gotta hand it to Sid the Kid: The guy is clutch. He's only 22 and he already has a Stanley Cup and a gold medal. I still think Ovechkin's a better and more exciting player, but you can't argue with Crosby's results.

After watching the game, we did some serious podcasting. James has a truly sick audio setup; he's a former radio sound tech and has got some professional-sounding equipment. I'm totally lo-fi in comparison. I'm guessing he'll post the show we did sometime this week since we talked about the gold medal game and the prospects for the remainder of the NHL season [You can find it here]. The CompCon episode we did was about podcasting itself and the contrast to commercial radio, which is stuck in the mud to say the least. I won't actually post that for a few weeks, just because I've got a few more eps of the pop culture principle shows I recorded with Doobs last Thursday to roll out.

The Vancouver games ended with a truly insane closing ceremony, including Bill Shatner and the always enjoyable giant inflatable beavers. But I think this is a more fitting way to pay tribute to the Canuck victors: