Thursday, January 31, 2008

Foreign Born: Dark Horse Rising

I first heard Foreign Born in Kansas City, although I was living in Seattle at the time. I'd bought tickets to hear We Are Scientists in Seattle, but before that show I was home for spring break. I introduced my friend Sara to WAS and it turned out they were playing in town a couple days later. So we just had to go. FB opened for WAS both in Kansas City and when I saw them again the next week in Seattle and I'm glad they did. The first time I heard them I was too messed up to tell if their music was completely captivating because they rock or because my brain couldn't tell the difference between bad music and good. The second show in Seattle proved that they're just that good.

I've been following them on MySpace ever since and I still think fondly of them when I wear their t-shirt, but I obviously haven't been paying enough attention because they posted a bulletin today, showing a picture of their layout in GQ (below)! And as if that wasn't enough to surprise the crap out of me (because who did I know who liked them except me?), it turns out they're going to be touring with St. Vincent!

I guess they'll no longer be my fabulous little secret.

Read the FB Blog
Visit their MySpace
Download "We Had Pleasure"

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Voxtrot: Music Review

If you've never heard Voxtrot, you are seriously missing out. They hail from Austin, TX and kept cock-teasing their fans with three EPs before they finally put out an album.

Voxtrot's first EP, Raised By Wolves, is a five song adventure that seems to explore the arc of a relationship from start to finish, with the title track acting as a kind of prelude or introduction. But maybe that's just my crazy-ass interpretation. Still, I think it's a good break-up balm myself.
Listen: The Start of Something

Their second EP, Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives has 5 perfect songs: pop-y, wistful and compelling. My three favorite songs from this are the title track, "Rise Up from the Dirt," and "Soft and Warm." They may actually be my three favorite songs by Voxtrot, but sometimes I think they're only my favorites so long as I'm listening to them.
Listen: Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives

Their third EP is Your Biggest Fan and has only three songs on it. Pretty evil to release this when your fans are clamoring for a full album don't you think? But I guess that's okay, because I didn't find out about them until it was all out anyway. ;) Honestly, the title track is the only song on this EP that I remember when I'm not listening to it. But when I am listening, I love them all.
Listen: Trouble

Finally, last year Voxtrot released their self-titled album and there was much rejoicing. Featuring a luscious 11 songs from the Texas quintet, "Kid Gloves" is the first one that I really start paying attention to. It is a lament for love-lost in the midst of a break up (or something). The next song that stands out in my memory is "Brother in Conflict" and then "Future, Pt. 1." To be honest, I always listen to Voxtrot's EPs first and my attention has generally wandered a bit by the time I get to the album. But, with that in mind, it makes fabulous background music for a busy mind.
Listen: Kid Gloves

If you haven't gotten the clue yet, Voxtrot is all-over awesome. Their lyrics are some of my most favorite and odds are that when I'm hovering between consciousness and sleep, I'm hearing their songs playing in my head.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Harry Potter Is Changing the World

"The stories we tell and respond to
create our collective and individual identities,
confer meaning on our present lives,
organize and make sense of our past
in ways the past did not.
They allow us to imagine the future
and thus act to give it shape."
- Dr. Mark Breitenberg

I finished re-reading the Harry Potter series again last night and was struck once again by the freaking awesome perfection of it. I am convinced that J.K. Rowling's books are solving a problem with society that older people I know have been complaining about for years: the lack of a collective mythology (i.e. something for everyone to believe in together).

Especially since Christianity lost control, people have been looking for a new myths, and I think that Harry Potter is the answer. Not only is Rowling's mythology in the series just completely amazing in the way that it addresses the cultural and personal need for healing, but it also has the benefit of being a global phenomenon. I think that HP gave the world the common mythology it's been looking for, and I think that so many people so excitedly embracing these stories is proof positive of that.

It makes me happy knowing that I'm living in a world where most of the children are growing up embracing such a positive and empowering myth. And it also makes me sad that I had to grow up with a negative, anti-female Christian myth. But mostly it makes me happy.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Personality Bursting from My Fingertips

I decided to do Logtar's handwriting meme, partly because I needed to learn how to scan using our shiny new copier/printer/scanner machine and partly because I am fascinated by handwriting analysis in general.

Here's how it works:
1. Choose a pangram of your liking, the most common being (“The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.” )
2. Write it on a piece of paper and sign it with your blog name or online handle.
3. Take a picture and post it to the flickr group, your blog, myspace, facebook or all of them.
4. Link back or trackback to this post.
5. Tag five people.

As usual, I'll be ignoring #5. Here's my handwriting sample:




















But, while this is fun, it doesn't really analyze the handwriting, so I had to go and get that done as well.

The results of your analysis say:

You fill every waking moment with activity.
You are a shy, idealistic person who does not find it easy to have relationships, especially intimate ones.
You are affectionate, passionate, expressive, and future-oriented.
You are reserved, shy, cautious, and thoughtful.
You enjoy life in your own way and do not depend on the opinions of others.


What does your handwriting say about YOU?

To learn more about handwriting analysis, visit Handwriting Analysis FAQ.

Chunking Express: Movie Review

My favorite Asian director (besides Akira Kurosawa) is Wan Kar-Wai. His movies are always beautiful with the same kind of emotional depth and strangeness that I associate with Charlie Kaufman films. Chunking Express is one that I'd never seen before, and I was surprised that it had a happy ending. Wan Kar-Wai is amazing, but he doesn't usually give his characters happy endings.

In Chunking Express, two different cops are both trying to move on after being dumped. The first cop decides to fall in love with the next woman he sees, who happens to be a drug smuggler with a price on her head. The second cop's ex leaves his apartment key at a snack shop he frequents and the cute little girl who works there decides to let herself in... and generally sows chaos in his life.

The second cop is played by Tony Leung Chiu Wai who is pretty much in all of Wan Kar-Wai's movies and is my favorite Asian actor (besides Toshiro Mifune). He's such a cutie-patootie and he can handle any role I've seen him in with perfection. Plus, he runs around in his underoos a lot in this movie and that was really amusing.

Wan Kar-Wai seems to build all of his movies from a single question or concept, usually one about relationships. In Chunking Express, that concept is that you can pass within one centimeter of someone and never even notice them... or they can change your life.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fucking Recycle

How could I not fall in love with "Fucking Recycle?" It combines my love of design with my love of the environment and my love of swearing! So, 'what is it?' you say. "Fucking Recycle" is a collection of 50 screen printed posters by Becky Redman featuring "statistics and simple commands about recycling and waste." They were made for Europeans so they've got some funky spelling and measurements to the American eye, but they certainly POP!

These were some of my favorites:
You can see all of them on Redman's website or see where they were originally posted.

Found via TreeHugger

Friday, January 25, 2008

Adventures in Collections Management

As you may know, I graduated from the museum studies master's program at the University of Washington, Seattle last year. One of my fabulous fellow students was Lynn, who is actually responsible for getting me into this whole blogging/nptech thing to begin with, because I learned about it first from her thesis research.

She is currently working at Central Washington University for the "museum-in-development" there as the Collections Manager. Adventures in Collections Management is her blog describing the challenges and surprises of working with the collection, which seems to be mostly ethnographic in nature. Every week she posts a "Friday whatzit" where you can guess what an object is based on what part of it looks like. Last week's whatzit was a face carved into a coconut. You can't make this stuff up, folks.

It's good clean geeky fun, so check it out if you're into that.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sam Harris Responds to the Phelps Family

Good As You, a blog using humor to drive gay activism, posted this video in response to the crazy Phelps family in Kansas (of "God hates fags" fame) planning to picket Heath Ledger's funeral.



This is the comment I left:
I grew up with Baptists almost as crazy as Phelps. It sucks knowing that there are people so fucked up in the head that there is no way of reaching them with rationality. I know, because it keeps me from talking to about 99% of the people I knew in the first 15 years of my life.

I do hope people like Phelps make people change what they think. It gives me hope.

And it does, but not much.

Your Local Anarchist Bookstore

I got taken to the Crossroads Infoshop & Radical Bookstore at 3109 Troost the other day. I didn't even know it existed before then, so I'm assuming not many other people do either.

It's a worker-run independent bookstore and library for "book lovers, activists, scholars, and concerned citizens." It was freezing cold with no apparent heating unit so you might want to wait until warmer weather to go there. The selection ranged from random used books to random used and new books on "subversive" topics to a whole crapload of zines.

It was a weird but completely unique experience and definitely worth a look.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Not Allowed to Like... Fabrice Lavollay

Thanks to Right Some Good, I discovered Not Allowed To Like: an art blog about subversive art the author isn't "allowed to like" for one reason or another. So far my favorite artist featured has been Fabrice Lavollay.

Lavollay creates surreal apparitions in his paintings that look like something straight out of a horror film lover's dreams. And while I really don't like horror films, I dig the creepy and the strange so this stuff (minus the creepy baby ones... I don't like creepy babies) just makes my imagination feel like Riverdancing.

Some of my favorites are:


Alhazred Syndrome , because it looks like a cross between something from The Matrix and The Death of Marat







Education, because it's all like "HEY TEACHER! LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE!"






Cthulhu, because who doesn't love a gorgon after Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman's treated them?





Tattoo 4, because she looks like a kick-ass female assasin or something








Remords, because I like the subversion of mixing religious imagery with abusive imagery... I find it truer to my experience of organized religion than any sacred art.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cloverfield: Movie Review

I went a saw Cloverfield last night and although I felt like I was going to heave the whole time, it was the best monster movie I've ever seen second only to The Host. Thanks to the Blair Witch-y filming style, Cloverfield didn't have annoying military-focused action, or really much of anything to distract from the pure craziness and terror of the sudden threat.

The action focuses on four characters for the most of the film and has a distinctive Shaun of the Dead kind of saving-the-girl and solidarity-with-friends feel. The monster is shown to you enough from different angles that you can more or less see the whole thing and they even managed to naturally work in some arial footage which was some of the most impressive in the whole movie... that and the crazy half-collapsed building sets; those were hella tight.

Basically if you like horror, monster or action movies at all, you'll like Cloverfield. It's inventive, absorbing and surprising.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Short and Sweet: The Gum Drop

The weekly email of Stereogum.com, the Gum Drop offers free music (usually specially-recorded tracks) for your downloading pleasure.

It's neat. Sign up.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Close Guantanamo!


I would have blogged about this earlier if I'd known about it, but I didn't. This morning my co-worker whose partner works for the ACLU came up to me and said it's the anniversary of prisoners first arriving at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay. The ACLU is asking people to wear orange today "an expression of opposition to indefinite detention at the U.S.-run prison and torture." So now I've got an orange armband on. (see? <<<)

You can find out more here and here. It's a pretty disgusting situation. You know, blatantly ignoring human rights and all.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Don't Drink the Water!

I couldn't think of anything interesting to say today. So this is all you get:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Henri Faberge and the Adorables

My most recent listening obsession is Henri Faberge and the Adorables from Toronto. Never mind that I could have been sold on the name alone, HFatA hooks my ears with melodies that mix country/blues with swing... and then whatever it is that gives all these damn brilliant Canadians such catchy tunes! Their songs manage to be feel-good and mocking at the same time. Oh, and I love that they have both a male and female singer. You just can't get enough of duets these days. (Or at least, I can't. That's part of the reason why I dig Mates of State and The Moldy Peaches so much.)

I bet you can't not hum along.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Kevin Bacon Game

A series of Visa commercials created what I like to call "The Kevin Bacon Game" i.e. trying to connect anyone and everyone on the planet to Kevin Bacon. And, thanks to one of my amazing co-workers, I am one step closer to that goal. He told me that his son goes to school with Kevin Bacon's son (who knew they were even in the KC area?...), which means that he is 3 degrees removed from the great Bacon, I'm 4 and since you're one of my readers, I think that makes you 5. Neat, right?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Like a Punch to the Face

I don't know about you guys, but I have fantasies of punching someone - anyone - in the face. Probably because I know I'll never have the nuts to do it ever. But, this made me laugh and reminded me, once again, of the video I posted a while back.

Anyway, Gaping Void has a post about "new" marketing up and this image led it off. To be honest, I never read his posts (I just like looking at the pictures), but they're probably awesome.