Saturday, August 26, 2006

Modest Mouse Marr

[subtitle: Von Trapper Keeper is old and slow.]

Am I the last person to hear about this? Johnny Marr, guitar genius of the Smiths, wrote and recorded with Modest Mouse on their forthcoming album and has signed on to tour with them as well? Smiths + Modest Mouse? Holy crap. That's huge. And I'm like 6.5 months late hearing about it and 3 weeks past the mainstream music media. The VTK is officially past its musical appreciation prime (as if that wasn't clear to me at the TV On The Radio + Yeah Yeah Yeah's free show at Government Center a few weeks back - I looked more like the average pedophile prowling the premises than the average music fan). Anyways, it's very exciting news to the VTK since the Smiths and Modest Mouse are two of my favorite bands of all time. Yet you have to wonder what Marr and Modest Mouse will sound like together. Both pioneered pretty unique guitar sounds (Marr for sure, MM, in my non-guitar-playing opinion anyways). On paper it's an indie guitar rock dream, but how will they mesh in reality? More importantly, are they both over the hill in terms of musical relevance? MM last album was a far cry from their late 90's stuff and Marr is 89 years old. We'll see. They've certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.

This Isaac Brock (MM) quote from a lame publication which I refuse to credit since they said that this was Modest Mouse's second album:

"He made a cautious commitment to write and record with us, and then the tighter we got, he was like, 'okay, let's tour too,'. Then he was pretty much a member of the band - not pretty much. He's a full blown member of the band. It's really fuckin' nice."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I had planned on doing a series of State-of-the-Yankees posts, one each month, to satisfy the sports coverage requirement of the VTK. Then the World Cup precluded the Y.6.6 and I never got around to the Y.7.6, which is probably good since the Bombers were 3.5 games behind the Sox a month ago, and it wouldn’t have necessarily made for the best reading. But now they’re 6.5 games in front of the AL East and coming off a dominating 5 game sweep at Fenway, so I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to post a quick State of the Yankees.

The State is good. Only once before in MLB history has a 1st place team swept a 2nd place team in a 5 game series and that was back in 1923. For the Yankees to do it at Fenway against the Red Sox in this 5 year stretch is a pretty significant chapter in this epic rivalry. Now they just need to guard against an emotional letdown that would allow the Sox to get back into it. Winning at least 2 out of 3 against the crappy Mariners would be a good first step, especially considering their next 9 are against playoff contenders.

The Abreu/Lidle pickup at the trading deadline is looking more and more genius each day. Not only did the Yankees not give up anything substantial in return and convince the Phillies and Abreu to waive his no-trade clause and the option year of his contract, but both players came up huge in their first taste of the Rivalry. Abreu reached base 17 times and Lidle pitched 6 scoreless innings to set the Yankees up to win the 5th game. Awesome. Sheff-who? Pavan-what?

I was out in Pittsfield for the weekend at VTK reader N-Rob’s rockin’ bachelor party, which included an incident of me crashing a golf cart into a drinking fountain in the pitch dark at 20 mph, leaving my stomach bruised and the fountain spraying everywhere. Good times. It was also a great place to watch/follow the series since, as I’ve been telling Boston folks for years, Pittsfield is one of the hotly contested border towns between Red Sox Nation and Yankees Country, with the population probably going 50% to 40% Sox to Yankees (10% to the Mets?). I’ve been out there 3 weekends this month and have been encouraged to see tons of Yankees shirts and hats. This piece of “research” by the NY Times would have you believe that Pittsfield is part of Red Sox Nation, but if you think scientific method should be more stringent than counting the number of Red Sox and Yankees cookies in Auntie Kristen’s bakery then you’ll disregard it (what kind of spelling of Kristin is that anyways?). You can’t legitimately call any town in New England / New York for one team or the other unless it has more than 2/3 of the population rooting for one of the two teams. And there’s no way Pittsfield has 70% of its population in Red Sox Nation. So at least 40% of Pittsfield is in a good mood this morning. And about 2% of Cambridge!

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

A couple months ago the VTK provided a valuable public service by compiling and posting the complete Sons and Daughters series from youtube clips. I'm now happy to present you with the first 4 episodes of a great new comedy, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The American version of the Office is really growing on me and Curb Your Enthusiasm is tremendous, even though it’s on HBO and I can’t watch it. But I would have to put this show up there in the Top 3. Enjoy:

- Episode 1.1
- Episode 1.2
- Episode 2.1
- Episode 2.2
- Episode 3.1
- Episode 3.2
- Episode 4.1
- Episode 4.2

[update: I just started watching this show recently, but apparently we're into the second season. There is not an exhaustive collection of episodes on youtube, but here are a few more for your enjoyment. I'll add more to this post as I find them. I've been informed by an inside source and VTK reader that the shows are also available on iTunes]

- nazi episode part 1
- nazi episode part 2
- nazi episode part 3
- gun fever episode part 1
- gun fever episode part 2
- gun fever episode part 3
- $100 Baby episode part 1
- $100 Baby episode part 2
- $100 Baby episode part 3

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Evolution Post.

Ok kids. It’s crackpot theory time. Webster’s Dictionary defines “crackpot theory” as a theory of no confirmed scientific merit, the proof of which has no bearing on the conviction of the theorist. Let’s begin.

I began thinking about this post a couple months ago in the midst of my 4 hours of post Lost Season finale online forum research, during which I was trying to sort out what the fuck had just happened on the show. (this post is not all about Lost, so bear with me non-watchers) One weird element of that finale was the mysterious appearance of a giant stone disembodied leg, which seemed to indicate that there had been a previous society living on this deserted island. However, the foot only had 4 toes. The show continued and there was no other reference or explanation of this 4 toed humanlike leg. That led one forum participant to suggest that it may be a reference to this book about
4 toed humans living in a dense hive future; the author of this post gives a synopsis of a work of science fiction by T.J. Bass, Half Past Human, which he describes as a:

"picture of human biological optimization in the face of exponential population growth … investigating consequences that spring from a combination of the medical technology that can both do away with most forms of "natural" death, such as hunger and disease, and the agricultural and bio- technology that will allow us to reshape our food chain and ourselves … "Half Past Human" takes a dark look at the human species "optimized" for ultra-density hive living in a world of several trillion Citizens. It stands on its head our Big Science wishfulness about what we will remake ourselves as, not in the image of something Higher, but of some utilitarian Lowerness that allows us to survive, but not grow or attain.

[In the book], Human science has created the four toed Nebish, a pallid, short lived and highly programmable humanoid who has had the elements that do not facilitate a Hive existence (aggression, curiosity, etc.) bred out of it. The five toed genotype is this world's dinosaur, a messy, dangerous animal that is marginalized, cast out, and hunted down to keep it from competing with its four toed brethern in the Hive cities …

[As a result of our exponential population growth], serious thought will be given to what can be done to us, how we can be made either easier to feed, more capable of being wedged into ever tighter living spaces, and more compliant to a system that will have a harder and harder time keeping us fed. We seem incapable of the simplest preventive solution, reducing our prodigious birth rate, so, if history has been any example, we will look for the after the fact technological solution.”

So, I ran out and bought the book … [dramatic pause] … just kidding. You know I don’t read books. Which is why I also didn’t read up on the Punctuated Equilibrium Theory, as VTK’s expert anthropological/archaeological consultant, Dearest Cupcake, recommended I do; nor did I read Mismeasure of Man by Gould or anything by Lamarck. Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever read Origin of the Species. But you see, none of that matters. Because this isn’t a prĂ©cis for a well thought out piece of scholarly research; this is a crackpot theory. So all this procrastination on reading the required text on the subject was really unnecessary. Let’s proceed.

The 4 toed optimized hive being thing got me thinking about physical adaptations that make a person more fit to survive. And this got me thinking about my pinky finger. A year and ½ ago, I got into a bar fight (in which I was unquestionably morally justified) and ended up sustaining a compound fracture in my finger (and not from poking someone in the eye as some VTK readers have guessed). Let’s call it a broken finger for purposes of this post. Conventional (non-stupid-intelligent-design-subscribing) wisdom suggests that dominant or “alpha” males of a species get their choice of female mates, therefore the strong survive and those with desirable genes pass them on. Survival of the fittest, someone once called it. Well, this was clearly not in play on this particular night, since despite “kicking ass”, I ended up going home alone, as the girl that I was dating at the time literally ran away. (What happened to standing by your man? Remember, I was unquestionably morally justified in this altercation.) While the tough guys often “get the girl” in the human species, it is often the case in highly developed societies like Cambridge that it is other characteristics that the females look for in their mates, such as intelligence, wit, or talent of some sort. In some corners of the world, the tough male organism kills the beast and feeds his family with it. In this corner, the smart male organism works on computers and buys tuna steaks at Whole Foods. Perhaps this is why my organism of choice fled. Proving yourself capable of defending yourself in this realm is the equivalent of wearing a pocket protector in middle school in another realm. In this realm, the broken finger sustained in a fight is not a sign of a viable male, but rather of philistine incapable of working the type of specialized job that will pay the Cambridge rent and the $17.99 a pound that fresh tuna costs at Whole Foods. It certainly appeared that I had taken a step backwards in the race of evolution and no amount of unquestionable moral justification was going to catch me up to the others…


The interesting thing is that my broken finger is now actually more suited to typing since it is angled down towards the keypad. The rest of my fingers are still straight so I have to make the extra effort to angle them down towards the keys. As you probably know, that takes time. My broken pinky? Already there. Here, watch:


Know how long that took me? Not very long. Peter Piper picked a pack of Pittsfield peppers. I’m deleting, hitting enter, and using quotes like a motherfucker. I am now better suited for typing, writing, using a computer, interfacing with cyberspace, in short, dominating. A philistine occurrence like a bar fight has serendipitously advanced the intellectual evolution of my genes. Pugilism unwittingly (fittingly) advanced cerebralism. The question now is how can I use this information to help me reproduce? Remember: I’m the guy who invented not getting laid. The broken (angled) finger will eventually be a virile calling card like the peacock’s brightly colored feathers, but at this point, the females are probably not yet aware of this revolution in evolution and will instead read my broken finger as an indication of devolution. So you see, it’s tricky.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: it’s a fallacy to think that my angled finger would be passed on to my children. My genes have not really been altered by the broken finger, so it’s not something that would be passed on to my offspring. I’d have to break their fingers when they are young to make sure that they are best prepared for the world. I can’t argue with your logic. It seems that the Nolans will be breaking fingers for a few generations. The people who really have it made are the mutants whose fingers are naturally aimed down. They’re breeding the alpha humans of the future. I’m about to get Artie the Aqua Boy up in this bitch. (ok, I read one book)

Of course, this conflicts a bit with my belief that I am lowering the value of my stock by continuing with this pointless drawing/painting obsession. Artistic talent in the form of drawing and painting was once one of those non-power talents that I mentioned that certain females find attractive. But this was before the advent of the computer age, in which mojo is measured by computer literacy. Consequently, the next few generations will be so computercentric that they will not spend much time with the old caveman scratching devices (the pen, the pencil, the paintbrush). They will not have good penmanship and they will lose their ability to doodle, draw, paint, etc. And since computer proficiency will be the most desirable trait, anyone that is proficient in these other spheres will be seen as irrelevant and unviable. When I’m 95, I could be one of the last proficient painters on the planet. Rather than this being a virile calling card, it would be seen as nondesirable trait. Which sucks, since that was when I was planning on planting my seeds.

That pretty much wraps up my crackpot theory for today. Draw your own conclusions (if you dare). Lastly on the broken finger tip, remember our old friend Bad News Hughes? Take a look at this recent photo diary from his Diary of the Indignities. He knows what time it is.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Down Goes Joe!

Allow me to take the high road here and say "ha ha, suck it, Joe!" Oh well, I do love the low road. I'm delighted that Joe Lieberman lost his primary race to Ned Lamont and that the Democratic Party establishment is tripping over themselves to support Ned. It must be killing the spineless bastards. Of course, we haven't seen the last of old "Regular Joe" (or "Regular Joseph" as the boys over at Action Mill call him); Joey is planning on continuing his campaign as an independent, or "independent democrat", as he puts it. Worst case scenario: either Joe or the Republican candidate wins due to the Democratic vote being split. But at least the message will have been sent and the world will see what a pathetic turd the Lieb really is. Best case scenario: Ned wins the seat. He's not exactly a Liberal Lion, but he's certainly left of Le Lieb who, according to this site (thanks to dewy24 for the tip), is the 8th most conservative Democratic Senator. The voice that Democrats should really be mourning the loss of is Cynthia McKinney, who lost her primary yesterday (because some stupid 24 year old prekindergarten teacher thought the way McKinney reacted to being detained by some idiot Capitol cop who didn't recognize her was unseemly). We love you Cynthia!

See the Daily Kos for great progressive blogger coverage of the Joey Joe KO, including this list of winners and losers.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Gravity Schmavity

This is my entry for the Union of Concerned Scientists' cartoon contest. If it gets selected for the final 12 to make their calendar, you'll be able to vote for it to be the winner. If it wins, I get $500 and some other stuff and I'll buy you a beer.
Join the UCS action network to be able to vote (free of course). Or wait to see if it makes the final 12 before signing up. But I recommend you join anyways. The UCS kicks ass. This is what they're all about if you don't already know.

On a related note, good news on the Fuck Intelligent Design front: Evolution Opponents Lose Kansas Board Majority.

Now maybe I'll get off my ass and finish that evolution post I've been promising.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

OK Go Treadmill Video

I don't usually watch music videos anymore (can't tolerate MTV or VH1), but this one is super slick:

(with thanks to Nick for the tip)