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Monday, March 30, 2009

Copy editing

I've noticed more typos in news articles in the last six months or so, especially in the Times. It used to be that I might see an error a couple times a year, but recently I seem to see one every couple weeks. This could be a result of me becoming more obsessive, but it's probably due to some combination of reduced copy-editing staff and the papers trying to strike a balance between quality and timely posting of news to their websites.

In any case, here's a doozy I saw just now in the NYT article on the resignation of GM CEO Rick Wagoner:

Like Mr. Wagoner, Mr. Henderson is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and a lifer at G.M. He started in the finance division in 1884 and later spent nine years in executive positions...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Live shot

In this YouTube clip from the BBC's Later...with Jools Holland, LCD Soundsystem give a blistering performance of All My Friends. But I was also struck by how well shot and cut the video is, especially for a live show. This is pretty much all they do at Later, so they ought to be good at it, and they appear to have about 20 cameras, which helps. Still, I found it impressive. There might be a bit too much cutting for some people's taste, but note how nicely the cutting crescendos along with the song...

(Sorry, I've been watching a lot of music stuff on YouTube over the past few weeks, I'll post about other things soon, I swear.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I'd like to make a three-part argument regarding Leslie Feist's awesomeness:

1 2 3 4, on Letterman

Sealion, on some TV show I can't identify

Mushaboom, on Jimmy Kimmel

I saw Broken Social Scene in the tiny 400 Bar in Minneapolis (they barely fit on stage!) a long while back, when Feist was still performing with them. She wasn't even onstage for all the songs, but she turned a really good show into one of the best I've ever been to.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lost punk

I'm not very well-versed in punk rock, but even with my limited familiarity, I was still amazed by this NYT article on what could be called the first punk band. A group of black guys in Detroit basically cuts the first punk record two years before anyone else, but it never gets a major label release (partly because the band was named "Death," partly because they were black) and almost everyone forgets they existed. They never tell their kids about their days as Death, but one of their sons hears a song at a party in San Francisco decades later and recognizes his dad's voice. Now, it's being released by an indie label, and many people acknowledge it as the earliest example of proto-punk.

Listening to sample track Politicians in My Eyes, it does indeed sound halfway between classic rock and punk. It's good, and very impressive for 1974.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Small Worlds, Part VI

I've been periodically posting about weird social coincidences, because I'm fascinated by them. Here are a couple more:

Via Zachary, I found this great group of people, mostly around my age, who have a Sunday night potluck circuit -- it's a great way to meet folks in the neighborhood who you might not otherwise get to know. At last night's event, I met a woman who looked familiar, and then I realized that it was because I met her in the hostel in Harper's Ferry, WV during my bike trip in the fall. She remembered, too, and we agreed it was a funny coincidence.

And from a few weeks ago: A few of us from my team at work took Metro to a meeting. After we sat down on the train, one of my colleagues recognized the person sitting across the aisle as an old acquaintance, and they struck up a conversation. Not very unusual on its own. But on the way back from the meeting, a different colleague sat in that same position in the car, and she recognized the person sitting in the same seat across the aisle as an old acquaintance. At the moment they started talking to each other, the person sitting to my colleague's side (not part of our group) recognized the person sitting next to my colleague's acquaintance, and they started up a conversation. She moved over next to him to talk after a moment, though, because she couldn't hear over the din of all the social serendipity...

As an added coincidence, all three people on my side of the car were women, and all three people on the other side of the car were men. I kept an eye out for other anomalies in the space/time continuum for the remainder of the afternoon, but none appeared.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Does anybody else remember The Avalanches? They released an amazing album back in 2000 based almost entirely on samples from old vinyl. (The tracks Frontier Psychiatrist and Since I Left You also happened to have brilliant videos.)

They spent years on that album, and I've always heard that they were working on eventually releasing a second one. More recently, I saw on Pitchfork that the second album was at least edging toward completion. Now, I've run across this song on YouTube that claims to be a leaked track from the album. Worth checking out and judging for yourself -- while I'm skeptical, it's at least someone doing a pretty good job of sounding like The Avalanches. And it's a good track, with the added benefit of teaching you how to knit.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Name That Tune

While hiking with Zachary a while back, I asserted that out of the 5,000 or so songs in my iTunes collection, I could accurately identify 3 or 4 thousand of them after listening to the first ten seconds of the track. We agreed that in the name of science, I should test this boast.

In a moment of boredom just now, I tried it -- a ten-song sample from iTunes on shuffle, listening to the first ten seconds of each and then writing down my guess at the artist and title. I did pretty well, correctly identifying Abandoned Hospital Ship (Flaming Lips), Pretty As You Please (Ass Ponys), Night on the Sun (Modest Mouse), The Crawl (Placebo), Feeling is Wrong (Hail Social), The Last Last One (The Weakerthans), and Conspiracy Theory (Steve Earle).

I couldn't immediately remember the title of The Host by Built to Spill, nor 3030 by Deltron. And I thought Radiohead's Go to Sleep (Little Man Being Erased) was titled Stand Up, Sit Down (they have a track on that album called Sit Down, Stand Up).

So, approximately the same rate of identification that I claimed. But one would hope I'd have some recall given the massive amounts of time I spend listening.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Train Perspective

The NYT has a nice article on riding Amtrak coast-to-coast. The author makes a point that I've made before about traveling by train -- that the perspective that you get of the scenery is very different when riding a train compared to driving. You see the old parts of developed areas that came up with the trains, and you also see landscapes uncluttered by all the stuff that comes along with roads (gas stations, billboards, strip malls, etc.). Because trains are self-contained, their presence tends to only alter the places where they stop, not the entire route.

I also noted, in the Post today, an article entitled "High-Speed Rail Drives Obama's Transportation Agenda." This seems like an overstatement, but more funds are flowing to rail after a long period of neglect.

I've actually never ridden Amtrak outside the Northeast Corridor. But my parents are going to Hilton Head next month...I'll be hitching a ride down with them to spend a long weekend, and taking the train back to DC from Savannah (with my folding bike in tow). I'm looking forward to seeing the Carolinas and Virginia from the train.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Songs of the Moment (An Occasional Feature)

> Modest Mouse - Secret Agent X-9
> Familjen - Det Snurrar I Min Skalle
> Panda Bear - Good Girl / Carrots
> The Avalanches - Live at Dominoes
> Q And Not U - Collect the Diamonds
> Radiohead - You and Whose Army?
> Sufjan Stevens - Saul Bellow

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Take a Bite Out of...

On Saturday, McGruff the Crime Dog was doing an appearance a few blocks from my house, on 14th Street. I wasn't there, but according to news accounts, children were gathered around and interacting with the anthropomorphic McGruff. Then, a Metrobus pulled up. The driver got out, adjusted his mirrors, punched McGruff in the face, and then drove off while passengers yelled at him. There were other police stationed with the officer who wears the suit, so they stopped the bus about three blocks away. I kid you not.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Music video cameos

A couple notable cameo appearances I've noticed in music videos:

The Beastie Boys in M.I.A.'s Paper Planes (at about 2:50).

And, a bit more obscure, "Bob" from Twin Peaks in Soundgarden's (very 90s) Black Hole Sun (at about 3:55).