There Is No Cat

A huge orangupoid, which no man can conquer

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

It's alright! It's okay! There's something to live for!

I finished watching the DVD of American Movie yesterday. It's a wonderful movie. If you haven't heard of it, it's a documentary about a guy in Milwaukee, Mark Borchardt, trying to make a movie. He seems like the least likely person to be able to make a movie, between living in his parents' basement and drinking too much, but damned if he doesn't pull it off. He doesn't make the movie he intended to, but he does get a short horror pic made. The movie is just really sweet, and the two main characters are amazing. Every Don Quixote has to have a Sancho Panza, and Mike Schank fills the roll perfectly. Mike is just the sweetest guy. At one point he says that if it was up to him, he wouldn't be making a movie, but his friend is, so he is. I thought that just said a lot. Mark's mom is another star; there's a priceless scene where Mark is trying to convince her to come out into the woods because he needs extras for a scene he needs to shoot that day and most of his extras begged off. The real heart of the movie, though, is Mark's relationship with his uncle, a crusty old miser who turns out to have been paying a little more attention than it seems.

The DVD is just crammed full of extras. In addition to the movie, there's a commentary with the director and producer and two main characters. Probably the most interesting thing I took away from the commentary is just how similar the productions of the documentary and the horror film were; made on shoestrings, bumming film wherever possible, took freaking forever. The documentary looks a lot better than the horror film, though. There are a bunch of deleted scenes that the director makes clear were great material, but got in the way of the story and made the film too long. This sort of thing really shows off the advantages of DVDs. I wish they had these back when I was in college taking film courses. It's a great thing for anyone who has an interest in film.

Anyway, I really found the determination of this guy trapped in nowhere jobs like delivering newspapers and caretaking at a cemetery uplifting. The man has grit. He actually accomplished something, and that's admirable. The documentary's makers really painted a beautiful portrait of this man and his family and friends.

The web site for the movie is excellent, and continues the story. Mark Borchardt has a journal on the site, and it appears he's still working on the film he was trying to make at the beginning of American Movie, the one that was postponed in favor of the horror short. I hope he gets it made; it sounds interesting. It seems like the past few years have kind of distracted him with all the attention he gained from the documentary. One of the neatest features of the site is that it gives you a phone number to call Mike Schank in his basement. In the movie, Mark says that the reason he's making the horror pic is to make money to fund his big movie, and that if he can sell 3,000 copies of the horror pic on video, he'll have paid for the movie, paid back everyone who loaned him money, and have the money for the next film. It's good to see on the web site that he's well-surpassed his goal.

The director of American Movie, Chris Smith, has another web site, an Internet TV station called 0TV (that's a zero). One of the things on the site is a show about Mark and Mike, so you can see even more about what's happened to them since the movie. Neat stuff. There's a lot more stuff on the site, though. One thing I was playing with tonight was the "Guess My Name" game. Very clever.

For a long time, I was really reluctant to watch movies on video. I worked in a video store after I came home from college, and I think it really burnt me out on the experience. While I worked there, I was able to bring any unrented video home for the night for free, so I gorged on movies. After I left, for years I just had no desire to watch videos. I did once in a while, but really no more than once or twice a year. Since we got the DVD player last year, though, I've been getting into it a lot more. Hey, it only took 15 years to get over that crappy job at the video store. :-)

Posted at 11:02 PM
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Monday, April 29, 2002

And on the shore, you can get salt water taffy

There's a nice article in Salon about the (not recent) death of the Great Sign that once graced the highways of America at thousands of Holiday Inns. I wouldn't say the Great Sign was the pinnacle of retro kitsch tackiness, but it was certainly the most widely spread instance. According to the article, all the of the signs have been torn down (unlike McDonalds, where you will occasionally see an old 1950s-style golden arches, although they're getting harder to find).

Of course, if you really want tacky, you've got to go to the mom-and-pop independents. That's one of the reasons I love to go to Wildwood is the incredible concentration of garish hotel signs in one place.

Posted at 11:30 AM
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I think it was Johnny the shoe shine boy from Police Squad

Susan Kitchens says on her blog that John Dean announced last week that he's going to reveal who Deep Throat was on June 17th. Yawn. I heard Len Garment, who was one of Nixon's lawyers, say who he thought it was last year. Unless Dean is gonna out himself, it's just speculation.

(I guess since Linda Lovelace died last week, it's safe to say who it was now....)

Posted at 12:56 AM
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I was never one to bash him anyway

I was reading a fascinating piece on The Shifted Librarian about usability for Senior Citizens, thinking "yeah, that makes sense, I like that, okay, I try to do that with the NASWA site" and thinking that this person had some nice insights into an area that crosses usability and accessibility, two of my particular interests. Then I noticed that the article was just an extensive quote from Jakob Nielsen's latest Alertbox.

All the nice things I said about it still apply. :-)

Posted at 12:12 AM
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Sunday, April 28, 2002

You mean Rheingold is more than just a beer?

One of my best friends is a man with a passion for opera, and in particular, for the work of Wagner. It's one of his life ambitions to make a trip to the Bayreuth Festival to see the work performed in its home. Many were the lunches we spent talking about Wagner and Bayreuth. So I was interested to see an article in this week's Economist about the continuing maneuvering among the descendents of Richard Wagner for advantage in the inevitable aftermath of the iron rule of Wagner's controversial 82 year old grandson Wolfgang.

Posted at 11:23 PM
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I hate when that happens

You just have to love a story that starts with the words "Anyone who has ever hammered a nail into his nose owes a large debt to Melvin Burkhart," whether it's his actual obituary or just an article about obituaries. Funny that some of the liveliest writing in newspapers is about the dead.

Posted at 10:19 AM
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Friday, April 26, 2002

Why yes, I think it is out of the question

With all this stuff going on with the Cardinals being summoned to Rome over the abuse scandals and the calls for resignations going right to the top, I pulled out an album by one of my favorite bands, Ninetynine from Melbourne, Australia, so I could her the song Popemobile. It's a charming, catchy little 1:54 of punky noise and melody:

I wonder how it would feel
To be riding in a Popemobile
The Mafia's right-hand man
Get fashion tips from Milan

It must be so fantastic
Even though the glass is plastic
With all the [damned if I can figure these words out]
Into the Vatican

And it is such a farce
With all those bodyguards
And for all the world's redemptions
I suppose that sex is out of the question

I used to think this was kind of an undignified take on the subject (and all the funnier for it), but compared to what happened in Rome this past week, it seems downright staid.

Sadly, I couldn't find the audio of this online anywhere to link to, but you can hear a couple of other tunes on the web site of their Canadian label, Endearing Records.

Posted at 9:02 PM
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Thursday, April 25, 2002

Puffs of white smoke

I've seen a lot of articles calling for the Cardinal of Boston to step down, but this is the first one I've seen to call for the Pope himself to step down. Interesting that it comes from outside America. The author is probably my favorite correspondent on the BBC.

Posted at 10:57 PM
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At least it isn't another Canadian Bacon

Interesting article about Michael Moore's next documentary film on Ain't It Cool News (which I found on It's tentatively called Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore, paragon of good taste), and it's all about gun violence. I'm of two minds on Michael Moore's documentaries. On the one hand, anyone who says that documentaries shouldn't have a point of view doesn't know much about the history of documentaries. John Grierson, one of the fathers of the genre, drilled into the heads of his proteges that documentary required a point of view (something that the cinema verité guys would probably quarrel with, but no mind), and that it should be a force for positive social change. So Moore is square in the tradition of agitprop documentaries. And yet. And yet, so often it seems like he just sets up straw men to knock down, and there's a condescending attitude toward some of his subjects that troubles me, and not just the people he's trying to knock down. Roger and Me was funny as hell, but I also felt a little queasy after seeing it. So much of what he did in that film felt set up. Okay, so it was set up in a good purpose, but still. And don't even talk to me about his direct-to-video followup, Pets or Food.

One night a bunch of years ago, I was having dinner with my parents, and my mom and I were discussing Roger and Me. This was probably a few years after the movie came out, but about the time Moore's TV series premiered. If you haven't seen the movie, the whole point of the movie is that Roger Smith, then president of General Motors, is an insensitive idiot. We were talking about the movie, and how it was funny, and this and that, and out of nowhere my dad says, "Roger Smith is an idiot." We didn't even know he was paying attention, but we were like, yeah, we know, that's what the movie's about. "Well, good, because he is." How do you know, dad? "I used to work for him." I knew that my dad worked for GM when I was growing up, in the early 1970s. Smith was an executive then, right? "No, I worked for him. He was my boss' boss. And he was an idiot."

My mom and I practically died laughing.

I didn't need to see Roger and Me; I could have just asked my dad.

Posted at 9:43 PM
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Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Forward Into The Past

I've always loved the graphic design of the early Soviet period. There's something about it that screams of a yearning for the future. (Of course, we all know what that future turned out to be....) MOMA has an exhibit called The Russian Avant Garde Book 1910-1934 that displays some fascinating examples I was previously unaware of. I've seen the propaganda posters, but there was a lot more going on than that. (Requires Flash; found via the sadly-departed

Posted at 5:00 PM
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Web Verité

So I've been thinking about documentaries some more, both on radio and on film, and thinking about some of the documentaries I saw when I was in school that you just don't see anywhere else outside of school. One of the most impressive documentaries I ever saw was Primary, about the 1960 Wisconsin Democratic primary between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. This is generally recognized as the first real cinema verité film. So I was delighted to find an interview with D. A. Pennebaker talking, in part, about the film, and the challenges making it presented. Now, it's been close to twenty years since I've seen the film, but I do remember that it wasn't technically perfect, and reading the interview with Pennebaker, I understand why. This was really the first film made with these new, portable cameras and sync sound. I remember seeing a couple of films made by John Grierson and his associates in the UK in the 1930s that had sync sound, but the sound was recorded in a huge truck about the size of an UPS delivery truck outside of wherever they were filming. The development of equipment that could be carried by a single person made it possible, really for the first time, for the camera to act as a fly-on-the-wall. It really changed the process of making documentaries. Something like Don't Look Back, probably Pennebaker's best known film, or Gimme Shelter just wouldn't have been possible without this.

The interview with Pennebaker is part of a whole series of interviews with luminaries of cinema verité like Ricky Leacock, Albert Maysles, and Robert Drew. For someone interested in documentaries like me, this is a motherlode of information. I love the point that Drew makes in his interview about how the documentaries that he and his associates made work on picture logic rather than word logic. That's one of the things I always loved best about them; there wasn't some omniscient narrator reading a script and oh, by the way, here's some pictures, the way most TV news "documentaries" are done. The verité documentaries are really done as films, using the structure of film. They take advantage of the medium in which they exist to get their message across, and work much better for it. The Word of God type documentary almost always seems like it would work better as a newspaper article or something. There's definitely something to be said for understanding your medium and working to its strengths, rather than bringing the baggage of another medium along with you. It just tends to weigh you down.

I think I've rediscovered another source of inspiration in my web work, much like Ernie Kovacs inspired me by inventing the vocabulary of television we take for granted today and killing "radio with pictures".

I wish these documentaries were easily available on DVD. Some of the more popular films, like Don't Look Back, are, but I went to the Pennebaker Hegedus web site, and you can't even buy all their films on VHS; seminal films like Primary are missing (although they promise to make them all available eventually, and I guess Primary may actually belong to Drew.) I would love a Special Edition of some of these with Pennebaker and Drew and Leacock providing a commentary track to let us in on how they accomplished what they did. And I want to see Crisis, shot in 1963 and directed by Drew, about JFK's fight with George Wallace to desegregate a college in Alabama. It's supposed to be the most intimate film ever made about a president, and it's pretty much unimaginable that filmmakers would be given such wide-ranging access today.

In case you couldn't tell, I love documentary film. The teacher for my last video production class in college hated them, and as he was assigning us to do one, told the class that there had never been an interesting documentary. I was taking a course in documentary film that semester, and I raised my hand and begged to differ. He challenged me to name an interesting documentary, so I did. "Okay, name another." I did. I rattled off about a half dozen interesting documentaries, including one or two of the ones mentioned above, before he conceded the point. "You, however, are not going to make one," he finished in his subcontinental accent. Despite turning our documentary in on time, the only group in the class to do so, he docked us two grades for being late two days, to make sure that we got a D on it instead of the B he graded it as on its merits. That class ruined my 4.0 average in my major, but it was worth it to make that teacher look like the ass that he was.

Posted at 3:01 PM
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Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Sounds like we're all in hot water to me

Dan Gillmor says: "If you build a house, you design the plumbing system to include hot water. If you have to add in the hot-water system later, you'll pay much more and you'll disrupt your family's life during the follow-up construction.

"That same logic should apply to privacy and other public values in the digital age. It doesn't apply very often, sorry to say."

Posted at 1:11 PM
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Well, in Poland...

I've been thinking a lot about my aborted career in broadcasting lately. I suppose it was prompted by the fact that the TV station I worked for in college, WPSX-TV, had a reunion last weekend. I would have liked to go, but I went to the SWL Fest in Kulpsville and the IA Summit is Baltimore last month, and I didn't really want to spend the money for another trip right now since I'm keeping a tight watch on finances. So I stayed home. (If you worked with me at WPSX between 1983 and 1986 and you find this page, e-mail me at and say hi!) Interestingly, when I visited their site, I found that WPSX does web development now, and that I went to school with one of the people mentioned on the page as a contact.

So when I start thinking about this and how I didn't become a maker of radio documentaries, I sometimes visit The Transom, set up by public radio producer Jay Allison to encourage independent radio producers to work up pieces and toss them in through the transom of public radio, so to speak. They've got lots of great tips about things like what type of microphone to use and how to use ProTools Free to edit; I guess razor blades and splicing blocks are out. Oh well; I still have mine somewhere.

Anyway, it's been a while since I visited the site, and I didn't realize that they'll occasionally publish a piece they've helped with on their site. The one that's up now is entitled "Well, in Poland...", and I have to say, it's just an incredibly sweet piece that draws you in. The fact that I have ancestors from southern Poland, where the piece takes place, probably helped, but I think anyone would appreciate this story.

I decided some years ago that the web was my medium, my outlet for those creative urges that would drive me insane if I didn't do something with them, but every so often I hear a radio piece that makes me wish I had stuck with it.

Posted at 10:28 AM
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Monday, April 22, 2002

The Devil Lives in my Husband's Computer

I've seen a lot of Macintosh sites pointing to this article proving that Apple promotes Satanism, Darwinism, and Communism.

What I haven't seen is anyone pointing out that the site is served by tools of Satan:

The site is running Apache/1.3.22 (Unix) mod_perl/1.26 PHP/4.0.6 on Linux.

Apache runs as a daemon on Linux, named httpd, where d stands for daemon.

I think they better take down that site pronto, for fear for their mortal souls.

Posted at 2:08 PM
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Sunday, April 21, 2002

Spruce Beer?

One of our favorite movies is Ghost World. In an interview last year when the movie came out, creator Dan Clowes said about the character he created, "[Enid is] trapped in this world of very limited consumer choice. She doesn't want to pick Pepsi or Coke; she wants some weird soda that she's never heard of. She has a bigger imagination than what she's offered."

This family is just like that. If there was ever a soda you never heard of, they've probably tried it. Better, they've reviewed it. Ranked it. Then they've told the world what they found. I love the score for my favorite, Vernors: "4+ unless you are from Michigan, then you rate it a 5+++, and probably remove your hat while drinking it." Amen. The background graphic on the site is even of Vernors.

The bad reviews are even better. "If you ever wanted to lick a pine tree, here is your chance." Thank you, Michie family, for sacrificing yourselves on the altar of non-corporate soda so the rest of us know what to look for.

(I've been known to fill the car (literally) with cans of Vernors on trips to the midwest. My brother tipped me off that it's available in the Baltimore area, so I was able to replenish my dwindling stocks on a recent trip there. Hey, they sell Vernors less than three hours away from my house! Road trip!)

Posted at 4:34 PM
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Saturday, April 20, 2002

The Walrus Was Paul

The Guardian reviews the latest smash hit video from Osama bin Laden: "This was the bit everybody really wanted to watch in case there were any hints as to whether he might be dead or alive. It's the same process that Beatles fans went through many years ago, playing their records backwards and trying to decode the album covers for evidence of Paul McCartney's death.

"Well, Osama's white, Jesus-style headdress might be a clue. And, unusually, he didn't appear to be wearing a watch - presumably unnecessary after entering eternity."

Posted at 8:07 PM
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Digital Radio

For this year's Winter SWL Fest, I tried to get Radio Netherlands to send someone, or at least to send a radio, to demonstrate Digital Radio Mondiale, the system that's allegedly going to change the way we listen to international shortwave broadcasts. Unfortunately, the Fest happened at the same time as something else that their DRM guru had to attend, so it didn't happen. But RNW has a nice section on their site explaining the new system, which is good, because the DRM consortium hasn't done squat to get the word out to the people who are actually going to buy (or not buy) the receivers. For years, listeners have been told that digital shortwave is coming, but not much more than that. I think the DRM consortium sees listeners as sheep who will buy the receivers when they come out because they say so. But precedents like the take up on digital television (do you know anyone who has a digital TV? I didn't think so) argue that consumers will do whatever they please, and that top-down imposed solutions are as likely to fail as they are to succeed. They haven't done a damned thing to sell the listeners on digital shortwave. It's nice that DRM has a page of sample clips, but I really hesitate to judge what it's going to sound like based on an online clip, since you can't tell what's a compression artefact from being online and what's an artefact from the DRM process. Anyway, it's nice to see Radio Netherlands try to fill some of the gap, proving once again how they're The Good Guys of international broadcasting.

Meanwhile, my old friend Scott Fybush from the early days of reported from the National Association of Broadcasters convention about the prospects for the digital system that American broadcasters are trying to foist on the American public. He seems to sum the situation up in the following quote (scroll down to the report for Tuesday, April 9 on Scott's page):

[Y]ou've probably already heard about the lukewarm endorsement given to Ibiquity's AM digital in-band, on-channel standard. The recommendation released here suggests that the standard is, quite literally, not ready for prime time: it's suggested for daytime use only.

We're not surprised; the buzz we've been getting from those we trust in the industry suggests that the system just isn't ready to deal with nighttime skywave conditions - or, more worrisomely, with the adjacent-channel listening that nighttime skywave makes possible.

Anyone who has ever tuned the AM band at night could have seen this one coming....

A few weeks ago, I heard an ad on CKLW 800 for digital radio. Canada seems to be doing it reasonably right; they have a separate band so the signal can actually carry decent audio, and they're selling it to the public instead of shipping it and hoping people notice. If I lived anywhere near the border like when I was growing up in Detroit, I'd probably get one. Then again, I don't know, maybe they're the laughing stock of Canada. But I thought hearing an ad for it on a major station was a good sign.

Posted at 1:02 AM
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Dead Peasants Society

Interesting article in the Houston Chronicle about companies that take out life insurance policies on low-level employees that pay the company if the employee dies. In the insurance industry, these are known as "dead peasant" policies. Nothing like providing companies with incentives to see their employees die. I always knew I was descended from peasants, and even referred to myself as such at my job (when I had a job), but I had no idea that the company saw me that way too.... Incidentally, Laura works for one of the companies listed in the article as doing this. (Link found on The Null Device.)

Posted at 12:08 AM
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Friday, April 19, 2002

Farewell, InfoUkes

After over two years, I finally gave up on the InfoUkes genealogy mailing list. What a freaking mess that list is. My very first post two years ago was hijacked into a thread of attack and counterattack in a fight I had nothing to do with, and it never ended. [Name deleted due to threat of legal action], or [Name deleted due to threat of legal action], as he sometimes goes by, is a disruptive presence who can never exit an argument gracefully when he can keep jabbing back. The amazing thing is that they finally kicked him off the list, but he keeps resubscribing with different HotMail accounts every time he gets thrown off. I'm starting to think that [Name deleted due to threat of legal action] is really an aggression-bot, because no person could possibly be such a jerk. I had to laugh the other day when another list member accused him of contacting her employer to try to get her fired for things she had said on the list. His reply was that she should immediately retract her claim that he had contacted her employer, or else he would contact her employer. I don't know how anyone could post that without realizing how it looks. I used to think that [Name deleted due to threat of legal action], who is a professional genealogist specializing in Ukraine and eastern Europe, stayed on the list because he was trawling for clients, but I can't imagine why anyone would hire someone who had displayed such an unprofessional attitude. I don't think I want to know what the pathology is that would keep such a person on a list he constantly derides as full of "stupid asses". It must be rough being the smartest person on Earth, constantly surrounded by and challenged by your inferiors.

Please note; I have edited this post on 18 September 2002 to remove the name of the gentleman referenced in the paragraph due to the threat of legal action from said gentleman. This man also threatened to contact my employer "exhibit what kind of person you are", which I consider a very thinly veiled threat to try to get me fired.

Unfortunately, the constant fighting on the list has so completely poisoned the atmosphere there that other people have started acting like fools. There was one gentleman on the list, V, who was a nice guy. He was such a nice guy that when he was getting ready to travel to Ukraine on an extended trip, he offered to do research for list members for the cost of expenses. Unfortunately, he got sick, so he wasn't able to do the research as promptly as people would have liked, and a couple of the people who had asked for his help got very petulant about it. They just wouldn't accept that double pneumonia and hospitalization in an underdeveloped country without an Internet cafe on every corner was an acceptable excuse.

So this week, there was a post from another gentleman who asked that everyone who had sent money to this gentleman please contact him so that their money could be refunded. That just set off another round from the idiot gallery. For all these people knew, V could have died. But no, they had to get the knives out again. Another list member who had heard from V explained that V had been robbed and badly beaten, which resulted in another trip to the hospital, and from there back to North America and a premature end to his trip. Was that enough? No, of course not. One person insisted on proof that he had been beaten. Jesus on a stick! That was the last straw for me. I posted asking if 8 x 10 glossies of his bloodied face would be acceptable, then signed off the list. Apparently none of these people have ever had anything bad ever happen to them, and they have no lives. I can't think of any other reason that they would surrender simple decency and humanity because they were so desperate to get a few lousy pieces of paper. I've never seen such a contentious list. There were some really nice, helpful people there, but they were largely drowned out by a few jackasses. If I wanted that sort of signal-to-noise ratio, I would start reading netnews again....

Anyway, my two-plus years on the list were an education. It was interesting to see how a small number of jerks could so completely ruin the experience for everyone else. In a way, it was the history of Ukraine writ small; a nation whose leaders have rarely missed an opportunity to dissolve into infighting when they should unite in the face of a common problem has produced a list that mirrors that history. I can see now how a small number of people were likely responsible for the failure of the nation to gain independence on a number of occasions before 1991, despite the wishes of the vast majority of decent, patient, frustrated people.

Good riddance, InfoUkes genealogy list.

Posted at 1:47 AM
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Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Keep It Light Enough To Travel

Monday night, Laura and I went to see the Be Good Tanyas at The Saint in Asbury Park. Wow! What a show! I had first heard of the band on NPR's All Things Considered back in December and thought they sounded pretty good. Then a couple of weeks ago, I was watching a clip of them on Andy Kershaw's program for BBC Radio 3 when Laura walked in. She liked them, so she surprised me with a gift of their CD, Blue Horse. That got me looking at their web site last Saturday, where I noticed first that they were playing at the Bottom Line in NYC that very night, and then that they were playing about four miles from our house Monday night. I'm glad the CD didn't come a few days later. :-)

Anyway, the show was sponsored by the NPR affiliate at Brookdale, the local community college, who are one of the few oddball affiliates to have followed the lead of WXPN in Philadelphia and instituted a AAA (Adult Album Alternative) format. They're pretty good. My friend Gail's brother is one of the DJs there, so it's always cool to hear him on the radio, even though I don't know him. The station had arranged for this divey bar to be sans-smoking for the evening, and there was a no-talking rule during the performances. They called it "The Asbury Cafe at The Saint", clearly attempting to do a coffeehouse kind of thing. They even had chairs, although so many people showed up that I wonder how long that will last.

There were four acts, but the Be Good Tanyas were clearly the draw. And they certainly didn't disappoint. I'd only had the album a couple of days, but had had time to note some favorites, and they played all of them. They closed the show with "Light Enough To Travel", which is kind of the rockiest song on the album. Most of the rest of their music is inspired by old-timey music, although they don't really sound that old-timey to me. It's kind of like old-timey filtered through a modern sensibility; not quite as modern as The Handsome Family (who also blew me away the first time I saw them as I realized they were updating the Appalachian death song genre to cover things like anorexics starving themselves to death in Chicago), but very nice anyway.

So anyway, it was a wonderful show, probably the best we've seen since Scrawlfest out in Columbus, and they sing like angels, and if you get a chance to see them, go twice.

Posted at 10:08 PM
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Thursday, April 4, 2002

Grandma's Camera

Lileks has some absolutely amazing and wonderful photographs from the 1920s that were taken by his grandmother in North Dakota. The most amazing one is of a young girl playing on a John Deere thresher. I love old photographs, and have posted a few of the ones I found at my grandmother's house as well.

Posted at 2:51 AM
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Say Good Night, Moxi

"Moxi Digital Inc., a high-profile Silicon Valley start-up, is being acquired by Digeo, the interactive television company founded by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft Corp. Moxi, created in January 2000 by Steve Perlman, a co-founder of Web TV Networks Inc., unveiled an all-in-one home entertainment hub in January but ran into cash-flow problems within weeks." Paul Allen had exactly one piece of good luck in his life, latching on to Bill Gates at a very early stage. Everything else he touches tends to, um, underperform. Say good night, Moxi.

Posted at 2:17 AM
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Wednesday, April 3, 2002

FCC Ordered to Review TV Ownership Rules

[This] was the third time in the past two months that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has either struck down FCC rules on media ownership or demanded that they be rewritten.

"There is such a fundamental hatred of [the FCC] in this court that they can't trust them in any factual or policy determinations," said Gene Kimmelman, senior director of Consumers Union, an advocacy group.

Posted at 9:15 AM
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Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Marble pizza

My friend Jay has a local pizzeria that has some of the oddest looking pizza slices I've ever seen. I don't think I've ever seen a black pizza, for example (top slice), and the Acropolis looks almost like marble or something.

Posted at 5:25 PM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi. (E-mail address removed due to virus proliferation.)

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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