Posts Tagged ‘music’

Alternative Grad School

Posted: 9 June 2009 in Uncategorized
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Image representing Seth Godin as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

Seth Godin suggests that all these unemployed college grads put themselves to good purpose this year and spend some time really enriching themselves (ht to @johndcook for the link).  The laundry list of to-do items includes:

  • Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
  • Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL.
  • Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
  • Start, run and grow an online community.

And some other stuff you should visit his site to read for yourselves.  I like his picture.  It makes me think of posthumans.  John’s tweet about Seth’s post inspired the following exchange (reverse chronological order):

Twitter exchange between <a href=

Twitter exchange between @johndcook and @gappy3000.

Regardless of whether Seth Godin can be taken seriously in this case, though I see nothing wrong with the spirit of his post, John made a very good point in reply and reminded me of what good music means to me.  When I find a song I really like, I listen to it again and again until I can no longer hear the words.  Instead the music makes me daydream and I find a lot of inspiration there.  Good times.

Having just come out of grad school, I encourage recent grads to consider Seth’s suggestion, assuming you have someone who can float you for a year.  Those student loans start nagging you around the six month marker, too.

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This post is spoiler free.

I finally got to see Juno tonight. It’s been sitting at the top of my Netflix queue for nearly two months with a long wait. What a great movie! One of my favorite parts was the soundtrack. There were several great songs by Kimya Dawson (of the Moldy Peaches) and then a performance by the two leads of the Moldy Peaches song “Anyone Else But You.” The version sung in the movie is missing a few stanzas. My favorite of the missing ones is below (sung by Kimya):

“Up up down down left right left right B A start
Just because we use cheats
Doesn’t mean we’re not smart
I don’t see what anyone can see in anyone else
But you…”

Go geek references (and Thundercats)! And speaking of cheats, trying using that cheat code in Google Reader (minus the start button at the end of course).

And returning to Netflix: they are removing individual profiles from accounts as of September 1st. What a boneheaded, retardafreakin’ idea. Supposedly it will help them make the website better. I hope it’s a lot better since this change has me pissed.

Is that all there is?

Posted: 19 May 2008 in Uncategorized
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My taste in music is definitely in flux.  Five years ago I would have found this intolerable, but now I can’t stop listening to it.  I blame Pandora.  The musical journeys it takes you on can be transformational.

Unfortunately the video stops before the song is over, but YouTube offers several full length suggestions immediately after.  The videos themselves are all insane, so I didn’t want to endorse any.  I just listen to the sound track in another tab and don’t watch them.

This question was a central theme in the movie The Nines, which I recommend.  It also came up in Revolver, which I just watched tonight, though it wasn’t asked explicitly.  Instead, the question is who is your worst enemy?  The movie’s position is that it is not external, but internal.  I think I can say that without spoiling anything.  The trick is to avoid the lie that your perception is infallible.  Pulling that off is a different matter altogether, though it is a helpful trait for a good scientist.

NLP app idea:  construct random songs by scraping lyrics websites and stringing together common phrases.  It’s a Pandora night for me and here were a couple lyrics that struck me as particularly meaningful.  Both by Regina Spektor, introduced to me by Pandora before she became (semi-)famous.

And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else’s heart
Pumping someone else’s blood
– “On the Radio”

Beneath the stars came fallin’ on our heads
But they’re just old light, they’re just old light
– “Samson”

I love how she takes the beautiful image of stars falling on their heads and strips it bare of all romanticism and attached meanings, exposing them for what they are:  old light.

Coin Operated Boy

Posted: 28 April 2008 in Uncategorized
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My new favorite band (thank you, Pandora):  the Dresden Dolls.  The band is a Boston duo with vocals by Amanda Palmer, who is supposed to be releasing an album this year with some collaboration by Ben Folds.  They describe themselves as Brechtian (as in Bertolt) punk cabaret, which actually seems to fit.  The lyrics are occasionally self-referential, often bitter and always insightful.  The music is a blend of piano, carnival music, and the 1920’s.  Plus a million other things.  So cool.

Note, the youtube version of “Coin Operated Boy” is about a minute short.  If you can get your hands on the full version, I find it much better.  Another song I love below.

I’d like a thorazine shake with that please

Posted: 18 April 2008 in Uncategorized
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At first, I found it annoying.  But gradually, it grew on me.  And now I like it.  A friend said that I’d likely be sipping thorazine shakes at my local asylum tomorrow.

The Most Unwanted Song

No spoiler review.

Last night I watched Beowulf, the recent Robert Zemeckis version. My review can be summed up simply: it blew. Hardcore. Before it was over, I wanted to tear my eyes out. And sadly, it is true that what is seen, cannot be unseen.

Tonight, Donna and I watched The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Something I had heard as a kid about movies was that the longer the movie title, the worse the movie. Nothing could be more wrong in this case. What I say in this review should not be considered a spoiler, since the facts are a matter of historical record. Plus the title gives away the crucial plot point, so it’s not like you were going to be surprised when Robert Ford kills Jesse James. I won’t go into further details about the specifics of what happens.

What struck me as truly powerful in this movie was the development of Robert Ford’s character. Casey Affleck did a great job and deserved his Oscar nomination. Brad Pitt didn’t detract from the film, either.  I highly recommend it if you love westerns, though it wasn’t really a western in the conventional sense.

At one point in the film, there is a guy in a bar singing a song that struck me as particularly cool. Lo and behold, it is a real song: “The Ballad of Jesse James.” Does it mean I’m getting old that I like folk songs so much? I’ve included the lyrics below the jump.

Jesse James was a train and bank robber who killed at least 17 people. He went by the name of Thomas Howard in order to escape the law. While still alive, he inspired the popular media so much, people were publishing made-up stories of his exploits. Children grew up idolizing him. When he died, he was transformed into a Robin Hood figure. The ballad portrays him as a man who stole from the rich to give to the poor. What was it about him that so captured people’s hearts and minds? I think we can’t resist the idea of that kind of freedom. He was beholden to no man. He had no boss and he thwarted the powerful. He had his own cunning and skill and the bravery to use them. He was a murderer and a thief, and people wished they could be him. He is still famous over a hundred and twenty years after his death.


Taking me completely by surprise, “Running the World” by Jarvis Cocker is one of the coolest songs I’ve heard in a very long time.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out exactly what he’s saying (it’s NSFW).  The lyrics are just plain awesome.  This kind of song grabs a hold of the part of me that appreciates the beauty of sadness.  I’m not sure which I appreciate more:  the beauty of sadness or the beauty of majesty.  The beauty I appreciate most of all is self-sacrifice.  I can’t see it without struggling really hard to not cry.  Another song that uses the beauty of sadness is “Mad World” (the remake by Gary Jules from Donnie Darko).

I happened upon the song because I was searching for a clip of a scene near the end of Children of Men.  So as not to spoil anything for the random reader who hasn’t seen the movie, it’s a moment of peace in the chaos, the characters are filled with a profound awe, and it is broken by intense violence (it also appears briefly in the clip below).  This video appears to be promotional material used to influence the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) people to nominate it for Best Picture.  It didn’t win anything, since the Academy is full of crap.

Enjoy.  Oh and the video contains spoilers (and is NSFW).

Slumber Party Christmas Album

Posted: 27 November 2007 in Uncategorized
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Slumber Party Christmas Album 2004So I’ve mentioned Slumber Party before. They are a detroit girl band (femme doom rock) and are freakin awesome. Seriously, I can’t get enough. They are just brilliant to me. So anyhow, I saw they had a Christmas album with 2 unnamed songs. According to the website, it’s a limited edition of 50 hand made single CDs. Sure enough, the CD arrived wrapped up like a Christmas present and the CD looks hand-painted, but I can’t be sure. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

The first song on the CD was decent, but not really special in the way I look for from Slumber Party. The second song made the whole CD worth it. A quirky combination of spoken lyrics, a childrens choir, 50’s harmonies, and haunting female vocals — it’s my new favorite Christmas song.

Slumber Party Christmas single album (CD art) 2004

The problem with Pandora

Posted: 7 November 2007 in Uncategorized
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Slumber Party - Musik

Sometimes I just open Pandora to find out the name of a song or artist I heard and want to buy from iTunes (or whatever). But then it automatically starts playing and it’s a really cool song and so I have to wait for the song to finish (since there’s no guarantee I’ll hear it again anytime soon). Then another good song comes on. And another. Soon enough, I forgot why I visited. Yeah, it’s a hard life.


Currently loving: Slumber Party: “Detroit femme doom rock with a late-night vibe.” I personally love the combination of 50’s rock harmonies, electronica and beautiful female vocals.