Tuesday, May 31, 2005

June of 2005

I got kind of lazy for the end of May, I went to Caribou but skipped Autechre the next evening and failed to see the Dresden Dolls three days in a row - two opening for NIN (I missed tickets going on sale and they were gone quite quick... and scalpage was around $100 each) followed by a headlining date with ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead and the (International) Noise Conspiracy opening. I don't care for the Dolls I've heard (most if not all of the album a couple different times scattered over a few months, all on Rhapsody) but they're supposed to be quite entertaining live. If I were to go to any of those shows, though, it would've been for the couplings.

At any rate June should be busier:
  • June 6: Of Montreal; Tilly & the Wall; Peachcake @ the Rhythm Room - I actually have a ticket for this show. This isn't nearly as shocking as the fact that I had a ticket for the Caribou show. I have never had a ticket for a show at the Modified (capacity ~150, I've only shown up and found it sold out once, circa February 2004 for Iron & Wine.)
  • June 11: either Colorstore @ Paper Heart (with Asleep in the Sea; Rum Tenor and others) or the Stiletto Formal @ the Clubhouse (Greeley Estates pre-Warped Tour kickoff show)... I don't know, I haven't seen Colorstore since December but it'll be a while before I'll be able to see the Stiletto Formal again.
  • June 12: Porcupine Tree @ Arizona Beach Club (nee Club Rio) - I really don't know their music but my friends do and are going so I'm considering it.
  • June 16: Colorstore with Goodbye Blue Monday @ Emerald Lounge. Wow, it just hit me that it doesn't matter that I no longer work my late schedule (10:30am-7pm) because I'm taking the 17th off! I was going to comment that I probably would not be able to make this show... but it's free and all I need to do the 17th is make Hollywood by around 7pm.
  • June 17: Electrelane @ Troubadour (Hollywood) - I drove to Tucson on a Friday last September, this Friday show is a bit of a longer drive away. Axes, however, is just fantastic.
  • June 18: Bad Religion @ House of Blues (Hollywood) - Last Chance to See! An alternative would be the cheaper Go-Betweens show... but I don't know them as well. I also might opt for something else entirely, I like BR live but I don't need to go to the show.
  • June 19: Dressy Bessy @ Modified - I do, however, need to go to this show.
  • June 23: Enon @ Modified - I didn't go last time around, this time... I dunno. I very easily could be ready for a break. I'm sure it'd be a great show, though.
  • June 24: Colorstore @ the Trunk Space - I've not been to this venue... OK, it is a Grand Avenue performace space/gallery... likely in the vein of the Paper Heart (see June 11)
  • June 25: Architechture in Helsinki @ Modified - I've heard some of their stuff via Rhapsody... and when it's good it's very good. I can this show as being very fun.
  • June 28: Mountain Goats @ Modified - I first saw Colorstore at Darnielle's last show at Modified back in 2003. That was a fantastic show.
  • June 29: Rogue Wave; Helio Sequence @ Modified - A distinct possiblity. I really liked Helio Sequence live the last time I saw them but decided that I wouldn't enjoy them on CD; I didn't take much notice of Rogue Wave last time I saw them (Mates of State headlined but Rogue Wave and Hawnay Troof got there late so Rogue Wave ended up playing last) but I've been taking notice of Out of the Shadow.
12 shows in a month would easily be a record for me but it would put me back on track for the year as the tally so far is a mere 15 (a festival is counted once each day, thus Coachella counted as 2 shows, the New Times Music Fest as 1.) I'm not counting Mars Volta (06/07) either of the Bright Eyes/Faint shows (06/08 & 06/09), Crystal Method (06/10), Kasabian (06/12), Hot Hot Heat (06/17, conflict) or Warped Tour (06/29, conflict)... mainly because while these shows might get the greenlight during a down month hitting 17 shows is not something I could manage.

July will be a lighter month, partially because I'm flying to Michigan to visit family and attend a wedding in Ohio. As a sidenote I'm not sure I should use the phrase "flying to Michigan" because the flying might be done to Chicago and then from Cleveland as this would save (at currently quoted prices) $60 in airline prices and around 150 miles of driving at the back end.

Oh, and the reason I started this, the only show July has schedule thus far is Scout Niblett @ Stinkweeds (Tempe location, unfortunately.)

Looking out further Coldplay, Oasis and the White Stripes are all coming... I may be able to justify the ticket price for the latter. Oh, and, somewhere around that time is Bumbershoot which I want to make it up for... but we'll see. I don't know if I'll be able to swing Michigan and Seattle in the same year.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

And I break

As of April 24th I had only bought 17 books in 2005, just under a book a week. I held out for the next month then broke down and went to Borders and got both Diary and Glass, Irony and God.

Then came today when I finally used my gift certificate to Bookmaster... getting another 8 queue books... meaning my average is now a book every five and a half days.

My average time for reading a book is just under 13 days - I've read 11.5 - so it's actually worse than purchasing two books for every one read.

The problem is that as of April 24th I was doing alright; I could even attribute the slight inbalance (17 books bought to 10 books read) mostly to having just picked up a four book series by Durrell. I then ran right through the Egan and the seeds of slackening off were sown. Thus I read Dawkins, Lowell, Sexton and the Brothers Grimm (that's just a link, not what I read) before getting back to the queue. Thus my appetites for purchasing new books were heightened.

And here comes a three day weekend where I find time to go to one of my favorite used bookstores (the two I might like better are much further away) which I had managed to avoid for near six months... and the result is an outburst like this. [Note: for the former I have not yet been to their new Phoenix Metropolitan Area location. I forget where it is but it is still further than either Bookmaster. When I think of Bookmans, however, I think of the University area one in Tucson, just as when I think of Bookmaster I think of the North Scottsdale location rather than their original South Scottsdale location (which is further from me.)]

See further details in the entry on My Queue.

I did, however, also buy two non-queue books; Modern Cosmology & Philosophy edited by John Leslie (cause it sounded interesting) and The Complete Poems and Translations of Christopher Marlowe which includes Hero and Leander, his two short poems and some translations of Ovid and Lucan, plus non-Marlowe works but related poetical works like Chapman's completion of H&L and various poems related to The Passionate Shepherd... almost all of which I've previously read online. I shall leave you with my favorite bit from H&L, beautifully wrought even if a bit silly:
It lies not in our power to love, or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should lose, the other win.
And one especially do we affect,
Of two gold ingots like in each respect.
The reason no man knows: let it suffice,
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight,
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?

Old Errata

In order to keep the size of the errata section reasonable I shall move the comments here as they age and/or are replaced by newer notes. I would put this with my original announcement of my errata section but I figured I'd leave that one as is.

Displaced errata follow, they get older as you go down the page.

  • 05/28/05: Tongue Tied is actually on Other Animals. I knew this but published the mistake anyway to ensure that I would have errata to report.
  • 05/14/05: My approach in I Don't Know... Can You Swing a Sack of Door Knobs? was flawed. The law should determine what happens in such a case... and then those laws should be changed if we find out they'll lead to problems. Plus I've not yet updated the story.
  • 05/14/05: I written maybe a third of my review of Coachella, I saw a Phoenix Symphony concert on Thursday and a Stiletto Formal show last night... and I use up my blogging time on putting together a comp no one will hear. Brilliant.
  • 05/08/05: I just picked up on the fact that the newest errata should appear at the top of this list. Duh. I have reorded them accordingly.
  • 05/08/05: The post 10 days was not "nice" as reported. It was merely long, disjointed and uninteresting.
  • 05/08/05: The first time I published with the previous errata (re: Upcoming) I failed to include the lineitem tag. My most humble applogies are offered to any who caught it before this correction.
  • 05/08/05: In the ambiguously titled Upcoming I failed to mention that there were other upcoming shows which I didn't plan on attending. Also I didn't go to that Rilo Kiley show and I probably will go to the (International) Noise Conspiracy show (Dresden Dolls headlining, ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead in the middle.)
  • 05/08/05: I failed to mention in At Crystal Palace that eventually I set up an archive of these errata. I will. Eventually.
  • 05/08/05: Technoliberation should have an e with an accent above it. I don't know how to do that. Appologies are offered.
  • Sunday, May 22, 2005

    nee Manitoba

    The Russian Futurists opened the show at the Modified last night; it was four Candadians playing pop music on keys/synths. It was fairly straightforward but solid.

    Next up came the Junior Boys... which, apparently to Phoenix audiences, is a band where one of the two members is always sick. If it was schtick then it was well done, the lead singer certainly seemed about ready to fall over, pale and sweating before they did anything (though every band commented on how hot it was, Modified being sans AC and the high being well over 100F for the day.) The crowd seemed engaged from the beginning, as the guy started out by saying that he couldn't completely cancel another show in Phoenix so he'd try to make it through one song. After the opener the crowd cheered like they were calling the Boys back for an encore. All in all they played about 6 songs, all to solid crowd reactions. The music was, again, a synthy sort of dance pop, two guys up on stage switching off between guitars and synths.

    Fortunately they did not play Summer in Abaddon as bumper music a third time - I had gotten up at 6am for work and the Pinback was putting me to sleep. It's not bad stuff, just soporific. The bumper music this time did, however, include "Head On" by the Jesus and Mary Chain.

    At any rate Caribou came on stage and tore through a set of songs from Up in Flames and the recently released The Milk of Human Kindness. The basic set up was two drummers (one being Dan) with a guitarist in the middle... but there were racks of synths, bits of percussion and additional guitars for all to play. There was a DVD playing, projecting odd animation and playing a pre-recorded backing track but most of the music was live. The drums were fierce and refrained from merely doubling each other much of the time.

    As with any set without a strong vocal presence it was probably music much more appreciated by those familiar with the tracks beforehand; I can see how someone hearing this for the first time might be impressed and enjoy the music but still get bored after the first several songs.


    "I remeber her sitting in front of multiple mirrors at the dressmaker's, being fitted for a shark-skin costume, and saying 'Look! five different pictures of the same subject. Now if I wrote I would try for a multi-dimensional effect in character, a sort of prism-sightedness. Why should not people show more than one profile at a time?'"

    - from Justine

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    These fragments

    So Many Books links to an online version of the Waste Land as hypertext. You get the poem in one frame and Eliot's (and other's) notes in another - though there are several options for the second frame. This is much easier than flipping back and forth with the paper copy.

    I still absolutely love this poem... but it has lost some stature in my mind since Eliot's solution was silly. We have made the world a waste land, let's go back to what failed us in the first place! In my mind Jimmy had a much better response in Ulysses... but I'm not going to go into all this right now.

    Hmm, something like this would be just wonderful for Pale Fire as well... though two copies of an etext version would do the same trick (either would be slightly easier than two copies of the book.)

    Saturday, May 14, 2005

    The Way Things Aught To Be, Disc 2

    Rules and information and the first disc are here, plus here is another 2-CD offering, from victoria at De Stijl. Speaking of which there must be an unspoken rule that one White Stripes song that has not yet been used must be included.

    Also I'll note that I compiled these to be played as an 160 minute album. This wasn't a list of my favorite songs and it doesn't include all of my favorite bands because it was selected not only for release date but for length and songs that worked as singles (stop laughing, I'm serious) which is to say in a different context.

    Disc 2 - 1:19:10
    1. "See America Right" by the Mountain Goats (Tallahassee, 2002) - 1:54 - A lot of his songs could've been here, this one is short and starts the CD out well. This isn't the most representative song... but that's not the purpose here, right?
    2. "Things I Don't Remember" by Ugly Cassanova (Sharpen Your Teeth, 2002) - 3:29 - I had to bring Isaac Brock back for another round.
    3. "Jungle Telegraph" by Eels (Souljacker, 2002) - 3:40 - Again, not quite typical but it's fun and the approach to the title chorus is well done.
    4. "Say Hello to the Angels" by Interpol (Turn on the Bright Lights, 2002) - 4:28 - A lot of good options from their two albums; I'm taking this one for the driving bass guitar in the opening and the deep bass guitar in the outro.
    5. "Brand New Colony" by the Postal Service (Give Up, 2002) - 4:12 - Because everything will change.
    6. "Mall of America" by Desaparecidos (Read Music/Speak Spanish, 2002) - 2:41 - I have long been an "Bright Eyes is the other band by the guy from Desaparecidos" type of guy.
    7. "Up the Bracket" by the Libertines (Up the Bracket, 2002) - 2:38 - At one point we could all dream that there'd be a new Clash in our lifetime... then their output started to get worse as well as less punk... oh, wait, there we go.
    8. "Reason to Retreat" by the Gunshy (No Man's Blues, 2003) - 4:12 - I saw this guy by accident, I was in Tucson to see Electrelane and he was supposed to play at a different venue but that show was canceled so he played a half dozen or so songs at our show, just Matt Abrogast and his guitar (though some times he plays live with more of a band.) I bought a copy of every album he had to sell.
    9. "Stupid" by the Long Winters (When I Pretend to Fall, 2003) - 4:04 - You have no idea how stupid I would feel if I left this off.
    10. "Hitched" by the Kills (Keep On Your Mean Side, 2003) - 4:00 - The lyrics have the slow burning approach to the statement of the album title which I can't get enough of. I also love the loud, low dirty guitar and the laid back vocals. Alison sounds quite different here, eh.
    11. "A.S.A. to Accuracy" by KaitO (Band Red, 2003) - 3:04 - And we pick up the pace. Nosiy, busy, weird vocals and guitar that's further out... all in service to an irresistable drive. Plus it's fantastic live. "Should I" almost fought it's way in.
    12. "The List" by Metric (Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, 2003) - 2:52 - Softer and safer is the synthpop goodness of Metric. It indeed looks like a Camero.
    13. "Plea From a Cat Named Virtue" by the Weakerthans (Reconstruction Site, 2003) - 3:48 - I thought this was just a funny title until I listened to the lyrics and realized that it actually is from the point of view of a cat.
    14. "Out of Control" by Super Furry Animals (Phantom Power, 2003) - 2:43 - Louder, faster and shorter than Slow Life. Also if this wasn't here there'd be only one other song from a Welsh band.
    15. "Burning the Cow" by Earlimart (Everyone Down Here, 2003) - 3:08 - It's what for dinner. I mean, come on, choke on dust. Err, I mean, a nice, simple, driving song.
    16. "Art is Hard" by Cursive (The Ugly Organ, 2003) - 2:46 - Because "Burst and Bloom" was on an ep. I almost took "Some Red-Handed Slight of Hand" for the more driving use of the cello but we've got to recreate your misery. I mean that I've always liked this one best.
    17. "Hall of Mirrors" by the Distillers (Coral Fang, 2003) - 3:49 - OK, I'll say it. Coral Fang is a better album than Sing Sing Death House. This track is a prime example of why I think this - the earlier album may be more visceral but the new material does more, is more ambitious. Hey, this is what I like in my punk. (Another bit that might illustrate this: an earlier cut of this album had the short Dismantle Me instead of, say, Drain the Blood.)
    18. "This Deed" by Electrelane (The Power Out, 2004) - 3:24 - More bands need to sing songs with texts from Nietzsche (in the original German, even.) The best part here is that this is a typical song for Electrelane, with the vocals used as just another instrument (well, basically.)
    19. "Circle of Fifths" by Clinic (Winchester Cathedral, 2004) - 3:24 - Clinic was another tough selection, shorter and faster tracks W.D.Y.Y.B. and Walking With Thee (for the other disc) were provisionally set but I decided to go with more of the glory that is Clinic.
    20. "She Will Only Bring You Happiness" by McLusky (The Difference Between Me and You Is That I am Not On Fire, 2004) - 3:27 - I am not entirely sold on McLusky, something which this song choice I'm sure adequately demonstrates. A light fun song amidst an album (or several) of angular, aggressive and weird Welsh punk rock.
    21. "Pill Cake" by the Detachment Kit (Of This Blood, 2004) - 1:39 - I went through about 3 other DK songs (including "The Illustrious Daniel Boone" which clocks in at 6:45) before going for this one.I'm not sure I'd call this song light... nor am I sure why I have latched on to it so strongly. It's weird, short and mostly vocals.
    22. "Nights of the Living Dead" by Tilly and the Wall (Wild Like Children, 2004) - 3:55 - Where Tilly is two female and one male vocalist and the Wall is a fun indie pop backing band with a tap dancer instead of a drum kit.
    23. "The Setup" by Mission of Burma (On Off On, 2004) - 3:08 - In this instance we're setting you up for the end.
    24. "Keep Time" by the Thermals (Fuckin' A, 2004) - 2:45 - Let's close this set out on some hard driving indie punk from the Thermals; they don't give a fuck about what we say.
    I'd appologize for saying how much I loved everything but this is what a best of means: collectively these 47 songs cut a broad swath through the best music of these 5 years. I can't help but gush when it's all this good (and when so much that is also amazing and wonderful was left out.)

    Friday, May 13, 2005

    The Way Things Aught To Be, Disc 1

    Meme courtesy of CDB at Thought for the Day, in a post from May 9th:

    So, I was pondering, I made my best of the 1990s CDs, but what about the best of the first half of the 2000s (The Aughts, the DoubleO's, what the hell are we calling this decade anyway?) I humbly submit to you my 2-disc set, "The Way Things Aught To Be"

    The Rules:
    * All songs released on an album between 2000-2004
    * No more than one song per artist, no matter how much you want to double up.
    * Must fit on two standard 80 minute CDs.
    * Beyond that, it's stuff I like, but also stuff I thought other people would know. I'm not trying to expand anyone's musical tastes here, if it happens, bully.

    I followed these rules... except that I didn't bother with worrying about what other people would know. The chronology (by year) rule was stated explicitly but I have assumed it. Also it wasn't a rule that there could be no overlap of songs and a maximum overlap of 2 bands... it just turned out that way. While I'm at it I'll point out that Greg at Fraught! has already followed suit, also in two parts. The overlap here is 5 bands but still no songs. (Total overlap is 1 band.)

    Disc 1 - 1:19:24
    1. "Aeiral" by Discount (Crash Diagnostic, 2000) - 1:28 - Yes, I had to include two stunning vocal performances by Alison Mosshart. Most of their material is more straightforward J Church-like skate punk... but this is something entirely different, more jarring. And blissfully short.
    2. "3rd Planet" by Modest Mouse (The Moon & Antarctica, 2000) - 3:58 - I liked the Mouse before this came out but it was this track that threw the hook in. And I absolutely love the lyrics.
    3. "Commercial for Levi" by Placebo (Black Market Music, 2000) - 2:20 - Another song with just stunning lyrics. Any song that pleads "please don't die" is alright in my book.
    4. "Algeria" by JJ72 (JJ72, 2000) - 3:21 - I could've picked most anything from either of their albums (can you guess that I'm eagerly awaiting their new album due sometime this year?) Soaring and aggressive BritPop courtesy of Ireland.
    5. "Pattern Against User" by At the Drive-In (Relationship of Command, 2000) - 3:17 - And we are officially rocking.
    6. "Bohemian Like You" by the Dandy Warhols (Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, 2000) - 3:31 - Yes, this is almost a radio-ready song but a little of that is allowed and there just isn't room for Godless.
    7. "Milkshakes and Honey" by Sleater-Kinney (All Hands on the Bad One, 2000) - 2:55 - This one was a brutal choice with two fantastic eligible albums. I decided to essentially punt it and go with what I've always claimed to be my favorite from this one. I'm not sure exactly why I like this song this much but it is different and fun.
    8. "Chartsengrafs" by Grandaddy (The Sophtware Slump, 2000) - 2:51 - This, despite being a fantastic song, almost got cut because of the 30 or so seconds of near dead air for an intro. The latest plan was switching to shorter songs for a couple other bands and replacing this with "Used to Know Her" by Vercua Salt... but the losses were too great. And Grandaddy deserves a song here.
    9. "Thirteen Gliding Principles" by the Delgados (The Great Eastern, 2000) - 3:44 - Everything I loved about the Delgados with vocals from Alun and Emma.
    10. "White Palms" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC, 2001) - 4:55 - The longest song that made the cut. I really enjoy how it fits between 9 and 11, with a slow but charging dirty guitar opening to it's beautiful fadeout leading into the peaceful portion of teh disc.
    11. "Grace Cathedral Hill" by the Decemberists (Castaways and Cutouts, 2001) - 4:28 - Absolutely beautiful. The Decemberists have shorter songs - again two albums of goodness - but I have no regret about choosing this one.
    12. "Fresh One" by Sodastream (The Hill for Company, 2001) - 3:41 - Better than any eligible Belle & Sebastian and the only Australian band represented.
    13. "I Can't Wait" by the White Stripes (White Blood Cells, 2001) - 3:39 - Should I have included Hotel Yorba as it was both my introduction and early favorite? No as this is a much more complete song. Plus it works the volume back to a reasonable level.
    14. "FYR" by Le Tigre (The Feminist Sweepstakes, 2001) - 2:39 - OK, fine, maybe I'm cheating by not counting the "joke" or whatever at the end... but it's not really part of the song, right? It's there for the flow of Feminist Sweepstakes, not my comp. So I can cut it, yes?
    15. "Pills" by Les Savy Fav (Go Forth, 2001) - 3:29 - This is mindbogglingly good. I don't know what LSF are doing but they keep doing it. Aggressive and wild and brilliant. I cannot fail to mention the instrumental bridge at 0:45-0:56.
    16. "Pressed in a Book" by the Shins (Oh, Inverted World, 2001) - 2:55 - I like Caring Is Creepy better but this one fits better... not that it's much of a sacrifice.
    17. "Nite and Fog" by Mercury Rev (All Is Dream, 2001) - 3:58 - The Rev don't quite fit the bluprint for this CD set but... well, it'll give variety, yes? Also I didn't even really consider including something from Yoshimi as a replacement.
    18. "Twee" by Tullycraft (Beat Surf Fun, 2002) - 3:23 - And we open 2002 with whimsical and nostalgic twee.
    19. "The Get Away" by Pretty Girls Make Graves (Good Health, 2002) - 4:15 - There are songs that are both shorter and more aggressive but this is easily my favorite. I love the lyrics.
    20. "Evergreen" by Angelica (The Seven Year Itch, 2002) - 4:04 - I almost relented and went to the 51 second Golden Lillies (with guest vocals by Kat Bjelland) but I just couldn't. This is my favorite Angelica song and if I were to knock out a ranked top 500 (or whatever) list Vegas would have even money on this coming out on top. Dual lead vocals and again, stunning lyrics. This is the song that got me to travel to Lancaster, UK to catch their final show.
    21. "Everywhere with Helicoptor" by Guided by Voices (Universal Truths and Cycles, 2002) - 2:36 - An easy choice and not just because it is mercifully short. An easy slotting choice as well as I first saw GBV on their tour for this album in London on the same trip I saw Angelica.
    22. "Lover I Don't Have to Love" by Bright Eyes (Lifted or the Story is the Soil, 2002) - 4:00 - Achingly beautiful song. I resisted Bright Eyes for a long time... but a downloaded version of this song along with "Waste of Paint" from Austin City Limits has won me over.
    23. "I'm the Man Who Loves You" by Wilco (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2002) - 3:57 - This is a bit of a false victory as it's here because it's shorter than two better options (spanning both eligible CDs)... but this is still no slouch of song. It's still good enough to defend taking up near 4 minutes.
    In the interest of sleeping tonight I need to hold off on releasing Disc 2 until..., well, hopefully Saturday afternoon. It is all but done (there is still some question on the order of the 2004 songs but they're all locked in) but I'm not up for completing the write-up at this time.

    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    At Crystal Palace

    Inspired by a recent New York Times Op-ed piece The Latest Rumblings in the Blogosphere: Questions About Ethics - linked to in this post at Assymetrical Information - I have added an errata block to the top right portion of the mainpage.

    As my countless errors pile up you, the reader, can attempt to keep track of them with the aid of that space.

    I regret that I have but one top right corner to devote to errata to give to the reforming of the blogosphere.

    UPDATE: I've found (after looking a little bit) more reaction to that Op-ed piece - at Althouse, and she links to (among others) this piece at Ideoblog which actually speaks positively about a code of ethics, plus a comment (and more links) at Instapundit, then there's this post at Swing State Project which has 22 links to comments on the piece - but I've yet to come across anyone else putting up an errata section or a related change. Suckers! I'm going to be respected and powerful!


    I first heard about Greg Egan in an archived post, Libertarianism and the Hard SF Renaissance, at Armed and Dangerous. He mentioned Diaspora - which I have not yet acquired - but I just finished Distress.

    The novel - from 1993 - starts in 2055 and concerns human relationships, theoretical physics and the (possible) destruction of the world served on a generous bed of biotech, anti-science cults and gender migration.

    This is the sort of book it's best to catch while it's hot, while the science and technology - of which there is a lot - comes off as plausible and futuristic. The book is now 12 years old... and really all that's different now is that we do carry around electronic notebooks and been more talk of genomes and bioengineering. [I do not mean to imply that the shelf life here is abnormally short, I'm just commenting on one flaw with near-future sci-fi: one human can't know everything that's going to happen.]

    The entire novel follows the point of view of Andrew Worth (a journalist, so this is fitting) as he finishes up one documentary project for a science education network and begins work on another. Beneath (and through) this main arc run the various plotlines, some mere red herrings, some elucidating the world Egan has created for his story, some essential to the thriller that develops.

    As a thriller, however, it falls a little to the confusing side of exciting - though there are exciting passages. As a presentation of an almost-alien but familiar future (with no actual aliens) packed with futuristic tech it works quite well. It's not necessary to completely understand the (post) modern physics to know what is going on.

    Oh well. I hope this has been wild and confusing enough to avoid giving much away but lucid enough to give one an idea of if they might like the book or not. I, for one, did, and am moving Diaspora up on my want list.

    I doubt he wants cards

    Happy birthday to Thomas Pynchon.

    Coachella Review, part 2 - Middle of Day 1

    Part 1 was published a couple days ago. Parts 3-12 to follow (I hope I don't drag this out that long.)

    After the Kills I headed out to catch the end of Razorlight's set at the Outdoor Theater. It was nice leaving the Mojave; it wasn't hot enough outside that shade made up for the oven that the Mojave becomes. It actually wasn't that bad when I was inside... but upon leaving I was glad that I would not be going back until after dark.

    My friend directed me to Razorlight earlier in the year; Rhapsody had their album and it was good, Libertines-esque (though less of the snarling punk, call Up All Night as somewhere inbetween Up the Bracket and the Libertines... on some scales) pop-punk (for want of a better term), good enough that I bought the album to increase the arenas in which I could listen to the album.

    Their live show, however, didn't impress me. It was sort of interesting watching the lead singer screw around - climb speakers, pull folks from the VIP side-stage to dance on stage - but it took away from the music they were playing. That is to say that he couldn't sing normally whilst clowning around. Razorlight's music is not noisy or chaotic enough for this approach to work well. I don't know if he was playing rockstar ("this is how a rock show is supposed to end") just because of the festival, for the large crowd or if this was typical of their live performance.

    I stayed at the Outdoor Theater and slowly made my way forward to get closer for Rilo Kiley. They came on a little late (~6:30 instead of 6:20) so I decided that I'd stick around for the full set rather than leave early to see all of Wilco.

    Rilo Kiley played a good - if slightly tired - set from More Adventurous and the Execution of All Things, well, minus my favorites (Love and War, Spectacular Views, My Slumbering Heart, Paints Peeling... not to mention Science vs. Romance.) Interestingly Blakes lone song, Ripchord, probably was the highlight for me, his voice strained and passionate (yet still Blake.)

    I got over to the Coachella Stage in time for Wilco's last four songs. The sun was well on it's way down and the air was beautiful for Hummingbirds, Jesus, etc., War on War and the closer, Spiders. Since I missed most of their set and was too far away to see much I couldn't really get into it... but that's alright for Wilco. The music came across strong and compelling.

    Retroactively I wish I had left Rilo Kiley earlier (since they didn't play any of the great rockers or old songs I was hoping for) but there was no way of knowing what either band would do - and I'm very glad I didn't miss that version of Ripchord.

    And anyway I probably could not have gotten much closer, many festival goers were already well into their positions waiting for Weezer, Bauhaus and Coldplay. My recounting of the rest of day one (including the start of sets for the first two of those bands) will follow... sometime. Hopefully soon as I'm starting to forget stuff.

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Coachella Review, part 1

    I left work just before 4:30pm. This was, in fact, early, as I'm on a fun 10:30-7 schedule. I had announced my intentions to leave early and miss Monday to boot via our messaging system... weirded out several people in the process. Ahh, mission accomplished. At any rate this allowed me adequate time to go home, shower and gather up the things I had set out the previous day.

    I had procured a ride with some folks I had met up with on the Coachella message board... though the car we had planned on taking was having transmission problems so it did not leave the driveway.... thus the other guy drove his Rodeo and we picked up two other people who didn't have a ride in order to offset the extra gas costs.

    On the way over we listened, sort of, a mp3 mix tape of Coachella artists which varying number of us were unfamiliar with along with a few local band CDs. The discussion was wild and chaotic, mostly covering recent (and not so recent) shows, bands, comedians and whatnot. I got to my hotel in Palm Springs at around 1am... the other two people we picked up were dropped off to find a place to stay and the two I had talked to from the message board went to the condo where they were staying - which was only a half mile away from my hotel.

    I was staying with some friends who had driven out from LA (though two of them had flown from Seattle first), two of which had been there last year and one of which had gone with me since 2001. We stayed at the Plaza Resort and Spa... though the name seems deceptive. Then again we didn't have much time to take advantage of... well, anything. We had a full kitchen but only used the refridgerator, various dishes, and something that made tea (that is, somebody heated water, somehow.)

    We got up, got ready and headed to downtown Palm Springs for breakfast. We saw many folks who pretty much had to be in town for the festival and had a nice, relaxing breakfast.

    We got to the Polo Fields around 2pm, made a note of which huge colored and numbered balloon we parked by (the balloons were wonderful, much improved over... nothing but a sea of cars) and made our way to the entrance. The line wasn't bad - though we wondered why so many people had brought cans of Full Throttle only to discard them unfinished or even unopened - and we were in before the Raveonettes started. I would've prefered to be in earlier to see Nic Armstrong and the Thieves (been listening to the album, it's quite good [very Beatlesesque blues rock]) and and the other earlier bands... but I'm sure my body appreciated a good, full, slow breakfast and that my feet appreciated the extra time sitting in the shade.

    The Raveonettes played the Coachella Stage (check the map... which I can't find - this is the mainstage) and there were few enough people gathered that I was able to get reasonably close (closer than the soundstage.) This was the third time I'd seen them, basically once for each CD - I think we can count this as in support of Pretty In Black - and this was, by far, the furthest I been from them (though this was necessarily so, even if I had been "front row" the photographer's gap would've been enough.) I have a hard time reviewing their show now that I've heard the new album... though even the new songs were more noisy live. They played a good mix of songs from PIB and the Chain Gang of Love and even throwing in Do You Beleive Her? from the first EP. I had to drag myself away as M83 was calling me and they were about to start in the Gobi tent. As I headed off I was able to hear Little Animal and most of (their cover of) My Boyfriend's Back - the sound the Coachella Stage (and, it seem like, most everywhere) was turned up from previous years.

    The Gobi tent is the smallest of the stages and I expected it to be packed. When I first got there I was barely under the tent and stayed mostly fully in the sun for the first several songs (mostly because as I'd slowly move up to get my head in the shade the Sun would rise a little higher to the point where I'd be out of the shade again.)

    A side note: the crowds are always moving. People are always leaving sets to check out other aritsts or because they're hot, tired or hungry. New people are always showing up to stand on the outskirts or push their way through to the front. The flux is greatest just after a set ends and just as another is beginning but it doesn't stop when the music starts.

    At any rate I'm very glad I got to the Gobi on time, I eventually got about halfway in. M83 were not quite the distorted wall of sound I expected, the sound was a little brighter and more upbeat. Anthony Gonzalez also did not play the shoegazer part, he was clearly enjoying the fact that his band was playing the wonderful music he wrote. He was, though silent, vibrant.

    After M83 I headed to the Mojave for the Kills. I got there just after Ambulance finished so I got a position rather centered and near the front. I had seen the Kills previously at Modified Arts but the sound mix was off. I couldn't hear any vocals which meant all I got was guitar, drum machine and the visual of Jamie and Allison interacting. This was, however, enough to hook me. I picked up their EP at Zia soon afterwards and bought their first CD when it came out (and then their second when it came out a few months ago.)

    The sound in the Mojave was great, the vocals were strong and the guitar was blistering.

    Side note: I touched on the subject of favorite guitarists during a review of a Sonic Youth concert ( "this has nothing to do with technical skill and everything to do with making a good variety of different and interesting and otherwise pleasing sounds with the guitar.") This time around I came up with - along with Jamie - Thurston Moore, Dave Lake and Jason Pierce. Right now I'd probably throw Doug Martsch in and call it an official Top 5.

    I am also becoming increasingly impressed by Allison as a vocalist. No Wow features her much more than Keep On Your Mean Side and her performance on songs like "Rodeo Town" and "Dead Road 7" just floor me.

    Their live show was still very much about the interaction between the two members of the band. Someone commented that at this point they should be able to afford a drummer but I think that's missing the point - adding a human drummer would change the dynamic of the band and could kill the energy. As it stands they were both very into their performance - but not in a way that screwed up the music being played - and the crowd responded well. The amount of sexual tension, the fire, the passion was amazing to see. Partial, unordered, setlist: Cat's Claw, Kissy Kissy, No Wow, Dead Road 7, The Good Ones, I Hate the Way You Love (parts 1 and 2) and... well, I guess more. But that's all I can come up with right now. This was, for me, the best show of the day.

    And, actually, at this point I'm going to end part 1 of my full review of Coachella 2005. I planned on writing on both days along with other random observations in one post... but it's not going to happen. I saw 8 more bands on Saturday. I didn't get home until 7am on Monday. There's a lot more to write about... but it will have to wait.

    Note: D'oh. I was ready to post this at about 2am on 05/04/05 (that's the time stamp I'm going to give it - count this as an update - at 11pm the same day - if you wish) then I couldn't connect to anything so this wasn't posted. I cut and pasted the text (losing links) into Notepad... yet I must've missed the first several paragraphs. Thus the preceeding review is a reconstruction of the original up until I left the Raveonettes. Not that this matters all that much.