(no subject)

Coming out of hibernation very briefly to record my votes for XPN's 885 greatest musical artists of all time.

Bob Dylan
David Byrne/Talking Heads
Elvis Costello
Paul Simon
Old 97s
Stephen Sondheim
Patty Griffin
Neil Young
Paul McCartney
Indigo Girls
Woody Guthrie
Gillian Welsh
Johnny Cash
Billy Bragg
Uncle Tupelo
Ben Folds

Sure, I thought about leaving Dylan or The Beatles off my list because they will be #1 and #2 no matter what. But then I realized that I couldn't leave them off.

Go vote! And share your lists.

(no subject)

I really really really need to submit this paper that I'm working on soon, so without further ado here are my comments on the Emmy nominations:

  • Everyone was saying that this year the nominations would be better because of some change in the rules that even I wasn't procrastinating enough to read the details of and so I don't really understand why everyone thought it would be better. And while it seems like there may have been some truth to that, it also seems like they might just be better because Everybody But Me Loves Raymond wasn't around to get lots of nominations.
  • The biggest sign that even if the nominations are better they aren't better enough is the lack of love for Arrested Development and The Office. Yes, both shows got nominations for best comedy, and the nominations for Will Arnett and Steve Carell are nice to see. But what's with the lack of love for Jason Bateman and...well, everyone else on the casts.
  • Sean Hayes? Seriously? Didn't the rest of America get sick of him 8 years ago when I did? Especially with the snubbing of Jeffrey Tambor and Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski. I guess he is the John Laroquette of the 21st century.
  • Megan Mullally? Seriously? Didn't the rest of America get sick of her 8 years ago when I did? Especially with the snubbing of Jessica Walters and my teevee-girlfriend Jenna Fischer. I guess she is the...um...did Markie Post get a lot of nominations?
  • On the drama side, I'm glad Denis Leary got a nomination, but John Scurti and Jack McGee certainly deserve them even more, and as a whole Rescue Me didn't get the love that it deserved.
  • For that matter, neither did Lost. But on the Lost front the biggest surprise was that they nominated the guy who played Desmond for guest actor rather than the guy who played not-Henry Gale. I know that the guy who played not-Henry won the award a couple years ago for a performance on The Practice that many people say was similar, but any performance that sends shivers through my spine just thinking about it months later deserves an award.
  • I was happy that Alan Alda got a nomination for best drama supporting actor, but I would trade it for either of the aforementioned Rescue Me guys. Or for Victor Garber, who certainly deserves some award after five excellent seasons as SpyDaddy. And while we're talking about this category, I'm pretty surprised that John Spencer didn't get a nomination -- it would have been out of sympathy as much as his excellent performances, but I have no problem with that.
  • How pissed off do you think Jon Stewart is that he didn't get nominated this year while Stephen Colbert took his place? And how much do you think we'll hear about this when Colbert comes back from vacation next week?
  • I wonder if a show has ever had as steep a slide as Desperate Housewives? I mean, we all knew it slid in terms of quality, but didn't it get like a bazillion nominations last year and like two this year? Maybe the academy does realize when something is just a flavor of the month rather than really being good? It makes the part where Sean Hayes is still getting nominated even more of a mystery.
  • I watch way too much television as it is, but reading these lists (as well as the lists of snubs) always make me realize that there are even more shows that I probably should check out before I pass too much judgment....naaah. But it does give evidence to what I've been saying -- television is a damn good medium, and those people who think they are too good for tv and that movies are better really don't know what they are missing.

    Random thoughts

    * People in Colorado (where I spent last week doing research) like to complain when the temperature hits 85 degrees. But given the lack of humidity I really didn't have any sympathy. I have even less now that I'm back in the muggy heat of the east coast.

    * You don't have to be that much of a conspiracy kook to wonder at least a little if a rich millionaire who dies of a heart attack shortly after receiving back-to-back-to-back life sentences on counts of conspiracy and fraud is faking his own death, do you? And yes, I'm looking at you Lay family.

    * How the hell is it already July?

    * Watching Rice play Oregon State was like re-living the 1996 World Series. Much like the Braves in that fateful year, they had what should have been a huge advantage and then all of a sudden the team just stopped producing runs and let the Yankees/Beavers walk right over them to the title. That sucked.

    * I can't wait until next week when we can all stop pretending like we care about soccer for another four years.

    * Something just feels wrong about a fourth of july with no fireworks. The only other time I remember that experience I was in Spain, and at least that was excusable. At least we had lots of hamburgers and corn and the like yesterday.

    * I enjoyed Superman. It wasn't as good as some of the recent comic book movies, but it kept me solidly entertained for two and a half hours. I liked Prairie Home Companion better, but I don't really think you can compare the two.

    (no subject)

    Friday is our fifth wedding anniversary. To celebrate the fact that our marriage has survived five years, I got us a fancy shmancy hotel room in DC and we will spend the day hanging around there and the like.

    This is where I need help: can any of you who are in or know DC suggest a nice romantic restaurant for dinner? It should be nice but not TOO expensive ($100 for the two of us would be swell). And if it has interesting and/or funky food that you can't get in a small town that is dedicated to civil war tourists then that would be even better.

    Help me obi wan...

    music meme

    I'm being procrastinatory, as I really am having trouble getting this paper finished and I really don't want to write this letter of recommendation, so here's my semiannual update on what's in my itunes catalog/on my ipod:

    Total library: 3089 items, 12.8 days, 16.4 GB
    # Artists: 205
    # Albums: 398
    # Genres: 38

    Alphabetically first song: "You can close the New York Stock Exchange" - Assassins (darn punctuation)
    Alphabetically last song: Zither - REM
    Alphabetically first album: & The Mysterious Production Of Eggs - Andrew Bird
    Alphabetically last album: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco
    Alphabetically first artist: Aimee Mann
    Alphabetically last artist: Yo-Yo Ma

    (almost all of the alphabetical are same as six months ago)

    Shortest song: One Last - Sufjan Stevens (0:08)
    Longest song: Eskimo - Damien Rice (16:06)

    Number of songs (not podcasts) never played: 365
    Number of songs not played in a year: 347
    Number of songs played in last two weeks: 180
    Number of podcasts: 346 items
    Number of podcasts subscribed to: 24

    Number of songs with "love" in title: 92
    Number of songs with "sex" in title: still only 2
    Number of songs with "death" in title: 8
    Number of songs with "you" in title: 185

    Ten Most Played Songs:
    Rowing Song - Patty Griffin (18)
    I Wanted To Be Wrong - REM (17)
    Indiana - David Mead (16)
    Leaving New York - REM (16)
    The Late Greats - Wilco (16)
    Negative Love - John Wesley Harding (15)
    Sad Eyes - Josh Rouse (15)
    Won't Be Home - Old 97s (15)
    Making Pies - Patty Griffin (15)
    Theologians - Wilco (15)

    Artist with most songs: David Garza (102)

    First five songs on shuffle:
    Cinematic - Erin McKeown
    Johnny Feelgood - Liz Phair
    Hospital Song - Ben Folds Five
    Hole In My Pocket - Terri Hendrix
    More Comedy - Sarah Silverman

    (no subject)

    Not that I needed their word, but Baseball Prospectus has declared it the end of the Braves era. And honestly, it's hard for me to disagree. I still think that the Braves aren't really as bad as they have been playing the last couple weeks, and that the Mets aren't as good as their record indicates and that they will lose momentum, but it's getting harder and harder for even me to believe that they will lose as much momentum as they would need for this thing to get turned around. (and yes, my icon is out of date and i blame the Braves decline partly on Mazzone's departure...)

    I'll probably be depressed about this at some later date, but right now I am too busy focussing all of my baseball energy on The College World Series. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I really don't understand why college football and basketball are so popular -- and arguably as popular if not moreso than the professional versions of the sports -- but college baseball is so incredibly ghettoized (as evidenced when the announcers talk about how "coming up next is the US Paintball tournament"). The normal argument is that too many superstars are drafted out of high school and never play at the college level, but it seems to me that that's a chicken-and-egg type of argument. It doesn't help that this year's CWS is occurring the same time as the NBA finals, the Stanley cup, and the World Cup all of which suck a lot of sports energy away from college baseball, but my lord has this been an exciting tournament, and I'm only in pat talking about that ridiculously good ending to the Rice-Miami game that just happened (3-2, bottom of the ninth, 1 out, men on first and third...and a pair of strikeouts, one of which gets the Miami manager ejected).

    Of course, yes I am biased because so much of my interest is stemming from the fact that my Rice Owls are on the fast track through the world series after winning their first two games. If they win one of the next two then they go to the championship series. And not to be too much of an intellectual elitist snob, but the fact that Rice is playing on the same par as schools with an average SAT score 400 points lower still just blows my mind. Even though it's happened before.

    Pop Culture Roundup

    • Tangerine - I have posted many times before about my love of David Mead, so I suppose its not surprising that I will mention the new album. I like it. I think its clear that he wasn't trying to write a Big Hit Radio Single, and so none of the songs really stands out as much as some of the individual tracks on previous efforts, but he is trying to do interesting things with the music and he is stretching himself as a songwriter and a musician and that's neat to see (er...hear). I don't think this is as good as Indiana or Luxury of Time, but its still better than most of the music out there.
    • Surprise - I bought the new Paul Simon when I saw it cheap, and I like it. Again, it isn't a classic and I think most of the songs won't be remembered ten years from now when he makes his next comeback, but some of them are quite good and Brian Eno adds something interesting to the mix.
    • X3 - I really enjoyed the first two X-Men movies, despite the fact that I was more of a Fantastic Four and Avengers kind of fan when I read funny books myself. I think that Bryan Singer did an excellent job making movies that felt like comic books, with enough characterization to keep it interesting but not so much that it dragged the story too much. Unfortunately, the third X-film was nowhere near as good. Largely this is due to some poor choices in story giving the whole Phoenix saga the short end of the stick and the fact that they are still stuck with the horrid casting of Halle "Dave Justice Stalked Me" Berry, but this film was thoroughly underwhelming. It had its moments, but it could have been so so much better.
    • Elektra - Daredevil was the comic book movie that made me realize that despite my many years working in a comic book store I didn't need to see every comic book movie they made. But somehow Elektra made its way to the top of our Netflix queue. I'm not sure if I liked it more or less than Daredevil -- its a close call, honestly -- but the movie was far far worse than a movie featuring Jennifer Garner running around in very little clothing should be. Sigh.
    • Rescue Me - I think I understand how all you Sopranos fans felt a few years ago when you were ranting and raving about how everyone needed to start watching the show. Because I think that Rescue Me continues to be one of the better shows on television, combing the funniest scenes I have ever seen ("In heaven you just think and suddenly you can taste Mountain Dew") with some of the most tragic. If you aren't watching the show, you need to be. If you are watching it, you should also be reading Lou's anti-blog which is also very very amusing.
    • College World Series - It always seems criminal to me how much less coverage the baseball tournament gets than the bowl games or March Madness. Go Owls!
    • Mixed Signals - My latest blog addiction is this blog from the newsroom at NPR. It gives an interesting take on a lot of stories and how they are playing out on NPR, as well as just a source for random trivia and distractions. Check it out.

    oh powerful LJ Genie...

    The left mouse button on my laptop's keyboard thinks that it is pressed down. But it's not. Physically the button is normal, but Windows seems to think it is pushed in and therefore is causing my all kinds of headaches. Any ideas how I can fix this problem?

    (it's a Dell Latitude D500 running Windows XP if that makes a difference)

    (no subject)

    So I spent last week burnt out, pretending like i was getting work done but in actuality sitting around staring at papers without actually reading them.

    I spent the holiday weekend working on the house. Pictures available at that place where I talk about that kind of stuff.

    This week I am thus far being pretty productive, as I am working on getting a paper out and I think I will be able to start sending it around later this week or early next week. I have doublechecked all the proofs and they still hold up to scrutiny, so now it is time for tweaking the writing and trying to streamline and all that other stuff.

    Oh yeah, and insert some bitching about the heat. Sure, today isn't as bad as yesterday but it is still far from the pleasant spring weather we were enjoying up until last week. Although don't tell my former Houstonian self that I am bitching about this heat, because this is like March in Houston.


    There's an interesting article from the NY Times about a study that stocks with easy-to-pronounce names trade higher than stocks with hard-to-pronounce names. It really makes you wonder about that whole stock market thing. That's why I keep my money in a jar buried in the backyard under all the garlic.

    (not really. so don't come digging up my garlic. because the stalks have gotten three feet tall and I'm giddy with excitement about harvesting in a couple months)

    render this show into utter desolation

    There's no doubt that my main Achilles Heel when it comes to television watching is that I watch far too much of it.

    But running a close second is the fact that once I start watching a show I will stick with it until the bitter end. In fact, it's hard for me to think of a show that I have watched regularly for more than three or for weeks and then stopped watching before the grand finale. I suppose there are a handful of sitcoms that fall into that category, but not many, and the only drama I can think of in recent years is Desperate Housewives (which wore thin for me about 10 episodes in). Case in point: this is why I am still watching Survivor long after even blergeatkitty gave up on it.

    In fact, the only counterexamples I can think of in the last decade are 90210 and X-Files. But I can't take too much credit for either of them as I watched them far longer than any self-respecting person would. And in fact in both cases I gave up after the season premiere of what would turn out to be the final season. In the case of 90210 it was the moment when Val admitted that she killed her own father (rather than the suicide that we had been led to believe it was) that I turned off the television, realized that the show had gone too far even for me and that while I had started watching it somewhat ironically with all my college friends I was now watching it all by myself in my apartment when I should be studying for my oral exams, and that was the last straw. (Full disclosure: I have since gone back and watched all the episodes I missed, and I especially savored the rap in the final episode about all the women David had slept with. Ahhh good times)

    With X-Files it was a similar situation, and despite the fact that I had stuck through the show for yet another abduction of Mulder and the season with T2 replacing him, once Scully's role was being diminished and Lucy Lawless was running around I just realized that I really didn't care about the show at all. (Incidentally, while I did watch the final episode I don't think I have seen any other episodes from that season. Recently K. has been watching some X-Files reruns on SciFiNetwork and I find it very odd that I have no interest in watching any of that show. It's weird given how obsessed I was at one point, but cest la vie).

    Of course, the other reason that I stopped watching X-Files during those final days was that there was a new show that was getting a lot of buzz as being a great new show. And it was about a grad student that is secretly a spy! Two of my favorite things! And it starred that guy who played the captain in Titanic as well as some hot young actress that people said was worth checking out, despite the fact that she was in Dude, Where's My Car?

    Five years later, Alias became yet another show that I held onto until its last gasps of air. I know that most of America gave up on it -- and then rediscovered it when they realized it was by "that Lost guy" and then promptly gave it right back up. But I always enjoyed the show. It got silly at times, and it never really lived up to the first episodes whih had some classic spy moments and oh-those-cliffhangers that ABC made them get rid of along with all that wacky serialized stuff that people couldn't follow. (At some point, remind me to post about my theory of how it falls into the Sports Night category of shows that were just a year or two before their time...) It certainly hasn't been the best show the past few years, but it has remained one of the most fun shows on TV, and I for one will really miss it. Especially those great Victor Garber-Ron Rifkin scenes in which so much scenery got chewed up that...well, I'm not sure how to end that metaphor.

    Now let's just hope that those rumors of a Sark-Peyton spinoff come to fruition!