You've Been Asleep for a Hundred Seconds

Thursday, March 31, 2005


Last weekend Headstart and I went to Vegas with my brother for his girl friend Amy's Birthday. I had an awesome time and definitely will go back. Thank you so much Amy for inviting me! Headstart and my brother were the best to hang out with as well.

We stayed at the Excalibur which was hideously cheesy and fun with its Smurfs-style medieval motif. The excess of the whole place is both beautiful and disgusting. There was great people watching. We ate hideous amounts of food of various quality. We never managed to see any shows but I did drag Headstart and my brother to Star Trek the Experience which while horribly over priced did get my all geekily excited.

The best part was the gambling. It was awesome. First slot machines are just evil. I had no luck with them. But playing poker and Roulette was a blast. My brother one big at the Luxor on Roulette and Headstart and I both had success with it at our hotel.

On Saturday night, Headstart and I played $1/$3 poker until 5 in the morning. I won big and the highlight was definitely when I re-raised to bluff Headstart out a pot and she screamed "asshole" at me from across the table much the shock and horror of everyone else at the table who didn't know we knew each other. I ended up turning $20 into $115 on the night. Sunday Night was less successful at the poker table but still loads of fun. And I absolutely loved the free drinks you get while gambling. Brilliant!

Here's some more pictures:

The Conservatory at the Bellagio

Amy and my brother

Headstart and my brother at Spock's coffin.


$5.95 Prime Rib! And it was good!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Grand Theory of Everything pt. 31

Last Friday, while being repeatedly blow away by the Decemberists at the Showbox, I started thinking about how unique and transcendent their music is. Which lead me to wonder what is it about certain kinds of music that makes me really flip for it. I think there are two basic classes of music that really excites me.

The first class is personified by artists like Robyn Hitchcock, The Decemberists, Neutral Milk Hotel, mid-period The Kinks, and late-period XTC. These artists manage to make music that is unlike anything every before. Sure they have their influences but they create songs that live in their own musical universe and operate under their own unique rules and expectations. A song may remind you of something else but it is unequivocally a Hitchcock song or a Neutral Milk Hotel song. There is also an unpredictable quality to the music. There is an inherent freshness to the work that makes it stand out even after the hundredth listen.

The second class of music less ambitious but still exciting; Guided By Voices, Teenage Fanclub, Ted Leo, early XTC, Early Elvis Costello, etc. There isn’t anything all that new brought to the table. There are no unheard sounds or song structures to be heard. The influences are worn on their sleeve. But what these artists do deliver is a perfect synthesis of their influence to create something special. I’ll mind myself enjoying both the song for its self and the way it intertwines the artists’ influences in equal measure.

Not all great music falls in these two classes but a fair about of my favorite stuff does. Things like later-period Costello and Franz Ferdinand are really enjoyable at first but there is some lacking and maybe too much formalism and formula and usually a few months down the line it seem comparatively stale.

Next Month: Why and how Elvis Costello lost his way.

Why Mickey?

Ok I have to ask what is the appeal of Mickey Mouse? Why do people like him?

Now I don’t hate Disney or anything. Although, I do have a more or less evil aunt that collects Mickey memorabilia to excess and loves to got to Disney World for vacation. She would always give my grandfather (her father-in-law) tacky Mickey-related golf gifts that he would just toss in a box in the garage. Not surprisingly she ended up with that crap when he died a few years back. I’ll leave it at that before this becomes a rant.

I can pretty much understand the appeal of every other heavily merchandised cartoon character. Donald Duck is our ill tempered side. Bugs Bunny has snappy comebacks. Snoopy is a dreamer. Daffy Duck is vanity personified. Goofy is well…goofy. But Mickey? Even in his early incarnation he is lame. Completely personality-less. Which probably says something about Mickey. Is there any reason to like Mickey other than maybe you think he’s cute? Any?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I would just like to say that Rob Mariano is now the Barry Bonds of Reality TV. He may not be well-liked by some but he is the best without question. After coming out of nowhere to contend in Survivor 4 and then dominating Survivor All-Star with Amber, Rob and Amber are now dominating The Amazing Race 7. Rob has managed to find new way to succeed in this game from using his celebrity to get help to using bribery to get an edge with the locals to stealing another teams cab. In last night's episode Rob took it to the next level by quitting on an eating task and then convincing other teams to quit as well there by guaranteeing he and Amber would would make it to the next round. I won't be surprised if Rob and amber make it all the way to the end and win another million dollars. Really the only thing comparable is Sarah's unbeaten streak on Real World/Road rules Challenge: The Gauntlet.

When they open the Reality TV Hall of Fame Rob and Sarah justly will be the first inducted.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"But the dealer just stares"

Having pretty much recovered from my illness and after drab day at work, I met up with Headstart, AA, Jim, and my brother for some Poker at Jim's spacious yet under furnished place in Fremont. Playing with Jim is great as he really knows his poker and always has great other games to suggest like Omaha or Criss Cross. Jim and Headstart were the big winners with both of them doubling their money. I really improved my play from the last time we played (didn't let my emotions control my betting) but still ended up busted. Hopefully my luck will be better in Vegas next week. Well, a man can dream...

Monday, March 14, 2005

Ted Leo is God, okay?

So I'm at home sick today. Feeling like crap with sore throat. Bored out of my mind. Annoyed that I'm getting behind on stuff at work. Taking long naps on the couch. Wondering why I am still tivoing Point Pleasant. And what does the internet offer to make me a happy boy? An mp3 of Ted Leo covering The awesome new Kelly Clarkson single "Since U Been Gone" and mixing a a bit of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Maps" at the end to make the song even better. This is just further evidence that Ted is the coolest man in rock. He sings the song totally straight with no irony at all. Anyway here's the track. I hope it brings half as much joy to your day as it brought to mine.

Ted Leo - Since U Been Gone/Maps

Thursday, March 10, 2005

CD Revue: Dogs Die In Hot Cars- Please Describe Yourself

Glasgow's Dogs Die in Hot Cars have absolutely the worst band name in history at least when it comes to bands that are actual good. For all the retro 80s dance pop coming out of the UK these days Dogs Die in Hot Cars are the only band that wouldn't sound some how out of place on a Top 40 radio station in 1985. In fact, if you heard them on with out knowing who they were you'd like think they were some great 80s new wave band you missed out. They wear their retro influences (XTC, Squeeze, Big Country, Talking Heads) on their sleeve and new wave producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (Madness, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Elvis Costello) take it to the next level of retroness. Songwriter and lead singer Craig Macintosh has fantastic sense of melody and the lyrics deftly straddle between smart and dumb. Macintosh's voice is a unique mix of Stuart Adamson of Big Country and Andy Partridge of XTC. The first track "I Love You 'Cause I Have To" is a subpar song with boring ska riff but the rest of the album is a delight. My favorite song is "Lounger", a hideously catchy ode to unemployment and laziness. It's clearly Headstart's 2004 anthem. Dogs Die in Hot Cars may not have the edge of some their peers (Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads) but it's probably the best album of 80s new wave since David Bowie's Let's Dance.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Farewell Epp's

My neighborhood tavern is no more. Epp's Place has closed it doors for good and will reopen as a fancier sports bar next week.

I can't say I was a regular at Epp's but I probably went to Epp's more than any other bar in Ballard. Since it was just tavern (nor hard stuff just beer), I usually went out elsewhere with friends but Epp's was my place to just stop by for a beer or two on my own after work. It was by all accounts a total dive; everything was run down, the pool table sucked, they had pull tabs, and the bathroom was really skeezy. But it was always clear that the regulars loved it. The regulars were a real blue collar crowd too and honestly the most friendly people around.

I loved going over there to catch a game on TV. I'll always remember watching the game 7 of last year's Red Sox-Yankee's series there. I loved that you could always count on Epp's having both Pabst Blue Ribbon and Rainier on tap. I loved that even though I only went in a couple times a month the bartender would always know I wanted a PBR.

My favorite Epp's memory has to be from last November. I was there with Merychippus and the bartender, who seemed like he'd had more than a bit to drink himself, came up and asked us what we were doing for Thanksgiving. We both said we were doing stuff with family. He then told us that they were going to have a Thanksgiving there at Epp's and everyone was bringing something. I thanked him for the offer and told if my other plans fell through I'd definitely consider it. It really touched me that Epp's was serving as a gathering place for people that had no where else to go on that most family oriented of holidays. Then 5 minutes later the same bartender came up and asked us again what were doing for Thanksgiving and just as we started to answer he realized his mistake and started to laugh. That's the kind of place Epp's Place was; both strangely warm and unintentionally hilarious.

I guess I should have seen it coming as the block had become increasingly upscale with a nice coffee joint and a really nice restaurant turning up in recent years, But I guess I always just assumed Epp's would be there and now after 5 and half years of living half a block from it its gone for good. I'll probably visit this new sports bar jut as much as Epp's but it won't be the same

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

From Bad to Worse...

I think its universally agreed that song "We Built This City" by Starship (formerly Jefferson Starship formerly Jefferson Airplane) is the worst single in the history of mankind. But now thanks a Starbuck's corporate event back and worse than ever in the form of Jefferson Starbuck's "We Built this Starbucks". This is even worse than Microsoft's Visual Basic .NET rap song.

The Stranger has all the details here and you can download it here. Warning this song could severely damage your psyche. Seriously.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Faithful Cog

On Saturday night, I saw Robyn Hitchcock in concert for like the billionth time actually it was only my eleventh time. As usual the show was at the Crocodile Cafe and my concertmate was Merychippus. "It's a machine and you're its faithful cog" Yeah, that's me!

After a nice dinner in Ballard we arrived super early (more than two hours till Robyn hit the stage!) and after briefly attempting to go elsewhere we settle into a table and had some drinks and mostly talked about politics. I was already a bit drunk and remember reiterating that "While I am becoming more conservative in my old age, I am by no means a conservative." It was fun but I recall it getting even more wonky after that.

Luckily were saved from performing some sort of dialectic analysis of social security when my old quiz bowl friend and recent pub trivia team mate Ryan K. and his friend John showed up. Ryan is one of the best and most sincere people I know. He's always honest and straightforward with people and won't shine people on. Ryan and I had discussed meeting up at the show months ago but had talked about it since so this was a real nice surprise. Ryan's friend John turned out to be a real cool guy and I talked with him a lot about music and impressed him with my knowledge of NC State basketball. Later Ryan's friend Ellen joined us and while I didn't get much of a chance to talk to her she was a delight.

Ryan K., John and Ellen.

The actual show was great. Robyn was in top form; complete with a polka dot shirt, with lots of blinking, plentiful flipping the hair out of his face, and inspired monologues. While I prefer to see Robyn with a band and rockin', the solo acoustic format allows for a nice rambling experience. You never know what Robyn might play and he played stuff from all over his career from The Soft Boys "Only The Stones Remain" to The Full Moon of My Soul" from his latest album. The highlight for me was definitely "A Skull, a Suitcase, and a Long Red Bottle Of Wine" which contains one of my favorite lines "when your dreams come true they pretty soon decay" such beautiful cynicism. The lowlight was definitely "Viva Sea-Tac", Robyn's tribute to Seattle. Its a cute song but totally gimmicky. I wouldn't mind it if Robyn didn't always play it at every show in Seattle. Everything else was pretty fab though.

The only picture of Robyn I managed to take where he is not just a red blob of light.

The show was sold out so it was awfully warm in there. We were standing near the back and there was a light that I kept seeing out of the corner of my eye so I tried just close my eyes and focus on the music, but since I was rather drunk I kept losing my balance. Lesson: drunk people should keep their eyes open!

Anyway, thank you Robyn, Ryan K., John, Ellen, and especially Mery for great night out!