Archive for the 'Travel' category

Neil Armstrong

Aug 26 2012 Published by under Obituary, Personal, Travel

I can think of no greater tribute to the life and legacy of Neil Armstrong than Brian Eno’s monumental “An Ending (Ascent)” from the Apollo album.

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Inkbottle Podcast #2: Tuvan Space Goddess

Jan 13 2011 Published by under Music, Personal, Random, Travel

Inkbottle Podcast #2: Tuvan Space Goddess by Mheumann on Mixcloud

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Top 10/Bottom 3: July 2010

Jul 01 2010 Published by under Food, Humor, Literature, Music, Personal, Sports, Top 10/Bottom 3, Travel

New York Parking

Top 10–New York Trip Edition

  1. Coney Island
  2. Hot dogs at Nathan’s
  3. Other Music
  4. Strand bookstore
  5. Pizza in Penn Station
  6. Black & white cookies
  7. New York Public Library’s original Winnie-the-Pooh collection
  8. Breakfasts at Holiday Inn Express
  9. Not having to sit through US men’s world cup loss because I was at a wedding reception
  10. The Cloisters

Bottom 3

  1. Coney Island Museum (just plain sucked, even if admission was only 99 cents)
  2. Humidity
  3. Forbidden Planet New York (big letdown after the London store)

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Top 25/Bottom 10: January 2000-December 2009

Angels win 2002 World Series

Top 25

  1. Angels win 2002 World Series–At my father’s funeral in 2005, I talked about our shared love of sports, and the point I made to illustrate this love was him calling me after the Angels won the Series for the first time.  That’s how much this meant to me (and to him).
  2. The Wire: When a postmortem is written about the American experiment, this show will be singled out as a perfect illustration of how the country fell.  The detailed way in which the show demonstrated corruption, complacency, and stagnation at all levels of bureaucracy and business, mixed with the systematic defeat of anyone and everyone trying to make things better, says more about the last decade than a million hours of campaign commercials and governmental panels ever could.  It’s the most essential work of art of this century, and it will be one of the lasting gifts of our generation to generations to come.
  3. William Basinski‘s The Disintegration Loops and The River–I helped to generate interest in William Basinski’s work when I worked at the now-defunct Stylus Magazine.  All of his work is wonderful, but these two works shine above all other music from the last decade (even though they both are really over 30 years old now).
  4. Children of Men: The best film of the decade is also the most amazing science fiction films ever conceived.  Clive Owen’s acting, Alfonso Cuarón’s directing, and Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography are the three pillars in this film, which takes us on a journey through a world without children and all the chaos and confusion that this fact produces.  It’s a spellbinding, amazing work of art.
  5. Barak Obama–2nd best night of the decade (behind the night the Angels won the series) was the night that Obama won the Presidency.  And while he’s been attacked left and right for the past year, he’s still standing and he’s moving slowly but surely toward change.  I still believe.
  6. Apple’s iPod and iPhone–When I used to carry around a portable CD player and 50 CDs, I would dream of a device that could store my music in my pocket.  And then I got an iPod.  And then I got another iPod.  And then I got an iPhone.  And then I gave my first iPhone to my friend and got a new one and we both started using ours together.  And it was good.
  7. Tivo–Oh hell yes.
  8. Idiocracy–Funniest movie of the decade, and the most accurate.  We don’t have to wait 500 years for this world to come into existence; I see this kind of stupid every single day.
  9. Sigur Rós‘s Agaetis Byrjun, ( ), Takk…, and Hvarf – Heim–Band of the decade?  I think so.  Their music has defined much of the genre that is usually known as “post rock,” even as their emerging popularity has alienated the band from the critics, most of whom see the band as sell-outs because they are successful.  And yes their last album wasn’t as good as their previous work; but it’s still way better than 99.99% of all music ever, so I’ll give them some slack.  Oh, and Amiina is awesome too!
  10. Joanna Newsom’s Ys–I put this CD in my car shortly after I bought it in 2007 and it’s still in there.  It’s one of the only examples of high-quality poetry brought to life through music.
  11. The Venture Brothers–Poetry of an entirely different stripe, this series is the vanguard of Adult Swim, itself the vanguard of popular entertainment for quite some time.  It’s part Hardy Boys, part Superfriends, part Six Million Dollar Man, part dada, part I Saved Hitler’s Brain, and part…well, part everything else I can come up with.  Oh my flipping zombie Jesus is this show good.
  12. Tod Dockstander’s Aerial–Decades in the making, this is a magnum-opus from an electronic music pioneer who never really had much of a chance to practice his art back in the 60s because he lacked the credentials to use the very rare and very expensive technologies found in some high-level universities and few other places.  This is an exceptional trilogy of albums that puts Dockstander front and center in the modern world of experimental music.
  13. NetflixIt took me a while to get into this (their initial catalogue was rather minimal), but now it’s practically a religion, even for people like my mom who know next to nothing about computers.  She checks her email and her Netflix queue.  Oh, and they forced Americans to use the word “queue,” too.  That’s awesome.
  14. The Caretaker: The Complete Digital CollectionUnbelievably important music from the guy who was originally known as V/VM.  The entire catalogue is worth owning; more than that, it’s affordable.  This guy pioneered the online distribution of music.  Most of his catalogue was originally available for free download.  But I felt that I owed it to him to buy the collection and support this wonderful artist’s work into another decade (which has begun in earnest with Leyland Kirby’s latest release).
  15. World of Warcraft–This is #1 on my wife’s “Bottom 10” list for the decade.  I play it too much–and have for several years.  I got hooked when I saw that I could create a druid alchemist.  How cool is that?  Not that alchemy or druidism in WoW have anything to do with actual druids or alchemy, but it’s still fun to imagine living within a mythological world.
  16. Boards of Canada‘s Geogaddi and The Campfire Headphase–Boards of Canada’s contribution to the music world in the last decade consists of two fascinating albums and some EPs.  These are exceptional works, and they extend the ideas from Music Has the Right to Children in interesting ways.  I still check BoC’s website every day to see if there’s news of their latest release.  I bet I’m not the only one.
  17. Amazon Prime–I grew up in Riverside, about 60 miles from Los Angeles at a time when I had to go into LA to find any decent music or bookstores.  I dreamed of a day when I would live in a decent town where I could buy any of the weird stuff that I read about in magazines.  And then the Internet showed up and with it came Amazon, the first and still best stop for online shopping.  I now live in a town that is over 100 miles from the nearest pocket of civilization, and the only reason a place like this is even partially tolerable is Amazon Prime, which allows me to buy whatever I want and not pay for shipping (well, I pay $75 a year, but you have no idea how much stuff my wife and I get on Amazon).
  18. Neal Stephenson’s Anathem–Read it recently and loved it.  I’ve loved all of his novels (though the Baroque Cycle is a tough haul).  I love the fact that the kernel of this novel’s story is taken from the Long Now project.
  19. Tim Hecker‘s Radio Amor, Harmony in Ultraviolet, and An Imaginary Country–I first got into Hecker because Amour was based around shortwave radio signals he recorded in Central America (shortwave being one of my fascinations).  But everything this artist has created in the past few years is truly beautiful and challenging (a difficult combination, indeed).  Highly recommended.
  20. Stow, Scotland–My wife and I took our parents to the UK in 2006.  We spent a week at a small farmhouse in this town.  It was wonderful.
  21. Ableton Live–This is the past, present, and future of electronic music composition.  This German company will dominate the next decade because of their wise decision to merge their software with Cycling ’74’s epochal Max/MSP.  Max for Live debuted in November 2009 and will be the basis for more music in the coming decade than the vocoder was in the Noughts.
  22. Top Gear–I care very little about cars, but I love this show.  It proves that adult men can make fun of each other intelligently and with style.  Plus it’s one of the few things my wife and I enjoy watching together.
  23. Lord of the RingsThe movies were fantastic, but what I love even more is the fact that these films spearheaded the interest in fantasy and mythology.  It’s partly because of this film that I’m able to teach a class on mythology at my college.
  24. Patton Oswalt–I’ve been a fan since his 1996 HBO special (which I taped and watched over and over).  He’s more popular than ever now, and his comedy just keeps getting stronger.
  25. Longplayer–A wonderful idea.  Here’s hoping it lasts!

Bottom 10

  1. George W. Bush
  2. Dick Cheney
  3. Donald Rumsfeld (really, it’s a three-way tie for first)
  4. Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck/Fox News
  5. People who don’t understand the difference between “were” and “where”
  6. Terrorists of all stripes (from the 9/11 attackers to the Wall Street thugs to Republican fearmongers)
  7. Boston
  8. Reality television
  9. 99.99% of all entertainment
  10. Summers in El Centro, CA

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The Swell Season’s Strict Joy

Oct 29 2009 Published by under Film/TV, Music, Personal, Travel


When The Commitments came out in 1991, I was a 23 year old English grad student obsessed with both James Joyce and soul music (especially Otis Redding and Bobby “Blue” Bland), so you know that Alan Parker’s film (based on Roddy Doyle’s wonderful novel) would be a big hit for me.  I saw it twice in the theater, I believe, and each time I had to pinch myself.  How did they know?  I asked myself.  How did they manage to create a movie just for me? Continue Reading »

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Detroit Thunderdome

Oct 15 2009 Published by under Humor, Random, Travel

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Top 10/Bottom 3: August 2009

Aug 01 2009 Published by under Literature, Music, Politics, Sports, Top 10/Bottom 3, Travel

My Next Album Cover

Continue Reading »

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Top 10/Bottom 3: June 2009

Jun 16 2009 Published by under Film/TV, Food, Humor, Internet/Media, Music, Personal, Politics, Top 10/Bottom 3, Travel

Top Ten

  1. Water
  2. The Beta Band’s The 3 EP’s
  3. The Vaselines
  4. Planning trip to London in January
  5. New Squidbillies
  6. Feedly
  7. Top Gear (and I’m not even a car person)
  8. JG Ballard’s Vermillion Sands
  9. Touch
  10. Flickr

Bottom Three

  1. Grading essays
  2. Eating too much junk food
  3. Heat

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My List

Jun 16 2009 Published by under Film/TV, Food, Literature, Music, Travel

Here’s a list of 20 places and things I like (in no particular order):

  1. Sigur Ros
  2. Boards of Canada
  3. The LA Angels
  4. Children of Men
  5. Finnegans Wake
  6. Marinetti’s “Futurist Manifesto”
  7. The iPhone App Store
  8. Rib-eye steak
  9. Sunday nights on Adult Swim (Venture Bros, Metalocalypse, Squidbillies…)
  10. Sleeping in
  11. The British Library
  12. Lawrence of Arabia
  13. The Daily Show
  14. Doctor Who and Blake’s 7
  15. Dublin
  16. Red Vines
  17. Everything Kafka ever wrote
  18. Monty Python
  19. Aguirre, the Wrath of God
  20. Maps

Originally published 7/21/08

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