Friday, April 27, 2007

Today I read a bunch of articles about influential wine critic Robert Parker. Actually, I think 'influential' is putting it mildly - apparently the difference between getting a 91 rating from him and an 89 amounts to 6-7 million euros for the winery. As a result, winemakers around the world, including the 'greats' from Bordeaux and Burgundy, have been catering to the style of wine Parker prefers.

Why did this happen in the wine world and not the music world? I know many, many people who adamantly support music that most other people hate. I know punks, I know hipsters, I know metalheads, I know hip-hoppers; and each is dedicated to his/her musical taste. Many of them can't stand mainstream music either.

The opposite occurs in the wine world. I've heard friends argue over Sufjan Stevens vs Iron & Wine, I've heard friends argue over Miller Lite vs Bud Light, but I've never heard anyone argue over Voigniers vs Pinot Grigios.

Is it education? You hear music everywhere, and once you acquire a copy of a song it's yours forever. So your level of familiarity with music is high. By the time a person becomes a teenager he/she has probably heard many thousands of songs, some of them probably hundreds of times. So perhaps everyone, to some extent, can call themselves a music expert. At least everyone has enough experience to know what he/she likes best. This is also true with beer (for a lot of people) - 95% of the people I knew in college tried dozens of varieties of beer by senior year's end, and had had several types (esp. Natty Light) many, many times over. So one's familiarity with beer allows us to make such personal distinctions as "I like Newcastle" or "I don't like ales".

Wine has traditionally been an exclusive drink, and maybe this is a bad thing. As Noam Chomsky once said, "The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, party dictatorships, or professional wine critics." (I guess this was the inspiration for the site That is what has happened with Robert Parker. His tastes are completely unaccountable - this is what he likes, and so be it. Wine stores figured out that they can just post his score next to a case of wine and they can save time and money that would otherwise be spent on training their employees' palates. And this is sad, because the homogenizing of wine will weaken the market in the long term. This happens all the time in other disciplines - lack of variety equals a lack of competition and thus the overall product suffers.

Just some thoughts for today.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cavs won 109-102 yesterday in an untelevised playoff game. What is that about? I guess Drew Gooden was on fire and Z and Hughes stepped up again and it took a 4th quarter explosion from the Wizards to make the score as close as it was. The Wizards will win one - but only one - game this series. I'm very confident in this assertion.
The above picture was taken from the window of my landlord's apartment in Vernazza, Italy. He invited us in when we came to pay for our 2 night stay and we had coffee and cookies while his wfe absolutely HACKED into a fish with a pair of scissors. It stunk, is was distusting and it was great.
Do this: go here, read some poetry, then purchase poetry and music here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Crap. Posting every day is harder than I thought it would be.
I got a haircut yesterday. It was cheaper than the last one I got, but it also wasn't as good. I explained my last haircut to this new girl, who seemed to understand, but apparently did not. But it was cheaper, so I guess I got what I paid for. And it's not terrible either, but I probably could have done just as good a job on my own. I look like Keith Van Horn now.
I went to a wine class yesterday and it was pretty good - we actually had two glasses at a time, so we could directly compare wines sip by sip. I actually felt like I was starting to get the difference between warm and cool climate wines. I should be a full-blown snob in a couple months.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Empirical evidence that real music does indeed still exist:

Crap. I forgot to post something yesterday. I was on a four day streak.
I blame all the basketball I watched. The Cavs won more or less easily; it wasn't pretty but they clearly had the better players and even when it looked like Washington was on a tear the scoreboard never reflected it. I actually feel really bad for Washington - relieved, too - but no one deserves what happened to them. It would have been a great series.
Of course, the Cavs need to win three more games, and if they fail it will be one of the worst collapses in modern NBA history. This is constantly in the back of my mind.
I actually gave up on the season at the end; the Cavs looked destined for the 5th seed (after holding the 2nd all season) and I believe the Bulls are clearly the better team overall (again, see The Wages of Wins). So I was elated to find out that the Cavs won their last four games and the Bulls lost their final one to the Nets, resulting in a major change of fortune for both clubs. Now the Cavs have a cakewalk first round matchup and will get either the Nets or Raptors in the second roung - both of which are eminently beatable. Then it's always possible for fortune to smile again in the Conference finals vs either the Bulls or Pistons, given that the Cavs only need to win four games. There is hope yet.
I am listening to the new Arcade Fire album as I write this. It's not as good as Funeral, but I didn't expect it to be. Yet it's got some great songs (especially the first and third) and the production is beautiful - probably the best-sounding album I've heard in years. I wish my stuff sounded like that.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

After a marathon mixing session today the new album is closer than ever to being finished. Of course, I still have drums, cello, and other miscellaneous tracks to record. I'd say overall the album is 80$% done. It's currently 17 tracks, and hopefully that won't change.

Had an interesting night at Barcade in Koreatown last night. They had the original Asteroids game, which was phenomenal. I'm not sure what the graphic output style is called, but the bullets from your ship had an actual luminescence and left a trail as they flew towards their target. It was beautiful in a strange way.

I also played the original Donkey Kong which is damn hard.

I got into a big argument with one of my roommate's friends when I got home because I made the assertion that on a per minute basis, Manu Ginobli is better than Kobe Brayant in terms of helping his team win games. If you disagree with me please read The Wages of Wins.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Yes, three days in a row.

I spent a lot of time (relatively) looking for this and finally found it. A classic.

Gus Chiggins.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ok, this is two days in a row. Momentum.

So I recently finished reading Mark Twain's 'The Innocents Abroad'. It's one of his first books and it's about his extended excursion throughout the Mediterranean on a steamboat. I'm way into travelogues now and reading one that was written in 1867 - way before even our most basic modern necessities were invented - was fascinating. And yet his travelling companions were the same types of characters I see around me every day, and Mark Twain's satirical wit is as humorous today as it was then. Take this excerpt, for example:

"I am reminded, now, of one of these complaints of the cookery made by a passenger. The coffee had been steadily growing more and more execrable for the space of three weeks, till at last it had ceased to be coffee altogether and had assumed the nature of mere discolored water--so this person said. He said it was so weak that it was transparent an inch in depth around the edge of the cup. As he approached the table one morning he saw the transparent edge--by means of his extraordinary vision long before he got to his seat. He went back and complained in a high-handed way to Capt. Duncan. He said the coffee was disgraceful. The Captain showed his. It seemed tolerably good. The incipient mutineer was more outraged than ever, then, at what he denounced as the partiality shown the captain's table over the other tables in the ship. He flourished back and got his cup and set it down triumphantly, and said:

"Just try that mixture once, Captain Duncan."

He smelt it--tasted it--smiled benignantly--then said:

"It is inferior--for coffee--but it is pretty fair tea."

The humbled mutineer smelt it, tasted it, and returned to his seat. He had made an egregious ass of himself before the whole ship. He did it no more. After that he took things as they came. That was me."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

So much for my feeble attempt at posting daily. I intended to write during the day while at work, but work suddenly became actual work and when I did have some spare time it was immediately swallowed up by two new games: World Elite Soccer and Desktop Tower Defense.

Seriously, WES is the greatest fantasy sports game of all time. Even my buddy at work - who is a fantasy nut but doesn't like soccer - is hooked. It doesn't even require that much time... but it can if you want it to, and I got sucked in. DTD is surprising; it seems like a stupid little flash game at first, but turns out to be an incredibly deep puzzle/strategy game and I just. can't. stop.

Luckily neither of these diversions are keeping me from working on the new album; my parents' recent visit took care of that.

I will post a new version of that 'Return' song sometime soon, I've been spending a lot of time on it and it's getting better.
World Elite Soccer -

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Three songs I've been listening to a lot recently:
Amy Winehouse - Rehab
Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
NMH - Little Birds
A friend of mine had me listen to the Winehouse song on his ipod the other day and when it ended I immediately told him to burn it for me. I haven't reacted that strongly to a song in a long, long time. Just a perfect ode to 60s music stylings with a modern edge. And the hook is genius.
The Queen song needs no explanation.
The NMH song is rare. There's only one version and it's a live track and Magnum tells the audience that it's not even finished yet. But it feels finished, and it's haunting, scary, powerful and sobering all at once. Apparently it's the only known song after In the Aeroplane over the Sea. It's fantastic.

I'm beginning to start thinking about maybe trying to possibly commence writing a blog post every single day. I'm not committing to anything here! I'm just saying. It could happen, once I manage to start considering the possibility. I think it would be hard to come up with something interesting to say every day, especially during the (work) week. On the plus side, I have well over a thousand pictures to use - that's more than three years of posts right there.
The Cleveland Indians home opener was over the weekend, and it got snowed out in the 4th inning. The official AP write up of the non-game includes the following sentence:

"Also, a fan ran onto the field and left a snow angel in right-center before being arrested."
Yep, he's a friend of mine, and currently my sister's roommate. Apparently he doesn't remember much of the incident. That's a great photo though.
Here's a good write up of his heroics:

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I have been continuously employed for three years. As with most things, this fact has been both a boon and a bane. I need the money, but would rather have the time. As they say, time is money. But on the other hand, money can buy time.

It's hard to reconcile my dedication to music because it is, after all, merely a leisure pursuit. It is unnecessary for societies existence, and if any true calamity were to strike, 'Musician' would be one of the first job descriptions deleted. Probably right after Dog Groomer.

Then again, throughout all of history music has been an integral spiritual, ceremonial and cultural mainstay. Even the most insignificant and isolated tribes have a musical history, no matter how primitive their civilization may be, from the Aboriginal digiridoo to the 'lilting melody' of the Aztecs written about by the priest of Cortez' company.

I'm trying to rationalize my continued musical endeavors. I should shut up and just post some songs, and then fight my way through another day in the brick and mortar trenches.