Monday, February 25, 2008

No Jazz Flutes

FishiesAh, Syracuse. Depending on whether you're feeling charitable, Worcester, MA or Hanover, NH come to mind. I was there for a 36-hour trip this past weekend to have meetings and check out venues for a seminar we're doing there in April. It wasn't a bad time, but 36 hours was plenty. While there I got to listen to lots of suits talk shop about the intricacies of the FCC and communications law. A bit brain-numbing. On the upside, I got to sit in on a lecture by Pandora's founder Tim Westergren. He's a very cool former musician with a business model that will hopefully continue to make money and introduce people to new music as long as Soundexchange doesn't do them in. Since they need people to listen to all that music and categorize it in umpteen ways, they actually hire those poor, starving, non-touring, Berklee College of Music grads who had to take all that music theory! Drat. If I'd know that I would've stuck with ear training and contemporary harmony...that is, as long as it never involved listening to the jazz flute.

I tie my brain in knots regularly over FMC's finances: how to pay for things, how to justify them, how to pay just enough - not too much but not too little either - for what we need, and how to explain it all. Funny, I never thought about its innate alternate-universe-esque weirdness until I read this article in the Non-Profit Quarterly. If you work for a non-profit or are considering it, this article should be required reading.

Alas, non-profit accounting is not as amusing as Chad Vader (courtesy of the dude from Innova I met in Syracuse).

The Long Tail's Chris Anderson has a free preview on the Wired website from his new book called, in case you miss the point, "Free".

On the political front: Harold Feld considers how Clinton's constant style vs. substance charge is more about campaigning style and how Obama and Clinton are using the Internet differently. Can't finish this without asking why? Seems Nader can't properly answer that question either.

Well, at least I only got a few points in the Dork category... says I'm an Uber Cool Non-Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pop Culture Gaps

MangosAs some of you already know, I have some rather noticeable gaps in my knowledge of pop culture, especially with movies. So I've been catching up on my movie watching lately. Send me your top ten lists if you feel inspired and I'll add them to my Netflix queue.

Most recently seen:
  • Lost in Translation: nice to know that hype is sometimes warranted.
  • Eastern Promises: does Viggo Mortensen do anything badly? I even got my geek on and watched the featurette on Russian mafia tattoos.
  • Once: great music in a sweet little film though knowing that the 37 year old guy was dating the 19 year old girl in real life was a little weird. I wish I'd caught the two of them when they came through town last year.
  • Match Point: I didn't really buy the ending and it seemed to drag. That said, it certainly added to the mini-Scarlett Johansson fest.
  • I even tried to go see There Will Be Blood last weekend, but the film broke (broke? really?) and so no movie. Since then I've moved on to television featuring women who kick ass while living in the midst of extensive mythologies. No, not Buffy this time around, but Alias.

    I think I'd have a lot more books if I had an apartment like this. But No Depression won't be on bookshelves anymore.

    Digital Audio Insider considers the new music equation.

    I didn't know that Wilco has webcasts of live shows on their website.

    If Friday's weather holds, I'm off to Syracuse. If not, I may try to see Jason Isbell (ex-Drive-By Truckers) at the 930 Club.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    Museum Etiquette

    Yoruba BowlI went on a first date on Saturday afternoon. We ended up at a very typical DC first date place: a museum, to be specific, the National Museum of African Art. Now, I like museums, but as a first date activity they have their downsides, namely that you're wandering around looking at art and reading descriptions and not getting to know each other. Yes, sometimes conversations spring up around the art, but unless you were both art history majors, conversations tend to go something like "Person 1: I like the hat on that sculpture. Person 2: Yeah, that's cool."

    To remedy this flaw in the museum first date, I've taken to discussing where in a hypothetical house I would put the piece of art we're looking at and posing the same question to my date. Maybe my approach is flip and disrespectful to the process of appreciating the art, but at least it gets you talking to each other and getting to know each other, which is after all the point of a first date. I don't know what this says about me, but I envisioned a lot of the African sculptures I saw on Saturday in gardens and greenhouses. The woman in/of this bowl has such attitude on her; I'm not messing with her. Anyway, while the date in question seemed to find my line of thinking amusing at first, I think he ended up being annoyed. Oh well. Suffice it to say, my date didn't end in hickeys. By the by, "an ode to hickeys"?

    Now here's some art I like for its own sake: latte art.

    This was a fantastic exhibit last year. I have to make it there this year.

    On the scheduling front, I realized a few days ago that my tickets for Justice are the same night that I'm arriving in Austin for South by Southwest. Damn. There are still tickets for the Baltimore show at Sonar so I'm not without hope that I'll find someone who wants to go and also has a car. Besides, I'm going to be in Austin, so I can't complain that much.

    Though I'm a Scrabulous devotee, I got my ass handed to me earlier this week by Jean in an FMC office Scrabble game. Rematch is in the offing.

    I had an insanely long week at work. I was going loopy from financial reports by Friday night. The week ended serendipitously with drinks at Marx and a late night breakfast at The Diner. It was exactly what I needed. Thanks, Rick!

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Cake & Raspberries

    Rio 2007So, do I start with my ode to television or my hearty raspberry to television? I'm feeling like applause first, so I have to say that I love the Food Network show Ace of Cakes. I might want Giada De Laurentis and Ina Garten to make me dinner, but I want to hang out with the people at Charm City Cakes who spend their time making these wacky, gravitationally-impossible cakes. I mean when was the last time you saw a slab of bacon and a can of Miller Lite made of cake - that was completely edible?

    As to raspberries? Twin Peaks Season 2 gets that honor. I finally finished and my initial response was "that's the end of Twin Peaks?" After sitting through hours of Nadine pretending to be 17 again, Windom Earle laughing maniacally, and Heather Graham playing an ex-nun, that's the ending we get? Any show with that many mysterious deaths should pay off its viewers suspension of disbelief better than that. Season 1 was a lot of fun, but Season 2 believed Season 1's hype more than it should have. Arg. I'm annoyed. I feel kinda cheated by my television set.

    The oddball find of the week: your friends at Boing Boing dug up this history of conjoined twins for the curious folks out there.

    Finally, here's some funny that crossed my path, because who can't use a laugh?
  • I think I'm behind the curve on this on, but it's still f*cking hilarious: Sarah Silverman F*cking Matt Damon.

  • Last weekend's This American Life was all about tough rooms. One of the toughest has to be backstage at The Onion.
  • Thursday, February 7, 2008

    Listenin' Around

    Federal Reserve CollectiveI was at the Iota Cafe on Monday night and saw Federal Reserve Collective who do a casual monthly night there of alt-country/folk/pop by various DC indie musicians. Though I missed the guy I was there to see, I really enjoyed it and plan to go back next month.

    As to the events of the larger world: 1) didn't watch the Superbowl because if I'd gone to my friend Robert's party, I would've been that annoying person who doesn't understand the game; 2) having only been a resident of Massachusetts and DC, my vote has never really mattered, until next week that is. That's exciting - in a geeky way.

    Also very cool is that I'm going to SXSW next month...and on the decidedly less earth-shattering side, I'm going to Syracuse later this month. Both are work trips, but I'm looking forward to SXSW since I've never been to that guargantuan industry confab. While I was at the 930 Club last weekend, I got tickets to Justice next month. And Chromewaves took a stab at collecting the dates for this year's biggest North American festivals. Since I'm not much for camping in the desert or the middle of nowhere, I'm not sure which festivals I'll make it to. Lollapalooza maybe?

    If you live in DC and you have some free time during the day, the National Archives is screening the landmark civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize. I'd go, but for some unknown reason, they're showing it in one hour blocks on Tuesdays and Fridays at noon throughout February. Oh well, DVDing it, I guess. They're also showing all the documentary and short film Oscar nominees at more reasonable days/times later this month.

    I didn't realize I knew so many people with blogs until I started keeping one myself. My friend, Jen, for instance nearly made me cry with this the other day since the best friend with cancer that she mentions was also my very oldest friend. Reading her post made me miss Phatiwe anew.

    Monday, February 4, 2008

    Super Tuesday & Fat Tuesday

    winter afternoonA sizable portion of my week was spent working on a benefit concert on Saturday, February 2 at the 930 Club by OK Go and New Orleans funk brass band Bonerama. Together the two bands are releasing a digital-only EP on Tuesday, which is appropriately enough both Super and Fat Tuesday. Proceeds from the EP will support the building of a new home (here's what left of the old one) for legendary New Orleans musician Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, who's still living in Houston since Hurricane Katrina, and Sweet Home New Orleans, an organization that helps New Orleans musicians return to and stay in New Orleans. Saturday's concert was sold out, a ton of fun to work on, great music from some of the nicest musicians you could hope to meet and all in support of great causes. Added bonus that my night ended with a chili half-smoked during my first trip to Ben's Chili Bowl.

    EP is available on iTunes. Here's the Washington Post review. Photos are forthcoming.

    As to Super Tuesday...I love watching election returns. Yup, I'm a geek, a political junkie, whatever. Washington, DC often gives me reasons to move someplace else, but one of the great reasons to stay is the unending political theater and the way that DC residents lap it up. It's better than sports...'cuz it's real! So, yeah, me and CNN are going to get cozy Tuesday night.

    Speaking of elections, I've never made a political contribution in my life. But I'm about to make my first for Barack Obama. I'll support Hillary in November if she gets the nomination, but it's a refreshing feeling to truly vote for someone rather than against the other guy. Interesting quote from Hillary (quoting Mario Cuomo) that I read a while back: "You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose." Obama certainly has the poetry down; I hope and believe he's capable of prose if the time comes.

    Hey boys and girls, sorry for the late notice, but did you know that you essentially kissed the person at your Superbowl party that double-dipped into the bowl of dip? This bit of popular science comes to you courtesy of the same guy that explored the validity of the 5-second rule last year.

    I hate badly done Flash with a passion, but I'm passing this easy online Flash editor along in the hopes you'll only make the good kind. Pretty please?

    My hometown of Boston got lit up, both literally and figuratively, last week in remembrance of the day a year ago when city officials were unable to tell ad campaign from terrorist threat.

    Mishead lyrics by LCD Soundsystem this week: "we're all hi-hi-high on lemon zest". Still not sure what they're actually saying.