unhungry in lansing

We went to Elderly Instruments in Lansing, MI yesterday on the way home. It was about lunchtime, so we asked the staff for recommendations. The nearby Mama Bear’s Café was closed, so we took up another recommendation: the Golden Harvest.

Oo-aw, it was good. Where else can you munch on a perfect smoked turkey reuben while there’s Olivia Tremor Control cranked on the stereo? The Golden Harvest even has a MySpace page.

those are no murder ballads, son

I was hoping to like Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads a lot more than I do. He treated the standards as if saying, “wow, lookit me, I’m real bad!”.

What gives real murder ballads their impact is the gentle, matter-of-fact delivery: listen to Henry Lee on Harry Smith and they might as well be singing a lullaby. Cave murders them with zero subtlety. Doesn’t help that he has tiny squeakerette Kylie (pr. Minog-YEW) on the crew.

not so shuffley

Coincidence, I know, but what’s the odds that, out of more than 460 songs, my nano just played “The Continental”, followed by “Cheat” – both by The Sadies, but different versions of the same tune from different albums? Whoah!

weedtree

Did some remedial gardening today, which included lopping some trees that have sprung up. Man, are these things soft wood:

tree section

It’s about the thickness of my wrist, and got there in only five summers.

Weird weather; there was a dandelion flowering, and some of the trees had buds.

in the running

Almost ‘Best of The Year’ time. In the running are:

A Hawk and a Hacksaw – The Way the Wind Blows
A.C. Newman – Souvenir of Canada – EP
Beck – The Information
Calexico – Garden Ruin
Casper & the Cookies – The Optimist’s Club
Colin Meloy – Colin Meloy Sings Shirley Collins
Eels with Strings – Live At Town Hall
Elf Power – Back To The Web
Erynn Marshall – Calico
Faun Fables – The Transit Rider
Grandaddy – Just Like The Fambly Cat
Grant-Lee Phillips – nineteeneighties
Hidden Cameras – Awoo
Joanna Newsom – Ys
Jolie Holland – Springtime Can Kill You
King Biscuit Time – Black Gold
Mayor McCa – Cue Are Es Tea You
Peter Stampfel – The Jig Is Up
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 – Olé! Tarantula
Sufjan Stevens – Songs For Christmas – Volume V: Peace
Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche – Outtakes And Extras From The Illinois Album
The Be Good Tanyas – Hello Love
The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
The Essex Green – Cannibal Sea
The Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics
The Handsome Family – Last Days of Wonder
The Instruments – Cast A Half Shadow
The Sadies – In Concert Vol. 1
The Wailin’ Jennys – Firecracker
Thom Yorke – The Eraser
Thomas Dolby – The Sole Inhabitant
Wendy Arrowsmith – Crying Out
Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

Miraculously, all of them fit on my iPod Nano, so they’ll be in heavy rotation over the next week or so while I decide.

nostalgia for something that never existed

The Verbatim FlashDisc seems to be a solution without a problem to solve.

verbatim flashdisc

It’s a cheap ($4) but very tiny (16MB) USB memory key in the vague form of some kind of magnetic media. There are problems:

  • $0.25/MB may seem cheap, but it would mean that a 1GB key at this price was $256
  • It neatly blocks most of the USB ports on a machine
  • Just what kind of media is it supposed to be? It looks closest to an old spool of mag-tape, but folks buying this wouldn’t remember that.

Dexit® INSTEAD? No, Dexit is dead

dexit tag

I see that the number of Dexit terminals has reduced to almost nothing, and now they’re offering refunds of outstanding balance. Looks like it’s dead.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Dexit. It was almost a great idea, but offered no significant advantage over cash from the bank machine. I wonder how long it will be before you can buy the old terminals in Active Surplus?

they own 1983

Go and see The History Boys. Sharp dialogue, killer casting and and a great depiction of the time (post-Falklands Thatcherism just finding its feet) — not a second of your time wasted.

the great lost opportunity

I’ve always thought that Adobe missed a great opportunity when they didn’t make their basic PDF writer freely available for Windows. Other OSs now have transparent print-to-PDF options. If you’re lucky, a corporate PC might have MS Office Document Image Writer installed, but a 300dpi monochrome TIFF can’t compare to a PDF.

Still, one can always install PDFCreator (if you have admin rights to the PC, of course). It’s a shame they decide to bundle a marginally dodgy toolbar/spyware package with it, but you don’t get that if you use the MSI installer package.

new greenery

Finatics were having their opening sale (yes, it seems that they were open before, but not officially) so I got a whole buncha plants to replace the rather gnawed/algaed ones I had.

The algae eaters were not pleased to have the tank delved about in, no sirree.

yeah, I get this too

Every few weeks someone contacts me with a proposal for what is, in effect, a perpetual motion machine. He (for it is always a he) can demonstrate to my satisfaction that, unlike all the quacks and cranks and mountebanks I have heard about, he really has solved the problem. He has a special catalyst, or a new equation, or a hotline to God, which demonstrates what all other physicists consider impossible: that energy can be created. … My only defence against these people is to ask them for an article in a peer-reviewed journal, whereupon I never hear from them again.

 — from Heat, by George Monbiot.

all the stars came crashing down

Saw the Decemberists at the awful barn that is the Kool Haus last night. The place was fairly busy, but not full. A scalper offered me a derisory price for a spare ticket, so I don’t think they sold out.
They were pretty good; great in parts, kind of tired and meh in others. Naughty Chris Funk lit up on stage; that’ll mean a fine for the venue. That’ll teach him not to play banjo on stage.
Sensitive wee Scottish folkie Alasdair Roberts supported. He was good enough for me to buy the CD.

house concert!

We went to a house concert last night to hear Chris Coole & Erynn Marshall play some Kentucky duets. Erynn’s back from BC to record with Chris; today’s a long day in the studio.

Great music, nice venue, excellent evening. Maybe we’ll eventually get enough money to buy Chris a new banjo head; his current one looks stricken with some dread skin disease …

wily fish

I took ten of the small platys over to Mike’s store last night. Catching the wee things was hard; I doubt the expression as difficult as catching platys in a planted aquarium will ever catch on, it’s definitely true. Maybe I should have tried thinking like a platy. On second thoughts, maybe not; all our ones seem to do is ingest, excrete and procreate.

In order to replace our dear departed cory, I picked up a couple of tiny Oto cats. They’ve been happily smooching the algae from the rocks ever since they were released.

tunes I must learn (eventually)

Not all of these could be classed as banjo tunes, but I’d want to try, anyway:

  • The Coo-Coo Bird (it’s not optional)
  • The Old Plank Road (Uncle Dave’s delivery, which was more demented than the Rounders)
  • Hot Corn, Cold Corn (like HMR; just how does one spell moo’m moo’m moo’m de boo’m boo’m de boo’m?)
  • I’m Going In A Field (Nic Jones style)
  • Bridges & Balloons (Joanna’s song’s just crying out to be covered with a broad Glasgow accent)
  • Needle of Death (too many banjo tunes are too happy)
  • Ghost (the Neutral Milk Hotel one)
  • something by Sufjan (even if Peter Stampfel says he plays banjo kind of boringly)
  • I Love How You Love Me (like Mangum, not Spector)

boo {gerund} hoo

[Rick Ciarnello, president of the Vancouver Hells Angels chapter] claims he has been treated rudely by his local supermarket staff, and he says many people are no longer friendly toward him, and instead fear him or avoid him altogether.

Hells Angel says he feels shunned.