Thursday, August 29, 2002

Visually Simulating
This entry is rather random, but over the course of the past week, I've taken some photographs that show you parts of my world. Last Friday, I met up with Coco at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education after one of her cooking classes. As Coco and I walked from Harvard Square to Porter Square, the juxtaposition of the full moon and the night-lit spire of one of the buildings near Harvard Yard really struck me.

I don't think it's Memorial Hall.

That's definitely the moon, though.

Walking up Massachusetts Avenue, I showed Coco Three Aces Pizza, a place I used to frequent when I lived on Chauncy Street. Right next door, there's a barber shop. This sign was in the window:

Slick Tracy.

Last weekend, then, there were two festivals in my neighborhood -- the Grecian Festival right across the street from where I live and the 10th Annual Cambridge Carnival International. The Greek fete ran over the course of several days and featured food and live music. They even set up a bulbous white tent over the church's parking lot. They closed off my block and set up tables and chairs in the street. I quite enjoyed listening to the music on the evening breeze through the window. But Sunday morning, I was startled by the carnival parade around midday. While I didn't have a chance to check out the street fair itself, Coco and I did watch some of the parade -- complete with parade floats on flat-bed trucks adorned with enormous amplifiers and young female dancers dressed up in carnival finery.

Flipping the bird.

And then, as if there weren't enough festivals and parades already, last weekend's St. Anthony's Feast in the North End was capped Monday evening with a small processional celebrating the saint. As I left the office after work, I almost walked straight into the processional, which didn't go too far down North Washington Street.

St. Anthony goes marching in.

We're with the band.

A sidewalk serenade.

Lastly, Tuesday night, Coco and I met my friend Hiromi, who just moved to Boston from Orange County, California, for dinner at Charlie's Kitchen on Harvard Square. It's one of my favorite places, and I wanted to share it with Hiromi and Coco, both of whom had never been there. Walking down the alley toward the restaurant, I pointed out the red house that Charlie's owner hopes to fix up and open as a slightly higher-end restaurant to accompany Charlie's (at least that's what I think is going on).

Drafty plans for the future.

Well, there you go. Good to get that out of my system -- and the images off the camera.
'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL XI
I'm taking the day tomorrow, the first of my Friday's off to use up my vacation time before it expires. Tomorrow night, I fly to Chicago to visit my grandmother in northwest Indiana. Based on your votes, we plan to spend the weekend visiting the John Dillinger Museum at the Indiana Welcome Center, the Yellow Brick Road Gift Shop and Oz Fantasy Museum in Chesterton, Indiana, and perhaps even the South Bend Chocolate Co. if we feel like that long a drive.

Monday I'll spend with friends in Chicago. Coco's also visiting friends in Chicago, so we'll probably spend most of Monday stomping around the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Illinois. I went to college there, and it'll be fun to show her some of the sights and sites that are important to me. I'll report on our activities upon my return next Tuesday.

While I always hope to update Media Diet while traveling, if I don't, that doesn't mean that Media Diet is dead (long live Media Diet!). It just means that it's resting. See you Tuesday after Labor Day.
These Links Were Made for Breaking? V
I was doing some research on the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo in Sicily, and while checking out Kim Herring's Web site on the subject, I received the following error message after viewing about 12 photographs:

The Tripod page you are trying to reach has exceeded its hourly bandwidth limit. The site will be available again in 2 hours!

Seems a bit silly, doesn't it? I realize that Tripod is a free Webfarm and needs to manage its members' bandwidth usage somehow, but this reminds of when I was trying to sign up for Yaccs' comments service. Too small a window to bother returning. Might as well not be on the Web!
From the In Box: Music to My Ears IX
Thanks to Media Diet, I peaked at #16 on the Label Stations charts on

Sounds like an infomercial, huh.
-- Johann Zweifel
Workaday World VI
For some reason, I'm currently unable to access email via Eudora or Outlook. I am able to access the InterWeb. Still, it's freaking me out how helpless and useless I feel without email access. It's like I lost a lifeline, and so much of what I need to do what I'm working on is in my Outlook in box. Sigh. I think I need to go to lunch. Fingers crossed that it's back up when I get back!
Pieces, Particles VIII
The following media-related stories recently spotted in print publications might be worth a look. Heads and decks, only. Heads and decks.

Anarchists in Medicine and Pharmacy: Philadelphia, 1889-1930, by Robert Helms, Clamor, December 2000

Artspace: The Neglected Frontier? by Sady Sullivan, The Weekly Dig, Aug. 21, 2002

Beauty Tips and Politics, by Lauren Sandler, The Nation, Sept. 2, 2002
Hot media news: Women want hard-hitting reports on issues that affect them.

A Brief History of Skate Parks, by Jered Bogli, Clamor, December 2000

Comic Relief, by Michael Bronski, The Boston Phoenix, Aug. 23, 2002
Making the incipient homosexuality in superhero comics more visible has prompted a backlash far more complex than the one faced by comic books in the 1950s

From the House of the Dead, by Richard Stirling, Fortean Times, July 2002
Richard Stirling invites us to Sicily's spookiest site -- the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo

Guerrillas in Our Midst, by Kate Haegele, Bitch, No. 13 (Triskadekaphilia 2001)

Harriet & Claudia, Where Have You Gone?, by Monica T. Nolan, Bitch, No. 15 (Winter of Our Discontent 2002)
Notes on the gender divide in children's literature

Hero with a Dirty Face, by Michael Bronski, The Boston Phoenix, Aug. 16, 2002
Samuel Roth -- smut peddler, literary pirate, ruthless businessman, rabidly anti-Semitic Jew -- is not easily venerated. But without his stand for free expression, we might still be gagging on state control.

How to Get on a Game Show, by Jon Regardie, ReadyMade, No. 3 (Summer 2002)
Start by selling yourself

How to Go on a Nationwide Book Tour and Not Get Laid, by Steve Almond, The Boston Phoenix, Aug. 23, 2002
A sexual odyssey through a semiliterate nation

I Hear Voices in My Radiohead, by David Hambling, Fortean Times, July 2002
David Hambling takes a look at the puzzling phenomenon of electrophonics.

The Last Sports Column, by Charles Pierce, Esquire, September 2002
For a decade, I've written about America through its games. That's all over now.

A Life of Crime, by Russell Shorto, The New York Times Magazine, Aug. 25, 2002
Fueled by personal tragedy, John Walsh built a national movement and a remarkably successful television career as the host of "America's Most Wanted" and now has his own talk show. But has the medium overtaken the man?

Lost and Found in America, by Jill Hudes, ReadyMade, No. 3 (Summer 2002)
Making art out of what's left behind

Media Alliance Versus the National Association of Broadcasters, by Eric Zass, Clamor, December 2000
The future of television, radio, and the Internet in America. An interview with Andrea Buffa.

Memos from D.V., by Diana Vreeland, The New Yorker, Sept. 17, 2001
How the legendary Vogue editor kept fashion in line.

The Naked Face, by Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, Aug. 5, 2002
Can you read people's thoughts just by looking at them?

Odd DUKW, by Thomas Allen, Smithsonian Magazine, August 2002
On land and in the water, World War II's amphibian workhorse showed the skeptics a thing or two -- now it shows tourists the sights

Paper Chase, by Jonathan Kiefer, ReadyMade, No. 3 (Summer 2002)
How to seem like you read several newspapers

The Past Decade Has Seen African-American Men Invade the Science Fiction Genre, but What About the Sci-Fi Sisters?, by Elyce Rae Helford, Bitch, No. 15 (Winter of Our Discontent 2002)

Reclaiming Radical History in the Labadie Collection, by Andrew Cornell, Clamor, December 2000

Romance Novels: True Love Returns, The Economist, July 27, 2002
America rediscovers its heartland

Saints Preserve Us, by Dwight Longenecker, Fortean Times, July 2002
There are more than 100 cases of saintly Catholics whose bodies have resisted the corruption of the grave. Dwight Longenecker reviews one of the world's best attested "miracles" and finds the phenomenon is by no means limited to just Catholics or saints.

Shining Independently, by Bruce Costa, Comics & Games Retailer, September 2002
A discussion with Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics

Taking It to the Streets!, by Matthew A. Donahue, Clamor, December 2000
Art cars in America

Theater's Memory Bank Expands, by Jonathan Mandell, The New York Times, Aug. 25, 2002
Playbill, theatergoers' only record of an ephemeral art, has absorbed Stagebill, its sole nationwide competitor.

This Little Piggy Kicked Ass, by Kate Epstein, Bitch, No. 13 (Triskadekaphilia 2001)
Kate Epstein laments the diminished power of her favorite Muppet

An Uninvited Bassist Takes to the Internet, by Neil Strauss, The New York Times, Aug. 25, 2002

If you work for a magazine and would like to sign me up for a complimentary subscription, please feel free to do so. My address is in the grey bar over on the left.
Manna for Media Dieticians III
DC Shoe Co. USA, maker of DC Shoes, just launched a new online company store. I still have three (3) discount codes that Media Dieticians can use to snag 50% off of online buys of DC Shoes products. If you're interested in taking advantage of this generous hook up courtesy of DC Shoes and Media Diet, email me and I'll send you a unique, single-use discount code. It'll guarantee you 50% off online. I only have three (3) of these left, so first come, first served.

This will probably be the last time I post about this special offer -- before I use the discount codes myself, snagging a full 150% off (That's how it works, no?) -- so if you're even remotely interested, contact me soon.

Thanks to DC Shoes for the hook up.

Fan Friction

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recognizes the existence of TV-related fan fiction, juxtaposing '80s mainstay "Remington Steele" with the InterWeb in the lead. MIT media mind Henry Jenkins is quoted in the piece, which indicates that reporter Sonja Lewis did her homework, and she nods to fan fiction's pre-InterWeb past... as well as the seamy backside of slash fiction. Overall, the feature is fair. It doesn't belittle the authors, recognizes the social networks that fan fiction can help solidify, and intersperses fan fiction excerpts throughout the piece.

Interesting timing, because I stumbled across a "Gilmore Girls" fan fiction site yesterday, as well as a site detailing the legal action taken by 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. against another TV fan site. Why don't the networks realize that fan sites have value as promotional tools? Why clamp down on something that only shows how dedicated and engaged your audience is? Why nix the free publicity?

Thanks to I Want Media.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Cover Story III
The fine folks at PopCult decry the evolution -- or, shall I say, devolution -- of magazine cover design, contending that photographs of celebrities make a poor substitution for the elaborate, lush illustrations of yesteryear. As part of Coury Turczyn's critique, PopCult offers a magazine cover design face-off comparing old-school covers with their less-palatable new-wave counterparts.

Thanks to Bookslut.
Event-O-Dex IX
As if you don't have enough choices for what to do tonight between the Sinkcharmer/Spoilsport SCAT shoot and the Star Star Quarterback show at the Druid, there's also a show at the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain featuring So & So, Choo Choo La Rouge, and I Love You. Is Santa Claus omniscient or omnipresent? I forget, but I want to be him tonight.
From the In Box: Television-Impaired V
Have you seen this? The best (obsessive and funny) reviews of any shows ever -- this is the Gilmore link. Oh, and last season was season #2. The upcoming is the third one. I'm totally and hopelessly addicted to this show. -- Joe Szilagyi
Television-Impaired V
I think I'm in love. Oh, you might think you know who I'm in love with based on names that pop up in Media Diet entries every so often, but today I'm in love with a TV show. The Gilmore Girls on the WB, to be precise.

Now, I've only seen two or three episodes of the program, all video-taped reruns at this point, as the season premiere doesn't hit the airwaves until late September, but this is one of the best TV programs I've ever seen. In the show's first season, there were more than 20 episodes. In the three that I've seen, I was struck by the character development, the impressive relationship between the main mother-daughter characters, and the quick-witted pacing of the show. Much of the program's dialogue is delivered in a highly caffeinated, rapid-fire, extremely clever manner, and it's a joy to just listen to the banter.

The show is populated by characters you can't help but love, characters you can't help but hate, and relationships you can't help but wonder about and hope for. Until the second season starts, I'm not sure how I'm going to get my Gilmore Girls fix. Maybe I'll have to pick up the Gilmore Girls books.

Mmm, to be young and in love -- with the Gilmore Girls.
Magazine Me XV
Last night I picked up the Aug. 12 issue of Publishers Weekly, a special 300-plus page edition dedicated to fall titles. Reading PW on the train to work today, aided by a delay at Government Center, I was struck by the feeling that this -- this magazine, but particularly this issue -- is pornography. Just as Folio: magazine strikes me as pornography for magazine publishers (even moreso than Samir Husni's annual guides to new consumer magazines) PW is pornography for book publishers. And booksellers. And active readers.

The Aug. 12 issue is a veritable catalog of forthcoming books, with the first 130-plus pages devoted to publisher-specific display advertisements, a slim news and feature well, and about 150 pages of book listings organized by format, subject, and publisher. My copy is already dog-eared because I've started to fold the corners on pages featuring books I want, books that sparked story ideas for Fast Company, and books by authors I'd like to interview some day.

Publishers Weekly: Nervy, pervy. Who'da thunk?
Manna for Media Dieticians II
DC Shoe Co. USA, maker of DC Shoes, just launched a new online company store. I now have three (3) discount codes that Media Dieticians can use to snag 50% off of online buys of DC Shoes products. If you're interested in taking advantage of this generous hook up courtesy of DC Shoes and Media Diet, email me and I'll send you a unique, single-use discount code. It'll guarantee you 50% off online. I only have three (3) of these left, so first come, first served.

Thanks to DC Shoes for the hook up.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

From the In Box: Event-O-Dex VIII
Ever since receiving one of Brett Rosenberg's emails regarding your review of his album, I've been a fan, daily, of your diet. Thought I'd let you know about a show taking place tomorrow (8/28) at the Druid. I, Star Star Quarterback (Andrew Brooks, Sportswriter), will share the stage with two really great song-players in Soltero and Alexander McGregor. I had the fortune of playing with Alex some weeks ago. Very special. Very Os Mutante. Show starts at 9 o'clock. -- Andrew Brooks

Media Dieticians can look forward to a forthcoming review of the Star Star Quarterback CD. For those of you who might not know, the Druid is on Inman Square in Cambridge, an easy walk from Central Square. Interesting historical tidbit: "The Druid Pub is housed in the oldest wooden mercantile structure in the city of Cambridge." Go for the history; stay for Star Star Quarterback. You can even make it to the Sinkcharmer/Spoilsport TV shoot beforehand.
Event-O-Dex VIII
This Wednesday (tomorrow), Aug. 28, at 7:45 p.m., the rock bands Sinkcharmer and Spoilsport will tape a live performance at Somerville Community Access Television. They want you to be the audience, or at least a portion thereof.

Kind of like Soul Train but without the soul and any railed forms of transportation. Sort of like American Bandstand but without Dick Clark. Resembling MTV's TRL but without Mariah Carey's surprise nervous breakdown (though you never know) and Carson Daley's non-stop butt kissing.

Sinkcharmer is a member of the Handstand Command Somerville-based music collective and conists of Jen and Paul from the Operators and Jef from the Anchormen and the Tardy. Sinkcharmer is the winner.

Spoilsport are Jamaica Plain's most valuable export. Two guys, two gals, sweet melodies, rocking guitars, and beach-party drum beats. For those who like their Pop Rocks mixed with Pepsi.

All ages, kids welcome!
Bring friends!

For more information and directions, call SCAT at (617) 628-8826, or visit their Web site.
Music to My Ears IX
Johann, a friend in Minneapolis -- and a fellow I used to work merch for when he booked shows in the vicinity of Janesville, Wisconsin -- has built an MP3 station featuring songs by Dillinger Four, the Vindictives, Moment, Cheap Trick, and other bands. I'm streaming it now, and so far, so good.
Manna for Media Dieticians
DC Shoe Co. USA, maker of DC Shoes, just launched a new online company store. I have four (4) discount codes that Media Dieticians can use to snag 50% off of online buys of DC Shoes products. If you're interested in taking advantage of this generous hook up courtesy of DC Shoes and Media Diet, email me and I'll send you a unique, single-use discount code. It'll guarantee you 50% off online. I only have four (4) of these, so first come, first served.

Thanks to DC Shoes for the hook up.
The Movie I Watched Last Night XXXIV
Sunday: Serving Sara
Well, Coco saw it. Here's her review in Film Monthly.
The Dangers of Auto-Fill
I was just bidding on a postcard of a hotel in Evanston, Illinois, on eBay, and my browser auto-filled a field. I hit Place Bid before I realized that auto-fill had kicked in. This is how eBay replied:

Sorry, your bid amount of $6,179,730,300.00 is too large. Please go back and check it again.

Phew! Thanks, eBay. Good to know you've got my back.
Rock Shows of Note XXXVII
Coco and I arrived at the Middle East Upstairs to find an empty room and a flier saying that the Tommy and the Terrors and Toxic Narcotic show was moved to an address on Boylston Street. Instead of trying to find the new location, we walked around the corner and went to TT the Bear's Place to see the Mayflies USA, Ad Frank and the Fast Easy Women, and Tommy Keene show. That's one of the best things about living on Central Square. If you aren't sure whether you want to go to a show, you can go for a short walk and decide. And if you want to go to a show but don't know who's playing where, you can go for a short walk and have plenty of choices.

The Mayflies USA were energetic pop featuring dual guitars. None of the songs stuck in my head, but I enjoyed their set. We ran into Lisa from Scrapple, who told us that one couple dancing up near the stage lives in Western Massachusetts and comes into Boston every time the Mayflies play in town. The Mayflies are from North Carolina, so both the couple and the band come a long way for these shows. That's dedication! Oh, one song did stay with me. They performed a number with a scaled-back lineup (one guitar) and one band member playing a wonderful organ part. The organ song was definitely my favorite.

Ad Frank played with his full band, the Fast Easy Women. He was dressed up in a somewhat fey sailor get up, complete with cap, and was -- as always -- a front man worth watching. Between his songwriting, his dynamic stage presence, and his penchant for drama, Ad's a lot of fun live. I've seen him play solo at the Washington Street Art Center, which was awesome, but the full stage band does his work more justice. I'm loath to try to describe his sound, but it's slightly '80s drama poppy, slightly gothy, and slightly singer-songwritery a la Leonard Cohen. Fun, fun, fun.

Coco and I left a couple of songs into Tommy Keene's set because we got to talking and needed to go somewhere more quiet. But what I heard sounded more similar to the Mayflies than to Ad -- straight up power pop with a roots element -- and I'd need to hear more to understand why he's one of Coco's friend's favorite musicians.

A happy accident, for sure. I wonder how the Tommy and the Terrors/Toxic Narcotic show went! I picked up the new Toxic Narcotic CD on Go-Kart Records yesterday as preparation for the show, and true to their local releases on Rodent Popsicle, it's heavy, heavy hardcore.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Humor Me VI
What, me query?
Television-Impaired IV
Despite the fact that several friends and acquaintances are long-time fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I've never really watched the show. But Friday, Coco and I stayed in and watched a DVD bootleg of "Once More, with Feeling," the Buffy musical, and now I can understand part of the allure and appeal of the program. Of course, this episode, an episode in which most of the dialogue is delivered in song, is unlike most (if not all) episodes, so my exposure and opinion isn't totally accurate or representative. But if most of the scripts show this level of humor and energy, I might have to see more of the show.

I was struck by several aspects of the episode, least of which was the musical framework. While the songs were interesting, I was more intrigued by the characters' self-consciousness during the musical moments. Instead of merely couching the plot in the guise of a musical, the writers worked the very idea of the musical into the plot itself. An accidental summoning of a demon brings on a curse that causes people to spontaneously break into song and dance -- and eventually spontaneously combust. During the musical numbers, characters reveal aspects of themselves and their relationships that they wouldn't otherwise, which makes for some nice exposition as well as epiphany. Several writers and producers of the show were worked into the plot as incidental characters, as well, which Coco had to point out to me (I wouldn't have realized it otherwise). And I didn't realize that Buffy included a lesbian relationship subplot -- a pleasant surprise.

Solely on the basis of this one episode, I'll be less hesitant to watch Buffy in the future. What that says about me, I'm not sure.
The Movie I Watched Last Night XXXIII
Saturday: The Omen
Gregory Peck stars in this atmospheric 1976 horror film that's heavy on the suspense and relatively light on the terror. A moody, slow-paced movie, the film errs on the side of dramatic effect rather than gore or actual horror. The story is relatively basic. An up-and-coming politician adopts a newborn child as his own -- and the boy is the child of Satan! Harvey Stephens' role as Damien is understated and subtle -- no surprise given the actor's age at the time -- so the movie depends on the acting abilities of the supporting cast, as well as on the pacing and intensity of the plot. While I found the film dragged at times, there are several effective scenes, including the suicide of Damien's nanny at his birthday party, Damien's terror as his family nears a church, the baboon attack on Damien's mother's car, the scene in which the mysterious and tenacious priest runs through the cemetery as the wind picks up, and the sequence in which the photographer realizes his photos capture characters' methods of death. Plenty of good scenes and sequences even if the movie as a whole falls a little flat.
Rock Shows of Note XXXVI
Another awesome Anchormen show this Saturday at the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain. I just love playing shows with friends' bands, and the whole friends of friends dynamic has helped our shows immensely. The audiences are so much more receptive and fun to watch. Saturday's show featured two awesome bands, the Mary Reillys, Deb of Hi-Fi Records' band, and Spoilsport, only the cutest queercore band currently active in the Boston area.

True to form, it rained -- just like it does almost every time we play -- and I was early enough to grab a burger at Doyle's across the street before heading to the Midway for load in. After setting up and hanging out with the Anks and Spoilsport for a spell, we were treated to the "mighty pop" pretense of Top Heavy, which drew a sizable sorority girl crowd and played radio-friendly alt-rock, even name dropping Coldplay. Coldplay? Turns out that the Midway booked Top Heavy before learning that the Spoilsport kids had made plans with the Anks and the Reillys. They were definitely the outlier of the evening and went so far as to describe themselves to one showgoer as follows: "We're from Boston, but we're not really a Boston band. We usually play in New York and DC. When you hear us, you'll understand why we're not a Boston band." Um, because you tease the audience with a Kiss cover and don't deliver? Because you end your set with a Neil Diamond cover? Because you leave early without sticking around to hear the other bands? Huh.

Notice the Tardy T-shirt. Support the scene!

This was the first time I've seen a full set by the Mary Reillys, and they didn't disappoint. A three piece, the Reillys traffic in power pop by way of garage rock and feature some excellent boy-girl vocals. The crowd seemed to respond well to their sing-along choruses, and they finished with me needing to see them play again soon. Perhaps this Thursday? After their set ended, I was lucky enough to snag their set list. Here's what they played:

  • No Way Fuck You
  • Pollyanna
  • Shoot the Moon
  • Love You More
  • Almost Lost
  • Enron Girl
  • (Way Somewhere)
  • (Marni & Luara)
  • Hot Rod
  • A Match Made in Dedham

  • Kudos to the Reillys' drummer Kira for helping her friend deal with a low blood pressure moment. We were concerned!

    The Anchormen make their move.

    Then we played. Scan gives me a hard time about reviewing Anchormen shows, so I'll go light on the Anks this time. We had a lot of fun, and we hope everyone else did, too. Chris encouraged us all to do tequila shots just before we took the stage, and as someone who never, ever does shots, I was a bit surprised by the warmness in my gullet. Fuel for the fire, I suppose. Our set was fast-paced, raucous, and pretty tight. None of us really screwed up -- unless you count me not knowing the words to Billy Idol's "White Wedding" -- and folks were bopping along on the dancefloor. Hooray to everyone who came out to see us play.

    Suzanne and Craig rock the casbah.

    Last up, Spoilsport. And you know what? This is the best show of theirs that I've ever seen. In the past, I've described them as unabashed, fun-in-the-sun pop, but Saturday, they rocked. Their sound was bigger than I've ever heard it before, they didn't seem as shy and awkward as they have in the past, and Suzanne, the guitarist, was all over the place! So much fun to listen to. So much fun to watch. I was especially impressed by the new vocal parts they've added to the older songs, and I look forward to more gang vocals and boy-girl harmonies in the future. Spoilsport just keeps getting better and better. Check 'em out.

    As an added Media Diet bonus, here's what Jef had to say about the show:

    I think that was the rowdiest show that I've been in in a good long. Mosh pits! Stripping drummers! Tequila shots! Wrestling! Dancing! A special appearance by the Goo Goo Dolls!

    Now I know to start drinking 12 hours before the show for best effect.

    Indeed, it was a fun night. I even avoided a wrestling match with Scott. Oh! And Mike Faloon, publisher of the zine Go Metric! even came up from New York for the festivities. It was super cool to finally meet him.

    You can also read Koshka's review of the show. Photographs courtesy of Koshka.
    From the In Box: Postcards of the Past II
    If you're interested in old-school views of Massachusetts -- and I know from your blog that you are -- you should check this out: Taking Photographs from Tall Buildings. -- Ken Gordon
    Event-O-Dex VII
    Two shows of note this week:

    Monday: Dead Pedestrians, Tommy and the Terrors, and Toxic Narcotic at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge
    Thursday: Faithful, Confront, Mary Reillys, and Chase Scene at the Pond (ex-Hideaway Lounge) in Cambridge

    Maybe I'll see you there!

    Friday, August 23, 2002

    Postcards of the Past II
    Forgive my lazy afternoon geek fest involving postcards, but I've been Googling for vintage views of cities in Massachusetts. There are some awesome resources online, although I've yet to find any collections of postcards from Somerville or Cambridge.

    Postcards from Framingham sheds flattering light on what is now a rather uninteresting city. When I first moved to Massachusetts in 1996, I worked in Framingham, and this collection of cards acquired over the course of 25 years shows several sides of the city that aren't visible any more. The cards are organized well, and the archivists include publishing and other information. Who'da thunk Framingham could be so interesting?

    Shirley Bruso's online exhibit of postcards from North Adams is not as well organized as the Framingham collection, but the cards are still beautiful. Bruso's archive comprises more than 100 cards depicting scenes between 1900-1970. While it is slightly frustrating to pop back and forth between the cards themselves and the menu, I appreciate Bruso's efforts. Some of the cards are accompanied by personal recollections of the scene in question, and Bruso surrounds the card archive with additional historical and local information.

    Lastly, Bob Trachimowicz's Worcester, Massachusetts, Postal History provides just that. In addition to the categorized collection of Worcester postcards, "Track" expands on the history of postal markings and methods in this city west of Boston. I didn't find the analysis of "fancy cancels" and auxiliary markings as interesting as the cards themselves, but his approach is innovative and in depth.
    Postcards of the Past
    Thanks to Postcard Collector, one of my new favorite magazines, I've come across several interesting Web exhibits of old postcards. David Clause's Vintage Bethlehem archives more than 300 postcards of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The cards are categorized by location, as well as by subject (such as bridges and waterways and planes and trains). Many of the cards are annotated with historic descriptions of the depicted scene. There should be more local postcard archives like this!

    Wait, there are! Casey Weaver has developed a site called Austin Postcard that features old photographs of Austin, Texas. While the initial card-description navigation listings are somewhat daunting, once you're viewing the cards, you can just click through them as a series. The backs of the cards are also included in the collection, which is a nice touch, and Weaver provides rudimentary postmark and publisher information. And the site also collects some historical information about the Congress Hotel, Granite Dam, and other local landmarks.

    And closer to home, but not concentrating on antique postcards, the Salem, Massachusetts, Postcard Tour collects almost 45 postcard views of various aspects of the historic city. Every time I've driven through Salem has been a traffic hassle, and I'm not planning on returning any time soon. These postcards will do just fine.
    Corollary: 'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL X
    I have 25 days of vacation that technically need to be used up by the end of September. I can't really do that, so I think I might take one day a week off for the rest of the year instead. That feels kind of weird. The Anchormen might finish the overdubs for "Just Because You Sleep on My Floor Doesn't Mean That You're My Girlfriend" on Monday, so it looks like next week might be my first short week. I'm not very good at taking vacation days.
    From the In Box: Poll Position
    What about the Yellow Brick Road Gift Shop and Museum? I've never been, but as an Oz fan from way back (books more than the movie) I've always been a little curious.

    And speaking of Dillinger, I guess the Biograph Theater reopens today (Thursday) at 6 p.m. with a fancy dinner and a rescreening of "Manhattan Melodrama," Dillinger's last movie, and a reenactment of the shooting afterwards!
    -- Joe Germuska

    Thursday, August 22, 2002

    Poll Position
    I'm planning a weekend away in Indiana to spend some time with my grandmother before Labor Day. We're planning some day trips, and you can help. The first dilemma can be voted on in the ever-so-quiet discussion forum. Your choices:

  • The South Bend Chocolate Factory
  • The John Dillinger Museum

    You can help me make my travel plans. Take the poll.
  • 'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL X
    I just learned that the vacation days I've been accumulating -- and not using, really -- since I started working for the magazine in 1997 will not roll over at the end of the year. That means that I need to take the vacation days I earned while under our previous management by the end of 2002. One colleague just took a five-week sabbatical and still didn't use up all of his vacation. Another works perhaps two days a week. I'm not sure I can take five weeks -- which I've probably racked up, if not more -- but perhaps I can get away with working four-day weeks for the rest of the year. Email sent to HR. This is kind of weird.
    Mention Me! XV
    I'd like to give a special shout out to Carol and her blog RawBrick. She recently showed up in my referral log, and because she's leaving Boston for Atlanta soon, we should all wish her safe travels. All together now: Safe travels!

    Another local blogger, Brian Kane, whom I've mentioned previously, also links to Media Diet. I've visited his Web site several times, but because of some awkward formatting -- I have to scroll pretty far to the right to actually read the text of his blog entries -- I must admit that he's not a frequent read. Still, I appreciate the linkage. Thanks, Brian.
    Comics and Community
    I helped staff the Somerville Comics Collaborative table at ArtBeat near the end of last month. Local comics wunderkind Jef Czekaj has scanned the resulting pages -- drawn by people ranging in age from early childhood to post-retirement -- and put them on the Web. You can now read the most recent comics story collectively created by the citizens of Somerville. When we get around to it, Jef, Dan, and I are going to record a voiceover narration and make the comic into a Flash slideshow or something, but we beg your patience. As Jef emailed me, "Someday. Someday." Sounds like a good name for a cafe, eh?
    Rock Shows of Note XXXV
    After a long day complete with slow, sleepy morning; Summer Camp party at work; an awesome Anchormen practice; and a walk to Central Square from Inman Square (Jef and Chris stopped off at the Abbey, and I was meeting Coco at home); Coco and I went to the Middle East for the Punk Rock Aerobics anniversary bash.

    As soon as we got to the club, bumping into Jef, who ended up beating us there, I got hit by a heavy wave of tiredness. I just wasn't into hanging out in a crowded, loud, and smoky club, regardless of how good the show was. Maura and Hilken seemed pleased with the turnout and birthday celebration despite an inattentive sound woman who kept neglecting to turn on the mics so they could MC. I picked up a Count Me Outs CD after ascertaining that, despite two different CD designs, all of the CD's they had on hand featured the same songs. And we lingered long enough to see two of the bands.

    Dead Combo was irritating in an art-damaged kind of way. A two-piece featuring guitars, a drum machine, and a keyboard that produced some interesting sounds, the Combo played lackluster, low-energy art rock -- and seemed to take themselves way too seriously. Backed by some projected graphics, the two created a wall of sound but didn't communicate any sense of fun or humor in their set. Perhaps that's what knocked me out so quickly.

    Regardless, we stayed for several songs of the Operators' set before heading home for an early night. After Maura introduced them as her favorite PRA students, the Ops opened with "Bottle" and seemed to be playing quite well for the songs we stuck around to see and hear. We ran into some folks we'd hung out with at Chris and Em's cookout earlier this month, and Coco was a sport to leave as early as I needed to. Mmm, sleep. I needed it.

    We were bummed to miss the rest of the Ops' set and the Count Me Outs, but I did get that CD. Next time I'll pace myself better throughout the day so I don't fade so quickly!

    You can also read Coco's review of the show.

    Wednesday, August 21, 2002

    Workaday World V
    I'm a member of Fast Company and Inc.'s "funkomiti," an informal group that occasionally plans silly little social events and parties for the magazines' staffs. Today, we hosted a Summer Camp party over at Commercial Wharf, complete with a vanilla ice cream taste test, s'mores, a crafts table, and T-shirt tie dying. We even decorated a whiteboard in Inc.'s lunch room with graffiti such as "Please don't feed the maintenance man," "No boys in the girls' lodge," and "You are assigned to cabin #3." Here are some photos from the Summer Camp smashup:

    Beware the poison oak.

    M&M's are the tops!

    I scream, you scream, we all scream.

    Campers just love the crafts table.

    Tara shows off her God's eye.

    Daigo readies the rubber bands.

    Sodium bicarbonate: My shirt's soaking in it.

    Michael's shirt has to sit here for 24 hours.

    I snuck into a doorway down the alley. This is what was inside.

    Wires, wires everywhere.

    The room I snuck into was dominated by this elevator setup.

    Is anybody down there? Hello?

    Heading out to sea.

    Emma Peel gets her "avenge."

    We're not sure where the smoke came from.

    Now I know where the string is stored.

    The funkomiti's previous event.

    We didn't organize it, but St. Anthony's Feast is this weekend.

    In addition to coming in a little late this morning, this afternoon's fete has really thrown off my day. I feel like it's not a work day. I haven't eaten anything other than M&M's, ice cream, and a s'more. And I'm aiming toward band practice and the Operators' Punk Rock Aerobics anniversary show tonight. T-minus 42 minutes. Then I'm out of here.
    Corollary: Magazine Me XIII
    While the person who penned the faux Kurt Andersen article in the August issue of Details hasn't been outed yet, investigations continue. Senior Editor Bob Ickes had to hasten his departure because of his handling of the piece. Despite his contentions that the piece was fact checked and that he secured Andersen's social security number in order to pay the man for services rendered, word is that no one ever actually talked to the writer on the phone. The entire assignment, writing, and editing process was handled via email. Another commentator says that it's good form to call big-name writers just to thank them for working with a publication. Lesson: You don't schmooze; you lose.

    Thanks to I Want Media.
    The Song I Just Wrote II
    It goes a little like this:

    I didn't shave. I didn't bathe. I haven't washed these clothes in 23 days.
    I didn't call you. I didn't eat. I don't look at the people walking down the street.
    I didn't say, "Hi." I didn't wave. I didn't tell you that I love you, that I want to be your slave.
    I do not miss you. I do not cry. Yet you're the reason why I can't sleep at night.

    I've got a problem, and I think I know what it is.
    (Heath's got a problem; it involves a relationship.)
    I've got a problem. This is what it is:
    Our relationship does not exist.

    That's all I have right now. Worth finishing?
    It's an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World XIV
    Taxi cabs in Toronto are equipped with GPS-driven video and audio advertising. Advertising rates are in part determined by what block the cab will be on when the ad is triggered.

    Thanks to Utne Web Watch.

    Tuesday, August 20, 2002

    Corollary: Blogging About Blogging XXX
    I've also added some section headings in the right-hand column so it's easier to find all of the different kinds of reviews. These are basically Google searches within Media Diet, so the formatting is search engine-driven -- not organized like a section of a Web site -- but it does the trick. I'll continue to add categories as it makes sense and the need arises.

    Thanks to Media Dieticians Tom (again) and Jeremiah Brown for pointing out how challenging it is to find past Media Diet entries.
    Blogging About Blogging XXX
    I've made a couple of changes to Media Diet. One, Atomz is no longer my search engine of choice. Google is. Using their Free Search service, Media Dieticians can now search the Cardhouse domain or the Web. I've positioned the search field at the bottom of the page, near the Archives link.

    To accommodate easier searches -- and so you don't have to scroll down so far to find the search field -- I've altered Media Diet's template so three days of entries are on the main page instead of the seven of the past. Those made for some pretty long pages!

    Thanks to Tom for helping push me over the edge to fix something I haven't been pleased with for awhile. Atomz just wasn't passing muster.
    From the In Box: Subway Soundtrack III
    The Chicago Reader has recently introduced a cartoon which illustrates real-life reader-contributed anecdotes of overheard conversations -- primarily to make fun of and embarass cell-phone users. This week's showed someone putting their transit card into the turnstile while telling someone on the phone "OK, so I'm going to hop into this cab..." I've seen funnier, but they aren't online. The Reader is unfortunately stingy with their section-one content on the Web site. -- Joe Germuska

    Indeed they are! Does anyone have any links or scans to share?
    From the In Box: Books Worth a Look VI
    One request I have for you, as a reader of your blog -- I was digging back through your "From the Reading Pile" and "Books Worth a Look" sections (which, on a side note, are actually easier to track down using Google than Atomz, but that's a critique for another day), and I would love it if you'd include the publisher of each book, if such an entity exists, as well as the title and author and date. Especially since a fair number of the books you write about are independently produced.

    (In this case, I was curious to see if you'd reviewed any of the So New Media books, but I only recognized "Words! Words! Words!" from having seen the title in their catalog.)
    -- Tom Hopkins

    Consider it done. With the next edition of Books Worth a Look, I'll note the publisher, as well. On your side note, I, too, have been frustrated by Atomz. It doesn't seem to find much, ever, and the search results are formatted such that the results are masked, even. Tough to find what you found, if that makes any sense. When I have some time, I'll explore a better search tool option. Does Google do microsite search engines? Any other recommendations?
    Subway Soundtrack III
    Overheard on the Green Line this morning:

    Little Girl: (showing her mother a religious tract entitled, "What the Hell?") What does this say?
    Mother: It says, "What the Hell?"
    Little Girl: (shocked) Mommy!
    Corollary: An Open Book?
    Positioning itself in a niche currently occupied by magazines such as Page and Book, the people behind Readerville are planning to launch a print magazine, The Readerville Journal, in September. The magazine will build its circulation on the 20,000 or so people who participate in Readerville's online discussions every month, and the publisher hopes response is early and active. "It's as if a focus group of several thousand people met round-the-clock for two years to lay out an agenda for this content," he says.

    Special kudos to Readerville for partnering with Book Sense, the American Booksellers Association's network of more than 1,100 independent bookstores. This alliance might be a worthy challenger to Book, which is backed extensively by Barnes & Noble. Independent bookstores, an online community, and a magazine? What more could we ask for?

    Thanks to I Want Media.
    Big Brother Is Watching VII
    The state of Illinois is spending $4 million to install security cameras and emergency call boxes at more than 50 highway rest stops.

    Thanks to Drudge Report.
    Corollary: Rock Shows of Note XXXI
    I returned to Toad last night to see Schwang and the Tim Gearan Band with Coco and her friend Mark. I wasn't totally into the idea of seeing the bands again -- they're good but not brilliant -- but I did want to see Coco, so there you go. The show was slightly different. Schwang and Gearan were joined by a new guitarist, Kevin, whose approach was more blues and solo oriented -- not as sparse and ornamental as Dave Goodrich's guitar work. And Schwang was joined by the bartender's sister, who'se visiting from out of town, for several songs. She's got a solid voice and a sultry stage presence. Her harmonies with Anita were especially impressive. Gearan's band added a mohawked hand drum and tambourine player -- who slid in beside us on the side pew, making seating quite tight. He was the most intent tambourine player I've ever seen. Wasn't going to let it get away from him, no sir! The saxophonist was mic'ed this time, which was awesome. You could hear the tenor much better than last week. But still not my thing. We left after several songs to walk home.

    Also of note, Andy got a haircut.
    Among the Literati XIV
    David Eggers rates two mentions in the Aug. 19 edition of Advertising Age. Placement one, one of the photographs accompanying Kate Fitzgerald's article "Promoting the Page" about New Yorker Festival sponsorships features Dave sitting in on a panel discussion. Mention two, Richard Linnett's Adages column includes several paragraphs subheaded "Scrambled Eggers." It discusses Dave's book excerpt in the Aug. 12 issue of The New Yorker and suggests that the very premise -- a young man gets paid a lot of money for posing for an advertising logo and, wracked by guilt, gives it all away -- is farcical. Dave builds his book on the idea that the man was paid $80,000 for the use of his silhouette. One ad exec says he would have netted $2,500, max. The caption to the photo adjacent to the blurb is captioned "Dim Bulb: Dave Eggers has money to burn." Well, at least he's flaring brightly!

    Monday, August 19, 2002

    FAQ 'n' Roll
    Jef and I frequently receive emails from people wondering whether Handstand Command can book them a show while they're on tour, put out their record, or otherwise help them in the ways that managers, booking agents, and record labels do. Sometimes we can. But not all the time. So I wrote this little Handstand Command primer this morning so we had something we could reply to these folks with promptly. Rereading it, I figured Media Dieticians might find it interesting, as well. So here you go.


    Thank you very much for writing to Handstand Command! You've either contacted us about participating in a compilation CD project, sharing a show, or needing some help while your band is on tour in the Boston area. We've written this handy-dandy email FAQ to let you know more about what Handstand Command does -- and how -- and, even if we're unable to help you right now, where else you might turn for assistance in our area. Let us know if you have further questions, OK? We're still new at this.


    Handstand Command is a Somerville, Massachusetts-based music collective that comprises a handful of pop, punk, rock, and other bands, with some of those musical groups sharing band members. We're like Elephant Six, only not as famous. Currently, the Handstand Command collective includes the Anchormen, the Operators, the Tardy, Scrapple, Sinkcharmer, and Asian Babe Alert.

    We collectively organize and promote shows, often involving bands outside of the collective, cooperatively run a small record label called Unstoppable Records, and otherwise help expand and improve the Somerville and Boston-area rock scene. For more information about how Handstand Command came to be, check out


  • The Anchormen
  • The Operators
  • The Tardy
  • Scrapple
  • Sinkcharmer
  • Asian Babe Alert (for more information, contact Tom of the Anchormen)


    Do we ever! To date, Unstoppable Records has released many fine musical recordings of high quality and widespread enjoyment. Currently, our back catalog offers CD's, CD EP's, and 7-inches recorded by the Anchormen, the Operators, Scrapple, and Jef Czekaj (of the Anchormen and the Tardy). We are all hard at work to produce further examples of our studio wizardry. Of course, our records are merely pale shadows of the awe-inspiring rock we unleash during our live performances, but if you'd like to learn more about Unstoppable's wares, visit


    To be totally honest, no. We'd like to focus on our own releases right now, and we think everyone in a band should learn how to put out at least one record by themselves. It's not that difficult, and it even borders on fun. Regardless, if you'd like to send us examples of your music, we'd certainly enjoy listening to them, will review them on the Web, will consider you for future live shows, and will share them with other friends who might be interested in your music.

    And, not to mislead you, but Heath (of the Anchormen) occasionally toys with the idea of a compilation CD or CD series project, much like a cat toys with a mouse. Nothing has happened yet, and other members of the collective doubt that he'll ever get his act together, but we thought it might be worth mentioning. Don't get your hopes up, though.


    All of Handstand Command's upcoming shows are listed at in an eminently useful, standard calendar format. We also manage an announcement mailing list called the Handstand Commandments that is more often than not quite funny, even if you can't make it to our shows. You can sign up for the Commandments mailing list at


    We'd really like to, but we're not often able to meet other bands' needs when they're touring. Requests like, "We'll be in town June 1. Can you get us a show?" are challenging for us, but if you're just generally interested in playing with us -- or at one of our events -- in the future, we'd love to learn more about you. You see, we like music. A lot. And we especially like independent local music. Well, good independent local music, but you know what we mean.

    We also organize a couple of annual events of some scale that we might be able to involve you and yours in in one way or another. We organize occasional series at the Abbey Lounge in Somerville, and we're often looking for new, interesting bands to add to bills that include Handstand Command members. Members of the collective have also organized events like the ArtBeat Sideshow and Bazaar Bizarre, the punk rock crafts fair.

    But we probably can't help with time-critical tour needs. Sorry. If we're already working on something that fits your calendar and we really like you, maybe something will click, but in general, chances are slim.


    MP3's and the InterWeb are both amazing things, but we're still rather partial to things like cassettes, records, and CD's, even if they're CD-R's. We're not always near a computer, and even if we are, not all of us have fast Net connections -- so MP3's can be a bit of a bother. If you'd _really_ like Handstand Command to give you a listen, you should send us a tape, record, or CD, regardless of its quality and packaging.

    They'll be copied and distributed among the collective members, we'll pass them on to other friends who book shows if we think they can help you more than us, and we'll review them on the Web. So it's really worth your while to send us something.


    You can send material to one of two places.

    Heath Row
    P.O. Box 390205
    Cambridge, MA
    02139 USA

    Sending it here will guarantee a review on the Web. Heath (of the Anchormen) runs an independent media news and review blog called Media Diet.

    Unstoppable Records
    P.O. Box 440422
    Somerville, MA
    02144 USA

    This is the collective's general mailing address and is monitored by one Jef Czekaj (of the Anchormen and the Tardy). He also does a zine. Ask him about it.


    We're not promising anything, but Handstand Command has closely aligned with several other bands in the area -- and we can recommend and vouch for a couple of specific clubs that we're particularly fond of. You might consider contacting them to see if they can help you. Tell 'em the Command sent ya.

    First, the bands we rub elbows with:

  • Spoilsport
  • Fightin Dogs
  • Choo Choo la Rouge
  • The Also-Rans

    Now, the clubs we love:

  • The Abbey Lounge, Somerville
  • O'Brien's, Allston
  • The Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain
  • TT the Bear's, Cambridge
  • The Middle East, Cambridge

    Other places you should explore:

    Book Your Own Fuckin' Life
    Chances are good you tracked us down through this. If not, it's an awesome global punk rock resource listing bands, labels, zines, promoters, and venues. DIY, baby!

    Just Another Scene
    Currently on hiatus, this is still a good guide to New England scene stuff. The club listings offer info about what kinds of shows they put on, who books bands, and what the space is like.

    Tony and Pals
    An awesome resource including show listings, reviews, scene gossip, local record reviews, and other local stuff. One of the best local Web sites.

    Boston Punk
    Mostly show listings and classified ads, this site still has its finger on the local show pulse -- they may be able to connect you with show organizers.

    East Coast Hardcore
    The Show Booking section features a discussion board in which promoters post notices of band needs, upcoming shows, and the like. Looks useful, although this site is new to me.


    Happy to help! We hope you send us stuff because we'd really like to consider you for future events. And we wish you the best of luck! Regardless of whether we're able to get you a show, we hope you'll let us know what happens -- we like going to shows, too. Let us know when you're playing here. Maybe the Handstand Command will show up at one of yours!

    Handstand Command


    No. We have nothing against robots, but in the current economy, we cannot afford to enlist their services because of the pay range they demand. Heath (of the Anchormen) volunteered to write this email, and because we all have better things to do with our time, we figured we'd let the chump make himself useful for once. Nevertheless, Heath, don't think that this gets you off the hook. You're still in the dog house. We'll never forgive you for that one band you booked at the Upstairs Lounge, and we really wish you'd get off your butt and write some new songs. And none of that Screeching Weasel stuff either. Wait... is this thing still on? Did everyone hear that? Oops.

  • Please remember that this will be sent out as an email. It wasn't really written or formatted to be published on the Web, regardless of its presence here. Move along. There's nothing to see here.
    Magazine Me XIV
    This struck me as slightly funny and overly self-referential, but MediaBistro, a media-related Web site, offers an article on how to pitch stories to the Columbia Journalism Review, a trade magazine for journalists. Now I'm mentioning it in Media Diet, a media-related blog. If we keep this up, pretty soon we'll all write stories about writing stories for people who write stories about us writing stories. Or something like that.
    Rock Shows of Note XXXIV
    To help celebrate Lydia's birthday Saturday night, Coco and I went to Tir Na Nog near Union Square to meet with Lydia, Alex, and several other people -- and to hear Frank Morey. Ostensibly a blues musician -- Frank's coming out with a record later this year on a Chicago-based blues label -- Frank's set was a pleasant bit of old-timey country blues featuring him singing and playing guitar and Scott Pittman on drums.

    Frank chain smokes, lighting one cigarette with another.

    While I enjoyed Frank's singing and the overall feel of Tom Waits-like dramatic folk blues, I spent most of my time watching Scott play drums. He's got an awesome kit -- modeled after vaudeville, he says -- with a tambourine attached to the high-hat, a loosely coiled spring hanging from a stand, a cowbell, wood block, beaded tom, and a bass drum imprinted with a graphic that reads "Art is the handmaid of human good." He played melodica during one song, and the song in which Frank played the jaw harp accompanied by Scott's duck call was quite enjoyable. In addition, his method of singing backups was interesting. He positions himself pretty far back from the mic, so it created more of a suggestion of vocals underneath Frank's up-front singing. Nice.

    Scott just moved from Lowell to Jamaica Plain.

    Despite a couple of awkward moments -- girls at the bar giggling over Frank's mention of the "mouth organ" and U2 on the radio interrupting the beginning of their second set -- Frank and Scott played an enjoyable, energetic set. The song from O Brother, Where Art Thou? felt a little cliched, but it's a good song, so I can't fault them. Worth checking out if you like this kind of music. They'd fit well on a bill with Gloria Deluxe, I think.

    You can also read another person's review of the show. Photographs courtesy of Koshka.
    The Movie I Watched Last Night XXXII
    Friday: Nine to Five
    An extremely satisfying office comedy that rivals more recent attempts such as Office Space. The basic premise is slightly dated, as the film concentrates on a secretarial pool, its relationship with their male manager -- and their eventual rebellion against the hierarchical structure of their workplace. Lily Tomlin leads the charge with her strong-willed character Violet Newstead, and Dolly Parton shines as the southern-bred and misleadingly ditzy Doralee Thodes. But it is Jane Fonda's Judy Bernly who emerges as the most level-headed and leadership-oriented character, evolving from a mousy, unconfident recent divorcee into the group's conscience and reality check. That said, the chemistry between the three is palpable, and the movie rides on their collective acting force. Worth watching if you haven't ever seen it -- and returning to if you had. The messages still mean something.

    Sunday: The Importance of Being Earnest
    I've never read Oscar Wilde's play, but it's evident that the movie is infused with and quite fond of Wilde's penchant for playful banter and language usage. Colin Firth (Jack/Earnest) and Rupert Everett (Algy) interact quite nicely, and the cast is well rounded out by Judy Dench, whose society matron role is a highlight of the film, and Reese Witherspoon, who surprises with her portrayal of Jack's ward Cecily. Some commentators have remarked on director Oliver Parker's occasional forays into the world of Baz Luhrmann in terms of updating classics, but even it's true that Parker rearranged some of the story, added some details and back stories for the characters, and updated the story slightly, it's a solid movie. Plenty of Wilde's original cleverness and cynicism, and a solid clutch of actors. Wilde would probably approve.

    Friday, August 16, 2002

    Magazine Me XIII
    You know you're a hot media property when a magazine publishes an article with your byline that you didn't write. Kurt Andersen recently found himself in a media prank of Paul Krassner-Kurt Vonnegut-Mary Schmich proportions when Details accepted a story entitled "Dudes Who Dish" -- and credited to him even though he didn't write it. Andersen plans to help the magazine track down the true perpetrator. Clue one: Where'd Details send its payment?
    Rock Shows of Note XXXIII
    After meeting with my landlord at the apartment to sign the lease for next year, taking out the garbage and recycling (the first time in a couple of weeks because of late nights and laziness), and showing Coco my place, I headed over to the Kendall Cafe with Coco to meet Kurt and Geraldine for dinner. And for the Gloria Deluxe show. Dinner was good. Geraldine and Coco both got the half-pound hamburgers, which come served with red potatoes. Kurt tried the Jamaican jerk chicken. And I fell back on an old standby: black beans and kale. The dish wasn't as well-spiced as I remember -- the first time I had the Kendall's kale was a green epihphany -- but it was still good eating.

    Before Cynthia Hopkins, performing solo as Gloria Deluxe (which in the past has been a full band co-starring her brother Tom, an old friend who's since moved to New York City) took the stage, there was a solo singer-songwriter named Aaron Lippert. It seems that Aaron used to play with a band called Expanding Man. Not to be overly critical of the first time I've seen him play, but I was not at all impressed. In fact, it was a rather painful hour. From the very get go, I didn't think I'd like Aaron. During the brief soundcheck, he tried out a Tom Petty song and exuded an attitude that I found kind of pretentious. "Do you need me to check the mic again?" And the set itself? Self-conscious, overly yet flatly dramatic, mid-tempo, falsetto mope pop with extremely cliched lyrics. Just because an experience is universal (i.e. drinking cheap red wine, perhaps) doesn't mean that you need to make it boring and mundane or hold it up as something more than it really is. Besides, really, there are some phrases that just don't need to be song. Like "drinking cheap red wine." Geraldine thought he was inspired by Radiohead given his tempos, key, and falsetto, but I found him pretty uninspiring. I was rather sad that this was the first live music Geraldine had taken in since moving into Boston. I was also bummed that I have an aversion to talking during smaller, intimate shows (a quality not shared by a fellow not too far from us who talked loudly for quite a long time), because I certainly would have welcomed the diversion of conversing with Coco and the others. Sigh. The songs -- and the set -- were just too long.

    Needless to say, Cynthia was an extremely appreciated followup to Aaron's laborious set. While Gloria Deluxe is usually a rock-tinged country band highlighting Cynthia's powerful vocals and Tom's plaintive vocal accompaniment, the show last night featured Cynthia solo, singing and playing accordion. Fresh off of a recent residency at AS220 in Providence, Cynthia shared some songs from a show she wrote while living in Boston's sister city to the south. And she played some old Gloria Deluxe favorites, including several requests from the crowd. One request was for an "angry song" about an abusive theater producer who underpays his actors and performers in the name of meeting other, less important expenses -- and the waitress who takes her revenge. The song is a rollicking string of profanities and criticisms, which are largely enjoyable because they're being delivered by a petite woman playing the accordion.

    Cynthia is a musical artist and actress. Her singing style is extremely well honed and reminds me of musical theater. Her diction and delivery is interesting, and she punctuates songs with occasionally surprising hesitant pauses that only serve to accentuate what comes next -- and the point she's making. Cynthia also manages to work in fascinating facial expressions that help convey the content of the song, ranging from tight-lipped and coy demurement to almost uncontrolled caterwauls. Lastly, her in-between song banter was quite funny. Some of it was delivered in character and reminded me of the silly inconsistencies and playful falsehoods of some of the Brothers Grimm's shorter fairy tales and nonsense stories.

    Thank you, Cynthia, for saving last night's show. I was slightly worried that Coco, Kurt, and Geraldine wouldn't take my next show suggestion seriously, but I think they will. (At least, I hope so!) Also, the band Barn Burning deserves thanks. They invited Cynthia to play with them last night, I hear, and even though all of us were too tired to stick around for their part of the program, they brought Cynthia up from New York for us. And that was awfully nice of them.

    You can also read another person's review of the show.

    Thursday, August 15, 2002

    Corollary: Web Remnants IV
    What do you know... Off Message is also listed in Amazon. That's kind of a rush. Again, the descriptive copy is kind of misleading and out of date, but the book's going to be good. Are you going to be good and pre-order a copy?

    Oh, and don't forget that I also edited another book, a collection of short, short stories by Dan Buck called This Day's Wait. I haven't.
    Web Remnants IV
    It's a big day on the Web where I work. Fast Company's Web site was recently redesigned to accompany the magazine's new design and content architecture -- the redesigned Web debuted moments ago. And the Web site for the 2002 CoF Roadshow, my road trip from Virginia to Vermont later this year, is now live. If you know anyone along the route you think I should meet -- or company's you think I should look into -- let me know. I'd appreciate the leads.

    And outside of the office, the book I'm editing, Off Message: Voices from the Business Underground is listed on Capstone-Wiley's Web site. The catalog copy we wrote ages ago isn't a very accurate description of the book as it stands now -- my editor recently described it as "much edgier and funnier than expected" -- but you should still, ahem, pre-order our copy today. You get to read, and I get to eat. Fair enough?
    Products I Love III
    Two items of note, one of which I use every single day, and one that I just ordered but am hella excited about.

    From L'Oreal's Studio Line, I'm a big, big fan of the Anti-Sticky Invisi-Gel. You can get it in Extra Body or, I believe, Mega Hold. Wonderful stuff. While I'm not sure whether the "anti-sticky" description means that it's not sticky, won't get sticky if your hair gets warm or wet, or if the gel actually repels other sticky things, but I love it. It holds your hair well, and if you run a brush through your hair later in the day, it gets all poofy. At a recent Anchormen show, a friend actually said I had newscaster hair. That means it's working!

    And I recently came across Siegel Display Products, a company that manufactures trade-show booths, displays, and literature racks for corporate clients. In their July 2002 catalog, the Magazine Rack 3001V caught my eye. It's a two-tier, baked-on black-enamel wire rack that stands almost three feet high and holds standard-sized magazines. As a frequent reader and media geek, I've oft struggled with my reading pile, which currently stands in two stacks of magazines spilling onto the kitchen floor in my apartment. And I have high hopes that the rack I just ordered moments ago will help control my clutter. Hooray for magazine racks! You can also order wall-mounted magazine stands -- mostly for trade-show display, again (which means the slots aren't that deep) -- as well as rotating wire racks similar to the Hey Kids! Comics! displays you might still see in drug stores.
    Preying on the Porcelain God
    It's a shame that Adweek doesn't publish its archives online for free, because today brought me some silly serendipity.

    Item one, a feature in the Aug. 5 edition of Adweek (which requires a paid online subscription to access archived material) entitled "For a Hurl of a Good Time," describes a party invite that includes an image of Speedy, Alka-Seltzer's advertising mascot, embracing a porcelain bowl. The brief says that the appropriation of the marketing icon, which dates back to the '50s, isn't disrespectful because it's a benefit bash. Looks like Speedy could've benefited from a dose of his own medicine.

    Item two, this week's installment of Roger Langridge's awesome Hotel Fred Web comic. The Aug. 13 strip is a playful parody of Winnie the Pooh and features an illustration of a bemused Oliver Pippin witnessing Fred the Clown in the throes of, well, throwing up into a toilet.

    That's two iconic appropriations and two subtle and funny vomit depictions. Not bad for a Thursday!
    Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians IX
    Megatokyo, a great online manga I check in on several times a week, turned 2 years old yesterday. Belated happies. When is someone going to publish a print edition of Megatokyo? Seems like that'd be a good present for Fred. Congrats, Mr. Gallagher!
    Flogging Bloggers IV
    Back to the Web whipping post! Dave Linabury, proprietor of the award-winning blog Davezilla, was recently contacted by Toho Co Ltd., the company that owns the rights to the Godzilla character. You might remember Godzilla: tall, destroys buildings. Dave's tall himself -- 6' 3" -- but to the best of my knowledge, the similarities end there.

    Since receiving the cease-and-desist letter from Toho, Dave's chronicled the ongoing events, citing gestures of support within the blogging community, posting a wonderful Davezilla vs. Godzilla cartoon, and mentioning that there are nearly 1,000 other Web sites with "zilla" in their domain names.

    That's a lot of cease-and-desist letters, Toho.
    The Song I Just Wrote
    As the Anchormen continue to wrap up work on our third CD, tentatively titled "Just Because You Sleep on My Floor Doesn't Mean That You're My Girlfriend," it's time to start writing some new songs. Here's one -- slightly inspired by a short story by Steve Almond -- that's been running through my mind for the last two days:

    Every time I look into your eyes, I thank my congressman that you're my girl.
    But when you say that your vote is mine, your backroom patronage games make me hurl.
    If we were to truly democratize, the world would surely be a better place.
    But if we legislate and do not sympathize, the power of our laws is that of mace.

    Cute girls and politics, cute girls and politics, cute girls and politics, cute girls and politics, cute girls and politics, cute girls and politics don't mix.

    Cute girls and politics, cute girls and politics, cute girls and politics, cute girls and politics, cute girls and politics, cute girls and politics don't mix.

    When I see you standing on the Hill in your collared shirt and pleated skirt
    my heart leaps and my head starts to whirl; when your bills become laws we all get hurt.

    That's all I have right now. Worth finishing?

    Wednesday, August 14, 2002

    To Be Sung on the High Seas
    In a Pieces, Particles entry, I referenced a magazine article about the fading history of sea shanties. Roger Chartier Music & Publishing has created a wonderful resource about this almost-lost art, featuring some history, related links... and lyrics! Here's an excerpt from "Cape Cod Girls":

    Cape Cod girls ain't got no combs. Heave away, haul away.
    They comb their hair with codfish bones. Heave away, haul away.

    Cape Cod doctors ain't got no pills. Heave away, haul away.
    They feed their patients codfish gills. Heave away, haul away.

    Cape Cod women don't bake no pies. Heave away, haul away.
    They feed their babies codfish eyes. Heave away, haul away.

    All of that might very well be true. I guess my question is, "What about those Cape Anne girls?"

    Thanks to Memepool.
    Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians VIII
    Email turned 20 years old yesterday. On that day in history the IETF approved RFC 822, which standardized ARPANet email.

    Thanks to BoingBoing.
    Rock Shows of Note XXXII
    I didn't think I'd make it to Jef and Dave's Plunge into Death show last night at O'Brien's, but having met Kendra for drinks after work at Bukowski's, I was already on the Green Line, on the right line (B), and almost all the way there, so I decided to check it out. After all, Jef said they played first, so I could still get home relatively early.

    They didn't play first. They played third. But I am super happy I went because all of the bands -- all! -- were absolutely amazing. First up, Tunnel of Love, who are slated to play with the Anchormen at the Abbey in early September. A duo comprising a shirtless drummer and guitarist wearing matching athletic shorts and striped leggings, Tunnel played a spastic set of raucous garage rock that was quite energetic and enjoyable. Andy kept kicking over the microphone stand, and a friend stood near the front to pick it back up every single time. I'm jazzed that we're playing with them. It'll be a lot of fun.

    Second up was X27, a garagey three-piece from Chicago. Reminding me of Math, early Scissor Girls, and other Chicago no-wave bands that predated the post-rock scene, X27 was also extremely spazzy. The guitarist undulated like he had no spine, pulling tortured, syncopated skronk sounds from his guitar as the drummer -- whose kit was outfitted with a piece of sheet metal instead of a cymbal -- stood in the back of the band. The boy-girl vocals were rare but well-timed, and the song with the line "feeling asthmatic" stuck in my craw. Awesome!

    Jef and Dave's ever-name-changing project Plunge into Death (at least for last night) was next up. It took them quite awhile to set up the stage with the monster boombox, CD beats, keyboard, and guitar, but it was worth the wait. Jef played his guitar with two bottles while singing backup to Dave's new-wave goth lead, and they pulled some favorites out of their hats. The Pac-Man sample song won the crowd over, and they added some new gimmicks. Jef placed the robotic Godzilla on the keyboard so its roaring noise fed through the amplifier, and Dave reached across the stage with a coiled semi truck antenna to play the guitar occasionally. One dark spot was the song in which Dave rants about turning off cell phones and pagers. It seems he lost the original sample CD they used to the vocal track on that number, and it's difficult to replicate the disembodied, inhuman voice that laid such an interesting foundation to the original version. Plunge into Death added a nice, slower side to the so-far rock-and-stomp show.

    Lastly, 25 Suaves, which used to call Somerville home but now hail from Michigan. Another wonderful garage-rock two-piece comprising a drummer and a guitarist, the Suaves ended the night on a high note. I think they played the Misfits' "We Are 138," and they covered "Saturday Night" with punch and panache. Glad they came back to town.

    I caught a cab home from Allston around 12:30, having spent much of the night SMS'ing with Coco. I called her when I got home, and we talked until the sun started to lighten the sky. So I'm a little tired today.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2002

    The Restaurant I Ate at Last Night XI
    On the way to Highwater Books North last night, I stopped off at Theo's Pizza to pick up several slices -- two for me, one for TD. Now, Theo's is on Teele Square, and it's largely unremarkable -- your basic pizza place. But it has several things going for it. One, the people who work there are always really nice. Two, their pizza, while simple, is chewy and cheesy -- yum! -- even if their crust is a little sparse. And three, one of the people who created "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place" -- later aired as "Two Guys and a Girl" -- or perhaps all three of them (I'm not sure.) went to college at Tufts University and worked at Theo's for awhile. I used to go there quite often when I lived with Tom, Tom, and Tom, so it's been awhile since I've stopped in for a slice. Thanks, Theo's!
    It's an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World XIII
    Gap has posted some Web previews of its new television ads for this fall. Spots feature Willie Nelson and Ryan Adams singing "Move It on Over," Shalom Harlow gettin' jiggy to American Breed's "Bend Me, Shape Me," and Will Kemp playing the fly guy to QJ's Jook Joint's "Stuff Like That."
    Rock Shows of Note XXXI
    After helping Jef and TD inventory books stored at Highwater Books North, we grabbed a pint at P.J. Ryan's, formerly the Station, on Teele Square. After that -- and a quick stop home to sort mail, do bills, and relax a bit, I headed out to Toad on Porter Square to meet up with Coco and see a band called Schwang.

    I haven't been to Toad for a long time and remembered it as being extremely narrow and crowded. If you get there early enough -- and get a seat on one of the sides -- it's not that bad a showgoing experience. Schwang, a four piece, featured Dave Goodrich on guitar, Anita Suhanin on vocals, Lou Ulrich on bass, and Andy Plaisted on drums. Word is Andy also plays in the Pee Wee Fist.

    Schwang specializes in a mix of country swing, torch songs, and rockabilly, and Anita's voice is extremely powerful -- perfect for old-timey love and lovelorn songs. Dave's guitar playing was quite impressive, and because we sat almost in his lap -- his guitar neck almost poking out my eyes -- we got to see him in action up close and personal. It was a solid set -- mostly covers, I'd gather, but good ones, including Merle Haggard and other fine country songwriters.

    Next up was the Tim Gearan Band, which was basically the same lineup, only without Anita, with Tim, and with a tenor saxophonist who probably should've been mic'ed. We only stayed to check out several songs -- Coco's seen Schwang a lot but has never stuck around to see Gearan -- and there were several notable differences in the performance. Gearan's tastes seem to run more toward the blues and -- at times -- standard college jam rock, but even though it's not totally my thing, the musicians were still impressive, Gearan has a strong presence, and they do what they do well.

    Welcome back to Toad! I'll have to return soon. If you're into area music of this sort, you might be interested in Hellcountry. Their show calendar hasn't been updated since June, but their directory of local bands and venues is useful. It seems they used to host a monthly series at the Kendall Cafe, where I'll be going later this week.

    After the show, Coco and I walked down Massachusetts Avenue to see where I used to live on Chauncy Street, the Longy School of Music -- which sports a nice new kinetic sculpture on the corner -- and the neon sign for the Sheraton Commander. In the interest of continuing my thread of nighttime city scenes a la the library on Harvard Common, here are some snaps:

    With flash.

    Without flash.

    Just goes to show that's it always a good idea to travel with a camera.