I'm outta here

So tomorrow I head out on my big trip. I'm tossing Tippy in the back seat and he'll spend the week with my parents while I go to Minnesota. Tippy loves Milwaukee. He especially enjoys their wide selection of cheeses.

So if I get a chance, I'll post an update or two. I am in possession of one of the first copies of Maggie's mix, A Asspocket of Sunshine, and I've promised her a review.


Tambourine Girl

When I was in college, my roommate Aimee and I took a fair number of road trips. We went to St. Louis with regularity and made it to Louisville a couple of times. There were two items required for any trip over two hours, (1) graham crackers and icing and (2) every single piece of music ever released by Counting Crows.

The roles were simple. The person not driving was the navigator and road trip DJ. They had control over the music and the maps, but they also had to make graham cracker and icing sandwiches whenever the driver demanded. The driver was expected to pay attention to the road and keep an eye out for rest stops (Aimee had a bladder the size of a walnut). With these well-defined roles, our trips went off without a hitch.

As you might expect, the soundtrack for our journeys was a continuous stream of Counting Crows tunes. They only had two albums out at the time and we sometimes listened to them over and over, singing along to every word. Aimee had a dream of being a tambourine girl/interpretive dancer for the band and she invented an endless array of hokey dances to perform while sitting in the passenger seat. It takes extreme measures like these to make Illinois seem interesting.

Nowadays whenever I get a little tired of driving during a long trip, I slip in a Counting Crows CD and sing along to every word, often at the top of my lungs. It always wakes me up but it sometimes makes me wish I had someone to make graham cracker sandwiches for me, too.


Road Trip!

I don't leave for vacation until Friday but I'm already on a mental vacation. I'm sure I'll be able to fake my way through the week but it's not gonna be pretty.

I'm going to be doing a lot of driving on this break (7 states in 10 days) so it has me thinking about road trip music. I checked out a stack of new CD's from the library and I'll be compiling all my favorite driving songs. So the question arises, what is the best road trip song of all time?

I'm partial to "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynard Skynard. It's really got nothing to do with driving but that guitar riff always brings a smile to my face. It's fun to sing along to as well.

So come all you guys that read my blog but don't comment (I know you're out there) name your favorite road trip song and maybe I'll be singing tunelessly along to it in my car in a week's time.


The Shins will change your life

The New York Times had an article about The Believer's music issue today and it mentioned a snarky little blog that I had to check out. I'm not always a big supporter of making fun of people, but the use of unadorned excepts from the authors themselves makes it feel o.k. The mean comments added later just add to the fun.


Mystic Pizza

A couple weeks ago I came home from the Hofbrauhaus and found a crumpled receipt outside my front door. Figuring it was something I dropped on my way out, I picked it up. When I finally took the time to look it over, however, it presented me with a new mystery.

The receipt showed that someone from LaRosa's had attempted to deliver a large pizza, a couple of subs and some sort of pasta dish to my apartment around 8:30 that night (I left the house at 7:45). It had my name and address but I'm really pretty sure I didn't order it.

At one point I thought I had the mystery solved. LaRosa's uses your home phone number to keep track of who you are and where you live. The number on the receipt was my old land line that I got rid of a year ago. I figured maybe somebody has my new number and didn't pay attention when they verified the address.

This theory was shot down with one simple phone call to my old number. It's still disconnected. So now I have absolutely no idea what happened. I feel bad for the delivery guy, the order was more than $40. I hope I'm not blackballed from LaRosa's because of this either. Any ideas about how this could happen?

Favorite Song of the Week:
"No One is to Blame" by Howard Jones - He was on Hit Me Baby, One More Time last week and was excellent. He just sat at a piano and belted out tunes like he was David Gray or something. If I owned a label, I'd have signed him immediately.


Your questions answered

A few of you already have copies of my new mix CD and those of you who don't will receive it shortly. From the early reviews I can tell that there are going to be some recurring questions about the mix. So here are the answers to the questions I know you're going to ask:

(1) Lefty's Deceiver is a band from Philadelphia. I found their song from a random iTunes search.

(2) You may have heard "Medicine" by Orbit in 1997. That's when Libido Speedway came out and this was their big hit single. Nobody listens to it anymore but it's still good.

(3) "Choked Up" is from the Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Soundtrack. Yes, I own the soundtrack. I just ran across the song in my library and decided to throw it in.

(4) I put "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" on the CD for my friend Jeff. He heard on the radio the other and remembered what a good song it was. A forgotten gem, perhaps. Well it's forgotten no more!

Now you should have no more questions. I'm sure of it.


Your Ad Here

I play on this flag football team and it's really, really fun. We run around outside in the fresh air then go have a beer. It's everything you could want in a sport and I look forward to it every week.

So here's the part that sucks. We play year round (that's four seasons) and pay $500 each season for team registration. That's usually $50 dollars each that nobody really minds paying because it's so fun. The hard part is finding someone who's willing to put $500 on their credit card.

I think it's about time we found a sponsor. A lot of the teams we play are sponsored by bars or other businesses and we'd be happy to advertise for just about anyone if they covered some of the registration fee. I posted this ad on Craigslist in an effort to drum up interest in our plight. I don't think anyone in Cincinnati reads Craigslist, though, so it might be a lost cause.

If you own a business and would like to see a bunch of people running around advertising for you every Saturday, you should email me. I know Maggie's looking for a skydiving sponsor but we're easier to read since we're not falling out of the sky!



I'm proud to announce that my summer mix CD is finally done. I'll give you an idea of what's on it in the days to come. Until then, if you're someone I usually see every day I'm sure you'll get a copy soon. If you're someone I don't run across, you should email me with your address and perhaps I will send you a copy. It's just that easy.


How to waste time

I know the internet was supposed to be used for important academic purposes, but look at what we've done to it. It's filled with porn, useless blogs (like this one) and dozens of other stupid ways to pass the hours. Yeah, I think that's pretty awesome, too. So here are a few sites that can help you with the time wasting you so desperately need to accomplish.

www.fetchfido.co.uk - Want to find a mindless game to play on your computer? Here you go!

www.ipodlounge.com - Everything you need to know about your iPod and its available accessories. And lots of stuff you don't need to know. I little anal but very informative.

www.mnftiu.cc - Who knew clip art could be so funny? All the snarky politics and belly laughs you've come to expect from the author of Get Your War On.

www.craigslist.org - I know you've heard of Craig's List. Right? It's and handy guide to urban life and the "best of" section gets updated every month or so. That's my favorite part to read.

www.gladwell.com - A great archive of just about everything Malcolm Gladwell's ever written.

www.alienlovespredator.com - An Odd Couple style comic strip featuring everyone's favorite scary monsters.

www.snopes.com - You really should have already been reading this page. In case you aren't, though, it's a great clearinghouse for all those urban legends and chain emails that seem to follow us around.

www.rtm86.com - The personal web site of a teenage guy in Texas. Check it out just for the cool way he uses photos to make links.

www.nytimes.com - I love the New York Times! I try to read it online on Sundays just so I can check out the Weddings and Celebrations page. It's an ostentatious ode to conspicuous consumption. When you're done reading that go to the blog listed below.

www.nytimesweddings.blogspot.com - No one has more fun with the weddings page than this guy. Read and laugh, repeat.


Golden Soldiers

People, people! I have received excellent news so listen up! Dearest Adam Kline from my favorite California band, Golden Shoulders, has promised little old Cincinnati a stop in the band's next foray across the U.S. of A. They had such an excellent time last year what with the karaoke and all that a return trip could not be avoided.

I don't have a date yet, they're thinking late September or early October, but I'll let you know when I do. I'm also taking suggestions for venues for them to play at. It will be acoustic and unamplified like last time so keep that in mind.

Now, feel free to rejoice!


Dancing Nancies

I know this is a little late, but I thought I would devote a little of my endless yet valuable blog space to congratulate my friend Nancy. She just graduated from MIT with an MBA (That's a lot of initials!) and now she's back out in the great big world.

Now go out there and get a sweet job so I can live in the room above your garage!

Seriously, I have known Nancy since high school and she's awesome. She holds the singular distinction of being the only person to visit me at every place I've lived since I left high school. She even made it out to Marengo, Iowa! She has yet to make it to The 'Nati, though, so that's a situation we're going to have to rectify soon.

Just to prove I've known her for so long, here's a picture of me and her and our friend Michelle (on the right) from the summer after we graduated.

Okemos High School Class of '95! Posted by Hello


Underrated: The Beatles

I know it's impossible to truly call any Beatles song underrated. Every note they've ever put to tape has been analyzed, scrutinized and worshipped to no end. Still, along the way some great songs have been overlooked in favor of the Can't Buy Me Loves and Strawberry Fields Forevers. So here are ten songs that I think deserve another listen. Put away those greatest hits and dust off the originals!

  • Please Mister Postman (With the Beatles, 1963) The only song on this list the Beatles didn't write, "Please Mister Postman" was originally a hit for the Marvolettes in 1961. The Beatles were never afraid to embrace a Motown song or change the gender of lyrics when necessary. The strain in John Lennon's voice makes you really feel his pain. Why oh why is the postman so mean?
  • This Boy (B-side to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," 1963) This song had its greatest moment as the music to the Ringo moping scene in A Hard Day's Night. It never made it on the album, though. It's even more of the Beatles channeling Motown with a great jangling guitar and beautiful harmonies. Once again, it's John's anguish in the bridge that really makes it.
  • What You're Doing (Beatles For Sale, 1964) With a great rumbling drum intro and a guitar riff that sounds just like The Byrds, this song has all the necessary components of 60's pop. The awkward guitar solo can be overlooked.
  • I've Just Seen a Face (Help, 1965) Who didn't want to be Bob Dylan in 1965? Even Paul McCartney wanted to and it's evident in folkiest song The Beatles had done to date. I also really enjoy the pronounced "been/seen" rhyme that pops up all over the place.
  • I'm Looking Through You (Rubber Soul, 1965) Another catchy acoustic tune from Paul McCartney. This one has more anger than we're used to hear from the cute Beatle. Rubber Soul is filled with melancholy songs like "Norwegian Wood" and "Nowhere Man" and this one is easy to miss.
  • Rain (B-side to"Paperback Writer," 1966) "Rain" provided a sign of things to come as the Beatles grew more adventurous with their music. It's full of loud guitars and even a snippet of backwards tape. It's also just a great rock song, though, I think the tempo could have been a little faster.
  • For No One (Revolver, 1966) My favorite Beatles song that no one knows. Another of those sad songs from Paul. Revolver has been getting more respect as a great album over the years so maybe people are listening. The French horn solo alone makes it worth spending two minutes of your life on this song.
  • I Will (White Album, 1968) Another short but sweet song, this is one of the first tunes I ever learned to play on guitar. The sappy lyrics can be overlooked because they're not burdened with layers of ovewrought music, just Paul and a guitar.
  • It's All Too Much (Yellow Submarine, 1969) Who doesn't love handclaps? George Harrison gets a song on the list with a tune that combines his favorite mystical lyrics with some great guitars and horns. It plods along at times but it sounds like something Oasis could record at any moment.
  • I've Got a Feeling (Let It Be, 1970) This is another one of those duets that Paul kept trying to do with John as the band was falling apart. John's cheeky middle eight and Paul's Little Richard screams reminded us they could still rock.


It was 24 years ago today

Well maybe not exactly today. I've been working on some pictures that used to hang on my grandmother's refrigerator so I thought I'd post the results here. This one is of my brother, my cousins and me all watching TV. Check out the fabulous 80's clothing!

Ah, 1981 Posted by Hello

Favorite Song of the Week:
"Public Service Announcement" by The Bravery - Yeah, I know they're part of that 80's revival that I've been whining about but this is one catchy tune. Plus, it has my favorite lyric of the year "You put the broke in brokenhearted, you put the art in retarded."



It's that time of year again! I just got an email saying they are opening volunteer registration for the MidPoint Music Festival. It's my favorite Cincinnati festival and I'm looking forward to it again this year. In fact. I think I'm gonna take a day off work so I can go on Thursday night, too. This year it runs from Sept. 21-24 so don't say you didn't have enough warning.

I'm sure I'll be writing more about this as September draws near but I want to encourage everyone to sign up and volunteer. You get a free 3 day pass, t-shirt, and compilation CD plus it's a ton of fun. I'm planning on volunteering Thursday and Friday nights thus keeping Saturday free to enjoy the festival itself. Go here to sign up to volunteer.


All the blogs are buzzin'

I keep running across comments about a band called The National and everyone's talking about how great they are. It sounds like the band is made up of a few guys from Cincinnati who decided to go to New York and make music. What I've heard from them so far sounds great. I'm going to out and buy their album, Alligator, forthwith. It also doesn't hurt that the band shares their name with one of my favorite Nevada City bars.

If you want to check them out, go to the link above or go here for a video or here for an mp3. In fact you should check out both of those blogs anyway. They're sweet.


I've been reading

And you should, too. Here's some stuff I think you should read:

Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner - Don't let the economist in the title scare you off. Ever wondered if Sumo wrestlers cheated? They'll tell you.

102 Minutes : The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn - I couldn't stop reading this book that gives a minute by minute account of what was going on inside the WTC on 9/11. It's filled with little moments of humanity and horror.

Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell - I'm a huge fan of Gladwell and this book will remind you that you knew what you knew all along, you just needed to remember that you knew it.

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk - A strange and crazy novel about a poem that kills. Think about it for a second. What if there was something that if you heard it, it would kill you? Scary isn't it?

And one book you shouldn't read.

Citizen Girl by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - Pure crap from the authors of The Nanny Diaries.


We all have priorities

I went by a gas station to get a soda after I got off work last night. It was a little after midnight and the place was surprisingly crowded, so crowded that they had to open another register.

Two men immediately ran over to the open register. The first guy was looking for Trojan condoms. The guy behind the counter said, "Rubbers? All's the rubbers we got are over there and it looks like ... we'll looks like we don't got any." The customer let out of little yowl of disapproval, stood there with a disbelieving look for a minute and quietly moved on.

The second guy asked for rolling papers. The gas station guy was equally as helpful this time. "We don't have any except for this bunch that's all stuck together. The glue from the labels and shit got everywhere so they're all stuck."

The second customer also couldn't believe what he'd heard. He was about to leave when he was struck by inspiration.

"Give me some cigarillos, whatever you got." (This man was obviously not looking to use those rolling papers on tobacco products.) Not to fear, D.A.R.E. mothers, the gas station didn't have any cigarillos either. This customer, too, was sent out into the dark night with no way to smoke his drugs. If only he'd bought a pipe!

So the question arises, what good is an all night gas station if they don't have prophylactics or tobacco products? Apparently, not much.


Book your tickets now

I got new neighbors across the hall from me a couple of weeks ago and I have vowed to introduce myself to them. I feel like I don't know enough of my neighbors and this would be a good chance to start fresh. From what I gathered they are two girls who are roommates in the two bedroom apartment. The problem is I still don't know any more than that. I planned on just bumping into one of them one day as a way of introduction, but that hasn't happened yet.

So now I'm just making up stuff about them on my own.

I think one or both of them might be a Ben-Gal. Yes, that's right, a real Bengals cheerleader. They have a Bengals door mat and the tall buxom one has a Bengals plate on the front of her car and a Bengals plate frame on the rear of her car. No young blonde chick has a reason to have so much Bengals stuff unless she's getting a paycheck from them.

So to all my guy friends, you're more than welcome to come over and stake out the apartment across the hall. Just give me a call and let me know when you'll be by. Also, if you actually meet the neighbors, let me know so I can introduce myself, too.

Favorite Song of the Week:
"Green Eyes" by Coldplay - Despite the scathing column in today's New York Times, I find myself looking forward to Tuesday's new Coldplay album. I'm sure I'll have my own issues with it, but it's going to take more than some badmouthing by a Times writer to get me to give up on someone as sad and British as Chris Martin.


A new sign of the apocalypse

So NBC has this new show called Hit Me Baby, One More Time and it's almost as bad as the title. The strange thing is I really enjoyed watching it. They get these old 80's bands to come on and perform their hit, then they perform a cover of a recent hit and the audience votes on who they like best. It's like watching a train wreck. All I kept thinking was, "why would anyone ever agree to be on this show?".

Yesterday's show featured Loverboy, A Flock of Seagulls, Tiffany, CeCe Peniston and Arrested Development and should have been called "See What I Look Like 30 Ponds Heavier." The dude from A Flock of Seagulls was even scarier than when he had the crazy hair and Loverboy was completely unrecognizable. Tiffany sang well but her outfits were atrocious. She needs to give up on the stiletto heel and mall rat clothes. She's a mom now for christsake! But like I said, I couldn't stop watching.

The one bright spot was Arrested Development. "Tennessee" sounded surprisingly fresh and their cover of "Heaven" by Los Lonely Boys was great. They sounded like they could give The Black Eyed Peas a run for their money.

In a singular moment of clarity, the audience voted Arrested Development as their favorite, which gave me new hope in humanity. They got $20,000 to give to the charity of their choice and maybe some new notoriety.

Next week's show features Tommy Tutone, The Knack, The Motels, Vanilla Ice and Haddawy. I'll probably watch that, too, even though I feel a little dirty when it's over.


There is such a thing as a free lunch

And I'm going to get one if you guys can help me out. See I've got a little bet going, and I'll explain it all later, but this is what I need you to do.

Go here and click through all the fun photos in the gallery. Then keep clicking. And click some more. To make along story short, I need this gallery to have the most hits. Each photo counts as a separate hit so feel free to keep going through it.

My little bet ends at midnight Sunday so let's get to it people!

Oh, and thanks!


Underrated: U2

I know how much some of you guys like U2 so I was pleased to run across this column in Entertainment Weekly that listed U2's most underrated songs. I don't actually have very many of them on my iPod (although I did put "In a Little While" on a mix CD) and I'm far from a U2 expert, but I thought some of you might enjoy arguing the merits of the list.

Go here or read it below:

  • ''Rejoice'' (October, 1981) Like their debut, Boy, U2's second album, October, focused heavily on the young foursome's politics, but songs like ''Rejoice'' are the first to suggest some ambivalence and personality: ''I can't change the world/ But I can change the world in me.'' (This was apparently before Bono decided to change the world, like, for real.) Though U2 hadn't quite matured as a group, ''Rejoice's pounding guitar lines, tight drumming, and compelling lyrics foreshadowed more resonant songs like 1993's ''Sunday, Bloody Sunday.''
  • ''40'' (War, 1983) An adaptation of the first lines of Psalm 40, the closing track on War is U2 at their most spiritual. Whether it's a plea for the end of violence in the name of religion or simply a pretty song about God, the short, simple ''40'' is a seamless blend of all four band members - even though Bono has said its recording was spontaneous and last-minute. Similar in style and theme to All That You Can't Leave Behind's closer, ''Grace,'' ''40'' has been used as a finale for many of U2's live shows.
  • ''A Sort of Homecoming'' (The Unforgettable Fire, 1984) The first U2 album produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, Fire saw the band move away from the mainstream and develop a unique, Edge-ier sound. In the moody opener, Bono's voice soars as he paints a hopeful yet pained portrait of an Ireland torn apart by conflict. His calling the landscape ''dislocated/ suffocated'' brings to mind the longer string of angst-wracked adjectives in the album's slower, more popular ballad ''Bad.''
  • ''Exit'' (The Joshua Tree, 1987) All of the songs on the underappreciated latter half of U2's wildly successful Joshua Tree deserve a spot on this list, but ''Exit'' captures the album's themes of self-discovery and existential quandary perfectly. The song, about a man with a gun in his pocket, starts out as quiet and meditative but then, as if mirroring the man's conscience, suddenly spirals in and out of a climactic, hard-rock jam.
  • ''Heartland'' (Rattle and Hum, 1988) This rolling tune was easily lost in the eclectic shuffle of Rattle and Hum, but Bono's soft vocals and the Edge's crisp guitar would have made a good addition to The Joshua Tree. As in ''A Sort of Homecoming,'' the land comes alive though poetic lyrics: ''Freeway like a river cuts through the land/ Into the side of love.''
  • ''So Cruel'' (Achtung Baby, 1991) Not as daring in style as the rest of the album's songs, this love-hate tune shines because of its heart-wrenching lyrics. Man loves woman, hates that he can't help it, and will continue to love her even though she's bad for him: ''Then she makes you watch her from above/ And you need her like a drug,'' sings Bono yearningly, as his bandmates, sounding at times like a full orchestra, uplift him.
  • ''Lady With the Spinning Head (extended dance remix)'' (Even Better Than the Real Thing single, 1992) Although the concept of an ''extended dance remix'' seemed very un-U2 at the time, this track hinted at the band's impending techno phase. And it worked: One listen to this fun, peppy tune and the "La la la la la Lady'' keeps spinning in your head all day long. A few bars of Achtung Baby's ''Fly'' even sneak in there at the end.
  • ''Your Blue Room'' (Passengers, Original Soundtracks 1, 1995) U2 upped the artistic ante by collaborating with Eno to produce Original Soundtracks 1, a collection of compositions for imagined movies. The subtly beautiful ''Room'' has the dreamlike quality of 1993's Zooropa and the electronic vibe of 1997's Pop - you get the feeling you've somehow wandered into a strangely erotic underwater universe.
  • ''Please'' (Pop, 1997) Much like ''Exit,'' ''Please'' starts out slow but builds up enough emotion to produce one of the greatest crescendos in U2's catalog. Even though it shares a techno flair with the rest of Pop, the song adds a more mature spin to the band's '80s concerns with Irish civil strife and the questioning of faith. At the end, Bono confesses, ''You know I've found it hard to receive/ 'Cause you, my love, I could never believe.''
  • ''In a Little While'' (All That You Can't Leave Behind, 2000) A sweet, bluesy stroll of a song, it deserves mention if only because it's like nothing else U2 have ever done. When the accompaniment subsides and Bono belts out a long, whiny ''Turn it on/ Turn it on/ You turn me on, ooh-oooooh, yeah,'' you can't help but smile and think, "Right back at ya, baby.''

So that's it. I was think about underrated Beatles songs earlier today so maybe I'll try coming up with my own lists soon.