Monday, January 28, 2008

Portishead's Dummy still a favorite all these years later

So I am sitting here at work trying to figure out what to listen to this afternoon and I decide to listen to Portishead's Dummy. This album is a favorite of mine from way back - I think I listened to it nearly every day in 1997/98 - that I just haven't listen to in quite awhile. I'm not sure what exactly what it is that makes me like it so much. But when Strangers came on I was struck by how the combination of her voice and the grinding guitars and simple beats and occasional horn in the background come together in such a unique way. There just isn't anyone else who has produced music that sounds quite like this and for some reason I just found it - and still find it - intoxicating.

Socioeconomic issues trump race and gender in my book

John Edwards may not have won a state yet in the primary, but that does not mean that I will write him off as someone who does not deserve my continued support. For me, it is just as important that he remain in the race as it is that he might win the nomination.

It is a very exciting campaign on all fronts. It's be nice if they could all win...if we had a parliamentary system instead of a popularity contest that would be much more of a reality.

But I digress. I was very interested to see this tidbit on a new Washington Post online magazine for black readers called "The Root." The author identified what it is that makes John Edwards appealing to her and I was struck by how she identified that same things that draw me to him as well. It isn't about race or gender, but about supporting a candidate who genuinely seems to understand the needs of the little guy.

The Minority Candidate By Alice Bonner |

I want someone who understands that crushing debt, low wages, inadequate health care, the outrageous cost of college education and subsequent generation of highly educated debtors are the issues that most Americans want our next president to be concerned about. I don't want to WORK with drug companies to offer plans to make drugs cheaper. I want to DEMAND that they sell them to us at a fair price - like every other country does. I don't want to NEGOTIATE for a national health care system. I DEMAND that one be created. In short I do not want to ASK corporations to be nice I want to REQUIRE them to be fair and stop letting them pay a lower percentage in taxes than I do. I want to live in a country that values its people over its profits.

Anyway...I'm starting to rant, but you get the idea. He may not win the nomination, but I don't care. He's still talking about the issues I care about and I hope he continues to do so whether he wins or not.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Edwards Smackdown on Hillary's Social Security position

Ok, so that isn't all he talks about here, but I thought it was a nice little clip.

We've only had two states' voters choose who they want as the nominee. The race is far from over.

If you feel strongly as I do that this country needs to extract itself as much as possible from the malevolent clutches of corporate greed then John Edwards should be your candidate too. Yes, I like Barack (I ean come on he's a good guy), but Edwards is far more clear (and RIGHT) on how to handle these people than Clinton or Obama.

Posted from the Huffington Post
John Edwards says he's not going anywhere, except straight ahead into this Saturday's Nevada cacuses. After an appearance at the Carpenters Union in Las Vegas Wednesday night, he spoke with a small group of reporters.

The Huffington Post's Senior Editor, Marc Cooper, who was among the reporters, videotaped the session and asked the first question.

Toward the end of the discussion, Edwards rips into rival Hillary Clinton, saying the more he listens to her talk about social security, the less he can discern her real position.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

German hip hop Gets "Realer"

This article was posted in Spiegel today and I just had to post a link to it after I read the last sentence because it made me laugh out loud.

The article is talking about an apparent new "gangsta" trend in German hip hop that is alarming some Germans. They point out that typically the "struggle" that German hip-hop artists had to endure is seen as...well...laughable compared to that of the OGs in - say Compton. I have to agree. I mean - come on - Germany has some of the most generous social benefits on the planet, so even if you may be poor, you sure ain't living in poverty in Germany.

Anyway - it is annoying that these guys seem to be interpreting the need to add violence to the mix for hip hop success and credibility. That's so...1995.

The thing that made me laugh though was a line from a song by the artist discussed in the story.

In one song, "When the Moon Crashes into My Ghetto," Massiv complains: "I've had to beg for my unemployment benefits ... here in the ghetto, no one is satisfied with his €300 a month after deductions."

Hilarious! I assume that the clunky sound of that sentence is just the English translation, but the jist is a scream. Granted €300 is very little to live on. BUT when, in the US, you can only have unemployment for 6 months immediately after you lose a job and after that you are on your own, it's downright ridiculous to complain about it.

Here's the story: STRAIGHT OUTTA RHINELAND-PALATINATE - German Hip Hop Gets Real as Rapper Shot in Berlin

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Video: Kira's Christmas

Here is some video from Kira's blog her Christmas morning. :) Enjoy!

Doll Baby Toys


Present from Santa

The Triceratops!

Monday, January 07, 2008

More notes on Music, etc.

Recently I've been acquiring music from a couple of new (legitimate, mind you) sources. I've been buying from iTunes for a long time now, but I also just discovered that Amazon is offering mp3 downloads of albums and individual songs at the same price and sometimes cheaper than iTunes. I don't know how I missed that they started this, but it is nice. I haven't bought much there yet - but it is a nice feature and they offer hi-quality DRM free mp3s. Unlike iTunes, which are not DRM free and are AAC format - Which is good, just limited in where you can play it. If you have an iPod, no worries, but if I want to burn a cd of mp3s and listen to them on the car stereo, fugetabouttit.

Anyway another source I've been using is I went ahead and signed up with them for the huge lump of downloads you get as a signing bonus. The bad thing about eMusic is that they rarely have mainstream stuff. It is all small labels. They are adding to is all the time, though. I have gotten some gems however.

One of those gems is Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings' 100 Days and 100 Nights. It is a great album! It is a retro R&B album that came out last year. According to Wikipedia they record using old equipment for an authentic 70's sound. All I know is she has a fantastic voice and the songs are catchy, soulful and fun. At times she seems to channel Tina Turner.

I've also been a fan of Stereo MC's for a long time and I found their new album (Paradise) on eMusic too. It isn't revolutionary or anything, but if you like them, this album is quite good.

I've mentioned Ian Brown before and they also have all of his albums, but, sadly, not his latest.

I also checked out Stereophonics most recent album (Language. Sex. Violence. Other?) and it also has a good British pop rock sound.

And speaking of R&B/Soul - I also was able to get The Ultimate Jackie Wilson
which is a huge collection of 2 disks worth of his songs.

If you like Lyrics Born, as I do, you can get his stuff there. Also in the L's is Lamb - which is kind of in the same vein as Portishead, but faster and not nearly as sad. Maybe Portishead mixed with Moloko. I REALLY like Portishead, but I am still deciding on Lamb.

On the subject of music, but not about any in particular, I wanted to share a life-improving gadget I got a couple of months ago. If a product can improve your quality of life I can say that this one has mine. In October when I went to the HighEd WebDev conference in Rochester, NY, the hotel I stayed at had an iHome Clock Radio for your iPod in the rooms. I used it while I was there and decided that I had to have one for home. I had a plain 'ol clock radio with an annoying blaring alarm that tortured me every morning and - honestly - was not starting my days out very well. The iHome was so refreshing it starts playing whatever song you want it to play very softly and gets progressively louder as well as turning on a soft light that gets brighter. It is SO much better than the alarm clock. I FEEL better when the songs play and being able to choose WHICH song I hear is very nice. I found that waking up to Deee-Lite or Erasure - while seriously dating me - really are pleasant ways to wake up. My favorite so far is wakign up to Erasure's version of Take a Chance on Me. I've really come to appreciate Andy's beautiful voice. The song itself is also very upbeat and a nice way to welcome the day.

What song(s) would you/do you like to wake up to? Why?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Holidays are over, but looking forward to 2008

We've had a nice couple of weeks with Christmas and all. We got to see a lot of family and were out and about most of the time, but it was a nice break nonetheless.

I'm not ready for a new semester to start at WVU - from the teaching POV anyway. I am teaching again, but I am also taking 2 classes online. Steve is taking the same classes, so hopefully it won't be too overwhelming. Our new baby is due March 16 or so and we're looking forward to that. I have to admit I do have *some* apprehension for how we'll be able to juggle everything, hopefully it'll all sort itself out.

I met Steve 10 years ago this February on the Friday before leap day. So that is a milestone I'm proud of. Ten years ago I didn't have any idea where I was headed or what lay before me, but I am very happy with how things have transpired. I have a great husband and a beautiful daughter who amazes me every day. I have a good job... and a mountain of debt - so I must be living the American Dream!

This is kind of a rambling post...sorry.

Been visiting Facebook a lot more lately. Keeps me entertained and I'm impressed with how much nicer, cleaner and responsive it is to use than MySpace (which is way sucky in comparison, IMHO. It kind of reminds me of a teenager's bedroom.)

Todd Moser just sent me a link to a site called Geni which is also very cool. It lets you create family trees and invite people easily. The thing I like about it is it provides a nice easy to use visual layout of your tree. Haven't seen this before on a site. The interface reminds me of a cross between Flickr and Facebook.

Iowa caucuses tonight. Noah is there and I hope having a good time. He's stumping for John Edwards, which I think is very cool. He's my pick, so I really hope he wins. He's the only candidate I feel understands the needs of the middle and lower class as well as rural America. Basically if he can continue to say he feels that this country is pandering too much to corporate interests, then he has and will always have my vote.