a national new year's resolution: impeachment by the Ides

The single most important issue in the 2008 campaign for the presidency is that of executive power. I am not intending hyperbole, here. The current executive administration has aggrandized a whole raft of illegal, anticonstitutional powers to itself which must be officially and legally repudiated before they're passed on to the next president.

The Boston Globe submitted a questionnaire on this issue to the current slate of candidates in both parties, and here are the answers they submitted. For the most part, especially on the Democratic side, the candidates reject the blatantly anticonstitutional and tyrannical behavior of the current executive administration. Mitt Romney provides some horrifying answers and has, as of now, alerted us to the fact that a Romney administration would alter the presidency even further and twist it ever closer to outright monarchy.

It's a good thing that these questions have been presented to the candidates, but a soundbite answer during campaign season is hardly enough to ensure the continuation of our nominally republican form of government. Two things are required: a detailed and extensive list of the current administration's violations of the Constitution and a definitive declaration that these assumed powers are now and forever unacceptable.

The best way I can think of to achieve these goals is the impeachment of (ideally) both the president and the vice president. Constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein summarizes the various reasons why impeachment is both necessary and proper in this article from October of 2006, which I strongly suggest you read. Short of impeachment, I can think of nothing that will create the necessary legal precedent to outlaw the egregious expansion of executive authority we've seen in the last eight years, and which Dick Cheney has spent most of his political career attempting to achieve.

The stumbling block now is political will in Congress. Despite the garish obviousness of the executive branch's anticonstitutional behavior, there is no serious impeachment movement in Congress. It may be unpleasant, but it is the Constitutional duty of the Congress to check the power of the executive branch even if that means accusing a sitting administration of high crimes and misdemeanors and setting it on trial before the Senate. That this has not happened is especially baffling given the nearly unprecedented lack of approval the American public has shown for both the president and the vice president.

As such, I suggest that Congress choose March 15th, the Ides of March, to begin impeachment proceedings against both George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. Thankfully we have no need of daggers to rid ourselves of tyrants anymore (one hopes); the papercut suits us much better. Impeachment by the Ides! Start printing the posters now.


DDDP - Day 48, pgs. 459-678 FINIS

DDDP - Day 48, pgs. 459-678 FINIS

Well, that took longer than I expected. I only averaged 15.29 pages/day given my occasional brief hiatuses. Hiati? Breaks.


During a mild griping session about Demons recently, I was gently reminded that a novel is not a film. This remark, while somewhat insulting (literary criticism majors... what else could one expect?), is nevertheless true and criticism of Demons must be relevant to the idiom. However, basic tenets of storytelling have applied since at least Aristotle's time and never mind that there are scores of people who've built academic and artistic careers around flaunting every one of these rules.

But was Dostoevsky's aim with Demons to be a storyteller? In short, did he intend to entertain? I can't think that he did, at least in the overall sense. Portions of the book are, in fact, entertaining. I quite enjoyed the Pyotr Stepanovich character's manipulations, rabble-rousing and general skulduggery. The high school age kids in the political club made me laugh a couple of times with their rhetoric and head-butting. Fedka the Convict was well-written and perhaps the most distinctive character of them all. The latter portion of Book III is actually paced quite briskly and the scenes of mayhem are vivid and engaging. I found Kirillov's suicide, and the scene immediately preceeding, quite riveting.

The characters feel flat because they aren't characters; they're Dostoevsky's embodiment of various ideas he wishes to explore. This can work, if the ideas are themselves interesting. But here is the great flaw in the novel: they aren't. What we're given are caricatures of extremist (and, in the case of Pyotr Stepanovich, entirely hypocritical) thought. Extremism tends to parody itself, of course, so perhaps Fyodor can't be entirely blamed for that. But one of my cardinal rules of fiction is that that which is true is not automatically interesting, hence the craft required to produce a novel/film/poem/etc. which really grabs an audience.

The ideas are uninteresting because they're facile and clichéd. I'm saying this with the benefit (or detriment, I suppose) of exposure to over 140 years of post-Demons writing in which many of these same themes and ideas have been explored, so I am, of course, both jaded and biased. But what really galls me is that Dostoevsky knew people like those he skewers here. He was part of leftist political groups. He was sent to Siberia for political crimes! And while he succeeds admirably in poking fun at and satirizing his former comrades his desire to point out the evil of their ideas devolves them all into shadow puppets. Why couldn't we have an honest look at real people who maybe believe certain things along these lines? Why couldn't we live with them and discover why they felt this way, how they can be easily corrupted by power-seeking megalomaniacs? No, instead, let's have a ponderous thesis on how the abandonment of God creates misery.

Another stumbling block is nothing lesser or greater than time itself. Dostoevsky spends a huge amount of Demons parodizing the works of his contemporaries and even with all the footnotes the value of this is simply lost on those many of us who aren't deeply familiar with nineteenth century Russian literature. Perhaps Dostoevsky's original audience could be expected to point at a passage and exclaim "OH SNAP, TURGENEV!" (or whatever the equivalent may have been), but it's all lost on me.

In summary, Demons is not a bad book. There's quite a lot of beautiful writing in it, for one thing. But it's deeply flawed to my eye. I would be very interested in hearing the perspective of an academic who holds this book up to be a great example of literature and hear what they think is so important about it. I, in my ignorance, can't simply claim there's nothing to it... but I am moved to ask what "it" may be.


intertubes championship online edition 4: mystical crystal arena

I've recently returned from a Thanksgiving holiday excursion to Annandale, VA, where production work continued on the Everything, Kansas documentary. The footage looks pretty great and our hosts were excellent interview subjects so my pleasure with the progress of the project continues to grow.

Seize Them! is scheduled to start recording drums for our upcoming EP this weekend. We'll be traveling out to Rene's stepfather's house in wildest New Jersey and transforming the drum room there into a recording studio. We hope to get three to five drum tracks laid down and then we'll take it from there. Exciting! I can't wait to have some decent-sounding recordings.

To support this project I bought myself an inexpensive large-diaphragm condenser microphone (the MXL V63M) primarily for vocal recording, but it's also useful for guitars both acoustic and electric. I've really only tested it to make sure it survived shipping, but I hope to actually record something with it in the next day or two. My fantasy is to start a Demo-A-Day project in which I come up with at least one part of a new song every day... this is not likely to happen, but we'll see. Last night I wrote a pretty fun soul-style bassline that may become something bigger.

R.U. Sirius is proposing the creation of an Open Source political party organized around antiauthoritarian lines. Looks fairly interesting and I'll be curious to see how it develops. Will they address the obsolescence of the nation-state?

The WGA strike is still on, and more power to them. Their demands are entirely reasonable (how shocking that a content creator should be paid when a parent company uses that content to sell advertising!), though it's a little ironic to me that the state of labor unions in this country has collapsed so completely that the only unions left with any real power are those populated by sports stars and creative brainworkers. Here's hoping, however, that my below-the-line friends out there aren't losing too much work over this.

If you're interested in one of the most ridiculous "linking policies" I've ever seen, head on over to the relevant page on the Vancouver 2010 Olympics site. I'm pretty sure absolutely zero of this is even vaguely legally enforceable, and my favorite part I will excerpt here (thereby violating their rule about not reposting any material they don't provide as part of their RSS feed! OH NOES!): "The posting or creation of any link to the VANOC Website signifies that you have read this Linking Policy and agree to abide by the terms and conditions contained herein." Wow! So any of us can "agree" to a laughably overbroad policy without even knowing what that policy is! Nice try, VANOC intellectual property lawyers. Next time why not stick with a nice, simple instruction that VANOC trademarks are not to be used without permission? Easier to not look like a total idiot that way.

DDDP - Day 29, pgs. 257-458 + 682-714

DDDP - Day 29, pgs. 257-458 + 682-714
Finally made my way to the end of Part 2. The extra pages noted in the title comprise the Appendix which was, according to the foreword, originally intended to be the last chapter of Part 2. Having read it, I'm fairly amazed that it wasn't kept in the original printing.

Part 2 is a large step up from Part 1 in sheer entertainment value, though some may consider that to be damning with faint praise. The game is afoot, as it were, with plots and manipulations forming. The focus shifts to Pyotr Stepanovich Verkhovensky and Nikolai Vsevolodovich Stavrogin (the fact that I could type those names without referring to the text is indicative of how frequently they come up within it), and theirs is an interesting relationship that seems to be half antagonism and half comradeship. Stepan himself has receded almost entirely to the background following a brief scene with Varvara Petrovna and she, too, has been silent for some time now.

The highlight for me, personally, was chapter 7, titled "With Our People", in which Nikolai and Pyotr attend a meeting of the local revolutionaries. From my limited experience with left-leaning activist groups it was spot on in lampooning the general sense of passion and lefter-than-thou sniping which prevails. That Dostoevsky was prescient of murderous "socialist" tyrants like Stalin, Mao and others with his character of Shigalyov was interesting to me. The revelation which follows soon after that Pyotr is in no way a socialist but rather a bloodthirsty seeker after power leads me to believe that ol' Fyodor had probably encountered a few people just like him in his day. While Demons is supposedly a condemnation of revolutionary thought, it so far seems that what he is damning is the tendency for authoritarians to adopt any guise or superficial ideology necessary in order to conquer their fellow men.

Especially intriguing to me was the mention of Proudhon by the unnamed lame teacher present at the gathering who suggests that the "despotic and fantastic pre-resolutions of the problem" ('the problem' being what to do with the hopelessly irredeemable masses... Shigalyov suggests slavery while others suggest wholesale slaughter) that Shigalyov suggests are shared by Proudhon. Proudhon was one of the early anarchist writers and the theorist who split the International Working Men's Association between his ideas and those of Karl Marx primarily over the problem of the source of revolution. Marx expected a revolution of the working class to be led by the intelligentsia, academics, and other middle-to-upper-class (and maybe beyond) socialists while Proudhon believed firmly that only the working class could lead itself in rebellion (unless I'm conflating my memories of his writing with those of Bakunin... they were similar, regardless). He also believed in peaceful revolution, which is what raised my eyebrow relative to his theoretical association with Shigalyov. For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, I highly recommend reading Proudhon as he was among the original proponents and theoreticians of anarchism and the basic ideas and concepts have yet, I believe, to be better distilled and described.

Finally, the appendix. The missing last chapter. I said I was amazed that it had been left out of the original printing, and I certainly am. That chapter goes a long way to filling in pretty much every gap there is in the picture of Nikolai Stavrogin's character and I'm curious to see what might be revealed in Part 3 that made the publisher feel it was unnecessary.



DDDP - Day 13, pgs. 125-256

DDDP - Day 13, pgs. 125-256

No, I didn't read all those pages in one day. 19.6 pages/day isn't a great average but, as we keep telling ourselves, it's not a competition.

The book has gotten MUCH more interesting now that Part 1 is over. Part 2 immediately thrusts us into the plotting and scheming of the two sons, Nikolai Vsevolodovich Stavrogin and Pyotr Stepanovich Verkhovensky. Uneasy alliances seem to be the order of the day, with vague mentions of a "society" that's out to kill those who've left it and undisguised tension between supposed comrades. That people are being used, and using one another, is clear. Precisely to what ends we do not yet know, though the assumption is some sort of radical political upheaval. I'm interested to see how a supposedly socialist overthrow is going to be led by an upperclass serfmaster if it happens at all. Stavrogin's allegiances are merely hinted at thus far, or spoken about in a vague past tense, so it could go in several directions.

An excellent scene, I thought, between Shatov and Stavrogin with a heartbreaking portrayal of Shatov as a man who feels betrayed by his idol and mentor and yet cannot break from his devotion. It managed to be both expository and a character illustration, which is something of an accomplishment.

The main thing I'm curious about is whether and how the entirety of Part 1 will turn out to be necessary to the story. My assumption is that our future understanding of what's happening will turn on our detailed education in the fine complexities of our characters' social structure.


you kids turn that racket down!

photo by Ethan Beigel

We didn't go on until late, my friends. After 12:30AM sometime. I could barely hear my guitar, but the sound was pretty darned good out in the audience. Adam Fanning, the promoter and bartender, had to start asking us to turn down 'round about the time we started up Drinking Song which I found really distracting. Apparently some upstairs neighbor called to complain. I don't envy anyone who lives above a rock club.

One completely new song in the set, The Pixies' "Dig for Fire", and one resurrection of an old tune called Great Unknown. It's all available for download over on seizethem.com

If you're in NYC the weekend before Christmas, come down to R Bar on the Bowery for our show on December 22 at 7PM. Our first weekend gig!

Sorry for the break in Dostoevsky postings; the band stuff has put a brief crimp in my reading.


Dethpakt - Day 3 (pgs. 80-124)

DDDP Day 3, pps. 80-124

Finished Part 1, Chapter 3, which was primarily concerned with the social intrigue in Stepan's social circle; matchmaking, paranoia about past indiscretion and future infidelity. A new character, the engineer Alexei Nilych Kirillov, has appeared, and seems to be a potential source of disruption and upheaval. His theories about suicide appear to serve both as illustrative of his nihilism (Nilych... cute, no?) and possible foreshadowing either in literal terms or more metaphorically, in line with his assertion that to fearlessly commit suicide is to become God. Though, of course, he like Stepan claims to be athiest.

It's difficult at this point for me to imagine what relevance a lot of the events of this chapter may have to the story later on. Certainly there is a deepening of mistrust and ulterior motive between the various characters. Seeds are being planted which will surely produce discord among the ranks of either the political club or the town's aristocracy. Stepan is revealed to be even more ridiculous and contemptible than we've previously seen and it's clear that Anonymous Chronicler (though slightly less anonymous now) has no desire, in the future of his retelling, anyway, to present Stepan in any kind of sympathetic light. Stepan is at the mercy of his ego, still wishing to be seen as important, influential and dangerous, and is tortured by both unrequited love (in the form of the domineering Varvara) and inappropriate/impossible ardor (for his former student Praskovya Ivanovna Drozdov). Is it this latter infatuation with Praskovya that drives a wedge between Stepan and the AC? AC has revealed his desire to be "introduced" to Praskovya, even though he realizes an actual pairing with her is impossible.

Anyway, I'm hoping that Dostoevsky will soon move on from putting the pieces on the board and begin the actual game. Then again, we're still in the first act and perhaps the slow build of anticipation is entirely what Fyodor is intending to achieve here.


Dethpakt - Day 1 (pgs. 1-79)

DDDP Day 1, pgs. 1 - 79

It often takes me a while to adjust to the pace of storytelling in literature of the 19th century (am I falsely implying that I read a lot of it?). My attention wandered quite a bit during most of the first chapter of Part 1. Some of this I blame on my modern reading habits of riding the subway and listening to music, but even when I was holed up in the Quiet Reading Zone of my bedroom I had trouble focusing much until Chapter 2, wherein we get beyond heavily footnoted scene-setting and enter the territory of sparsely-footnoted scene-setting.

Footnotes are a necessary evil, I suppose, when reading fiction from a time and place too distant for casual cultural references to survive the journey. But they still interrupt my rhythm and pull me out of the world Dostoevsky is painstakingly building.

We've spent a good deal of time so far getting to know who Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky is through the eyes of the Anonymous Chronicler (acting as Stepan's confidant and our snoop) and while the inner character of Varvara Petrovna Stavrogin is still being revealed (or, rather, her machinations become more layered) we have certainly been drawn a detailed portrait of their relationship to each other. It is also clear, however, that this is going to continue to evolve.

As of now I'm theorizing that the Anonymous Chronicler is remaining as such out of fear of persecution for having been involved with the liberal Skvoreshniki political club, but it's hard to say anything definitive while we're still somewhere in the middle of Act 1. AC certainly has a bemused contempt for Stepan, Varvara and the club members and I'm curious to see how that may have developed.

It's unlikely I'll get to post tomorrow about my further reading due to my attendance at a Rock & Roll performance in the evening-time.


Dostoevsky's "Demons" Dethpakt - The Beginning

DDDP Day -1, Page 0
My interfriends and I like to fancy ourselves literary types, so on occasion we challenge one another to read a classic, "difficult" work of literature. Last time around, about six months ago, it was Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. I opted out of that particular dethpakt since I had A: already read the book and B: just begun reading Pynchon's later novel Mason & Dixon. If I recall correctly, the GRDP, as it was known, saw a completion rate under 50%.

"What will we read next?" came the query several days ago. Things were suggested, James Joyce rejected. Then Ellen, our resident Library Scientist, submitted Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel Demons for consideration and lo, agreements were made. The pakt begins November 1.

The basic rules are: read the book or die in the attempt, and write about your progress somewhere on the interblog. The idea is to finish within a month, but as there is no system of enforcement beyond ridicule and no prize to be had other than satisfaction and cultural stimulation (and perhaps some feelings of superiority), well, just read the thing. If you want. Or don't. Or DIE.

I'll be posting regular updates on my progress-thus-far and thoughts about the book here in this very space. These and other dethpakters' musings are being aggregated at dethpakt.bangmoney.org for convenience and posterity.

DDDP Day 0, pgs. vii-xxvii
On my commute today I thought I'd get somewhat acquainted with the book by reading the foreword and translator's note. The edition I'm reading is the Vintage Classics pressing from 1995, translated by husband and wife team Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, which is widely considered to be the authoritative version.

In the foreword Pevear provides a rough outline of the novel, summarizes the themes involved, draws brief sketches of the main characters and ruminates on the meaning of the title (which had originally been translated as The Possessed... in fact, the Wikipedia entry for Demons is still filed under this title). Pevear explains that the eponymous demons are the "foreign ideas" of liberalism, socialism, nihilism, anarchism, existentialism, etc., that have possessed the revolutionary characters in the novel and driven them to commit terrible deeds against themselves and others. Dostoevsky, Pevear elucidates, was, by the time he wrote this novel, very much committed to the Slavophil way of thinking; that of respect for God (in the guise of the Russian Orthodox Church) and Mother Russia. This, despite (or because of) Dostoevsky's mock-execution and decade-long imprisonment at the will of the Tsar due to revolutionary activity in the 1840s.

Pevear seems himself convinced that these demons are responsible for many of the horrors of the twentieth century, laying, for example, the atrocities of Stalin at the feet of Communist ideology rather than the despotism of Stalin's regime (perhaps the two are inseparable in his mind... one wonders if he blames the current atrocities in Iraq on Capitalism, or the current regime in Washington, D.C.). Whether these are his actual opinions or merely his defense of Dostoevsky is not clear to me at this time. As someone with sympathy to the "radical left" mode of thought I'm curious to see what I think of Dostoevsky's take on the virulence of these particular memes.

Onward, my droogs.


doodily ding dong DETHKLOK

So guess what? Brendon Small (along with Mike Keneally, Bryan Beller & Gene Hoglan) is TAKING DETHKLOK ON TOUR.
Unfortunately for me they're not playing New York. But here's where they are playing:

10/29 Albuquerque (UNM)
10/31 Las Vegas (UNLV)
11/1 Los Angeles (UCLA)
11/2 Berkeley, CA (UC Berkeley)
11/5 Fort Collins, CO (CSU)
11/7 Minneapolis (U Minneapolis)
11/8 Vermillion, SD (USD)
11/11 Boulder, CO (UC Boulder)
11/13 Carbondale, IL
11/14 Madison, WI (UW)
11/17 Lawrence, KS (KU)
11/18 Chicago (Northwestern)

It looks like all of these shows are free (gratis) "students only" gigs at various universities. But here's hoping there's more to come. Further info (a little) on the Adult Swim Presents site and Mike Keneally's website.


the days are just packed

When Halloween falls on a Wednesday, the Saturday beforehand is generally pressed into service as Party Day and, of course, everyone you probably know is hosting something different since all time is quickly becoming a simultaneity. So what's going on down in New York?

Well, first of all, there's a non-Halloween event those of you who are into this "music" thing should check out: the Laura Thomas Band is playing at the slick new venue R Bar on Thursday the 25th at 9PM. In addition to LTB, your $10 buys you the rock stylings of four other bands, and the show kicks off at 7. Lee Sobel of Lo-Fi Entertainment is handling the booking at R Bar these days, so you can be pretty sure you'll have a grand ol' time.

Saturday night hosts two parties in particular that I feel moved to hype at you.

Midnight Kitchen is throwing their benefit for the Surfrider Foundation, the Psycho Beach Blowout, at Southpaw in Brooklyn. The theme is rockabilly surf-horror burlesque, and advance tickets ($15) buy you admission to an unbeatable lineup of entertainment featuring Detroit Cobras, Sasquatch and the Sickabillys, The Tarantinos and modern burlesque legend Angie Pontani! Wear a costume, unless you're too cool for that kind of thing. For my part, I'm providing the video backdrops for the event so you'd better believe I'll be there.

Deli Magazine, Tekserve and the excellent Bella Noir are hosting a Halloween party at The Delancey. They've got four bands lined up, in addition to themselves (Morning Theft, Seasick, Champollion and Femme Generation[all the way from TEH CANADIA]), as well as DJ Nora K. Wear a costume, they've got $3 PBRs all night (free from 11 to midnight), and it's $7 to get in.



get back

Well! I survived the trip to Portland, and it was an excellent time. Thanks to the denizens of the Saluthaus for their extreme hospitality, and ditto to Ariel Marsh and Peter.

Jeff and I shot a bunch of great footage for the documentary, which, it appears, may now have the working title of Everything, Kansas. I'm really happy with how things are shaping up, and the overall themes are really coming out in the interviews. Next up is a trip down to Virginia for Thanksgiving to continue the process.

Seize Them!'s show at The Underscore last week went fairly well... other than poor René being forced to crawl his car into the city for 2.5 hours due to a rainstorm and then the both of us forgetting his cymbal bag at home. Thankfully, the band who played before us was kind enough to lend their cymbals for our show. 50% of the other bands scheduled to play cancelled, and there was very nearly zero audience other than the bartender, the sound guy, two dudes from the earlier band and a couple of our die-hard hangers-on. Tough room. But we played it. The show is available for free download, as usual, from seizethem.com. Click the picture to take you directly to the relevant part of the site:
Next up, Seize Them! rocks The Lucky Cat in Williamsburg on Nov. 7 along with Don Red and The Affected Affections.
Additionally, I've created a profile on ReverbNation for Seize Them!, so you can enjoy even more ST! presence by checking us out here.

I've submitted the paperwork to New York State to create High Water Media, LLC, which will be the business entity overseeing most of my creative output from here on out. A long life to High Water Media! Check in with the blog over there for occasional updates on what High Water is up to.



According to Steve Hyden of The Onion, our current cover-song-of-choice, CCR's "Ramble Tamble", is The Most Rockin' Song of All Time. Who knew we had such good taste?

Oh right... we did.

You can, of course, hear several versions of it if you download our free shows from seizethem.com.

Greetings, by the way, from lovely Portland, OR, where Jeff and I are continuing work on our documentary film project.


Seize Them! 9.8.07 free download available

Seize Them! 9/8/07

Seize Them!'s 9.8.07 show from our house party is now available for free download in .mp3 and FLAC formats from seizethem.com. Share and enjoy.

This show was a lot of fun and I think we rocked it, some sloppiness aside. And I broke my D string about a minute and a half into Ramble Tamble, so the rest of the song has a bit of a noisy vibe which fits in perfectly with the audible shout of "Sonic Youth didn't need to tune!" provided by my friend-in-the-audience Zach.


i do good work

Last week I completed work on Carolyn Sills' (of Boss Tweed fame) video entry for Showtime's Homegrown Humor contest. I give you Little Brooklyn Country Boxes for your enjoyment:

PLEASE go check it out on its page on the Homegrown Humor site, and leave us supportive comments and a high rating. It doesn't make a difference in the actual contest, but it sure feels good.

Supposedly the semifinalists are chosen today. I'm trying to not care too much.

And guess what? ANOTHER of my travel photos has been picked up by Schmap for one of their travel guides. Budapest, this time, and the photo actually has me in it!
Statue Park 2
I should mention that this photo was actually taken by my good friend Cristian Villalobos.
And here it is, in situ, on Schmap's site. It's easy to be popular when you work for free!

televisual interWOW

Something like that.
The Emmy Awards were aired last night. I think I was most amused by Fox's "dump sphere"... the awkward cutaway of a black globe hanging above the audience that they used whenever they needed to dump what was being said on stage. Sure, they COULD have used a simple shot of the audience but why not make it incredibly obvious that you're censoring your broadcast? Now we'll never know what joke Ray Romano made about Kelsey Grammer and/or his new show, or what the end of Sally Field's sentence was after she started making an antiwar statement or... I think there was at least one more dump but I can't recall what it was. Anyway, nice one, Fox. Did you stick the intern on the censoring duty or something?

But seriously, folks: congratulations to the winners. First and foremost, congratulations to my friend Glenn Clements for his part in bringing home an Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series Emmy for The Daily Show, and also to my ex-professor Sam Pollard for his Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming award (shared with Geeta Gandbhir and Nancy Novack), and his Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking award, both for When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.

I was happy to see 30 Rock take home the award for Outstanding Comedy Series, which it deserved, and I doubt that happens to a series in its first season very often. Al Gore now has an Emmy, too, for his work with Current TV. It's nice to see the Emmys pay some respect to internet-based video entertainment but, honestly, I don't know anyone watching or using Current.

I'm sure it'll shock most of you to know that I'm more interested in the less glamorous awards won by the crews of these programs. Rome, one of my favorite recent programs, won a cinematography award as well as art direction and hair styling. Congrats to David Rogers and Dean Holland for their well-deserved editing award for their work on The Office. I'd congratulate Elena Maganini on her editing win for Dexter, but I haven't gotten around to watching the series yet.

Finally, the last words I ever have to say about Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. I received some snarky comments a while back claiming that Studio 60... MUST be a good show because the pilot episode won some Canadian TV award. I disagreed, of course. That commenter must take some pleasure in the fact that the show was nominated for a few Emmys: Outstanding Casting For A Drama Series, Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-camera Series, Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series, and Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series (twice, and John Goodman won, kudos to him). I can't argue with the cinematography nod, as the level of craft was certainly exceptional there. The directing nod was for the pilot, again. The pilot of that series was undoubtedly its best episode, and congratulations to Thomas Schlamme, but the pilot is not a series and the series was crap. As far as the one award the show did win... well, what does it say about a series that gained its highest recognition for a guest appearance by a respected actor?

Thus endeth my Emmy-related logorrhea.


i'll sleep someday

The good people at Schmap have decided to include another one of my photos in their Schmap Guides. This time it's the Prague Schmap, and they've used this picture of St. Vitus Cathedral:
St. Vitus Cathedral 2
Here it is, incorporated into the actual guide.

Saturday night we had one of our three-floor parties at the house, and it went quite well. DJ Porkcube opened the festivities with a two-hour-long set of booty-shakers (which you, lucky dog, can download and enjoy), then Mindspray set up in the top-floor apartment and rocked the hip and the hop for a while to the enjoyment of many. Our ex-roommate Josh, who was tragically killed by a hit and run driver a couple of years ago, used to be part of Mindspray so it was cool to have them in the house, as it were, again. Seize Them! also has a song about Josh, so there was an interesting synchronicity there.

Speaking of the band, we rocked it hard. I think we played really well, and I'm bummed that my carefully-set up recording system crapped out on me about thirty seconds into the first song. Worked fine during rehearsal, so I'm doubly annoyed. But the people who could stand to be in the basement while we played seemed to enjoy themselves, and we got a lot of good compliments. We tried out a new song which doesn't have any lyrics yet but certainly will by the time we play The Underscore next month.

No pictures from the party have come into my possession as yet.

Naomi Klein and Alfonso Cuaron have teamed up for a short film to promote Klein's new book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. The basic thesis, as expressed in the short embedded below, seems to be that there is a parallel between the methods used by interrogators to shock prisoners into childlike states and corporatist exploitation of crisis to gain popular acceptance for Milton Friedman-style capitalist "reforms". You may or may not enjoy the book, but this short is great:


my, the world certainly is full of things!

Producer-in-extraordinary Degoao (also of OUCH fame) hosted a dee-lightful event at The Lucky Cat in Williamsburg last night.
DJ Porkcube @ The Lucky Cat
DJ Porkcube started it all off with a set full of frenchy electro beats which, had a critical mass of people been achieved, would certainly have had everybody grooving.
Don Red @ The Lucky Cat
Don Red got up on stage next to treat us with a rare solo acoustic set of old favorites backed by new Donner-produced rhythm tracks (featuring jm). A priceless moment when a girl emerged from the bathroom, having missed Don's intro to the next song, and turned around in surprise to gawp at the stage when the first lyric, "I want to fuck you 'til you die", roared from the PA. Don, as he reminded us, is not afraid to swear in song titles.

And then there's Ronald Jenkees and his squinty style. There's not much I can say about him that isn't said by the following youtube clip, so I'll leave it at that other than thanking the folks at BoingBoing for pointing him out.

Hey, guess what! In the late fifties the US Air Force was funding probably-highly-unethical and distasteful research into torture! What a SURPRISE! Anyway, here's a link to a never-reprinted but widely cited book outlining the results of said research titled The Manipulation of Human Behavior. Sorry that it's formatted as an html file for some inexplicable reason, but that's how I received it and that is how I pass it along to you. Enjoy? GET SOME (Torture Manual)


nobody understands the Irish quite like the Japanese

It's been a big couple of weeks here in Infidelia.

Last weekend my creative partner Jeff and I went down to Cary, North Carolina to shoot more footage for our feature documentary project. Our hosts/subjects were Will and Leah Woods, many thanks to them, and we shot about 7.5 hours (times two cameras) of coverage. On the pile it goes with the Tedd and Christa material from February and May. Next up is Columbus Day in Portland, Oregon, and it should be great.

While we were gone the Seize Them! stickers arrived. They look like this:

Seize Them! sticker

The good people at High Water Media have already begun strategically placing the Seize Them! sigil all over town. For example:

Vehicles Will Be Impounded

The stickers will be on sale at shows for $1, but I imagine we'll give away or stick up far more than we'll ever sell.

Speaking of the band, Seize Them! will be rockin' a house party at The Jam Factory (aka home) on September 8. Short notice, but we're hoping people turn up for a good time. Our upstairs neighbor Justin has been working on his VJing skills and said something about employing a distribution amplifier and a bunch of cable to spread his videoicty down to our floor.

For what it's worth (which is, apparently, a good deal to promoters), the band now has 1,502 "friends" on myspace (also 2110 "plays"... you have to listen to 1/4 of a track to have it counted as a "listen"). I've already been exposed to some rad Japanese bands like The Croagh Patrick (Dropkick Murphy's-like Irish rock with japanese lyrics), and Sitha (electro / new-wavey stuff). Invite us over for a tour, y'all!

This Wednesday the 5th the man that is the incredible Degoao is curating a booty-shaker at The Lucky Cat in Williamsburg featuring Don Red and DJ Porkcube. Recommended highly. By me.


8.15.07 debrief

ST! @ The Lucky Cat 8.15.07
thanks to ineveragreedtothat for the photo

It was a fun show at the Lucky Cat, though it felt a touch odd the whole way through. Huge difference in the sound of that club versus The Underscore. Fortunately, I could hear my vocals and Jeff's vocals fairly decently through a monitor, but I could barely hear my guitar at all. I'd kept it turned down slightly in the hope that the whole band wouldn't overwhelm the small brick room with unintelligible cacaphony, but I suppose I went too far. Rene couldn't hear the guitar at all, which actually helped him during our new song, Cleoporchcat, because he was able to concentrate entirely on Andy's bass.

On top of that, my guitar started cutting out during Liftoff and continued to give me problems through the end of the show. At the moment I'm blaming the cable... I hope it's not the amp again.

Overall I think we played decently. Not as well as at The Underscore, though. I'm not terribly happy with a couple of my solos and clammed chords, and I managed to sing the second verse of Boy twice somehow. Also missed the cue to go into my solo in Asteroids. But none of our individual problems threw us off in any significant way, which is a huge positive. The worst thing that can happen is that you get completely bent out of shape by some mistake and it becomes a downward spiral of bad.

About five people showed up of all those we invited, but there was a decent crowd of people affiliated with the bands after us who seemed to enjoy themselves.

I managed to completely forget to bring any guitar picks. Professional, yeah? Fortunately for me my very talented friend Laura from Bella Noir came to see us and happened to be carrying the exact pick that I use. Saved!

The show is available for download from seizethem.com, as usual.


fame, it's not your brain, it's just the flame

Basically everyone I ever knew is more famous than I am.
This has been a strange week for sudden blasts from my past.

First, my parents sent me a clipping from our hometown newspaper regarding Jenny Powers, star of stage and screen and former Miss Illinois. In addition to being caught up on her latest exploits, namely landing the role of Rizzo in the revival of Grease and having been in Chris Rock's movie I Think I Love My Wife, I discovered via the IMDb that she also had a bit part in the pseudo-exploitation B picture Sexina: Popstar P.I.... which starred my roommate Don Red's ex-girlfriend's older sister in the titular role.

Second, my old NYU schoolmate Nicholas Jarecki (brother of filmmakers Eugene and Andrew Jarecki) has exploded into prominence. In addition to his book Breaking In and his documentary about director James Toback called The Outsider, he's written the screenplay for and is executive producing the movie The Informers based on the novel of the same title by Bret Easton Ellis. This is just about as appropriate a pairing as can possibly be, by the way.

The third instance of this oddness is also a hometown connection. Another of my roommates, editor Tyler Peck, has been expounding to me about this short film he's been working on called MADE: I Wanna Be A Hipster (doesn't seem to have a website yet) for some time now. Today I received a flyer for it in my email and discovered, to my shock, that the movie had been written by none other than Faran Krentcil, associate of mine from my theater days. Faran, it appears, is the editor-in-chief of fashionista.com, contributor to Fashion Week Daily and is something of a name in the New York City fashion world.

These last two entries can be filed under synchronicity, as well, considering that I found out both of these things after finishing reading Bret Easton Ellis' novel Glamorama. Which, by the way, I cannot recommend.

So, yes, I'm feeling a touch inadequate with all of these acquaintances of mine having such success. And I haven't even mentioned my other Broadway-luminary friend from high school or the friend-since-I-was-nine personal assistant to Tim Robbins.

Yes, goddammit, I will namedrop. I WILL. What else can I console myself with?

By the way: I'm in production on a feature-length documentary, my band is totally awesome (and playing tonight at The Lucky Cat in Williamsburg), I'm creating the most beautiful travel photomemoir you've ever seen, and I edit music videos for reggaeton stars. ALL HAIL ME. I knew there was a reason I moved to this town.


paging Mr. Madison

I've recently taken to spouting at my Internet Friends that I feel the most important topic of debate for the vast armies of Presidential candidates is the aggrandizement of power by the Executive branch. The probability that the current Administration will hand the egregiously unconstitutional weapons it has created for itself down to whoever succeeds it should frighten all of us tremendously.

Fortunately, Bill Moyers recent journal is a discussion with constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein (a former member of the Reagan administration) and The Nation writer John Nichols concerning exactly what impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney would mean and why it is absolutely necessary.

PBS doesn't seem to have the episode available for viewing yet (check back later) but YouTube comes to the rescue. Here's the first part of the hour-long program.


En Que Fallamos

For your viewing pleasure, the tele-novelaesque music video I edited for Ivy Queen's latest single "En Que Fallamos". Reggaeton, but less so than my previous reggaeton video for Don Omar.

35mm film -> DigiBeta -> Quicktime (320x136 H.264 339kbps) -> flash-ized by whatever version of On2's Flash compression software YouTube is usuing


ooooooklahoma, and the wind

Some, most, or all of you may not know this (because I rarely think about it), but I have some roots in the state of Oklahoma. My maternal grandparents were from there, though they moved to California and raised my mother in Napa Valley.

Now I don't know much about Oklahoma. I've never been there, I've never met many of its citizens. But I do know that they've just created one of the most asinine goddamned things I've ever seen with my eyeballs, and it's this license plate:

First of all, the design is flat-out ridiculous with the faux-desert camo (hey! this Global War is going to be fought entirely in the desert, right?) and the incredibly shoddy clip-art eagle and inaccurate Twin Towers. Twin Towers, huh? Shouldn't that possibly be an image of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building? Must they appropriate a horrible event that happened in my city for their jingoistic idiocy? Maybe terrorism by white Christian people doesn't count in the Global War On A Tactic.

Which brings me to my second, more obvious point of ire: advertising the "Global War on Terror" with a license plate. What the hell is trying to be accomplished here? Do the trucks and SUVs of Oklahoma not already sport enough tacky, magnetic, Chinese-made ribbons "supporting" our troops? Are the faded US flag stickers proclaiming that These Colors Don't Run not making their owners feel sufficiently patriotic? Too embarrassed by their old War on Drugs plates?

Dear Oklahoma Tax Commission,
I realize you decided you could stand to make several bucks off of the fraction of your population that must constantly advertise their support of American imperial aggression, but not everything that can be done necessarily should be done. If these plates MUST exist, can we also get a plate featuring portraits of the major players in the Bush administration with the legend CRIMINALS printed below? It seems only fair.

Yours in slack-jawed horror,


I Heart Danger

Last night I went down to Bushwick (you could tell because of the guy's t-shirt that read KEEP WILLIAMSBURG OUT OF BUSHWICK... too late, man, too late) for a party at 3rd Ward Brooklyn called I Heart Danger. Good times.

On the ground floor, in the alley, they had a rotation of bands and DJs. The stage was topped with a fire installation which would pulse the height of the flames in time with the bass (when they could keep it lit), and the alley was packed with dancers. Video projection from one level up on the fire escape raked across the alley walls, terminating behind the stage, which created the effect of being in a video tunnel. Back toward the entrance, behind the bar, a guy was carving huge blocks of ice with an electric chainsaw and transforming them into sterno-can-bearing torches. There was a crew of people silkscreening shirts with both "I (heart) Danger" and designs of their own.


Up on the fourth floor, accessible via fire escape, was another bar. Also a geodesic dome housing more DJs. A chillout area near the back had a great view out the industrial loft windows, a teepee, video projection and giant foil-covered stackable stars to play with. The main attraction was the Portrait Party being run by Jeremy Nelson.

I spent a good long while watching him shoot portraits and his assistant project them on the wall. Can you find the one of me?

My guess is I'll be at the next party these folks throw.


7.21.07 aftermath


The show went really well. We arrived at the club around 7 to get set up and do a soundcheck. I had ample time to get the recording gear running and was lucky enough to get a feed out of the mixing board to augment the guitar, vocals and keyboard.

We went on at 8:30 (which, according to the club, is what "8:00" means to Lo-Fi Entertainment), and that was great because a few people didn't arrive until minutes before we started. Turnout was probably between ten and fifteen people... I didn't get an accurate count. The band scheduled to play after us cancelled, so we didn't get the influx of people we were hoping for that would have included the next band and their early-arrival audience members.

The sound system was pretty darned good, and Jeff and I could actually hear ourselves sing! Shocking idea, that. I occasionally couldn't hear my guitar terribly well which caused a couple of my dumb mistakes. But overall we were very happy with the sound. The sound guy took some significant liberties with adding extra reverb and delay to the guitars, vocals and keys whenever he deemed it appropriate. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, sometimes it took me by surprise and messed me up a bit.

The crowd, small though it was, seemed to really enjoy themselves and we got several specific and, to all accounts, sincere compliments on a few things.

Anyway, tons of fun, and here's hoping we pulled in enough people for Lo Fi Entertainment to want to book us again!

The show is available for download in both .mp3 and FLAC formats from seizethem.com.
The best way to get on our email list, if you want to be, is to register a username at seizethem.com.

PS: stickers coming soon.



Seize Them! @ The Underscore
7/21/07 8PM EDT
$8 with this flyer, $10 without

Take a break from reading Harry Potter to come rock with Seize Them! in Manhattan. This is our first club show, and we're hoping for a really good turnout so our booking agent will feel moved to grant us more gigs.

Audience taping encouraged.



my robot battles, let me show you them

Last night I went out to suburban New Jersey with some friends to see Transformers.

As a child I liked Transformers. I watched the cartoon and I had some of the toys (some of the ones with actual metal in them, dear readers). While I was never a superfan, I have an affection for them to this day. I, like many people, was excited to hear a couple of years ago that a live-action + CGI Transformers movie was in the works, and then immediately worried upon hearing it was to be directed by Michael Bay.

Bay has always been known for his slickly bombastic action style and scant attention to story and character. In other words, he's the modern era's quintessential summer event filmmaker. I've enjoyed some of his movies. The Rock is entertaining and as much as Armageddon is as over-the-top as possible in every single moment it does make me cry at the end. However, his more recent movies have been uniformly terrible. Pearl Harbor is one of the worst movies I've ever sat through in a theater, and as I've written about elsewhere I feel Bad Boys II is an insult to humanity. I've only seen The Island with the sound off on a tiny TV during a party, so I really can't comment.

What concerned me most about Bay directing Transformers, though, was what I saw during the car chases in Bad Boys II (and, to an extent, in every one of his movies, though the problem has gotten worse over time): his beloved style of hyperkinetic, vibrating, extreme closeup action is basically unintelligible. One of the car chases in Bad Boys II was easily the worst car chase I've ever seen, as it was completely impossible to tell who was where and just what the hell was going on. Cinematically, it was a complete mess and would have pulled me out of the movie entirely if the rest of the film hadn't already accomplished that. Suffice it to say that I was worried I would barely be able to enjoy the spectacle of giant robots battling each other because Bay simply, and ironically, has a terrible eye for action sequences.

So off to Jersey I went, with a friend who is a super Transformers fanatic. He is a nigh-professional collector of Tranformers toys, had just come back from a major Transformers convention, and has been diligently following every single tiny scrap of detail about the production of the movie for literally years. And the theater was filled with a bunch of excited Jerseyites, the type of mass audience this movie was made for. The type that spent several minutes before the movie talking smack to each other about their preferred cell phone, and the type that nearly came to blows over seat ownership once the movie had started. In other words, it was a perfect situation.

Transformers is, by and large, a lot of fun and very successful.

Shia LaBeouf is charismatic, relatable and engaging as Sam, whisking us through the early exposition breezily. I felt the story skipped a couple of character moments with Sam later on that I would have liked to have seen, but I guess that's to be expected. Megan Fox, playing Sam's love interest and partner-in-adventure, is... well, she's eye candy, really, but her acting was certainly not insufferable. Take that backhanded compliment as you will, I suppose.

The robots are incredible, which is no surprise. They're given characters largely similar to that of the original cartoon series; that is to say, they're sentient alien technological lifeforms with essentially human personalities. Their human-ness may or may not bother you if you are a sci-fi fan like I am, but, as with many things in this movie, it's essential to remember that Transformers is a "kids' movie" and that the source material (specifically the original cartoon) is certainly no more sensible or "realistic". Peter Cullen returns in fine form as Optimus Prime, and despite a few silly lines he manages to breathe real life into a 3D model.

My fears about incoherent action were mostly unwarranted, which was a welcome relief. The climactic battle in Los Angeles does suffer somewhat from Bay's style, however there are a few nice wide shots featuring several giant robots clearly battling each other in the street which blew my mind and made me want to see a movie that was almost entirely that. All you screenwriters with Mecha scripts in your back pocket, now's the time to put them in front of some Money People.

There are definitely things for purists to get upset about, and undoubtedly they will. This movie is not really for them. But I'm pretty sure that if I were ten years old or so and you plopped me in a theater and showed me Transformers, it might just change my life.


LTB video

Finally! The video I put together for the Laura Thomas Band is up on the Youtubes.

You can see them at the Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan this friday, June 29.


creatures of the deep

Yesterday (Saturday, June 23, 2007), I finally went to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. I managed to forget sunscreen on the back of my neck, so that's feeling pretty brutal at the moment.

But I did get a few good pictures.


eat it


Don Red is a culinary genius for inventing the following sandwich (hereby known as the Don Red):

  • Tuna
  • American Cheese
  • bacon

It also appears that I'm going to go see Moby's DJ set at Nublu on June 15th. Shut up, I have a good reason.


aaron, it's just not working out

NBC is in the process of dumping the remaining episodes of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip onto the air and cablewaves, and I couldn't help but look. It's like a car crash.

Studio 60... may have, with its most recent episode, ascended into the grand ranks of Worst Television Shows of All Time.

Let us recall that Studio 60... is ostensibly a show about what it means to make television in this, the first decade of the 21st Century. There's a lot to be said on this topic, and it seemed like excellent fodder for Aaron Sorkin's obsession with telling the stories of elite professionals at the top of their game. Unfortunately what this show became was a staggeringly clumsy monument to Aaron Sorkin's ego.

I have already covered, in previous posts, the descent of the show into inane soap opera built around characters we're given no reason to understand, empathize with or care about. This is largely due to Sorkin's cathartic fictionalization of his stormy relationship with Kristen Chenoweth (in the guise of Matt Albie and Harriet Hayes) while, one assumes, fantasizing about finding true love and fulfillment via the ludicrous schmaltz of the Danny Tripp + Jordan McDeere fiasco. This left turn into outrageous soap opera has been exceeded as a source of terribleness, however, by what I can only call the "oh, the Humanity!" factor.

Studio 60... has, in its desperate flailing, resorted to elevating every single major character on the show to the highest possible level of cosmic drama. Let's take a look at the various plot points on display in this past week's episode.

  • Tom Jeter (Nate Corrdry) has had his soldier brother kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Media has gone and effed everything up by revealing the hostage's connection to celebrity. The military dispatches two no-nonsense officers to visit Tom and "assess his level of trauma". Meanwhile, it turns out that the sexual harassment case lawyer who's been throwing herself at Matt happens to have shadowy connections to the paramilitary underworld and can dangle the carrot of ransoming Tom's brother in front of everyone.

  • Matt and Harriet are forced to relive their constant fighting about faith and reason by Tom's crisis, and we're treated to a "through the years" montage featuring highlights of their battle. This montage ends, with Matt pounding his fists on the desk, rocketing to his feet, slamming his chair back and shouting "we've been having this fight for two thousand years!!!" It might possibly have been the hammiest moment of Matthew Perry's life, the poor guy. And this on the heels of being forced to channel his real-life struggle with drug addiction into the incredibly simplistic and patronizing portrayal of Matt Albie swallowing "anything" he could get in order to keep writing the show. Because, you know, he's not going to make choices about what type of drug experience he wants to have, he's simply On The (ever unnamed) Drugs. Conveniently for us, the audience, Albie's assistant is keen to the signs of addiction that are completely invisible in Perry's performance because of her hypertragic past with her suicidal mother.

  • Meanwhile. Danny and Jordan are at the hospital, where they discover that the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby's neck and an emergency caesarian section must be performed. Danny proposes marriage. Yes, Sorkin has included a pregnancy, a pregnancy in danger AND a potential marriage all in the first season. And what's worse is that he believes he can get away with this pile of horrible television cliches (as in previous episodes) by merely commenting on the fact that he is employing terrible television cliches. This is some of the laziest, most asinine writing I have seen on TV in years and Sorkin really, truly expects to get away with it.

To recap: we have staggering family tragedy, earth-shattering international incidents, The Great Debate impeding True Love, pregnancy, endangered pregnancy and a marriage proposal all in one episode. What really galls me to the core is Sorkin's apparent belief that he's earned the dramatic right to impose these monumentally huge stakes onto every character. Characters, mind you, that he has largely failed to make us care about at all.

Why can't we explore what we were promised, namely the thorny realities of making television in the modern age? Why must we instead be presented with some of the most over-the-top inanity this side of a Tom Clancy novel? Aaron Sorkin, why are you such a dick? Seriously... when did you decide to flip this series into a tribute to yourself? Your cosmic relationship woes, your supposed ability to employ classic television cliches, your reknown for tackling The Big Issues, the sweeping, unnecessary and ridiculous SCALE of it all.

Take some time off, Aaron. Maybe spend a while on the Internet, that medium you go to such lengths to minimize and deprecate and ignore. Deflate yourself, maybe take a vacation. Mull on this spectacular failure of a television series, and maybe in five to ten years you can come back and create a show about a man who was so good at his job that nobody ever understood him. That poor genius bastard.



It's taken me a long while to pin down my off-putness at the popularity of The Secret. On the face of it, the mere fact that it's facile, bland pop-metaphysics pushed at frustrated middle class strivers by Oprah should be enough for me to want nothing to do with it, but I still couldn't quite decide what made it so objectionable.

Now, before you write me off as a curmudgeonly empiricist who enjoys telling small children that Santa Claus is merely a symbol, I will declare that I have hoodooish leanings of my own. I do believe that human consciousness is intertwined with the greater universe beyond our bodies in ways that we're only beginning to understand, for example. I find a lot of resonance and verisimilitude in many of the ideas of Taoism and Zen practice (I only wish I had the discipline for that practice). So, in sum, I am loathe to simply write off the idea that one's mental state affects the greater world around them.

However, in my estimation the ultimate point of any spiritual practice is to further empathy and identification with one's fellow human beings. The impression I get from The Secret, however, is more of an "every man for himself" sort of vibe. If your situation is less than optimal, it seems to be suggesting, well it's all your fault. Dare I say this smacks of (shudder) "conservatism"?

Author Daniel Pinchbeck seems to have cut to the heart of the matter in a way that was heretofore unclear to me, and therefore I will quote him. (the entire article can be found here)

From this perspective, the individual's psychic state determines his or her physical reality, and the occult laws of attraction can be utilized to increase one's bank account or sexual magnetism. If you haven't cashed out, it is because you are not using your psychic powers at their maximum rate. If other people aren't getting their's yet, it's not your problem, but their bad karma. This is a metaphysics suited to the narcissism of the baby boomers and the "Me Generation," whose lifestyles have denuded the planet's rainforests and ripped big holes in the ozone layer. bold added by me for emphasis

So yes, people of my parents' generation, this taps into my low-level ire at you: those who utterly failed to prevent the various potential environmental and political catastrophes everybody with a brain has seen coming for decades. Could we expect anything other than The Secret and its pseudophilosophy-for-profit ilk?

My friend Rebecca was kind enough to point out that my germ of a thought here has been better elucidated by finer writers than I. There's an excellent Salon.com article about the insidiousness of The Secret here.

Here at the end, though, I suppose I must turn toward positivity. Perhaps exposure to The Secret will inspire Joe and Jane Suburb to explore their own minds and know themselves better than they would have otherwise. Perhaps an orgy of "enlightened" self interest will bring peace and prosperity to the globe. Perhaps David Byrne said it best:

He would see faces in movies, on t.v., in magazines, and in books. He thought that some of these faces might be right for him. And through the years, by keeing an ideal facial structure fixed in his mind... or somewhere in the back of his mind... that he might, by force of will, cause his face to approach those of his ideal.


the internet is silly

LOLcats, I believe, won out over other possible LOL(variable) options because the internet is 90% cats already. Also, for an inhuman killing machine, a cat's got a good personality.

What other things might the Internet also enjoy anthropomorphizing?

I believe this was done by Jeph Jacques; correct me if I'm wrong, won't you?


projects are happening

Saturn V

Over the weekend of the 18th I flew down to Florida to shoot wedding footage for the documentary project. It went quite well and we should be able to give Tedd and Christa an excellent wedding video as both a present and a "thank you for participating" gift. On our way out of the state we made a detour by Kennedy Space Center, to enjoy their tourist-related activities, which was quite a lot of fun. We did learn, however, that rocket scientists can't spell.

In The Studio 3

Seize Them! went into the recording studio yesterday to begin laying down tracks for a demo / album. This is something we've been looking forward to doing for quite some time. Unfortunately, due to the idiosyncratic way the studio was set up by its designers, we weren't really able to get anything done. After spending over four and a half hours attempting to do extremely exotic things like "getting sound in the headphones" we had time to record two takes of "Let Me Be Your Boy" before we had to start packing up. It was, in a word, frustrating, but it was also a great example of the Quality Triangle.

The Quality Triangle has you use Fast, Cheap and Good as the vertices and then says you are allowed any two at a given time.


retraction correction amendment

The situation has evolved, and it appears that my claim stated during the Seize Them! show on 5.12.07 (which you can download in .mp3 and/or FLAC format from here) that James Doohan's ashes were lost in the New Mexico desert is no longer true.

I know you were all very concerned.


let me explain something to you

©Leah Riley

When Leah starts selling things, you will buy them.


rock n' roll debriefing

Andy and Keith

Seize Them! successfully rocked their first "public" show at the Last Resort Art Space on May 12. It was an interesting time, if I do say so myself.

Photos from the event, taken by Spencer Gordon (who just happened to be there and was kind enough to employ my camera) are viewable on flickr.

If you're curious, and/or a die-hard Seize Them! fan, you can download an audience recording of the show from seizethem.com. We've got an MP3 version and a FLAC version for you audiophiles.

Performancewise we were solidly high-energy and entertaining but definitely sloppy, at least in comparison to how tight we've recently been in rehearsal. I chalk this up to the accumulation of many little details that conspired to place us, or remind us of our place, outside our comfort zone.

Immediately after our cursory soundcheck we began to play. I forgot to actually insert my earplugs, which dangled around my neck for the whole show instead. Because of that my guitar seemed extremely loud to me, which made me self-conscious. I clammed quite a few chords and notes throughout the evening but all of us in the band agree that it was a really positive thing that nobody's mistakes threw anyone else off or caused the person in question to spiral downward into a shame-based disaster.

The event was... odd. It was billed as a barbecue but failed to be billed as a DIY barbecue with grills that may or may not actually be properly coaled and capable of grilling food. Even with the extremely low attendance (in fact, absolutely none of the people I invited came to the show, aside from a very recent acquaintance who brought several friends) the beer ran out practically immediately and over half the party had to leave to go buy beer. That puts a bit of a crimp in the party flow, I'd say. DJ Porkcube did his best to keep the party live but was hindered by band scheduling and clumsiness with the PA.

A representative of Iraq Veterans Against the War had an info table set up, which was great, but then got up to make a speech promoting his cause, and for some reason chose to connect with his audience by flatly insulting them outright and inspiring most of them to temporarily leave in search of beer or less hostile vibes*. I'm completely in favor of connecting political activity to these kinds of shows and parties but I just don't understand what's to be gained by aggressively antagonizing the very people you're theoretically trying to sway.

As we came back to Last Resort to finish packing up our gear we were told that the cops had arrived during our absence to shut the party down, claiming they'd seen the fliers advertising the show, but unfortunately for them the whole event was over by the time they arrived. A party isn't really a party unless the cops show up; that's what I say.

*If I recall correctly he chastised the crowd for failing to mosh during Stuedabaker Brown's set... SB is a midtempo pop-rock band that doesn't exactly inspire moshing most of the time... and then proceeded to call the crowd "vapid". Smart move, there.


oh how I hope

Chris Onstad, creator of the Achewood (the world's greatest comic strip) said the following in a recent interview:

"Today I was working on a screenplay. You know, where Ray and Roast Beef went down and fought in the Great Outdoor Fight. We’ve got a couple studios interested in the script, so we’re trying to finish that up and get it sold."

ACHEWOOD MOVIE, Y'ALL. Oh man... attention all producer types - FUND THIS FILM. It goes without saying that I, of course, should be hired to edit it. Is there a film editor out there who loves Achewood more than me? The answer is clearly no.


seizethem.com ARE GO

Subject / verb agreement PSHAW.

But yes, the new and improved seizethem.com is live and ready to serve you.

I'd wanted to have some brand new, spiffy-sounding demos finished for the site launch but, y'know, I've only found so much time to get things done.



With all this hullabaloo about the revelation of one of the AACS keys I thought I'd contribute my own anecdote illustrating the hilarious futility of and aggrivation caused by DRM schemes.

I recently bought a new DVD player, one that has an HDMI port to connect to a fancy digital monitor and can upscale standard def DVDs so they don't look as crappy in high def. Now, I do not yet own a high definition television and instead use a widescreen Dell computer monitor with a wide variety of inputs. Along with the DVD player I purchased an HDMI to DVI adapter, as the Dell monitor lacks an HDMI input but certainly has a DVI port. Okay, fine and wonderful.

However, to my horror I discovered that the player detected that my monitor was not HDCP compliant. It proceeded to blink the feed to the monitor on and off every few seconds, and fill the screen with static. Mind you, I was attempting to play a standard definition DVD that I legitimately bought and paid for. This was, in a word, infuriating. I could not watch content that HDCP wasn't even invented to protect, simply because Philips complied with the HDCP extortion.

But here is the kicker.

I have several DVDs I've received from an unnamed source who ripped commerical discs, recompressed them using DVDShrink, and burned them onto DVD-R discs for me. And guess what? I can play these in my new player and the video is passed over the HDMI->DVI adapter with no problem at all.

So suck on that, DRM-fanatics. HDCP has created a situation where it is greatly to my advantage to acquire only "pirated" discs. Legitimately buying content, in this case, screws me to the wall. Ha de ha ha ha ha haaaa.


come one, come all

Last Resort 5.12.07 Flyer

Seize Them! is finally getting out of the basement. Come have some barbecue.

Lots of other stuff going on... I've been slacking on the blarghposting because I wanted to have some actually finished things to talk about. So stay tuned for the launch of the brand new seizethem.com, plus decently-recorded Seize Them! demos and such.

I've begun playing guitar as backup to singer Iseult Collins. Mostly covers right now with a few of her original songs. Acoustic guitar + singer duo type stuff. She's all rarin' to go so it's entirely possible we'll be performing at some open mics fairly soon.

More later.


oh, the pain

With A Don Red Yell

I returned to Club Midway on Friday night to enjoy the electrotainment subunit OUCH (warning: Myspace) as well as the triumphant return to New York of Adam Fanning and The Crust. This was my first opportunity to enjoy OUCH as a four-piece, as they now feature C Plus on extra smooth dance moves and backup vocals.

Jeff and I have booked our flights, hotels and rental car for the upcoming Florida trip which will contain both a wedding and the second location shoot for our E2 documentary. Wheels are actually turning on this project, people.

It appears I'll be shooting some video for the Laura Thomas Band (warning: Myspace) this coming Friday which they intend to post on The YouTube. Links forthcoming.

And speaking of pain, the Department of Defense was kind enough to demonstrate their new pain ray, the "Active Denial System", on some people and record some video of the experience. Windows Media clips are available at the bottom of the page here and there's also this clip of an AP reporter getting quite the giggle out of being blasted with millimeter-wave EM energy.

Ha! Take that, free press! Note how carefully he avoids describing the experience as painful. Gotta sell it properly if you intend to deploy high tech weapons of physical coercion against your own population (lord knows we don't care how it plays with the Brown People). RETURN TO YOUR FREE SPEECH ZONE, CITIZEN, OR WE WILL ZAP YOU. Isn't it fun to live in the last days of a sham democracy?


anyone caught hating on MC Rove will get they mouth blew out

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Master of Ceremonies Karl Rove.
When Karl Rove is one day locked away in a very small room for a very long time I hope this is the only piece of video he's ever allowed to watch.

I say that because maybe it will remind him of the good old days.

Gaze upon your rulers and despair.



The letter combination 'wr' begins some of English's Most Awesome Words:

  • wrack
  • wraith
  • wrangle
  • wrap
  • wrath
  • wreak
  • wreath
  • wreck
  • wrest
  • wrestle
  • wretch
  • wretched
  • wriggle
  • wright
  • wring
  • wrinkle
  • wrist
  • writ
  • write
  • writhe
  • wrong
  • wroth
  • wrought
  • wrung
  • wry


Thanks to my friend Jeff, tonight I had the pleasure of meeting Phish's archivist Kevin Shapiro. He spoke to a small crowd drawn from the intersection of Phish fans and media nerds about the practicalities of maintaining (and monetizing, let us not forget) a rock and roll archive. A good deal of it was a fun romp through Phish history, and he'd put together both a slideshow about the archive and a video montage of performance excerpts tracing the history of the band. I was audacious enough to give him my current editor's showreel, which he accepted very graciously, and Jeff and I both were able to speak with him for quite a while after the whole thing wrapped up. Kevin's a cool guy and I really appreciate the time he took hang out with us for a few minutes.

I think I sent Kevin a reel of mine waaaay back when I worked at Bozell... I guess I've been trying to get my hands on the mountain of Phish-related footage they've got envaulted up there in Burlington for a while.

As an added bonus, artist Russ Bennett, chief designer of all of Phish's festivals from the Clifford Ball to Coventry, spoke for a while about those projects and his feelings about art and artists. He was an inspiring guy, reminding us all that "taking a day job means you're not working on your art".


explosions in the sky

Los Angeles Air Raid

February 25, 1942.

Two days after Goleta, California was shelled by a Japanese submarine, a mysterious object appeared in the skies over Los Angeles.

At 2:25 in the morning the sleeping citizenry was blasted awake by air raid sirens. They blackened the city, as ordered. Some of them, afraid, but unwilling to miss the spectacle, watched as searchlights converged and more than a thousand explosions shattered the sky. Six died.

There is no consensus as to what, exactly, was being fired upon.

Not long afterward, the Scientific and Technical Branch of the US Army Directorate of Counterintelligence began an "in-house project" called the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit.

The original black and white photo was taken by an unknown photographer (or created by an unknown graphic artist) at the Los Angeles Times.


when the shadow strikes

Further to the ongoing ludicrosity of American Empire, today I read a news item about the Pentagon hiring a group of Native American trackers to help train forces in central Asia how to hunt "terrorists". This is, of course, an excellent way for that giant money laundering machine known as the Defense Department (which, you'll remember, has literally "lost" trillions of dollars according to ex-Secretary Rumsfeld) to spend a little more cash on useless nonsense, but that's not the best part.

The best part is that this group of trackers is known as The Shadow Wolves. Seriously. If they were japanese ninja (and oh god, why aren't they ninja?) they'd be KAGE NO OKAMI. Possibly "Ogami". My japanese is weak but the POINT is that this is hilarious.

My favorite sentence from that article? "Defence officials are convinced their movements can be curtailed by the Shadow Wolves."

can you do any less?

This is not the interview I hinted at in the last post.

Instead, it's a quick note to ask the populace this: what is going on with The Simpsons?

Last night's episode "Rome-Old and Juli-Eh" (#JABF08) featured an unfunny yet somewhat disturbing exploration of intergenerational love and/or sex filled out by some insights into Marge and Homer's fantasy roleplaying ("Hola, I am Esteban de la Sexface!" was a highlight of classical Simpsonian absurdity that I will probably never forget). However, the true gold was to be found in the 'B' plot. The throwaway plot required to fill 22 minutes of airtime.

It was clear to me that the writers, or the subteam of writers assigned to the B story, have discovered that they can literally do whatever they want given the world's oft-referred to and artfully handled lack of continuity. This, coupled with the show's high yet underutilized budget leads to the kind of epic High Weirdness engaged in by Bart and Lisa to which we were treated. In summary, Bart discovers a source of unlimited free cardboard boxes and Lisa concocts a plan to use them to build a huge castle in the backyard. When the free box company learns that the boxes were used for imaginative play rather than legitimate business, they assemble an assault team of delivery drivers to storm the fortress and take back the boxes. This plays out in a Lord of the Rings-esque battle sequence featuring waves of attackers and, and I am not kidding here, a dragon. The high point comes when Nelson arrives out of nowhere to help save the day, and dives off the battlements shouting "HAAAAAA HAAAAAAA!". Bart and Lisa are, of course, victorious and celebrate their win by melting down the castle with a garden hose. The last we see of them is an overhead shot of the backyard which reveals the dragon, slain by a cardboard lance, lying dead behind the house.

Given the high level of craft involved in this sequence and the number of laughs per minute it evoked from myself and my housemates, I move that The Simpsons progress toward an all-absurdity format. There have been paradigm shifts before; the one that leaps to mind is the famous Monorail episode which has come to be acknowledged as the beginning of a new Simpsons era. Here's hoping the Cardboard Castle episode will garner similar nostalgia.