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Showing posts from 2009

NEW YEAR'S MIX TEASER POST

Just a little post to get people excited about their New Year's mixes . . . I think this year will be one of my better mixes. Last year was a bit schizophrenic, with a lot of very poppy Jpop and very heavy stoner rock, but too little in between (or for people who like neither genre). 2009 is going to be diverse, although not without last year's trends. It was the year of learning about stuff from the Internet. Top music sites for me included Chunklet , Bitch Magazine , Hardcore Math User , The Prelinger Archive and Stonerrock.com . I also heard songs on Internet stations such as Japan-a-Radio , Groove Radio , Radio Nigel , K666 Radio , and Trance.ch . I would sometimes hear about a band (thanks for your research, Dr. S!) and then check out a sample on Skreemer , LastFM, Lala, YouTube, or even (shudder!) Myspace. Wikipedia is also good for lists of music genres or to see who they compare a band to. The library is still my good friend as well. Here is my technique for making

CURSE YOU, LANDMARK!

So, Landmark Theaters did the old bait-&-switch with me on Thirst --they sent emails that it was coming and it appeared for a while on their web site, but they ended up withdrawing it and then bringing it back as a midnight show only. I'm sorry, but that doesn't count. So I vowed to boycott them unless they showed something really good that wasn't at any other theaters. Of course, they then decide to show Ong Bak 2 and Red Cliff, but on Thanksgiving weekend when I'm out of town. Ninja Assassin is opening this weekend, too. I guess nothing says the holidays like people beating the crap out of each other. Well, they'd better still be playing when I get back. My family members are sadly not great fans of martial-arts-related entertainment.

WORST LOCAL BANDS EVER

Over on Facebook my dislike of certain Twin Cities bands of yore was brought up, so here's my list of the worst local bands I ever had the misfortune of listening to. There is bias in that I have to have actually heard them. Either they were hyped to high heaven by the local media, or they opened up for someone good. Perhaps there were others just as bad, but I was warned away before being exposed to them. In no particular order: 3AM Ralph : This sad excuse for a Top-40 cover band must've had some blackmail-worthy dirt on the booker at the 7th St. Entry, because they played there all the time. If you thought that a cover "I Just Want to Celebrate" couldn't sound any worse than the original, you would be wrong. At least they were aptly named. Deformo: Want to listen to Jerry Lewis torturing a cat? Then this band's vocalist would be the one for you. Warning: he also records as King of France . Cat's Laughing: When I was young, I had a less keen abilit

NOT EVEN TRYING

Ernie Kovacs had a budget of 50 cents, but at least he tried . It's a weird time for TV. Some shows are at a really high level ( Fringe, Mad Men, Dollhouse, The Office ), while others . . . take the audiovisual abortion that is Secret Girlfriend , now in the Slot Of Doom after South Park , for example. I've always wondered what it would be like to live in a straight-boy porno movie without all the distracting sex acts and with the addition of 2 douchey frat-boy buddies who say stuff like, "Chillax, bro." A web series is finally ported to regular TV, and it's not The Guild but this? Why? If it costs Comedy Central about 50 cents in a time period they never succeed in anyway, why not try something that's actually good ? Just a thought. And then the long, boring, endless soap opera that was ER finally ends, and I'm ready for a decent drama, but they replace it with Jay Leno ? I thought going to bed at 10:30 protected my tender eyes from his unfunny comed

PLACES I'VE USED WI-FI

The picture above has nothing to do with anything, I was just inspired by Jason's Autumn Mix to make a melancholy depiction of the coming of winter by setting Photoshop's Blur More filter to stun. Ever since I got my iPod Touch, I 've been playing this fun game called Find the Wi-fi . It's like there's this whole secret world of networks beneath the normal, every-day one. I probably should rename mine something weird so people will be ashamed to use it, just like Vork in The Guild . (Any thoughts? I'm thinking Sweet Jfro's Badass Network ) Here are places I've used wi-fi: Breugger's McDonald's The Turf Club Suds America Work Off-site work in-service Home Shish

MY APPS

So, I finally got that iPod Touch I've been craving. You can see I'm mostly going for the free and Web 2.0 route, except for games of course. I now see why people want mobile versions of web sites for their PDAs and smartphones. A little surfing is OK, but you don't want to do a ton of it. On the other hand, the Facebook app may be better than the web site The Touch will save me having to pay to make calls when I'm on the town just for informational purposes. Frankly, I don't want to be on the phone at all, except for important business that can't be done online, emergencies, and talking to loved ones. Perhaps I will discover the joy of texting now I can do it for free. I mean, what is with these cell companies? You're supposed t0 pay $40 for phone, $30 for data, and another $20 for texting? Screw that. If I really get addicted and need to be online all the time, I'll just get a Mi-Fi , with the pre-paid phone it'll still come out cheaper that the

THIS

So, digitizing my records reminded me that I was missing one album from one of my favorite bands, Arcwelder . This was the record that caused them to be sued by the owners of the Tilt-A-Whirl carnival ride and forced to change their name. There was a little note on the packaging to that effect. According to the band's web site, at least some copies of the Jacket Made in Canada CD have this whole album on it as a bonus, but that's hard to find too ( I can't get used to CDs being rare. This LP was actually 1/3 of the cost of that CD at the time I bought it, even though the seller on Gemm was in the UK. Plus, more of a historical document. Arcwelder never got the credit they deserved. People called them "little Husker" because they dared to be a 3-piece with two singers. They don't sound like Husker Du to me, more like a more melodic Tar or some other Chicago Touch & Go band if I had to compare. Judge for yourself: This PS. even more Arcwelder stuff

PRAIRIE DOGS!

Well, we finally got to the zoo just before summer ended. The prairie dogs were the stars of the show as usual. Sometimes I wish we could have them as pets like in Japan, even though a prairie-dog size Habitrail wouldn't exactly fit in my one-bedroom apartment.

LANDMARK THEATERS UPDATE: A RAY OF HOPE

So, I got an email that the Twin Cities Landmark Theaters were finally going to get something exciting-- Thirst , the new vampire movie by Park Chan Wook of Old Boy fame. But then I never heard anything in the weekly emails or the newsletter and started to suspect a bait and switch. We went to see Ponyo at the Edina 4 and didn't see anything about it there, either (not that it would be appropriate to see the trailer before a kids' movie, but there could've been a poster or something . . .) Dr. S kindly agreed to call up the theater, all prepared to chew them out, but lo and behold, they are having it after all on Sept. 18. I have to support them whenever they have something decent, so everybody out there who still goes to movies, try to go to Landmark whenever they have something that's actually foreign or different, but not when they're just showing something like I nglorious Basterds where you can see it at any old multiplex for less.

WOMEN IN, ON AND AROUND FILM

Over at the Bitch Blog , they were talking about female movie directors, so I had to make sure psychotronic faves like Stephanie Rothman and Doris Wishman were given their due. I hadn't known that one of my favorite female badasses, the Kill-Bill -influencing Dag from Bury Me An Angel (introduced to me by Dr. S ), was also a woman director's creation (should've known). Then I put in a word for the woman who started me on my movie-obsessed path, the fabulous Pauline Kael . She taught me to own my loves and hates and call 'em as I see 'em. Maybe some people wouldn't consider her a feminist icon because she didn't always like the "right" movies, but read her review of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore for some keen feminist insight. She totally terrified those guys in the movie boys' club. I mean, George Lucas named the villain in Willow after her! Here's Kael on the New Testament: Pasolini's The Gospel According To St. Mathe

LEFT BEHIND

I'm always a little bummed out by those books and web sites that tell you about etiquette in other countries, because it reminds me that there are places where my kind is not wanted. Oh, I could try to "pass", but it would be like having my hand tied behind my back. Literally . I love this quote: In fact, even using your left hand to gesture or wave is simply not done. This is not due to any sort of discrimination against left-handed people. It's actually based on the general lack of toilet paper throughout the region and the normal method of cleaning oneself after certain bathroom functions! Oh, it's not prejudice, so if I tell them I wash my hands a lot (and some righties from the US and Europe are not so clean by their standards), they will understand and stop trying to suppress my natural movements, because it's totally rational. It's silly to pretend that every country doesn't have prejudices and irrational rules, it's not like the US and

15 BOOKS

Another meme rears its ugly head: Here are the rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. They don't have to be the greatest books you've ever read, just the ones that stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Copy these instructions and tag 15 ( or more) friends, including me - because I'm interested in seeing what books are in your head. I went with the instructions and tried not to think about it too much. I was surprised it was mostly female authors, but I guess I just relate to smart, snarky women who don't censor themselves for some reason. Oz also has a lot of badass women for a turn-of-the-century childrens' book series. Loving is just hard to describe. Nobody describes daily life like Green, the way you're always afraid you're a total fake and someday people will catch you at it, but meanwhile things aren't too bad. Some of you may know h

LANDMARK THEATERS: I AM DISPLEASED

I will not be happy if I don't see Blood: The Last Vampire in theaters this summer because Landmark is too busy with exotic arty fare like The Hangover and Bruno . I mean, who pays more money to sit in uncomfortable seats at the Lagoon for a mainstream flick when they can enjoy comfy stadium seating and actual matinee prices. My sweetie's theory is that Landmark is going for the frat boy audience that takes the bus over to Uptown so they can get trashed at William's Pub later. But Blood is mostly in English and has a kung-fu schoolgirl killing vampires with a katana, it's hardly Matthew Barney . I can only hope Parkway or Riverview will pick up the slack like the latter did with Let the Right One In .

MY GEEK CHART

Ash966's Geek Chart This chart is a little misleading, I'm not really on LastFm's web site that much, it's probably because I have that scrobbling thing going on where info is sent to LastFm whenever I listen to iTunes. I am always adding links to Delicious, it's so easy with the Delicious Bookmarks add-on to Firefox. ---------------- Now playing: Scott Walker - Plastic Palace People via FoxyTunes

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW ME?

For those of you who are allergic to Facebook, here is a chance to test yourself on Jfro-knowledge. The questions were pretty boring, so I tried to spice them up a bit. 1) What song would I choose to sing at a karaoke bar? a) Lay Lady Lay b) Cat's in the Cradle c) I Wanna Be Sedated d) Truckin' e) Losing My Religion 2) What is my middle name? a) Louise b) Augusta c) Badass Jfro d) Mary e) Stephanie 3) What is my dream car? a) Beetle b) Mercedes c) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang d) El Camino e) Cars suck! 4) What would I dress as for Halloween? a) Post-apocalyptic survivor b) Slutty Witch c) Slutty Nurse d) One of those glittery vampires from Twilight e) Slutty cat 5) What am I scared of? a) clowns b) hippies c) hippy clowns d) the color yellow e) all of the above 6) Who is my favorite Disney character ? a) Belle b) Disney sucks! c) Mickey Mouse d) Donald Duck e) Snow White 7) My favorite show on

MORE VINYL ODDITIES

I was only able to find a little information about this Twin Cities art-rock ensemble with the weird instrumentation (is that a clarinet?) I used to play this single all the time on my college radio show. Smile Down Baby, Your House . . . ---------------- Now playing: Big Star - You Can't Have Me via FoxyTunes

THE RETURN OF PROJECT DIGITIZATION

So, I'm having fun digitizing some of my old records. Since my LP is connected to my computer through the pre-amp and not the receiver, I can watch Battlestar Galactica while recording stuff. Score! I'm not laying out money for the stuff I paid for before, and it's all perfectly legal! Take that, RIAA! Also, I finally figured out how to put music on here, so here's some scratchy vinyl-only goodness from Cleveland's Human Switchboard circa 1981. Enjoy! (Say No To) Saturday's Girl

I SUCK AT NEGOTIATING

So, this month, since my cell phone service is ending anyway, I thought I'd play hardball with Qwest like they said to do on Lifehacker in order to get a better deal, hint that I might have to drop something due to the bad economy and all that, but maybe with a good deal on faster DSL I'd spend less on the celly, since I don't use it that much. Well, Qwest's answer was pretty much "Do whatever you gotta do, we don't care". Apparently I have to get fiber internet to get faster DSL, which means dropping my beloved ISP Iphouse , which has always been awesome to me. I call a local number and get someone right away, how do you beat that? Plus, Qwest uses msn.com as an ISP. Imagine the horrors that could entail! I called Iphouse, and they confirmed that my DSL never gets to the top speeds advertised because my condo is located in what is technically known as the "sucky" part of the DSL line, and that they indeed don't have fiber internet yet.

AUDIO SET UP UPDATE

I'm sure you all were waiting with bated breath to find out how I dealt with my previously-mentioned audio woes , so here's the scoop: My turntable just needed a new belt drive (one of those big rubber bands that runs the machine), which the kind folks at the Needle Doctor replaced for $10 and didn't even charge me for labor. So I plugged it into my new receiver and it worked, but the sound was rather tinny. So I went back to the Needle Doctor and got a pre-amp. This has the added advantage of p lugging directly into my computer if need be. So, I can get back to the digitizing of my 300 records, and I don't have to buy one of those USB turntables which would cost twice as much. Yay Needle Doctor! Please give them your analog audio business! ---------------- Now playing: Groove Radio via FoxyTunes

IPOD SHUFFLE PLAYLIST

Once again I succumb to the lure of an Internet meme: (1) Turn on your MP3 player or iTunes. (2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode. (3) Write down the first 25 songs that come up--song title and artist--NO editing/cheating, please. (or shuffle CD’s or *gasp* LP's, close your eyes and pick your songs) If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about your musical tastes, or at least a random sampling thereof. I am especially interested in any guilty pleasures revealed, or weird random song cycles that actually work! Here's mine. You have to love a list that has Boredoms and You Spin Me Round on it. 1. Love Vigilantes--New Order 2. Bore Now Bore--Boredoms 3. Lonely Planet Boy--New York Dolls 4. Our Secret--Beat Happening 5. Sleeping Giant--Mastodon 6. He's a Whore--Cheap Trick 7. Pass The Flashlight--The Soviettes 8. Man With Golden Helmet--Radio Birdman 9. We Need More--New Bomb Turks 10. I'll Be Good To You--The Brot

MORE CELL PHONE THOUGHTS

My current thoughts on phone service--a cheap pre-paid cellphone from Verizon for day-to-day local and Skype for long distance. My parents and sister got Skype set up for some Grandma-and-grandchild face time, and my sister has Verizon. The plan is to get an iPod Touch when the new ones come out sometime this summer and use it with wifi, since there's now a Skype app for it . Qwest says I can start using wi fi in my apartment any time, since my aforementioned router is wireless. I'm not sure how that works, exactly, but I'll figure it out, right? I can finally get into that texting thing that the kids are so into as well. The geek-0-sphere is also abuzz with the rumour that Apple is planning something with Verizon, but it doesn't do to take too much stock in that sort of thing.

NOW I HAVE TO PICK A CELL PLAN GODDAMMIT

So, stupid Qwest is stopping cellular service (I think they actually leached off Sprint's network or something, but now they are officially partnering with Verizon and trying to push us onto them) and now I have to actually research a new cell phone plan. Fun! Consumer Reports says that Verizon and better service and connectivity, but T-Mobile is cheaper and offers more plans. An iPhone would be awesome, but A T & T is rated lower and I'd have to pay an extra $30 a month. What's up with that? You'd think some of these plans would have gone down in price since last I thought about it, but nooo . . . my current $29/month is about as low as they go, although some are more flexible and have texting (I don't care much about texting , but it would be nice to have the ability, not $5/month nice though). Billshrink is not helping me save any money. I think I'll have to go prepaid, see if I save money that way. It'd be nice to have an extra $5/month for b

ANIME DETOUR 2009

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR . Last weekend was time to be with my people--the nerds, the geeks, the anime lovers. Unlike what Anthony Lane would have you think, I find them mostly very pleasant and friendly. Even among the more male-dominated environs of superhero comics and role-playing games, I've met very few of the misogynist conspiracy freaks he mentions. Of course, anime fandom is quite female-friendly. Any he-man-woman-haters would be in danger of being whacked by the dreaded Yaoi Paddle . The Crown Plaza Hotel was definitely a better set-up than the Bloomington Ramada. It had the luxury of a real hotel, not a motel with delusions of grandeur. At the Ramada, I was always scrambling down narrow hallways like a hamster in a giant Habitrail. The conference rooms were roomy and there were plenty of chairs, so I didn't have to wreck my back sitting on the floor. Of course, I know downtown St. Paul and it's skyways like the back of my hand, so that helped

MOVIE GEEK VS COMIC BOOK GEEK THROWDOWN

It's been almost 20 years, but I can't open an issue of The New Yorker without a tinge of sadness that Pauline Kae l isn't in it. Not only was her every sentence a joy, but she believed in doing her research whether in high or low culture--reading The Killing Joke before seeing Batman and First Blood before seeing Rambo , relating The Phantom of the Paradise to the state of rock music in the early 70s, etc. (although I can't agree that Alice Cooper is more of a threat to good music than Paul Williams). Nowadays, if a movie critic can name half the influences in Pulp Fiction , they consider themselves highly educated. Though New Yorker movie reviewers have disappointed me greatly since, Anthony Lane 's review of Watchmen* has to be the worst since Daphne Merkin compared Ben Affleck to a young Paul Newman (doesn't the prescience of that statement just send a thrill down your spine?). Lane is what Kael called a "gentlemen critic": sometimes han

TAX REFUND UPDATE

My friend hellbound asked me for an update on what goodies I decided to get with my tax refund . 1. EyeTV . I am enjoying watching my shows when I want and skipping over the commercials (you can edit commercials out, too, but I haven't tried that yet). It's easy to search for shows and schedule weekly recording and exporting to Apple TV. Now I can get all those good movies on TCM & Fox at 6:30 AM! My goal is to never waste time watching mediocre programming. The only drawbacks are keeping my hard drive from filling up (although the device has a buffer, so it will hold a certain amount of TV until you have room) and that I have to drag the cable all the way over from the living room (I'm sure the nice people at the cable company wouldn't charge me for another outlet that I'd be using for a device that will make them zero dollars instead of buying a DVR from them, right?). 2. Logitech Harmony Remote 676 . A similar remote was on my Amazon wishlist, but I didn&

ANOTHER DAMN TECHNOLOGY I HAVE TO KEEP UP WITH

A friend on Facebook responded to my request for help in spending my tax refund by saying I should buy an HD radio receiver. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I thought, "Is it some sort of superpowered radio wave that will finally let me listen to something besides "Classic Rock KQRS" over the airwaves? According to these articles, no and not really --the signal's actually weaker . Also, the list of stations available * in my area is not blowing my mind. Right now I have an an all-stoner rock station, all Goa Trance, all Jpop on my computer and AppleTV, but with HD Radio I could have--KQRS Deep Cuts! Woo, all the Lynyrd Skynyrd songs that aren't "Free Bird"! So, in conclusion, this technology bears keeping an eye out, as it could be good in theory, but it's not for me at this time. *And that is a horrible, horrible web site. Apparently, hd radio is for smug jerks with boats who love to hear annoying one-celled organisms sing. Way

25 THINGS

1. I will probably never read Moby Dick (Or The Shipping News or anything by Patrick O'Brien) because anything related to the lore of the sea or seafaring puts me right to sleep. All that lowering the mizzenmasts and raising the rigging and swabbing the cabin boy, who cares? I mean, I like to be on a boat, but being on a train or a streetcar is nice too, I don't need to read in exhaustive detail how they are maintained. 2. I'm a third generation non-believer on both sides, so we don't actually eat our young, in case you were wondering. 3. Green peppers are evil! And they smell bad! So stop telling me they have no taste or smell (as if that's a recommendation anyway). 4. The only person I ever wrote a fan letter to was Pauline Kael . She sent me a really nice reply which I still have somewhere. 5. I've never owned a car, but I've helped change a flat tire and been to the impound lot twice. Good times! 6. First concert at First Avenue: Robyn Hitchc

25 ALBUMS THING

Yes, Jfro fell for one of those virtual chain letters we call memes again. This list is weighted heavily to older albums, as it is hard to tell if a recent album will be a long-term relationship or just a temporary crush. Think of 15 albums (then add 10 because you can't just stop at 15) that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. When you finish, tag 15 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag, you're it! Beat Happening You Turn Me On Big Star Radio City Roxy Music, Siren The Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady The Wedding Present, Seamonsters Elvis Costello, Trust Fugazi, Repeater Guided by Voices, Alien Lanes The J

WHAT SHOULD I BUY WITH MY TAX REFUND?

The tanking of my mutual funds had one good result--mad cash for my tax refund.* After paying my property taxes for the first half of the year, I still have about $1350.** I usually like to get some sort of technology like a TV or computer, and I've narrowed it down to 6 things. Let me know what you think, faithful readers, which 2 or 3 should I go with? IPOD TOUCH 30G ($400) Pros : You get most of the iPhone features without the insane 2-year contract. It can access the Internet with Wi - Fi . Screen is better for playing games and watching TV than an Ipod Classic. Apps, apps, apps! Cons: Expensive for the amount of storage you get compared to iPod Classic, and I have lots of music. Can't access Internet everywhere like iPhone. Apple will come out with a better one next week and I'll be sad. SAMSUNG BLU -RAY PLAYER ($350) Pros : Can finally find out what's so great about Blu-Ray. Will get the most out of my HDTV. It also has Netflix Watch Instantly. Con

IN WHICH JFRO TRIES TO BRING HER AUDIO INTO THE 21ST CENTURY

The summer of 1987, I was living in a house with a bunch of other college students. One of them had an elaborate set-up with the stereo connected to the TV. This was when TV shows broadcasting in stereo was a new thing, as was having a real soundtrack for a mere TV show with songs viewers had heard before and enjoyed. I was amazed every time Crime Story came on how awesome it was to hear "Runaway" in stereo. Of course, I didn't have a real stereo then, just a boombox , so I couldn't create it myself (I had this funny portable record player where you put the LP in sideways). In 1990, I finally purchased a stereo system, a Sony receiver and dual tape deck and a Technics turntable. I didn't start buying CDs until I got a computer for grad school in 1995, because I objected to how much more expensive they were than LPs . Then I hooked up my computer to the stereo. I only had a cheap crappy CD player for a few years until it died, then just used my DVD player afte

99 THINGS

I saw this in 2 places , so I guess I can't deny it anymore. Here goes: THE 99 THINGS MEME Things you’ve already done: bold
 Things you want to do: italicize 
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - plain font 1. Started your own blog. Yay me! 2. Slept under the stars. I assume they mean like a tent. If so--of course, I grew up in the Midwest. It didn't take, though. If they mean literally sleeping with just a sleeping bag protecting them from the elements--no, that's just insane. What kind of magical fairyland do they live in where that's a good idea? 3. Played in a band. No, but I played cello in the orchestra for a while--badly. I was thanked on the liner notes of an obscure demo tape for setting up a gig in my sister's basement. 4. Visited Hawaii. Nature--not for me. 5. Watched a meteor shower. No. Leave me alone already with all the nature. 6. Given more than you can afford to charity. That's just silly. Do they mean, "more than you t