Archive for August, 2005


Everybody in my family is fine. My parents lost electricity and water for just a few days. Communication with them is difficult, but I talked to them enough. They said about a dozen trees are down in the yard, but none of them hit the house. My extended family spread around south Mississippi made it through, too. A friend from high school lost his home to the storm surge. He had evacuated. He must have returned recently to survey the damage. The pictures on his blog show tremendous devastation. I have some other friends down there for whom I fear.

New Orleans is an aquatic dystopia. The coast is not far behind. Even in places with only small storm damage, water, food and fuel are in short supply. I keep seeing places I knew and thinking of people who lived there. It is hard to do things I need to do.

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Michael M. on August 31st 2005 in General

Your Tight Pants Syndrome buzz is safe.

Last May, I heard “Your Buzz Is Safe with Me” on Suffragette City, the treasure of a program on KDHX. Local band Tight Pants Syndrome made the song. It was so good that wrote the DJ and asked about it. The band got a good amount of play on KDHX. To my disappointment, the mp3 page was missing for a long time. Listening to Suffragette City last night jogged my memory. Two mp3s, “Your Buzz” and “Oh, Keith,” are there now! TPS released two other songs, “Agony” and “I Wanna Connect,” on a demo CD. I wish I could get my hands on the others.

The two I downloaded crashed Windows Media Player, and iTunes would not play them. The excellent VLC media player did play them. It also revealed that the files are m4a, not mp3. I changed the file names to end in .m4a instead of .mp3, and they played perfectly in iTunes. I suggested making the change on the web site, too. Download, rename and enjoy.

The news is that one of the members moved to Chicago. I never saw them live. I am not sure how many concerts the band played, but ignorance, a conflict or a cancelation kept me from each one. This review in Playback STL makes me wish I had seen this STL supergroup all the more. The band plans to recruit a new member. Maybe I will catch the second version.

The other sad news is that KDHX no longer comes in on my living room stereo. The reasons are beyond my greater than nil engineering knowledge. At 88.1 MHz and below, I get 60 Hz hum. Antenna moving did nothing. Standing in just the right place in the room might sometimes help a little, but it is not practical. I miss my KDHX.

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Michael M. on August 24th 2005 in General, Music, Recorded

Guardian Pixies

Barlow Farms pointed me to an interview of the Pixies in the Guardian. I enjoyed it, and I learned more about the band. I saw them play an excellent show last year in Columbia. Their tour has them wandering around Europe currently. I wish they would pass through again.

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Michael M. on August 23rd 2005 in General, Music

Yamagata Buddha

The Daily Show reported that artist Hiro Yamagata has a plan to replace the giant Buddha statues exploded by the Taliban in with laser shows. It does sound ridiculous, but I am here to report that Yamagata could do it and make it wonderful. I saw NGC 6093 at Ace Gallery. It was terrific. It cast me onto the streets of lower Manhattan perceptually altered. Give that man some more lasers.

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Michael M. on August 23rd 2005 in General

Bo Diddley

Rolling Stone has a good article on Bo Diddley. In my hometown connections to famous people, Bo Diddley ranks at the top. He visited my chorus class when I was in seventh grade while he was back in McComb for a homecoming concert. My parents are not Bo Diddley fans. I did not attend the concert. He entertained our questions for a few minutes. His mother was there, too. After reading the article, I have wondered which mother she was. One friend asked him about his role in Trading Places. He told us that he was in it, but that my friend was too young to watch that movie. The same friend was the first person I saw play and sing hambone, mentioned in the article as a source for the Bo Diddley name and beat. Bo Diddley told us that his name came from his boxing career, mentioned as one of the many stories.

The article mentions that Raymond Scott recorded Bo Diddley. Scott was a pioneer of electronic music about whom I wish I knew more. He employed and influenced Robert Moog, mentioned twice here. I heard a good show of Scott’s music on local radio a few years ago on an early fall Friday evening. It is recognizable as cartoon music, but there is more.

In the article, he credits himself and Chuck Berry as inventors of rock and roll. I saw Chuck Berry again last week at Blueberry Hill. I really hoped he would play “Maybellene.” He did not, but he played a good “Johnny B. Goode.” In other songs, Berry forgot a verse and switched keys. A Chuck Berry concert with a few great songs and some goofing is still a good show.

Nobody as cool ever came to your school.

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Michael M. on August 22nd 2005 in General, Music

Traveling by telephone

I wish my cell phone knew bus and train routes. This weekend, a shard of glass from a beer bottle punctured my bike’s front tire. Its air hissed away, and I was stranded 10 miles from home. A friend graciously picked up me and my bike. Public transportation would have been a reasonably good alternative. The buses here have bike racks on the front. I barely know anything about where the buses go. I probably should put some maps on my phone. I wish there were an application, though, that would find the best routes. Back when I used a Handspring Visor and visited the city often, Vindigo was an excellent tool for the subways. I wish I had something similar for here and my Series 60 phone. Vindigo is supposed to be available through my carrier, but I cannot find it. I would prefer something more general. Metro is nice, but it only has MetroLink. The MetroLink has only one line. It is not hard to navigate. The Metro database lacks the much more useful and extensive MetroBus routes.

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Michael M. on August 22nd 2005 in General

Moog R.I.P.

Robert Moog, blogged just a few weeks ago, died recently according to this Boing Boing post. Moog Music has a short obituary. He is currently on the front web page at The New York Times. The paper has an obituary and an appreciation. May he rest in peace.

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Michael M. on August 22nd 2005 in General, Music

Daily Show + Dukes + NAACP

Week before last, Daily Show correspondent Stephen Colbert interviewed Lonnie Randolph, Jr. from the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP about The Dukes of Hazzard movie. Colbert discussed the boycott of the movie. He made a comedic turn of absolute brilliance, and he must have done it on the spot. On the Media included audio of the bit in a segment of the most recent show about fake journalism. Listen starting at 3:24 into this stream or this mp3. Good Ol’ Boycott is the funniest segment I have seen in a long time.

I only got all the puns in “Dukes of Hazzard” many years after the original television series.

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Michael M. on August 14th 2005 in General, Movies

Conspiracies 360

Studio 360 visited Conspiracy Con as part of the most recent episode. It opens with a clip from a numbers station. I blogged them a while back, and they are real. A friend alerted me to this show. It is great. I am listening now. You should, too. Conspiracy theories are expressions of current culture. They show that folklore is not dead. They also, if only rarely and accidentally, uncover real conspiracies.

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Michael M. on August 14th 2005 in General

Octopuses kill sharks.

This post led me to this video. I gained new biological insight. Octopuses can kill sharks. I have been interested in octopuses for a while because they seem clever and they see well. Their eyes have a very different organization from vertebrate eyes that offers some significant advantages. Now I also know that they can kill sharks.

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Michael M. on August 14th 2005 in General


Where the Shorts Are Short and the Drivers Reckless“, A. O. Scott‘s review of The Dukes of Hazzard in The New York Times, presents a term new to me, “rednexploitation.” I loved the television series when I was in kindergarten and elementary school, but I do not know whether I will see this movie. There is a strange social comfort with mocking backwoods folks. I have the Jeff Foxworthy industry in mind. Even plenty of people who classify themselves as rednecks enjoy it. Best of all, it is not racism because it does not apply to all people with white skin! What could go wrong?

You might ask whether I am a redneck. Are you? If so, I am not. If not, do you know any rednecks? If so, I am not. If not, maybe so.

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Michael M. on August 14th 2005 in General, Movies

Redneck fever

This post at Boing Boing piles on the group it is safe to malign. It is good that a clerical error did not lead to a montage poking fun at another group.

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Michael M. on August 14th 2005 in General


Awash in Information, Patients Face a Lonely, Uncertain Road” in The New York Times presents a good overview of the bewildering array of treatment choices patients often encounter. Just when I did not think it would, it shifted to the perspective of a doctor. It presents the experiences of specific people. The coverage of Meg Gaines and her battle with ovarian cancer is very good. To The Best of Our Knowledge featured her in a recent episode. I have not listened to it. The story also provides coverage of the more general trends in health care. It introduces the current ethical vocabulary of medicine, “autonomy” being the major idea at issue.

I started this entry having read the piece about halfway and expecting to add a personal story or two. I once elected for surgery for a fracture, and I remember struggling with the decision because it needed to be made in just a few days. The experience left me ambivalent on the whole and disappointed in some respects. My primary care doctor did not direct me to the best specialist. I have seen a few times how much information patients can bring into doctor visits. While it is rare that a patient has the general medical knowledge of his or her doctor, it is common for a patient to know much more about specific concerns. The interactions can be difficult in those cases. In the end, though, I simply recommend this article as a good introduction.

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Michael M. on August 14th 2005 in General

Bush on national ID

Bush Remarks Roil Debate on Teaching of Evolution” in The New York Times covers the big story on Bush’s endorsement of teaching intelligent design. He has held this view for a long time, though, and it is not real news. ID is a horrible thing, but many criticisms of it miss important issues. The letters to the editor included one particularly good response by David Irby.

What the Discovery Institute calls intelligent design is not science but a religious objection not just to evolution but to the very basis of the scientific method, which is agnostic.


Michael M. on August 5th 2005 in General


Waxy Links pointed me to These Are the Breaks and Julien’s originals – Samples, two sites with some popular samples. I have wished there were a database with sample credits for popular music. A while back, something reminded me of Ed Lover from Yo! MTV Raps. What was the sample behind the Ed Lover dance? I went on a web odyssey. It was a track called “The 900 Number” by DJ Mark the 45 King who continues producing today. The hook was lifted from Marva Whitney’s “Unwind Yourself,” a track produced by James Brown. I have not found the saxophonist or the composer. This page lists members of the JB’s. I would guess one of them played it and possibly wrote it. I have no idea about the drum beat of “The 900 Number.”

On the topic of usually anonymous side men, I heard Fred Wesley, JB’s trombonist Funky Fred, in this interview on NPR‘s All Things Considered promoting his book, Hit Me, Fred. It is worth a listen.

I found a few leads on the sample database. The often excellent Wikipedia has a poorly constructed list of sampled songs. It ought to be a database. is, and it looks good.

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Michael M. on August 5th 2005 in General, Music, Recorded

The Groenings

Via Waxy Links, I found “The Story,” a short film made by Homer Groening. It features Matt Groening with sisters Lisa and Maggie. I learned that many characters on The Simpsons were named for Groening family members.

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Michael M. on August 4th 2005 in General, Movies

Aristocratic conspiracy

I like bad words and conspiracy theories. The Aristocrats is a new movie about a filthy joke featuring dozen of famous comedians. This post found via Waxy Links posits that the upcoming movie is all a big conspiracy theory. Maybe Penn Jillette made up everything and the joke did not exist until a few years ago. The next entry provides disproof, though. The Wikipedia entry refers to Lore Sjoberg’s conspiracy theory. This interview with Emery Emery, the editor of the movie, points to questions about whether the film is a hoax or joke and asserts that it is real.

I just listened Sunday to a Studio 360 interview with Jillette via the podcast of the show. It has received considerable press despite being a small unrated movie. Watch the trailer. The trailers for the movie at Rotten Tomatoes provide even more information. Other media include a piece on NPR‘s Day to Day, a story in The New Yorker and an A. O. Scott review, a Frank Rich column and an article from The New York Times.

It will start August 12 at Landmark TheatresTivoli in STL. The chain has a page on it.

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Michael M. on August 1st 2005 in General, Movies

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