Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Top 200 Jazz CDs

Go to Jazz 100 for a handful of interesting jazz 'best of' lists. I started looking at the Top 200 Jazz CDs (it says 100, but then links to a second 100 on another page). I have a handful of pieces scattered over the list, but mainly have three albums from the list that I recently purchased (mentioned here previously). I bought these albums before finding this list:

  • Monk's Music - Thelonious Monk

  • Brilliant Corners - Thelonious Monk

  • Giant Steps - John Coltrane

So tonight I decided to grab the two-years-running number one ranked album, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis (thank you iTunes -- eMusic doesn't have the clout to carry this one). Listening to it right now. It's really nice. I'll probably play this on a loop while working on grungy code all day tomorrow.

So am I going to buy all 200 Jazz CDs? To say nothing of their New Breed 100? Probably not. But I'll be picking and choosing samples from this list, perhaps for a long time. I hope it stays online a long while, as I'm too lazy to grab a copy for myself.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Robot Monk

This just about made my weekend, it's so cool, in an absurd way. Be sure to check out the Flickr photoset of the robot in action.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji

Just watched episodes 2 and 3 in a row, and now can't wait for the next episode of Ultimate Survivor Kaiji. None of the characters are sympathetic, least of all Kaiji, but the whole concept of life and death boiled down to a tournament of Restricted Rock, Paper, Scissors is pretty damn neat. This could turn out to be my favorite new series of the fall season.

Still thinking about Bamboo Blade, Dragonaut - The Resonance, Ghost Hound, Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro (though Renee is already sold on this one), Night Wizard and Suteki Tantei Labyrinth. I've already culled a lot of other shows (such as Rental Magika, Shakugan no Shana II, Shion no Oh and Shugo Chara), either by watching or just reading a summary that sounded dull.


Got Episode 4. Watched Episode 4.

Want Episode 5.

Damn it.

Update the Second

Kicked Night Wizard to the curb. Just weren't clickin' for me.

Update the Third

It's official. With episode five, I'm naming Kaiji the best new series out of Japanese anime this season. It may get overtaken by Ghost Hound once that picks up steam, considering the creative minds behind that series, but GitS:SAC was a slow builder, so Kaiji may well finish before the verdict is in on Ghost Hound.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rounding Out October

Just to use up my allotment for October at eMusic, I picked up a few nice tunes:

  • The Midnight Special - Creedence Clearwater Revival

  • Born on the Bayou - Creedence Clearwater Revival

  • 20th Century Blues - Robin Trower

  • Prisoner of Love - Robin Trower

The latter two are from a more recent (1994) album of his (20th Century Blues, go figure), but there's no mistaking his style.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Music

Two new albums:

  • Gypsy Punks - Gogol Bordello

  • The Civil War - Matmos

I think the song I already had from Gogol Bordello (Start Wearing Purple) is most likely the best one on the album, but I still wanted to give them a closer listen than 30-second samples allowed.

Matmos is an unusual electronic duo, and I have a handful of their music from various free samplers. One of them is one of my all-time favorites in any genre, The Struggle Against Unreality Begins, from The Civil War, so I finally decided to burn some of my eMusic credits to grab it.

I also picked up a couple individual songs:

  • The Trolley Song - Judy Garland

  • Powerhouse - Raymond Scott

Jean has also added to the playlist:

  • Just For Van the Man - Lenlow

  • Deceptataffy - Party Ben

  • Sharp Dressed Party (ZZ Top vs Pink) - Divide & Kreate

  • Fatboy vs. Blackstreet - Tim Lee

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Holiday Fare (Early)

Renee and I went to Bridgeport Cinema this afternoon to see the 3D rendition of A Nightmare Before Christmas. The three-dimensional rendering was quite good. I for one was in heaven, as this is nearly a perfect movie for me. Lovingly crafted armature animation, a great musical, and one screwy story. What's not to like?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mysterious System Failure

Just in case you think I'm an uncritical Apple fanboy, relax. While I've preferred to own Macs for as long as I could afford them, I am well aware that they sometimes fail. Case in point:

My iBook began telling time sort-of-randomly early last week. I tried setting the timezone multiple times, but it kept ending up in weird timezones like WGST. I could, with some effort, get the timezone to change, just never to PST/PDT. So on Friday I threw in the towel and made a reservation at the Apple 'Genius Bar' in Bridgeport Village (online, from my web browser, so convenient).

In the end, all the tricks I've learned over the years (disk repair, deleting corrupt preference files, booting in safe mode, etc., etc.) were of no avail. They had to do a clean install of the system software. Somehow, something got buggy, and manifested as a cracked time reading. It took something like two hours to resolve. Fortunately, with 'archive and install', all my data was preserved, so I didn't have to dig out my backup drive after the repair.

So yes, Apple computers have problems (ask me about failed hard drives sometime), but they still mostly just work.


Saturday was the third time I've gone to a Burr-day party. My friend from work, Burr, turned 51 (I think), and he decided to have another party like his fiftieth, wherein he gathered together a bunch of friends and held a cooking party. Last year's theme was beef (from grain to grass-fed, and more-or-less grocery grade to Wagyu beef).

This year he jumped to the other pole, and the theme was vegetables. He told me that my salsa recipe would be welcome, so I made double batches of both kinds, on the spot. People seemed to like them.

After the meal, we went outside and played Bocce Ball. The last time I can recall playing that was as a youngster in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where one of our neighbors had a cousin from Italy staying the summer. Strange nostalgia there.

Anyway, happy birthday, Burr!

Achilles' Heel

Renee has an Achilles' Heel. I was balancing the checkbook in the den when I heard the most soul-rending wails from the living room. I ran to Renee, who was sitting on the floor in obvious pain. Good thing her mother is a nurse. All I could do was support her back and ask if I should bring ice.

It seems that she had been sitting cross-legged while knitting, and one of her feet was twisted on top of her other leg. When she went to stretch, it wouldn't straighten out. She had a muscle spasm. She's walking now, although she has to limp, but it took awhile for the spasm to die down, and I really felt helpless.

Thing is, this isn't the first time Renee has had problems with a foot locking up on her. And on at least one of those occasions, I'm pretty sure she'd been sitting with it folded at an odd angle. So I told her that now she has to train herself to never sit like that, since she's obviously predisposed toward cramping painfully when that happens.

Ugh. I'm just glad she's okay.

Mash-Up Report

  • Pretend We're North American Fun - The Illuminoids

  • Mama Sam - DJ Zebra Mix

  • Puzzle and the Wailers - DJ Zebra Mix

I don't really know if these are Mash-Ups yet, Jean moves too fast for me to listen to all these guys...

Balkan Beat Box

Latest eMusic album: Balkan Beat Box. I was actually listening to samples of Gogol Bordello, and saw a link to BBB. Checking them out, I discovered that they make music that is ideal to program to, texturally rich, but amenable as background music. Looking forward to using it tomorrow at work.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Music Pipeline

I've been wading through the freebies from the 2006 SXSW (I haven't even started on 2007's free content). Nice discoveries:

  • Start Wearing Purple - Gogol Bordello

  • Forever and Day - Her Space Holiday

  • Black Horse and the Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall

  • Destroy everything you touch - Ladytron

  • Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show

  • Tear You Apart - She Wants Revenge

From Jean's Mash-Up Train, we have some new contenders as well:

  • Alla vill till Darins Himmel - Calle Hansson

  • I Love New England - Lenlow

Then a cool little culture collision I picked up scanning the web:

  • Hip Hop Violin - Paul Dateh & Inka one

I've also been previewing a couple of albums:

  • Ramonetures

  • In Rainbows - Radiohead

The first is a cover album of Ramones tunes, done in the style of surf guitar. It's not too bad, but I've been spoiled listening to Takeshi Terauchi, who is a Japanese surf guitar god, so they have a steep hill to climb.

The second album is Radiohead's latest, and their first without being under contract to a major label. It's 'free', in that they let you decide how much to pay for it. I'm previewing before I give them any money, as I am generally annoyed with Thom Yorke's policy of only allowing sales of complete albums since he feels that allowing purchase of individual tracks destroys the artistic integrity of his music. Rii-ight. Anyway, so far there are only a couple of songs I'd pay for, so I'll probably delete this one in a day or two.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Good IT Citizen

I've had the same backup methodology for a few years now. Basically, I have a portable hard drive with three partitions, one for each computer in active use in our household. On Saturday mornings, after I've done my paperwork for the week, I do a backup of my computer in the den. When I'm feeling a bit more ambitious, I drag the drive around the house backing up Jean's computer and the laptop. That seems to happen once a month or even less frequently.

However, with my approximately year-old computer purchase came a much larger hard drive. I've actually had to cull stuff off the drive because my backup partition wouldn't hold it, twice. So when I saw that Costco had a 500GB external drive on sale, I grabbed one. Tonight I formatted it and dedicated it completely to Revy, my computer in the den. The original backup drive got reformatted and partitioned into two slots, for Haruko, Jean's computer, and Mikura, my laptop. That smaller backup drive now sits next to Jean's machine, so I think it's safe to say that it will get backed up more frequently than once a month.

And no, I don't have a backup plan that will survive a house fire. If that happens, I figure I've got bigger problems to worry about than what happened to my amateur photography files.


Jean still busily mines the mashup world:

  • Boogie Woogie Candyman - Christina Aguilera vs. The Andrews Sisters [RabRadio]

  • Work It Out - Beyonce, Jurassic 5, Dee-Lite [Lenlow]

  • J-Lo vs. K-Co vs S-Wo [Lenlow]

  • To the Taxmobile - Batman TV Theme, Beatles [Lenlow]

Then, for a more conventional take, I grabbed these two from AmazonMP3 Store:

  • Rehab - Amy Winehouse

  • Back to Black - Amy Winehouse

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Vive La Trance

Another twenty-some odd year-old album, from my early college years. Ook! Make that thirty years. The album first came out in 1974, and I remember listening to it at Michigan Tech, in Houghton, Michigan, which would put it at around 1976 or 1977. God I'm old!

Anyway, Vive La Trance is something like the seventh album by Amon Düül II. Yes, that's a Roman numeral two there. There was an Amon Düül first. I won't reiterate the history from Wikipedia here, it's an interesting read. Suffice to say that I've had two of their albums, the remains of which exist still in my desk at work, on a double-length cassette tape. I've played it infrequently over the years, well aware that it was degrading and would eventually cease playing listenable music.

Now I've grabbed this album from eMusic, and I finally found the near-impossible-to-locate Hijack, now back in print. So it's winging it's way through the mail to me, and I'll note it here when it arrives. Such good memories...


Hijack arrived in the mail yesterday, and I've been listening to it ever since. It's as good as I remember, and better even than Vive La Trance. Guess I should follow my instinct to restore all those old albums I was fond of. Hmm, what's next? Voyage of the Acolyte?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Okay, I know I already got a version of I Put a Spell on You from eMusic, but that was an inferior version, Hawkins 'covering' himself, trying to be goofier without really topping the classic recording.

So now I went ahead and got the version I first heard, which was included in Stranger Than Paradise, a very strange, slow, but wonderful movie by Jim Jarmusch.