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A Few Things

Forgive me Father, for it has been nearly one full month since my last post. I have no excuse. I’ve had a few post ideas in my head, but laziness or being completely sick of sitting in front of a computer prevent me from following through. Still, here I am, the ever prodigal daughter. Enough religious allusions…

I owe a shout out to a buddy. Because he and his friends are so nerdy and awesome, during our last snowstorm they built Better Together. You add things that go better together and you can agree with others to be all Web 2.0-y. I added pickles and chocolate milk. Now you go add something (or better yet, agree with me!). Trust me — you’ll want to jump on this bandwagon early because I give it two months before it’s Dugg and Wired to death. :)

In trend news, I’ve been obsessed with music. What’s new about that, you ask? Not much other than my Rhapsody subscription, which is totally kicking my ass. Imagine access to almost every song you’d ever want to hear, for only $9 a month. It took a lot of convincing for me, but it’s my best investment so far this year. I have gotten to know some great bands that I probably wouldn’t have pursued because of Rhapsody. What’s really fun is that Rhapsody makes me want to set aside special music listening time, which I’d never really done before.

Some music I’ve been really in to lately:

  • M. Ward
  • Heartless Bastards
  • Neil Young
  • Arcade Fire (duh)

Some TV shows I’ve been really in to lately:

  • “Modern Marvels”
  • “American Idol” (shutup)
  • “The Soup”

I’ve all but given up on “Lost” and “Brothers & Sisters”. I just don’t get why it’s so hard to make quality stories for TV.

Unrelated: Today was very interesting. It started out sad because I lacked any plans or people to make any with, but then a dear friend from Wisconsin called me and we had a great conversation that really lifted me up. The kicker was that she told me that her dad told her that I could come stay with them next time she visited them because “he feels like he could tell me anything” and “really enjoys my company”. (Of course we joked that he’ll start asking for marriage advice.) I really needed that boost of self-confidence right at that moment, and thinking about it later brought a tear to my normally dry eyes.

Then I bought a new cell phone and picked up some Chin’s for dinner. At Chin’s, a girl handed me my bag of food without saying my name, which I figured was because I was the only one waiting. I smiled and thanked her and she replied, “I knew it was yours because you always get the same thing.” I was shocked. I’ve ordered it maybe three times and I didn’t recognize her. It’s a amazing to think about how you affect people and that the most random of folks can remember you. And for some reason, that made me feel more alive than I’ve felt in a while. Thanks, Chin’s girl.

The Results Are In

Our team took 60th place at the KVSC trivia contest this past weekend. I totally did not anticipate helping out with over half of the 50 hours of questions. For those who don’t know, this is how it goes:

There’s 9 or 18 questions per hour. Questions vary in points and time allotted. Some questions are audio (song clips, people talking, movie clips), some questions are about completely random things (“Name the first 4 kiss songs to be instrumentalized into muzak?”), some are about very obscure people in St Cloud (“What was the first play ever performed at St Cloud Apollo High School?”), while others are more traditional trivia (“Name the brewer who in 1842 who invented pilsner.”).

I had so much fun. Everything was a challenge and it was rewarding more often than frustrating. We are already talking about next year. So, if you are interested in spending 50 hours (well, a couple shifts of 8 hours anyway) looking up strange things like the actual steps to setting up your Simple Set Pool one weekend in February, 2008 – let me know! There’s always lots of food, fun, and humor with the Shake a Hamster Band. Join us, wherever you are!

I’m Calling it Now

Next Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, Apple will announce that remastered versions of the entire Beatles UK catalog will be available on iTunes exclusively.

And as if that wasn’t a big enough announcement, all of the tracks will be DRM-free.

For my reasoning, add up here + here + here (scroll down to the it about EMI trying out EMI-free songs).

Update: More proof from EMI (who releases Apple records).

Update 2: Ok, I was wrong about the date apparently. But here’s some substantial news: Beatles albums are no longer available in Europe (possibly the world) to prepare for the remastered versions at the end of March. (Sources are two “reliable” record people in Europe, via the Yahoo Beatleg group.) I’m still calling no DRM.

Gooogle: The Musical

I finally made it to the new and vastly improved Guthrie Theater. What a fantastic building! It looks and feels so modern in every room. I like it much better than the Walker addition. The new Guthrie is a tourist attraction in a part of town often forgotten. I felt like I was in another city momentarily as we approached it from 2nd Street heading east. There is a whole other feeling surrounding this building. I hope other parts of the city being renovated (Franklin Ave, parts of South Mpls, Lake Street, Midway in St Paul, etc.) take note.

The view from the Endless Bridge is breathtaking (especially in below zero weather). There’s old industry everywhere around you: flour mills (and their early 20th century signage), the mighty Mississippi river, trains warning of their arrival…you can’t help but wonder what it was like 100 years ago. It’s a perfectly historical spot for what should be the Twin Cities greatest new treasure.

Oh yeah, and I saw a play while I was there. It was Gooogle: The Musical, originally staged at 2006′s local Fringe Festival. It was not nearly as funny as I hoped it would be. My idea of it was way better than the actual play. Plus it was really confusing. (SPOILER ALERT) So in the play, Google is a Carrie Bradshaw lookie likie. She’s sexy, she’s always wearing uncomfortable clothing, but she’s not nearly as goofy as Carrie. And she’s gay. Google keeps getting IMs (via her cutey Mac) from a woman, but we have no idea why. Although the source of these IMs are eventually revealed, they obviously really only exist to give the actors time to change or otherwise do what they need to do for the next scene.

Google’s got four hussies at her beckon call. These girls do a nice little bit inspired by Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango”, but that lasts about a minute. I thought the four girls would be either Yahoo, MSN, AOL and, or Google’s own Images, News, Froogle, and Video searches. But they were never identified. And I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get it.

I didn’t sleep well that night so I ended up thinking a lot about how I’d rewrite it. I’d like to make it a bit geekier. So if you’re reading, Drew Hammond, or whoever…let me know if you’re interested! I even have a writing degree!!

Oh, How the Mighty Have…Conceeded

Every time I’ve driven to Wisconsin since just after 9/1/01, I’ve passed a gigantic handmade sign in a field near the River Falls I-94 exit. It is white painted plywood with blue and white lettering that reads “WE SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH”. Of course there’s also a gigantic American flag waving next to it.

It appeared around the same time as graffiti on bridges over I-94 demanding to, “SUPPORT OUR TROOPS”. Those went away fairly quickly, but the sign remained.

That is, until very recently. Sometime in the last three weeks, the proud owner made a new sign. The new one is similar in artistry, yet a bit different in tone: “PEACE THROUGH MILITARY STRENGTH”.

What does this say about the artist/activist? Do they no longer support President Bush? Or have they simply gone the way of many Republicans and realized that the war is going poorly and it’s Bush’s fault? Or perhaps this is a new statement, still pro-Bush, saying that the surge is a good idea.

No matter what, use of the word “peace” is interesting. Is the new sign an oxymoron, or simply moronic? Perhaps Figaro can help.

KVSC Trivia Contest

A co-worker of mine is hosting a party for the 50-hour long trivia contest broadcast over KVSC in St Cloud, MN the weekend of February 9th. Never heard of it? Neither had I. The questions are more than Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit style questions that depend on luck and wording as much as your memory. No, these are real brain busters.

For example, what is the geographic significance of the following numbers: 10, 18, 20, 25, 27, 31, 60, and 91?

Answer (highlight to view): The United States. Find a Periodic table and you’ll get it.

Despite this being a trivia marathon conducted over the radio and phone lines (you call in your answers), there are visual questions. Teams are mailed a packet with numbered pictures. Someone was kind enough to post the packet online here.

If you know what any of these are pictures of, please leave a comment! #3, #8, #17, #20, & #25 are already figured out. I think that #22 is Joni Mitchell and James Taylor and #12 is The Clash. #11 looks like someone from the TV show “The Wild Wild West” but I haven’t been able to prove that. Of course, they can ask anything at all about these pictures, but a general idea is better than nothing.

I Want My MTV

It’s true. I’m a day shy of 29 and I still watch MTV. But here’s the thing: it’s been significantly better lately.

One day last week I happened to read about this guy Mika who is big on the UK pop chart these days. A few days later I saw the video for “Grace Kelly” on MTV’s Big Ten. As astounding as MTV giving precious air time to this love child of Freddie Mercury and Rufus Wainwright is, the surprise was dulled a bit by the fact that his video followed Lily Allen’s for “Smile“.

It’s a new British invasion!

This morning, I once again saw both of these great British acts on The Big Ten, followed by (the especially poignant) Silversun Pickups video for “Lazy Eye“! What is going on here??? Is this some alternative universe where 20-40 year old indie hipster snobbery = 13-21 year old musical ignorance? Have MTV programmers been reading Pitchfork?

"It’s Alright (I See Rainbows)"

It snowed last night. I got caught in it. But I didn’t spin out or hit anything. I arrived safely home.

On my way in to work this morning, on the barely plowed and salted roads, I saw a rainbow. At first it looked like it was in the northeast. Then it was in the southeast. I saw it almost my whole 35 mph ride. It was vertical, but very clear and beautiful.

This weekend I also found some photos I took of a rainbow outside of my place in St Paul. This was a summer rainbow, and the fullest one I’ve ever seen. Even the pictures are good.

Yay rainbows.

Another Reason Comcast Sucks

There certainly is nothing new in saying that Comcast sucks. But really probably only .5% of the blogosphere contains original content, so here comes my rant.

I was planning on getting rid of what’s known as the “Digital Preferred” and “Digital Classic” tiers off my cable because I only watch two or three channels off those regularly (I will really miss Discover Times). But then with the new price plans to be released this month, I discovered that if I get rid of “Digital Preferred”, I must also get rid of my DVR.

This is not an option. Maybe this is how they get users pumped for Tivo software. I will essentially be paying $24/month for the DVR, on a box I don’t even own.

So speaking of Tivo…I started looking into buying a box. And then I ended up buying one with a 3-year plan (which may have been a bit foolish, but we’ll see). That means I’m saving over $180 this year and $260 the following two years compared to Comcast (including getting rid of at least one digital tier I don’t watch enough of). And that includes all the awesome functionality that Comcast DVR never would offer on their own (online scheduling, search, favorite people or whatever…etc.).

I’m really excited for the Tivo. It should arrived next week. I’ll post a review shortly thereafter.

Time Person of the Year

CNN has received emails regarding who Time should pick for their “Peron of the Year”. Here’s some that really display the types of Americans that exist:

College educated, gets news from multiple sources:
Kevin Shelburne of Golden, Colorado

The American voter — Consistently discounted by D.C. hubris, the voter eventually comes around to punish and reward for past history. The real check and balance in our government.

Watches too much cable TV:
Cathy Buskirk of Summerville, South Carolina

Absolutely with no doubt, Steve Irwin should be named “Man of the Year.” He has given us direction so that we can follow his path toward conservation, not only for wildlife, but the entire planet. Steve was the “one” voice that has guided us to a better tomorrow for all. The Earth is not ours alone, we share it with a million animal species. It is time for us all to do our share in conservation. Steve showed us the way… now it’s our turn.

Only watches the nightly news and thinks they are informed:
Nadine Yanarella of Latrobe, Pennsylvania

I believe the “Person of the Year” award should be given to the servicemen and women who are fighting the war against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are serving in a very unpopular war in the worst of conditions — but serving with honor and pride. They need to know and understand that their sacrifices matter to those of us who enjoy freedom and safety because of them.

Completely stubborn and uninformed, bordering on retarded:
Paul Muzichuk of Jacksonville, Florida

George W. Bush has met difficult challenges in his presidential career. Despite criticisms and negative opposition, he has stayed the course he had described and not flip-flopped. In many ways it has helped prove to the American people that if you have a goal you must continue until you attain it.