Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

8/21/2008

New Music Resources

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Red Herrings,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Yeah, I know this is later than normal, but I gave you two things on Tuesday, so I figure we’re even.

Well, as you know I’ve been searching for new music. At least, music that’s new to me, because, you know, I was told that Snow Patrol is, well, mainstream and old hat and whatever other cliche you want to squeeze in here. So, I put a poll up over in the sidebar and hoped for the best. Now, for those of you who don’t know me in life, you might be a little surprised by how eclectic and varied my choices in music can be. For instance, in my car right now, I have Warren Zevon’s last CD, a Frank Sinatra collection, Snow Patrol, Bowling For Soup, Green Day, Sheryl Crow, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Rob Zombie and Nina Simone, just to name a few. In fact, I went from listening to Rob Zombie to Sheryl Crow in an afternoon. So, my point is, I’m pretty open. I usually say I don’t listen to Rap or Country, but, honestly? If someone presents something interesting enough, I’ll try it. Seriously.

In any case, I wasn’t satisfied with the responses I was getting on my poll (vote early, vote often!), so I started doing more research. I got a book called The Pocket DJ. It’s been around a little while, but I figured it would still lead me places I hadn’t been. Also, there’s this writing exercise where you build a playlist for your various characters, to try and get inside their heads and feel how they feel through music. I sort of figured that I could go in the other direction and pick playlists from the book then build the character from that. You know, getting twice the use of the book by cranking my musical IQ up a few points and getting some writing exercises at the same time. I’ll get back to you on both.

Either way, though, there was a section in the back of the book that listed a bunch of music blogs. So, naturally, I sat down not too long ago and started chasing links. Some didn’t interest me and some had either moved or shutdown or shutdown just as I found them. At least one blogger announced that she was shutting down her blog to become a full-time music journalist not more than a week after I bookmarked it! Of the ones that survived, though, I’ve got three for you.
First, there’s Sixeyes MP3 Blog, with regular posts and free MP3s in every post! Yea! They’re mostly indy stuff, but kind of all over the place, too.
Then there’s Fluxblog! with almost daily posts and, again, free MP3s in every post, sometimes podcasts with music, too. Yea free! I mean, seriously, you can fill your entire iPod with free MP3s of popular and new music from this blog alone!
Finally, there’s Stereogum with many, many posts, at least one daily, lots of performers from overseas and many posts with videos or MP3s. Yea regularity! Oh, my middle-age is showing! Seriously, these folks love music and it shows in sheer volume of posts, if not the intensity of each review.

Also, a friend, Marc Garvin of Pulling Strings, the great Houston-based public radio show about classical guitar and similar stringed instruments (Correction!  Marc e-mailed me and said the show features “the sounds of “Picked, plucked and strummed” (sometimes “banged, bashed and hammered”) instruments.”  So, you know, it’s even better than what I said.) suggested some of these very cool and different performers when he caught wind of my search for something new to add to my rotation. Even though these links are all about the music, they’re brought to you via YouTube.
Jake Shimabukuro on the Ukulele. This is definitely worth looking at and listening to. He does things with a ukulele that have to be heard, and seen, to be believed!
Kaki King playing the guitar in such a way as to get percussion. Okay, the video is a little strange and disjointed, but I really like this sound. It’s kind of the latest version of a performer singing with their instrument. Open mike night taken to a super-high professional level, you know?
Joscho Stephan, also playing the guitar. This is a more Country, or Appalachian, sound to me than I’d have expected from Marc, seeing as he’s a Classical guy, but, I have to admit, it’s got a certain energy to it that really works!  (Update!  Marc told me that “Joscho is a “gypsy jazz” guitarist in the style of Django Reinhardt.” So, that should make it more clear to those of you who are more musically well-versed than I.  And, by that I mean, everyone in the world.)

Finally, if you want to find any of the music that’s been mentioned here, or elsewhere on my blog, I suggest trying SeeqPod, the playable search engine. I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating in this context. One of the great features here is the “Discover” feature that lets you discover songs that SeeqPod thinks are close to what you’ve been searching for in style. Sometimes some really interesting stuff comes up in that.

So, there you have it. As promised, more than one new resource for new music.
Also, for those interested, yes, I did buy the newest Snow Patrol CD, but don’t let that stop you from voting in the poll because I’ll be buying more music eventually.
Oh, yeah, one more thing… Don’t forget that next week I’ll be doing a guest post on someone else’s blog. I’ll have an announcement the day it’s supposed to go live on that site.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Whatever the majority of people is doing, under any given circumstances, if you do the exact opposite, you will probably never make another mistake as long as you live."
   --Earl Nightingale

2/11/2006

Bookend Blondes

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Linux,Personal,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I roll over and find myself looking into eager, soft, brown eyes surrounded by red-blonde hair. Oh, God, what a night…

But, that’s getting ahead of myself. It was a long, frustrating week of server wrestling that ended in a stalemate. The endless cycle of tweak, test, repeat broken by the pulsing tone of a text message arriving on my phone. No, more than that. “A picture share!”, my Inbox winked at me. “I’m so tired!” said the message. And then I scrolled down. As I recall, my reaction was “Daaaaammmmmnnnnn!” Followed by, “I wonder what her lips taste like?” And, more, of course, but not anything I’d share in a PG-13 blog. What I did respond with was how cute and adorable I thought she was. Apparently, she was looking for more. More I could have given her, but, well, I do try not be too aggressive with the married ones, even if they are unhappy and headed toward divorce. And, since she’ll be reading this, I loved her little, lopsided smile and her wild blonde hair pulled back into a simple pony tail. Adorable. The kind of adorable you want to wake up with for the next sixty years or so.
Somewhere between the camera phone surprise and throwing in the towel on my server config, a guy invites me to his “Thank God Almighty, I am free at last” party. Normally, I’m not really thrilled with a guy carrying on a conversation with me at the urinal, but, hey, free food and drink is worth a little dance outside my men’s room comfort zone. So, last one out the door into the rain, I zip over to meet his Filipina girlfriend, eat her wonderful shrimp wrapped in bacon, and knock back two quick beers. While I’m there, my hot, little picture-taker calls, then excuses herself when she hears where I’m at. On my way home, I call her.
“Yeah, I’m headed home already. Look, I work with those [deleted plural expletive] five days a week. They always want something from me and can never wait. I don’t really want to hang out with them any longer than I have to after I get my free food.”
“So, you still going to the bookstore?”
“Yeah, might as well. Hey, I know it’s not going to go well, but abject failure makes a funnier blog post than outrageous success anyway.”
“HaHa! Well, good luck on your cooter hunt!” Have I mentioned I really dig that country twang in her voice? Shame she’s married. That’s me, always the friend of the hot, married girl.

I slid into Borders with a plan, or, at least, a theme: music. Music magazines and CDs. Hey, it’s buy three, get the fourth free! So, I decided that it would be four that I don’t normally listen to now. As I roll through the door, I can see that pickings will be slim. Couples everywhere. Well, I figure I’m already there, I have my laptop and I can use the coffee. So, I grab a couple music rags that have free CDs: Mojo and Classic Rock. Then, it was a quick lap around the store, feigning interest in books I knew I wouldn’t buy. Worse than a snipe hunt. So, upstairs to skulk around the writing books, trying to look literate. Rumor has it, chicks did literate guys, or so I’ve been told. As I pass by the VD display, though, a book catches my eye: Cooking to Hook Up : The Bachelor’s Date-Night Cookbook. My music theme has met its first upset, but, I think, eventually, it’ll be worth it. If chicks dig literate guys, literate guys who can cook have got to be even better. Right?
So, since the pickings aren’t any better in the knitting section, I ease over to the music section. Right to the Pop/Rock racks, with a slight detour past the “Local Scene” display. From there, I snag A Little Gun Shy by Brian Douglas. It’s a risk, but, hey, he’s local talent. Then it was off to a new favorite, discovered through obsessive-compulsive searching through the blogosphere, Bowling for Soup, this time I grab Drunk Enough to Dance, because, that’s about what it takes for this whiter than white-guy to get out and shake it. Then, two new ones from old favorites: The Delivery Man by Elvis Costello and the Imposters, along with Wildflower by Sheryl Crow. Like I said, whiter than white. It’s who I am, learn to embrace my lack of diversity.
My music theme complete, I hobble into the coffee shop, still hoping that single women will have nothing better to do on a Friday night besides buy books and chat me up. Hey, hope springs eternal, you know? No Bavarian death cake, but a surrogate from Belgium and an espresso shooter in a paper cup. It’s either that or a long, chest needle like Pulp Fiction. I eat my Bavarian death cake substitute like a guy in a prison movie, always looking at the other tables and with one foot in the aisle in case I need to move in a hurry. The caffeine shooter chases the cake, but it’s not enough, so I go back and get regular medium cup of steaming, hot, Italian Fascism to keep me going through the tragedy that has become my wasted evening. In a sad attempt to salvage my trip, I crank up my ancient laptop, which runs RedHat, and do a little writing exercise to keep me limber. I describe the people I see:
People seen at Borders
The guy with the faux three day growth beard… The tall girl with him wearing yoga pants…
The two couples on a date. The fair-skinned girl with dark eyes who was more interested in the other men than her date. The sad smile she gave me as she walked just out of his reach said “help me, for God’s sake find a way to help me out her, buddy” Her date was the recycled frat boy with the baby face and the crewcut that had grown out sideways and in uneven patches…
…All lonely, all hungry, all hunting the same thing. All failing miserably. All except the two gay guys who found each other. Happy as clams, they make cow eyes at each other and giggle like school-girls.
A little girl, half Asian, with a thoughtful gleam in her eye and a tongue stuck out the corner of her mouth in concentration as she crept to the leather couch and stealthily slipped into the seat next to the couple on a date, never taking her eyes off them. The man with his back turned, his steel gray eyes behind open-rimmed glasses intent on his date, a girl with a ruddy complexion and streaked red hair who was years older than he and unhappy. He had to work to make her smile, harder than he should have.

My best prospect was one of the gay guys and I’m not that lonely. Not yet, anyway. So, I scooped up my magazines and CDs and shoved my antique laptop into my bag. God noticed and sent out the signal to the troops. As soon as I was in line to checkout, two single girls walked in together, moving with purpose toward the far end of the store. Just my luck.
The guy from last week, who recognized me, checks me out and asks about the coupon. Coupon? I tell him I think he used it last week, cheating for me so I can save a buck. He does it again and makes a point of handing me the second coupon. For next time. Damn pusher. At least I got a discount. Being a regular has its perks, I guess.
On the way out, I hold the door for a group of five young women. Yep, that God sure has a sick sense of humor and my timing is still dead on.
Damn, I could really use a cigarette.

And, this morning? This morning I wake to a flirty strawberry blonde batting her big, brown eyes at me. My dog reminding me that it’s laundry day. But, that opening sure had you hooked, didn’t it?
Good dog.


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