Thursday, September 28, 2006

#14: Toddler Portraiture Pt. 2, It Pays To Be Different, Remembering Sean Lennon.

Don't worry, I'm not going to become the sort of person who frequently blogs about their cats, but I'm excited because I recently found out that I will soon be reunited with my fluffball Snuffleupagus (who has spent the past few months with his mum-and-pop in law in Colorado). In his honor, my four year old niece drew this portrait of him. Below, a new photo of Nina with Snuffy. Doublemint fun.

Mozilla reportedly made $72 million dollars last year from Firefox, their open-source internet browser. The dollar amount has been disputed, although not protested heartily enough to imply that it is too far off the mark. Their parent foundation, the Mozilla Foundation, certainly deserves every last penny and it's great to know that they are reaping rewards to continue their great work... but didn't couldn't they think up a better abbreviation than "MoFo"?

This guy probably won't be getting quite that much money, but he does see how far $39 and corporate goodwill go. Of course, it's not like $72 million is even such a large figure anymore. Just ask the kids who'll be attending public school here. Russia just gave Cuba $350 million worth of credit--maybe they'll be able to build a couple schools. Anyway, with numbers like that, it's good to know that $3,000 can still buy you love.

Remember Sean Lennon? Most people in the indie music world probably would have forgotten him by now (it's been eight years since his excellent first record)... if his parents weren't the most famous couple in the history of rock 'n roll. Anyhow, he's got a new record coming out in October called Friendly Fire, and it's made me remember how much I actually enjoyed his debut. There's a "trailer" for his new album here (with, erm, Lindsay Lohan and Carrie Fisher), but I found it more fun to revisit the video for "Home" off his first record. It was directed by Spike Jonze, and as everyone knows, the man can do no wrong. He's the poor man's Michel Gondry.



#13: Tiny Cities Made of Jello, MySpace Gets Active, Wikipedia Widgets, Le Sport.

Ever feel like owning a piece of the former Soviet empire? How about an entire city? How does a $3 million price tag sound? Sold! Well, maybe you can't have Moscow for reals, but you can own this 400+ square foot model of the city constructed by artist Efim Deshalyt in 1976.

If you're feeling a little more nationalistic, there's always San Francisco rendered in Jello. It's the latest project from Bay Area artist Liz Hickok and is definitely worth a view. I love that even the fog has been recreated (although presumably with a smoke machine). Doin' Mr. Cosby proud!

MySpace and voting are obviously two themes common to our site visitors, so it's fitting that the two are now officially in cahootz. The social networking site has teamed up with the nonpartisan, non-profit Declare Yourself to help get its users registered to vote. So what if they don't have anywhere near 100,000,000 users--every vote(r) counts.

For the other Wikipedia junkies out there (or at least the Mac-using population), here's a new widget to help keep your focus during those ever-tangential information gathering sessions.

A couple years ago, a Swedish band called Eurosport released a guilty-pleasure filled EP of bouncy '80s-inspired synth-pop. Two years and a name change later, Le Sport has finally delivered their first full-length, the appropriately titled Euro Deluxe Dance Party. It's a little more New Order and a little less Pet Shop Boys than their EP, even if there is a track called "If Neil Tennant Was My Lover" (and even if that track should be called "If Neil Tennant Were My Lover"... we'll let that ride on the ESL tip). Here is "It's Not the End of the World" in both MP3 and video form:

Unfortunately, according to their site they've just broken up. Way to tease, guys.


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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

 Carr & Cole: separated at birth?#12: 10,000 Votes, Secret Twins, People Talkin' Funny, Camera Obscura.

First off, a pat on our collective back for passing the 10,000 vote mark! At this point, Jacksonville, FL is still in the lead, but as we've already witnessed many times, there is no such thing as a solid lead so early on in the proceedings. You can vote here.

Apropos of nothing, I'd also like to point out that British comedian Jimmy Carr reminds me an awful lot of British singer/songwriter Lloyd Cole. Separated at birth?

October's edition of Smithsonian Magazine has an article stating that, despite the seemingly contradictory effects of national media outlets like radio and television, regional dialects are actually becoming stronger across the United States. I wonder how much this has to do with the relatively short time elapsed between the rise of television and the current generation of parents and children, but hey, who am I to argue with linguists. Their argument is that people cling to dialects because they want to emulate their friends and bosses but I suspect it has more to do with the sheer volume of certain speech patterns and pronunciations one hears growing up someplace. See how the folks in your neck of the woods talk funny by using this map.

But hey, speaking of Lloyd Cole, the first single from Camera Obscura's latest record, Let's Get Out of This Country has a neat video. "Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken" is a not-so-coded reference to Cole's stellar 1984 single, "Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken" (click to download); the song is fantastic, though, and the video is a campy send-up of the mod/twee trappings the band's fanbase has wrapped them up in:

And since I mentioned the man twice in one post, here's a classic from Mr. Cole, the long-forgotten video for his moody "Forest Fire":

One last item from the Department of Crazy Huh What: the New York Times writes that outspoken superstar wide receiver Terrell Owens of the Dallas Cowboys tried to commit suicide yesterday. The T.O. story only gets stranger, it seems.


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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

a rainbow of deliciousness.#11: Custom Candy, Tecmo '06, Nutty Birds, Britpop Fever.

I may be a little late on this, but you know the customization craze has really hit critical mass when you can personalize your M&M's. Call me old fashioned, but isn't that what those chalky Necco Sweethearts are for?.. Apparently not, because now you can also personalize those, too. Of course, if you're lazy/cheap, you can do it virtually or take an internet quiz to find out which one you'd be. Good times.

If you were a boy who grew up in the early '90s, chances are you whiled away many an hour playing Tecmo Super Bowl on your old Nintendo console. Apparently, this guy has updated those rosters a 15 year update and is simulating the entire football season for the, erm, benefit of the internet crowd.

Before there the penguins marched, there was Winged Migration. After seeing it in the theatres a few years ago, I remembered walking out with a newfound sense of appreciation and awe for birds, thinking that maybe they weren't so different from us after all. That sensation was rekindled yesterday after watching the following clip, which is worth watching just to hear the British narrator say "the problem now is collecting the bits without getting run over":

And look at this--it's another double video day. Here is part one of four of a recent half-hour BBC documentary on the rise and fall of Britpop. If you're at all interested in the scene or some of the bands--Blur, Oasis, Elastica, Suede, etc.--it's worth a watch, even if there isn't anything too surprising. It does seem they give short shrift to the shoegazers, many of whom wound up being part of the Britpop movement proper (Boo Radleys, Ride, Moose...). Here is part one with links to part two, part three, and part four:


Sunday, September 24, 2006

exploding paint!
#10: Maltese Puppies, Camera Talk, & The Most Beautiful Ad in the World.

Wow! Jacksonville, FL was way in the lead with over 1,600 votes, and then - wham! - Birmingham struck back and vaulted over the 2,000 mark. Crazy stuff.

My parents of that age now where they are starting to talk about either adopting a child or getting a puppy. Both sound very exciting, but if you are debating getting a kid versus a puppy chances are you aren't ready for a child. They settled on a Maltese, for reasons of size, cuteness, and allergy-resistance. These little guys are simply great and I was sold on getting one before the "which kind" talk even took place. I hope I get to play with him a bit before I head back to Miami. Speaking of adopting though, Danny's sister is actually in the process of adopting a baby from China.

A little on the techy side, my beautiful Canon Powershot S45 camera broke not long ago and I'm badly in need of a replacement. I'm looking at the Kodak Easyshot V570 and the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-N1 . Has anyone out there had good/bad experiences with those or have suggestions for a camera in the not-too-pricey but still nice range that does at least 28mm and can be programmed to shoot long exposures? For some crazy reason, Canon stopped making the S series. Should I just go for last year's S80? This camera buying business is so confusing.

The folks at Sony Bravia are making a new commercial to follow up their absolutely brilliant Bravia Balls, which introduced many folks across the world to the genius of Jose Gonzalez (covering equally brillant fellow Swedes The Knife). In that commercial, 250,000 multi-coloured superballs were bounced down the streets of San Francisco to create some surprisingly breathtaking images. I've had the screensaver for this ad for a year now and still can't get enough. Watch for the frog!

The new ad uses 70,000 liters of paint and a bunch of various other stuff. So far, Bravia has only posted still shots, but some onlookers have made their video available:

Since the final product will probably look much better with its slow-motion takes and moody indie music, here is the original bouncing ball ad:


retro future#9: Vintage Style, Tan Mice, Kind Words, & Chapterhouse.

First off, congratulations are in order: this past week, Nina won the People's Choice Award in an exhibition at the Old Firehouse Art Center in Longmont, Colorado. If you live in the area, you can view her work through October 14th.

I was leafing through a magazine the other day when the SpeckTone Retro console caught my eye. Festooned in deliciously '70s lime green and brown, it's an iPod stereo similar to those produced by Bose and other companies... except the design is much. What makes me like it even more is the fact that it only has one knob, the volume control. It seems even Luddites can get in on the MP3 revolution.

In more weighty matters, it seems that scientists have discovered a way to give mice fake tans that chemically recreate a natural suntan (instead of just dyeing the skin). I bet those bronzed mice get all the lady mice. Joking aside, were such a treatment perfected for humans it could have many benefits, with protecting folks from skin cancer chief among them. The link will take you to the NPR story, which is definitely worth a listen.

There is a fantastically written article about our project in today's Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL's largest newspaper. Out of more than blatant narcissism (I swear!), I implore you to give it a read.

Something about Sundays makes me want to listen to music that holds a special, sepia-toned place in my heart. Today, that means Chapterhouse, one of my favorite groups from the early '90s British shoegaze movement. Although they frequently get back-seated to other amazing acts like Slowdive, Ride, and Lush, Chapterhouse's first album (the recently re-issued Whirlpool) and the many EPs that sandwiched it are all pretty flawless. Exhibit A is "Mesmerise," the title track from a 1993 EP. Download it here and watch the video:

It's got that quintessential shoegaze feel to it: bright colors, blurry camera shots, a vibe that is both ethereal and trippy. The video is horribly dated, no argument there, but the music still feels timeless to these ears.


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Friday, September 22, 2006

Danny and Nina as seen by my six year old niece#8:Toddler Portraiture, Interviews, Google Mars, and Pulling Our Weight.

I was over at my sister's house for dinner the other night and for dessert my nieces, ages six and four, did portraits of Nina and me. When I promised to put them "on the internet," the elder niece excitedly freaked out, although I'm not too sure how solid her conceptual grasp of the internet is. In any event, here they are in all their glory. I'm especially taken by Nina's blue eyes and my askew eyeballs. Click on the image for a bonus treat, my younger niece's rendering of me. Hint: the thing that appears to be impaling my frontal lobe is actually the brim of a baseball cap.

In very exciting news, Nina and I gave our first interviews yesterday, for The Greenwich Citizen and The Florida Times-Union, which is the largest newspaper in Jacksonville. As part of my pre-interview research, I was shocked to discover that Jacksonville is actually the most populous city in Florida and #13 in the country. This was corroborrated by our interviewer, a very friendly man named Mark Woods. We'll post the links to the articles once they're available on the internets; they should run today and on Sunday respectively.

Ever feel like Google Earth is pretty neat but so... 2005? You're in luck, my friend--behold, Google Mars. Those Google boys are unstoppable. If it's your bag, you can even view the terrain through topographical relief maps instead of satellite imagery. It's pretty awesome to spend some time navigating around the various craters and dunes of a planet that is sometimes as far as 250 million miles away from us.

My favorite album of 2006 has been The Radio Dept.'s Pet Grief, so I went scrounging for a video from it to post today. However, I was a little disappointed with the video for "The Worst Taste in Music," so I decided I'd compromise a bit: you can download the title track from the new record and watch the video for "Pulling Our Weight" (from the EP of the same name) here:

It's a beautiful clip reminiscent of some of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' old music video work. And you've seen Little Miss Sunshine, right?


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Thursday, September 21, 2006

#7: First Press, New Paintings, Laughing Last & Rubicon

First thing's first: last night via Google, Nina spotted our first bit of press: a newspaper article from the Northwest Arkansas Times. It was a surprising find considering no one from their staff tried to contact us, but we are thrilled that they decided to run something on us nonetheless. And it certainly goes a long way toward explaining the Fayetteville phenomenon.

My favorite line from the article is the closer--"Our strange little world just keeps getting stranger." So true. By the way, don't get weirded out when you notice the address is's not that NWA.

In other exciting news, Nina just finished work on three paintings which are now up for viewing on her site. All three are portraits of people with birds, much like a self-portrait she painted last year. Check them out and let her know what you think--I think the lady's got talent.

An article in the latest issue of Time Magazine correlates life expectancy to the state in which one lives (the literal, United States sort of state, not the mental kind). Turns out folks in Louisiana have the third-lowest life expectancy of U.S. residents. Who'da thunk?

Not to be outdone are their neighbors to the east, Mississippi, and in the number one slot, winner of the life expectancy booby prize, Washington D.C., the "chocolate city with a marshmallow center... and a graham cracker crust of corruption." Best off? Hawaii, of course.

Continuing with my personal theme of songs I love but didn't know there were videos for, yesterday I stumbled across a clip for Alan Braxe and Fred Falke's "Rubicon," a track featured on both Braxe's The Upper Cuts and Erlend Oye's DJ Kicks:

Some folks don't like the video, but I think it really nails the essence of the song. The devil's in the details: the boxy car she takes her test in, the wardrobe choices for the girl and her DMV supervisor, the hokey teen drama tension. Download the track here.


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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

#6: Datarock, Cosmopolitan Politeness, & Early returns.

This project is giving me an excuse to go through all of our old photos, like this one, which was taken on a road trip to Nova Scotia not long after Nina and I first met. In the image, the really big Mac appears to have a powerful magnetism over Nina while I have been rendered incapacitated at the mere site of such a daunting order of fries. Needless to say, it's the second-biggest hamburger I've ever seen.

Speaking of things I don't ordinarily do, I noticed in--of all places--Reader's Digest that they proclaimed New York City the world's most courteous metropolis. Of course, it was based on a rigorously unscientific test that involved things like seeing if someone would pick up "accidentally" dropped papers, but it does seem to corroborate something I've long felt, namely that New Yorkers are actually quite courteous and genial people. Of course, there are a lot more, um, personalities in NY as well, but I suppose you've got to take the good with the bad (or at least the friendly with the crazy).

I was surprised to discover that Norway's Datarock, who released one of my favorite records of 2005, have a whole bunch of music videos out in the ether. While the band has much better songs (I'll give you "Fa Fa Fa" as proof thereof), the video for "Computer Camp Love" is pretty tough to beat, especially if you were ever forced to learn BASIC or lost a file thanks to a bent floppy disk:

My only beef is that Datarock's signature in all of their videos is their matching red track suits and awkward dancing--something that we've seen before with another great band out of Norway, namely Kings of Convenience in their clip for "I'd Rather Dance With You":

Of course, there's no way to beat Erlend Oye at his own game, particularly when said game is dancing in a manner at once awful and awe-inspiring. Still, the Grease aping is the right blend of ironic and reverent to work, methinks.

Meanwhile, off in the voting, Salt Lake City came out of nowhere to take the lead yesterday with a strong 202 ballot push. However, whomever is behind the Fayetteville fever responded; not to be outdone, Fayetteville reasserted their lead by a slim margin. Our eyes are on New York City and the two Portlands (Oregon and Maine) which round out the top five. Have you voted yet? Come on, y'all!


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Monday, September 18, 2006

#5: Nina Update: S'mores Are Good.

I'm part of a couple art shows in Boulder, Colorado, so I'm spending some time visiting my parents right now. The most striking thing when I arrived was that it's already fall here. Maybe it felt so completely bizarre because I was in Miami prior to heading here, but I'm not complaining. Quite the opposite - it's breathtakingly beautiful all around. The crisp cool air, the smells, and of course, all the colors! I've been enjoying making fires in their backyard fire pit and toasting marshmallows. I don't remember myself being quite so enthusiastic for fall in a long time, but maybe that's because in NYC you don't get to feel it in the same way.

Basic s'mores recipe:
Melt some chocolate in tin foil on the side of the fire while you roast the marshmallows. Grab a graham cracker and slide the marshmallow on to it, then pour a bit of melted chocolate on and squish together with another marshmallow. Voila! Now make "s'more".

It seems obvious, I know, but it's all about melting the chocolate beforehand. Danny thinks you could use Hershey's syrup, but we all know he's daft. Keep in mind: sugar-free marshmallows work great, too and you can add other toppings like bananas or almonds... Or, if you're lazy, it never hurts to just eat marshmallows out of a bag.

And speaking of having lived in New York, The Baskervilles (who are from NYC themselves) sum up a lot of why it is so difficult to find places to have a good time in that great city on "Midnight at the Underground Club." Of course, they do it in their typically whimsical fashion and there's a lighthearted video to match:


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#4: Muppet Nina, The Agony of Defeat, Kind Words, & A Psycho Magnet.

Before I met Nina, I used to think that photos of me as a small child were the most adorable thing in the world ("Look--he's wearing Tupperware on his head! Where's the camera?!").

Now I know better, namely that they are the second-most adorable thing in the world. Just look at her. Jeez. The Soviet-era stereophonic sound system doesn't hurt the overall effect, either. Sometimes, it's fun to imagine a world populated by all of your friends Muppet Babies style, where everyone has adultish heads and personalities glommed onto undersized bodies. Or maybe that's just me. Actually, let's forget that was ever brought up.

It's a nice ensemble she's got workin', though: the patterned bib (but she's not eating?), what appears to be some sort of smoking jacket, and capri pantaloons. What a style icon.

This weekend saw another unfortunate UM Hurricanes football loss, this time a shellacking to a team with a starter named Peanut Whitehead. No joke. Anyhow, that effectively ends our season in a rather premature manner. At least Notre Dame got spanked; there's always a little bit of joy in that.

On the site front, things are looking good. We've already received some really nice feedback from people via our MySpace page, including one person who wrote that he found the idea "
very unique and comforting." Meanwhile, our blog has been read by people in places as far away as Canada, Peru, Greece, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, and the Philippines, which is super exciting. And no, we're not spying on you creepily; Google Analytics does a nice job of putting visitor info into colorful maps and pie charts for us. Mmm, pie.

Music, you say? One of my favorite and perennially underappreciated bands, Spearmint, have a new record coming out. "Psycho Magnet" is one of the most instantly infectious tracks from Paris in a Bottle, a record that just may get some attention as Rough Trade has apparently signed the band. The song has a gigantic chorus and a bouncy new-wave bass line that ensure its catchiness. Previously, Spearmint's records were being released by an excellent but very low-visibility German label called Apricot Records. Download the track and let me know what you think.

If you're more visually oriented, apparently there's a video:


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Friday, September 15, 2006

#3: What an odd day.

Our childhood theories are confirmed: spinach is deadly. All the crazy people in the world are having a party together. Danny's computer survived a nasty brush-in with greyware. The voting on our site went down for the weekend.

The Legends making Courbusier proudBut you know what? It's all fine by us because we finally got a hold of the new record by The Legends, a band that can simply do no wrong. Their third record--really his third record, since the band is the side project of Johan Angergard from the Acid House Kings and Club 8--trades in amped up early '80s-styled synth-pop which, combined with Angergard's penchant for writing infectious pop songs, amounts to a lot of blissful head bobbing.

In case you don't believe us, here's "Darling," the album's 8th track. Buy the CD with a limited edition free DVD here, and pick up the first two albums here while you're at it.

Happy weekending,



Thursday, September 14, 2006

#2: Myspace, Girl Talk & Tootsie Rolls.

Nina sent me this photo from the Apple store in Boulder, CO the other day. I think it's actually pretty neat as far as out of the box filters go, no?

It does seems to cast a somewhat disconcerting air of androgeny to what is typically a distinctively feminine face, but I can deal with it for the sake of playful digital shenanigans.

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Oh, hey--we launched our MySpace profile for the site. 250 friends in a day and a half is definitely a nice start for us. Perhaps people will take to our idea after all!

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Pop quiz, hotshot. What do the following songs have in common?

* "Three 6 Mafia - "Stay Fly"
* Smashing Pumpkins - "1979"
* Laidback - "White Horse"
* 69 Boyz - "Tootsie Roll"
* Fleetwood Mac - "Little Lies"
* Folk Implosion - "Natural One"

The obvious answer is that they are all songs that we enjoy a tremendous amount more than we would ever admit to. However, the better answer is that these songs (and a few others) are all a part of "Overtime," the penultimate track on Girl Talk's third record, the unclassifiable musical orgy known as Night Ripper. To classify this record in the mash-up genre would be to miss the point entirely; Gregg Gillis (the man behind the mash) doesn't simply mix songs into one another, rather he layers song upon unlikely song, reconstructing and imploding tracks as needed. The result is the best party record of 2006, or at least the best workout mix you'll ever run across. A healthy love of contemporary hip-hop and indie rock helps, too. Like it? Buy it here.

But let's not give short shrift to the videos linked to above. You totally owe me one for those, especially the Laidback video (Sprockets anyone?) and "Tootsie Roll"--which, for the record, was totally the predecessor to the "Macarena"--slide, baby, slide!

If you pick out any songs we missed in the list above, please shout out in the Comments.

And yes, the department of dated catch phrases called; they want Dennis Hopper's line back.



Tuesday, September 12, 2006

#1: We started a blog that nobody read.

Ah, danny&nina in shadow form in nova scotia, summer 2003
Where to begin?

If you're reading this, then you probably already know a bit about our story, this crazy internet voting project Nina and I are embarking upon. It certainly does feel like the definite beginning of something, although what that something is won't be clear until weeks and months have passed us by.

Two offerings to you, for starters:

#1: The photo on the right. It seems appropriate for a number of reasons: it was taken on a road trip to Nova Scotia at the beginning of our relationship; we're in the image spectrally, in shadow, not revealing too much of ourselves yet willingly participating; in the foreground, a concrete walkway recedes into the bay, either a literal road to nowhere or path into the unknown, depending upon how you're feeling.

#2: The first of what we hope will be many songs offered up to our readers. This time it is a track entitled (appropriately enough) "I Started A Blog Nobody Read." It's by a band we're big fans of, Sprites, which is the project of a fella named Jason Korzen who formerly fronted an amazing band called Barcelona. This track is off Modern Gameplay, the band's sophomore release, which covers the same sort of sonic and lyrical territory Barcelona did: poppy, synth flavored songs about dorky concerns like robots, computers, and the "indie" music world. If you like it, you'll like the rest of the record, which you can buy here.