Sunday, March 31, 2013

Quincy, Live Poker

Played live poker the other night.  One dude was the ultimate raise-happy luckbox, winning upwards of $500 in a "friendly" game.  I won $80ish.  Fun night.  Drank too much and donked some of it back towards the end.

As for Quincy, he finally meets Natalia Pertman, the object of his desires, in Chapter 31.

Due to spring break, I now have about two weeks of vacation, during which I plan to complete a few more Quincy chapters than my regular two per week.  Everything ends at Chapter 50.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Live Poker Tonight

I have an opportunity to play some live poker again with western teachers in the UAE.  I played once before with them earlier this month, in a game where I won about a hundred bucks, largely by flopping top set against the big loser of the night.

The funniest part of that night actually was how the biggest loser acted.  He wanted to play pineapple, omaha, and another game, all of which he was clearly familiar with, and he talked about how he was able to win consistently playing online.

Okay, fine.  Within the first fifteen minutes, he had been stacked twice, both on questionable plays.

Anyhoo, things went along like that for a while, until he had lost four or five buyins--about $800 or so.  He dropped out of the game for a little while, during which he skyped his wife.  He asked her to show us all his poker trophies.  So she did.

He turned his laptop screen toward us and we made complimentary sounds.

All the while I'm thinking, Poker trophies?  I'd never heard of poker trophies before.  What kind of tournament awards a poker trophy?

When his wife wasn't showing us his poker trophies, he was busy telling us what his salary was in Qatar.

He was the picture of insecurity.  The rest of us just smiled and accommodated him, hoping that he'd get back into the game.

He finally did, only to get stacked a fifth time.

It was the only time I've played live poker where everyone at the table--we were six-handed--won at least a buyin and there was only one loser.

Tonight, we will be playing on a real poker table at another dude's house, a guy who regularly hosts the game.  Unfortunately, Mr. Poker Trophy will not be there.  He's back in Qatar.

Some of the players from the first night will be there.  If the new faces are anything like the guys I played with last time, all nice guys, I guarantee you that it is not a brag to say that I will be the best player at the table.

Which reminds me of law school.  A bunch of classmates wanted to start a regular poker game.  Now, if there's any reliable characteristic of law school students, it is ultra-competitiveness.  I won big the first three times I played, and then they stopped inviting me.

Once again, not a brag.  I'm a 2NL to 25NL player.  That's the extent of my ability.  I know that I'm not a good player.

Poker is such a blessing because so many other poker players don't know this.

I probably just cursed myself.  I'll come back tonight reporting that I donked off all the money that I showed up with.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Album Capsules--DJ Koze

DJ Koze



This album is as good as the album cover is bad, and just as whimsical.  I know the market for music by DJs is limited, but this is an excellent album full of variety, great beats, and humor.  Including Dan Snaith (Caribou, and previously Manitoba) and Matthew Dear (whose album Black City was excellent), as well as numerous other guest singers, Stefan Kozella, who is DJ Koze, made a tremendous album here.  I listened to it once, had a cigarette, and had to hear it again.  Once I finish typing this paragraph, I'll play it again.  It'll be one of those albums that no one has heard about in six months--or maybe six minutes--but Amygdala, in my often-drunk opinion, is the album of the year so far.

Album Capsules--The Men

The Men

New Moon


The Men take a classic rock turn that sounds like Neil Young and Crazy Horse, minus Neil Young's lyrics.  It's a rough record that alternates mellow moments of piano and acoustic guitar with hammering drums and three-minute freakout guitar solos.  Alternately calm, cathartic, aggressive, and wistful, and spastic, this is the album you would be left with if the nearest psychiatric institution let their most musically talented schizophrenics team up to make a record.  For Exhibit A, I offer "I Saw Her Face," which spazzes out in the last 40 seconds as the antipsychotic medication wears off, and then segues into the sweet, mournful  instrumental tune "High and Lonesome," its peacefulness triggered by a shot of thorazine.

Album Capsules--FIDLAR




Fuckin' skaters.  So anyhoo, in January these skaters released an album where they indicate their willingness someday with big-label funding to become the next Blink-182.    Not that their music sounds like Blink-182 now--except for the parts where you can see it trying to get out.  Until that time, they're satisfied to make 2-minute punk anthems about cocaine, lousy beer, and how broke they are.  Which actually turns out to be some fun music.  It would be more fun if they wanted to be the Violent Femmes instead.  Below is "Wake Bake Skate," which turns out not to be about the pressures facing a young Catholic priest in a time when the Church is dying.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

French Horn Wins

Very busy week, but I came back to my blog to see that one post had become my most viewed in about a week.

Yes, a picture of a dude blowing a French horn into a chick's booty wins.  Completely.

If I ever want a more popular blog, I know what to do--show lots of pics of brass instruments.

Instant views.

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Quincy Post

Here.  I'm planning to have another one online tomorrow, to keep up with my two-per-week schedule.  Tomorrow's post will involve Quincy's first visit to a strip club.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Pleasant Conversation

Finishing my 8 a.m. class this morning, I headed to the bathroom, where I crossed paths with one of my students.

He was facing me and his mouth was moving, so I removed my usually reliable student-blocking headphones.

"I hate you, he said.  You are my teacher, so I have to love you.  But I hate you."

This is one of those moments where I think of better reactions afterwards, such as pretending that I have no clue who he is, or pretending that his English is so horribad that his enunciation resembles a frog shitting its guts out, or saying, "Thanks for your reasoned input, future road construction worker," or else beaming at him and saying in my happiest voice, "I hate you much, much worse."

Instead I said, "Why?" even though I didn't really care, and he promised to let me know at the end of the semester.

Then he left, and I took a whiz.

As Mickey Rourke said in Barfly (one of my favorite movies): "Hatred.  It's the only thing that lasts."

Of my present and past occupations of craps dealer, attorney, and teacher, you might consider these jobs to be a tossup in the hatred department.  But attorneys have it easy, and the hatred aimed at craps dealers is usually tinged with hopeless desperation that makes the player an object of pity.  Teachers get the mother lode.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

If You Want to Hear a Pretty Cool Album

I would definitely check this one out.  It was ten years old last month, and it is one of the best indie albums I've picked up in that time.

This album is really catchy and just has solid song after solid song.  I saw them in concert in Boulder, Colorado, and it was really impressive seeing four of five dudes comes out and strap on their guitars simultaneously.  They interwove melodies all night.  One of the best concerts I've ever seen.  The variety was fantastic.  Anyhoo, I'll just let the music speak for itself.

"Cause = Time"  (Dudes rocking out with paper bags and gas masks over their heads?  Awesome.  But wait, there's more.  A guy jumping into a pool with a ninja sword?  Folks, we are officially in the bonus round.)

"Stars and Sons"  (It's good until the hand-clapping starts.  Then it's great.)

"Anthem for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" (Strings, female vocalist, acoustic guitar.  Sounds like a completely different band.  Broken Social Scene is officially fucking with your mind.)

And most of the rest of the album is just as good.  Hope you like it.  I think it's one of the best albums to come out since 2000.

Album Capsules--Clinic and Phosporescent


Free Reign II


This is not a good album.  Even worse, it's a remix of Free Reign, another album that isn't good.  In a nutshell: Clinic asked Daniel Lopatin (of Oneohtrix Point Never) to mix their album, and then they rejected most of those mixes.  With Free Reign II, they restore those versions.  So now we have two bad albums.  If you really want to check out Clinic, their early albums are best: Internal Wrangler, Walking with Thee, and the Clinic EP.  I guess I'll keep collecting Clinic albums, but I won't like it.




Matthew Houck, the dude who is Phosphorescent, makes music that is hard to classify.  Lo-fi indie country?  Who knows.  I guess he could be categorized as Bonnie Prince Billy plus electronics.  Many of the lyrics are tremendous but seem overly clouded by instrumentation.  Dude should get rid of everything else and just play guitar and sing.  The album itself will sound like nothing else in your music collection, but I'm not sure whether that's a good thing.  The obvious highlight, though, is the wonderful "Song for Zula" below.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Album Capsules--David Bowie

David Bowie

The Next Day


How David Bowie managed to keep this album a secret is amazing, considering how we now know, due to Russian hackers, that Jay-Z is delinquent $600 on his recent cable bill.  A vow of silence between musicians kept this album a surprise until a couple months back, after it had already been completed.  By then, we had Bowie's first single, "Where Are We Now?" which is one of the mellowest tracks on a rocking album spiced with funk and, on one song, Beatles harmonies.  Reviewers seem nearly unanimous in praising this one--expect to see if on many "Best Albums of 2013" lists.  If you're a Bowie fan who wants just a little bit more, here it is.  You won't be let down like I was when I bought Never Let Me Down, the follow up to the Let's Dance album.  Man, that follow up was a stinker.  The song I liked the most was "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)."  (The beginning of this Youtube clip is a bit rough, but then it settles down.)

Album Capsules--Youth Lagoon

It occurred to me, after reading hundreds of music reviews over the last year, that any goofball with spare time and a blog can review music.  Luckily for me, I happen to be such a goofball.  The best part is how it encourages me to resume my law-school hobby of collecting as much music as I can get my hands on.  Back then, friends and I would swap whatever music happened to be taking up space on our hard drives.  Seeing album after album transferring from one computer to another--what a rush!  Another strategy was to buy used albums by the dozen on Amazon, ebay, and a site called has since been acquired by ebay--copy them, and resell them for a similar price, thereby getting many of the newest albums for the price of postage and transaction fees.

And to think that back when I was a teenager, I used to save up my monthly paperboy earnings to buy the newest Robert Palmer.  Nowadays, I look back at that internet-less kid and have one thought: What a sucker!

Youth Lagoon

Wondrous Bughouse


The second album by Youth Lagoon, the creation of Trevor Powers, a college kid from Idaho, is as weird as it is excellent.  If you checked out his even-better first album, Year of Hibernation, you enjoyed an intimate collection of songs anchored by drum machine and melodic keyboard.  Wondrous Bughouse expands the sound quite a bit, exchanging some of the first album's intimacy for richness and psychedelic freakout.  His imagination has more room to roam here, and if you give these songs a chance to get under your skin, you might discover that this is one of the best albums of 2013 so far.  Perhaps more likely, you'll give "Attic Doctor" a listen and decide that it's just . . . too . . . strange.  Or: carnival music.  But with Swordfishtrombones, Tom Waits showed the world that carnival music could be made into an insane masterpiece.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Album Capsules--Devendra Banhart

Devendra Banhart



I almost didn't get album because I thought it was, you know, mala.  And Devendra Banhart's peculiar brand of freak-folk has been spitting out some fairly shitty albums lately.  But Mala is a good one.  He pulls off the fairly awesome trick of making you want to dance to songs that are far mellower than most of his prior work.  If you are a fan of Banhart, you might even think that many of the songs are nearly unrecognizable as his own, except for his distinctive vocals.  Try "Never Seen Such Good Things" below.

Album Capsules--Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr

The Messenger


As the former lead guitarist for the Smiths, you would probably expect an album full of catchy guitar licks but lacking in Morrissey's star power as a vocalist.  You'd be right on both counts.  What The Messenger amounts to, then, is a pretty good album that makes you wonder about the many ways that it could be better.  And because you're wondering that, you end up feeling that this is a good, but not great, collection of songs.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Album Capsules--Mogwai


Les Revenants


Fans of Mogwai, and their mandatory slow build to a massive crescendo, which leads to another slow build to another massive crescendo, would probably have expected more of the same style when they made this soundtrack to Les Revenants, a French TV zombie show that debuted in 2012.  Nope.  Instead, you get mellow music, with lots of piano and keyboard, that evokes growing dread and unease rather than horror.  It's a really good, and completely unexpected, album showing a band working marvelously against their strengths.  Check out "Hungry Face," one of the more forceful songs, that uses maximizes the creepiness of the xylophone.

Album Capsules--Chelsea Light Moving

Chelsea Light Moving

Chelsea Light Moving


When they divorced in 2011, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon drove a stake through the heart of Sonic Youth.  So now you've got Moore at age 54 making very similar music--songs with cool lyrics and a mellow, spare beginning that build ups with layered guitar until feedback and distortion destroys yet another pair of speakers--with new band mates in Chelsea Light Moving.  If you're a Sonic Youth fan, this album is the ugly sister of the tremendous Murray Street of 2002, although it rocks a little harder in some spots, like the metal guitar of "Alighted."  The album starts off pretty good--"Sleeping Where I Fall" being the best track--but goes downhill from there.  The wife is gone; much of the chemistry is missing.  (I can't find any decent tracks from Youtube from this album.)

My Eharmony Profile

Are you as screamingly lonely as I am?  Mayhaps we should meet up for some fish tacos.  We could talk about the important things--sex, despair, and salsa--and then we could move straight to body massage.  Could you be a soul mate?  Have you read enough history to intelligently discuss the first zombie apocalypse?  Do you believe that Oswald had nothing to do with JFK's murder?  That instead he used malware to infect Reagan with Alzheimer's?  That when we sleep, our soul is transported to the mother ship for reprogramming, and that on the mother ship there are tremendous fish tacos?  That at every meeting of any worthwhile organization, a member should die?  That pushups cause testicular cancer?  That the only proper way to eat a loaf of bread is in one sitting?  That dijon mustard, when applied to the nipples, enhances autostimulation, wards off disease, and acts as a spicy deodorant?  That when we eat bread, adding meat or condiment ruins the experience?  That we can gain all of our daily vitamins and nutrients from sardines, Cap'n Crunch cereal with Crunch Berries, and freshly mowed grass clippings?  That the mother ship will soon be sending us instructions, via reprogramming in our sleep, which will cause the Aliens Among Us--you, me--to rise up and overthrow humankind before a second wave of mad cow triggers the second zombie apocalypse?  That it isn't possible to ask too many questions in a row without getting any answers?

If so, then it is time to meet the piece that completes your two-piece jigsaw puzzle.  Open your door.  The person standing there with a bouquet of grass clippings is me.  If you would be so kind as not to call the cops this time, we can go get those fish tacos and talk of love and despair, if you've got the cash.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quincy; Giving Students Fs

Quincy is moving along a bit ahead of schedule.  I managed three episodes last week instead of two--two of them being early in the week and one on Saturday--and I have already something "mostly done" for this Thursday and Saturday.  A character or two from Quincy's past will soon be resurfacing.

I gave quizzes the week before last--which explained why I was so busy last week.  Grading quizzes, especially essay quizzes, has to be the worst job-related activity that I can imagine.  Anyhoo, as expected, many students didn't study, a fact that is exposed by the essay format more than any other format.  No guessing!  No hoping that circling D will be the right answer!  That's right, kids, it's your brain, your pen, and a blank page.

Good luck with that.

After the first quiz, the morale in all of my classes always takes a (massive) hit.  Early expectations of great success are squashed elephant-meets-cockroach style.  What matters to me is how the students take it.  I'm fine with these reactions:

1.  Pouting silently
2.  Begging for an easier test, and then pouting silently
3.  Complaining about fairness, and then pouting silently

They can hate me secretly all they like.  Being a university teacher is not the job description for a person who values being liked.  No, the only reaction that bothers me are the ones who opt for choice #4:

4.  Slump in their chairs, make wiseass remarks, talk constantly, and otherwise distract the class

Yes, some of these university students act like junior high kids.  When that happens, I notice it once, and then I plan the part of class that I like to call "The Showdown."  The showdown only happens once a semester, if at all.

Because for some reason, these kids don't think that I'm going to call them on their bullshit.  Maybe it's because I choose to be polite most of the time.

Anyway, my usual method involves me asking them lots of questions.

Q: Why are you talking?

A: Who?

Q: You.  Why are you talking?

A (silence).

Q: You are aware that some students are trying to pay attention?

A (silence).

Q: And that their first language is Arabic?

A: Yes.

Q: And that when you speak in Arabic, they hear Arabic.  They hear you.  They can't hear me.  Are you aware of that?

A: I'll be quiet (or something like that).

Q: Do you realize that many students want you to shut up, but they are too nice to say that to you?

A: (silence).

Q: By talking, you are announcing to the class that they should listen to you instead of me.  Do you see that?

A: (silence).

Q: You are announcing, "I am more important than everyone else here."  You are saying, "I am more important than this class.  I am more important than every student in this class."

A: (wanting it desperately to end).

Q: Is it true?  Are you more important than everyone here?

A: (silence).

So, that strategy always works.  Or I just go with Option B.  Option B involves me telling them to leave and to never come back.  They apologize after class, and I invite them to return to the next class.

Extending the moment for a couple of minutes, with long pauses, leaves the students with a memory.  And throughout I make sure not to raise my voice.  I just allow for a long silence before I ask the next question.  Anyhoo, after the Showdown, student behavior tends to be pretty good.

Outplayed, bitch.

Recent Downloads

I have issues.

Everything Everything--Arc
fun.--Some Nights
Blut Aus Nord--777--Cosmosophy
Bill Fay--Life Is People
Smog--Knock Knock; Wild Love; Red Apple Falls
Nirvana--Nevermind; In Utero; Unplugged in New York
Tall Ships--Everything Touching
Meat Puppets--Meat Puppets II
Low--C'mon; Things We Lost in the Fire
Galaxie 500 discography
Pantha du Prince & The Bell Laboratory--Elements of Light
Brokeback--Brokeback and the Black Rock
Foxygen--We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
Steve Reich--Music for 18 Musicians
Bonobo--Days to Come
The Unicorns--Who Will Cut Out Hair When We're Gone?
Parquet Courts--Light Up Gold
Lou Reed--Transformer
California X--California X
Fuck Buttons--Street Horrrsing
Nosaj Thing--Home; Drift
Local Natives--Hummingbird; Gorilla Manor
Ex Cops--True Hallucinations
Lambchop--How I Quit Smoking
Indians--Somewhere Else
Johann Johannsson discography
Chromatics--Night Drive
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds--Best of; Push the Sky Away
Prefuse 73--One Word Extinguisher
Toro Y Moi--Anything in Return
Calexico--Carried to Dust
Four Tet--0181
Grouper--Dragging a Dead Deer up a Hill; The Man who Died in His Boat
Built to Spill--There Is No Enemy
Real Estate--Real Estate
Bobby Bland--Two Steps from the Blues
My Bloody Valentine--mbv
Bruce Springsteen--Born in the USA; The River; Tunnel of Love; Nebraska
Temple of the Dog--Temple of the Dog
Teenage Fanclub--Bandwagonesque
Jim James--Regions of Light and Sound of God
Herbert--Bodily Functions
Sun Ra--Greatest Hits
Sonic Youth--The Eternal
Night Beds--Country Sleep
Jacco Garnder--Cabinet of Curiosities
Miles Davis--The Bootleg Series Volume 2
The Magnetic Fields--The Wayward Bus & Distant Plastic Trees; I; Distortion
Frightened Rabbit--The Midnight Organ Fight; Pedestrian Verse
Sparklehorse--Good Morning Spider; Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot
Pavement--Terror Twilight; Brighten the Corners; Quarantine the Past
Matmos--A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure; The West
TV on the Radio--Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes
Veronica Falls--Veronica Falls
Broadcast discography
Yeah Yeah Yeahs discography
XTC--Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles Collection
White Stripes--De Stijl
The Strokes--Angles; Room on Fire
M83 discography
They Might Be Giants--A User Guide (Greatest Hits)
Tim Hecker discography
The Police--The Police (Greatest Hits)
Beck--Mellow Gold; Modern Guilt; Sea Change; One Foot in the Grave
Foals--Holy Fire
Iceage--You're Nothing
Atoms for Peace--AMOK
Led Zeppelin discography
Jamie Lidell discography
Ra Ra Riot--The Rhumb Line
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah--Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Art Brut--Bang Bang Rock and Roll
Matmos--The Marriage of True Minds
Marvin Gaye--What's Going On; Anthology
Bill Callahan--Sometimes I Wish I Were an Eagle; Rough Travel for a Rare Thing; Apolcalypse; Woke on a Whaleheart
Destroyer--Your Blues
No Age--Everything in Between
Oneohtrix Point Never--Rifts
Bill Evans Trio--Portrait in Jazz
Chet Baker--The Best of
Bill Evans & Monica Zetterlund--Waltz for Debbie
The Jesus and Mary Chain discography
Shackleton--Music for the Quiet Hour; Three EPs
Autre Ne Veut--Anxiety
Camper Van Beethoven--Cigarettes & Carrot Juice
Ashes Grammar--A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Mouse on Mars--WOW
Sally Shapiro discography
Youth Lagoon--Wondrous Bughouse
Chelsea Light Moving--Chelsea Light Moving
Pretty Girls Make Graves--Good Health; The New Romance
Waxahatchee--Cerulean Salt
David Bowie--The Next Day
Rodriguez--Cold Fact; Coming from Reality
Gravenhurst--The Western Lands; Flashlight Sessions;
Lambchop--Oh (Ohio); I Hope You're Sitting Down; Thriller; No, You C'mon!
The Men--New Moon
The National--Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers; The National
Mogwai--Les Revenants
Jay-Z--The Hits Collection
Johnny Marr--The Messenger
Smog--The Doctor Came at Dawn; Dongs of Sevotion; Sewn to the Sky
Suede--Best of
Nine Inch Nails--The Downward Spiral

Album Capsules--Waxahatchee


Cerulean Salt


Second album by singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield chock full of catchy, punk-inspired yet lo-fi songs that sound upbeat but have dark, miserable lyrics.  If you're a fan of Sleater Kinney or Liz Phair, then this album should be right up your alley.  Listening to it, you get the feeling that her next album is going to be amazing.  Below is "Dixie Cups and Jars."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Album Capsules--Sally Shapiro

Sally Shapiro

Somewhere Else


Apparently the lead singer, pictured on the album cover, has not only kept herself anonymous to the world, but she only sings when the other band member is not around.  Neither is Sally Shapiro her real name.  That story, it turns out, is more interesting than the music, which is euro dance led by a girly, twee voice that reminds me of the lead singer on the old indie band Ivy (Apartment Life)--although that chick was French, this one is Swedish--or one of the female singers on Belle and Sebastian.  A major plus is the track named "This City's Local Italo Disco DJ Has a Crush on Me," a song more interesting for the name than the music.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

New Quincy Post, and Searching for Sugar Man

After a long, busy week, during which I had to postpone my regular Thursday Quincy post, I was finally able to put up a longer-than-usual Chapter 26, concluding the episode of Quincy's kidnapping by Gambers Anonymous.  I hope you enjoy it.  The next few weeks should be much easier for me to maintain my regular blogging schedule.

Aside from that, I've got a bunch of music that I've been downloading lately yet have not had an opportunity to listen to.  Some new releases that I will be checking out over the next week include:

The Men, New Moon
Mogwai, Les Revenants Soundtrack\
Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt
Chelsea Light Moving, Chelsea Light Moving (new album by the dude behind Sonic Youth)
David Bowie, The Next Day
Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse
Sally Shapiro, Somewhere Else

So in terms of music, it looks to be a good week.  One of life's big pluses is stacks of new music.

I've also been lucky to check out a couple of good movies lately, especially Silver Linings Playbook, for which I think that Bradley Cooper should've won the Oscar for Best Actor over Daniel Day Lewis . . . but I know I'm in a tiny minority with that opinion.

Winning the Oscar for Best Documentary this year was Searching for Sugar Man, a movie that starts off slowly but has a marvelous conclusion.  In a nutshell, the story is about a Dylanesque musician from Detroit who recorded a couple of albums in the early seventies, yet never garnered any kind of following in the States, which led to him being dropped from his label.  And then?  He disappeared from the music scene.

If you haven't heard about the film, I won't say anything more than that, because I don't want to give anything away.  But his story leads to amazing places.

It's really worth checking out.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Album Capsules--Autre Ne Veut and Ryhe

Work this week was a crusher, as weeks involving grading tend to be.  When that happens, I end up with little time for anything fun, including blogging.  Still, I was able to pick up a bunch of new music--including the new David Bowie album (!!)--and so I plan to catch up with several albums today and tomorrow, as well as to add Chapter 26 of the Quincy cartoon.  Early in the week, I was able to add of a couple of Quincy chapters, so I'm still ahead of my schedule of two episodes per week.

Anyhoo, in this post, we've got two albums that sound like they could've been made in the eighties.

Autre Ne Veut



The singer on this album is a white man, not a black woman.  The guy has a tremendous voice, which might lead to an accusation of oversinging.  He's hitting good notes, but often they're the same notes from song to song.  Still, he reminds me a bit of Prince without the wild sexuality.  His best song is "Counting," where a chaotic sax beautifully counterbalances an otherwise formulaic pop song with an anthemic chorus.




If Sade entered a contest in search of the best Sade imitator, she would place second to Rhye.  Take the test and see.  Play this album for a friend.  Then ask them, "Who is this?"  They'll say, "Sade."  The only two differences between them seem to be that Sade has had bigger hits and that her music is colder than Rhye's, which contains a warm intimacy that rewards multiple replays.  The best songs are the first two tracks, "Open" and "The Fall."  In fact, Rhye and Autre Ve Neut seem like companion albums, the former about the yearning side of romantic love, the latter its disappointment.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Albums, Etc.


I've been picking up more new music lately, but I haven't have a chance to pay attention to any of them, because this is quiz week, which means 223 students writing 7 short essay answers each, which boils down to me sitting at a table grading 1,561 separate answers.  I blame myself for giving them essay questions in the first place, but I'd do it again: It's far better than watching them openly cheat on a multiple choice quiz.

Their strategy is as simple as it is effective.  They actually seem to try for the first half hour.  Then when they realize that they can't answer 70 percent of the questions, they strategize.  Someone will raise his hand.  When I walk over and he starts asking his question, the entire room buzzes with conversation.  Sure, I can scream, "Shut up!" but it only silences them for a second or two.  Then another student raises his hand and the buzzing resumes.  

At least with essay questions, their buzzing has a hopeless quality to it.  I'll trade their (forced) honesty for an extra six hours of grading any day.  At least, that's my attitude for now.  Maybe I'll get lazy and surrender.  Surrender in this country typically takes the form of a true-false quiz.

Matt Prosk had a post recently that caught my eye, full of music recommendations.  I recognize and like a couple of the bands he mentioned.  The others, I'm glad to say, I've never listened to before.  I'll have to set aside some time on this upcoming weekend to check the "unknowns" out.

I also enjoyed Mudwig's recent efforts to hit on a Russian chick.

Some music I got recently that look promising:

Rhye, Woman

Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse 

Chelsea Light Moving, Chelsea Light Moving

Autre Ne Veut, Anxiety

Hope you're week started well!  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Live Poker in UAE

Some guys got together at a friend's house for a game, and I got invited.  First poker in over a year, I think.

There were five of us.  Buyin was about $50 each, but the same guy got stacked twice in the first four hands, so pretty soon we were all doubling our buyin and the average stack stood at $200.  So nothing major.

I'm pretty sure I was raising preflop the most, and I just kept whiffing the flop, and my cbets were getting played back at, so I just tried to stay patient.

My only really notable hand was when I was dealt JJ at UTG+1.

UTG made it about $3.  ($0.50/$1 blinds).  I reraised with JJ to $12.  He called and we were heads up.  This was the same guy, by the way, who got stacked twice in the first ten minutes.

Flop came J 6 3 rainbow, and he led out for $13.

Okie dokie then.  I just called, without much deliberation.

Turn was an ace.  He led out $20.  I raised it to $55.

He thought out loud for a long time.  He kept saying, "You reraised preflop with pocket threes or pocket sixes?"  He couldn't figure out my hand.  I kept wondering why he was excluding pocket jacks.  Or pocket aces.

Anyway, he called my raise, and then he shoved a queen river, and I called.

He showed ace jack.  Ah, so that's why he was excluding pocket jacks and aces.  Cool.

Aside from that hand, I was pretty much card dead.  But I drank four beers and won a hundred bucks, so it was fun.

Quincy, Music

I had time for three Quincy episodes this week.  Readers may notice that Quincy is taking a bit of a darker turn, which may be more enjoyable for me than for you, but I have a plan for the guy.  I've got to build up some parts of the story before I can start on the lengthy final act.  And with the story to contain fifty mini-chapters, I've got lots of room to work with.  Hopefully, it works out.

Sad to say, the darker the story gets, the more I enjoy it.  I still haven't flushed out of my system the black-humor novels that I read far too many of in college days.  Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts, Robert Coover's Universal Baseball Association, J. Henry Waugh Prop., Joseph Heller's Catch 22, Donald Barthelme's The Dead Father, John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces--so much morbid hilariousness to be found there.  It's inevitable, I think, that I'd end up trying to imitate, in my own half-assed, inept way, that sense of humor.  In any case,  I greatly appreciate all of the comments I've gotten so far.

Music this year has been fairly tremendous.  No "great" albums, but still there have been several very good ones.  Below are all of the new albums I've checked out so far.  Work is getting busier, as it tends to do once I get past the first couple of weeks.  Quizzes, the grading of quizzes, club meetings, and department meetings tend to suck away my free time.  Still, I'm optimistic that I can maintain my expected schedule of adding at least two new Quincy chapters per week and checking out at least ten new albums per month.  If I can keep up that schedule with Quincy, the finale should be appearing sometime near the end of May or the beginning of June--right before I leave UAE and head back to the States for good (maybe).

2013 Albums so far (the newest releases--last two weeks or so--are in bold):

Foxygen--We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (88/100)

My Bloody Valentine--MBV (87/100)

Yo La Tengo--Fade (85/100)

Atoms for Peace--Amok (84/100)

Matmos--The Marriage of True Minds (83/100)

Wooden Wand--Blood Oaths of the New Blues (83/100)

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds--Push the Sky Away (82/100)

Autechre--Exai (82/100)

Nosaj Thing--Home (81/100)

Grouper--The Man Who Died in His Boat (81/100)

Parquet Courts--Light Up Gold (80/100)

Jim James--Regions of Light and Sound of God (80/100)

Iceage--You're Nothing (79/100)

Indians--Somewhere Else (79/100)

Mountains--Centralia (78/100)

Local Natives--Hummingbird (78/100)

Ex Cops--True Hallucinations (77/100)

Toro Y Moi--Anything in Return (77/100)

Broadcast--Berberian Sound Studio (74/100)

Night Beds--Country Sleep (74/100)

A$AP Rocky--Long.Live.A$AP (72/100)

Foals--Holy Fire (71/100)

California X--California X (70/100)

Four Tet--0181 (70/100)

Pantha du Prince & The Bell Laboratory--Elements of Light (67/100)

Widowspeak--Almanac (67/100)

Jacco Gardner--Cabinet of Curiosities (66/100)

Frightened Rabbit--Pedestrian Verse (66/100)

Brokeback--Brokeback and the Black Rock (57/100)

Everything Everything--Arc (46/100)

Jamie Lindell--Jamie Lindell (16/100)