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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It Was A Robin's Egg...


and it was blue.

I discovered this nest the other day after nearly being side-swipped by Mama Robin.

Having lived in North Carolina for the better part of a decade as well as being a music critic in the Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham area for a large chunk of the '90s, it's almost impossible for me to see a robin's egg and not conjure up the Superchunk song "Mower."

So now I'm going to imprint both audio and video so that you too - when spotting a robin's egg - will forever hum this indie rock chestnut.

[UPDATE: The wrens have hatched, the robin has laid three more eggs and Superchunk is playing a free show. From Ross Grady at "You've probably heard about this by now, but just in case. The Barack Obama campaign is running a huge early-voting push in North Carolina, and this show is part of it. Tickets have been available for a couple of days now at Obama tables near early-voting sites in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham and Raleigh. It's unclear how many people the Carrboro Town Commons will actually hold--initial reports were that they were planning for 3-4000, but later I heard 6000.

Gates (what gates?) open at 1:00 p.m., with Superchunk tentatively scheduled to go on at 2:00 & the Arcade Fire at 3:00. Nobody is promising an Obama appearance (and since he's at the Dean Dome on Monday . . .) but it'd be amusing to see him drop in via helicopter or something.

But I daresay most folks in possession of tickets--even folks like me who've been rocking Obama bumper-stickers for years now--are more excited about the chance to see Superchunk (or the Arcade Fire, anyway)."]

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All The News That's Fit To Print

Scanning the web this morning as part of the internship I've been doing over at WUNC radio, I came across this fine nuggets.

First up, from my hometown of Durham, NC, is this:

"Traitor" Chinese student threatened

DURHAM, N.C. -- On the day the Olympic torch was carried through San Francisco last week, Grace Wang, a Chinese freshman at Duke University, came out of her dining hall to find a handful of students gathered for a pro-Tibet vigil facing off with a much larger pro-China counterdemonstration.

Ms. Wang, who had friends on both sides, tried to get the two groups to talk, participants said. She began traversing what she called "the middle ground," asking the groups' leaders to meet and making bargains. She said she agreed to write "Free Tibet, Save Tibet" on one student's back only if he would speak with pro-Chinese demonstrators. She pleaded and lectured. In one photo, she is walking toward a phalanx of Chinese flags and banners, her arms overhead in a "timeout" T.

But the would-be referee went unheeded. With Chinese anger stoked by disruption of the Olympic torch relays and criticism of government policy toward Tibet, what was once a favorite campus cause -- the Dalai Lama's people -- had become a dangerous flash point, as Ms. Wang was soon to find out.

The next day, a photo appeared on an Internet forum for Chinese students with a photo of Ms. Wang and the words "traitor to your country" emblazoned in Chinese across her forehead. Ms. Wang's Chinese name, identification number and contact information were posted, along with directions to her parents' apartment in Qingdao, a Chinese port city.

Salted with ugly rumors and manipulated photographs, the story of the young woman who was said to have taken sides with Tibet spread through China's most popular Web sites, at each stop generating hundreds or thousands of raging, derogatory posts, some even suggesting that Ms. Wang -- a slight, rosy 20-year-old -- be burned in oil. Someone posted a photo of what was purported to be a bucket of feces emptied on the doorstep of her parents, who had gone into hiding.

"If you return to China, your dead corpse will be chopped into 10,000 pieces," one person wrote in an e-mail message to Ms. Wang. "Call the human flesh search engines!" another threatened, using an Internet phrase that implies physical, as opposed to virtual, action.

Not to be outdone, there's always are hapless, helpless government as evidence by these two short entries:

"Secure" WTC plans found in trash

It's a good thing Osama wasn't walking through SoHo yesterday morning.

Two sets of confidential blueprints for the planned Freedom Tower, which is set to rise at Ground Zero, were carelessly dumped in a city garbage can on the corner of West Houston and Sullivan streets, The Post has learned.

Experts said the detailed, floor-by-floor schematics contain enough detail for terrorists to plot a devastating attack.

"Secure Document - Confidential," warns the title page on each of the two copies of the 150-page schematic that a homeless, recovering drug addict discovered in the public trash can.


Military doubles felon recruits

The US army doubled its use of "moral waivers" for enlisted soldiers last year to cope with the demands of the Iraq war, allowing sex offenders, people convicted of making terrorist threats, and child abusers into the military, new records released yesterday showed.

The army gave out 511 moral waivers to soldiers with felony convictions last year. Criminals got 249 army waivers in 2006, a sign that the demand for US forces in Iraq has forced a sharp increase in the number of criminals allowed on the battlefield.

The felons accepted into the army and marines included 87 soldiers convicted of assault or maiming, 130 convicted of non-cannabis-related drug offences, seven convicted of making terrorist threats, and two convicted of indecent behaviour with a child. Waivers were also granted to 500 burglars and thieves, 19 arsonists and nine sex offenders.

The new data were released by the oversight committee of the House of Representatives. Henry Waxman, the Democratic chairman of the oversight panel, said that while "providing opportunities to individuals who have served their sentences and rehabilitated themselves" is important, the waivers are a sign that the US military is stretched too thin.

The number of moral waivers in the military, mostly for misdemeanours such as speeding fines, reached 34,476 in 2006, or nearly 20% of all enlisted soldiers, according to the Palm Centre at the University of California. Recruits with felony convictions are more likely than other soldiers to drop out or be released from the military.

And now something to cheer you up:

Wii Fit strip?

As the new Wii Fit made the rounds on morning talk shows this week, a U.K. company was working on a buzzy tidbit of its own: a stripping game for the popular console.

Peekaboo, a company that specializes in temporary at-home stripper polls, including one endorsed by Carmen Electra, announced this week that it's developing a strip aerobics game for the Wii.

"Peekaboo is pleased to confirm that it is in talks to develop a game for the Nintendo Wii that meets mainstream demand for the fun and fitness benefits of pole dancing," the company said in an e-mailed statement. "Peekaboo and its partners are focused on using Wii-friendly hardware to make aerobic pole dancing instantly accessible just as 'Guitar Hero' did for rock'n'roll."

Electra will not be involved in the game, according to the company.

"It would be natural for the platform. ... That's the Wii's strength," said Rob Enderle, a Silicon Valley analyst. "If you wanted to create a stripper poll game, this would be the system you'd target."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ah, It's That Time of Year

The time when I step back and think about the fucking gnarly ordeal I went through four years ago.

Over-the-counter drugs are evil folks.

Worse than street drugs because you are told to take them.

Click on headline for linkage.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rob & Big

Tonight is the season finale and final episode of the MTV hit show Rob & Big.

If you pay close attention, you just might hear the Chest Pains song "Action!" tucked somewhere in the television show.

Below is the trailer for Season 3:

My Friends The Wrens


  • They are back to making babies!

  • This time around my neighborhood wrens have decided to make a nest in this pine cone Christmas tree thingy my wife made during one her Martha Stewart moments.

    While it is obviously an awesome place to make a birdy home - it comes with a heavy price as it is located next to the front door and therefore finds itself next to heavy foot traffic. I moved it a little bit further down the porch so it would be bit more out of the way of the kids but not far enough away to confuse the birds.
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    Cheetos Sandwich


    Crazy busy and finding little time to write anything.

    Yet it's times like this when I feel I have the most to write about.


    Above is a staple sandwich from when I was a kid: The Cheetos Sandwich.

    White bread with yellow mustard, yellow cheese and topped with Cheetos.

    It doesn't get any better than this folks.
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    Wednesday, April 09, 2008

    Fort Totten


    Do you remember when you were a kid?

    One thing I love about being the parent who stays at home is that I get to revisit all these goofy memories that would probably stay in some dusty corner of my brain without the daily inspiration from my two boys.

    Currently, they are all about the indoor fort (as seen above).

    I remember making many pillow and blanket forts as a kid.

    At some point I branched out and began to include the closet into the action before all together abandoning pillows and blankets for the crawl space under the steps in our basement. The problem with that spot was it was barely big enough for one person much less two so it didn't see much action with any of my friends.

    Soon or later, the couch and its pillows became the goal line stand for whatever team I was pretending to play and I would practice my over-the-top touchdown dives.

    My kids have been holed up in their fort playing PS2 from behind their afghan curtain for a couple of days now. They had asked me to name the fort so I called it Fort Totten after a Red Line stop on DC's Metro rail system because after I outgrew forts I became fascinated with riding the subway. I would just get on it a ride to a stop on the other side of town, then switch trains and turn around. Once, in high school, I used this plan as a first date with a girl I had asked out. I went to an all-boys private school so my dating skills were limited at best and when she requested that I actually have a plan for the date, I chose conversation while riding the Metro. What seemed like to me to be a clueless first date proposition turned into something "cool" and "edgy" and I was soon cast as some punk rock wanderer amongst the local public school girls. You know, the guy your mother warned you about. I had a lot of first dates but not to many second dates. Of course I had no idea about this and didn't find out for probably a decade that I had unknowing been cast as the freak in my own John Hughes teen flick.

    Sadly, the fort had to be taken down this morning after my cat gacked up a hairball on one of the blankets used as "the floor" for one of the rooms in the fort.

    There's no subway to ride here either.
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    Monday, April 07, 2008

    And Now For Something Completely Different*

    A gratuitous plug for my friends over at:

  • jackassworld

  • My association with jackass goes back to when I was a teenager and used to ride BMX bikes and skateboard with jackass creator/director Jeff Tremaine.

    We'd ride around in his station wagon that was plastered with Meatland bumper stickers ("The Meat That Can't Be Beat") going to jumps/skate spots drinking Dr. Pepper's and eating Slim Jims. We'd steal plywood in the light of day from newly-birthed subdivisions and spray paint the walls of the local high schools with Black Flag logos. We'd go to matinee punk shows at the old 9:30 Club.

    Basically your typical '80s kids with Thrasher subscriptions and weekly trips to the local surf shop to ogle the cute girls who worked there.

    Early on it was apparent that Jeff had a fucked up sense of humor as I was one of the first to be subjected to it. Jeff used to blame his stinky ass farts on his dog until one day his dog passed away and the farts still came. He tried to convince me, Joey and Andy that the band on the back of the Dead Kennedys record - the record where the back cover has a '50s band with Danelectro guitars - was indeed the Dead Kennedys. He talked me into going to the beach guaranteeing us a place to stay only to wind up sleeping in his wagon. That same trip he convinced me how cool it would be to pierce my ear and wear a fish lure in it like Darby Crash. Man, that shit fucking hurt.

    He also forced me to watch Heavy Metal and Monty Python's Holy Grail*.

    College came.

    Jeff went to St. Louis and joined a fraternity while I went to Baltimore and started to play rugby.

    We stayed in touch and eventually both of us would end up living in Los Angeles. At the time he worked at a BMX magazine that I would end up writing music reviews for and so began a music journalism career I've had for over 15 years now but that's a whole nother story.

    Eventually Jeff ended up as the creative director for Big Brother skateboard magazine and me - after bouncing around through various Hollywood jobs (Restless Records, writing radio promos for Baywatch, being a proofreader at DIRT), I found myself working as the pool boy at the Beverly Hills Hilton.

    For real.

    It was a brainless day job that allowed me to write for magazines like Transworld Skateboarding, Warp, Blunt, Bikini and Big Brother.

    I wrote some great articles for Big Brother: the malt liquor review, buying drugs at the parking lot of a Dead show, how to bet on horse racing and a beastiality porn review to name a few. Ah, good times.

    Things get all James Frey'ed fuzzy somewhere around the mid-'90s.

    I was living in Los Feliz which turned out to house a hot skate spot and found myself shooting footage of people like Paulo Diaz (clip below which isn't mine by the way), hanging out with photographer Rick Kosik in some sketchy areas all in the name of skateboard photography or trying to convince Jeff and Marc McKee to not call the cops during the infamous Bong Olympics.

    I moved to North Carolina and got married while Jeff continued to ply his warped sensibilities on the world mixing Howard Stern, Monty Python and a few reads of Terry Southern's Magic Christian into the brand we know it as today: jackass.

    jackass took over television and the big screen and now they are setting their sights on the internet (i.e. new media).

    Be afraid.

    Be very afraid.

    Saturday, April 05, 2008

    Sure Is Purty


    It's called the High Country around these parts and for good reason.

    Elevation fluctuates between 3,000 and 4,500 feet which made my already out-of-shape ass feel even more out of shape, especially traversing the plot of land that went from the cabin to the river.

    I have only been to the mountains a handful of time since I moved to North Carolina because early on I had a few bad experiences; sometimes I swear it's like the bends or something - if you go up/come down too fast it leaves you feeling off-kilter.

    Dunno, maybe it's just me but I do know that altitude can affect the senses.

    They don't call them the Blue Ridge Mountains for nothing!

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    There are a lot of baptist churches in western North Carolina.

    Here's St. Matthews.

    Small towns, small churches.
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    Gem Mining


    On our second day in the mountains, we woke up to cold rain.

    So what do two families do when it rains in the mountains?

    Why you take the kids gem mining.

    This gem mine was called the Foggy Mountain Gem Mine.

    Cue up the bluegrass bitches!

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    The New River


    The New River as seen from our cabin in the sleepy, mountain town of Todd, NC.

    I just realized that when we stay at the beach, we usually stay at North Topsail Island which is located below the New River Inlet.


    The fucker didn't give up any trout for us (but plenty of crawfish), yet it was still fun to whittle away the day fishing.
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    It's A Party!


    Last weekend - amidst planning for the family's spring vacation to the mountains - we hosted a birthday party.

    My oldest turned eight.

    Nothing like waking up to find the day in question cold and rainy - which meant 14 boys hopped up on ice cream sundaes in my house.

    The wife did an awesome job corraling the kids who ranged in age from 4 to 14 by moderating an marbles tournament and a rock, paper, scissors challenge.

    Plus, the rain cleared up just enough towards the end so we got to salvage the scavenger hunt.

    Of course, present time was a blur of arms and paper (as see above).
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    Tuesday, April 01, 2008

    Bring On The Drone


    My 4-year-old on bass, played through a MXR distortion pedal.

    My now 8-year-old playing a 4-stringed, out-of-tune Kramer Strat knockoff...

    Next time I'll make 'em wear some robes and maybe light some candles.

    Oh, yeah and hopefully record it.


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