This is what anticipation looks like

December 3rd, 2008

On March 3, 2009, Anti- Records will release the eagerly awaited new Neko Case album Middle Cyclone.

Neko Case: Middle Cyclone

And to answer the not-quite-asked question, anticipation looks awesome.

Post-vacation thoughts

November 28th, 2008

We recently returned from a multi-day trip to LA and environs. The main point was to go to Disneyland. We last went two years ago, when our youngest was eight months old. She, of course, remembers it vividly.

We set off at 5:30am on Saturday...yes, we drove. We thought about flying, but it's damnably expensive. Fortunately, the kids were great on the drive.

Tip #1: Don't stop in Buttonwillow. Buttonwillow smells like a beach bathroom that hasn't seen a mop since it was built in 1932, where the toilets are never flushed, and people mainly piss on the floors and walls, anyway.

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Slow-building songs

November 20th, 2008

There's a type of song that builds slowly, then bursts into a crescendo of sound.

There's a name for this sort of thing, I'm sure of it.

I was thinking about these songs this morning on the drive to work. The classic Rock example (and, of course, also the Classic Rock example) is "In the Air Tonight," where Phil Collins lets the song go for a while, and then the drums come bursting in.

The New Pornographers do something similar on "The Bleeding Heart Show," where the song builds to a huge, glorious "hey la" chorus.

Some songs front-load the buildup/release: "Money for Nothing" is an example. "In the Evening" (Led Zeppelin) is another example of that: Wispy, Eastern-sounding strings float around for a while, then Robert Plant's wail of "In the eeeee-vening..." And the rest of the band comes crashing in.

Those are the examples I can name off the top of my head. They're all great, of course, and make for a nice change from the standard verse-chorus-verse setup. Not that I'd want every song to make me wait for the good parts.

I'll have to try to think of others. Or, more likely, get distracted and forget all about it for a few months.

Circuit City failing? Shocking.

November 11th, 2008

Let's see...I last purchased something from Circuit City...thinking...10 years ago? Something like that. We bought some speakers and a new receiver/amplifier. Which I replaced earlier this year (not the speakers; they're still fine).

Actually, I think I bought a video game from them, but from their online store. That probably doesn't count.

I last went into one of their stores to check out a digital camera, about a year ago. They didn't have the model that I wanted, but they had the previous one. So I looked at that, and it helped me make a decision, but they were selling the old model at the same price that I could by the new model at an online site.

Mark Evanier does a good job of summarizing the issue:

Anyone who's ever shopped at one knows the reason they're in trouble. It's the same thing that doomed the Good Guys chain. And Egghead Software. And caused CompUSA to close most of its outlets. It's the same problem that destroys most chains that sell technology. Someone says, "We have to keep labor costs low," and doesn't realize or care that this invariably results in too many employees who — I'm going to put this in bold — don't know a damn thing about the stuff they sell.
But crummy service has killed the brick-and-mortar end of that market. Everyone's learned that if you're not going to get personal attention from a salesperson who knows the product line, you might as well buy it on the Internet. It's cheaper and you don't even have to carry it out to your car.

Except in that one case 10 years (or so) ago, I never trusted the salespeople at Circuit City to know more than I did, or to not try to sell me the most expensive items available, regardless of what would actually make sense for me to buy. Instead of getting useful advice, the salesperson would just point to an expensive model and say, "Well, that one's good." And that would be the high water mark as far as their suggestions went.

So, no, I'm not mourning them at all. Similarly, I wouldn't be too upset if Home Depot decided to go out of business.

My favorite election night moment

November 6th, 2008

Yes, I'm still writing about this. Perhaps I'll write about nothing else for the next few months, in an attempt to pretend that George W. Bush is returned to Texas, and everyone spits when they utter his name.

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