Friday, September 18, 2009

I've moved! Find me at

Thursday, June 25, 2009

song of the day - 6.25.09: gavin rossdale - forever may you run

I generally am opposed to bashing musicians I don't like, and haven't done so on my blog yet, because I think they deserve credit for pursuing a musical path at all, and it's not like I can do any better. But I just could not resist with Gavin Rossdale.

The other day, I was telling my roommate about the No Doubt show that I went to recently, which turned out to be quite a satisfying concert experience, even from the very back of the lawn at Nissan Pavilion. Somewhere in the conversation, we got to talking about Rossdale (aka Mr. Gwen Stefani), pondering what he was up to these days, since he certainly wasn't making music. We laughed.

Then, the very next day, surfing the music video section of my On Demand service, who's name should appear but the great Gavin Rossdale, former front man of 90s rockers Bush? I pressed "play", not knowing what to expect, and definitely not expecting what I actually saw.

The song is a forgettable rock ballad, but the video is an unforgettable masterpiece of ridiculousness. This is probably the best unintentionally-funny music video I have ever seen. I want to describe it more, but you should just watch it. Just know that I was disappointed when he did not turn into a wolf. Enjoy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

song of the day - 6.22.09: the veils - sit down by the fire

My most recent song obsession has been "Sit Down By The Fire" by The Veils. I don't even remember how I came about this album, but it was just sitting there on my iTunes, so I figured I'd give it a listen. It reminds me of Echo & the Bunnymen, and Arcade Fire, but it deserves recognition for being just plain good songwriting.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

father's day haiku

your stories like mine
have no beginning or end
father's son i am

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Concert Review: The National - 5/25/09 at the 9:30 Club

The National are one of my top five favorite bands in the universe. Their last two albums, Boxer and Alligator are "go-to" albums on my iPod, and I've now seen them live three times. As much as I love them, I have to say, they're one of those bands that is better on a recording than live. Not that they aren't good live, but there's something missing in the live performances. Their cool, polished sound doesn't translate perfectly, and they don't have the proper instrumentation (even with nine people on-stage tonight).

Tonight's show featured an awesome opener, Colin Stetson, a saxophonist who also played in the horn section for the headliners. He did some things with a sax that I did not know could be done. I highly recommend giving him a listen. Also, the horn section added a lot to a few of the songs they played, like "Fake Empire" and "Squalor Victoria".

The National played four new songs as well (see setlist). My favorite of the new ones was "Runaway", with which they opened the set. Here's the very shaky, poor-sound-quality video I took of it:

They played 15 other songs, mostly from their last two albums. I was disappointed not to hear "All the Wine" and "Looking for Astronauts", two of my favorites, but I'm sure they had to mix up the setlists, since they played two shows at the 9:30 Club last night.

Runaway (new)
Start a War
Mistaken for Strangers
Secret Meeting
Baby We'll Be Fine
Slow Show
Vanderline Crybaby (new)
Squalor Victoria
So Far Around the Bend (new-ish)
Apartment Story
Green Gloves
Fake Empire
City Middle
Mr. November
Blood Buzz Ohio (new)
About Today

Friday, May 22, 2009

song of the day - 5.22.09: peter bjorn and john - nothing to worry about

Peter Bjorn and John's new album Living Things has a lot of good stuff going on. It's an album worthy of year-end considerations. They've gotten a little more adventurous with their sound, and it's worked out just fine. Their Scandinavian charm is fully intact. My favorite track on the album is "Nothing to Worry About." This song rocks on it's own, but the video makes me love it even more. It's a mash-up of screaming children, hip hop beat, and PB&J's usual indifferent, dryly comedic vocals. Add the crazy Japanese dance/biker/Elvis gang from the video in the mix and you have a treat for all the senses! Ok, just sight and hearing. Those are definitely the top tier of senses though.

Friday, May 15, 2009

songs of the day - 5.15.09: feeling good

I love American Idol. There, I said it. Most reality competition TV shows make me want to gouge my eyes out with a spork, but American Idol holds a special place in my heart. Next week's Season 8 finale will include two of my favorite contestants of all time: Kris Allen and Adam Lambert. In the four seasons I've watched, I'm pretty sure the talent has been the best this year. Adam Lambert is the cream of the crop and maybe the best contestant Idol has seen... ever. 

However, even though his mad vocal skills and emo hairdo are the bomb dot com, I think Adam's gotten a bit of unfair praise from the judges. Paula is unabashedly in his corner to win the whole shebang, and it seems new judge Kara Dioguardi has joined her. One of the songs Adam was heavily praised for (on Rat Pack week) was "Feeling Good," written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1965 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd, and probably most famously performed by the great Nina Simone.

Adam pulled the wool over the Idol judges' eyes on this one. The judges gushed about his original rendition of the song, but really, it was a straight ripoff of the version performed by Muse on their album, Origin of Symmetry. Too bad the judges have such limited record collections; they've probably never even heard of Muse (Randy definitely would've dropped the name if he knew). It's a trick Lambert's been pulling all year, like on his rendition of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" which sounded a heck of a lot like Gary Jules's version. David Cook copied covers regularly last year, as did Chris Daughtry in Season 5, and probably every other "rocker" on the show. (How do I know the judges have limited record collections? When Blake Lewis performed 311's "All Mixed Up," the judges revealed they had never heard of 311... uhh, WTF?)

But you know what? Who cares if he's covering covers? He sounds good. That's what counts in this competition. I don't really care if he wins or not. American Idol has a way of ruining talents by forcing them to put out terrible records, so I'm not holding my breath, but I have a sneaking suspicion and hope that Adam will transcend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Album Review: "The Hazards of Love" by The Decemberists

Anyone want to hear about some music? Remember when I used to write about music regularly on here? Those were the days. It's not like I haven't been listening to new stuff or thinking of old favorites that I'd like to share with my friends on the interweb. I just got it in my head that I didn't want elispersonalstash to be a music blog. But when I wrote about other stuff, I ended up getting some crazy people all riled up about what God told them to tell everyone else they can and can't do. Those people are lost causes, so I'm back to writing for my people: music nerds, plus my friends and family.

Today, I'd like to introduce you to the album most played on my ipod in 2009: The Hazards of Love by the Decemberists. I'd never been a huge fan, though I liked the song they wrote about me, "Eli the Barrow Boy." This album changed my perception of the Portland indie rockers, led by Colin Meloy. They managed to put together a concept album that tells a clear story that actually also sounds good. In fact, it rocks out at some points.

The story of the album is about two lovers, Margaret and William, and the attempts to keep them apart by William's crazy jealous adoptive mother, the Queen of the Forest. Yes, there's magic. Yes, there are ghosts. Yes, there's a dealmaking river.

The story is good enough that it would totally hold up as a musical or rock opera or something. But that's not what makes it a great album. Meloy and company weave a few recurring melodies and themes throughout the album, which makes it flow better than most albums these days, which are more collections of singles. The instrumentation is really creative... banjos and slide guitars one moment, buzzy reverb and shredding the next. The guest vocalists on the album are superb, and Meloy can sing too. His singing is almost as good as his unabashedly nerdy lyrics (pull out your dictionaries!). 

The album starts off kind of slow, and definitely focuses on exposition more in the early going, sacrificing on the musical end a bit. The album really picks up at track 8 and never looks back. What's track 8, you ask? It's a little ditty called "The Wanting Comes In Waves / Repaid." OK, so the title isn't great. But the song really is. If this song was played out on the stage, William would be on one side singing about his longing for Margaret, and the Queen would be on the other side singing about what an ungrateful pain in the ass William is. William's song is folksy and very Ren-faire-y. The Queen's song is badass blues. The transitions are smooth, and the track works quite well, though probably better in the context of the whole album. 

Track 9 is a little guitar interlude, which just calms you down for a bit before they blow your mind with track 10, "The Rake's Song." The Rake is the nasty villain of the story, and this song is our introduction to his evil ways. It's kind of odd to listen to a singer going on about killing his children, but since it's in the context of a fictional story, it works, and it's richer for its provocativeness. There are some awesome rhymes in this track, and Meloy is at his best vocally too. You can download "The Rake's Song" for free from the Decemberists' site.

If you are even the slightest bit inclined to enjoy the musical theater format, and if you like good rock music, then get this album. Read the lyrics as you listen so you get the whole story. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Russ Merva Emerges to Confirm His Ignorance

Shortly after the November 2008 elections, I wrote this post about Prop 8, and singled out a man named Russ Merva, who was pictured holding a sign in support of the successful (in that it passed) measure.

Well, Ol' Russ Merva Googled himself and found my post. He left a comment which is really worth reading if you ever wanted to be terrified at a person's stupidity. Here's what he had to say:

WOW- what a honor, I have a blog dedicated all to me!
Yes, I'm that guy on the picture, just for the heck of it I Googled myself and- Vuala! -here I am... and a blog... addressed to me. 
Well, I'll seize the moment and will try to answer some tough questions you're asking me, Eli.
Ready?! Here I come:

Even if gay marriage happens it will not last long, why you ask?
Well, because:
1) it is not natural, and as a result there are consequences, to start with: AIDS, and other freaky illnesses that follow this kind of lifestyle
2) there are many more reasons, but the main reason would be because... Yes Eli you guessed it(not that you guessed, but because you knew it deep inside..., where nobody sees or hears you, yeeees deep inside...) GOD will judge GLBT people from turning away from him.

Some things are true whether you believe or not, and God is True.

Up until 1963 or 64 American Psychiatric Association was considering Homosexuality a mental disorder, but then again because of threat of being murdered, poor doctors "switched" their minds and changed definition to a "love between two same sex partners".

Eli, I now that you are a smart man, needless to say confused - can I recommend you this site-

Please don't get me wrong, I do wish you the best and may God open your eyes, so you don't end up..., therefore read it, there is a lot of good information.

May God save you.


Enlightened Human Being as you like to refer to yourself, let me enlighten you on what happened to society, empires if you will, that were (may I use this phrase again...- yes, thank you) Enlightened Human Beings that you are?
I'll be more specific: Great Empires like Greeks, Romans, Byzantine tell me Eli what happened to them?
Went down in ruins.



USA DESTRUCTION 101- Ignore your conscience, spit on morals.

I'm not going to respond to everything he says. What would be the point? He will in all likelihood die a bigot. Also, he didn't bother to answer the question of what the gays ever did to him, and why it's so important to him that his bigoted views be enforced on people he has nothing to do with.

I kind of feel bad for the man. He clearly has no capacity to think for himself, and to top it off, he probably sees the writing on the wall: Prop 8 was the turning point. Prop 8's passage was a devastating loss for truth, fairness, and justice, but America recognized it as such, and is not going to let it happen again. I'm sure it's been a bad few weeks for Russ, what with Iowa and Vermont joining Massachusetts in allowing gay marriage. Russ and his fellow willingly-ignorant Bible-thumping sociopaths, are losing this fight, and he must be pretty sad about it.

Here's a video that I think sums up the gay marriage debate pretty well. Watch it Russ! It's full of truth, unlike your Conservapedia article (which carries the laughable tagline: "The Trustworthy Encyclopedia"... HAAAAHAHA).

Friday, April 3, 2009

Statesmen Gone Wild: Free Speech Plundered Over Porno Pirates

This post relates to pornography, but does not link to or show any actual pornography, so it is safe for a hidebound killjoy like MD State Senator Andy Harris (R-Baltimore and Harford) to read it. Yesterday, Harris painted a cross on his chest and crusaded against the evil heathens at the University of Maryland (which I'm proud to call my alma mater) because the school's student union scheduled a screening of "Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge," apparently the highest-budget XXX-rated porn in history. 

Harris ignored the facts that 1) no state money went toward the screening, 2) IDs would be checked at the door, 3) Planned Parenthood was invited to lead a discussion about safe sex practices before the screening, and 4) no one was putting a gun to anyone's head to attend the screening, and he proposed an amendment that would have cancelled ALL state funding to the school if they showed a XXX porn. Skittish University officials forced the cancellation of the screening. Good for you Andy! Now the world is free of porn... except for being a few keystrokes away from any person with an internet connection. 

I'll try to refrain from injecting my own opinions about pornography, but last I heard, it is legal, and I do believe there's this thing called "free speech" that's supposed to prevent legislatures from meddling (censoring) when something "inappropriate" but legal is going on. But Andy doesn't care about that. There's boobs! We can't show boobs to adults who want to see boobs! That would be terrible! And definitely worthy of shutting down the flagship university of the great state of Maryland after 155 years of service!

Here's what Senate President Mike Miller, who said he would have supported the amendment, had to say about it:
  • I don't believe in censorship, but at the same time, I don't think that film was appropriate in a state building on a state campus. . . Yes, the amendment was overkill, but at the same time, it would have passed because it forced legislators to either vote for hardcore pornography or university funding.
It's a nice little quote, but it makes no sense. A "nay" vote on the amendment = porn and funding remain. A "yea" vote = no porn and funding remains or yes porn and no funding, but the Senators are in no way voting on whether the school is allowed to show it... perhaps because they have NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to do so. They are just legislating the morality of porn by threatening the purse-strings of one of the most important institutions in the state. Legislators wouldn't have been "forced" to do anything at all. Just like students are not "forced" to see the movie. They totally reached beyond their powers on this one.

And my very own State Senator, Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery), did me proud by saying just that:
  • The proposed amendment was a direct affront to freedom of speech. . . The Supreme Court has been clear that student groups enjoy First Amendment rights. It's not the movie I would have chosen for myself or my kids, but that's the beauty of the First Amendment: People who want to see it can go, and those who don't want to don't have to.
Well put, Senator Raskin (that's him on the right, Harris on the left). I'm so thankful that my representative in the State Senate understands that he has not been elected to legislate what is "decent" or "appropriate" to be shown to consenting adults.

I would love to see the University call the Senate's bluff and show the film anyway. Any court would strike down the Senate's actions, and the public outcry against closing down the University over such a trivial matter might put the Senate back in its place. Also, I hate to see my supposedly liberal state behaving in such a backwards way. It's not like UMD was going to be the first school to show it. UC Davis showed it without incident, as have other schools.

Sadly, an (unscientific) poll in the Baltimore Sun shows 60% of voters think the University did the right thing by cancelling it. Apparently we still live in such a puritanical society that we'd rather give up our rights to freedom of speech than allow some college kids to watch a porno.