Recently, Goulash confidante P-Diddy got an iPod. He wanted to get into listening to podcasts, but he didn't really know where to start. He asked me and, like a jackass, I told him the name of a solitary podcast that I enjoy. Well, let the record show that I only waited a week and a half before correcting that! Following are my favorite podcasts available on the iTunes for free.
1. The Sound of Young America. This show is usually just a weekly interview, but I like it for a couple of reasons. First, the host, Jesse Thorn, is very amusing. Second, Jesse almost always selects an excellent guest (as the whitest man alive, I'm not such a fan of the hip-hop centric episodes). If you're looking for a good intro to the show, get the one with Paul F. Tompkins from late August.
2. This American Life. Lots of people already know about this one, and for a good reason: it's great. In case you're unfamiliar, it's a weekly show where a few different people share stories of things that happened to them in real life. This is my gym podcast, and it's why I'm the only dude giggling on the ellipticals. Sometimes, it's a bit depressing. For a good intro to this one, get the one entitled Break-Up from late August. I loved the story on there about a lady writing a break-up song who then sends it to THE Phil Collins for feedback.
3. It's All Politics. If I listen to political news for anything longer than 15 minutes each week, I want to coat myself in bacon grease and leap into a lion cage. Luckily, It's All Politics is exactly 15 minutes each week. The hosts do a good job of making the week's political news entertaining and informative, and they're not afraid of a pun or two. Dean Zyvarb introduced me to this one. No need for a gentle intro on this one.
4. KEXP Live Performances. I'll admit that I don't know half of these bands, but I consider that a good thing. The archives are definitely worth perusing. I also like how short these are.
5. Hanselminutes. This one is more for the developer crowd; it's just Scott Hanselman picking a topic each week and doing an interview on it. I skip a fair number of these, but he does a good job of covering a ton of ground from week to week, from the ultimate development machine to Iron Ruby. In case you're wondering, there's no show on sex robots yet.
And what about podcasts that I scorn? Yes, there's actually a podcast that I actively despise.
1. All Songs Considered. Half of these shows, where they're sampling the new releases of the week, are great. The other half of the shows, where Bob Boilen decides to fondle himself while only featuring Portuguese music, are a complete waste of time. Also, some of the concerts they distribute are insanely long -- over three hours, sometimes. Who, besides Bob Boilen, has an entire afternoon to devote to Femi Kuti, whoever the hell that is?
Aaaaaaaaand that's it. Did I miss any?
I had a really good day at work today. It's not because I was especially productive (although I did get some stuff done) or I really enjoyed what I was doing (although it wasn't so bad), but as the day was winding down, a couple other guys and I had ourselves an old-fashioned bitching session. Imagine any possible complaint you could conjure up, and then think about voicing it in a friendly, riled-up environment; wouldn't that be cool? That's pretty much what we did for an hour and a half. In fact, we got so into it, we were all at the office until 6:30. We almost peeled the wallpaper off of the walls with the vehemence of our bitching about tree sap (note: that was mostly me... why must it be so sticky?).
One pleasant discovery from that was that a lot of the ideas I have about work aren't just mine. Perhaps it's natural to feel a bit alienated in a big office setting, but sometimes I feel slightly apart from the people I work with. Part of this is also because a lot of my friends from work have since moved on, I suspect. Anyway, it was good to let it all out there with those guys and learn that I'm not the only one who thinks some of our processes are an unholy union of beast and man. I look forward to doing this more and more, until eventually, I spend all night and all day screaming about my 401k.
I saw an excellent movie last night: Stranger than Fiction. I'd kind of seen it once before, but I'd been drinking and I feel asleep halfway through. Surprisingly, staying both sober and awake greatly contributed to my enjoyment of the movie.
There's a certain sort of movie that I really enjoy, and its formula can be expressed as Surreal situation + quirky dialogue + good soundtrack = CWMP winner. I don't care about the details of the plot or the actors involved or even whether it makes any sense; just give me those three and I'll walk out happy. For proof that my formula will trump even common sense, I point to the fact that I actually enjoyed I Heart Huckabees, a movie which was complete gibberish.
(I don't know if it's just me, but I thought that Dustin Hoffman's character in Stranger than Fiction was pretty similar to his character in I Heart Huckabees, minus the goofy haircut. I really liked the part where he asks Will Ferrell, "Are you the king of anything?")
Woah man, yesterday was excellent. The Flaming Lips rocked San Antonio at a pretty small venue, and I was there with some homebrews. If you haven't seen them (the Lips, not the homebrews), you should; they combine a lot of cool stuff with rock n roll, psychedelia, indie pop, frickin' lasers, dancing Santa Clauses and aliens, bouncing rubber balls full of confetti, and so much smoke that the stupid fire alarms wouldn't stop going off. It was a tremendous show. (I'm pretty sure they just put out a live DVD, so you should definitely take a look.)
Maybe just as good is the fact that, on the way there, we stopped for Chris Madrid's. If I ever end up in some sort of death-row/concentration-camp/tickle-party-gone-disastrously-awry scenario where I get to pick my last meal, I'm going with Chris Madrid's. Just give me 100 pounds of hamburgers along with a grease bucket, and I will become the most mellow individual in the history of that death camp.
In fact, Chris Madrid's comes up a lot in conversation because both Paddy and I say that no burger place in Austin tops it. I stand by that. Show me a place around here with a Miss Pacman machine, where the burgers are so greasy, they could stick to the walls, and where everything comes with 17 kilograms of cheese on it. Oh yeah, the whole affair should cost $4. It can't be done! NASA's tried it! I tend to rank Austin above San Antonio, but not when it comes to hamburgers and mariachi bands.
I have been safely instantiated in Boston. Once I got here, I had my first Boston experience almost right away. I was eating lunch at this restaurant, and during some NFL highlights, the guy next to me loudly declared, "Tom Brady is an effin' work of AHHHHHHHHHHT." Then he went off on this extended diatribe on Bill Belichick and while I didn't follow a lot of it, I applaud his creative use of profanity. These people here love them the f word.
I didn't have anything to do this evening, so I walked over to Fenway Park. It's about a mile away from where I'm staying. I got to peek around a little bit because they left the lower level open, but it's really not so interesting when there's not a game going on. It is a great looking stadium, though; I'd love to hit up a game there. Sadly, the Red Sox aren't here while I'm here, and I couldn't find a large enough group of hobos to field two entire teams and play for my own amusement. That sucks, and I consider it to be the big disappointment of the trip so far.
The Red Sox are playing in Toronto so I got to thinking that maybe I could go see them anyway. Not only would that be a mighty adventure, but I could see a new country. Unfortunately, Google Maps tells me that Toronto is 540 miles away. Man! It's like a whole nother country away! I'd like to say for the record that if I ever go to Canada, I'd probably never go back. I love Canadians.
I still did get to see Fenway, though, and one nice thing about seeing Fenway is that it's another historic baseball stadium that I can mark off the list. Going to see places like that is probably a distinctly guy thing, but I always have a lot of fun on these jaunts. For the record, the list of historic baseball stadiums goes Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, and of course, the Ballpark in Arlington. I don't wan to brag, but I've been to them all, fools! Where do I go now? Please don't tell me it's WNBA arenas.
ACL is over, suckers. That's both good and bad. It's bad in that I saw a lot of good stuff, had a large time, and got to hang out with a lot of excellent folks, but good in that I am so damn tired of standing around, paying money for lots of stuff, worrying about catching diptheria from using the port-o-potties.
Let's get to the highlights. The absolute coolest thing I saw all weekend was on Friday afternoon, when I finally fulfilled one of my life goals: I saw an exploding port-o-pottie. Apparently a propane tank on a camper blow up, thus catching the pottie on fire and delighting the audience while surely freaking the hell out of whoever was in there.
Oh yeah, I also saw some quality acts. Arcade Fire was probably the best, with an amazing stage production and some great song selection. Devotchka was great too, in that they had a tuba player instead of a bassist and the singer was chugging red wine throughout the show. Andrew Bird and Wilco were great also, and I loved how Stephen Marley had a guy on stage with him whose sole job was to wave the Ethiopian flag like a maniac.
There were a few lowlights, as well. Bob Dylan apparently couldn't make the show, and so he sent his warmed over corpse. Man, he sounded BAD. Does Bob Dylan not know about Halls with eucalyptus? His band was great and I think he had some moments where the voice was holding, but for most of the show, he sounded like the bastard child of Cookie Monster and Bob Dylan. Steve Earle was also a huge disappointment. You're going to bring a DJ on stage with you now, Steve? Why not put on a beret and complete your lameification?
As unhappy as I was with Dylan, it did lead to a pretty cool scenario. We parked about 15 minutes away from the park and in order to get there and back, we had to take a shortcut through the forest. It wasn't too rugged or anything, but there wasn't any lighting along this trail. That was no problem when we walked it to the festival at 2 PM. It was a little trickier at 10 PM, when Sam and I were walking back with only a cell phone to light the path. It was definitely spooky, and what made it even scarier was the fact that we could still hear Bob Dylan's craggily voice. It was kind of like getting chased by Skeletor. I could only hope that any forest muggers would hear that voice, assume it was the devil, and hide under a log in absolute terror.
Until next year, port-o-potties.
Well, ACL is getting close and Meteorologico, the weather god, appears to be on our side. In case you don't trust weather.com, take my word for it: it's cloudy, it's cool, and there is a nice little breeze. I'm a little worried this is all a ruse; I feel like I need to smash a few thermometers tonight as a sacrifice, then light all my short pants on fire to seal the deal. We will have good weather this weekend! The power of positive thinking, along with copious amounts of destroyed weather instruments, will make it so!
I'm going to be in Boston, MA next week. You probably think I'm going up there so I can pick up a few saves for the Red Sox. Unfortunately, I'm not, although they do have an urgent need for a guy with a 40 mph change-up. However, I will be participating in something that's sure to have just as many groupies: the SD Best Practices conference! YeeeeeoW! Deeedly deeedly deeedly deeeeeeeeeeerrrrrr (air guitar noises).
I'll be rocking New England by myself. I don't know if that's good or bad. Good: I get to eat wherever I want. Bad: I'll be eating by myself a lot, and I think they make you eat in the bathroom when that's the case, so you don't depress everyone else in the joint. Good: I can do whatever I want after class is done. Bad: if I am attacked by hobos, I won't have anyone to call to my defense.
If there's one group that makes my social skills look absolutely refined, it's the people who attend conferences like this one. Thus, I'm not worried about picking up friends. The only danger for me is picking up too many friends, and having some of them put the moves on my Dr.-Dobbs-approved groupies. This is why I'll be distributing leaflets in advance, warning all groupies to check ID if someone claims to be me.
Okay, I no longer recall what it is I'm supposed to be talking about. Boston, my hopes are high. Deliver the goods or I'll take out my frustrations on the hotel minibar.
My mom and I are both laptopping on the coffee table. Wahoo, that's an intergenerational geek-out! (No, we're not swapping off on typing on the same laptop; that'd be a little strange.)
Did you know that at GNC, they sell shark cartilage pills? Apparently you eat these supplements and take on the power and wisdom of 1,000 sharks (this is what Google tells me). I doubt all of that though, because the shark cartilage pills were 80% off. Either they're using bad sharks (or worse, manatees) or consuming shark cartilage is as weird and ineffective as one might think.
I tend to notice stuff like this because I am on the precipice of becoming one of those weird people with lots of dietary quirks. I work with a couple of people like this, and they've got me started on fish oil and green tea. They take a lot more than that (wheatgrass, micronutrient mixes, vampire blood), but I haven't fallen for that trap. Nevertheless, I like to look at the supplements whenever I'm at a place that has a lot of them.
One of these strange supplements that never fails to amuse is emu oil. I don't know if they get this oil by sponging off the emus or by passing dead emus through a strainer, and I do not care to know. All I know is, the stuff is expensive. I don't even know what it does, and I've looked on wikipedia many, many times.
I've often thought what a great line of work it must be to sell these supplements. The crazier it sounds, the more you charge. What does it do? It's a mystery... an ASIAN mystery (and then you can charge even more). When the FDA disproves it, you chalk it up to a conspiracy, and then charge even more to combat that conspiracy. Based only on the medicine cabinets of the people reading this post, we could make enough unicorn cream to drink fruity drinks forever. Think big, people.
Due to postage difficulties, I haven't actually sent out the ACL CDs yet. Tomorrow morning is the time, homies. With Zeus as my witness, these things are leaving my house!
Tonight's the first NFL game, and that means it's time for another unsuccessful season of fantasy football! In Powellopolis, fantasy football reigns supreme because it only really occupies one day a week. With baseball and basketball, there's information to process every day; it's a big committment to make to a bunch of people with messed up pituitary glands.
Does anyone actually care who I got? Probably not, but know this: if Brian Westbrook and Vince Young go down, I'm climbing on my roof with a BB gun and I'm not coming down until the SWAT team makes an appearance. (Note to SWAT team: that's just a joke. Cedric Benson would have to go down too before you guys are necessary.)
We had a softball game tonight and one guy we picked up was the spitting image of Drama from Entourage. It was amazing. He had the hair and the accent, plus he kept calling everybody 'bro'. Imagine Drama playing softball; that was how this dude dressed.
I thought that surely that guy must hear this about Drama all the time, but I still wanted to bring it up. I like the show, I like the character, and I like to discuss his foibles. Since it was so obvious, I decided that if I wanted to bring it up, I needed to do so in a clever fashion. Well, at one point, we're in the dugout together just shooting the breeze, getting along well. I decide that now's the time. I lean over and say, "I loved you in Viking QUest." I figure that with his stunning Drama-ness, he'd probably enjoy that comment. Unfortunately, he had no idea what in the hell I was talking about and he scooted down the bench a bit.
Raise your hand if you saw something amazing this weekend. If your amazing thing has nothing to do with Wii Sports, then lower your hand and sulk for an hour or so. I say that because, this weekend, I saw someone roll a 300 on Wii Bowling.
No, I was not the one doing the bowling (it was my sister's lover man). Yes, I happened to be the unfortunate opponent who got his ass blown out of the water. However, I played a definite role (bowling pun) in the sense that it happened on my Wii with my controller. Since we were only using one controller, you can pretty much say that I get an assist on this perfect game.
In case you're wondering what Wii Sports does when you roll a 300, it was actually very anti-climactic. There was some digital confetti, but no dancing Wario or anything along those lines.
Aside from that, Labor Day was fun, but not incredibly interesting. It was hectic, which should anger organized labor everywhere, but it kind of paled in comparison to the sky dive. That's fine with me; I don't feel the need to top that experience just yet. (When I do, a submarine and a rhinoceros will be prominently involved.)
I did happen to make the ACL Sampler CD, so look forward to one in your mailbox soon if you emailed me. If you didn't, I don't know what to tell you. You can't just stand by your mailbox and hope for me to mail you things without any prior communication! The festival itself is only 1.5 weeks away, so it's probably a good idea to start applying sunscreen right now.