Known Johnson

January 10, 2006

Those dirty bastards and their DualDiscs

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 7:03 am

Well, if you’ve been keeping up with this site, you know my success rate with DualDiscs is pretty low – first I was foiled by the Ben Folds album from last spring, then again by the Trey Anastasio disc in the fall (and both not really worth the trouble I had to go through to get them on my Ipod.) And then Rhino records put out the remastered Talking Heads releases in a box, with bonus tracks and video content – an incredible updating of one of the most important catalogs of music. Except they were all put out as DualDiscs only. And then the news came that in January and February the individual releases of those discs would come out. Except they too were only released as DualDiscs.

For a brief moment last week, I thought I’d found a way around this issue. It turns out that DualDiscs are apparently a US-only thing, or just about (those pesky Canadians might get them, too) and that European versions would be actual CDs and separate DVDs for each release (example: Remain In Light.) For a brief moment, the light of salvation shone down upon me, showering me with musical peace. And then someone turned it off. It turns out that the label’s sticking it to the Europeans – I just found out now that the track-listings are available – no bonus tracks!

So now it’s back to the standard US goddamn DualDiscs, which means I’m going to spend hours trying to get these things to read and rip correctly, and it’s not like I have a choice, you know, I’m of course being forced at gun point to buy all of these damned DualDiscs. Damn you, you freaking bastards. You know it’s not like I can not buy them.

You win, Rhino, you win. Somehow you always do – you even managed to get me to buy not only Elvis Costello’s Punch the Clock reissue but also the even worse Goodbye Cruel World, and between those two I think I’ve listened to the four discs a total of two times. Smart investment there on my part. I spit in your general direction, Rhino. Feel my wimpy wrath.

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January 9, 2006

Collision!

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:44 pm

I’ve had my truck just a little over three weeks now. I’ve kept her shiny and clean and new looking, dutifully going out every couple of days with the amazing California Car Duster to take off the latest layer of grime, wiping down the wheels of their coating of deep black new-car brake dust, and generally babying it. I like to keep my cars looking new as long as possible, and that’s usually quite a while

I’m reminded of this by this post on Bekah’s site. On the way home from work a few days after Christmas, just minutes from arriving at Alissa’s parents’ house where Amanda was being babysat, and just moments before exiting the freeway, a car in front of me swerved dramatically. I only had a moment to register what was happening as a long black strip flung up from under the shuddering car. With a disturbing series of thuds and thunks and rough bouncing, I realized I’d hit a shred of tire-tread. “Shred” is putting it mildly – this was a semi-truck tire, clearly obvious as I watched, from my rear view mirror, as it settled by the side of the road after a few more cars tangled with it. And it was the entire tread, which I figured must have been five or six feet in length. Hey, this is a truck, I figured. It probably just rolled right over it.

When I got out, I walked around the front not expecting to see anything and was shocked to see the center of my bumper, grill, and the front of my hood covered in black. I rubbed at it, and while it reluctantly gave way after some pressure was applied, my worst fear came true – my truck was damaged. Ten days old and already damaged, it was hard to believe. Let me refer you to my first paragraph again so that this doesn’t come off as overly melodramatic – we’re talking about a vehicle that cost us a lot of money and which we’d had in our possession about ten days. The gasp I let out when I saw that my grill was cracked should be forgiven; the string of swear words I let out when I saw that my front air dam was split was to be expected. The silence at seeing the permanent dent, albeit small, in the previously flawless, lovely Amazon green nose plastic should say it all. I was pissed.

A quick run to my parents cleaned the smears of rubber from my truck, but did little to help the actual broken pieces. Oh, okay, so maybe the grill looks broken only to me because I know where to look. But the fact remains that it’s broken. And, hey, I’ll even try and ignore that my right front wheel also sustained some finish damage from that friggin’ stupid ass piece of tire tread. But imagine how annoyed I was to find this weekend, nearly two weeks later, that the damage from that tired tread seems to have dribbled toward the back of the truck, where the shred took out the one last vicious beating it could. It actually managed to twist up and behind my rear tire, snarl a fang of the steel lining against both the rear mudflap and the rear quarter panel – leaving scraped plastic and scrapes through the paint. Three weeks old, people. Three weeks and already it looks like I’ve had it two years.

So the grill can be replaced, but I have learned why people scoff at buying Honda parts – they’re ridiculously expensive. A replacement grill for my truck – a piece of plastic, basically, that is about 18″ long and 5-6″ high, will run me $250. Now, I admit, this is not the original grill – it’s an optional, more “truck-like” mesh grill such as what you’d see on Ford F150s – but still . . . Three weeks and I’m replacing parts not for my own enjoyment but because of stupid damage I didn’t even cause.

Now, for those of you wanting a silver lining, or glass-half-full ending, I offer this: had I been driving my Toyota Matrix when I crossed paths with the angry tread, that strip of tire would have been in my windshield. Where it hit on my truck is the height at which it would have struck the lower portion of the windshield. The story to be told from that experience, I expect, would have been much more dramatic – I might have been regaling you with tales of damage done to me rather than just a car.

January 4, 2006

The year that was: 2005

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 2:13 pm

I’ve been doing these best-of lists for years now, and I always find it frustrating trying to decide which albums belong where. It always seems to depend on what has most recently received the most attention from me, which means that an album released in June that I listened to for months, then lost interest in when something came along that replaced it until December, might not receive the recognition it deserves. A while back I realized that I have two modes of music enjoyment: there are bands I just plain love who will always be at the tops of my lists – Rush, Aimee Mann, King Crimson number among a few others that will likely never leave that coveted spot in my universe. They are bands that manage to turn out something that I return to over and over, regardless of whether the critical reception of their output has diminished. I am fan, to put it simply. And there are “the others” – albums that I stumble upon one way or another and which manage to fight their way to the top of the heap, finding themselves on repeated listens long after others have waned from view. To put it simply again, I’m picky about what I buy, and I’m picky about what I keep – if I stop listening, it’s very often permanently, and I jetison them from my collection. What remains are my favorites.

So this year I’ve decided to break the list down a bit differently – the main list is composed of the albums that I just plain enjoy the hell out of. Trying to rank them seems pointless to me – they all get their moment in the spotlight with me for a time, and quite frequently. I’ve also included some further lists of other things – disappointments, disappearing acts, etc. While I try to spotlight the best, there are times when it’s justifiable to point out the real letdowns.

With time, I plan on breaking this down further – some things deserve some extra attention as to why I loved them so much. Keep tuning in – they’ll be coming along sometime soon.

The favorites:
Adrian Belew: Side One
Adrian Belew: Side Two
Brendan Benson: The Alternative To Love
Andrew Bird: and the Mysterious Production of Eggs
John Coltrane: One Up, One Down
Miles Davis: The Cellar Door Sessions 1970
Depeche Mode: Playing the Angel
Rob Dickinson: Fresh Wine for the Horses
Dave Douglas: Mountain Passages
Dave Douglas: Keystone
Dave Douglas: Live at the Bimhuis
The Evens
Bill Frisell: East/West
Iron & Wine: Woman King (EP)
Iron & Wine with Calexico: In the Reins (EP)
Damien Jurado: On My Way To Absence
Low: The Great Deceiver
Aimee Mann: The Forgotten Arm
Paul McCartney: Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
Brad Mehldau: Day Is Done
Nine Horses (David Sylvian’s new “band”): Snow Borne Sorrow
Nine Inch Nails: With Teeth
Glen Phillips: Winter Pays for Summer
Archer Prewitt: Wilderness
Son Volt: Okemah and the Melody of Riot
Sufjan Stevens: Illinois
The White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan
Wilco: Kicking Television

Music DVDs:
Elvis Costello: Club Date – Live in Memphis
The Flaming Lips: Fearless Freaks
Peter Gabriel: Still Growing Up – Live & Unwrapped
Guided By Voices: The Electrifying Conclusion
Rush: R30
The Tragically Hip: That Night In Toronto

Fell off the radar (still like them, but for whatever reason don’t listen to them much):
Bruce Dickinson: Tyranny of Souls
Mike Doughty: Haughty Melodic
Engineers
Peter Himmelman: Imperfect World
Jesu
King’s X: Ogre Tones
Mercury Rev: The Secret Migration
Minus the Bear: Menos el Oso
Bob Mould: Body of Song
The National: Alligator
Opeth: Ghost of Perdition
Pelican: The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
Doug Pinnick: Emotional Animal
Robert Plant: Mighty ReArranger
Martha Wainwright

Mild disappointments (I’ll listen with some frequency, but lament what they could have been)
Beck: Guero
Tim Booth: Bone
Death Cab for Cutie: Plans
Decemberists: Picaresque
matt pond PA: Several Arrows Later
Porcupine Tree: Deadwing
Super Furry Animals: Love Kraft

Major disappointments (I’ll likely never want to listen to these again):
Dream Theater: Octavarium
Eels: Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
Ben Folds: Songs for Silverman
Mars Volta: Francis the Mute
Queens of the Stone Age: Lullabies to Paralyze
Weezer: Make Believe

Time will tell (too new (to me) to judge, but I’m very, very impressed with them):
Robert Fripp: Love Cannot Bear
Jose Gonzalez: Veneer
New Pornographers: Twin Cinema
Sam Prekop: Who’s Your New Professor?
Smog: A River Ain’t Too Much to Love
Wolf Parade: Apologies to the Queen Mary

Time has told (albums I was really looking forward to, enjoyed at first, but now register a mere “feh” and some of which will likely find themselves relegated to the “Major Disappointments” category):
Trey Anastasio: Shine
Broken Social Scene
Foo Fighters: In Your Honor
Garbage: Bleed Like Me
Gorillaz: Demon Days
Michael Penn: Mr. Hollywood 1947
The Pernice Brothers: Discover a Lovelier You

And let’s not forget what hasn’t been listened to this year – I already know of a few things that would deserve a spot on the list, but I simply haven’t had a chance to listen to them yet (Ryan Adams’ Cold Roses is an obvious one, for example.) As I said, keep checking back – this list is fluid for the new few days as I remember things that deserve to be spotlighted for one reason or another.

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