Thursday, December 31, 2009

Song of the Decade

Those of you who know me well won't find this a shock. The song of the decade, hands down, goes to R. Kelly's "Real Talk."

I imagine he got in the studio, and did the song. The producer is thinking, "Wow, this is a crazy mic check! I'm glad I'm recording this, it's hilarious."

Then R. Kelly says, "That's a wrap!" and walks out of the studio. The producer is left stunned and goes on mixing down the track, dumbfounded.

Part comedy, part genius, totally the best single song of the decade.

Top 5 Top 40 Guilty Pleasures of 2009

1. Jason Derulo - Whatcha Say

Catchiest hook of the year by far. Plus it has the fantastic excuse for cheating, "I was caught up in her hot lust." Oh, that makes it OK.

2. Miley Cyrus - Party in the USA

The more embarrassing a song is, the guiltier the pleasure. Does it help that I didn't know it was a Miley Cyrus song for weeks? Probably not.

3. T.I. - Live Your Life (feat. Rhianna)

I know, I know, it officially came out in Fall 2008, but they played it on the radio well into the new year, so I think it still counts. Anyone who was my Myspace friend in 2006 knows I love the Numa Numa video and the O-Zone song that spawned it is sampled here, so obviously I love the T.I. version as well.

4. Iyaz - Replay

Is it just me, or did they slow down the chorus for this song and re-release it a week or so later? Anyway, still super catchy.

5. Sean Kingston - Fire Burnin' on the Dancefloor

The chorus is just silly, which might be why I like it so much. I saw this video on MTV right before we moved to Iowa. This song was not played on the radio nearly enough.

Oblio Joes Live on KBGA 12-08-2004

Tonight, one of my favorite bands ever is playing a reunion show. I'll be about a thousand miles away. Lame.

So to get my Oblio Joes fix, I digitized an old concert I taped off the radio in 2004. I had to work that night, so I brought a cassette to work and recorded the broadcast with a crappy radio. I forgot about it until we moved and I looked through my old tapes.

Anyway, here it is. It isn't the best sound quality, but if you're like me and can't make it to Missoula tonight for the reunion, it will do just fine.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Top 5 fiction books I read this year

These books didn't necessarily come out in 2009, but I read them this year (not necessarily for the first time).

1. The Rum Diary - Hunter S. Thompson

One of my all-time favorite books and the only pure fiction work by Thompson. Almost a perfect novel in my opinion. Entertaining, exciting and engrossing. I can usually read it in one or two sittings at this point.

2. The Carpet Makers - Andreas Eschbach

Someone needs to translate more of this man's work! Eschbach is a German sci-fi writer who has won numerous awards in Europe, but thus far, only one book has been translated to English. My wife bought this book for me last Christmas and I got around to reading it again this year. I'm so impressed with the pacing and scope of this book. One part Sci-fi, one part perplexing mystery.

3. Tortilla Flat - John Steinbeck

Tortilla Flat blew me away. Steinbeck describes it as his version of a "Knights of the Round Table" story. Great storytelling as hilarious escapades come one after another over an underlying sadness.

4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson's posthumous books are great examples of slow burning mystery. Both books take 250 pages to build and then rush through to the end. Reading them is like riding a roller coaster, sometimes the best part is the anticipation leading up to the climax.

5. Under the Dome - Stephen King

I'm not ashamed to like Stephen King. It and The Stand were fantastic, and Under the Dome belongs right there with them. The ending left something to be desired, but the examination of neo-conservative thought and politics is worth reading especially now.

Runners Up:

Fool - Christopher Moore
Pygmy - Chuck Palahniuk
When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bun in the Oven

If you hadn't already heard, Darcy and I are expecting.

We're about 15 weeks along, and are now busy reading baby books and trying to come up with good names. I've suggested Luffa for either a boy or girl, but it looks like a no go. Go ahead and use it for your next child. Hopefully I won't regret giving it up and end up with a George Costanza/7 situation.

We waited to share the news until we got a glimpse of the kid at our first ultrasound, I packed my thumb drive, hoping to snag a few of the pictures, but the hospital recently upgraded to a new machine, and they were able to burn me a CD on the spot! Complete with video:

The next Miller is on the way. Watch out world!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Top 5 non-fiction books I read this year

1. Cory Doctorow - ©ontent

This is a collection of essays by Cory Doctorow about technology. Here's a (cheesy) video review I did for this book for the Missoula Public Library:

2. Clay Shirky - Here Comes Everybody: The Power to Organize Without Organizations

Another techie book I read this year. I think Clay Shirky understands and writes about the whole 2.0 thing better than anyone else. He doesn't just rely on buzzwords to explain social networks, he dissects them and shows you why they work, and what they can be used for. The biggest lesson I learned from this book was his assertion that until a technology becomes mundane and well known, it can't be truly leveraged by a majority of people.

3. Jay Ryan - 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels: A Decade of Hot Dogs, Large Mammals, and independent Rock

Awesome poster art. As an ex-band guy, I totally dig his designs. He made posters for the likes of Shellac, Sebadoh and Silkworm. That in and of itself makes him a legend.

4. Seth Godin - Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

I attended an online Library Management course this year and for our final project we read a book on management. Usually those books are insufferable. This one wasn't. It reminded me a little of Daniel Quinn's "Beyond Civilization" but more practical. He introduces lots of simple, but big, ideas succinctly.

5. The Best American NonRequired Reading 2009 (Edited by Dave Eggers)

Even though there is quite a bit of fiction in this collection, the non-fiction is what stood out for me. "Diary of a Fire Lookout" by Philip Conners made me nostalgic for the woods I grew up in. "Mississippi Drift" by Matthew Power was a cautionary tale about dropping off the grid. All in all, totally worth checking out and reading a few of the pieces.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When life gives you lemons, preserve those lemons

Back in Missoula, I visited The Silk Road as often as I could before moving. One night we ordered an appetizer of warmed olives, pretty standard. But these olives came with tiny slices of preserved lemons. They were awesome. I had to have more, but I haven't seen them on any menu since. I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I gathered:
  • 3 Lemons (any type will do, but I'm told Meyer Lemons are the way to go)
  • Canning and Pickling Salt
  • A large sized canning jar
  • Water
Then I cut off the nubs on the sides of the lemons and scored the skin about 8 times on each lemon from one severed nub to the other. I added 1/3 cup salt to 6 cups of water and brought that to a boil. Then I boiled the lemons for 8 minutes and turned the heat off. I left them in the warm water for another 30 minutes. I dropped the lemons in the jar and then poured the water I boiled them in over the top, completely covering them. Then I put the top on and screwed down the ring and waited. And waited. Each day I flipped the jar so the salt wouldn't settle. I'm told you can also shake the jar everyday. After 7 days, I pried off the lid and tasted.

Delicious. Not too salty and still tart.

Now I just need to figure out what to use them for. They aren't really just snack food by themselves. They factor heavily in Moroccan cuisine, so I'll have to do some research and figure out what I can make with these awesome preserved lemons.

Monday, October 19, 2009


When I woke up this morning, I remembered the word webolution from my dream. I thought it was a funny word, so I made this (less-funny) comic.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Free Hip Hop Albums

It isn't radical to post an album for free online anymore. It's risky, but more and more, it is becoming the best way to get your name out there. In an environment where the music industry seems to care more about profit and selling ringtones to tweens than enabling artists to create art, it seems more and more artists are forging a name for themselves and posting albums online.

The problem is, most of it really sucks. These two albums don't. You should check them out.

Debaser - Back to Work

Debaser is Sapient and Ethic from the mighty Sandpeople crew from Portland. Sapient just might be the hardest working emcee/producer in Hip Hop. This is the second of three albums he's giving away in as many months. That's on top of a solo album, a Sandpeople EP, and an upcoming collaboration with Luckyiam from the Living Legends.

The album features guest appearances by the aforementioned Luckyiam, Illmaculate (Sandpeople), Rasco (from Cali Agents), and Phat Kat, but the real stars of the album are Debaser themselves. Fantastic wordplay and banging production. It's easy to see how hungry these two are. Listening to the album makes you hope they break through, there aren't many who deserve it more.

The Slew - 100%

Here's the story, Kid Koala and Dynomite D were set to produce the soundtrack to a movie. The movie never happened. Never will. The two enlisted the help of the rhythm section of Wolfmother to perform the album on a one off tour. 100% is a psych-rock infused journey to an alternate reality. DJs are guitar wielding rock stars, disembodied voices of blues singers drop knowledge, and nothing is quite what it seems.

Strangely enough, it's one of Kid Koala's most accessible albums to date. They gave away the album so people would have more fun at the live shows, which have now ended. But don't think this is a live-only experience. 100% is one of the most original recordings I've heard in a long, long time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I made a comic strip.

My library will hopefully have access to a mobile laptop lab in the coming year. I was looking at some possible uses for it, and came across the Bitstrip website. I can't really "do art" very well, so this site is my only hope of having my own comic strip. It's so easy kids could dive right in and have a blast. And there's the bonus of the site being relying heavily on social networking and remixing. If there's one thing newspapers and morning shows have taught me, it's that the kids these days love social networking. So, there's my first idea for uses of the lab, a "Make your own comic" workshop for kids.

I figured I should practice using the site if I'm going to be helping kids with it, so I created my first comic! I think it's pretty neat. You might disagree.

It looks like it will be just a tease on this blog, so click the picture to see the exciting conclusion!