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Monday, July 31, 2006

Waitress Gets Own ID When Carding Patron

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: July 31, 2006

Filed at 8:33 p.m. ET

WESTLAKE, Ohio (AP) -- A bar waitress checking to see if a woman was legally old enough to drink was handed her own stolen driver's license, which was reported missing weeks earlier, police said.

''The odds of this waitress recovering her own license defy calculation,'' police Capt. Guy Turner said Monday.

Maria Bergan, 23, of Lakewood, was charged Sunday night with identity theft and receiving stolen property. She was arrested at her home in suburban Cleveland and was jailed in Westlake to await a court appearance.

The 22-year-old waitress, whose name was not released, called police last week and said she had been handed her own stolen driver's license by a woman trying to prove she was 21. The woman, who became suspicious of the delay as the waitress went to call police, fled the Moosehead Saloon, but her companion provided her name.

The waitress said she had lost her wallet July 9 at a bar in Lakewood.

The victim also had a credit card stolen. The stolen card has been used to make $1,000 in purchases, Turner said.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

On studying GRE vocabulary words:

"Man, memorizing those words must suck."

"It's actually pretty fun."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, I just make a game out of it. I try to see how many I can get right on the first try, and then I try to beat that record."

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Stephen Colbert interviews Washington, D.C. member of congress Eleanor Holmes Norton on the July 27 episode of The Colbert Report. This is by far the best "Better Know a District" interview that I've seen.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ways to break up with someone and their acronyms

GOMP: Get off my property

DTTM: Don't talk to me

IAG: I am gay

BIH: Beat it, ho

WMCDHWHSO: What's my cousin doing here with his shirt off

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"I wonder why your breath always smells so bad in the morning?" HA said.

"My theory is that a stink-mouth ghost comes in the night and makes out with you while you sleep," I told her.

"Gross!"

"Or at least that's what I'm telling my kids."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Campus Watch is a program that provides information about crimes in the University of Texas area. From today's notice:
Indecent Exposure: A UT student observed a black sports car with a spoiler, possibl[y] an Acura, parked parallel to the curb with the passenger's side door open. As the student approached the open door she observed a naked male lying down in the passenger's seat masturbating in front of a sorority house. . . .

Public Intoxication: A non-UT subject was observed swaying and staggering as he navigated the sidewalk. When he realized that a marked police vehicle was stopping behind him, he threw his arms into the air and placed his hands behind his head, yelling "If you are going to arrest me, arrest me." During the investigation, the officer observed that the subject had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and very red and bloodshot eyes. The officer determined the subject was a danger to himself and took the subject into custody for Public Intoxication.
Part of the reason I haven't posted in a few days is because I've been working on laying down some trackssss with Joey Honey. The other part of the reason is because I've been frantically trying to reach a deadline for a piece I did for the Daily Texan.

They finally put it out today--it's about the relationship between the MC and the DJ.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

New Rocky trailer

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Roadrunnerreview.com is down for the moment. I've dropped my previous hosting company and signed up with a new one. I'm actually thinking that since I've got the opportunity, I may redesign the entire site. I'm actually looking forward to it.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Free promotional offer

I found myself at the mall yesterday. Victoria's Secret was having a sale, and HA wanted to take advantage. Although I hate the mall, I had a hard time thinking of any reason not to be an audience for her as she tried on new underwear.

When we got there, we found that the sale was on its last day, and the only remaining sale items were either (a) enormous (b) made entirely of pearls/beads/rhinestones or (c) neon green. We left, and decided to browse other stores.

"We should go to ______," HA said. "They have these skirts I want to look at."

Three girls were in the store folding shirts when we walked in. No customers. "Guys, if you try on any of our denim, you get a free movie ticket," announced the round one. "That's any of the denim in the whole store. All you have to do is try it on! Wanna check it out?"

I didn't say anything, figuring that the only catch was that she'd try to pressure me into buying the jeans when I was done. It's not that I can't handle that, it's just that I didn't really want to deal with the confrontation for a movie ticket.

"Sure," HA said. "The sale denim is included in that?"

"Yeah," the taller clerk answered, "but if all you have to do is try it on, you might as well check out the new stuff, huh?"

"Hm," HA said dubiously. We browsed a little. They didn't have the skirts she wanted, so we finally decided to just go ahead and try on the jeans, take the tickets, and leave. At this point it wasn't even really an option; we were expected to try on jeans. Why wouldn't you just try the jeans on? That's all you have to do! We'll give you a movie ticket!

The idea of trying to skip the middle step crossed my mind. Why not ask the clerk to just give us the tickets, and spare us the headache? I knew I wasn't going to buy any jeans, so why waste the promotion on me? In fact, don't even bother with the tickets. Just let us out of here.

"I'm a 34x32," I said, "just give me whatever you have."

The jeans looked pretty good on me; luckily they were the kind I hate, and the kind everyone is wearing these days. The ones that look like they were soaked in raw beef and drug through an alligator pit a few dozen times. I took off the jeans, redressed, and met HA, who was waiting for me, jeans in hand.

I was planning on laying this big dramatic guilt trip on the round clerk if she tried to pressure me. 'You mean you only asked me to try on jeans to buy them?' I would lament to her. 'Well, I thought the deal was that all you had to do was try them on. Now you're trying to get me to buy jeans . . . well I just didn't expect this.' I would act very disappointed in her, I decided.

"Here are your movie tickets," the round clerk said to us. In the same breath she added "So how did those work out for you today?" Cleverly worded. I bet it was in the promotional pamphlet.

"No go," I said, handing them back to her and taking my ticket.

"How about for you?" she asked HA.

"Me either," HA said, pocketing hers.

"Oh," the round clerk said. Pause. "I see. Well. How about those skirts?" No pressure, just ice-cold bitchiness.

"No, you guys didn't really have what I was looking for."

"Hm." She returned to her folding. She was through with us.

We began walking out. "Hey, did you guys find some denim?" the tall clerk asked as we were halfway out.

"No," we both said.

"Huh." She glared at us as if we had just taken a shit on her wedding cake.

Almost to the door, the third clerk, totally oblivious, smiled and told us to have a great day.

Anyone seen any good movies lately?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

To' up from tha Flo' up

My phone was going off again, but I didn't mind letting it ring. I was jamming the newest track from my best friend Lil' John, who begged me to use it as my ringtone. On the second chorus ("Yeah! All right! Yeah!") I picked up. Keisha moved her head out of my lap.

"Ain't nobody told you to stop, ho!" I barked. She resumed.

"Uh, Zshane?" the startled voice on the other end said. It was Joey Honey. Again.

"What it do, big baby?" I took a sip from my jewel-encrusted chalice. Mmm. Lean.

"I--I had some ideas for some tracksh, and I was hoping you could shech it out. I was able to get the rightsh from Mega Man 7, and I got a little shomething already put down. Here--" He put the phone up to the computer speaker.

It was, unmistakably, the sound of the boss stages from Mega Man 7, sampled, looped, and put over a funky drum beat. A rooster crowed every other measure. A baby crying, the sound of traffic. Then, in the background, someone yelling in Chinese. Damn.

"That's pretty ill, bro," I said truthfully. It was bizarre, his talent. The guy is socially autistic, hasn't gotten laid since the Carter administration, and dances like a dead parakeet. But for some reason he could transform the Pong soundtrack into a jam that made you want to dance and screw at the same time, which is what I was doing when he called.

"Well, do you think it'sh good enough for you to flow over? I mean, I sent you thoshe other 27 tracksh, and you shaid they'd be good enough for you to wipe your ash with, but I thought I'd give it another shot."

The truth was that I'd rapped over those other beats, but changed the tempo to avoid having to pay him any royalties. I paid for my fleet of Bentleys with it. Something about the way he talked just made me want to take advantage of him. But I felt kind of bad.

"Switch on your computer, Honey, I'm bout ta give you a gift."

I freestyled over the phone for him, and I heard him clamoring around his cluttered computer desk, trying to capture each gem that came from my mouth.

"There ya go, playa. Call that one "We Gettin' To' up Tonight♪," ya heard?"

"You got it, Zane! Thanksh a lot!"

I hung up. I looked down at Keisha. A spider web had grown between her chin and my crotch.

"Aight, girl. Get up. Let's go get somethin' ta eat."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Stereogum has the new Justin Timberlake song, "SexyBack."

"The best way I can describe that song is say David Bowie and David Byrne decided to do a cover of James Brown's 'Sex Machine,' " Timberlake told reporters.

The best way I can describe that song is say Joey Honey got wasted as hell one night and decided to do a cover of "Cry Me a River."
I had an argument a couple of months ago on whether or not "google" should be added to the dictionary as a verb. I argued that it shouldn't, because even though Google is an extremely powerful and helpful company, they haven't been around long enough to necessitate a dictonary-approved verb.

"To make it into the dictionary, a word has to be more than a flash-in-the-pan fad. It needs staying power," the Associated Press says of Merriam-Webster's thought process.

The Internet is changing languages at a faster rate than ever before, and I feel like as long as words like "website" (Associated Press says it should be "Web site") are being debated, we're probably not ready to add another copyrighted word as a verb (like xerox, escalator, kleenex, etc.)

Well, stupid Merriam-Webster ignored my well-heeded advice and put it in there anyway. Along with "unibrow"--and why the hell wasn't "unibrow" in there already? What the hell else was I supposed to call it when I don't pluck my eyebrow?
Asians: Is there anything they can't do?

Friday, July 07, 2006

"Are you suspicious about Lay's death at all?"

"Well, the newspaper said he died of a heart attack. I mean, at first I thought it might have been suicide, but when the newspaper said heart attack, I was like 'All my suspicions have been allayed.'"

"But aren't there lots of ways to induce a heart attack?"

"He was an old guy. Old guys have heart attacks."

"He was like 65. He wasn't that old."

"Would you date a 65-year-old woman?"

"No, but that's because we probably wouldn't have anything in common."

"Yeah, like she's more likely to get a heart attack because she's old."
Well, I learned a lot over the last couple of days. Mostly I learned not to get involved in Internet arguments. Someone a lot smarter than me said:
The one question that you should be asking yourself is, "How much do I trust my judgment?" and the answer should be, "Completely." Otherwise, why are you even making music? If you don't implicitly believe in what you're doing, if you're susceptible to the ideas and the trends of others, then you should just turn on the radio and, hey, accept the judgment of others.
That applies to artists specifically, but it also applies to everyone. I'll go back to my semi-humorous observations and tidbits about my life now.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The saga ends--please, God, let it end

Tuning Fork Media is a blog that reviews Pitchfork reviews as well as albums. They reviewed the Pitchfork review of "Movie Monster", and awarded it "worst review of the year." The review can be found here.

My god, I hope I never have to think about this subject again.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Pitchfork farts out a response

In response to Sound Team's video of the Pitchfork review, Pitchfork editor Ryan Schreiber had this to say:
Despite more than a year's worth of blog buzz behind them (and a fairly promising performance at last year's CMJ festival), the painfully mediocre debut album from Capitol Records "indie" band Sound Team got reamed last week by your pals at the Pitchfork. In retaliation of the 3.7 rating, the band-- or someone purporting to be them-- posted a YouTube video depicting a sort of Sound Team effigy being mutilated, thrown off a cliff, burned, and dismembered by a Pitchfork. Creepy! That's exactly what we did to our promo copy this weekend!

In the band's defense, the music backing up the visuals here is a vast improvement over their record. A bit more focus and you'll have it, guys...
This is exactly what I'm talking about when I say they're unprofessional. I foolishly Cc:ed this guy on my original e-mail to Hogan, thinking he'd have to be reasonable about a response to an unreasonable review. Instead it turns out that Hogan's a decent guy but a poor reviewer, and Schreiber just seems like a jerk. He can be contacted at ryan@pitchforkmedia.com

Link: Gorilla vs. Bear conversation on the matter

Link: Austinist says these guys are bums, too.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A visual depiction of Pitchfork's review of Sound Team's "Movie Monster."

Visuals and music by Sound Team.

In an extremely exciting turn of events, you can now make comments on selected reviews on Roadrunner Review.

When I say "selected" I mean "one": a new review for Matthew Barney's Drawing Restraint 9, now in the "Movies" section. I'm adding comments to the other reviews slowly.

The saga continues: Pitchfork/Sound Team IV

To recap: I wrote a long letter to a Pitchfork Media writer about a review I was disappointed about. He wrote back briefly, and promised to be more thorough later. He continued his letter this morning. As much as I dislike the guy's writing, I have to admit that he's been really friendly and likeable through all this.

One good point that he made in his response was that I didn't identify myself as a journalist/blogger when contacting him, which, as he correctly points out, is Journalism 101. It wasn't my intention to post this originally, but it was unprofessional of me not to do that. He OK'd the publishing of our dialogue, which I thank him for.

Here's the letter (annotated by me in bold):
Hi Chris,

Here I am again, sooner than expected. I was forgetting that I had to be online today to do some work for my day job.

First thing: I've come across your blog, which seems very well done and which I fully respect. You might be surprised to learn that before joining Pitchfork, I was one of its biggest critics (I was even quoted as a Pitchfork-hater in an article by the Ryerson Journalism Review), so I completely understand where you're coming from.
What parts of Pitchfork did he hate, and why then, does he seem to conform to what many people are recognizing as typical Pitchfork style?

However, if you work at a small newspaper, you probably know something about journalism. One of the basics: If you're going to quote somebody, you identify yourself as a journalist (or a blogger) and you tell them that you're planning to post their message on your blog. Otherwise, you're in a pretty flimsy position to criticize *their* journalistic ethics and credibility. That's Journalism 101.
As I said, he's right about this. It was unfair of me.

It's OK, though; I know you didn't mean any harm and I will still take your thoughtful, reasoned questions seriously. The key point to me in your note is the Murakami reference. Indeed, if I'd noticed it, I would definitely have included it in my review, because I think it actually underscores my argument that this album is all about coming across as too smart and hip to criticize, via a "rote reiteration of reference points," rather than about being actually enjoyable. What *difference* does it make what book title someone is quoting in the chorus of a song? Does that really make it a better song? Obviously, we disagree at the basic level of enjoyment, but I'm pretty sure you don't decide which albums you enjoy based on how many critic-approved bands (or authors!) they namedrop, and neither do I. That's not what makes a song great. (But it does make a work of art critic-proof; one can always say that anybody who dislikes it just doesn't "get it," right?) Nor do an artist's intentions go into it; that's one of the oldest critical fallacies in the book.
This is an important point, since it's the basis for the whole review. "This album is all about coming across as too smart and hip to criticize . . . rather than about being actually enjoyable." To say that it was written with the intention to defy critics is an interesting take, but one I think is way off the mark. I agree that name-dropping doesn't make a song good, and that's not what this album is about. My point was that if you're going to bash the album for that, the reviewer should get the facts right.

Sound Team's influences have been a major part of the discussion about the group (as is the case with a lot of bands these days), but I haven't seen anyone attribute their songwriting so heavily to copycatting as the Pitchfork review did. The Allmusic.com review, which also does some name-dropping of its own, notes: "Most bands that sound like a chopped and blended soup of influences fail because they have no songwriting skills or nothing of their own to contribute, but Sound Team succeed because they have large amounts of both of those things." It's OK to not like an album, but it's irresponsible to readers and the album to bash it without really saying why. Finally, the point about intentions is well made, but isn't really in contrast to anything that's been said.

I went into this album with my usual, open mindset. I *wanted* to enjoy it. I always hope I'm going to like albums I review. I write for Pitchfork because I love music! If anything, the positive blog buzz had me biased positively toward this album: It would have been easier and more fun and probably professionally more beneficial to try to make these guys the next Tapes 'n Tapes, to get quoted in newspaper articles as the writer who helped popularize Sound Team, etc. But I listened, critically, for hours upon hours, and I went from apathy to disappointment to the disdain evidenced in the review.

I feel like I was being rather generous giving this a 3.7, because after repeated listens I realized I did not enjoy a single moment on this album. "Vague melodies that leave you humming the video" was a slam, not a compliment, akin to musical theater critics saying that Andrew Lloyd Webber fanatics walk out "humming the chandeliers." The reason I "left out" facts that support the album is because those are your opinions, and mine differed. I'm sure Sound Team are nice people who worked really hard, but that's irrelevant to criticism.
Yes, Sound Team are really nice people who worked really hard, and yes, that's irrelevant. That's not what I'm asking for. I'm trying to understand what's different about the way you heard this than the way that everyone else hears it--I never got that. I got cleverish writing and biting insults, and that's about it.

"Humming the video" is another clever turn of phrase. As a reader, there's nothing worse than feeling patronized.
All that said, again, I really appreciate your polite, intelligent note, and I hope we can agree to disagree. You're perfectly within your rights, as well, to dislike my monster-movie introduction and conclusion, although I thought they provided a perhaps amusing metaphorical framework for my basic problem with this record (which you understood correctly). As always, you're perfectly free to disagree, even encouraged.
The truth is I really hate agreeing to disagree, because that's rarely the correct play, unless you're at a fancy dinner party. There's always more to be understood, more "facts" to know, and usually, one person is more right and one person is more wrong. I'm willing to do it in this case, but I think the fact that 3.7 for "Movie Monster" is being considered "laughable" in more places than one suggests that this review won't have its intended effect. I hope more people speak out against whatever they feel is irresponsible writing. I encourage people to ignore Pitchfork reviews. I will say though, that if and when people write to Pitchfork, or me, or whoever they disagree with, they're as thorough, sane, and personable as Marc Hogan.
To me, Pitchfork is a place where people who are passionate about music can share that passion. I might love an album that you hate, or I might hate an album that you love, but the important thing is that we're communicating about music, and here we are sending e-mails back and forth because we care so much about silly little series of 1's and 0's. I don't ever expect everyone to agree with me, but I'm thrilled and humbled to be able to take part in the discussion.

Sorry to ramble on, and please excuse any typos. Thanks once again for reading the review and taking the time to respond. Best of luck with your blog and all your endeavors, and I hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July. With luck, we'll both love the same album next time.

Best,
Marc
You see what he does? Even if I hate his writing, you can't help but really respect the guy. Comments are encouraged.
I work at a small newspaper, and one of my jobs is coming up with headlines for articles and captions for photos. One type of headline/caption is a catch head, where a semi-humorous title is given to a captioned photo. With that information I present to you

SUGGESTED CATCH HEADS FOR A PHOTO OF AN 18-YEAR-OLD GIRL READING GRAPES OF WRATH ON THE TRUNK OF HER CAR:

"'Car'ried away"

"Junk on a trunk"

"Slut reads book"

"18-year-old thinks she's deep"

"Dustbowl dreams"

What we went with: "More comfortable than a chair?"

Note: With the exception of what we went with, this all seemed very funny after six hours of editing in a harshly lit basement.
I'm still amazed with the quickness that information travels. I wanted to go see Sound Team last night in Houston, but didn't care to pay for the gas. However, someone took a brief video of the Houston show and posted it on YouTube. It's not great quality, but if you don't want to wait until next weekend when they're playing in Austin, this should tide you over.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pitchfork/Sound Team Update III

Update: Received a very nice e-mail from Scott McDonald of Autopia Music, a competing music website. The note reads:
Chris,
I think it's becoming more important than ever that people like yourself are speaking out against these bullshit Pitchfork reviews. I honestly don't love the new Sound Team album, but it's a pretty solid debut (and they are so good live!). When a source like Pitchfork, who have an incredible amount of power on what the music industry/music fans think about bands, post lame reviews like this it's too obvious that the writer needs to be put in check. I hope more people, and blogs, are doing the exact same thing you are about this matter.

Sincerely,

Scott McDonald
Not only that, there's a brief on Autopia about Pitchfork's terrible reviews, with a link to Life of Zane. "Hop on board" the post concludes. Good idea. Thanks, Scott.

Pitchfork Update

Well, the "Movie Monster" reviewer got back to me, and I must say he was pretty decent about it on his first response. Here's what he had to say:

Hi Chris,

Thank you so much for the thoughtful note. I'm on vacation this weekend with little access to e-mail, but I just wanted to let you know I received it, and I will take time to craft a better reply when I return home later this week.

I'm sorry we disagree about this album, but I understand your complaints -- thanks for being so polite, too. I'll be in touch again in a couple of days! In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend, and thanks again for reading the review and taking the time to respond.

Best,
Marc

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Almost a month after Sound Team's "Movie Monster" was released, Pitchfork Media finally got around to reviewing it. I'm disappointed. To see why, check out the review here. (Probably better to read it before reading the bulk of this post.)

Pitchfork's reviews are notoriously crappy, which is double trouble because lots of people read it to learn about new music. They're extremely political, absorbed in hype/anti-hype, and keep a staff of, well, hacks.

I wrote the following letter to the reviewer (Marc Hogan, who can be contacted at marc@pitchforkmedia.com) and his editors:
Hi Marc,

I hope you read this e-mail in its entirety, because my intention is to understand more, not to be unnecessarily nasty.

I recently read your review of Sound Team's "Movie Monster" and I was curious about a few things. My main complaints are that you write in a condescending voice (and not just on this review), that you misunderstand the album, and as a result of your misunderstanding, you unfairly rate it.

First, yes the movie is called "Movie Monster," but does that really necessitate 73 words on scary movies that have nothing to do with the album? And what does Snakes on a Plane have to do with anything? This summer thriller subplot is forced through the review, and it doesn't do anything to enhance the it--it's just pedantic. I get that it's being framed, but this introduction just seems empty.

In the second paragraph you continue: "[P]raise for the Austin sextet isn't as ubiquitous as your aforementioned forthcoming herpetological thriller . . . " I agree that it's important to create context for a band in a movie review, but why not just say "Sound Team's been getting a lot of positive blog press, mainly because they pick the right influences" if that's your opinion? This just sounds pretentious.

As far as I understand cultural criticism, the point is to take in the piece, form an opinion based on your understanding, and back up your opinion with facts. Your review for "Movie Monster" (and many of your other reviews) reads like you heard the album once or twice, formed an opinion, selectively chose facts to support what you believed, and left out everything else.

For example, your theory seems to be that ST has a lot of popular influences--you mention U2, Bowie, Stereolab, etc. but that their songs have no substance. In your words, the "adenoidal overemoting and Wall-of-the-Edge guitars can't hide a shortage of, like, actual decent songs."

But then you mention a stream of influences (misguidedly) and offer no, like, connection to your thesis. Ironically, you provide a lot of smoke and mirrors and very few decent ideas. As a reader, I'm dying to know why the songs aren't any good. Instead you give me a bunch of hipster references and allusions to the band's history.

Begrudgingly, you offer something resembling praise ("vague melodies sure to leave you humming the video"), but then return to name-dropping and insults without any reasons why. Add a thumbs-up to pop culture reference ("Extra points for working both Kafka and Trinitrons into the big, desolate 'No More Birthdays'"), and you move on. (By the way, you completely missed that reference. The line "I'm Kafka on the shore" references Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore , not Kafka himself.) That you passed up the opportunity to give "extra points" for "working in" William Vollman's Rising Up and Rising Down means either that you didn't recognize it or didn't think it deserved extra points. I'm betting on the former. Bottom line: if you don't know what you're getting into, stay away from it.

Next, you characterize "Handful of Billions" with another U2 reference and unsubstantiated slam, and finish that paragraph with an oh-so-clever wink.

In the last paragraph, you finally get around to making a quantifiable opinion, but poorly. The album is "like Sasquatch, pretty hard to follow," you say, but you predictably don't follow up. You then characterize Oliver's singing on "Movie Monster" as a "screamo-wail," which is one of the biggest mischaracterizations of the album so far. Finally, you end the review with more self-congratulatory referencing.

Do you honestly believe that "Movie Monster" is nothing but a "rote reiteration" of Sound Team's influences? Do you honestly believe this album deserves a 3.7? What mindset did you have going into hearing this album? Did you Google them and become resentful of the positivity coming from blog reviewers? Do you see how ironic it is that you skewer "Movie Monster" for unoriginality and then present your own Frankenstein's monster of references to stand in for an album review? How can this even be considered professional music journalism?
Pitchfork's album reviews are notoriously bad, and it's this kind of writing that supports that opinion.

I'm interested in hearing your (and your editors) thoughts on this. Please feel free to reply.

Best,

Chris Zane