April 30, 2010

Headis: The Hottest New European Game



Look at those safety features!

April 29, 2010

Why I Love Andrew W.K. (and You Should Too)

My recent (read: year-long) obsession with Andrew W.K. may seem like a surprise to some, and to others it's probably just annoying. As a former A.W.K. hater, let me make a case for the artist that changed my attitude toward party-rock, sweaty dudes, and life in general.

When I was in high-school (or middle-school), Andrew W.K. came out with his infamous album, I Get Wet, a collection of anthems dedicated to one concept: parties. As a non-partier myself, I rejected Mr. W.K. as a dumb, screaming bro (and this was before the term "bro" became popular). I threw on my Mindless Self Indulgence t-shirt and stuck to listening to terrible, now forgotten bands such as...well...Spineshank (what a rad name!). It wasn't until my senior year in college, working at KSTO that I was clued (by both our Loud Rock and Hip Hop directors) into what a totally cool dude Andrew W.K. is. So, it was four years after the initial release of I Get Wet that I finally purchased the album.

Apparently this album cover caused controversy in Europe, where they thought his bleeding nose endorsed cocaine usage. Because apparently that's the only thing that causes someone's nose to bleed in Europe. The "true" story (according to Wikipedia...citation needed) is that Andrew just hit himself in the face with a brick and then added some animal blood to his own for more...blood. For those unfamiliar with the album, let me give you a sample of some of the song titles:

"It's Time to Party"
"Party Hard"
"Party til You Puke"
"I Get Wet"
"Fun Night"
Other favorites are "I Love NYC" and "She Is Beautiful".



Upon first listen, this album seems like it might be a frat-boy's dream CD, with three titles including the word party, and most of the rest serving as anthems that can be sung while intoxicated on a couple dozen PBRs. The album is a great time though, every song is short, starts with a drum hit so you know when to pump your fist in the air, and sounds pretty similar...but in a good way.

What makes Andrew W.K. unique is his definition of the word "party". To A.W.K., it seems that a "party" can take on many unique meanings, depending who is doing the partying. You see, to Andrew, a "party" doesn't necessarily require beer, drugs, and popped collars, but instead relies on friends, good feelings, and more good feelings.



Part of what is so admirable about Andrew W.K. is the extent to which he accepts who he is both in the personal sense, and the professional. He never tries to disguise the fact that he is an entertainer rather than a musician (although I believe his musical skills are under-appreciated). From what little I know about his past, he is actually some sort of creation of an A&R team who was trying to put together a highly marketable front-man. Andrew took this newfound fame and admiration and ran with it, creating an entire persona based on positive energy. He is funny, intelligent, and always good natured, characteristics atypical of the standard rock or pop-star. In all, despite the blood and "party" mantra, he's an incredible role model. He never refutes his origins as a record-company product, a past steeped in some mystery and legal disputes. What he has done though, is made this image his life, and dedicated his existence to spreading the energy that he has.



I realized about a year ago that Andrew W.K. is more than a rocker (and in reality, a product), he is an idea. He is the embodiment of Positive Mental Attitude, a much maligned philosophy that says the world can be a better place if we have optimism and treat everyone with respect. Andrew transforms this philosophy into, "Everyone should be partying in their own way, and I'm cool with that as long as your idea of partying doesn't infringe too much on my, or anyone else's idea of partying." That may be a little simplistic, but I like the gist of it. He seems to be a man completely transformed by the power of positive thinking. He believes in the power of optimism so much that at many shows he delivers motivational speeches and fields open Q & As. Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates his positive vibes, such as the juggalos at Gathering of Juggalos, who only believe in magic (like the magic of rainbows).



Beyond his persona and good vibes, I really genuinely enjoy his music as well. I Get Wet was a fun album, and serves its purpose as an anthemic good-times collection of stand-alone tunes. I'm not a huge fan of his solo-piano recordings, partly because they don't capture my interest in the same way his rock songs do, and partly because they can't carry the same level of energy that the other albums can. They're still well done though.

I very recently purchased the dual album Close Calls with Brickwalls/Mother of Mankind. This is a re-release of 2006's Close Calls with Brickwalls, an album that caught extremely mixed reaction from fans due to the departure in sound from I Get Wet and The Wolf. Rather than going with the party-chant lyrics and fairly un-nuanced distortion guitar sounds of the first album, Close Calls is a thorough "rock and roll record". The songs are well thought out, sung rather than screamed, and feature a much higher emphasis on arrangement and mixing than the songs on Wet did. The double album contains 40 tracks, some of which are less memorable, but all of which reveal a more musically flexible Andrew W.K., one which I embrace heartily. Some of the songs are still incredibly goofy, but reveal a new depth not found (nor necessarily required or wanted) on Wet. Other songs like "I'm a Vagabond" included below, and the shocking "Kill Yourself" show a side to Andrew that was not clear before, revealing a less black-and-white view of the world than we've heard previously.

"I'm a Vagabond"


The song that convinced me to buy the albums (I knew I was going to buy it at some point, but I didn't know when) was "I'm Not Going to Bed". It's funny, but it's so true (especially considering that I'm writing this instead of going to bed).




Andrew W.K. has gone from reviled rock-star to much beloved entertainer. One look at the youtube comments for most of these videos reveal a deep pool of admiration from his fans (most of the time I would never recommend looking at Youtube comments) and, I believe this admiration is justly earned. Even if he started as a creation, he has proven that a single person can embody a positive, worthwhile message. I would love to catch one of his lectures some day, or attend a Q & A session.

I'm not advocating some sort of celebrity-cult worship of the Andrew W.K., but rather I think he's interesting, worth knowing about, and worth learning something from. His music rocks, his hair is smooth and shiny, and he's got more than enough energy to go around.

April 25, 2010

April 23, 2010

5 Songs That Would Make Better Twins FSN Anthems then GB Leighton's Audio Nightmare

Let it be known, I really can't stand GB Leighton's new song playing on Fox Sports North during every MN Twins game. It's essentially a listing of things you see at a baseball game: bats, baseballs, Joe Mauer, fans, penants, etc. and then some other terms that have a relationship to baseball in general, such as the World Series.

I'll admit that I've never listened to the entire song and so I can't even say for sure if Joe Mauer is mentioned, but I can imagine he is. It's basically a "sing what you see" type of experience. It kind of sounds like he had a rad violin lick sitting around, and upon realizing the completed song was due the next day, decided to intersperse said violin lick with a bunch of words that he found in a baseball dictionary. I will give him though, the violin riff is pretty sweet. So, because I'm not just all about negativity, I've decided to assemble some videos that I think would make better FSN-Twins anthems.

1. Twins Dancing Video

I don't know if this song has an actual name, but it (and the associated visuals) are leagues better than GB's BM. In it you can see members of the Twins 1991 World Series team partaking in the awful 80's and 90's tradition of making sports-team music videos. It's really uncomfortable to watch, but hey, they're athletes! American Heroes! Do you hate America!?

USA USA USA!

2. Lew Ford Song

This song is pretty terrible. But I'd rather listen to it than Leighton's. If we could incorporate that KILLER VIOLIN RIFF it would make this song even better. Also Lew Ford doesn't play for the Twins anymore...and would not make the team if he tried. But I still love him. LEEEEEEEEEEEW!

3. The Gomez Rap

This is another song about a Twins player who no longer plays with the team. Despite that minor problem, this song is catchier than Leighton's, and not only contains the word "baseball" a number of times, but also has sections about "running around the bases", which takes Leighton's strategy of saturating a song with baseball terms, to a new level of actually describing things that happen in a baseball game. There's also a super-precious part at the end where the singers say that Gomez will be back next year. : ( No no Gomez. Also, is "TV-Radio" supposed to be one thing?  A combined TV-Radio? I like it. Get me five, one for each area of my apartment. I know I'm making fun of it, but I seriously like this song way more than what they've got right now.

4. Touch 'em All by Big Jess

This song is actually legit! I really like it! It's dope! So some of the players named in the song don't play for the Twins anymore but who cares. It's sweet! It's gets me wicked pumped up.

5. 1991 Team Song

This song really can only apply to the 1991 Twins team...and even mentions the year 1991 in the song but I don't care, it's better. There were so many awesome videos from '91! Why don't we have a video now of Jason Kubel, Delmon Young, and Kevin Slowey dancing to "Single Ladies"? I mean, look at this awesome crap they had:


We need to dig up awesome 80s pop-song writers like Kenny Loggins and hire them to write a new kickin TV anthem for the Twins, with clips of Orlando Hudson sprinting out his home runs, and Jim Thome...looking gigantic. But until then, I advocate airing these clips instead of GB Leighton's stinker...OR just loop the REALLY FRIGGIN RADICAL VIOLIN LICK!

April 20, 2010

Guru

Normally I don't get wrapped up in celebrity deaths, because...well, I don't know them. And normally I wouldn't get upset about a somewhat obscure rapper who died, but the death of Guru, famously of GangStarr, is interesting for me. I have no particular affinity for Guru as an emcee, I liked his smooth vocal style, his meaningful lyrics, and the way he could fit his voice and rhythms to song, but ultimately I remember Guru for this: GangStarr is the rap group that changed me from an enemy of hip-hop to an extreme lover of hip-hop.

My first true experience with hip-hop was on a dusty road in Utah, in a car full of high-schoolers and one of my favorite teachers, on our way out to week-long backpacking treck through the canyons of the American West. We listened to a ton of hip-hop on the way out, spinning Atmosphere, Wyclef Jean, and GangStarr amongst others. I was in absolute pain, both literal (I'm often a victim of motion-sickness) and metaphorically, because I couldn't stand hip-hop. I found Atmosphere depressing and Wyclef Jean (The Carnival) too over my head but GangStarr's The Ownerz really hit me. In that week in the canyon without any music, I had songs running through my head, namely "Who Got Gunz", "The Militia", and "Rite Where U Stand". As a confused (angry? maybe...probably) teenager, Guru and DJ Premier opened up a massive door for me to a corner of music that had infinite potential.

GangStarr's The Ownerz remains one of my favorite albums simply because it was my first. I've moved on to a huge number of rappers and hip-hop artists since then and continue to find musicians that blow my mind, and I may have broken down the wall at some point, but it just turns out that GangStarr, Guru and DJ Premier, took care of it for me.

April 19, 2010

Things to do when the internet doesn't work

So my internet was down all day yesterday (ALL THE LIVE-LONG DAY!) and of course, in our privileged society blah blah blah, we only realize how dependent we are on technology when it's ripped from our clammy, grubby claws. So, inspired by my time without the internet, I've decided to assemble a list of things to do in case YOUR internet disappears.

1) Build a Fire
Fires can be awesome (and dangerous, see above picture). When building a fire, make sure to ignite it out of doors, or in a fireplace! Also, make sure you aren't A) in a windy place, B) in a small outdoor place, like your porch, or C) in California, or other such flammable states (like a state of despair). There are a number of strategies for building a fire, but here's my favorite one:

A) Find some wood! The forest is a good place to start. Smaller pieces are better. Also dry, since we'll be lighting it on fire (hence the name "fire").
B) Grab some newspaper, and, if you've got a clothes dryer, some lint.
C) You'll also need something to make fire with. I like using matches, a lighter, or flint and steel. You can also rub two sticks together EXTREMELY FAST, but this takes a long time and you're likely to hurt yourself.
D) My two favorite fire constructions are the log cabin and the lean-to. I've included a picture of the log cabin (aka the "Cabin of Sticks"). For the lean-to, just put a burnable log on the ground and place a bunch of sticks so that one side of the stick is on the ground and the other end is perched on top of the log. With both of these designs, place kindling, newspaper, and lint on the inside and LIGHT THAT SUCKER UP!
E) Watch as the fire burns all of the stuff on the inside, fails to light the sticks, and then goes out.
F) Stomp your "Cabin of Sticks" in frustration and go back inside.
For more Campfire tips, go to this website where Sol Lichtmen will give you more helpful (read: real) advice: Campfires (that's where I got that nifty diagram from).

2) Look at Saved Internet Pages
If you download internet pages before your internet dies, you can look at them over and over again without any silly internet connection! If you're unclear on how to do this, I've included a handy video:



3) Watch a Movie
Movies are great for so many things: rainy days, lonely days, Happy Days, first dates, last dates, Save the Dates, date pudding, Jello pudding, Jello Biafra, making out. So many things! When your internet goes out, you may be saying, CRAP, how am I going to watch a netflix movie online without my internets? There is hope! Movies come in all sorts of varieties, but when MY internet is out, I prefer to watch things on VHS.
When my internet went out yesterday, my roommate and I watched "the comedy with everything on it", Goodburger.
 Die total verr├╝ckte Burger-Bude
This movie, featuring Keenan and Kel, with guest appearances by Sinbad, Shaq, George Clinton, and assorted All That actors, is a great movie for children and immature adults. Here's the song that I'll never stop singing, written by Less than Jake and star of the film, Kel Mitchell:



4) Make Lunch
Lunch is the most fun meal of the day. You can make pretty much anything and it will count as lunch. It's early enough for pancakes (and if you've forgotten to eat breakfast, you're good to go!) and late enough for absolutely anything else. The most tried-and-true standby is a Sandwich, ever heard of it? And hey, if you get really bored, you can make sandwiches for the rest of the week, so you don't have to worry about it! I recommend making different kinds of sandwiches, that way your taste buds won't get bored.

5) Sit and Stare at Your Computer until the Internet comes back
Probably the most popular choice when the internet goes out, this one gives you the same feeling that your dog gets when you leave the house. An alternative take on this is to keep hitting the "reload" button over and over. I like the small flutter of hope every time I push the button, that is inevitably crushed. Also, you can download animated gifs, which make the internet appear to be working, even when it's not! Here's one just for you, it's called "He took my daughter where?"


6) Pick Up a Hobby
Except, you'd probably have to learn about the hobby over the internet...so never mind. Try a hobby store or something. You can find one in the phone book you turkey!


Well, I hope this gives you some ideas on what to do when the internets get all clogged up. You'd better save this page (see #2) so that you've got some ideas whenever dire times hit you. If you've got any other great ideas, leave them in the comment section! If someone else has already commented, make sure you drag it to the lowest common denominator as quickly as possible until it turns into an argument completely unrelated to the topic at hand! Just like on Youtube!


April 17, 2010

April 15, 2010

Rosemary's Body: A Feminist Reading of Polanski's Rosemary's Baby

Roman Polanski has been called many things, and the term feminist does not surface very often in relation to him. I had seen Rosemary's Baby once in high-school, at a party, but didn't remember anything from it, so decided to watch it again.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, the story revolves around titular character Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her actor-husband Guy (John Cassavetes) who move into a swanky apartment building in New York City surrounded by kooky, but endearing elderly folks. To make a long (but great) story short, the neighbors are all Satan worshipers who make a deal with Guy that, as payment for launching his professional acting career, Rosemary will be impregnated by Satan in order to bring Adrian (think the satanic version of Jesus) to Earth and bring about a Satanic revolution. The trailer is provided below, but it doesn't really do much for the film.



Apart from the suspense, the superb acting on the part of Farrow, and excellent photography, the film is in itself a vehicle for the story. Polanski apparently thought that film adaptations of novels were supposed to be as accurate to the original text as possible, so this film is in essence a bringing to life of Ira Levin's book. Now, I'll admit to having never read Levin's novel, so I'll speak only to what I got out of the film version.

Rosemary is a waifish, innocent looking character whose docility not only sets her up as the perfect victim for the film but portrays her as the ideal domestic woman of late-mid 20th century America. Despite her frail appearance though, I found her to be a strong woman, especially in her ultimately futile attempts at the end of the movie to defy the controlling men in her life and escape with her child. For me, the film was never about light and dark or good versus evil but rather about the battle that is constantly being waged over the female body.

Body invasion is a common theme in horror and science fiction films. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Alien, and even new films such as District 9 and 28 Days Later all hinge on human fears of bodily invasion and impregnation. In all of these films the source of invasion is otherwordly and victims are chosen randomly. Rosemary's Baby departs from these in that Rosemary is chosen specifically, by fellow humans, as a sacrifice. Whereas in other body-invasion films, the victims are hosts of a disease or alien form, Rosemary is picked as a host to serve her fellow humans. In essence, her body becomes a public domain.

The satanic copulation scene and Rosemary's discovery of her child serve as bookends to the film, somewhat diminishing their overall importance. The saga of her pregnancy and the battle over Rosemary's body makes up the majority of the movie. Rosemary is consistently forced to relinquish control over her body to other characters throughout her pregnancy. Her favored obstetrician is fired in favor of a new (Satan-worshipping) doctor, when she wants to take medicine for the pain that her satan-baby is creating the neighbors force her to drink a milky-concoction, and her pain is not only ignored by her doctor and husband, but is actually refuted. Even her haircut is controlled by her husband, who upon seeing her Vidal Sassoon haircut partway through the film, becomes angry at the un-permitted change to her appearance.


In fact, men do the majority of the prescribing for Rosemary throughout the film. Trips to the doctor only result in chastisement, and her husband becomes angry at her for any complaints about pain. Despite her first-hand knowledge of the changes in her body, her experiences are diminished by characters who not only can't understand what she's going through, but couldn't even have the opportunity to experience them. I saw this as a direct political statement on government interference with women's rights as it pertains to their bodies. Roe v. Wade, although not yet a concept entered into the political lexicon would soon become a huge court case. The U.S. government and supreme court had been waging war over contraception, and socially the idea of women's reproductive rights were (and still are) a contentious issue.

The evil-smoothie creation of the Woodhouse's neighbors is another critique of the corporate world's battle over women's bodies. The neighbor assures Rosemary that the coctail is entirely "natural" as opposed to the medicine she would recieve otherwise. This struck me as a clever way of referencing the multitude of pregnancy related products advertised to women. Also, it is not just in pregnancy that products aimed at women rely on distortions of body image and use the body as a tool for manipulation.

The scene of Rosemary's rape by Satan is uncomfortable (as it should be) and casts all sorts of religious allusion (some of which I'll get to later). One of the most striking parts about this scene is her emergence from sleep afterwards. She finds scratches all over her side and back from the claws of the Devil.
Asking Guy what happened to her, he remarks that he got carried away the night before and not only had sex with her while she was passed out (he drugged her the night before) but was also extremely rough with her. The implication here of domestic abuse as a part of married life is shocking, in that it is presented matter-of-factly. Polanski shows, through lack of melodrama or lingering on the subject, that rape and abuse are often an unspoken part of traditional hegemonic relationships. Guy implies that not only is he not sorry about the abuse, but that it's just a part of their marriage and he actually has a right over her body in this way. This scene, for me, signaled the complete trade of ownership of Rosemary's body away from her and to Guy and his co-conspirators. As I wrote above, Guy trades Rosemary for a shot at a top acting job in a deal brokered by the Satan-loving neighbors. In this prostituting of his wife, Guy shows clear ownership over his wife, as he is able to trade her like a commodity.

Although I wrote about the lesser importance of the end of the film (maybe originally the end would have provided a surprise, but anyone who gets to the end now and doesn't know what's coming must be living under a rock) it provides simultanously the most poignant and ironic moment of the movie.
After giving birth, Rosemary stumbles into the study where the child is being held by cult-members. It is revealed to her that she has been used as a vessel to bring the son of Satan into the world. After brief moments of revility, Rosemary picks up the child and cradles him in her arms. The camera shows her face and frame holding the child in a halo of white. Her frail appearance, baggy blue gown and white aura with child are a beautiful recreation of the Madonna bringing the film to its end. The parallel between Rosemary and the Virgin Mary become clear at this point, bringing Polanski's religious criticism to its pinnacle.

By creating this image of Rosemary and her baby as the Madonna, Polanski points out that the precendent for the battle over women's bodies is in fact biblical. He forces us to consider whether the impregnation of Mary, with Joseph as witness, is any different than Rosemary's impregnation at the hands of the Devil. A loaded topic, absolutely, but interesting nonetheless. I don't know that Polanski intended to make a statement either way in this issue, but I do sense an intentional exposure to the concept that we have a biblical reference to support the fight over women's bodies. Writers and filmmakers don't always need to come down on any side of an argument, but here I believe Polanski is pointing out that the greatest mother figure of all may have faced similar conflict, and that her story set the stage for future male domination over the female body.

I think Rosemary's Baby is one of the greatest and most important films of all time for the above reasons. The argument about whether or not the movie is a feminist film probably misses the point and in the end doesn't matter very much, but as a feminist, I found the movie an ingenous allegory for women's issues in the 20th and 21st century, and found his critique on religion both frightening and thought-provoking.

April 14, 2010

Music Videos of Eric Wareheim

I'm a big fan of adult-swim comedy show Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job but until recently didn't know that Eric Wareheim (of Tim and Eric) also directed music videos. Expecting to see similar low-production value, awkward (but hilarious), public television type works, as one finds on his show, I've been pleasantly surprised by the videos he creates.



Friends of mine are probably really sick of my posting this in different places, but I can't stop thinking about it. Wareheim manages to not only put together great videos, but also pick solid songs from awesome groups. The above video for "Keep it Going Louder" by Major Lazer was the first Wareheim video that I saw (intentionally, more on that later). I love his twist on the classic "party-video" by taking all of the booty-shaking and bare skin normally found in other videos and making it just slightly grotesque. The vast array of colors used in this clip also do a nice job of augmenting the various timbres of the dance-hall tune. For those more adventurous, check out his video for "Pon de Floor" by Major Lazer which is just a little too racy to post here.



I'm not a big fan of MGMT (I know, I'm the only one) but this video is just too great. Tim and Eric have always had a knack for finding interesting looking people (and by that I mean normal looking people) and I really appreciate that Wareheim has done this with children in this video. The kids aren't sexualized, or sanitized for the clip but are portrayed as young humans, which I find great. Plus the choreography is fantastic.



I think what both Eric Wareheim and Tim Heidecker do best is make us question our sets of esthetics. This video makes the otherwise attractive look completely disgusting, yet Wareheim doens't pass any judgement on it. He takes something normal and sexy, like kissing, and changes it to something...much less appealing, yet portrays it as run-of-the-mill. In both his videos and his show with Heidecker, the line between absurd and normal are constantly blurred, shedding light on our conceptions of conventions.



This is a newer video of Ben Folds' "You Don't Know Me" feat. Regina Spektor. Again, the preoccupation with interesting looking people and men in drag plays strongly in this clip (and appearances by Heidecker, Wareheim, and Josh Groban all add to the overall effect). The role reversal at the end is predictable enough, but the message given across is still fun and rewarding. Also, did I mention Josh Groban is in there?

Other videos by Wareheim that I can't gush enough about I also can't post on here (due to restrictions or NSFW blah blah):


"Polite Dance Song" by The Bird and the Bee (actually the first Wareheim video I saw but I had no idea who he was or what was going on. This is also my favorite video by him, making it a major bummer I can't post it.)

"We Are Water" by HEALTH is a much darker (both in subject matter and lack of color) video than his others, but is a great song and a cool concept. There's also a lot of (fake spurting) blood, so be warned.

That's it, I'll stop talking about him now. Oh yeah, I forgot that all of these videos also make me laugh and want to check out more music by the artists, which I think is probably the most important part.

April 13, 2010

Bearded Composers

I can't say I'm a big fan of beards. Or I should probably say, I'm not a fan of beards that extend more than half an inch from the skin. I do however think that some beards are able to say a lot about the people wearing them, and I particularly enjoy the beards of famous composers. Face it (!), some beards are just meant for greatness.



Unfortunately, the lady composers will have to be left out of this discussion, but after all, this has absolutely nothing to do with how much I actually like their music, so maybe the ladies will be glad to be left out. I'll dedicate a blog post sometime to all the lady composers I like. But for now, onto the subject AT HAND!

I can't talk about musical beards without mentioning Johannes Brahms, whose facial clippings were the saplings from which other composer beard-trees grew:
This particular photo was on display in the house of my high-school piano teacher and I always liked it, not just for the Santa-Claus aspect of the famous Romantic, but more because it looks like it was taken at the Mystery Spot in the Wisconsin Dells (RIP)



The most impressive facial hair on a composer that I know of belongs to Jacques Offenbach. It may not quite qualify as a "beard" but it certainly goes above and beyond the call of duty for a simple label like "mustache" or "mutton chops". I think it really deserves its own title.
The Offenbach
I don't know if you can tell, but those chops extend all the way down to his neck. Impressive right? Other composers who tried such neck-chops included the likes of Richard Wagner who I think really failed in his attempt.

Russian late-Romantic Modest Mussorgsky has the dubious honor of being named one of the only alcoholic-pirate composers in history, as evidenced by this famous painting:
 Less of a choice, more of an accident.

I'm finally getting to the guys that inspired this post in the first place: American mid-20th century avante-garde composers. Inspired by everything from paint drying to Indian classical music, composers such as LaMonte Young (left) and Terry Riley (right) set a standard not only for incredibly zany music, but also for ratty beards that look like they could've been taken off of an albino yak's butt.



Don't get me wrong, I love these guys but those beards don't exactly demand respect the same way Brahms' beard does. Actually, in retrospect, after spending all this time digging up these beard pictures, I'm not sure anyone can hold a match to Brahms' facial stylings. If I'm going to pick a 20th century avante-garde (or minimalist or WHATEVER) composer, I'm probably going to pick one without facial hair, look at Steve Reich, the man has absolutely no facial hair and he looks like he really knows whats up (he also kind of looks like he could join the Beastie Boys). Or Joan Tower, she doesn't have a beard and look how happy she is (also, Beastie Boys).
 

There is one composer that I forgot that's worth mentioning, mostly because I love him, but also because he totally set the precedent for the facial stylings (not to mention eyewear) of other upright d00ds.
Between Erik Satie and Les Claypool the link is obvious, yet deeply profound.

My advice to future and current composers (of the male persuasion, or beard-enabled female persuasion): grow a beard with caution. Think of the men (and maybe women, Hildegaard von Bingen I'm looking at you) who came before, and whose hair you are now directly competing with. You will be judged against all of the beards in composition history (a more exhaustive list of which would take a long time to create). But if you decide you should like to wear a mustache, mutton chops, handlebars, fu-manchu, or even a scraggly neck-beard.....I believe in you.

April 12, 2010

Introductions Seem to be in Order

Here's an obligatory first posting on this new blog. Like so many people before me, I have vowed never to write a personal blog but of course, like so many failures before me, here it is. Unlike my predecessors though, I will update REGULARLY, or cancel my account. Nothing is more depressing than vast legions of abandoned blogs. Well, maybe an abandoned Angelfire page with thousands of animated gifs littering the twinkling star background is more depressing. Although really, don't these dudes make you happy:












To be honest though, I've had websites and run blogs before, and was really just missing someplace to write things. If my old friends will recall, in the past I have run such websites as MIA-Band.com, LesDeucePunks.com, and ran Chancy's Blog (a foray into the as-of-2003, still frightening and new world of blogging). Since then I've created purevolume websites, myspace pages, and currently run my own site TIMKRAACK.COM for all of my professional teaching duties.

So really this is just a return home for me, yet another waypoint in the littered trail of burnt-out web wreckages. I think every American should leave at least 4 abandoned websites behind them.

In the end I made this for a couple reasons: 1) I wanted someplace to write things that just don't seem appropriate for a facebook status update (meaning I want a journal but am afraid of turning mine into the Necronomicon)










2) I'm at grad school and need more ways to communicate my daily feelings and obsessions with friends back in Minnesota.
3) It's fun?

If you've made it this far into the blog post, you may be wondering if every post will be this long. I can assure they will, and I will do my best to fill them with pictures and links all the time. And because you've made it this far, I will even include a celebratory video just for you: