Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Pitchfork 500

Ah, Pitchfork. The indie-music site every hipster (myself included) loves to hate. I mean, say what you want about how pretentious or self-aware the writing is, how they tend to use reviews primarily as a platform upon which to display their obscure knowledge of all things underground/pop-culture, or how ass backwards it seems to assign numeric values to one's enjoyment of an art form. Hell, I say that shit all the time.

But we still go back for more, day after day, right? It is the best place I've found for all things indie. I'm also a lot lazier about this stuff than I was in college. Oh man, I used to LOVE Stylus before they went the way of the buffalo a couple years back. And I still remember hitting up about 2 shows every week Freshman year...

Anyway, P4K recently released a monstrosity of a book entitled The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to the Greatest Songs from Punk to the Present.

Holy crap.

I'm not going to debate the inclusion/exclusion of songs on this list for several reasons (not the least of which being I can't begin to compete with a collective of music aficionados who do this stuff for a living), but, seriously, Kelly Clarkson? I know Bob Dylan's '80s stuff is, err, questionable, but "Since U Been Gone" over "Love Sick" or "Cold Irons Bound" or "Thunder on the Mountain" or... I don't know, ANYTHING, strikes me as a bit disingenuous.

Anyway, I have little interest in reading the book, but I did manage to get my hands on all 500 mp3s (don't ask: I'm being watched). Divorced from having to read why someone thinks the tracks are great is actually pretty awesome, providing moments of "whoa, nice" and "WTF?!" in equal measure.

Here's the song list from a random blog.

I'm a little over halfway through the 1977-1979 portion right now.

As a curiosity, how many of these songs have you heard? How many of the bands do you know? I'll tell if you do.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Memory Assassin

Don't drink this. Ever.

I woke up Sunday morning warmly enveloped in that haze. My eyes were closed, and, initially, I felt quite comfortable. There seemed to be a soft, natural light warmly decending upon my eyelids, and I had a blanket and a soft place to lay my head. But something was wrong. It started to come to me, slowly at first: pain which led to mystery; mystery replaced by recognition; recognition fading into a general state of confusion, and all finally blending into an unholy cesspool of everything at once.

The headache and stomach pain were my first clues. Then I forced my eyelids apart and gazed down my right arm to an orange colored paper wristband. "Oh yeah, I went bowling last night..." I then looked to my left to see my glasses on the cushion of my friend's couch. "Wait, why am I on my friend's couch? Who covered me with this blanket? What time is it?"

I felt like Jason Bourne, except instead of inexplicably recalling bits and pieces of how to whup somebody's ass I recounted slurring my way through a transaction at the University Village 7-11. Visions of chocolate-covered strawberries, a table full of shot glasses, a dropped case of 312 Lager in the middle of Halstead Street, and MIA's "Paper Planes" on repeat flirted with legitimate remembrance, though all brutally divorced from chronology and context.

"And why the hell is there blood on my knuckles?!"

I blame the rice wine. It tastes terrible, it smells terrible, and the only Western language characters printed on the bottle are as follows: 67% ABV. I hold this ninja assassin of the grey matter completely responsible for my patchwork memory and the last hour or so before I passed out... of which I remember nothing. We're talking zero Kelvin, folks. As absolute as scientifically possible.

Apperently people went home and cops came knocking, all after I exited stage left. I am told I didn't do anything stupid. My Sunday spent in recovery begs to differ.

Here's to the greatest friends, comfy couches, and never truly growing up.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

God, I Love This City...

Parking in Chicago sucks.

A couple of years back, when I was interested in buying a condo here, downtown Chicago introduced me to the wonderful world of the $35,000 parking spot. These babies typically require a separate freaking mortgage on top of the already borderline extortionate dough you put down for the condo itself. I mean, just to park in an attended parking lot, you'll pay anywhere from $165 - $200 minimum. And we're not talking multi-story, valet serviced garages here. We're talking Old Man Jackson packing your car into a sardine can of an open-air gravel lot a few feet from the railroad.

Screw. That.

As an epic cheapass, I find it's more worth my time and effort to park five blocks away on a side-street buttressed by a grocer and a chocolate factory than to actually, you know, pay to park. This outlook has been tested in the past: two slashed tires; an unfortunate incident involving sheet metal and four stories' worth of gravity; a myriad of parking "violations" including what I regard as a monthly, $25 Illegally Tinted Windows recurring charge.

However, nothing compares to this act of douchebaggery:
That's right, I have been robbed. It's actually sort of my fault, if I honestly want to play the "what if" game. I left town for a couple of days on business, and decided against taking my car to the airport. In an effort to save my fiscally concerned employer some Benjamins, I rode the train like any self-respecting Al Gore enthusiast would, leaving my poor little Mazda3 to the mercy of Kinzie Street hooligans.

On top of that, I happened to leave the bracket for my GPS hooked up to my windshield. I suppose that's sort of a dead giveaway that I've got one. You'd think being clever and hiding the device in the last place anyone would look, my center console, would have foiled any actual robbery attempt.

So my GPS is gone, my passenger-side rear window is gone, and they even took my little iPod RF transmitter that lets me listen to static-laced mp3s through the radio! Luckily, a few of my possessions were deemed unworthy of theft. My Dragon frisbee golf disc (it floats!), some Wu-Tang Clan CDs, a basketball, a snow shovel, and my I-Pass all remain.
I guess I have to look at it this way: even if it costs me $200 to replace my defiantly tinted window, and I'm out a $300 GPS device, I would have spent that much on less than 3 months of semi-protected parking.

Chicago, I love you, but you're bringing me down. You know I want your lovin', but honey why are you so hard?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Zombie Apocolypse Responsible for Heavy Traffic?


Growing increasingly weary of the rather pedestrian activities of virus creation/distribution and professional 1337speak, some hackers have added "Public Service Announcer" to their resum├ęs on the computer underground database. An intrepid few hacker-embassadors of safety are responsible for several instances of altered electronic road hazard signs, which cite zombies and raptors as causes for traffic and concern.

Except for the fact that the altered sign typically requires a manufacturer's reset before it can once again intermittently flash an ominous left-arrow, this all seems relatively harmless to me. But potential traffic-control-device-tamperer beware! According to the Associated Press, officials aren't laughing. Be prepared for punishment to the tune of $250...

So, for the cost of a Nintendo Wii I could tell a hundred thousand drivers on the Eisenhower about an undead horde, reverse commuting to the burbs for the blood of Bolingbrook's first born?

I knew I should have paid attention in that Engineering Computing course sophomore year.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chicago Squish vs. Russian Blue

A few months back I acquired a cat from the Anti-Cruelty Society. They have a shelter a few blocks from my apartment in River North. Why this particular cat was selected (and why I needed a cat, really) is a long story, but suffice it to say that I ended up taking home Kan, a Russian Blue.

This goofy little guy spent the majority of his first two weeks on North Canal St. beneath the bed. Rest assured, however, that not one minute after the lights went out, he could be heard scampering about the place, seemingly taking stock of his new 950 square ft. domain. In time, the shy little bastard would become quite comfortable with the apartment and its human inhabitants. He would also quickly prove to have quite the personality. Honestly, I think he's certifiable. Much of the time, he's just another fluffy fixture in the place, an ornamental still-life inconveniently posted on an armrest or chair. Other times, he's bug eyed, skittish as hell, and spends an exorbitant amount of energy sporadically careening around the hardwood floors, sliding head-first into walls and cupboards, and squeeking (yes, it's more of a squeek than a meow) at anyone who will pay attention. Oddly enough, if you even glance his way during one of these "episodes" he'll flip out, take off, rinse-and-repeat. This can go on for the better part of an evening.

Other times, he likes to play fetch… seriously, "fetch." I mean, he's a goddang ca… whatever. He's actually very particular about which "toys" are allowed in this little game of his. And we're not talking balls or bones or squeeky toys. No, Kan's got a thing for hair ties. You know, those little black, stretchy things chics use to lasso groupings of stray hairs? He freaking loves those things. I mean, look at this guy! That's him snagging one in mid-air... with demon eyes...

Kan goes apeshit every time you fire one of those babies across the room, and he will actually bring it back, though his spacial awareness does need some work. Most of the time he'll drop off his quarry several yards from your comfy perch in the recliner and squeek persistently until you do something about it. He also occasionally decides the hair tie is too dry, and will soak it in his water dish before depositing it on your foot.

He does other things, too, like swan dive off of the shelf/wall around my bedroom, hurtling down at unholy speeds towards my amorphous, slumbering, oblivious, comforter-ensconsed form below. Note: this only occurs between the hours of midnight and 3AM. Fortunately, he can also be insanely adorable. Like when he curls up on my lap while I'm watching The Wire (not so much when he plops down on my open laptop). Or rubs his head against mine and rolls around on his back so I can ruffle his tummy fur. Or when he sits by my pillow at night until I lift the blanket enough for him to scramble underneath to get some shut-eye (this may be a winter phenomenon, since my heater sucks and I'm rocking sub-60 degree temperatures on the regular).

All that craziness adds up to Kan being one unique dude. So, I mean, what do I do if he slams into the front door one too many times or beefs it when misjudging a nocturnal pounce at altitude? I don't want another boringass cat. Too bad Kan came pre-neutered...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Soooooooooperbowl!!

It's nice when a championship game is actually a good one. I always find myself pulling for the underdog when I don't have any real stake in the game, which has led to a long, sad history of disappointing losses by teams I previously cared nothing about. Oh well. At least I had the Giants last year.

Am I the only one who thinks the commercials were certifiably terrible this year? You know the economy is in bad shape when the majority of Superbowl commercials were just ads for the host network's own programs. Luckily, there was a good careerbuilder.com spot and this instant classic from Bud Light:



Conan, may you live long and prosper, sir. Here's hoping that quasi-late night comedy enters a new era come April when you bump The Chin out of position. I eagerly await the day when the Masturbating Bear, the FedEx Pope, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and Cameltoe Annie can stand hand-in-hand on previously benign, pre-11:30PM televisions across the country, and sing:

"Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

5:18 AM...

...and I've been watching Nadal v. Federer in the Australian Open since about 4 this morning. A couple of things:

1. These guys are good.
2. I wish I could wear shorts and a tee right now.

I'm honestly not certain how I managed to do so in retrospect, but I fell asleep last night with Lil' Wayne's Tha Carter III on my iPod. That man is just... jesus, he's just batshit crazy. I just can't help watching this video without thinking to myself "I hope Weezy doesn't stab Katie Couric off camera."