Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Well... If I Have To

I've been putting off writing a response to crs's challenge in this post for a week. Honestly, I didn't realize it required a response until I had seen jdb's followup. Since comprehending the meaning of challenge, and this specific one, I've been stuck trying to come up with just what I would list. I've been particularly lax in keeping abreast of new music this year. And somehow I manged to not download very many albums despite having a subscription to eMusic.

Here are the three albums I definitively feel belong in my Top 5 of 2008 list:

  • Elephant Shell, by Tokyo Police Club: Let's get the obvious out of the way first. This is just straight up good indie rock. No one else listed it so I will. There's not much I can say about this one. It just pushed all my indie rock buttons. The album has been in heavy rotation on my iPod since it came out.

  • Offend Maggie, by Deerhoof: If you haven't heard Deerhoof before, reading anything I could write about them is meaningless. I'm not even sure I how to describe them. "Whimsical noise-rock art-band" is about the best I can do. This year they added a fourth member on guitar, then wrote and released this album. It is fabulous. Also probably the band's most accessible release to date.

  • Volume One, by She & Him: The debut of actress Zooey Deschanel(for real) and indie "darling" M. Ward's project She & Him completely captured my heart. This album has been brewing since 2006, but didn't come out until March of this year. While gathering links for this post, I found out that Paste Magazine named this album their #1 of the year. Since I suck so hard at this I'll just quote them, "Produced with touches of girl-group splendor and arranged with a dreamy, old-fashioned vibe, She & Him’s debut couldn’t be more adorable." Yes.

Now to somehow get to five:

  • Hold On Now, Youngster by Los Campesinos!: Indie-happy-indie-twee-indie-pop. I haven't listened to the first LP from this Welsh septet enough to truly call it one of my top 5 albums from this year, but it's up there. I do think it deserves to be on any list of the best albums of 2008 though. Also, Los Campesinos! went and released a second album this year(We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed) that I haven't listened to yet. Maybe it is even better! So call this a conditional pick.

  • Young Team, by Mogwai: What you say!! Yep, Mogwai's first studio album. When cwk picked The Hawk is Howling for his top 5, I was surprised that I had missed Mogwai's latest offering. But after thinking about it, I remembered picking up a Mogwai album earlier in the year. Turns out I had- Young Team was remastered and re-released this summer with a second disc of rare tracks. For something that is supposed to be "post rock", there's some pretty hard "rocking" going on in this album.

OK then! That's 5 albums from 2008. I honestly thought I'd have to post an abbreviated list like jdb. If I hadn't figured out that last pick I had a backup, cheat pick. Maybe picking a re-issue is cheating, so I'll list it anyway.

  • Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of Funky Lagos: A compilation album that presents some of the best music coming out of western Africa in the 60s and 70s. It came out seven years ago, and it's made of music that is 30-40 years old, but I just discovered this year. Words are not enough to describe how good this set is. If you hear this and it doesn't bring a smile to your face, if not get you out of your seat and moving, then you are dead inside. Don't be intimidated by the price at Amazon, you can easily find this floating around if you look for it.

So there you have it. And it's just in under the wire. Maybe one of my New Year's resolutions should be to pay attention to new music?

[EDIT: Evidently this Blogger template italicizes block quotes. Fixed. -rfd]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Answering the call... Sorta.

I've been a slacker on this, but after thinking about it a bit I can certainly come up with five great albums from this year. I'm sort of in the middle of getting ready to head up to my parents' house for Christmas, so this will be short on insightful commentary, but here we go. In no particular order:
  1. At Mount Zoomer by Wolf Parade: I actually only recently picked this up. I loved their first album and had been anticipating this one for awhile. Not sure if I like it as much as the first since I've only listened to it a couple times, but I'd say it's an excellent follow-up.
  2. Dear Science by TV On The Radio: Here's a band that just keeps getting better. I love everything they've done and this is no exception.
  3. Modern Guilt by Beck: Barry would say I'm being "too obvious" here but I don't think I'm trying to sneak up on people. This is a great album, my favorite from Beck in awhile. I went through a period this year where I listened to it constantly, which makes it a great addition to the list.
  4. The Stand Ins by Okkervil River: Ok, here's a band I just discovered this year even though they've been around for quite a while. This album has been in heavy rotation on my iPod ever since. It made me go out and pick up their album from last year, which I'm undecided on after one listen. But this one is wonderful.
  5. The Hawk Is Howling by Mogwai: Here's the one I'm betting no one else here is going to have. Mogwai's brand of "post-rock" is not for everyone, but if you this more arthouse stuff, you'll love this album.
There we go. If I had time to write up some better commentary I would, but I'm leaving in two hours and I still have to pack. Wish me luck. I'm driving through Kokomo and my parents live near Michigan, so in the current economy bands of "Road Warrior" style post-(econo)pocalyptic gangs searching for goods to pillage just might be a legitimate concern....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

5 Albums? Man I've been slacking

Well, I'll be the first to openly admit to failing crs' "Top 5 Albums" challenge. My new music and album dabbling this year was woeful and wholly inadequate. In no particular order I can give you three that I really liked, but without much in the way of commentary.

Third by Portishead
An album I literally waited 10 years to hear, it became one of those albums that each time I listened to it it wormed its way into my brain and stuck there. Favorite tracks are "Machine Gun" and "Deep Water"

...And Now We Can Be Ourselves by Red Light Driver
A little local love. The first thing I thought when I heard Red Light Driver play a show a couple years ago was "Wow, someone gave The Cure some Prozac!". I loved it, but the new album (just released) shows them branching out. Hard to pick favorite tracks from this album as it's solid from 1 to 12 but if I had to pick three I'd say "The Long Face", "Scene Key" and "Pet Rockets"

Float by Flogging Molly
This was a bit of a departure for Flogging Molly. Float is a bit darker, less punk but just as strong as their earlier albums. Favorite tracks: "Requiem for a Dying Song", "Punch Drunk Grinning Soul" and "Between A Man And A Woman" which originally appeared on their first album, the live recording Alive Behind The Green Door.

Bonus Indy Indie Band To Watch in 2009: Heavy Hometown
They opened Red Light Driver's CD Release show for ...And Now We Can Be Ourselves and put on an excellent show. Very simple arrangements and songs but catchy and they put on a good live show.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Challenge

Now that I've popped my posting cherry, the writing will probably come a lot easier. Unless I get lazy, which is entirely likely give my past blogging trends. Anyway, I've decided to issue a challenge to my fellow contributors to the Orphanarium: a top 5 list of music from the year. Now, I know what you're thinking: "How could I possibly do that? FIVE? Come on!" And let me tell you...I understand. As I was originally thinking about this post, I couldn't conceive of making a list of fewer than 15 albums. I've narrowed it down to five (at least for this forum) based on a few criteria: albums that I don't think the rest of you would list, and albums that I just couldn't stop listening to. I'm not critic, and I am in no way asserting that the following albums are the best of 2008. They're just five albums I don't think the rest of the Orphanarium will list that I could listen to over and over again.

1. Saturdays = Youth, by M83 This album is great. GREAT. How can you go wrong with French electronica inspired by the work of John Hughes? The answer is "You can't." "Kim & Jessie" really does sound like the 80s, but not in that dear-god-I-want-to-kill-myself kind of way that I usually associate with music from that decade. "Coleurs," on the other hand, just makes me want to bob around in some sort of haze on the dance floor: partly because I'm White and pretty much incapable of anything else, and mostly because of the atmosphere.

2. Alopecia, by Why? One word I would use to describe this album: weird. Weird as in I'm not entirely sure how to categorize it. It has a vaguely hip hop feel, but then again it might be indie pop of some kind. Additionally, the lyrics are just off the wall. In "The Hollows," we hear Why? utilizing some sort of weird sprechgesang to tell us that "in Berlin [he] saw two men fuck in a dark corner of a basketball court, just the slight jingle of pocket change pulsing."

3. Made in the Dark, by Hot Chip This album is very dancey and, as I like to say, "blippy-bloopy." This album more than anything else really represents how much my musical tastes have shifted over the past 3 years or so. (I blame my friend Zac.) For a guy who used to listen to nothing but classical music, a band consisting almost entirely of guys on synthesizers (there is one guy who plays guitar) represents something of a major shift. As far as stand-out tracks go, I'd recommend "One Pure Thought" (which BTW has a great video), "Wrestlers," and "We're Looking for a Lot of Love" (if you're looking to slow it down a bit).

4. Heretic Pride, by the Mountain Goats I think this might be the album that is most likely to be found on someone else's list. But being first has its advantages, I suppose. I couldn't really tell you why, but I just love listening to this album. I will admit that I have no idea what the hell he's talking about sometimes, but when I do I find what he has to say very compelling. This is particularly important for me in the song "Heretic Pride," on account of I pretty much am a heretic. The joyful tone of the song contrasted with the horrific imagery of the lyrics is striking. Also, you have to love an album that includes a track about H.P. Lovecraft.

5. Hercules and Love Affair, by Hercules and Love Affair Holy crap this album makes me want to dance! It's like a slick, modern version of disco. With colalborations from that guy from Antony and the Johnsons. If you can remain seated through songs like "You Belong" and "Blind," then there's something wrong with you as a human being.

Whew. That's my list. And it was exhausting. I apologize if it seems fragmented or incoherent. I was constantly interrupted by customers. Stupid work...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Moral Dilemma

Since cjk stole my thunder on the post he just made, I'll have to settle on something else equally interesting. And this situation is ultimately all about me, which is a good thing.

I recently bought a new laptop from Lenovo which I'm expecting to arrive by X-mas. After I bought it, the pending charge showed up on my bank account letting me know that while there was $X dollars there, about $600 of it was supposed to go away very soon. I checked the account this morning, and the $600 had magically reappeared in my "available balance."

So...what is the moral action in this case? Do I contact both Lenovo and my credit union to let them know something's up? Or do I just say, "Hey. They screwed up. And I get a free laptop out of it"? And if the first choice is the moral one, does that make the second choice immoral?

I have an idea of what I'm going to to, but I'm going to wait a week to see if the situation resolves itself. And I'll obviously pretend the money isn't there. But...what would you do?

Building the Middle Class

Abdul is angry at unions:

A union spokeswoman says the starting wage for a housekeeper at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis is $7.25 an hour, but that same wage in Chicago is $14.25 an hour.

Now let’s apply some common sense to this situation.

Using their math the Indianapolis housekeeper makes about $15,000 annually. Using a standard salary calculator, the Indy housekeeper should make $19,000 to be comparable with the Chicago housekeepers salary. But that’s not what’s happening, using the Union’s own math, the Chicago housekeeper makes about $27,000 a year. So not only is the Chicago housekeeper overpaid, the Unions want the Indy housekeeper to be overpaid too.

Really? I'm not sure what he used for his numbers, so I decided to run my own:

$7.25 x 40 hours/week x 52 weeks/year = $15,080/year
$14.25 x 40 hours/week x 52 weeks/year = $29,640/year

Using this site:
$15,080 in Indy is $17,852.65 in Chicago.
$29,640 in Chicago is $25,036.69 in Indy.

But who's underpaid or overpaid here is a value judgment. If I assume the Chicago rate as my baseline instead of the Indy rate as Abdul did, the Indy housekeeper is drastically underpaid to the tune of $10k/year.

Once upon a time, manufacturing jobs were the ticket to the middle class in America for those without college degrees. But we went through an efficiency revolution in manufacturing similar to the one we went through even longer ago in agriculture. We can now produce even more output with much fewer workers, thus those days are gone. Now, unionized service sector jobs that can't be outsourced are our best chance at creating a new path to the middle class for those without college degrees. I imagine Abdul doesn't like that solution because yes, it means he'll have to pay more for a hotel room. But it also means a whole new group of workers will be able to afford hotel rooms that couldn't before. Conservatives and libertarians think this will destroy growth and kill businesses. But it worked for Henry Ford. It worked during the 50s and 60s when we created the largest middle class in history and experienced our largest period of peacetime growth. I see little reason it can't work again.

Thanks to fellow TCMSO blogger crs for pointing this story out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Think [We're] Turning Japanese

Welcome to ZIRP.

What worries me is what will interest rates do when (if?) we finally rescue the economy enough that this huge new money supply starts driving a big inflation problem. This will not be fun, and will probably just get worse before it gets better. I would also argue that we're never going to have an economy with the huge booms and consumption that we've seen the last 20 years. Hopefully that just means steady growth and shorter busts rather than something like no growth and spiraling problems into the future.


Monday, December 15, 2008


Part 1 in an irregular series.
Overheard at a Subway:
We weren't going to get a truck, but with gas prices back down we probably will.
This moment in planning for the future brought to you by the Ford F-150: We may not need a bailout right now, but with your help we will.

I never wanted to be a sysadmin anyway. I wanted to be... a lumberjack!

Ok, time for me to stop slacking and get up my inaugural post here at The Cookieville Minimum-Security Orphanarium (As much as I like the name, I'm quite sure I will never not acronym-ify that ever again).

I've been on-and-off blogging since before it was called blogging actually, my first site going up back in 1999. In my day we didn't have this fancy Blogger or Wordpress, we manually updated static HTML pages! And we liked it! (not really.) Alas, these horribly amaturish scribblings are lost to the void, victim of a failed hard drive and a nonexistant backup strategy (the old adage is true: There are two types of people: Those who've experienced a severe loss of data, and those who will) . That happened in roughly 2003, after I'd moved on to a local Typepad install. After that I had nothing for awhile, then started running Wordpress, briefly blogger, then back to Wordpress again, beginning in late 2005. These archives live on at my personal site.

Alas, I'm clearly not very disciplined at this hear blogging thing, hence the on-again-off-again format changing trip I've taken with the medium. I've always sort of figured I'd be better with a group blog. Now one person doesn't have to carry all the weight, so less chance of burnout. Also, with multiple posters the site can stay fresh while people, now freed from the tyranny of needing to stay current, have the time to put together something worthwhile. Looks like here's the place where I get to see how this works in practice.

I suppose since at the moment my only readership are those who know me, there's not much of a need for a bio. In case there actually is someone interested in a short one, you can see it at the aformentioned personal site. I suppose one might say I'm an IT guy who tempermentally probably should have been some sort of a liberal arts major, who sort of fell into this accidentally for various reasons I won't go into here, and wound up being lucky enough to have a bit of a knack for it. Don't get me wrong, I like the work, and I'm a tech nerd at heart, but if I had to live only in that world I'd go crazy. So hopefully this will serve as an outlet for the other stuff I think about, though tech issues will surely be a topic too.

I think that about sums it up. Thanks to jdb for putting this altogether, recruiting the posters, and gracing me with admin-level access. Onward.

Friday, December 12, 2008

And Now Taking the Stage...

If you are trying to come up with a good name for a band or a blog(ahem) or whatever, you could do much worse than heading over to* Just by clicking random links, you'll be sure to find something that works. I found these in just a few minutes: Age Appropriate Angst, Apocalyptic Log, Non Sequitur Thud, Abandoned By The Cavalry, and Offstage Villainy. Not too bad. Better names than some bands I can think of. My favorite so far is Murder The Hypotenuse, which got me started with the idea.

*If you were not previously aware of it, TvTropes is a wiki identifying and exploring the tropes of every sort of fiction, not just television. It's a fun time waster with some redeeming educational value.

Indy City/County Council Email Update

An update to this post where I email the Democrats on the Indy City/County Council. So far only one councilor has taken the time to respond to me. Ahhhh that's representation! Councilwoman Angela Mansfield deserves credit for responding though, although she only addressed the issue of the Assessor pay after their positions were eliminated.

Not sure I should put the exact email in there as I didn't say in my initial email I would be posting replies, but essentially the council's hands were tied a bit by the state law that said they couldn't pay them nothing, and that she was in favor of paying them at the much lower 1980 level for the two years they were forced to pay them (and was a sponsor of the proposal to do just that). Unfortunately, if they had not passed the $54,000 for two years proposal then the assessors woudl have gotten $60,000.

I'm still pissed that it came to that, but props to Councilwoman Mansfield for taking the time to reply, at least on that issue.

Update: After 7 days, still only the single response from Councilwoman Mansfield.

The Fourth Orphan

That sounds like the name of a terrible movie or something, but it actually means we'll have a fourth regular irregular around these parts. rfd is yet another DL:Indy regular who does his normal blogging thing here.

Now that we've got a stable of irregular posters, hopefully our powers of lazy blogging will combine to form voltron. Or at least a semblance of regular content. There's not going to be much of a theme here. It's going to be whatever any of us decide to post about. Probably a heavy politics bent, but I'm sure we'll go through periods of heavy nerdiness and whatnot as well.

Update: Well damnit, I can't even spell a made up middle initial correctly.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


We favor unreasonable subsidies to the Brain Slug Industry

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Third Irregular Regular!

Please welcome the newest regular irregular to The Orphanarium, crs. He's another DL:Indy regular and does his regular thing over this way.

Already, we're growing.

Already adding a co-blogger. cwk irregularly maintains his regular blog but will be joining the Orphanarium in an irregular status. He's a Drinking Liberally: Indy regular and fellow techie liberal nerd type.

We'll see if this whole group blog thing goes as well as CWAMB did.

I've Finally Had Enough With The Dems on the Indy CCC

So I've finally gotten fed up with the wankers on the Indy City County Council. I had a short lived project to go to all of their meetings, but life intervened and they were fucking boring. Issues or not, sitting through an hour of special recognitions and bullshit bloviating is too much for this humble blogger with a life and a fiancee (and Fallout 3 to play).

But between cutting the COIT to give Indy residents a whole $12!!omg!!!eleven111! , wanking about the city buying ferrrrin cars from them jap-o-neese and now paying the assessors $54,000 to sit on their asses for two years I just can't take it anymore.

So I emailed all of the Democrats on the CCC (well, all but Jose Evans. Someone hook the dude up with some email! For real.) I tried to be nice, but man, their wanking and pandering has gotten out of hand. We'll see if I actually get coherent responses from anybody.

Here's the email. I'll follow up with any replies I get.

First I want to say that I am a life long Democrat. I'm sure you hear that alot, but I've never voted for a Republican and only not voted straight ticket once (a write in for another Democrat). So these critiques aren't coming from someone who normally disagrees with you on everything so that I can be conveniently ignored.

A couple issues have me so worked up, I've decided to email every Democratic CCC member that has an email address. 1) The (for lack of a better term) wanking about this car deal, 2) Cutting the COIT to give us a WHOLE $12!! and 3) Paying the Assessors WAY TOO MUCH to do nothing for two years.

1) I'll be honest, on this first one I don't know who exactly has been making this an issue and who has thankfully been silent on it. But this whole thing about Toyota vs Chevy and the little round of faux xenophobia and manufacturing nationalism gets us nowhere. The fact is the upkeep costs on the Toyotas are cheaper than the upkeep costs on the Chevys. The long run savings go to the Toyota. Boxing in our city to only be able to buy goods from a certain locale hamstrings us being able to watch our expenses. You want to cut taxes (see #2), you gotta pay for it somehow. But cutting taxes AND forcing the city to buy more expensive to maintain cars out of some sort of nationalistic ideal is a double whammy on the city budget. But I'm sure the Democratic members of the CCC aren't just on this issue as a political stunt, right? Yeah. Right. I know it's easy in an economic downturn for people to turn to xenophobia and nationalism. It's happened during every economic downturn, and will continue to happen. But that doesn't mean you have to play into that trap, even mildly.

2) I want to start this issue off by saying that *thankfully* Councilors Bateman, Mansfield, Gray, Oliver, Nytes and Sanders are exempt from this criticism. Thank you for acknowledging that it actually takes money to run a successful city. But to the others, Councilors Evans, Pryor, Minton-McNeil, both Maherns, Adams and Brown, really what were you thinking? Cutting the COIT will give the average Marion County resident $12. *TWELVE DOLLARS*. I'll try not to spend it all in one place. Meanwhile the city is having to cut back on services, our public transit infrastructure is terrifyingly bad and we can't even salt the roads. Is giving people $12 just so you can say you cut taxes during the next election really worth the deterioration of our city? Cities, especially world class cities (which Indy tries so hard to be) need money to be run. I know some voters don't like to hear that, but it's not like we can salt the roads and lock up criminals with free fairy dust and wishes.

3) And finally, the Assessor thing. No idea how the vote broke down. But I know a number of you supported this ortherwise it wouldn't have passed with only 2 dissenters. I understand that some Democrats didn't feel it was necessary to do away with the Assessors position at the township level. I happen to think it was necessary, but I understand you disagreeing with that. But that's no excuse to pay $54,000 and benefits to public servants whom the public essentially FIRED in November. If I am laid off from my job I don't continue to get paid. It sucks, but I don't get paid. Now I get that under state law you couldn't pay them *nothing*, but why not go with a cheaper option? Again, you cut revenue to the city with the COIT decision, but then you give money away like this. Just because you feel sorry for them doesn't mean you should give away your constituents' money to them. I've heard some thought "compassion" was needed for them. Compassion? How about compassion for your constituents who rely on you to use our money efficiently to provide us with essential services and a growing city? That is the concern of an elected representative, not compassion for civil servants who have lost their job by the will of the people.

Sadly, I am beyond expecting much in the way of principled stands from the Democrats on the CCC. Yet I keep voting for you.
We'll see.

Hello? Is This Thing On?

The blogger's undisclosed location

Thinking about moving all of my blogging here. X-Tra Rant is down indefinitely due to a security breach and currently just redirects to twitter. This may grow into a group blog for some of the Drinking Liberally: Indianapolis regulars.

Stay tuned.