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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another round of 25 Most Played on my iPhone

  Yes, I posted my top 25 back in June, and am pretending that it's time to pretend you care what I listen to yet again! Here's the semi-current list. (I typed this up... recently.) Note that there must be some kind of tie, because the phone will only admit to 23 songs. I'm putting new arrivals in bold, while asterisks designate songs that were here in June.

Pictures of Me (Elliott Smith, Either/Or)

Speed Trials (Elliott Smith, Either/Or)
. There are now three songs from Either/Or on this list, which is some sort of attempt to subvert the fact that XO is my favorite Elliot album. I think I just listened to E/O less in the past. XO is still my fave. Despite my total lack of proof.

Elixirs (The Definite Articles, Boy Wonder)* Maybe this one really is 'representing' now. It's no longer just a song in between other songs I prefer.

Doors of Perception (Thievery Corporation, The Cosmic Game). Nice for bobbing your head on BART.

Holographic Universe (Thievery Corporation, The Cosmic Game). I don't like this album as much as I loved the Mirror Conspiracy, but I really loved The Mirror Conspiracy. Which I listened to plenty before acquiring this phone.

Risingson (Massive Attack, Collected)
. This song should be in my top 5. I can...not...listen...enough. Despite some of the silly lyrics. Toy like people make me boy-like, toy like people make me boy-like...
Alameda (Elliott Smith, Either/Or). More overrepresentation.

The Rip (Portishead, Third)* I could listen to this album all day. Oh, wait, I do. (Moby, Last Night)* This is catching up to the other two. It is my favorite song to listen to on the Emery-go-round while trying to drown out the easy listening being played in the bus.

All My Ghosts (Frank Black, 93-03). This is one of those incredibly pure rock tunes that Frank Black cranks out, which makes me wonder why he is not universally worshipped.

Black Cat (Ladytron, Velocifero)*

Plastic (Portishead, Third)*

Hunter (Portishead, Third)*

Silence (Portishead, Third)*

Alice (Moby, Last Night)*

Ooh Yeah (Moby, Last Night)*

Information (The Definite Articles, Boy Wonder)*

Sea Things (The Definite Articles, Boy Wonder)*

Weekend (Ladytron, Witching Hour)*

Lullaby (The Cure, Distintegration)*

All Mine (Portishead, Portishead)*

Between The Bars (Elliott Smith, Either/Or)*

La città nuda (The Dining Rooms, Tre)*


posted by Arlene (Beth)12:01 AM

Monday, September 29, 2008

Educational Obits

  You already know how much I love Wikipedia, and have found yet another aspect of it to love: the obituaries. Not so much because of my interest in death (of which I have relatively little, having come to reasonable grips with my mortality, and figuring I'll have plenty of time to contemplate it in the future), but because their versions of the obituaries include job listings. Just take a look at Deaths in 2008, for example, which provides very up-to-date international death listings for people of various levels of fame.

Highlights, with the names reduced to initials:

-HP, 69, American pornographic film director, throat cancer. (ahem.)

-RY, 46, Chechen warlord and member of Russian State Duma, shot. (That works.)

-RH, 34, American murderer, execution by lethal injection. (I hadn’t really thought of being a murderer as a CAREER, but there are several listed.)

-TD, 44, German zookeeper, surrogate parent of the polar bear Knut, heart attack. (Surrogate polar bear parenting!!! Why didn’t THAT come up in our high school career options!!)

-FV, 97 American mob boss (Rochester crime family). (Strangely enough, I HAD thought of being a mafioso as an actual career – not for myself, but in general, as I assume you aren’t allowed to quit. It is remarkable to live to be 97 in such a line of work, I would think.)

-MT, 94, American manual typewriter expert, cancer. (Wow. Think of all of the quaint technologies of our era that might someday grace our obituaries. “6-head VCR expert” or “rotary telephone expert” or “Windows XP expert”…)

There are other entries that are fabulous, but you'll just have to look at them yourself. Of course, they are linked to more information. There go the next six hours of your life!


posted by Arlene (Beth)8:51 PM

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brains? Braiiiiinnns? Brraaaaaaaains!!

  I failed to post the link to Steven's photo/video montage of the zombie mob event. It is here: We Want Brains (

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posted by Arlene (Beth)9:09 PM

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Creative project ideas I am unlikely to bring to fruition.

  "Unnecessary Uterine Awareness" - the name of my next book of poetry.

"Aqueducts and Slavery" - my next album of experimental electronica, which is not actually about the Roman Empire.

"Lukewarm Stock Tips" - an anti-capitalist financial advice tome.

"Not Thinking of England" - a graphic novel loosely based on on avoiding unpleasantness in bed, but hitting many tangents.


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:44 PM

People who make me feel normal

  People who build ships in bottles.

Artists who draw really elaborate worlds very small with technical pencils and razor blades on tin foil, candy wrappers, and tracing paper.

Hobbyists who build replicas of famous buildings in matchsticks.

People who raise rabbits as pets.



posted by Arlene (Beth)7:10 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Turns of Phrase

  I'm on the mailing list for the Uptown Nightclub ( in Oakland. It's fun to be on the Uptown's mailing list. They will write about shows featuring a "pioneering gothic strip group," or about events such as "Knocktoberfest: Knockers & Beer for a Good Cause" (a burlesque breast cancer benefit). I also had a good laugh knowing that the Voodoo Glow Skulls are coming next month in concert.

(Old age reverie, presented here in black and white, with a ska/punk/retro soundtrack and in an exaggerated old lady voice: I last saw the Voodoo Glow Skulls at the no longer extant Trocadero!! Which is where I learned about the directionality of mosh pits! (Wow.))

Amazingly enough, even though the Uptown's most recent mailing had me laughing out loud, it could not top a simple discography on my favorite reference site on the web. I wanted to know more about experimental electronica act Venetian Snares (, and so obviously Wikipedia's entry on Venetian Snares was the essential place to go.

Highlights of the discography: "Winnipeg Is a Frozen Sh*thole" (2005: described on the separate Wikipedia page devoted to the album as "one of his harshest, angriest releases"), "A Giant Alien Force More Violent & Sick Than Anything You Can Imagine" (2002), and, just to show you his range, "Songs About My Cats" (2001; Wikipedia claims there are photos of the artist's cats "embedded" in one track, which can be directly viewed "with a spectrum analyzer").

This is how the Internet can steal away all the waking hours of your life. All this because the song Szerencsétlen was interesting.

In other news, iTunes taught me that I know entirely too much about late 1900s industrial music ("Oh look, I have that one, too!"), and that I want to know even more about experimental electronica ("Oh look, more Boards of Canada!"). Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

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posted by Arlene (Beth)6:00 AM

Monday, September 15, 2008

"He Kills Me Singing"

  Ever since my employer relocated headquarters to Eville (a.k.a. Emeryville, California), I have been talking about Eville's natural soundtrack. That is, whatever the radio station of choice is for the Emery-Go-Round ( shuttle bus system, free buses which haul workers from MacArthur BART to the various reaches of Emeryville's office spaces.

2007 felt dominated by easy listening, but 2008 marked a change to KBLX, which led to... Well, okay, more easy listening. And the amusement of my most regular shuttle driver that I know all the words to Michael Jackson's 1979 album Off The Wall. The problem with so many of the tunes KBLX plays is that I know the lyrics to the songs they play. (Yes, because I am old.) And often, those lyrics stick in my head.

One morning, they played Let's Get It On. Imagine spending your day writing dry legal documents with Let's Get It On on endless loop in your head. It's just not pretty.

The source of recent mental-loop torment was the rather lovely, painfully sticky song Killing Me Softly with His Song ( by Roberta Flack. Which is a really, really persistent... [sound of struggle] Anyway, it's actually a very good song. I wanted to know more about it.

After downloading a version of it and listening to it a few times, all roads led to Wikipedia. Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia's many obsessive-compulsive contributors have outdone themselves: in addition to information about the song writers, performers, covers, and information about the hits that preceded and succeeded Roberta Flack's version on Billboard's charts, there is a relentlessly fabulous chart listing versions of this song in other languages. With the title translated.

Oh! Oh oh oh oh oh! This is the internet at it's best.


"He kills me singing" from Italy. (This covers most Italian operas.)

"Of what you live and breathe" from Estonia. (Possibly a song about oxygen and nitrogen.)

"Two little wings are not here" from the Czech Republic. (A song about... the birds that are NOT evoked in the song.)

"Every day is too much" from Finland. ("Please send anti-depressants.")

And, possibly the best translation of them all, "Something inside me became sad" from Germany.

I LOVE Wikipedia!!

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:07 PM

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Americans Abroad: iRant

  This from my pal Peter, during the Olympics, quoted with permission:
I've been meaning to gripe about one thing. NPR played an interview (twice, actually) with some dude at the Beijing Olympics who complained about the food services at the stadium venue. He said that there was no cooked food to be had and that he simply couldn't get a hot dog anywhere. He had to starve when at the stadium.

I really wanted to call in or email into NPR and give another point of view, but apathy overtook my iRage and now I'm griping to you guys.

Who the f*ck in the entire world wants to eat a f*cking hot dog at a stadium??! Americans. Nobody else serves f*cking hot dogs in f*cking stadiums. He can come back here and buy $6.50 hot dogs at a baseball game to his heart's content. Not everybody enjoys or wants this. The correspondent reported that a local was astonished that he could get a whole meal at American stadium sport events, as if this was fantastically good. I actually think that the local was humoring him because Old Guard Chinese folk want freshly prepared food and balk at processed or pre-packaged food. That's why people shop daily in Chinatown, not weekly or monthly.

This is an American disease. We expect the rest of the world to be just like us, with flush toilets and showers over tubs. We typically aren't educated enough to at least try to perceive another point of view. We don't have bidets here so would Europeans believe that all Americans walk around with dirty butts, then, eh? :P

On the bidet question: probably, but I try not to think about that.

Aside: did this make you think of the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors ( hot dog skit? It should have. What about the Monty Python Watney's Red Barrel skit? Oh, come on!

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Edible Autumn Goodness

  stall at the Alemany Farmers' Market, San FranciscoAutumn is really here. It wasn't just those few spectacular days and nights of warm weather: it's also the food.

The Alemany Farmers' Market is full of edible autumn goodness. Pumpkins and patterned winter squash, apples in greens and reds, potatoes (red, blue, purple, cream...), corn, long chili peppers, pears in a wide range of colors, almonds, late summer melons, blackberries... All of those foods that make you think that it's pumpkin pie time.

(Of course, it's always pumpkin pie time.)

Have I mentioned that I love autumn? I LOVE autumn. Autumn always brings me good things.

The farmers' market brings me good things, too. If you haven't been lately, and you're in my region, here are things you should go out and acquire post haste:

-Sweet red peppers
-Green grapes (small, pale green; larger than champagne grapes; pleasantly sweet, softer than so-called "table" grapes)
-Tomatoes: mixed heirloom cherry (yellow, green, red, purple), ruffled yellow, and those deep red and green tomatoes that taste SO good
-Pattypan squash in pale green and yellow (the kind that look like flying saucers, to the extent you know what those look like and recognize them in ordinary garden veggies)
-Raspberries (never raspish)
-Thai basil
-White corn
-Ancho chilies
-Peaches (the size of softballs, but much better tasting).

With the peculiar weather we've had in this region, it seems like summer is running longer than usual, and stone fruit are unusually good and plentiful this year. Take advantage of the long season!

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posted by Arlene (Beth)3:26 PM

Template update: Thanks, Larry!

  I've been using Blogger since 2002, and I don't always look at my options as plainly as I should. Times change, templates change, but I haven't really paid much attention, as long as my pages keep publishing.

Facebook hasn't been importing the titles of these posts, and I had some suspicions about why: HTML has come a long way since 3.0, and it is far easier to tell programs what kind of data you are posting now than it was 'back in the day.' I figured that there was something I was supposed to be doing manually to let Blogger know what a title was versus what the rest of the body was. I thought it was a class designation, like the blogspot blogs have. But I couldn't find any really plain explanations of using class that led me to think I'd get that right on the first try.

When I asked, Larry kindly sent me the blogger template codes his blog uses... And I was surprised to see fields that my blog doesn't use. That, in turn, inspired me to look more closely at other things that have changed... Lo and Behold, there's a simple pull-down menu to establish a post title. Two or three clicks there, plus a little tweak to the template so that the title data will display the way I like, and I'm good to go.

This is what happens when you spend too much time writing painfully bare bones HTML in Notepad, and don't look at the tools that are available to have better-defined posts.

Thanks for sending me in the right direction, Larry!


posted by Arlene (Beth)3:15 PM

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

With political generalizations come cultural discussions about food.

  While I write about politics here far less than I have in the past, I still read about politics, which infuses (or infects, depending on your view) so many aspects of life. Why rednecks may rule the world, by Joe Bageant (, 9/6/08) is an article about some of the cultural conflicts in the U.S. which inform our presidential election politics. I believe I've mentioned the strong, anti-intellectual current that runs through so much of the commentary: here is an article that mentions that, while embracing a specific, regionally-based identity. Which, of course, has its own culturally-informed food.
We fry things nobody ever considered friable - things like cupcakes, banana sandwiches and batter dipped artificial cheese…even pickles.
If you combine this idea with the concept that Rigoberta Menchu described in her book - that you can't relate to people who won't eat the same foods that you do - you can see how we can wind up divided.

The question isn't whether or not you'd vote for someone who eats fried pickles, the question is... seriously? Fried pickles? [sound of my stomach churning]

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posted by Arlene (Beth)8:42 PM

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


  [He reaches for my toes as if to pull on them. I remove toes from his reach.]

Me: I am not a toy!
Him: Says who? Does this mean I don't get to play with you later?
Me: Not like you would play with a toy, since [playing with toys] is only for your own enjoyment. Like when you stick your finger in my bellybutton. That is only for YOUR enjoyment.
Him: I can't help it if you don't know how to enjoy these things!!


posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Meat consumption contributes to climate change. But you probably knew that.

  Yes, aside from the dramatically increased heart disease and cancer risks, all the other adverse health issues, the water quality issues, and the scary energy policy issues associated with meat-eating, there is a big, meta-impact to the planet. Science/Nature | Shun meat, says UN climate chief (, 9/7/08):
'The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions.'...
The UN considers the entire cycle associated with meat production and consumption, including clearing land to raise animals, producing grain to feed them, shipping them, and so on.

None of this should be news to you: you've surely read about the massive water consumption required to produce a pound of meat for human use, and even books about food written by omnivores talk about the massive energy inputs in oil required by agribusiness. But you may not have put all of that together into a big-picture view. Do that here now.

(Any of you out there who don't 'get' climate change may simply interpret the details of the article to translate to "pollution," which you may understand through more direct experience as something that is bad for you. (That is the fun part of most arguments against the existence of climate change: those arguments tend to favor increases in pollution for purely economic reasons, unhinged from all known science about the effects of pollution on us and our economies.))

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:22 PM

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