Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sweaters should not light up. No.

Ewww. As if the dreaded Christmas sweater couldn't get any worse: Now they light up.

Frickin' battery pack sweaters, with visions of migraines dancing in my head... I hoped the image would magically twinkle with lit up goodness... no such luck. Imagine those presents dancing amid little battery flashes of light. Isn't that festive? Don't you want one?

ACK! I stumbled upon them in the Steinmart flyer... but had to settle for this equally monstrous example from thesepurveyors of crap.

Wine with Everything, Please.

Since I drive the back roads of the county at wee morning hours, I have been craving something contemplative and lovely... and thus began my current obsession with Iron and Wine. I can't stop listening to Our Endless Numbered Days. I love the Calexico collaboration, In the Reins. The melancholy steadiness of that EP runs through my veins like a throbbing caffeine substitute... how strange to find clarity and awareness in what is essentially contemplative. In the past, I woke to the screams of Frank Black or the tongue twisting lyrical imperative of Steven Malkmus.

Somehow the gentle lullaby of Sam Beam permeates my darkened car and calls out the morning from the inevitable mist. Yawn. Coming awake in a quiet consciousness.

And so I picked up Shepherd's Dog this weekend...

Still listening, still absorbing... the groove of sound is very similar and yet wildly more layered, more intricate.

I love this album as a whole entity: Each song leads into the next, building and creating a contemplative mood. "Carousel" hearkens back, sound wise, to Our Endless Numbered Days. "House by the Sea" is a steady building groove that details some Odysseus-like lover's triangle.
My favorite tracks are "Resurrection Fern" and "Flightless Bird, American Mouth." In the first, Beam weaves a melancholy story of two lovers, their lives apparently dried up and dead, living like ghosts...but underneath the outward appearance is the promise of resurrection, the unfurling of life returned.
"In our days we will live like our ghosts will live/pitching glass at the cornfield crows and folding clothes(....)" And we’ll undress beside the ashes of the fire/Both our tender bellies wound in baling wire/All the more a pair of underwater pearls/Than the oak tree and its resurrection fern"

"Flightless Bird, American Mouth" has a soaring quality that brings a catch to my throat no matter how often I hear it... just lovely. The progression of the music carries it from a quiet, introspective start into a blossoming ballad, the lyrics underlined by the instruments. It's the perfect closing song; cryptic, longing, and melodic. Sigh. I could listen to Sam Beam breathe (ala "Cinder and Smoke") and be happy.

Now I’m a fat house cat
/Cursing my sore blunt tongue / Watching the warm poison rats/ Curl through the wide white fence cracks/ Kissing on magazine photos/ Those fishing lures thrown in the cold and clean/ Blood of Christ mountain stream/ Have I found you?/ Flightless bird, brown hair bleeding / Or lost you? / American mouth/ Big bill, stuck going down

(lyrics from

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Sound of Silence

"As cellphone use has skyrocketed, making it hard to avoid hearing half a conversation in many public places, a small but growing band of rebels is turning to a blunt countermeasure: the cellphone jammer, a gadget that renders nearby mobile devices impotent."

(New York Times Technology: "Devices Enforce Cellular Silence, Sweet but Illegal")

Apparently, many people, fed up with the constant onslaught of private conversations in public space, have resorted to purchasing illegal "jammers, " a device that sends out a powerful radio signal that renders nearby cell phones incapable of communicating with cell towers. Basically, you hit a button and the neighboring phones go dead. Some of the more expensive jammers can be left on to create a cell phone dead zone.

Though I understand the desire to instantaneously cut off people's self absorbed cell phone conversations, I also find it equally self absorbed to assume that by vigilante "jamming" you are somehow providing a public service of sorts. Umm, no... instead of tolerating others' rudeness, you are asserting your own agenda front and center.

I hate hearing other people's inane chats. But at the same time, cutting off phone function seems harsh...downright invasive, and bordering on tyrannical. Who are you to decide if someone's phone conversation is superfluous?