Tidbits, 6/29

Random thoughts on a Wednesday:

* All the guest bloggers have popped in to say “hi” and will start blogging in earnest on Friday. I do have to say it’s a little weird to click onto the page and see an entry I don’t remember writing — because I didn’t — but I imagine I’ll get used to it. Everyone else seems to be okay with it.

* In case you’re wondering, I managed to get all the autographing done yesterday, which means I have one more thing to add to my list of Things I’ve Done You Probably Haven’t: signed my name more than 1,500 times in a single day. Surprisingly, my right hand did not snap off at the wrist, so that’s all to the good.

* I’ve been listening to the new Fountains of Wayne album today, and I suspect that the boys in the band have gotten a little too infatuated with their own verbal cleverness, which I suppose is a danger when you are in fact the smartest band in the room. The most recent Ivy album, however (which features FOW member Adam Schlesinger), is pretty damn tasty so far. I’m listening to both on Rhapsody, which remains my pick as possibly the greatest InterWeb invention evah, since I can listen to tons of music until my ears pop for just $10 a month (Yahoo Music does the same thing for even cheaper – $5 to $7 a month depending on the plan you buy — but I don’t like the interface, and I can afford the extra $3 a month not to be annoyed).

In case one wonders whether this means that I will never buy music again, I’ll note that I am downloading Welcome Interstate Managers even as I write this, because being underwhelmed by the new FOW reminded me that I liked the last album hugely and kept meaning to buy it, and yet I hadn’t. Well, now I have (on iTunes, so I can suck it into the iPod when I want). Have a cup of coffee on me, Fountains of Wayne!

For all that, I have recently been seriously considering getting a Creative Zen Micro for the express purpose taking advantage of Rhapsody’s downloadable ability — you can download rented tracks onto a Zen Micro and take them with you where you go. I am not philosophically opposed to the concept of renting music, and to be entirely honest, the reason I’d do something like that is to have handy access to music I already own on CD that I haven’t already ripped. For example, I have a whole bunch of Brain Eno ambient music, as does Rhapsody, and it’s just a hell of a lot easier to call it up on Rhapsody (or, alternately, download it and take it with me when I go) than it is to dig the CD out of storage and burn it. I don’t want to have to buy all that music again, which I would have to do with iTunes — I’m not that lazy — but having a rented version? Sure, why not.

It is annoying that I would have to get a Zen Micro to do this, since I already have an iPod mini, and it would be nice just to use that instead, but that’s Apple for you. Anyway, the iPod actually belongs to Krissy, who is very, uh, proprietary toward it; I had to negotiate to borrow it last weekend when I went on a trip. The only drawback with the Zen Micro would be that I wouldn’t be able to load up the albums I’ve bought on iTunes (again, thanks to Apple’s buttheaded-ness), but as I can use download rented versions from Rhapsody, eh, who cares.

While I’m thinking about it, last weekend was the first time I had a chance to really spend time with the iPod, and you know what? Those earbuds well and truly suck. I ended up ditching them for a more comfortable pair of headphones. This is another example of Apple aesthetics getting in the way of actual usage, although to be fair to the iPod mini itself, it is a sweet little machine.

* I didn’t watch Bush’s speech last night because I honestly didn’t expect him to say anything of any use, and judging from the transcripts, I was not wrong to do else with my time. What I think is telling is the fact that hauling out 9/11 didn’t seem to do the President much good this time around; people have lived with the Iraq war long enough now to have become used to the idea that there really never was was a connection between 9/11 and our tromping through Baghdad so Dubya could avenge his dad. I don’t see how the national opinion of the value of the Iraq war is going to get any better from here on out, and while I don’t think most Americans actually support leaving Iraq at the moment as it is (i.e., vulnerable to the terrorists whose supposed relationship with the former government was the “reason” we went in), I also think they think they got sold a bill of goods, and they’re not all too pleased at the fella who sold it to them, at the cost of more than 1,500 American lives to this point. In short, I don’t think Dubya’s going to get any more popular between now and 2008, and I can’t say as I think this is a bad thing.

* Good on Canada — looks like soon anyone there will be able to marry anyone else they choose, as long as they stick to the “one spouse to a customer” rule. In other news, it’s been well over a year since people could marry members of their own sex in Massachusetts, and yet my own marriage has yet to be threatened — even once! — by the fact. I keep checking, of course, ever-vigilant that the forces of same-sex matrimony are tearing apart my own relationship, but strangely, they don’t seem much interested in me or my marriage. Honestly, I feel a little ripped-off about that. I was promised wholesale marriage discord by the religious conservatives! Where’s my refund?


And Thursdays are safe with (wait…who’s this guy – the one with the kid and such?)

So as the previously-unacquainted blogger mentioned by John as the one with an interesting personal site, I pull up last place on the introductions as your Thursdays in July “Must See Newbie.” I’m very impressed with the accomplished shtick presented by my fellow guest hosts and the overall quality of what gets chewed on as phat herein. But then again, I’m a new Dad, so I’m impressed by a weighty diaper and occasional indiscernible phrases…so don’t put too much faith in my grander view. I’ll throw my considerably sporty frame that’s only mostly gone to seed into the heavy lifting, nonetheless. Expect plenty of offerings on politics, sports, lit diversions, writing schools, sausage making, Jarts (unfortunately not really a sport…yet), kitten juggling, Cullyforneeya (I live in San Francisco), Sheena Easton (pre-Prince side-project), theories of relativity or like something sorta similarish, TiVo, the homeless, the home-more (I’m a stay at home Dad), and the career of Keith David (not David Keith). Of course not in that order.

So sit back, then stand up, then sit back again. And I hope you’ll enjoy my contributions to the community while you catch your breath. Rock on.


Stuck in the Middle with You

Ron Hogan here, your Wednesday guest host. Scalzi and I used to fight pirates on the open seas of Usenet back in the mid-’90s; ahhh, those were the days, when people not only still spoke about “Generation X,” but were actually willing to identify themselves as part of it… I stumbled onto Whatever a few months ago, when I recognized his name on the book jacket of Old Man’s War, and it was a joyous reunion for us two great tools of the liberal media empire. Today, I make my contributions to the decline of western civilization from, where I blog about books and authors in the news and my own adventures at New York City literary events. I’m also updating my Gen X credentials by publishing my first book this fall, a pictorial tribute to ’70s films called The Stewardess Is Flying the Plane. As you can imagine, there’s a really sweet Karen Black pic on the cover, with about 300 more photographs inside. Not all of Karen Black.

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