Monthly Archives: December 2007

Smells Like Ukulele Spirit

Seven ukuleles (and a bass) playing Nirvana. And they’re in tuxedos too, because it’s freaking New Year’s.

Happy New Year, anyone who reads my blog! Thanks for being here, even momentarily. Wait until you see how good I’ll blog in 2008.


Don’t Go to Gakkel Ridge (or My Year With Peter Watts)

Anyone who has read Peter Watts‘s Rifters series ought to be quite disturbed by this sort expedition to Gakkel Ridge, an Arctic Ocean mountain range. With geo-thermal vents and primordial microbes.

To get in on the Rifters books, which is something you really should do if you like unrelentingly dark but satisfyingly vivid science fiction, go read Starfish and the rest of the books at Peter’s website. (Or wait until the end of April, when it’ll be reissued in paperback, and help compensate an author who gives his books away online).

Maybe I’ll say more about Mr. Watts and his oeuvre at some other point. Looking back on the books I read in 2007, however, it is clear that I was the most alive to the joy of stories during my time spent with Peter Watts. And that is what it was like: After reading Blindsight last winter (also free, also exceptional), I instantly ordered used copies of his out-of-print dystopian deep-sea trilogy (which is actually four books) and read them in one straight shot. There’s something very satisfying — and, for me, rare — about getting yourself so enmeshed with an author.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing Peter for an article I was writing in the fall that, unfortunately, never came together for me in the end. But he’s as generous with his time as he is with his texts, and wickedly clever over the phone. It was a real thrill talking to him.

TV Tyrant: ‘Best of Youth’

The Best of Youth
on Sundance Channel
Monday, Dec. 31 @ 11pm

This post has an asymptotically small chance of reaching anyone in the next 20 hours. But if it did, and such a person has Sundance Channel, I’d suggest recording all four of the ~2-hour episodes in the epic family melodrama The Best of Youth on New Year’s Eve. It’s one of those sweeping historical tales, a bit like Updike’s Rabbit books, following a bourgeois Italian family over 40 years through the politics of the nation. And it’s very well done, rightly counted among the slim ranks of best that TV has ever offered so far. (If you like the 70s Euro-violent radical stuff in The Best of Youth, I’d strongly encourage you to pair the series with Good Morning, Night, which depicts the murder of Aldo Moro.)

Best Shirtless Political Photography of 2007

Since I’m dabbling in seasonal superlatives — and before all this gets in the way of clear-headed retrospection — let’s recall the beefcake photo spread that took our ingenue all the way to the top this year.

With eyes cast bashfully askance like that, you can really see why the people love him so.

Like ‘We Are the World,’ Only a Little Different

What If T.Rex Still Made Records?

It would sound just like David Vandervelde’s album, The Moonstation House Band. Derivative? Sure. Awesome? I think so.

“Jacket,” by David Vandervelde (download)

Go here to take a listen to the surpassingly excellent track “Nothin’ No.”

UPDATE: Even better! Go to this link from Vandervelde’s website and stream the entire album. And then reward the man for his manifest greatness by downloading the thing properly from eMusic.

YouTube Bubble Search

YouTube seems to have soft-launched a nifty visual search feature in the last few days. It’s hidden in the open right now. Here, let me show you:

  1. You’ll soon be furnished with a YouTube link. While you’re watching, enlarge the video to full screen.
  2. Wait until the video ends. If you’re impatient, click on the three-balls-in-triangle icon that appears in the lower-left corner (or drag the playback slider to the end).
  3. And bang! YouTube Bubble Search.

YouTube Link: “Psycho Killer,” Talking Heads (1978)


What we have here is your basic swarm-style search visualization, which appears to be triggered by the same related videos found on each YouTube page. The navigation is smooth. My verdict: this is great. (via)