Wednesday, October 31, 2007


6:05 PM
I'm sitting in the front room waiting for the first trick-or-treaters to arrive. We usually have some by now. I hope my earlier post have put the kids on notice that they have to say the magic words before I cough up the candy.

I'll post regular updates as the kids arrive.

What are we, chopped liver? We live right in the middle of a decent sized subdivision (easy pickings for kids) yet nothing. Still waiting.

I went outside to see if there were any trick-or-treaters in the neighborhood. I noticed that a large number of homes here show obvious signs that nobody is home.

Do we live in a crap trick-or-treating neighborhood? If so, I've got a lot of mini Kit Kats to eat.

This is insane! We just sent Nate and Will out with Julie. They're dressed like this.

7:00 PM
I'm going to stop writing "Update" at the start of each update. I think you get the idea.

Two kids finally came to the door. They were dressed at Power Rangers. They positively shouted "trick or treat". They got two pieces for that. Not a bad start, really.

7:10 PM
Did I miss the memo on this one? Did they move Halloween to November 3rd so it would line up with the weekend? This is dead. Simply dead. I thought blogging Halloween would be a great idea. I'd snap photos of the kids costumes, make snarky commentary in real time, turn it into a real media event.

But this? I don't know what to say.

I'm going to start eating my own stash of Kit Kats right now.

7:20 PM
Two more kids. One was a princess, and one was a ghoul. They both said "the phrase the pays."

Perhaps I'm wrong about kids being bums. Perhaps it's just kids in LA.

7:25 PM
A big group of kids showed up.Nice kids. Another kid came dressed in black with red glowing eyes. Kinda scary. But I didn't get a pic because I was busy uploading this one. He must have been a member of some order that emphasizes restraint. I offered him a second piece of candy. He turned me down.

A fairy princess just came by. I missed the pic on that one, too.

7:30 PM
Blogger kinda sucks. When you add a picture to a post, it screws up all your line spacing. I'll try to straighten it out later tonight.

7:38 PM
A trio of kids came by, one gypsy, on Superman, and one dressed as a bear.

Again, they were all dressed up, they all said "trick or treat." They're making a liar of me. I may have to redact my October 30th post.

7:40 PM
Two black ninjas at my door. This is the quickest turnaround yet.

Ok, that second kid may not be a ninja, now that I take a better look at him. But when I offered him a second piece of candy, he snatched it up with a speed that would make any ninja proud.
I'm also happy that kids can still wear black or spooky outfits. Wearing black is bad because you will be hit by a car. Wearing anything spooky is bad because... well.. spooky is bad. Nice to see that kids haven't let us adults take all the fun out of Halloween yet.

7:55 PM
Batman dog trainer? I'm a little confused by this outfit.

Don't get me wrong, it's cool. But its got the Batman horns, but then there's this dog insignia on the arm. He was really young, so I didn't quiz him on it.

Blogger really does suck. The more I try to fix the spacing issues in this post, the worse it gets.

25 minutes between trick or treaters? Dang. Well, here comes a fun looking bunch.

I didn't have a chance to ask, but I'm assuming these three are going as that Black Metal band from Norway that sawed the head off a goat in 2003.

Otherwise, they seem like really nice kids.

Things are picking up. And so is the cuteness.

This guy is clearly using his little brother as a cuteness tool to get piles of candy from strangers. This is completely out of line. Only parents should be able to do that.

Fast and furious now! I think I have my favorite kid of the night right here.

She comes up in an adorable lizard outfit, and I snap her picture. She appears disoriented by the flash and staggers about the landing. Then she reaches her little hand into our bowl, and pulls out five pieces of candy (with a single grab) and staggers back out into the darkness. It's an amazing scene. How can you fit that much candy in a hand that small? I only hope my kids are capable of that next year.

8:24 PM
Blogger really really super sucks. With every picture I add, it multiplies the number of spaces between my lines. If I go back and delete these extra lines, then all my paragraphs run together.

8:25 PM
More cuteness on parade, and likely the youngest guest we'll see tonight.

This kid is 2 months old, but has still brought down a pretty respectable haul. I hope her dad doesn't try to eat it all. That's a horrible thing for parents to do.

8:26 PM
Old people have this saying: "that's as cute as bee's knees." Well, they may be on to something.

Indeed, this kid is very cute, although the knees are a little difficult to make out.

8:45 PM
Blogger really super mega super suck suck sucks. Why is it doing all this crappy auto format stuff? Make it stop!

9:45 PM
I think I've got all the formatting stuff figured out. Very annoying. Very, very annoying. I think it's also safe to assume that no more kids will be banging on our door tonight. By my count, only about 25 people came by tonight. That's really not too many. Has trick or treating lost its appeal?

Whatever the case, we've got a lot of mini Kit Kats, Nestle Crunch bars, Twix, and 100 Grand bars in the house. I've kind of overdosed on Kit Kats, and I'm actually feeling a little sick right now.

But I should end this experiment by saying that I'm proud of the few brave kids who dressed up and came out tonight. They all looked great, they all knew how to say "trick or treat" (except for that two-month-old kid, but I'll let that go) and they all seemed like they were having a great time.

I apologize for ever doubting you.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I’ve had to work for the past 8,000 Halloweens in a row, so I’m quite excited to have this coming Wednesday off. Unlike years past, I won’t be heading out to any cool parties or watching a parade of oddballs on some main street. Instead, I’ll be taking the guys to a few homes for Trick or Treating, then staying at home to hand out candy.

And it is here where I feel I must address the declining standards among our children today. And when I say “our children,” I’m actually talking about “your children.” The last time I handed out candy on Halloween, I was appalled at how many kids were completely ignorant of Tick or Treat etiquette.

If you’re a kid, Halloween has to be the best holiday in the world. You throw a sheet on your head, say “trick or treat,” and collect your loot. You’ll never find a better deal than that. One year when I was about 11, a friend and I spent a few days mapping out neighborhoods and devising strategy or maximum candy intake. By the time the night was over, we had each hauled in something like 18 pounds of candy. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

But the entitled youth of today view candy as a right, not a privilege. What else can explain the scene that confronted me the last time I handed out candy on Halloween? It was about 7 years ago and I still lived in Los Angeles. On that day, scores of kids came to our door dressed in jeans and t-shirts and just stared at me.

“Yes? What do you want?” I would ask.

No reply.

“Is there anything I can help you with?”

More silence.

All these kids had to do is say “trick or treat” and they were entitled to free candy. But they couldn’t even be bothered to utter three one syllable words.

The strategy worked, though. Eventually I would throw some candy at them just to make them go away. So I guess I’m enabling the little slackers.Then there is the issue of costume. While Nate will be dressing up this year as a monkey, and Will will be a lion (see photo above), not everyone is so ambitious. The vast majority of kids who came to my door last time weren’t dressed up in any way. When I would ask them what they were dressed as, I would be greeted with more silence.

When I complained about this to my roommate, she said I was being too harsh on the kids. After all, perhaps these kids were poor and didn’t have money for a costume.

Fair enough, I replied, but you can always come up with an excuse for what you’re wearing. I knew a guy who never dressed up for Halloween. All he did was put on a sticker that said, “Hello, My Name is: Don Johnson.” He would change up names based on current events. My favorite was when he went as Michael Jordan.

And kids don’t even need a sticker, just the ability to think fast. If you’re wearing a button down shirt, say you’re Dwight from “The Office.” Wearing a knit shirt? Explain that you’re the entire cast of “High School Musical.” Jeans and a t-shirt? Looks like “West Side Story” to me. (Ok, I know, there isn’t a 8-year-old out there who would get that.)

But you can even take the literalist approach. Consider the following exchange I would like to have with a kid this Halloween who isn’t wearing a costume:

Me: So what are you dressed as?

Kid: I’m an elementary school student who wants candy.

That kid would get two fun size Kit Kats for being so audacious.

Alas, I expect no such candor from kids this Wednesday, and the extra Kit Kat will go to me.

So there.


Monday, October 29, 2007


We're a little late in posting this week's baby pictures, so please excuse the delay. But in return for your patience, I hope we can serve up a heaping helping of cuteness.Above you can see the little guys hanging out on a Saturday. (That's Nate on the left, and Will on the right, for those of you who can't tell them apart.) They crossed the 15 month mark last week and are looking less and less like babies and more and more like little boys. But we firmly believe they're still cute.I mean seriously, check out the above photo of Will. If that were in black and white, he could have been one of those silent film matinee idols. And Nate has retained cuteness, too, during the transition to toddlerhood.Notice how cute he looks despite the fact that his mother dressed him in a slightly girly jumper. Lucky for us, the guys like to be photographed, but some of their poses are a little too provocative for publication.In other news, Will continues to walk longer an longer distances, and his parents continue their attempts to capture it on film.Julie and I were away for much of the week, so we were happy to have some time to spend with the twins this weekend. Will and played another round in our continuing contest: Who has the best bead head?I'm pretty sure I won that round. But will bested me at his favorite game: Lick the plastic object.Meanwhile, Julie enjoyed some quiet time with Nate...

And that's where we'll have to leave it for this week, but we may break in mid week for a review of this year's Halloween costumes. Until then...
Sweet dreams.

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Friday, October 26, 2007


A French news report finds the Faroe Islands have the world's highest adoption rate. Now when the total population of the entire country is 47,000, it only takes about a dozen adoptions to grab the world's top spot.

Adoptions in recent years have come from India, Korea, Bulgaria and Ethiopia.

The article notes that there has been a long tradition of adoption in the Faroes:

"In the last century, mothers who had many children or who lost their husbands at sea often gave one or several of their children away to childless women."

While I come from a loving family that is entirely alive and well, I would be open to adoption offers from some nice family on the Faroes. Not many people are interested in adopting adult children but... well... you never know.

This week's Faroe Photo comes from the island of Kultur, population: 2. Two families used t live on the island, and they had a long standing feud. Then nobody lived on the island. Now a single couple lives there. Perhaps they'd like to adopt a child.



We spent about half of today in Seattle, then headed back home this afternoon. We arrived just in time to catch Nate and Will as they were waking up from their naps. I did miss those two little guys.

Before we left, we had a chance to see Spamalot and I'll post my impressions on that show sometime next week. But tonight I'll gaze once more at my navel and try to figure out why my trip to Seattle wasn't the lovefest I thought it would be.

I'm willing to admit that perhaps it was me and not Seattle that has the problem. I've got a lot of important decisions to make in the next several weeks (it's not what you're thinking) and that may have prevented me from truly letting loose and enjoying myself whole heartedly. Instead I was in my head thinking serious thoughts all the time.

There's also a chance Seattle couldn't live up to the pre-trip hype. I've heard about how wonderful the place is for decades. Then got there and found that it was just, you know, a city.

So that's all for Seattle for now. I promise to give it another try one day.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007


I pride myself on being able to come to an unfamiliar city and take the pulse of the place rather quickly. In short order, I can figure out the transportation system, the neighborhoods, and the overall vibe of the place. It's something I'm good at. Or, more accurately, it's something I was good at. But with Seattle, I may have met my match.

The city just isn't speaking to me. I know that sounds all new age flaky, but that's the only way I can explain it.

The weather cleared up today so I decided to do a bit of exploring. I hopped on a bus and checked out the university district. The University of Washington campus was beautiful, and the surrounding neighborhoods were nice. But I felt some strange distance from the place. Kind of like I wasn't there. It was sort of spooky.

After a while I caught another bus up to the Queen Anne district: a leafy neighborhood set on a hill north of downtown.

I figured there would be some good views of the city from there, but they were pretty tough to come by, what with all the leaves and all. This is about as good as I could get.

Oh well, there are some lovely views to be had in postcards and on episodes of "Fraiser," so I guess the world really doesn't need another Seattle photo from me.

As I walked down the hill from Queen Anne back into downtown, I was puzzling over just why Seattle isn't working for me. On paper, it's the perfect city. It has a dramatic setting, it's got lots of cool neighborhoods, a vibrant arts scene, decent public transit and more than a few good movie theaters. What more could you want?

Yet as I walk around this place, I can't quite get a sense of it. I know that's an expression so vague as to be almost meaningless. But I feel I know less about Seattle than when I arrived. And when I fly home tomorrow, it will be almost like I was never here. As a person who would love to earn his living by going to strange places and describing them to other people, this is a most disconcerting development.

Perhaps I haven't spent enough time here. Perhaps I needed more of a local's perspective. Perhaps Seattle and I are simply incompatible. I hope this last option isn't the case, because I think this probably is a great place, but I'm having trouble connecting with it.

Perhaps Seattle and I should go into couple's therapy.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Before we left for Seattle, we checked the weather forecasts and saw temperatures weren't expected to top 55 during our stay. No big deal, I thought. That's pretty much par for the course this time of year. Then we arrived and it was 71 degrees and I didn't have any short sleeve shirts. It was quite unpleasant, really.

But today, things got back to normal.That's the Space Needle in the typical cloudy conditions of the Pacific Northwest. I was there to check out the Experience Music Project, a music museum built by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen. The stainless steel construction made for some odd (yet fun) reflections.And they produce the perfect conditions for lame self portraits.I walked into the Experience Music Project with more than a little skepticism. This was clearly another example of Baby Boomers trying to enshrine their youths in costly temples. I rolled my eyes until I saw a door labeled, "The First 10 Years of Hip Hop." Well.. if they're going to enshrine my childhood in a costly temple, that's a whole different matter.

The exhibit was pretty amazing. There were lots of the silly looking leather outfits common among early hip hop crews. There was the original handwritten lyrics to "The Breaks" by Curtis Blow. There were displays on graffiti art, break dancing, and DJ-ing as well. There was also good information on Seattle hip-hop pioneer Sir Mix-A-Lot. While the world knows him best as the man who brought us "Baby Got Back." But he was one of the first hip hop acts to spring up outside of NYC. Very well done. I could have all day there.

Instead, I decided to go for a walk in no particular direction. I enjoy wandering aimlessly in a city. It's a great way to explore an urban area on the ground level, and it prepares me to be a homeless derelict in my later years. It was a little rainy outside, but I'm from upstate New York, so I'm not afraid of a little water.
There seems to be a pretty significant homeless problem here. While I know this is the case in all large American cities, it seems particularly acute here.

Religious zealotry seems pretty popular, too. Again, every city has "crazy bible guy" standing on a corner preaching hellfire and damnation, but they're quite aggressive here. Yesterday I was followed for two city blocks by a guy who wanted to yell at me about the lake of fire that would consume me. When the charming sermon was over, he yelled, "OK, ignore me. Forgive him, Father, for he knows not what he does. I forgive you."

So that was a relief.

Today a man was holding a large sign with bible verses on it while shouting in what I'm assuming was tongues. Not content to be ignored by pedestrians, the man shouted violently at passing cars. By the time I passed the scene, the man was standing at the door of a bus stopped at a red light while shaking his sign and shouting.

While I'm not afraid of a little water, my shoes are. My one hour stroll came to an end once my socks got soaked through. So now I'm holed up in my hotel room waiting for things to dry out. Tonight we'll have dinner with some of Julie's clients, then we'll meet up with friends on Broadway, a street Sir Mix-A-Lot rapped about.

Seems appropriate.

Seattle is a nice place, but I'm still not in love it with it, though. Perhaps the perspective from locals will change that tonight.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007


It was the most amazing thing. This afternoon Julie and I walked into an airport, checked in for a flight, didn't check any luggage, then boarded a plane. Once onboard, we got out books and read them until we landed.

With that, we re-entered the world of adult travel. Julie and I hadn't flown without children in almost two years, and it was heaven. I don't know how we'll ever go back to the old way.

We're in Seattle because Julie has a business conference, and I decided to tag along. I have never been here before, and it seems like a lovely place. We've only been here a few hours, but we've already had time to take the obligatory self portrait by the city skyline.It's not framed up all that well, but the sun was really at the wrong angle for what we wanted to do. Perhaps we'll have to try again later.

Everyone I know who has visited Seattle has told me I'll like it, but I'm still getting a sense of the place. Tonight while Julie had business dinners, I took the bus up to Broadway and walked around the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It seemed like a nice place. But I'm not in love like I was with Portland. Perhaps that feeling will evolve over the next few days.

I saw "My Kid Can Paint That" tonight. An excellent film that raises thorny questions about art, parenting, journalism, and storytelling. You should all see it.

And what of our kids? They are not here. They have been left with our nanny. This has been the source of no small amount of guilt for Julie. I'm not guilty, but I do miss the little guys. We called them tonight.

That's all, more later.


Sunday, October 21, 2007


"Today, I am a toddler."
Actually, it was last Tuesday for Will, I think. I don't know for sure because Will's first steps happened (cue that "Cats in the Cradle" song) while I was at work and Julie was away on a business trip. But it happened again on Wednesday when we took the little guys to the Kids Imagination Discovery Space. Will was sitting in front of this cool mirror...

When he decided to get up and go for a walk...I think he had fallen over by the time I snapped this picture. That's the tough thing about trying to take such a picture right now. As soon as the camera comes out, the focus is no longer "can I walk?" but "how can I lick that delicious looking camera?" As for Nate, he can't be bothered to walk at all right now.But it seems likely he'll be running around the house in short order as well. (He's been a little sick this week.)

The arrival of walking has brought a mix of joy and terror to Will's parents (me and Julie, in case you forgot). We're happy because, well, you're supposed to be happy when your kid learns to walk. We're terrified because learning to walk is followed closely by learning to run (Will is already trying that). And learning to run will likely be followed closely by "learning to run in opposite directions in a public place while my hapless parents try to corral me."

It seems like some sort of observance is in order to mark our children's passing into toddler-hood. Perhaps a toddler-mitzva is in order. But Nate and Will come up with their own way to celebrate, they're taking a nap.

That's Will resting silently. And below is Nate.I'm really struck by this photo because I sleep the same way... with my right leg tucked up like that. I hope my butt doesn't look that big when I sleep. But anyway, Nate can look very cute when he sleeps, and when he wakes up.Will's cute when he wakes up, too.And because this post started with two photos of Will, we'll end it with two photos of Nate. Because even though he's not walking yet, Nate deserves to be photographed, too.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007


So my friend Thomas went to Zambia last week and sent me back some pictures. I'm not quite sure why he was in Zambia. I'll have to ask him.

But anyway, he sent be this photo. It prohibits something, but I can't figure out what.

No picnicking? No stacking objects? No playing chess with the lower 3/4ths of a pyramid? Julie believes it means no roadside vending, but that's just absurd.

Any suggestions?


Friday, October 19, 2007


Any English language news from the Faroe Islands has been crowded out online by news of the national soccer team's loss to Ukrane (0-5) and an earlier loss to France. So instead, we'll talk about the weather.

The daylight hours in the Faroe Islands are shrinking rapidly. Today the sun will come up at 8:20 AM, and set right around six. Each week, the islands lose another 40 minutes of daylight. By December 21, the run will rise around 10:00 And set just before 3 in the afternoon.

It is undoubtedly a tough way to live. People report having a difficult time waking up in the morning and Seasonal Affective Disorder is not uncommon.

Even when the sun is out, there's no guarantee anyone will see it. Clouds can blanket the islands for days at a time. The hours of sunlight in January can be counted on two hands.

But, if the pictures are to be believed, even the cold months can be lovely. The green mountains are dusted with snow, and the villages take on a still, austere beauty. (Note to Faroe Islands Tourism Board: I can crank out copy like this in my sleep, call me.

This week's wintertime photo comes from Klaksvik. With a population of about 4,600, it's the Faroe's second city. Kind of like Chicago, but with less mob influence and a winning sports franchise.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Yesterday I go to my favorite doughnut place for a healthful and delicious breakfast and find that almost all the good doughnuts are gone. Why?

"People have been coming in and buying lots of them. It's for Boss's Day, I think."

Boss's Day? Really? There's a Boss's Day?

The US has about a half dozen blue chip holidays, your Christmases, Independence Days, Memorial Days, that kind of thing. Then you've got the second tier holidays: the ones where you don't get the day off, but you'll probably celebrate in some way. Think Valentine's Day, Halloween, Mother's Day.

At the bottom of the food chain is a whole list of holidays that seem pretty much to be invented by Hallmark. These holidays are often little noticed by the general public, but they at least tend to recognize the underdogs of society: Grandparent's Day, Secretary's day, National Illegal Laborer Day, etc.

Then there's National Boss's Day. You could argue that National Boss's day comes every two weeks when your boss receives a paycheck many times larger than yours. Perhaps it comes when the corporate bonus arrives. Maybe the extra days of vacation your boss gets counts as a personal observance of National Boss's Day.

But no, someone got the idea that we needed to take time out of our busy work schedules to honor our bosses for being our superiors. According to Internet legend, that person was Patricia Bays Haroski, who was a secretary at an insurance company in Illinois. Her boss was her dad. His birthday was October 16th. Though some mechanism, she got Illinois to declare the day Boss's Day in 1962, and the whole thing has just spiraled out of control ever since.

While many people were scrambling for doughnuts to feed their bosses, others wrote songs and bought greeting cards. My colleagues at a competing station here ACTUALLY DID A FEATURE LENGTH INTERVIEW WITH THEIR BOSS to observe the day.

Apart from not eating my doughnut of choice yesterday morning, I did not celebrate National Boss's Day. My boss is a perfectly decent guy, but he'll never know I didn't celebrate because he was at his second home in Mexico. As for next year, I don't know how I'll celebrate.

Perhaps the best thing to do is promote other lesser-known holidays to dilute the power of Boss's Day. International Talk Like a Pirate Day is starting to catch on, and National Mole Day always gets some play on NPR each year. I think I'm going to put most of my effort into promoting Towel Day. Towel Day is a celebration of the late author Douglas Adams. On May 25th, observers are instructed to carry a towel with them as reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

That seems a perfectly worthy holiday, and It coincides with Nerd Pride Day, which I already celebrate. Perhaps I'll observe it from my second home in Mexico... once I become the boss, of course.


Sunday, October 14, 2007


They wobble, and they do fall down. But it seems like just a matter of time before our two little guys are walking. Will spends a lot of his time standing up and holding on to things with one hand.Nate's no slouch, either. He'll hold on to something, then see how far out he can get without letting go.They actually let go and test their balance quite often, but I don't have any pictures of that, so here's Will and Nate looking cute.I'm not all that anxious for them to start walking. It's tough enough to keep track of them now. Once they can run in opposite directions when we take them out of the car... I don't even want to think about that. Let's just say the leashes have been ordered.

In other news, we're still trying to figure out what to do with the boy's hair. It's getting a little out of control. When their granddad was in town, we trimmed a little off the back so at least they wouldn't have mulletts. But they squirm around so much, it's hard to get near them with anything sharp. But something must be done, Nate is starting to develop "Ralphie" hair.I guess if we wait long enough, they'll have Beatles haircuts. And that's no so bad. Everyone loves the Beatles, right?

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Friday, October 12, 2007


(Actually, it's the UEFA Cup, but that doesn't start with "F")

France's national team will play the Faroe Islands in Torshavn this weekend in a crucial game in the 2008 Euro cup series. It's actually not all that crucial for the Faroe Islands. They've lost every game and won't be moving on.

But it's crucial for France, they're one of the top ranked teams in Europe, but they're in trouble. The Frenchies lost to Scotland, and the plucky Faroese could knock France out of the competition.

Will that happen? It's a long shot. But I'm lighting candles in front of a shrine that includes a stuffed puffin to help out.

Good luck, boys!
UPDATE: They were clobbered. France scored six goals. Faroe Islands: nothing.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I just downloaded the newest Radiohead album. It was a hassle free project. They sent an email at 11:10 PM, and 5 minutes later I had it on my iPod. The download was quick. No problems.

I'm listening to the first song, "15 Step." Sounds very different from the last three albums. I like it. More later.

UPDATE: 12:40 AM: It can take a long time before you can really assess how good a piece of music is and if it will really become a lasting part of your life. So I'm a little hesitant to write anything about In Rainbows now, but here are some first impressions with the promise of more thoughtful stuff in a week or two.

It's a more straightforward rock and roll album than we've heard from Radiohead in quite some time. That's not to say the band isn't still pushing the edges of the form, but there's less electronic noodling than in albums past.

In Rainbows feels less like a coherent statement than previous albums. Each song sounds quite distinct and separate from the others. I may go back on that statement in a week or two, so don't hold me to it.

Strings. A surprising number of songs feature string arrangements, and to an often dramatic effect. The "lush" sound suits them.

The early highlight of the album for me is "All I Need." It's a slow build then ends in a burst of glockenspiel and strings. (If you need to hear what brilliant things Radiohead can do with a glockenspiel, might I direct you to "No Surprises" on "OK Computer.) The string section sounds a lot like Sigur Ros. It may be a love song, although it includes lyrics like "I'm an animal trapped in your car." It is at once catchy, beautiful, mysterious, and perhaps sad. I've listened to the whole album once. I've listened to "All I Need" six times.

That brings me to another point: I miss the liner notes. Perhaps that really is Sigur Ros on "All I Need." I'd like to look it up.

I'm mostly through a second pass of this album, and it's quickly growing on me. There's a lot going on in these tracks. This may well be a great album.

I've really got to get to bed. But this album is well worth listening to, and you can't say you've been overcharged.


Sunday, October 07, 2007


So the babies got sick this week, and it's not been all that fun.

But our boys love to share, so they sneezed all over me and didn't cover their mouths. Now I'm sick. Ugh.

That makes photo-taking a little rough. The babies are covered in snot, and I can barely lift a finger to take a picture. So we'll have to go back a few weeks for tonight's picture. Nate and Will have taken to amusing each other by putting bottle tops in their mouths and then spitting them out. They laugh and laugh for hours over that. So here's an example. It ain't pretty, and it's not framed up too well, but it's likely the only photographic evidence we have of this phenomenon.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007


Yes, it's a bit past Friday, but you must cut me some slack, I'm a very busy and unimportant man.

Bill Clinton's trip to the Faroe Islands came and went with almost no notice in the English language press. The best stuff came from blogger Faroe Man, who translated local news reports into English and recorded his own impressions of the event as well. I highly recommend checking out his full coverage. Most of what I have to report on the subject is essentially stolen from him.

Clinton's visit to the islands was pretty short, he arrived on Monday morning and didn't even spend the night. But he did spend a part of the afternoon doing some early Christmas shopping in Torshavn. As the first current or former US president to visit the Faroes, Clinton drew big crowds on the streets. In this picture, he appears to be in full campaign mode. Both photos in this post come from portal.fo. A gallery of pictures from the visit can be found here.

Later that night was the big speech. Clinton spoke at a business forum at Nordic House with UN weapons inspector Hans Blix. An excerpt of Clinton's speech can be found here. Watching his comments, I was struck by how tired he looked. He spoke about the interconnected word and the opportunities and perils it brings. Then the 10 minute excerpt ended, so I don't know what he said after that.
But from the pictures it appears he did a Q&A session while sitting on a pretty fabulous orange stuffed chair. I do love Scandinavian design. The background image at the venue was pretty cool as well.

Things appeared to have calmed down since Clinton's visit on Monday. With all the summer festivals done, it seems like the Faroes may be heading into the quiet doldrums of winter. We'll see.


Thursday, October 04, 2007


First published in the Daily Sundial, March 29, 2004

It is clear from recent headlines that the gang problem in Los Angeles has gotten completely out of hand. And when I say Los Angeles I mean, of course, Orange County. What else can you make of the recent news from Newport Beach? Six boys at Ensign Middle School were banned from appearing in a class photo because they were wearing pink. School officials were concerned the color might be associated with gang-related activities.

So pink is now a gang color? And not just pink, mind you, students called the color “Easter pink.” If I’m not mistaken, “Easter pink” is a pastel. Gangs, for the most part, try to project a tough, even menacing image. If today’s gangs are trying to achieve this by using pink, it is clear every other color on the palate has been taken. That means, somewhere out there, you can probably find the “Pacoima Periwinkle Posse” the “Torrance Terra Cotta Terrorists” and the “Eastside Eggshell Mobstaz.” Obviously flax, snow pea, oyster, geranium, sunwash, canal blue, watermelon, stone, mocha, tinted aqua, robin’s egg blue, willow, and off-white* were also taken by other street hooligans.

To be fair, finding a good gang color has been tough for some time. As early as the 1980s, the Bloods and Crips had locked up two thirds of the primary colors. Sure they made peace, but they didn’t put red and blue back into the rotation for new, up and coming gangs to pick. So now that all the solid colors have been taken, what are the new thugz to do? Madras plaids are probably the direction you’ll see things go. By adding several colors and patterns, the combinations could be endless. Perhaps this is how tartans got started in Scotland. If the madras trend plays out, America could face the ugly sight of elderly people being attacked for their vacation-wear.

But what of this gang in pink? Just what are they up to? I asked a few friends and I got no suggestions more helpful than, “Well, maybe they work at Fredrick’s of Hollywood.” That was so absurd, it didn’t merit consideration. These are gangsters; they’re not going to be selling lingerie. The real answer is much more obvious: they’re selling Mary Kay cosmetics. Mary Kay sells cosmetics through direct and multi-level marketing. If you sell a lot of Mary Kay product, the company will give you a pink Cadillac. Perhaps Easter pink?

These ingenious Orange County gangsters have mixed mob thuggery with multi-level marketing, and it is obviously a potent combination. They’ve got the Newport-Mesa Unified School District running scared. Perhaps the school principal had been forced to buy cases of lip gloss under fear of violence. I’m sure that fear is real. I’ve compiled a brief history of how the Newport Mary Kay Gang, also known as “The K-G,” rose to power. It is, indeed, a frightful saga.

1996: A band of ambitious pink-clad teens begins selling Mary Kay cosmetics. Within months, they began moving into the turf of the Mission Viejo Melaleuca Madmen, a small-time posse dealing vitamins and facial scrubs. The Melaleuca’s fold quickly and later form a local chapter of the Young Republicans.

1998: Through a combination of terror and makeovers, the K-G control most of the direct-market cosmetic traffic in Orange County. Every K-G member is awarded a pink Cadillac. The day the cars are delivered, the K-G unleash a vicious wave of drive-by shootings directed at the region’s last surviving Avon ladies.

1999: With their new mobility, the K-G expand northward, taking down the Gardena Tupperware Crew. The T-Cs leader is found dead with a mascara stick in mouth. His rouge also didn’t complement his eye-shadow. This deliberate humiliation put L A County’s gangs on notice: mess with the Newport Mary Kay Gang at your peril.

2000: Nothing happened. Y2K bug, whatnot.

2001: K-Gs took on the Westside Amway Gangstaz, one of the most powerful multi-level marketing gangs the city had ever known. The Amways were known for their wide array of cleaning products and their almost fanatical devotion to the gang, kind of like Scientologists, but with drain-cleaner. Many gallons of fake-Windex were spilled on the streets of Inglewood during the violent battle. The K-Gs emerge from the battle victorious. Their power is unchallenged in all of Southern California.

2002: The administrators at Ensign Middle School notice some of their students are dressing and acting in an unusual manner. For instance they’ve been in middle school for six years.

2003: A staff meeting is called to discuss the problem.

2004: After much deliberation, members of the Newport Mary Kay Gang are denied a place in their 8th grade photo. Ryan Seacrest gets involved. Being in a gang seems pretty lame after being defended by the host of American Idol. The K-Gs soon disband. Some begin selling herbal Viagra over the internet.

*All these colors were taken from this month’s J. Jill catalog.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007


A wacky work schedule makes it impossible to write any long form piece, but I can't go to bed without taking a moment to marvel about the news of Radiohead's newest album.

One of the most influential rock bands in the world has announced that they're releasing their latest album via their website. It will be available via digital download and fans will pay as little or as much as they wish.

Where to start?

First, the news that their long awaited album will be released in a week is very exciting. I saw Radiohead in Los Angeles last year when they were road testing many of their new songs. Since then I've been anxious to hear his album. The band has a great back catalog, but their new songs were some of the highlights of the LA concert. This could be one of their best albums yet.

But then there's the distribution method. They're doing a complete end run around record labels by distributing their own album electronically. Physical versions of the In Rainbows will eventually be available. A special edition CD/vinyl version will come out in December, and a traditional CD will hit stores sometime in 2008. But the album will be out there, on the Internet, next week.

In an interview on public radio last June, Thom Yorke said he had no interest in starting a revolution that destroys the record labels. In fact, the prospect of trying to self-distribute this album practically gave him a headache (too many band meetings, etc.) But with this week's announcement, Radiohead may just have fired the first shot in that revolution. The major labels' only hope is Radiohead doesn't have enough bandwidth to deliver the goods next week. (It seems almost certain that excessive demand will crash their server... but I'm far from a tech expert.)

As for price, I'll be interested to hear what people pay. I have a hunch that Radiohead will make out quite handsomely from this arrangement. Their fan base tend to be music nerds who aren't afraid to pay for music. And even if a person pays only $5 for the download, Radiohead will likely see far more money from that than from a $17 CD. Indeed, the $80 CD/vinyl set appears to be selling better than the variable priced download.

When I start downloading the tunes next week, I may well be listening to the sound of the music industry being turned on its ear. But I'm much more excited to hear the songs.

Counting the days.


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