Category Archives: Uncategorized

Amplified Journeys and I Like B-Sides Music Web Sites

Two interesting web sites that I recently came across – one I've tried, one I haven't. 

Amplified Journeys from Harmon/Kardon puts together a mix of songs for you based on a road trip that you enter.  It finds songs relevant to the places you're coming from, going to and traveling through.  I tried a few simple searches and it met with my satisfaction, but personally, I'd rather put together my own mix and use their list for ideas and suggestions rather than just go with it wholesale just from them.  Where's the fun in that?

The second one I haven't tried yet, but seems like a neat idea: I Like B-Sides allows you to upload your entire iTunes file (won't that take foreever if you have a lot of songs) and then it analyzes your collection and finds lesser known songs and artists that it thinks you may like.  If anyone gives this a shot, I'd love to hear how it goes.

Web Sites to Make You Giggle Like A Little Schoolgirl

Here are a few web sites that I've recently come across that everyone should immediately go visit, right after you finishing reading all MY blog posts:

Second Rate Snacks – This appeals to my serious foodie side and my fun-loving making-fun of everyday things side.  The site is surprisingly thorough in their reviews and they are all well-written, but with fun, snarky comments peppered throughout.

Tripcart Road Trip Planner – I haven't done an actual road trip with it yet, but I tested it in the usual way I test any travel web site… see what it says about a local city that I know a lot about and it did a good job.

Garfield Minus Garfield – Take out the main character and you have a comic strip full of ennui and dispair that will make you laugh.  Almost assuredly more than the original strip.

Married to the Sea – For those with twisted senses of humor, here is a collection of old – some VERY old – clip art paired with hilarious new captions.  Great for those who enjoy My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable and Get Your War On.

Bacon Today – Last but not least, a web site for keeping up on all your bacon news!!!  Special bonus irony points: the entire site is covered in diet ads.

A Guide to (Chinese) Democracy

In case you haven't heard, the new Guns N' Roses album, Chinese Democracy, came out this past weekend.  I really didn't think it was going to ever happen – even when I had the CD case in my hand, I was half expecting to get to the car and find nothing in it but a note that said "ha ha! Gotcha!" 

So after seventeen years (or is it fifteen or thirteen?), everyone else is going to be picking apart the album song by song, and I'm content to let them do that.  Instead, let me offer up a listener's guide that will help prep you for your listen:

1) Sorry to disappoint, but this just isn't classic Guns n' Roses.  Got it?  The album is NOT going to be Appetite for Destruction Part 2.  (though "Bigger Appetite" would have been an awesome name for it)

2) If you want to hear retro music, then listen to something that came out then.   Rose has been sitting in a studio full of computers and post-post-modern guitarists for the past decade.  The stuff isn't gonna sound like Los Angeles, circa 1986

3) It is never, ever going to be as good as you want it to be

4) No album is ever going to be as good as it should be after 10+ years of tinkering with it

5) Songs from Use Your Illusion I & II to listen to in preparation of the new album: "Breakdown" "Locomotive" "Estranged" "Garden of Eden" "Coma" "Civil War" "You Could Be Mine" and of course, "My World."  That will pretty much put you in the right mindset.

5) Give it time.  With all those instruments and over a decade of writing and re-writing, the album is going to be like an oyster: a bit of work to get inside, but worth it… if you like oysters.

As far as what I think, I've listened to it in its entirety twice so far, and while it doesn't have that immediate energy and throat-grabbing sound of "classic" GnR, this does NOT mean it is a bad album.  There is some good stuff on there, and not just the easy ones to point out, like the rockers "Chinese Democracy" and "Shacklers Revenge."   I'm on my third go around now, and instead of being sick of listening to it, I'm finding more and more to like.

No, its not Appetite For Destruction, but I think that another AFD is nearly impossible – that was a drug- and alcohol-fueled ball of energy that was on the verge of running off the tracks, which was pretty much the point.  It was a reflection of a particular time and place in the band's life and in culture in general.  

Maybe Chinese Democracy is the same, with its electronic loops and editing.  Or maybe that's what Rose wanted, and after 17 years of culture moving faster and faster, he just couldn't keep up any more and this is the best he can do.  Maybe if we can do the next one in, say, two years, it'll get only better. 

Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote

Do you get the idea I want you to vote??  Seriously – regardless of who you're voting fore, get out there and VOTE!

If you're undecided about the Presidential campaign, try one of these sites to take a little survey and see who should vote for.  Some of the questions can be a little funky, but if you do all of them, I think you'll get a good idea of who you agree most with:

And if those don't do it for you, go to Project Vote Smart which collects all the information it can about every candidate, including state senators and representatives.  You can spend hours sifting through the information if you're so inclined!

Don't forget to vote tomorrow!!


Wow, I suck as a blogger, eh?  Over two months since my last post and only four since July.  Ugh.  

Let's start again, shall we?  Here's a little update and an offer at some excuses as to why posts have been sparse:

First of all, I got married at the beginning of October.  Woot!  But that took up the vast majority of our time.  In fact, we're just starting to remember what it is like to NOT have a wedding to plan and not come home to our version of Martha Stewart's workshop, with tables covered with ribbons, stamped cards, things to fold and stuff to cut.  I thought that planning a wedding would provide lost and lots of good material for blogging, which it probably did, but I really only had time for three posts

So between our wedding and me being in the wedding party of a friend a month before ours, things were pretty hectic this past summer.

Secondly, after the wedding comes the honeymoon!  We had a great TWO WEEK trip, going to Las Vegas, then Lost Angeles and Malibu, then driving up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco and Napa/wine country.  That WILL provide some fodder for some posts once I get my head around it all and sort out some photos I'd like to post. 

So besides wedding related stuff, what have I been up to?  The usual: reading, listening to music, cooking, NOT blogging…  a couple of highlights of stuff that I'm into recently:

  • Posting and reviewing on

  • Speaking of reading, the last few books I've read have been: "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, "The Ridiculous Race" by Steve Hely and "The Watchmen" by Alan Moore

  • Currently reading: "The United States of Arugula " by David Kamp

  • Also been poking around on (for foodies) and JamsBio (for music obsessives).  Also finally starting to understand Facebook.  Kind of.

  • Saw Ryan Adams for the second time back at the beginning of September.  Great show!

  • Enjoying the new Ryan Adams CD, Cardinology and the new Metallica CD, Death Magnetic.  Also enjoying heavy rotation in off the iPod: Ryan Adams, The Shins, The Raconteurs, Tool, Cream, and my annual Halloween mix featuring Iron Maiden, Type O Negative, Motley Crue and a few other "scary" metal songs.

  • Catching up on TV: Mad Men, The Amazing Race, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Dirty Sexy Money, Survivor, Kitchen Nightmares, and looking forward to Top Chef starting in a few weeks and Lost starting up in January.

So that about wraps up what I've been up to recently… I promise I'll start to post more often now!!

Myachi – Yes, it is a Reference to Mr. Myagi

Just heard about "Myachi" a new hand game that is catching on rapidly.  This is one of those crazy things that crops up once in a while that kids latch onto and could quickly become a national obsession.  Past examples: hacky sack, Koosh balls, wall crawlers…  those are just the ones I think of from my childhood. 

The official web site is here, but it really doesn't explain the concept very well.  For a better view of what it is all about, do a search for Myachi on YouTube.  With only 678 videos as of this writing, it still is a young phenomenon (compare that to a search for "Diet Coke and Mentos" which brings up over 7,000 videos). 

It looks cool.  Looks like they are making a ton of money off of it as well – all that a Myachi bag consists of is a small 3-inch rectangular bean bag.  By the time Christmas rolls around, there should be a national shortage of them, schools will be banning them and parents will be standing in line at Toys R Us at seven in the morning to get their hands on the latest shipment. 

Oh, and the name?  A combination of "Mr Myagi" from the Karate Kid and Tai Chi.  And yes, the whole thing was originally conceived of as a drinking game.  Further proof that I should drink more often and write down my ideas while doing so.

Paris, Day Quatre et Cinq

We slept in again on Wednesday, and went to our favorite little crepe place down the street from the hotel.  We then walked along the Seine to make our way to the nearest tour bus stop on our way to the Louvre.  Along the way, we stopped at Shakespeare & Company, which was unfortunately closed for inventory. 

We caught the bus to take us the rest of the way to the Louvre, but we got off far enough so that we could walk through the gardens.   

Tackling the Vatican Museum AND the the Louvre in the same trip, less than a week apart, is a daunting task and will sap the fortitude of even the strongest museum-goer.  We did the highlights tour of the Louvre: Venus Di Milo, Mona Lisa, Marley Horses, Dying Slave, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, Napoleon’s Apartment, the Virgin on the Rocks… and more.  Much more.  We were ready to move on.

We stopped for lunch at Starbucks (clearly we were ready to head back home) and hit the museum gift store.  Afterward, we found our way to Libraries Gourmand, a bookstore dedicated to only cookbooks.   It took a long walk, but it is a great little store where we found the perfect Parisian cookbook in English to take home as a memento of our trip.

We wound our way back to the Île de la Cité area and found the Magic Museum.  Like the Crypta Balbi, this was an out-of-the way tourist attraction that had no line to get in and was a quick, manageable visit.  My only wish is that the exhibit descriptions would have been in English as well as in French, but we got to see a magic show, so I guess we can’t complain.  We saw a variety of illusion devices and magic tricks, as well as memorabilia from famous magicians like Houdini.  And the whole thing is in the basement of a house where the Marquis de Sade lived.

We took a slow walk back to the hotel, taking in what would be some of the last sights we saw in Paris and our entire trip.  We got back to the hotel, checked out email and meet another couple who had just come from Spain and were heading to Rome next.  We chatted for a bit and they ended up being the first people we told that we were engaged.  They were a really interesting couple, spending a few weeks in Europe while she was there for work (she teaches hydro geology).  They were having a dinner of red wine, a baguette and Roquefort cheese, which I tried for the first time.  Paris is a pretty good place to try Roquefort cheese for the first time.

We packed up our suitcases and then headed to the L’Authre Bistro next to our hotel.  Our meal that night was good, though not quite as good as our first meal there (the onion soup was beef broth with basically fresh onions chopped and thrown in the soup), but we had crepes and red wine, so not too bad. 

We went back to the hotel, finished packing and fell asleep for the last time in Europe.

The next morning, we got up, took showers, hauled our luggage down the umpteen flights of stairs and then went to the corner to catch a cab.  It took us a while to get one, and we were starting to get nervous about the timing.  It was a Thursday morning and we were basically heading to the airport at the tail end of rush hour.  A cab driver took pity on us and ended his break early and got us on the road.  There was a LOT of traffic but we got to the airport on time. 

The flight back was less crowded than our flight going to Europe, but we had a British family behind us who were the last people to get on the plane and had three small children that they brought NO toys or games to keep them occupied for the 8 hour flight.  Meghan spent most the flight with one of the kids kicking her in the back and shoving his feet in between the seat bottom and seat back.  The real ugly highlight was when getting off the plane and realizing that one of the kids had crapped in their diaper and it smelled – no, REEKED – of baby poop in only the horrifying way that baby poop can smell. 

With that, we landed back in the states, back on home soil, now officially a world traveler, engaged, and glad to be back, though already missing Europe.  After nearly two weeks of traveling in Europe, I had to think about how to say "thank you" in English and we immediately jumped into the planning of a wedding.