death cab for cutie

Attention Death Cab For Cutie fans: You can order their new album, The Photo Album, online instead of waiting a couple of weeks for it to hit stores. Plus, if you order online, you get a limited edition three-song EP (including a Bjork cover). Mine’s on its way.
Two tracks from the new album are available online too, A Movie Script Ending and I Was a Kaleidoscope. Both a bit more rockin’ than their excellent last album, We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes. (My two favorite tracks from that album, For What Reason and Company Calls are also online.)
And hell, while we’re linking Death Cab stuff, the 4/14/00 concert available for download here is quite good. And Ben Gibbard’s side project, All-Time Quarterback, has five tracks online here.
If you’re unfamiliar with Death Cab, suffice it to say they’re the finest band in the Pacific Northwest today. (Ha! Take that, Built to Spill — that’s what you get for starting a show at 12:45 a.m. on a school night!) And they’ll be playing at the Gypsy Tea Room here on Nov. 11 — at eight bucks, it’ll be the bang-for-your-concert-buck deal of the year.

time management

Calling all deprogrammers: I just spent eight hours in a white-walled room where, under the guise of a “time management seminar,” I was indoctrinated into the cult of Franklin Covey.
Shortly after being handed a copy of the cult’s holiest scripture — the “What Matters Most”(TM) Starter Kit Franklin Planner — I was told I needed to forget everything about my existence before today. “Use only one personal management system!” I was told. (Thou shalt not worship false gods!) “Carry The Planner with you at all times!”
There was talk of The Wall of Total Control and its demonic, Satan-like doppelganger, The Wall of No Control. There were videos asking us eternal questions (“What makes life worth living? Where is your fire within?”) and telling us the answers can only be found in The Planner. There was the promise that “appropriate event control leads to inner peace.” There was a demand that we all “commit to teach today’s key concepts to someone else within 48 hours.” There were lots of pictures of calm rivers and peaceful sunsets, each presumably achieved through proper use of the ABC Prioritized Daily Task List, the Daily Record of Events, and (most ominously) the Values Clarification Worksheet.
This isn’t an organizational tool — this is a cult. A way of life. An icky mix of the Tony Robbins school of self-actualization and the Frederick Winslow Taylor school of corporate efficiency.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some black Nikes.

god (a play)

Speaking of bursitis: When I was 12 or 13, I bought a second-hand copy of Woody Allen’s “Without Feathers,” one of his compilations of New Yorker pieces [along with “Getting Even” and “Side Effects”]. My favorite highlight was “God (A Play),” a sort of po-mo/Borscht Belt parody of Greek theater. The characters include Bursitis, Diabetes, Hepatitis, and Trichinosis. To a young, impressionable mind, its mix of deontological philosophy and slapstick (sample joke: “Did you hear about Cyclops? He got a middle eye infection”) was life-changing.

built to spill

I know I’m getting older and all, but is it honestly asking too much to have a band go on before 12:45 a.m. on a Sunday night?
Went to see Built to Spill last night, under the mistaken impression that I might get to see them before men walk on Mars. The opening band was Polyphonic Spree, those 22-piece local heroes, who were bedecked in choir robes and had that sort of Burt-Bacharach-conducting-a-band-of-Hare-Krishnas-singing-outtakes-from-Magical-Mystery-Tour thing going on. I had thought they were the second of three bands to go on and would be followed by Idaho’s finest, but alas, they were followed by the execrable Brett Netson, who had the sort of bar-band self-indulgence that makes me ill. No, really, we all want to hear your atonal, “bluesy” yelping over your sloppy, uninteresting guitar work! And, if possible, could you please make all your songs 15 minutes long? Thanks, man! (He also looked like he last bathed on the same day he had an original musical thought, which was likely around 1972.)
When he finally shut up, on came another unexpected band, which initially caused more anger, but The Delusions were actually fine. Unremarkable, and their drummer winced in pain every time he used his left arm (bursitis?), but fine.
Built to Spill finally came on shortly before 1 a.m. and were quite good; the sound mix was a little uneven at first, but that evened out as the show went on. A couple members of the Spree went up to sing backup on a few songs, and it was clear it was the highlight of their young lives. It was the last show of their tour, so they broke out a few odd covers (Ben Folds Five, a great version of George Harrison’s “What Is Life,” and an oddly deferential version of “Free Bird”). They made the best of what had been an otherwise frustrating night.
I was supposed to meet Matt and Amanda for drinks afterward, but we were all up way past our bed times, so it was just a quick hello. Hopefully I’ll see them again on some occasion when sleep is less of a priority.