I love winter weather. Always have. It’s odd, I know, coming from someone born and raised in south Louisiana, where heat indexes make the news more often than wind chills. But spending seven-plus years in Connecticut and Ohio convinced me that I’ve got some inner Nordic. I can’t stand heat — that was honestly one of the biggest mental obstacles I had to overcome before moving to Dallas. (It was 112 degrees on the day of my job interview. The hotel I was staying at was exactly one block from my future place of employment, but I drove to the interview instead of walking. I knew that if I walked, I’d be reduced, Wicked-Witch-like, to a mere puddle by the time I arrived.)

two shows upcoming

While I will again be out of town this weekend, two shows might be worthy of your collective interest here in the dee-eff-double-you area. Trees has Man or Astroman? and Trans Am on Friday night. Sez CMJ of MoA?’s last album: “This latest collection finds Coco The Electronic Monkey Wizard and company exploring the depths of math-rock angularity and effects-driven psychedelia without losing focus of their primordial style. The result is like mainlining a compound of high-power blotter acid and some Capri Sun into your inferior human cranium.” Make what you will of that. Trans Am is alternately brilliant and boring, but probably worth a little of your time. (Examples of their Teutonic flavor of brilliance: Play in the Summer and Let’s Take the Fresh Step Together/I Want It All.)
Then Saturday, the scene breaks out the big guns, with the Dismemberment Plan coming to Rubber Gloves. If any member of the Denton contingent wanted to record the show, that person would get the favor of his or her choice from Site Management.
(Incidentally, to any Austinites out there, these two tours unite Sunday for a giganto show at Emo’s. Six bands, ten bucks — what a deal.)

back in dallas, teller, jandek

Back in Dallas, after a much more traffic-laden trip back than normal. (Well, duh.) Listened to the usually inconsistent Studio 360 along the way. If you haven’t heard it, Studio 360 is Kurt Andersen‘s little foray into public radio. Kurt’s brilliant, of course, but I’m not sure he’s a perfect match for the medium; his words look better on paper than they do in his awkward phrasing, and the thematic setup of the show is a little odd. But tonight’s show, on the role of secrets in the arts, was great.
The main guest was Teller, the silent half of Penn & Teller. (And yes, he talks when he’s not on stage. It wasn’t an hour of radio mime.) He’s a very smart guy, speaking intelligently about the way P&T play with the idea of a magician’s secrets on stage (by revealing tricks as they go along) and about his book about his father‘s secret life as a hobo/cartoonist as a youth.
In a Penn & Teller performance, the giganto Penn does all the (booming, high-decibel) talking, while meek little Teller stands mute off to the side. But Teller’s the real genius of the act. He’s actually considered one of the top four or five magicians of the last century by those in the know; unlike most, who simply modify tried and true illusions, Teller’s actually invented new tricks. (I’m not one of those “in the know.” I just read a terrific profile of Penn & Teller by Calvin Trillin a few years back. It’s in his [amazing] compilation, American Stories.) Anyway, the show’s worth a listen this week.
Note to self: check to see if something really can be “usually inconsistent.”

unproductive, lauren, fiona, cancer

I love unproductive vacations. Every time I get some time off, I give myself a long list of tasks to complete. This time, they ain’t getting done. I’m just kicking back, doing a lot of reading, watching too much History Channel, and taking many naps. (And doing Utah research for the Olympics. “Did you know Theodore Roosevelt once took a bath beneath the Rainbow Bridge?” asks the author of “Utah: A Guide to the State; Compiled by Workers of the Writer’s Program of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Utah,” 1940. No, I did not.)
Tonight continues the Parade of Ex-Girlfriends, as I go hang out with Lauren, who I dated for a few months in high school. (That parade concludes next weekend when I see college girlfriend Fiona in Boston, where I’m going for a conference. Fiona is, by the way, the latest reader of Hi, Fiona! Feel free to leave nasty comments below.)
Fiona and Lauren have never met, but together they define the most disturbing trend in my life, which is: date me and you get cancer. Not long after I went off to college and stopped seeing Lauren, the docs found cancer in her thyroid. (She’s fine now — who needs a thyroid, anyway?) And Fiona got diagnosed about a year and a half ago with malignant melanoma; she just finished up a successful year of treatment.
Honestly, what are the odds of two women I dated, at the time aged 18 and 24, getting cancer? I am seriously bad luck. To anyone out there who might consider dating me: stay away, for your own health! (Then again, both of them were fine when they were actually going out with me. Maybe it’s stopping going out with me that’s the culprit. Yeah, that’s it.)

d.b. cooper

Ah, those were the days — when airplane hijackers could still be considered folk heroes. Tomorrow will be the 30th anniversary of the famous D.B. Cooper hijacking. Anybody 45 or over knows what I’m talking about, but those my age probably need a refresher.
Cooper got on a plane from Portland to Seattle and, in between draws on his cigarette, told a flight attendant he had a bomb. (Whether or not he did is questionable; it is certain he had a bunch of scary-looking wires in a briefcase.) He had the pilot land at Seattle, evacuated all the passengers, then had his demands met: $200,000 in used $20s and four parachutes. He then ordered the plane back into the air, headed for Mexico. He told the pilots to fly below 10,000 feet with the flaps partially down to decrease air speed. After about 40 minutes, he jumped out with the cash. That was the last anyone ever heard from D.B. Cooper.
He became something of a cult figure, almost Robin Hoodesque. There were D.B. Cooper sitings all around the country. Tips flooded FBI offices. But no trace of D.B. Cooper was ever found until 1980, when an 8-year-old boy found $5,800 of Cooper’s loot.
The common wisdom has always been that Cooper died from his jump. One of the two parachutes he took down with him was defective and wouldn’t have opened. Jumping out of a 727 at that height and speed would have meant a wind chill of about 70-below. (The temperature that night was -7; there was a nasty storm with freezing rain. Cooper was jumping into a heavily forested area, miles from anywhere, in just a business suit and loafers.)
But last year, a woman in Florida claimed that her husband had told her, on his death bed, that he was D.B. Cooper. (Check out the photos.) Maybe the ol’ rascal survived after all.

cd mix of the month

I want your feedback on an idea I had a while back. Let’s say, hypothetically, I created a mix CD every month of music I like. And let’s say I’d send you a copy of this mix CD each month if you sent me a mix CD of music you like. Would you be interested? If enough people are, I think it could be a good way to get to hear something new once in a while. Let me know, via comments or email.

mick jagger

Time for that 19th nervous breakdown: Mick Jagger released a new album last week. So did Robbie Williams. On the first day of his album’s release, Williams sold 73,000 copies in the U.K. Mick Jagger sold 954. (Thanks, brandhast.) Yep, three digits. That’s got to sting.
Albums that would sell more than 954 copies on the first day of release: *Nsync, Justin Timberlake Hums Indiscriminately With Britney In the Next Room; Garth Brooks, Early Recordings: Lil’ Garth Makes Armpit Noises, 1972-1974; U2, All We’ve Left Behind: Bono Speaks Out on Third World Debt Relief; various artists, Now That’s What I Call Arbor Day!