rogue wave and black keys

Fun with math! And two music recommendations heading into the weekend:
– The Shins + (pastoral feel * 2) + (Brian Wilson’s slow moments) – Albuquerque = Rogue Wave, the Shins’ Sub Pop labelmates and one of my favorite bands of the moment. Their specialty appears to be the slow-building acoustic track, with sunny ’60s harmonies and instrumentation. Really gorgeous, hummable melodies. Try “Every Moment” (not one of my favorite tracks, but it gives the general impression) and “Endless Shovel” (the one really upbeat song on the album).
– The White Stripes – (gimmicky hype x 2) + (3 * Mississippi Delta) = The Black Keys, a great Akron duo that produces a less childlike (and less childish) version of the Stripes’ blues stomp.
Their last album Thickfreakness was solid, but the new Rubber Factory (an ode to the main industry of their hometown) is damned terrific — a little more diverse but no less, er, stomp-y. Plus, the singer sounds a bit like a young Bob Seger.
Listen to this RealAudio stream of a recent in-studio at KEXP. (At 6:05 in, you can hear the band laugh as the host getting the album title wrong.) Also, here’s the David Cross-directed video for their new single.

jay j. armes

Mister Pants has covered the ground far better than I could, but check out his post on Jay J. Armes, Texas’ premier private investigator with hooks for hands. And, as this photo proves, he could shoot you whenever he feels like it.
One thing Mister Pants didn’t notice was that Mr. Armes is also a former El Paso city councilman. Here’s the start of a 1993 story we wrote on him:
EL PASO — In his four years on the El Paso City Council, Jay J. Armes has been the target of epithets that would make many politicians cringe.
The El Paso council member is a “blight on government and the community’ and “an embarrassment,’ local newspapers say.
The usually eloquent Mayor Bill Tilney has called Mr. Armes a “pea-brain.’ The police chief has accused Mr. Armes of grandstanding for headlines; the sheriff has said that Mr. Armes is “only interested in making himself look like a big hero, which he is not.’ Former Mayor Suzie Azar called him “a liar.’
…As for his penchant to anger the local news media and politicians, the quick explanation is that Mr. Armes usually fires the first salvo. He told one local newspaper reporter, a Mexican citizen on a workers’ visa, that he would look into having her deported. He called a former city council member a “cockroach.’ He said the local sheriff “couldn’t find someone in a phone booth.’ Of a lawyer on the council, Mr. Armes said he “got his law degree out of a Cracker Jack box.’
But other than that, he’s a nice guy!

fantasy football update

Not to brag — okay, to brag — but my fantasy football team has the makings of a Soviet-style empire, complete with its own sphere of influence.
Okay, that metaphor makes no sense. Must not really be awake yet.
In any event, at the end of week 4, The Bum Phillippi stand in first place in its league of 10, an undefeated 4-0. Among the keys to victory: expected strong performances from Donovan McNabb and LaDainian Tomlinson; surprising strength from the veteran Isaac Bruce and the rookie Roy Williams; Thomas Jones coming out of nowhere to dominate (er, until week 4, that is); and strong defensive showings by Charles Grant and Patrick Kearney.
Back to your regularly scheduled

rimouski photo

Just for the hell of it (and because I post photos here roughly once per sunspot cycle), here’s the 10th-grade version of me. (On the left, silly.)
Careful readers remember Renya, the old high school friend I lost touch with for 14 years before a brief reunion in NYC in July. Well, Renya and I met at this French-language film festival in Quebec in 1990. Today, she mailed me photographic proof.

That’s me on the left, looking stylish as ever. Not sure what’s up with the pants. Or the sour look. Or what appears to be my problem with normal human contact. I was a problematic child.
On the right is Guillaume, a Rimouski native. He was significantly cooler than I was. Good guy, if memory serves. I kept calling him Guillaume le Conquerant. I thought that was very funny at the time.
In the middle are two fellow Louisianans. One of them is named Tatman; one is named Paige. For the life of me, I can’t remember which is which. I have vague memories of one of them being fun and the other being a pain. Again, can’t remember which is which.
As it happens, when I was in Louisiana weekend before last, I pulled out a few of the post-festival letters we all exchanged before losing touch for a decade (or forever). I hope I’m not breaking any seal of confidentiality by posting brief excerpts here:
From Tatman: “Well, now I’ll tell you what I did over Thanksgiving…I went to the M.C. Hammer concert with all my friends, I shopped and shopped and shopped in Houston, and I relaxed. Fun, huh?”
From Guillaume: “Thank you for your lessons of pool and English!!!” (Guillaume’s English was much better than my French, which remains an embarrassment to my culture.)
From Tatman: “I would ask you how you were or what you did over Thanksgiving — but you would just criticize me in your next letter.” (Apparently, I was an asshole even then. That said, she did spell criticize “critize.”)
From Guillaume: “One of my great dreams would be to visit all U.S.A. by hitchhiking. And there’s many cities I would like to see: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles (Hollywood), and also New Orleans. I like very much jazz, and New Orleans is the city of jazz.”
Finally, this one from a French girl I’ll call L. (in case she ever goes self-Googling):
“Hi, honey! I really miss you. Do you ever think about me? Do you love me? Kiss kiss kiss kiss love love love kiss. Can I have a photograph of you? Have you got a girlfriend?”
Along with lots of little hearts and stickers marked “Kiss!” And — to add a layer of strangeness — a Rimbaud poem and an Amnesty International postcard.
The thing is: I have no memory of this girl at all. And as love-starved as the 14-year-old version of me was — my first kiss was still some time away — I can’t imagine I’d have forgotten about a fling with L. I have very distinct memories of flirting (awkwardly, unproductively) with a girl from Manitoba, for instance. But not a single neuron dedicated to L.
Things cleared up, though, when I reread one of Guillaume’s letters. He writes about the possibility he may get to go to France soon, for another film festival. “I hope to see, if I have the chance to go, Sylvie and Linda, but not L.! (I think this girl is a bit crazy, she wants to go out with everyone she sees…)” I guess I wasn’t the only one receiving her letters.

a variety of links

Congrats to reader Jonny the Friendly Lawyer for being described in LA Weekly as a “visibly hip late-30s dad” bringing his son to a Pixies show. (JTFL had already expressed his thoughts on childhood indie rock here, in the comments to this June post.)
Jessa links to a great, Nigerian-inspired short film with Shakespearean overtones.
Had another Wilmer-Hutchins story in Saturday’s paper.
A rousing defense of prostitution: “I remember the first time I had sex — I still have the receipt.” (This seems as good a time as any to remind readers that the proprietor of this web site does not, in linking to an article, necessarily endorse said article’s positions.)
Bashing the McMasses: The real target of the anti-McDonald’s film Super Size Me is the people who eat there.” So true. I think about 80 percent of the anti-Wal-Mart, anti-McDonald’s sentiment out there is a classist, cultural argument — not economics.
I was all ready to hate this NY Times piece on the start of squirrel season in south Louisiana. I expected the same rickbraggian string of stereotypes and Mystical Swamp Cajuns I’ve come to expect from The Paper of Record’s occasional jaunts into my home state. But to give credit where it’s due, Jere Longman did a nice job, I thought.
That said, playing this fairly slight story on page 1 continues the Times’ tradition of treating the American South as some bizarro world that must be explained to Manhattan readers National Geographic style. The fact the Times treats southern men hunting as a cultural “other” on par with Chinese foot binding still says something, I think.