i’m in reason

Self-promotion alert: I’m in the cover story of the June issue of Reason, everyone’s favorite libertarian mag.
Well, sort of. See, the cover story (“How Schools Cheat: From fake test scores to bogus graduation rates and more, educrats are lying to parents”) touches on my cheating stories from the last year, at one point talking about “a December 31, 2004, expose by The Dallas Morning News.”
No idea if the story will ever be put online.

seatguru.com, decemberists, reagan, new computer

SeatGuru.com: the site that ensures you’re in the absolute best seat on your plane. For instance, say you’re on an American Airlines 737. Avoid Seat 9A! Noisy air-duct alert!
Another Decemberists profile, focusing on the nerdiness of their fans: “I ask [lead singer Colin] Meloy how he feels about being a heartthrob. ‘I feel great about it! I would certainly rather be that to a bunch of English majors and drama fags than a bunch of sorority girls.’ He laughs. ‘It’s one of our main m.o.’s to try to make the world safe for pansies.'”
Reagan Memories. “Once we were having a delicious dinner of fugu puffer with CIA Director Casey. As we worked our way through the non-toxic musculature, Casey noticed that the fish’s poisonous liver had been incautiously left inside by the food prep staff. (This was after President Reagan had broken the sous-chefs’ union.) I edged the liver into a napkin with my knife, but Casey, I saw, was looking on anxiously. ‘The forbidden delicacy!’ he said. ‘Let me have it!'”
Simple animation in Flash.
After over four years with the same aging desktop computer, I just bought a new one. Color me excited. But this probably means I need to change my computer naming system.
(I am not one of those people who names his car. Actually, I don’t believe I’ve ever met someone who names “his” car. “Her” car, yes, but not the hombres. Anyway, I am, however, a computer namer.)
My current setup is based on characters from A Confederacy of Dunces, one of my very favorite books. Ignatius is the dear ol’ desktop; its two other internal hard drives are Jones and Gonzales; Myrna’s my iPod; Dorian is my workhorse MP3-holding external Firewire drive; Claude is my portable Firewire drive; Santa Battaglia is my PowerBook; and Miss Trixie (an old iBook) and Mancuso (an old Firewire drive) are both now living happily in new homes.
(Yes, a significant portion of my disposable income goes to computer gear. I figure I could be blowing all that cash on crackwhores and heroin, so geek toys are a worthwhile alternative.)
Anyway, so Trixie and Mancuso are gone, and Ignatius and Gonzales will also hit the road shortly (to their retirement home in Louisiana). Even though some of the others will still be hanging around, it’s probably time for a new naming schema. Some possibilities:
Small Louisiana towns: Mamou, Eunice, Rayne, Hackberry, Catahoula, Duson, Iota, Ville Platte.
– One-word bands: Spoon, Sloan, Calexico, Morphine, Quasi, Seam, Superchunk, Devo, Sebadoh.
Noted journalists: Bradlee, Murrow, Mencken, Cronkite, Hersh, Breslin, Royko, Kempton.
Paris Metro stops: Champs Elysees, Bastille, Bourse, Ch. De Gaulle, Les Halles
Former North Carolina Tar Heels: Chilcutt, Forte, Glamack, Jamison, Lynch, Kupchak, Salvadori.
New Orleans Saints greats: Hebert, Manning, Abramowicz, Kilmer, Gajan, Waymer.
All ideas welcome.

new sloan on the way

The video for “All Used Up,” one of two new tracks recorded for the new Sloan best-of compilation. Eh. Sloan once ranked as My Absolute Favorite Band In The Universe. (Perhaps that should be “Favourite,” seeing as they’re Canadians and all.) But the last couple of albums have been left me cold, more Kiss than Beach Boys. I liked them better when the songs had a sort of Tin Pan Alley complexity. Now they just drive one riff into the ground.
Nonetheless, the best-of should hit your Amazon wish list anyway, because the chronological track listing is heavy on their early greatness (basically 1992 to 2001 and tracks 1 to 11). And several of those early Canuck albums are still not that easy to find in the U.S. of A. (Among them is their stone-cold-classic second album, which was just named the greatest Canadian album of all time, edging out Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.)
The album’ll be released next Tuesday. For the dedicated Sloaner, the real joy will be the bonus DVD, featuring a variety of videos, live stuff, and such.
SuperSloanerTip: Order the Canadian version of the album (via MapleMusic). The Canadian DVD has a number of TV appearances that could only be licensed for the Pierre Trudeau edition; if you order from Amazon.com or buy in a U.S. store, you won’t get it all. And the price is virtually identical (US$14.99 at Amazon, US$15.62 at MapleMusic), ‘tho it’ll take a bit longer if you don’t want to pay insane shipping fees.

i’m back, mars, mountain goats

Several people have lambasted me for not posting here promptly upon my return to the states. They apparently fear my consumption by some rare Nigerian wildebeest, roaming the Biafran hillsides.
Well, I can report that I am back in the U.S. of A., no worse for the wear. May write about my Nigerian experiences here, but I may just wait until they appear in the paper — unlike many of my other jaunts, this was just work work work and there’s really not much to tell other than what’ll be committed to newsprint. A quick word of advice, though: Nigeria probably shouldn’t be in your honeymoon plans.
The other big news is that I have a new car, a replacement for the trusty Mitsubishi steed that a red-light runner totaled a couple weeks back. I bought a Mazda 3, the four-door model. It kinda rocks. If you’re in the market for a new small car, let me save you weeks of research: Buy the Mazda 3, probably the S version if you want a little more power. It’s by far the best-reviewed kinda-cheap small car on the road, and it’s a lot of fun to drive. After nearly a decade in the 92-horsepower Mirage, it’s such a change to be in a car where, when you press the accelerator, it actually speeds up.
And I can strongly recommend Town North Mazda in Richardson as a place to buy. As pain-free a buying process as you could hope for, and they gave me a good deal.
A movie of the first 343 days of the Mars rover Spirit.
So you’d like to… See the Mountain Goats’ list of Music You Should Hear. Head Goat John Darnielle‘s bizarro fixation on death metal — perhaps the single genre least like his own overenunciated grad-school folk — shines through his recommendations. Of the new album by someone called Buried Inside, he writes: “My favorite metal album so far this year. Sort of huge-canvas action-painting metal like Aeternus, but science fiction vs. Aeternus’s sword-and-sorcery stuff; it’s ‘metalcore,’ whatever that means, but it’s also really thoughtful and richly textured. Also has the most pretentious song-titles I’ve ever seen.” Those would include “Time as Ideology,” “Time as Surrogate Religion,” and “Time as Imperialism.”
(Today is release day for the Goats’ latest album, and yesterday was his wedding anniversary to Lalitree.)

still alive

FYI, I’m still alive. This is the first Internet computer I’ve sat at since Saturday morning, and the mouse appears to have been dipped in chunky molasses. But: I’m alive. Should have a pope-related story in tomorrow’s paper.

in nigeria

I’m safe and sound in Lagos. Journey was trouble free, although loooooong. My cell phone, no matter what Cingular promised, doesn’t work here, but hopefully that can be fixed in the coming days. More posts to come in the coming days, hopefully.
UPDATE: Just bought a Nigerian cell phone. My number is 0805 710 2977. If you’re dialing from the U.S., you’d dial 011 234 805 710 2977. (The 234 is Nigeria’s country code.)

lettuce opium

Stupidest drug ever: Lettuce opium. Even “fresh lettuce juice” seems wrong.
One final travel note: Emails sent to 12149149998 -AT- mmode -DOT- com should (allegedly) reach my cell phone in Nigeria. (Actually, my cell phone is supposed to work as normal. We’ll see about that.)