June 2007


I bought an iPhone. I feel dirty.

Addendum: Here’s my horrible iPhone purchasing story. I went by the nearest AT&T store on my way home after work last night, and at about 6:30 there were literally hundreds of people outside the store waiting. I didn’t want one that bad, so I went home.

I got up this morning and decided to just go to the Apple store. Sure enough, the lines were huge. And by huge I mean non-existent; I walked in, bought the thing, and walked out.

The only dorky thing about the phone is that the microphone plug is recessed, and most headphones with an angled plug won’t seat properly. So they offer “extensions” from Belkin, which is just retarded.

The Polyphonic Spree is a 23-member band of hippie hipsters from Texas who dress alike—the first CD, it was white robes; the second colored robes; today, it’s black jumpsuits—and clearly are very, very happy. As someone somewhere said, they’re like “Up With People” for hipsters.

And man, it’s refreshing.

Their new CD, “The Fragile Army” couldn’t be more sonically different than the White Stripes “Icky Thump,” but both are sunny and optimistic and fun and funny. And brilliant. (And I have tickets to see the Spree in July, and the Stripes in September.)

Where the Stripes are all about minimalism and tight arrangements, the Spree operate on an epic scale. It’s hard not to sound enormous when you have flutes, French horns, violins, pianos, drums, bass, and guitars supporting sunny people yelling lyrics like, “It’s like running away with the wind in our face, it’s like flying/And you and I are open wide.”

On their last two CDs, it all got a wee-bit tiresome and was best digested in small pieces. But “The Fragile Army” is a better complete work, with more variety to the themes, both music and lyrical. The first single, the jubilant “Running Away” is one of the sunnier, more traditional tracks. Others, like the title song and “Mental Cabaret,” are somewhat darker. But it’s all pretty wonderful. Go buy it. Now.

Jack and MegAs for the Stripes, “Icky Thump” is definitely a return to the more conventional garage/blues/pop versus the rather weird “Get Behind Me Satan.” There’s more guitar, lots of blistering Jack White soloing, Meg’s drums are amped at mad-loud levels, a truly funny call and response between Jack and Meg playing junk collectors (or something) on “Rag and Bone.”

(To those who criticize the Stripes because of Meg’s simplistic stomp, sheesh, talk about not getting it. They’re all about simplicity. The lyrical themes, the music… it’s all back to basics, off-the-cuff stuff. With a “normal” drummer, it wouldn’t be the same at all… and you’d probably notice Jack’s sloppy playing too.)

There’s a couple of weak tracks on “Icky Thump”—the weird Irish ditties in the middle are just, well, weird in a less good way than the Flamenco-horned Conquest—but it’s another dozen awesome Stripes songs for your $15. Go buy it. Now.

So, I don’t have a cell phone provider at the moment. I have a monthly pre-pay right now with a Vermont number, and I didn’t bother setting up a land line at my new digs. I figure I’ll go cell phone only, at least in the near future. (I’ve never owned a cell phone, but figure this is as good a time as any. Yeah, I’m that one guy in the world without a cell phone.)

The question is this: The iPhone is coming out in a week, and since I don’t have to worry about contracts or any existing numbers/providers, I could easily get one. (Er, assuming I can actually get one. And assuming I can actually afford it.) But does owning an iPhone turn me into a douchebag?

Every morning on my drive into work, I see a guy riding a Segway. He’s always on a cellphone, leaning back with his arms crossed. He looks like a total douche. (I’m pretty sure it’s the crossed arms; it makes him look sort of smug, like, “Look at me, I have a Segway!” He probably works at the Microsoft office nearby.)

Not that we should care whether or not others view us as douchebags, but one of my biggest reservations about owning Apple products is the cult of Apple. These things are appliances, not lifestyle choices. Will people see me with an iPhone and think I’m a douche? Will they suddenly want to start talking to me about their MacBook Pro, and how much OS/X is better than Vista?

Or am I a douchebag for worrying that people will think I’m a douchebag?

Today was kind of an important day, I suppose. I got my first paycheck at my new job. Oddly enough, they use the same payroll company, so it looks the same as my previous one. (My last check arrived in March.)

I guess I can say what I’m doing, since I moved to Seattle and all. I’m the new editor of Nintendo Power.

So, I was watching this documentary on Discovery HD called Gamer Generation. It isn’t bad. It covers computer gaming more than console gaming, interestingly enough (though it shows a lot of people playing Xbox consoles, and for some reason uses Fable for its segment on MMOs).

Now, I’d like to think that I helped shape the piece somewhat… well, to what extent, I have no idea. Probably very little. But I spent a few hours over the course of a few months talking to Anna Sand, one of the people who made it. I gave her some contacts, pointed her in some directions, and put her in touch with some people (I think). But I was pleasantly surprised to find out how little input she really needed. She’d already hit some of the more interesting points, and even filmed the segments in South Korea for StarCraft madness. I think I tried to convince her to focus more on computer stuff, and it’s definitely all PC, all the time.

I also think I may have pointed them in the direction of gaming in the Middle-east (they talk about Arabs making games where they can kill Isralis; yay for diplomatic progress through videogames!). And I may have given her Brenda Brathewaite’s contact info, so the former “Brenda from Sir-tech” totally owes me… something. (Maybe. Bah, who says I didn’t? I’ll totally take credit.)

Anyway, it’s definitely worth watching. And if you dig it, it’s because of me. If you think it sucks, it’s totally because they ignored everything I said.

The White Stripes new CD comes out tomorrow, and the first single “Icky Thump,” has grown on me over the last month. And I bought tickets this weekend to see them at the Paramount Theater in September.

I’m pretty sure I have a small man-crush on Jack White, and a real crush on Meg.

It’s pretty funny to think that one of the most groundbreaking shows in TV history ended not with a bang but with some Journey.

Some people say the ending resolved nothing, but it resolved everything: Tony remains a sociopath, Carmela an enabler in denial, Meadow is daddy’s daughter, AJ is an idiot who can be manipulated by anyone, blah blah blah. Tony will probably end up in jail, he might end up dead, or both. Life goes on, but it’ll never be the same. The FBI guy was excited that Tony was going to win, yet the big Soprano is even more miserable. Life goes on for Tony, but life sorta sucks.

So, I moved without furniture. Which means I need furniture.

I’m getting sick of typing on a laptop—ugh, I hate these keyboards—so I need to break down and buy a desk. (And a couch. And end tables. And nightstands. And a dresser.)

Has anyone bought a particularly cool desk online? Most I see are… kind of tacky. I hate most of the standard Staples/particle board type ones. I want something a little swankier. (And simpler; nothing too crazy.)

I may end up just getting something from Ikea, but would rather get something a little better quality.

Does anyone have any great recommendations for coffee makers? Mine blows.

I’m thinking 8-cups or more, thermal carafe… that’s about it.

wreck-less1.jpgAs I settle in my new digs—hey, there’s a Trader Joe’s a few blocks from here—here’s a couple of action photos from the road, including this fine sample of what I probably shouldn’t be doing while going 90MPH.

This is what most of the trip looked like.

This is a very corny photo. (Har.)

Some final tallies.

Total Miles Traveled: 3118
Average Mileage: 29.6MPG
Average Gas Price: $3.44/gallon (my car requires 91+ gas)
Most Expensive Gas: Indiana ($3.91)
Cheapest: Idaho ($3.20)
Animals Hit: 0
Deer Carcasses Avoided: 10
Bugs Killed: Oh the humanity! Or buganity!

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