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Posts tagged as “Charles”

No, really, what do you use that iPad for?

Today’s announcement of the new iPad got me thinking about the iPad. I’ve used one (a couple if I must be totally honest) before, and they’re pretty cool, I guess, but I just don’t see the point. I mean, it’s a nice, slick, expensive status symbol, but what the hell is the use? The times I’ve played with one, I get pretty bored after just a few minutes. It seems to me to be in this in between place in terms of electronics where the usefulness of the device is in question. I have a phone to make calls and send text messages and get my e-mail while on the go and to send jokes to Twitter and listen to my cached Spotify playlist. Great. I use that thing all the time. And then I have a laptop which I use for more serious computing or when I prefer to have a physical keyboard: writing, editing at sessions and the office, processing photos on vacation, dealing with e-mails that require more than a curt response, browsing the interwebs, writing posts on this blog, whatever. Additionally, I have a Mac Pro at home that I use for heavy lifting tasks: editing real things, heavy photo work, After Effects, Logic, Reason, color correction, dual-boot Windows tasks (Hi, Steam!), and anything else I prefer to have a real monitor for.

So, what exactly, in my life, would I use an iPad—or any other tablet, really—for? I just don’t know. Besides playing iPad-specific games and using iPad-specific apps, I can’t think of a single task the iPad is better suited for than my other devices. Calls? Phone. Writing? Laptop or tower. Editing? Laptop or tower. Text messages? Phone. E-reader? Kindle. There’s only one thing I can think of that the iPad would be perfectly suited for: reading comics. But do I read enough comics to justify spending 500 bucks at minimum on an iPad? Hell no. I haven’t spent more than a hundred bucks tops on comics in the last decade. Not exactly worth the additional expense.

On the flight to and from Breckenridge recently, I sat next to my executive producer and she watched numerous episodes of a television show called Luther on her iPad. That was pretty cool, I suppose, but I would never use it that way. I loathe watching films and television on little screens. I find it to be immensely displeasurable. If I cannot watch in on my television at home, from the sofa, with awesome sound, I pretty much don’t want to watch it. That preference right there is one of the things that has kept me from piracy for so long. I feel no moral qualms about stealing from movie studios; I just don’t want to sit at the desk or stare at my laptop to watch films. Meh. No thanks.

“But, Joe,” you say, “build a home theatre pc. Or hook your laptop to the TV!” Don’t think I haven’t thought about the former. The only thing that has prevented me from doing so is that I have particularly expensive taste and won’t do it unless I build myself a totally pimp HTPC. For that we’re looking at a solid 800 bucks to a grand. Too much to throw at something that actively prevents me from being productive. I struggle enough with getting things done. The last thing I need is something else to prevent me from getting work done. Netflix on the PS3 is bad enough already. Steam too. And to address the latter point, whatever. What am I, living in a dorm room? Give me a break. Get real.

My friend Charles has an iPad, and is eagerly awaiting the release of the new one because of the enhanced display resolution. That makes total sense because Charles makes a living developing iPad applications. I was really excited about the release of Avid’s Media Composer 6 because of its enhanced AMA support, redesigned interface (trust me, it needed it), and 64-bitness. But were you excited about MC6? Of course you weren’t. You probably didn’t even know it was coming out, and, if you had, you wouldn’t have cared because you see no utility in it. I wish I was excited about the iPad, but I just am not.

That brings us around to the whole point of this post. What do you, my darling readers, use your iPads for? Fucking off on the internet? Watching videos and films? Listening to music? Composing e-mails? Making electronic music? Do you use it when you travel as a laptop substitute? Do you use it at home instead of owning a proper desktop computer? Do you live in the cloud? Do you like to read books off the back lit screen? I don’t. Do you use it as a personal media hub? I am not trying to be snarky. I really want to know how you use your iPad. Chime up in comments and tell me.

Chairlift’s “Amanaemonesia”

Today Charles invited me to a private alpha of a new site called This Is My Jam. The idea is that you post a song that you’re jamming to but you’re only allowed one song at a time. So as soon as you switch it, your old song goes away. Pretty interesting, I think. Anyway, just clicking around today I stumbled across this gem of a song.

I don’t know anything about the group except that they’re British, I think. But I know I love this song and the video. It’s so perfectly weird in a heartwarming, accessible way. I love the dance, I love the karaoke lyrics at the bottom, I love the lo-fi aesthetic. It’s just really great.

Summer 2010 Ice Cream mix

After he read my previous post on the subject of ice cream, the inimitable Charles Vestal sent me a mix he made last summer that is entirely ice cream themed.

Here’s the tracklist:

01 – new young pony club – Ice Cream
02 – jonathan richman – Ice Cream Man
03 – johnny osbourne – ice cream love
04 – quix o tic – IceCreamSundae
05 – channel_3000_-_holiday_and_ice_cream
06 – tilly and the wall – Poor Man’s Ice Cream
07 – aitanna77_-_licking_ice_cream_cones
08 – Ariane – Ice Cream
09 – SoftTigers-MrIceCream_MiamiHorrorRemix
10 – the time – Ice Cream Castles
11 – cibo matto – White Pepper Ice Cream
12 – sarah maclachlan – Ice Cream
13 – dan deacon Biggle Hat was Ice-Cream Time(Card Shark Nose Nose)
14 – Nivea – Taste My Ice Cream
15 – the jolenes – ice cream
16 – pissed jeans-ive-still-got-you-ice-cream
17 – le_remede-ice_cream_ft._keny_arkana
18 – muscles – Ice Cream

Pretty fun mix overall. I mean, I have no love for Sarah MacLachlan, but whatever. Ice cream songs all around!

Summer 2010 Ice Cream Mix ~102mb

Vinyl and Me and You and Everyone

This last weekend I officially joined the growing vinyl devolution. If you follow my Twitter, then you probably know I had been pondering the acquisition of a turntable for a little while after numerous record-shopping trips with my friend Charles. People are so excited about buying actual records these days that I couldn’t stay away from it, which I think is pretty funny. We’re seeing a backlash against the ephemeral nature of digital goods with people embracing hand-made objects, learning to repair things, the maker movement, and the resurgence of vinyl as examples. I don’t mean this in some hipster-bashing, forced-irony way either (regular readers will know that I do not endorse hipster bashing). I really think that with the proliferation of intangible digital goods people yearn to have something physical to hold on to, to touch, to embrace. Vinyl is fulfilling that need in people while also giving you some bitchin’ jams to listen to. Sure, it’s awesome to have 80 billion songs in your iPod, but there’s something much more engrossing about actually listening to a record on vinyl, cd, tape, 8-track, wax cylinder, whatever—a sentiment previously expressed by Señor Vestal.

As I may have noted here before, music really changed for me when I stopped driving. In California, I would drive all over the place, as people do all the while listening to CDs and casettes. The duration of the drives and my desire not to get into an accident while changing the music created a near optimal album-listening environment. There exists a divide between the music I listened to in the 90s while living in California, and the music I have discovered since I moved to NY in 2001. I have a better sense of the older music as a whole, as an album, if that makes sense. The songs on those older records exist as parts of a greater whole not just because I’ve been listening to them longer, but because I would experience the albums as a unit. Music since the file-based shift exists as disassociated tracks, rarely incorporated into large album groups in my musical awareness. Splintered, fractured, split, current musical acquisitions float by rarely anchored. I find that disappointing. There’s a reason your favorite musician put those tracks in that order on the album. I want to be privy to that reason.

But back to the actual purchasing of vinyl. Going around with Charles, it seemed like such a fun thing that I was missing out on for no good reason. I have always loved record shops and the act of searching for records is sometimes more fun than owning them. There is something unmistakeable about browsing through bins of music, hunting for hidden gems and surprises, never quite sure what you’re going to find. You never get that experience online. It’s too streamlined, too inorganic. But flipping through albums in the store is exciting and fun. And if you’re going to be buying music rather than just pirating it from the old interwebs, then you might as well be getting your music on vinyl. CDs kind of suck and I still refuse to buy MP3s, so where should I go? Vinyl!

But what’s a turntable without records to play? A paperweight. So what did I get? With the purchase of the turntable at Permanent Records in Greenpoint, I got three albums.

The Viking of Sixth Avenue – Moondog 2004

Permanent Records has a Moondog section. Let me repeat that: Permanent Records has a MOONDOG SECTION. It’s like they were all, “Joe, you will be buying this. We love you. We have always loved you,” and then they swallowed my soul and brought me back from the dead as a ghastly beast with a thirst for human flesh.

If you are unfamiliar with Moondog (and you shouldn’t be), then you should know that he was an avant-garde street musician in the mid-20th Century who would perform his music on self-made instruments. He was a mad genius with some whacky social ideas who nevertheless created some of the most interesting, most recognizable music of the last century. You’ve probably heard his music around but never known. For example, this piece.

Right? You’ve heard it somewhere mixed into something before.

The album is incredible. You should listen to this right now. You will not be upset by it.

Exotica – Martin Denny 1958

Martin Denny’s 1957 album Exotica is, arguably, the album that launched the whole Exotica craze in the US in the late 50s and early 60s. It certainly gave the movement a name and laid the groundwork for a highly polarizing moment in musical history. I am quite a huge Exotica fan, having been introduced to it in college by my dear friend Jesse. So the prospect of owning this record (for a mere 7 dollars!) was irresistible.

One note, I got the 1958 stereo-rerecording without Arthur Lyman who had left Denny’s band to strike out on his own swath of Exotica creation. Though Denny preferred the original monaural recording, I like the stereo a lot. Stereo was still fresh in the recording engineer’s bag of tricks and they really go out of their way to play with stereo placement which, when pumped through a 5.1 surround system like mine, sounds pretty damned amazing. There are birds all over the place.

Odessey & Oracle – The Zombies 1968

Odessey & Oracle stands next to The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society as one of my favorite late-60s British rock albums. Every track is excellent. It was a must-own for me. I’ve purchased this album before as a double-disc CD with a bunch of alternate mixes and demo versions, but when considering which records to get initially I just sort of felt like I needed to have it in my house.

Nina also walked away from Permanent Records with a 1 dollar Village People record so she could listen to their song called “Roommate”. It was worth her dollar, no doubt.

Then on Wednesday after brunching with Nina at 5 Leaves, we had some time to kill before Cut Copy and wandered down to Sound Fix in Williamsburg to liberate myself of yet more cash. Here’s what I walked away with.

Noble Beast – Andrew Bird 2009

What can I say about this album? Most of my most regularly listened to music on my iPod has playcounts in the low teens, but this one is in the high 60s which doesn’t include the number of times I’ve listened to it at home. If you could wear out MP3s, I’d have worn out my MP3s of Noble Beast. It was a natural choice for the home vinyl collection and worth every dollar I’ve spent on it both times. This album is definitely one of my newer acquisitions that has found a root in my brain as a complete unit. If you’ve never heard Andrew Bird before, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this one.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea & On Avery Island – Neutral Milk Hotel 1998, 1996

I had never actually purchased either of these albums before and I felt like it was the right thing to do. Also, In The Aeroplane Over the Sea is stupidly awesome. Like, forget it, get the hell out, you’re done amazing. It was a late-90s gem that slipped past me at the time. I was only introduced to it by my brother Charlie in the mid-Aughts and was mad I’d been missing out on it for so long. A great sing-along record. Everyone should own a copy.

I bought On Avery Island because it was there even though I consider it a lesser album. Really, I guess it’s my small way of encouraging Jeff Magnum to continue doing shows because I would love to see this music played live.

Ask Forgiveness – Bonnie “Prince” Billy 2007

I bought this record for one reason: his cover of Danzig’s Am I Demon. That’s it. Well worth the price. The rest of the EP is good too, but for me Am I Demon is the star of the 8-song show.

Streetcleaner – Godflesh 1989

And sooooooo I took a turn for the heavy.

Godflesh is Justin Broadrick’s industrial project and one of the first groups to really incorporate electronic elements with crushingly heavy music. He even played drums for Napalm Death on Scum which basically makes him Grindcore royalty (if such a thing exists). I’ve never really gotten into Godflesh that much before, but when I saw this I knew I needed to take it home with me. I’d seen the “Crush My Soul” video on the old Earache My Eye tape, but never really delved too deeply into their work as a teenager. Yet, now, here I am with a much greater love of electronic music, a heavier palette, and purchasing old LPs. It seemed perfect to take home an industrial record from 1989. I’ve given it a listem and I was totally right. It’s tight, heavy, and crushing. For a fan of old school electro and old school metal, this is the perfect synthesis of the two.

Fortress – Protest The Hero 2008

I have to admit that this isn’t exactly what I wanted, but I will qualify that by saying that this is one of my favorite metal records of the last decade. No, it is not that I didn’t want to own this particular album—I did and I do—but what I really wanted was a copy of their newest album Scurrilous which just came out at the end of March. Unfortunately there is no way to get it on vinyl so I am stuck with the shitty MP3s Charlie sent me until I can get it. Bummer. Nevertheless, Fortess slays and I am glad to have it in my collection.

So there we are. That is my initial round of vinyl purchases. Will the addition of a turntable make me stop buying CDs? Probably not, but I haven’t really been buying a lot of CDs the last year and a half anyway, so it is not likely to affect something I’ve already slowed down on. Will this become a cash sink into which I throw all of my expendable income? You bet your sweet ass it will. I am enjoying it immensely already and had to fight not to order Computerwelt from the German eBay today. Keep coming back and I’ll keep posting my acquisitions as I acquire them. I hope it will be as fun for you and it is for me.

Creative Projects-January : When You Were Away

It’s February 2nd here in grand old Brooklyn which means that January has come and gone and I am responsible for a creative project. Well, I’m on it, as opposed to previous years, and have already met with my quota for the month. Good thing too, because it’s over.

So what did I do? I was in a short film for a friend. Fun! I don’t have any photos yet, but here’s something you might have seen on Facebook.

It’s not real. Well, I mean, it is real, but not really real. It’s real make-believe.

You’ll say, “Joe, you’re no actor!” (unless you’re Amy and Angela), to which I will reply, “You are correct, dear sir! Indeed I am no actor!” How did I get involved in this little project then? And, more importantly, what did it entail? Let’s jump in my DeLorean and rewind a bit, friends! 88MPH……

Last October I received an e-mail from my friend Teddy asking if I acted. He told me that he had written a script that he thought I’d be perfect for since it was inspired by a night of dancing at Public Assembly where I got up on the empty stage all by my lonesome and tore the dance floor up. Eventually, the whole stage was filled and I had strange women dancing through my legs and when everyone needed a breaky poo, I politely told them I was good and kept going. Typical night out for me.

I replied, as above, that I don’t really act, but I’d be willing to read what he’d written and let him know what I thought. He sent the script and I read it and wrote back immediately that I would be glad to act in his film. I’m not going to talk too much about the content of the film. Those of you who know me in meatspace have heard a little bit about the project, but it will stay there for now. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for when it gets posted here.

We had our first reading in December, but didn’t start rehearsals until after the new year began. Between the numerous rehearsals, learning a few semi-choreographed dance routines, and three days of shooting, I figured that this was fair game for my first of 12 projects for this year’s theme. I’m sure you’ll all agree too. And, well, if you don’t, you can go to hell.

As far as slowing my roll goes, last month was terrible. Of the 31 days in January, I think I went out like 600 of them. Here’s to focus in February!

So what does February hold?!?! Well, for one, I am definitely going to get up because I feel like not having it up is holding me back professionally, even if it probably isn’t. It’s stressing me out, ok? Deal. Second, Charles and I were talking the other night about writing an EP this month and actually putting in some effort. I think that he and I have good musical chemistry and it would be fun as hell to make some dance music. Third, I want to start planning Mandy’s music video, which probably won’t happen until March, but I want to get it going and get Rodney and Arian on board. Fourth, a couple of other fellow and I were talking about a silly little film that we wanted to do a few years ago on the set of the Firelances of the Ancient Hyper Zephyrians video. If we can get that going, it would be awesome too. Maybe I’ll slip in some writing too. It’s been a YEAR since I’ve written anything. Terrible.

Lots to do this month and lots to come. Keep your eyes on The Black Laser. My ascendancy is nigh.

A collection of Time Travel-themed cooking show recipes.


  • moebius tortilla strip soups
  • Emmet Brown Gravy
  • Paradoxtail Soup
  • oyakodon (killing your grandfather)
  • Bok Choi the Future
  • 12 Monkey Lime Pie
  • Le Jetee and Cake
  • Bill and Ted’s Egg Salad Adventure
  • the butterball effect
  • Donnie Dark Meat
  • Ground Chuck Day
  • The Philadelphia Cream Cheese Experiment
  • Terminator 2: Fudgement Day
  • Freejack and Coke (cocktails!)
  • prince of persia: the naan of time


  • Morlock Burgers.
  • Flux Capacitor Carpaccio.
  • Emmet Brown Gravy and (I didn’t finish because we both wrote it at the same time)
  • H.G. Wellington.
  • Black Hole Pudding.
  • The Sound of Thunder Nachos.
  • Time Bandits & Cream.
  • Bacon to The Future.
  • Thyme Bandits
  • Bill and Ted’s Bogus Jerkey.
  • Tart Trek : Generations.

Press for Better Names for Baby

You’ll remember a few days ago that my friends Charles and Matt came out with their Better Names for Baby book. Well they’ve been getting some decent press across the old interwebs and I thought it worth sharing with you.

The first, and best, was when they were featured at Boing Boing.

Appropriately, the readership of Boing Boing got the joke and overall people were pretty positive about the book. And why shouldn’t they be? It’s hilarious. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for other sites.

From Church Crunch:

It looks like the author of the post didn’t even bother to read the book at all, but one of the commenters did.

AAAANnnnddd clearly he didn’t get it at all. Oops!

They got a similar reaction to this post about the book from The Bump:

Though the author of the post gets it, some of the commenters seem a little lost.

It was also posted about on the CH Runners forum. The initial post is right on, but some of the comments are damn strange.

…and then they get weird.

Well maybe it’s just that one dude. Overall, the rest of the commenters got it. And then Charles chimed in.

A couple months ago at a screening of The Frontiersman’s Wife, a film I edited, I shocked myself by heckling my own film It was then I realized I am an inveterate heckler to the point that even my own work is not safe from my snarky commentary. Charles is the internet version of that trolling a thread about his work. Hilarious.

If you haven’t yet bought a copy, do. Better Names for Baby.

CVC Designs – It Pays to Be Nice: A Holiday Compilation by A Group of Friends 2010

Every year my friend Charles of Better Names for Baby,, and A Year of Record fame releases a Christmas compilation of original Christmas songs by his friends. This year, I contributed one and a half songs: one I did with Charles called “TANZEN” and one I did by myself called “Robots Destroyed Christmas”. For those of you involved in my musical history, you will recognize that robots destroying things is a very very common theme in my music. I don’t know why, I don’t care why. It will no doubt continue to permeate everything I do in life.

Want to hear the two tracks I worked on? Here you go.


[audio:|artists=FROHLICHE WEINACHTEN|titles=TANZEN]

“TANZEN” (German for Dance) was inspired by a conversation Charles and I were having one night at the Gypsy bar. We thought it would be funny to write a dance track where the only lines were “Ich bin Santa. Du bist ein Elf.” For those of you who don’t speak German (like me), that just means “I am Santa. You are an Elf.” The chorus is just “tanzen” repeated, encouraging the listener to get on the floor and shake dat ass with yuletide cheer. Later we incorporated the Frau Claus verse, the Ich liebe Rudolph movement, and the vocoder interlude. I think, for an afternoon’s hungover work, it came out pretty well. It makes me laugh.

Robots Destroyed Christmas–

[audio:|artists=The Black Laser|titles=Robots Destroyed Christmas]

The production of this track was much more involved than “TANZEN” mostly because this is the first real track I’ve ever produced in Logic so I had to learn how to make things work. There was a whole hell of a lot of dicking around and noodling with sounds and trying to get things balanced. It also highlighted the need for a subwoofer for my computer if I am going to continue to make music on it. I can hear everything in the mid and high ranges quite nicely, but the rich low end I so desperately crave and is so vital to a decent mix eludes me. I apologize if this kills your sub. It shouldn’t.

In this track I wanted to explore a few Christmas-y themes: fire, death, robots, snow, blood. These are things we commonly associate with Christmas time and I thought that bringing them all together in one, hard-edged place that makes you want to dance was a good idea for the benefit of humanity. I think I accomplished something with this that I will be able to expand upon in further pieces of music about robots destroying things.

Now that I’ve given you a taste of the 14 tracks on the album, go get a copy here: It Pays to Be Nice: A Holiday Compilation by A Group of Friends 2010

Be sure to check out the track by mitzidodge too. Enjoy!