The Long Slow Demise Of A Favorite Band

I listen to a lot of music. I think my love of music started when I heard Slade's "Keep Your Hands of My Power Supply". I don't know why but ever since then I've really enjoyed listening to, collecting and anything else you can do with music. There are a lot of bands I like but over the years some have held a special place in my heart: Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Depeche Mode, Stellastarr*, Echo And The Bunnymen, EMF, New Order, Leiahdorus, Anything Box, The Echoing Green and Jesus Jones to name a few.

Anything Box and Jesus Jones are two bands in particular that I have found disappointing. Anything Box started as a synthpop bad that most people would not even consider a one hit wonder but in actuality they put out several albums before proceeding in reverse order from a musical butterfly of luscious synthpop into a caterpillar of a band making horrible sounding neo-garage band dirges.

Many people get on the band's site and lament this but they come across as whiny, especially since there are, apparently, people who enjoy their current sound. I've not bothered to try and poll people who claim to like them now and see if these are new fans or ones that have been with them since their synthpop days.

Another formoer favorite band of mine, one that has apparently decided to go from "good" music to nothing that anyone would listen to is Jesus Jones. I think about them a lot because I really liked their first four albums. Well Perverse (album #3) was my least favorite of the first four but still it was better than London. They went from a top notch band that blended samples and rock with the same skill that Dryers blends peppermint and ice cream for the holidays. Then they went from a bigger label to a smaller one (in the form of a Koch affiliated label MI-5 Records) and they started to put out sub-par garage music.

I've thought this for a while but it has been on my mind a lot lately because I picked up the live recording of Jesus Jones when they were in the US back in 2005 and was let down by their "modern" renditions of their "classic" hits. Then, to top it off, the album includes a bonus interview where the band proceeds to, in essence, indicate that things would have been very different had they had the time and education to do things they way they wished they had. What I really loved was essentially a "mistake".

I suppose I should be grateful for what I got from the band but at this point but JJ and the band members have kept pretty close with their fans over time which makes it all the more painful for me.


Borders Has Apparently Given Up

I'm a fan of books. I buy more than I read but I love them anyway. My favorite place to buy is Costcobecause anything on sale there is barely more than 50% of the cover price. I used to love used book stores but there aren't many in Utah (there are some in California but used book stores are apparently a dying breed) and none that are worth checking out. Amazon is nice, especially since I have a Prime account which makes 2 day shipping "free". But at times I do enjoy going into a regular brick and mortar store to browse: not what happens to be in stock at Costco and not the virtual browsing which brings me to my dilemma.

Barnes & Noble (as I like to refer to as Banes & Chernobyl on occasion) has a really awesome selection. Their stores almost always have the item I'm looking for in stock (at least somewhere nearby if not at my preferred location, if I'm not just browsing) but I remember when B&N was Bookstar (or at least they owned Bookstar). This was a bookstore in the tradition of Crown Books that offered a discount on everything in the store. Not a discount bookstore that sold books no one really wanted anyway but nice bookstore that offered 10% off on all the books everyday. They even offered an additional 5% off if you purchased a membership card for $10/year. Crown Books didn't offer a membership but they did offer a discount on all their books.

Since Bookstar and Crown Books are all but gone (and non-existent in Utah) there aren't many choices. There are some nice locally owned shops (like The King's English and Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore) but those aren't very close to where I live. This puts me in a position where I like to shop at B&N for a number of reasons: the selection, the quality of the store, etc. But the full price of the books (so different from Bookstar) and the steep price of their annual membership ($25/year for only 10% off? Gimme a break!) means that I'd like a little competition.

Here's where Borders enters the picture. When my wife and I were dating she had a Borders gift card she needed to use before it expired so I went with her to the Borders that used to be in downtown SLC. I was shocked at how much they were charging for CDs. At the time the only downloading of music available was on Napster so purchasing CDs was the only real legit way to get music and apparently Borders figured jacking up the prices was a good way to go. That turned me off to going there originally and explained (in my mind) why there were so few Borders locations compared to B&N.

A few years later I was in Park City and noticed the "cheap" bookstore was now a Borders Express. I decided to stop in and it changed the way I thought about Borders, for a while anyway. The store was a nice version of a discount bookstore with some interesting books (mostly crap though) at some very nice prices. Also, to boot, they had a reward program. I signed up, gave them my email and noticed that the marketing emails I received offered some pretty nice coupons.

As intended these promotions got me in the store because even Amazon doesn't always offer 30% off a book I want which is when I started to realize that Borders has apparently give up and wants to die an ignominious retail death. The selection at Borders doesn't hold a candle to B&N. And the coupons they send can only be applied to what they normally stock which means that even if I was willing to wait for them to order in the book I really wanted the coupon wouldn't apply anyway. On top of that the last two times I've attempted to reserve an item online for in store pickup I eventually get an email back (the first time days later and today nearly 12 hours later) telling me they couldn't find the item, even tough I had ended up in the store anyway and found more than one copy of the item I wanted.

Borders: blind employees, undesirable selection, bad prices by comparison, and on and on and on... I have read that Borders is circling the drain financially anyway but pushing coupons and other specials that get people into the store only to see they're not offering anything even equally the competition seems to me like trying to die. I used to care but I'm realizing that they, and other people, just don't seem to care.


The New Michael And Janet Question?

When I saw the cover to the new Rob Thomas album I wondered if it was really Michael Cera. Are they the same person?

Depeche Mode

A couple of months ago I was browsing iTunes (as I do frequently) and I came across a documentary about Depeche Mode and the making of the album “Songs Of Faith And Devotion” (SOFAD). (Technically it is titled “A Short Film (We Were Going to Live Together, Record Together and It Was Going to Be Wonderful) [1991-94]”). That really took me back, much like watching the VH1 “ Behind The Music” they did about DM. I think they showed it once and like most of those they were never shown again.

Anyway, the really took me back so I loaded my iPod up with all of the DM albums so could listen to them again (and I'm accused of never going back and listening to music a second time). I've focused mainly on SOFAD but have listened from that album on and I really feel, now that I have time and a modicum of maturity on my side, that DM is just as good after Alan Wilder left as they were while he was still with the band.

I think most people didn't really know about the “other two” in the band beyond Dave Gahan (commonly known as the dude that almost over-dosed on heroin) and Martin Gore (commonly referred to as the guy who looks gay (but isn't)). Much like U2 there are (or were in the case of DM) four members in the band and two are more widely recognized than the others. (It would help if the other two members of DM had written the main song for a summer blockbuster.)

What I'm trying to get at is that most people knew the music but not the members of DM so when word got out that Alan Wilder (one of the DM “Other Two”) had left the assumption was “Well they're going to suck now, if they don't break up.” Then, when the band does put out another album, most people turned into haters. It reminded my a lot of the the summer after break dancing peaked or the summer after the first Tim Burton Batman. People who used to be “fans” turned their nose up at them. (Most notable to me being Todd Durant who claims that fans would buy an album of DM “burping and farting”. I just think he's bitter now that his business is dying because technology has passed him by.)

Common complaints are:

  1. Alan was the sound of DM and now they're not special: Go back and listen to Ultra (the first album without Alan). There are songs on there that sound very much like they would fit on Violator or SOFAD: “Home”, “It's No Good” and “Useless” being the ones that I'm thinking of. There's even a hidden track that pays homage to “Pimpf”, “St. Jarna” and other instrumental oddities called “Jr. Painkiller” (which I like more than those tracks, especially the remix).

  2. They're not true synth stars now since they use guitars and drums and the like: Go back and study SOFAD closely, they branched out to using more traditional instruments while Alan was there.

I think that DM is just as good without Alan as they were with him. Why not go pester the Erasure fans because there is plenty to complain about on “ Loveboat” and “Other People's Songs” if you want to complain about a band hitting the skids. They came back and even DM can make an album that isn't so great. Just check out “Exciter” for a good example.


Utah Drivers

I just read this article claiming that Utah drivers are “average” and not “bad”. What metrics do they use? I highly doubt this claim. On top of that I'm also going to go public with my current belief that I don't think that Californians are good drivers anymore. I still would like to go back to New York and see if they would still retain my current #1 ranking.

Sarah Palin IS A Quitter

Sarah Palin IS a quitter. I don't know what else there is to say about it. I know that there is likely more than meets the eye but right now all that has been shown is that she just doesn't want to be the governor from Alaska anymore. What other option is there? People have been (apparently) bugging to know if she is going to run for a second term. Why does anyone care this far in advance? I know that most reporters aren't that good so they run around asking mostly the same stupid questions over and over again hoping that one time someone will be caught off guard and same something newsworthy.

Anyway, Palin fesses up (quite early I would say) that she's not going to run for re-election and, while she's at it, she's going to resign. Now she is claiming that she's not quitting and all her political options are still on the table? Now, I know that politicians don't always say what they mean but I only have her word so here's the breakdown:

  1. She's not running for re-election. I know people make up their minds about this at different times but isn't the next election for her state 2 years off?

  2. Because she's not going to run again she's resigning because she doesn't want to be a “lame duck” governor. Isn't she the one “outing” herself and labeling herself as a “lame duck”? Someone has to be the governor and anyone in that position now is somewhat a “lame duck” anyway.

  3. She says that “all options are on the table”. What options would these be? By all accounts of people who aren't die-hard right wingers she was just the McCain sideshow that few took seriously and that was before she quit. Now that she has how could the mainstream and “undecided” voters elect her now? Just like Mitt Romney she is considered a leading contender for the office of president only because this far out who else is really campaigning? No one. Once things heat up neither of them will be in the running.

Just call it like it is: Palin didn't want to be governor anymore and she chalks it up to what I already said and threw in the “liberal media” too, just for good measure.


They Need To Do More Damage

They didn't do enough by fucking MJ and his siblings up, now they want a shot at his kids too.


Act(s) Of God

This will be so cool to hear how people blame this on Palin because, after all, these things only happen (in the conservative world) when someone needs to be punished by God.



My anxiety is riding high right now. This is common for me but this time I know why. I'm going to demonstrate our software for a client. I know what the software is and what it does but:

  1. I don't like doing software demos any more

  2. They have specific things they want to see and that is always difficult for me to manage smoothly since I don't like working with a script either

Sounds like I have some work to do on this but these are the details that are low priority until I need them.


Andre Dubus III

We went to a reading at The King's English bookstore tonight. Well I went and Ang took the kids to the park. He's a really good guy and very encouraging of others to develop their talents and realize the creative expression in all of us.

While I was paying for the book a lady (I think she worked there) said she thought I looked a lot like John Malkovitch. I appreiated the compliment because at least it was a comparison to someone with talent. It would have been far worse if I'd been thought to look like Keven Federline or Todd Palin.
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I like Obama, I really do. I like what he stands for and what he wants to do with our country but every once and again he goes and does something that I thought we would be done with now that Bush is out of office. First he decided to keep the warrant-less wiretapping and now he decides to keep the visitor logs private. I kind of expected this kind of shit stuff from Bush since every day he seemed to enjoy flipping the nation the bird but Obama promised us more transparency. Now I know he has delivered on the “more” part but I seemed to understand that the qualifier “more” meant more than what he's giving us now.

More Palin Fodder

Wow, so far 4 posts today. I think I'm realizing just how easy this is to post from OpenOffice.

Anyway here is a pretty good article that shares a lot of my feelings about Sarah Palin and her hubby Todd. I'm just hoping they do more stuff about her freeloader hubby on SNL again next season.

Maybe He Invented The Tubes That The Internet Runs On

Soon-To-Be Governor of Utah had some wise words he felt like he needed to share. I know now who I will not be voting for in the next Gubernatorial election in Utah.

The Shape Of Things To Come

Now that I've posted again after a few, er, months I've looked at my blog and seen how out of date it is. The links on the side are out of date and I want to change the color scheme. I also want to do more posting as well so if there's anyone out there that cares things will start changing.

Politicians These Days

I've never really liked Sarah Palin. To be honest I don't really like many politicians. But that's beside the point. I read an article on The Huffington Post yesterday that I absolutely loved. What really gets me (and not just about Palin but all politicians) is their belief that the public has a short memory. I find that most of them expect us to have short memories so they can say and do what is most convenient and immediately beneficial.

Browser Usage

There is a really interesting blog post about browser usage here. More interesting than the fact that usage of IE is falling (not surprising) is that the use of Safari is falling as well. I think Safari has some nice eye candy but I've never been able to feel completely comfortable with anything other than Firefox. Heck, I've been using from before it was even v1 and it was just a standalone executable.