Perfectly Perfect Song.

Posted in Personal on March 30th, 2010 by byronkho

I thought that Momma’s Boy song from Elizabeth & The Catapult was great… but I failed to listen to the rest of the album until recently. Their music is anchored by the piano (thoroughly hipster-ready Greenwich Village-raised Elizabeth Ziman), and includes lots of folk and quirky indie pop touches. I think of it as a more refined Tilly & The Wall (perhaps in the similarity of names…) Perfectly Perfect is a really short piece but it’s so… perfectly perfect, it has no need to be any longer. It’s technically hard, and kudos to good group dynamics and plenty of rehearsing that it comes out sounding so effortless – and on a live performance too.

Fits the mood perfectly. Though only one blot on my horizon for today: how come people celebrating Passover didn’t realize they were celebrating until today? And then missing rehearsal with less than a day’s notice after telling me constantly that they’d be fine with Tuesday? Great. With Counterparts out and a chunk of the rest getting drunk on Manischewitz, I will have a severely depleted pit tonight. Bah HUMBUG. I shouldn’t feel so good then? Damn you, music!

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How to listen to (mostly) chick indie pop songs and keep my man card.

Posted in Personal on March 28th, 2010 by byronkho

Answer: Men aren’t afraid of anything, least of all chick indie pop songs. They can still crush your bones while listening to old-school Jewel.

I wanted to buy Kate Earl’s great song You Did from the Norbit soundtrack…. yeah, funny how a crappy movie can have good songs on their soundtrack, eh? So Amazon says “Album Only”. I’m not buying the entire soundtrack for one song. I wanted to buy it legally, but no… AMAZON FAIL. I’ll have to make do without her sweet, sweet voice singing that sweet, sweet song. Her new CD is fun (see Melody below). It has a more pop sensibility than Fate is the Hunter, but that older CD had better songs (though less of them overall). I knew she looked part-Asian! Apparently she’s part Filipina.

Sure, I’ll knock on your door. Meiko… I like her song Boys With Girlfriends but that song almost feels like I should be a 12-year old girl to like it. Her other stuff, Under My Bed included, is more adult-oriented soft rock. It is hard keeping my man card with all these lady singer-songwriters crooning about broken hearts… but here’s a thought: she’s hot.

Jane Lui is a jazzy indie pop singer/songwriter. I’m pretty sure she hasn’t blown up but I do love her voice. She doesn’t have a wondrously smoky or amazingly rich tone, but it feels so natural it doesn’t matter. Every time I play it, it sounds like she sat down for me at that exact moment and made up the whole song on the spot. And that’s every time I play it. Not many songs do that.

It’s a room full of Asians making beautiful music. No, it’s not porn. Too bad they do all this fun stuff over in LA. Boo hiss. Also, Clara, can I have your number?

Sam Hart singing Mario Kart Love Song. (Nerd love song… “you be my princess, I’ll be your toad… I’ll pause this game so our love will never end”)

I like quirky pop songs with interesting chordage. That interesting middle chord is what it’s all about. And the song moves! Erin McCarley, Sticky-Sweet.

Drinks with Jessica at L’Abbaye. 1) Awesomeness, for so many reasons. Saturday bar residencies with amazing people (especially pretty girls who like goat rape, ordering sexy tights off of porn sites and murdering music directors) should happen more often. 2) I like Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Fleur de Lehigh beer. It’s an ale that doesn’t taste weak, is mildly sweet and reminds me very strongly of sniffing a big basket of freshly cut flowers. Mmm. I was just gonna have the one after my Guinness but I just had to have another one. It was that great. Late night at P&Ks. As a participatory event, pretty sure it wasn’t a success as we didn’t even hold a vote! This is a travesty of justice. Oh well. My amazing team won Kim’s board game, which had a completely unmemorable name since I don’t remember what it was called a few hours later. Fun game though. We apparently have a NJ beach house rental the same weekend as Alumni Weekend… oops. Poor planning on my part. Perhaps I’ll drive up there on the Saturday or something and not stay the whole weekend. Caitlin is all settled in and seems cool with everything so far. Brenna’s definitely way crazier than Caitlin. Is that a good or bad thing? Dangerous to speculate. Sourabh will be back in town for Alumni Weekend, as will some other people I haven’t seen in forever. Loke and Viva are doing fine in New York, though I really have to catch up with them. I traded dead baby reminisces with Loke but didn’t cover important stuff like where are you working now and how do you like the Big Apple and is rent dragging you down, etc etc. Company drinks next weekend. I found a few pictures of my exes in a pile of old photos. I am so horrible with taking and keeping pictures I’m surprised I had any… I’m sure their pictures of me are either locked up in a box marked “useless junk” or are being burned in a bonfire with stick figures of me with pins in all the right places while they prance around it in some satanic ritual. Looking at those pictures, I drew a few conclusions: 1) I was so nerdy freshman and sophomore year. 2) They were hot. I was lucky. Like really lucky. And several times in a row. I’ve gotta get that mojo back! 3) I was a shit. They didn’t really do anything to deserve dbaggery from me, I played mind games and then it was over. I actually hid from one of them when they were coming up the Walk and Assad laughed at me. I’m pretty sure she saw me, and if she ever reads this, she’ll know for sure. SORRY.

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Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Opinion on March 26th, 2010 by byronkho

So many!

1) North Carolina woman gets $9 million in alienation of affection case against mistress of her husband. Husband has to pay divorce settlement, and his girlfriend has to pay $9 million? What is going on here? To all scorned women: your HUSBAND committed the error, not his girlfriend. Make HIM pay. Besides, if you make him pay, sympathy is on your side. If you make them both pay, you’re just a vindictive bitch lusting after money and everybody can see that. And really, is your relationship worth $9 million plus the divorce settlement? In this particular relationship, I extremely doubt the couple could have made $9 million during a lifetime together. Regardless whether or not the couple could have made that money, can a jury put a pricetag on how much financial damage an outside party can do on a relationship? What a can of worms. For me, this is about abrogation of responsibility… I’ve ranted on about this before, but it’s time for people in our society to take personal responsibility for things and lay less blame on outside parties. Stop suing everybody under the sun for a payday! Is that what the law is for? If your relationship fell apart, that’s between the husband and the wife. Can you sue a pretty girl for making sheep eyes at the husband? She led him astray; this doesn’t mean she gave up the goods. And what degree of “giving up the goods” is considered alienation of affection anyway? Anyways, this rant is aimed squarely at NC, HI, IL, NH, MI, NM, SD and UT. Get rid of those archaic laws from witch-burning days. Your stupid legislatures should have done that long time ago. Yes, the greedy woman benefited… but blame should be put on those DIRECTLY responsible.

2) Integraclick listed as one of America’s fastest growing companies in 2009 by Inc. magazine. They listed something like $900+ million in revenue during 2009 (according to Inc., dunno if true or not but I assume so), and a good portion of that are due to rebill offers. They even posted about it last year, remarking that “it’s safe to say that continuity programs aren’t going anywhere any time soon.” And then December 1 happened. FTC released additional marketing guidelines that went into effect on that day. These guidelines banned merchants from using deceptive billing practices, affecting a large number of merchants and a sizeable portion of the Integraclick portfolio. The affected merchants typically ran a health or beauty offer (colon cleansers, teeth whiteners, diet pills, etc.) that offered free or low cost trials and automatically billed users once the free trial period ends. The offer typically had little to no or wrong contact info so cancellation was almost impossible, and sometimes involved extra charges that users needed to opt out of – except they were never aware of that fact. Regardless of how hard it was, the credit card companies weren’t happy with the fact that so many of the charges through these merchants were charged back and they received neverending amounts of complaints from consumers regarding fraud, unfair fees, unethical practices, etc. The banks and credit card companies began yanking the merchant credit card processing accounts for many of these rebill merchants during early 2010 and many of these guys shut up shop and flew the coop with whatever cash they still had, leaving unpaid bills to affiliate networks stretching to the millions of dollars. The affiliate marketing industry still hasn’t felt the full effects of this catastrophe, and it seems likely that 2010 will be a bad year for any company that relied on rebill offers for success in the past. It is even likely that listed high revenues for 2009 may now turn out to only be wishful thinking, and full of accounts receivable from merchants who no longer exist, are unwilling to pay or will never be able to afford it. Back to the original point: continuity programs did go somewhere, and real soon. The Bad News Bears happened. Thank goodness that IDzMedia didn’t do too much in those areas. It must be playing havoc with a lot of those search marketers that built up portfolios of keywords on those rebill health and beauty offers!

3) Other companies blackening the reputation of Content Unlockers as a strong advertising model. This is a recurring gripe, made worse by the fact that advertisers are beginning to get pissy. Due to lax oversight of publishers – ahem, the practice of immediate acceptance of any and all publishers, including porn, black hat, warez and intentionally illegal websites – a lot of unacceptable traffic gets sent to offers by these other gateway companies. We use the term “gateway” here to mark a difference from our Unlocker product. Many of these offers were initially used by IDzMedia before being poached and used by everybody else. However, the quality of the additional volume from everybody else is so low that advertisers have begun to baulk and take action. In the past few weeks, several important advertisers have yanked placements from major gateway companies. While we have not been affected, it’s hard to be the only one with ethical practices while everybody else breaks the law willy-nilly. We have been lucky that our carefully built reputation has prevented us from losing accounts, but it’s a pain to continually offer apologies for this niche. With all the building issues, we have to prove that we’re not doing what the others doing – and that requires a lot more patience and communication than we’d otherwise have to do. The one nightmare scenario is that the advertiser gets sick of dealing with the quality issue and removes the offer entirely from the social media incent space. Then, everybody gets punished regardless if they had a hand in it or not. And we are going down that road. It is time for agencies to demand better practices from its client affiliate networks and so on down the line. People like us VET all our traffic so it tends to be of better quality; this is how we can maintain great offers, high conversion rates and continue paying all our affiliates. All the others do not vet and thus don’t know their traffic until it’s way too late; these guys scrub like crazy, yank payments randomly, have irresponsible payment schedules and flood advertisers with so much bad traffic that it always gets noticed. These guys turn the industry into a giant Ponzi scheme, which it should NOT be. How shortsighted. Huge profit now, and then you can fly by night when you’ve made the area radioactive.

Semi-related issue… spoiler alert: CPA * CR should equal EPC? Then why don’t stats at some major gateway companies fit that simple mathematical formula? Perhaps someone should pay attention to what’s being inflated.

4) Assassin’s Creed 2 with its stupid Internet connection requirement, and online saved games. I like single player games because I don’t have to rely on being online. I have DSL and Clear, and both are fast enough but they periodically cut off for a few seconds and then come back. That’s not called a constant Internet connection. I don’t need that hassle of being logged off and on many times while I’m playing. Besides, what if I’m in the middle of nowhere and want to play? I can’t use the game in a secluded spot with bad Internet because some ass decided this model was the way to go? What if I’m traveling and like a bit of gaming? What about that 30% of Americans with NO broadband Internet connection? Biting off your foot to spite your hand. I also like to have my games saved on my computer. This way, I don’t have to rely on some servers of some company that could tank any time and thus lose all my saved games. Not to mention the fact that if Ubisoft went bankrupt, I would no longer be able to play the game at all. Also, your first few weeks and SO many reports of servers being down, DDOS attacks, etc etc. Well, DDOS is a fact of life… but what kind of impression does that make if your first time noob buyers can’t freakin play the game because of your DRM? You lost that guy forever. Yes, you need to make up for expensive development costs by limiting piracy. But great, you happened to lose all the people that might have bought it anyway… and you for sure made the fanboys mad, who happen to drive a lot of game sales for violent videogames. These are the guys who make a choice every day whether to download or to buy, and buy when they think it’s worth it. You have to persuade them to make that choice, or they won’t. Console manufacturers must be pleased though. All those fanboys who didn’t care about the DRM issue enough to totally boycott Ubisoft went immediately to buy it for the 360 and other consoles. Stop driving PC games to consoles, because the response time blows and controls are just not as tight! I hate consoles. I’m playing ACII on a console and it’s annoying. I WOULD buy it for PC but this DRM crap is making me not buy it… and it’s painful.

Personally, I believe this kind of DRM is illegal. You CANNOT sell the game secondhand, which is the prime requirement of retail law. Amazon actually delisted all used copies of ACII on sale because they won’t work with their new owners. Gay.

Also, here’s a post from Xarkezeth on

“I just thought I’d register to say that, in compensation for downtime for PC users of Assassin’s Creed 2, they’re giving us free access to the DLC. Which was already included in the PC release anyway. Stunning.”

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Bouncin: BANG!, Rihanna covers. BKLYN. Full House.

Posted in Personal on March 24th, 2010 by byronkho

On replay all night long: Rye Rye – Bang ft. Adam Tensta & M.I.A. (Addeboy vs. Cliff Remix). Love this track. I don’t usually like M.I.A. but on this remix, she fits… and the Swedish rapper dude Adam Tensta has some pretty tight rhymes.

Nice jazz riff: Jamie Cullum bringing the cool back on Rihanna’s Don’t Stop The Music.

I actually do NOT like Rihanna… I find all the covers and remakes and remixes of her songs so much more enjoyable than the originals. Case in point, Umbrella. This Mechanical Bride cover is so much better. And so is the Biffy Clyro cover… they first did it on Live Lounge and I guess they took it on the road too.

If you’re in Brooklyn this weekend… Skinny Friedman and DJs from his label Young Robots mix up some shit on the dancefloor at Trophy Bar in W-burg. Lexie Lerro, formerly known as InstantProfitzGirl, hosts.

OTHER NEWS: Caitlin (of the infamous Kelly sisters) is back in Philly, living with yours truly. Full house, yo.

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4th St. Deli, Science, Haiti, TV Rants.

Posted in History and Politics, Opinion on March 23rd, 2010 by byronkho

Had 4th St. Deli for the first time last week. I ordered the open-faced brisket sandwich ($18) and DAMN was it big. The pile of beef on top was at least 2 inches deep and piled on top of 5 fat big pieces of bread. The place is supposed to be your old-fashioned Jewish deli, with all the assorted Jewish appetizers: knish, potato pancakes, etc. The pickles are awesome, the drinks are nicely sized to wash down the meat and the cake is guaranteed to kill you if you attempt to eat more than one piece by yourself. Do NOT order a large unless you’re splitting with somebody… I don’t understand how anybody can have enough stomach to finish one of those in one sitting.

US is 33rd out of 34 first world countries in amount of adults who believe humans and all species evolved. That is so ignorant. Who are all these religious hicks who can’t accept evolution? In fact, a broad interpretation of the Christian religion is NOT incompatible with evolution. I blame it all on Texas.

The Atlantic Monthly includes an essay on Haiti, and man, it’s depressing. It notes the history: the Haitian Revolution of the 1790s was the first successful black revolution that destroyed a white European-established plantation economy. After it happened, the plantations were redistributed to farmers as small farms. These farms generated a subsistence income for a large majority of the population, which was astonishing in itself. While it was not creating any wealth, it was indeed feeding the entire population so that the community was self-supporting and a large part of the population was independent – rather than a wage slave, an actual slave or bonded and indentured. The problem was that France didn’t like losing Haiti. They threatened to invade Haiti and reclaim their former colony; in order for this NOT to happen, Haiti had to agree to pay 150 million francs in compensation. A country that creates no wealth cannot pay 150 million francs, and so it had to adjust. But how? The slave population didn’t want to be wage slaves because it meant they were no longer free, and regardless if they could create any saleable products, most other nations refused to trade with them. The continuous debt meant they were in hock to other countries at all times and so open to a financial syndicate that claimed a 50 year monopoly over Haiti’s currency in return for “managing” the debt. A large portion of the syndicate was owned by American bankers. Haitians did not want to pay, rebellion ensued, governors and presidents were assassinated… all because Europe decided to make Haiti pay big time for taking its independence. Because the debt was no longer being paid, the US decided to take action… On December 17, 1914, US Marines invaded Haiti, took all the gold in the treasury and declared martial law. They ruled the country through 1918, destroying completely any independence that Haiti had attempted to hold. One hundred years after their rebellion, they had been destroyed by financial bondage from European bankers, backed up by American military might. Since then, Haiti has become a dump. Even after the earthquake a few months ago, the International Monetary Fund demanded that if it wanted any economic help, Haiti would have to cut all its public spending. The import of this demand was that domestic farmers would no longer receive any support and that the market would be open to imports. Without government help, all the Haitian farmers couldn’t compete with outside companies, so all those people moved into the slums. Now, an American company imports all the rice Haiti eats. What beneficence, America. Haiti is still paying the price… of course, its own corrupt governments are not helping either, but what are those leaders to do with all these external economic demands? It would like to slip back into its little bubble with no outside interference, but that’s patently impossible.

Chuck annoys me now. They have to explore the same emotional territory in the Chuck – Sarah relationship EVERY SINGLE EPISODE. I mean seriously. I have an idea that it’s because they polled their female voters and they want this overextended puppydog virginal lovefest between those two to last forever. And so they keep hitting those same notes, episode after episode. Some news though: your male viewers get annoyed by the extreme lack of variety. We like some nice romantic sideplots but this show is not called Chuck and Sarah. It’s called Chuck. Personally, I’d like Ellie or his coworkers to suspect him of having this spy side-career and actually explore that. That’s what makes the show interesting… that a sad sack like Chuck can lead a secret life and can almost get caught so many times but not get caught. That needs to get tested and explored, and it hasn’t been. They had so many opportunities to get into really interesting story lines but instead, they chose to make Ellie super-gullible, Big Mike okay with him taking a bazillion hours off all the time WITHOUT GETTING FIRED (this IS california?) and Morgan not meddling at all in Chuck’s spy missions like his character totally would. The CIA must be at a low point when their field agents can refuse to kill people, miss targets in 2-minute stakeouts and commit treason… but totally get away with it and remain on the payroll. Speaking of the payroll, is Chuck getting paid for this? And doesn’t Ellie wonder how Chuck pays the rent on his Buy-More salary when previously she was helping out? Wow, one paragraph is really more than Chuck deserves. Shows that do have good writers, even with a silly premise? Castle, Human Target, Being Erica. Other shows with bad writers and silly premises? Burn Notice, Glee. Yes, Glee. Glee’s writers are pretty awful, and the show has been pretty lame so far. It’s a huge hit… but then again, the audience that made it a huge hit also thinks Asher Roth is a great rapper. I watched the whole series waiting for great arrangements and some skilled singing, but all I got was bad dialogue, unbelievable twists, bland versions of songs (they used Defying Gravity AND made it horrible? WHAT?) and American Idol/So You Think You Can Dance overproduced singing and dancing. Sigh. Exactly as advertised. And who would want to watch a show about real choirs doing real singing anyway? As much as I hate Glee for not being that, I probably wouldn’t watch a choir reality show. Ha. Epic thought fail.

Speaking of epic fail…

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Amy Regan, Hertz-style.

Posted in Personal on March 22nd, 2010 by byronkho

Many a post ago, I noted that I went one rainy weekday night to go see Amy Regan play at Fergie’s Pub. I was lucky enough to get to talk to her and get a first-run copy of her EP (fresh out of her burner and sans labels). Tiny audience then, but hopefully bigger audience now: she landed a star run in a nationally-televised Hertz Rent-a-Car commercial (included below)! The commercials started airing this past week on CBS and NBC during How I Met Your Mother, Cold Case, and The Office; they will also air on cable, newspapers and online ads. She’s an indie folk singer/songwriter who can play piano and guitar, and sing of course. Come back to Philly!

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Chicks singing.

Posted in Personal on March 19th, 2010 by byronkho

They haven’t recorded a music video? My next directing project: complementing April Smith and the Great Picture Show’s Colors with stop-motion animation featuring a donkey and a hamster on a trek through the Southwest, where they run into a talking cacti wearing a sombrero and ride off into the sunset on a little red wagon.

Named after Audrey Hepburn’s character in My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle knocks my socks off. But she lives in England. Why are all these indie pop singer songwriter chicks always in England? Settle in Philly!

Amanda Jenssen was originally named Jenny Amanda Katarina Bengtsson. Nothing to do with her style. She must hate people comparing her to Amy Winehouse, but there it is: kind of like the crazy crack hoe but not crazy, on crack or a hoe (as far as I know). OK, there may have been more elegant ways to compliment her. Regardless, love her voice. Her newest single is Happyland, included below… but my favorite song is still Do You Love Me?.

Canadian beauty Lily Frost wrote the unbelievably cheery theme song to the CBC’s Being Erica. (Being Erica is actually a decent chick-flick TV series… which means I can actually stand the show, versus basically EVERY single chick-flick show on US TV being absolute trash that makes me want to poke out my eyes with burning hot irons. Of course, it helps that Erin Karpluk is, and should be, everyone’s crush.) Lily tours with a swing band, references cool people like Emily Carr and Paul Verlaine, and hails from BC. Also, a press release states that she returned to Canada after “performance stints in Cairo and Tahiti, and adventures singing in Africa and busking in New Orleans”. I’m just assuming Lily Frost was a take a trip by herself kind of gal, as it totally increases the mystique. Cases in point: That reminds me of the time Caroline told me about her mother…. who rowed down the Amazon and did other really random adventures by herself when she was younger, and still cruises out to secluded islands for personal holidays every year. Or Brenna flying out to Ireland and driving around by herself, or Lisa in Morocco, or Stephanie somewhere in southern Africa… Anyways, to bring it back to Lily: all hail the queen. She was gypped by the Geminis.

Hard not to love Norwegian Marit Larsen. This video is awesome: she’s playing at a greengrocer’s stand with her band and random people are walking by. The creepy biker, the woman who got her groceries and is like WTF is this, the cars driving on past, the shopowner standing in the doorway happily listening. She’s playing on a kid’s mini-xylophone. Hot. Marit was one half of 2000’s girl-band M2M, the other half being Marion Raven (who has a nice ballad with Meatloaf on his last Bat Out of Hell album). Marit has done pretty well herself: she did a solo performance at 2008’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

OK, so this one ALSO has a dude. Pomplamoose does some covers of big songs (try Telephone, La Vie En Rose and Put a Ring On It but their originals (Centrifuge below) are even more awesome. Dunno if they’re a couple… but it’s pretty cute watching their videos. Her face doesn’t really change while recording and they have this weird editing style… obviously no big budget and definitely aimed at quirky crowd rather than mass public.

Rewatched Avatar today. It was still as good as the first time, but slightly tarnished because of an IMAX snafu. The first time I saw it, I missed the IMAX showing because it was sold out; this time, I missed out because it was no longer playing in IMAX. Great. I think I may have a sore throat, It just started feeling iffy. I’m leaving to Toronto in 3.5 hours, where I will eat foods that my stomach will enjoy but my throat will curse me out for. Yay! And I get to stock up on Asian snacks, All Dressed chips from Hostess, Sour Cherry Blasters from Cadbury Schweppes Trebor Allan (who make Sour Patch Kids but don’t think Americans like Cherry Blasters? whoever made that policy decision… heads will roll!), and lots of Tim Hortons crullers. Oh, and 4 Harvey’s burgers (with jalapenos, relish, onions, ketchup and sliced whole dill pickle on side) before we cross back over into the States. They know how to do a burger right.

I mentioned Ireland earlier. I want to go back. I was at McGillin’s Olde Ale House as the latter half of St. Paddy’s Day celebrations last night – and I was just tanking off my flask of Jameson’s 20 Year Special Reserve, remembering the Guinness from campus and drinking some O’Hara’s Stout (which tastes like a more even-tasting but slightly watered down Guinness… kinda like the White Star) – and I remembered sitting on that hilltop in Ireland. I could hear no cars, could see only green for miles around and was sitting in the ruins of an old Catholic church where, I swear, I could still hear the ghosts of ancient monks chanting. Everyone was busy taking pictures, but I just sat in the grass enjoying the breeze and thinking that this moment was the happiest moment ever and there was no real reason why. For that, I want to go back.

Besides getting to hear the Dropkick Murphys and Sublime after a long hiatus, belt out Journey with a bunch of random chicks and drink a lot of O’Hara’s, I did get to meet some interesting people last night. Kate was fascinating: she got a Fulbright and went off to Malang for a year, where she taught English at a vo-tech school for Muslims. She learned enough Bahasa to volunteer as a competent translator for any Indonesians that come in to the clinic. Anyways, one of her stories was about being bothered in the markets since she was an orang putih that wasn’t Dutch: women would come up to her and ask her to touch their babies so that they’d stay “fresh and beautiful”. Yes, it was loud in there and maybe I heard wrong – but I swear I didn’t. I cracked up.

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Four thoughts.

Posted in Personal on March 17th, 2010 by byronkho

1) I always wondered this. Why are a lot of East Coast American kids brought up to idol worship Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen? Is it the hometown heroes thing? I mean, they’re great – don’t get me wrong – but they’re good in a way that many other bands and singers are great. Growing up in Canada, we had our idol worship of Canadian musical stars (no, not Avril Lavigne and GOD no, not Celine Dion) like Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams, Neil Young and the Tragically Hip. There are others, of course, but they’re more topical idols. People like the McGarrigle Sisters (big in Maritime folk… but you might know of their progeny, Rufus McGarrigle Wainwright), Ashley MacIsaac (crazy Scots fiddler from Cape Breton, but you might know his stateside relative, White Stripes’ Jack White), Rush (some of you latecomers referred directly from Rock Band, ahem), Guy Lombardo (betcha didn’t know he was America’s top big band leader in the 1930s and Louis Armstrong’s favorite band), Jon Kimura Parker (classical pianist, I had his uncle as a piano teacher for a few years, so I got dragged around to a few of his shows), Glenn Gould (another famous pianist, did THE definitive version of Bach’s Goldberg Variations) and Oscar Peterson. Or the just famous: Shania Twain, the Crash Test Dummies, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, k.d. lang. Not downgrading their contributions of course. OK, so massively sidetracked. Anyway, my Canadian idol list has only one idol who is basically unknown to a lot of the United States, the Tragically Hip… but every good Canadian knows their Hip. I have yet to hear Ahead by a Century on an American station, and it’s not for lack of trying (the only station I can imagine playing it would be the local NPR station, though I haven’t been present for an airing just yet). Anyways, I was trying to figure out what defines an idol. Why do I instinctively know that the Hip is an idol and that Billy Joel isn’t, but on the other side of the Great Divide, the opposite is truth? But then I realized it was a stupid question: we learn from example. Everyone you grew up with says they’re gods, so they must be.

Goodbye, Kate (RIP January 18, 2010).

2) Were your musical tastes as a kid or junior high student cringeworthy? Do you listen to your old mixtapes and them burn them in gasoline fires? I had a friend tell me she was into “slit your wrists” music when she was a kid, a fact that made her “sound awful.” The musicians involved includes such luminaries as Dashboard Confessional, Coldplay, Guster, Jimmy Eat World, Matt Nathanson and Lifehouse. I had issues with that list, first being that I don’t know if those count as slit your wrists music… she did agree it was “weepy emo” but the real suicides (not talking in any serious statistical way here) were either satanist metalheads, or NFG, Saves the Day, the Misfits, My Bloody Valentine (which actually is decent shoegaze but is so asking for a rusty razor in a bathtub) and MAYBE Weezer fans. For me, the epitome of suicidal emo is My Chemical Romance, though temporally they are too late to be of use to my generation of 14 year old bleeders. Second, the only embarrassing inclusions on that list are Coldplay and Lifehouse. They’re not even really emo… they’re like this weird category unto themselves. Yes, they’re pop and rock but they don’t pop’n'lock like the rest of the goombas. Back to embarrassing… so I played some Aerosmith for a girl during elementary school and got laughed at. It was BIG. I though Aerosmith was cool, and here this girl was acting as if dudes with long permed hair, tight leather pants and more eye makeup than an aging hooker were LAME. I was like whatevs, you’ve got no taste. And then I stopped listening to Aerosmith for several years. OK, so that doesn’t count as cringeworthy but it was cringeworthy WHEN I was a kid. In junior high, I remember liking a lot of that 90s R&B stuff, ska/punk (Dropkick Murphys, Save Ferris, Reel Big Fish), the Cardigans, No Doubt, Oasis… I did like the Pixies, which is still cool… oh, I remember one lemon: Savage Garden. I actually liked Truly Madly Deeply for a little while, a dirty secret which became less dirty when I couldn’t (and still can’t) stand the song any more. If I dug down into my old mixtapes (which are mostly lost), I could probably find a lot more dirt but I know it’s there. The only consolation? I liked some of the songs from all those emo or pseudo-emo bands above but I was in no way, shape or form an emo kid. Much better to have been a nerd than one of those stringers. Haha!

Music to die to.

3) Jason Nevins is annoying. Stop making a career out of remixing top 40s. Worse, his recent work is vapid and boring, and they still keep putting them on clubplay.

4) Smokin’ tracks.

Wale needed the hipster-ized version. Lady Gaga don’t sound herself, I always picture Santogold doing it.

Fear of Tigers burning up my speakers on a daily basis. Hourly some days.

What has Big Boi been up to lately?

Holla, homeboys from the T Dot. Canadian rappers K-OS and Saukrates hit it Western style on I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman. Samples Phantom Planet’s California (best use of it… so over the OC), Nelly Furtado guests (can’t really make you love me… omg is that another Canadian? this post is just full of dem), video rocks and then BAM Astronaut right at the end.

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TLA, Office vs. Weezy, RCMP, Spoek Mathambo, Hilltop Hoods, LED.

Posted in Personal on March 15th, 2010 by byronkho

Is it just me? Or are Florence and the Machine tix sold out. Dammit. But better news. Sia is playing TLA May 2nd. At least I don’t have to miss this one like I am with Janelle Monae on Wednesday. Can’t go. Rehearsal. Grr. Speaking of rehearsal, had one Ensemble member drop out. Gotta work out a replacement and train him. More work!!!

Great Office and Weezy mashup.

RCMP, a Philly duo signed by Young Robots, a label founded by Apt-One and Skinny Friedman of hometown spinners Philadelphayinz. The Philadelphayinz spin monthly at Medusa Lounge off of Chestnut, party hosted by Lexie. (I should get paid for the shoutout… ahem. JK.)

Skillz. Mad South African rapper Spoek Mathambo. This track is pretty hot.

Elodie Yung. The only memorable thing from District 13: Ultimatum. I would love to have my ass kicked by this chick. She has razor blades in her braids. Come on!

Reminds me of the Aussie hiphop hitmen, the Hilltop Hoods. Still Standing from their 2009 album, State of the Art. I love the bounce.

So immature. I cracked up again when JD, as Mrs. Lovett, said “come into my lovely back parlor.” Really now. The first time, JD told me that “you would laugh at that.” What does that mean? I’m offended. Hahah.

Paramount’s releasing an online series from the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers… remember those guys from So You Think You Can Dance and the Oscars this year? Director is responsible for Step Up 2, and one of the choreographers is that Asian dude on Glee.

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Types of Bitches (from a 3rd grader), Bittersweet.

Posted in Opinion on March 14th, 2010 by byronkho

A Washington, D.C. third grader apparently made a “types of bitches” list, the first part of which is pictured below, and left it in a classroom for a teacher to find and post on the Interwebs. Is this list just an illustration of how ignorant and foulmouthed kids are these days? No. Kids from back in my day deserved to have mouths that should be washed with bleach based on the amount of “yo momma’s such a hoe” jokes and s*** and f*** insults they flung around like candy out of a pinata. The only problem with this list is that it was found, and that all these smug adults with no memory of their childhoods and a poor sense of humor can take a look and tsk tsk about the state of education in America and in Washington, DC. Personally, I know of a lot of foul stuff that me and my friends did back in the day (5th grade was pretty bad for the f-bomb and cootie-bitches). If anyone ever kept the notes passed around class (all the way through high school…), all us Y-Gen kids would look like a bunch of arrogant, racist, foul little assholes. Of course, we’ve all grown up to be arrogant, racist, foul little assholes, so maybe those adults have a point. Or not! Most people I grew up with became smart, well-spoken, cultured, intelligent, sensitive individuals with diplomacy, decency and kindness. Kids will be kids. Besides, adults who still do this kind of thing as adults…. the ones who make money doing it (ahem, Kevin Smith) are not considered retarded dunces from a failing educational system and shit parents who don’t know how to raise their kids.

Now that I’ve got that serious stuff out of the way, we can get into the real meat here: which of these bitches do you know? Go for the full list here. BTW, the followup post to the “bitchery” debut does some summing up of responses and contains an amazing comment by someone named dc_teacher.

Why did Kanye (and John Mayer) not make a bigger release of this one? Apparently it was a hidden track on Graduation pre-release CDs only. The video is some fan video; unlikely an official video will ever be made.

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