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I Interviewed Robert Smith (The Cure) in Philadelphia! [23 Jun 2008|08:54pm]
(I posted this on myspace back when it happened (May) and just realized I never posted it here! So...)

Okay, now the thing was, I wasn't even going out of my way to *go* to this show, before all this hit. The Cure has been my favorite band for years and years and years, but the last bunch of BIG concerts I'd been to over the past 3 years or so had been really disappointing and when I saw The Cure on the Bloodflowers tour, it was such an amazing experience, I was afraid that it would be too difficult to top. Ultimately I decided I'd go, since Jay was kind enough to offer me his extra ticket. And because I did definitely need to see The Cure again, since this is the first time since Bloodflowers that they played Philly with a *full* set (they played a shortened set at Curiosa)...

Amy told me about a contest she heard on the radio (104.5 in Philadelphia), where you submit 10 questions to Robert Smith and the winner gets to meet and interview him. Now, honestly I never thought anybody actually WON those things. So, I filled it out and submitted it, never expecting to hear anything back. Needless to say, I was beyond flabbergasted when I got the phone call from the DJ, named Wendy, saying I won the contest. I was terrified immediately. Meet Robert Smith? Good god. When I met Thom Yorke years ago I asked if I could shake his hand, and I felt like the biggest dork in the world. But at least I'd have something to actually say to Robert, since I actually had a list of questions I was going to ask him - the questions I'd written, that I never thought that I'd ever actually get to ask him! Bizarre. So, Wendy explained that I also get two free tickets to the show and asked if I had any questions. My mind was reeling so I didn't at the time. Eventually, she emailed me the details, as far as where I needed to meet them and what time.

I emailed Wendy back and asked if I could get a third friend in with me (because I wanted to get Jay in, along with Nick and I if at all possible) and she said "actually, unfortunately, it will probably just be *you* who'll be allowed in, but it will all depend on the stage manager and how Robert's feeling that day. We'll definitely try." I felt bad because I'd already told Nick he'd get to meet him! So, I had to break the news to him, but he took it well and we figured we'd give it a shot. Wendy said she *would* ask to see if it'd be alright, after all. Since Nick already had tickets and was planning on sitting with his family, I figured Jay and I would sit together in the radio seats. I told Jay, "these tickets might be floor level, or a box, or something fancy!"

The day of the show, Jay and I drove to the Spectrum and met Nick there who had brought a six pack for us, to "help take the edge off." In case I didn't make it clear enough, I was very nervous, to say the least. This was Robert Smith! So we had a beer out in the lot, and walked over to the 104.5 vans at the designated meeting spot. Wendy was there and she was very nice. She gave me a bag of station swag (104.5 t-shirts, stickers, etc) and the tickets. It turns out they were 300 level, not bad, but not fancy. Since Jay's tickets were 200 level, we stuck with those.

Nick and I were sitting outside with Wendy, Bobbie (the Geffen/Interscope label rep), and two other winners (they'd won a 'meet and greet' with the Cure, which also scored them front row seats - they were very nice, as well). Jay was standing back some, because we weren't sure if we'd be pushing it too much to try and get him AND Nick in with me. When the time came, everyone was very pleasant and said, "oh, this is all there is? Definitely everybody come in!" Including Jay! Which was awesome! So we were ushered through the backstage areas of the stadium, through this long hall that was lined with pictures of 76ers, Flyers, and more. It was pretty incredible. They brought us into a small conference room type room and we all sat down and talked. We were told Robert would be in at 6:30. I went through my list of 10 questions and I drew stars next to the 5 I DEFINITELY wanted to ask, and numbered the rest in order of importance. The cameraman had Wendy and I sit on the couch as if it were Robert and I, to get the shot, and test it out, and they seemed pleased. I couldn't believe I'd be sitting on this couch, right next to Robert Smith. It was all very surreal.

The stage manager said it'd go smoother and Robert would be more comfortable if the interview was just Robert and I (along with the radio people) and everyone else left the room and waited in the hall. At around 7:30, Robert slowly walked in. Everyone else got up and walked out and Robert slowly approached. I shook his hand and he looked me over a bit suspiciously. He seemed like he had no idea what he was walking into and wasn't sure about me. He apologized for being late and I chuckled and tried not to say "Are you KIDDING ME? You could punch me in the eye right now, and wouldn't have to apologize!" Instead, I think I said "That's okay, really." We sat down next to each other on the couch, and picked up the mics. The cameraman said to me, "okay, any time you're ready you can start." So, I think I may have stammered just a bit at first, and said something to the effect of "Thank you for this opportunity, this is incredible" to Robert and he just looked at me blankly. So, I started into the first question.

I had the list of questions on my lap and I started reading the first question and then made a conscious effort to loosen up and go from memory, looking at him. Once I asked the first question, I realized he was a VERY easy interview. He had a long and interesting answer for the first question. And in his answer he mentioned that they played a new song at the previous night's show and were playing another new one at the Philly one, "even though everyone else in the band thinks I'm crazy, and they say 'last night's set was good! why should we change it?!'," we both laughed and I realized that he was definitely starting to warm up. So, I found that the interview went much more naturally, like a real conversation actually. I felt like I was just hanging out with him! He would mention something interesting in his answer which would lead me to ask a question not on the paper. And he would follow that with an answer that happened to lead me into a question that *was* on the paper. And that was how it went. He could tell I was actually interested and really listening to what he was saying and not just sitting there spitting out questions, which I think is why he gave such a great interview. So, in all I asked about 6 1/2 of the questions that were on my paper, all the questions with stars got asked, which was good. I learned some cool things that I don't think were ever mentioned in previous interviews.

One of my favorite things that I found out was that 'Burn,' the song on the Crow Soundtrack was actually recorded by ONLY Boris (the drummer at the time) and Robert! So, as I was getting through the questions, the stage manager came up and held up two fingers, so I said, "I think we have time for two more questions." And I asked one, which Robert answered just as casually and thoroughly and I asked my "last" question which Robert answered with another in-depth answer, which he ended by mentioning "The Top," at which point I said, "well, thats interesting, 'The Top' is another quesiton I had, but I think we're out of time... But anyway, here goes" and then I asked the question anyway! Haha! And Robert was totally cool about it, didn't even flinch and he gave a full answer. As it wrapped up the manager guy stepped up and gave his "Done NOW" gesture so we wrapped it up. The cameraman shut off his camera and we both stood up and I handed Robert a couple of my band's CDs (The Silence Kit: "In Regulated Measure" and The Silence Kit: "A Strange Labor") and said "I have a couple CDs for you. I know you're really busy and probably won't have a chance to listen to it," and he interrupted me with, "No! Thank you - It's a LONG bus trip," which made me happy. I continued, "Well, I just wanted to give you these, because without you I never would have made this music." He turned the cds over, looking over the art, and then he asked, "What do you do in the band?" And I said, "I play guitar and sing, and actually I recorded this one by myself – recorded it in my attic." We both kind of chuckled and he put the CDs in his pocket, picked up his beer and walked out into the hall. He told the guys out there (Nick and Jay included) that he felt bad about being so late, so he'd "like to have you all back to the dressing room to meet the rest of the band, and get some things signed and photos." Wendy said, "you did Awesome! He thought you were funny! You two were laughing it up, cracking jokes. You did so good!" And the cameraman said "Wow! You got 15 minutes! That's unheard of, to get that much for one of these interviews!"

And I think we were laughing a lot more than anyone would expect. In fact here's a picture of Robert and I laughing:

So, here's the interviews on the radio station website (only in WMV format):

And here's a couplea pics I took at the show:

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The Silence Kit in 2008 [10 Mar 2008|11:16am]
I haven't updated in 43 weeks. So now its time to update!

First, and most importantly, my wife and I now have a son named Ian! And he is the absolute greatest.

After a year long break, a certain Philadelphia-based post punk band called The Silence Kit is back in action (and has been for quite a while now actually). There are live songs from a recent show posted on thesilencekit.com. Its an audience recording, and it actually sounds better than most soundboard recordings.

"Reassurement" and "Sea of My Discretion" are posted and are both free to download, and actually if you go to the 'Music' page there's a Flash music player there so you can stream it to check it out.

The Silence Kit: Post Punk Band

I should note, that TSK shared the stage with Gene Loves Jezebel at this show. Yes, THAT Gene Loves Jezebel.
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I think we meant Llama [10 May 2007|04:09pm]
15:54] smile2112: its all going rhythmless these days
[15:54] smile2112: just lead
[15:54] fiftythingstodo: ooh good point.
[15:54] smile2112: lead guitar, vocals and drums
[15:55] smile2112: and you can play lead drums in reason
[15:55] fiftythingstodo: there are so many things i want to buy, to surround myself with, once i'm in my garage.
[15:55] fiftythingstodo: All Drums, All the Time
[15:55] smile2112: thats right
[15:56] smile2112: also you need to buy a lama
[15:56] fiftythingstodo: i've been thinking about how cool it'd be to have a kit set up in the garage, and have Jim over and he could play drums, and you and i could play guitar
[15:56] fiftythingstodo: and we could kick the cat
[15:56] smile2112: if you wanna do it right - that is
[15:56] smile2112: everybody kick the cat?
[15:56] fiftythingstodo: lamas are so last year. everything is MIDI lama this year.
[15:56] smile2112: no way
[15:56] fiftythingstodo: yeah man
[15:56] smile2112: analog lama rules
[15:57] fiftythingstodo: you gotta read the tech mags
[15:57] fiftythingstodo: analog lama is way warmer.
[15:57] smile2112: word
[15:57] fiftythingstodo: but the signal-to-noise is greater
[15:57] smile2112: of course
[15:57] smile2112: so is the signal to nose
[15:57] smile2112: ever see a lama nose?
[15:58] smile2112: more importantly - ever smell one?
[15:58] fiftythingstodo: i've seen two. but one was used.
[15:58] fiftythingstodo: and it wasn't maintained very well.
[15:59] smile2112: you shoulda tasted it - they are very mellow
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Sushi and a Movie [16 Jan 2007|10:39am]
James and I saw "Children of Men" last night and wow! The story was compelling, the acting was fantastic and the cinematography was incredible... There were these long shots of wreckage and chaos that just went on for miles... The special effects were tasteful and seamless to my eyes. There were at least a couple scenes where everyone in the theater all screamed, "Oh S**T!" all in unison... It was really, really good... I don't have much else to say.

Then we went to this Japanese/Chinese place for dinner and got some sushi in Voorhees, and that place was really good and SO much cheaper than most places I've been. 4-5 bucks for a specialty roll?! And it was great! I will definitely be going back there... Wish I could remember the name - it was something far more complex than it needed to be...
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Two Movies: Borat, and Running With Scissors [13 Nov 2006|02:24pm]
Borat: Loved it. Need to see it again. Based on the nature of this film, you can't help but wonder how much of it was set up and how much of it was just random real life encounters, but in the end it doesn't matter. It is ludicrously funny and even if they saw something coming, there's simply no way anyone was fully prepared for their interaction with Borat...

Running With Scissors: Clausterphobic, hackneyed nonsense. The 2 hours and 15 minutes I lost to this movie is a part of my life I will never get back. This realization is almost as painful as watching this movie in its entirety. Taking even more time to write about it here might be a saving grace of sorts if I can manage to steer a few people away from this or at least let you know what you're in for... If you're thinking, "the trailer made it look pretty good; quirky and funny," promptly forget that impression you have of this movie. It is NOT funny. It is pathetic, it is depressing and it is a horribly painful experience. The one-liners shown in the trailer were so thoroughly taken out of context that they prove to not only be decidedly un-funny, but are also taken from some of the heaviest scenes in the film.
The plot? The lead character desperately wants out of his life. And the thing is, this character is our narrator, we're seeing everything from his point of view in this film. Which makes his life this film, and so, by design, this makes you want to get the hell up and leave the theater after about half an hour. In less than that first half hour you realize that this ship is going down and there's nothing thats going to save it and although the narrator is staying, you, the viewer can just get up and leave! And you SHOULD. So, what's keeping you in the seat? Those laughs the trailer promised? Strangely, you already heard those lines and you definitely did not laugh. Are you waiting for a plot twist? Some deep revelation, character arc or growth that might occur near the end of the movie? Let me save you some time: these things never happen.
The acting? Overall the acting is actually pretty good throughout, despite the writing. Annette Bening's acting was pretty dead-on. She will be up for awards for this, more than likely. Gwenyth Paltrow was given very little screentime and used it to contruct a 2 dimensional caricature you really don't care about. The same goes for the schizophrenic love interest Booker... The other "sister" character was played very well by Evan Rachel Wood (just looked her up on imdb) and for the most part, she managed to make the most out of the character, at times rising above the incredibly (and very unintentionally) silly, hackneyed scenes. The same can be said for the step-mother character Jill Clayburgh. She exuded a very real sadness and depth of humanity in her character, despite the heavyhanded treatment of a lot of the scenes, dialogue and symbolism. Alec Baldwin was actually quite good and affecting in his 15 minutes of screentime. The child actor who played the narrator as a young boy (for about 15 minutes) was excellent. The 20-something year old actor who picked up the role after that first 15 minutes was supposed to be in middle school and this wasn't at all evident until you were outright told that he was in middle school by the Doctor much later, at which point, I'm pretty sure I asked outloud, "He's in middle school?!"
Did I laugh at all? At times I chuckled, but this always preceded the thought to myself that "I have GOT to get OUT of here!"
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DESTRO (Belated Halloween Post) [09 Nov 2006|05:03pm]

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Outrageous! [16 Aug 2006|01:19pm]

Today I went to Taco Bell for lunch and while I was filling my soda cup, one of the girls who worked there, grinning wildly, walked up to me awkwardly and said "HELLO!" I was taken aback and felt like I was in her way so I said, "Hi," and took a few steps to my right. I think it was that ever-present grin that made her look a bit "off," like she might not be all there. She started taking apart the metal thing that holds the lids, straws and napkins and although I wanted napkins, I was getting a weird vibe from her, like she might be crazy, so I went and got a seat instead. She was grinning at the napkins.

As I ate, I watched as she slowly took everything out of the thing, and put it all back in, napkins, straws, lids. The entire time she was laughing hysterically and talking to herself. She kept looking up at the other people who worked there (about 20 feet away) and she kept saying, "Jennifer" and laughing maniacly. She was mumbling incoherently to herself as well. Like a psycho. I looked to the other employees and none of them were looking at her or paying any attention to her at all. This was obviously a joke only this girl is in on. After soda accessories were straightened, she walked to the other side of the store to clean up there.

As I was finishing my taco, she came over right next to me and started mumbling incoherently, but this time, she wasn't manic and laughing. She sounded gravely serious. I couldn't make out her first mumblings but then she paused. And then she said, "Outrageous!" 

That's when I got the hell out of there.

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Fiona Apple covers Elvis Costello [15 Jul 2006|12:48pm]
Elvis Costello and friends on Decades Live, on the VH1 Classics channel...

Okay... So, I saw it for the second time now and I can safely say that Fiona Apple's live cover of Elvis Costello's "I Want You" is definitely one of the most amazing live performances of anything I've ever seen. Hell, one of the best recorded moments I've witnessed, flat out. I can't really find the words...
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[04 Jul 2006|05:58am]
i was driving behind this truck and i almost got in an accident trying to get a picture. A cuddly, fuzzy teddy bear and what has to be the worst company name I've ever seen.

someone actually spraypainted "HO" over the bear as well. like the fact that the truck already said "BIMBO" in huge red letters wasn't enough.
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The Man Who Was Used Up [23 Jun 2006|10:40am]
So I went to get coffee this morning and for the first time I actually READ the sign above the coffeemaker.

Amazing, right??
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Honeymooners Killed By Riverpeople [05 Jun 2006|02:48am]
For our honeymoon, Amy and I stayed in Healdsberg, CA for the week. It was beautiful and the town was really nice, the food was amazing and the weather was gorgeous. On Wednesday we decided to take a canoeing trip down the local river. We went to the one place that had short trips (we didn't want to commit to a 4 hour canoe trip!), and signed up for a 2 hour trip. The girl at the desk seemed nice enough. She gave us a bunch of recommendations "wear lots of sunscreen, we like one person to have a cell phone with them, please tie all your belongings up in provided bag to ensure you don't lose it if the canoe flips," and she told us what to do if the canoe DID flip, etc. Then she said, "Just wait here and Robbie will come to pick you up in the shuttle to take you to the river." We waited and after a couple minutes an extremely masculine figure walks up and says "Hi," to us in a friendly, husky voice. "He definitely works here. Wait. That is a woman. Robbie? I wondered... She walked past us and started talking to the girl at the desk. We waited a while longer and finally a beat up truck pulls up and a tall, skinny, beachbum looking guy with a basball hat casually walked over to us.

We were introduced to the real Robbie and were told to hop in. This was a GMC truck from what had to be the 70s. As I put my hands on the torn, splitting bucketseats I looked around. The ceiling material was removed and there was only the padding remaining and it was indented with random writing and initials all over it. It was a real beachbum vehicle. Absolutely no upkeep, no signs saying "Shuttle" or the name of their company or anything, I thought it was great. No pretense. Just 100% fucntion. Robbie's demeanor made him seem like the kind of guy you'd find down the shore, just chilling out, forever in search of the Ideal Wave. Amy got in next to me and Robbie started driving. Immediately we made a left onto a narrow, winding road with "Beware: Falling Rocks" signs everywhere. We were on this road for quite some time. Like 5 minutes, probably. In complete silence. Water was nowhere in sight as we were driving, which seemed funny. Everytime we'd turn a corner I expected to see water, but no. I watched the top part of Robbie's face through the rear view mirror. His eyes were completely emotionless, and for the first time I noticed a band-aid across his forehead, beneath the brim of his hat. Along with the fact that he hadn't said a word to us, this band-aid struck me as worrysome. I kept thinking of things he should be asking. That any normal person would ask. But no, there was no, "so where ya from?" No, "how long are you staying?" No, "have you ever canoed before?" NOTHING. And after minutes of this, the silence was becoming some kind of vortex I felt completely sucked into.So much so that I couldn't force myself to break it myself even. I looked at Amy and I knew she was feeling the same. We were trapped in some sort of horror movie. Actually, EVERY horror movie.

We made another turn onto more of a dirtroad, headed only deeper into the woods, with no water in sight anywhere and after a minute or so of driving, Robbie pulled off to the side of the road and stopped the truck. I looked around and there was NOTHING around, no people, no houses, no signs of anyone. Robbie unfastened his seatbelt and opened his door. My mind raced. I immediately thought, "What do I have on me that I can use as a weapon?! My cell phone. My camera..." The silence was broken when, as he was getting out of the truck he quietly said, "The hood just came undone, I have to close it, someone was messing with the cables before." Amy and I nodded. He went to the front of the truck, to the hood and I expected him to pull a shotgun out of there or something. Instead he slammed it down, and started walking back to the driver's side but then he kept walking. He went to the back of the truck and started slamming the back of the truck and huge, crashing sounds came from behind us. I threw my head back and saw chains swinging and smashing into the back window. I looked at Amy with an "Oh fuck" look on my face and she gave me hers. Robbie got back into the truck, threw his hands down on the steering wheel and for the first time I saw the rather large bandage that spread between his thumb and pointer finger. I looked in the rear view, at the band aid across his forehead and back at the hand again: "Defensive wounds" I thought. This fucking guy is a maniac.

We drove for a few more silent minutes through the woods, through the hills and then he turned right, to an isolated path. We stopped in front of a one-way, gravel road with a locked gate across it. The sign on the gate said "PRIVATE PROPERTY" and the gate to the left of the gate said, "NO RIVER ACCESS." So this was it. It was clear now. I started looking all over the truck. Its a mess for sure, but there's no blood, no obvious bad smell. The ceiling material being missing is weird... And the etchings into it are bizarre. I could make out "Fits Of" and nothing else. Initials in various places... Panicked victims' scribblings?? I kept thinking, "Would it hurt him more if I hit him in the head with my camera or my phone?!" He got out of the truck, walked over to the gate, unlocked it and got back in. Amy and I looked at each other like we now accepted that we were either the butt of some ridiculous improv-group joke, or were about to be slaughtered by a bunch of lunatic hillpeople. When we started moving, it was impossible to expect just how slow the rest of this drive would be. We were now driving on a rock road. There were so many rocks kicking up, that there was no way in hell ANYONE in their right mind would drive a car on this road, which explains the condition of the truck we were riding in, and the state of mind the driver was in. We had to be going about 9 miles an hour. No water in sight still. The words "NO RIVER ACCESS" burned in my mind.

I decided on my camera as a weapon, so I unbuttoned the pocket that I had the camera in and I put my hand on it. But I was also looking outside at all the rocks, thinking, if he lets us out to kill us out here, I'm definitely gonna grab a rock. That would definitely be better... As we're driving through the center of the woods, on a narrow, desolate driveway-like road, leading to godknowswhere, I'm still looking depserately for water, and seeing no signs of water, no signs of anything but trees and rocks and dirt... We turn a corner and its still more of the same but something odd is on the side of the road, in front of the trees. We are sloooowly approaching what appear to be brightly painted wooden boxes just off the side of the rockfilled road. As we approached we saw that they were, in fact, wooden boxes, painted blue, and visably padlocked. Flies were surrounding them and Amy and I looked at each other. I quickly assessed that they were not big enough for bodies. In-tact bodies anyway. They would have had to have been cut up. Or maybe its just the heads in the boxes. The fucking victim' heads. In these boxes. We're driving 9 miles an hour. Robbie still hasn't said anything. There are rocks hitting the sides of this truck, there are chains on the back of the truck for some inexplicable reason. The sign said NO RIVER ACCESS. There are heads in locked boxes to our immediate left. We don't stop, we just continue driving through the woods. I'm looking in the rear-view at the band-aid across Robbie's forehead, at his white gauzy bandaged hand, at the "FITS OF" on the ceiling padding. My hand is on my camera.

We finally pull up to an opening, a clearing of some sort. All rocks everywhere. And much to my distress, there are a couple Huge, blue boxes, padlocked and very definitely big enough for bodies. Many bodies. There is, though, WATER off on the distance and that makes me feel better somewhat. We are also, standing on, and surrounded by rocks, which I'd already decided would make a suitable weapon if needbe. The three of us got out and there is once again, no sign of life, no one in sight, no houses, no cars, nothing. Robbie walked over to one of the big locked blue boxes. The flies were swarming around the box. There were bodies in there and I wasn't sure what our next move should be. What was this guy's plan? Were there guns in this box too? Amy and I took a step back and stared on anxiously. I could tell Amy knew what was going down here. That we wandered into some late night horror movie nightmare. Robbie, still in complete silence unlocked the door to the mass-grave and a cloud of flies and whoknows what other kinds of bugs come right back at him and filled his face, he went staggering backward and I thought, "NOW IS THE TIME TO HIT HIM," but as I looked in the box, I saw nothing. Just a row of life jackets and some paddles. I couldn't make out anything else in there, but I still wasn't sure there weren't bodies in there somewhere. Robbie finally said, "These bugs! This is crazy! I'll go in there and grab the jackets. I'm gonna do this quick!" Amy and I laughed politely and nervously but I thought for sure he'd immerge with a gun or sword or corpses in his hands or something. Instead he jumped out with two lifejackets and two paddles. He handed them to us and said, "Do you know where you're going? Where you're canoeing to?" and Amy and I instinctively said, "YES" and he said goodbye and got in that truck and drove off.

I still can't believe he didn't kill us.
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[29 May 2006|07:00pm]
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The Gentle Art of Making Enemies [04 May 2006|01:56pm]
Lately I've been going nuts over this contractor who is supposed to come out and fix the siding that fell down last month. I've been on the phone with him at least a few times a week and left countless messages for him all month. He's been lying and avoiding my calls for a month now. And all these calls I'm making to him from my cell are costing me money. Well, this morning at 2am I had an idea. I put his cell phone number into my aol im buddylist and i sent him three text messages at 2am! Each one said "WE NEED THE SIDING FIXED FIRST THING IN THE MORNING." And then I woke up this morning at 7:30 and got started again, right away: "WE NEED THE SIDING FIXED FIRST THING THIS MORNING." I text messaged him exactly twice every fifteen minutes, with exactly the same message again and again, just tweaking the wording a bit so it wouldn't register as a 'duplicate messsage' in his phone. I wanted his inbox to fill up completely. After a couple hours of this he finally called me and didn't mention the texting, he only said "I'm sending my guy over right now." That was at 10'oclock, and since his guy still hadn't shown up at 1'oclock, I began the barrage of texting once again! This time saying, "YOUR GUY STILL ISN'T HERE AND IT ABSOLUTELY NEEDS TO BE DONE BY 2 O'CLOCK." just over and over and over again. Since its on IM its not costing me anything and its as easy as pressing a key on my keyboard. I think he was quite surprised just how well I kept it up, because he finally sent his guys out and they're fixing it right now, as I post this...
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Entertainment Tonight [30 Apr 2006|09:48am]
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Is MSG Causing Bags Under Your Eyes? [11 Apr 2006|01:01pm]
[ mood | baffled! ]

Carl and I went to the dollarstore yesterday and I was looking through the spices they were selling. Got some cheap Parsley, Oregano, etc. and then I came across a big old shaker that looked like salt, but it said "MSG." The label said that the Chinese believe that MSG "opens a fifth sense, that transcends sight, taste, touch" or something or other. I looked all over the label to see if there was some kind of warning, because I honestly know NOTHING about MSG other than the fact that its known to be bad for you, which is why a lot of Chinese restaurants' menus say "No MSG" in big print. There was no warning which sparked my interest. I didn't buy it, but I looked up MSG on the internet and found some interesting and weird information.

There are groups out there (http://nomsg.com/reactions.html) that are completely convinced that MSG is responsible for every malady, disease and health condition that has become widespread in recent years. Everything from headaches to Alzheimers, from brain lesions and nerve damage to Parkinson's, including of course: drowsiness, depression, bags under the eyes and heart attacks. Now this all seems to be a bit excessive to me...

So I went to the FDA website (http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/msg.html) and looked up MSG and found some interesting stuff there as well. Some of the highlights:

  • Studies showed that glutamate in the body plays an important role in normal functioning of the nervous system. Questions then arose on the role glutamate in food (MSG) plays in these functions and whether or not glutamate in food contributes to certain neurological diseases.

  • ...Abnormal function of glutamate receptors has been linked with certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's chorea. Injections of glutamate (MSG) in laboratory animals have resulted in damage to nerve cells in the brain. Consumption of glutamate (MSG) in food, however, does not cause this effect...

    Now here is the absolute best part, the part where they acknowledge that they have no idea how MSG works:
  • MSG is the sodium salt of the amino acid glutamic acid and a form of glutamate. It is sold as a fine white crystal substance, similar in appearance to salt or sugar. It does not have a distinct taste of its own, and how it adds flavor to other foods is not fully understood...

    The timeline of studies (extremely vague contradictions follow):

  • In 1959, FDA classified MSG as a "generally recognized as safe," or GRAS, substance...

  • In 1980, the committee concluded that MSG was safe at current levels of use but recommended additional evaluation to determine MSG's safety at significantly higher levels of consumption. Additional reports attempted to look at this.

  • In 1986, FDA's Advisory Committee on Hypersensitivity to Food Constituents concluded that MSG poses no threat to the general public but that reactions of brief duration might occur in some people.

  • the 1987 Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization have placed MSG in the safest category of food ingredients.

  • A 1991 report by the European Communities' (EC) Scientific Committee for Foods reaffirmed MSG's safety and classified its "acceptable daily intake" as "not specified," the most favorable designation for a food ingredient.

  • A 1992 report from the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association stated that glutamate in any form has not been shown to be a "significant health hazard."

  • Also, several books and a TV news show have reported widespread and sometimes life-threatening adverse reactions to MSG, claiming that even small amounts of manufactured glutamates may cause adverse reactions. A problem with these unconfirmed reports is that it is difficult to link the reactions specifically to MSG. Most are cases in which people have had reactions after, but not necessarily because of, eating certain foods containing MSG. While such reports are helpful in raising issues of concern, they do not provide the kind of information necessary to describe who is most likely to be affected, under what conditions they'll be affected, and with what amounts of MSG. They are not controlled studies done in a scientifically credible manner.

  • (1995)...The FASEB report identifies two groups of people who may develop a condition the report refers to as "MSG symptom complex." One group is those who may be intolerant to MSG when eaten in a large quantity. The second is a group of people with severe, poorly controlled asthma...
    Then they say they haven't "fully analyzed the report" but have decided that the findings warrant MSG being labeled on all foods that contain it.

  • FASEB completed the final report, over 350 pages long, and delivered it to FDA on July 31, 1995. While not a new study, the report offers a new safety assessment based on the most comprehensive existing evaluation to date of glutamate safety.

    Among the report's key findings:

    An unknown percentage of the population may react to MSG and develop MSG symptom complex, a condition characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
    * burning sensation in the back of the neck, forearms and chest
    * numbness in the back of the neck, radiating to the arms and back
    * tingling, warmth and weakness in the face, temples, upper back, neck and arms
    * facial pressure or tightness
    * chest pain
    * headache
    * nausea
    * rapid heartbeat
    * bronchospasm (difficulty breathing) in MSG-intolerant people with asthma
    * drowsiness
    * weakness.

    I italicized the 'while not a new study' because that seems baffling. They just sat around and talked about old information and made new, completely different decisions on it? Suddenly there's "An unknown percentage of the population" that is indeed being affected by adverse reactions to MSG?? I love the 'unknown percentage' bit, that was a nice touch...

    And then they go on to say that there's no evidence to suggest that MSG causes Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's chorea, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, AIDS dementia complex, or any other long-term or chronic diseases, or that dietary MSG causes brain lesions or damages nerve cells in humans...

    But, again, they don't even know how it works, so how exactly do they know its safe?
    Oh and they finish this thoroughly confusing, but oh-so-reassuring mess by saying that foods and labels that say "No MSG" or "No Added MSG" are often misleading because the food does in fact contain ingredients that are sources of free glutamates (MSG).

    Needless to say, I'm definitely going to go back to the Dollar Store to buy a bunch of MSG. I love the way it makes my face tingle.

  • 2 comments|post comment

    TOMORROW NIGHT: The Silence Kit, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, The Situation @ The Khyber [27 Mar 2006|12:17pm]
    [ mood | I guess I should post thishere ]

    Show: Tuesday, March 28th @ The Khyber
    56 S. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19019

    (Secretly Canadian Records)

    The Silence Kit

    The Situation

    7:30pm; $8; 21+
    For more info or to buy tickets: http://www.thekhyber.com

    Fresh off of SXSW, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness has a new album out called "Fear Is On Our Side," on Secretly Canadian records and its a dark rock masterpiece; absolutely brilliant. If you are in the Philly area, come check them out live at The Khyber tomorrow night. My band The Silence Kit is lucky enough to be opening for them. Info is above, if you're interested. At least check out the ILYBICD link. They are seriously a great, great band...

    Thanks to James for already posting about this show!

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    interesting interaction this morning [01 Mar 2006|10:22am]
    this morning, as the gas station attendent (who had an accent of some sort, but i couldn't figure out what kind of accent, and i couldn't see much of him b/c he was so bundled up) was waiting for the gas to finish, i was putting TSK cds into padded envelopes. i realized he was looking at me so i turned around and he asked, "is that a new cd?" and i said, "yeah... it's ...my band's cds actually. i'm just mailing them out to people." he excitedly said, "oh really? what kind of music do you play? rock?" and i said, "yeah, rock... i play guitar and sing" and he said, "oh... you play guitar and sing... is that all you play, just rock?" and i said, "yeah pretty much just rock." and he said, "pretty much just rock..." and he shook his head in agreement, and continued (as he went to get the gas thing out of the car and finish the transaction), "so, do you play all the time? ... or just at night?" and i said, "oh just at night. i have a day job, thats where i'm headed now actually." and he said, "oh ok, you have day job too. so you play the clubs at night?" and i said, "yeah, we play the clubs." and then he gave me the receipt and my card back and asked, "could i have one of the cds?" i was taken aback. i only had three with me, to mail out to people who alreayd paid and i really need to get them in the mail today so i said, "oh. you want one?" and he said, "yes" and i said, "oh, well, i'll drop one off another day, is that ok?" and he said "oh.. ok... yes," and i said, "when do you work?" and he said, "i'm here" and he started walking away and he said, "its just... there's no music at the gas station, you know?" i felt very sad. i think i need to drop a cd off to that guy now. and i have no idea what he even looked like. he was all bundled up, all over his head because its cold out. i think he had a scar under his eye though.
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    CD Released, Online Ordering Available [24 Feb 2006|01:33pm]
    Hey everyone! Good news!

    "In Regulated Measure" has been released. It was recorded throughout 2005 and it is The Silence Kit's first release. One song from this album ("Burst Lethargic"), is currently posted on our myspace page, for streaming or download. Others are available for download on our regular website. This was a limited pressing and you can now order the CD online for $6 here:

    For Domestic (US) orders, please click the Add to Cart button:

    For International orders, please click the Overseas button below:

    Paypal and credit cards are both accepted.

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    Radiohead - Kid 17 [09 Feb 2006|02:11pm]
    From wikipedia.org: "Thom Yorke revealed that if two copies of Kid A are played 17 seconds apart the music will sync and a unique version will come through. Fans have dubbed this Kid 17."

    I haven't listened to all the songs yet, but this is incredible that they did this... There are a couple songs (crossed off below) that didn't really synch up perfectly/ kinda didn't sound so good on my version, but the bold titles below are the ones that worked best, and they are seriously mesmerizing and amazing...

    "Everything in Its Right Place" - 4:11
    "Kid A" - 4:44
    "The National Anthem" - 5:50
    "How to Disappear Completely" - 5:55
    "Treefingers" - 3:42
    "Optimistic" - 5:16
    "In Limbo" - 3:31
    "Idioteque" - 5:09
    "Morning Bell" - 4:29
    "Motion Picture Soundtrack" - 7:01
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    02/02/06 Khyber Show [03 Feb 2006|10:24am]
    The show last night at The Khyber was an awesome time. Thanks so much to Amy, Larry, Dennis, Mike, and everyone else who came out. We had a blast, and went over really well. Everyone was really nice and a ton of people came up to us after our set to say how much they liked us. All our CDs were gone 2 songs into our set, so thats probably a good sign - We really need to start bringing more to shows... About halfway through our set a couple of girls turned the floor in front of the stage into some sort of bizarre dance party. In between songs they hooted an hollered so much it was at once embarrassing (for them) and piercingly loud and awful to listen to. I looked over at Joe (our bass player) and he had this huge grin and he said, "This is the best night of my life." Which was completely hilarious...
    North Star Infinite were awesome, their louder stuff reminded me a bit of At The Drive In but it was their softer songs/parts that really got me because they showcased the singer's voice and that amazing, almost jazz-like rhythm section. Its been years since I've seen Justin (their bass player) play and to say "he's gotten really, really good" just doesn't even come close to saying enough. Their guitars had some great psych-like tones too - particularly noticable during those clean, softer parts, and the drummer was ridiculously solid and hard hitting. Great band.Your Black Star totally blew me away. A three piece that effortlessly sounded enormously full and textured. That guy has this looping pedal that I have too but he really knows how to use it to its best effect! So this inspired me - I'm definitely going to sit down and figure out how to use it. But yeah, I bought their newest CD "Sound from the ground" which is currently only released in Japan - they're shopping around for a US label to put it out. I can't imagine they'll have trouble, since they sound awesome.
    Metroplex was even better than I remembered! Their guitar player Matt definitely had the best guitar tone of the night. One of the best guitar tones I've ever heard come from someone I knew actually. Apparently he had two cabinets, one on each side of the stage and he used his delay to kinda bounce around the room. Sounded amazing! I never noticed all those Cure-like leads in their songs before. Great stuff!
    Anyway, yes, again, thanks so much to everyone for coming out. After years of hating playing shows in the area, for the first time in YEARS, I am absolutely loving being in a band that plays live again...
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