Lifehacker: The Novel

One has to be enterprising for entertainment in Virginia Beach, Va., where I visted Mama Bonk in mid-December for the Mass of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes, when you’re a divorce family, you have to improvise on holidays and pretend that it’s The Day at mid-month. So one of our sightseeing stops took us to a place I’d not heard of before called “Ollies Bargain Outlet.” It is exactly what it sounds like, Big Lots on steroids. But it is there that I found a book that everyone must own.

I have surfed at Lifehacker, but not intensely enough. The book I found, Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day is based on the site, and having these tips in print in front of you nose instead of up on the backlit screen is utterly useful; it allows you to mark the very useful tips and to go back to study them over and over again before implementation. There are tips on cleaning up your compyooter, on using shortcuts, on working from the command line, on directory structure; and most of these hacks can be useful to someone without a whole lot of compyooter savvy. Mama Bonk is reasonably savvy but does not do this sort of thing for a living, as does her son; but she flipped through the book and returned to Ollies the next day to purchase a copy. After all, at $6.99 in the cutting bin, it is, indeed, a bargain.

Hell, it’s actually worth at least a few hundred to me already. I believe it has helped me to fix a vexing problem with my elderly beige box. For a long time, I have had trouble with Windows Explorer freezing up on me; just freezing me out if I left it open for a time. I’ve known for some time that I was pushing it on disk space (this drive only has 40G; I have an external that extends that nicely, but 40G seemed like a lot in 2001 but can be carried around in your pocket these days), but I had no reasonable way to efficiently clean that up. Enter Hack 86: Free up Hard Drive Space on page 270. It suggest a program called “WinDirStat,” which offers an instantly understandable analysis of a hard drive and shows you specifically what folders in your tree are the real drive space hogs. Thanks to this program, I have been able to free up 21 percent of my hard drive so far (by deleting about six files that were huge), and, as a result, my Windows Explorer seems to have stopped freezing (knock wood).

Ollies. Good stuff cheap.

“Barnaby, Hardly Working,” Yo La Tengo, Fakebook
“Jackass,” The Vandals, Look At What I Almost Stepped In
“Tetris,” Califfo De Luxe, Un anno in un giorno
“America Loves The Little Children (And So Does God),” The 241ers, Murderers
“I Found Sunshine,” Pama International, Float Like A Butterfly
“Public Access Girls,” Truly, Love and Rebellion
“Toka Toka,” Black Dice, Load Blown
“Punch Me Harder,” Superchunk, No Pocky For Kitty
“Magic Spells,” Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
“Black River Song,” Angels of Light, We Are Him
“Republic Of Rough And Ready,” Hella, Hold Your Horse Is
“Rotten Banana Legs,” Skankin’ Pickle, Sing Along With Skankin’ Pickle

Merry Christmas

I have just gotten back from a lovely Christmas in Rochester, N.Y. That is one hell of a drive, and the rain and snow and wind make it all the more pleasant. I was of course in a happy place in both directions, thanks to The History of Howard Stern, Act II, playing all this week on the Sirius/XM. I love this stuff, though I wish they’d just play the damned tapes already. But the History specials are awesome. It fills in a lot for me since this Cleveland boy could only be a listener from 1992.

Music is always a big part of the holidays at my Dad’s. I am entirely too predictible a gift giver, always handing over the telling-shaped box that makes them sarcastically say “Oh, I wonder what this is?” With Dad it’s always Zappa, and this year was no exception as he received a CD of Broadway the Hard Way. I am pleased with the purchase but displeased as with many Zappa CDs that the order was meddled with when it went digital. Track order on the vinyl was much different and made more sense. I will never understand why Zappa felt the need to meddle with his stuff so horribly.

“Spare Me A Little,” Johnny Rivers, New Lovers and Old Friends
“A Jacknife to a Swan,” Mighty Mighty Bosstones, A Jacknife to a Swan

On The Last Day of Zappadan

I added some new shit to the Radio B.O.N.K.

“Bag of Hammers,” Thao, We Brave Bee Stings and All
“La-Da-Da,” Basia Bulat, Oh, My Darling
“It Doesn’t Matter,” Blue Meanies, Kiss Your Ass Goodbye
“Everybody Daylight,” Brightblack Morning Light, Brightblack Morning Light
“A Baby For Pree,” Neutral Milk Hotel, On Avery Island
“Frozen Gtr,” Thurston Moore, Trees Outside the Academy

When All My Dime Dancing Is Through

FOR SOME REASON, the place to find decent Secret Santa swag in the Washington, D.C. Metro area is the CVS.

As you might know, there is a tradition in American offices known as the “Secret Santa,” which, despite the best efforts of the Right-Wing Douchebags responsible for the War on Christmas (that’s right, uh-huh, I said it), just loses its luster if it is called the “Holiday Swap” or some other such nonsense. I am not aware of when Santa became Jesus. I have for some time understood that he is actually meant to introduce children to the notion of a god-person in the sky, a bait-and-swap of exestential proportions, methinks. But, I digress.

I was just recently mentally streaming Steely Dan’s Aja,, so when I saw the thing sitting there in the pathetic little cutting bin next to the M&Ms and the fake reindeer flashing antlers hat thing with the big orange “$9.99” tag on it, I did snap it up. I don’t own it, and it is pathetic to see such a fine work of art sitting in a flea market.

This is one of a few albums I’ve considered lately of which I have worn out a copy once in my life, another being Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, and another being Marvin Gaye’s What’ Goin’ On?. These are amazing collections of music; I wish anyone who trips over here a similar momentary obsession.

Yes, I added “Black Cow.” Also added a new clip from The Show, which is partially titled “Jingle Belch.” Had to. If you saw me on the Metro train today doubling over from laughter, yeah. That’s what I was hearing.

For My DOD

There were two things I said over the Thanksgiving that made my Dear Old Dad and Uncle Hat look at me like I was crazy, or, more likely, that I’d just had too much Glüwein. First, we were talking about Brit bands who spent an album copying American country music. Papa mentioned the Stones. I mentioned the Kinks, and was looked at cross-eyed.

Sigh. The album name was on the tip of my tongue, but, indeed, “Muswell Hillbillies” does exist.

The second item I mentioned that got a blank stare was this, one of my very favorite television moments of all time and one of my very favorite political slogans. That’s right, Kanye. He doesn’t.

Incredibly, Dad had never seen this. Probably because he’s, um, more of a reader.

“Still Wishing to Course,” Camper Van Beethoven, Camper Van Beethoven
“Relief,” Cold War Kids, Loyalty to Loyalty
“Charlemagne’s Big Thaw,” Colossal Yes, Charlemagne’s Big Thaw
“Johnny Sunshine,” Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
“Trouble Every Day,” Frank Zappa, Freak Out
“I Forgot to be Your Lover,” William Bell, The Best of William Bell
“Scenic World,” Beirut, Gulag Orkestar
“Brandenburg,” Beirut, Gulag Orkestar
“The Plan,” Built to Spill
“I’m Gonna Crawl,” Jenna Mammina, Under the Influence
“Be OK,” Ingrid Michaelson, Be OK
“The Plan,” Built to Spill, Keep It Like A Secret
“Bucky Done Gun,” M.I.A., Arular
“Coming Out As A Jew,” Marc Maron, Tickets Still Available
“I Like,” Men Without Hats, My Hats Collection

Funniest. Cover. In Recent Memory.

Here’s to a little whacko ska outfit I bumped into on the eMusic, first, for calling themselves “The B Sharps,” and, second, for the cover, which is funny.

“The Man Upstairs,” Pain, On Air
“Light From Your Lighthouse,” The Fireman, Electric Arguments
“Coffee’s Cold,” Abigail Washburn, Song of the Traveling Daughter
“Holloway Jail,” The Kinks, Muswell Hillbillies

Little-Known Fact

Have just stumbled across a little-known fact that, for reasons known only to me*, I find to be fascinating.

Vincent Damon Furnier was a DeMolay kid.

That’s “Alice Cooper” to you and me.

That’s what I said. ALICE COOPER was DEMOLAY.


“You Me and the Bourgeoisie,” The Submarines, Honeysuckle Weeks
“Fool In The Rain,” Led Zeppelin, In Through The Out Door
“I Can See My House From Here,” The Glands, The Glands

I Met This Girl She Looked Like Axl Rose

I think some of the fiercest lyrics every were penned by Ben Folds on “Julianne.” When I get that song lodged in my Psychic Music Mobius, there’s no stopping it. So. ‘Tis added.

“Julianne,” Ben Folds Five, Ben Folds Five
“Big River,” Johnny Cash, Folsom Prison Blues
“How Was California?,” Reckless Kelly, Bulletproof
“Each Year,” Ra Ra Riot, The Rhumb Line
“Super Bad,” Kashmere Stage Band, Jump Back

True Blood

She insists she’s not into anything having to do with vampires. Yet, we’ve just gotten her all caught up on “Battlestacked Galactica” up through season 4.0, which has rebroadcast on HD channels, and there’s an hour to SNL. Fine, she says. Let’s try your damned vampire show.

After the first episode, well, she says, we have to see if Sookie Stackhouse gets rescued. Let’s watch another. I warn her that they’re all like that, they each and every single solitary episode will end with a cliffhanger. I’m trying to warn her that she is on the slippery slope to actually enjoying this vampire show.

Soon, it’s 3 a.m., and she resigns herself to continuing our marathon the next morning.

I am warning you. HBO’s “True Blood” is more addictive than V-Juice itself.

It is an interesting show to watch, too, in the shadow of having just been steeped in BSG. There are similarities, the otherworldly natures of the protagonists, do they sleep, do they dream, do they breathe, do they eat? An entire netherworld exists within each narrative filled with characters we instinctively fear and loathe and yet find ourselves sympathetic, that, perhaps, the similarities outweigh the eerie differences. So watch this fine program at your own risk. You will not be able to turn it off.

“Organized Meat,” Cows, Whorn
“Pheonix City,” The Skatalites, Greetings From Skamania
“A Hit By Varese,” Chicago, Chicago V
“Lemon Grove Avenue,” Mason Jennings, Use Your Voice
“103,” The Whispertown 2000, Swim