Monthly Archives: September 2011

Vol. 5

1. The Postmarks — “Winter Spring Summer Fall”

2. The Adolescents — “California Sun”

3. Radiohead — “Black Star”


Doghouse Reilly

One of the hardest things about fiction is dialogue. One of the best writers of dialogue, in my view, was the crime fiction author Raymond Chandler.

I’ve been revisiting his work recently, and recalled this passage from his first novel, “The Big Sleep,” which is maybe my favorite exchange ever. Here is private detective Phillip Marlowe smarting off to his new client’s butler, Norris:

“…What does Mrs. Regan want to see me about?”

His blue eyes gave me a smooth level look. “She has a misconception of the purpose of your visit, sir.”

“Who told her anything about my visit?”

“Her windows command the greenhouse. She saw us go in. I was obliged to tell her who you were.”

“I don’t like that,” I said.

His blue eyes frosted. “Are you attempting to tell me my duties, sir?”

“No. But I’m having a lot of fun trying to guess what they are.”

We stared at each other for a moment. He gave me a blue glare and turned away.

This scene, like the entire book, feels effortless. But note the way he weaves so cleanly between dialogue and exposition. And, more so, note how clever the dialogue is. Particularly the last lines in the exchange, which send me to giggles each time I re-read it.

Vol. 4

1. The Head and the Heart — “Lost in My Mind”

On this first day of fall, an appropriately autumnal offering from these folks from Seattle.

2. The Weepies — “Keep It There”

From the husband-wife duo’s 2003 “Happiness” album.

3. Reverend Gary Davis — “Cocaine Blues”

Digging deep for this one…

4. Woody Guthrie — “Hobo’s Lullaby”

…and this one. Go to sleep, you weary hobo.

5. Elliott Smith — “I Don’t Think I’m Ever Gonna Figure It Out”


Shadow of a Doubt

From the New York Times editorial page:

Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday for the 1989 killing of a police officer in Savannah, Ga. The Georgia pardon and parole board’s refusal to grant him clemency is appalling in light of developments after his conviction: reports about police misconduct, the recantation of testimony by a string of eyewitnesses and reports from other witnesses that another person had confessed to the crime.

The link to the full article is here:

I don’t know if Troy Davis is innocent or not, but I hardly think it matters: I want my country to err on the side of caution, on the side of whatever uncertainty exists. I very much hope Davis sees tomorrow.

Vol. 3

1. Guilty Simpson — “Michigan Nights”

An often very good rapper from Detroit, exhibiting one of his very good tracks in this ode to his home state.

2. Dinah Washington — “September in the Rain”

In honor of it being September, and occasionally rainy.

3. MIA — “Pull Up the People”

Before there was “Paper Planes,” there was this.

4. Bonnie Prince Billy — “Bed is for Sleeping”

This guy is so good.

5. The Jesus and Mary Chain — “My Girl”

JAMC translating the Temptations classic into their late ’80s brood.

6. All Time Quarterback — “Dinner At Eight In The Suburbs”

The Ben Gibbard solo project that isn’t the Postal Service.


“I am an F-B-I Agent!”

So I guess they’re remaking “Point Break.” In light of that, I’d like to post this video I’ve found in tribute to Keanu Reeves’ brilliant performance in the 1991 original in which he played an FBI agent going undercover as a surfer. Rad, dude.


Vol. 2

1. The Lucksmiths — “Cliched Title for Kris”

An Aussie trio that writes incredibly catchy, pun-riddled pop songs at a prolific rate. Their drummer is also the singer, which is incredibly cool.

2. Uncle Tupelo — “New Madrid”

Pre-Wilco Jeff Tweedy, w/ his buddy Jay Farrar. This alt-country ditty is a good early autumn jam; perfect for a night on the porch where you suddenly think, Huh. I ought to run in and grab a sweater.

3. Dear Nora — “On to September”

Rationale is obvious. This album is incredibly twee, and therefore too sugary for about 99 percent of society. But taken as a whole, it’s pretty spectacular, and this is by far the stand-out track.

4. Wiz Khalifa — “Wake Up”

You know what it is. [Not Black and Yellow]

5. Against Me! — “Sink, Florida, Sink”

This always seems to be one of their best live songs. I wish Tom Gabel would play it acoustic like this sometime, though.