Thursday, August 10, 2006

Cork and Emo

Well, the weekend is long since over and it’s now Thursday. I updated ‘Stop, Look, Listen’ yesterday as you can tell. Cork was fun – though there’s nothing like starting a holiday weekend with a four hour drive involving the Strokes, Pearl Jam and the Who played at unwisely and unnecessarily loud volumes (and some ill-advised singalongs on my part).

Some quick notes from the weekend that was:
  • I got lost! I’m so ashamed. On a related note, RAC.ie can shove their driving directions up their collective a-words. Anyway, after some serious improvisation on my part (the directions from RAC turned out to be physically impossible) and then passing the Beamish brewery three times in fifteen minutes I decided to ask directions. Turns out I was about 100 metres from my eventual destination. Oh well.
  • You know, an hour and a half would be too much for some people to drive for breakfast, but as it turns out, not us. I know – we’re idiots. Still, you have to love The Wild Onion in Limerick. It’s a Chicago themed diner that runs a roaring trade in breakfast and lunches, and the portions are enormous. Doesn’t taste half bad either.
  • I’m starting to think I overuse the word ‘dude’. Just thought I’d mention it.
  • I think a visit to Other Realms in the Paul Street Centre terrified my friend Moll. If you’ve never been there on a Saturday, you’re missing out on what may be the dorkiest experience of your lifetime. Essentially it’s a load of over- and under-weight guys in dragon t-shirts playing Warhammer on big diorama boards and arguing over ‘Futurama’ quotes. I think it’s all a bit of fun, but I think outside of there, I’m in the minority.
  • We went out Saturday night and ended up getting a taxi into town. I’m normally pretty good with the Cork accent and slang – unless someone is deliberately trying to prevent me from understanding them, I can usually figure it out. Anyway, not so with our taxi driver – I hadn’t a f-wording clue. Not one. He was talking, I was nodding and agreeing, but for all I know there’s now a taxi driver in Cork who believes I agree that ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ should have got an Oscar.
  • Big ‘Howya!’ to Marianne and Brendan, the slightly giddy couple we met in Tom Barry’s Bar on Saturday.


A few links, while we’re here:


If you still haven’t heard Alice Cooper’s radio show, now’s the time. This link seems to be something different, but if you can tune into Today FM on Saturday nights from about 6.


I’m positively giddy about this one: Transformers! The Live Action Movie! Directed by Michael Bay! Produced by Steven Spielberg! Click here so I can stop using exclamation marks! If you go to the Hasbro site (there’s a link from the movie page), you’ll see that they’re also re-releasing the original movie on DVD, and some ‘Classic’ toys. Good times.


I’ve also only just discovered Emogame. I just spent half an hour playing it and I couldn’t stop giggling. If you’re into Dashboard, Bright Eyes, Get Up Kids, The Anniversary or indeed any Emo band, you’ll probably find this hilarious, and/or be vaguely offended by it. I also really like American Fear Clothing, which links from the site. I’ll have to buy a t-shirt or something.


Yes, I know I’ve mentioned Emo music and a clothing line, but I’m going to talk about ‘Failure To Launch’ and then I’m going to get my ovaries looked at. Seriously, have you seen this movie? Did they even try to make it seem different from ‘How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days’? My wife got the DVD out on Monday night – possibly in retaliation for my renting ‘The Weather Man’ a few weeks back – and I agreed. I actually like Matthew McConaughey – he’s replaced Brad Pitt as the ‘actor-I-like-even-though-every-girl-gets-a-dreamy-look-when-he’s-mentioned’, not least of all because he’s slowly morphing into his character from ‘Dazed And Confused’. But I hated this movie. I didn’t particularly like ‘How To Lose A Guy…’ either – but I Kate Hudson bugs me a whole lot less than Sarah Jessica Parker.


Okay, rant over.


I need to talk about beer or sports or something now. Just to get over that. What was I thinking about? Oh yeah…


I’ve been convinced for the past two seasons (plus lockout) that Sebastien Caron was about to make the leap to Outstanding Goaltender. I still think he shows flashes of brilliance – given the lousy state of the Penguins blueline, everyone’s had to – but I honestly believe Caron is something special.


Now he’s gone to Chicago. And I’m happy for him.


Don’t get me wrong –I believe that at some point in the next year or so the Pens will look at him and regret having given him up, and as a Pens fan I’ll be right there with them. But with Marc-Andre Fleury there he wasn’t going to get much of a shot. And don’t get me wrong about Fleury – he’s going to be the best goalie in black and gold since Tom Barrasso. But Caron was underrated. And for that, he was my favourite, over and above Fleury. Have fun in the Windy City, Sebastien.


Incidentally, this is the second time I’ve started talking about Cork and wound up talking about Penguin goalies. Weird, huh?


Until next time…

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Back to the Future

Before we get set for the weekend, I just want to give a quick mention to two of my new obsessions, both of which are somewhat related. Yes, kids – it’s snail-mail time!

The first is an online project called Postcrossing, and you can find it here. Basically you send and received postcards from random people across the world, which actually sounds like fun. You can send (and be sent) up to five cards at a time, and according to the site’s owner, it’s completely secure so that people can’t just look up your address, just for laughs.

The second is Pen Pal International. See, I told you these were related. In an attempt to write more letters and to receive something other than bills through the post, I’ve registered with this Pen Pal site. I registered on Tuesday, and I’ve already got a couple of e-mail responses (and none of them seem like nutters, which is nice). There’s quite a few of them out there, this just happened to be the first one that came up when I Googled ‘Pen Pal’. I didn’t want to get a bunch of twelve year olds, so I was initially going to enter ‘Adult Pen Pals’ but as we’ve all learned by now you take your life and decency in your hands when you enter the word ‘adult’ into a search engine.
Anyway, let’s move on to the important stuff.
Any thoughts on Heath Ledger as Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’? I’m actually in favour of it. I read an interview with Adam Brody a few months back in which he suggested Matthew Broderick, which led to several long conversations on the topic among my friends. Heath Ledger’s name wasn’t mentioned, but I think he can pull it off. If you forget the moody ‘Brokeback’ character and go back to… okay, he doesn’t smile much in any films, but there’s plenty of shots of him with a s-word eating grin, and if you imagine the white makeup on that, it does kind of work. Not my first choice (Christopher Eccleston or – and you’re either going to love this idea or hate it – Ryan Seacrest would top my list), but I still think he’ll work. Of course, I can’t shake the feeling that Jon Stewart would have made a good Lex Luthor, so what do I know?
I’m heading south for the long weekend. I’m going down to Cork to see my buddy Moll – who’s in danger of becoming an internet legend following this mention, as well as a mention in JB’s Blog here. Anyway, as I’ve mentioned many times before in this space, I love going to Cork, simply because it’s home to both the country’s best Mexican food and the country’s best comic-book store.
Random tangent – is it just me or has Dashboard Confessional become the official band of MySpace? Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘em – but when the site asked me to upgrade to Flash 9 this morning, it decided to entertain me by playing a Dashboard video while I waited. And they certainly get mentioned a lot, even allowing for the fact that they’re on my ‘Friends’ list (and as such I get all their bulletins). And why are they in the ‘Metal’ section in Virgin?
Yup, it’s official – I have too much time on my hands.
Anyway, if you want to find me over the weekend – tough. I have no idea where I’ll be. I don’t have any regular haunts in Cork – bar Café Mexicana and Other Realms, of course – so if you’re looking to see your favourite blogger drunk… I don’t know where he hangs out either.

I watched ‘A Town Called Eureka’ last night, in case you were wondering. It’s not bad. It’s not great, either – I can’t see it lasting more than one season, if even that long. It was a two-hour pilot, which I think was a problem, as it didn’t hold up for the full two hours. Kind of sad when a TV show peaks before the first episode is over, but there you go.
I’m still reading, watching and listening to the same stuff, by the way. That’s why the sidebar hasn’t changed.
I’m building up to a big post, incidentally. I just have to get these small ones out of my system first. I’m not going to promise how long, when it will happen or what the topic will be, but it’s coming.
Anyway, until next time…

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Big Ideas

Jay-Z had 99 Problems. I got 43 things.
Okay, at time of writing I have 17, though I’m adding to this real soon.
Perhaps I should explain. I somehow – don’t ask how – came across a nifty little website called 43things.com. Maybe you know about this already. It’s kind of an on-line diary of goals and ambitions. You can list all the things – however ridiculous – you’d like to do, and keep an on-line diary of your attempts to do them, get advice from people who’ve been down the same road before, and rate the experience as ‘Totally Worth It’ or ‘Not Worth It’ when done. I’ve got 17 so far. Some of mine are pretty mundane, some less so. You’d could argue that at least one of them is f-wording nuts, and not something I’ll even try to do. You can see what I’m talking about by clicking here, or on the link at the side of the page.
What’s good is that they don’t necessarily have to be something you’ll ever get to do, or would ever actually go through with. What I found most surprising about the site so far is the number of people on the site whose ambition it is to sleep with My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way (personally I thought the last good eyeliner-wearing male lead singer was Brian Molko of Placebo, but there you go.) Anyway, it’s a good, fun way to keep track of your ambitions and, for the voyeuristic among you, to spy on everyone else’s.
Fun times if you’re near a HMV these days – there’s a decent sale on! I got the latest Pearl Jam album (no, I didn’t have it before this) and ‘The Rules of Attraction’ on DVD (which, incidentally, was only 3.99). Good times all round.
Also saw ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ over the weekend – both of the movies. I’d seen the first one in the cinema before, but was sick at the time and as a result I hated it. I couldn’t understand why everyone else was singing its praises when I’d just had one of the most miserable two hours of my life. Anyway, I saw it again – healthy this time - and loved it. Then saw the second one the next night and – despite being pretty much more of the same – loved it too. Great fun.

Incidentally, can we just say it out loud that the films, plot-wise, are remarkably similar to the ‘Monkey Island’ computer games from the early nineties? I’ve had this conversation with my buddy JB, and as far as I remember he concurs. Orlando Bloom even looks vaguely like Guybrush Threepwood.
That’s it for the moment – I know it’s been a short one today, but I *will* be back with more during the week.
Until then…

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Awful Truth About Me and Kelly Clarkson

It’s time the truth came out. I realise what it means – I’ve already made arrangements for any hipster rock credentials I may have earned to this point to be surrendered; my Death Cab t-shirt is permanently "in the wash", my Bright Eyes CD is being packaged up to be sent to my sister and I’ve instructed the local video store to never, ever rent me ‘Dig!’ But it has to be said.

I like Kelly Clarkson.

At the risk of sounding nine years old, I don’t "like her" like her, though I will concede she’s not exactly a strain on the eyes. It was probably inevitable – most of the bands I quietly champion are radio friendly themselves, if only some station over here would f-wording realise it.

The breakthrough for Ms. Clarkson and I came late one night when I’d left MTV on (or possibly VH1, I don’t really keep track of these things) while I checked the doors and windows before going to bed. The video for her latest song, ‘Breakaway’ came on. If you haven’t seen it, it’s one of those ‘random tour snapshot montage’ videos that’s become really popular lately – I know that Foo Fighters and Trivium have done them, at least – mixed with "Live" footage. "Live" goes in quote marks because whereas there’s cheering and chanting at the beginning and end, the actual song is very obviously the studio recording. I never got the point of this. Anyway, the video is well done, and I found myself thinking, "Man, this is a good song."

And I stand by that statement. Someone in the office (Incidentally, I’m working now. More on this later) put her most recent album onto the communal copy of iTunes, so I listened and – God help me, I like it. It’s not groundbreaking, it’s not controversial but dammit, it’s fun.

Just a brief aside- I feel vaguely guilty about describing an album with so many songs about heartbreak and parental abuse/neglect as ‘fun’, but it is. Most of them are toe-tappers at least, some of them are even stick-in-your-head catchy. My favourite is still ‘Breakaway’; and yes, I know it was the theme music for ‘The Princess Diaries 2’. Don’t even write in.

I couldn’t help but feel while listening to the album ‘Breakaway’ that Journey were surprisingly prescient (for an 80s hair-rock band, anyway) and that Kelly Clarkson is the girl described in ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. Read the mini-biography on Wikipedia and listen to the song. You’ll see what I mean.

Anyway – in short, Kelly Clarkson’s all right in my book. Now let’s drop this before I start to feel like one of those people who tries to convince you that Avril Lavigne is punk.

Now… by way of redeeming myself, let’s talk Pearl Jam. I watched ‘Pearl Jam – VH1 Storytellers’ last Sunday and all I could think about was that I’ve been far too hard on Eddie Vedder lately. I was thoroughly convinced that he’d lost it – I still think there were a few years there where he was ‘in the office, but away from his desk’, if you get my meaning. Anyway, whatever happened during that phase, he’s back, and I couldn’t be happier. Honestly, I can’t remember an album that affected me as deeply as ‘Ten’ did (with the possibility of REM’s ‘Automatic’) – not even ‘Nevermind’ which was the life changing album for my generation. I can think of at least a dozen girls that Pearl Jam songs remind me off (though for at least three quarters of them it’s a pretty fuzzy picture by now) and a half-dozen guys who I hung out with, having nothing else in common but that album. Good times.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a job now. I’m (God help me) a features editor. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened, but it seems to be working out – I haven’t revealed myself to be tragically inept so far, so let’s hope that continues.

I’m ditching the ‘random top ten’ gimmick for a while, not least of all because it turns out John Mayer did it in ‘Esquire’ a few months back. It might show up for a while again, but instead you’ll have to settle for a new space I call ‘Stop, Look and Listen’. Basically it just tells you what I’m listening to, reading, and watching on TV at the moment. Nothing too exciting. I’ll try and get pictures in there soon.

Anyway, until next time…

Friday, June 30, 2006

London Calling


Death Cab for Cutie onstage at the Brixton Academy, London, June 28th 2006

I have no idea how many of you will be at Oxegen next weekend. I’m sure the sub-set of you who are there that attend the ‘Pet Sounds’ Stage is even smaller. But if you are there on Saturday night, and you’re watching four thirty-something Seattle-ites then I know one thing. You’ll know I was right.

It absolutely flabbergasts me that Death Cab for Cutie isn’t everyone’s favourite band right now. I know I go on about them a fair bit and I accept that I am prone to superlatives, even when it comes to things that I know I’ll have forgotten about in six months time. But really – why do so many people have blank expressions when they hear their name?
On Wednesday night I got to see Death Cab live for the first time in Brixton Academy in London. Apart from the fact that I really, really wanted to see Death Cab, it had long been an ambition of mine to actually get to a gig in the Academy before I’m too old – though from the looks of the crowd there on Wednesday, that ship may have sailed already.
I’ve never seen a band that was so much less like what I expected them to be. Death Cab’s reputation for being slightly on the dreary side - lyrics about death and heartbreak, as well as Summer’s "One guitar and a lot of complaining" comment from ‘The O.C.’ haven’t helped – completely belies the ferociously energetic live show. For a miserable bunch, they sure bounce around a lot. Front man Ben Gibbard especially – From listening to the records I’d imagined him as soft spoken, shy and a little overly earnest – maybe more from the Michael Stipe school of talking to the audience as little as possible, and mumbling when he does – but that’s not the case. Yes, he seems almost nervous. Yes, he seems like he’d rather sing than talk. But no, he is not the reluctant showman, cursing the day people started to remember his name. He seems genuinely thrilled when the audience recognises a song and starts singing it back to him, and even more thrilled just to get to play them for people. The other three band members seem even more content to play along, to just play their instruments and let Ben bounce off them – the only time I heard bass player Nick Harmer speak through the gig was to crack a very, very inside joke about The Cribs. I’m not saying that DCfC is a one-man band, though – just that there are no egos on stage.

Now the downside. There are dozens, if not hundreds of musicians out there more technically gifted than any member of Death Cab (with the possible exception of guitarist/producer Chris Walla, who gives off a bit of an elder-statesman vibe). There are plenty of more talented songwriters than Ben Gibbard and I can name a half-dozen to a dozen more innovative bands without pausing for breath. But I can’t think of a single reason not to like Death Cab. I can’t stand still while listening to ‘The Sound of Settling’ and apart from ‘Nightswimming’ I can’t think of a better "drunk and heartbroken-but-oddly-happy-about-it on a hot August night" song than ‘Passenger Seat’ (which is an oddly specific and probably inaccurate description, come to think of it).
If you’re going to Oxegen, please, please, please take a few minutes out to go see Death Cab. What are you going to miss? The Chili Peppers on their seven-thousandth Irish show? Then go buy ‘Plans’ and ‘Transatlanticism’ at least. Call MTV, or FM104, or 2FM or anyone, and ask them to play Death Cab. Maybe they won’t be your new favourite band – but at least you’ll know what you’ve been missing.
***

Anyway, seeing as that rant’s over, let’s have a few more notes from London:

  • Somebody broke the tube! Honestly, I love travelling by Underground but there wasn’t a single trip that we took by tube over there where the Central line was running properly, be it from signal failures or a person under the train at Bond Street on Wednesday night.
  • I’m not a big football fan, so the World Cup is kind of a non-event for me, but I did watch France vs. Spain on Tuesday night in a bar on Edgware Road which, by happy coincidence was full of French and Spanish folks. And there’s nothing better for enjoying a game than being surrounded by people who really, genuinely care about the outcome. A few pints of Kronenbourg didn’t hurt either.
  • There were cheerleaders in town! I don’t know if they were a US national team or what – they did have ‘Team USA’ backpacks – but anyway, there were about thirty or so of them (tall girls, tiny shorts) wandering around Picadilly Circus on Thursday afternoon. When my wife gets home, I’m going to be in trouble for saying this – but God bless cheerleaders. There. I said it. I regret that I have but one life etc.
  • Didn’t plan on doing any shopping over there, but I got ridiculously low prices on ‘The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most’ by Dashboard Confessional’ and ‘Who’s Next’ by The Who. Warrants mentioning, though I’m not sure why.
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Death Cab’s support act, Viva Voce, from Portland Oregon (though originally, Alabama). They are Kevin and Anita Robinson, a husband and wife team who play drums and guitar – which sounds vaguely familiar except that a) they’re not as creepy as Jack and Meg White (I realise that Jack and Meg may or may not actually be brother and sister, by the way. I’m using the ‘husband/wife’ rumours for the purposes of this exercise. Bear with me…) and b) nobody’s kidding themselves into thinking that what the Robinsons are doing is somehow an extension of the Blues. Anyway – Viva Voce: tremendously catchy. You know one of their songs (Lesson No. 1) from a Motorola ad a couple of months back. It’s the one that goes ‘So keep your head up…’ and so on. Trust me – you’d know it if you heard it. I’ll be buying the new album ‘Get Yr Blood Sucked Out’. You should too…
Anyway, that’ll do it for today. I’ll be back with more rantings sooner or later.

Monday, June 26, 2006

While I'm Out...

Even if it was likely that there was going to be another post here tomorrow – and let’s be honest, history is not on my side – it’s not going to happen. Instead I’m going to London to see Death Cab. I booked the tickets months ago on the off chance I could afford it by now. I’ve even been trying to line up an interview with the band that I could sell, and thereby make the trip profitable, or at least stem the haemorrhage on my bank account. Fair dues to Atlantic Records – they were more than willing to accommodate me. Unfortunately, and for a wide variety of reasons, I couldn’t sell it. I really can’t afford this trip. But screw it – I’m going anyway.

Incidentally, almost anytime I travel I leave the hotel reservations until the last minute – generally you get cheaper rooms that way. You won’t necessarily get a ridiculously cheap room, but you might get a nicer room for your money. Anyway this time, as always, I was working on the assumption that there was no big events going on in London this week that might cause hotels to fill up quickly. Some of you may see where this is going already.

Sodding Wimbledon.

Still, I got something near Marble Arch – which is pretty cool, because I can walk pretty much anywhere I want to go (apart from the gig, which is in Brixton). And I didn’t get horribly ripped off. Which is nice. I’ll tell all about the gig – maybe with pictures, but no promises – when I get back.

Anyway, to keep you amused in my absence:

NBC have a 6 minute preview of Aaron Sorkin’s new show ‘Studio 60 On Sunset Strip’ on their website. It looks tremendous – I was a big fan of ‘The West Wing’ and ‘Sports Night’ and this seems to combine the best of both. It doesn’t hurt that there are a lot of familiar faces in the cast. Anyway, you can watch the preview by clicking here…

Seeing as we’re linking to stuff, I was told about a variation on the ‘Facts About Chuck Norris’
viral that was going around a while back – ‘The World According to Jack Bauer’. They’re not all exactly original – some of them are just the Chuck Norris ‘facts’ with the name changed – but they’re still a hoot.

Final links for today are for the excellently wry ‘Too Much Coffee Man’ comic strip and for Mark Hoppus’ (formerly of Blink 182) blog and podcast ‘Hi My Name Is Mark’. I really want a TMCM t-shirt, by the way. Warrants mentioning. I’ll probably put a permanent link to TMCM on the sidebar, too.

Well done to my cousin Ian, by the way – although his band, Revolution for Dogs didn’t win the national finals of the Emergenza new bands competition, he was named Best Lead Guitarist for the competition. Well deserved, I say…

I did mention that I’ll be adding a permanent link to ‘Too Much Coffee Man’ in the near future, but what I’ll also be adding to this space is a little bit in the way of my own contact details. With a bit of luck you’ll soon be able to download a version of my CV – for obvious reasons I don’t want to publish my entire contact details – and some samples of what I can do as a sub-editor. Hopefully then someone will hire me. If (in all seriousness) you want these details before they wind up here, drop me a line here…

Anyway, short and all as this has been, I’m going to sign off now. I’ll be back later in the week to share my London experiences…

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Finally!

Guess who’s back? Back again? Madden’s back. Tell a friend. Guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back…

Before we get started, let's answer the most common question of the past month (for me, at least): Yes, I am on MySpace. There's not a hell of a lot on my page - it's basically just a list of my favourite stuff and a picture of a cat with a melon on its head (thanks, Caro). Anyway, check it out and if you like, be my friend. Don't just add me to fill up your friend list, though, that's kinda lame. Anyway...

So it’s come to this.

I’m kind of annoyed that I was so busy lately because there was a ton of stuff I wanted to talk about. It doesn’t help that my last post before my exams completely disappeared. I liked it. I’ve been kind of overloading on music lately, and I really wanted to talk about some of it. The main part of the last piece was on Nada Surf, a really great band I saw in Whelan’s a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t been in Whelan’s since Christmas when I saw Rocco DeLuca & The Burden, but it was good to see that the ironic t-shirt and Converse hi-top business is still booming.

For those of you who have never been to Dublin, by the way, Whelan’s is like The Bait Shop on ‘The O.C.’, except it looks like an Irish country pub. It’s an institution in Irish music – there’s almost always a good local or relatively obscure international band playing. Plus one of the bands might make it big and you’ll be able to say "I saw them way back when…" I know people who claim to have seen Green Day and Nirvana play there in their pre-‘Dookie’ and pre-‘Nevermind’ days, respectively.

Anyway – Nada Surf. Great band. Great show. The bass player looks like a cross between Dave Pirner from Soul Asylum (which made me think he should date Scarlett Johansson, if only because she reminds me of Winona Ryder in her prime) and a guy I went to school with who, as I understand it, is still in a band that’s trying to make it. That’s what I love about this country – not only is it perfectly acceptable to live with your parents into your thirties, but you can still be trying to start a band and nobody thinks any less of you for it.

I'm ridiculously busy at the moment. I'm trying to get two jobs, along with any freelance work that anyone wants to throw my way. Plus there's a bunch of other projects (that I still can't talk about just yet - sorry!) to occupy my time.

I want to give some more love to my cousin's band, Revolution For Dogs - once again, congratulations to the boys for making it to the national final of Emergenza on June 24th in Vicar Street. Hope it all goes well. While we're here, I kinda got into trouble for suggesting in my last post that my mum didn't exactly fit in at an indie/alt-rock concert - "Are you implying that your mother doesn't rock?" I believe were her exact words. Anyway, if I want to be allowed go home on Sundays, I better print a retraction - Mum, you rock.

Still, though, my favourite 'My Mum vs. Rock Music' anecdote is the time she was complaining that Phantom FM, the local alternative station played too many songs about sex and drugs, before turning on the local easy listening station - who were playing 'Hotel California'. Good times.

Oh yeah - there was a complaint that my sports coverage (hee-hee) had tapered off to nought. This is because I had to cancel my NASN subscription (no money) and I can't watch sports at all at the moment. Assuming I get work soon, I'll re-subscribe and you can look forward to a summer of ill-advised and under-informed baseball commentary (a sport I enjoy, but don't fully understand).

Okay, rapid subject change. Why the f-word does nobody answer phones anymore? Or return calls? I’ve spent the past three days calling people and leaving messages and sending follow up e-mails and I’ve left every contact number I have AND NOT ONE PERSON will call me back. I originally called some of these people two weeks ago, was told they’d "need a couple of days" and now… nothing. Not a word.

I know this is unlikely to work but if it’s you… call me back, for crying out loud.

Lastly, some quick pop-culture hits:

Finished 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' the other day. Great book - I found it hard work and it took me ages, but I'm not as smart as I'd like to think I am. Anyway, I heartily endorse this product (to quote Krusty The Klown).

Just added to the iPod: Raconteurs, Dirty Pretty Things, Wolf Parade, Architecture In Helsinki and The Postal Service. Haven't absorbed 'em enough to give a verdict one way or another, but I'm enjoying them, for the most part. Looking forward to the new Dashboard Confessional album too, that should be out soon. I want 'The Back Room' by Editors, too. And I recently decided I need more Who albums.

And finally - Season 2 of 'Veronica Mars' starts next Thursday (8pm, LivingTV). Woohoo! Good Times!

That's it - be back in a couple of days with something a little more coherent.

(Yeah - right.)