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Nov. 7th, 2008

In case you don't have facebook and want to come

Sep. 11th, 2008

Sarah Palin

See more Gina Gershon videos at Funny or Die

Sep. 8th, 2008

My Album is Better Than Your Album

It's a pretty common belief that pop music died after the 90s. This decade has had its popular music not defined by bubblegum teen princesses and hunky "funky but not threatening" boy bands, but instead by black guys, materialism, sex, and "getting tipsy." With the mainstream largely done with this brand of irresistible sugar coated tunes, good pop albums are few and far between. Annie, however, seems to be out to change that.

Hailing from Norway, Annie emerged on the international scene after the release of her first album Anniemal gained an appropriate amount of blogger buzz.  Songs like "Chewing Gum" and "Heartbeat," the latter produced by fellow Norwegians Röyksopp, proved that pop music was definitely not dead. Catchy, danceable, and sugar-sweet, it was a total revival, easily overshadowing recent efforts from the former gods such as Britney or Jessica.

Annie's second album, Don't Stop, slated for release on October 6th (but available now if you know where to look), takes the style of the first album and cranks it up to 11. Annie has called it "pop with strange edges," but upon listening it is immediately noticeable  that this album is more than pop. It's pop, it's dance, and it's electro all at once. It's catchy, it's funny, and it's also deep enough that it demands more than one listen to catch all the crazy eccentricities. The tracks are varied in style, some sounding straight out of the 90's such as the first single "I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me," some faster 4 to the floor anthems such as "Song Reminds Me of You" and, of course, the obligatory  slow tracks like "When The Night," which Annie was pleased to call her "first power ballad." Hip-hop is even represented, with the subdued drones on top of fat beats in "Take You Home." Annie and producers Timo and Richard X have succeeded in doing what Madonna and Britney's producers have been trying to do over and over again: make an album which takes the pop style we all love so much and modernizes it. Don't Stop does just that, utilizing dirty synths, trance-like melodies, and some of the best, most danceable beats I've heard in a good while, all while mixing it up enough so that it never gets boring. Clubs, be prepared for some serious bangers.

It's clear that her voice has had some training since Anniemal as well, coming across more dynamic and powerful throughout - it's especially clear in songs like "Sweet," and "Bad Times," which really show her range and vocal ability extremely well. While in Anniemal the vocals are largely more of a rap-sing hybrid, on most of the tracks here she belts it out, showcasing her sugar sweet voice in all of its glory. Combine this with clever lyrics largely written by Annie herself, and you end up with a complete winner, a pop album that's also not a pop album, since it probably won't be heard on too many radio stations.

Save a couple so-so tracks like "What Do You Want (The Breakfast Song)," Don't Stop is a masterpiece, an album that should bring Annie droves of fans beyond her already established indie blogger base. There's little to dislike about Annie or this album regardless of your music taste, and anyone who has a soft spot for pop music should definitely check this one out.

Some tracks for sampling:
My Love Is Better
I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me
Song Reminds Me Of You

Sep. 3rd, 2008

metro / natural

Recently, I've been really enjoying using my camera again. I took a basic digital photography class spring quarter this year, and I learned a ton. Before I basically just had an eye for cool pictures, and now I really know what goes into making a picture great. I've been a ton more active in the process, as opposed to just throwing it on auto and hoping for the best. Over the course of the spring and summer I've been shooting around Seattle with a general theme in mind:  the combination and contrast of the urban setting with nature. This happens all over the place here, and I went out across the city to try to find it. These pictures are all high dynamic range, which means that they are composed of more than one photo of the same subject combined in Photoshop and edited so that everything in the picture is evenly exposed regardless of differences in light levels. Under the cut you will find these pictures as well as a little blurb about the picture and how I accomplished it.

The whole set plus bigger sizes can be found at my flickr.

Sep. 2nd, 2008

Vice Presidents

As all the media hype dies down and focuses more on weather than politics, I think it'd be good to stop for a second and reflect on both of the candidates' VP picks - Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. The VP pick is one of the first important decisions a candidate makes, and it reflects greatly on their judgment whom they pick and why they pick them. While both of them seemingly had legitimate reasons for picking their running mates, there are definitely some issues with both of them that could end up hurting their candidacy, especially with the younger population.

Joe Biden is largely a good choice for Obama. His political resume is exactly what the ticket needs to reassure democrats and swing independents. He has had experience in Washington for over 30 years, had dealt with countless foreign leaders, and is a very white, middle-class man. This balances Obama's weaknesses almost exactly, adding the experience that he is constantly accused of lacking by the McCain campaign. Joe is a family man, down-to-earth, and doesn't even live in Washington. He takes the same Amtrak to and from work every day, a trip totaling almost 4 hours. Obama has spun this to fit his campaign's message, saying that the fact that he doesn't live in Washington means that he hasn't been shaped by the "same old politics," and instead has shaped those politics himself. Looking a little deeper into his policies, however, reveals some issues that some of Obama's strongest supporters might have with him.

These issues have to do with copyright, DRM, net neutrality, and the big content producers. A recent CNET article detailed his voting record on these important issues, and it could be seen as a very bad thing by most web-age young adults - one of Obama's largest and most dedicated demographics. Biden is "a staunch ally of Hollywood and their efforts to expand copyright law." Among others, he voted to make it a felony to trick devices into playing unauthorized music, and has also sponsored an RIAA backed bill aimed at making it harder to record songs from online radio stations. In addition, he hasn't been nearly as vocal about the need for enforced net neutrality as Barack Obama has. It is one of Obama's official policies, but Biden has mostly said that no preemptive laws were necessary. It seems to me that although Biden is a good choice in the foreign policy and experience departments, he might need to rethink his policies on these other important issues if he wants to keep the votes of countless young people.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, seems to be nothing but a terrible choice for John McCain. It was completely obvious from the start that he only picked her due to her gender, and the barrage of negative coverage she has been receiving has been unrelenting. She has little to no experience on the national stage, is currently under investigation for her practices as Alaska's governor, and has a daughter who is walking proof that her abstinence only sex-education policies don't work. If John McCain's aim in picking a woman was to appeal to disenfranchised Clinton supporters, that aim has failed. These women will not vote for someone who thinks abortions shouldn't even be legal in the case of rape or incest, and they definitely won't vote for a ticket with a frontman who thinks that he'll get votes just because he picked a woman as his running mate.

I anxiously await the VP debate. The difference in experience is mind-boggling.

I'll leave you with this:

Aug. 19th, 2008


I saw this cool new web app Wordle on purple_kangaroo's journal, and I thought it was pretty cool. You give it a block of text, or a URL to an RSS feed, and t goes through, counts the number of times words appear, and makes a very pretty cloud with all of your most used words. It's pretty interesting to see what words are used most, gives you a good idea of what you like to write about :P

I threw it most of my blog entries as well as some of my articles and papers from school,and came up with this.

Aug. 15th, 2008


Aug. 9th, 2008

(no subject)


Jul. 31st, 2008


Translated into Chinese and then back into English.


Jul. 28th, 2008

My Week

Every day I walk down 15th St here in Seattle at some point or another. It's a nice little street, with some good restaurants, coffee joints, and bars. Par for the course in Seattle, there is also a Starbucks. Due to the recession and Starbucks' previous business plan of making sure there is one in walking distance of anywhere you are in any metro area, Starbucks has been hurting and losing money fast. The company made the decision to close roughly 500 stores across the country several weeks ago to save some dough. The Starbucks on 15th St. happens to be one of them.

Several days after this decision was announced on my way to work I was asked by a woman sitting outside the Starbucks to sign a "Save Our Starbucks" petition. Apparently some people don't share my loathing for the company and it's shitty coffee and business practices, and actually want to keep the stores around. Since then, every time that I have walked by the store that same woman is sitting outside with the same petition. Her face is slowly growing more sunburned every day, and it's clear that she has to be taking time off of work or whatever she does normally to sit outside of this Starbucks asking people to sign a petition to save it. I simply don't understand why this is necessary.

There is no lack of places to get coffee in our neighborhood, Ms. Petition. When your precious Starbucks closes, you still have plenty of choices. Like Victrola, which is right across the street and has coffee that doesn't taste like it's burned most of the time. If you don't like that, there's Caffe Ladro another block down. There's even another Starbucks in a Safeway literally 2 blocks down the street from the one that's closing.

To me, Starbucks is on pretty much the same level as McDonalds - a chain with aggressive expansion policies that makes a below-par version of a staple food item and charges way too much for it. You don't see people petitioning to save a McDonalds that's closing, do you? This is equally silly. She's not the only one doing this, either - Apparently all over the country people are petitioning to save some of the 500 stores that are scheduled to be closed. Can people really not be bothered to walk a few more blocks to get coffee?

I've been asked to sign the petition almost every time I've walked past the store, which is frequently. I've never signed it.

Behind the Cut: A Weekend of ConcertsCollapse )

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