St. Louis Diner Review: Jeff Mangum

January 25, 2013

I went to see Jeff Mangum with my father last week. He blogged about it, and I like it, so I’m not going to write much about it.

Jeff Mangum at The Sheldon

We were in the balcony but about 40 people came up and either sat right in front or actually sat on the stage with him. it was cool. And all of them knew the words… to every song. I remember being a fan like that and having a passion like that. but barely.


Ladies & Gentlemen: Harry Marks

January 24, 2013

“I Will Not Fix Your Computer”

Do you own a Mac? Is it under warranty? Take it to the Genius Bar.

Do you own a Windows PC? Your Google search is as good as mine.

Ahh! I love this so much. Read the whole thing.


Naysaying everything I create

January 22, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 3.05.28 PM
Tomorrow should be an interesting day for Apple Doom & Gloom pundits.

If Verizon’s #s are any indication, the iPhone had a gangbusters quarter… and from everything I’ve seen, Verizon HATES selling iPhones.


Do You Know ‘X’ on Twitter?

January 21, 2013

Do You Know SHUT UP On Twitter?

I love Twitter, but Twitter doesn’t love me back. I’ve got lots of Twitter accounts attached to lots of email addresses: @mangosquash, @boomreactive, @bathtubtuna, @innuendolympics, @beckerwedding, @kubeklassik, @henrymeoww, etc… Most of these are single-event or novelty twitter accounts that I don’t maintain or tweet from, but I like having them.

Here’s what I don’t like: Getting hundreds of stupid emails from Twitter for no reason. I swear that I deselect all of the email boxes every time I sign up for a new Twitter profile, especially the ones in the “Updates from Twitter” section. But somehow, when I go back into these accounts, some boxes are checked. How does this happen?

My best guess (and It’s just a guess) is that sometimes they add options and you’re opted into them automatically. You then have to log into Twitter.com (something I try never to do) and opt out. When you’ve got 7 accounts, this process is kind of daunting – I understand that this is my fault, but it’s not something I think I should have to do.

The worst kind of email I get on a weekly basis from almost all of my accounts are “Do you know ‘X’ on Twitter?”

Think about that sentence. What does that mean? If I knew someone, I would know them. I wouldn’t know them on Twitter. If I had met someone through Twitter and that was my only point of reference with that person, I’d know them through Twitter. I wouldn’t know them on Twitter. Either I know someone or I don’t. Twitter has nothing to do with it. AND If I accept the terminology and I know someone on Twitter I’d already be following them.

After the subject line, it posits “Some people you may know on Twitter” which is still nonsense. What they mean here is “Some people you may know who are on Twitter”

Here are some better suggestions for subject lines:
Do you know ‘X’? They’re on Twitter!
‘X’: some Twitter users we think you might know
Follow your friends: Do you know ‘X’?

Or better yet, just stop sending me these emails.


Top 10 Albums – 2012

January 17, 2013

Now that I’ve got 3 top 10 lists (2010, 2011 and this one) all in one place, I can say without doubt that this is the latest I’ve published my top 10 since 2009 (I’ve found my 2009 post on Tumblr, but all it gives me is a vague “3 years ago). So I’m late and I’ve no excuse.

Anyway, listened to a lot of new music from a lot of artists I wasn’t familiar with this year. 7/10 artists on the top 10 list are making their first appearance on a Jon Becker top 10 list, though many of them have A) been around for awhile or B) Are a permutation of another band who’s made the list. Even though I’ve listened to a lot of music this year, I’m not sure this is my strongest list. My writing of the list is especially weak. It is what it is.

Wanna download it? Click the images to go to the download link.
The host I’m using doesn’t seem to like my files. Will look for a solution Don’t all you kids just use Spotify these days anyway? Here we go:

10. Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits


The Divine Fits (fronted by Wolf Parade/Handsom Furs Dan Boeckner and Spoon’s Britt Daniel) had so much promise for me. I love Dan Boeckner’s Handsom Furs, and I love the way Spoon sounds (and certain Spoon songs). These two seemed destined to make a fantastic album together. I loved the teaser song for the album, “My Love Is Real”, and then the album came out, and that was my favorite song on the album.

A Thing Called Divine Fits pretty much has the feel of a Spoon album with Boeckner singing half of the tracks and adding his synth parts. It’s good, but it isn’t as good as I wanted it to be. The cover of Nick Cave’s “Shivers” though is top notch, and got me to listen to the original version.

9. Shearwater – Aminal Joy


Shearwater is fronted by Jonathan Meiburg, once a member of Okkervil River. This is my favorite CD of this band. In a 1 word description, I’d say this band is pretty. The vocals are pretty, the arrangement is pretty and the songs are pretty, but maybe to a fault? I think that this album has the best songs and it’s the first album of theirs that has been able to captivate me.

8. Moonface – Heartbreaking Bravery


If you’ve been following this list, you may know how much I love Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Moonface [in order chronologically, not by my preference of his projects]). If you asked me my favorite musician, I’d probably say “Spencer Krug”. This CD is lacking in gripping content however. I really liked it, but I’m not so sure how fit it is for general consumption.

7. The Mountain Goats – Transcedental Youth


Songwriter extrodinaire & my favorite liberal tweeter John Darnielle is at it again. This may be my favorite Mountain Goats album since Get Lonely, which was the album that got me into the band. You should get this album, and you should get all other Mountain Goats albums. He is an incredible songwriter, writer, and thinker. He also might be a little crazy.

The album’s opening line “Do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive” might be my favorite line of the year. I don’t think that there are any throw-away tracks on any Mountain Goats albums, but this album never really grabbed me. I blame myself. Go see The Mountain Goats when they come to your town. You will have an incredibly enjoyable night.

6. Oberhoefer – Time Capsules II*


In 10-7, we covered known entities for avid readers of the annual Top 10 list (read: very few). Here, we break new ground, and there’s a lot of new ground further up the list to come. This is exciting news!

Here’s a band that I can’t really tell you anything about. I never did much research on them. But this CD is some wonderful pop-rock. With titles like “Away FRM U” “Yr Face” and “oOoO”, you might be led to believe that this is a different type of band than it is. Instead, it’s just some great rock music that I think everyone should enjoy. Also, it sounds like it might end up in commercials. I’m not sure if it has or not.

5. The Magnetic Fields – Love at the Bottom of the Sea*


Hated by every critic and longtime Magnetic Fields fan (I think all music critics are longtime Magnetic Fields fans), Love at the Bottom of the Sea is the first Magnetic Fields album that has ever grabbed me. So, I’m not sure what that means. But this album is solid pop musically and lyrically all the way through. I’d call it “cute” and maybe that’s what other people don’t like about it. Murdering ex-boyfriends, rhyming with obscure cities in Wyhoming, bad word play etc. It’s all here and I think it’s fantastic. Get it.

4. Alex Winston – King Con*


So, I don’t love every song on this album, but the songs that I do love, I love so much.

If Joanna Newsom had a more accessible voice & vocabularly and wrote poppier music, it might sound like this. Somehow, I mean this in a good way. Tracks 1-7 are a non-stop bombardment of one great track after another. Particular hits are Velvet Elvis, Medicine and Locomotive.

But track 7… If you were just waiting for a baller song about Sister Wives, this one is for you. If you weren’t waiting for a song like that, you’ll be wishing you were after you heard it. It’s. So. Good.

Everything on this album is pretty similarly paced, but I promise if you download this you’ll enjoy some tracks from it.

3. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, M.A.A.D. City


Disclaimer: I’m late to this game. I don’t know when the CD came out. I don’t know anything about Kendrick Lamar. I haven’t listened to his first CD. I only listened to it AFTER Pitchfork gave it Album of the Year. So, my opinion is like 300% invalid.

That said, this album has been the only CD I’ve had in my car for a month now. It’s serious, it’s funny and it sounds good. Read what other people have to say about it.

All that said, this album is an incredible story told in the form of a really fun album. Every song is great. I’ve been listening to it non-stop for the past 2 weeks. If I started listening to this album earlier in the year, I’d like to think it might be a notch higher on the list, but… It is what it is.

2. Family of the Year – Lorma Vista*


This album is so good. So good. I’m astounded that it didn’t get more attention. This is what California pop music should sound like. Forget your drony boring Beach Coast Best House bullshit. Give this thing a listen! Pay attention to this band. Get this CD anyway you can. Pay them and make them come to St. Louis. Make Pitchfork review their album, for God’s sake.

1. Japandroids – Celebration Rock


Winter 2009: My second to last semester of college, and I’m taking a bunch of classes that have nothing to do with my major, like drawing. I’m working on my final project, which is 6 or 7 pieces that are all closeups of different parts of a foosball table. Probably took my 20 hours or so, and the whole time I was working, I was listening to the Japandroids first album, Post Nothing.

Summer 2012: Played in recreational Ultimate leagues on Mondays and Wednesdays all summer and pretty much every game I went to, I was doing damage to my car speakers and my ear drums listening to the Japandroids second album, Celebration Rock.

There’s a certain type of album that lends itself well to being associated with a specific place and time, even when the place and time aren’t relevent to the content of the album, and the Japandroids hit the nail on the head for me. Celebration Rock is a masterpiece in loud, pure rock.


iTunes Match: Work Better

November 29, 2012

This post really could be called “All Apple Cloud Services: Work Better”, but I don’t have time to write that right now.

So iTunes 11 is allegedly coming out soon and before I upgraded, I wanted to get my iTunes library under iTunes Match’s 25,000 song limit so that everything would be working properly again. This is something that I have to do about every month. It sucks and it seems completely unnecessary. It also is never as easy as just deleting songs and pressing “Update iTunes Match”. I have to come up with wacky workarounds every time to make it work. Workarounds such as:

1) Delete the songs from the magical iTunes Match cloud on your MacBook Air because your main computer can’t connect to iTunes Match.
2) Turn off iTunes Match, Update Genius Results, and turn iTunes Match back on

3) Just wait a couple weeks and hope it works then.

These solutions suck. This system sucks. Here’s what should happen: iTunes should say “You’ve exceeded your 25,000 song limit. Would you like to purchase an additional 25,000 songs of space for an additional $20/year?” I’d click yes, and I’d pay $40/year instead of $20/year and I’d never have to worry about the problem again.

Instead, I end up with these stupid problems and spend hours finding songs to delete and Googling how to fix my problems.

Of course there are alternatives: Google Music, Amazon Music, Dropbox. I use all of these things. But they don’t make sense for me. Here’s why iTunes Match is the best solution for my problems, and why I need it to work better:

1) My Macbook Air: It only has 120 GB of storage. My iTunes Library currently runs me at around 138GB. iTunes Match (theoretically) allows me access to all of my music and all of my playlists for none of the space within the iTunes client. While iTunes isn’t the best software, even on a Mac, it is still better than any browser-based solution I’ve used

2) My iPad and my iPhone: Kind of like the Macbook Air scenario, but replace 120 GB with 16 GB. And the browser/app alternatives are even worse in this scenario. Also my car stereo has built in USB integration which allows me to navigate my iPhone/iPad music libraries from the dashboard. I can’t do that if I’m using an alternative software.

So anyway, to end this serious “I feel entitled to services I can’t comprehend or understand” rant, I just want to say: I’ve considered the alternatives. They don’t work for me. I want iTunes Match to work better.


My Karl Welzein (@DadBoner) Pumpkin

October 31, 2012

Not going to type a lot. Just thought that this should exist on the interwebs for the benefit of others who search “dadboner pumpkin” and come up empty-handed like I did. It can be done, even by an extremely untalented pumpkin carver like myself.

The inspiration, Karl Welzein (@DadBoner) himself


Poorly Drawn & Thought Out Concept


So far, so good. At this point, the pumpkin had already turned out better than I thought it would.


This is really starting to feel like a bold power move at this point.


Here it is. All that’s left is to light him up.


This + BL ‘Nums = Neighbors will know who’s chillin’ the most this halloween.


Mission: Summer Lime with Cilantro, Tortilla Chips Review

June 4, 2012

I am a salty foods person, through and through. I’d prefer a bag of chips to a bag of cookies. I’d prefer another entrée helping to desert. When I’m in a grocery store, I don’t look for sweets. I am always on the hunt for new bags of chips.

Enter this bag of chips from Mission Foodswith a mouthful of a name: Summer Lime with Cilantro (other descriptive words that might be part of the name include “Restaurant Style” “Tortilla Triangles” and “Limited Edition

For pure snacking purposes, Tostito’s Hint of Lime Chips are among my favorite in the Tostito’s line of corn chips (and are much better than their Hint of Jalapeño and Hint of some kind of cheese followups), so naturally I was drawn to this bag of chip. I picked up the bag and upon further inspection, I noticed a one main thing: The chips are green. Not the color of a frog, but kind of like the color of green popcorn you might have had on St. Patrick’s Day. This was a little off-putting, but by no means a deal breaker.

So I took the chips home, and opened them up. My expectations were for them to be a little overbearing and not quite as enjoyable as Tostito’s Hint of Lime. Wrong and wrong.

These chips are certainly more potent than their Tostito’s counterparts, but are not overbearing. While the Hint of Lime chips, as advertised, have a hint of lime flavoring on an otherwise uninteresting Tostito, Mission Summer Lime chips could be called “Punch of Lime, hint of Cilantro”. It is fantastic. These knock Hint of Lime out of the park as far as I’m concerned.

Some other thoughts’s:

  • Whereas I find Hint of Lime chips are best dipped in salsa, these chips are better by themselves. Maybe some queso would be good, but I don’t have any of that around.
  • If you don’t like Hint of Lime’s limey flavor, you won’t like these either. While the #1 ingredient is “ground corn treated with lime” – not sure what that means – these are definitely “lime flavored” rather than “lime” in my book.
  • Only seen these in a store once. I’ll be really annoyed if I can’t find more of them
  • These chips are nowhere to be mentioned on Mission’s website. Also, Mission Foods hates social media. (correction, mission has a Facebook page, which started posting about these chips about a week after I did.) What’s up with that??

  • iPhone 4S: 2 Year Total Cost of Ownership

    May 31, 2012

    Ya hear? Cricket’s getting an unsubsidized iPhone 4S is the US. Here’s how it stacks up in total cost of ownership against the competition:

    (post updated June 7 w/ new Virgin Wireless plans. Assuming these prices hold, you could get the latest model every year for $1009/year including the price of the phone.)

    Verizon Expensive: $3,078.76

    (unlimited talk, text, 2gb data)
    ([$119.99/month x 24 months] + $199 iPhone 4S)

    AT&T Expensive: $3,078.76

    (unlimited talk, text, 3gb data)
    ([$119.99/month x 24 months] + $199 iPhone 4S)

    Sprint Expensive: $2,598.76

    (unlimited everything)
    ([$99.99/month x 24 months] + $199 iPhone 4S)

    AT&T Cheap: $2358.76

    (450 minutes talk, unlimited text, 2gb data)
    ([$89.99/month x 24 months] + $199 iPhone 4S)

    Verizon Cheap: $2,118.76

    (450 minutes talk, 1000 texts, 2gb data)
    ([$79.99/month x 24 months] + $199 iPhone 4S)

    Sprint Cheap: $1,878.76

    (450 minutes, unlimited messaging, unlimited data)
    ([$69.99/month x 24 months] + $199 iPhone 4S)

    Virgin Wireless Expensive: $1,849

    (Unlimited talk, text, 2.5gb data)
    ([$50/month x 24 months] + $649 iPhone 4S)

    Cricket Wireless: $1,820

    (unlimited talk, text, 2.3 gb data)
    ([$55/month x 24 months] + $500 iPhone 4S)

    Virgin Wireless Middle: $1,609

    (1200 minutes talk, unlimited text, 2.5gb data)
    ([$30/month x 24 months] + $649 iPhone 4S

    Virgin Wireless Cheap: $1,369

    (300 minutes talk, unlimited text, 2.5gb data)
    ([$30/month x 24 months] + $649 iPhone 4S)

    In a world when all carriers are created equal (they certainly aren’t), my money would still be with the Sprint cheap plan. For those who like using their phone to make phone calls more, seems like Cricket’s got the best deal on the market.

    Sources: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Cricket


    What You Should Eat In St. Louis

    March 14, 2012

    This is an incomplete primer on a complicated subject. It is by no means definitive. I will make 3 guarantees: First, there are incredible places that aren’t on this list because I have never been to them, forgotten about them, or didn’t feel like writing about them. Second, I have never had a bad meal at any of the places on this list. Finally, this list is useless for vegetarians.

    Lunch

    Blues City Deli is my #1 Lunch recommendation in St. Louis right now. They do sandwiches. I normally get the Italian Beef, but everything is incredible. Get Billy Goat chips. They have live music Thursday nights.

    Crown Candy Kitchen is a St. Louis classic. It’s in a shit part of the city, but it’s a classic. Expect a wait. I get the chili cheese dog. It’s made with a staple St. Louis product: Edmund’s Chili. They are also known for their BLT which has a mountain of bacon on it. Get a shake. They also make their own chocolate if that’s your thing

    Papi’s BBQ is the #1 BBQ place in St. Louis right now. (also good, spinoff Bogarts). Get here early (11:30 or earlier) for lunch. There will be a long line. It moves pretty fast. I only ever get pulled pork at BBQ places, but I’ve heard everything here is good.

    Burgers

    Years of consensus say that the best burger in St. Louis can be found at Blueberry Hill. Thick burgers. Get it with scoop cheddar cheese. Grilled onions, bacon, whatever. It’s all good. Next door: my favorite record shop in the midwest, Vintage Vinyl.

    For a less touristy experience, and some (though not me) would say a better burger, get O’Connells. Just American cheese. They cook your burger to by-the-book definitions, so medium rare has some red in the middle. I also do grilled onions here.

    For a foodie burger, there’s a new place called Bailey’s Range. They also have booze milk shakes and a generally cool atmosphere. Really enjoyed this place the one time I went there.

    Carl’s Drive-In. This isn’t in St. Louis proper. It’s probably a 20 minute drive from downtown. They make flat burgers. Also with Edmund’s Chili (see: Crown Candy). Get a large root beer. They are closed on Sundays.

    Beer

    Drink local! Schlafly Brewing Co (2 syllables, first one pronounced last “shaft” with an L in it and no T, 2, “Lee” “Schlaf-lee”) has two locations. Tap Room and Bottle Works. Tap Room is more down-towny. Get any beers there. They are all good. They both have great food too (but different menus at each).

    Buffalo Brewing Co., Parrenial Ales, and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. are also all St. Louis breweries that have their own bars. I’ve never been to these places, but they all make good beer.

    For the widest selection in town, hit up iTap in Soulard. 500+ beers or so. Good place to watch sports. (not sure about WiFi situation though).