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November 30, 2005

Uncertain Times: Favorite songs of 2005

A week or two ago, I mentioned that I was participating in a mix CD project. Irene asked me what the track listing was. It wasn't quite finished then, but now it is. I just sent it off. The track listing is as follows:

1. The Jackson 5: "I want you Back." (remix by DJ Z-Trip)
2. DJ BC: "Einstein On The Beast."
3. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Over And Over Again"
4. Kanye West, "Heard 'em Say."
5. The Raveonettes, "Uncertain Times."
6. DJ Cappel, "Everyday Struggle / A Day In The Life Of A Fool."
7. M.I.A. "Bingo."
8. 張震嶽, "分手吧."
9. Antony and the Johnsons, "Hope There's Someone."
10. Panzah Zandahz, "No Surprises (None at All Really)."

I've posted the liner notes in the extended entry. Yes I'm a geek.

L I N E R   N O T E S:

Looking back, 2004 lacked the standout tracks and albums of 2005. There were no unabashed pop hits that insinuated themsleves into your brain like Natasha Beddingfield's "These Words," no hip hop song that so perfectly melded the break to a vocal soul sample as 718's "The Drummer," no neo-classical album that worked quite as beautifully as Max Richter's The Blue Notebooks. Not to say that there weren't contenders. Mariah Carey made a run at Snoop Dogg's "Drop it Like it's Hot" with "It's Like That," but the beat didn't have the legs even to make it through the entire track. J. Lo's lead single off of Rebirth gave me high hopes, but her vocals couldn't compete with the horn break. I wanted to jettison the song and listen to that break over and over again.

Instead, this year I discovered old sounds reinterpreted and reinvented. From remixes of the Jackson 5 and mashups that married Frank Sinatra to Biggie Smalls to rock songs that brought back the sounds of Phil Spector and (loosely) the Talking Heads. For me, 2005 was a year of looking back then deciding to go foward. These tracks learn from that same past and push on into the present.

The Jackson 5: "I want you Back," (remix by DJ Z-Trip), from Motown Remixed. I love this song. Z-Trip's remix strips the original to its basics, building the track piece by piece from studio outtakes, reminding me why I love it. The isolated guitar that opens the song plays in such an offhand way that Tito may as well have been practicing in the bathroom. Maybe I wish the drums hit a little harder, maybe I wish there was a little more intensity, but it'd be hard to bring this track to the heights reached on the original. It goes on a little long, but I just can't get enough of that guitar.

DJ BC: "Einstein On The Beast," from Glassbreaks. After the amazing success of Dangermouse's The Black Album, the mash-up remix album seemed to find its footing this year. DJ BC's album marries the Beastie Boys to Philip Glass. It didn't seem possible, but this combination of "Pass The Mic" with various elements from Glass's opera Einstein on the Beach had me spinning it more often than I had expected.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Over And Over Again (Lost And Found)," from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Just as I was telling Karen I was through listening to rock music, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah came along. The internet hype made me instantly want to dislike this band, and I didn't like the first two tracks on the album. But then the bouncing bass and repeated ding of this song came on. After it had ended, I found myself rewinding it to the beginning. And then I did it again. I was hooked, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah became one of my favorite bands of the year.

Kanye West, "Heard 'em Say (Feat. Adam Levine of Maroon 5)," from Late Registration. It's the rolling beats and the repeated piano figure that reel me in. I listen to this song just for that. I don't even know what it's about.

The Raveonettes, "Uncertain Times," from Pretty in Black. There's something about this track that seems to fit the overall uneasiness I feel about 2005. Without becoming overly political or getting into my personal life, it really makes me wonder. There's a sense of cavernous space in the airy production reminiscent of Phil Spector that seems to fit the emptiness I feel about the year. The lyrics remind me of the Smiths and the Bollywood film Dil Se (the title track of which would have made that year's 10 best). And who can resist castenets!

DJ Cappel, "Everyday Struggle / A Day In The Life Of A Fool," from Blue Eyes meets Bed Stuy. Another remix/mashup album, this one introduces Frank Sinatra to Notorious B.I.G. (with notably better results than the marriage of Bob Marley to Biggie on The Final Chapter). The song works not only musically, but thematically, as Sinatra comments on Biggie's rhymes during the chorus.

M.I.A. "Bingo," from Arular. I first heard this song in 2004, when a friend of mine played me tracks from the album that would become Arular. I couldn't help smiling at the Steve Miller Band sample. When the steel drums and the beat hit me, my head bobbed of its own accord. When the rising sound emerged behind the chorus, I realized I had been waiting for just that moment. For various reasons, the album took forever to come out, and by the time it did I had already overplayed it. But listening to this track now, it still sounds fresh, and I remember the rainy day I spent flipping through my friend's records, unable to sit still as I listened to this track on his hi-fi.

張震嶽, "分手吧." In 2004 I loved; in 2005 I lost. This song encapsulates the moment when I resigned myself to the fact that it was over. I was in Morocco, sitting on a sand dune. I had written her name in the sand, and by the time I looked back down it had all but been erased by the wind. It didn't happen as melodramatically as the song suggests, but I listened to this over and over as I thought about her. This song came out on a compillation in 2004, but it seems right to include it as a holdover from last year, a lingering memory.

Antony and the Johnsons, "Hope There's Someone," from I Am A Bird Now. In a strange way, his music makes me think of a Nick Cave song scored by Avro Part. Again, the uncertainty echoes my own feelings as 2005 comes to a close.

Panzah Zandahz, "No Surprises (None at All Really)," from Me & This Army: Radiohead Remixed. This is a bit of a copout actually. A hip hop remix album of Radiohead's music, this track really just keeps on goin' on. But I love the original track, and in the absence of something better to close out the set, I decided to run it, using a long fade to keep it from ruining the mood of the true ending.

"I'm scared of the middle place between life and nowhere."

Happy holidays,
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November 29, 2005

Five years six days

For Thanksgiving, some 30 people congregated at my parents' house in Connecticut. We had turkey, lamb, lobster, lettuce tacos, and more. Far, far more. I stuffed myself. And then I ate pumpkin pie and cookies and brownies.

Thanksgiving night, people slept everywhere. All the bedrooms were full, the studies were full, the living room and family room were full. The next day people began to leave for Boston, some to return home, some to continue their visits. On Saturday, we left to join everyone. It was the fifth anniversary of my grandmother's death and we congregated by the gravesite. We made offerings, paid our respects, and then just chatted and took pictures. Irene introduced Isabelle, almost the newest addition to the family. She was narrowly beat out by Nina, born six days later. Posted by eugene at | Comments (5)

November 28, 2005

Doctor doctor

This morning I went back to see my orthopedic surgeon. The swelling on my knee has gone down and I have increased flexibility, but the knee is still noticably swollen. He also noted that the muscles on my right thigh are atrophying. He declined to give me a cortisone shot, but said we should do three things. First, he put me on an oral anti-inflammatory. Second, he sent me upstairs for an MRI. Third, he said we should contemplate physical therapy for my thigh since losing muscle could hurt the knee in the future. He didn't want to start me on physical therapy yet for fear of aggrivating my knee.

On the way out of his office, the receptionist gave me a sheet of paper with exercises. She said that the MRI offices upstairs would take my insurance and said that if I went up they might be able to schedule me today. She told me to take the elevator.

As I filled out forms, the receptionist called about my insurance. She called a series of numbers, and then had to call another number to get pre-approval. Afterwards, she tried to explain the heath-care system and my insurance in particular to me. I'm still confused.

The doctor asked me what kind of music I liked. He said he had rock, jazz, and classical. I chose jazz. He laid me on the table and said the machine makes a noise like a jackhammer. He put headphones over my ears and soon I was listening to Kind of Blue. He ran the machine, cutting into the music to let me know what was going on.

Twenty minutes later, it was over and I was walking to the pharmacist to fill my prescription. I took the subway to work.
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November 24, 2005

Planes, trains, and automobiles (or buses, trains, and cabs)

The buses from Chinatown were full. Arriving was like arriving at the Mad Hatter's tea party. Shouts of "No more tickets" filled the air. We stood in the cold hoping for a cancellation. Buses were leaving every 15 minutes, 28 in all. "There's an Alan Tam concert," someone explained. It wasn't even about Thanksgiving. One person asked where the buses to Foxwoods were. Another person said they were all full and had already left.

I ended up the de facto translator as I gathered information from various conversations. "Ten o'clock," one attendant said. "The 10 o'clock bus have many seats." I waited until everyone on the 7.15 bus had confirmed their seats. The attendant offered a bag of pears to everyone who was waiting. "It's too heavy," she said. "Take one." When people demurred, she insisted. "Take one!" Everyone did.

The attendant for the 7.30 bus said she might have four seats, but it would depend on which bus they sent. I waited next to her. Soon the streets became as crowded as the sidewalk as buses arrived. The police fought to keep them from idling for too long; it was a losing battle. I followed the 7.30 attendant to her bus. She climbed onto the bus and checked her clipboard against the seating arrangement. She shook her head. I thanked her and called home. I could take the Metro North train to New Haven or take Amtrak in the morning to New London. My father said it might snow after midnight. He told me to take Metro North.

I hopped a cab to Grand Central Station. The driver asked if I were going to Connecticut. "East Lyme," I said. He told me he knew it. He was driving back to Connecticut himself. To Norwich to visit his wife and two daughters. "My bitches," he said. His wife worked as a dealer at Foxwoods, he explained. After dropping me off, he was going to take 1st Avenue, stop at a gas station to eat dinner, and then head home. A bag of Chinese food cooled on the seat next to him. I wondered if he were offering me a ride.

I asked him if he drove down from Connecticut every day. "No," he said. He said he lived with his brother and mother in the city. He spends his weeks in New York. He said his wife shouted too much.I asked him how long he had been married. "Eight years," he told me. His daughters were two and five.

When we reached Grand Central, I wished him a Happy Thanksgiving and got out of the cab. I thought about asking him to drop me off along his way home, but I couldn't remember where Norwich was in relation to my house, and I was uncertain of his route. He thanked me for the tip then turned his sign off. I shouldered my bag and entered the station.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
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November 22, 2005

Dr Jones Dr Jones, Calling Dr Jones

I called the doctor today. Both of them. From the blood tests I discovered my cholesterol level is 170 (though I forgot to ask them what the split was) and I'm negative for rheumatoid arthritis. From the fluid, they discovered that I'm negative for white blood cells and negative for chystals in the fluid taken from my knee, which means that I don't have an infection and that I don't have gout. I forgot to ask them to test for blood type. So next monday I go back to the orthopedic surgeon and he gives me a cortisone shot and hopefully it'll all be better. Posted by eugene at | Comments (6)

November 21, 2005

Music, 2005

A few weeks ago, Peter invited me to join one of his projects. He asked ten of his friends to submit their top ten favorite tracks from 2005. Since then it's opened up to include tracks discovered in 2005, but I'm trying to stick to the original plan (which is ironic because I was one of the first people who asked that the requirements be opened up).

Almost immediately, I came up with nine songs. I don't feel that the music released in 2005 was quite as strong as that released in 2004 (which had some great pop tunes) or 2003 (when all the indie-pop electronic albums seem to have come out), so it was faily easy to narrow songs down. Even so there were one or two surprises in the final list. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find that one last song to round out the ten. I was hoping to find an ambient or neo-classical track to finish the compillation. I was also hoping to end with something uplifting. It's too bad that Max Richter's Blue Notebooks came out last year.

Karen suggested I record myself breathing and just leave it at that. I thought that might be creepy, but then thought it might work if I recorded myself sleeping. If only I could find someone to do it. Posted by eugene at | Comments (2)

November 20, 2005

Five years ago today

I im'd Nayzin today. We haven't talked to her in months. We met in Mandalay; I stayed at her uncle's hotel. After I came back, she sent me an invitation to her wedding, but I received it the day before it was to happen. We lost track of each other for a few years until she emailed me again out of the blue. She had moved to London with her husband and was in the process of figuring out how to live there.

As we talked, we shared photos. I sent her a link to the photos on my site and she commented as she looked through them. She told me that according to the dates on my photos, I arrived in Mandalay on this date five years ago. We realized it was the day we first met. I said that must be the reason I felt compelled to talk to her today. She laughed.
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So I finally got around to transferring all my data to a new host. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to reinstall and reimport my blogs. As a result I lost all my comments. But everything seems to be in working order at the moment. If you see anything wrong, please let me know.
listening to: keren ann, nolita
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November 14, 2005

Everything falls apart

Well, I don't have gout. The doctor told me the test results showed no crystals in the fluid. He doesn't think I've torn my meniscus either, because that doesn't usually come with as much fluid. He told me to take it easy, and to call every day to see whether the other test results had returned. He told me to go to my physical on Thursday and see if that helped supply any other information. And with that, I was out of the office.

I came home to no hot water. This morning, the super arrived to fix a drip in the bathroom sink. On the phone he said it would take ten minutes. Soon I could hear gushing coming out of the bathroom. "Ummm, do you have a towel?" he asked. Hot water was spewing out of the faucet. By the time the super had shut the water off, there was water all over the bathroom. I told him that it would soon be leaking into my neighbor's apartment. He said he needed to go to work first. Then he needed to get parts. He said he'd be back at three.

At three he came back. He looked around and said he needed to go to the store, but that he'd be back. He took a part and left. And so far he hasn't come back. Posted by eugene at

November 13, 2005


Please note. I'm moving to a new host, so this blog might be down now and again over the next few days. Thanks for your patience! Posted by eugene at

November 10, 2005

Knee updates

This morning I called my doctor again to see if he had any cancellations. I wanted someone to look at my leg. The receptionist said if I came in at 11.30, he'd try to squeeze me in.

The waiting room was full when I arrived. I filled out forms and waited. I read Time magazine and looked at James Natchwey's photographs. The special issue was on world health. Even as it told stories of world health heroes, the overall statistics were depressing. And then, too, I thought of the problem of health insurance in the States.

The doctor said that the problem was beyond him. He hazarded some guesses about the meniscus (a piece of cartilage betwen the bones of the leg), but said that I should see an orthopedic specialist. The receptionist gave me a list of names and I made an appointment for 12.30. It was 12. I took the elevator downstairs and jumped in a cab.

The orthopedic doctor took x-rays and then looked at my leg. He was surprised at the swelling. He said the x-rays looked fine, and then said he was going to drain the fluid. He brought out a turkey baster and a needle. He said it would hurt less the more relaxed I was. The needle pinched. The doctor told his receptionist to have another syringe ready in case he needed it. The liquid came out yellow. I asked if it was a good color. He said it was on the good side.

He prescribed an anti-inflammatory and told me to stay off the leg. He told me not to walk. He told me to come back Monday. They would run tests on the fluid and determine then whether to give me an MRI.

Earlier, I had asked him the provenance of his name. He told me to guess. He was certain that I wouldn't know. I guessed Hungarian. He looked thoughtful and said no. I was far; I should think south. He told me to think about it while I got my X-ray.

Back in my neighborhood, I bought a sandwich from a local cafe. As I waited, I listened in to a conversation next to me. A man was telling the owner he had to see his doctor about his knee. He had troubles with his meniscus. An old sports injury, he said. I picked up my sandwich and said goodbye. I limped into the street with meniscus in mind, wondering at the source of my swollen knee.
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November 9, 2005

On the affects of getting old

Saturday I woke up, my eyelids stuck together. Looking in the mirror, my red eyes looked back at me. On Monday, Simone had told me horror stories about the effects of bacterial pink eye if it isn't taken care of. I went to a local optometrist. He said that it looked like a reaction due to an allergy, but that it was nothing serious. He wrote a prescription, and sent me on my way.

On Tuesday, I woke up to find my knee slightly swollen. I couldn't do deep knee bends. I shrugged it off and went to work.

As the day went on, the swelling increased. A bump began to form above my knee. Ryan suggested I call the doctor. I said I'd wait and see what happened. When I came home, I called to find the doctor had already went home. I iced my knee for a few minutes and went out to dinner.

This morning, the swelling is slightly worse. I asked Lin if I should see a doctor. She chuckled at my alarm and noted that I probably didn't have much experience with sports related injuries. She said that I could make an appointment for Monday, but that I should take ibuprofen, ice the knee, and elevate it. She said I should keep off it. She said that I probably just twisted the knee while I was sleeping and pointed out we were all getting older. She pointed out that I did nothing for it on Tuesday, which was probably why it had become slightly more swollen. But she said that if there was no rendess, and no fever-like heat, the knee should heal itself.

I'm on the couch now, a zip lock bag of melting ice on my knee. I'm still taking eye drops for my conjunctivitis. I feel like an invalid.
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November 8, 2005

Tuesday, November 8th

Unlike the last election, there were no lines at the voter booths. I walked in, found my district, and signed in. One of my neighbors stood ahead of me. There was some confusion with his name. Whether it began with an N or an H. He bantered with the volunteers. I learned he was once a mailman; he stopped delivering mail in 1968, Once the spelling of his name was determined, he stepped aside and the volunteer found my name.

Once inside the voting booth, I began to pull levers. My neighbor entered the booth next to me. He began to sing. I heard a volunteer say, "No singing in the voting booth," then louder. "No singing in the voting booth!" My neighbor let his voice trail off. His mumbled words disappeared. I finished voting, returned the lever to its orignial position, and left. Posted by eugene at

November 1, 2005

All hallow's eve

Last night Henry threw his first party at his new apartment. It was a housewarming slash Halloween party. I dressed as the man with one red shoe. I wore one red shoe.

Apparently, no one remembers this apparently little seen Tom Hanks comedy gem. Apparently, it was terrible. I never saw the film. I just remembered the commercials.

The apartment was nice, the view was fantastic. I had told myself I wasn't going to eat sweets, but then saw the inside out peanut butter cups and the Billy's bakery cupcakes and I ended up eating and eating. The ginger beer was super tasty, and the wine was good.

I left around ten to look for Pia. She had gone to the parade. She didn't respond to my call, but im'd me when I had returned home. I asked her how the parade was. She said it sucked. She couldn't see a thing.
recently watched: + Sometimes in April
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