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I guess I just like liking things

WeHaveATechnicalI don’t really listen to the radio anymore. I didn’t like that I wasn’t hearing a lot of new music, so I started digging around for music podcasts. Many of these are basically a shift on a college radio station in your genre of choice. (Later on, I’ll collect these into a single column.) One of these music shows stands out, We Have A Technical. If you have ever spent a night of drinking talking about who’s the better drummer, or whether digital remasters ruin old records (Spoiler Alert: they do), then you need to check out We Have A Technical.
The name comes from a Gary Numan song, as does the name of the podcast’s parent blog: I Die You Die. The blog is a review and interview site for all things Industrial, though they do occasionally branch out into Goth rock and other spooky subgenres. I have always had a soft spot for the aggro keyboard rock, but the podcast has really helped me update my taste from the mid-nineties. (I have an embarrassing amount of KMFDM in my iTunes library.) The two hosts, Alex and Bruce are both club DJ’s with a huge breadth of genre knowledge to draw from. If you’ve ever spent an hour standing around talking at a record store, you’re going to love this show. The combination of reviews, discussions, and artist interviews keeps the show feeling fresh week to week. I’m particularly a fan of their record commentaries. As someone who has repeatedly annoyed people at the bar by forcing a two hour discussion about records that changed my life, I love this kind of breakdown of important records in the genre.
If you aren’t into the spooky keyboard rock, I am not sure there will be much for you here. However if you have even a passing interest in the music, you’ll find We Have A Technical to be a good way to find new bands worth checking out. If you want some specific episodes to start with, I recommend their album commentary for The Crow Soundtrack. If you’re still on board with that I then recommend you go with something a bit more contemporary and check out their interview with Youth Code.


lastDaveFrom the home office in Lafayette, Indiana, here are my ten favorite moments from the last Late Show (if you haven’t seen the last episode, it’s still here for the time being):

10. The look back at Taco Bell skit (video). It’s one of the best remotes Dave ever did, certainly, but that kind of thing always made me squirm a little. I’m not entirely sure why Taco Bell agreed to it.

9. Dave’s goodbyes to the crew/The closing credits (Tie). Not overly sentimental, but touching in their own way.

8. Dave’s family in the audience. Harry sure looked uncomfortable the whole time, though!

7. Dave giving a shout-out to Harry’s friend, Tommy. I love that on the last night he’s doing his show, an episode 33 years in the making, there’s this minute where Dave’s introducing his son’s friend on national television. And, man! Harry gets so psyched about that! “Dad’s retiring after 33 years of TV? Meh. Tommy gets mentioned? HECK YEAH!”

6. Steve Martin’s entry in the Top Ten List: “Your extensive plastic surgery was a necessity and a mistake.”

5. Dave’s excitement over having Peyton Manning in the lineup for the Top Ten List. Here are all these other huge stars, and the one Dave geeks out about the most is Peyton Manning.

4. Dave’s joke at the beginning of the monologue: “I’ll be honest with you: it’s beginning to look like I’m not going to get the Tonight Show.”

3. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s entry in the Top Ten List: “Thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale.” With the accompanying look from Jerry Seinfeld. (video)

2. The ending song (“Everlong”) by Foo Fighters, with the accompanying look back on all the years of Dave’s shows. (video)

1. The look behind the scenes on a normal day for the Late Show. Apparently Dave got in very early every morning (a little after 6!) to beat traffic, and then took a nap. I really enjoyed seeing a little bit of his interactions with the staff and what went into making the show. (video)


I promised the next batch wouldn’t be late, and well. I lied. Sick kids really throws a wrench into just about everything.

picturebook7474. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

I actually had to just look this book up with my tried and true YouTube method of unattainable books. We had this on loan from the library for awhile, but it was Mr. Meags that read the book to Peanut, and for some reason, she refused to let me read it to her. She wanted to skip to the last page, and that was the only part of the story she was willing to admit existed. There’s an entertaining stop-motion animation if you are so inclined.

Basically, a bear is walking along and asking several animals he comes across if anyone has seen his hat. Later on, he realizes that one of the animals, a rabbit, HAS seen his hat, and lied about it. So basically, he goes and eats the rabbit. Then a squirrel asks if he has seen a rabbit wearing a hat, and he says “No, don’t ask me any more questions!” Apparently, the bear eating the rabbit was a bit much for Peanut.

This book is the first I’ve noticed that has a New York Times book review. So it must be special. It even spawned a meme.

picturebook7373. May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

This was a favorite. It has a simple rhyme that is kind of melodic to read, which lots of repetition. Peanut requested it a lot. Each time the King and Queen invite the narrator for tea, or lunch, or whatever, he asks to bring a friend, and it is always a different animal. Peanut liked to point out the animals and name them when prompted. At the end, the narrator invites the King and Queen to the zoo to meet his “friends.” It’s very charming.

The author of this book also worked with Maurice Sendak, and wrote a few books under a psuedonym. Writing was a second career for her, as she was a social worker for the US and in a Yugoslav camp.

picturebook7272. But Not The Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton

This is one of my favorite Sandra Boynton books. We have many of her board books, as they are great for small children. Peanut is almost 4 and was not as enthralled with this book as younger kids might be, but it was still good. Peanut’s little sister, here to be known as Sweatpea, was marginally interested, but as she hasn’t quite hit one year yet, so all in good time.

The story is about animals doing fun things, but the hippopotamus is continually left out. Near the end, the animals all come and ask the hippo to join them, but now the armadillo is left out. It’s cute, and rhyming, and the illustrations are in that Boynton cutesy style. The book is an older one, published in 1982, but continues to be in print. Spoiler alert – we will be seeing more of Boynton.

picturebook7171. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

I had seen this one frequently in libraries on display and when I worked at Barnes & Noble, but I had never flipped through it before. Peanut seemed to like it okay, although it didn’t really hit home for her until we saw some bats in a habitat at the zoo. It kind of clicked for her then. But the story is cute, about a baby fruit bat that gets separated from its mother and falls into a birds nest. Stellaluna tries to fit into the nest life with the other birds, but she finds it difficult. Eventually, she is reunited with her bat family, but remains friends with her bird “siblings.” The final few pages have some educational notes about bat species.

This book is apparently even more famous than I perceived. It has been made into a film, was featured on Reading Rainbow, and won a slew of awards. Not to mention, it has also been adapted into a puppet stage production. The author has written some other books, but none of them seemed familiar.

picturebook7070. Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas

This book was short but very cute. There are 4 dust bunnies in an array of colors, and they spout of rhyming words together, except one who isn’t shouting “look out!” They quickly dodge an incoming broom, but in the middle of another bout of rhyming action, they get sucked up into a vacuum cleaner. It is the perfect length for a preschooler’s attention span, and somewhat educational too.

The author has written a sequel entitled Here Comes the Big Mean Dust Bunny! There is also a cute activity where kids can fill in the speech bubbles with that they think the dust bunnies might be saying. The School Library Journal article on the book includes pictures of most of it, and some people dressed up in costumes of the dust bunnies, so that’s new and different.


I hope you enjoyed this list and maybe found some new books you are interested in reading to the rugrats in your life. Next up, our first audio book and now I can never not have children’s stories playing while I drive the kids around…


I stayed up to watch Letterman last night even though I was DVRing it and even though I knew I’d have a rough go of things today. Even though tonight’s episode is officially the last one, last night’s show was the “last” guest, Bill Murray, who was also Dave’s first guest twice. In an age where most people watch most things time-delayed, I really wanted to watch this one as it happened rather than read about it and then see it.

Someone made the observation that's he's dirtier here than he was at the end of Ghostbusters

Someone made the observation that he’s dirtier here than he was at the end of Ghostbusters

I’m not sorry I did it.

As I’ve mentioned, I haven’t been watching Letterman much in recent years, mostly because of the time he’s on. When I lived in Wisconsin, he came on at 10:35, over at 11:35. Here in Eastern time, he doesn’t start til 11:35, so that midnight:35 is pretty late when I need to be at work at 7a. But watching last night didn’t feel like I had lost any time at all.

There’s all the arguments and thinkpieces about how Dave’s lost his edge and is softer now after 30+ years in the biz and having had heart surgery, but none of that matters much to me. Dave’s brand of humor is something that’s always hit home for me, for the most part. People who say “so-and-so is better/funnier because they got better ratings than Dave” cause me to roll my eyes so hard they hurt for a week. Arguing from a “more popular = better” stance is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard, and, again, it doesn’t much matter to me what people think about the stuff I like. I like what I like.

Watching last night was a weird mix of emotions. At its core, it was just another episode of The Late Show. Same kind of jokes, same sort of bits, all very familiar. I laughed outloud at some, shook my head at others, and before too long it was all done. Fastest hour of TV I’ve watched in a long time. Regis showed up, and it was great to see him (boy, he looks a lot older than I expected!), and you can tell he honestly does love Dave. Dave doesn’t do emotion all that well (we Midwesterners have a hard time with such things), but you could almost tell there was an inkling that he might sort of maybe a little have a certain level of fondness for Regis, too.

Dave had Rupert Jee on for a chat, and showed a video of some of their “Rupert does what Dave tells him to do over an earpiece” highlights, and I sat there and thought, “I’ve met him! I talked to Rupert!” and that made it more surreal and also more special to think back on all the times I saw him on the show. He really seems like a guy that’s just going to keep on working at his deli whether or not there’s a David Letterman in the same building as him.

Then Bill Murray showed up, inside a giant cake. And then cake got all over Dave, and it was there for the rest of the show and that just made me think, “yep, that’s Dave.” His second-to-last show ever, and he’s got frosting all over him for a half hour or more of it. They showed a highlight reel of Bill’s previous visits, and the thing I love about Bill Murray’s visits and the stunts he pulled is that they’re just Bill. Sure, they’re over-the-top and ridiculous and sometimes make you think “what in the world was that?”, but they never seem desperate or “HEY LOOK AT ME” like some other famous comedians I could name but won’t. They were just Bill, and I’m glad he was the last official guest. Very fitting.

Bob Dylan showed up to sing and I could understand all his words, and it was fine. I swear he and Adam Sandler look more and more alike as time goes on. Bob didn’t really seem like he wanted to be there, but it was nice that he was.

I feel like I’ll be sad while watching tonight. It’s hard to explain exactly why. It’s just a show, Dave’s just a guy who cracked jokes and talked to famous people and sometimes had pets on to do silly things. But it was something to count on, I guess, something I could miss for weeks at a time but then pick right back up and not feel out of place. There was something comforting about a cranky guy being on TV every night, and something inspiring about it, too. I’ll miss him like the last generation probably misses Johnny Carson, but I feel like I’ll miss Dave more than they missed Johnny. Dave is such a huge part of the sense of comedy I’ve built over the years, and a presence that was always just kind of there. I suspect we won’t hear much from him after he’s done tonight, and he’s certainly earned that, but I’m certainly going to miss him.

How many of you will be watching along with me tonight?


Yes, someone has already made the "Milder Wind" joke

Yes, someone has already made the “Milder Wind” joke

A couple years back, I listened to Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More” album a grillion times. It didn’t leave my car’s CD player for weeks. When “Babel” came out, I listened to it not as much, maybe only a half-grillion times (scientists are still unsure what to name a half-grillion, so it remains “half-grillion” to this day). So when a new Mumford & Sons album was announced, I was pretty fired up for it.

…until it was announced that there weren’t going to be any banjos and fiddles and what-not.

I was majorly bummed by the news. It made no sense. Their sound was what made them stand out, why throw that away? My whole world was crashing down.  Well, not my whole world, but the Mumford & Sons part of it, anyway.

I decided to by it when it came out two weeks ago, just to see for myself. I listened to it that first time and made a lot of “blech” faces and tried to imagine what the songs would sound like with fiddles and mandolins. When it was done, I thought “Ugh. Well, I guess I better try it again to make sure.”

That was two weeks ago tomorrow and the CD hasn’t left my car’s player since. I’m not saying it’s great, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t prefer banjos et al, but it is enjoyable and I’m starting to sing along with some songs here and there. So take that for what it’s worth.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, it’s track #6 (“Monster”) that has the major cuss. I don’t know why they do that, but there it is.