Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday Morning Mix

I recently had a little surgery done and this was my mix to drown out the pain. I love that they let you listen to your mp3 players on the operating table. Enjoy "Drown out the Pain"
Artwork by Henriette Valium

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Coffee Talk

The Law of Attraction
Recently I was asked to watch The Secret by my wife, and it has me thinking about the law of attraction. The bases for the concept is that the thoughts you have attract goods, health, people, etc to you. You basically create your life through your thoughts, and it is your belief in the reality of those thoughts that actually make them a reality. You are sending your thoughts into the universe and the universe is adjusting to meet your request. The process comes back to the law of attraction because what you put out, positive or negative, will come back to you. This would mean that you can create your future by focusing on what you want and allowing the universe to deliver it to you.

While watching this video I was consistently thinking, where is God? Are these, in a way, prayer requests or are these people feeling that it is their own power that can create reality? I was always taught not to pray for money or houses or cars, so therefore I will ask the universe and not God for those material items. Is faith the same as focusing on your thoughts?

With any theory there are positive and negative aspect, and they should be evaluated thoroughly before faith is placed in them. My question tonight is have you seen The Secret and what are your thoughts on the law of attraction? Talk amongst yourselves...

Orange Alert's Music Minute

1. The future of Internet Radio - On April 17th I received an e-mail from Tim Westergren (founder of Pandora) asking for help in saving internet radio. On May 15th the royalty rates that are being charged to internet radio will triple, and make it very difficult for the smaller stations to stay in business. The new rate will be four times higher then the rate charged to satellite radio, and broadcast radio does not have to pay anything at all. Many internet radio sites have formed a coalition and are asking anyone interested to sign this petition.

2. Land of Talk is everywhere - Not only are Canadians Land of Talk mentioned in both Spin and Paste this month, but they also stopped AOL's The Interface to play four songs and talk to The DL's Sarah Schaefer. They also announced US tour with The Rosebuds starting next month.

3. Sebadoh Reissued - Domino Records announced this week that they will be reissuing Sebadoh's first album The Freed Pig on July 10th. The single disc will contain 52 track, many of which had never been released. Sebadoh is also currently on tour.

4. Demetri Martin is the funniest man alive - In this month's issue of Spin NY comedian Demetri Martin gives you his tips for surviving the summer music festivals. Tip number 1 is "squirreling" overeat during the days leading up to the festival to avoid overpaying for festival food.

5. Clutchy Hopkins Update - The blogger who puts together "A World of Logical Consequences", Patrick Snajder, has done his homework and come to the conclusion that Clutchy is actually Cut Chemist. Check it out.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Watch List

1. Paul Duncan - A Texan living in Brooklyn and recording in Chicago may seem strange but Paul Duncan has assemble a great band and a great album "Above the Trees" due out on Hometape 5/1. Check out: The Lake, Pt 2 (mp3)
2. Subjekt Abnormal - Hailing from Conneticut, Subjekt has k-the-i??? in his corner at they are making some incredible hip-hop.
3. Skallander - This duo from New Zealand will look to make it happen in 2007.

1. Caleb Puckett has released his new chapbook, Desertions, through Plan B press. It is only $9 and it is a can't miss, buy it today!
2. Nick Ostdick has an interesting new story on entitled "The Sleeping Shags" published on Identity Theory.
3. Saul Williams' open letter to Oprah Winfrey - This, for the most part, is very well written, but who knows if Oprah will every read it. My only problem is this line: "The gangsters that rule Hip Hop are the same gangsters that rule our nation. 50 Cent and George Bush have the same birthday (July 6th)."

1. Apple MacBook - Pro with a 17" monitor - $2,799
2. The Mega Caffeine Candy Sampler v6.0 - $22.99

1. Blanket is a new zine that has put a unique twist on web publishing. They still publish an issue each month, but they have chosen to release it in four parts. They release a part each Sunday, so look out for the April Issue Part 4 tomorrow, but download parts 1-3 while you wait.

1. The "Hillary Clinton as IBM" Barak Obama ad. Is me or is there a deeper meaning?
2. Who is Clutchy Hopkins? Part 1 and see part 2 below:

Saturday Morning Cartoon

This morning while you enjoy a big bowl of Smurf Berry Crunch, watch this animated video from Tacks, The Boy Disaster.

Forget Me Not

Friday, April 27, 2007

Band of the Week

Black Moth Super Rainbow

Close your eyes and image that you are a robot, painted pink with flowers and rainbows. You are mechanically running through a field of digital grass and artificial heather, approaching your equally robotic soul mate. The sun is fluorescent and bright, reflecting off of the tin and polish of the two of you and your spring of robo-love. You collide with a clank as springs and bolts are exposed in this afternoon of hot synchronized delight. Now open your eyes, you have just experienced the sound of the Pittsburgh band Black Moth Super Rainbow (BMSR).

The details surrounding the band members is somewhat of a mystery, if you look at their myspace page the members are listed as follows; tobacco, the seven fields of aphelion, power pill fist, iffernaut and father hummingbird. But is it really important as long as they continue to make amazingly spaced-out robotic jams. Even though they have been releasing music as BMSR since 2003, my first exposure to their sound was through their release last year with The Octopus Project "The House of Apples & Eyeballs". That disc was amazing, but it was hard to tell what BMSR would sound like on their own. However, after listening their new album "Dandelion Gum", out May 15th on the great Chicago label Graveface, their is no doubt that they had a big impact on the Apples & Eyeballs record. Dandelion Gum is an amazing album that almost tells a story, possible the story I told above, but their is definitely a story of love and loss mixed in with these electronic sounds.

Check Out: Black Moth Super Rainbow - Sun Lips (live)

Sun Lips (mp3)
Lost, Picking Flowers in the Wood (mp3)
Drippy Eye (mp3)

Dandelion Gum (5/15/07 Graveface)
Forever Heavey/Jump into my Mouth and Breath the Stardust/Melt me/Lollipopsicord/ They Live in the Meadow/Sun Lips/Rollerdisco/Neon Syrup for the Cemetary Sisters/The Afternoon Turns Pink/When The Sun Grows on Your Tongue/Spinning Cotton Candy in a Shack Made of Shingles/Drippy Eye/Lost, Picking Flowersin the Woods/Caterpillar House/Wall of Gum/Untitled Roadside Demo

Pre-order Dandelion Gum here.

Spiracle (mp3) from House of Apples & Eyeballs
Psychic Swelling (mp3) from House of Apples & Eyeballs

For more infomation on Black Moth Super Rainbow (and more mp3's) visit their website.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Writer's Corner

John Peter Kay

What inspires a writer to record a small piece of life that to some may be mundane or not worth the effort can vary, but the importance of the writer's surroundings can not be overstated. A moment or a view or an interesting individual has to feel unique to the writer, and in some way temporary enough to warrant a poem or a story. There are two events that can make the entire world unique, the birth of your first child and relocating to a foreign land. Writer John Peter Kay is from North East England, but he is currently living in Daejon, South Korea with his wife Kyong Lan. They are expecting their first child this July. There is inspiration around every corner, and John is attempting to record his experiences and share them with the world.

Recently, John was kind enough to answer a few of our questions on writing, South Korea, and his future.

Orange Alert (OA): Your writing style seems very conversational, how would you describe your style?
John Peter Kay (JK): I wouldn't know where to begin to describe my writing style. I'd leave that job to my readers, to the critics, publishers and magazine editors. Saying that though my writing used to be threaded though with surrealistic images or perspectives be it prose or poetry it was always tied down, held to the world by the building up of realistic observation and detail. For example, there may have been a two headed woman sat at the bar in the pub but her fingers were nicotine stained, her accent local and as rough as gravel and the lust holding me to her as real as the traffic going passed outside the grimy pub window. Now though I take my cue even more so from the world around me and leave the surrealism to others: the world is cruel, strange and beautiful enough as it is.

OA: Who are some of your biggest literary influences?
JK: The fact there was always a typewriter or two about the house when I was a child. I didn't use them as much as I should have but the fact that they were there with their letters keys all splayed out shiny or dusty for use. A smudge of ink on my fingers as I tried to change a ribbon. I remember my Dad pounding away on one of them trying to write his memoirs about his time in the army and being a long distance truck driver. He told me plenty of the stories but he never finished writing them or if he did he never let on. My Grandfather never set out to type up his memoirs but his stories about his capture and subsequent escape from being a prisoner of war in both Greece and Italy during WW2 are still percolating in the back brain until I can do them justice. Influences??? Bob Dylan for his imagery, the cubist eloquence of Highway61 Revisited and his playfulness. I know there's that old chestnut about whether his lyrics stand alone as poetry or not. I don't give a monkeys. I'm inspired and that's that. William S. Burroughs for his fierce scathing humour, savage take on the modern world and for facing death head on. The Scottish Poet Ivor Cutler for the intensity, the strangeness and the beauty of his work. One of his poems is from the point of view of butterfly raging against the world's most dangerous animal: man. Don Delillo. Kurt Vonnegut. Ray Bradbury for Death is a Lonely Business. The Marx brothers. James Kelman. Laurel and Hardy.

OA: How has the internet (blogs, lit mags, publishers etc) affected you as a writer?
JK: I don't really see that it has affected me as a writer other than to make it easier to find information, submit work or to contact someone on the other side of the globe. I still write long hand and when I mention my notebook it is just that, a notebook. Vulnerable to rain and snow and full of scribbled and scrawled observations, lists, dreams, quotes, missives, the odd sketch and general diary entries. Not a flat, sleek laptop of the same name.

OA: Do you listen to music while you write?
JK: Five or six years ago I would listen to music (possibly some scratchy opera 78s or Fats Waller) drink cheap, dry, white wine and smoke spliffs in that tiny kitchen with the view of the garden (we had no acess to) whilst hammering away on my imperial good companion typewriter, but now the only music I write to is the sound of passing traffic, the unbridled wailing of children playing out the back and occasionally my wife turning over in her sleep. I bought some CDs when I was back in England. In my friend Tom B's recordshop ( Sound It Out Records in Stockton, Cleveland) I found a compilation called Death Room Blues with great tunes from Leadbelly, Sleepy John Estes, Bukka White, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Boy Fuller and more besides. I also purchased Neil Young's Tonight's The Night. He also did me a copy of the new Mogwai album, which is the soundtrack to the documentary film Zidane. From Folk Devils record shop in Whitby, North Yorkshire I bought the new Tinariwen album +10:1. They're Touareg from northern Mali in North Eastern Africa. I saw it in the shop window and had to have it.I'd heard a track on Andy Kershaw's show on BBC Radio 3. I recommend the band, the album and the DJ. Last but not least I received a copy of Woody Guthrie's Songs of Saccoand Vancetti from my other good friend Tom R in Brighton. Who also gave me a copy of a live recording of his ensemble who are noise merchant's going under the moniker Daguerreotype. That at least gives you a taste of what I'm listening to.

OA: How has the shift from England to South Korea affected your writing?
JK: Moving to South Korea has given my writing a whole new lease of life because everything is different, or so it seems from my jaundiced western eyes from greetings, the corner shop, the food on my plate, traffic, toilets, etiquette, booze, the landscape, everything. Also because I'm notliving in my own country I find there's less pressure on me. I can like the cliche says be who I want to be. And I want to be a writer, so I have time and just enough space to write.

OA: What's next for John Peter Kay ( ie publications, readings)?

JK: When I told my friend Mike that I only worked two days a week he challenged me to produce a first draft of a novel by the end of the year, so there's that. I'm also hoping to get my head down and write a story with or without the theme of memory. Then a few more inspired by my recent travels.The aim is to get a short story collection together again by the end of the year (if not sooner) and start sending it out to publishers and magazines. The key is to keep writing. Like Uncle Anton said write, write, write till your fingers break.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? if yes what is your favourite kind of coffee and what is your favourite coffe place?
JK: Of late it's been my drug of choice: double espresso. A good place to drink a coffee, though I haven't been there in many a moon is the cafe on the 10th floor of the Saeronam church in Manyon-dong in Daejon, South Korea. The coffee is good and strong. They do a lovely line in cookies encrusted with smarties ( bright, primary coloured children's sweeties, I don't know if you call them that in the U.S?). The place is ran by volunteers primarily well dressed middle aged women who are too busy talking to each other to bother me. And the view over west Daejon, the towers of the government complex bestows a calm upon on a person high up, free from the hubbub, insanity and suicidal tendencies of rush hour Korean style.

OA: What is the last great book you read?
JK: Howard Zinn's The People's History of The United States is one. The People's Act of Love by James Meek is another. Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. Sorry I've given you three but they're all such great big juicy books, with ideas and writing you can get your teeth into.

For more information on John Peter Kay visit his blog, and for a sample of his writing check out the current issue of "Crush to Pulp" and he will also be in the May edition of Crush to Pulp.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Artist of the Week

Jude Buffum

Jude Buffum is better know as the beard-sporting half of Philadelphia-based design and illustration duo Headcase Design, whose work has been featured in publications such as Graphics, Communication Arts, Print, and American Illustration, among others. They designed and illustrated the best-selling book The Baby Owner's Manual for Quirk Books, and have designed books for such pop-culture phenomena as the Broadway show "Wicked" and HBO's "The Sopranos".

In addition to the collaborative work he has done with Paul Kepple at Headcase, Jude has also forged his own style of painting inspired by the pixelated 8-bit graphics of classic video games, and created a line of pixelated plush toys called " BiTZ" with his wife Amy.

Having spent many hours manipulating these pixels around as a child, I was immediately drawn to Jude's work and had to find out more about the process behind these wonderful pieces.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you define your work?
Jude Buffum (JB): I see it as an exploration of video game language and symbolism as an avenue toward social commentary. A study in digital mythology, if you will, for understanding how we’ve gotten to this point, and where we might be headed. Though I started out doing “parody” pieces (that involved existing game characters) I have been slowly moving away from those into more original works that still retain the conceptual elements that I feel are so interesting.

In the sense that my work is informed by a pop culture influence like 8-bit video games, I guess to an art critic it might fall under the ever-expanding umbrella of the new Lowbrow movement. I like to use the phrase “Synthetic Paintings for an Increasingly Artificial World” because they are first created in the digital realm before they become tangible pieces of art.

OA: I enjoy your Nintendo vs politics pieces, where did the concept for these pieces originate?
JB: In March of 2004 I was at a classic gaming convention and came upon these Atari paintings by a young artist named Aimee Dingman. They were just renderings of Atari characters, but I was immediately struck by their graphic simplicity and the warm wave of nostalgia that washed over me. Around the same time I had been venting my political frustrations through my graphic design, but there were a lot of other people doing that, and frankly I was growing a little weary of Hitler moustaches photoshopped onto Bush. I was searching for a more original way to strike back. It was then I realized these megalomaniacal people running our country into the ground had actually surpassed the evil 8-bit villains I’d battled in my youth. Megaman needed to stop wasting his time on a two-bit thug like Dr. Wily and take out a real supervillain like Karl Rove or Dick Cheney.

OA: Where does computer generated art "fit in" to the current day art community?
JB: I think it’s just another tool, like paint or clay or the camera obscura. What’s important is if it’s the right tool to communicate your idea and vision. Since my interest lies in exploring the language and symbolism of early video games, it was a no-brainer. There is, however, a great deal of back and forth between working inside and outside of the computer. I typically sketch my ideas out first on paper and then execute them on the computer. From there I will either paint them in acrylic, or do limited edition giclee prints on canvas that I stretch on wood frames. What’s interesting with my work is that people often can’t tell the difference between the real paintings and the “synthetic” ones (the prints). I think that right there just underscores the fact that, no matter how physical or digital the medium, the ideas and images come from within the artist.

OA: What has been your proudest moment as an artist?
JB: The work that I’ve done with Paul at Headcase has brought us a lot of awards and accolades, but I feel like I’m still finding my way as an artist with my solo work. I hope that my proudest moment in that regard has yet to occur.

OA: Do you listen music while you create? Who are some of your favorite musicians to listen while working and in general? How does their music affect your product?
JB: Well of course I obsessively listen to video game cover bands like the Minibosses and Entertainment System, but I spend at least twelve hours a day listening to music, so my taste is pretty broad. I wouldn’t say any one artist or genre inspires me more than the rest; any really great music fires up my competitive need to try and create something no one has seen before. I don’t have as much time as I’d like to discover new music, so I tend to listen to whatever my friends recommend. Or blog sites like this one.

OA: What is next for Jude Buffum?
JB: I currently have four paintings, a series entitled Happy Endings, in the I Am 8-Bit show at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles. It’s the same gallery that my wife and I had an installation of our BiTZ (Pixelated Palz) at back in January. I’m really inspired by “pervasive artists” like Gary Baseman (who coined the term) who seek to apply their creative vision to every outlet available, whether it be fine art for galleries, commercial illustration, or art toys. I guess the plan is to keep promoting the BiTZ, keep painting for the gallery shows, and promote my work for more commercial projects.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
JB: Eight O’Clock’s Hazelnut blend feeds my daily addiction. When I need something stronger, Café Lift next door makes a great Latte, and the Chapterhouse (where I’ve had my art displayed before) has a great drink called a “Black and Tan” that is this amazing combination of espresso, chocolate, and peanut butter. It’s amazing.

OA: What is your all-time favorite video game?
JB: Warlords, for the Atari 2600. It was one of the first four player video games. When I was a kid I used to play it all night with my younger brother and parents. Very fond memories. And recent tournaments have proved that I can still kick anyone’s ass at it. Anyone.

For more information on Jude Buffum, or purchase his pieces or a plush BiTZ toy, visit his website or myspace.

New Release Tuesday

1. Lifesavas - Gutterfly: The Original Soundtrack

2. The Veils - Nux Vomica

3. Avey Tare & Kria Brekkan - Pullhair Rubeye

4. Artic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare

5. Alex Delivery - Star Destroyer (mp3)
6. The Blow - Poor Aim: Love Songs (Reissue)
7. Dntel - Dumb Luck (mp3)
8. OOIOO - Eye Remix Ep
9. Polyrhythm Addicts - Break Glass...
10.Young Galaxy - Young Galaxy (mp3)
11. Future Clouds & Radar - Future Clouds & Radar (mp3)
12. Patti Smith - Twelve (mp3)
13. Pela - Anytown Grafitti (find mp3's here)
14. The Alchemist - Rappers' Best Friend
15. The Electric Soft Parade - No Need To Be Downhearted (find mp3's here)
16. All Smiles - Ten Readings of a Warning Dangerbird (mp3)
17. The Night Watchman - One Man Revolution
18. The Detroit Cobras - Tied & True (find mp3's here)
19. Grails - Burning Off Impurities (find mp3's here)
20. Midnight Movies - Lion the Girl (find mp3's here)


Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday Morning Mix

In putting together the mixes for the last two weeks I had the pleasure of digging through all of my old cassettes. In digging, I was looking for mainly one tape, it was the first mixtape that i was ever given. It was the summer of 1993, and I was still listening to the radio (Metallica, Megadeth, Spin Doctors, etc.). A girl that I liked and later "dated" (we were 14) gave me this incredible mixtape. I can honestly say it changed my life! Enjoy "A Tape for You!"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Coffee Talk

This past week I received the May/June 2007 issue of Foreign Policy, and immediately the cover story caught my eye; "21 Solutions to Save the World". Each solution is written by a different contributor, and is directed at a specific problem facing the world today. The most interesting aspect of the article is the 21 issues the chose to solve.

1. Dictators
2. Medicare for the Poor
3. Climate Change
4. Inequality
5. Religious Extremists
6. Gender Inequality
7. The Drug War
8. Russia's Dying Democracy
9. The Failure of Foreign Aid
10. A Forgotten Treaty
11. Oil Dependency
12. The War on Terror
13. Malnutrition
14. Anti-Americanism
15. Internet Security
16. The AIDS Pandemic
17. Illiberal Democracy
18. Malaria
19. Poverty
20. Nuclear Proliferation
21. Simple Solutions

In your opinion does this cover it, and why do you think these were chosen? What are the biggest issues a global level right now? Talk amongst yourselves...

Orange Alert's Music Minute

1. Who is Clutchy Hopkins? (This is from his myspace page)
"When Clutchy was just 20 years old he traveled to the Far East and was under the tutelage of Rinzai Zen monks in Japan for many years investigating silence and the rhythms of silence in music. Later, he studied Raja Yoga in India to master and articulate the movements of the body and its relation to sound. In his autobiography Clutchy relates his fascination with drums and their effect on consciousness so he decided to travel to Lagos, Nigeria to study with a master percussionist by the name Oba-lu-Funke. During his stay there he became a political revolutionary and gun-runner, and staged rebel missions to fight the oppressive government and its policies of Apartheid. During his intensive studies and travels, Clutchy was constantly recording music." Some say it is Dj Shadow, some Madlib, other Cut Chemist, but who ever Clutchy is he is creating quite the mystery and some excellent beats. Check it out: Air ft MF Doom (mp3)

2. Fields - If you are looking through the names on the Lollapalooza roster, there may be a few you haven't heard before. If Fields was one of them, here is your introduction to this British band on the verge of a releasing their debut full-length album "Everything Last Winter" (It was released in the U.K. on 4/2/07). You can preview the album here. Just don't get them confused with The Field or Field Music (or Leftfield for the matter). Download: If You Fail We All Fail (mp3)

3. Dan Govier (aka Lights.on) is currently preparing to release the follow-up album to last year's brilliant release "Tape". There is more to come on that topic, but in the meantime download the latest release from Dan's other project with Zach Johnston, We Will Build. Back in March they released an EP entitled "Liphe Sounds", and each song is built from various found sounds collected in January 2007 in Baraboo, WI.

4. Glue wraps up there month long "3 The Hard Way Tour" this week in Kentucky, and somehow they managed to visit 29 cities in 33 days. In case you haven't heard the music of Glue they are now offering a free mega mix on their myspace page.

5. The Decemberists recently stated that they will not be playing at Lollapalooza, and I was pretty upset. However, on Thursday (4/19) they annouced that they will be in Chicago on July 18th for a free concert in Millennium Park with the Grant Park Orchestra. Incedible!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Watch List

1. Bleubird - If you enjoyed last year's Subtle release, then you have to hear the latest from Bleubird. Their new album , Rip U$A, was released in Canada in February, and contains abstract rhymes galore. Check out: Duct Tape Rub(bear)room (mp3)
2. Clara Clara - Electro Dance punks from France! Is there anything better? Check Out: Les Peins Succes (mp3)
3. Fern Knight - Philly, PA has put forth this graceful and delicate group called Fern Knight. Who says the harp can't rock? Check out: Bemused part ii (mp3)

1. The Winning Card by Doris Meissner and James Ziglar - Can linking biometrics to all newly issued social security cards solve the immigrations issues? I wonder what other implications that type of change will have.
2. Cubs Saturday, 1984 by Arnold S. Wolfe - This is a great story about about a sunny at Wriggly with the family that you wish you still were. Very well done!
3. Cadence Weapon's Guest List - I typically enjoy this weekly feature on Pitchfork, but Cadence Weapon has made this weeks exceptional.

1. 2007 Scion XB - In Shadow Mica please... $14,610
2. War-HUH- What's it Good For? Absolutely Nothin' (set of 3 prints) from Doug Boehm - $66.99
3. Korova Orange Special T-Shirt by Ole Ivar Rudi - $15 -$17

1. Oddica Issue #5 - This is an amazing magazine that is devoted to the art community, and it is free.
2. twohundredby200 April Issue - The theme for this issue is Truth.

1. Morrissey on Jimmy Kimmel last Night! He still has it!
2. In honor of the new movie (4/27) "Kickin' It Old Skool", I've been watching this:

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Enjoy a big bowl of Apple Jacks, and watch this new animated video from Apples is Stereo.

Can You Feel it? (Final Cut)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Band of the Week

Dog Day

When you think of the German record label Tomlab images of electronic and ambient drones or solo Casio warbels, but straight up aggressive rock quartet never! That is until recently, when Tomlab signed their first ever traditional rock group, Dog Day, from Halifax, NS. The band is comprised of two girls (Nancy Urich and Crystal Thili) and two boys (Casey Spindle and Seth Smith), and these four bring a great jangle pop sound that will surely be played loudly all summer. The band is set to release their debut full-length album, Night Group, in the US on June 12th. They had previously released an EP in 2005 had bought some Canadian press, but the album come easily sound their arrival on the world stage.

Check out their video for Lydia:

Dog Day is currently touring Canada, but hopefully we will see them in the states in the near future. For all of their tour dates and any further information on this band go here or here)

Oh Dead Life (mp3)
Lydia (mp3)

Night Group (Tomlab, 6/12/07)
Lydia/End of the World/Oh Dead Life/Career Suicide/Know Who You Are/Vow/Gayhorse/Night Group/Sleeping, Waiting/Defeat/Great Pains/Bright Light

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Writer's Corner

Blake Butler

Of each writer that I have interviewed I have asked the same question: "How has the internet affected you as a writer?" I have received a number of varied responses, and I was never sure what I was really looking for with that question. However, Atlanta writer Blake Butler, has giving me a reason to continue to ask that question. In his response to a different question he states the following: "I also love flash because I love online publishing, and I think it's hard to read things longer than 1000 words or so on a computer". It seems that the internet has possibly created, and completely and lovingly developed flash fiction. It is the immediacy of our society that has demanded flash fiction, shorter chapters in novels, and much more tightly edited and compact poetry. These new styles allow the reader to sample many different writers in a short amount of time without feeling like they are missing something. Flash fiction has many of the same qualities of longer prose, but it is much more concise.

Blake Butler not only creates extremely interesting pieces of flash fiction, he has recently started writing a series of lists entitled "2500". His goal is to create 50 lists of 50 items each, and these lists are wonderful to read and could be considered a form of poetry. It is the topics and the humor that make these lists a must read. He has already had a few of these lists published in Juked, Hobart, MiPOesias, and forthcoming in Diagram, Noo Journal, and Copper Nickel.

Recently, Blake, was kind enough to answer a few of our questions on flash fiction, music, and more.

Orange Alert (OA): "Fake Fire and Rescue" is one of the most captivating pieces of short fiction that I have ever read. Where did the idea for this piece come from?
Blake Butler (BB): Thanks for saying so. If I remember right, the whole thing came out of the title. I was driving and saw this old-style fire truck on the street, and it said 'Fire & Rescue' on the side. I'd forgotten how half of a firefighter's job is the 'rescue' part. I like the way it sounded. Besides that, the truck looked pretty jacked and old, almost like a replica, so the idea of building a copy of it seemed feasible. The rest kind of burgeoned out from there. One of the best ways I've found to make stories off of an idea like that is lists, part of which showed up in the story itself. Nothing beats a good list.

OA: Who are your biggest literary influences?
BB: David Foster Wallace was the one who made me want to become a writer. Before him I hadn't gotten into a lot of contemporary fiction. I read 'Infinite Jest' and thought, oh wow, people are allowed to say these kind of things in fiction. That book opened up world upon world, both as a reader and a writer. You can include me in the DFW fanboy allegiance. I was similarly obsessed with Cormac McCarthy, particularly the Appalachian novels. I read everything he'd written in the span of a week after stumbling on 'Blood Meridian.' Other people I'd call big influences would be Stephen Dixon, Nicholson Baker, Donald Barthelme, Roald Dahl, George Saunders, Barry Hannah. I also consider the work of David Lynch to be just as much of an influence on my writing as any book. The way he thinks about and uses imagery is so volatile and stays with you, and I guess that's what I strive for. I like more than an average touch of the ridiculous and/or grotesque.

OA: What is it about Flash or short fiction that is most appealing to you? Have you perceived a blurring of the distinction between fiction and poetry?
BB: Flash is great for the ADD five-year old in me, who wants a big bolt of gratification in a hurry. I've been finding I want things I read or write to ideally be 800 words or less or 500 pages and up. That 2000-6000 word area for some reason just doesn't do it for me as much. I want a moment or an epic, and less of what falls in between. I also love flash because I love online publishing, and I think it's hard to read things longer than 1000 words or so on a computer.
I've always thought prose and poetry went hand in hand. Poetry is about attention to detail, about rhythm, sound in the mouth. The best prose has that about it. The best poetry, too, I think, has narrative. Often it seems that the only thing separating great poetry from fiction is the way its chopped up on the page.

OA: How has the Internet (websites, webzines, blogs, etc) affected you as a writer?
BB: Of everything I've published, I've gotten way more readers and feedback from the stuff online because I honestly believe more people read it there. Not to discredit print publications because there's certainly something wonderful about the tactile feeling of holding a story in print, but I feel like online publishing is a thing that's only going to get more and more vital to newer writers like myself, in terms of having an audience. I also feel more connected to some kind of literary community (if you'll excuse me for such cheeseball terminology) in that I e-Meet a lot of wonderful writers and read a lot of awesome work I'd never find otherwise. I've also done a lot of work reviewing and interviewing both music and lit online, so that's helped me get my name out there a bit, I guess. Everyone likes the internet. Significantly less people like books. That's how it is.

OA: Who are some of your favorite musicians currently? Does their music affect your work in any way?
BB: I tend to listen to less and less these days. I'm selling my 2500 CD record collection on ebay right now, piece by piece. Now I just tend to listen to one thing over and over for months at a time. I've become obsessing with Talking Heads in the past year or so. David Byrne is a mastermind. I really like the new Battles record, and they're even better live. I like shitty thug rap for giggles. I like the latest Subtle record and the latest Liars. Other than that a lot of Ennio Morricone. Not the spaghetti western stuff he's known for, but the 60's and 70's Italian horror soundtracks, which is what he should be known for.

OA: What is next for Blake Butler?
BB: Right now I'm working on 60 things at once. A novel about an accused pedophile. A series of 50 lists of 50 (more lists!), which borderlines on poetry. And a slew of short things, some related. And on and on and on.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite spot?
BB: I always thought I only liked candy coffee. I'm a sugar head, for sure. Though now I like the darkest roast they have, just black as hell. I'm realizing good coffee is sweet by itself. Americanos are where it's at. There's a place called Inman Perk down the street from where I live. It's nice but I've only been there once. Usually I just stop wherever I see when I'm driving and think about it, which could be one of 15 places.

OA: What is the last great book that you have read?
BB: I just finished reading Tao Lin's novel 'EEEEE EEE EEEE' and story collection 'BED', which are going to be released together next month via Melville House, and they are both fantastic. I have a review of one in the next Bookslut. Everyone should buy them.

For information and for links to more his work you can visit Blake at Dead Winter or myspace or his blog.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Artist of the Week

Chris Szostek
Over the next two weeks we are going to be featuring two artists that both work within the realm of digital or computer art, but both have drastically different results. As technology advances, so does the ability to create and manipulate simple sketches or photographs into complex pieces of art. The various programs and tools in the digital world have become a common part of artist's creative process, and this has resulted in an endless amount of visually appealing pieces of art. The time has come for this medium to be widely accepted in galleries across the world, and one artist preparing to take that next step into those galleries is Chris Szostek.
Chris is a freelance illustrator and designer from the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. He has worked primarily with the music industry, but he has recently been involved with the skydiving industry as well. He received his Bachelor's degree in multimedia and design in 2002, and he is setting big goals for himself while creating a very impressive portfolio. Recently, he was able to answer a few of our questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Chris Szostek (CS): I draw picture for use exclusively in children's books. Ok, maybe I don't, but I would like to do a kids book. In a word, messy. I'd say it definitely has a darker feel to it, even if I draw something warm and fuzzy it still seems a little twisted for some reason. A majority of what I'm doing is rarely planned out, it's a very loose process, very organic. It really depends on the mood I am in, but overall it seems to have a more somber tone. The humanistic drawings I do have a definite exaggerated aspect to them. Not in a caricature way, but something, usually the eyes, will be exaggerated a bit. I draw whatever is in my head, and there is no logical explanation for what is in there.

OA: Can you briefly take us through the process from sketch to finished piece?
CS: There really is no one process for me. For the past year I was working solely with ink, no pencils, nothing to predetermine what I was creating. It was a bit of an experiment and a bit of a form of accepting what I create. I struggled for a long time with trying to draw people in a style that I was told was correct. I've grown out of that now and am enjoying my own interpretation of the human form more and more. For the most part, I open the book, grab a pen and start drawing. I let the page evolve into what it wants to be. If I am only working with ink, it will be more of an impression of my idea that is fleshed out, when working with pencil layout first things are more exact. Most, if not all of my work is scanned within a day or so for archiving. Then some of it will get the digital treatment, balancing the contrast and eliminating the background. The most recent piece on my site started in ink, then scanned, and after about six hours of photo shop, I made what you see now. It's a mix of textures, wet media and imposed bone from a photograph I have. Another quick walk through is for the inked bunny. I drew a bunny with a variety of pens using india ink on this really nice bleed proof paper I just got and am obsessed with, then I splattered ink all over it, scanned it and it was done.
OA: Who are some of your biggest influence artistically?
CS: This is a hard one as I could go on and on about influences. The spectrum of styles they come from. Designers, illustrators, musicians, photographers & painters. I'll keep it short. Jamie Hewlett was in my mind allot last year when I was almost exclusively drawing warm and cuddly zombies and broken robots. Joel Peter Witkin's photography has been on my mind allot lately. David Mack & Dave McKean both have these wonderfully textured styles. Mack has this knack for collage work mixed with wet media, gel pens, and typography. McKean has been a long time influence on me. His work was some of the first I had seen that mixed traditional arts and photography with computers. His album art is pretty much what got me interested in doing cover art.

OA: With so many varied segments of the art world, where does graphic design and illustrations fit in?
CS: That's a question begging for a book. I'm thinking about this one and staring at my walls where I have two framed illustrations a painting and a variety of posters. To me, they are all works of art.
There is a different feeling about each of them though. The painting is a one of a kind on a piece of cardboard having no reason to exist other than the artists desire to create it. It was a gift and has many memories attached to it. One of the illustrations is also a one of a kind piece, it's a character the artist created and he drew this one piece, I have it, I can look into it and see the indentations where his pen made the marks. The other illustration is a lithograph made for the artists 10th anniversary of his book. It is number 186 of 300 and is signed. It may be a print, but I can still see his technique. The posters are both advertising something, one is a c.d.
and the other is for a design magazine. Some people say that because it is selling something it is no longer art. When does that line between lithography and commercial advertisement get crossed? Would the c.d. poster be a better work if it didn't have a release date on it? That point of mass production has caused many arguments over where design fits into the art world and what is art in general.
Think of Warhol and then rethink that. would his work be any less looked at if he put a release date on it? I think that the art world is constantly evolving based on society. A more direct answer is that they belong in the art world and to some, they are the art world.
There's more to say, but I'm going to stop now before I do write a book on this. Maybe I'll keep writing about it and send you a link when it's done.

OA: How has the Internet affected you as artist?
CS: The net has been a wonderful tool in research, networking, innovation and exposure. I have discovered loads of new artists. I love being able to see what's going on in other creative cultures and finding new styles. I've been able to research techniques and find out about new tools much more easily than if there were no net. I think I have been affected more by technology as a whole than just the net. Innovations in digital tools have created new art forms and new ways to approach old forms. Some of what I am doing now and will be doing soon would not have been possible without the tech behind it. It's allot easier to show your work as well. The digital portfolio has saved me a ton on postage and wondering if it went to the right place.

OA: Do you listen to music while you create? How does music affect your work?
CS: I've always got something playing. The music can help focus the piece, the texture of the sound, it's mood, all of that can be reflected in the art. Lately it's all been very wet visceral sounds, thick with layered parts. Anything from MuM to Trent Reznor to Tom Waits to Nicole Blackman. Anything that has a certain haunting feel to it. I also explore feeds so I can find new music. So, yes I'd say that music has a direct effect on what I produce.

OA: What's next for Chris Szostek?
CS: More experimenting with tech and illustration. Larger illustrations that won't fit on my scanner. I have some ideas for some video shorts I want to try that will combine illustrations, stop motion, and real world sets. Getting a large enough body of large work together and hitting the galleries, get my name out there more. I've been setting up a screen printing rig in my basement studio that is done enough for me to start printing. So that is going to lead into t-shirts. Eventually I'll have some comics out even if I self publish them. Selling work online. There is so much I still want to do.

Bonus Questions:

OA: Coffee? If yes what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your
favorite coffee spot?
CS: Yes, more, thank you and always. Whole Bean and in this order.
Jamaican Blue Mountain (from Jamaica not the U.S. distributed stuff), Bolivian from Trader Joe's, Kenyan, Arabic (made correctly).
I haven't been there in awhile, but, the Pick Me Up cafe in Chicago is a great place. Mainly I brew my own and drink it at home.

OA: What is last album you purchased?
CS: 23rd & Stout by Chuck E. Weiss & We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank by Modest Mouse

For more information on Chris Szostek visit his Website and check out it most recent portfolio. He also has a deviantART page here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Release Tuesday

Elk City - New Believers

Greyboy Allstars - What Happened to Television?

Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts - Let's Just Be (album cover above)
Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero (find mp3's here)
The Old Soul - The Old Soul (mp3)
Rock Plaza Central - Are We Not Horses (mp3)
The Comas - Spells (find mp3's here)
You can stream the entire album from Joseph Arthur, Nine Inch Nails, The Noisettes, and The Comas over at Spinner.

Freedom Writers - Hillary Swank/Patrick Dempsey
The Last King of Scotland - Forest Whitaker
Notes on a Scandel - Cate Blanchett
Off the Black - Nick Nolte
Smoking'Aces - Ben Affleck

Monday, April 16, 2007

Up and Coming Films

This week we're going to go with a double dose of Up and Coming Films since last week didn't work out as I had planned. Mostly comedies this week, but some other new films coming out that don't have posters or trailers out yet.

Reign Over Me

ETA : Now

I had the chance to see this movie last weekend and was rather impressed with Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler. Sandler took another step in his acting career to try and prove he's not just Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore and can actually act. In this one, I think he does. Of course you still get his trademark yelling at his best. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Find the trailer at the official site here.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

ETA : July 20th

Another Adam Sandler movie, but this one is more up his alley with Kevin James (King of Queens, Hitch). Two Brooklyn firefighters pretend to be gay to receive domestic partner status. Also stars Jessica Biel, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames and Dan Aykroyd

Check out the trailer here.

Evan Almighty

ETA : June 22nd

Steve Carell gets to take over for Jim Carrey and play in the sequal to "Bruce Almighty." Evan Baxter turned from a rival of Bruce to D.C. Congressman who has been asked by God to build another ark.

Looks good to me. Check out the trailer.

Rush Hour 3

ETA : August 10th

It doesn't get better than the complete mismatch of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. Back to do yet another comedy, only this time in France. I can only imagine.

Teaser is here.


License to Wed

ETA : July 6th

John Krasinski (The Office, The Holiday) is getting married to Mandy Moore (Saved!, A Walk to Remember) but she wants to get married in her family church. The only day available is with Reverend Frank (Robin Williams) who makes them jump through hoops to get his blessing to actually marry them.

I like all three of these people, so this is a must see for me.

Mama's Boy

ETA : June 29th

John Heder plays a 29 year old who still lives at his parents house which is his perfect dream. His mom (Diane Keaton) meets a motivational speaker who threatens that perfect existence.

To me, it sounds a lot like Failure to Launch, but more of a comedy.

Joe Claus

ETA : November 9th

A Christmas movie about Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) who is Nicholas' older brother who instead of being the perfect saint (St. Nicholas) is a repo man and thief. Fred's dealings get him into jail. Against Mrs. Claus' wishes, Nicholas bails out his older brother only if he will work off his debt making toys at the North Pole.

I'm sure you could imagine what would happen next. I did.

Monday Morning Mix

This is the continuation of last week mix and covers roughly the last thirteen years of my life. I tried to pick songs that literally changed the way I felt about and listened to music. The first time I heard most all of these songs I was immediately sent in a new direction musically. This was very difficult to narrow down, but I hope like "My Life in Music part 2 (1994 - 2006)". It features Portishead, Aphex Twin, The Decemberists, Dj Shadow, Mr. Lif and more.

(artwork by Matthew Forsythe)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Coffee Talk


With the recent passing of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. , I have spent some time reflecting on legacy and what is left behind when we are gone. You hear the phrase all the time, "I just want to leave a legacy". For most people, a large part of legacy is in the way we are perceived by others. Unlike Mr. Vonnegut, many people are not able to leave behind something as permanent as a novel or a painting, but we build our legacy based actions, accomplishment, and the words and thoughts of those who knew us. Each person you knew will remember you in a different way, is that legacy? I have seen it defined as something handed down or given to the next generation, is that legacy?

This past week a close family friend past away, and I had already written the paragraph above. She was 79, but, due to a condition she had had all her life, she lived her life as a six year old. As I drove to the wake I thought about her legacy, I thought about what she has passed on the next generation, and I thought about how I will remember her. She didn't have much to give, but she always had a smile on her face and a bow in her hair. At the wake they passed out bows to all of the females, and hand painted cards with the Guardian Angel Prayer typed upon them. Below the prayer was this sentence: "When people act more like angels, earth will be more like heaven." Can a smile or bow be a legacy or does it actions?

Several years ago I was given a book called "A Father Legacy", and inside there were a series of questions. The questions ranged from "Your fondest memory of ... to tell me a time when you...". Can the answers that I write in this book in my twenties be the legacy that I leave? As I write I feel it may be a small part of my legacy.

How often do you think about your legacy and the legacy of those who you have known? What do you want your legacy to be?

Orange Alert's Music Minute

1. Have you heard the New Bjork single? She has returned to form, gone for now are the breathy moans and cries, this is straight in your face quality "Post" material. Check out: "Earth Intruders"

2. Daytrotter's Busy Week: I've loved the concept behind Daytrotter for quite sometime (great artists performing live), but it seems like they are really stepping it up as of late. This week they featured they most bands I've ever seen them have in one week:
Next week it only gets better with live sessions from Jolie Holland, The Littles Ones, Eef Barzelay (oh yeah!), and Peter & The Wolf. That is 8 amazing musicians in 14 days!

3. If haven't checked out Break Thru Radio (BTR) you are missing out. They provide an interesting mix of all type of independant music, and present it in a nice format. You have to hear Dj Jazzy Jeff's "Third Rail" show that was broadcasted on 4/10.

4. St. Vincent - Is preparing their July 10th release "Marry Me" on Beggars Banquet, and spring tour. Listen to this sample: St. Vincent - Now Now (mp3)

5. Lollapalooza has announced 86 of the 135 bands that will appear at Grant Park (Chicago, IL) August 3 - 5th. For more information and tickets visit the Lollapalooza website!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Watch List

1. Orion Rigel Dommisse - The Multi-instrumentist with a graceful voice has crafted some amazing songs. I believe we are still awaiting her debut, but I can't find a lot of info of her.
2. The Photo Atlas - Look out for this Denver-based dance-punk outfit who will be touring this summer with The Bravery. Check out: Handshake Heart Attack (mp3)
3. Vyle - The Westside of Chicago has done it again, you have to hear the beats and ryhmes of Vyle. Check Out: Vyle - She Was All Smiles (mp3)

1. Walking Near the Precipice by C.S. Reid - Published by Lily Press and it is a great little chapbook. His poem "Circumstances of War" is quite good.
2. A Call for Manner in the World of Nasty Blogs by Brad Stone - Let's keep it professional.
3. Mickey Hess has a new piece up over at THE2NDHAND, "In Every Magazine". Very funny stuff!

1. Sauerkids Popcling Wall Decals - These decals are 16in x 24in, and they are an interesting way to display art. $75
2. Liam Brazier has a new 36 page sketch book available for purchase entitled "Down in the Mouth". $8.03 (5.95 Euros)

1. Phase Magazine: This magazine is so visually appealing, I wish I had a color printer that would do it justice. This is their Spring Issue with the theme of "Play", and makes me forget it is snowing in Chicago. Download it for free.

1. Annuals' have started a month-long tour and video diary for their tour on purevolume. Each week they will upload a new video from the radio. Joining them on this mini tour are Blonde Redhead, but there are a few dates that include The Walkmen & Kaiser Chiefs. Check it out!
2. Take a look at Robert Hardgrave a.k.a. Farmerbob in action:

Saturday Morning Cartoon

This morning, while you crack open a box of Quaker Quake, watch this B-boy battle brought to you by Kid Koala:

Floor Kids

Friday, April 13, 2007

Band of the Week

Basia Bulat

It was just this past January, Said the Gramophone, made a post entitled "Introducing Basia Bulat", in fact it was January 1st, and it served as a great start to an amazing year of music. Simply, I have been fascinated ever since, and now as this London, Ontario native prepares to release her Rough Trade debut on 5/21/07 in Europe, I can't help but feature her amazing music. It's seems that so many people have been talking about Basia for quite some time, but she has yet to find to label to release her music in the US or Canada. It is a surprising commentary on the state of the industry, but that is a story for another day.

The band includes:
Holly - Ukulele, Auxiliary Percussion and Backing vocals
Bobby Bulat - Percussion
Seojin - Violin
David - Viola
Sebastian - Cello
Eric - Piano
Katie - Flute and Backing Vocals
Basia Bulat - Lead Vocals, Guitar and Autoharp

Many of the musicians in the band are classically trained, and as a group they put forth a complex sound that ranges from chamber pop to straight folk to tiny waltzing splendor. However, in spite of all of their talent, it is the voice of Basia that shines through on each and every track. There is an energy and a power in her voice that will immediately draw you in, and hold you captive for days. There have been comparisons made lately to Joni Mitchell, Feist, Jollie Holland, and Elyse Weinberg, but with her strength and range I like to think of Natalie Merchant, Shara Wooden, or maybe even Kristin Hersch. My favorite quote regarding Basia's voice came the above mention Said the Gramophone article: "A voice that is above all exciting to listen to, with so much volleying through it, like sticking your head into the thick of fireworks, of northern lights, feelings flashing full in your face."

I Was a Daughter (mp3)
Why Can't it Be Mine (mp3)
Snakes and Ladders (mp3)

Visit Basia Bulat's website or myspace for more information.

Oh, My Darling (Rough Trade, 5/21/07)
Before I Knew/I Was a Daughter/Little Waltz/December/Snakes and Ladders/Oh, My Darling/Little One/Why Can't It Be Mine/The Pilgriming Vine/La Da Da/Birds of Paradise/A Secret

(photo at top by Bobby Bulat)