Archive for October, 2006

Catch-up tricks and Halloween treats

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

So if you love me, you noticed I was offline for about a week. Lie and tell me you love me, dammit.

On Thursday, my employer took us on an overnight retreat to a cabin on a lake in Alabama. We did some “strategizing” and then got really, really drunk.

On Friday, one of my coworkers and I decided to stay an extra night at the cabin and get our respective spouses to come down and stay with us. It was great fun for all five of us: Karsten, me, the other couple, and their parrot. Their parrot, in fact, may have had more fun than anyone. He even developed a crush on me, I’m afraid.

Good thing he didn’t see me on Saturday night in my cat costume.

Oh yeah, so we got back on Saturday just in time for several Halloween parties, which we graced with our costumed presence. You already know my costume — here was Karsten’s:

Karsten & coworker Jim at a Halloween party, 2006

He was a hillbilly hockey player, or something like that. The ballcap he’s wearing says “Country Western Hockey Tournament” and he found it at a thrift store. It’s real! You can’t make shit like that up. His hockey stick is homemade, and it says “Puckfucker 1000″ down the handle. The mullet wig, however, makes the costume, in my opinion.

Oh, and that’s my coworker Jim grabbing Karsten to keep him from escaping the camera. Jim was a futuristic gay spaceman from the 1950s, or something like that. (Not that Jim is gay, really — only the tight silver gym-queen shirt he wore under his spaceman suit was gay.) He wore a suit covered in duct tape; pretty classic.

Some other costumes seen: witch, devil, zombie vampire, cheerleader, French maid, King Kong & blonde, pirate… oh, and Japanese anime characters. LOVEd that.

Hope everyone’s been doing well… and missing me. Lie and tell me you missed me, dammit!

Please vote “No” on Prop 1

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

If you’re in Tennessee, you’ve no doubt heard about Proposition 1, but maybe you don’t know what the amendment entails, or how exactly it would affect you.

Here is the text of the amendment:

The historical institution and legal contract solemnizing the relationship of one man and one woman shall be the only legally recognized marital contract in this state.  Any policy or law or judicial interpretation, purporting to define marriage as anything other than the historical institution and legal contract between one man and one woman, is contrary to the public policy of this state and shall be void and unenforceable in Tennessee.  If another state or foreign jurisdiction issues a license for persons to marry and if such marriage is prohibited in this state by the provisions of this section, then the marriage shall be void and unenforceable in this state.

If you are heterosexual, this amendment will not directly affect you or limit your rights in any way. However, if you are a bisexual or homosexual person living in Tennessee, this amendment severely limits your rights. Marriage secures more than 1,000 rights for couples.


border="0" width="143" height="58" >

Terry Frank has written a pro-prop-1 post at her blog, and the core of her argument seems to be that marriage is primarily about having and raising children. Naturally, I take issue with this logic, and responded in a comment, saying:

As a bisexual, non-religious woman in a child-free-by-choice marriage with a man, I obviously find significant fault with this logic and this defense of policy, but the strongest five are these:

1) The idea that marriage must be defined around the bearing of children, thereby invalidating childless and child-free couples, including those who are physically unable to reproduce, those who are past child-bearing age, those who choose not to have children for health reasons, financial reasons, or any of dozens of other sound reasons.

2) The idea that same-sex couples are somehow less valid than mixed-sex couples, and less deserving of social support and the myriad legal protections well above and beyond relevance to parenting that marriage affords couples.

3) The idea that religion should enter into a policy definition of marriage in a nation whose concept of government is predicated on separation of church and state.

4) The idea that children should be borne to provide care to their aging parents, rather than supporting real social services that provide care for aging people regardless of their parental status.

5) The idea that same-sex couples that choose to raise children (by adoption, from previous relationships, through artificial insemination, or any other means), and more importantly, the idea that their children are somehow not deserving of the rights, protections, and opportunities afforded by marriage.

Do you oppose Prop 1? Please, please, please: make sure you vote.

Edited to add: My comments on Terry’s blog begin quite a ways down the page, in case you’re interested in reading them in context.

“It’s a little soon:” Steve Irwin on South Park

Monday, October 30th, 2006

I’m not at all surprised it was controversial, but when I heard about it from a friend, I thought it sounded hilarious. Of course I do have a really twisted sense of humor.

And… is now the time to admit I considered dressing up in a costume just like that for Halloween? I chose against it mostly because I decided I didn’t have the patience for all the outrage. It’s not that I think Steve Irwin was evil or anything; it’s just that he was so ripe for parody. He seemed as if he was the kind of guy who could appreciate that about himself. Like they said over at Adrants:

Yeah, okay. There is absolutely nothing funny about a guy who spends his life wrestling crocodiles and gets killed by a creature that isn’t even known for aggression toward humans.

But again: I have a twisted sense of humor. But again: I have no patience.

So I dressed up as a crazy cat woman instead. I can make fun of myself all I want.

The right to be atheist? The right to have rights?

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Are rights given by god or by government? If you don’t believe in god, do you still have rights?

These are the questions Donald Sensing asked in his blog today. When this post showed up on Nashville Is Talking (a local blog aggregator), I knew I had to respond. Because as I said in my comment, this is the second time in a few years that I’ve been told that I (through inclusion in some group) “don’t deserve any rights at all.”

The core of his post seems to be this:

So could not we religious people simply say, “Sorry, persecuting atheists is no longer against our religon?” If you think not, why not?

Whether you are a believer or a non-believer, I’d like to hear your thoughts.

That had to hurt

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

From NPR.org:

Casino magnate Steve Wynn acquired Picasso’s painting La Reve for $139 million. Then, while showing off the valuable work at his Las Vegas Hotel, he punched a hole in it with his elbow.

Can you imagine? When I told Karsten (who is, as you may know, a visual artist), his jaw dropped, he shook his head, and then pointed out that there so many levels of absurdity in that. First: the concept that a piece of stretched canvas with oil paint on it is worth $139 million. And then… oops? He asked if Wynn was drunk or anything. And no, as a matter of fact, I dug around and found this account from Nora Ephron on huffingtonpost.com:

Steve Wynn has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that damages peripheral vision, but he could see quite clearly what had happened.

Again, I ask: can you imagine? Yikes.

She also admits to having had a burning desire to take a picture, but showed the sensitivity and discretion not to:

At the same time I was holding my digital camera in my hand - I’d just taken several pictures of the Picasso - and I wanted to take a picture of the Picasso with the hole in it so badly that my camera was literally quivering. But I didn’t see how I could take a picture - it seemed to me I’d witnessed a tragedy, and what’s more, that my flash would go off if I did and give me away.

Wow. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine being the one to witness it, let alone being the one to damage it. It hurts my brain just thinking of it.

powered by performancing firefox

Ever thought about getting a Treo 650? Get one!

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Come join the ranks of the geeks: Amazon is offering the Treo 650 for $24.99 after rebates with new service activation with Cingular.

Dude. This is the deal of a lifetime. In case I haven’t mentioned (although I’m pretty sure I have), I love my Treo 650. I’d be lost without it. So if you’re waffling about whether you’d like it, feel free to post your questions and/or concerns in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer and/or find you some answers.

Hat tip: WonderDawg, who got the info from PalmAddicts.

Update on technique vs. craft

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

In case you were following the “discussion,” Mark at This Guy Falls Down posted an update and clarified his thoughts on “form vs. function” or “form vs. formula,” recommending my post, and retracting a bit of what he wrote the other day.

He also cites a book he’s reading called Creating by Robert Fritz and says he’s loving it. So out of curiosity and respect for his opinion, I’m adding that to my library holds right now.

Sometimes the internet can be a very cool place.

How will you celebrate songwriters?

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell proclaimed October 22-28 “Celebrating Songwriters Week” here in Music City. Already scheduled are the ASCAP Awards (we’re not winning any this year — maybe next?) and the NSF/NSAI Awards.

But what really counts, I think, is how we each celebrate songwriters individually, in our own lives. For example, I’m plan to:

  • up my alcohol intake by at least 20% — still not hit songwriter quantities, I know, but it’s my own tribute
  • start a fight in at least one of my close relationships — for the inspiration, of course
  • sleep in and flake out on at least one appointment during the week — extra credit if it’s a co-writing appointment

Oh yeah, and write at least one song.

How will you celebrate?

Colbert & Dawkins debate the existence of God

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA9EiSJaXww
How much do I love this video? I don’t even think I can quantify it. Dawkins had me at “You’re an atheist about all those other gods; some of us just take it one god further.”

Major kudos to both Colbert and Dawkins for the intelligent design (ha) of this debate.

Time to try again?

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Wow, too bad Mandarin was one of the two languages* I had a lot of trouble learning.

When asked, I always say I studied it for a year (roughly) and all I can say is (excuse my transliteration): “wo shi meigoren” which means “I’m an American.” And I figure, in most Mandarin-speaking situations, that will get me either into or out of trouble.

* The other language I studied and struggled with was Japanese. It’s worse, actually: in Japanese, I don’t even know how to say I’m an American.

Purity vs. technique in songwriting

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Mark at This Guy Falls Down has some musings on songwriting and his “songwriting hacks” series (which can be found by riffling through the Creative Process category on his blog archives).

I just don’t think participating in the creative process is an area where you can find a clever workaround. The creative process is not one to be manipulated. I guess it works, if all you want to do is be a “hack”.

Now, I have a lot of respect for Mark, but hey, I’m willing to go toe-to-toe with a Grammy winner. Because I do think there are ways to manipulate the creative process, and I don’t think it necessarily makes the creator a “hack.”

Besides, most of what Mark wrote about in the “hacks” series weren’t manipulations to the songwriting process, but guidelines to make the process easier. Saying that you should read good material to be able to write well is hardly a controversial idea, as writing advice goes. Saying that you should work on one song at a time is a matter of preference and experience (I don’t write as well unless I can flit back and forth between multiple songs in progress). Of course, Mark did say at the beginning of the series that he was taking liberties with the word “hack” anyway:

I’m hoping to share some advice I’ve picked up along the way as a musician, particularly as it pertains to songwriting. I call this advice “hacks”, even though that’s probably not the proper use of the term, simply because we’re on the Internet here and it seems appropriate.

But I guess I’m arguing that you could talk about songwriting “hacks” in a way that’s closer to the “clever or elegant solution to a difficult problem” meaning of the word. I’ve even talked about some of those kinds of things here over the years. There are scads of books written about songwriting technique, and some of them get awfully clever with the difficult problems they tackle.

Creativity is a fickle mistress. Taking a purist approach to songwriting and letting raw emotion drip from your pen is usually the best way to get to the heart of a feeling or an experience. That’s the art of it. But once you have the raw material, there are definitely tricks and techniques that comprise the craft of songwriting, and knowing a little of Mark’s music, I know that he’s very capable with those tools and techniques. And I’m pretty firm about advocating that craft in creativity is nothing to be ashamed of.

I also think it’s very natural to go through phases where we vacillate from a more purist approach to a more crafted approach to creating. As long as we keep creating, the balance seems to restore itself eventually.

Survey question (mostly) for LiveJournal users

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

I’m spending some of my sick day reorganizing my tags, and filing some things away under Memories instead of having separate tags for them. My approach is to try to consolidate the tags to more general-purpose things I write about on a reasonably regular basis, and to use the Memories for the more specific events that occur. So instead of having a “california trip” tag, I have a “travel” tag and a “Travel: California” collection of Memories. As I write that, it looks incredibly common-sensical and it’s a wonder it’s taken me this long to use that approach, but here’s the question: is that how you make use of tags and Memories, or do you have a different approach?

Non-LiveJournal people, if there’s a similar set of metaphors in your blogging platform, feel free to share your methodology with those.

Whole lotta readin’ goin’ on

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

I’m home sick today. I was at work sick yesterday, and I think I pushed it a little too hard, so I’m paying the price now with a swollen, sore throat.

The good news is, though, I have plenty to do. Sure there’s work I could be doing, but check this out:

That’s a helluva lot of reading to do.

I’m certainly not trying to one-up anyone, but I was inspired to do this by Brittney at Sparkwood & 21 when she pointed out that after 3 1/2 days of vacation from her regular gig at Nashville Is Talking, she had nearly 1000 unread messages in her news reader. My 2000 is about a day’s worth, and I even spent a good hour or two reading last night.

The key difference is this: she probably reads most, if not all, of the blogs she has feeds for on a regular basis. I read a much smaller subset of them and then mark everything else as read. What I do read on a regular basis are the local blogs (and there are 56 new messages since last night), flickr comments and photo updates from friends and contacts (9 new updates since last night), local news (10 new updates since last night), and a smattering of the hundreds of other blogs and media news feeds I subscribe to for variety, such as Gawker, Gizmodo, Boing Boing, and so on. And there are 1965 new items in that grouping since last night. And so much of that is going to be repeated news (how many times can I stand to read about Madonna and her new shiny new Malawian kid?) that it’s going to be tedious to plow through them all. But how else are you going to find that occasional hidden gem? The social bookmarking sites (Digg, del.icio.us, etc) haven’t really come through for me with the stuff I tend to be interested in (which is not Madge and whether or not her adoptions are crooked).

What about you? What do you read regularly vs. occasionally?

And another thing!

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Lest anyone think all I write about is whatever John H writes about at Salem’s Lots, I really did make a mental note to write about this last night, but forgot about it until I saw his post.

Dude! A coffee shop! Coming soon! Mere blocks away from our house! Close enough to shuffle sleepily to on weekends!

This is at the Summer Street Lofts building facing 5th Avenue at Madison. Karsten pointed it out to me when I met him for dinner at the Germantown Cafe last night. What a great new development this will be!

Karsten is a face of Oktoberfest!

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

John H over at Salem’s Lots has some pics from Oktoberfest up, and one of them is of Karsten in his “opium den,” a.k.a. the art studio in the basement. You can’t tell it’s an art studio from the picture — all you can see are empty boxes and our bikes — but whatever. I’ll get a better picture of the studio itself sometime soon. For now, though, check out that look!

Getting something out of his pocket? I guess. And giving a really devious look to someone out of the picture’s frame. Love it!

Should be our slogan

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Heard on JACK-FM before a commercial break: “Sure we like music… but we’re in this for the money.” I’m thinking this could work as the slogan for both my day job and for Honey Bowtie Music. Heh.

Impossible Beauty?

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Someone on my Friends list (maybe vito_excaliburVito?) linked to a web page some time back that showed a model before and after being Photoshopped like crazy. Along those same lines, Dove’s new commercial shows a woman being made over for a photo shoot and then Photoshopped almost beyond recognizability as the same woman. The tag line is “no wonder our beauty standards are so distorted.”

Adrants has a link to the commercial and some questions about the value or wrongness of doing this in advertising.

[...] in one sense, it nets out to the importance of reflecting reality versus the importance of presenting something, however unreal and unattainable, toward which people can reach.

I don’t even think it’s so much the unattainability of it that’s bizarre and questionable, although that’s a fair point, and I don’t know how valuable it is to give people something like that to “reach” for. I just think there’s a freakin’ huge spectrum of possible beauty, and the tastemakers (such as those in advertising) are only presenting us with a sliver of it.

Your thoughts?

Party recap

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Oktoberfest looks to have been a big success for the Historic Germantown neighborhood, and our party was a blast. Thanks to everyone who came and partied with us, and my apologies to anyone I may have offended by suggesting they patronize the beer vendors while the festival was still running. We bought plenty of beer from the beer vendors ourselves. Yessir, plenty of beer. Yowch.

We probably had 80 people come through our house on Saturday. Bunches of people from the neighborhood, scads of coworkers and some former coworkers, quite a few songwriters and musicians, and some random good friends from who-knows-where. And 2 dogs. (Luckily, the cats were locked up in the office/studio/cat room for most of the day.)

We had drunk people climbing the scaffolding, but no falls. We had people from across the political spectrum, but no brawls. We had over a dozen people on our front stairs, and they didn’t collapse. All in all, a good day.

“Carpetbagging hottie”

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Just when you think you’ve been called every name in the book, along comes a new moniker. In response to a posting of mine on Nashville Metroblogging complaining of lack of dancing options in Nashville, Omri Ceren posted an article on Gridskipper purporting to list dance venues and, incidentally, referring to me as a “carpetbagging hottie.” Heh. Best left-handed compliment ever. I got a good giggle out of it, anyway.

But as to the original matter of the postings: dancing is not really a priority at most of the venues cited in Omri’s piece. I’ve been to Mercy Lounge quite a few times, and I can’t say there’s been dancing on any of those occasions — at least not by the bar’s patrons. And I’ve seen fights almost break out at Beer Sellar and Legend’s Corner, but I’ve never seen dancing break out at either venue. But Lipstick Lounge is a valid suggestion (one I’d already considered and dismissed, but may reconsider), and this NV Nightclub is news to me. I may have to go check that out.

I’ll be sure to carry my carpetbags when I go.

Have you seen Stephen Colbert in his Charlene video?

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS5RDHSIL8o
Oh my gawd, I’m dying laughing. Plus he’s so retro-hot in this!

OK, maybe this is a little harsh (some language not work-safe!)

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

I opened my MySpace messages this morning to find another charming missive:

youre beautiful.. we should get to know each other.. how is myspace treating you?

The picture on the profile is of, admittedly, a stunningly beautiful male. But I clicked through to read his profile, and here’s what it says:

(more…)

I’m feelin’ the love!

Friday, October 13th, 2006

I got back to my desk after a weird series of meetings this afternoon and had email from Kerry Woo from WonderDawg that started out with “since you’re getting all the shout outs today…” and I thought, what is he talking about?

So I opened up NetNewsReader, and hey, I did get a few shout outs! CeeElCee over at The Dry Spot flattered me profusely, but perhaps he doesn’t realize I have no control over who walks away with the free Treos and other prizes from tomorrow’s Nashville Palm User Group. This one does sound like a really good meeting, though, and if it weren’t for Oktoberfest, I would totally be there.

But the linkage-love doesn’t stop there: thanks to CeeElCee’s post, Brittney over at Nashville Is Talking learned about my recent “member spotlight” on MyTreo.net and quoted almost the whole thing. AND she called me a cutie. Takes one to know one, Rainbow Brite.

Thanks for all the attention, youse guys. Come by Oktoberfest tomorrow (it was my neighborhood duty to squeeze another promo in there) and I’ll happily buy ya a beer.

Data geekery, movie style

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

You’ve heard about the Netflix prize, right? (If you haven’t, the short version is: Netflix is offering $1 million prize for anyone who can come up with a substantial improvement to their recommendations engine.)

I’m especially interested because 1) I am a former Netflix employee*, and I loved my work there; 2) I am a longtime Netflix customer (since before I worked there, in fact) and a heavy user of the ratings and recommendations features; 3) I am a data geek. I love this type of problem. I wish I had the skills to participate in this challenge, but instead, I’m watching from the sidelines.

So I’ve been perusing the forum for a few minutes to see what the contestants were talking about, and I happened upon a brilliant digression by one Benji Smith about exploring the most-loved, most-hated, and most-contested movie titles in the database through intelligent analysis. Here’s an excerpt:

Now, where is ‘Miss Congeniality’? Evidently, she’s number 171 on the most-loved list. But…Huh? What does that mean? How can a movie be #195 on the most-hated list and also be #171 on the most-loved list? Who’s to blame?

Standard deviation, I’m looking in your direction.

To get a look at the movies that are both universally loved, and universally hated (by different subgroups of people, of course) Let’s write a query that amplifies standard deviation and de-amplifies population, pointing out the sources of contention in our dataset

If this sort of thing looks fun to you, clicky the linky and go see what movies came back from his results. It is data geekery at its finest.

(Edited to add: I emailed Benji Smith to let him know I was talking about him, and he suggested adding a link to benjismith.net, so we can all go read his entertaining essays. Go! Enjoy!)

* I was the Content Manager, circa 2000-2001. I oversaw all content on the web site, its relationships within the database, its timely entry on the site, how it got sourced, etc. It was a super-fun job.

Oh, I almost forgot!

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

According to the HRC, the theme of this year’s coming out day is “Talk About It.” They’ve got a “Sorry Everybody“-style collection of pictures of people posing with signs that say “Talk About It.”

I’m bisexual. But I’m also too lazy to print out a sign, take a picture of myself, and upload it, so I’ll just talk about it here instead, shall I?

Step 1: Coming Out to Myself
I started my coming out process (and it is a process, rather than one big step — and that process continues as long as you continue to meet new people) in 1991. That was the year I started college. I knew before that, in a way, that I was attracted to both men and women. What I couldn’t tell was whether those attractions made me completely normal or psychopathically deranged. Because while I had plenty of exposure to gay and lesbian people (well, plenty of exposure to gay males — it was rare that I encountered a lesbian), I had never heard of anyone who was attracted to both men and women… but I had never heard that it wasn’t possible, either, or even normal. Still, I kept it under my hat, hoping someday it would all make sense to me.

And one fine day, in August 1991, it did. I was walking around with my new roommate, Andrea, and all across campus there were informational tables set up for student groups. And that was when I first saw the word: Bisexual. It was on the banner for Pride, the GLBT student group. I could parse it right away: bi meaning two, and sexual… well, let’s just say I definitely knew what that meant. I stopped in my tracks and stared at the word. I even said it out loud. I can’t remember if Andrea looked at me funny right then, because I was too caught up in my own world. And then we moved on, and I didn’t say anything else about it for the rest of the day.

But the next day, after musing on it all night, I said to Andrea, “You know, I think I’m bisexual.” And she said, “Yeah, I know. It was obvious when you saw the Pride sign yesterday.”

Step 2: Coming Out to My Parents
I came out to my parents in 1993, just before leaving the country. At the time that felt like really smart timing, but in retrospect it gave us too much time apart with them unable to ask questions or have follow-up conversations, and in years to follow, they did their best to pretend I’d never said it. Even when I would deliberately make references to this “ex-girlfriend” or that “girl I was dating,” it was just dropped as quickly as possible.

Step 3: Coming Out to My Sister
I came out to my sister in a letter in 1996, just after I’d moved to California. She’d told me before I left that she was a good pen pal, and since we’d never been close, she indicated an interest in getting to know each better through writing letters. I included the fact that I was bi in the first letter I sent her, and I never got a response. For years, I thought this was her rejection of my queerness. It wasn’t until last year, as she and I were both giving care to our dying father, that I broached the subject. And it turned out she had never received the letter. She knew about my being bi before that point anyway, as my parents had told her, and she says she would’ve reassured me that it wouldn’t change anything. Instead, the letter that got lost in the mail was one of the causes of a 9-year rift between us.

Step 4: Coming Out to My Extended Family
I came out to my extended relatives a little bit by accident, in 1998. I’d volunteered to help coordinate a family web site, and in the process included a link to my personal web site. At the time, I was running a large, high-profile bisexual resources web site, and it was prominently linked from my home page. I didn’t worry about this, because I was under the impression that at some point, my parents had divulged this bit of information to the rest of the family, and that no one would be finding out this way. This was not the case. I received a scathing email from my uncle, who called me immature and selfish, and told me I was hurting my parents.

On the bright side of that hurtful incident, my dad came to my defense, writing a letter back to his younger brother and telling him that his response has been “extreme and totally unenlightened as well as un-christianlike” and adding that his “unfair and unkind judgment” of me was “totally unacceptable.” If my dad hadn’t already been my hero, he would have been immediately promoted based solely on that one letter.

Step 5: Not Becoming Invisible
In 1997, I met the love of my life. He happens to be male, and he happens to be straight, and initially that was hard for me. I didn’t want to limit my identity to just the “heterosexual side” (I don’t actually conceive of my sexuality as having sides, which is why I use the quotes, but it’s simplest to explain it that way). I feared that if we were monogamous, I would be defined as straight, and that felt deeply wrong. But being involved with other people has never worked out well for us, and we’ve been mostly monogamous for a large portion of the nine years we’ve been together. I’m still bisexual, I still find women attractive (just as I still find men attractive — occasionally!), and I still have major misgivings about being thought to be straight. But I have no regrets about being with Karsten, and our love is broad enough and complex enough that it makes sexual orientation a moot issue.

Step 6, 7, 8, …
And so it goes. Every time I meet new people, every time someone makes a gay joke, every time I hear someone ignore the possibility of bisexuality, there’s an opportunity to out myself. I’m less forward about it in some ways now than I used to be, partly because I live in a more culturally conservative area than I ever have before, partly because I find myself questioning how relevant it is to anyone but me, and partly because it’s just there in the background, not bothering me, not needing to be announced, not needing to be talked about.

Except for today. Today I’m talking about it. I hope it helps someone understand themselves or someone else just a little bit better.

Happy Coming Out Day, everyone.

The Mattoid gets some love

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

The Best of Nashville issue of the Scene just came out. I’m skimming through it, bored by all the self-important hipper-than-thou writing when I spot one they definitely got right:

Best Scandinavian Frontman: Ville Kiviniemi, The Mattoid

Far too often, Nashville’s breakout bands are defined by country—either by embracing it or shunning it outright. And while our hip-hop scene is currently flourishing, it too is defined by what degree its artists accept or expel the influence of established Dirty South styles. So when a sui-generis genre-blender like The Mattoid comes along, it’s utter joy for fans of music. Other than Chris Crofton on his good nights, there is no local frontman who brings together chaos and composition in such a way as Ville Kiviniemi, whose throat singing and take-no-prisoners approach to covers have made him and his band the most consistently entertaining and confident performers out there on a weekly basis. There is nothing else like The Mattoid, and their uniquity reaches beyond the usual span of Nashville’s bands. —JASON SHAWHAN

Hey baby, don’t tell me: I’ve been a fan of Ville’s for years. Karsten and I first saw The Mattoid at a Bluebird Cafe open mic night (back when we still subjected ourselves to that) and when Ville and his sidekick stepped up to the stage, no one needed to “shhh” anyone — the shock was enough to quiet the room. His two songs were “Happiness” and “Funeral Party,” if I remember correctly, and the elderly man in the front row wearing a straw cowboy hat barely closed his gaping mouth once during the set. When they finished, the prescribed silence of the Bluebird felt even quieter for the lack of genuine applause coming from anyone other than Karsten and me, and everyone around us was looking at us like we were insane. They seemed to be wondering, “Did we just watch the same thing?” It was classic performance art.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen Ville perform a few more times, and his schtick gets funnier to us each time but the truth is, it would all be nothing if his music weren’t rockin’. He’s a solid musician, he’s deft with lyrics, his melodies are just the right shade of infectious, and the humor in it all is dark enough that you don’t feel like you’re listening to anything that tries as hard as, say, They Might Be Giants.

Want to hear him? Try his MySpace page.

Congratulations, Ville. Now don’t go leaving us.