Wait Wait—Don’t Tell Me

Emily and I went to see a taping of Wait Wait—Don’t Tell Me this past Thursday. It’s worth every penny of the admission price.

The Wait Wait that you hear on the radio is roughly 47 minutes of witty and informative games and banter. I hadn’t realized how much didn’t make it past the editors into the show.

For as charismatic of a host as Peter Sagal is on the radio, he’s twice as much so in person. He’s able to think on his feet and charm an audience all while maintaining the poise and clear delivery that one expects from NPR. He also bears little semblance to his caricature on the Wait Wait home page.

The panel was also a source of great entertainment. PJ O’Rourke was his cantankerous self, and Adam Felber provided even more comedy relief. All three panelists gave the “Not My Job” guest (Steven Cohen) a good ribbing during his valiant effort to defend soccer in an environment filled with us poor heathen Yanks.

As for Carl Kasell, yes, he really does sound the same in person as he does on the radio.

To top it off, they had some neat swag. I was sorely tempted to get the long-sleeve T-shirt they were selling. Who wouldn’t want a shirt that says “NPR without the dignity”?

In The Land of the Dorks, The DDR Player Is King

I’d been resisting for a while, but last night, I finally broke down and bought a copy of Dance Dance Revolution. (Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2, to be precise.)

I’ve been a huge fan of Amplitude and FreQuency since I first had the chance to play them a couple of years ago. I love the way that rhythm games force you into the moment; once you up the difficulty enough, thinking==losing. DDR promises be a fun change, using my feet instead of my fingers. Plus, it’s got a 2-player mode, so I can make a fool of myself with other people.

Bouquet: Moen

In a fairly routine attempt to rinse out a cup last Friday, I made the unpleasant discovery that my kitchen sink’s handle was no longer attached to the rest of the sink.

After going to Moen’s website and identifying the parts kit that I needed to repair it, I went to a couple of hardware stores. No luck finding the parts there. After an abortive attempt to place an order for the kit on the website (small brickbat for that one), I called their customer service line.

Moen has a neat feature in their phone system that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Rather than making you sit on hold and listen to bad music (or worse, advertisements), you can enter your number, and the system will call you back when a representative is available. It’s a little thing, but it really shows consideration for our (the customers’) time.

After being called back, the representative was extremely helpful. We went through a set of questions to confirm the model and the parts that needed to be replaced. She was able to tell me exactly when they would have the parts in the mail (next business day) and thus when they would arrive. Every bit of information that I gave her (address, phone number, etc) was carefully confirmed. From a customer’s perspective, this kind of attention to detail is very reassuring and helpful.

As promised, the parts showed up yesterday, and now I can again rinse out my Duvel stemware.

Hyde Park Outing

Last night, four IMSA seniors and I went on a little trip to Hyde Park.

The ostensible reason for the trip was to go to Java Jive. The four folks who ended up going have all been dancing for a while, so there wasn’t much point in going to the beginner lesson. This left us with an hour or so ot kill before dancing started.

We first went to Medici‘s café and grabbed drinks. After parking the van near Shoreland Hall (where Java Jive was taking place), we trundled eastward.

We headed over to Promontory Point Park and paused for a while to take in the view from the north side of the Point. It’s one of the best places to see the skyline in the city (save, perhaps, for the north side of the museum campus) and on a windy day, you can watch the waves on the lake crash up over the rocks bounding the Point. None of the students who were with me had been there before. I hope they enjoyed it at least as much as I did.

After a brief trip to Subway, we then headed over to Java Jive. There were a lot of new faces there; I met folks from DeKalb and Boston, as well as some new-to-the-scene Chicago dancers. The floor was also unbelievably fast; doing balboa was really easy, but boy did you have to keep your balance on your swingouts!

Parasol’s Sweet Sixteen, Volume 7

As noted in a previous post, I purchased Parasol‘s Sweet Sixteen, Volume 7 promo album last time I was in Champaign. I’ve been listening to it for a couple of days now.

It’s all good stuff, as one might expect from a “samples from our labels” disc, but there are a few standouts:

Strange Living—Menthol
Hypnotic and catchy. It’s got a simple, unwavering beat up until the end of the song, with effects that sound like those made by UFOs in old B-grade movies. It produces an eerie feeling that helps the song live up to its title.
Snobs & Slobs—The Like Young
It’s a little bit like Weezer meets Franz Ferdinand. The vocals wail à la Rivers Cuomo with sharp, percussive guitar riffs like those in The Dark of the Matinée.
The Break (It’s Been There All This Time)—Absinthe Blind
Like a lot of the other material from Rings, this vocals and effects on this track are a little bit ethereal. Combined with the lyrics, you can close your eyes and feel yourself drifting away and making a break…
Wide Eyed Fools—Bettie Serveert
It’s a little bit abrasive, it’s a little bit sweet. Not a girl, not a grrrl, but somewhere in between.
Walking On Air—Mark Bacino
It’s cheesy, it’s got nice vocal harmonies, it sounds like something your buddy would play on the acoustic guitar that happens to be sitting near the couch at a party. What’s not to like?