Archive for the ‘The Airborne Toxic Event’ Category


The Airborne Toxic Event’s “Sometime Around Midnight” was huge back in 2009.  It seemed to be on the radio every time I turned it on.  The ATE put out a new album in 2011, although I didn’t hear much from it.

This show was recorded in 2008, about a year after their debut (with that song on it) album came out.  The set features four songs from the debut.  This was the second time that the band appeared on KEXP (the first time they played three different songs from the debut and “Innocence” which I guess must have been their planned single?).

The band sounds very good live, as a poppy yet downbeat alternative band.  I could see a number of these songs having been huge.  It’s interesting to me that the DJ, who didn’t seem to know the band yet, says that “Sometime Around Midnight” could be on a soundtrack.  The fact that he singled that song out is either prescient or they were already pushing that one.  Although as I say, they played “Innocence” in both sets so I assume that was supposed to be the breakthrough.

Anyhow, I’m not a huge convert to the band, but this was an enjoyable set.  And the band seem like nice guys.

[READ: October 17, 2012] “The Semplica-Girl Diaries”

One never really knows what to expect from George Saunders.  This story is a diary.  And it started off being very irritating to me because of the voice he chose to write the diary in.  “Having just turned forty, have resolved to embark on grand project of writing every day in this new black book just got at OfficeMax.”  I hate this clipped way of speaking/writing and I don’t believe anyone would use it.  And it never lets up.

The other thing that bugged me about the narrator was that he is supposedly writing the diary for future historians to dig up and discover things about whenever this takes place.  And I know that this is a funny trope and that many people imagine that their stuff will be discovered as historical artifacts.  And it’s kind of funny in that he wonders “Will future people know, for example, about sound of airplanes going over at night, since airplanes by that time passé? Will future people know sometimes cats fought in night? Because by that time some chemical invented to make cats not fight?”  For who hasn’t wondered about what will be around in the future.  But these examples (which are preposterous) set a tone which does not match the rest of the story.  And that whole future generation trope gets discarded after a few entries.  I’m not sure if that’s another joke because he explains things like cars and books but not what Semplica Girls are, but I found it very disjointed.

So the first (obvious) joke is that he says he will write for 20 minutes a day and he misses the very next day.  But we learn the situation that the diarist is in–he and his family are in trouble financially.  Their car bumper has fallen off, they have huge debt, and their daughter’s birthday is approaching.  They had just gone to the daughter’s friend’s house where opulence and grandeur are the norm.  This immediately makes the narrator uncomfortable.  This is also the first sighting of the SG in the yard. (more…)

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This song was the first track on the inaugural playlist of Out With the Kids back in March 2012. This is a sweet song about dragons and monsters and no more nightmares.  For a children’s song, this is quite intricate.  The opening riff is enticing, and the occasional falsetto was unexpected.

But the bridge is a delicate lead in to the chorus which is not as catchy as one might expect for a children’s song.  It’s a very sweet song.  And indeed, a lot of the elements are things that I would normally love in a song (it actually reminds me a bit of Airborne Toxic Event, but more poppy).  And yet I’m not all that compelled by it.  Although a few listens has really warmed me up to it.

[READ: September 30, 2012] Stories 1 2 3 4

Last year, McSweeney’s started a new imprint–McSweeney’s McMullens–which would publish children’s books.  As with everything McSweeney’s does, the books are beautiful!  Lovingly created with amazing illustrations.  And in each book, the cover unfolds into a giant poster (usually of the pictures contained inside).

And, like other McSweeny’s books, the stories are all a little odd.  I usually try to read the books once through before reading them to my kids to find out just how odd they turn out.  I didn’t read this one first because it was quite large, and boy, were we surprised by it.

Eugène Ionesco writing a children’s book?   One of the foremost playwrights in the Theater of the Absurd?  Indeed, that Ionesco. (more…)

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On July 25, I reached 90,000 hits.
It took me seven months to get from 60,000 (Dec 25, 2009) to 90,000.
It took me nine months to get my first 30,000 hits.

There are some obvious contributing factors to this improvement (not the least of which is links from referrers that make absolutely no sense whatsoever (and which are pretty clearly spam, but hey, numbers are numbers, right?)  But the most obvious is the huge outcry at the failure of Scholastic to continue publishing the Ulysses Moore series.

If you Google “Ulysses Moore” I am the first post (after the official Scholastic site, Amazon, and fantasticfiction).  I have received so many comments from people who are frustrated that the can’t finish the series. It is amazing that so many voices are ignored.  As you can see, this series has garnered me 4020 views.

At 60,000 views I posted some theories as to why I thought these posts were so successful.  Since very little has changed (mostly just a little shuffle of the top ten), I won’t bother repeating that.  But, there is one post (see the bottom, hee hee) which has absolutely skyrocketed in just a few short months.

1. 4020 views posted April 25, 2009 [was #1 at 60,000: 1663 views]
Pierdomenico Baccalario–Ulysses Moore series Books 1-4
SOUNDTRACK: PEARL JAM-Vitalogy (more…)

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[cue music]:

I saw these stats come sailing in, on Christmas Day on Christmas Day.
I hit 60,000 views on Christmas Day in the mor-ning.

I hit 30,000 views back in March, and I was quite thrilled.  When I started the blog in May of 2007 I didn’t expect to get all that many views, it was more or less a blog to keep track of my books and maybe have other people comment too.  And so, it took nearly two years to get to 30,000.  Imagine how delightful it is to reach the next 30,000 views in the span of just nine months!

So thanks everyone for checking out what I had to say.  And thanks also for all the comments.  As with the first 30,000, I’ve included the stats that have brought me to this hallowed (but random) spot.  And I must add that Infinite Summer, which is underrepresented in my top ten posts, was absolutely essential for this huge spike in views (thanks DFW fans).  But, by far the biggest surprise was the surge that came from the first book(s) on the list below.  I posted about the Ulysses Moore series in April.  And it was by far the most frequently sought and (presumably) read post on the blog.  So, Scholastic Publishing, if you read this, please note the craving that my readers have for the rest of the series!  And please update your site!!

So, anyhow, thanks all.  Listed below are the Top Ten (and a few extra) viewed posts on my blog.  Happy New Year!


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frip1SOUNDTRACK: WRFF 104.5  FM & WRXP 101.9 FM.

1045The CD player in my car died.  I have been listening to the radio these last few days.  At first I was a little rxpexcited at the thought of listening to these stations that I so recently discovered.  But let me say, when working outside in the yard, you don’t mind what the stations are playing as much as you do when confined in a car.

Everyone hates commercials.  True.  But I never really noticed how all stations play commercials at the exact same time.  So you can’t even switch back and forth between the two stations without someone yelling at you to buy something.

But the real problem comes with the music.  Now, these are stations that I like and the bulk of the music they play is very good.  However, after being stuck in the car for more than three hour with these two, I’m ready to strangle them.  WRFF based in Philadelphia seems to have copped its set list from the venerable Boston radio station WFNX circa 1995.  I loved the Toadies back then and was thrilled to hear them again.  But I don’t need to hear them every other day, now.  And, WRFF loves the Police, almost obsessively.  Now, I like the Police quite a lot, but for RFF, The Police seem to be their go-to band.  Hey, we’ve got a slot to fill, let’s throw on “Message in a Bottle.”  Again.  I like the Police, but come on!  And, of course, there’s Airborne Toxic Event.  I think every time I turn on that station I hear “Some Time Around Midnight.”

And WRXP is just a little too fixated on the classic rock.  When I first started listening I was pretty excited at the mix of classic rock and alternative stuff.  But at this point, I’ve grown tired of the classic rock, especially since it seems to be all second-tier classic rock.  You know, I don’t really need to hear “Money for Nothing” anymore.

And so, I am left scanning the dials.  And, I am ashamed to say that it took me a few days to search to the left of the dial, where I know good music normally resides.  In my defense, where I used to live didn’t have much access to those stations.  But now that I live within shouting distance of Rutgers, there is much to be joyous about.

[READ: May 5, 2009] The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

frip2I had read this short book about six months ago, but decided to read it again before posting on it.  The second time through was a much more satisfying read for some reason.

This story is about a small town called Frip.  Frip is on the edge of a cliff above the sea.  Lurking in the sea are a multitude of gappers.  Gappers are small orange urchin-like creatures.  Gappers love goats.  Not to eat or to do anything evil to, they just love them.  Goats make them happy.  Conveniently for the gappers, the three families who live closest to the edge of the cliff all keep goats.  Unfortunately for the families and the goats, hundreds of gappers climb on the goats and shriek with delight whenever they cling.  This is rather disconcerting for the goats, who stop eating and stop producing milk.

The three families are:  our heroine Capable and her dad, her neighbor Mrs Romo and her two boys (who spend their non-gapper moments practicing singing), and Mr & Mrs P and their two girls (who practice looking pretty for boys).  The children are employed to go out to the goats eight times a day, scrape the gappers off the goats and throw them back into the sea.

One day, the gappers realize they can go to just one house, instead of all three.  So, they choose Capable’s house (which is closest).  Now her neighbors have no gappers, but Capable is overwhelmed by them.  Capable asks for help but the neighbors tell her that the gappers are her problem now. (more…)

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newyorker3SOUNDTRACK: AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT-“Sometime Around Midnight” (2009).

ateI’ve been hearing this song on the radio a lot lately (WRFF especially seems to play it a lot).  But they never said who it was!  I liked it, but I was sure it sounded like an old song.  Ack, but what was it?  I kept coming up with a band called Dear Mr. President.  And then I heard the truth.  It was the Airborne Toxic Event.

I’m still not sure that Dear Mr President is who I’m thinking of, but their song “Fate” has a similar vocal style at the beginning…it morphs into a different song altogether, but maybe that is what  was thinking of.

As for this ATE song, I really like it.  It’s got this weird quality that I find appealing.  It’s  a slow builder, but the vocals are what’s so intriguing about it…very understated with a whispered feel, until the big stadium chorus comes in.  And yet, there’s no chorus.  The song builds and builds to a chorus that never arrives.  Nice trick, guys.

Heh, I was just looking back over my previous post about Airborne Toxic Event, and I see that I do know this song from when I first listened to it on MySpace back in June 2008.  At that time I compared them to the Church.  I guess I can’t let them be their own band.

I’m certainly going to have to check out their CD

[READ: March 26, 2009] “Tails of Manhattan”

I don’t always include the one page pieces from the New Yorker, but since I like Woody Allen, I figured I’d include this one.  It also gets a special mention because in Allen’s collected essays he often has jokey pieces that are topical, and it’s rather rare that I am completely aware of the topical reference.

This piece is about two old Jewish men who are reincarnated as lobsters (funny in itself), but it also concerns Bernie Madoff.  And since it’s unavoidable, I know who Madoff is an what he did.  I assume this piece would be funny in even you didn’t know who that was (or in 5 years when we forget), because the idea of lobster revenge is always funny.

Allen’s New Yorker pieces aren’t always funny, so it’s nice to see that he can still do a concise little piece like this that really hits the mark.

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3000030,000 views may not be a milestone for many blogs. But, for a blog like this which was intended mostly as a record of what I’ve read, the fact that I’ve had 30,000 views is pretty exciting. And it seems appropriate to let you, the readers know what you the other readers have been reading here. So, here is the top ten most read posts on I Just Read About That… with a director’s commentary tacked on.

1. 819 views
Gordon Korman–Son of the Mob (2002)
I’m pretty much 100% certain that Gordon Lightfoot is NOT the attraction that made this post my highest one. Son of the Mob is usually a summer reading book. However, I get hits on this throughout the year.  I’m guessing it’s just a popular book.


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SOUNDTRACK: THE AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT-4 songs from My Space (2008).

Since the author of one of the stories below is the singer in this band, I thought I’d listen to them and see what they were all about. With a name like that I was expecting some kind of hardcore band. And that is NOT this band! They don’t have a record out yet, but they have some songs on MySpace here. The first song “Sometime Around Midnight” made me think of a couple of bands from the 90s: The Church and Midnight Oil, and possibly The Alarm. The vocals are mixed loudly in the mix, and there is an earnestness about the vocals which made me think of those bands. The second one, “Papillion” has a keyboard solo (!) over some fairly raucous simple melodies. The third song “This is Nowhere” is a fun indie rocker with a good staccato riff and a cool/spooky chorus harmony. And the fourth song “Innocence” was rocking and bouncy. I can’t get over the use of keyboards on songs where you wouldn’t expect them. I enjoyed these songs quite a bit, and will certainly check out the CD when it’s released.

[READ: May 30, 2008]: McSweeneys #27

This volume contains three books in a slipcase. Even though each is a small paperback, the overall package is quite nice. The slipcase has many tiny holes in it to look like skyscraper windows (or Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti). (more…)

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