Wednesday, December 30, 2009

today's records 12/30

Had these waiting for me at the office after being away for a few weeks:

Flaming Lips - Embryonic (finally the repress after the initial problem.  one blue and one yellow record)
Kurt Vile - God Is Saying This to You (dark red vinyl) really like Childish Prodigy so spent $30 for this on eBay.  hopefully worth it
Various - Stax: The Soul of Hip-Hop (includes a bunch of classics that are often sampled
Cass McCombs - Catacombs
Nirvana - MTV Unplugged in NY (I own the original press, but had to get the reissue on colored vinyl.  may not open this just yet)
John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band (have a used copy but this is the MFSL)
Lou Reed - Transformer (mainly for Satellite of Love though supposedly the entire album is good)

Friday, December 18, 2009

My 21 favorite records of the 2000s

Why 21?  I just couldn't get this down to 20.  And I'm not going to bother ranking these, as it would probably change from one day to the next

Arcade Fire - Funeral
The Avalanches - Since I Left You
Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
Cat Power - You Are Free
Dirty Projectors - Rise Above
Doves - Lost Souls
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
The Libertines - Up the Bracket
Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf
Radiohead - Kid A
The Rosebuds - Birds Make Good Neighbors
The Shins - Oh, Inverted World
Sleater-Kinney - One Beat
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
The Strokes - Is This It
Super Furry Animals - Rings Around the World
The White Stripes - White Blood Cells

Thursday, December 3, 2009

American Airlines is trying to scam me

Today I had an interesting conversation with an American Airlines representative.  But first, a little backstory – in July, I booked a roundtrip flight for my wife and me to fly to Raleigh for the holidays.  Each ticket cost $404 (this is important later).  Unfortunately, my wife had an emergency (don’t ask) last week and had to get to Knoxville asap, so I booked her a one-way ticket on another airline.  The plan was that she would drive from Knoxville to Raleigh and catch the flight back to LA with me. 
But today I thought I better call the airline and just make sure this wouldn’t be a problem (and see if maybe I could even get some money back).  I explained that because my wife had an emergency, I needed to cancel her flight to Raleigh but keep her flight back to LA.  The rep told me that to do that, she needed to cancel my wife’s ticket and book her a new one-way ticket, and that it would cost me $550.  I told her that I did not understand. 
She explained that there was a $150 cancellation fee, and that a one-way ticket on the same flight cost about $800, so that I had to pay the difference between that (roughly $950) and my original ticket ($404).  I told her that I did not understand. 
She started to re-explain it, but I stopped her and told her that I understand that it’s their policy, but that it does not make any logical sense.  I explained that I booked a ticket that would take my wife from LA to RDU and back for $404.  But now she did not need the flight from LA to RDU, just the flight back.  So she had to pay NOT to fly?  She said she understood my confusion, but that is their policy.
Then she asked if I wanted to go ahead and re-book it.  I told her that while I realize it’s not her fault, American Airlines is running a scam.  I told her I’d have to think about it and would call back.
I ended up calling back and just canceling the flight altogether.  To do that, I lose $150 but can use the rest ($250 if you’re not a math major) for a future flight. 
Two more interesting (assuming you’re still reading) tidbits – first, there is a flight on United the same day from Raleigh to LA for $89 (versus $800 on American).  Second, it would have been cheaper (about $250) for my wife to book a flight from Knoxville to LA tomorrow and then just fly with me the next day as planned.  So if you’re scoring at home, it would cost us $550 to NOT fly one way and $250 to fly an EXTRA way.  Makes complete and total sense to me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Why I Hate Ticketmaster

Here is an email exchange I recently had with Ticketmaster customer service.  A different representative responded to me each time, but I have deleted their names to protect the (somewhat) innocent.  Note that despite the fact that they have royally screwed me out of getting good seats, they appreciate my business!  Feel the love shine through

Friday, October 9, 2009 7:14 PM
Message sent on behalf of Goldenvoice, event promoter for the upcoming
Pee-wee Herman Show:
Hello, this is Ticketmaster Customer Service with an important reminder
for your upcoming Pee-wee Herman Show. These shows were previously
scheduled at The Music Box on Sunday, November 8th, 2009 through
Saturday, December 19th, 2009, but have moved downtown to Club Nokia
January 12th, 2010 through February 7th 2010.
To speed up this process, Ticketmaster has automatically refunded in
full your original order (including all handling and service charges)
for The Pee-wee Herman Show at The Music Box on October 7, 2009. While
Ticketmaster has already credited you in full, it may take up to 7-10
business days for your financial institution to post it to your account.

As a previous buyer, you have the exclusive opportunity to re-purchase
tickets for any of the new shows.
Simply respond to this email>
, or call Ticketmaster at 1-800-653-8000 and provide us with your
original confirmation number. This exclusive opportunity will end on
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 9:00 pm-PST.
Tickets become available to the general public on Thursday, October 15,
2009 at 10:00 am-PST.
Please note, seats are available on a first-come, first serve basis,
based on availability.
The seating available for purchase at Club Nokia are as follows:
Floor, VIP Balcony & Lower Balcony = $65
Upper Balcony = $49.50
General Admission Floor Standing = $26
Please note: Standard Fees and Delivery Option payments apply
In addition, there are a limited number of VIP Packages available for
$125. They include: Premium Floor Seating, access to the VIP Lounge, a
limited edition poster, and souvenir.
Previous purchasers for events at The Music Box will have exclusive
access to a Meet and Greet with Pee-wee Herman. Details are still being
confirmed, so please be patient and look for an announcement from
Goldenvoice soon.
We want to thank you in advance for your patience as we make these
exchanges. We have already processed 5000 tickets in just two days! We
hope to make this process as smooth as possible and appreciate your
If you have any questions, please contact Ticketmaster online at:
Thank you for using Ticketmaster.

10/13/2009 01:25 PM EDT
Customer (Josh B) -
Hi, my original order # is xx-xxxxx/LA1. I'd like 2 seats at Floor, VIP Balcony or Lower Balcony ($65) for whichever show has the best seats available. If it's necessary to choose my dates, I'd like seats on 1/12 or 1/16 at 8pm.

Josh Bell

10/15/2009 03:20 PM EDT
Dear Josh,

Thank you for contacting us. Our goal is to provide World Class Service to every customer, every day. In order to release order information, we require that you respond with the following information:

Cardholder name:
Last four digits of the credit card used:

Please note that this information is required as a means of protecting our customers private information. Once the above information is received and verified we will promptly respond to your request.

Sincerely, Customer Support

10/15/2009 07:33 PM EDT
Customer (Josh B)
Cardholder name: Joshua Bell
Last four digits of the credit card used: xxxx

10/17/2009 12:26 PM EDT

Dear Joshua,

Thank you for contacting us. We regret any inconvenience. To purchase tickets, please log back onto or contact via telephone at (800)745-3000.

Thank you for using Ticketmaster, where we continually strive to provide World Class Service to every customer, every day! We really appreciate your business, and hope we were able to resolve any problems or answer any questions you had. Please reply to this email if we may be of further assistance.

Sincerely, Customer Support

10/18/2009 12:33 PM EDT
Customer (Josh B) -
I'm not sure I understand. I thought that because I had tickets to the original show, I was entitled to purchase tickets to a new show before they went on sale to the public. I sent the email prior to the tickets going on sale, yet it took a few days for someone to get back to me. Now I've been going back and forth over the last few days with customer service. Now it appears that I have to buy tickets myself and will not be given any kind of priority based on owning tickets to the original shows. Is this correct?

10/18/2009 12:40 PM EDT
Dear Josh,
Thank you for contacting us. Yes, that is correct. We were able to do the priority exchange until October 14, 2009. After this date the tickets went onsale to the general public. Since the tickets are onsale to the general public now and you did not process your exchange by the stated date, iyou would like tickets you will need to purchase them on line at or by calling our sales department at 800-745-3000.
Thank you for using Ticketmaster, where we continually strive to provide World Class Service to every customer, every day! We really appreciate your business, and hope we were able to resolve any problems or answer any questions you had. Please reply to this email if we may be of further assistance.
Sincerely, Customer Support

10/19/2009 01:56 PM EDT
Customer (Josh B) - 
Please check the message thread below. I emailed Ticketmaster on October 13 and no one got back to me until October 15. So it is not my fault the order did not get processed by the 14th, it is Ticketmaster's error. The email clearly stated that a person could call or email to get tickets before the public on sale, yet clearly that was not the case. Unbelievable.

10/19/2009 02:14 PM EDT
Dear Josh,
We are in receipt of your recent correspondence submitted to our customer service department. As a service oriented company, the satisfaction of our customers is always our utmost concern.
Please be aware that Ticketmaster deeply regrets the initial difficulty you encountered when attempting to exchange your tickets for The Pee Wee Herman Show as were unable to respond to your e-mail before Wednesday, October 14, 2009. Ticketmaster makes every effort to represent the product for which you are paying in a forthright manner and we understand the frustration of not receiving anything less than the World Class Service that we strive for everyday. We regret any bad faith that may have surfaced as a result of your experience with our company. However, please note that as tickets for the event in question are onsale for the general public, you may now contact our sales department to place a new for this event (which is the same thing that was done for customers that contacted us before Wednesday, October 14, 2009).

Thank you for the opportunity to address you concerns and appreciate your business.
Sincerely, Customer Support

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My claim to fame

Whitney at Pop Candy was nice enough to feature my 10 top albums of all time.  Just wish I hadn't taken the goofy picture

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

links of the day 7/28

Why music mags are dying

Cat Power on the BBC (from Pop Candy)

Magnolia Electric Co tonight at the Echo (thanks to Justin at AD)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings at Largo 7-16-09

So last night the wife and I went to see Gillian Welch at the Largo. I have one of her albums and the O Brother soundtrack, so I’m familiar with her stuff but not a hardcore fan. I just figured it would be a good show, and the Largo is an awesome venue, which seats about 280 I think. She comes out with David Rawlings, her longtime partner who I also know from their work on Ryan Adams’ first album. Two of the first three songs are from the album I have (Time the Revelator), and Rawlings is an unbelievable guitarist. Neither of them is plugged in, they just have their acoustic guitars (and occasional banjo) mic’d and it sounds phenomenal. He is also hysterical, and their between song banter is really funny. You can tell they’re having a good time.

After 45 minutes or so, Gillian says they’d like to bring out a few friends, but they’re going to take a break first to figure out what to play. They come back out, play a couple more songs, then ask Benmont Tench to come out. I knew he was the keyboard player for Tom Petty, so I thought that was pretty cool. They play a song but you can’t even hear the piano, which was disappointing. After the song they ask John Paul Jones to come out…and I’m floored. JPJ was the bassist for a small indie band called Led Zeppelin, he arranged the strings on R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People, and I’m sure he’s done a ton of other great things (and probably some bad ones). But did I mention he was the bassist for Led Zeppelin? Anyway, here he is the mandolin player.

So the four of them play a song, and after it Gillian asks if we could hear JPJ (we couldn’t) and someone yells out we couldn’t hear Ben either. So they fix that for the next song, they bring out Sara and Jon Watkins, who play fiddle and guitar, and Jon Brion, who’s playing acoustic guitar (he also owns the Largo, is a record producer, film score composer, and puts on a phenomenal show of his own…but I digress). They run through a few songs and it sounds really great, and the wife and I are having the time of our lives.

Before the end of the set, they mention that after the show a few people will be playing in the Little Room, which is a small venue in the Largo “complex.” They say only 50 can get in, so we figured we would give it a shot, but we weren’t overly optimistic. When the show ends, a mad rush of people head out to get in line at the LR, and my hopes are dashed. I go to get some cash (LR is cash-only and they want people to buy drinks), the wife gets in line, I meet her and count about 35-40 people in front of us in line. Feeling better about getting in but still trying not to get too excited.

To make a short story long, we get in, get a beer and grab a seat. It’s not even full in there, which is surprising, but we’re not sure what to expect. The Watkins get up there and play a few songs and sound really good, then they ask if Jo(h)n can come up and play. Brion comes up and they ask if any other Jons want to play, so JPJ goes up there, as does Benmont. Again, this is a concert for about 40 people, and the bassist for Led Zeppelin is playing (in case I didn’t make that clear). There is one microphone and a piano on a stage that is probably 10 x 10 feet, if that. They run through a few songs, and then Sara Watkins asks if Fiona is there. So Fiona Apple comes up and sings lead on a few songs, and she sounds unbelievable. Then they ask Gillian and David to come up, so now it’s Sara and Jon Watkins, Benmont, Fiona, Jon Brion, John Paul Jones, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings on stage playing a couple songs, including Leadbelly’s “In the Pines” that Nirvana famously played on Unplugged.

The show ends, we leave and walk right next to JPJ and Fiona, out the door and back into reality, not really believing what we just saw (all apologies to Jack Buck). Someone on the street asked if the Little Room just got out, but I didn’t hear them and they had to repeat the question. We probably looked stoned or drunk, but we didn’t care. One of the best concert experiences of my life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

flea market

Went to the Pasadena City College flea market on Sunday. They've got quite a few record dealers, and it was pretty easy to burn through 100 bucks. But I picked up:

Metallica - One (the 12" single - talked the guy from $40 down to $30...don't know if that's a good deal but who cares)
Stone Roses - I Wanna Be Adored 12"
The Verve - The Drugs Don't Work 12"
Archers of Loaf - All the Nation's Airports (picture disc)
Dream Syndicate - Days of Wine and Roses ($5 for a very nice copy)
Radiohead - Radioshow (a TMOQ bootleg - the sound is fantastic)
Gang of Four - Another Day/Another Dollar EP

Unfortunately I won't be able to go the next 2 months. But it's probably good for my wallet

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wow I'm lame

Can't believe I last did this in August 2008.

Currently listening to:
Paul McCartney - Ram
Pearl Jam - Ten (the super deluxe collector fanatic edition)
The dB's - I recently won about seven 45s on eBay
Various - Dark Was the Night (really love the Dirty Projectors w/ David Byrne)
Boston - Boston (I used to hate this shit in high school b/c it was played on classic rock radio constantly. But I bought this vinyl reissue and am realizing it's pretty damn fantastic. Always heard about this as a template for Siamese Dream and am now seeing the light)
Jellyfish - New Mistake (7") - bought this a while ago and just listened for probably only the second time last night. Really good stuff - now need to seek out more
James Gang - best of (realized I know a few of these songs, though I bought it for Funk 49 (47?) in particular)

Looking forward to:
Mastodon - Crack the Skye (what I heard I really like - already preordered the deluxe vinyl)
Grizzly Bear - Veckamist (or whatever it's called - too lazy to look it up)
Dirty Projectors - Britta Orca (ditto)
Doves - Kingdom of Rust (going to see them in May)