Saturday, 30 December 2006

Somewhat inspired by Jason Kottke I figured I’d run down a list of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen this year. Really the places list was directly inspired by Kottke, while the concert list came about after someone asked me over Xmas dinner how many shows I’ve seen this year.

Places I’ve Been

The rules are that I actually slept in the city for a minimum of one night and that it must be outside the Twin Cities area (no crashing at a friend’s house and counting it).

  • Denver, CO
  • Chicago, IL
  • Madison, WI
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Detroit, MI
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Stillwater, OK

Things I’ve Seen

No stipulations here, just a list of all the shows and concerts I’ve seen this year.

  • Physics Circus
  • Robert Randolph
  • California Guitar Trio
  • WGH Train Show
  • Spinout Records Package Show (Hi-Risers, Eddie Angel, and Kaiser George)
  • Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers (w/ Taylor Hollingsworth)
  • Ray Davies
  • Massive Attack
  • May Day Festival
  • Sigur Ros (w/ Animina)
  • Aimee Mann (w/ Adam Levy)
  • John Hiatt (w/ North Mississippi All-Stars)
  • Mike Doughty (Basilica Block Party)
  • Hookers and Blow (several times)
  • Fiona Apple (w/ Damien Rice)
  • Beth Orton (w/ Peeping Toms — Mike Patton from Faith No More)
  • Gnarls Barkley
  • A Silver Mt. Zion
  • Gary Numan
  • Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (w/ Stockcar Named Desire)
  • Bruce Cockburn
  • Buckwheat Zydeco
  • Buckwheat Zydeco (Yes, twice in a row)
  • Flaming Lips (w/ Sonic Youth and The Magic Numbers)
  • Zero 7
  • The Zombies (w/ Chooglin’, Gore Gore Girls, Mooney Suzuki, and The Woggles)
  • Cibelle
  • Hookers and Blow
  • Gjallarhorn (w/ Vajas)†
  • Hoven Droven (w/ Swap)†
  • Carbon Leaf
  • Yo La Tengo (which I left early)
  • Taylor Hollingsworth (on the guest list!)
  • Kaki King
  • Miho Hatori
  • Edie Brickell and New Bohemians
  • Los Straitjackets (w/ Patrick Sweeny Band)‡
  • Blue Man Group (Front. Row. Ticket.) ‡
  • Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers (in Cleveland, OH w/ As Fast As)‡
  • Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers (in Detroit, MI w/ As Fast As)‡
  • Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers (in Chicago, IL w/ As Fast As)‡
  • Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers (in Minneapolis, MN w/ As Fast As)‡
  • Robert Randolph
  • As Fast As (opening for Under the Influence of Giants, but I was really there to see Spencer and the boys)
  • Sia
  • The Honeydogs (w/ Andra Suchi)
  • Dr. John
  • Kansas City Symphony
  • 2006 CP Rail Holiday Train
  • Imogen Heap
  • Stuart Davis

That’s over 50 events (I can’t remember how many times I actually saw Hookers and Blow), only 4 of which were not actual concerts. Among those 46 known shows, there are, at least, 90 separate bands. I wish I could remember all of the opening acts for each show, because it might be a fun list to put together.

† Nordic Roots Festival ‡ Part of my 2006 Heartland Tour

Sunday, 21 August 2005

To go along with the new home for the site, I’ve added two concert reviews and a new section.

The reviews are for July shows, but didn’t finished the editing until now. They are Junior Brown and Nickel Creek.

The new section is called Visible. It’s a photo gallery that I’ve started off with concert pictures from Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers and Los Straitjackets plus shots from my trip to San Diego and the 2004 CP Holiday Train.

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Welcome to my new digs!

I finally got to a point where I needed more than my hosting provider could offer, so I up and moved.

I’m kind of sad to go, because they’ve been very good to me over the years, but it was time. I’ve always said they’re not the cheapest in town, but they were the best.

Really, several factors came into play:

  • To put my photos on-line, I’d need a bunch more disk space. Even with a one-time setup fee of $2/MB, it would have added up fast.
  • No database offerings that met my needs. I asked at one point and was told Access (Ummmm. No.), or MS-SQL. Either way I’d have to move off the virtual server.
  • To expand a couple areas of my site the way I wanted, it would require a couple Perl modules and supporting libraries that they weren’t willing to install on their shared Web box.

Honestly, I can’t fault them for the Perl module thing. It’s a shared Web server and they have to look out for all their customers. But that, coupled with the disk space costs, the datbase, and the monthly rate, I felt it was time to change.

I was paying almost $60/mo (part of that was a $200/yr fee for an IP based Web virtual server) for email (Web/POP3/IMAP), spam filtering, Web space, shell access, and it all shared 40M of disk space. Also, I think that included Internet acceess—ISDN in my case, but dial-up and DSL were options. I can’t get DSL because I’m too far from the CO, so when I wanted higher speed I switched to broadband (cable-modem) a couple years ago.

I was tempted to host it myself at home, but again the costs adding up fast. The only broadband package would have been $150/mo and the terms only allowed for a Web server. What about email? I know I could run a server on their connection, but my IP address would still come from a cable-provider’s netblock. That would mean non-stop hassles getting outbound email to go through. Just a bunch of crap I didn’t really want to deal with.

Since I didn’t really need the ISP services from the old provider, I just needed to find a hosting provider that offered what I want and need.

After some poking around, and some suggestions from a couple friends, I ended up with Dreamhost. They had a sale going that includes 15 fully hosted domains (unlimited mirrors/redirects/subdomains), 7G of disk space with a free increase every week, every Perl module I could think of, unlimited MySQL databases, discussions lists, announcement lists, and a host of other things. All that for a $45 setup fee and $19/mo.

Getting ready to switch things over, and testing everything 17 times, plus a couple outside projects, working on my writing, and prepping a new section for the site have kept things hopping.

At least I have this part done. All that’s left is to clean up any remaining email the old ISP and notify friends in case any are still using an address rather than

Sunday, 05 June 2005

It took some doing, but I’ve converted the FAQ page so it’s handled by Movable Type as well. In doing so, the layout has changed so it looks more like the rest of the site.

It will also allow for easier updates—and believe me, the FAQ needs it.

Friday, 03 June 2005

Generally mysteries and science fiction. Specific authors would be Caleb Carr, Robert Frost, Tony Hillerman, Ngaio Marsh, Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling and John Case.

Other than Stephenson and Sterling, I don’t care for most science fiction authors. So many of them get caught up in trying to write the next Neuromancer or the next Snow Crash that they forget to include a story. Tom Clancy bores me for the same reason.

When it comes to movies, my favorites are 12 Angry Men, Mediteraneo, The Professional, La Femme Nikita (not the TV show) and Fail Safe (1964) to name a few.

Overall, my taste in movies is somewhat eclectic, but it favors the classics, independent and foreign films over current Hollywood fare. In spite of that, I’m a sucker for Jackie Chan action movies, John Wayne Westerns and the Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns. Also, I can never pass up the 80’s teen-angst stuff like Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles.

Michael Armstrong
1996, Minneapolis, MN
Brooklyn Park, MN
5′ 11″
Dishwater blonde, long

Music is an important part of my life. I’ve nearly always got something playing, and I’m always on the lookout for new music. Everything is fair game, although I’m not much for country, opera or hard rock. Favorites include Laurie Anderson, Adrian Belew, Bjork, Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, John Hiatt and King Crimson. Bob Marley was a god. Ani DiFranco is a goddess.

My latest music fascination seems to be 50’s styled rock-and-roll, especially the Duane Eddy/Dick Dale surf-rock sound. The Ventures and Los Straitjackets are at the top of that list for me right now.

I also have a penchant for swing covering the full range from classics like Goodman and Miller to newer bands such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Brian Setzer. Jangly guitar pop such as Jellyfish or The Replacements will almost always make me happy.

I have a short recommendation list on my database site. Five artists, one title each.

I have many interests, perhaps too many since I never have time for them all. The most prevalent are model trains, sport/stunt kites, writing, painting, reading, matchbook collecting, Web design and database programming. I really wish I had more time (and talent) to paint. The computer drawing tablet gets used more for photo editing and CAD work than it does for painting. I recently took up Geocaching.

As for TV, there just isn’t anything worthwhile these days. There are only two shows I watch regularly: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and 24.

In the past it’s been Millennium (first season), Brimstone (short lived, no ratings), Babylon 5, X-Files (2nd and 3rd season). Now the dial is usually tuned to CNN Headline News or Fox News Channel.