Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fantastic Female Voices

I was listening to The Current this morning. Every weekday they have a little feature where they throw out a topic, take requests on that topic for an hour or so, and then play 3 of the requested songs. Today the subject was "bands with female vocalists," as an homage to Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and their new album.

Don't worry, of course they played Rilo Kiley.

Well I've been spending a bit of time thinking about this today, and I realized that I've been really liking female voices in music lately. In particular I've been drawn to voices that..., well, I'm not quite sure how to describe it, but I might say, that have a certain longing or subtlety to them. It's almost like there vocalists are giving a little wink with singing. And there's something so compelling and attractive about a female vocalist who can just nail a song - especially a fun song - and yet leave so much unsung. Does that make any sense to anyone?

I'm thinking in particular not so much of Jenny Lewis or Karen O, though they certainly can accomplish this, but more of artists like Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, Katie White of The Ting Tings, Lenka, and Emily Haines of Metric. To get right to the point, I'm pretty much smitten with certain songs by each of these artists. I'd recommend checking out other tunes by these folks too, but here's one song by each that I absolutely love:

French Navy by Camera Obscura
That's Not My Name by The Ting Tings
Trouble is a Friend by Lenka
Gimme Sympathy by Metric

Anyone have any other suggestions for songs that fit into the whole "simultaneously powerful and subtle female vocalist who winks flirtatiously at you with her song" category?

After all of this is done
Who'd you rather be, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

4 Years

4 years ago today was the best day of my life. Except for every day since. Except for the ones when I or Mrs. Fickle were apart from each other.

I know there's been a dearth of posts lately. Between computer issues and craziness at work and a little weekend vacation and blogging at, I've been a bit busy lately. There'll be a post coming soon about the trip we took, so watch for that. And go check out the Twins blog, where I've had almost daily posts.

And finally, in honor of my awesome marriage, I'll give you the link to the blogged summary of the wedding. Enjoy!

I'm strange and you're strange

Monday, May 18, 2009

I'm Going To Like Being A Parent

It was my birthday today. Mrs. Fickle put little happy birthday notes all over the apartment. One of them said, "Happy Birthday Dad. From: Baby."

It was the first time I was called 'Dad'. I really liked it. I can hardly wait to meet my kid. Especially if he/she's going to be this thoughtful all the time.

I wish you better than your heart desires

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Baby Humor

Matt: You look pained. Is something wrong?
Ms. Fickle (looking pained): Not really, I've just got a cramp.
Matt: Where?
Ms. Fickle: In my stomach.
Matt: That's not a cramp, that's a baby.
Ms. Fickle: It's a cramp. A cramp in my style.

One of them says "You know I've been thinking..."
Other one says, "That won't get you too far."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Movie Review: Star Trek

The new Star Trek was, in a single word, flawless. Over my life I've seen maybe a dozen different episodes, give or take, of the original Star Trek series. I've also seen the first two movies in that series. I was always more of a Next Generation fan (I think I've seen probably all, or very nearly all, of the episodes, and all of the movies). But after seeing this movie I want to go watch all of the original series. It was that good.

This film does a fantastic job introducing us to the characters. Having some familiarity with the original cast I appreciated how true this movie stayed to the essential characteristics of the roles. What I knew of the characters showed up in this film, but at the same time I didn't need to bring any background with me in order to get who these people were. The movie brought it all to the audience and introduced us to the protagonists with a knowing wink that served as tribute to the history laid out in the original franchise's extensive cannon. Some of the inside nods I got. Some I didn't. I loved the ones I was able to catch and the ones I wasn't left me wanting to explore the series more fully.

The acting is terrific. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto might even surpass their predecessors in the roles of James T. Kirk and Spock, respectively. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are iconic in those roles, yet these two young actors turned in spectacular performances that more than did the originals justice. I'd like to think that Nimoy's presence in the film is an indication of his strong approval. The supporting cast was equally up to task. From Bones to Sulu to Uhura to Scotty there wasn't a single missed note, a single flat performance, a single character I didn't want to know better. The casting was fantastic, the acting superb.

Star Trek was full of amazing action. This was a sci-fi movie but I found myself pleasantly surprised at how clean and unencumbered much of the action was. Rather than rely on special effects for all of the action we got to see real people doing real stunts and fight choreography. The scene was set with special effects - a giant drilling rig miles above the planet's surface for example - but the action was real. George Lucas should take note. This is the film that science fiction fans have been waiting to see for 10 years; ever since the anticipation of The Phantom Menace fizzled into that awful, forgettable mess. The reintroduction of Star Wars was a disaster. The reintroduction of Star Trek is quite the opposite.

It has been a full day since I saw the film. I wanted to give it some time before putting up this review, to see if I felt as strongly as I did immediately after seeing the movie. If anything my estimation of the film has only grown. I'm already trying to find room on my calendar to go see it again. With movie prices being what they are, that certainly says something. It is with eager anticipation that I hope for a sequel staring this same cast. In fact, the Star Trek franchise has gone 4 years without a single new episode on television; after seeing this movie I've been entertaining wishful, and admittedly ridiculous, dreams that J.J. Abrams could somehow convince this group of actors to commit to a weekly show for the small screen. After all, Abrams did get his start in television...

I would be remiss if I didn't say a little about J.J. Abrams here. A tremendous amount of credit needs to be given to him for having the courage to tackle such an iconic and beloved show, to have the insight to make it true, and the creativity to make it fresh. I mean for this to be the ultimate compliment one can give a filmmaker.

Finally, let me just note one personal hope that this movie gives me. I have always been a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. After seeing how capably this reimagining was handled I look forward to the day, maybe a dozen years from now, when that franchise is also reborn. I never would have thought it, but after the brilliance of this film I can't help but think of it as a mere eventuality.

Let me close by saying that this was easily the best film I have seen in a long time. It was a fantastic movie on its own, it stands as a marvelous tribute to what came before, and it lays the foundation for a future filled with potential. Not only do I want to see this movie again, I want to go back and watch all of the original episodes and am simultaneously giddy with anticipation for a sequel to this film. I hope that the new Star Trek is a franchise that will live long and prosper (Well you didn't honestly expect me not to use at least one lame line, did you?).

I give it an A+.

Like a pinch on the neck of Mr. Spock

Saturday, May 09, 2009


This is my 500th post. I was going to put up a Phickle Thoughts but I think this is a significant enough thing that it deserves it's own post, right?

When I started this blog I really had no idea what I was doing. I just figured I'd jot down a thought or two here and there and maybe my family would read it. I still don't have a huge readership but there's a really solid community of people who read and comment here (and on many of the blogs that belong to those commenters) and it's been a really rewarding experience to "meet" so many different people through this blog.

It has also been a terrific way for me to share more of what's going on in my life with friends and family that I'm far away from. Now that Baby Philosofer is on the way it'll be an especially useful tool for insight into my parenting experience. I don't know how much I'll talk about the baby, since obviously some level of privacy is important, but I'm sure I'll share here and there.

Anyway, I don't really have much more to say about this post. I just happened to notice that my last post was 499 and it really struck me. If I had had to guess I would have said I was at maybe 300 posts. The fact that I'm already up to 500... well, it's pretty cool.

It's like a, it's like a call

Monday, May 04, 2009

A Little Strange...

A little over a week ago the swine flu hysteria really broke out. It seems to have died down quite a bit in a week. Part of that is the short attention span of the news cycle (and the problems caused by 24 hour news channels), and part of that is the realization that the early numbers were way out of proportion.

But another big piece of the puzzle is how well prepared we seem to be to deal with a pandemic. I learned a lot about preparing for these issues in my Advanced Health Law class. I was in the class shortly after outbreaks of bird flu and SARS, when governments really started to work on the issue of preparation. I really enjoyed the class and looking at all the difficulties in dealing with pandemics.

It isn't a super easy thing to prepare for a pandemic. A lot of proposals turn out to be things that would actually be completely ineffectual, such as closing down borders. A government that takes ineffectual steps will be causing more harm that good. See, for example, slaughtering all of a country's pigs or suggesting that people avoid planes and trains.

If you look at the steps the CDC took, at least initially here, it looks like they handled things pretty well. In another 6 months we might look back and see that that statement is completely absurd, but I doubt it. I think the plan that was put in place - and the execution so far - appears to be on the right track.

And you know who we largely have to thank for this? George W. Bush. These were plans that were really put into place under his watch, at the direction of his administration. It feels weird to throw some real praise his way. But it really looks like it's due. Of course, we can always balance that by pointing out that it was the Katrina fiasco that really kicked the administration into gear on this sort of planning.

Yeah... that feels more natural.

He waits in the wings
He's gotta play a part

Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Funny

Here's a link to a "Partial Compendium of Latvian Humor".

I first came across this on a different site but this seems to be the full list of jokes. A highly recommended link. Funny stuff.

My favorites:

Latvian walk into bar with poodle under one arm and salami under other. Eat salami first.

Latvian: Is so cold.
All: How cold is?
Latvian: Very. Also dark.

How many Latvian is take screw in light bulb?
Only one. Obtain light bulb is hard part. You have potato?

What are one potato say other potato?
Premise ridiculous. Who have two potato?

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Thursday doesn't even start


I hardly know her!

I don't really have any thoughts on the retirement right now, other than that I'll enjoy watching the proceedings again I'm sure. I just wanted to use that joke before I read anything else about Souter and inevitably see that line used someplace else.

I'm sorry baby
But you can't stand
In my light anymore