Dark Mean

It seems as though my music genre of choice this years is folk.  I recently bough Devendra Banhart‘s breakout album, Rejoining in the Hands, I’m loving Bon Iver, and I’m really looking forward to Rock Plaza Central‘s new album.

And just recently I’ve come across a great new band: Dark Mean.  They may not be folk per se, but they are certainly folky, with a banjo featured prominently.  But their music also includes a hint of techno-beeps.  You should check them out – especially because they are giving away their 4-song EP for free on their website.

Bravo Miss California

OK, So I’ve been hearing about this Miss California controversy for days now, and it has upset me enough that I’ve been moved to speak up.  Basically, my problem with the recent media coverage is that it has not given Miss California’s answer the credit it deserves.  Everyone is debating one way or another about the final phrase of her response: “In my family I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”  However, they completely ignore the first part of what she said: “I think its great that Americans are able to choose one or the other.  We live in a land where you can choose same sex marriage or opposite marriage.”

So taking her quotation as a whole, it seems quite clear to me that what Miss California said was basically: “People should be able to choose whether to support or practice gay marriage, but I personally do not believe in it.”  Now, I don’t know about you, but I think that is a fantastic answer – one that should be praised from people on both sides of the issue.  She respected the gay rights activists’ point of view, but did not compromise her own opinion.  I mean what more do her opponents want?  That she not only agree that  gays should be allowed to marry, but also fully support the practice in contrary to her own upbringing and religious beliefs?

Miss California’s answer respected gay marriage activists while maintaining her own opinion, and her opponents should give her the same courtesy.

UPDATE: So, after watching a little more of Miss California, it seems like she may not be quite as open-minded as I initially gave her credit for.  But even if her initial answer to the pageant question doesn’t reflect her true views, I still think that it demonstrates a good attitude towards the issue.

Little Dorrit

Theresa and I have really enjoyed watching the first two parts of the BBC/PBS Series, Little Dorrit, based on the lessor-known Dickens Novel.  Not only is it a thoroughly engrossing and addicting mystery that would appeal to fans of “Lost” or “The Da Vinci Code”  (dare I even mention these works in the same sentence as Dickens?), its commentary on debt and poverty are particularly relevant in today’s economy.  Especially with recent reports of modern-day debtor’s prisons.

Watch the two episodes you missed here, and catch the upcoming three parts on PBS (Sundays at 9:00 here).


In my many tellings of Theresa’s immigration adventures, I usually left out a few details becuase they only complicated the story.  One of those details was that the green card she recieved was temporary.  Since we had only been married a very short time before we applied for the Visa, the one she was awarded was conditional on us actually staying married for at least 2 years.  Well, last month was Theresa’s 2 year anniversary in the United States, and she has applied to have her condition removed.

For those of you who may be thinking that I came up with a great scheme to make sure that Theresa stays married to me for at least two years, I assure you that maintaining her US permanent residency would not in any way affect her decision to stay with me.  If anything, getting to return to Canada would probably encourage the separation.

Tomorrow, she has to travel to Northern Virginia to register her biometrics.  Don’t worry, it is not as ominous as it sounds: they are just taking her photo and fingerprints.  Why she has to go to DC to do it is beyond me, but not surprising considering our previous dealings with US Citizenship and Immigration.

In honor of the removal of Theresa’s conditions on residency, I present the next two webisodes of LA I.C.E (Illegal Canadian Enforcement)

Flora and Fauna

The stars and planets must have all aligned last night, casting a spell on Charlottesville that made everyone here think that good music is bad and horrible music is good.  You see, Theresa and I spent the evening at our town’s newest music venue, is venue, for the eagerly-awaited (by me anyways) Plants and Animals concert.  But it was one of the wierdest concert experiences I have yet had.

P&A had two opening acts.  The first, These United States, who put on a nice laid back acustic folk set.  The band played great, and it was everything you would want for a warm-up act.  The crowd, however, was sparce and disinterested.

The next band on the bill was called “Straight Punch to the Crotch,” which is not only the band’s name, but also a description of what I would choose over listening to them.  As you might expect from a band with such a stupid moniker, they we horrible.  Ridiculously horrible.  One of the worst opening acts I have ever seen.  But the crowd – they LOVED it.  For one, the audience grew substantially, and for another, a large number (I’m thinking between 10 and 20) girls got up and started dancing in front of the stage.  And I mean real dancing – eyes closed, arms and legs awkwardly flailing.  It was really quite entertaining for us, watching from a carefully selected chesterfield, but also very baffling.  I mean – the band was really, really bad, but they were a hit.

The expectation to see the headlining bad kept me from  leaving.  And when Plants and Animals came on, I wasn’t disappointed.  The Montreal trio played with force and skill.  I thought their set was amazing.  But did everyone else agree?  NO!  People left!  They LEFT!  After grooving to a ridiculously awful band, they walked out on a ridiculously awesome band.  The crowd was so thin by the time P&A’s set ended, we couldn’t even coax them out for an encore.  I’ve never seen that before, but I really don’t blame P&A, since there were so few of us left.  It must have been insulting, having a smaller crowd that *ahem* Straight Punch to the Crotch (I can’t even type that name without cringing).

Despite these bizarre happenings, I really enjoyed myself.  Plants and Animals lived up to their live reputation.  Check out this great video.  Of course, it is not of last nights show, but I’d rather post a high quality vid of a dissimilar performance than a bad clip of the concert taken on someone’s cell phone.  In order to understand the concert experience, imagine that song twice as long, and with 5 times the energy.  To see the rest of the set, go here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


more about “Faerie Dance | Pitchfork.tv“, posted with vodpod

An Ode to Marriage

This is what marriage is really about:

Lilia Rocks!!!: Part I

The Video

First watch this great video made by our brother-in-law Nathan.  Here, our niece Lilia is attempting to steal the title of Rockinest Relative from Bailey  Things to note about the video: 1. Despite her swagger, Lilia cannot play guitar hero, 2. look for a cameo from Theresa the Wino, 3. Click the video below to view; for best results, right click and select “view in a new window”


The legal battle

The story of how this video came to be is as follows.  When Theresa was at her parent’s house this summer, she filmed Lilia dancing in the sun room (pictured in the still above).  During the fall, I created a simple video from the footage; essentially I inserted music and edited the video to make it appear Lilia was dancing to the Justice song “D.A.N.C.E.”  At christmas we showed the video to Theresa’a Family, and gave Nathan a copy.  This weekend, Nathan premiered the video seen above, which modified and extended the original video through further editing and the addition of original Lilia dance sequences (such as the guitar hero scenes and the baby rocking scene).

Let me pause for a moment in order to ask you, the reader, if you are as appalled by this series of events as I am.  As an aspiring copyright lawyer, I was immediately struck by the blatant illegality of this unauthorized derivative work.  So I did what any good lawyer would do: I sent the following letter:

Dear Mr. Nathan Johnson,

We are the proprietors of all copyright in the motion picture work entitled “The Way She Moves is a Mystery,” (hereinafter “the work”) which was first expressed in a tangible medium on December 8, 2008 by one Randal Miller and one Theresa Miller.  It has come to our attention that the material posted on http://gallery.me.com/nathanfjohnson#100265, entitled “Dance, Lilia, Dance” (hereinafter “the material”) is substantially similar to the aforementioned work.

The unauthorized copying and distribution via the internet of the material, without the expressed written permission of Mr. Miller constitutes copyright infringement in violation of Title 17 U.S. Code, Section 106(a) of the Copyright Act of 1976, and several recognized international copyright laws.

In the Circumstances, we demand that you immediately:

  1. Remove all infringing content and notify us in writing immediately that you have done so AND Immediately cease the use and distribution of the work; OR
  2. Credit all infringing content to ourselves by providing on said website the stipulation: “This material is a derivative work based on the original artistic creation of Randal and Theresa Miller” AND pay the licensing fee in the amount of a one-time payment of $0.50 USD.

If you do not comply, we are authorized to prosecute you to the furthest extent of the law.  The consequences of your lack of cooperation in this matter may result in civil fines, including but not limited to statutory damages as high as $150,000 USD per act of willful violation as set forth in 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(2), as well as attorney fees, penalties and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s office for willful violation of Copyright Laws.

We await your reply, witch we expect to receive no later than the close of business on February 13, 2009.  This is written without prejudice to our rights, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.

Yours faithfully,

Randal Miller

I personally believe that Theresa and I have a pretty solid case, but what do you think?  Can any of you think of a good defense for Nathan?  He’s going to need it.

To Be Continued… check out the second part here.