Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Inside the Pro Peleton

Do you remember David Zabriskie, the Utahan who beat Lance Armstrong in Stage 1 of the 2005 Tour de France by 2 seconds en route to setting a record for the fastest time trial (54.358 km/h) in the history of Le Tour. DZ wore the maillot jaune until the team time trial (stage 4) when he lost the yellow jersey to Lance Armstrong because of a mysterious crash is the last 2km of the stage.

While surfing around today, I stumbled across Zabriskie's personal website where he was keeping a diary during last year's racing season. While riding along in the Pro Peleton, he took the opportunity to conduct a series of one question interviews with some of cycling's biggest stars -- revealing such insight as:

Dave Zabriskie: Do you like Star Wars?
Alessandro Pettachi: Star Wars?
Dave Zabriskie: The movies.
Alessandro Pettachi: Yes.
Dave Zabriskie: Thank you.

and then there's...

Dave Zabriskie: Thor what does it feel like to have the coolest name in the peleton?
Thor Hushvod: I didn’t know it was a cool name.
Dave Zabriskie: Trust me it is.
Thor Hushvod: O.k. then. It feels pretty cool then.
Dave Zabriskie: Thanks for the interview.

So if you could ask a member of the Pro Peleton one question, what would it be?

My Pick of the Podcasts

A few months ago I decided to take the plunge and get into podcasting. For those that aren't familiar with podcasting -- which takes its name from iPod Broadcasting, it's basically a way to routinely download audio programming that you can listen to you on your computer or your portable MP3 player (such as an iPod). You can either download each file individually or you can use an RSS or Podcast client to automatically download new files when they become available and have it automically synchronize with your audio player.

Sounds great, eh? It is...with one caveat...because anybody in the world can Podcast, there are thousands upon thousands of programs already being podcasted on the internet. The problem is that these programs rate anywhere from Superb to Supremely Poor. Some have tremendous production values whereas others are simply a guy talking into the built-in microphone in his laptop.

The challenge becomes finding podcasts that are worth your time to download and listen to. You can always go with reputable content sources like NPR and KUT (my favorite radio station in Austin) who both podcast excerpts from their shows. You can also try to navigate your way through a podcast community or directory. But the true beauty of podcasting is being hep to the unique quality content out there that can be heard nowhere else but through a podcast.

So in my quest to separate the podcast wheat from the chaff, here's a quick rundown of my five favorite podcasts I've found on the web so far:

  • Coverville - this show, expertly produced in the hosts basement after his kids go to be, features cover versions of songs you may already know re-done by popular and not-so-popular artists.
  • The Naked Podshow - some of the best new and unsigned music from (mostly) British artists. The avant-garde of the new British Invasion!
  • Radio Clash - a weekly mashup podcast from London bringing together a torrent of creativity in the mashup and remix world that will probably never see the light of day through normal commercial channels.
  • All Songs Considered - NPR's weekly, web-only music show which allows the exploration of music in longer and more eclectic segments than are typically featured in their normal NPR daily programming.
  • US Soccer Podcast - Soccer, my favorite sport, is one of the worst covered sports in the US by the mainstream media so this podcast fills a huge void for soccer news about the US National teams and professional soccer in the United States.
So what podcasts are you listening to?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Here Come the ABCs

My friend Jonathan and I have a tradition each year where we rate the top albums of the year. As I set out to figure out which album was my favorite for 2005, I started going through some of the CDs that I purchased this year.

I was scratching my head over all the great new albums I bought this year like Picaresque (The Decemberists), Employment (The Kaiser Chiefs), The Girl Who Couldn't Fly (Kate Rusby), Twin Cinema (The New Pornographers), Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (The Eels) etc. I ended up with a list of about 15 albums that were legitimate contenders for the title.

Then I remembered the album that I've actually listened to more than any other album this year...Here Come the ABCs, the new children's album by They Might Be Giants! Both of my kids were totally into the DVD that accompanied this album and we must have watched it an average of twice a day for the last 6 months.

Not only is it totally cool that our kids are into a band that Liz and I used to go see when we were in college, but this album is actually quite good. While the songs are about the alphabet, not a one of them would be out of place on any of your typical TMBG albums. In fact, I bet they even do some of the songs at their concerts.

Some of the songs are whimsical (Pictures of Pandas Painting -- can you guess what letter that one's about?), philosophical (Who Put the Alphabet in Alphabetical Order?), and downright clever (I C U -- an entire song whose lyrics are a coherent story made up of only single letter words).

I'm sure ultimately that I will conclude that one of the "adult" albums was truly the best album of 2005, but for the time being, They Might Be Giants is getting my vote for their generation spanning album.

What's your favorite album of 2005?