Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson

ben wilson This is the blog of a one Ben Wilson, a Louisville, Kentucky native who enjoys baseball, beer, music, bikes, things that fly and good food. By day he pushes pixels and makes the Internet happen for a local advertising agency. His wife, Kelly is an Ironman, and his baby Amelia is the cutest thing ever.

Man, so much good music this year! All this good music coupled with IndieTorrents have led to a banner year of me listening to good music. With all the hype and stuff about BitTorrent and the busts that have occurred as of late, I’ll tell you that A) IndieTorrents deals only with non-RIAA artists, and B) I spend a good deal of money on artists that I like. IndieTorrents has spurred me to buy many more CDs from artists that I would never have heard of. So, stick that in your lawsuit-happy pipe and smoke it, RIAA.

In other news, Pitchfork seems to have really taken off this year. Complete with industry scandal (their balance sheet was apparently leaked to the public), wide-acclaim and their own determined band of detractors. The good news is that people are talking about them, and they remain one of the few bastions of real, no-kid-glove-wearing music journalism. Yeah, sure, they can be real dicks and give an album I really liked a 2.0 out of 10, but that sort of opinionated music review gets me thinking about why I like the music so much. To quote Jack Nicholson’s Joker: “This town needs an enema!“, and Pitchfork has provided as much.

So, without further ado, my top 10-ish albums that I heard for the first time this year (in no particular order):

  • Neutral Milk Hotel – In an Aeroplane Over The Sea

    From an earlier post: The circuitous route by which Neutral Milk Hotel caught my ear is really only a small facet of the strange story of Jeff Mangum’s short career with his Neutral Milk Hotel band. In an Aeroplane… was released in 1998 to critical acclaim and then he essentially fell off the face of the earth. Much like the sudden rise subsequent disappearance of the band, both albums (this one and the first “On Avery Island”) are noisy, powerful and ultimately deep and terribly sad. There is part of me that wants to hear more and part of me that revels in the hope that music like that is never made again.

  • Interpol – Antics

    antics album art
    carlos d.

    I’ve made a couple posts about Interpol in the past, mostly in regards to their breakout “Turn on the Bright Lights” album from 2002. After a long wait in 2003 (and through most of 2004), they released “Antics”. With “Turn on…”, the album grew on me with each listen, eventually becoming one of my favorite albums of 2003 and it still reminds me of the cold, dark winter of 2002/2003. “Antics” hit me in a similar way, but different and better. Interpol doesn’t shy away from their tight, rythmic ways on “Antics”, but do make many growing steps on this album. Whereas once I thought “Turn on…” would be my favorite Interpol album, “Antics” has supplanted it. “Slow Hands” the obvious favorite on the album shines (as much as these black-clad dudes can), and Carlos D.’s bass playing makes me want to shake my ass while Paul Bank’s dark vocals make me want to don black-on-black suits and sit in the corner. It’s like hipster goth music, and I love it.

  • Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Master and Everyone / I See A Darkness

    My fandom of Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s alter-ego) started when I first heard Palace Music’s “Viva Lost Blues” some two years ago. The ragged vocals and broken-down guitar paired with superb lyrics hit a chord with me somehow, and I never stopped listening. Bonnie Mr. Oldham has never been shy about releasing material, and he has a raft of it under various names. So, when I kept hearing about this Bonnie “Prince” Billy album called “Master and Everyone” I had to check it out. The ragged vocals of the Palace Music days were gone, and replaced with smooth (by Oldham standards) vocals and gracious harmonies. Lyrically, he’s as tight (maybe tighter) than ever. “The Way” gets me every time. Also recommended: I See A Darkness, also by the Bonnie “Prince”, and perhaps an even better album that “Master”.

  • Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose

    van lear rose

    If you would have told me January 1, 2004 that I would have selected a Loretta Lynn album in my “Best Music I Heard This Year” list, I would have dismissed you like a fifth grade class on the last day of classes. But leave it to Mr. Jack White of the White Stripes to pull together a young band to back Mrs. Lynn and crank out this awesome record. However, you can’t give Jack all the credit here — Loretta Lynn has never been afraid of controversy or “pushing the envelope,” and suffice it to say that she might be a little cracked in the head. Sometimes the best of them are, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint or go too far out of her boundaries. She still sings songs about Butcher Holler, her mommy and hating on hussies, but with Jack’s raw production and a shitkicking band behind her she sounds way ahead of the country curve. Take a lesson, Nashville.

  • DJ Danger Mouse – The Grey Album

    grey album

    I’ve never, ever listened to a bit of Jay-Z. I’ll freely admit that. I have, however, like the good little white suburban kid that I am/was say that I listened to the Beatles’ White Album quite a bit. At first, I didn’t understand what all the hype was about DJ Danger Mouse’s mixing of the two albums. I had easily dismissed Jay-Z as just another rapper, and thought that this might just be some half-assed attempt at party mixing. Oh, how wrong I was. After a couple of listens, I came to the realization that this rocked, and HARD. Jay-Z’s tight lyrical stylings with the often beat-heavy semi-psychedelia of the White Album mingled nicely and brought new light to both albums. Some folks said it was just fluff, and some said it was the coming of some sort of new style. As per the usual, I can’t fall into either camp there — this isn’t bad enough to consider just fluff, but it’s no White Album by itself. It is, however, a fantastic album that should draw fans of both genres together. It’s just so damned fun and invigorating. Few albums I can turn to regardless of mood or time of day.

  • Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing in the Hands

    How to explain Devendra Banhart… I don’t know if it can be done through words alone. He’s got sort of that Eddie-Vedder-in-his-later-years thing going on with a touch of Will-Oldham-country-dirt but with a light and supple touch of Sufjan Stevens on the guitar. I could attempt to put together any number of hipster name-drops to make a reasonable sculpture of Banhart, but the proof is in the listening. He’s nearly 4 years younger than I, but writes and plays like a man twice his age.

  • TV on the Radio – Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes

    TV on the Radio blends electronica, tape loops and even a smattering of a capella to make sonorous, infectious rap-inspired rock. Rock might not be the right word here — perhaps jams is the better word. They hit the scene this year with their debut, and if the new single “New Health Rock” is any indication, there are good things coming from TV on the Radio.

  • The Black Keys – Rubber Factory

    Ah, The Black Keys. I’ve made a couple posts about these boys from Akron, Ohio. They released “Rubber Factory” this year, after opening up in 2002 with “The Big Come Up”, which indeed was a big come-up for them. I saw them in 2003 opening for Sleater-Kinney promoting their “Thickfreakness” album, which I thought was a lackluster sophomore effort. “Rubber Factory”, however, proved me completely wrong by rocking their asses off. These two guys are students of the real folk blues — having studied by playing with some of the best real blues performers. They even passed up a number of offers to defect from their current label, Fat Possum, to larger, likely more lucrative deals. I’ll agree that Stevie Ray Vaughan might have brought the blues back to the forefront in the 80′s, but people like the The Black Keys keep them alive.

  • Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand


    I first heard Franz Ferdinand on WOXY some months back with their first quirky single, “Darts of Pleasure”. Later on, it was “Take Me Out”, then “Matinee”, and then “Michael”. While listening to these singles months-apart, I hadn’t quite acquired my taste for Franz Ferdinand. I had had other favorites over the span of my relationship with Franz, but by the time “Matinee” (one of the strongest tracks on an album of strong tracks) rolled around, I realized “Hey — wait a minute. Each of these songs has been equally awesome! Maybe the whole album is like this!” Purchased at ear X-tacy sometime during the fall, it was true. Franz Ferdinand, this band which I had a mere monthly fancy with had come home to roost at last. They throw down the new-wave tinged hook-laden rock like no other Scots I know. Expect good things.

  • Sufjan Stevens – Greetings from Michigan / Seven Swans


    By all accounts, Sufjan Stevens should have been on this list last year, if I had listened to Jackson last year about Greetings From Michigan. Sufjan Stevens is a unique and productive talent in the US indie scene — a gifted musician and songwriter who changes his style up a bit on each of his albums. Greetings from Michigan is his epic love-song to the state of Michigan, and Seven Swans is a decidedly different record with a definite spiritual core. It’s hard to say which I like more, I guess it depends on my mood. Greetings has “Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)”, a callout to the crumbling crown city of Michigan, which is both interesting in subject and in song. Seven Swans has “The Dress Looks Nice on You”, which reminds me of Kelly so much — not only because of the lyrics, but because of the Casio-style breakdown later in the song. Both albums I first listened to this year, so they get my double-vote. Further: Sufjan’s annual Christmas albums are fantastic turns on holiday standards.

File Under: How Did I Miss These?

  • Mos Def – Black on Both Sides
  • Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True
  • Kentucky Moutain Music Collection (7 disc set)

File Under: It was good, but c’mon people

  • The Arcade Fire – Funeral

    Pitchfork appears to be to blame for the explosion of this album. It gets a 9.7 rating and everyone is hopping up and down excited like the Pixies got back together (they did, and people did hop up and down). I’ve got this album, I’ve listened to it, and I do like it quite a bit, but not to the point that every indie hipster has put it on the top of their list! I refuse to slag the album, because it’s certainly not slag-worthy, but what the hell people.

File Under: Bemused Adoration

  • Brian Wilson – SMiLE

    Pet Sounds is easily in my top ten of all time. SMiLE is Brian Wilson’s long, long, long awaited release of the long, long, long awaited and long-shelved Beach Boys album. I listened to it, and it is a masterful work, but not something that I felt deserved the heaps and heaps of rave reviews heaped upon it. I love the guy just as much as the next Beach Boys fan, but he didn’t shit gold folks. The album is playful, introspective, truly independent and a really interesting listen, though. It’s worth finding out.

File Under: Haters Ball

  • The Darkness – Permission to Land

    This album is so ridiculous, it is awesome. If David Bowie had grown up in the eighties, you know this is what Ziggy Stardust would have ended up like. It’s over-the-top, profanity-laced (get your hands offa my woman, mother-chicken!), and pulls out 80s heavy-metal tricks like so many rabbits from so many hats. It’s my filthy music indulgence of the year, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. So why all the hate, haters? Can you not handle it? Is the rock too much? It is awesome and deep down inside, you know it.

In Summation…

So, what did I learn this year? Well, you can mix up catchy bass-heavy new-wavy riffage with emo-style navel-gazing lyrics and turn out a great record (Interpol, and to a lesser extent Franz Ferdinand). Also, there is nothing wrong with indie-rock singer-songwriters with a little old-timey flair (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Sufjan Stevens, Devendra Banhart). There is a lot of rap that I haven’t listened to, but should (Jay-Z, De La Soul, Mos Def, etc.), and some that might be in decline if you believe what you read (Beastie Boys). There are many things I learned this year in music, but as per the usual, I learned that a little music leg-work is well worth it in the end.

After 2003′s nearly-non-stop White Stripes love-fest, I felt this year turned it down a notch in regards to my listening habits. Maybe it’s been happening for the last couple of years, but maybe it’s just a sign of the times. My younger musical haunts of Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine have given way to softer, perhaps more sophisticated things such Sufjan Stevens and Will Oldham. This year brought more old-timey music to my ears, and made me reconsider my stance on religiously-inspired music. There is still a lot of shitty religious music, but some of it — the more naked the better — is real gold. Is it me? Is it the world? I’ve still got a taste for the rock, no doubt (Neutral Milk Hotel, Sonic Youth), but things that used to suit me don’t suit as well any more. My tastes continue to change, and I look forward to more music in the new-year.

By the way, my previous “music years in review”, can be found here (sorta), here and here.

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Dec 28 2004 ~ 10:08 am ~ Comments (4) ~

For a while now, I’ve been mulling the idea of registering a couple of new domains for my own personal use. FUZZROLL.COM is one that you folks might have heard of, and I have duly registered it today. Also, I’ve been thinking for a while now that THELOCUST.ORG is a little tired and really doesn’t suit me like it used to. It’s a bit of a pain to spell and half the time when I tell someone to go to “”, they inevitably leave of “the”. I don’t know why — they just do. In any case, I was looking for a shorter, more phonetic name and found BENTO.US (.org, .com and .net were taken). I don’t have any plans at the moment to abandon THELOCUST.ORG, so don’t get all afearin’. I’m not sure what I’ll do with BENTO.ORG just yet, so stay tuned on that front. I also registered BENWILSON.ORG, which will most likely become a portfolio/resume site for me. I’ve had a 80% finished portfolio thing I whipped up a while back, and that will probably go there.

So, in short, keep an eye out. Developments might be underway.

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~ 9:24 am ~ Comments Off ~

I will blatantly rip-off Metafilter‘s link to this listing of the Top 100 Toys.

I had quite a few of these things growing up — tho’ my favorite was probably a Radio Shack “Electronic Experimenters” kit like this one:

Electronic Kit

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Dec 27 2004 ~ 9:02 am ~ Comments Off ~

12 hours and 4 houses later, Kelly and I have returned home exhausted and both sad and happy that Christmas is over for this year. We had a great time at each house and are glad that we got to see everyone. Many presents were exchanged, though the I’m glad to know that we not only gave gifts to the Angel Tree program this year, but also helped out Hunter with his “Books for Caritas Kids” thing at B&N. It feels better to give back to those who have so little, and books are often the perfect gift.

Tomorrow we plan on doing nothing save for meeting the long-lost and far-flung friends at Wick’s Pizza on Baxter.

Merry Christmas all, and to all a good night.

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Dec 25 2004 ~ 11:46 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Kelly and I managed to hack our way out of our driveway this afternoon, after sleeping until about noonish. This snow was an interesting one, as the initial layer (5 or 6 inches) were of sleet, the size and granularity of a snow-cone. The last 2 or 3 inches were of powdery regular snow. This combination allowed one to actually walk on the snow without it caving it around your feet, which in itself is pretty cool, but trying to shovel that stuff was a two person job! Kelly would break up the snow with a spade and I would shovel it off the drive. All in all, I estimate we shovelled somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 cubic feet of snow today.

After about 2 hours of that, we retired in-side and promptly took naps. Arising about 5ish, we headed out to get me some new gloves (and to survey the quality of our roads), get a bite to eat and get some cocoa. All were done in a timely fashion, and as you can see in the middle photo above, some folks don’t respect mother nature. Or, perhaps, got real drunk and slid down a 15 foot tall embankment into a drainage ditch. We, however, stayed inside the ruts and managed to get out and back with no troubles.

Now to watch Return of the King and quaff cocoa!

More photos in the 2004.12.22 – Snowstorm gallery.

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Dec 23 2004 ~ 8:31 pm ~ Comments Off ~

It is straight-up snowstormin‘ here in Louisville and the 2004.12.22 – Snowstorm gallery is evidence there of.

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~ 12:04 am ~ Comments Off ~

Well, yesiree-bob, I got intruded upon this weekend. Not in a physical way mind-you, but in a digital way. I awoke Saturday morning (around 10:30 AM or so), having the night before hosted a rompin’ good night of Winter Feasting and Pokering, to Geoff calling to tell me A) that he was sorry to have missed the Winter Feast and B) that the server was down, and that both of these things made him sad.

Needless to say, I was pretty bummed out. Since I started leasing that server back in August 2003, there hadn’t been a single minute of down-time for the server! I logged onto my hosting company’s website ( to see what was up. I soon noticed that a trouble-ticket had been opened up due to “Acceptible Use Policy Violations”. Further, it gave me the indication that my box had been cracked (not hacked). AKA intruded, transgressed, violated. This happened at 4:20 in the AM, and at 4:38, EV1Servers had — quite literally — pulled the plug on the server. I needed to contact them to get them to start investigating what was up. Unfortunately, the Abuse Department can only be contacted via email, and when I pressed the Customer Support lady about me phoning them (“You are telling me they have no phones at all?”) she replied “Yes, the have no phones.”. A pretty blantant lie, I’m thinking, but nonetheless they had started their quick investigation about 12:30 or so, and had brought my server back up to me around the same time. They amended the trouble ticket to say that they had found some suspicious files consistent with an exploit of a webserver/scripting bug and that I should start the cleanup immediately.

Turns out it was a cracker with an IP address from somewhere in Brazil, and the target of the denial-of-service attack they mounted was also in Brazil. I’ll save you the gory details, but there were a couple of bugs (aka “vulnerabilities”) that were exploited to allow very limited but annoying access to the webserver. I host a server with a number of websites on it, and I can’t keep tabs on every piece of software (like webmail, galleries, bulletin boards) at all times. The best I can do is keep server-wide security as tight as possible. A big “oops” on my part, but I thought I was safe. After ensuring that the crackers hadn’t destroyed any data or left behind any “backdoors”, I brought the webserver and databases and everything save for the email system back up around 2:00 PM or so.

While I managed to plug the hole in the webserver that the crackers had made, I found there was another hell-of-annoying thing that had happened — the crackers had flooded my box with all sorts of SPAM email. I had to meticulously weed out those SPAM from legitimate emails and clean up the mail queue. I think that very few SPAM emails escaped my box. This was the biggest pain in the ass, and much to both mine and Kelly’s chagrin, it took me until damn near 5 o’clock to bring the mail subsystem back on-line.

Last night (Sunday) I spent most of it on the couch fortifying my server with firewalls, intrusion-detection software, and a number of other little tricks to help me fend off those pain in the ass crackers.

I realize most of this won’t make a lick of sense to most of you, but I thought it might be interesting to hear about the saucy underside of this thing we know as the intarweb. If you are really interested in knowing more specifically about what happened, feel free to contact me.

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Dec 20 2004 ~ 12:10 pm ~ Comments (4) ~

With Ben’s recent passing, among other things, it has struck me that things have changed. Stepping out of the workaday I’m in and looking back down the hallway of my life (that’s how I visualize time past and time to come) has allowed me a bit of perspective. It feels to me as if I’ve just changed rooms — a door has shut behind me with a thud that surprised me. I remember a similar feeling in early 1997, the day another friend of mine committed suicide. I felt then as I do now that I’d changed rooms. The comfortable uncomfort of high school was a thing behind me — death and those it that it touched was and were real, and I better get my head on straight.

This last nearly 8 years were ones where I think I found myself — where we all found ourselves in one way or another. The fluid uncertainty that is growing up and out of high school and into college gels into what we are now. It is a time of serious stresses, new boundaries and slowly settling uncertainties. Morals and ideals begin to align themselves like iron filings in the presence of a magnet. Grief and resentment come with the realization that time has passed beneath your feet and behind your back, and it’s all a little bewildering. Eventually I found my feet. That me in that when is now looked back upon with amusement, wonder and occassional disappointment. I’m happy with what I’ve become, and I don’t regret as much as I used to. I am comfortable with who I am, partially because I know I’ve changed for the better. I made it through that time of uncertainty, fear and change, and I’m a better person for it.

However, as I sit here on what I assume to be solid ground, I look back through those doors and I see those who I left behind, those who stayed behind, or those who just didn’t make it. Ben didn’t make it, and as much as I’d like to drag him into that next room, I know I can’t. He’ll have to remain back there a constant reminder of closed doors. A piece of me stays behind in each room, too, and as much as I’d like the old me to come along, that me in that when and me here, we both know where we stand and where we need to be. And that is something I learned not too long ago. Perhaps that bit of knowledge allowed me passage on, I don’t know.

Like looking across flat land on a clear day, I think I can see far down the hallway now, but there have been times in my life — darker times — when it’s hard for me to imagine what will be coming, what is in my future. I can’t say how far away the next door is, or really what is across it’s threshold, but I have ideas. I wonder what I would see had I had been in Ben’s shoes. From what little I knew of his state of mind in the last couple of years, I understand that he felt under great pressures to succeed — academically and personally, and I think I can understand some of those pressures. Marriage and work and the loss of friends, the rest of your life now solely in your hands, all things that lay waste to even the strongest of people. The last few years of my life have certainly been challenging ones, ones where I certainly felt lost and in the woodwork. Each one of us, friends and family alike, have a separate path in life that may lead us further away from one another, but in the end we are never so far away that our bonds are not worth testing.

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Dec 15 2004 ~ 8:39 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Julie Hoover has made a tribute video for Ben Edelson. A series of photos set to Coldplay’s “The Scientist” (how appropriate!) There are two version, a large (19 meg) broadband version and a smaller (~2 meg) dial-up version. Download either of them here:

Ben Edelson Tribute by Julie Hoover – broadband (19 meg Windows Media)

Ben Edelson Tribute by Julie Hoover – dialup (1.5 meg Windows Media)

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Dec 13 2004 ~ 9:30 am ~ Comments (13) ~

I got the news tonight that Ben Edelson passed away some time in the last couple of days. Ben was a friend during my high-school years (actually only my senior year, 1996), a fellow Quick Recall teammate, fellow Downtown YMCA alarm-tripper and fellow guy named Ben. He was and still is the nicest genius (certifiable!) I ever knew. That was the thing about Ben — he was easily the smartest guy I’ve ever met, and yet despite all of the scholastic triumph that was always lumped (deservedly) upon him, he was a respectful friend to many. That is what I loved, and I think the thing everyone loved about Ben. He was incredibly smart (1600 on his SATs, winner of the 2000 Hoopes Prize for Undergraduate thesis while at Harvard), but despite his educational superlatives he was engaging, funny, filthy and always eager to please. I rarely saw him in a bad mood and he hardly had an enemy. As Hunter put it: “He’s the guy you’re supposed to hate, but can’t help loving”.

He went to Harvard after high-school and then went to CalTech, and received a number of accolades there, and occassionally we’d hear reports from the west coast of Edelson and his adventures. The last time I saw him was probably well over a year ago, but when we did meet it was always a good time. He was, to many of those who knew him, a true inspiration not only scholastically but personally. He was always interested in not only knowing more about the world around him, but the people around him as well. He was truly an independent in my book, one that I’ll never forget.

Ben, where-ever you are, find me out again someday.

update: Julie Hoover’s Livejournal Entry

further update:Gary Spillman’s blog entry for Ben Edelson

funeral arraignments: Meyer Funeral Home (see Ben’s obit here). Funeral services will be held Friday, December 10th, at 11:30 a.m. with interment following in Cave Hill Cemetery – Temple Shalom section. Visitation will begin after 10:30 a.m. Friday. (Meyer Funeral Home, 1338 Ellison Avenue, Louisville KY 40204, 502.458.9569). Map here.

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Dec 6 2004 ~ 10:08 pm ~ Comments (39) ~
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