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.

More later, but for now:

2005.10.o7 – Chicago Day 1
Marathon Virgin

2005.10.o8 – Chicago Day 2
This is Chicago

I ate a Chicago Hot Dog. My role in this adventure is complete!

Kelly runs tomorrow at 8AM CST. You can track Kelly via email or TXT messaging: Chicago Marathon Runner Tracking. I will be following Kelly via the CTA trains and taking photos — perhaps updating while the race is going on!

filed under Athletics,Travel and then tagged as ,,,,,
Oct 8 2005 ~ 4:14 pm ~ Comments Off ~

It’s just about that time, cats and kittens for another installment of “What has Ben been listening to?”. I’ve been getting good response from a number of folks about my past installments, and I’ve got a backlog of stuff to dump now. (Update 2005/10/03: see end of post)

First up, I can’t say enough about The Heartless Bastards, a steady and loud trio from up-river in Cinci. Fronted by a diminutive straight-up hottie chick name of Erika Wennerstrom with a just huge voice. As with fellow Fat Possum alums, The Black Keys, their sound is the pounding blue-collar-and-denim romp that comes out of so many great industrial towns (think White Stripes out of Detroit / Black Sabbath from Birmingham UK). You couple that with Wennerstrom’s strong, steady and yet expressive voice and you get something that is truly great. I suggest you find out their debut Stairs and Elevators and give it a spin. (Also, they are playing at Uncle Pleasants on October 14th here in Louisville. Ticketweb will get you in.)

matt pond pa

The Matt Pond PA was something I stumbled upon thanks to Pitchfork’s free MP3 singles a few years back. That section of the site I came to find out as a dumping ground for small labels (like Polyvinyl). You can imagine there was a lot of listening for the ultimate rewards, but I did manage to find Mclusky and the Matt Pond PA in there, and considering my appreciation for both bands I’d say it was worth it.

The Matt Pond PA single I picked out was “Fairlee”, the excellent opening track on their 2002 release The Nature of Maps. At the time the MPPA were just a really good multi-piece conglomerate band that rarely toured outside of their home-base of the Northeast. But now, they are opening for Liz Phair on her tour and have readied Several Arrows Later, their 4th or 5th full-length album, for release. Thanks to the wonders of the intarwebs, I have managed to get a listen to this new album.

On Several their songs still remain as yarns about the changing seasons, or perhaps snapshots of wasted fall afternoons, but now with a bit more polish and weight. Something that originally drew me to MPPA was their obvious talent with the modest arrangements to match the subject matter in the songs. A good match, and having been to Vermont, I guess I’m pining for such humility. With Several Arrows Later they’ve made a heavier, more lush album. This jump in production and sound might ordinarily strain other indie bands, but the Matt Pond PA have the talent and patience to take on that load, and do it well.

Self-references: 2003.01.07 – Rainer Maria Rocks, mclusky breaks up, mclusky.

Yanni Papadapolous

A few weeks back, I joined Brad and Hunter to go and see Clutch in Indianapolis. I was already hyped to see Clutch (though I’m not the biggest of Clutch fans) because of their “awesome live show” reputation. But, as we were driving up, Brad and Hunter told me of the opener (which they had seen at the Louisville Clutch show) — a band called Stinking Lizaveta, fronted by a bearded man-beast named Yanni Papadopoulos.

Milling around before the show, Brad would occassionally point to some dark corner off-stage and say “That’s him! That’s the YANNI.”. Glancing in that direction, I only say a dark mass of hair above what appeared to be a Hawaiian shirt. Some sort of dark yogi not on a hill-top but in the dingy green room of the Vogue. Still, I had not been witness to the Lizaveta.

Finally, the show began and out came someone who appeared to be a young Edgar Allen Poe (actually Alexi, Yanni’s younger brother). His weapon of choice? Upright electric bass. I knew this was going to be good. Behind the drums sat a woman who Brad described as having “huge guns!” – her name is Cheshire Augusta. And then, out from the shadows behind the stage – pot-bellied, unshaven, shirtless, haggard and wearing ripped jeans came… Yanni.

Being an instrumental band, Yanni spoke few words. He didn’t need to. He’d simply walk over to the mic, and say things like “Day of Dust” or “Caught between worlds” or “Man-day. This song is about going to work.” and then proceed to crush our souls with some of the best punk-metal-jazz fusion I’ve ever heard or seen. He enjoyed the crowd and the crowd enjoyed him. He even passes his guitar around the audience at the end of the set. We all converted to Papadopolism that night, my friends. We all agreed we’d easily pay the $20 cover just to see the Lizaveta. Hunter dropped the $10 for their album III, and we listened to it on the way home, but it lacked a certain urgency and certain visceral element that I think raises Stinking Lizaveta to another plane.

My Morning Jacket

Thanks to my buddy Jackson, I managed to get a pre-release version of My Morning Jacket’s soon-to-be-released album Z. It is good.

Let me say that MMJ has all of the hallmarks of a “Southern” (read: Lynyrd Skynyrd) band – the big bearded lead singer, the drawl, the multiple guitarists, the jams. They have all of the hallmarks save for one thing: their actual music. You can’t peg it down easily, especially on Z, their most ambitious outing yet. (“Ambitious” being rock-criticism-speak for “what-the-fuckitious”) They still throw down the jams like they did on their true “breakout” album, 2003′s “It Still Moves“, but they’ve added more depth, more dynamism and more just plain weirdness “a kitten on fire / a baby in a blender” perhaps in reaction to their “Southern” label. Losing two founding members in the last year or so probably had something to do with this “ambitousness”.

Z is a great mix of the old and new – which any “ambitious” album really should have in it’s mix. The songs are varied, with enough rock jams with catchy riffs (“Off the Record”) and enough new, more adventurous fare (“Into the Woods”) to make this a good album and a good step onward for MMJ. In this creative “fanning out” that I heard in the album, I also heard some of their more varied influences cropping up — from Nirvana to Elvis Costello to the Clash to perhaps even a little Pink Floyd. And for those wondering, yes, MMJ is still friends with Mr. Reverb.

It is a time for many happenings in the MMJ world, and so the very different newness of Z seems fitting. For instance, they feature prominently in Cameron Crowe’s newest film Elizabethtown, where they play a local band and yes finally, after years of taunting by that one drunk dude in the audience, they play Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” (which they have never, ever played live). How’s that for irony? Anyway, if you get a chance to give Z a listen, be prepared for something different, something so Southern it’s un-Southern, and enjoy. P.S.: They are sporting on the front cover of Velocity Weekly this week, and Z comes out next Tuesday. Jackson is also hosting a pre-listening party at The Outlook on Bardstown Road tonight from 6-8PM.

Explosions in the SKy

I was introduced to Explosions in the Sky after having re-discovered and re-evaluated fellow Austintonians …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead (another post all together) at the urging of Jackson Cooper. Explosions in the Sky is such a great name — how could I not listen?

On the matter of appropriate names for bands, Explosions in the Sky is certainly at the top of the list. For that matter, Stinking Lizaveta and Clutch might be up there, too. At the bottom end of the scale, …Trail of Dead will probably roost. Explosions in the Sky do sound like the fireworks that name might invoke — both the percussive, gasp-worthy delight that a light-show and chest-thumping report would cause, but also for the falling sparks left behind and the inevitably drifting clouds of smoke. The rising crescendo of light and sound with great ends that leave you wanting for more. The dynamic impact of Slint, with a dash of the ominous God Speed! You Black Emperor, and with the silken touch of perhaps the Rachels. Careful, masterful work by a shy group of dudes from Austin, Texas.

How Strange, Innocence, their most recent release, was actually recorded in early 2000! Less that 100 pressings were made and considering their growing foothold on the indie conscience (they contributed heavily to the Friday Night Lights soundtrack — did you know that?), they’ve released this as new material. Do yourself a favor, and check them out at your earliest convenience. I’d also recommend their The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place (2003) and Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever (2001)

filed under Music and then tagged as ,,
Sep 26 2005 ~ 1:48 pm ~ Comments (1) ~

I’ve always been a passive automotive fan. I attended car shows with my dad as a youngster, and pined over a Willys Jeep and a ’57 Chevy Nomad wagon later on. I’ve owned a ’69 Volkswagen (automatic stickshift), a ’74 Ford Maverick, and an ’85 Volvo 240 (with a crank sunroof!) All of which I’ve cared for and done routine maintenance on. I enjoy driving, and I enjoy the very idea of a car as an engineering marvel, a sign of the times and as a veritable playground of the imagination.

But, these feelings have always lain a little dormant, a little behind-the-scenes. I don’t think about it every time I get into a car and my Nissan Maxima has really just been my Point-A to Point-B machine for the last 5 years. I’ve been complacent.

That is until recently. I watch Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel most Wednesdays with Kelly – and about a month ago they started showing this program called Top Gear from the BBC. Top Gear is hands-down the best review show I have ever seen. Bar-none. They review everything from super-cars to compacts to the oddballs you’ll never see. Throw in ridiculous races (Ferarri vs. Jet Plane, Pigeon vs. Citroen), an enigmatic test driver named “The Stig”, tons of spot-on British humor, hatred of caravans, and an absolute heap of passion about cars and you’ve got it. It’s unlike anything you’ve seen or will see about cars and will make you think about hitting the apex next time you go around the corner of your street. I know it has me!

You can watch a clip of Top Gear where they review the awesome Ariel Atom either
here (80 MB WMV) or here (streaming). That is the car in which host Jeremy Clarkson is riding in the image above. 0-to-60 in 2.9 seconds. To quote: “My epiglottis is filled with bees! I’ve got so much nature in my hair you could film an episode of Badger Watch in there!”

Update: Further reviews and such (including another Top Gear segment where a guy from the Top Gear magazine drives the Atom to the Artic Circle and back) here:

filed under General and then tagged as ,,
Sep 22 2005 ~ 1:18 pm ~ Comments (1) ~


So, the Flying Spaghetti Monster craze has been brought to work by M@. For those uninitiated, the FSM is the primary deity in what has become known as Pastafarianism. It is now a bona-fide Internet craze.

But why? Why would someone create such a thing? Well – the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a parody religion made up to combat the Kansas Board of Education’s decision to give intelligent design (ID) equal time with evolution by natural selection in biology classes. Turns out that these Pastafarians believe that “Global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct consequence of the decline in numbers of pirates since the 1800s.” Considering Kansas has given the go-ahead to teach ID, they are obligated to teach FSM, right? Who needs Science when you have good storytelling and lobbyists.

You can get all the information you’ll ever need about the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster here:, the “official” site

FSM @ the Uncyclopedia (much more comprehensive that the Wikipedia entry)

The FSM Cafepress Store

BoingBoing post

and finally… the best German headline I’ve ever seen:

Mein Gott, ein Nudelmonster! @ der Spiegel

filed under General and then tagged as ,
Aug 26 2005 ~ 7:34 am ~ Comments Off ~

And here I am, twenty-seven! That most magical of ages where major-league baseball players hit their strides and rock-and-roll stars die in drug-fueled embraces.

According to Wikipedia, a great number of things happened on August 18th throughout antiquity. Among them: the discovery of helium (1868), Hitler temporarily halts the euthanasia of the mentally ill and handicapped (1941), Jimi Hendrix takes the stage on the last official day of Woodstock (1969). Other birthdays include Denis Leary, Patrick Swayze, Max Factor, Ed Norton and Christian Slater.

filed under General and then tagged as ,
Aug 18 2005 ~ 12:24 pm ~ Comments (3) ~

Back last Saturday, Kelly ran a triathlon! The E. P. Tom Sawyer Triathlon, which she ran last year in 1:47. It’s an 800 meter swim, a 14 mile bike, and a 5K (3.1 mile) run. This year, we think she did it in 1:35ish – an excellent time!

sporty mcgee

I took some photos at the Triathlon, but only a few because Kelly was so fast! (PS – the doughnuts were emphasis mine, not Kelly’s). You can see the photos here: 2005.08.06 – Triathlon!


Later on that day, we went to the Louisville Zoo, specifically to see the Lorikeets! On the way, we saw otters (one did ten backflips in a row!), seals, tortoises and penguins – all of which Kelly wanted to keep in our bathtub(s). The Lorikeets were great, though it is clear these birds are heathens compared to those in Cincinatti. Kelly was shat upon and I was bitten, though I gave my nectar to him! Ingrates! We had plans to go to the Street Rod Nationals, but we got up at 5AM, and were bushed by the time we got home. Kelly had an excuse – she ran a triathlon and was awesome. My excuse? None. I took some photos of our zoo trip as well: 2005.08.06 – Zoo!

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Aug 12 2005 ~ 6:55 pm ~ Comments (9) ~

Sufjan on MTV

So yesterday morning, in a fit of very rare TV-watching, made even rarer by the fact that I was watching MTV, I noticed something odd. Good ol’ Music Television had a profile of the very un-MTV Sufjan Stevens. I have also just announced to Good Ol’ Cholly Dillon that I cannot stop listening to Illinois, Sufjan’s latest creation.

More on this at The Confabulators.

filed under General and then tagged as ,,
Aug 9 2005 ~ 7:20 am ~ Comments Off ~

HLG winners

Hey hey! Back from the NATS for a short time… I’m leaving again this evening to fly in the 2-meter competition on Monday and Tuesday.

Well, as it turns out, I managed to get 4th place in the Handlaunch event! Wow! I’m pleasantly surprised. I even led my mentor, Bruce Davidson, for a couple of rounds there. It was truly surreal. I was in 2nd place up until the last round, when I really blew it! I scored only 549 points out of 1000 and frittered away my 2nd place finish. Ah well, too much fun! By the way — the term “getting wood” means getting a trophy, which is usually a plaque.

I received quite a few kudos from some really top-notch pilots, only adding to the elation of hearing my named called at a national-level soaring event! Dang.

You can check out more photos from my NATS trip here: 2005 NATS Gallery @

filed under Soaring and then tagged as ,,
Jul 24 2005 ~ 11:27 am ~ Comments (2) ~

Woo woo!

Most who know me know I have a thing for controlling unpowered planes from a distance via radio-waves. My major hobby (outside of teh Intarwebs) is R/C Sailplanes, and starting this Friday (tomorrow) the 2005 AMA Soaring Nationals, AKA “The NATS”. The Soaring part of the NATS is only one chunk of a 6-week set of events that started July 4th. Over 1,000 pilots will be in attendance for this festival of flight.

The Soaring “genre” encompasses a number of events – Handlaunched gliders, F3J “man-towed” gliders, 2-meter (wingspan) gliders, unlimited gliders (any wingspan allowed), RES (rudder/elevator and spoiler only), and Nostalgia (gliders designed before… 1942? 1962?). Me personally am only flying in the Hand-launch and 2-meter events. I have attended handlaunch contests before, but never at the NATS! I’m excited.

The NATS also draws international competitors as well — and one of my fellow LASS-mates (Gordy) is hosting a gent by the name of Jo Grini who has come all the way from Norway(!) to fly as a part of the LASS team. To quote: “There was not one single place around here that did not have an air conditioner. And when you walk out to 90-95F (33-35celcius) you feel the difference I can tell you.”

I’ll be taking a crapload of pictures, so keep an eye on this site and wish me luck!

filed under Soaring,Travel and then tagged as ,,
Jul 21 2005 ~ 7:03 am ~ Comments Off ~

Took a late lunch today, and I have this to share:

I don’t know if ALL Thornton’s around town are going to switch over to the abomination that the Blankenbaker Road store have become, but if they do – be forewarned.

I occassionally would walk over there to get a tasty sandwich (of my own choosing) from Subway. The old ladies (angry) who worked there were a constant source of amusement and scorn for us here at Power. “What kinda bread you wont?” “I got 3 different kinda cheese here, honey!” All shaking their fists at the system that has entrapped them and relieved them of their dreams and wishes and what-not. Such was their ire that occassionally they’d Peter North your sandwich, despite your tearful pleas of “go light on the mayo”. This back-and-forth required a certain skill. Those uninitiated were always welcomed to try their hand. Eventually you’d master that skill and you’d get a tasty sandwich of your choosing. This whole human drama, for whatever reason, has been put to an end.


Gone are the clear sneeze-shield and brass rails that decorated the Subway. Gone is the underground-themed wallpaper. Gone are the 5 loaves of bread to showcase the wealth of choice. Tthis has been replaced with an opaque stainless-steel hood so high that you can’t see the hands of the people making your sandwich. Also, the counter is set some 4 feet back, thus only separating you further from the people that will make your sammich. The real deal-breaker — the real slap in the loaf is this: YOU NOW ORDER VIA KIOSK.

Part of the reason I went to Subway (aside from the cheerful banter with the Subway hags) was to actually SEE my sub being made to the specifications I had previously uttered to the sandwich artist! If I said “hey, I’d like light low-fat mayo” I could see them putting the mayo on there and say “WOAH WOAH WOAH” when I had enough. But now I can’t see the sammich before it’s done and for all I know those ladies could be naked from the waist down (GAH!)

Back to the kiosk… when I was about ready to finish my order, some Thornton’s-clad douchebag strolls up next to me and starts pointing and explaining to me what to do next. I stopped him mid-sentence and said “Thanks, but I think I can handle this.” Turns out he’s some executive from Thorntons. He then tore off my receipt as if I couldn’t do it myself and handed me a coupon to get the deal for the day. All of which were within arms reach to me, and made painfully obvious.

So I get my food, which turned out to be a Turkey Sub and some waffle-cut fries (that was their deal for the day). I noticed they didn’t pull the fries out of a fryer like you would expect, but instead pulled them out of some oven-like contraption. DAMN. That stuff is straight-up frozen! And judging by the wide array of other foods they sell (pizza, toasted subs, corn dogs, etc) most of that crap will be frozen as well. I’ll tell you that I was not looking forward to this sammich at ALL.

The food was acceptable, but only because I paid $3.79 for the whole lot of it. Subway is far, far better and I certainly didn’t get EXACTLY the sammich I wanted like I would have normally. I only plan on going back to attempt to push that crap-worthy system to it’s very limits. Like asking that all the condiments be put on “lightly” and demanding that I see the sandwich after each step. Hopefully my skills of sammich-banter will incite a riot, or at least some accusatory remarks from the former Sandwich Artists that are now relegated to impersonal food contruction. As Charlie put it: “It’s like a vending machine with someone trapped inside” (paraphrase). Yeah, that’s it exactly.

While paying for my food at the main checkout, the cashier and I started up a conversation. As she was struggling with the new computers to run my card through as credit, I remarked “Modern convenience sho’ is grand, isn’t it?” She leaned in close (as to not be heard by the Thornton’s execs) and said “We are all about to friggin’ snap here…”

Note: this is repost of an email I sent out ot my friends. It was well received and made a girl giggle on her birthday, so I guess it’s worthy of mass broadcasting. And yes, while I was formulating this rant I did feel like Pat from Achewood.

Further note: This new-fangled Subway replacement is called SubWorks!. To quote the Thornton’s website: “The SubWorks proprietary food program allows customers to order top-quality sandwiches and other food items via a touchscreen menu—and then to receive orders in three minutes or less.” They forgot to mention the subjugation of human interaction.

filed under General and then tagged as ,,,,
Jul 19 2005 ~ 2:06 pm ~ Comments Off ~
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