Monday, May 31, 2004

I forgot I wanted to go up to see Destroyer and Frog Eyes tonight. Granted, no follow-up was made following the original offer of transportation, but I would've liked to have seen it. Apparently Daniel Bejar wants a no-touring clause in his contract with Merge.

Last night, I went and saw Mirah here in Olympia. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't as good as on record, as all of the cool stuff Phil Elvrum does wasn't there in the sound, but the songs were still good. I was surprised no one sang along at the end of Apples In The Trees, and in a way, disappointed, as the singalong on the record is a really powerful moment capping off a great song. It was an enjoyably show on its own merits, as a singer-songwriter type of evening.

I need boxes to begin packing up everything.

Also, it turns out the class that I wanted to get into next year might've sucked, due to the teacher's preoccupations. It could've just been the class she taught this year, but one of those preoccupations is gender roles being reinforced by the culture, etc. Also a lot of stuff on Japan, and Freudian psychology. This along with postmodernism, the only thing I really care about. The gender role discussion can often lapse into bullshit, especially in academic scenarios here at this college, where it happens. Granted, the teacher of the program I'm currently enrolled in once said that a female writer "writes like a man" as a criticism, which is more genuinely sexist than just having a soft spot for bullshit and seeing victimization where there is none. (The story I heard was one where the class this year, not on Postmodernism, a different one, looked at ads for reinforcements of traditional gender roles. There was one of an elderly couple on the beach. The only "offensive" thing someone in the class "found" was that the man was taller than the woman, and as such, held more power over her. However, that class was called Feminin Masculin, after the Godard film, and as such would be more inclined to be about such topics. But a fun thing about Evergreen academia is how teachers work in their pet obsessions into pretty much everything, unless you're in a science program.)

But I'm to be taking a writing class next year, which is nice as I really wish writing was more my shit, like I claim it to be. I scrapped writing Gasmask, as I realized that the big twist/reveal is really inconsistent with the book's voice and its just too much. I want to finish writing this short story before the school year's done, but as I looked at it today, I didn't really find the urge to work on it today, no new thoughts to add, no clever rewrites except the fact that it does really need a rewrite. After that short story's done, I don't know what I'll do. I've got another short story to finish, but I want to start a novel. Maybe Get Broken. The other book occupying brain-space doesn't seem like a first novel to me, if that makes any sense. That's why I haven't really gotten into that yet, as it seems like once I did it, I'd have to sit on it, because it's not a first novel. Get Broken could be a first novel, I suppose. Gasmask really would've functioned perfectly as a first novel if it wasn't deeply flawed.

Also, yesterday I went to the Olympia Comics Festival. Political cartoonist Keith Knight, responding to my Neutral Milk Hotel t-shirt, said "good band." I told him he did good shit, but the fact is that I respect his work a lot but am not exactly in love with it. No one there really did work I was in love with. I looked around at work I was unfamilar with. Mostly local people, including a girl who goes to Evergreen and does comics for our school paper that SUCK. Not the worst stuff in the paper, but miles from the realm of quality. I recognized her and knew the work, she was just coming off as shy and withdrawn, writing in a notebook. I didn't even bother to introduce myself as someone who knew her work and then try to navigate around saying my opinion of it. I talked with the people who create the comic Urban Hipster, then bought an issue and thought it was weak. There was a dude from San Francisco who started a distribution service of other local people's work, who came up and brought some work by a guy whose stuff I decided I quite liked, but whose name escapes me and I don't want to look it up. Funny stuff, two bucks for each comic, I bought one kind of arbitrarily, but I decided that the guy who does those comics, with his completely unmemorable name, is the future.

I've got this meal plan with a little bit less than a hundred dollars on it. I've decided I'm not going to spend any real paper money on food until the year's out. I kind of wanted to order a pizza tonight, but fought the urge. Now I have a headache, and have eaten all the oatmeal I want to in an evening, and the on-campus store is closed. I think I'm going to try to visit friends with a kitchen and see about making this Macaroni and Cheese that I received this Spring in one of these bizarre college-made care packages that parents can buy for their kids, unaware of the contents.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

So, I got my housing confirmation slip for next year. Because I'm going to be living somewhere nicer than I am this year, it's going to be much more expensive, which sucks. I also don't quite know what the roommate situation is going to be. It wouldn't surprise me, if in addition to my friends, there were some strangers/enemies as well.

I'm sure that when I write about comics here, most people stop reading. That being said: Bought some comics today, all fun. I got a free issue of Richard Sala's Evil Eye, which was awesome. Fun times. It seems like an ideal comic to read in single issues, but the single issues have sold out, so I might just have to buy Richard Sala collections. Which I'm fine with, it just seems to read very nicely as a single-issue anthology, since it's very much a fun romp. I mean, it's dark, there's a serial killer who steals people's glands, but yeah, that's pretty much what I expect from a fun romp. Seaguy was pretty great, as well. Everything I picked up today was quite enjoyable, but those two were the only series I hadn't read before, and as such, are the only ones I'll discuss here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I watched Touch Of Evil tonight. And, although I was distracted by the whole Charlton Heston not really being Mexican, it's a pretty great movie. At the same time, I think I came to the conclusion after watching L.A. Confidential that crime movies mean very little to me now. I saw too many, got exhausted. Even if I can't see the twists coming, which I can't, as I'm not smart, I guess I'm bored with the tropes. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy Touch Of Evil, I did, just not as much as I would've a few years ago. Afterwards, I discussed its merits in terms of being "better than Citizen Kane." Luckily, Touch Of Evil isn't based on a twist ending that we've all known our entire lives. So it's aged better that way. Also: Touch Of Evil was in widescreen. I don't know if I saw a pan-and-scan version of Citizen Kane, or if that was just how it was filmed.

Yeah, I want to talk about Touch Of Evil, but I don't really have anything to say. I didn't fall in love with it, but I can recommend it as a classic, and can say it's not an overrated one.

Oh, did my final presentation. Pretty smooth sailing for the rest of the school year. I need to read White Noise, but that'll be fun. I'm also going to see some shows before the end of the year. I might end up spending a few days in Portland. I still need to get my shit in order in terms of packing and finding a place to stow my belongings for the summer. I don't know what I'm going to do there. I'm going to say something, and it's an obvious something, but it needs to be said: If everything goes according to plan, my life's going to be pretty awesome.

Friday, May 21, 2004

So, as it turns out, the class I wanted was already filled. It's capacity was 25. I could've gotten on the waitlist, but decided best not to play around with that kind of shit. Another class that might've been okay, Evolution of the Book, was also full. Telling The Truth, a writing class that doesn't really look all that enjoyable... Teacher was telling me her favorite authors, a list I didn't care about, and then she said something that might've been sexist. It might still be okay though, really, and so I signed up for it. It's still very near capacity though, and I feel kind of bad for everybody who wanted it more and hasn't registered yet, especially those who I'm friends with.

And then, as it turns out, waking up with a start at 8 AM to do something, kind of makes you awake. I say kind of, because, although I didn't fall asleep when I went back to bed, my eyes still feel sore and bloodshot.

Is today going to be a good day? It feels too early to write it off entirely... But I'm thinking "no."
It's a shitty thing when you introduce one group of friends to another group of friends, and they get along famously, and you end up out of the loop. I mean, sure, one of those groups of friends may have annoying tendencies, and I definitely have my abrasive tendencies, so I can't be expected to be around them at all times, but that other group of friends? Where the fuck are they? With the first group? And where are they? I don't even fucking know.

I do, of course, have other groups of friends. But they have other groups of friends as well, who I have nothing to say to.

So I spent tonight, bored, looking at the internet. I hate looking at the internet. I much prefer real social interaction... Well, um, sometimes.

It's late at night, at least when you've spent the night doing jackshit. If I was doing things, the night would still be young. I have to wake up early tomorrow, register for next fall's classes. That's at eight. Then I can fall back asleep, but after that I need to go to town. Sell these books. Also need to buy duct tape, as my shoe is falling apart at an exponential rate. At some point, make it back to campus to check mail for McSweeney's 13 and I have to research my ass of for a presentation on Monday. An overview of the politics of the first half of the nineties. Should be like fifteen minutes or something. Which seems like it should be really easy, but it's a bitch finding resources, and I like to know what I'm talking about.

A crappy night, I suppose. And it's not done yet. Even though I want it to be. I want to fall asleep and have dense dreams.

Oh man, one from a few nights ago. I had a false awakening. I went to the bathroom, and it turned out that more annoying dumbass people from my high school had moved in next door. I guess this is a new reoccuring element. I don't know what it means. It's not even friends of mine, it's people who I don't even know their names, I just know they went to my high school and were dumb. I suppose there's the possibility that these people don't exist and that's just the backstory I invent in my dream, but I really have no idea of knowing since I can't work out who they were afterwards. But yeah, a reoccuring theme. I'm thinking... that's like a personal apocalypse. Sometimes I'll be in places I didn't expect to be, or see people I didn't expect to see, and I just think of that one line from a Modest Mouse song, "and on the day that you die, you'll see the people you met." Whenever that happens, it's like the series finale of a sitcom, or something of that ilk. Everything's coming together, wrapping up. Even though, in real life, nothing ever comes together, and nothing ever wraps up.

Could this have something to do with my impending return to the east coast? That thought only occured to me now, so I'm thinking no. Again, I'm not dreaming of people I know and am friends with. It probably just, you know, has more to do with the nature of dreams and memory.


A personal apocalypse.

What I dream about. God, I have enough of my brain segmented enough to religion and comics and such that my personal apocalypse should be way crazier... I only view it as a personal apocalypse after the fact, upon waking, thinking "what was that about?"

I used a Modest Mouse song lyric, and I feel bad about that. But tonight, I came across an awesome verse to this song by The Hold Steady... I have no idea if I'd like that band, really, but this verse kicks a lot of ass, and I feel the need to remedy how emo the idea of using Modest Mouse song lyrics are, (not because they're an emo band, they're not, it just seems very, you know, kid with a livejournal esque) so I'm... god, I'm just going to quote a verse to a song entirely, which is much much worse, but I mean, shit, look at this:

"all your favorite movies. they ain't all that funny. if you ain't that high. and i ain't that high. all your favorite books. they wouldn't seem so well written if you were just a little bit more well read. jack kerouac is dead. he drank himself to death. i just ain't that high. all your favorite songs wouldn't seem so sad. if you weren't so depressed. elliott smith seems like a mess to me. and you cry way too easily."

That's so good, dude. So good. It's like what it seems like I would write if I wrote in a different manner altogether. One more like the way I speak and think but just briefer, as opposed to storytelling and what I think to be evocative imagery.

Seriously, all of these entries have things I plan on leaving as a strong ending and it just doesn't work out. I could've just ended with the lyric, the "personal apocalypse" bit, or the "nothing ever wraps up" line. My original ending was the thing about wanting dense dreams. Which I still want.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

So there's a wisdom tooth coming in. Sideways. I thought it was an abscess when I'd touch it with my tongue, and when I put my finger in my mouth to maybe pop it or something, I found it to be much harder and much more a piece of tooth growing out of my mouth. I guess I can wait until I get back to go to a dentist.

Also, my hair is at an awkward phase, I'm thinking. I liked it when it was long and when I was bald, but this middle-ground, which is still quite short... Depending on my posture I'm kind of sure I look like a jackass. I don't know.

Also, got It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken in the mail today, and read it. It's okay, not amazing. Better than a lot of stuff that I expected to be better, but not mind-blowing. I made a resolution not to buy shit from the internet until I got a job, but I allowed this as it came from a student loan coming in and giving me an extra $8.75. That check came in the mail today, so it canceled that out, and basically... A good day for mail, considering I usually don't get anything. Still waiting on McSweeney's 13, but I figure that's any day now. I also ate an ice cream bar for lunch, so that was a fun break between lecture and seminar, basically...

Tonight, I watched Le Jetee, the short film that 12 Monkeys was based on. It's mostly still photography. There's one shot that's not, which seems like it could be effective, and it could be, if it weren't a wasted effect. Still, some nice photography. Plotwise: Imagine 12 Monkeys without the 12 Monkeys cult and the Brad Pitt character. Add in a love story (I don't think 12 Monkeys had one, I don't know) and a brief trip to the future. (I don't think 12 Monkeys had that either)

Tonight was a night filled with me just doing that whole dominating a conversation by way of bizarre riffing. I think I alienated my audience when I made a Freakazoid reference... (the part where they watch Congo...) It's surprising to learn that not everyone loved that show. At the end, I was in the worst conversation about music I've ever been in... I usually enjoy these, but this one where I was talking about how the Beatles are better than the Grateful Dead. I shouldn't even have to argue that. His argument was one of technical skill and time signatures vs. pop songs. How do you even argue with that? I adopted an asshole contrarian stance and talked all kinds of shit. Funny to me is that, earlier in the night I was talking about how I like the Velvet Underground more than the Beatles, and meaning it. But I mean, fuck, the Grateful Dead are shitty. I think the person I was arguing with didn't like Freakazoid either... Look, he was dumb. Arguing with dumb people is hard, especially since, when they talk about time signatures and music theory, they are technically much smarter than I am. So that's a hard argument to have.

Freakazoid. Freakazoid.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

So, yeah, lying in bed, thinking about my last post, thinking about that story I'm writing. The Playboy thing was just an offhand sarcastic comment, but then I thought more about it. It would never happen, because the magazine has actually aggressively dumbed-down their content in order to better compete with the even-softer-porn magazines. The other funny thing is that, if they were to run it, that would actually create the most likely circumstances of my dad reading it. (The emotional content I discussed revolves around father issues, to put it mildly) So that would be funny in a hurtful kind of way.

But god, yeah, I feel bad for writing something so, for lack of a better word, emo. I mean, I think it's good writing. And for a second I thought "Well, at least I'm not writing about some kind of failed romantic relationship." The next second I thought "Haha, it's not like I'm ABOVE doing that, it's probably just for lack of fodder." Which is... I want to hyperbolically say that's ninety different types of depressing, when in fact, it's actually only two types of depressing. Two very specific types.

I hate myself.
So, The Mountain Goat's All Hail West Texas... that's a fine little album. I'd listened to it before, in the background while on the computer, but today I gave it a more intense listen that I had previously. Not completely intent, got distracted at a few points, but today was also the first time I viewed it as a concept album... I was thrown by the first two tracks beforehand. With the exception of one song, the music is limited to vocals, guitar, and tape hiss. So, you know, lo-fi. And when I made my complaints about lyrics a while back... This definitely applies, really. Musically... Not the most interesting thing around. Lyrically, not a lot of the clever turns of phrase. He's a storyteller, a fairly straight-forward one. I should make some kind of exception of why I don't mind him but mind, you know, the other singer-songwriter people. I don't know. Could be because those other singer-songwriter people are more canonical. Could be because the concept album nature adds a bit more to the storytelling, but those first two songs are pretty good as well. I don't know. It's a sad little record, I suppose maybe even heartbreaking?

So, with the influence of that little piece of heartbreaking art, I resumed work on Companion, which I didn't finish the night before the blackout. I didn't even finish it tonight, I think. For a while I thought I might have, but that was based more on the idea that many short stories pussy out for their ending and just end on some vague note. I'm thinking I'm going to hold out for a climax. Like, the story kind of climaxed already, but I don't know. It didn't climax in a way that felt like an ending, and what I've written after that point doesn't seem like an ending either, and was written as pacing until the next big moment. But yeah, this story... It's sad, to me at least. Personal. As I wrote it, upstairs neighbor was listening to Either/Or on shuffle, and I really don't want to be known as the Elliott Smith of literature... Haha, no one is ever going to label me that. Sometimes I think of back-of-the-book quotes, and sometimes the quotes are ones that I wouldn't want to be associated with at all. But yeah, I guess this story could be described as personal, or therapeutic... I don't know what I'll do when I'm done with it. Don't know what friends to give it to, as I imagine most would want to steer clear of stories I write with bizarre emotional content. If I had a girlfriend who somehow was misled into thinking I was deep and tortuted, she'd eat this shit up with a spoon. But yeah, I'm not tortured. This story is a bit of an exorcism though, and the main character is named after me, even though he's not me in any way. I don't know who to let read this, or who I'd submit it to. It's not clever enough for the McSweeney's crowd... I'm thinking about sending them this other story that my writing has stalled on, the one about an erotic cake salesman.

But yeah, this is vaguely personal stuff, but moreso than that, in terms of submitting it for publication, is that it's a short story with a certain kind of content. It's not something that would run in The New Yorker. It's about a junior in high school who gives handjobs and listens to metal. There's more to it than that, but the "more to it" is emotional content, it's still "offensive" or "edgy" and who prints short stories like that? Playboy? They'd be turned off by the emotional content. And they probably don't take unsolicited submissions. And, hey, in what is a first for me, it's LONG. Probably longer than anything I've ever written. As it stands now, it'd probably be around seventeen pages if doublespaced. That is still very much a short story, not exactly a novella, but, it's still a bit of a victory seeing as how I have problems with pacing.

And, it turns out, problems when knowing where to end things.

Monday, May 17, 2004

I had too much to dream last night.

Like when I woke up, I didn't quite know where I was, and I felt like I'd slept for a thousand years. I woke up tired of sleep. It was like I'd relived large chunks of my entire life, in a way, although they were condensed and fucked with.

I was at my grandparents for a while, and I ate an ice cream cone and watched an episode of South Park. This wasn't even the first time my mind has invented an episode of South Park out of whole cloth. This one involved a turkey dressed as an astronaut, Butterz, and making fun of the movie Batman And Robin. Which I've never seen, so I just worked out that what they were making fun of was the movie Batman and Robin. I basically invented things to mock about that movie out of whole cloth too.

There was also a part where I was waiting for the bus at the stop that would take me back to Evergreen, but there were also some assholish kids I went to high school with. Not the ones at my bus stop, but I think they were friends of them. Anyway, when the bus came, they wave it past (as if to say we're waiting for another bus, even though the stop we were at only has that one bus line) in order to score drugs. I picked up a lot of quarters from the ground, and one of the dudes was apparently into Crystal Meth. I'm sure I had other dreams.

All the dreams were dense, but not with meaning.
waffle4223: so i think i got the most bizarre recommendation ever.
AndrewWKIsntGood: hmm?
waffle4223: Johnny Cash's American Recordings 3 is recommended for me.
waffle4223: because I liked From Hell and gave it four stars.
waffle4223: From Hell isn't even music.
AndrewWKIsntGood: is a wide encompassing thing
waffle4223: yeah
AndrewWKIsntGood: it tracks everything youve ever liked
AndrewWKIsntGood: ever
waffle4223: but that's still bizarre.
waffle4223: yeah
waffle4223: but there's a thing
waffle4223: that asks "why was i recommended this"
waffle4223: and it tells you based on old ratings
waffle4223: and only one came up for American 3
AndrewWKIsntGood: what?
waffle4223: and nothing came up for the others.
AndrewWKIsntGood: those are ratings from people who liked from hell
AndrewWKIsntGood: see the thing is
AndrewWKIsntGood: no one else liked from hell
AndrewWKIsntGood: it was just you and this dude
waffle4223: i didn't see the movie
AndrewWKIsntGood: ok then its just this dude
waffle4223: i'm talking about this original comic thing
AndrewWKIsntGood: oh
waffle4223: it's the size of a phonebook
waffle4223: my brother saw and liked from hell the movie
waffle4223: did you see it?
AndrewWKIsntGood: well this guy who also gave from hell a good rating did the same for the cash
waffle4223: yeah
AndrewWKIsntGood: no im just really sick of jack the ripper
waffle4223: I know how that works
waffle4223: how many movies have you seen with jack the ripper?
AndrewWKIsntGood: ever since last action hero that shits been over
AndrewWKIsntGood: last action hero
waffle4223: yeah forgot about that.
AndrewWKIsntGood: its easy to see why
AndrewWKIsntGood: i did
AndrewWKIsntGood: remember when they went to new york and all the women were unattractive
waffle4223: hahahahaha
waffle4223: no i don't.
AndrewWKIsntGood: and they explained that by it not being l.a.
AndrewWKIsntGood: i do
waffle4223: because I don't remember seeing last action hero
waffle4223: because i never did.
AndrewWKIsntGood: you missed out
AndrewWKIsntGood: and you cant do it now you'd look like some self-conciously ironic jackass
waffle4223: yeah if it weren't for you just now i never would've know that only l.a. has attractive women.
waffle4223: exactly.
AndrewWKIsntGood: no dude
AndrewWKIsntGood: it was a movie
waffle4223: unless i saw it because your recommended it.
waffle4223: like i plan to see They Live
waffle4223: I've heard good things
AndrewWKIsntGood: no last action hero is shit dude
AndrewWKIsntGood: like in the running for worst shit ever
waffle4223: yeah i know that was your stance.
waffle4223: no charlies angels 2 is the worst shit ever
waffle4223: unquestionably
waffle4223: there is no running
AndrewWKIsntGood: whatever dude
waffle4223: unless it was like charlies angel 2 and um slipknot
waffle4223: i don't know who wins
AndrewWKIsntGood: just because the race is over doesnt mean you have to stop running
waffle4223: hahaha
waffle4223: GODDAMN IT
waffle4223: Alex Tripp brings the funny
AndrewWKIsntGood: and the POLITICAL HUMOR
waffle4223: oh i didn't even view it as political
waffle4223: that's what they call "a thinker"
AndrewWKIsntGood: i viewed it as another fun jab at kucinich
AndrewWKIsntGood: that guy
waffle4223: is anything funnier than referring to jokes that are in fact pretty retardedly obvious as "a thinker"?
waffle4223: because I don't think there is.
AndrewWKIsntGood: oh theres a few things

He didn't name these things, hence leading me to believe he was lying. But yes, blogging conversations had over AOL instant messenger. It's the way to go, when you don't have any class. I like how I don't type "lol" (or at least, I didn't in this conversation) but I do type out "hahahahaha." Neither of these things are necessary.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Tonight I ate some tacos. I ate them at a place called Quality Burrito, which has a waiter who I believe looks a lot like Dave Grohl. Sometimes I think he actually is Dave Grohl, because if I were Dave Grohl, that's what I would do. I would be a waiter at a place that sells burritos and tacos in downtown Olympia at night, and rock out during the day. I believe the man who takes my orders is Dave Grohl, and because I have this I am the happiest person on Earth.

But on some level, I know that he is not Dave Grohl, and this makes me the most melancholy person on Earth.

Oh, such is the nature of life!

Saturday, May 15, 2004

So I often discuss my inability to write criticism, but one record I think I can review is the new Modest Mouse. It feels like a sellout. The lyrics are less opaque, it's more produced. The previous full-lengths had great openers, this one has a brief horn intro, later revealed to be the opening for another song, totally bypassing the strong opener and having it's first real song be kind of weak, as a second song might be. It's a tone-setter. The tone is one of happy melancholy, or resignation. It's such a fucking commercial record. Besides the lyrics and the production, the actual song structure is so goddamn poppy. It's the first Modest Mouse record to be dominated by songs with verse-chorus structures. Some songs throw in a bridge. But the other albums would either be jammy and repetitive and really blur what was a verse, what was a chorus, or had long instrumental passages, or... Third Planet, the fucking great opener to Moon And Antarctica had a structure that seemed vaguely stream-of-consciousness. It had anthemic moments but they weren't repeated. This is the most worrisome aspect. The tone... that could just be the record they wanted to make. They have a new producer. They have a different drummer. I don't really think it was a deliberate bid for popularity. I don't think they're going to get much more popular... they got pretty big just by force of word-of-mouth, to the point where MTV won't make that large of a difference. They were already playing in the same venues as, say, the Foo Fighters would. It's just a weak record. It's a traditional record, in its structure as an album as well, setting aside the intro thing. While Moon And Antarctica had the "weird" middle section to really further the tone of isolation, this one is just a collection of songs with a similar tone overall. Because of that, there's strong tracks and weak tracks, but on Moon And Antarctica, the weak tracks made it a better record. There's also the fact that I've recently learned that there are certain people who are really into Modest Mouse in that cultish kind of adoration sort of way. This kind of alienated me from them, in that I can't really champion them. Then there's the Olsen Twins thing, discussed in my last post. To me they just don't seem like they're just another really good band in the underground anymore. This is furthered by the fact that, now, because of the word-of-mouth and MTV etc. there are now people who've listened to Modest Mouse but have never listened to Built To Spill, who were once the same size in terms of following, and their followings had a lot of overlap, with both bands on the same record label.

So yeah, my first stab at criticism, aside from the points about the lack of a strong opener and the traditional song structure, is basically whiny scenester bullshit. Which is what criticism is at it's worst. Also kind of inevitable when talking about the idea of a "sell-out," which in turn, is also criticism at its worst. But I don't know how anyone could avoid talking about it in those kind of terms.

I will say this for Good News For People Who Love Bad News: When I listened to it yesterday, I liked it more than I had the previous times I listened to it. I don't think it's the beginning of the end, (although: it could be) I think if they brought Jeremiah Green back into the fold and had brought back an old producer, there's the possibility of a good record. Even more so in the event of bandwide depression and/or creative tension. You know, the things that make good records.

Also on criticism, right after I said the thing about Pitchfork not reviewing the new Mirah record, they did it. Fascinating to me is how I tend to agree with all of their Mirah reviews except for the parts where they talk about it in relation to the other records. The Advisory Committee review talks shit on You Think It's Like This But Really It's Like This, the Songs From The Mountain or whatever it's called review says that Advisory Committee is bad except for Cold Cold Water, and the C'Mon Miracle review, while getting the highlights and the weak spots right, says it's the best record Mirah's done yet, while I would say it's probably my least favorite (not counting EPs or side-projects). All three LPs have received marks in the 8 range, which seems about right.

Also, it turns out that Loretta Lynn record? Pretty good. I like it better than the last White Stripes record, but then again, I kind of hated that one. Loretta's voice is twangy, which is to be expected, but still an issue for me, and probably everybody reading this. And yet, musically, it remains a pretty decent record. I expected worse. No songs as great as Johnny Cash's The Man Comes Around, but on the whole, it's both more consistent in terms of quality and more diverse in terms of backings than any single American Recordings record. (Although I could be wrong about that, as I've never listened to any of those straight-through, as I tended to get bored.) Oh, and although it's been a while, and when I heard it, I didn't listen that closely, I have heard one of the late-period Dolly Parton records... I'm thinking it was The Grass Is Blue, one of the ones that got some good press, but my point is I thought it sucked. I think that pretty much covers all of the old-country people who've had "creative resurgences and found new audiences."

Remember when Johnny Cash's The Man Comes Around played over the opening credits to the Dawn of the Dead remake? What the fuck was that about? I like the song, I like the movie, but the song, you know, it's about the second coming, and the biblical apocalypse. Not zombies. That the movie ends with fucking Disturbed really casts that song in bad light, of the director's posturing or something. I don't know. I can't articulate anything. I've thought about using that song for a movie soundtrack though, although for a completely different setting. It's an austere song, you know. I see it playing in a car that's driving across the desert while the apocalypse looms in the near future.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Newly resolved: To carry around matches in my pockets at all times.

Had the urge to start fires tonight. I don't know how to use a lighter. No one has matches. I think matches are way more aesthetically pleasing, but they're just not practical when you're passing a bowl around, so no one has them. So yeah, starting tomorrow there will be a matchbook in my pocket whenever I have pockets. The matchbook will be in the same pocket as my wallet, generally the right, while the other pocket, generally the left, is the domain of a pen/pencil and keys.

An urge that strikes me on occasion is to read the things Matt Fraction wrote for Savant. It struck recently. I kind of need to get over the urge. This time, I looked at the Media pages that were in the first twenty issues. Weird reading because reading the Fraction Savant stuff takes me back to early 2000, and while I was reading a lot of the comics discussed at the time, this happened before I got into movies with any kind of fervor. So when they talk about the movies they were excited about at the time, they're movies that I saw after they were on video, that were old when I saw them, and there's a part of me that thinks that maybe they all got around to watching certain movies after they came out, but no, that is not the case. This creates a weird feeling of nostalgia disconnect.

(There's only one person reading this who knows what Savant is, who Matt Fraction is, what I'm talking about. There is a reason he is my best friend. For the rest of you: Savant was this comics activism website-magazine bit, came out weekly. Lots of invectives to action, which makes for good writing, especially to a high-school kid. Fraction did it best, and had better taste than most, and was really good at the whole contagious enthusiasm bit. He stopped and the soul of the thing died. The other people tried to maintain his spirit for a while, and kind of failed. Then they changed tactics and... it just became boring without the battle cries, all the swearing and the personal anecdotes, and the good taste. I wanted to be involved. I alienated the people who were. It sucked. Still, before it went sour, it was a big influence on me for a while there. There were a lot of recommended comics I didn't check out at the time, and as such am checking out now or in the near future, i.e. Metabarons, this European sci-fi thing written by Alexandro Jodorowsky, the director of Santa Sangre.)

But yeah, nostalgia is gross. That was my stance then, in high school. But as discussed awhile ago, that is actually the times that we end up feeling nostalgia for later. So that's the irony, although one that could probably be anticipated by anyone older than I was at that point. It's odd when you realize that you're smarter than you used to be.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

So the past two days I've listened to Olivia Tremor Control's Dusk At Cubist Castle, and I think I liked it more these times than I ever had before. The Green Typewriters suite only has two tracks that are kind of dull, and the songs on the first half seemed more distinct than they had previously. Just a really good record. It made me happy. More than happy, it filled me with a feeling that I liken to an epiphany, if anyone else knows that feeling. I don't quite know how to describe it. I recommend listening to the album in half. It makes the second half seem less abstract and boring, and it doesn't leave you tired by the end.

Music this year I guess has been kind of lackluster, at least from my perspective. That new Modest Mouse record has a lot wrong with it. Sidenote: Apparently the Olsen Twins like Modest Mouse. When I first learned that, my world stopped making sense.

Looking at the Pitchfork best new music page for this year, the highest-ranked things were the new Loretta Lynn record produced by Jack White, the Madvillain record, and this William Basinski experimental ambient box set. There's other stuff closer to my general taste that ranked lower, which generally has been pretty disappointing, although the Les Savy Fav singles compilation has its moments. They haven't reviewed the new Mirah, because I guess it's not officially out yet, but that, while decent, isn't the masterpiece that I was, if not expecting, at least hoping for. She's had enough moments that I think she could make a great record as opposed to good records with great moments. Good records with great moments are all very well and good, but I guess not what I'm looking for.

Also yesterday, I watched Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, which was quite good. Funnier than the book, at least from my perspective. The book's all puns and "wit," the movie has Peter Sellers. Which... in the realm of older comedy, I'm thinking his stuff has aged the best. I haven't seen the stuff he did that didn't involve Stanley Kubrick, but those two Kubrick films make me laugh. You know what didn't make me laugh so much? The Producers. The Springtime For Hitler bit did out of context, but the movie as a whole didn't work for me. The whole Xero Mostel/Gene Wilder bits have this timing which just doesn't work for me, they're like coked-up vaudevillians. Anyway, Lolita, a good movie, and a good book. I like that Showtime tried to make a movie out of Lolita. Like, the first one had Kubrick and a script by Nabokov, and Peter Sellers and James Mason, so in their attempt to adapt Nabokov better than Nabokov did, they cast Melanie Griffith. Funny to me.

I guess the next two movies I'll see will be Secret Things and maybe Spartan at the Capital Theatre before returning to Philly. Spartan looks bad but if I can see it for free/part of a double feature it might be worth my time. Not super-new, but newer than most of the stuff I've been into. I wonder if Coffee And Cigarettes will still be showing in Philly by the time I get back, or if I'll have to wait for the DVD. If the latter, I don't know when I'll get around to watching it.

But mainly, yeah, older things, as the new things have been kind of disappointing. Actually, with the exception of Lolita, what I've been into isn't that old, it's just not new. Newness has a different set of standards. Sometimes these standards are lower, I find that when I go to the movies I'm generally expecting less than when I rent something, as when I'm renting something it's usually something "classic" and hyped beyond belief. I guess that what I'm craving now is something that can just be described as next-level shit, you know? Last year had some things like that. Granted, the year's still early. There's a Built To Spill record at some point I think, and a new Wes Anderson movie. Both of those could theoretically be amazing.

There is that whole feeling of looking forward to things that haven't happened yet, though. Today was an academic fair, and I know what class I'm going to try to get into- it's a thing on post-modernism, where you read books by Pynchon and Murakami and watch films by Godard and Bunuel, (I'm hoping not the same ones I've already seen, that they have at the school library, hence making me think that it probably will be the same ones) so that could be a fun time, I'm thinking. Granted, I don't know if I'll make it into that class.

I don't know. 2004. I hope it'll turn it okay. I suppose it is going okay, and there's nothing to suggest that'll change. I'm hoping something amazing happens.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Sitting around, listening to Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers. Got over some weird feelings from early this morning and late last night, feelings I knew were bullshit but couldn't stop from happening. I lost the McSweeney's writing contest, which is not surprising at all. I should do more writing. I have a new experiment in the works. I sit in a closet with a detuned guitar and a microphone and work on a song about the claustrophobia of a carwreck. I talk to my brother and it looks like my summer rent might be cheap, because I might just end up sleeping on a couch or in a sleeping bag in an un-air-conditioned room. Been reading the arty comics. Haven't been reading the book I have to read for class, at least not in large enough chunks. I'm going to hand in a response paper that's just an edited conversation over AIM.

This is the shape of my head, this is what it feels like.

Monday, May 03, 2004

So I was going to write a thing about how people look at musicians like deities, and how that disturbs me, especially when it regards musicians I like. With musicians I don't like, it's just kind of amusing. I'll excuse it for Neutral Milk Hotel, but the Modest Mouse people, the Radiohead people? I just don't get that. I've also thought about how even the three best Radiohead albums aren't even some of my favorite records. The two best Modest Mouse albums are though. Anyway, yeah, the deification of musicians I guess pushes me away from the music slightly. I feel that certain music belongs to me, but only in the context of it being Really Fucking Great. Finding out that other people have stronger connections to it, kind of disturbing connections, puts me off it.

But then my thoughts went a different route.

And I started to think about my favorite records, and how often I hear them at Evergreen, and how that sucks. Because even if I don't make the musicians out to be deities, I guess there's some music that I almost view as being sacred. And even though I like to hear about how other people like it too, the actual music that I really like I only want to hear at certain times, when that is what I specifically desire, partly as not to get burned out on it, partly so it, in my imagination, is only associated with the moments with which it hits me the hardest. Every once in a while I'll hear snatches of Neutral Milk Hotel or something, and I just don't want to be around it. Same with... a lot of other records, actually. I haven't listened to Built To Spill in ages, since I got kind of burnt out on my favorite record of theirs, There's Nothing Wrong With Love. A few years down the road, nothing is going to sound better than that album, as long as I don't hear it in the meantime.

So basically, it's a very small segment of music that I don't mind listening to when other people play it. It has to be good enough on it's own merits, and not anything I love and listen to a lot so much that I've stopped wanting to hear it for an extended period of time. There's also music so good that I don't want it to play while other people's behavior is the focus, with the music serving as background.

Weirdly, I've listened to a lot of music kind of in the background while doing other things on the computer. This is not the same as certain music playing at a party or over conversation. I guess the main difference is that I choose the music and can control it, but there's also a part of me that just always wants. say, Sweet Jane to not be ignored. If Sweet Jane is playing, it should be the focus of all that is in earshot.
So tonight I finished reading The Eye by Vladimir Nabokov. The last book I've read not for class since I read Lolita by Nabokov. Anyway, The Eye is pretty decent. I was confused by the back cover copy and the foreword, mainly because I'm stupid and was looking for more than was explained on the back cover, and as such thought I was lost when I was in fact completely aware of what was going on.

The theme of the book is that, you are not a real person. Instead, you are what other people perceive you to be, a million different reflections. Trying to find the real you. The book plays some games with perspective, as the narrator uses his name only in regards to his interaction with other people, and treats his name like its a seperate entity. It's an interesting counterpoint to people who talk about one's name being a trap that you're saddled with. The novel also features a character who keeps a diary, with which he can register his own thoughts on his life, and keep his memories in order. It made me think of this little thing, and how the memories are memories of books and film. I don't know. You never have any idea what you're going to remember. The idea of forgetting friends and such is a much scarier thought, but I can't write about that kind of thing at all. Not just as a blog, but since very little happens of consequence with my friends, it's all taken for granted. I don't know what I'll remember and what I'll forget. People tend to forget books and movies more than friends and experiences, I'd wager. And I guess that I hope this'll work by way of putting a chronology to things that I can then go from the associations back to the people I was around.

It's a good book, all told, although a short one that could easily be read in a day. I spaced it out a bit, but I ended up reading the majority of it today. I read maybe twenty pages beforehand.

The same day I bought The Eye I picked up Ellison's Invisible Man, mainly at my professor's urging. Even though Shadow And Act was pretty terrible, Invisible Man is supposed to be a classic, one of the greatest novels ever written. I suppose I'll read that this summer, which is fast approaching.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

A movie I saw but forgot to talk about was Repo Man. That movie's not very good at all. I type this before I go to sleep, after a night of things not happening despite everybody's wanting for things to happen.