Thursday, December 23, 2004

Briefly: Being back in New Jersey is much how I expected it, awkward and boring. The room that I stay in is generally occupied by someone who my mom has unofficially adopted, so the room is filled with the belongings of this person who I find objectionable and unpleasant. When in the room I know where to look down, what things to turn a blind spot to. I, like my mom, get to selectively edit reality and it sucks. I really just can't do it. I'm wishing to be back in Olympia where I have books and friends and can say "fuck" as frequently as I do.

I finished Wind-Up Bird Chronicle at the airport (I was there on Friday instead of Monday- a funny story, but long story short, it meant two more days spent with family) and it ended pretty well. I stole my mom's copy of One Hundred Years Of Solitude, but haven't started to read it yet, since I'm in the middle of things at Evergreen and class will be starting and all kinds of things will conspire to stop me from finishing it quickly.

Oh, and my streak of only seeing good movies has been ruined. Once I got back, I ran into a dude who wanted to see "The Sea Inside" which I knew nothing about, but kind of expected weak things. It delivered. It's based on a true story, the name is a metaphor, and the director's the dude that did The Others or something equally weak. The kind of dull foreign-language film that gives art theaters a bad reputation. And I still haven't seen Sideways yet.

I also got to read all of Morrison's Doom Patrol in one go. That was kind of nice, although a weird experience when you're familar with most of the material. So, yeah, here's what happens when that's your experience, in list form:
1. The stylistic tic of employing poetry and the odd juxtaposition of two words is really overused at first, but it stops being done completely about halfway through.
2. When you know most of the weird concepts ahead of time, they mean nothing to you. This kind of goes with the first item on the list.
3. Willoughby Kipling is a funnier joke when viewed all in one go.
4. You start to care about the characters more. Weirdly: I wanted happy endings for them, which doesn't quite make sense. In reality, the reason it's sad when people die is because you will never see them again and won't get to have new experiences, etc. This happens invariably with fiction, simply because the story ends.
5. You're really sad when it's all over.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Went to the mall today, to pick up my mom's gift. I didn't buy it, though. I just found the location in the mall where the silk scarves are.

The mall makes me feel horrible. Two songs ran through my head: Sleater-Kinney's "Milkshake And Honey" ("Baby come home, I can't take the apartment alone") and Pavement's Black Walls ("You shouldn't hate your body, it's part of you. You shouldn't hate your family, they're part. You shouldn't hate your neighbors because they're part of you! These black walls. Black walls, black walls, black walls.") I wanted to sing them as I walked alienated through the department store.

I wish I had a camera for the things I'd seen. Emasculated boyfriends, unresponsive to their girlfriends hanging off them. The pathetic uniforms of the people who sell hot dogs. The fat kids and the old women.

I wanted to yell out "Hold me" and fall into the arms of someone who would either be responsive or disturbed.

And I have to go back there tomorrow, to finish the job. I feel like a Vietnam vet who can't function in society.

Also: Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle gets really good in the third book. Loren got into it early on, but then stopped reading, although he's asked for it for Christmas. I found the beginning largely unremarkable. It's improved almost immeasurably: The weirdness at the edges of the first book's domestic chronicle has builded upon itself and has become the book's new focus. I've heard some people had misgivings about how it ended, but we'll see how I react.

Still waiting on my brother's Christmas gift to arrive via mail. It's got two more days that it can arrive before I'm fucked and will just have to give him an IOU.

Last night I realized that TV shows on DVD are such a default awesome gift. Also: I think I'm over cash as a gift. It just seems sad to me, unless you're young and it's being given to you by your family who are directly responsible for your well-being at least to a certain extent. Amongst extended family, it just feels like they don't know you. And granted: My extended family doesn't know me, and I don't really want them to. Still: Should this really be the case? Best gift I've received from an extended family member ever was a copy of On Avery Island on vinyl. And sure, I've since given it to a roommate who actually had a record player. But the thought that was put into that gift was much appreciated. If it really is the thought that counts, (and I truly believe it is) then cash is the worst gift ever.

You know what would be a great gift from my mom and stepdad? Fucking replacement copies of some of the shit that they ruined and got water-damaged. That would be great.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

When it's 5 in the morning and sleep shows no sign of approaching one's body, one's mind turns to deep thoughts. These deep thoughts invariably give way to shallower ones, because that is how one's mind operates.

So it's in this manner that I found myself pondering the idea of making a mix CD for my mom for Christmas, and the borderline impossibility of doing so.

The deep thoughts that led me here, you may ask? Generally: The inability of one human being to communicate or in some way connect with another when there isn't a shared language. My mom doesn't view music like I do. She wants something that is inoffensive. I don't think she engages any music emotionally on any levels other than nostalgia.

She likes latter Flaming Lips. She liked They Might Be Giants. She liked it when I listened to Loaded by the Velvet Underground. She bought a Belle & Sebastian record because she liked the title. She was tempted to buy a Beulah record based on its title and the song titles, but I told her not to because their good record wasn't at the store that day. She generally doesn't like Beck but liked Lost Cause off of Sea Change.

Oh, and I'm paying attention to lyrics too because love songs on a hand-crafted mix for my mom is icky. Too bad that's a fucking huge topic in pop music.


She doesn't seem to like instrumentals.

I want to put on Jesus Walks by Kanye West. Because she likes Jesus, you see.


So yeah, some contenders: Cat Power when not all suicide style, something by Broadcast, Beulah- A Good Man Is Easy To Kill, The Velvet Underground- Who Loves The Sun, something by Jeff Buckley although I don't know what, Palace Music- New Partner, Mirah- Apples In The Trees, something by the Books, something by Manitoba, some kind of Magnetic Fields/6ths, something by Yo La Tengo. Stereolab? The Mountain Goats?

I'm not going to make this mix. Although, probably, I should.

I'm buying her a silk scarf, as per her request.

I don't even think my brother liked the mix CD I made him for his birthday. If I were to give him a CD for Christmas I think it would be The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me, although my confidence in such a thing is low.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

2004, year in review, part three: My life and what I read.

2004 was no 2003. Which would be an unfair expectation. After that burst of progress, I'm put in limbo. 2004 I mainly just hung out.

2005: My future is uncertain. Will I stay this summer in Olympia? Will I even continue to go to Evergreen? If not, then what the fuck will I do next fall? Probably 2005 will be like 2004, unless my musical ventures take off and consume a shitload of time. Which probably won't happen.

But anyway, 2004. I went back to Philadelphia over the summer, for more of those depressing interactions with my brother and his roommates. I was constantly being reminded of what a loser I was. Even though I got a theoretically cool job, working at a music store. Sure, it wasn't a good one. But, in terms of what it was, it's probably as good a job as I will ever have. And it mostly sucked. I will never be happy. Then there was the lack of all social interaction outside the job. Hoo. A lot like 2003 in that it was a total no friends summer. I did have some interaction with my brother's friends, which as previously mentioned, was frequently vaguely condescending. I have no idea how much any of those people respect me. This is weird and hurts my head.

Then I went back to Evergreen, where I was considerably happier, but still have less friends than I did last year. Some of those old friends left. Some stayed around Olympia, but I felt strangely alienated from them even at the end of last year. The list of new friends is a short one. The list of old friends departed is probably three times as long.

And then there were classes. Looking Backward ended amazingly. But Telling The Truth was an exercise in testicular injury. I had to read Don Delillo's White Noise for both.

I finished Lolita in 2004, I think. I also read Nabokov's The Eye. Also: Borges' Ficciones and Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. Reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle now. That was mainly it, besides the large amounts of bullshit I had to shovel into my mind for class. Talking about books in a year of review is bizarre except as an autobiographical conceit, simply because I don't read that much new fiction. I think that's true for most people who aren't book critics. I mean, there's a barrage of classics I'll be reading until I die. Getting on top of the new good stuff is hard to do, and I haven't really attempted it. I guess the only new writing I read was in the last McSweeney's, of which 25% of the content was recommendable. Five new authors to watch out for. And that's the new fiction that I would be inclined to like, probably? That had editors whose tastes probably occasionally align with my own? Fuck if I know. I read a great deal of comics, which makes me feel dumb, but you know, they're shorter. It's also a scene that's easier to be on top of. Of what I read: Seaguy sticks out, as does the new Eightball. Those were the highlights. Hopefully I'll have read all of Morrison's Doom Patrol in one go before the year is out. That's it!
2004, year in review, part two: The year in film.

I didn't see a bad movie all year. Actually, I did, but none in the theater, none that were new. And, with the exception of Before Sunset, every movie I saw, I saw in a commercial mainstream movie theater. This is all odd. I saw a lot of mainstream movies which people like to talk shit on, (including me, sometimes) and I enjoyed them.

Which proves my point, although it was one I didn't plan on making: Fuck the indie/mainstream divide. (at least if we're talking cinema) Most indie people are incredibly unambitious. If they do have ambitions, they can't implement them, due to lack of budgets. Not like small films can't be good, just that there is such a thing as indie hackery. Auteur theory! Motherfucking auteur theory! Give smart people money and they won't disappoint you!

Still a few movies I've yet to see: Sideways, The Life Aquatic, A Very Long Engagement, and 2046. 2046 might not even count as a 2004 film.

But yeah, a good year for movies. A good year for comedies.

Movie of the year was Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, duh. I could write tons of weird shit about it that means nothing: Like how I've been on the Gondry tip for years, and prefer him to Spike Jonze. Like how Charlie Kaufman is a champ. Like how Human Nature was slept on and due for a reevaluation: I'm calling it the Being John Malkovich to Eternal Sunshine's Adaptation, more obviously a comedy, but still possessing thematic weight and well-drawn characters. About how the people saying that this is Kaufman's first script with emotion are fucking retarded. Some people said it was sad, with its fatalistic view of relationships. But guess what? Most relationships do end badly, who the fuck doesn't know that? But this says fuck it anyway, take the good with the bad. It's optimistic, but in a way that's also fucking honest. Let the emo kids have Garden State, the people who see the beauty in Neutral Milk Hotel will be watching Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Actually, we might watch both. I like to think we'll all enjoy Eternal Sunshine more.

I think I've gone over every movie I've watched this year in this blog, so you can see the other movies I recommend if you want to. They were all good. The movie I was the least sure of was Spider-Man 2 and I can't even front like I didn't enjoy that, regardless of the cheesy dialogue. Seriously: that was the worst movie I saw in theaters all year, and it wasn't even bad. (Although if you want to get technical, I saw worse movies at the Capital Theater that came out in 2003. This doesn't count for our purposes now.) I saw two zombie movies and both of them were great. One of those zombie movies I can't think of the director, so to a certain extent: Poop on auteur theory too, don't try to be a pretentious jackass. I like what I like. Fuck it. I'm smart. I don't have to explain my zombie fondness.

Monday, December 13, 2004

After I finished Gravity's Rainbow, my brain needed time to decompress. Weirdly, class provided that with its complete lack of mental stimulation. So I read book two of Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle in a day. The current reading list is book three of that and the Palomar hardcover. Hopefully, I will finish both of these before school starts up again.

I'm currently wait-listed for the program I wanted to get into. Here's the syllabus:
White Noise, Don Delillo. This is the third program I've had to assign this book. And it's also the third program I've taken.
The Awakening, Kate Chopin. My old nemesis.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I never finished reading this in high school, although it was pretty decent.
The End Of The Road, John Barth. The only American writer who's work I haven't read, and I'm kind of unfamilar, although in general, I hear good things.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End of the World, Haruki Murakami. Apparently this one has more of a pulpy feel to it, at least in terms of plot points. Also, shorter than Wind-Up Bird.
Confessions Of A Mask, Yukio Mishima. Mishima came up on a message board thread about Murakami. Good words were said, but maybe untrustable.
Masks, Fumiko Enchi. I don't know anything about this at all.
The Anatomy Of Dependence, Takeo Doi. Same with this. Still, my hopes? My hopes are high.

Also: Films will be viewed. Sweet mother of rock.
Just bought a handful of the books mentioned in the last post from Also wanted to say that I should check out the films of Wong-Kar Wai. I've been hearing praise since In The Mood For Love came out, from smart people. No one I know personally, though.

In case the implication wasn't clear: I might be wait-listed currently, but I will fight like hell to get into this class. Although, apparently, the professor I had problems with last quarter was previously one of the teachers of this program, with the one who's teaching this quarter. Which disturbs me, but maybe unnecessarily.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Two things: Alex predicts that the next Animal Collective album will be their last. I disagree. I write this down as to remember it two albums from now. Their next album will be fucking amazing though. We've heard the songs in live form... Hoo. Sung Tongs is pretty great, but it's a weird album for me, as someone who doesn't take drugs. Also: the overall aesthetic seems overwhelming if you don't listen closely to each individual song. As an album, it's a cohesive piece of work, but listened to in passing as a whole, it's almost too cohesive, with a tendency to seem like one giant song with a few breaks. I didn't even think of We Tigers as being a great song until I decided to listen to it in keeping with my "I only like the short songs" theory, (There's another short song, Sweet Road, which blends in with the rest even listened to individually) and it was only today that I listened intently to Winters Love, which others have called the album's high point.

Also: ODB's autopsy results found him with a bag of cocaine in his body. He flew that day. The bag had a hole in it. Official cause is a heart attack, which I'm sure the burst bag of cocaine contributed to. Holy living fuck.

Wednesday I read my Ol' Dirty Bastard essay to class. I got positive feedback, but of a weird variety. People told me I could make money writing music reviews. Which is funny for two reasons: One being that I don't consider it a review, and another because of the fact that I wrote it five years after its release. Also, good music criticism should attempt to describe the music, which my piece, trying to avoid being called a review as it did, consciously avoided. I didn't even mention the beat to I Want Pussy. My professor didn't like it, of course, but he's a fucking douchebag, who insists on calling it a review and refused to call it an evaluation of gangsta rap culture in my eval, even after he said he'd change the terminology of "a review of a hip-hop record" if I gave him something to change it to. What a fucking fuckface of a fucker.

But after class was done, woo! The sun began shining it Olympia! Although not literally. It's been cold and wet outside. But inside, life's been swell. Thursday night was amazing. A song by The Art Project (Loren, Alex, and I) was recorded. A few practice takes. I fucked up the first chorus on each of the four takes. Still. Submitted it for rerecording for the Evergreen compilation, and the practices are currently being edited together by Alex with some guitar feedback drone (courtesy of Loren) to be thrown on top. What we have now sounds good though. Everyone got drunk. John Samson talked some hilarious crazy-talk, asking absurd questions. Like what would be the best combination of two movies. (I said Magnolia and Kill Bill vol. 1, and submitted Koyanaqatski [sic] and Touch of Evil on Alex's behalf. These are combinations that mean nothing, due to the absurdity of the exercise) Later he asked, out of the blue, what would be the best possible pinata. Hilarious night. Hopefully in future there'll be a nice mp3 of the song we recorded available for download.

Short story writing is currently half-stalled. I could probably push through without any problem. Which I might very well do, as the idea of finishing a story quickly is very appealing.

Haha, I'm a goddamn jackass. I woke up Alex to tell him that Animal Collective cover a Low song on this live set (Which, at an hour, is twice as long as the rest of their live sets) and then there's some talk and then fucking In Metal is played... The second half of the set is fucking Low. It's from some battle of the bands. Shit. Still. The songs early on are still pretty fucking great, and once I finish writing this I'll find out the exact moment when the switch is made from Animal Collective to Low.

And I'm finishing writing this now.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Had my eval today. I thought it wasn't going to happen until Thursday, but that's because I don't know what day it is ever. It was strangely anti-climactic. He caught a typo in my self-eval (effect for affect- that's a tricky one) that I didn't change. I guess there's a part of me that figures that no one will ever read the damn thing... There was also a John Cage joke in there. You know, for laughs.

I did get his piece of editing of my final piece though. It's one of the douchiest things ever. My professor is a bad man. The student I have the most distaste for is the one who is the most on his jock. His terrible old-man jock.

I would've loved to talk about how much he hates me. But this is the Northwest, where people are passive-aggressive. Still. After tomorrow, I will never have to deal with him again. Yay.

Got a new idea for writing a short story. Actually an old idea in terms of concept, but a new execution. I'll share it with you, because I'm not sure how feasible it is. This is the whole "magical realism meets indie rock" thing which is both my stated goal and the most retarded high-concept pitch to ever exist. Anyway, the idea has grown to the sort of thing that could be novel-length. But: What if I just wrote a short story out of it, by using the highly-condensed language of song-writing? The voice I wanted to aim for was that of The Hold Steady, which this new idea seems considerably more able to support. But if the ultra-condensed short-story thing doesn't work out, then what I have is one of those things which would have to be expanded to be a novel, which I'm not good at doing at all. It's pretty big in scope, at this point, you see.

I've got to be up in less than four hours. I've got to go to class. I want to get out early, in order to register for class as soon as I can. But according to my professor the asshole, missing the day in question (where I'd be hearing other people read their work... It would be a douchey thing to miss) would be the kind of thing to result in a loss of credit. Alex said he's be down to wake up at noon in order to sign me up, but Alex got pretty drunk tonight. Who knows what'll happen? I'm hoping for "Everything works out okay and I get into the good class."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

My computer is virus-ridden. It craps out in a variety of different ways, and seems on the verge of crapping out permanently. The sound is skipping. Sometimes there are other sounds that betray the electric motorized roots. It acts like the wires are exposed and it is running on steam. Sometimes the screen will freeze. It will begin moving later.

I think some of this might be the fault of Firefox. I did have viruses before, but after downloading and installing Firefox, shit started freezing up.

I've sent some writings to myself, but there's a lot of music on this machine. I don't think it's going to die on me, as that is the kind of thing that tends to happen without warning.