Monday, February 27, 2006

When I think about the future, I am terrified. The money that has been in a saving's account is almost completely spent. Job prospects in Olympia are grim to non-existent. School involves a lot of shit and I'm VERY worried about not getting full credit. At the end of June, my lease expires, and my ties to Olympia are severed. Also I'll turn twenty-one, and that will mean the end of my dad's child support. The school situation is also sketchy enough that health insurance is up in the air.

I need to stop being on the internet so much. I need to make this film, write this book, do this schoolwork, find a paying job.

Everything is going to crumble, basically, and I need to have something done before that happens. The schoolwork's the least of the problems, the job is to prevent life-crumbling. The movie's to have something to show, same as the book only in some ways bigger: I haven't made a movie, and I need to, in order to prove how smart I am if given a roof over my head and resources and comfort enough to do such things.

The things I want to do are the same things I've always wanted to do and have never done. It's so fucking tragic, so fucking ordinary.

Tomorrow the things I have to do are schoolwork things. That's okay, though, I guess. Hopefully the video game distraction is dead to me now. I think it might be. Today I reread/rewrote the first seven chapters of this book- It was designed to have a small climax, be a working model, within those first seven chapters, that I could then show people, but then I reread a while back, possibly in a weird mood, and found it really overwrought and kind of unacceptable. I think it's better now. It's not perfect, but nothing is. It is what it is. I can move forward. I'd rather make Stop, You're Blowing My Mind than write this book, though, I think. In terms of immediacy. In terms of what I'd rather do first. Hopefully my writing this will serve as a declaration of intent.

Tomorrow I will wake up early, erect by half-past-ten. I will tear up the schoolwork. Maybe give the Classified ads a look. Talk to people about this movie- I only ever have the confidence to do so in late-night nervous fits, during the day time I'm more insecure somehow. A different kind of nervousness, one more conducive to staying home. Only on the verge of the sleep do my balls drop. It's awful.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Further Books sample cataloging- "I can't find the books, they must be in La Jolla" is from a This American Life bit.

However! "I suppose it doesn't really matter which way we go" (from, I think, "Be Good To Them Always) is from the Nicolas Roeg movie Walkabout, which was recently viewed. It's pretty great.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I just walked home from a party, and am listening to the last couple tracks off Elephant Eyelash. There is alcohol in my system, and the general sexual frustration and a sad awareness of the fact that my memory isn't so good with faces/names/places. I didn't offend anyone, I don't think. I don't know if I made any kind of impression at all.

Alpha Incipiens ran through my head as dance music played. I was coaxed out onto the dance floor for M.I.A. by two pretty lesbians who I got along with maybe better than anyone else. They were drunk and I was aware of their lesbianism and so that probably helped everybody with the getting along.

John Samson's back in town! Awesome.

I had a good night, and I hope the vestigial limbs of the evening reach into the memories of all who decided that I was cool.

I got a compliment from my old neighboring roommate Will, who said that I was "hella nerdy" but the shoes I rock are always so gangster and that's cool and old-school. Yeahhhh.

I've got the glory of the world world-view.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Oh man, Michel Gondry. As I wait for The Science Of Sleep and Dave Chappelle's Block Party to be released (they're both finished) I find out that his next film, Master Of Space And Time, is going to have a screenplay written by Daniel Clowes, based on some sci-fi novel I've never read, but by a guy who's apparently fairly well-regarded. And will star Jack Black.

Oh man, Michel Gondry.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I just saw Akron/Family. I'd been listening to their split with Angels Of Light a lot recently, to get psyched. They were awesome, as a band making music and as a band made up of dudes with senses of humor and stuff. I had a lot of fun. You should all buy that split, and then go see them live and be up front dancing with all of these total nerds.

They made Jim Gaffigan references and like weird confrontational humor.

Banter: "I'd like to dedicate this next song..."

He trails off into silence, puts a hand on one side of his face, leans on the microphone with his lip, and then sighs deeply.


Noise and synths, melodica and quiet folk songs, and some of it was danceable and some of it not at all, but enough to make the people who were all "I want to sit in a chair, you sit down" and I was all "No dudes, you should be standing, you will all be standing" realize that I fucking win and am not to be questioned ever.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Long bit of music criticism about Modest Mouse's The Lonesome Crowded West starting...


I was resentful of the dance-punk hype, the insinuation that indie kids didn't dance because they hated fun, were too uptight to like anything. There's some music where dancing just isn't the point, isn't what you're supposed to do, even if there's a groove. For me, alone in my bedroom in high school, listening to Modest Mouse's The Lonesome Crowded West, I paced. Back and forth.

There's a rhythm, a groove, but it's not coming from a funk place. It's coming, I feel, from a krautrock place if any such influence can be ascribed other than the pacific northwest nineteen-nineties scene, which- There's no reason to have that limited a framework, although it seems that what most critics did. And, yeah, not to deride that, or at least, the aspect Up Records released. It's kind of a paramount example of nineties indie rock, all treble and cool influences. But, like, krautrock's a cool influence.

The krautrock thing- There's a rhythm, yes, and the rhythm is the drive, but over that, beneath that, all over, there's just this guitar, which works with it, while just- It seems to do more. The songs don't seem written based on the chord progressions, or, if they were, they mutated and are now rhythm-driven. The guitar then just throbs, with rhythm, yeah, and melody, but dissonance as well. It just squeals about, throws noises out there, all while doing all the other things it's supposed to do.

The vocals and lyrics, too, seem rhythm-driven- Repetitious to a certain extent, but not in the pejorative sense. Music is repetition and variation, and there's enough variation to it all, especially in how it plays off of everything.

The Nude As The News review said that the album has verses and choruses, but which is which is hard to distinguish- Melodies and structures just get repeated throughout songs, and it's all groove-based, all based on that rhythmic framework. The vocals are just getting spat out, switching up as often as anything else, really, but repetitious enough.

It's pacing music- Different places in the room highlight certain sounds, but there's more to it. There's something introspective in pacing that isn't in dancing. It's more conducive to self-laceration. You can nod your head and sway your hips, you can feel the beat, but there's still a voice there, and it's still saying stuff, it's still coming in. Phrases repeat themselves for reinforcement, but get framed in new contexts. Not unlike how thoughts work when you're ruminating on a subject.

And the beat just goes on.

Whenever I think of this album, I think of something building, structures being erected, made of wood, wire, spiralling upward. All while I think of three men just bashing it the fuck out. Rhythms. Some of that is the imagery of buildings on the art. Some of that's the length- It's one second shy of an even seventy-four minutes. Towers are going to be brought to mind. But there's a certain kind of construction that builds a tower rather than just stacking a lot of small boxes into rows.

Third Planet, off The Moon And Antarctica, is more of an anthem, in some ways. More traditionally anthemic. Not that there's not stuff to sing along to here, or whatever- Certainly "I'm trying to drink away the part of the day I cannot sleep away" gets a lot of mileage. But so many songs on Lonesome Crowded West are just- yeah, krautrock- The Can kind, there's no motorik beat here. (And holy living fuck is Jeremiah Green a good drummer) There's this rhythm, and it shifts, and it builds on itself. So frequently the climax isn't the chorus- those are hard to find, after all- but the finale, where there's no more words, where the guitar is just getting the shit beat out of it, propelling the building ever upward, with the rest of it just whirring along with it, some kind of violent levitation. A similar enough principle applies to the end, which is mostly just drumming, although there's more going on beneath it than just a drumbeat.

No guitar on the finale to Jesus Christ Was An Only Child, just a fiddle melody, but again, the same principle, of melody as finale. That song, oh man, for all the other stuff I mentioned, that totally applies to this song, is also notable for the whole-

I'm not even talking about the themes. The religious stuff, the America stuff. But that's all there, in spades. Lyric-writing wise. Whatever. Listen to it and pick up the repeated phrases and all that stuff is there, it's great, lyrically, but musically, you know, the placing emotional climaxes on just instrumental works rather well. It works just as well when Isaac Brock screams out "I didn't move to the city, the city moved to me, and I! Want! Out! Desperately!" But that's not all the songs, you know?

But the religious stuff, I did want to address briefly, in that for mythology purposes, I fucking love that there's two guys in the band with Old Testament biblical names. And that one of them sings the line, about Jesus Christ, that God "shoulda' killed that little fucker before he even had."

And that's not even, again- that's not like the heart of the record, that line. That's a toss-off. There's other religious references- and by religious references, I mean toying with iconography, rather than direct allusions- that get more play. The last two songs, mostly acoustic instrument-driven, more traditional in instrumentation, pre-electronic stuff, (same holds true for Jesus Christ Was An Only Child, earlier- fiddle!) addresses the topic as well, more conclusively, if not so much more straight-forwardly.

It's just so tangled and so verbal, and so personal a discussion of these distinct things. It feels so bashed out, in a way which in some ways I prefer to the more orchestrated and produced stuff that- I enjoy a lot, that I'd call my favorite records, more sonically detailed things, better with sound, but this... For that stupid abstract concept of "rock and roll," this is as good as the traditional method gets. The more orchestrated stuff sometimes includes better songcraft, but- I mean, that's not rock and roll, is it? That's some kind of classical pop standard. This, you know, "rolls" more than that, with the groove emphasis. It also "rocks" harder than most of that stuff.

It's just that, while doing all that, it's actually interesting, despite/because of its oft-used materials. Other stuff is more moving, or is moving in a way that's rare and hard to find. But this is just great, just as this thing, this structure. It's not beautiful like a painting is beautiful, or a person; but like a building, some kind of architecture, and it's a big enough a thing to get lost in. And then find yourself pacing somewhere in the middle floors, in front of big giant glass windows, overlooking something else, although some kind of city with its presence in it, lost in thought as the weather outside reflects your inner thoughts back at you in some way only vaguely understandable, and when lightning strikes the building the power surges through and the lights maybe blink or flash but the threat of the building collapsing is never all that real.

And although that could've been an ending, I'm not intent to let that lie, because there's still more that needs to be discussed- The fact that an album is both its own complete thing like a novel or a film, but a document of a band at a point in time, and that so much coherence is just through the editing process of editing a collection of songs, of all the thoughts pertaining to a certain broad set of subjects down. To use a literary metaphor, it's a diary at the same time it's a novel with a narrative. The surrounding EPs and singles are all great, as was the albums that preceded and followed. The Lonesome Crowded West is just a guidebook to one way to write songs, one writing process for one group at a particular point in time. So aside from that "what a great album," it should be pointed out that Modest Mouse should be addressed very much in terms of "what a great band."

Monday, February 06, 2006

The new Ol' Dirty Bastard album is awful. Not enough ODB, too much Macy Gray. I'm going to say maybe two acceptable tracks so far, and they're the ones with members of the Wu-Tang Clan guesting. Despite a bit of weird uncomfortable misogyny on the Ghostface track- Ghostface threatens that he and ODB will doubleteam you from behind if you don't have his money. Disturbing enough just as a rape threat before you think about the fact that he probably only said that after ODB was dead, so...

Seriously, awful shit.

I am washing my brain out.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Followup to the Erickson talk of a few days ago: I've been reading stuff he read at Salon, including a piece where he offhandedly praises The Invisibles, and this piece,, where he says something really insightful as an offhanded attack on Peggy Noonan, the woman who came off so impossibly creepy on The Daily Show towards the end of last year.

This is the line: "To an extent this is a victory of ideology itself, of the argument advanced by people like Peggy Noonan that by definition a nonideological man like Clinton has no true principles and thus whatever social justice he speaks for can be dismissed. To an ideologue like Noonan, who shapes the truth to suit her biases, the man who shapes his biases to suit the truth is a nihilist."

This fits in with the awesome Onion A.V. Club interview with Stephen Colbert from two weeks ago, which can be read at Stephen Colbert, it should be noted, destroyed Peggy Noonan with nonchalant awesomeness when he interviewed her.
Betty Friedan died, age 85. That's new.

My professor said some stupid shit the other day. No one called him out on it. Not even I, as he just said it as part of a long digression and I didn't want to further the tangent.

He was complaining about WASL, the standardized test for the state of Washington, and how biased it is. He started out by talking about the discrepancy between the results of success of special-ed and non-special-ed students, and how this is proof of the WASL being biased against kids in special ed.

He went on to list other groups the test is biased against- whites get higher scores than non-whites, with, and I quote him, "Asians being included as white."

I think I was the only person who blinked at statements like this, but blinking isn't really enough, and I'm now mad at myself for not saying "Excuse me, what the fuck?"

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I am not foreseeing myself writing any fiction tonight, (First seven chapters of Do You Remember When The World Ended are finished, ask to read them if you want to read them) so the blogging will commence.

Days spent in bookstores. Saw stuff I rarely see, emblazoned with crazy-positive blurbs. A Steve Erickson novel, whose Days Between Stations liked quite a bit, got support from Tom Robbins, Thomas Pynchon, and William Gibson. It's nonetheless a rare occasion to come across his stuff. Meanwhile, Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds, kind of an acknowledged classic but rarely come across, I came across today. It has this quote on the front from Dylan Thomas, saying "This is a good book to get for your sister if she's a drunk and nasty girl." This is a paraphrase, but I'm striving for accuracy. Then it gets respect from the likes of James Joyce and Updike and all kinds of people. I need to read it.

Also, saw a magazine for vegetarians with the line "Friends don't let friends eat meat" on it, possibly the most untrue statement ever. Does anyone involved with that magazine believe in it? I don't want to say if they did, they would have no friends at all, but theoretically their friends could all be vegetarians, a very insular clique at work at that magazine. But I like to think they would all at least secretly hate each other, what with it being abundantly clear they were all total douchebags.

I looked at We All Die Alone, the coffee-table book of Mark Newgarden work. It's pretty cool. If I were in the coffee-table book market, I might give it a go, but the content's not super-strong for anyone to actually need. If you come across it in a bookstore, give it a long enough flip-through that you feel acquainted with all the content within. One reoccurring thing is a gag cartoon but with a long paragraph of a character's monologue beneath it in tiny type. The one that really got me was a homeless man doing stand-up. Alternately, there's the talk of the work for Topps in the eighties, as the guy behind Garbage Pail Kids, but also such novelties as Barfing Family Candy. Even funnier to me is the idea that never became more than a phrase, "sandwich gum." The name of that book again: We All Die Alone.