Sunday, June 25, 2006

So, I'm in California, but I'm leaving for Philadelphia tomorrow.

Last night I got blackout drunk for the first time. Lesson learned: A bottle of vodka is too much. Evie Nelson, with whom I am staying, had friends at the Dyke March, and I went to meet them and had to drink to get over the whole "what am I doing here" thing. I got over it pretty quickly, and then, awhile after I stopped drinking, the evening lost its narrative. Apparently I was loud and uncontrollable. I remember puking three times but apparently it happened more than that.

Anyway California's nice. Berkeley's maybe crap, I don't know- I went into Ameoba and was kind of confused by the clutter, and they do the thing where there's a "miscellaneous" section at the end of every letter, rather than just going by alphabetical order. I went into Comic Relief and was confused by the layout and wasn't feeling confident enough to buy anything. I saw the Me A Mound book Picturebox put out and that looked cool, and maybe the only time I'll see such a thing.

I continue to feel faintly hung over.

My birthday is Tuesday. Sometime soon I am going to need to buy earplugs, because the thirtieth is The Boredoms show, with Lightning Bolt and Hrvatski opening. Good God. I will be so sober at that show.

Friday, June 16, 2006

holy shit dolphins

I just read a thing about how dolphins like pregnant women, and that due to the sonar, they can "see" the fetus inside. This makes so much sense when you think about ultrasounds, but never occurs to you when thinking about the Sega Genesis game Ecco The Dolphin, or Daredevil comics.

I wish I had sonar. I ran into someone a few weeks ago who I thought might be pregnant but I found out later that she had just gained a lot of weight after getting off heroin.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I went out last night to see The Ohsees play a house show. I did the thing where I stumbled into talking to them before they performed and thought they were nice enough people. They played a good show. They were winning. I'd only heard one song more than once, which I'd downloaded off an mp3 blog- I'd heard them played on the stereo at the house where the show was held and couldn't really get the magic due to the nature of their aesthetic and how it played off the open space of the backyard. I ended up talking to them afterwards, again with no real effort. Nice people who make good music. To talk about the music- It's all underwater lo-fi noise pop, with the noise more as texture than at the forefront. I think they use distorted microphones.

On another note- The new Nelly Furtado album produced by Timbaland is getting some hype. What I've heard I've kind of liked, but oh man that is very much all on the production because that girl's voice remains annoying. Like weirdly so, "I don't really get how this is popular in terms of being deigned acceptable by large segments of the population." Like- I get that indie music frequently features weird voices and it's taken like "oh idiosyncracy" but in pop music it makes me think "who is the audience" and I guess it's annoying people and so they like a voice that actually comes on bratty. Like so when the song comes on in a club the beat might lead to ass-shaking but the vocals encourage your worst behavior and most obnoxious tendencies.

Whereas the music on a Camera Obscura record just leads to swooning while the vocals encourage staying home and reading books, or maybe just talking quietly about feelings or some such thing. I've heard like two songs off the new one, and I like it okay. It's an aesthetic I fall into easier, you know. Today I read a George Saunders short story in a bookstore.

But I mean that's not all I do. But looking at my iTunes recently played playlist I don't know what it is I do. I wish I had been able to find that Ohsees record for download, it might help navigate that divide. Manitoba can navigate that divide- Dan Snaith of the describing his albums as being on some "next level Timbaland Brian Wilson shit" but I haven't been listening to Up In Flames. Right now I am wondering why.

By the way, before John Dwyer was in Ohsees he was in a band called Coachwhips who I downloaded today and they kind of work that Timbaland producing Nelly Furtado vibe but for unshaven rock club dudes rather than dance club ladees, PBRs rather than appletinis. I get the need for the vibe, I'm not going to deride too hard- Surely I am a man who likes his most obnoxious tendencies supported.

Jesus, it's late.

But anyway, yes, sometimes I almost get in fights.

I saw The Devil And Daniel Johnston Friday night. I've been listening to Daniel Johnston, yes, and getting his songs stuck in my head. Anyway, it's a good movie, pretty well-made besides a few little decisions that documentaries sometimes must deal with when dealing with things that aren't that visual or documented. But the story is good, the soundtrack is good. It's funny and it's sad and oh man Yip Jump Music is a good album.

I really should get some sleep.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Last night I made pancakes to give the class during the animation screenings, as a way to defuse the works I thought of as overly serious. I didn't know how to make them, and although they were edible enough, they sat in my stomach like paste and made me feel awful until I crapped and did some sit-ups.

The cartoon I made remains flawed, even following it's showing to the class, in its compromised form. I want to get it into fighting shape, because as it stands, I'm not sure whether it's good or not. Certainly I couldn't tell from the class's reaction.

And I've got to produce a ton of writing tomorrow, all reflecting on this class. I wrote a draft of a self-evaluation, but I've still got to rewrite this eight-page essay in a more academic form.

My obsession with the whole Paper Rad scene continues. I'm really fascinated by Dan Nadel and Picturebox, the people who released the book, as well as- Well, if you clicked the link, you'd see. Arty comics mostly, but also stuff like the Wilco book and the new Black Dice book. Fascinating. Dan Nadel is a guy with really weird and distinct tastes, that fascinate me because I get an impression of where he's coming from even if I have enthusiasms that he doesn't share at all. He's really into Mark Newgarden, who I recently read a good interview with. He's doing a new magazine, to be published by Lime Publishing, the same people that put out Arthur, and distributed for free. This is exciting to me.

This Bookslut interview with Salvador Plascencia
informs me that a paperback version of The People Of Paper will soon exist. It kind of saddens me that I bought the hardcover, but I'd like to remind people that that book is really good, and maybe were you to read it in softcover, you'd enjoy it. The thing I like about that interview is just a little aside about what he learned from George Saunders, about the advice to be softer. It's something I agree with, and something that, secrets being told here now, makes me feel superior in my writing to this guy I had in a class whose literary heroes are William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, and Chuck Palahniuk. And that's a guy I liked, who I think is smart, but whose fiction actually struck me as unreadable for it coming off as adolescent in its use of profanity right at the start.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

oh damn so this dude in my class Sam Hockley-Smith comes correct with the music blog! He's also stumbled across this thing so I was reading it and thinking "Huh, I should come correct with some music blog rather than be talking about Paper Rad and uncertainty all the livelong day." Which isn't to say this will magically become a music blog but hey, what if I talked about music? That would be alright.

So I make a statement of intent and then, you missed it, but I got distracted and read some of Rollie Pemberton's music blog.

I was told last night at a house show that I should write about music because I asked a band of three New York City girls who sounded kind of like Gang Gang Dance if they were into Gang Gang Dance. And they weren't. Actually- That band, Animental, were kind of hilarious in that- My mind does think like a music critic, just one that's really inarticulate. But here was the deal with them that I couldn't say to their face: That it seemed like they were just trendhopping everything that's happened since the year 2000. From Fannypack electroclash saying some words while doing choreography to a hip-hop beat to weird "is this freak-folk or just some self-conscious performance art type weirdness, I bet they hang out with CocoRosie at those Kill White parties" to stuff that kinda' reminded me of Gang Gang Dance to playing metal. I stood up front and looked pretty over it.

So, um, what am I not over, in these days of stuff not leaking? (Oh man I look forward to- Last Summer I was in Olympia and unemployed, not hearing any new music due to lack of the internet and funds, and shit was coming out in the form of official release that I hadn't heard- this Summer my internets might be fucked but I hope to find employment and Philly record stores don't blow, oh the fun I'll have) With new music mostly dull?

Early Smog records. Julius Caesar and Wild Love, from Drag City, early nineties, fuzz and noise all up in it. Julius Caesar, I believe, is Jim O'Rourke produced. (by the way, I'm calling him the Brian Eno of the modern era these days.) It's got songs where lyrics like "I'm gonna' be so drunk at your wedding" get repeated ad infinitum. Wild Love's got songs where lyrics like "Every girl I've ever loved has wanted to be hit" being repeated ad nauseam. And there's noise, pointing a way for lyrics-are-the-focus music outside of acoustic guitar strumming.

I mean, I'm not listening to that now. I was just listening to a Jamie Lidell live set Alex downloaded and wanted to hear. But I was thinking about it today, songs running through the head. What am I listening to? In cars with iPods being asked to name music as some kind of game to see if it is on the iPod and just thinking like "oh man I have no idea."

I was listening to Prefuse 73's Surrounded By Silence, and I think I want to listen to that album a lot actually, and just don't follow through. It's so great, slept on, and- God, fascinating. Scott Herren commenting on someone's MySpace saying he's been making metal. Would that be the Hisham/Tyondai collaboration? That dude's awesome. His name is Guillermo Scott Herren. Awesome. Giving shoutouts to Borges in liner notes, just working all over the place. I'm not too into Vocal Studies and Uprock Narratives, it just strikes me as too instrumental hip-hop at it's most me thinking why isn't this weirder and more abrasive? Surrounded By Silence is just all over the place and pushing things forward- The stuff where a vocal'll skip as part of the beat and then what's on top will almost harmonize with it? Or the fact that even when it's not being crazy, there's members of the Wu-Tang Clan rapping on top? Oh man so good. Security Screenings, however, is not so good.

So here's some things that are on my Soulseek wishlist, that I am waiting for the leak: The next DJ Shadow, which is going to have rappers on it, all of whom I think are horrible? Am I wrong about that? I think that's going to be fascinating.

The new Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Kick Your Ass. Such a good title. The one song I've heard, released to the Matador website, has horns. I have a weird relationship to Yo La Tengo, in that I mostly don't like Ira Kaplan's voice.

New Wooden Wand And The Sky High Band. I heard this at the house of a Kill Rock Stars employee who would probably get fired if it ended up leaking this early. I guess what I heard was like a ton of songs, that have been broken up into an album and an EP's worth of outtakes? That's my understanding. Anyway, that stuff was good, and I like Wooden Wand.

That Dan Bejar/Spencer Krug/Casey Mercer supergroup jam. I didn't like the last two Destroyer records, and Frog Eyes guy has a voice that I mostly find it hard to get past, but oh man that last Sunset Rubdown? And those Destroyer records that I do like? And the fact that dude with the voice I guess has an appeal and was a nice enough dude at a show? High hopes, high hopes.

The upcoming Mountain Goats, Get Lonely. I'm not even going to explain this but despite that comment about lyric-driven music and guitar strums early, John Darnielle can fucking murder it. His lyrics are better than Bill Callahan's, narratives rather than self-loathing confessional chants.

And Soft Circle, which is the solo album of Hisham Barucha, ex-Lightning Bolt, ex-Black Dice, now collaborating with Scott Herren.

Also Nina Nastasia Peel Sessions, and a vain gesture towards hope that the Brainiac Peel Session was recorded by someone.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It is hard not to feel like I am living in wreckage. Not even filth, not squalor- although damn but I am going to need some drain cleaner and some sealant before I move out of this house, 1720 Brawne Avenue (last rent check is in the mailbox, with a notice of our moving out enclosed), but wreckage, some kind of collapse. I am listening to Lightning Bolt, and the floor's littered with newspapers because of the screenprinting, and I'm looking at a lot of Fort Thunder stuff, reading interviews with those dudes, and yeah I feel like some kind of monkey wandering about in a postapocalyptic landscape.

Me and Alex are both doing experimental animations. I don't know about him, but I feel like we're foraging through some kind of wilderness, some kind of uncharted space. Or alternately, like I'm bombing urban areas in some kind of attempt at terraforming.

It's pretty consuming. I didn't get into SOS Media, and I'm not really looking at other classes, or applying to stuff- I don't have much of a portfolio, and won't until this thing is done. I am living in the moment, and that puts a good deal on the backburner- Including this novel, sadly, and the live-action film, but- whatever, in the moment, doing something small, that will be finished. Lest credit be lost. Speaking of lost credit- I've got to rewrite this paper I handed in, as the teacher thought some of it was unclear, and not long enough- There's like a page of digressions about where my head is located that I gave a film a reading which differs from most, that I kind of consider the heart of the piece. Partly I didn't have a lot to say, and so I stream-of-consciousness rambled in an attempt to hit at something larger. Partly it's a boredom with the form of the academic essay. I don't want to rewrite it, because of this larger animation thing being so time-consuming and genuinely rewarding- I can't imagine I'd write an academic essay I'd be proud of, especially if it's a second draft of something weirder.

I've been thinking, as I was thinking last year, about stopping reading comics for a year. To let my head breathe out, get that influence a bit less direct, cut down on distraction. I'm still convinced it's a good idea. I'd think like a normal person, for a while. But the issue becomes- Well partly the issue is the weird comics-becoming-more-mainstream-with-my-peer-set thing, that to stop wouldn't necessarily make me more normal, so much as make me feel like I'm part of some backlash. It's doing the animation that makes me wary, really- The work being what it is is a result of my engagement with that world, and it feels weird to withdraw. I read comics and listen to music and watch movies and keep up with all these things out of some quest for the newest-latest. The idea is that by being aware of everything, I'll be able to make what I do super-awesome, as it will be informed by things that not everyone is taking inspiration from.

Today I wished out loud that there was a program at Evergreen that would do such things, actually be interdisciplinary in a way that made sense in the context of a liberal arts school- Put music creation and painting all jumbled together in movie-making, to inform a sense of structure and composition. I've been thinking, and this thinking, too, is inspired by the whole Fort Thunder/Paper Rad thing- that the only way to exist as an artist making weird art is to make a whole lot of it, in a variety of different mediums, so people who don't necessarily care about your work in one medium would care because they knew you from another, etc. I can't imagine just writing stories and having people care, because no one would know who I was. But if I did that and made films, my name would be out there in two different circles, and if someone heard my name in both contexts, I would then have a greater presence in someone's mind. To say nothing of the fact that you can express different sentiments in different mediums, and that working in all the mediums that interested you would be able to express yourself more fully.

So that's one idea. But then there's the other idea- that if I skipped a year of comics, when I came back, the cream will have risen to the top, so to speak. I wouldn't waste money chasing things that ended up being mediocre. And in the lack of the chase, I'd air out my head, and be more myself as a person rather than a set of influences from comics, and I'd have more to say. But the question then is how much of myself is that quest for the new? The answer, at least now, is "pretty much all of it." And that's, you know, kind of disturbing, in that in tends to manifest itself in being unable to talk to people about actual events. There's a part of me that would like to be, if not a "normal" person, than a "real" one, whose ideas mostly stem from actual life experiences.

Sometimes I think that people that aren't always out and aware of the newest things are boring. Other times I hate how this seems a lot like hipsterism. I don't know. Is my head a strong enough structure that if I remove the bricks under which the bridge is built, it will lean into itself in such a way as to stay standing? That's the question I'm asking myself now, mostly. That and the question of what constitutes a normal person.

Paper Rad is great. I heard about that this past year, I think, by way of being comics-world-engaged. Had I been more on the ball I would've heard about that and Fort Thunder ages ago. In the quest for the newest-latest, I am not the most on-point.

Sorry this is so digressive. This is what happens when I don't write a blog with any frequency. I need to get back in the habit.

Here's an event from my actual life. It's old, but I think it relates to my wilderness feelings described earlier. About a month ago, I was at a bookstore in downtown Olympia, paging through a copy of We All Die Alone, the book of Mark Newgarden cartoons I've discussed in the past. There's some essays and stuff- context is provided. And there's some talk about Newgarden's work for Topp's in the eighties, being at this novelty company and just throwing stuff out there at this time that, in the words of the interviewee, culture was dead. And as I was walking up the path to my house, I thought about that, the concept of culture dying, whether it could happen again. I took the optimistic view, the type espoused by those that believe that time and history is speeding up, and information is growing and will at some point (2012) just be doubling every second or something impossibly ridiculous. And I thought to myself, no, culture won't be dying.

And then I stepped out off the path, onto the little square of blacktop that serves as my driveway, where one of the neighbor kids was hitting the ground with some piece of rock or metal, repeatedly.

Since that day, that's pretty much my new metaphor for things that don't really do anything besides negate themselves- I used it to describe sound poetry in class the other day, in a story I'm not going to get into.

Mostly I am thinking about the wilderness.

Oh, and people have died. Alex Toth, the cartoonist, and John Dolph, a guy around my age that went to the same church as me back in New Jersey. Sad fact is that I had a more visceral reaction to the news of Toth's death, whisper-yelling "Fuck!" than that of the person I actually knew but was never all that close too, although I liked him.

I don't have a ticket back to Philadelphia. I plan to take a sojourn by bus across these United States. What I do have a ticket for is a Boredoms/Lightning Bolt show on June 30th. Now it is June 1st. So that's- I've been like this for a while now, having these thoughts and these worries and these distractions, but now I guess the end is near, and all will be sorted by then. Perhaps I will sort out some shit here. Perhaps I will sort shit out as well in this book I'm supposed to be writing.

At the end of this month I will be twenty-one, I'm hoping the birthday comes with me in a traincar, eyes looking out at America, pounding sentences into holes shaped like novels and approaching epiphany.

I've had mushrooms offered me but I've been declining due to the being busy. Which might seem like something some uptight boring person who would have a bad trip would do. But this past Sunday, a girl with massage training put her hand on my shoulder and grabbed at the muscles. She found no tension being carried. Because I put it all out there, was what someone standing nearby proposed when this observation was made aloud. And I was like "Cool" and then I explained that do to my lack of tension, all she was doing, basically, was pinching my shoulder in a way that was fairly uncomfortable.