In the midst of packing and moving boxes, even more arrived on the doorstep (actually, Ryan's) this evening. Sure, I guess I'm being a tease, but check back on April 1st for an official release...
Most likely, this will be my last post for at least a couple days (although I'll still have access to email). Closed on the house today and I guess I should have felt a little bit more nervous than I did, but I think I got it all out of my system while laying awake last night and worrying/wondering about things. Buying a house is one of those 'big steps' in life that I guess you're supposed to mark with a little milestone or something like that. Signed my name and dated approximately 15 times and initialed another 20-plus items. I suppose I was a little nervous, signing into something that dwarfs my student loan balance (which staggered me at the time), but now that it's all said and done, I'm just ready to finish up this boxed living that we've been going through for the past couple weeks and start settling in and writing new chapters. The next couple of days are going to be crazy, as we clean the place tomorrow evening, then start moving everything on Friday and continue until it's all done. So many things to do, but I'm pretty much giddy at this point to tear into it all.
Meanwhile, the band continues to prepare for our show on April 4th, and we had our last practice in what has been our little recording and practicing space for the past year. Fittingly enough, we sent things out on a good note, rolling through nearly all of our set in very solid fashion, and laughing and getting into things. Amazingly enough, we've started two new songs within the past couple weeks, and they're quickly turning into beasts of their own as they're fun to play and fresh and exciting all at the same time. We only hope the crowd at the show will think the same thing. As if that weren't enough, the CDs are supposed to ship from the factory tomorrow, so we should have them by next week sometime. As soon as I get back, I'm sure I'll have more than enough to write about.
And damn skippy, I scratched out some reviews and put them up a day early.
Finally, I'm taking the news of the war in small doses lately. Anything more than that and I get very bummed out. Now that we're in it, I support the troops (while still not supporting the admin that put them there), and I hope for as minimal as possible casualties on both sides. I cross my fingers things don't get worse, put in some good thoughts for everyone there, and embrace those around me. That's what I've got to hold onto.
Last time I checked, it was still a free country. After letting people speak their mind, you're still free to disagree and that's the simple beauty of things. Our civil liberties are already being kept in check and in some cases taken away, so please don't encourage those in charge by howling 'no fair' just because someone has a different opinion. People are saying, 'if you don't like things, then get out of the country.' I say, 'if you only want to hear one opinion, you get out of the country (and find a nice dictatorship to live under).' Breath deep, hear people out, and measure your words even if other people aren't. That's the only way we're going to stay sane in these times.
The house is a mess. It's really seriously starting to look like we're actually going to be moving out in less than a week. Boxes absolutely everywhere, and only a few things left to seriously tackle (haven't quite brought myself to put all my music in boxes yet). Like last Saturday, the weather was absolutely gorgeous today, and part of it was spent outside walking around after another heavy morning of getting things done. I swear, this is the last time I'm moving in quite awhile. I think I've moved once each year over the course of the past 4, and it sucks getting everything that I own and displacing it. Sure, the unpacking is sort of fun as you realize you're in a new setting, but it's the packing and actual transport that I don't like going through.
Rented another movie this evening, and it again had moments of interest but left me feeling sort of indifferent overall. The Rules Of Attraction, was one of those movies that I had a hard time caring for many of the characters. It was set in college (a place where just about everyone makes fairly irrational decisions), but a majority of the characters simply acted so stupidly that I didn't have any feelings for them at all (save one who was a bit of a lost soul, but overall good at heart). The editing and some of techniques used by Roger Avary were pretty slick (reverse time, etc), but again it comes back down to the characters, and that's where it lost me a bit.
As has been our usual habit lately, TG and I also watched an episode of the Simpsons from the Season 2 Collection that came out almost half a year ago. After letting it sit on my shelf for a couple months with nothing watched, we've been plowing through episodes like crazy lately, and only have 4 to go before finishing the entire set. I hope they hurry up with Season 3, otherwise we're going to have to start dipping back into Season 1 again, and those just aren't very good at all unfortunately...
After a solid stint of packing, we rented Roger Dodger as a little break. I'd heard about it after it played at Sundance last year, but it never played in the theaters around here, and I was glad to see that it was finally out on DVD. It's a very talky movie with some very clever and funny dialogue, and it basically follows the exploits of a serious ladies man after he's been dumped (played by Campbell Scott, who I've always liked). Seems like a typical setup, and a 16 year old nephew gets thrown into the mix. Some good parts, a couple annoying parts, but overall pretty darn good.
One week from tonight is the beginning of the move, and I'm starting to really get excited about things. Tonight was spent filling bags and boxes full of belongings, and the next 7 days are going to be frantic and exciting at the same time. I can't wait to get into the new house and start setting up camp there. If you know me and live in town and want to help move or want a tour, you know how to get ahold of me. One week after the move, our band has our first show in well over a month. I'm cramming my days full, I tell ya.
Speaking of which, new reviews. Got to keep the useless commentary flowing...
It was well over two years ago when I hopped in a car with my friend Roger and we (he, actually) drove us to Chicago to see Godspeed You Black Emperor. At that time, their Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antenna To Heaven release was right around the corner (it was available at the show), and I was glad to see them, even thought it was a quick trip filled with lots of mileage. As it turned out, the band was making a tour stop in Omaha, Nebraska on this tour, so it was a no-brainer for me to go up and see them again.
Although I haven't listened to them as much as I did during the first couple years after I discovered their music, I'm still a big fan of the group, and they're simply a great live show, with 9 people on stage and a sound that goes from minimal to massive. It's great just seeing that many musicians in sync with one another, sort of like a mini-orchestra with moments of thunderous rock. At any rate, the show itself was really great. The opening band was Bardo Pond (who opened for them when we saw them in Chicago), and their bland set of stoner rock really didn't do a whole lot for me. Some nice moments, but overall too dirging and lacking of any dynamics. Godspeed hit the stage and started right into things with a new song (or at least one that they haven't yet recorded) called "Albanian." It had a slightly middle-eastern string melody during the front section, and segued into a great second half, with great multiple guitar parts and again those lush strings. The rest of the set was stuff that I knew, but they'd reworked several tracks into even more massive beasts than their recorded counterparts. My personal favorites were two of the oldies that they closed the set with. "Death Metheny" (from their f#a# infinity album) coiled up and struck in a beautiful way, then they came back with an encore of "Blaise Bailey Finnegan 3" from their Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP. It was the only track of the night that they used actual field recordings (the ranting of the title character), and it worked quite well.
At well over 2 hours, the concert was quite a bit to sit through all at once, but I was again amazed by the performance of the band. It's true that they work a similar formula in much of their music, but they do it so damn well that I never seem to mind. Given the current state of affairs, their music also felt rather fitting. It was instrumental music that still highly emotive (haunting, desperate, yet slightly tinged with hope at the same time), and with talking heads spewing rhetoric from all sides lately, it was good to simply listen to it and feel surrounded by something primal and beautiful for awhile. After the show, I swung by the stage and talked with Sophie for awhile, and managed to pick up a setlist for the show.
At this point, it looks like war is going to happen within the next week. The terror alert has been raised to orange, and the people in favor of the war are still damn gung-ho about getting it done (although I'm not sure that anyone has a clear-cut definition of what "getting it done" entails entirely). Like a lot of other people, I'm pretty worried about things. The Bush administration says that they've exhausted every option, but the fact remains that we're going to head into this thing with a very small group of countries that are actually behind us. The UK and Spain seem to be in, but the leaders of each country seem to not actually listening to the people of their respective countries in linking hands with the Bushies (one recent poll in Spain put over 75% of the population in disagreement with the war), and former allies like Russia and France (bashing of which seems to have become a favorite pasttime for those with too much spare time and too little brain cells) are completely against it.
The next 2 months are going to be defining in a lot of ways. It seems that the military plan is to get Saddam cornered within only a week or so, but I have a feeling he's going to try to go out in a blaze of glory if he feels cornered. I'm concerned about our troops, as well as the innocent citizens of Iraq, and I hope that the current war plan figures that into account (although the way they've been testing the huge bombs lately, it seems like that might not be the biggest concern). I'm not ashamed of my country, but I'm ashamed of its 'leaders.'
This was one of those days that feels like I spent every minute living and having fun. After sleeping in for just a little bit, TG and I got up and threw open the windows to the house while getting ready for the day. It was in the mid 60's by mid-morning, and by the time we left to go to the post office at about noon, the temp was creeping up near 70. We did the recycling, then we went to the hardware store and picked up a couple things that we were wanting to get to start working on projects. Although we haven't yet moved, we decided to spend the afternoon working on some different projects we'd stowed away in the garage for awhile. We took turns stripping paint (about 4 layers) off an old plant table, and I fixed an old table we'd found in the trash quite some time ago by re-attaching the leaves. Sitting out in the sun on the back patio, it was nice to just relax a bit and do something worthwhile. The paint gun seemed to work pretty well, and the little table is coming along nicely (although it probably won't be finished before the move).
At about 4, I met up with Aaron and we played some of the roundball down at the local courts. It was basically the first time for either of us playing this year, but we jumped right in and played full court 4 on 4 with a gang of guys that we met at the courts. One of the things that peeved me about playing basketball at public courts is that so many people there are so damn serious that it's hard to have any fun, but luckily the gang of 6 that were there (who all seemed to know one another) were pretty laid-back and I had a great time. Nobody was hardcore, and although there were still some hacking fouls, there were never any words exchanged between anyone, and nobody had that "win or die" attitude that frustrates me so much. Personally, I felt decent for not having excercised in quite some time, and although I missed quite a few easy buckets (and got stuffed by the rim on one attempted dunk), it was good to get out for once. I also managed to smack the thumb of my left hand on the rim pretty hard (not dunk-related), and so it's pretty tender right now (bruise under the fingernail! and shredded skin!)
To close out the evening in a relaxed fashion after almost an hour and a half of basketball and some more work on the furniture, TG and I rented The Ring, which I'd heard varying commentary on from different people. It was a pretty entertaining psychological horror film, but it didn't really creep me out too much. It did pretty well in the atmospheric imagery department, but there were a couple scenes that had the opposite effect of actually making me laugh aloud that kind of colored the movie for me the wrong way. Maybe I should have picked up Ringu, the Japanese film that it was remade from. There really aren't that many movies that frighten me a whole lot, but I'd have to say that The Excorcist and The Shining come the closest.
Had heard quite a bit about it (well, more the soundtrack than anything else), so I went to see Morvern Callar tonight with TG and Aaron. Although it had some very lovely moments, I felt like it was quite a bit overlong. I realize that the director probably wanted to create a world of indecision and discovery with the film, sort of as things were being seen by the main character, but it seemed a little short on ideas and just seemed to string lots of scenes together for the simple reason of showing different pretty colors on the screen. The soundtrack was indeed great, but the film itself felt like about 30 minutes of ideas stretched into nearly 2 hours of time.
I've been on a weekly cycle lately where I pretty much pack every waking moment with some sort of activity. Although I'm very close to that anyway normally, the past couple weeks have been exceptionally busy, and I've landed each Friday evening with a thud and a sigh, glad that I have two days to relax a little bit. With moving day exactly two weeks away from tomorrow, things are going to be getting more and more hectic each day, and I doubt I'll be able to even keep up the minimal amount of writing that I've been doing with the site (which seems to have turned into a lot of rants lately, but what can I say?).
At any rate, music practice was tonight and we're preparing for what looks like will be two shows in the period of a week or so during the first week of April. It's our hope that we'll have our CDs back by that point as well, but we've been slowly working together a couple different sets and incorporating new songs into our lineup. It's been a lot of fun, and tonight we polished the corners on a cover of the Smiths' "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out." Does that mean we're wimpy? Perhaps...
Oh, and in case you're still paying attention, new reviews.
I know I shouldn't get so worked up about a story like this, but it's really just a perfect small example of what I find wrong with our entire administration as a whole at the moment. What it boils down to is that probably a lot of time was wasted on something very insignificant and trivial that basically only makes a larger group of people look silly for their rather juvenile actions. Magnified, I see an administration that is focusing way too much attention on the wrong details. They're spending money in the wrong places and not looking at the long-term issues (nor caring what the rest of the world thinks), only honing in on one bullheaded goal.
After reading a whole shedload of articles on the "Current Situation," I'm convinced that Iraq has gone beyond all oil and WMD and everything else and has simply become nothing more than a trump card for George Bush's re-election in 2004. The economy is in the dumps, the war on terror has become more of a loose-string operation (and an excuse to kick civil liberties to the curb) since the whereabouts of Bin Laden are unknown, and there are other threats that are simply too touchy right now (North Korea). Instead of focusing on any of the aformentioned things, the Bush Administration is going with what they feel is probably the most likely bet for a sure bet. Although a war with Iraq could possibly go on for quite some time, the more likely scenario (or at least most people in Washington seem to feel this way) is that it would be over rather quickly, with Saddam displaced and a new system of government put in place by the United States. The reason that the admin wants to push it through so quickly is simply because of the time involved. The sooner it gets going, the sooner (they hope) Saddam can be nabbed so that Bush can hold that card high in time for a re-election bid in 2004. The economy may be in the tank even more by then, there may be another terrorist attack, and North Korea will most likely have a growing stockpile of nuclear weapons by then, but Bush will at least be able to say that he has stopped Saddam.
In laying that all out, it sounds ludicrous, but I sort of get the feeling that's what it's all about. It simply can't come down to the WMD issue, because Iraq couldn't possibly strike the US any harder than 9/11 (whereas North Korea already has weapons capable of hitting the West Coast). As has been my reaction all along, I think this whole train of mind is absolutely scary and rather shortsighted. By putting all the eggs in that one basket, we're setting ourselves up for problems with the three things that I mentioned above (economy, terrorist attacks, North Korea) even more than we are now. The fact of the matter is that the current administration doesn't seem to have many smarts in the way of foreign policy, and we're burning a lot of bridges that are going to take a long time to repair with our rather rogue attitude. Heck, I'm all for getting Saddam out of there, but he's not the only one who hates us, and if we go in with guns blazing on a pre-emptive strike, that's just going to be setting the stage for even more hatred towards our country in the future. Like a quote I heard recently on the whole Iraq/United States issue, "I'm for a regime change on both sides..."
Sheesh. I'll try to come back with something a little less rant-worthy soon.
Trying not to feel overwhelmed with everything lately. I went through a period just over a month ago where world events and local events and lots of other things were all crashing in at once, and it feels like that same sort of cycle is starting up again. Instead of sinking into a deep blue funk, I'm going to try to stave it off this time. Focus has to be on those close to me (which it should be anyway), and not those in charge who seem intent on running things into the ground.
After a frantic week, had a rather lazy Saturday and it was a nice break from things. I slept in a bit this morning, then ran around and got things done for awhile. Stopped in to the used bookstore with another batch of trade (extra cookbooks and whatnot) and came away with another John Barth short story book. Found out there was a big sale going on at the local music stores, so I rounded up my last ditch of CDs to trade before the move and ended up dumping quite a few things but picked up some good stuff in the process. New Dirty Three, Calexico, Tosca, and Jan Jelinek. Haven't gotten through the majority of it yet, but so far, so good.
In band related news, we sort of started in earnest our first new song since putting the CD to bed. Although we'd been kicking around little bits at nearly every practice and jamming a fair amount, tonight was the first time in quite awhile that we actually hit the record button and laid down some new bits. We'll have to sleep on it, but regardless of whether it sounds as good tomorrow, it was a good thing to record again for once.
An absolutely busy week again, but much was accomplished, so I won't complain. Although it hasn't exactly been a complete secret, one of the somewhat exciting things is that we finally got a domain name for our band and put up a nice redesign (by Aaron) of our site. The domain name is http://www.marianasmusic.com and feel free to snoop around. We'll be adding things in the upcoming weeks as we get closer to the CDs arriving back in our hands (talked to the pressing plant today and they've begun work on them, so things are on schedule).
Otherwise, the packing has continued, and I'm basically just trying to get things taken care of in regards to getting the house. It's exciting and a bit stressful, but I guess that's what something like this involves. I managed to write some new reviews this week as well.
Happy Birthday TG!
During my reoccurring fits of insomnia, there seems to be one thought that works on a fairly regular basis. One would think that being flat-out busy almost every single minute of my waking hours would make me extremely tired, but the simple fact of the matter is that unless I've had a good bit of physical exertion in the previous day, I find it hard to sleep. A nice glass of red wine helps to slow the thoughts and ease me into sleep a little easier, but I'm not yet hardcore enough to consume a glass a night.
While I am technically tired, and my mind should be winding down and shutting off, most nights I find myself tossing and turning a bit, mostly from my mind thinking about things that need to be done. It's really silly, but if I think about outer space, it's enough of a focus and non-focus that my mind stops jumping randomly from one subject to another and settles on sheer vastness instead. If you've ever seen the beginning of Contact, that's actually a very good example of what I try to imagine, except moving at a slower pace. At first, I simply try to think of a wide sky full of stars, as if I'm laying in the grass looking up at them on a clear night. At some point, I try to then move closer to them, not Star Wars hyperdrive fast, but simply enough so that my mind has only those small pinpoints to focus on and nothing else. Eventually, I try to move past those pinpoints even, and out into some nebulous gas space formed by some unknown celestial dust. If I can get to that point without letting the thoughts of moving or impending tooth-pulling crop up, I can usually drift off quite nicely.
In second grade, I was standing in line and getting ready to head back to our classroom after having recess in the gym because it was raining outside. There was a surge from the back of the line, and people started toppling like dominoes. Being near the front of the line, I sort of popped out one side and smacked my face against a brick wall on the way to hitting the floor. When I got up, I could tell that something wasn't right with one of my teeth, because it felt way too rough on the bottom edge. Just about the time I started having pain, someone beside me in line exclaimed, "hey, there's a tooth on the floor!" and that was the beginning of the saga with number 9.
I went to the dentist the very next day, and their solution to fix my front left incisor was to drill holes in what remained of the tooth (about half of it was still sticking out of the gum), then place pins and build up a fake tooth around them. This solution worked until sometime during my sophomore year of high school when I was biting into some food at lunch and nearly everything surrounding the pins crumbled into my mouth, leaving me with a mouthfull of food with tooth pebbles in it and two shiny rods pointing downward out of my half-tooth.
The next solution by the dentist was to pull the small pins out of the tooth and put a porcelain cap over the half-tooth, which held for approximately 10 years, until it too shattered when I accidentally smacked my mouth into bike handlebars while going up some unfamiliar stairs. Again, the solution was a cap, and it's held just fine in the two years since I've had it.
Unbeknownst to me, however, a small vertical crack started upward on what was left of my tooth. There's no way to trace when it began, but the result is that in a matter of time, it will travel upwards through the root and the tooth will die and fall out. Over the course of the past couple months, I've felt the tooth loosen a slight amount, and know that this will continue to worsen until it's indeed dead (and falls out).
After trying to put it off until post-move, the pain finally forced me to see a dentist, and there are basically only two solutions at this point. One is that I let it fall out and simply go toothless, which wouldn't be quite as big of a deal if it were any other tooth than one directly in front. The other two options are a bridge or an implant, both of which are pretty expensive. This is the news that I got today, and I cursed number 9 for giving me so many problems.
We're going to be moving in exactly 4 weeks from today. It hasn't really completely started sinking in yet, but we're starting to realize that we have a lot of stuff, and in order for things to go smoothly, we're going to have to literally put in some work every day between now and when we move so that we don't have to freak out and stress because we're so far behind with things. More books into boxes, as well as glassware and some other random things. The first round of boxes (20) are full, so we need to aquire more at this point.
Last night, we rented a couple movies to watch between breaks in getting things done around the house. The first one was a little independent documentary about Amish kids entitled The Devil's Playground. The movie basically focused on the rumspringa, which is their (usually) crazy period between 16 and whenever they decide whether or not they want to join the Amish religion for the rest of their lives. We both seemed like it was a good premise for a movie, but once it got into things and showed party after party of Amish kids getting wasted and acting dumb, we sort of felt more like it should supposed to have been called, "Amish Gone Wild!" At any rate, it got a little better once it gained some focus and stayed with a couple key characters, but there didn't seem to be a whole lot of insight into it all. The best moments were ones where they talked to those who had been through it all and about the things they missed. It was decent, but felt like it could have easily been half its hour and a half running time.
One other odd thing about the movie was the use of music within it. Not only did the soundtrack feature 4 different tracks from Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume 2, but the soundtrack also had tracks by Mum and other obscure electronic groups. It simply felt too distracting for me, but part of that reason might be because I'm such a huge sucker for that type of music.
Finally, I sat down and watched The Heist, which was the most recent directorial effort by David Mamet. I've always been a sucker for a good thriller, and this one paid off pretty well. It had a shitload of double-crosses, and you never quite knew what was going to happen, clear up until the very end. Lots of sketchy characters played by great actors (Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo, Sam Rockwell, Paul Giamatti), I found it very compelling, and I'd definitely recommend it. Plus, with Mamet, you know you're going to get some damn great dialogue (which there was).