Ha ha ha. Just when I think I'm starting to get caught up on things, I realize that I'm nowhere near. I basically should just accept the fact that I'm on sort of a 5-year plan in terms of getting everything done with the house that I want to do, then leave it at that. One big huge nice thing is that it finally rained today. While that might not be a revelation for most people, it's something that was pretty urgently needed around these parts. The good part is that it didn't all come at once, either. Instead, it started up with a batch of thunder and lightning this morning, and continued at a reasonable (but not too heavy rate) until almost noon today. Did I mention that the sound of thunder breaking and rain hitting the house in the morning are the number one and two things on my list of "things that make me want to stay in bed?" Not only has it been a long time since rain, but an even longer time since gentle thunder cracks were peeling away the sky just as the sky was trying (but not doing a very good job with the dark clouds) to get light. The house-shaking rumbles are no good, but those deep distant thunder ripples make me want to hibernate until it all passes over. Even looking things over during a late lunch revealed that plants and green things seem to be much happier than pre-moisture. Transplanted flowers and herbs were perked up and some things had visibly straightened and seemingly grew. More in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow, so hopefully we'll get a batch of those April showers yet.
Wow. Time's been slipping away from me a lot lately, and not in a "dude, look at the colors!" sort of way. More so that at seemingly any other time in my life, I'm busy. When I say busy, I mean going nonstop from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment that I crash down into bed for 6 or so hours of sleep a night. I knew that buying a house would probably entail a lot of work, and none of it is done grudgingly, but damn have I been going nonstop lately. Sleeping in is now defined as more than 7 hours of sleep in a night, and I feel almost guilty for sitting down and not doing anything for more than 30 minutes or so.
That said, this weekend was another action-packed (or something like that) batch of activities, but rolling into Sunday evening it again feels like there has been a lot accomplished. Friday night, I finally got the old Ovlov back from the shop, and after knocking a hole in my wallet, I was pleased to find that it is now running like a champ again. I know to expect big repair bills sometimes, since the car is technically an antique (23 years old and counting), but hopefully it stays seaworthy for quite some time now.
After picking up the car, TG and I did a little work in the yard, then rented Secretary and decided to relax a bit for one night. I'd wanted to see the movie when it played in town at the local independent theater, but never got around to it (imagine that), but I was glad to finally see it. It ended up being a pretty darn good little off-kilter love story. The humor in it is pretty dark, so be aware of that if you're interested in renting it, but other than an ending that sort of fizzled a bit, it was well worth the rental.
Saturday was spent doing yard work in a big way. Got up early and went to the plant sale that the University has each year and got a bunch of herbs and other plants. Came home and dug up a huge circular spot in the front yard and made a nice little flower garden with a diagonal brick border. I mowed the lawn and planted a couple other things in back, then we packed up the car and went to Omaha to do a bit of antique shopping and eat at Thai Spice (zooma zoom zoom).
After eating, we attended the Cex/Postal Service show at Sokol Underground, and I must say that it was a good time. I knew that Cex would be quite a sight to see live, and he lived up to that completely, actually doing his show within the crowd (long mic cable) instead of on the stage. He mainly did new material, which was both good and bad (his brand new stuff seemed to be delving more into industrial, which is really odd), but he's a great entertainer, and it was one of those shows that was just good to shake your booty a bit and have fun, because all the super serious kids just ended up looking silly anyway. The Postal Service were amazingly tight, and there were literally scores of people singing along with a majority of the tracks. It was bouncy and poppy and a lot of fun, and I again got my dance on. Afterwards, I talked with Jimmy Tamborello (DNTEL, Postal Service) a little bit, and like most artists I've met lately, he seemed like a super-nice and very genuine fellow. He's going to be starting work on a new DNTEL album as soon as the tour is up and hopefully it will be out sometime within the year. The smoke report on the show (see last weeks entry about Cat Power) was actually much better this week, and my theory is that it's harder for people to smoke when they're dancing and trying to sing along with songs. The one aside was that one girl ashed on my forearm and when I told her to watch where she was flicking her ashes, she seemed a bit scared and scooted off to a different spot (I was even nice about it, but I guess I'm just a scary guy or something).
At any rate, today was again spent out in the yard mostly. Went out to my parents house and got a bunch of extra plants from them, so I spent this evening outside in the dark (and rain sprinkles) putting ferns and hostas and oregano and other things in the ground. The crazy thing is that there are still 4 pallets of plants sitting out the backyard waiting to be planted, but they'll have to wait until tomorrow at lunch or after work, because I'm done for the day and cooling it with a glass of wine and bit of the clickety-click on my computer keyboard. Now, to prepare for another week.
Tonight was one of those evenings that ended up being super productive, which is exactly what I needed. In bad news today, I got the word on some repairs that the old Volvo is going to need. I knew that some different things were sneaking up on me, so I wasn't totally shocked, but there's still some twisted logic in spending more money in repairs than the blue book says the car is even worth. Leap of faith in the Volvo, so lets hope that it pans out.
In other news, I came home and planted a whole slew of the remaining things that TG and I picked up from the garden center last night. As of tonight, we have 4 tomatoes (better boys), 4 green peppers, 2 red peppers, lemongrass, 2 different varieties of basil, oregano, garlic, strawberries, and several other things planted. I also dug up a circle of grass near the end of the clothesline and put a border of bricks down, then planted a little raspberry bush that we got as well. We're also hoping to add a couple more fruit trees (cherry, apple, pear) to the yard when we get the time and money.
After the outside work was done, I came in and gave myself a much-needed haircut, then showered and did some writing and other computer work, then mixed down all the little nuggets of tracks that we've started since the album came out. In the end, there are already 13 bits to play with, and I tossed off a noise/electronic/Mego-ish track at the end of the night just for the hell of it. Hopefully some of the things coalesce into the sophomore release (even though very few people have heard the first one). Whee!
Oh my goodness, what a busy weekend. After not sitting down at my computer since Friday night, I hop on to find almost 30 emails waiting for me (although 15 of them were spam, natch). Busy with family things, work, and a concert all weekend, and now that it's Sunday night, there's finally a little time to catch a breath and try to get some things done. As mentioned, a good portion of the weekend was spent at various family functions, and last night TG and I went to see Cat Power in Omaha. Although I'm not quite as big of a fan of her music as TG, I was entertained (although the opening, singer/songwriter bored my socks off), I enjoy a good Cat Power listen once in awhile. Her live show was understated and nice. It was the first time in quite awhile that I went to a show and didn't even think about earplugs, and the quiet setting worked for her sound. The first two-thirds of the show was her with a band of three others (drums, another guitar, violin/keyboard), and the final third found her playing solo piano and guitar and singing. It was good sleepytime music, and I found myself drifting a bit during the quieter closing part, until the band came back up for some louder closing tracks and sloppy covers (one of The White Stripes' "Dead Leaves On A Dirty Ground"). All in all, it was an entertaining show.
One thing I have to mention about the show is the atmosphere, because it was by far the most distracting and annoying part. The show itself was held at the Sokol Underground, which is a venue that has maybe 9 foot ceilings and obviously poor ventilation. Although I have nothing against people who smoke, the amount of smoke in the air at the show was probably the worst I'd ever seen (and breathed). I don't know of any sort of ventilation system that was even running in the place, and by the end of the show I was having some pretty severe respiratory issues, with lots of coughing and congestion into my ears and sinuses. When I woke up this morning, my eyes felt like they had literally both been scratched with a file, and it took until mid-day (with drops) to get them back to feeling anywhere near normal. Although I enjoy going to shows, I'll probably strongly reconsider going to the Sokol Underground again for the above reason. I was thinking I should just wear a facemask and say something like "you can't be too safe with all that SARS out there," but decided that probably wouldn't be a good idea (or very funny). It's not like I feel that all smoke should be magically whisked away from me or that people shouldn't be able to smoke, but I hate feeling downright sick for nearly a full day after I see a show. Damn, I guess I'm just not "rock."
Watched Storytelling last night, and it didn't do a whole lot for me. To be honest, it was the first Todd Solodnz film that I'd ever seen (even though I'd heard a lot about his other work), but it really didn't do a whole lot for me. I've read a lot about his work as a director, and the film felt like one large response to both critics of his work, as well as a personal response to what he has seen in filmmaking lately. The first section of the movie was titled "fiction," and was another in a long string of movies in which I really felt nothing for any of the characters, so despite some short moments where I either smiled or was slightly annoyed, in the end I simply felt passe' about it all. Blah blah. The second part of the film had a little more shape to it, and even though I didn't agree with the criticism he was making with it (mainly regarding the treatment of subjects of documentaries (namely American Movie, which he obviously feels is exploitative film-making)), he's just so damn heavy-handed that I just sort of got annoyed most of the time again. Ah well, maybe better luck next time I check one of his films...
Speaking of movies, I completely forgot to mention that TG and I rented Far From Heaven last weekend. I thought it was a great film, told in the classic Douglas Sirk style and set in the 50's, yet approached subjects that an older film wouldn't have. The cinematography of the film was absolutely mind-blowing, and although it was all a little bit neat and tidy, I pretty much have to chalk that up to the 'homage' style of film-making and not simply lazyness. A great little film, and some simple joy was found in the evoking the period without playing it for straight laughs, as so many films seem to have done.
I just realized that I don't have any nicknames for the house yet. At the last place that TG and I lived, we had all kinds of goofy little names for the place, but I don't recall having come up with anything yet for this place. Maybe we're still getting settled in, as we've only lived here now for about 3 weeks. Perhaps it takes a month before silly names start rearing their heads. When I was home at lunch today, I actually saw one of the mythical squirrels that the people we got the house from had talked about. It's just like a normal squirrel, except the end one-third of its tail is completely white. It's as if he sat on the edge of a bleach bucket and dipped in the end for some sort of punk-rock squirrel tail. Hopefully he (and his supposed mate, also with a white tail) are less aggressive than the squirrels at our last place.
In stark contrast to the old place that we were renting, we met even more of our neighbors the other day as well (kids, no less). In the year that we lived in the old place, we only met one neighbor, and in just over two weeks, we've met at the very least the people on each side of us. We're not antisocial, really.
You thought I was done, but I must also mention band practice tonight. Although we're obviously still trying to get people interested in the recently-released album, we've already started working on new material. We're working things a bit differently in that we're working a lot more of the songs out on the front end, rather than sitting in the studio and adding bits as we go along. The new process has made for a lot more jamming, and while it hasn't always turned out the best, there are already a small batch of tracks coming together and starting to shape up in various ways. Things seem to be taking a slightly different direction from the last disc, which is good. Slightly different directions, and sometimes working on songs is more of a cathartic experience than anything else. While working on one track tonight, things got downright skronky, and although it probably won't make the album in the way we were playing, it sure was fun to make a racket.
Oh, and speaking of music, I put up the weekly new reviews. It's starting to get within a month or so of the big number 1-0-0-0 if I can stay on course. Although I go through periods where I get a little bogged-down, it seems like I've been going through a pretty good swing lately. It's one of those things that I don't think I'll quit for some time yet, and if you've ever swung by the section, I thank you. Maybe I should have a contest of some sort?
Another week in which I seem to be burning the candle at both ends. After getting home this evening, I worked outside getting a lot of things done in the yard. I transplanted a bunch of different plants in the yard and got a nice area of ground worked with the shovel so that TG and I can plant some things as soon as we get the chance. Because of different projects that we want to work on within the house, we've decided to go with a smaller garden this year rather than try to do it all. Last year, we had an almost 400 square foot garden, and although it was a lot of fun, there simply isn't any need for something that large this year. Instead, we've narrowed it down to what we think are the essential plants (eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, strawberries, and lots of herbs) in order to save time and space. We might end up planting a couple more things at the last minute, but I kind of doubt it. We started a compost pile out by the yard shed, and hopefully we'll have some solid nutrients going with that here pretty soon.
I know all this house talk probably sounds a bit nerdy/obsessive to some, but it's what's occupying a lot of my time lately. Most of the time (although the reocurring toilet issues are somewhat annoying), I'm super stoked about doing the different tasks that need done around here, even if they involve a lot of work (like the paint stripping). I haven't taken any before/after pictures yet, but I guess that I should be.
Whenever we go to the local household superstore, I can always plan on spending a good chunk of change, and today was no different. TG and I picked up three cranberry bushes for the front of the house, as well as three rose bushes for the back. TG got them all planted, while I mowed the yard (we bought an old-school manual one, something that the sales guys at Menards seemed to think wasn't a great idea). Although it took a couple passes on the longer stuff, I have to say that it did a commendable job, and the best thing is that there was no gasoline smell or pull-cord to yank. Not only that, but it gave my forearms a hell of a workout.
In addition to the mowing and miscellaneous yardwork, I patched up a small in some of the rubberized roofing that we have on one eave of the house. After the last snow, water was leaking down a corner and under one of the gutters, which wasn't a good thing, as it couldn't be good for the stucco. The next time it rains (hopefully soon), I guess I'll see if my patch job is solid or not. Even though I haven't tackled anything too difficult since moving here (I also fixed a small plumbing issue the other night by replacing the valve flapper on the toilet), I sort of feel like I'm getting the hang of things in regards to keeping things up. There are still a lot of things to do, but I guess that's the joy of buying an old house.
Went to see The Notwist last night, and it was a great time. The funny thing about the show is that for the second year in a row, the band who had put out my favorite album for the year previous just happened to be playing at Grinnell college the following spring. It was Fridge last year (actually, almost a year to the day), and The Notwist this year. It was the rest of the band and I making the trip in the trusty Volvo, and we left after work and drove almost straight through, finally arriving just before Styrofoam (opening artist) started playing. His set was good, but not amazing. It was basically him on a laptop with a little midi-controller keyboard thingy, and he laid down some nice melodic IDM with some gauzy textures over the top (perfect fit for the Morr label that he calls home). Only problem with his set was that he seemed to let each song go for about 2 or 3 minutes too long at the end, and each track ended almost exactly the same way (undulating waves of fuzzy textural noise). Good, but not amazing.
The Notwist took the stage and proceeded to rock the house. Their Neon Golden album was my favorite disc that came out last year, but they definitely let their post-punk roots show through. Although I was hoping for a little more of the subtle dynamics of the actual release, I'm not sure quite how well it would have translated to a live setting, and the fact that they kicked things up a notch certainly had me swaying around quite a bit. As a side note, a lot of drunk college kids thought it would be fun to mosh (yes, mosh) to The Notwist, but it was mainly an annoying distraction, and certainly nothing to put a damper on the show (even the idiot yelling "play FREEBIRD," as if it were still a funny thing to say). After the show (like last year), we stuck around and talked with the band (or at least Markus Acher, who is also one of the masterminds behind Lali Puna and the Tied And Tickled Trio, and Martin Messerschmid), and they were very gracious and kind and seemed genuinely interested in chatting a bit with us.
After the show, we crashed in Des Moines (Thanks Colin!) and drove home leisurely, making a stop in downtown Omaha to hit the used CD stores. We managed to get some copies of our album into the store at Drastic Plastic, and I found a couple interesting things for cheap in the used bins (Yume Bitsu, ISAN). After relaxing for about an hour once I got home, I fired up the heat gun and started stripping woodwork again in the (soon to be) master bedroom. With the weather being warm, it's started to get pretty damn uncomfortable stripping paint while wearing a mask and goggles, but my plan is to keep plugging away and hopefully have things close to done in the next month and a half.
The first half of the week seemed to drag like it would never end, and now that it's reaching the close, it seems like it flew by. Part of the problem with it all is simply having the head cold/whatever-the-hell-it-is that I have. Last night, I tossed around for a long time with congestion/etc, and when I finally did get to sleep, it wasn't very restfull or deep. One nice thing is that the weather is getting better every day, and today was absolutely beautiful. Wore a jacket to work and left it on the couch when I was at home for lunch. Got home and although I wanted to do things outside, I haven't gotten ahold of a tiller yet, so I couldn't really do anything garden-related that I wanted to. Instead, I jumped back into wood stripping with a vigor, and finished off one window frame and started another door frame in the master bedroom. Last night, I did the stupid thing of counting how many window and door frames I would need to strip upstairs before I was finally finished, and the total came up to 9 windows and 19 door frames (including closets, and inside/outside of room doors). Considering I've only just now finished one, it's going to be a heck of a long process, but one that I think will be worth it. I know I've said that before, but I need to keep myself convinced or else I'll just give up. There are at least 7 coats of paint in the room I'm working on now, and it's slow going (although I think it will build some arm definition).
In case you haven't guessed, I'm probably going to be talking about house stuff a lot since I got one. I'll try not to get too crazy with it, but I'm excited by everything (including all the little projects that need to be done), so it's hard not to mention it. Oh, and I'm back this week with new reviews.
Still trying to fight whatever little ailment that I have. The really odd thing is that I've had three really bad cases of the hiccups today. Each time, I've had to gulp down a huge glass of water to squelch them, but they just end up coming back in an hour or so. I think that means I have a lack of oxygen to my brain today. Perhaps I'm breathing wrong. Now, I must sleep (and rid myself of another case of hiccups).
I'm one of those people who can feel sickness coming into my body from the very early stages. It's not very often that I actually get sick, so I definitely know when it's going to happen and today seems to be one of those days. When I feel this sort of thing slowly coming on and trying to take hold, though, I strike back as hard as I can by consuming lots and lots of liquids and eating garlic and spice-filled foods (don't ask me why, but it makes my head feel a lot better). By rough estimate, I've imbibed about 220 fluid ounces of water (mainly) and tea today, and although I can still fill a touch of raw in my throat, the thunky head feeling has subsided (mainly since I took a nap post-work and followed it up with a big batch of spicy, garlic-doused sauce on penne.
And damn, our radio show was last night on KZUM (89.3 FM for Lincolnites) and it was a blast. Although we had a few small technical difficulties at the beginning (which seems to be par for the course in playing for us), we got through it all and delivered what I felt was a pretty decent little set. Malcom, Eric, Jeff, and Thad were kind enough to let us play 4 songs during their regular two-hour show of Other Music, and to them we're thankful. I had a great time, and we re-interpreted songs off our album with slightly different instrumentation that was more suitable for the studio setting. We got a tape of the entire show, so the plan is to get something coded up in MP3 format and put it up on the site when we get a chance. Thanks to everyone who has ordered a CD so far. We're sending review copies out this week to different publications, so the real fun should begin once we start getting some outside commentary on our little project (hopefully nothing too scathing, but we've prepared ourselves for it).
We had our show last night and it was a lot of fun. It was only our 3rd time playing live, and no matter how smoothly things go in the practice space, the nerves still twitch out a little bit when playing in front of a decent-sized group of people. I think a majority of the crowd was actually there to see the other band, and hopefully we didn't offend the ears of anyone too much. All in all, I think it was a pretty sucessful show, and we even ended up selling a couple discs after we'd finished playing. There were a couple gaffs and some definite rough edges, but we'll get things worked out eventually. Big, mad props to George and Jason for putting on the show and letting us make a racket in their basement. Twas a good time, and Mr. 1986 rocked the socks off. Damn, they're tight!
Jason took some photos at the show, and one of them is below. If you want to see more (for some reason), just spin by his site (which is cool enough as it stands to visit every freakin' day).
In other news, I had a rather productive day. After being a bit lazy this morning, I got out of bed and ran some errands before my parents stopped by and dropped off a couple pieces of furniture for the place. Things are filling out, and we're slowly settling in. Only a very few boxes left to unpack and things to put in their right place. After that, I assembled and then put our new mailbox out, then put a few more things away and started stripping some more paint off the trim in one of the bedrooms. It's a damn slow process, but I've sort of figured out some things that make it go easier. Not only that, but I'm a sucker for a clean wood finish, so all the elbow-grease will be worth it in the end (I think).
I know I've mentioned it before here, but we have a show tomorrow night. We take the stage at roughly 8pm and the whole thing is going down in the basement of the Opushouse at 900 A St in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you come to the show, please stop by and chat afterwards, as we're always excited to talk to people. Thank you, and hope to see you there. The other band playing, Mr. 1986, should be a sonic blast of fun too.
We're still getting settled in, that is true. I'm finally to the point where I've unpacked most of my things, and remaining boxes full of stuff is down to a manageable point. Again, remind me not to move for several years, because although this one went pretty smoothly, there's a lot of stress involved as well. The weather has been pretty crazy here, with near-record temperatures for the past couple days in a row. Of course, this is Nebraska, and the forecast is for snow already again this weekend. Boom!
Band practice again tonight, and the live set is really starting to come together well (which is good considering the show is only two nights away). We have one song that was literally just started on a week or so ago, and it's quickly becoming one of our favorite ones to play. We've also been jamming a fair bit in practice, which is something that we really hadn't done a whole lot of during the early part of our inception. Who knows how much of it all will stick, but it sure is a lot of fun.
The move went just as well as can be expected, especially given the amount of things that TG and I seem to have accumulated. We had a lot of people show up to help us load and unload, and we were actually running ahead of schedule for nearly the entire move. At any rate, we've unpacked a good portion of things, but still have a decent amount left.
Over the course of the past couple days, I've already done several different things that probably officially qualify me as a homeowner. After troubleshooting a suspect phone line, I ran a new one (from the basement to the 2nd floor no less), then ran an extra line just for the heck of it. I have to do one more for my own computer (this update courtesy TG's computer and connection), so I can get online, but it shouldn't be too big of a deal. In addition to that, I put up some clothesline, rigged up a rack for hanging extra coats in the basement, hung some curtain rods, and starting stripping the woodwork in one of the bedrooms. With all this activity, my hands are hating me at the moment, as many fingers are dry and cracked or simply cut open. So many little projects that we want to do that I don't even know where to start.
Finally, as I hinted with my last post from March, our CDs have arrived back from the plant, and the official release date is today. We've set up a shop over at our site, and we're accepting a couple different forms of payment. Although I knew I'd be pretty excited to get them back, I didn't quite realize how fun it would be to get them back and hold an actual copy of a CD that I helped contribute to in my hands. The artwork looks fantastic, and everything sounds great, now we just have to try to find some people who hopefully think the same thing. We've managed to move 10 copies so far, but we've still got 523 left, so there's no worries in us running out anytime soon...