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Watched The Deep End this evening and despite some plot holes, I found it pretty enjoyable. Tilda Swinton is one of the most underrated actresses around, and she delivered another solid performance in a very nice character-driven piece. Somewhat along the lines (although not as good in terms of overall performances and storyline) of In The Bedroom (easily one of my favorite movies of last year), it examines the interactions of fairly ordinary people caught in extraordinary situations. While special effects and big name actors and actresses seem to get the top billing, it's movies like these two that move me much more. They drill down into real emotions, moving past the surface layers that most films skim across, and it makes for much more compelling watching. I like to feel something when I watch movies, I like it when there's enough tension that I have to fight off chewing my fingernails, and even though The Deep End wasn't the greatest movie in the world, I'd still recommend it.

Who would have thought it would be so difficult to come up with a band name that three people can agree on? Although we've never really gotten too serious about it, we've been kicking around different ideas for weeks, and for some reason nearly everything mentioned doesn't sound very good to at least one person. We've set ourselves a rough deadline, now though. Everyone is to come up with their top three choices and bring them to the table at the next practice, then we're going to vote on a name and roll with it. Musically, we're still developing things and ironing out the parts we're indecisive about. It's all good, though. Despite the indecision, I'm (and hopefully everyone else is) having fun.

I knew the heat would come eventually, and it arrived today in full. Although it wasn't brutally hot (I think it reached about 90 degrees), the humidity was quite high. I cracked a bit of a sweat this morning on the bike ride to work, and even more of one on the way home (although I avoided it for longer than I thought possible when the sun stayed behind some clouds for the first 10 minutes of the ride).

Got some suggestions on what to do about the Squirrels. David said that he had had luck with planting marigolds around (as they're a bit overpowering to the bunnies), and he overheard someone at a garden store talking about mothballs. Because of the somewhat toxic nature (the package said to induce vomiting if ingested) of the latter, though, I think TG and I are going to try a combination of hair-filled nylons and marigolds. I don't want to be eating a carrot later this year and taste moth ball. Blurg.

It rained again last night, and we've been getting moisture in near-regular intervals almost all spring. Unlike some past springs, nearly everything is green and healthy looking, and the garden is just going absolutely crazy. Yesterday when I looked, there were only a few bean shoots coming up out of the ground, and today nearly every single seed I'd planted had sprouted. Of course, this brings me to the unhappy point, which is that either rabbits or squirrels had chomped off at least 5 of them, leaving me a little frustrated with the backyard wildlife. I want to peacefully co-exist with the little critters, but I also don't want them to destroy all my vegetables. Does anyone know any natural solutions to help keep them out of my stuff? TG and I have heard that putting nylons out with human hair in them will frighten them off, but if anyone else has great ideas, please drop me a line. That way, we can all live in harmony with Peter Rabbit and the Chirpy Squirrel family.

Sleeping until after the day's begun. Breaking a sweat in 10 minutes of sun. Taking care to put things away. Clipping a thread that had started to fray. Trying to pick out all small details. Not apologizing for having blue nails. Sitting and translating the sounds in my head. Listening to subtlety before going to bed.

Just had a mini-shindig at the house here and I'm a bit swimmy from the wine. We ended up with lots more food than we needed, but I guess we'll just have leftovers this week, which isn't so bad since it will save some cooking time. A fun time (hopefully) had by all, and now that the rain has come and swept through and cooled things off, a lovely evening.

I forgot to write that I'd finished A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers two days ago. Because of the hype factor rolling on it (which makes me avoid things for some reason, in fear of somehow becoming hardened to it all and not wanting to like something simply for that reason, which is silly I admit) about a year ago, I decided to sit this one out for awhile, and I'm glad that I did. It was a very touching and enjoyable read, and although it got a bit indulgent at times (mainly during pages of rambling description prose), I felt like Eggers has quite a way with writing down his thoughts, insecurities, and fears, without making them come across as silly or trite. In fact, there were many moments in the book where I completely identified with his almost compulsive worrying about things that could go wrong (although I obviously can't possibly identify with the situations that he went through).

Oh, and Lynnette pointed out to me that I somewhat absentmindedly wrote "mid-supper" instead of "mid-summer" for the hopefully impending release of our EP (which I then proceeded to change into the correct wording) two days ago. That's what I get for updating this thing late at night, although it's still my hope that the EP arrives sometime before the meatloaf hardens.

Watched Mulholland Drive finally this evening, and contrary to what some people told me, for some reason it all made sense to me. While there were a few scenes that still had me wrangling with them after the credits were rolling, most of the puzzle ended up coming together in my mind anyway. Perhaps I'm wrong in my perception of the film, but that's part of what makes it so interesting anyway. There isn't really anything that's given to you straightforward, and I like that it didn't pander. Films that try to either band me over a head with a message or ones that aren't subtle (unless I know I'm going into something lacking depth for popcorn fun) don't really do much for me anymore. I like to be kept guessing, and I don't want to know what's going to happen next, and that's where Mulholland Drive really works. Although other Lynch films have gotten on my nerves somewhat for being quirky simply for quirky's sake, this film had very little of that. Plus, it had a cameo by mullet-headed (former) country start Billy Ray Cyruss. Sweet!

I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and I thought that I'd never seen a squirrel move so quickly in my entire life. His body was an arrow as he tore across the grass and into the street. I thought if any squirrel could make the mad dash and live to tell, it would be that lightning bolt of brown fur. After barely clearing the front tires on one side of a small pickup, though, he didn't. It was almost as if he'd closed his eyes and willed himself to make it to the other side of the street, putting everything out of mind as a child does the first time jumping off the board at the pool. The right front tire of the truck caught a part of him slightly, though, and flipped him around in the air before slamming him into the pavement while the back tire then rolled over the bottom half of his body. I remembered times when I'd slammed on my brakes and they'd even let out a little bit of a noise as I crammed on them in trying to avoid creatures, but the person in the truck didn't show any sign of avoidance. There was nobody behind them for several car lengths, but it was time to get home and they were oblivious and/or didn't care.

By the time I drove by from the opposite direction, the squirrel was flopping around on the pavement like a fish out of water. I couldn't tell whether they were the last spastic moments in a body that was just about to go, or whether it had suffered some sort of massive, but nonlethal trauma that would leave it squirming in pain until another car ended life for good. In my rearview mirror, I could see cars slowing down and swerving around him as he seizured wildly. I wondered I should turn my car around and run him over myself, but knew that I wouldn't be able to. Even while stepping on large bugs, I have to make some noise like a yell or a groan, simply so I don't hear the crunch of the hard shell as I put them down. No matter how loud I could yell or in combination play my stereo, I would still feel the slight bump as I ran him over and I thought for sure the small crack of bones would reverberate through the frame of my car somehow. For blocks, I wondered about the fate of the wounded/dead squirrel, and although I'd found them annoying in the past as they destroyed plants that I owned or chattered at me from the trees for some unknown reason, I suddenly felt compassion for their entire spry species, and even felt like part of some huge oafish race who couldn't be bothered to watch out for lesser animals. I suddenly wished that I were riding my bike and pedaling myself home by my own power instead of being instantly grouped alongside other uncaring creatures driving massive, churning steel structures.

I must sound like an idiot for thinking the above sorts of things. Sheesh. In other news, the band met up tonight and discussed our music more in-depth. We're hoping for a mid-summer release on an EP, with hopefully 5 or so tracks and about 25 minutes of music. Things are definitely starting to come together nicely, so I'm going to hold off talking about it for awhile now, or at least until we come up with a name for ourselves.

There is very little photographic evidence that my life has taken place in the last month. Although I've gone through periods where I haven't taken any pictures, this month has seemed especially lackluster. Although I carry my camera (Lomo) with me nearly everywhere, I rarely feel the inspiration to pull it out and actually capture a shot. I bike the same route to work everyday, and while there are a few interesting shots, it seems that I'm in either too much of a hurry to stop, or that I've taken better before (in which case 'good' simply doesn't justify committing to film). Of course, that's not to say anything I've done in the past has been earth-shattering, because it really hasn't been. Even though it was my major in college, I've never been one to assume or even think that what I'm doing is better than anything else holding a camera can do.

In the end, maybe that nonchalance is my main problem. Do I need to take my camera by the reigns and become serious? I sometimes wonder if that's my problem with many of the things I create. I dive in passionately in wanting to do interesting things, but because I'm working on so many things (writing, website, photography, music) at the same time, everything just sort of comes out feeling half-baked. Do I need to focus and kick some things to the curb for awhile? These are the things that I wrangle with once in awhile, and usually it only takes one piece of work that I'm happy with to melt them away until next time. Perhaps I just need to pop that demo CD in the player again, because yes, there are some great things on it.

I should have known that starting to work on a project would suck me in. Instead of just mixing down a couple tracks last night, I sat up until nearly 2 in the morning and mixed down everything that we've worked on (that was 2 minutes or longer). Tired after that ordeal, I went to bed, but when I came home from work tonight, I burned three CDs (one for each member of the group) with everything on it. The totals came out to 13 tracks and nearly an hour of time (59:51). It's interesting listening to music I had a hand in creating playing on my CD player, and even though I've heard everything many times before it's like listening to them again for the first time. Of course, there will be jokes made about limited quantity and future value and how many people we should let listen to it even. We don't even have a name for ourselves, but Excitement!

My big project this week is to mix down all the tracks that our group has been working on. We're close to the point where we want to release an EP, so my goal is to get everything down to listening level, then burn a copy of all the tracks that are completed and/or close to completion. From there, we'll listen, take notes, come up with titles, decide what needs fixing, re-recorded, etc. We're hoping (and given the amount of material that we've worked on, I don't think it will be a problem) that we have enough tracks to put about 4 or 5 tracks together (about 20 minutes or so at the minimum) and then go ahead with a self-released EP by mid-summer sometime. We're still having fun making the music, but decisions like track titles, artwork, and liner notes (despite sounding somewhat formal) are exciting as well. We still don't have a name for the group itself, but I think it will happen soon...

The past two days easily comprised the most beautiful weekend of the year thusfar. I spent hours and hours of time outside in the yard, getting quite a few things done, as well as just relaxing and taking it all in. After putting in a couple rows of beans and lettuce today, the garden has reached the point where there's very little room for planting anything else. From here out, the majority of the work will be making sure that it gets enough water and pulling the pesky weeds as they grow. There have been a few problems with animals (mainly squirrels) going after things that have been planted, but now that we've put a bowl of water out, it seems to have curtailed them a bit. Maybe they were just thirsty.

I need to train my fingers to play the sounds that I hear in my head. After lots and lots of practice, I'm a lot closer to the point of getting them to write the words that I want to say, so I suppose that it's a matter of training them to do the same thing with melodies. I guess it all comes back to practice, young grasshopper.

While biking to work, I've taken to timing the ride and seeing what speed I can average on the way there and home again. Usually, it's not such a race to get to work, since I break more of a sweat when I do so, but coming home I try to crank it up a notch and turn the ride into a strange sort of time trial. Now that I've gotten into sort of a rhythm with it, the times day after day don't fluctuate very much at all. Most of the time, I average between 11 and 13 mph, and the two biggest factors in determining my averages are the wind (riding with the wind is obviously faster than riding against it) and how long I have to stop at different intersections (I leave the trip counter on while waiting). So far this year (with almost 400 miles biked), my slowest average speed (for a 5.4 mile one-way commute) has been 10.2 mph. On that day, I was literally yelling at the wind, swearing as my body became a sail against forward progress and sand and grit lodged in my teeth and hair, still making itself known to me hours after I got home. I'm still on a mission to break the 14 mph barrier, although I know a strong tailwind and luck with lights will give it to me some day.

Another question pondered while biking home; Why do the people with the loudest stereos have the crapiest taste in music?

For the second week in a row, I only mustered 4 new music reviews. I'm not lazy, just busy. It's a good thing.

I really enjoyed the film Dancer In The Dark when it came out. That said, I just watched Breaking The Waves tonight and by the end I was honestly a bit annoyed by it. I know that opinion is somewhat of a dissention from the sea of praise that it's received, but I just couldn't swallow it for some reason. Although the performances were great all around, the character of Bess was just way too incomprehensible for me. I don't mind that she's blinded by love or thinks what she's doing will provide a miracle, but her actions were simply too unbelievable for me to even feel sorry for her. In the last half hour of the film, when it was supposed to be the most wrenching, I felt like I was watching caricatures going through strange motions for the pleasure of a sadistic director. Granted, Dancer In The Dark is similar in that characters go through just about every sort of suffering possible, but the actions of the characters all felt more plausible in that film (or perhaps it was being framed in by a musical setting that helped it feel less overwrought). I'm still glad that I finally saw it, but it frustrated the hell out of me.

Thrift score time again. In the last week I've found:

  • green Atari ringer t-shirt (1.99)
  • old-school NASA t-shirt with the minimal font (.99)
  • A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (softcover) (1.49)
  • Hans Christian Anderson's Fairytales hardcover w/dustjacket illustrated by the awesome Jiri Trnka (.19)

Came home and worked outside for well over an hour tonight, which was a nice change instead of plopping in front of the computer. I finished the brick border around the garden and dug up the blueberry bush, then replanted it after mixing sand in the soil (hopefully this will help it out a bit). TG took a good picture of the dog next door, so here it is...

Yes Mr. Beagle

It turns out that "Pud" the 3-legged cat has a bit of a dark side. In addition to the rabbit remains that were found in our backyard a couple weeks ago (which we attributed to him, since we haven't seen anything else that would be a predator to a rabbit), today we watched as he stalked across the yard in the house across from us and snuck up on two unsuspecting squirrels. Eventually, he sprang at them and swiped the back of one before it ran up a fence and out of his reach. One might think that having only 3 legs would slow him down, but he still seems to have quite the hunting instinct...

Sleeping in / drinking the jittery / wait for the postman / feign defeat / hop in the auto / recycle, recycle, consume / check off the list / fight with conveyer belt / curse the humidity / fill in the blank spots / respond to the rumbling / try to clear head / struggle forward / smile with accomplishment / drink down those flavonoids

I've found myself talking about record labels a fair amount lately, and why they're losing money. Although there are a few artists I still enjoy putting work out on big labels (Radiohead, Flaming Lips, and um....), I've tried to boycott them for the most part for the past couple years. Although I'm not their biggest fan or own all their albums, I enjoy the heck out of the Dismemberment Plan, and their lead singer and songwriter Travis Morrison has written quite a few things I agree with. Although they're easy targets, he lays into the majors (specifically Atlantic) in this piece and I couldn't agree more. Bless the small bands who are in it for the long haul and not just the quick payout. They still make the best music anyway.

This has already been discussed on several different sites now, but I find this act fascinating. Although some would argue, I think that it does indeed represent art. For one, it makes some sort of a statement (and who says art can't be useful?), and because it was videotaped, it turns it into classic performance art. Not only that, but the guy was so smooth in pulling it all off that it was never even questioned. Clever, slightly subversive, and helpful all at once, how much art can you say that about?

My week has been packed with music. I just want to create. Trying to take the learning curve in leaps and bounds, and while stumbling a bit, feeling more and more assured each day.

Between the Klez Virus going around and just plain dumb luck, I've been getting spammed like nobody's business lately. It makes me think I was stupid to put my email address up on my website in so many different places, but also makes me wonder whether I should set up some sort of filtering on the email I have coming in. At an average of about 5 junk mails a day, it only adds up to a few seconds of my time each day deleting them all, but it's still frustrating as hell.

As a former psychology major, and someone who is generally interested in the subject, I find studies like this one very interesting. Although I think that medication definitely makes a big difference in the abilities for some people to lead a normal life, I also think that drugs are very often dispensed far too easily, as if even the thought of taking the drug itself could cure things. That's what seems to have happened in the above study, although I have heard that chocolate possesses some interesing qualities...

The thunder that I heard in last nights entry turned out to be a foreshadowing of the storm that was to come. At about 3:30 a.m. the rains came tumbling out of the sky in a big way and woke me up. I looked out the window as literally sheets of water poured out of the sky for well over 40 minutes. Add to that intermitent hail, and in all it kept me awake for over an hour. When I finally did get to sleep, I had fitful dreams of sleeping through my alarm and other random oddities, and I woke up feeling like I'd been kicked in the head. Tonight, I will go to bed early and hope that there are no more storms to wake me from my light sleeping habits.

Here's a list of some of the things that I did today:

  1. Ate a cinnamon roll from Grateful Bread (highly recommended!)
  2. Worked in the garden for over 2 hours, planted 40+ feet of potatoes and watered everything.
  3. Gave myself a haircut (TG said it looks pretty good even...).
  4. Walked to the local store 3 seperate times because we kept forgetting things that were needed for making dinner.
  5. Wrote a couple music reviews.
  6. Worked on some music.
  7. Heard super loud thunder (just now).

How bands got their names dishes on everyone from Explosions In The Sky to Cerberus Shoal and lots of emo and indie bands. Some interesting stuff, some fairly boring. For someone in a band / group/ collective who is trying to come up with a name, I find this list hilarious. Music has been the focus lately, both listening and creating. I ended up splurging on some things today that I really enjoy so far, and tonight the gang came over and we banged out some more stuff. An EP on the way by mid summer?

My keyboard arrived today, and although the temptation was great to come home and just sit in front of the thing all night, I decided to get outside in the nice weather for awhile. That ended up being a good idea, as I got some little things done around the yard, although it did involve picking up the remains of a rabbit that something had left in our backyard. At any rate, I did come inside finally, and the keyboard is indeed a lot of fun. More stuff that I'll simply be able to use for awhile. I also did a bit of beat programming tonight, and surprisingly most of it came out pretty decent sounding.

We've gotten to the point with our musical venture that we've decided that we need to come up with a name for ourselves. After kicking around several different ideas and coming up with several that we liked, we still couldn't really come to a complete agreement on anything, so we're going to give it a couple more days and see if anything sticks out for sure. Practice was one of those sessions where nobody was particularly inspired, so there wasn't a whole lot accomplished, other than discussion of future package design and names for ourselves. And you know what? That's OK. New reviews, though.

Last night while I was sitting and writing, I actually felt one of those moments where the words flowed through my fingers with seemingly little effort. Probably what writers would refer to as "the zone," I actually had the feeling that it might be possible for me to write a book at some point in the future. In the end, I only ended up writing about 2000 words, but it was a fast 2k for me.

I cooked an absolutely huge meal tonight after work to unwind for the day. TG was working a late shift, so I decided to go with the old Indian curry dish standby. Mixed sauteed onions and garlic with spinach, tempeh, garbanzo beans, a green pepper, and cauliflower with curry, coriander, and a bit of cumin. In the other skillet, I had a batch of peanut butter/banana (don't laugh, it's actually quite good) sauce cooking along, while a third pot was simmering some brown rice. When it was all done, I'd been in the kitchen for just over an hour, but there are enough leftovers for probably 6 meals. After that, I went outside and covered some plants, as they're predicting a possible frost and record low here tonight. Weird.

Also, I put a couple new photos up tonight.

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