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A lot of last week was spent mixing the tracks on our new EP and this long weekend I also spent much time trying to get them mastered. It's kind of a tricky process to do it right, and I admit that I ran into some roadblocks along the way that were most likely compounded by me refusing to try to take a break and think around the problem rather than trying to keep ramming my head at it and hoping it would just fold and I would win.

So, while taking a shopping break this evening with TG (and wondering just what my problem with the mastering was), I came upon a solution that I thought would work. When I came home and got back on the computer to try it out, sure enough, it seemed to really work. Although my mastering jobs still need a little bit of touch-up here and there, I think the tracks are getting really close. I listened to bits and pieces in headphones tonight as I was getting ready to burn a disc (gotta get some other opinion as listening to the same pieces over and over kind of dull the senses) and they sounded quite punchy. Can you believe it? Marianas = punchy?

In doing the final mixdowns and mastering, I had little 2 and 3 minute windows where my computer was doing its thing and so I picked up the book that I was reading and would plow through little 3-5 page sections at a time. As it turns out, it was more than enough to allow me to finish the book, and so I finished You Shall Know Our Velocity! (Dave Eggers) just this afternoon. I have to admit that the first 30 pages of the book really didn't grab me, but almost exponentially from there until page 100, I was sucked in more and more. From there out, I really enjoyed the book, although there was one section that I felt sort of broke the flow (I read the paperback, and I'm assuming this extra section of explanation wasn't in the hardback). Although it added a bit of intrigue and backstory, it didn't really add to the overally story that much, and in some wasy even diluted the impact of certain parts. Still, I have to say that Eggers is a darn fine writer. Like many, I didn't read his work until A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius, but I've enjoyed just about everything he's done since (including his short story in McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury Of Thrilling Tales). I have his How We Are Hungry release on my short-list of things to buy and I'll definitely keep following from here out.

I finished a book today for the first time in a long while, and I have to say that it was one of the best I've read in awhile. I'd read Studs Terkel's Working just last month and then hunted down Will The Circle Be Unbroken? : Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith by him while in the midst of that other book. After reading Will The Circle Be Unbroken?, I have to say that I'm going to make it a goal of mine to read just about everything that Terkel has ever written. There's a pure insight in his writing that I rarely find elsewhere. In relaying the accounts of everyday people, he's like the conduit to this sort of unfiltered honesty that I find refreshing. I think I like his books for the same reason that I like the films of Errol Morris. There's not a lot of flash to them, and the format is always pretty similar, but they actual message always seems to be clearer than just about anywhere else.

In Will The Circle Be Unbroken? Terkel recounts interviews with a whole slew of people regarding their thoughts on death and dying. Everyone from gravediggers to doctors to firefighters to people that have survived a near-death experience. As with Working, I found myself genuinely moved at times, laughing out loud at others, and constantly turning the page. Since the book is comprised of a rather large amount of interviews, it's all shorter pieces that are easily digestable and quite simply made for reading that gets interrupted by life or anyting else. I think someone else has said it before, but Terkel is a bit of a national treasure. Completely recommended.

TG and I were about 30 minutes into what was going to be a late-morning/early-afternoon power thrifting adventure (some local stores were having a sale) when she got a call on her cell phone and waved me over to take a call from my brother. When I answered the phone, he seemed somewhat confused and excited and managed to tell me that he was at the hospital and his wife was officially starting with the whole labor process. Since their due date was supposed to be something like June 20th, this was a rather large surprise, so we dropped what we were doing and went to the hospital.

When we arrived, it turned out that her contractions were still fairly minor, but slowly gaining and in their haste of leaving the house that morning, they'd forgotten just about everything they had wanted to bring with them to the hospital when the actual time came. When it was decided that the actual labor probably wouldn't happen for awhile yet, TG and I went to their house and picked up all the stuff on their list, as well as assembled their crib and did a couple general cleaning things in what will become the babys room.

When we arrived back later in the afternoon, the time was obviously getting closer, and TG and I waited out in a lobby area with loads of family and talked while everything went on down the hall. We made tenative bets on the sex (my brother and his wife had made the decision to not know), weight, and time of birth.

After what seemed like a long time in the waiting room (and several nurses walking by and smiling but not telling us anything), my brother came down the hallway and got all of us and we went into the room where he and his wife introduced us to Henry Liam. He clocked in at 7.1 pounds (just a little over my guess of 7 pounds) and was born at 6:01pm with a full head of dark hair. Although he was born a little prematurely, he was doing quite well (along with my brothers wife) and much congratulations and pictures were in order.

So, I'm officially an uncle now again (TG has a couple nieces and nephews as well). Here's a photo of my brother and his wife and little Henry.

And it seems I was doing so well there for awhile, posting every couple days and actually talking about semi-meaningful things part of the time. Alas, May is the month that is kicking my ass in a big way and it doesn't seem like it's going to stop anytime soon. In addition to trying to finish up the mixing work on the upcoming Marianas EP, I have recently taken a trip to Lawrence KS to see Caribou/Junior Boys/Russian Futurists, done lots of yard work, exercised on a regular basis, read some, worked on random various projects (including the ongoing redesign of the music review section of this site), and let my hair get far too long.

Seems like these days I'm feeling a bit shaggy, a wee bit tired, and yet I feel pretty good. TG and I had our first wedding anniversary just over a week ago and if the first year is supposed to be the hardest then I think this whole marriage thing is going to be pretty smooth sailing.

The weather has turned warm here finally and we're getting the usual spring showers and the occasional thunderstorm. Although it means that even hotter weather is on the way, I always kind of like this kind of year for the random thunder and lightning at nights. When I was a kid, I was never really afraid of bad storms, and even got kind of a charge in sitting around and watching them roll in on the horizon. Maybe that's a midwestern thing, I don't know.

As happens sometimes, I finished my commute book two days ago and my bedtime reading book last night. Although I've already read several political books this year, I couldn't stay away and finally finished up Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. I'd heard a lot of good things about this book both from friends as well as from those on certain websites that I cruise, and it didn't let me down. It was a clear-headed (if somewhat maddening in what it has to say) assessment of the odd political backlash that has befallen the country in which large chunks of voters actually vote for politicians whose policies hurt them financially. Frank really gets in and looks at the wedge issues that Conservative Republicans (Cons) have been harping at for the past 20 or so years, but have only really started making themselves known in the past couple election cycles.

Frank grew up in Kansas, and his observations on certain places there can easily be echoed in the state that I live in (Nebraska). Our state is one of the most consistent Republican strongholds (in terms of presidential races) in the entire country, and yet many of the people who have voted for Bush (especially) have been hit hard by his policy decisions. As Frank points out, though, for most it doesn't even matter, because as long as the politician with the "moral values" is supported, the person who voted for them becomes a martyr of sorts. In a way, the suffering for the cause is sort of a nobility, even though their cause is rarely supported from the politicians themselves once they actually get past being elected (although we have seen some showdowns lately with the Schiavo case and the fight over the Supreme Court nominations of Bush). Basically, I would recommend this book for those of either political party.

I just realized that I hadn't posted any puppy pictures lately, so here's one of Zoey snuggled up in the bed during the unusually cold temperatures we've been having.

Zoey staying warm

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