Had about 10 trick-or-treaters tonight, then just hung out and talked for an evening. No computer, no movies on TV, just conversation.
I know I said I wouldn't mention it as much, but band practice tonight was one of those ones which make up for all the slightly unproductive evenings and indecision. We're getting down and serious about polishing off tracks and checking them off the list, and tonight we took one track to the fabled 'another level.' I'm not saying that it's going to make everyones hit list or that anyone will dismiss it as anything other than simply another song, but as we get down into these moments, it's nice to know that I can hear a song that I've heard the basics of scores of times and in its new state it will give me goosebumps.
One problem with many music reviewers is that even though they feel no problem with putting down the hard work of others, they often haven't tried to create something themselves. While I was guilty of that very situation early on in my writing career (back in college), I slowly undertook teaching myself different ways to create. As time passed, I got a little bit better at some things, while at the same time realizing that some releases probably didn't have that much time put into them at all. I also learned that it's incredibly hard to create music that's not only interesting, but connects with someone on multiple listens. While I by no means consider myself a great artist, I feel like the long music-creation process has helped me become a better reviewer.
Granted, it's hard for me to rip on some things when I know the work that went into them, but I think that's probably a better thing than not. A reviewer can have all the book knowledge in the world about every sub-genre and minutae of the musical landscape, but I still think that if they've never tried to create anything themselves, they're still sort of missing that base-level connection. In the beginning, I had a base of knowledge that I've built on (which is by no means as large as some), but spending hundreds of hours creating music has helped me learn respect (for others who do the same thing) and humility (putting that work into something that will be critiqued, hopefully praised, and very possibly disregarded by others). This isn't a review of reviewers, just a simple statement that respect and humility should more often walk hand in hand with knowledge, and that goes for pretty much all things. I know I'm just as guilty as others sometimes, but I'm working on it...
Back in May or so, I was excited and looking forward to August 25th, because that was the day that marked this site being on the web for five years. As the summer passed, I got more and more absorbed in other things, and it was just this weekend that I was digging through some old writing (as I sometimes do) and again discovered that date (on my earliest whatever entry). Looking back, that early writing is not only your ordinary angst-filled drivel, but the structure of it is horrible as well. Because most of the writing I post on the site has had very little editing done to it, I can trace through my writing as a whole and watch it progress to the place where it is now. Granted, I'm still obviously not the greatest writer in the world, but as I peel back through those early entries and bitter diatribes, it makes me grin a bit knowing how much I've changed as a person as well.
At any rate, all my 5-year celebration plans fell by the wayside, and I don't really plan on doing anything in retrospect. While it is indeed quite awhile to have been on the web, there are people who have been on a lot longer and done more interesting things anyway. I'd rather just keep plugging along and see what happens. As if to validate my hopefullness, this month has already become the highest in terms of traffic that the site has received. It's partially due to the launch of the section for marianas, but traffic has been steadily going up over the course of the year and I think it would have been the highest month even without it. Since I missed the 5-year anniversary, I'm currently eyeing a stat-related (geeky, I know) plateau that the site could/should reach by the end of the year if things hold. Somehow it seems more significant to me anyway.
Oh how I enjoy the falling back of the daylight savings time. An extra hour is just what was needed after an extremely busy last week and a long day yesterday. After sleeping in (relaxing post-show morning), TG and I got up and did the recycling yesterday, then had some tasty Indian lunch (if you live in Lincoln and haven't tried Shere Punjab, you're missing out). Got out in the beautiful weather during the afternoon and rollerbladed about 15 miles, then came home, got cleaned up, and went to an amazingly fancy dinner party. Went to bed relaxed with a belly of food and tired from the good workout earlier (but still had amazingly disturbing dreams for some reason). Tonight, we're back at work on the music, with thoughts of finishing up the album in the next month.
The show went pretty darn well last night, considering how much time we've been working together on performing the songs. Although there were a few technical difficulties that we had to work through, I think we all came away happy with what we put out there. Had some nice comments from different people about the show, and it was good to just get our name out there to at least a small group of people. Personally, I was nervous as hell during the very first song, but once we got going and locked into things, I couldn't have asked for much better from our performances.
It's a lot different performing in front of a crowd, rather than in the comfort of the basement, and while that seems like a pretty obvious comment to make, there are so many little things that change. In addition to playing in front of an actual crowd of people, you have to prepare yourself to simply play right along, even when you can hear people who are talking at loud volumes and obviously not paying attention. Although it would be nice to hop on the mic and tell everyone to just listen for a few moments, all you can do is play on and hope that the music you're making is reaching at least some people out there. Instead of rocking out, we're a group that rocks inwardly, but I'm still super excited about the future of the band, and that's all I can ask for. The picture below is from our band when we were warming up, and we're hoping to put a couple more up on the site along with an MP3 of a couple tracks from the live set. Aaron wrote up some commentary and put some pictures up as well.
With just over two weeks of practice under our collective belts, tonight we put the capper on things until the show tomorrow evening. I'm super happy with how everything has progressed so far, and how quickly and nicely things have come together. I'm genuinely excited about our first live show tomorrow evening and curious to see how people will react to what we've created. So yeah, this is a final reminder to all you folks who read this site and live close to Lincoln, Nebraska. We'll make our official live debut tomorrow evening at the Southwood Clubhouse at roughly 8p.m. If you show up and like what you hear, come say hello to us afterwards, we always enjoy chatting.
And heck, I did do some reviews this week.
Because I'm having a rather random photo month, and because I don't have a lot to post this evening, I present the small group of creatures that watch over my office. Two bunnies, a mole, a family of bears, and Scat Cat (the leader of the band in Aristocats) all keep a watchful eye on things.
Oh, and it snowed today for the first time this fall. It was mainly just icey pellets, and there was no accumilation, but that unmistakable bite was in the air. They're saying it could possibly amount to something overnight, but I think the ground is still too warm for that.
After thinking that this week would be absolutely frantic (which it still probably will, mind you), I found myself with a short break tonight before bed to breath deeply and listen to a bit of music and write a bit. Even though I doubt it will happen, I'm trying to get the music reviews done for this Friday, while the band and I are meeting almost every night this week to practice for our show. Despite one off-night, we've managed to gel quite a bit more every single evening, and after playing through almost the entire set tonight, the majority of the nervous caterpillars inside me are turning into their chrysalis' and will soon be excited butterflies. While I'm sure that I'll have a good amount of my normal stage fright when we start up, past ocassions in which I've performed in front of groups of people have held that most of it melts off after a couple minutes, when I simple become so focused on what I'm doing that the surroundings just sort of blur away. As everything else with the musical project, it's been a learning experience, and one that I'm very glad I'm having.
OK, time to me to get back to those music reviews...
An trees will bee spore attic this weak.
So far, this weekend has been all about the movies. Last night, TG and I decided to stay in and rent a couple flicks. Going for things on the opposite of the spectrum, we went with American Psycho and Office Space, both of which I'd seen when they'd originally come out, but not since. The former had all the dark humor that I remembered and then some, and I'm almost completely positive that there were no more scenes included on the DVD release than the version I saw in the theater, despite it saying that it was an unrated directors cut. Office Space was even funnier than I remembered it being, and I was laughing my ass off, so it was good to follow up with that one before bed. So many classic lines in that movie ("Well, I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob"), it's quotable and pretty much recommended to anyone.
Tonight, we went out to see a movie at the actual theatre (something we hadn't done in awhile), and after waffling on what we should see (being stuck in Lincoln unfortunately limits our choices a bit), we decided on One Hour Photo. I found it to be a pretty interesting character study of obsession and desperation, but TG didn't care for it much. The first time film for Mark Romanek (who's directed tons and tons of famous music videos), it was surprisingly un-flashy, yet worked very nicely visually. It wasn't amazing, but was un-nerving and creepy enough that I enjoyed it a fair amount. I'd give it about 7 out of 10 or so.
This week's going to be all about the music, though, as our first show is this Friday night already. Whoot!
Much of this weeks labor is starting to come together nicely. Not only have we been practicing along as a band and making great steps towards our live show, but our website has finally launched. I guess it's a secret no longer that we decided on Marianas for a name, and if you poke around the rest of the site you'll find some audio clips and other information that you may or may not already know. We'll be updating it as we have new news and progress, so I'll probably mention less and less about the band within this section. I'd been sort of stressing myself out about it all lately, but I'm going to try to chill out a bit and relax since things are smoothing out a bit. It's music after all, and it's supposed to be fun.
Somehow, I managed to squeeze out some new reviews as well. Again...time for sleep.
I am probably the last person you want playing selections of music for you. Not only do I only manage to play half or less of tracks before I've jumped onto something else, but I often fast-forward to the best part and then air-guitar (or whatever instrument is making the most racket at the time--including any electronic elements) and probably look completely stupid in the process. Another delerious entry, another late night.
A new section is going to be launched this week. Also this week is much practice for the impending live show a week from this Friday, so if I'm not writing much, that would be my excuse.
Trying to fill every waking moment with something lately. A bit of time at lunch, so I sketch. Instead of dallying about, I read a few pages. Little things that don't mean much on their own, but add up over time.
After another month of neglect, I finally got around to updating the photo section. Although I still haven't taken the time to find a better presentation for them (the design of that section is easily one of the crappiest on this site), there are some good ones in there I think. I'd make a promise to try to take more from now on, but I never seem to follow through.
In other news, I'm tired. Time for bed.
For the first time in many, many weeks, TG and I have absolutely nothing really planned for the weekend. Although I enjoy keeping busy, it's sort of nice knowing that my two days off aren't crammed with things to do, and although I just took a break last weekend with a trip to see some bands, it will be good to have some freed-up time to get out in the nice weather and get some things done.
After reading about it and seeing an excellent trailer a couple months ago, I really wanted to see CQ, but unfortunately it never played in the theatres around here. It came out on DVD recently, so we rented it tonight and I must say that I really, really enjoyed it. I thought it might rely too much on a kitsch factor after seeing the trailers, but the movie-within-the-movie was only a small part of the overall film. In actuality, it was a very nice little first-time flick from Francis Ford Coppola's son Roman (who has been directing music videos for a long time now). It was touching at times (a meeting that the main character has with his father during a layover in an airport felt particularly 'real'), hilarious at others, and did an amazing job of capturing the feel of the time. To do such, it seems that no CGI was employed, instead the filmakers opted for in-camera and other optical effects of the time period in which the film was portraying. At any rate, it was one of the more enjoyable films I've seen in quite awhile. I'd give it 8.25 stars out of 10.
It's official. We've got our first gig in just over two weeks. I know I mentioned it a couple days ago, but I'm starting to get pretty excited, even though we're just sort of slopping everything together at the moment and slowly ironing out the creases (which there are a lot of). Since it's all happening so fast, our show will probably best be explained as 'nebulous,' as we're definitely not going to be tight, and some freestyle action will probably be employed to spackle in the cracks. I'm using all kinds of weird metaphors, eh? At any rate, we met last night for the second time ever (in regards to working specifically for playing live), and I think it's coming together pretty well. Oh, and our band name has finally been decided on, but I'm not going to mention it just yet. The site will launch in about 2 weeks, so you'll get some hot action then.
In other news, a minor (in a nerdy sort of way) milestone in the music review section with today's update. With the Zelienople review, I've now finally done at least one review for every letter of the alphabet. 'X' and 'Z' are still the lowest with only one review each, and 'S' is way out in the lead with a whopping 105. Coming in a fairly close second is 'M' with 85 and 'B' with 71, but after that it's all over the board (with 9 more letters topping 40 and a grand total of 875). Nerdalicious!
What's brown and sticky?
Despite being busy, I once again don't have a lot to say, so it's time to break out some old-school. Below is a drawing that I did a couple years ago. At the time, I was very into highly detailed ink drawings, and the decorated quote is one that I took a liking to for some reason. There's no mention of where it came from on the drawing, but if memory serves me correctly, it's from The Doors Of Perception and Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley.
Judging from the responses of random people surveyed today, it seems that roughly 75% of the population that I interacted with has some sort of health-related malady going on right now. I'm not sure if it's the changing of the season or simply that it's the time of the year when the sickness goes around and everyone keeps giving it to one another. Fortunately, whatever I caught doesn't seem to be very dehabilitating. Instead, it's more of a major annoyance with my runny nose, stuffed-up head, and slightly raw throat. My appetite has gone downhill as well, but I can't tell if that's because I've been drinking so many liquids to stave things off further (making me feel a bit waterlogged and full all the time) or that I've simply been a bit more sedentary in not feeling so great and therefore need to consume less. As I suspected, I started out the day feeling a bit on the crappy side, then gradually picked up speed as the day went on, but I felt _less_ crappy than I did the previous morning and hopefully that trend will continue tomorrow.
Today was spent catching up and trying to keep myself from falling deeper into sickness. Woke up with a sore throat and stuffy head, but proceeded to seemingly knock it back a bit, as I'm feeling a bit better now. Hopefully it doesn't catch up with me during the sleeping hours.
In other news, we started working on putting together our live show tonight, and it's coming along pretty darn well considering we'd never really tried to sit down and play anything in realtime before. Since we're sort of going about things backasswards in terms of recording first, then translating things to a live setting, there were some issues to work around, but as always it's a learning process that seems to be more fun than work. Also, I must give a huge, mega thanks to TG for constantly putting up with the racket that we make in the basement. I think most people would have hit me on the head with a big frying pan by now for inviting such a ruckus, but she's been amazingly understanding.
I should probably write up a trip journal for the little mini-jaunt to Lawrence for the show, but I still haven't finished the roll of film that I worked on there, and I feel like I'm starting to come down with some sort of headcold. It wasn't that I didn't have a great time (I did) or that I don't have anything to say about it (I do), but instead of writing it all out, I'll just list some of the highlights below, and then some of the photos will probably show up later... Besides that, I've got lots and lots of stuff to be getting done, and I need to focus a bit today.
At any rate, the trip was a blast. Other than practices and the occassional random get-together, it was the first time that the three fellows in the band had spent time with each other. The show itself was absolutely excellent. Four Tet opened things up at about 10 with a bangin' set of mostly new material, then after he'd played we all talked with him for a good 20 minutes. Aaron and I had also talked with him after the Fridge show a couple months back, and although I'm not sure if he remembered us, Kieran was just about as friendly as I could have imagined. He's a busy guy right now, working on remixes, finishing up his new album (which should be coming out early next year), lining up a production gig (Beth Orton), and getting ready to go into the studio to record the new Fridge album. We had a CDR EP of songs that we worked on that we gave him to listen to (not that we expect to hear back regarding them), and it was cool to talk to him again. He has a hand in some of the more interesting music that's come out/will come out in the past/next year, and he's definitely just going to get bigger in terms of name recognition.
The Super Furry Animals played next, and although I sat down for the majority of the show (the Chipotle megaburrito gut-bombed me), I had a blast. They came out roaring and kicked through a 1.5 hour set of songs that ran the gamut of emotions, but somehow sounded even better than they did in most recorded versions. They had some really cool visuals that played on a screen behind them, and I left the place feeling refreshed from having heard so much excellent music live.
After sleeping in a bit today, we hit downtown again and I bagged a ton of good music for cheap. Raided the dollar bin at one store and snagged some pretty darn good stuff, and found an older Chessie disc and !!!'s self-titled release used as well. So much stuff it's going to take me awhile to sort through it all, but that's a good thing.
Basically, it was a trip filled with great company (Thanks Ryan and Aaron), great conversation, and great music. Can't beat that. Now, though, it's time to get to work again. Oh, if you want to read more on the trip (and see pictures), check out Aaron's site.
Going to see Super Furry Animals and Four Tet tomorrow evening in Lawrence, Kansas. If you're going to be there, say hello. Not much else to say today, I'll be back with (hopefully) pictures and whatnot. New reviews up tonight, etc, etc.
While I try not to let myself get too wound up in world events (lest I suffer eternal ulcers), this week I've let them creep into my world a little more than normal and I've found that it is indeed dragging me down. It's not that I don't pay attention to what's going on in the world, because in fact it's the exact opposite. I'm a rather voracious reader of events that are taking place both in our country and around the world, but I've found that I sort of have to build a wall between myself and what I read so I can at least partially shut off my emotions. If I didn't do this, I'd probably keep myself up even more than usual at night with random worries, and while it's good to be concerned with what's going on, worrying about things isn't going to change them one bit. I guess the best that I can do is simply talk with other people about what I've read, and instead of spreading the bad news, hope that it instead instigates some interesting conversation or passes knowledge one way or the other. With a hurricane heading inland in the next day or so, markets melting down, our country wanting to get its war on, a man being beaten to death by teenagers in Milwaukee, and even nastier pron email spamming, it's a pummeling ground lately just reading the news.
In times like these, I'm glad that the picture below is my desktop image (big thanks to whoever out there took it).
Although it's not a completely precise measurement, today marks the start of the last quarter of the year, and probably my favorite traditionally. While the weather wasn't cooperating earlier, a storm rolled through this afternoon and the temperatures dropped off to a more normal level for this time of the year. The most comfortable clothes that I own are for the fall months, and there's nothing like sleeping with the windows open on a cool night and piling the blankets high knowing that creeping a toe out from under them will illicit a chill. Waking up and walking outside while seeing your breath and breathing cool crisp air makes mornings seem a bit more bearable, and even scraping the first few frosts off the car window is a welcome chore. Not only that, but life in general is going to be just about as busy as possible for the next 90 days, and although it will probably be stressful at times, I think there will be some pretty good highlights as well.