Uh, wow. November is already over, and my four-day weekend is quickly coming to a close. After spending the past couple days hanging out with friends and having a great time, I was left with one of those partially guilty feelings that I get when I spend several days not really doing anything too productive. After sleeping in (hey, I can't be _too_ productive, I went out and ran around a bit today, doing some recycling and picking up some groceries and needed things for the house. After a quick lunch, I raked the entire front lawn and TG did some re-decorating inside. After I filled 5 large yard bags, I decided to finally dig up the rest of the potatoes from the garden. After accomplishing that, it was almost dark already and getting cold quickly, so I came inside and had a quick dinner before working on music (with varying degrees of success) for a couple hours. Listening to a new song that we completed(?) a couple days ago and it's slowly becoming one of my favorites.
After sleeping in this morning, a lazy morning was spent just taking it easy and getting a few things done before hanging out with the family during the afternoon. Twas a good time, and the food was excellent as well. Didn't gorge myself full like when I was kid, but I still ate enough that dinner wasn't something I was interested in. On our way home, TG and I decided to swing by the video place just for the heck of it, and it was actually open at about dinner time on Thanksgiving. The only other customer in the store was a fellow with his chocolate lab, so there was puppy play and DVD rental in one swoop. Ended up choosing Lovely And Amazing, which surprised me because I thought that it was still out playing in theatres on the indie circuit (I could swear I just watched a trailer for it about a month ago). The film itself was fairly decent in terms of performances, but was one of those films that was so relentlessly depressing that it's hard to really recommend it to anyone. All of the main characters have some sort of serious life crisis or neurosis that they're dealing with, and although there were definitely some enjoyable moments, it just sort of left me indifferent at the end. Maybe that's why it didn't play very long in theaters. Good performances in a slice-of-life film, but don't watch it if you're prepared to get a little bummed-out.
Friends in from out of town for the holiday and so I've been spending a good deal of time just relaxing and chatting over the course of the past couple days. The same thing will probably continue for a couple more days as well, with the 4 day weekend looming. Also want to work on music some and fit in some other tasks as well, but we'll see...
Just looked through this months entries and noticed that they seem to be more few and far between than any month since I started doing this daily thing. Less pictures and commentary, and it seems that other sections are slowing down a bit as well (like only doing 4 music reviews instead of 5 for the past 3 weeks). The simple excuse is that I've been busy elsewhere. One project I finished up fairly recently was designing a website for the Bess Streeter Aldrich Foundation. It's probably the last freelance project I'll take in awhile, because things are simply getting too busy for me, but I had fun doing it and learned something in the process as usual.
Didn't feel like having to deal with the theater crowds to see it, but finally rented Spiderman last night. For some reason or another, the big blockbusters appeal less and less to me as time goes on, and although it's been impossible to miss the advertising blitzes for
both its theater and DVD release, it simply didn't register as much more than a small blip in terms of something that should be seen. After watching it, my impression is that it was a pretty passable comic-book movie (which was all it had to be in order to rake in mad cash), but like most other movies of its scope, it wasn't anything I'd need to see again. Some of the effects were cool and I had a slight inner attachment to watching the geeky Peter Parker gain superpowers and become a hero, but it was glossy and basically completely disposable. Not really sure that it should be anything more, but perhaps that's about the only thing that can be expected when you have grown-ups running around in spandex outfits. I think that the best movies I'll see this year are still ones that haven't even reached the theaters here yet, but perhaps I'm wrong.
After spending the day getting things done (and wondering when the forecasted nasty weather would arrive -- it still hasn't), TG and I sat down and worked on a fun little project this evening. I created the piece below after we were through. Whee.
A lack of images this month, but that hardly means a lack of action. Wheels are churning. Thoughts underway. Processes begun and trying to see them through to completion. That makes no sense, but it all will at some point, and I will finish the 5 pictures on the current roll of film and hopefully get it developed this weekend. That's one of many plans. In music news, practice seems to be cyclical. If we could only harness the sorts of energy that flows on some evenings and somehow produce with that amount of speed and innovation every practice, we'd be done by now. Early 2003, full-length. Yes. Oh, and new reviews (sliding past the 900 mark).
There's a lot of damn photography out there on the web, but I ran across a site today that absolutely stunned me with it's imagery. These photos by Shaun O'Boyle are nearly all very amazing to me. If you go through his main page, you'll find a whole batch of travel photos and other stuff, but it's his work with decayed buildings (and an amazing series of a decrepit boatyard) that left me drooling and wanting to order some things to hang on my walls.
Lots of nights I tinker about with starting music, but tonight things came together into a nice little ambient track. Who knows where it will end up.
Although I've tried to keep a tough outer shell, I've been going through dramatic mood swings lately like nobody's business. In the past, I haven't had any real problems with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I think that might actually be part of it this year. Not only that, but there seems to be a large amount of things going on in the world right now that are piling on top of my somewhat fragile state. Things like this make me feel guilty for even owning and driving a car, knowing that the oil I use has been the cause of some of the worst enviromental catastrophies ever. Not only that, but as a voter I'm constantly sicked by all the stupid shit that goes on in our government. I'm fed up with Democrats and especially Republicans and all their partisan, corporation-asskissing, double-speak bullshit. Who the hell voted these (just about all of them) people into office? I'll admit that I didn't know a lot about Paul Wellstone when he was alive, but after reading about him and what he stood for, I wish he were still alive and that there were a lot more people like him in government.
Staving off sickness is also making me a bit sad, so it's time for an early sleeptime again.
After a weekend of late nights and rock and roll, I feel like my body is trying to get sick on me. I'm going to try to kick its (whatever cold or flu) ass, so now it's time for a deep sleep for once.
It's just about midnight and this is one of those days that seems like it has been going on forever. Awoke in Lawrence at about 9:30, then wandered around downtown for awhile before deciding to bolt town (couldn't find any good thrift shops) for Manhattan. After eating some lunch, we took off out-of-town and arrived in Manhattan just over an hour later. On the way, we saw a herd of camels in a field, no lie.
That turned out to be nearly the highlight of said part of the trip, because although TG found a couple Fiestaware plates for cheap at one place, Manhattan was pretty much a bust (sorry to dis it if that's your home). Not only was a big football game going on (involving a team from our home state), but the town just seemed sort of lifeless anyway. Whereas the downtown of Lawrence was thriving with interesting shops, restaurants, and lots of people, the only areas in Manhattan with much activity were the bars and the strip malls. After a _very_ short time in the city, we took off for home and were greeted with a nice sunset (but unfortunately no more camels).
Instead of calling it a night, we decided to rent a couple movies upon arriving home, as we didn't really want to do much except veg out. The first movie we watched was The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys, which was pretty good and had some good performances, but didn't really leave me with a whole lot once it was done. It felt like it wanted to say something more, but in the end it didn't really end up coming together completely and instead kind of worked better as a series of interesting sketches (a somewhat similar coming-of-age story is the classic Stand By Me, which I really should watch again sometime soon). I'd give it about a 7 out of 10.
After that was over (and after a bathroom break), we popped in Y Tu Mama Tambien, which I thought was really great. Although at a couple points it simply felt like a typical American teen sex romp, there was a current of political, social, and class commentary (much of which I didn't understand the extent of, not knowing the Mexican system very well) that made it into a much deeper film. Not only that, but instead of the soul-less feaux-sentimentality of Hollywood films, there were some really truly touching moments of humanity in the film. One of the deleted scenes in the special features of the DVD was one of those moments that just made me smile with a sort of base-level purity that unfortunately (although I can see why) didn't make the final cut. I'd have to give it about an 8 out of 10.
Got a shedload of things done this morning after sleeping in about 40 minutes more than usual (not sleeping in at least a little would be a crime on a day off). Early afternoon, TG and I rolled out of town and off to Lawrence, KS. After kicking it around downtown and checking in to our hotel, we went to the Sigur Ros show and it was quite amazing. After starting out with three songs in a row from their new ( ) (and leading me to believe they were going to play the album in it's entirety), they mixed things up quite a bit with some songs from their first two albums, including re-interpretations of said songs. Included was an amazing version of what's still probably my favorite song of theirs ("Olsen Olsen" from Agaetis Byrjun) and an absolutely devastating meltdown of the final track on their newest release to close the show. In terms of bands that I wanted to see live, they were at the top of my list, so it was a little surreal to be sitting and watching them in person, and they didn't disappoint in the slightest. Really amazing, and I'd recommend seeing them if they come and play anywhere close to where you live.
One thing I must mention is the discomfort level of the venue, though. Liberty Hall is a really cool place to see bands, I'm sure, but in the balcony area where I was seated, there was literally no legroom. At 6'6", I'm a pretty tall fellow admittingly, but I couldn't even rest my heels on the group for the first half of the show because I had to crunch my legs up so close. The backs of the chairs were digging into my knees, and when the people ahead of us left for some reason, my entire body sighed with relief as I dangled my legs over and into the seats ahead of me. Whew! In other news, I took some pictures at the show, but the film is still in the camera. I also bought a few CDs at different stores we stopped at, but that's a given isn't it?
I've been having serious problems sleeping for the past couple weeks, and I'm not quite sure what it is. It's gotten to the point where I've limited parts of my diets on certain days (less caffeine, less sugar) to see if that would make a difference, but so far I haven't noticed much of anything. Instead, I end up getting 5 or so hours of decent sleep (which still involves waking up almost every hour on the hour) a night and then falling face-first into a deep sleep at least once a week from being totally exhausted from the combined nights in which I've not gotten enough sleep. Last night, I got up at about one in the morning after rolling over and over again and finally went and sat down and just wrote out a couple lines that kept spinning through my head for some reason. The strange thing is that even though I haven't been getting enough sleep, I still haven't felt particularly more tired than usual. If only I could make my mind turn off a little better, as the main problem seems to be that I'm constantly thinking of things I could be doing instead of sleeping. Usually I can control my hyperactive mind a little better, but lately it's been overwhelming me a bit.
Oh, and on the music side of things, we put a new full-length MP3 up on the site today. And new reviews too.
Last night, just before turning off my computer, I got an email from someone who'd never written me before. It wasn't something telling me how great my writing was or anything like that, but it simply seemed to be from someone who'd come to my site seeking to find something new in the music world and for some reason stuck around and took some of my advice. The person thanked me because of some new things that they'd found and basically encouraged me to keep going with it.
The email itself was one of those ones that I don't get very often, and it really did brighten up my night a little bit. I've been writing reviews for the better part of 5 years now on the web, and something like 9 years if you go back through my college days. I'll be the first person to admit that I'm not the best or most exciting/clever writer in the world, but at this point in the game it's not really a huge concern of mine (although I have gradually tried to improve my overall style). Depending on the music that I'm reviewing, I often times spend between 3-7 hours writing the actual reviews each week, and about 5 times that amount actually listening to things. I still have a lot of fun doing the section, otherwise I'd spend the time doing other things, but it's little letters like the above that float in out-of-the-blue that sometimes help me re-motivate myself. Thanks Jonas.
Had a very nice, subdued birthday today. Had cookies at band practice last night courtesy of Allison (thanks!), then woke up today and did the work thing. Got a few calls from family members and some emails from friends, and when I arrived home from work, there were some cards awaiting. For dinner, TG and I ordered take out from our favorite Indian food place in town and we sat and had a nice meal (including some cake - Thanks Ryan!) before moving on to get a few things done. I'm not huge on celebrating, so the quiet evenings were nice to have. TG also got me a really swell coat, which is so comfy and warm that I almost can't wait for it to get a little bit cooler outside. All in all, a nice little birthday.
Continuing with the birthday week, we're (along with a batch of other people from Lincoln) going to head to Lawrence on Friday night to see Sigur Ros. In terms of groups that I want to see live which I still haven't, they're at the top of the list, so I'm very much excited about the concert. Not only that, but it will be nice to take a little roadtrip to a fun little town and hang out there for awhile. Was just there a month ago for Four Tet/Super Furry Animals, but they get all the music down there so another trip is a must.
I used to get all bent out of shape about having another birthday. I think it was due the fact that another year had passed and I hadn't felt like I'd accomplished anything in life, but over the course of the past couple years, that perception has slowly shifted. It could simply be a change in attitude, but I do think it's partially due to setting some modest goals and actually meeting most of them. It's all about the the little steps, and although I obviously haven't written an award-winning novel or released a hit rekkid (neither of which I really need to do in order to feel like I've accomplished something), I'm at least moving toward something more than I had been, no matter how undefined it may be. While I dreaded turning 24 and 25, I say bring on 28 tomorrow.
Had lunch with TG, my parents, brother and his girlfriend today for our respective birthdays (his was the 1st, mine is in two days). It was some good conversation as usual, and the food was pretty tasty as well. My family is a bit weird (in a good way), so we decided that instead of heading our separate ways just then, we'd all go to a llama and alpaca show.
I'll be the first to say that I thought it was all pretty much novelty, but when we got the convention center where it was all going on, I was pretty impressed by the array of animals. People had them groomed and all done up nice and the most elaborate ones looked like large poodles with their fancy (and sometimes poofy) coats. Plus, llamas and alpacas are just plain cool animals in general. All in all it was a pretty good time, and I took a few pictures with my analog camera, so hopefully those will come out decent when I develop the roll sometime in the future.
Yesterday was as lovely as I could have hoped for, and I made full use of nearly every hour that I was awake. It wouldn't have been a true day off had I not slept in, so I let myself go for an hour past alarm-time, then got up and had some breakfast. After that, it was off to the DMV to renew my drivers license (which didn't come out half bad--see below). From there, I went to a couple music stores and picked up some well-wanted things (new Amon Tobin, Beck, and Jim O'Rourke), then came home and had lunch. While the food was settling, I did some email, went to the post office, and programmed some beats for awhile and worked on a track that was acting a bit tricky on us. After I felt like I'd accomplished something, I strapped on the rollerblades and went out and did 15 miles in the nice weather, then came home and had a bite to eat. Aaron came over and we worked on music for a good chunk of the night, polishing off (at least we think) a track and tinkering a bit with others. Whew.
Today, a thrift and music trip to Omaha was again a success for me in terms of finding good things. Snagged another Jim O'Rourke, Pedro The Lion, The Fucking Champs, and Langley Schools Music Project on the cheap. Again, the weather was lovely, and it was nice to just take a spin in the car with the windows down and enjoy it all, as it's doubtful this Indian summer will last much longer.
The weather was amazing here today. Hopefully it continues this way tomorrow, as I'm taking the day off and it would be nice to go rollerblading in early November. Oh yeah, new reviews.
6 years ago, I didn't really give two craps about politics, but this morning when I was reading the news I could actually feel myself becoming more and more sad. I'm probably blowing things all out of proportion, but I just don't have hope in the current administration on both the state and national level. I'm one of those people who doesn't trust the democrats much more than the republicans, but I have a feeling that the environment, individual freedoms, and foreign policy could get severly shanked in the next couple years. They've already gotten a good start in the two years that Bush has been in office, and now that Congress is under GOP control, there will be even less roadblocks in getting ludicrous crap shoveled through. If you're concerned, start getting the word out now, and there's no need to even be radical about it. All it takes is some knowledge of the issues and a calm discussion with most people (although I know that politics set off some as well) to get through to them. Plant the seeds now that will get people out in two years, and hope that too much damage isn't done in the meantime.
Tonight was a typical example of my frustration with gadgets. The past couple weeks, I've been carrying my Lomo camera with me nearly everywhere in hopes of getting a good picture. Because I'm not the smartest person in the world (or perhaps because I stow it away too deeply), most of the time I even forget that I have it on my person (usually in my backpack) somewhere, and therefore haven't really taken much of note recently.
This evening when I walked down the hallway, however, I saw that the sun was setting beautifully and it was painting the trees and buildings on campus with a warm pink light that mingled nicely with the mixed green to red leaves that were still on the branches of trees outside. I hurried down the stairs, removing my camera as I went, then walked to where I wanted to frame the shot and depressed the shutter release only to find that it wasn't working correctly. Since I've had the camera for quite some time now, and have pretty much beat the hell out of it, I can't get too mad at it being a bit flakey, but as soon as I did a little tinkering it seemed to come back around again. By that time, though, the sun had set, along with the lovely tones. A 5 minute window was all I got, and I'll make sure not to squander it next time. Hopefully my camera will cooperate as well.
Also, not that anyone cares, but it's my birthday (#28) exactly one week from today. Some people have their wishlists up all the time, so I guess I'll be a whore for once.
I was absolutely hammered by the spam today. Not sure what the deal is, but I think I'm still seeing remnants of people having the Klez Virus and not knowing it, because I'm still getting random emails from people I don't know with odd attachments (not opening those suckers) on them.
Rented Insomnia last evening (meant to catch it at the theatres, but never managed it), and it was quite an enjoyable film. Following up the highly entertaining Memento, director Christopher Nolan seemed to go with a slightly more mainstream film in regards to presentation and storyline, but it had enough interesting twists and good performances that I was kept riveted. It was nothing extraordinary, but it was taut and well-made, which is more than I can say for most films. Robin Williams again played against the mushy stereotype that he'd built up for himself over the course of the past couple years, and Al Pacino seemed pretty damn subdued in his role for once (I don't think there was one single yelling outburst, for which he's become well-known for).
This was one of those weekends in which nothing was scheduled, so I've been relaxing a bit for once. Last night, I went outside and dug up about half the remaining potatoes. We got a nice portion of sweet potatoes this year (probably about 12 pounds), and to a very lesser amount, about 2 pounds or so of the regular variety. I'll finish up the rest sometime this week hopefully. I also sat down today after breakfast and read for about 2 hours, finishing up The Worst Journey In The World, which I'd started some time ago. I have some excuse for not getting through it quickly, as it clocked in at 687 pages, but I was pretty much kept interested the entire time. An account of Robert Falcon Scott's (and others) ill-fated journey to the South Pole in 1911 and 1912, it's a pretty harrowing read. The things that the men went through on the trip are downright unbearable, and the book follows all their small depot journeys, scientific data-gathering trips, as well as the South Pole journey and subsequent search party expedition. Apsley Cherry-Garrard writes in a clear, articulate manner, and if you enjoy travelouges of any sort (a very logical connection can be made to the recent Into Thin Air
by Jon Krakauer, which told of a similarly ill-fated trip) I would very, very highly recommend it. The uncluttered writing style was a welcome break from the meta-fiction and other oddities that I'd read earlier in the year, and reminded me of the adventure-style writing I used to enjoy so much when I was younger (although those books were primarily fiction, and this entry is obviously somewhat stark non-fiction).
Went to see Punchdrunk Love last night with TG, and it was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. There were moments where I could hardly stop laughing, and others where I was genuinely touched. It seems that I'm liking each new film that P.T. Anderson makes even more than the last. Boogie Nights was pretty good, but I could hardly get through it a second time. I enjoyed the heck out of Magnolia, but it was pretty overwrought at times and should/could have probably been trimmed down a bit. Punchdrunk Love, however, seemed just about right to me in terms of length and just about everything else. A damn fine film, although it's going to have Adam Sandler fans up in arms.
I actually had a chance to view some of that after the movie, as I stood in the lobby and watched people filter out. I couldn't believe how many people were criticising and completely bashing the movie as "the worst I've ever seen" or "I don't get it." Honestly, it's one of those movies that's not supposed to make absolute complete sense. It's about emotions that you can't explain and sometimes can't control and don't even know why. It's about passion and how it makes you do weird/stupid/amazing things. It's about this uncaring world and how hard it is to sometimes find your place in it and how nice it is to simply find someone to share a small corner of space with. It's about new beginnings and giddy feelings, and in terms of films that captured the above things, it scores many, many points. Those looking for poop jokes or people getting kicked in the crotch should stay away and simply go rent another pie-farking movie. Personally, I thought the film was great and I'd highly recommend it.
Happy birthday shoutout to my brother Dan! He's a whopping 24 today.