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One of the things that I've been trying to do more of lately is read. It seems that with all my focus on following politics and trying to remodel a room and trying to create music and trying to write reviews for this website and everything else in my life, that facet has gotten largely ignored over the course of 2004. After the election was over, I decided that I needed to take my mind off it by simply reading something silly. I had a biography of none other than Bruce Campbell sitting on my shelf, so I tore through it and was pretty much amused by it. Filled with lots of silly stories and goofy pictures, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, is a great read for those looking to read about the life of a Hollywood actor who never quite makes it huge, but does well enough to do what he loves. As a fan of the Evil Dead film series, some of the most interesting stuff were the looks behind those films and just how incredibly DIY they were, but the writing style of the entire book was sorta off-the-cuff and enjoyable. Campbell is a somewhat bizarre guy who also seems like someone who'd be fun to sit down and have a beer with. Sure, you can read the lives of presidents and others, but this is BRUCE CAMPBELL!

Ahem. So, after I finished that book, I again got the political bug itch (even though it was under 2 weeks after the election) and picked up Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, by Al Franken. I'd read Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot many moons ago and enjoyed it, so I figured I'd get around to reading this newest tome as well (better late than never). Basically, it's classic Franken. There were several parts of the book that made me laugh aloud (mainly when he was skewering the hell out of Coulter, Hannity, and other wingnuts), a couple parts that made me flat-out sad (his recounting of the Paul Wellestone memorial), and lots of stuff that got me all fired-up about politics again. This book is highly recommended, even if not all of his jokes hit the bullseye. Hell, at least he backs up his statements with facts, which is much more than the aforementioned in the parenthesis do.

At any rate, I was so fired-up by Franken's book that I'm already almost halfway through with another political book. This flurry of reading has all come in the past 3 weeks alone, but I'm still going to have a pitiful total for the year in terms of total pages and books read unless I manage to keep this average rolling.

Oh, and we're in a winter storm watch. Hell yeah!

Because the updates have been sort of few and far between, I haven't yet mentioned that it was my birthday last Friday and that I turned 30. In the past (in my early 20s), turning 30 seemed so far away that I simply couldn't visualize myself at that age. It wasn't that I thought it was old, but I simply couldn't picture myself at that age.

But now I've passed the number and of course I feel no different. The past couple years have all gone pretty well in terms of my life, so hopefully 40 comes and goes just as easily. In terms of activities, the day itself was pretty packed. I left work a couple hours early so I could take the dogs out for a quick walk, then the band came over and we loaded up and played an early all-ages show at the culture center by campus. Interestingly enough, we had one of our better responses from the crowd in some time (despite a somewhat questionable and cobbled-together sound system) and even sold several CDs.

After the show, we loaded back up and came back to the house and had a little get-together with a bunch of friends. There was much wine and good food, a large part of which TG had graciously prepared. My idea of a fun, mellow evening of conversation on my birthday was accomplished and I had a blast and went to bed with a wine buzz and a stomach full of rich food.

On a completely different subject, I discussed with a friend today the abundance of great music that has come out this year and how it would be hard to make a year-end list. This friend is also in the band with me, and I probably only personally know about 2 or 3 other people who are as musically-obsessed. At any rate, we not only agreed that there had been a lot of great music that had come out this year, but also that our rather endless pursuit of music in general leads to a Catch-22 where we'll never hear (and especially purchase) all the music we want. In addition to not even hearing everything that has come out this year that I've wanted to, I've branched out into other artists and even genres, both of which fan out like tree roots leading to even more artists and genres and releases. It's never-ending cycle and yet there's sort of a thrill of the hunt that's exciting about it all as well. I've become an ebay/amazon/half kung-fu master in building my collection, and we're constantly trading links and making each other aware of yet other things that we probably don't need. Karl Lagerfeld, I'm going to kick your ass.

I suppose I should just write off nearly the past month. I haven't updated and in fact I've thought about completely quitting doing this section. It's not that I don't have the interest, it's just that much of what I want to say are things that have already been said elsewhere.

In regards to the election in our country this past week, I feel like I was kicked in the stomach repeatedly and then told to enjoy it and get ready for 4 more years of it. This is the feeling that I went to bed with on Tuesday night and nearly the same feeling that I woke up with on Wednesday morning. My first reaction was to simply look into how fast I could get out of this country, but I suppose those feelings were natural (and quite common). They have subsided some since then and my plans now involve a bit of a break from politics in general, followed by a severe amount of reading on the issues and framing in general. I don't know if a future in politics is in my future, but part of me thinks that I should tackle it somehow, if only on a local level. Like many who agree with me (to both higher degrees and lower degrees), I'm a bit saddened by what happened this week, but I also feel like things are not over. There's no reason to give up. The election was by no means a mandate, and while I think that the majority of this country really does want the same basic things in their lives, the real issues have been muddied over by ones that appeal to the very primal responses of some people, and that's what has split this nation. I've come to the point where I don't even know if I want to talk about it with people for awhile. Like all big decisions, I think I just want to mull things around in my head for awhile and see if I can make any sense out of it all and then bone up and come back stronger than before.

In regards to my life in general, things are going fairly well. The new job is presenting me with some interesting new challenges and I relish them. TG and I just finished the second bedroom renovation in the upstairs of our house and it looks even better than the first room that we did. It has become a guest room, but it's also very warm and inviting so I imagine that it will become a reading room or something during the majority of time that we don't have people staying at our house with us. Considering the first bedroom makeover took almost 10 months and the second one took just about 3, I think we've learned some tricks and how to make things go smoother. We not only learned how to do different projects faster, but which things that each of us excel at and are pickier at doing. TG has become very good at plastering, while I continue to be very anal about painting and how it is finished. It seems to be a good combination as we break down and share most of the rest of the tasks involved. Large projects have been put on hold for the winter, mainly for ventilation reasons as the weather has gotten much colder lately and we need to prepare our house for the winter onslaught very soon. As soon as spring starts peeking through, though, we have many, many plans in store.

In regards to Marianas, we played a show on election night and despite the tension in the air, I think it was easily one of our best sets to date. It was a lean and mean 40 minutes of music with very few pauses, and I've found myself listening to the minidisc recording of it on both my commute to and from work while riding the bus. There were very few down moments, and there are many small little moments and just great things that happen in general that it makes me think the entire show will become available at some point in the future. If you want to catch us live again, we're playing a show this Friday November 12th (which also happens to be my birthday). Shizza.

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