December 13, 2007

Apparitions

I'm thinking. One minute, you're sitting there, completely content, and then almost instantaneously, you're up and on a rampage, inexplicably. One minute, it's post-bop, the next it's glam-pop; where do those lines blur, if at all? There is a very definite departure of one into the other. So it is with this lovely little thing. One minute, it's all tingly and sweaty palms, and then I'm shaking and perspiring with anxiety. How often it comes to mind the ease of a permanent and hasty solution. However, I will continue to hypothesize instead. A little work, more. So, teary eyes, where have you strayed? Is there more than one rough edge your iron just won't smooth out, despite your best efforts? Is this dysfunction still guided deftly by the strings at my fingertips? A natural progression towards the inclination to be self-assured and self-reliant must ensue at some point, approximately; one certainly cannot spend an entire lifetime huddled in the dark and dusty corners of their own minds. There is some exact percentage of this that is being fed directly via brain wave into my own soul, because I am not beyond these implications. How does it all end...well, it already has; the accepting is the part that sometimes creates the false impression of unfinished endings. It's like looking at a ghost, when in reality, it's just a sheet fluttering quitely in the wake of air flowing through an open window. It's done, finished; yet the memory is active. The memory will haunt this house indefinitely.

October 23, 2007

Nick Drake: "Pink Moon" (1972)

Once upon a time, life was different. People were not busy-bodies flying from one job to the next, from one love to another. People pined. People mourned. Nick Drake was one of those people. He might have been a bit of a mess, a bit spoiled, and a tad anti-social, but I see a trend...all the brilliant ones are. I've never been more moved by a biography of another person's life than Nick's. His life was short, he died when he was 26; he was nothing at all special during his lifetime. He was afraid to perform live, one of the many similarities I share with him. I was encouraged to know that true genius, true brilliance does not become actualized only under the spotlight. That being said, the eleven short songs collected on Pink Moon are all short and sweet, and not a one fails to convey a sliver of real life, of the artist's life. I can see Nick huddled in the corner of his dingy bedroom, softly singing to himself as he looks out the window upon the world he has closed himself off from. I have spent many hours in my own room, writing songs drenched in my own pains and sorrows, and a few joys. The soul pours out the negative, and retains the good things. I won't go into a song-by-song review of the album, because I don't feel right criticizing this album in any way. This is one man's interpretation and stuggle with the world he lived in. There is no need to judge that.

October 22, 2007

Dreams, Madres

I've been having very strange, very real dreams lately. This happens to me about once a month (on average). I can't go into detail, because I fear that the details of the dreams would not make enough sense to even properly portray an adequate visual. They're all jumbled in my head, but little snippets, little bits and pieces still stick out like a sore thumb. I don't really like dreaming. I never have. For some reason, I just started thinking about Owen Wilson in Behind Enemy Lines. He was awesome in that movie.

Yeah.

October 17, 2007

Pieces

Even if it's possible for one to forget the mistakes they have made in the past, don't ever let it happen. For me, my mistakes are forever a part of me, inevitably. This is a curse and a blessing, except the edges blur between the two and they end up being one and the same. I will forever remember the things I have been through in this life, as long as I continue to awake each and every morning. Sometimes I get so scared thinking about how fragile my life is...sometimes I wonder if my mistakes are not more than I make them out to be. We should always learn something from every situation we find ourselves present in. I have learned over the years that I am not the ultimate source of right and wrong. I mean, your parents try to teach you that, but no one can teach you something like that...you really have to realize at some point (having been used to thinking you are a god among mortals) that, given the opportunity, you sure do make a mess of things. I feel sometimes like I should be handing out apologies left and right...but I know that apologies are words, and that usually words are not our friends. People get into so much trouble using words. I think people should own licences in order to use words. I know that saying anything sometimes would be such a huge step backwards. If things are, for the most part, all better now, and time has refined every rusty, jagged edge, then why would I dig up with words what's already laid to rest? I never meant to hurt anyone, and yet I have, and I can't take it back. I'm sure the pain has been reduced to a dull ache, but still...I never meant any harm. I have affected the lives of others that I believe are good people, people that deserve great things. I hope for the best in everyone's lives I have been a part of.

R.I.P.

October 5, 2007

RYM Front Page!

My review for Sigur Rós' album Takk is the #1 featured review on rateyourmusic.com's front page! Whoohoo! Check it out here!

October 3, 2007

Blah...

Sometimes, someone says or does something so ridiculous, I am completely convinced that Andy Kaufman is alive, and behind it all.

October 1, 2007

I Think "Myspace" Was Originally A Tool Used By The Romans In Attaching The Accused To Large Wooden Crosses...

I predict that Myspace will peak in 2008, and become virtually abandoned by the year 2012 (the Mayan Apocalypse). Actually, I would be flabbergasted if it even lasted that long. I must admit, I was a Myspace victim for a little under a year, until just recently, and never have I looked back and realized a bigger waste of my time and effort (and brain cells). Each login to Myspace is the equivalent of about thirty sniffs from a sash paint brush soaked in Killz. I look back and wonder...since when did I start calling thumbnail-sized pictures resembling people I know/once knew/want other people to think i know/well, i didn't friend them, they friended me/they look nice enough/this is a good band...friends?? The phone still exists, and text messages are pretty much identical to Myspace comments, and I have my phone with me all the time. I see no reason for any extra added steps involving the friendly day-to-day verbal exchange with my friends. It seems that Myspace is just a big ego-boosting ceremony for the majority of its members these days; a great way to allow others to view just how incredibly funny/talented/artistic/special you really are. What's really funny is that most of the time, the funny quotes and artistic pics and backgrounds are downloaded in insta-html from some dime-a-dozen Myspace outlet store from those with the actual talent (and time on their hands to waste) to begin with. So, in essence, the statements made by Myspace's members aren't really "look at how cool I am!", but more accurately, "look at how well this pre-fabricated, stereotypically artsy-fartsy background I found having desperately rummaged through all the tried-and-true Myspace graphics hotspots represents me!" Anyone with any real talent is expressing themselves privately, or on blogger (you knew the shameless, self-glorifying plug would interject itself sooner or later).

I guess my closing thought is this: If all of your Myspace friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too? I honestly never thought that dusty old saying my parents constantly whipped out at me like a wallet-sized picture of Jesus nailed to the cross would ever make any real impact someday...

September 30, 2007

Fall Reading

It's the last day of September. Fall is just around the corner, and I'm really ready for it. I've started reading Ouspenky again, and it all seems to fit. Hopefully by the end of the year, I will have completed RAW's Cosmic Trigger trilogy, and at least half of Ouspensky's The Fourth Way. I'm also still only on the second book of George R. R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire, so I would like to try and finish that as well. I'm so glad life will be slowing down soon (hopefully).

September 27, 2007

I'm Touched...(But Not Impressed)



Well, the iPod Touch is here, and I've got to say, I'm disappointed. It feels like Apple is really gipping music lovers with this one, and that comes as a bit of a surprise. I really loved the minimalism and elegance of previous iPod generations, such as the 4 and 5G's, and the large capacity, since, afterall, the iPod was originally marketed as an MP3 portable music player. It seems as though Apple has traded in elegance and simplicity for flashy, snappy graphics and other stuff, I guess just to inflate the price and provide the illusion of "versatility". I don't really want to access the internet from my iPod...I want to listen to music; neither do I want to play around with contacts...I mainly think "music" when I think "iPod". Why on earth couldn't these things have integrated an 80 gig hard drive like the new classics, and dropped the accessories? I love the enhanced coverflow browsing, and the large widescreen display, and, of course, the touch-sensitive screen...but honestly, what am I going to do with an iPod that holds less than one-third of my library and a wifi connection?? Perhaps I could write this blog on my iPod. Fun.

September 26, 2007

Stereolab: "Sound-Dust" (2001)

I love the way Stereolab hides stellar, chilled-out retro grooves inside a cleverly-crafted bubble-pack of mystery and sinister drones, and Sound-Dust delivers their trademark sound as deftly as ever...except the music sounds quite polished and clean, in my opinion. They should have called it Sound-Dusted to be completely accurate. I wouldn't say there is any real improvement here over any previous Stereolab releases, because the Groop is very good at staying dynamic and true to the formula simultaneously, and haven't yet run out of good ideas, but I guess the selling point for me was the deftness I described initially...what I mean is, this album is quite a bitch. It's moody, it's indifferent, it's atypical, and at times, it's completely offsetting...yet it's also absolutely necessary, something most bands attempt yet seemingly always fall far short of. Even the lyrics are a bit racier, a bit edgier ("Nothing To Do With Me"'s little treasure toward the end; "Did you prescribe my daughter a pound of heroine? I'm sorry, I can't see a thing, I've blinded myself.") Each of these dusted tunes shine through on their own, rendering most common household polishing products unnecessary; the Groop's dreamy, progressive pop cuts through even the toughest caked-on dust and dirt. The album starts out reminiscent of some spacey who-dunnit flick, featuring, perhaps, some neo-Peter Sellers-esque private I, and slowly dissolves, quite literally, into a relaxed, light-hearted romp through a Willy Wonka wonderland of moog and marimba-drenched melodies, leaving the listener completely carefree - especially once the horn sections and the "doo-doo-dooo's" spring to life. Try frowning through that, Oscar. Other treats, namely "Captain Easychord", "The Black Arts", and "Hallucinex", keep the album from drowning in utter misery and heartache. The short and sweet of it; this album will dust off the cobwebs around the corners of your heart - something most music in this new millenium cannot acclaim to. Give it a whirl.

September 25, 2007

Animal Collective: "Peacebone"

Here's Animal Collective's music video for "Peacebone". This should win an award...but for what, I'm not quite sure. This song kicks so much ass it's not even remotely funny.

September 24, 2007

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (And Coffee)

I'm just sitting here, drinking Joya Del Dia and listening to Joe Maneria's "Paniots Nine", and I'm realizing that things are just not the same. There are very obvious reasons for this, but there are also some subtle, easily misunderstood reasons as well. I've been finding those hidden reasons lately, much to my dismay. Things are not the same because life is dynamic, even though it is also cyclical. What goes around comes around, and yet what comes around is a slightly skewed, used up, lifeless version of what went around to begin with. What I mean is that nothing is ever the same. Nothing is ever as powerful, or interesting, or meaningful the second time around. That perfect cup of coffee, even though I still try desperately to this day, will never allow itself to be replicated. You'll always end up with a coffee grind in your teeth, or a millileter less or more of water, or something to throw it off. This chaotic property has its upside as well. Since chaos introduces randomness into the equation of life, I have a fifty-fifty chance, for the sake of this argument, at having a more or lesser meaningful time the second time around. What if that horrible cup of coffee I've created in expectation of the recreation of the perfect cup leads me to buy a better coffeemaker, and one that makes far superior coffee each time to that one perfect cup prior? This is something I haven't forseen. Chaos induces change, which keeps life dynamic. If I could recreate that perfect cup of coffee every time without fail, life would be a static entity that surprises, and therefore, new experiences to rival my idea of perfection, would take no part in. Life is about pros and cons. You gain something if you lose something, and vice versa. I have to learn to understand this principle, and allow its effects to influence my life with at least a pinch of optimism. Things won't ever be the same, and that's only making room for the good, the bad, and the ugly still to come. It all depends, ultimately, on how badly you desire progress, I guess.

September 17, 2007

The Montauk Project

I've got this killer idea rolling around the old noggin. It's a story/screenplay idea loosely based on the 1980's Montauk project and its convergence with Project Rainbow, more commonly known as "The Philadelphia Experiment". In sticking to my usual writing style, I plan on incorporating some tightly-knit character bonds, which almost always results in a fairly interesting layer of dialogue throughout. So yes, I plan on writing a thriller with a sci-fi/government conspiracy/cover-up theme to it. Here is a small, random snippet of some of the dialogue from the story thus far.

T finally removed the sunglasses from his face, revealing two beady brown eyes flecked with green, brooding, yet puzzlingly constrained. “Tell me again…the man behind the tree was wearing…”
“Warm-up,” I said through a mouthful of hummus. “Why, do you think there’s something to it?”
“Close your mouth and chew your food, Stephen,” he said, clearly a bit disgusted with my eating habits and/or etiquette (or lack thereof). “Just getting the details.”

Just imagine Eddie Kaye Thomas as the british conspiracist (Silent) T and you're there.
More to come.

September 14, 2007

Animal Collective: "Strawberry Jam" (2007)

Animal Collective is back with their follow-up to 2005's Feels, and from first listen, it seems as though the four have once again stuck to their tried-and-true, "always never the same" approach; this album is seemingly rocketing away from Feels, rendering any comparisons therefore useless and just plain tacky. This album proves that music listeners/reviewers need to adapt a new method when dynamic albums, like this, come along; we need to learn to judge the music based on what's there, not on what isn't. Let's not turn a decent review into a snobfest. Regardless of how you choose to approach this release, you're undoubtedly going to find something worth remembering; such an extreme, experimental album as this will not leave the listener spacing out into la-la-land. I have yet to listen to this in its entirety, but so far I am very intrigued. More to come.

June 17, 2007

Good Post, Bad Post

Good music is good for a reason, but what's infinitely important is that "good" is a completely subjective and ultimately relative word. As long as people have freedom of speech and thought, good music will forever be obscure and open for interpretation. This of course leads me to the obvious implication that "good" and "evil" may possibly be all in the eye of the beholder. In order to keep good and evil from intertwining and interchanging with each other, we have to attach some set of guidelines to each term to give them meaning and purpose apart from each other. Of course, much of this meaning is interpreted intuitively, meaning that men and women have a certain idea of what is good and evil, right and wrong. We know the good from the bad; we teach our children what it is to be well-behaved as opposed to deserving of a beating.
So, I guess what I am really getting at in all of this word soup is that good or bad music is only open for interpretation to a certain point. Any collection of sounds with some form or version of rhythm, pattern or structure can be given the label "good", "bad, "right" or "wrong", whereas no one really enjoys a bunch of earsplitting noise. No one calls general ambience, the day-to-day sounds of our houses settling, or of cars driving along the streets "music".
So, there is a basic, generally accepted understanding of what good, or bad, music is, but only because we also know what it is for something not to be music at all. It must be the same with most anything else that we've labeled "good" or "bad".
I think I'm up way too early. This post lacks the punch I was intending to pack.

June 14, 2007

Vacation/Zoo

It was a good day. We took Brayden on his first trip to the zoo today. I took off today and Friday to get a little time with the family before Erika returns from maternity leave. We had a good time; Brayden slept through the whole thing, of course, but Erika and I had fun. Lions and tigers and bears...and...dragonflies? One of the highlights of the trip was the Red Panda and the Kangaroos...I've lived in this town for ten years and never even gave it a thought that we had endangered species living amongst us. Yeah, well, I'm tired, so here's a couple pics.

June 13, 2007

My Guidance Counselor Says, "Music Is About Proving That Emo Isn't Music."

Get motivated.
I'm like my own guidance counselor sometimes.
What's worse is that I am completely underqualified for such a lofty role in my own life. So I continually feed myself bad advice, and then the smarter, more intuitive side of me with the larger helping of morality has to be the one to sift through it all and separate out the truth from the bullshit. Welcome to my life. Duality is not always a good thing, or even a conscious decision, for that matter. Ah, forget it. I'm tired of trying to make sense of everything in this life that just doesn't.
I guess I just need to take a walk.
I've been into The Shalabi Effect for a few months now, and I'm still awe-struck by the group's originality and deftly obscure beauty. Take a listen to "Kinder Surprise" in my playlist. Another current favorite these days is the incredibly quirky Animal Collective. Their newest album, Feels, has got to be one of the strangest, tightest, purposeful (yet still having to be "dug up"), and downright coolest albums I've ever heard. One thing I find refreshing about Animal Collective's musical ideology is their commitment to producing albums that are genuinely different than the one before it, and at the same time, different than anything else in the indie/experimental/avant-rock scene. Every artist likes to say it, but few can actually do it. Listening to Sung Tongs generates an altogether different aural experience than listening to Feels. I won't explain in detail, because I feel it totally robs the artists of their ability to set a particular mood, predetermined not by me or any other reviewer, but by the music itself, and the emotions and collective thoughts that went into it. Just take a listen to some of their music in my playlist. I'll be putting up a couple more AC songs before the end of the day.

Here's a great video and song by Animal Collective. I can't seem to find this song on any of their albums.

June 12, 2007

Drive

I don't want to rant and rave tonight. I don't want to write about the meaning of life, like so many cliche thinkers before me. I will not delve into the intensity or mystery of the Bible, and all its heavenly and glorious paradoxes. Tonight, I sit here wth nothing to say. Yes, it's happened. I am the antagonist in contemplation's autobiography. I am the arch nemesis to Augustine's philosophical conundrum, or Einstein's jarred brain, containing, quite possibly, the secret connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity. My socratic dialectic has been abandoned for tootsie rolls and cheap hamburgers. I am finally here, just a guy behind a computer screen, in desperate need of a shave and a bigger thesaurus. It's strange that I have to often times tell myself to stop thinking, to just slow down and take a breath. Life is the most annoying back seat driver I have ever known. This guy won't lay off. So here I am, having pulled over for you-know-who, cuz "man, I gotta' take a leak," wondering if now is my chance. I should just take off. I should leave him here, with his tool in hand and future orders stacked and ready to deal. I should be thirty miles away at this point; but I'm not. I'm still here. I think it's because I need someone to tell me where I should be. I need life barking orders in my ear all day long, just to know I am alive. Just to know I matter. Just to know I have somewhere to go if I can't figure it out on my own. Yet at the same time, this is about the laziest thing a person can do; just sit back, super-glue your foot to the accelerator, and try to keep up with just exactly where life is taking you. No stops. No restroom breaks. Plenty of chances to throw it all away with a sharp turn of the wheel.
So, as I said, I'm just the driver tonight. I'm not going anywhere I've predetermined, at least for the moment. It's a dangerous move, yes; but every once in a while it's fun to take a couple wrong turns. Hell, it's damn near the only way to know where you've been anymore.

June 11, 2007

Breathing, From The Middle Stall

I read an article yesterday as I sat with my wife and kid at our window seat, in one of our favorite local cafes. It was all about following your passion, your childhood dream, your gift in this life, and doing it without guilt. I then realized the man writing it had no idea what it was like to be me, sitting here in a local cafe in South Bend, Indiana, with a 3-week-old son and wife of two and a half years on maternity leave. I could not possibly walk away from my job and follow my passion, even though that desire has burned inside of me for countless years, as repressed then as it is now. I find myself wondering exactly why some things are made to be kept to one's self, to be locked away and released only in secret, or in my spare time, or once the baby is asleep and fed and the house is clean. If we only have one life to live, why are we all working it away, in professions we never chose for ourselves, but somehow fell in and liked the pay or the benefits of? Why am I not writing? Why am I not creating anything? What could be more worthwhile than creation, than art? God himself is an artist. He created you and me. He created the heavens and the earth, and yet here I am pigeon-holing myself away in a niche I never saw fit for me. What would this world be like if God had become a CPA instead of an artist? Would there even be a world at all? Would He be happy? What would God have to say about this? I'm going to have to look that up. I'm sure that it doesn't please God to see us down here dragging our feet each day to a job we were not made to do, just to make a "decent", meager living.
I already regret publishing this post, for some reason.
While I'm at it, allow me to interject a few biased thoughts of mine on life and living, in general. What the hell is the point anyway? Of all we boast about as humans, of all the knowledge and skill we have acquired over time, why is it that this question can still go unanswered? Why can't I figure out exactly what it is that I am doing here. I'm not asking for a cheap one-liner either. I want to know the answer. I want to know why I feel so often like I am just walking around with nothing better to do than work, or drive my car, or write songs and poems and blog posts about what I think the purpose of life is when it's all bullshit anyway - I have no idea why I am here. Don't get me wrong...I love my family; my wife, my son, and my parents and sister. I love my dog and my house and the "great opportunity" I have here at the office. I love that, if I work just an eeeensy-weeeensy bit harder, I can get a "substantial" raise, and then I can afford a bigger house, a bigger car, and a bigger brick on each shoulder to carry around with me to and from here and there. I wish that people would stop being so phony. I wish I knew more people who were real, living-and-breathing humans with hearts and souls and brains that are huge, of course, yet don't understand or even claim to understand everything there is to know about this life we all live. I wish that sometimes, when I asked these questions, I would get a "gee...I'm not really sure; I always kinda' wondered that myself", instead of the usual, "well the purpose of life is simple; live according to the word of God, and seek wisdom and truth". Seek wisdom and truth? I understand what the scriptures mean, but what makes me cringe about those words is when they come out of the mouth of someone alive and breathing, just like me, that somehow seems to have no problem understanding the paradox inherent in such a statement. Is this blasphemy, what I have said, or is it just pure, honest humanity? Is a question evil? Here is why I refer to that statement as paradoxical: if I were to ask the bright young (or old) individual, who opened their mouths a little too soon and let these wonderfully-Christiany, chocolate-coated words pour out, what they mean by "seek wisdom and truth", here is the response I would probably get: "By wisdom and truth I am of course referring to the word of God." But what is the word of God then? "Wisdom and truth, of course." See the paradox here? Read through any chapter in the Bible and count the paradoxes you come up with. Why doesn't anyone question this? Too many people are afraid of what they might come up with. Too many people are afraid to think for themselves, and you know what? That is because too many people are deceiving the masses into believing that they don't need to think if they are saved by God's grace. How outrageous!! How often do we see Jesus emotionally wrought, spiritually and physically tempted, angered and violent, or doubtful of God even? If Jesus was human, why do so many Christians pretend to be not a follower of Christ, but Christ himself? What a joke. I am so fed up with the righteous front I see in most Christians I know. Being a Christian is not about being Christian-looking or sounding. It's about identifying yourself with a real and very human savior. Where along the line did things get so mixed up? Why am I going to be attacked by an onslaught of angered Christians for thinking about the Bible in my own context? Don't we all personalize the scriptures to our own understanding, to a point? It's not like I am cutting out words from random pages of the Bible and pasting them all together on a piece of paper, then xeroxing and distributing them around town. I've got a brain inside this circular thing on top of my shoulders, and I will use it whether my pastor wants me to or not. Wake up people. Trust yourselves a little more. Jesus died for you. You don't die for people you don't love and trust.

May 16, 2007

Who Needs Sleep?

Nights are lousy these days. What with my wife getting up constantly with cramps, swelling, hunger pangs, and a baby camping out on her bladder, I might as well be pregnant as well. We had a bit of a storm here last night as well, although all it really did was blow stuff around and look really ominous. Everyone at the office was freaked out because the power went off for about 2.2 seconds. They were all on their cell phones, I'm guessing arranging rides from their spouses to pick them up (I'm still trying to make sense of that), and as I started walking out, I got the obvious stated to me more than twice. "There's a tornado!" First of all, there was a tornado watch, which means there had been reports of tornado sightings, not that a tornado was on its way or even likely. Second, if there is a tornado on its way, why are we all standing around waiting for it? When I left yesterday at 5:15, the only visible signs of a storm were the dark, brooding storm clouds, dust spinning in circles, and some fairly strong wind gusts. I could visibly see it getting worse as I walked to my car. What was everyone waiting for...a tornado?? I'd rather be at home than stranded at work in a storm, but that's just me. Anyway, that was my evening. So, needless to say, my walk got cancelled. Maybe tonight. Maybe not. Who knows.
So I'm becoming more and more intrigued lately with Yume Bitsu's The Golden Vessyl Of Sound, and find myself wanting to hear more. This is a general trend with me; I will discover an artist, give them a good couple of days worth of listens, then shelf them and forget about them until a month, maybe two months, maybe longer, rolls by and I rediscover and finally begin to accumulate interest in them. Why is this? It's because life is reciprocal. What goes around comes around, continuously. Life is a circuit, so naturally, everything is governed by that same principal. It's fun to see it in action in my life, but that's just me. I notice those things. Sometimes I wonder if anyone else thinks at all like me, but then at the same time, I can't even imagine that. That would be incredible, because I think about alot of strange, unnecessary things, and sometimes it even scares me, but you know what...the human mind has a mind of its own; my subconscious seems to have quite the imagination.
So back to the beginning...who needs sleep when you're constantly pouring over your every thought, picking it to its barest of bare bones?
I'm tired today.

May 15, 2007

Spring Along The River/Records Of Importance

It's been great weather here lately, and the wife and I have definitely taken advantage of it. We've been doing a lot of walking lately, along our favorite stretch of the East Race. I'm going walking tonight by myself, as she will be shopping with her mother, so I'm trying to put together a good mix to walk to. I think my favorite music to walk to is the heavily instrumental, lushly layered compositions of adam pierce's mice parade, but I also enjoy walking to anything from Stereolab to Sam Prekop, to Vetiver's self-titled indie/folk release. So far, my mix's line-up will include all of these and others. I seem to do my best thinking, my most life-altering thinking while I am walking alone. There's just something in the breezy evening air, or in the shady paths that wind along the river, that enhances that spark of creativity and enlightenment within me. I need to reclaim my walks, and chalk them up to a good summer this year. Last summer sucked, and I won't be seeing any of those things I went through ever again in my life, God willing. It's time to start living in the here-and-now, in the life I chose for myself at no one else's discretion. Life is great most of the time. My walks are proof of that.
But that's just the most recent of my past-times. One other just-as-recent new hobby of mine is building my record collection. You know, vinyls. Long-players. Dig it. My collection starters include The Sea and Cake's new album Everybody, Mark Mulcahy's hushed and enigmatic masterpiece SmileSunset, Miracle Legion's 1984 debut EP The Backyard, their 1987 release Surprise Surprise Surprise, Quasi's infamous Featuring "Birds", and Archer Prewitt's Three. Like I said, these are just my collection starters. I already have a long, long list of the LP's I will soon come to own. Some of the more notable of the bunch include Set Fire To Flames' second haunting orchestral release Telegraphs In Negative/Mouths Trapped In Static, Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s entire discography, Low's brilliant and beautiful Trust and Things We Lost In The Fire, and an undecided selection or two, or four, from Le Fly Pan Am's discography. I am also vehemently searching for The Sea And Cake's greatest release, as well as my personal favorite release of all time, The Biz, which is quite a feat considering its out-of-print status and rarity, therefore, and also its age, dating back to 1994-5. I believe I may have found a seller though, and though the price may be a bit lofty, I believe it to be worth it, as the album is a collector's item and simply important to me.
So anyway, there's my obsession of the year right there. I'll keep you all updated.

April 9, 2007

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things..

Here is yet another Monday, and today, I am not tired, I am not grumpy, and I am not depressed in any way. I have also become determined (at least for this day) not to let any of those things take over my willpower to have a good today, to prove that Mondays do not have to suck. I have many, many reasons to be happy. I am going to be a daddy in about 8 weeks, I am going to complete my MCP, MCSA and MCDST certifications, I have an incredibly wonderful and lovely wife, and The Sea And Cake are coming to Chicago!!!! Problem there is they are performing two days after my wife's due date, so I am not expecting to be able to go, I am merely thinking of it as a chance...I am praying that baby gets here before then!! I've been memorizing their new album Everybody...I mean, listening to clips from...(?)...just so I can become the best fan they have. It's not an obsession. Anyways, those are the good things on my mind these days. I hope everyone starts looking to the good in their own lives as well, because it's hard to be depressed when you aren't focusing on anything depressing.

March 15, 2007

Argh

Well, after that game of inner tug-of-war with my best judgement, I am back on myspace. But ONLY because I wanted to. http://myspace.com/shutupandbreakdance

March 14, 2007

To Myspace or Not To Myspace...

This is not my final resting place. This is not my home. However, I would rather be here than back on Myspace...seriously, what a waste of time and effort. I am not going to bash Myspace all day, but for me, it got real old real fast, and I began realizing that most of my so-called "friends" on my friends list barely spoke to me before or after (or since) my adding them to my friends list. Those are not real friends...those are tiny blips of light through fiber-optics and CAT-5 cables. However, Myspace did keep my true friends closer, as sending a message or commenting was among the easiest of day-to-day tasks to be completed. I am not saying I'll never return to Myspace, because I don't think I look good with my foot in my mouth, but I am saying this: for now, I'll stick to blogging, and let my real friends call me for coffee or lunch when they have something to say.

March 13, 2007

The Fiery Furnaces - "Bitter Tea"

It is 72° out, mid-march, approximately 21 hours past the hour I was born 25 years ago. All that to say I am happy, and ready to get up from in front of this computer screen. But before I do that, let me say this...The Fiery Furnaces are becoming a new favorite. I will warn anyone interested in listening (with no previous introduction to their music) right now - do not judge this album based on your first listen!! This is another one of those ease-your-way-in, "oh...i get it" kind of albums and groups. Upon first skeptical listen, you may very likely be annoyed with the cut-and-paste song structures consuming most of the tracks from start to finish, as well as the high-pitched, "Mom! My robot is taking over the city again!!" keyboard/clavichord/electrical cord combination of sounds that quite literally explode in and out of existence. Your eardrums will hate you at first, but you know what, if you are like me (e.g. one who appreciates artistic musical endeavor, stylized music, and walking as opposed to jogging), they'll get over it and get used to it, and probably like it, and then love it (possibly). It is all a matter of taste, honestly. I thoroughly enjoy the track "I'm In No Mood", with its tinker-toy piano and whimsically moody subject matter, "I'm in no mood to comb my hair, there's a chill in the air, and it's catching! catching!", as well as the sudden change of pace and mood as is The Fiery Furnace's signature in sound. Nothing classic here, but it definitely has originality and flare. A for originality (there is too an "A" in originality...).

March 7, 2007

7 Steps Past Unhappiness

I had another poem listed here, but forget it.
This is pressing. This is breaking news (maybe not). This will probably never reach its target audience, but nonetheless...how ridiculous does life have to get before you change it around for the better, before you take control of your life instead of run when it kicks you in the side? I am sick and tired of all the sob stories, best-sellers or not. Get a grip, get a cup of coffee, and wake up. We don't aimlessly drift from friend to friend, lover to lover, situation to situation...at least that was never God's intention for us. We are mobile for a reason. We have lungs for a reason. We have reproductive organs for another reason. All of these have one commonality, at least: they involve and require action on our part. Life is the same way. If you live it actively, it will do its part in ensuring your success. You don't have to always wonder why you are so lonely and depressed and suicidal; you only have to wonder why you aren't acting against your loneliness.
It's simple (but respectfully, not easy):
1. Quit whining.
2. Quit crying.
3. Quit spending all your money on tissue boxes and ice cream.
4. Try running.
5. Write, listen to music, or paint.
6. Tell yourself you are not a pathetic waste.
7. Allow yourself to fully move past the troubles in your life.
Let's break it down a little further from there (and remember, I am not a conceded, condescending prick; I know most of this from experience in doing things the wrong way myself). 1. Quit whining - there is no need to let your emotions rule you just because you feel like they should. Everyone always thinks that wallowing in self-pity is the only way to get through hard times in their lives. The only thing you get from self-pity is more reason to kill yourself, because you are usually your worst enemy. Do not trust yourself (because why would you trust the very person that is holding you under?). 2. Quit crying - crying is sometimes a necessary outlet, but just like anything, there is and should be a limit. I am referring to those who allow their emotions to further fuel their dilemmas to the point of exhaustion or physical and emotional harm. 3. Quit spending money - Buying new clothes won't provide a lasting emotional high. Spending is the emotional equivalent of heroin. 4. Try running - physical activity that requires a certain degree of discipline and commitment is a healthy, positive reinforcement. Don't make it easy either - go for the harder to get to park or walking trail to ensure your full devotion to the activity. The main point is to change your ungrounded, undisciplined lifestyle. 5. Write, listen to music or paint - artistic, or creative, outlet is probably going to do you nothing but good here, even if you aren't an artist. You don't have to be Picasso - just "let it out" in some other form or medium (as we artists call it). 6. Tell yourself you are not a pathetic waste - by now you should be able to control the self-loathing urges, but take it a step further and introduce positive thought processes into your new mindset. Instead of just not thinking the bad things, replace them with good things, like "boy, I really see a change for the better in myself", or "man, I look good in these biker shorts"...um, you get the idea. 7. Allow yourself to fully move past the troubles in your life - lastly, after you have your positive influences in place and have given them a while to become familiar and habitual, allow yourself to truly and fully give up on the troubles you experienced. This may sound strange, but I have learned through personal experience as a human mistake-maker that letting go is not something we do. We may get over something to the point where we don't think about it most of the time, but it's always there waiting for us when we need it. Don't let it stick around. This is the hardest step, and one that I am still not fully able to master as of yet. I am not necessarily saying we should forget the mistake entirely, because at some point the mistakes we make turn into lessons we learned from. I guess the solution here is to step past the hurt or sting we feel over something, and just commit it to memory as "this is how it felt when this happened, and I am not going to let it happen again".
Hopefully this wasn't too "magoo" to handle.

March 6, 2007

Roomy Fnords

You were a tragic tale
some petal torn too soon
to lay with who you were
while life passed by, and grew
like shadows under you.

Through heavy winds we blew
though change, she graced us not
with shoes we won't outgrow
and likewise prodded there
the part, divides our hair.

This present turmoil counts
the days from then to now
and yielding none to us
of joy, squeezed in its fist
like blood, drips from its lips.

I'll pave my road in time
and travel hard and fast
yet never o'er life's pace
in constants, though displaced
these lines, my aging face.

March 5, 2007

Life Stole All My Lunch Money

Life is definitely not always fun. The world is never an easy place to live in. Cliche, yet nonetheless true, no matter how many times it has been said, by how many people. Life is a rollercoaster of health, sickness, death, birth, rebirth, happiness, sadness, anger, resentment, confusion and anxiety, to name a few of the more popular day-to-day emotions and trials. I am tired, and my gut feels as if it were punched by Evander Holyfield after Mike Tyson bit his ear off. I am completely ready for spring, and yet it still evades us. I am ready for my 25th to come and go, but of course I have a week yet to ponder my age and what I didn't do with one more year of my life now in the rear-view mirror.
It isn't easy being me...but somebody's got to do it.
I deleted my Myspace profile, in hardly-related other news. Within the month, I will be getting myself set up on a hosted site with my own registered domain name and full flexibility to be creative with my layout. I am pretty darn pumped about that. Bring on the confusion. I only want to learn and grow from this point on, which means I am willing to sacrifice the frustration life may throw at me in any new endeavor for the end result, and the satisfaction and pride that will surely follow from completion of something I set my mind and heart to. Life's such a bully, and the only way to defeat it is to knock it back in its place when it tries to rough you up...and it probably won't ever be any different. Practice makes perfect.
I have tea to drink now.

March 3, 2007

Awaiting the Blindingly Beautiful in Life

When it comes down to it, do asthetics really make any difference? The answer is yes, and obviously no. If no completely, my time and life's work will have been wasted, and if completely yes, then the weight of our opinions are equal to the asthetic value we invest in them, and therefore, the most artistic of us will rule the way society as a whole thinks and operates. Artists are not gods. Neither are scientists. Keep this in mind.

March 2, 2007

The Adventurous and Highly Motivated Life of an IT Help Desk Coordinator

Fridays are good days. Today, I've got three computers to finish for Monday. That is a lot of pressure on one poor soul, that poor soul being yours truly. On top of that...old man winter decided to grace us with a fresh sheet of snow to brighten our Spring-anxious hearts...and now I am disappointed because I found the right web host, but don't have the moula at this juncture to proceed with setting up my domain name and site. What a sad day. =(

February 28, 2007

Joel's Goals

It's time to start getting into shape and getting organized once again, now that winter is on its way out and spring is waiting behind the curtains. I found a neat little organizer called joe's goals, and decided to give it a try...but, as you can see, the designer in me kicked the planner in me in the nuts and layed out his own schedule for me. Anyway...give it a go yourself.



February 24, 2007

The Number 23


I came across a book in the bookstore one day entitled "The Cosmic Trigger: Final Secret Of The Illuminati" by Robert Anton Wilson, and my intrigue was immediately sparked. It was just one of those books you know will be interesting, possibly even mind-bending...even so, I put the book back after thumbing through it casually, and that was that.
Almost...a couple years later, being about 6 months ago, I finally let my curiosity take over and purchased a copy on Amazon.com, and you know what...I still can't believe I put that book back on the shelf after that first encounter. Not entirely believable, but then again, what is in this life? In fact, I find myself believing and trusting the most in the things in this world that cannot be proven or guaranteed beyond the hope and faith that they are believable. Belief in anything tangible is unnecessary.
Did I mention I purchased this book on 9/14? Go figure...
Well, Wilson sure has a way of convincing someone not to be convinced. I found myself presented with some pretty outlandish questions and ideas, from Aleister Crowley to Timothy Leary to the Dog Star Sirius, and of course, the 23 enigma. The 23 enigma is a reoccurring theme throughout the Cosmic Trigger trilogy, and is responsible for the birth of Discordianism, Wilson being among the founders of the movement. It was also frequently speculated by Aleister Crowley in his many occult works. Being a Christian, I was not at once given to the idea of a number guiding or ruling one's life, but once I read on, I realized just how it could be possible. All around us are numbers...everything is a variable of one equation or another...but why 23? Why is 23 sacred, or cursed? Why 13? Where does superstition end, and philosophy begin? I guess the real question is not why, but how many...does the universe work in 23's more than any other endless combination of numbers, and if so, what exactly does that mean? I was not and am still not able to answer these questions, but I began noticing the 23's in my life regardless, to the extent of wearing my favorite hooded sweatshirt, which I never noticed featured a knit "2" and "3" on either side of the zipper, on the 23rd of October!
Anyway, if you look hard enough, you may find what you are looking for. Enter "The Number 23", directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen. Can a number drive a man to murder? It definitely drove Jim Carrey crazy. I enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed the direct references to Robert Anton Wilson's "The Cosmic Trigger" (notice the doctor's name...Sirius Leary, a combination of the Dog Star and Timothy Leary, plus the striking resemblance of the actor to the late Wilson himself), and having seen the movie a second time, and getting the twists and turns of the plot out of the way, I could really pick out the 23's throughout the film, some of them well hidden and well placed. I would see this movie again, and already plan on owning it whenever it happens to grace the digital video disc. 2 + 3 = 5 stars.

February 23, 2007

I Love Fridays...

I am now acquiring a long-awaited collection completer, and a new release I have been anxious over since the summer, and I am beyond ecstatic! In other news this friday, Noma is a go tonight. John, Drew, Phil and I, beer, Asian/modern atmosphere...dig. Fast forward ten hours: operation basement drain will be in effect, and hopefully completed, and then I can begin growing back what's left of my patchy scalp once again, considering my hands are not in my hair due to some other stresser sure to come. Anyway, after the repair work, the wife and I are going to do some shopping and take a little day trip to get away from this place for a few hours, since winter in Northern Indiana feels like a cold straight-jacket...no spank you. It's good to get away every once in a weekend.
In completely unrelated news, I love Spring. I cannot begin to communicate my longing for green grass, little chirping birdies, and steaming piles of dog doo-doo...lovely, simply lovely. Winter gets this death grip, this choke hold that won't let up...it's like your annoying little brother who doesn't realize it was "funny the first time...". Yeah, well said.
It will be here soon enough, and yes, my son will be here towards the end of May! Brayden James Mattern the first, who already has quite the urban wardrobe amassing in my closet between the blazers and the jeans. This kid will be so spoiled...and that is not a bad thing. He's already got quite the ear for music as well...he dances everytime he hears my guitar, so it's pretty safe to say that daddy's musical heritage will live to see a new generation. All in all, it's an exciting, though admittedly scary, time in my and my wife's life. More to come.

February 22, 2007

"Glass EP" By The Sea And Cake

The Sea and Cake...where to begin. The Ramones of Jazz Rock. The inventors of the Post-Rock genre to which I find myself so heavily addicted. Four true artists allowing their art to directly influence the sounds flowing from the otherwise useless concoctions of nickel, wood and stretched animal skin. To take ordinary instruments, and to go even further and assemble yourself into an ordinary rock ensemble, and create something familar and altogether new at the same time is just plain impossible...usually. Not so for The Sea and Cake. They've been doing it since '94, and haven't yet let up in their mastery of their own sound and temperment. Never have I encountered a group of musicians with such skill in their craft, and such subtle simplicity arriving into such grandiose melody and overall song structure, and never is a tough word to throw around, so I don't do so. This is hands-down my favorite group of all time, folks. I feel like I want to shout their names from the top of a mountain, but at the same time, I selfishly want to keep them all to myself, like your first child as he inevitably arrives at manhood (which I will someday understand...). In their most recent release, the Glass EP is everything that makes this band great, from Eric Claridge's playful and chunky bass lines to Archer's love of the wah and volume pedals to Sam's breathy, always-never-the-same vocals and sloppy, juicy slices of Judas Priest Indie Jazz riffs, and yet there is much more than usual laying beneath the regular amalgom of sound. Sam Prekop and John McIntyre explore their love of electronic buzzes and beeps and swells like never before heard on any full-length TSAC release to date, as well as giving up a few tracks to be remixed by fellow Post-Rockers Stereolab. The album starts with a steady, tinny beat bursting with synthesized blips and driven by a trebly tremolo power chorded riff that explodes into full-blown electro-chill heaven, complements of Mr. Claridge and his extremely playful, throbbing, bass-tacular creations. Give "Traditional Wax Coin" a listen if you enjoy simple, playful Post-Rock, or if you are Tortoise fan, which by now you should have no reason not to be. The remixes are intensely engaging; I could not keep my head stationary through "Interiors (Broadcast Remix)", and especially enjoyed the low buzz bass substitution at every second and fifth measure. Overall, another infectious, dramatic, chilled-out release from the best damn band on the planet. Look out for their eighth full-length release, dubbed "Everybody", coming in May, cuz I sure will!

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