Friday, February 26, 2010

But then again, maybe?

I have to say, I really like the set schedule that my new job provides. Being out of the office at 3pm daily (or earlier depending on my workload) and having weekends off has been absurdly great.

The only bitch of it all has been getting up at 5:30 am every day to make it to work on time (7am). I don't know why, but for some reason my normally 15 min.-long solo showers have turned into 25-30 min. showers at this time of the day. I seemingly zombie-out when the water hits me, I think. Perhaps I should invest in a shower timer?

As long as I have my coffee, nobody gets maimed.

I've made a mix for the drive to work in the wee hours when traffic light and it's still dark out. Unfortunately I'm not at home so I don't have it with me. I'll post it when I have access to the playlist on my iTunes.

So I'm reading Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live right now and so far it's enjoyable. I really liked his more recent book IV and generally find his observations very poignant and almost-always absolutely true. He's also a writer who's very aware of his voice and his viewpoint, and doesn't lose sight of either even when writing about or for others. I'm only a few chapters in to KYTL, so my observations at this point are pretty limited and perhaps even unjustifiable until I've read the piece as a whole, but I do have one main criticism thus far: The writer knows he's famous.

It's this weird thing that writers do after they've become a household name--It's not arrogance per se, or some sort of implied superiority to the reader. It's the tone that becomes so matter-of-fact and literal that the writer-as-narrator becomes almost untrustworthy. I find myself thinking "is that really how it is, or just how you perceive it?"

This tone is just fine when a writer claims to be the informed and reliable narrator from the get-go: Political pundits whom write books do this all of the time. We know that Ann Coulter is writing her book to be self-serving and from the viewpoint that she's onehundred percent right and informed before we've hit page 2 (or lately even before we've opened the damned book).

With a writer like C.K., however, his tone throughout the book is often self-reflective and at times even a little self-deprecating. He writes himself as the "every man, regular guy" who his readers can and should identify with. He might not think like us, but his experiences are our experiences and his interactions within his culture are ours as well. He is his reader. And maybe that's the problem?

Thus, when he slips into that tone of "here's how it is, and if you don't know about it or don't agree then you just don't get it" he actually does come off as the aforementioned arrogant fop. His readerhip doesn't like being talked down to any more than I'm sure the writer does. It's that self-awareness of celebrity and (dare I use the term?) "value" as a brand name moreso than an individual that causes this shift; at least that's what my perception is. The writer knows you'll read his book because he's the writer, so of course you trust him. If you don't, then the book is just not for you and why are you reading it, then?

Anyway, this is just an observation made about an entire work in just a few chapters. Maybe it gets better? Maybe the tone shifts will become a central and important part of the narrative? I'll wait and see. The subject matter is too good to pass up, and I don't have anything else to read right now.

"Well all right, so I'm being foolish.
Well all right, so then let people know
About the dreams and wishes you wish
In the nights when the lights are low."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Music I've Listened To: "In and Out of Control," by The Raveonettes

As any long-time fan of The Raveonettes will tell you, every album of this Danish retro-alt. pop duo's feels like a soundtrack to some underground, unreleased Warhol film discovered in a dusty vault that you had to pay a seedy, mustachioed janitor to get access to. The lyrics and the instrumentals drip with ambience and style.

Their first EP "Whip It On" felt like the backdrop to a modern crime noir set in the hot deserts of Vegas.

"Chain Gang of Love" felt like an acid-trippy silent film taking place during the tumultuous transition from 1950s to 1960s Americana.

"Pretty in Black" was the B-Movie; a blood splattered Spaghetti Western piece of nostalgia.

"LUST LUST LUST" was a Tarantino-inspired, Grindhousey crime spree flick.

With "In and Out of Control" comes a beach-blanket-bingo sort of dance-pop with a sound rooted firmly on the happy-go-lucky beaches of East Coast suburbia. The instrumentals pop and swing and snap along at an easy, sometimes low-fi pace. But while the music may be all doo-wop and beach rock, the lyrics however allude to something far more sinister; a seedy underbelly that stains conjured images of patterned one-piece bikinis and pastel ascots. You can't help but groove to tracks like "Heart of Stone" and "Last Dance," but a closer inspection of the content reveals sordid tales of rape, rage, crime, and drug use on nearly every track. While the sound departs from the distinctly West Coast feel of previous Raveonettes albums, by no means has the band lost its direction or mindset. This is one groovy album a-go-go that fits perfectly into their already impressive body of work.

Go Download: "Breaking Into Cars," "Suicide"

4 out of 5 starxx

Music I've Listened To: "Break It Up," by Jemina Pearl

The lead singer of Be Your Own Pet fails to do anything incredibly impressive with her full-length solo album, but that's not to say that there's nothing going on in these tracks. Pearl's still got all the swagger and swarthy attitude that she showed fans as part of Be Your Own Pet, and she gets to stretch her vocal talents a bit more here to go beyond just wailing, screaming, and sing-song choruses. Still, perhaps it's that vocal room which helps as well as hurts most of the tracks. Gone are the manic, fist pumping instrumentals of BYOP where Pearl's voice feels truly at home in favor of a much more polished and more structured take. While that punky, gritty attitude is still present overall, it doesn't feel as genuine as it does on a BYOP record. Still, Pearl doesn't forget who she is and still gives us the vim and vigor of a young woman with plenty to say on tracks like "So Sick!" and "Looking for Trouble." The mellower moments like "Nashville Shores" and the ballad-ish moments like the moody "D is for Danger" are a nice change of pace for Pearl and show a desire to grow, but they fall flat in most cases. Jemina Pearl is still a formidable talent--and her predecessors in the scene seem to think so, too. Iggy Pop lends his production skills to the album on the whole and his vocals to the track "I Hate People," and Thurston Moore (yup) helped Pearl out on the unreleased (but not un-downloadable) cover of The Ramones' "Sheena is a Punk Rocker." With impressive letters of reccomendation like that, Jemina Pearl is someone to watch for. This album just feels like a brief misstep on a career that will more than likely skyrocket.

Go Download: "I Hate People," "So Sick!"

3/5 starxx

Sunday, February 14, 2010

And sometimes, humanity can still surprise me.

For those of you who "don't believe" in Valentine's Day, I'd like to share something.

Every time I feel that the world has sort of let me down, something like the above link comes along and makes me feel as though life is actually worth every meaningless, sardonic, melancholic, tense, wonderful, terrible, and heartbreaking second.

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Tomorrow's back to work and down to sanity.
Should run a bath and then clear up the mess I made before I left here;
Try to remind myself that I was happy here,
Before I knew that I could get on the plane and fly away."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hey! Come to this show!

Thanks to the blog The A.V. Club for this image!

Tomorrow night, low-fi surf punkers The Vivian Girls will be playing at The High Dive right here in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood!

They'll be right at home with fellow Californinspirational rockers Best Coast on the bar's main stage starting at 9pm. Charge is (tentatively) $10.

Hope we'll see you there!

Monday, February 8, 2010


Lots of things come in threes, or so they say (who "they" are is subject to much speculation and, sometimes, suspicion). Deaths, births, good things, bad things, numbers, signals, signs, yaddas . . . Everything comes in a set. One, two, three.

Here are some threes for me.

Three Things Non-Football Related I learned From The Super Bowl:
1. Dan Marino needs to lay off the spray tan.
2. Charles Barkley needs to lay off the damn $5 Dollar Boxes.
3. Betty White makes everything funnier by sheer presence alone.

Three Movies I watched Recently:
1. Julie and Julia
2. Smokin' Aces
3. Summer of Sam

Three Words to Describe Those Movies Listed Above (in order):
1. Sweet
2. Rushed
3. Cocaine

Three Things I'm Currently Obsessed With (or still obsessed with):
1. The idea of a cultural snapshot of America: New York City in 1977.
2. Brecken Meyer's adorable everything.
3. Boddington's in a glass.

Three Things I Bought At The Grocery Store Today:
1. Bananas
2. Ramen (chicken flavored)
3. Nonfat milk

Three Reasons Why I'm in Love:
1. Wrestling matches that turn into tickle fights that turn into sex that turn into tickle fights.
2. Morning coffee and The Daily Show reruns on hulu.
3. The ability to casually make fun of others without having to exchange words or gestures, only glances (see also: "relationship telepathy").

Three Songs I Keep Listening to Again and Again:
1. "What I Am [cover]" - Emma Bunton
2. "Machine Gun" - Portishead
3. "Hard to Live in The City" - Albert Hammond Jr.

Three New Facts About Me:
1. I quit my retail job last week.
2. I have to dress up for work now!
3. I paid a traffic ticket I never should've gotten in the first place.

Three Old Facts About Me That Loosely Relate to the Three New Facts About Me:
1. I'm in love with learning about, reading about, hearing about, talking about, and experiencing new music.
2. I really hate to iron.
3. I'm so broke it hurts.

Three Things That Happened at The Gay Bar on Saturday:
1. Some guy asked me if he could cut my hair.
2. I ran into someone whose name I remembered, but that was all. This person then proceeded to recite my life story, vital stats, and employment history like a damned personal Wikipedia. It made me feel terrible.
3. People fell down.

Three Short-Term Goals:
1. Get back to every-other-day blogging.
2. Complete a regular push-up regiment.
3. Get my oil changed.

See? Like I and also "they" said: Lots of things come in threes. Would this have been more insightful if I'd done lists that totaled in a number evenly divisible by three? Or is it more insightful that I thought of this after the fact? I'll have to mull that one around for a bit.

"Well I went to bed in Memphis,
And I woke up in Hollywood.
I got a quarter
in my pocket
And I'd call you if I could ."