Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's called "Fruitless Prattle" for a reason.

Every time I see a new TV spot for The Dark Knight and hear a line from the Joker that I haven't heard before my excitement increases ten-fold. Ledger's Joker seems to speak like a psychotic geek, like he's giddy with excitement over being so fucking crazy. Lines like "See, to them you're just a freak – like me!" and "Where is Harvey Dent? I'll settle for his loved ones..." fill me with a joy that I can hardly articulate. I know I probably talk about this movie too much, but it just looks so goddamn good. Everyone (with the exception of Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is sort of off-putting in my opinion) looks like they're really owning their roles.

Anyway.

I can't listen to "Tequila" without thinking about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In my head I always hear Mikey saying, "Sock it to me, baby!" The last time I watched that movie was with Austin and Vondo, while Billy was vodka-sick in my bathroom. I still can't believe he drank that much without any of us noticing. At least Gina eventually came to forgive us.

Megan's birthday package made it today, and I told her to just open it because neither of us could stand the suspense. I think it went over well. I'm really glad I didn't send that stupid photo with the rainbow. Yeesh.

Speaking of Megan, I should be brushing up on my Ween for the show. She got us tickets already, which is great. I hope they play "Fancy Pants."

Last night I attended my required "Respectful Workplace Training" at the Journal Star and I was the only person in the room who spoke English. It was sort of hilarious. The helper lady let me go early so I wouldn't have to spend all night listening to translations that I didn't understand. Plus I got out of like forty minutes of work. So that's all right.

I got nothin'.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Simon and Gofuckyerself

Lincoln, Nebraska: 95 degrees. Sweet honky Moses it's hot. I draw my comfort line at about 80, and that's still sort of pushing it. I'm a 65-75 degree kind of guy. It's too bad I have to go to work or I'd hop over to Bison Witches and drink a ton of Skinny Dip for two bucks a pop.

Ah, beer. Last night was Dad's Beer Night at Duffy's. It's nice not to have to work Tuesdays anymore. I got a compliment on my Giraffes United Against Ceiling Fans shirt from a cute girl who was there. I'm glad somebody appreciated it.

I really want to quit smoking. I promise I do. I'm just not happy either way – when I'm smoking I enjoy how cool I am but don't like how I feel, and when I'm not smoking I like how I feel but miss the actual act. My method of smoking has become, as it has for many of us, a personality trait. I'm good at it. I look cool when I'm doing it. It eases boredom. Still, I think tomorrow I'll start giving it another shot.

I can't wait for CHRISTMAS IN JULY! On the 18th The Dark Knight comes out, then Megan is showing up for a visit and on Sunday the 20th we're going to go see Ween in Council Bluffs. I am stupidly excited. Too bad it's still like a month away.

I'm also considering going back to SCC in the fall. I don't know, though. I keep trying the school thing and it never works out. Still, I feel like there's a certain amount of respect that I'm missing out on and kind of want. With a degree – even a feeble one – I am more likely to become a safer bet. I just don't know how to fight through all that crap I hate about it, though, and just get it done. Tips? BODY MASSAGE? Why can't I just get an honorary degree for my obvious brilliance? Maybe I should skip the middle man and just take the MENSA test. Ha.

Things I sorta miss:
1. "Pants."
2. Papa's Gotta Go
3. Being 23.
4. Bryn Mawr.
5. The Opinion section of the Volante.
6. My bike.
7. The days when my car didn't have a bajillion miles on it.

There's a girl in a green dress with red hair sitting in a chair by the window of the Coffee House, smelling her hair. She looks really into it. Maybe she has amazing shampoo that she can't get enough of. I kind of want to ask her what the hubbub is about. But I won't.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Suffering Jukebox

In case anyone has been wondering – and I know that you have been – the last two images I've had here (the skull and crossbones and the giraffes) are t-shirts that I got at Threadless. There's another one of two unicorn silhouettes humping in front of a rainbow that I really, really want.

I think I got called 'sir' a little while ago by a Thespian. Oh, kids. Sometimes it occurs to me that acting may have been my calling, but then I would have had to spend my life with these people. Billy is right. They've got twenty free minutes.

The new Silver Jews record isn't bad, though it's certainly no Tanglewood Numbers. Not as good as Bright Flight, either. Still, there are at least two tracks – "Aloyisius Bluegrass Drummer" and "Suffering Jukebox" that I can't seem to get enough of.

Speaking of music, I have finally come to terms with something that's been nagging at me for years. The sharing of music has long been used as a courting method. It's my method of choice, in fact. But I've always felt that the advance of technology was slowly killing this particular technique. You may have heard me discuss this in the past.

We'll start with Florentino Ariza from Marquez's brilliant novel, Love in the Time of Cholera. Here was a lad who, in order to woo his love Fermina Daza, wrote a violin piece for her and would sit at the cemetary at the top of the hill at night and play so she could hear the music through her window in the town below. This is about the purest form that I can think of – writing the music yourself and serenading your subject through the wee hours of the night. But of course Florentino would have the cleanest method.
  
Florentino's modern counterpart is, most arguably, Lloyd Dobler from Cameron Crowe's film Say Anything. If you haven't seen it, you're not trying hard enough. John Cusack himself actually has a larger role to play in all of this, but High Fidelity is almost too obvious to mention. Anyway, if you've seen the film then the first thing you probably think of is Lloyd standing outside of Diane Court's house, holding a boombox over his head and playing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" (the song they made love to in the back of his car before she jilted him) at top volume. Here the use of music is almost equally effective because it forces the listener to experience the precise piece that you intend for them to hear. So in terms of purity and initiative, these two men own the field.

Now, for most of us, the use of music in courting comes in the form of a mix, agonizingly composed to send one or several specific messages all via a compilation of artists and genres. Anyone who does this on a regular basis knows that it requires some amount of skill and patience. You can't just lump a bunch of songs onto a list and then hand it over to your intended without the slightest care for the order, tempos, lyrics, transitions, and so on and etc. "The making of a great mixtape – like breaking up – is hard to do. It takes ages longer than you might think." Rob Gordon (Fleming) had it right.

The cassette tape is ideal for this type of work, mostly because it insists upon being played the entire way through. If you feel like you want to skip a song on a tape it's a pain in the ass (unless you have one of those late-model decks that can detect recording gaps and stop fast forwarding automatically before the next song). It forces the listener to at least get through the tape once in order to get the gist of the message. The act of recording a tape, likewise, requires the composer to listen carefully to every track in order to make sure everything is on the up and up.

These days, though, the ease with which music can be acquired and exchanged has dealt an almost fatal blow to the fine art of mix composition. Since most people have gotten rid of their tape decks for CD players and iPods, the mixtape has been pushed aside in favor of the mixdisc. However, for those of the romantic persuasion, this adds a new level of difficulty when it comes to getting your message across. One can put together a CD full of tracks in as little as five minutes if they are so inclined, and there is little if anything stopping the recipient from simply skipping through the tracks on the disc looking for the song they want rather than sitting down and devoting their full attention to the mix as a whole.

For a long time now I have been trying to develop methods to curb this effect. When I make a CD for someone I (usually, if possible) tend to take weeks perfecting it, listening to the playlist over and over, rearranging tracks. I admit that I enjoy using iTunes for things like this purely for the simplicity of it, but on the other hand I know that I am putting an amount of effort into my mixes that I can't count on the recipient to emulate. One thing I've always done in order to ensure that the mix gets listened to in its entirety is that I never, ever deliver a mix with a tracklist, promising instead to make one available once I am convinced the CD has been played through at least once. This is hard to do, though, because you can never really be sure.

My main hurdle is that every song I put on a mix is there for a reason. Rarely is there any filler – if something makes the cut it is because it needed to be there for at least some purpose, be it transitory, lyrical or otherwise. In the end though my mixes tend to be somewhat lengthy, and I am becoming less and less convinced as I grow older that they are being experienced as intended.

One thing about cassettes was that you sort of had to fill the whole thing in order for it not to play awkwardly. With a CD you have a maximum cap, but no minimum. A short disc will never include a bunch of dead air, it'll just start back over. So here is my new theory of mixes: make them brief. From now on, I am instituting a thirty-minute cap (six to eight songs, give or take) to my mix CDs. In this way I will make it easier for the listener to hear the entire thing (I am no longer sucking up an hour of their time), and having fewer tracks allows me not only to get to the point but also makes me think very hard about what, exactly, my subject will want to hear musically. A shorter CD also makes it less likely for the listener to just go skipping through, plus they take less time to compose and proof than the old, epic-length discs.

My first effort with this idea is the mix I made for Megan's birthday. It'll be a while before I know how it goes over. I look forward to finding out, though.

Monday, June 23, 2008

To be.


Ladies and gentlemen, The Thespians. Yes, that's right. For several days downtown Lincoln will be home to a bunch of high school theatre kids. The Coffee Goddess is inundated by long-hbaired scoundrels who think they're cool because they're almost eighteen and can sing like girls. I'm actually looking at somebody wearing a "Rocky Horror Picture Show on Broadway" t-shirt right now. At least I haven't heard any show tunes coming from these people. Yet. None of them actually look like they might be able to act. I actually wrote something about this last year in Hello, Dangerous:


The little grease board sign outside the House reads "Welcome Thespians!" and I have no idea what that means. There are thespians about? Is everyone acting? Was I not Shakespearean enough in my description of the cast? I seek Caroline out immediately and demand an explanation. She comes back outside with me to have a cigarette.


"They'll be around all week."


"Who? Theatre kids?"


Caroline nods.


"How old?"


"High school," she tells me.


Holy shit.


"There are going to be high school theatre kids roaming the streets for the next six days?"


Just then I see some of them, about a block away, coming towards us. Caroline confirms the sighting. You don't have to be good at anything to spot these people. You can feel their approach, as if the Baron Lloyd-Webber himself has composed their entry music. I look Caroline in the eye.


"I think I should buy a gun." Ding. "OR, we should go to their PERFORMANCE!"


"No way."


"Come on, Princess."


Caroline laughs. "You're an asshole."


--


Meanwhile, outside the Coffee House there is a girl and a guy with matching orange bicycles who are both having trouble with their locks. They know each other. I wonder if the bikes are standard issue for something, and if so, why this organization finds it necessary to skimp on security.


I don't have to work tonight, which as far as I'm concerned is the tops. Though I don't have a whole hell of a lot else to do. I don't think anyone is interested in going to the bar with me until tomorrow (Dad's Beer Night at Duffy's). Maybe I'll go see The Happening. But probably not.


I know. I'll listen to the new Silver Jews album. Ace.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Earpieces.

K. gave me a drunk dial last night and finally revealed to me the full extent of her crazy. Jim wasn't kidding, that woman has gone bananas. Like noticeably more so than before, which is really kind of impressive. I think she was trying to pull a long-distance booty call. If I'm going to drive for seven hours, though, it's going to be to Pierre.

Speaking of which, right after I talked to K., Megan called from a tent with her best friend and put me on speaker phone. They were drunk too, but I take her wanting to call me at that point as an unbelievably good sign. I made them laugh, which is always my mission. It went well. I sort of felt like Charlie talking to his Angels.

Last night tonight of my lengthy work stretch. I'm sure the hours will pass twice as slowly knowing that there will be an episode of The Venture Brothers for me to watch when I get home. I like my job a lot but working nights is starting to take its toll. Shifts feel much longer when you know for a fact that everybody is having fun without you. I think I've been over this.

How is it that I've become addicted to crossword puzzles but I'm still really bad at them? I went and bought a book of them to do at work tonight because I've pretty much gone through a month's worth of the Journal Star's and the L.A. Times crossword is... well. Too hard for me. At least I'm not as bad at them as I am at Sudoku. Numbers, man. Mysterious.

I saw God's shadow on this world.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The car fooled me.

I saw what might be the dumbest bumper sticker I've ever seen, or at least one of them, on my way downtown today. It said: "Don't let the car fool you. My treasure is in heaven." Ah, bite me.

It occurred to me as I was trying (and failing, miserably) to sleep last night that if I sent that picture of the sky to Megan in a frame she would probably look at it and think that it was in the frame when I bought it – it's that lame. Instead, she will get this, which she'll probably like more (Because who doesn't love Syd?):


Much better.

Slumber evades me. The body is willing but the mind won't shut up. Then when I finally do fall asleep – usually to the sound of birds chirping, which in the morning is nice but when you're trying to crash is just infuriating – I have weird dreams either about loneliness or The Dark Knight. I kind of worry about what's going to happen when I finally see that movie and have nothing to dream about but the former. Or maybe they'll both settle themselves at the same time.

No Disney tunes at the Coffee House today. Seems to be straight oldies. I can get behind that, though I miss the days when they let the baristas play their own stuff and I would hear Radiohead and Beirut. I guess this is why I have an iPod. I sort of get the feeling that the music Gods are laughing at me today, though. I put on my Silver Jews tour shirt in an effort to conjure the new record from my mailbox, but it looks like the USPS has thwarted me once again. At least Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead showed up the other day. Maybe I'll watch that after work tonight.

I have a long weekend of working ahead of me, which eats huge. Somehow night shifts feel twice as long as any other, probably because I know for a fact that I'm missing fun. Oh well. At least my tiny, almost useless raise kicks in soon. I need monies. I think deadlines are early on Saturday night, too, so I'll be able to slip down to O'Rourke's for a couple of High Life's before closing time.

Hey Billy, I want an mp3 of that William Tragedy song... what was it called? Dammit.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Incidentalazing.


The above is something I've been working on for Megan called "The Sky Where You Are." I can't tell if it's just stupid or not. Thoughts are welcome. (Billy, I think you're the only one who reads this.) I'm going to send it (maybe) to her for her birthday along with an "I'm Popular in South Dakota" t-shirt.

Pete seems to think it's hilarious to play Disney songs over the stereo in the Coffee House. For example, when I walked in it was "Beauty and the Beast." Now it's something that I don't recognize but am positive comes from one of those early-nineties straight-to-DVD entries. Or it's just a really bad song. Maybe it's not actually from anything.

Things I've been listening to lately, but not very attentively:
1. Hefner (obviously)
2. Vampire Weekend
3. The Heavy
4. Ween
5. The Fiery Furnaces
6. Man Man (still)

Things my pants would probably say if they could talk:
1. "Dude. Shave."
2. "Please stop sitting on me."
3. "I'm really glad you're not Quevillon."
4. "Why won't you let her in here?"
5. "I need friends. Go buy jeans."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

June's a boon.

There are new pictures up at the Coffee House (for the gallery, I mean), and they're all of sushi. $250 photos of sushi. I don't even like eating the stuff. I find this hilarious.

Cory will be pretty much moved in as my temporary roommate tonight, I believe, which is cool. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to rock a little cleanup on the lawn. I take terrible care of that grass, but it's just grass. Brooke is in town, though, and I have a sneaking suspicion that if I run into her she's going to comment about it (her folks live across the street).

I hope some of my Amazon orders arrive soon. I really want to watch Trigger Happy, it's been a while since I've seen it, and for some reason I've never owned a copy on DVD. Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead should be showing up soon as well, along with the new Silver Jews record that comes out on Tuesday. I'm pretty stoked about those.

But not as stoked as I am about THE DARK KNIGHT!

I'm sure there are more productive things I could be doing with my time today, but instead I'm playing with Photoshop and wishing I could smoke a cigarette. Back on the patch. I'm torn between how much I enjoy the act of smoking and how much I like the way I feel when I'm not. This is probably going to go on for years.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Titacular.

I feel like in light of William Tragedy starting up the 'ol blog again I should maybe stop thinking about my Last.fm profile as mine. Back when I had a LiveJournal all I ever really did was post song lyrics and let people figure it out for themselves. Last.fm sort of removed the middle man from that scenario. I think I'm just too timid to actually write. For example, The Grille Blues is probably a useless piece of crap. On the other hand I can't really think about it objectively. Q. referred to it as my "little novel" and said it had no story, though, so that's pretty fucking discouraging. Of course I can't listen to the people who actually like it, that would be too easy. Not that I really trust Q. in matters of literature. The guy reads fantasy novels for Christ's sake.

Work on the Kickback's EP art has finally been completed, and I think it turned out reasonably well. If I had my druthers, though, I would tweak the text on the back a little bit. Oh well. I just hope it looks as decent printed as it does on my iMac. I like the inside and back a lot more than the front. I look forward to the release–hopefully I'll be able to be in Vermillion for it.

It is actually beginning to verge on the pathetic how much I'm looking forward to The Dark Knight. I just feel like I should point that out.

The other night a tornado took out a Boy Scout camp and there were four fatalities. You've probably heard about this. Anyway, I got home from work that night and turned on the TV, and on one of the local channels they were interviewing somebody involved with (I think) the rescue team. This room is filled with local reporters, and in the background I could hear the sound of somebody sending a text message. You couldn't make out the individual tones of the numbers, though, so instead it just sounded like a series of monotone beeps coming at varying intervals, and it occurred to me that it sounded exactly like morse code. So we've come full circle in communication–you can go ahead and put that in your pocket.

Off to work, I guess. Fridays are terrible.