Thursday, December 27, 2007

Excursions into oh, a-oh

It's been several months since I updated this thing. Many changes have hit me lately, but I could not possibly conjure all of them in a retrospective entry. In time, in time. I will be updating more regularly though. How do I know this? Well, I have decided that I will (try to) discover one new album per day, take at least one photo per day, and watch one movie for each day of 2008. Think I can do it? I'm not quite so sure myself, but it's a mission.

I am currently listening to Stereolab's Refried Ectoplasm. Like last winter, I have been entranced by Stereolab's catalogue. I own not even half their music, but my conscience seems to transform when I hear it. The song titles are absurd, some of the lyricism is indecipherable, but the music tunes into a parts of myself I never knew. They blur the boundaries between proper album releases and the rest. The groop astounds me.

What's also wonderful about Stereolab is now I instantly associate each album or song with a time and place in my life.

My checklist:
*Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements (1993): purchased new at Shake-It Records in the $9.99 bin in early 2007.
I believe I was in the record store along when I bought this one. It connected me to the wonderful "Pack Yr Romantic Mind", which they performed as a rare occurrence at the Vic in Chicago on 02/14/06. I love the creepy bass line in the closer, "Lock-Groove Lullaby". The perfect lullaby, indeed.

*Mars Audiac Quintet (1994): purchased used at Chicago's Hi-Fi Records in February 2006.
My ex-girlfriend Kate purchased a couple used Stereolab albums there too. We were blown away by the band's set the previous night. It was a wonderful day of city slicking and urban spelunking. [I just learned that Hi-Fi Records is no longer. The store has closed it doors forever. Perhaps I can still e-mail them and score a t-shirt. Sigh.]

*Refried Ectoplasm [Switched On, Volume 2] (1995): purchased new at the Barnes & Noble in Kenwood tonight with a Christmas gift card.
Tonight was the first time playing it, and my sentiments above say it succinctly, I believe. It was my first time hearing "French Disko", which is wonderful. I had only heard Editors' cover of the song, which I'd highly recommend.

*Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996): also purchased used at Hi-Fi Records on Clark Street in Chicago on 02/15/07.
"Metronomic Underground"/"Cybele's Reverie" is one of the most amazing album opener, 1-2 punches I can name. The former was teased at the end of the Vic Theatre set, even though the song had not been performed live since Mary Hansen's tragic and fatal accident. Definitely a shocker to hear those notes in that theatre.

*Dots and Loops (1997): purchased new at the Tower Records on North Clark Street in Chicago in March 2006, which also no longer exists.
"The Flower Called Nowhere" is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. "Miss Modular", I'd recommend as the most aurally friendly dose of Stereolab to the untrained ear. Overall, Dots and Loops might not be their most accessible release. Many have complained about its length. I will say that it makes a great study album.

This was the five-state trip with Kate, during which we stayed in the Write Inn in Oak Park. I played this album repeatedly on my way home to Cincinnati. I knew something did not feel right. I was entranced by the subsonic volume of the album playing. A few days later I was told that we would be taking a break. Sometimes you just know that something is about to happen.

*Aluminum Tunes [Switched On, Volume 3] (1998): received used from Shake-It Records as a gift from my friend Ian in December 2007.
I recently turned him on to Stereolab's work, beginning with Fab Four Suture. I couldn't be more pleased that albums I deem grossly underrated are being appreciated by individuals I respect. I thank him for Aluminum Tunes, the third Switched On rarities compilation. The quality of non-album Stereolab material reinforces my earlier comment about blurring the boundaries between proper albums and otherwise. 2 discs, 25 songs, nothing but bliss. "The Brush Descends The Length", "Iron Man", and "One Note Samba/Surfboard" have my brain tingling.

(The following was added on January 21st, 2008...)

*Sound-dust (2001): purchased used from Shake-It Records in late 2006.
I listened to this album regularly and obsessively during the cold winter months of my freshman year at UC. It would put me in an amazingly fertile mindset for studying or paper-writing. This is still the album I would recommend over any of Stereolab's other releases. I would consider it their darkest release, but with songs like "Space Moth", how could anyone not appreciate the sudden u-turns in mid-song.

*Instant O in the Universe (2003): purchased new at Sounds on St. Marks Place in New York, NY.
This is the release that started it all for me. I had heard "Good Is Me" on WOXY several months earlier, and I was in the mood to buy several CDs during my trip. I don't quite remember if Margerine Eclipse had been released yet. This turned out to be one of the most solid EPs I ever bought. My favorite song title, "Jaunty Monty and the Bubbles of Silence," is also on this disc. It's an amazing piece of work that always puts me in a great mood.

*Margerine Eclipse (2004): purchased used at Shake-It Records in early 2007.
There isn't much to say about this record. I am aware that it impressed many people I know, but it still has not mystified me. "...Sudden Stars," which was on Instant O, is also on Margerine Eclipse. The fantastic closer on Instant O, "Mass Riff," is also on this album in an abridged form (perhaps on "Margerine Melodie"?). It just doesn't do it for me like all the other albums have. The album following it blew my mind though...

*Fab Four Suture (2006): purchased new at Tower Records on Clark Street in Chicago on 03/13/06.
I saw Stereolab with my ex-girlfriend Kate the night before. We had promised each other that we would see them live if we ever got the chance. One month earlier, we had fulfilled a vow to see Supergrass if the chance ever graced us. (It happened to fall on February 14th of that year.) We saw Stereolab at the beautiful Vic Theatre, the same venue where we saw Supergrass. It was a magical time on our lives. Everything felt like a dream. Perhaps that's not the smartest way to live life but I wouldn't have traded those days for anything.

Fortunately, my friend Ian has fallen in love with this album. Songs like "Interlock" and "Excursions Into Oh, A-Oh" infect the mind. The instrumentation is at its best on Fab Four Suture. Anyone who's at least curious about Stereolab should start with this, no questions asked.

In related news, I just heard "One Note Samba / Surfboard" from Aluminum Tunes in Sitwell's Coffeehouse a couple days ago (January 19th). I was floating in my chair with glee.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Parlaient-elles le français en dehors de ma fenêtre?

Tonight I will be turning in early so that I can wake up even earlier than usual. Why? Well, Sundays are the special day when I get to work both my part-time jobs. This creates an impossible situation that prevents me from working on any school work. I'm not happy about but, after going through three consecutive weeks of it, it is now a way of life.

Upon getting out of the shower, a few minutes ago, I heard some chatter outside my window. I did not know what made me so curious, but could not pull my ears away from the window screen. I stood there in the darkness for nearly five minutes when I realized that they were speaking French next door! My heartbeat accelerated and I wanted to find someway--any way--to get in on that. Alas, I did not want to intrude. They were speaking it so beautifully too. My heart sank as I swooned.

My fluency, on the other hand, is shabby at the very best. What is a guy to do? I'm hungry for more.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Le premier fois, le dernier fois (The first time, the last time)

I never planned to go on such a hiatus, but I have been bitten by the blogging bug once again.

My first day of my sophomore year was yesterday, which happened to be quite underwhelming. Based on my experience last year, I have learned that this is simply the calm before the storm. Part of the reason for my anxiety was a false sense of security. I feel that I am much more prepared to resist such temptation. Sure, I might be taking twenty-one credit hours but, success is imperative.

As this year progresses, my blog will likely include more bilingual elements. Yesterday my French classmates and I discovered that our course will be taught entirely in French. No longer would we be allowed to speak in English either. As our instructor stated--it will be very painful, and I anticipate that. But I will not fail at my quest to become fluent.

Oh, and I am currently working two part-time jobs in Northside: one at a video store on weekend nights; a second job at a fine dining restaurant, bussing tables two night per week and one night as a dishwasher. My Wednesdays will be hell, but I'll resist redundancy in stating my mission...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Le Grand Rex

I really don't have much time to blog these days, as I have a 15-page paper to do tonight. I will not be sleeping, I won't be going to see !!! tonight, and I won't fret one bit. Why, you ask? The Smashing Pumpkins played their first gig back at Le Grand Rex in Paris, France.

If you know anything at all, you realize that the setlist below is pure "oozement". Consider it a word.

Happiness. (Bonheur.)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ceci n'est ni spectaculaire ni cela n'est une pipe.

My brief break was resultant of my subpar academic work ethic. It's not quite there yet either, but after finishing off a pot of fettuccine with tomato basil, I happened to be in the mood to spill some beans here.

First of all, the weather is amazing today, and it has been for several consecutive days. It is a little difficult to be comfortable though, since it is presently sunny 84°F (29°C). When I say "comfortable", I'm talking about not having the willpower to do schoolwork as well as the humidity that is taking over. I will say that it sure beats temperatures below freezing. I would take my work outside but, knowing myself, I'd end up people watching and enjoying more of the day than I should. Decisions, decisions.

Today I found a brilliant music blog that happens to have the most impressive downloads I have ever seen in one place. I just enjoyed newer songs from Elk City, Travis, Cloud Cult, Klaxons, Moonbabies, The Rakes, Client, Johnny Boy, and Blood Red Shoes. All of them were quite good. If you know me, you realize how difficult it is for any music perspective to bat 1.000 with me. What can I say--certain music hits me just right. Perhaps I will be able to host downloads of my own, but for now...a link for 5 Acts can be found below.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Le jour quand la musique est décédé (The day the music died)

Since the beginning of the year, I have assumed responsibilities for booking worthwhile acts for an area cafe. All the while they have built a reputation for hosting mostly singer-songwriter/folk outfits. My "associate" was bent on having me change that. Now, first of all, I am not getting paid a single penny for what is, simply, me, doing whatever I can to give our city another place to see quality live music. It's not for personal gain but for providing an additional avenue for traveling bands to reach an audience here.

Simply, I have been very much discouraged by the overall lack of support in my music booking endeavors. Ridiculous promotion on a shoestring budget (which is provided for me, but not always actually making it into my hands) has not payed off in the least. Tonight is the second show I will have put on, following two consecutive cancellations. No money was provided for fliers and posters this time around, as a result of poor communication across the boards. A variety of factors will possibility culminate into a disappointing turnout.

Really, all I want is for the people involved in making this help make it work. Heck, this is the 4 straight time that my shows had not made it on to any calendars affiliated with the venue until just three or four days before the show. It is unbelievably frustrating to do something selflessly for the benefit of improving the music climate locally, yet a perceived indifference makes me question my willingness to continue.

I tend to become frustrated very easily and very quickly, yet I think my patience has been held up fairly well throughout this challenge. There have been many club promoters in the past that have had to endure years of painstaking efforts before they finally paid off. I need to keep reminding myself of that. Ultimately, I want the bands to have the best possible experience. I guess I am wondering whether I have the resources to make that happen.

The following is the virtual destination for my music promoting efforts. I hope I can keep the dream alive.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

la commentaire de la mode (an editorial on style)

Very unlike such that activists have fought for freedom, the oppression I have been experiencing will dissipate this weekend. I need to write several papers in the next two days, one of which is for my French honors class (imagine that). The topic is style in clothing, which can include an explanation of clothing I have worn over the years. What made me curious is the possibility of sharing my obvious (to some) view regarding clothing faux-pas. (I would have used "fashion" in place of "clothing", but I thought that would cause one to mistake me for a fashion design student...) Heck, I am one who must try his hardest to *not* match my clothing.

As picky as I am about my own wear, certain friends of mine also realize how particular I am about other people's clothing. Shoes, pants, tops, accessories, and hairstyle--it is impossible not to judge upon first impression. For instance, a few minutes ago, as I am sitting in cafe on campus, I saw a girl wearing galoshes with jeans and a t-shirt. What's the problem with that? Well--really, only the galoshes. It was not the first time I had seen this galoshes wear today. Three times, in fact. It's not raining, they are usually frighteningly ugly, and those who seem to wear them have a look of conviction, as if they think it is superiorly fashionable. Then again, I suppose that is how flip-flops, sweatpants, pajama pants, and wifebeaters became acceptable for casual wear outside the home.

Personally, choice in one's attire says much about the self. It can signify a person's sleep habits, level of dedication, social status, and attitude towards others. I try not to get too caught up in all the variables, but it can be very daunting. It is said that you should not judge a book by its cover, but I sure do. In fact, I judge it by whether its a hardcover over a paperback, its binding, and whether it has been dropped or leafed through before I have gotten to it. In the same way I judge books before opening them, I judge others (myself included) based on their packaging and physical features. It doesn't mean I won't take a chance on a book that makes a not-so-strong impression upon first glance. That's not so bad, right?

I would not be intimidated if I were you (whoever you are). Everyone judges as much, yet they are not so eager to be so vocal. I know what I like but I am certainly open to satisfactory anomalies. First impressions are everything--do you read me?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

jamais deux sans trois (when it rains, it pours)

It took me over eight months to decide upon the creation of such a blog. For such a long time, I was paranoid that sharing my thoughts on a more permanent medium than my own mind would induce dissatisfaction overall. As with most things, this feeling passed and I pushed myself to establish this blog, much from the encouragement of two good friends. Some friends peer others to smoke drugs or eat concoctions in the school lunchroom. Mine mean well for the most part, fortunately.

Today, I thought I would take advantage of my recent dedication to only using my car when I must. Like yesterday, I walked to the small park near Ludlow to read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. On the way there from my house, I took very photos of what used to be old hotels in the Clifton area, which are now simply apartment buildings. There are also a few black & white shots of the old brick homes we have in the area. I feel likely to have so many inanimate subjects to shoot.

I figured I'd pick up groceries when I began to feel small raindrops. The event that followed is one reason why I settled upon the name for the username for my blog. As with every name I choose though, it ended up having several possible interpreted meanings, just the way I like it. You guessed it--it poured. Not only that, I chose paper over plastic while at the checkout register. I became as close as a couple hundred feet from home when the first handle broke. Two minutes later, the second handle broke and down fell one of my bags. I carried my two paper grocery bags like I would bring home a thirty-pound turkey or a restless child.

Somehow my rejection of convenience felt worthwhile, even though I dripped on to the hallway mat as I entired my front door. Yes, I dripped. I was one giant raindrop.

Beautiful two-storty house from early last century. formerly The Marburg Hotel
formerly The Marburg Hotel I was soaked.