Sunday, February 29, 2004

Take it from an old music fan, there's nothing like seeing your favorite band. I can remember everything about when I saw TOOL in 1996. Radiohead in 2001. Mogwai, and The Flaming Lips in 2003. (It's nice to have a lot of favorite bands; trust me on that one, too.) These are the types of shows you look forward to months in advance, wake up early to buy tickets for, drive (or fly) far away to see. And with good reason! These are Life - with a capital L - nights. Memorable.

So, I saw The Decemberists. I've enjoyed their very Americana-brand of indie rock for awhile now, been one of my most enjoyable bands to obsessively listen too. But, through design or chance (lack of money or tickets, etc.), I missed a number of their shows here in the city. They, thankfully, tour a lot and I finally got a chance to see them. But. I was weary. I was very, very worried something would happen that would somehow force me to miss the show.

(Expositionary section warning: A few months ago, I went to see a show at the same exact venue, The Great American Music Hall. Just as the band we had come to see started, my friend passed out. From the height, the pressure of the people, whatever. Another a few shows over the last month or so were taken from me because of those terrible "sold out" signs.)

You can imagine, I was concerned. Maybe something (someone?) was working against me. I worried and worried, a nervous (and stoned) wreck on the train. I always fear terrorist attacks in the subway, what about you?

Anyway. We got to the show. We missed the two opening acts, sorry local bands, I'd rather spend my time listening to the Decemberists back in my room, and arrived just in time to see Earlimart rock the house with their own semi-unique brand of California indie rock, with help on second guitar from Jim Fairchild of Grandaddy (hey, what's up, dude! you rock, too.) They played some new songs, probably for the next album. Sounded great. Little more mature. They're a fun band to see live. They have a simple charm and grace. Highlights of their show was the always-a-highlight sad beauty of "The Movies," and a cover of a song by a band called FUCK.

Then, without much delay, here come the Decemberists. But, first! A Russian marching anthem, honorable and very red-sounding (seriously). A great introduction to a whimsical band fond of puns. They started with the first song I ever heard by them, "Leslie Anne Levine", the frightening tale of a ghost-baby. Next up was the second track off the amazing Her Majesty, "Billy Liar." I love this song, and want to dress up as Billy Liar for Halloween next year. The surprising "The Gymnast, High Above the Ground" followed, paving the way for future long songs. If I had one minor criticism, I miss the Her Majesty String Quartet that enriched their latest album on those songs. I completely understand that they can't tour with four extra people for an odd number of songs per night, but still... it would be cool.

A combo of upbeat songs up next. "July, July" and "The Chimbley Sweep," both with enough original live flourishes to extend the songs and make a real party of it. The venue was crowded, hundreds of people all squished together in one large, but gorgeous, room. It was great to feel the energy of a large crowd of fans. Though there were of course the hundred or so people who decided to talk throughout most of the show. Some people near me as well, who left (thank God.) I do NOT understand people who come to shows and talk, especially during the main act. It's the same lack of respects that plagues urban movie theater. Jesus christ, America, stop watching South Park and learn some fucking manners. Please. (see? it's not hard.) (apologies. I did get a little upset last night. Although I didn't yell at anybody; but I wanted too.)

Next up, to truly nail in the awesomness, some California songs, "Grace Cathedral Hill," a must for any San Francisco show, and "Los Angeles, I'm Yours," a rousing success. "The Solidering Life," Colin's ode to homosexuality in the military, dedicated to all the "brave people who married in San Francisco." (Good call. Fuck the man, etc.)

And, finally, The Tain. Colin said, "This is the first time we're going to try this," and my heart leaped. Obviously, I wished for The Tain but did, not at all, think they'd play this massive, very new, song. But they did. And perfectly. I can't convey how much of a musical achievement that is. They switched instruments and sometimes seats between parts. The crowd didn't understand the length of the piece and clapped a lot, but it was cool. It was eye-openingly gorgeous. A show-stopper, literally.

Encore was short, but sweet. The melancholy "Red Right Ankle" and then the enormous "I Was Meant for the Stage." An inspiring, moving song if ever one was written.

Everyone mostly talks about Colin Meloy when talking about The Decemberists and with good reason. His charming and idiosyncratic lyrics define the band. His leadership and presence is evident in every note. But, seeing them live, and listening closely to their album, you can't help but appreciate the supporting players: The eccentric drummer, Rachel Blumberg, the wild, brilliant, accordion player, Jenny Conlee, the multi-instrumentalist Nate Query, playing upright bass like I've never heard, and the largely stoic but extremely talented guitarist, Chris Funk. If Colin Meloy is the puppet master, the music the puppet, then they are the strings. They make it happen. And I love 'em for it. (Best picture of the crew.)

Great show. I bought a T-shirt.


Decemberists show last night was wonderful!! They played The Tain, and pulled it off beautifully. One word: wow!

More details to follow later.

Friday, February 27, 2004

"In this place called Heavenly, you were born here.."

Nothing like a surprise on your birthday! I spent a considerable amount of hours earlier this week looking for this in record shops, online sites, file-sharing-programs, but, nothing. I finally decided it was coming out next Tuesday. And when I went to Amoeba yesterday, I went looking for a different album (a birthday present to myself), but! what did I find, but the Decemberists' new EP, The Tain.

It's wondrous. A faint hint of experimentation has always been present in the Decemberists work. From the epic-length "California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade" (three songs meshed into one), to the random Wild West noise of "Shanty for the Arthuesa," the promise of something larger on the horizon was always present (to me, anyway.) It's part of what makes The Decemberists my favorite band of the moment: The confidence that makes me sure better things are yet to come.

And The Tain is the first step. An 18-minute-long song, divided into five easily recognizable parts, telling the loose story of a runaway bride and her trials and tribulations. Allow me an attempt at describing it:

The Tain begins with the plucking of a familiar sounding steel guitar. A groovey riff like out of the drugged-out-seventies, and Colin's Meloy gorgeous crone filling up the soundscape as if you, and the band, were in a tiny, tiny room (with good acoustics). And then sudden explosions of drums and guitars! A mood is introduced unlike anything the Decemberists have done before. Part 2 starts off with a fast-paced accordion barrage, electric guitar, and a driving rhythm. Backing vocals rise out of nowhere to back Meloy's whispered shout of "In this place called Heavenly, you were born here!" Another sea-style melody for the catalogue. Part 3 arrives after a quick fade-out, and introduces a sobering, sad, melody (think "I Don't Mind" off the 5 Songs EP). The massive song slows down here, allows you a chance to catch your breathe. It also happens to be one of the highlights, the last minute or so of Part 3 is a dramatic orgy of harmonies and plucked guitars and sporadic drums.

On the lyric sheet, part 4 starts off with a scene heading, Evening (all the lyrics are printed in play-format, as dialogue between a number of characters). (Random note: this is the first Decemberists song not written by Meloy, rather the drummer, Rachel Blumberg, referred to, once again, as The Widow.) Meloy comes in to do backing vocals on the choruses but Ms. Blumberg handles the singing requirement more than well. A melody that could only be created by an accordion lays down a quiet sleepy-time layer, with The Widow's cracked and vulnerable vocals whispering. Until the chorus! When the melody is enlivened, enriched, and expanded to create something that could only be described as a Carousel-rhythm, like something out of a 19th-century traveling-Russian carnival. It is surprising and beautiful.

Part 5 starts with a drum-hit. A number of them, piercing the silence, the beginnings of a march that never quite musters the energy to march. Meloy's lone vocals return, to cry, "Darling dear, what have you done? Your clothes are torn, your makeup's RUUUUUUUUUNNNNN" as the guitar-riffs return. Waves of sound rise up like an ocean in a storm. Crashing, breaking, rising again. The 70's grooves return, the waves become denser. A wall of sound like only The Decemberists could create blasts off: accordions wailing, guitars strumming, vocals soaring, drums pounding. A band of five sounds like an orchestra. A climax, followed by a sweet well-wish ("As you go wandering home…"), it ends calmly. A storm, passed.

Best Decemberists record yet? I think so, yes.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

It's my birthday and.... I don't feel like crying.

I feel like listening to music, reading, and watching enertaining televison and movies all day. I feel like relaxing (x10). I feel like there's a lifetime of stuff ahead of me and I better get as much rest and relaxation now, while I still can.

So, if you need me today, I'll be busy.

(Listening to Wilco, mostly.)

hah! :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

So, I've been really into Her Space Holiday lately. A fascinating one-man band that employs amazing beats against Mozartian strings and Sibelius-style horns. (Some random and unpredictable guitar, too.) And, of course, some downright depressing-slash-upliftingly-dark lyrics. Occasionally funny, too.

Sometimes I feel like this song,

Key Stroke
These days I find for me it's getting hard to sleep
I lie awake in my bed and do nothing but think
Sometimes this world it makes me so uptight
I don't see why its always, its always such a fight
All right

Now I think that I have had a change of heart
I see my end has been here from the start
It's art

I see my future from the corner of my eye
I'm warm and full again a simple ray of light
The only thing I think I'll miss about this place
Is spending time with you and your picture perfect face
It's grace

But more often, I feel like this song,

Girl Problem
Here is the point
Where I fall apart
For the second time in a week
It could be from
All those chemicals
That I pump into me
You have been gone
For what feels like
The longest winter break
It's just three days
But it's so much more
Than I can really take

I've got a girl problem
I've got a drug problem
And I don't want to solve them
They sit right where I want them
They kill my memory
They wrote this melody
And if I take enough
I won't miss you so much

Here is the part
Where I apologize
For thinking that we should
Take some time off
Because the loneliness
Would do us both some good
I soon found out
Just how miserable
I could really be
All by myself
In this haunted house
With my paranoid disease

I've got a girl problem
I've got a drug problem
And I don't want to solve them
They sit right where I want them
They kill my memory
They wrote this melody
And if I take enough
I won't miss you so much

And I will always think of you as someone that I love

I've known girls like this,

Japanese Gum
I used to know this girl
Who gave her love away
To every guy she met
And with all the games they played
She never seemed to cry
She never got upset
And one by one they came
And one by one they left
I thought that I could fix her
If she would let me in
But all of my advances
Were shut down in the end
When days turned into months
I begged her to explain
And this is what she sang

It's not like I'm a slut
Or that I really like to fuck
I just want every boy I see
To walk away with part of me
Until there's nothing left to hold
Until there's nothing left to hate
I appreciate your help
But even you can't save me from myself

I used to know this boy
Who took notes in a book
But he ripped out all the pages
Before I got a look
At all the words he scribbled
At all the lines he filled
But the ink stains on his fingers
Told me he was skilled
At capturing a feeling
That most of us just miss
The simple pain of living
With goodbyes on our lips
I found one of the pages
Crumpled by her bed
And this is how it read

It's not like I am weak
Or that I don't know how to leave
It's just that every time you cheat
You bring me closer to defeat

Until there's nothing left to love
Until there's nothing left to say
I know that you need help
But even I can't save you from yourself

And who hasn't experienced this feeling?

Tech Romance
I'm sick of seeing you cry
And wasting all your time
On someone who will never care enough
To make you feel loved
To make you feel safe
I would drop my life to take his place

To show you just how good
Being touched could be
Commit these words to memory
For when you find yourself
Pinned under his demands
I am still an option that you have

So carry me around
Like a picture in your purse
Pull me out when things are at their worst

You can show up at my house
Completely unannounced
We'll have that movie kiss we talked about

Where there are no words
Just a soft and gentle score
Our ears will ring from all the strings

We'll let the screen go black
And watch the credits run
And see the names of every one

Who we ever met
And who we ever missed
Each one had a role in this

It's just another film that won't get made
I'm sick of seeing you cry

Monday, February 23, 2004

Cool Stuff:

- Skye dedicated The Notwist's "This Room" to me on his radio show last night. That song is a definite standout on the Neon Golden album, therefore one of the first songs I gravitated towards. In retrospect, it was my first favorite Notwist song. So, like, cool. Thanks, Skye.

- Carrie chose Big, huh? Nice fairytale ending. A nation of women sigh with relief at the exact same moment.

- The Most Awesome Thing Ever. :) I could not think of better company. Much love to the Ratbastards, Johnzo, David, Amber, and the others.

- Do Make Say Think's Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn is fucking amazing music. Wild, varied, imaginative, gorgeous.

- I turn 24 in three days.

- In five days, I'm going to see two of my favorite bands, The Decemberists and Earlimart, play together as part of the 2004 Noisepop Festival, a week-long San Francisco event that takes place in many venues all across the city. Some other good bands are playing other nights but I'm more than happy with just Earlimart, who I feel like I know as friends by now, this will be the fourth time I see them in the past year. And my god-I-wish-I-was-friends-with-you-band, The Decemberists, the first time I'll see them in a real venue.

- I've been writing a lot.

So far, I love 2004.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Tonight, the last episode of Sex and the City will air to much fanfare and tears by fans.

I haven't seen the show in years (last i saw, Amanada just got pregnant), but I respect and admire a show like Sex and the City. A lot of TV shows have very simple premises that they stretch over and over again for maximum effect. Some shows have very narrow premises that force the creative minds behind the camera to really try new things, challenge their characters, introduce a bevy of supporting characters to populate a pseudo-reality. Sex and the City falls into the latter. It's a show about Sex, in New York City, that became more and more about the characters and less the setting and random sexual encounters of the first few seasons.

You tune in to watch Carrie go all Woody-Allen because of her man-of-the-week. You tune in to see Miranada, the fiery-feminist, struggle and try to hold her head up high in a male-dominated profession. You tune in to see Charloette's upper-class-neurosis, on display each and every week. You tune in to hear Samantha's one perfect biting comment. (Or maybe you tune in to see the shoes.)

Character development is the main reason I prefer the television format over film. Characters become your friends. You can guess what they're going to say. When they do something drastic, possibly out of character, you're enraged but fascinated. You trust the writers to guide the character in the right direction. This is only possible with years and years of character development. Vast season-long plans to nudge a character in a certain direction. I find that, more than anything else, amazing to watch. And when the show, like all things, eventually ends, you're sad. "You mean, my friends won't be coming over anymore?"

So. To all the Sex and the City fans out there, enjoy tonight's episode. And hopefully it won't be the last chapter in this story.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I went out today in search of an ending. Literally, I took a walk and tried to figure out how to end a story.

I donned my jacket to fight the bright-but-threatening-rain San Fran weather, my headphones to block out those aspects of reality I hate (cars, other people) and journeyed into Golden Gate Park. Have you ever been there? It's gorgeous. Like something out of pre-Columbus-America. Acres of trees, huge trees, small trees, massive trees with branches that stretch and crisscross endlessly.

There's many streets in the park. Wide, crowded roads with cars and sidewalks and, worst of all, tourists. I used the main road for a little while (my NYC upbringing shouting in my head: "wherever you gotta be, be there in five minutes") and ended up in one of the bigger tourist centers in the park, the Museum Plaza. The California Academy of Sciences (basically: An Aquarium) facing the now-being-rebuilt DeYoung Art Museum. In between, a field of perfectly maintained trees, a beautiful water fountain, gushing and glistening, and a wide, bowl-shaped stage, for concerts. Nearby is the Japanese Tea Garden, the Shakespeare Garden, and the Conservatory of Flowers (recently reopen and beautiful).

I found my way to the Shakespeare Garden, as I usually do. It's a tiny, unassuming, little garden. Nothing like the huge Tea Garden (where you have to pay admission) and can wander around ponds, statues, and splendidly green trees for hours. The Bard's Garden has a nice entryway, red-brick pillars and an arching bronze sign leading into a brick path lined by trees and flowers, with an ancient sun-dial in the center. It's pretty, would be a nice place to get married. Further off is a small stage, a toy-stage. (Real "Shakespeare In The Park" performances take place at an amphitheater nearby.) Passages from some of Shakespeare's finest works are written on bronze plaques behind the stage. "Believe me, love, it was the nightingale." Some benches are scattered around. The Shakespeare Garden is a peaceful, meditative place. I love it.

On my walk home, this time through trails that snaked through the woods, directioness. I kept walking, following "promising" trails and found my way home easily (this time). Walking back through the woods, alone save the occasional passerby, I took off my headphones, listened to the birds, the wind, the distant carhorns and thought about endings.

BONUS! I found a few pictures on my harddrive I took during a similar walk in the park in the summer. Posted for your enjoyment here.

Album of the Day: The Radio Dept - Lesser Matters

Thursday, February 19, 2004

America sometimes reminds me of a group old ladies playing bridge. There's always something to talk about in the open, always something to whisper about in private (between hands), but every once in a while, the grandmas will raise their collective voices and shout about something.

Last week it was Janet Jackson's left breast, this week it's gay-marriage.

Now, more than ever, I'm proud to call myself a San Francisco citizen. I've never seen a whole city stand up for so many personal freedoms and rights. I'm also very impressed with Gavin Newsom. Finally! A politician willing to stand for something besides getting more votes. I'm proud of California, of it's anti-discrimination laws that made these events possible.

I'm no fan of marriage. But I am a supporter of freedom and rights. When I heard George W. Bush condemn gay marriages in his State of the Union, I worried. Another personal freedom to attack and destroy from this monster of a man, this thief. It's not like it was legal to begin with. Homosexuals of both sexes have been wedding for a long time quietly, without the full approval of law of society, forgoing the usual "partner" title in favor of "husband" or "wife." I never really understood the distinction but I think I do now. It goes beyond the difference between "girlfriend" and "wife" and to something more important: It's about recognition and respect. It's a warcry.

I'm shocked at the people who are willing to support a constitutional ban on gay marriages. Can't they see this is exactly what we did to the blacks of the south with the Jim Crow laws after the civil war? What we did to the Japanese during World War II? What the Nazi's did to the Jews? The moment you segregate a group and start to limit their freedoms, you become an oppressor.

I hoped America's days of oppression were long over. I guess I was wrong.

I'm sure you've read more than enough about this issue. But here's a good article from the perspective of San Francisco, from the Bay Guardian.

Album of the Day: Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Some nights are better than others. Most are bland, but some nights imprint themselves in your internal VCR, intact, clear as if it was just last night or last week, and, invariably, they come back, flashback, like the sudden violence of the pause button.

You could be in a subway station, walking down stairs, listening to your headphones, and then boom (BOOM!), you're back. You're in a dark room, there's two hundred people you don't know all around you. You're not afraid because.. Because there's a band playing. The softest, calmest, drones you've ever heard. They ride the air like birds, swim like fish. Your chest is a subwoofer.

A few multi-colored lspotlights crisscross each other at the front of the stage. A disco-ball spins, glitters, shoots laser-lights on the walls, the crowd. Everyone is swaying, mostly, in rhytym. A few people stand stoic like Vulcans, obviously not enjoying themselves, (you don't look at these people.) The band look like they're having the time of their lives. They're feeling the music. You're loving the music.

You're listening to The American Analog Set. You're having a good night.

Album of the Day: AmAnSet - Promise of Love

(much love.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

wow! the joys of random internet surfing will never cease to amaze me. i found this little page of reviews while doing a google search for more Ted Leo lyrics. some of the most fun reviews i've ever read! and it doesn't hurt that he's reviewing albums i not only have but love. i thought i'd share.

The Books - Lemon of Pink review is my favorite. just... great.

Album of the Moment: Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

best new blog on the 'net: Mr. Zen Weasel's.

(not just because he referenced me, really.)

He, like me, has a lot to say about some important topics, (and many not-so-important). So I predict his blog will be more interesting than mine.

Watch out, World! We've got soapboxes now.

Album of the Day: Wilco - Being There

Monday, February 16, 2004

If you're like me, (and you're probably not but bear with me), you love reading about music. A dash of writer's voice, a reference to bands or albums you like, and you're sold.

Here's some cool music articles.

This is a great article about Explosions in the Sky's new album. They're another sweet Mogwai-like post-rock band. Easy to dismiss as "more of the same," but the more I listen to EITS, the more I realize the subtle brilliance and extreme emotions present in their music.

From today's Pitchfork update. One of my favorite new writers over there, Dominqiue Leone, never fails to write interesting reviews. I'm a recovering Metal fan, so I don't plan on getting this album or anything, but the read is good. She/he (?) namedrops Slayer's "Reign in Blood" and you just gotta love that.

Album of the Day: Her Space Holiday - Manic Expressive

Sunday, February 15, 2004

I'm taking a fascinating online class this semester. The fact that it's online just adds to the fun. It's a Popular Culture class that's not what you would think. The teacher is an extremely interesting individual who I have taken in a previous class. He talks about a mile a minute so actually reading his words is great. I find myself re-reading a lot of his passages because there's so much going on. This is a man who understands all aspects of communication, from symbolism, writing, history, and art. Through the online discussion boards, I feel like the class is less like a lecture and more like a real discussion (imagine that).

The direction he's taking in teaching this class is approaching popular culture (or "reality") from the perspective of the Great Thinkers. Through each one, he can explore the idea of identity, history, relationships, advertising, everything. He started with Nietzsche and the idea of self. Are you a Herd members, a noble, a priest? And then, in a great turn, the next "class" was about Advertising, it's effect on buying, on culture, on politics and foreign affairs. This latest class introduced Michel Foucault and continued on the idea of self. A little history on the man, very interesting, and much on Foucault's ideas on History.

The following is a passage from the class (probably not suppose to do this, but whatever). Just to show the flavor of the words, the way a good teacher can start off with the hugest possible canvas and narrow it down to something direct.

The identity of the United States is its History. History and identity are inseparable. Without history there is no existence. The manufacture and control of U.S. History is of utmost importance. For the U.S. to be seen in a certain light, to be identified in a certain way has a tremendous effect not only on the citizens of this country but, of course, on the peoples of the world as well. An example of this would be the general outcry that resonated from the people of the United States after the event of 9/11, of ‘why us? We’re the good guys!’ For this to be a ‘true statement’ in the hearts and minds of several million people indicates the power wielded by the sculptors of Traditional American History. In that traditional history, which is taught in public schools, colleges, and universities across this great country (from sea to shining sea, so to speak), the U.S. shines forth as the paradigm of Democracy, Freedom and Liberty. She is a great light shining in the darkness… a light of hope for all the peoples of the world. Her policies, domestic and foreign, are based on principles of honesty, decency, and fair play. She reaches out to the rest of the world with hands filled with good things, a cornucopia of humanitarianism.

It comes as no surprise that so many of us looked on with consternation at the events of 9/11. The amazement still resonates of how heartless and without virtue these terrorists must be to attack a country of such quality and virtue! Such is the power of the Canon of American History. It isn’t difficult to get a more realistic picture of U.S. involvement in the Middle East that gives a more complex and problematic representation of our historical identity. This other picture can be found in books, pamphlets and on-line sites of alternative historical sources. But there an even more complex, complicated and problematic image exists. It is the reality of the day to day involvement of U.S. Governmental, Military, and Corporate interests in the Middle East, and this reality is almost impossible to be connected to. There are tremendous forces, economic and otherwise, which are aligned against the average inquiring mind knowing what is actually going on at that very real level.


Album of the Day: The Postal Service - Give Up

Saturday, February 14, 2004

I love Mogwai. Let me count the ways.

1. Violins. Dark violins. Sad violins.

2. Guitars. A chorus of guitars, unlike I've never heard them before. Organic as the flapping of birds' wings, cinematic in intensity, calm or as exhilarating as the slickest voice.

3. Happy Songs for Happy People (2003) "40 minutes of unadulterated brilliance," said the band before its release. I think they were right. The perfect example of a Mogwai album. Sophisticated and extremely emotional. My favorite album of last year.

4. Rock Action (2001) A fistfight of an album, starts with a bang, ends with a bang. Everything inbetween is just beautiful.

5. Their live shows. Strip away all the bullshit, see five guys with guitars and a drummer, no mic-stands, just music. Waves of music, rising in strength and volume until it envelops you. I kept my eyes closed for the whole show, the second time I saw them.

6. EP-6. a collection of EP's that gets more amazing every time I listen to it. To think these were once separated is almost like a crime. As if all their songs were inhabiting a singular universe, a town, or a maybe a city in Scotland. Call it Mogwai-ville. (I'd like to live there. I think I'd fit in.)

Mogwai, will you be my valentine ?

Album of the Day: Mogwai - Rock Action

Friday, February 13, 2004


(/rant mode on. you've been forewarned.)

This week's Star Trek: Enterprise episode took my newfound faith in the series from "Fair" to "Very Very Poor." This episode, "Harbinger," was a pandering, meandering, mess, chock full of T&A, Melrose Space love triangles, and random and inexplicable violence. Not the cool shooting lasers at each other violence, no: fisticuffs. Throwing each other onto the floor amidst some fake-blood splattering.

The two previous episodes were fun, energetic, and interesting. From an old friend coming in to help stop a test-firing of the badass Xindi WMD, then a Mission Impossible style episode-length rouse. And then this. This pointless "day-in-the-life" episode. See, the show doesn't do character development on a regular basis so they have to devote a whole hour to the weakest form of character development i've ever seen. This guy is (maybe) sleeping with this girl, this other girl is jealous. These two guys are rivals who end up fighting for no discernable reason. Oh, and there's a badguy alien around, phasing between dimensions, causing trouble (as badguy aliens are oft to do.)

What hurts me the most about this is farce of a series is that it's called Star Trek, but is not in any way connected Star Trek I grew up on. Most people dismiss the franchise as "childish" and "geeky" and they're not wrong, but it's also a thoroughly optimistic show that attempted to balance dystopian ideals with good ole fashioned action and adventure. Not an easy task, for sure. Trek writers of the past painted in broad strokes, using massive metaphors to critique our own culture. Politics and diplomacy were the first line of defense against enemies. Humans had explored an entire galaxy and were only getting stronger, smarter. Even Deep Space Nine, my favorite Trek, which took the franchise to war for the first time did so under the mantra of "survival of the species." And in between the episodes were fleets met in space, the characters fought their own demons and ethical questions. Not a perfect show by any means, but it strived to be more than it was. It was idealistic. It was Star Trek.

Meanwhile, this new series promoted last night's episode with a titillating teaser that promised to reveal T'Pol's ass for the first time. How exciting. But. In a hilarious turn of the events, the recent Janet Jackson breast scandal forced UPN (proactively) to cut the shot early, so that viewers in Canada got to see the whole ass, while us fragile, conservative, Americans had to deal with just a half-ass. And, of course, the next day, in Trek fan circles all across the Internet, the main topic of conversation: T'pol's ass.

This is not my Trek. This is not a show about humanity striving to better than it is. To quote MAD Magazine, this is "Star Drek."

(/rant over. sorry.)

Album of the Day: Air - Talkie Walkie

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Oh. My. God.

I was staring at this today for about an hour. Just staring. Marvelling, actually. Imagining.

I'd read about the possible lineups and bigname bands (*cough* Radiohead) but I was not expecting that. A dream come true, really. Some of my favorite bands are on that list. Some really good bands I'd like to hear are on that list. The Flaming Lips are on that list.

This is my new mission in life: I am going to Coachella. Wish me luck!

Album of the Day Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Shout-out to some of my favorite lyricists today. These guys can write and make music and that's something special.

Colin Meloy, of The Decemberists.

Billy Liar
Billy Liar's got his hands in his pockets
Staring over at the neighbor's, knickers down.
He's got his knickers down.

So the summer is eternity for you?
Sleeping in until your father's shaking you down
He's shaking you down.

And the mailroom shift gets a real short shrift
As you dole out the packages, no-one seems to want you around
All skulking around.

Let you legs loss on the lino
'Til your sinews spoil
Will you stay here for a while, dear,
'Til the radio plays something familiar?
Plays something familiar.

All a-drifting, he's a nogood boyo
Sent a-fishing for a whalebone corset frame
(His only catch all day)

So he sits and lets the current take him
A gentle breeze will leave his pants in disarray
And at his ankles laid.

As he drifts to sleep with a moan and a weep
He is decked by a Japanese geisha with a garland of pearls
How she twists and twirls!

Let you legs loss on the lino
'Til your sinews spoil
Will you stay here for a while, dear,
'Til the radio plays something familiar?
Plays smoething familiar.

Ted Leo, of Ted Leo and The Pharmacists

The Ballad of the Sin Eater

when you run, digger, runner,
listener, thief, you carry it all with you.
today i woke up uncertain,
and you know that gives me the fits,
so i left this land of fungible convictions
because it seemed like the pits.
and when i say, "conviction" i mean it's something to endure
and when i say "uncertain" i mean to doubt i'll not turn out a caricature.
so i set off in search of my forebears,
coz my forbearance was in need,
but the only job i could get in dear old blighty
was working on the railway between selby and leeds.
so i took a ferry to belfast, where i had cause to think:
they wanted none of my arm-chair convictions
but nobody seemed to mind when i was putting on the drinks!
and you didn't think they could hate you, now did you?
you didn't think they could hate you, now did you?
you didn't think they could hate you, now did you?
ah, but they hate you, and they hate you 'coz you're guilty,
so...i stayed out all night in ibiza,
by way of san sebastian, where they said
'yanque, you better watch what you're saying, unless you're sayin'
it in basque or in catalan!"
so all the way east to novi-sad,
where narry a bridge was to be seen,
but mother russia, she laid her pontoons on down,
so i crossed over, if you know what i mean...
then on the road to damascus, yes,
the scales, they fell from my eyes,
and the simplest lesson i learned at the mount of olices: everybody lies.
and the french foreign legion
you know they did their best - but i never believed in t.e.
lawrence, so how the hell could i believe in beau gest?
and you didn't think they could hate you, now did you?
you didnt think they could hate you, now did you?
you didnt think they could hate you, now did you?
ah, but they hate you, and they hate you 'coz you're guilty,
so...i spent a night in kigali in a five diamond hotel,
where maybe someday, they'll do the wa-tutsi down in hutu hell.
and i fell in with a merchant marine who promised to take me home,
but when i woke up beaten and bloodied,
i couldn't tell if it was jersey or sierra leone!
and you didn't think they could hate you, now did you?
you didn't think they could hate you, now did you?
you didn't think they could have you, now did you?
ah, but they hate you, and they hate you coz you're guilty...
and the knocking in my head, just like the knocking at my door.
and maybe it was me or maybe it was my brother,
but either me or me and him went down to the bar,
where i got seven powers in me for to give me the cure,
but when seven powers failed to spin me,
i had to get me seven more.
and when i say, "me" i mean my brain.
and when i say "give me the cure" i mean to kill the pain.
and when i say "kill the pain" i meant to get the devil out.
and when i say "devil" i mean the manifestation of doubt!
and you didnt think they could hate you,
now did you you didn't think they could hate you, now did you?
you didn't think they could hate you, now did you?
ah, but they hate you, make no mistake - they hate you...

Ben Gibbard, of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service.

We Looked Like Giants
God bless the daylight
the sugary smell of springtime
Remembering when you were mine
In a still suburban town
When every Thursday I'd brave those mountain passes
and you'd skip your early classes
And we'd learn how our bodies worked
God damn the black night with all of its foul temptations
I've become what I've always hated when I was with you then
We looked like giants in the back of my gray subcompact
fumbling to make contact as the others slept inside
And together there in a shroud of frost
the mountain air began to pass through
every pane of weathered glass
and I held you closer then anyone would ever get
do you remember the JAMC and reading aloud from magazines?
I dont know about you, but I swear on my name
They could smell it on me
and Ive never been too good with secrets

Album of the Day: The American Analog Set - Promise of Love

Monday, February 09, 2004

"I will not fear. Fear is the mindkiller. I will not let it consume me." - Dune

I suffer. Daily. Stomach problems I've had since I was a teenager are flaming up, becoming deliberating, threatening to ruin me. I'm having trouble focusing on school, writing, friends. Everytime I've figured out how to defeat it, or at least keep it at a bay, it intensifies. Pain is becoming my lifestyle.

So, yeah, it's bad. I'm getting some medical insurance now and will hopefully see a doctor soon, but I have little hope a doctor can really help. He'll give me pills. I could take a guess (and be right) about what pills he'll give me and if I could, I'd skip the whole doctor thing and go straight to the Pharmacy. I've taken pills before, they help, for short periods of time. I usually end up stopping to take them even if they help. I can't stand the feeling of foreign chemicals throwing a party inside my body.

Today, though, in a desperation act, I was browsing medical websites and message boards, trying to find some hope, some treatment. I found many people, young people from the age of 20-25, like me, going through the same exact thing I am. There are many variations on IBS and no "miracle-drug" to just make it go away, but I did find people telling stories of how they cope. Some were extremely, extremely, depressing, because I completely related. The feeling of being trapped, staying home, terrified of going somewhere without immediate access to a bathroom. And although it is definitely a medical condition, the abdominal systems are connected to (something) in your brain. Stress, just like bad food, can cause pain. The main inspiration I got from these stories, then, was a resolute, steel-like, resolve: I WILL NOT SUFFER. I WILL NOT FEEL PAIN.

Sounds dumb, huh? Maybe. Sounds easy? Definitely not.

I often feel like a slave to my own body. It dictates what I can and cannot do. No longer. I know that I will feel pain, that by fighting I will probably make it worse for a short period of time, but then I ask myself, How much longer can you live like this? I've had this condition for years but it's never been as bad as is right now, right this instant.

I will not feel pain. I will not let it consume me.

Album of the Day: The Radio Dept. - Lesser Matters

Sunday, February 08, 2004

A new experience for me tonight.

One of my friends, whom I've known only through the Internet but consider a dear friend, has his own two-hour block at his college radio station. And thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I can listen from the comfort of my own deskchair three thousand miles away.

And it was a good show! Maybe I've just saying that because I recognized half the songs. Or because the transitions were so beautiful. Radiohead's "Polythelene Part 1" fading into The Notwist's "Consequence" was the highlight for me.

I've done the Internet-radio thing a few times but there's so many channels, so many websites, and so so many bands, that it can feel overwhelming. This felt personal. Like I was connected to Skye and a handful of other listeners alone in their room on a Sunday night, all of us enjoying the music in our own way. He may not be the best disc jockey (a few too many "um's") but he's got some amazing taste in music.

Now I've got plans every Sunday night for the next few months. Thanks Skye!

The link if anyone's interested. Skye's show is on Sunday night between 7-9 PST.

Album of the Day: Explosions in the Sky - Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever

Saturday, February 07, 2004

"And then God said, let there be light. And there was light. And it was good."

Hi. If you've found this brand-new blog, you're probably a friend of mine, so i'll skip the introduction. Like so many other people, I fell victim to the pressure of not having a blog, well, now i have one. I will try to enterain you with thoughts and ramblings about my reality on a semi-regular basis. I'll even make some interesting stuff up about my life. I promise.

Album of the Day: Lali Puna - Faking The Books