Friday, April 16, 2010

Resurrection, Part I of More than I

In regards to my blog, I have been recently surprised by two things: 1. I haven't posted since October; 2. Some friends have expressed concern about this lack of activity. The second point is probably most striking, because the amount of people who derided my comatose blog were greater in number than what I had originally perceived to be my entire readership. I suppose it's possible my entire readership partook in point two, but I'm going to interpret this as a healthy indication that more than five people are aware of my blog. Furthermore, at least half of them are aware the blog has lain dormant for some time.

Thus, oh blogosphere so vast and unregulated, I make my return, as much to appease my angry throngs of starved readers as to kill time while I digest a turkey sandwich before biking down Lakeshore.That's right. Biking. The sun is out, and rumors of its supposed warmth have not been exaggerated. I am now able to get outside and participate in one of my favorite sports: me on my Diamondback vs. Nigerian cabbies on Blue-tooth headsets, jockeying for position on Chicago's congested streets. Spectators may conclude that this is a game with no rules, a life-and-death version of Calvinball in an urban setting. I don't think that's necessarily the case, but I have yet to come across definitive proof to the contrary. If there are rules, they are surely broken with staggering frequency.Despite the specter of death-by-Crown-Vic lurking at every intersection whose colored lights I ignore, biking is definitely one of the most active things I do these days. And it's important to stay active, because this winter has produced a profoundly more out of shape facade than I'm used to seeing in the mirror. I will attribute much of this to an insane travel schedule which had me eating out for practically every meal for about two months straight. Oh, and the heavy amounts of drinking with similarly depressed coworkers probably played a role.

Fortunately, most of us who imbibed and grew fat together are now working to reverse the damage together. And I need to do some hardcore reversal if I want to be seen anywhere near a pool when I hit Vegas Memorial Day weekend. And, yeah, that shit's happening.This will be my first time in Sin City, and I hope to do it right. My return flight is a red eye which puts me back in Chicago Tuesday morning around 6am. You know, just in time for work.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Birthday, Embryonic, Zombieland, Halloween... Damn, what a month!

It turns out I did things on my birthday I don't remember all too clearly. Luckily, a workie was at hand with a camera documenting the entire event for my later perusal. Watching my evening unfold through photos was definitely reminiscent of the ending of The Hangover when the guys piece their wild night together in a similarly pseudo-voyeuristic fashion. I know there's an unwritten 3-year-rule in effect for spoilers that I'm supposed to honor here, but the movie was garbage and I don't really think there's much to spoil. Well, unless you count how I called the movie garbage and maybe you were operating under the assumption that it could be good. Oops!

Moving on, here are some selections from my evening in question.

In other news, the Flaming Fucking Motherfucking Lips released a new LP last week, entitled Embryonic. FYI, it's absofuckinglutely amazing. I'm as big a fan of their older, overdriven, guitar-heavy psychedelic acid rock as I am their more recent orchestral, bombastic, electro-pop records. Embryonic is a damn near perfect combination of the two, resulting in the darkest, tightest, most cinematic record they've ever done.

It's a bit long, but exquisitely paced, with fantastic melodies laced throughout both softer numbers and straight up barn burners. And when I say barn burners I goddamn mean it. Songs like "See the Leaves", "Worm Mountain", and "Watching the Planets" will tear the fucking walls down in concert halls around the world for years to come. I know it's early, but Embryonic could end up being my favorite FLips album ever. Of course, my opinion may be skewed a tad by the fact they put out one of their worst albums in At War with the Mystics their last time out. Please buy now.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

So I took in Zombieland with some friends this weekend. It was one of the more wondrous group movie going experiences I've ever had. Some thoughts: it is basically hysterical from front to back; Woody Harrelson is a total BAMF; it features one of the greatest and most unexpected cameos ever; and, yeah, zombie movies will NEVER get old. Oh, and the one quasi-romantic moment in the film was ruined/enriched by a workie next to me pretending to orgasm. He swore he was pretending. I mean, he had to be pretending.

Finally, Halloween is coming up. There's bound to be craziness happening all over the city, just like every year since Satan took over. I've got my costume pretty much lined up, with only an accoutrement or two remaining to complete the ensemble. This is what I'm going for.

What are YOU going to be?!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Birthdays and Fever Rays

I did a bit of birthday binging Friday. I'll be sure and put all embarrassing photos and videos on here when I get them. I was clearly in no shape to run equipment of any kind, so I left camera duties to others.

Drinking started for me at 3pm and apparently ended around 11. I say "apparently," because my strict adherence to the Don't Turn Down Free Shots policy directly contributed to a lengthy black-out period. Yes, much of my night remains shrouded in personal mystery, beginning with my last true memory of being escorted out of Bar Louie by the staff (undeserved I say) and ending with my coming-to on a couch at 6:45 AM with what felt like a rabid ferret trying to break out of my skull. I killed him with half a bottle of ibuprofen and some apple juice.

I also somehow found myself with a giant mug of Blue Moon in my hand at noon on Saturday. Basically, my birthday was full of win.

Saturday night was possibly more amazing, however. That Fever Ray show I was geeking out over a post ago? Yeah, expectations were way fucking exceeded. From that first otherworldly, throbbing loop from "If I Had a Heart" that kicked off the show to the final beat of "Coconut" which closed it, I was completely riveted. This was pure performance art. One long piece, meticulously structured, and expertly performed. Everything about the spectacle was meant to displace the audience from the comfort of reality. The place was engulfed in fog for most of the show. The band members on stage were all spectres and silhouettes; costumed golems swaying and incanting, draped over instruments and electronics. Sickly yellow, antique lampshades pulsed with the ebbs and flows of every creepy measure.

And the laser lighting... oh god, the laser lighting. I didn't know light could do the things I saw that night. Points and beams turned into sheets and waves criss-crossing the entire auditorium. Seeing the fog rolling through the artificial ceiling of light made you feel at one instant like you were submerged in water, and the next as if you could reach out and touch the clouds. There were several moments in which I was inclined to attempt to capture what I was seeing on camera, but there was just something so perfect about being a real part of the experience that a shitty iPhone camera could only misrepresent. It would be like trying to recreate Michelangelo's La Pieta with a handful of Legos. However, her excellent music video for "Triangle Walks" showcases a lot of the stage theatrics quite well:

What almost gets overshadowed a bit is the music, but that's only due to the utter uniqueness of the performance itself. The music was dark and brooding and massive and claustrophobic and cavernous and oppressive. It translated beautifully from the record to the stage, and I could imagine no better visual accompaniment than what was performed. The whole thing was just perfect. And I risk no hyperbole in making that statement.

I'm spent. G'night.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Light 26 Candles for The Squish

Yeah, I'll be twentyfreakingsix Friday. I don't really think it bothers me, and I'm not going to pretend it does. Well, I'll milk it a bit for sympathetic eyes and free drinks or whatever, but I promise not to overdo it.

Birthday plans include post-work drinks at Ye Olde Towne Tap(e) here in the 'burbs, greasy pizza from next door, a group outing to The Invention of Lying, followed by... well, more drinking I imagine.

The movie was written by and stars Ricky Gervais, of the UK's The Office... "Or as we call it in the UK, The Office (Ricky on Conan)." I've also just recently completely lost my shit over his array of brilliant podcasts, starring himself, his often-times cowriter and gangly looking weirdo Stephen Merchant, and... Karl Pilkington - "A man with no education, no qualifications, and a head like a fahkin orange!" I'll put it like this: if you're unfamiliar with "Monkey News" your life up to this point has been an utter waste.

Saturday's night-cap will be held at The Metro for my most anticipated show since, jesus, Tom Waits? Jesus... Tom Waits. Jesus: Tom Waits. Jesus = Tom Waits. Jesus (is less than) Tom Waits. Okay I'll stop.

Yes, Fever Ray brings its dark, cavernous brand of haunting dancetronica to Chicago for the first time EVAR and I get to be there. Fever Ray is the solo project of this girl, Karin... something or other. She's 1/2 of Swedish electronic bro/sis group The Knife. Well, I think they're Swedish. I'm not going to research it for you. That's what google is for when I'm too "busy" at work to back up my claims. Incidentally, the reason the group split was so the brother could either spread or cure swine flu.

Here's a music video. I guess some people still make them. Actually, I'm just going to put a cool fan-made vid here. But there are interesting live and official ones floating about if you're really interested.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Blame Twitter

I mean, seriously, it's just so much easier to micro-blog than to formulate something requiring actual thought. This post may contain nothing worthwhile, but I feel like I have to meet a one-blog-a-month quota or something. Like how Jay-Z puts out an album a year even if he has nothing interesting to say.
Speaking of which, have you heard The Blueprint 3? I've heard the vast majority of it. And I've listened to the first 4 or 5 tracks many many times. The reason for that is, after about 15-20 minutes, I develop this unbearable desire to listen to Hova's good shit. Enter Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint (1), and/or The Black Album.
It's unfortunate that BP3 doesn't get it done, because it is pretty sonically badass. I mean, Jay is rapping over some pretty strange beats. It reminds me of Clipse's second record, where they reportedly told the Neptunes to just bring in the weirdest shit they had on their Macbooks or whatever. Some may argue that Clipse has little to say apart from how gangsta Virginia is or how much weight they push, but at least they sound interest-ing/ed over the Neptune's more left-field beats. Jay-Z sounds like he forgot what he's supposed to be doing with a mic.

Danger Mouse should just mash up Jay's classic rhymes with BP3. That thing would eclipse The Gray Album for album-length mash-up nirvana. But one thing I can thank BP3 for is bringing my appreciation of classic Jay-Z up to appropriate levels of adulation. I've had a pretty love/hate relationship with his back catalog, most specifically with The Black Album. I have downloaded and deleted this record at least three times in recent memory. I'd dig the production and a lot of the songs, but I'd slowly tire of all the self-love. The crowds chanting 'HOVA! HOVA!' near the end of "What More Can I Say" or sound bites of his mom expounding on how the 10 lbs. wunderkind exited her birth canal like angel breath on "December 4th." It was enough to make me sick to the point where I'd lose my shit after about a month or so and get rid of the whole thing.

But, invariably, I'd get that itch to hear "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and "99 Problems" again, and I'd come crawling back. I'm such a bitch, i.e. not one of Jay-Z's problems.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blogging from the Balcony

I'm all settled in my new pad, and having just acquired some free balcony furniture from a fine workie friend, I'm chillaxing on that badboy right now. For the last 45 minutes or so I've been chatting on the interweb by candle light with Lindstrom & Prins Thomas's II on the stereo.

I think this moment may also represent the proverbial calm before the storm. I've decided to warm my new digs with a party Saturday night, and I think my guest list is getting a bit more bloated than I'd originally anticipated. The burbs and the city collide in the south loop this weekend. This should be interesting.

I just hope we all play nice when it's time to take turns hurling in the one toilet I have.

I'm also looking forward to getting some good old fashioned foosball going. My old partner in foos from the high school/college days will be here, so this house warming party may feature the return to prominence of the Foozball Freakz. The last time this team participated competitively in tournament play, we went undefeated. Of course, we set up, hosted, seeded, and purchased prizes for the thing with university funds. That all may or may not have been fair.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Elvis didn't expectorate on his fans!"

"Yeah, but he died on the toilet..."

Last week I happened into a large amount of store credit for Fry's electronics. This was actually the result of connected events, beginning with my purchase of flat, adhesive-backed speaker wire last month, the failure of that speaker wire to work in any sense of the word, which led to my decision to return the crap, letting it sit in my trunk for several weeks, and, finally, returning it 32 days after the date of purchase. No cash refund for me. The silver lining here is that with $80 in store credit, was able to splurge on something I've wanted for a long time: Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series.

So, needless to say, this relatively lazy weekend was spent primarily watching the aforementioned brilliant and tragically, prematurely ended series with some Madmen and Flight of the Concords thrown in there for good measure. The reason my weekend was lazy was definitely a personal choice. I didn't get home from the burbs (volleyball and drinking) until the after dawn Saturday morning, due to two flat tires and a ride in a tow truck, making me pissy and $320 dollars poorer. I did manage to score free tickets to watch the Sox lose Sunday. Yay.

I also wilfully skipped all Lollapalooza related fanfare, but managed to stay updated on all the awesomeness I was missing thanks to bastard friends texting me and Diplo's incessant but awesome Twitter updates.

My two favorite Diplotweets: "Coheed n cambria need 2 lighten up" and "Festivals are always tuff but that breez I jus felt while peein behind production tent was kinda makin it all worth it."

Oh, and the quoted convo at the top of the post is from F&G Episode 2, as the Weir children argue with their father over the artistic merit of the Sex Pistols spitting on fans from the stage.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Procrastination Station

I'm supposed to be writing a technical specification for my boss. He told me I needed to have it in draft form by Monday. He told me this last Friday. I have spent a grand total of five minutes staring at the file over the last week. The rest of the time, I've been listening to the Japandroids.

Except for yesterday. Yesterday I wasted on crunk and The Hype Machine. I think this is possibly my new favorite website. I guess it logs all new tracks (originals, mashups, remixes, etc.) posted on blogs around the interweb, and sort of has them listed by popularity and genre and how many times they've been tweeted and whatever the hell else. It's how I went from Florence and the Machine's "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) (P.E.S.T. Remix)" to "Jay-Z vs. Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Problems (TimG Mash)" in just three moves.

It's also where I found Daft Punk's "Tron Legacy Theme," which reminded me of three things: 1. Daft Punk fucking rules 2. Tr2n is currently in production 3. Daft Punk is doing the soundtrack and will possibly tour behind it.

I am the fool that missed Daft Punk's Lollapalooza performance a few years back on the Alive tour and has never forgiven himself. Daft Punk tracks/shows just feel like Tron. But it'll be hard to top the pyramid...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

She Had Them Apple Bottom Jeans...

So how bored was I at work yesterday? On the most fleeting of thoughts, I immediately went to a firewall-friendly music download service and got me some Flo Rida, Usher, and Lil Jon. That's right, daddy wanted him some club-hop, so daddy got him some club-hop.

And, speaking of getting low, low, low, low a couple 'burban friends came down town a bit ago and stopped by for some cigars and margaritas, aaaaaand I somehow ended up on the dance floor at Lalo's. I will say I was on point with my entire arsenal of killer moves, and capped off a particularly furious combo with the hands-on-the-knees, descending booty roll, which I'm confident went over like gangbusters. Then some little Latina thing with a slinky blue dress and a giant man-friend rocked the same freaking move, got way freaking lower, and potentially looked 3 times hotter than me.

I was fully prepared to pass off the copy-cat act as pure coincidence. That mindset was difficult to maintain after she immediately pointed at me and laughed. FML.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend Warriors and an OK Invasion

So, I just moved into my new place, and I've still got boxes and clothes everywhere. I have a giant painting to hang, surround speakers to mount, and still need to construct a shelving unit, a lamp, and a foosball table. I am also still rocking an air mattress, have no bedroom furniture to speak of, and my dining area is severely lacking... well... a dining table. You'd think the weekend would be a perfect time to take care of most of this stuff.

Not this weekend. Enter the twin bill madness of the Warrior Dash and the Pitchfork Music Festival.

Most of the three of you who will read this know I'm a music geek. And most of the three of you who will read this are also music geeks, so P4K Music Fest is a known event which requires no introduction. This year's festival was so fucking great, which was actually a surprise to me. I think it was particularly great because though there were fewer amazing bands, it allowed for a more casual viewing experience, and I didn't have to stress about which awesome band I was missing to watch some other awesome band. I had exactly one regret about the three day deal, and that was being a bit late to the will call line Friday evening. I heard Yo La Tengo start to tear it up on the A stage, and, before I had my tickets in hand? The sweet opening chords to my freaking fave YLT track, "Autumn Sweater."

Shit happens.

Saturday morning I found myself in Joliet partaking in the Warrior Dash, a 3.75 mile race featuring obstacles such as Junkyard Jam, Leg Breaker Leaps, Muddy Mayhem, and the Warrior Roast. I sustained few injuries, but did end up completely covered in mud and shoeless in a suburban Wendy's for breakfast circa 10:30 AM.

The Warrior Roast

The victorious few. We honor the dead with our medals... and bananas.

The rest of the weekend belonged to Pitchfork. I saw Yo La Tengo, Built to Spill, Fucked Up, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, DOOM, Lindstrom, Matt & Kim, The National, The Mae Shi, Blitzen Trapper, The Thermals, M83, and The Flaming Fucking Lips from Oklafuckinghoma. The two best performances probably belonged to The National and the FLips, with my vote for most fun/energetic show going to Matt & Kim.

Also, side props to Fucked Up's guitarists for stage diving whilst continuing to rock the power chords, Lindstrom and M83 for clubbing up their atmospheric electro for the festival crowds, The Thermals for covering Sonic Youth's "100%" and Green Day's "Basket Case," and Goose Island for making a fantastic IPA.

Fucked Up

The National

Wayne Coyne, frontman for the Flaming Lips rolling around the crowd in a giant ball

The Flaming Lips closing with "Do You Realize?"