How does your garden grow? With muck, muck and more muck! I spent much of today finishing the final muck box and then shifting muck from one box to the next. The first box, which the Big Lad is enthusiastically pointing out, has been rotting down for two years now and once we’d removed the top quarter of unrotted material, we found we’d hit the pay dirt.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Sign of the Times
Posted by Parm
We've all apologized to inanimate objects. You bump into something and before you know it you're apologizing to a lamp post. Today, while I was cleaning, I accidentally knocked my iPod off its dock on the stereo. "Sorry about that," I said, even though there was no one else in the house.
John Updike has died. I have mixed feelings about his work - loved A&P when I read i in high school, hated those Rabbit books, which I couldn't even finish. Maybe I prefer his short stories to his novels. Pigeon Feathers, a collection of short fiction, really impressed me.
Regardless of my tastes, the guy made an impact, and it's always a bummer to lose an icon. The Muck salutes you, John.
I never got around to uploading a second set of music files, but I do want to highlight a few of my favorite albums that did not lend themselves well to deconstruction. It's hard to pick a stand out track from the following records because the music works best as a whole. Nevertheless, they deserve a mention:
Girl Talk, Feed the Animals Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Deerhunter, Microcastle Atlas Sound, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel Conor Oberst, Conor Oberst
All of these albums are very good buys, even if none of the individual songs made my 'best of' list. Feed the Animals was probably my favorite album, followed closely by Fleet Foxes and Microcatstle.
In addition to these stellar recordings, I also liked a couple of T.I.'s radio hits.
As for Lil' Wayne, I don't know what to say, Sarah. His wit is still a low brow pleasure. My favorite rhymes come from his mix tape, Da Drought 3. But even in Lollipop there's some good stuff like "Safe sex is great sex / better wear a latex / cause you don't want that late text / that i think i'm late text." now, that's obviously not a mind blowing lyric, but it's still pretty sharp considering the fact that he probably came up with it off the cuff (he doesn't write anything down). but one of my all time favorite lil' wanye lyrics is in the song "Sky's the Limit," off Drought 3:
"I bulletproof the ride, now I feel like armadillas, And fuck you, hospital, young money, we're the illest, And I ain't gotta lie when I tell you I'm the illest, My flow is nasty, like C Y Phyllis, Self made G, and them bitches know the business. Relying on rap, but in the kitchen I'm a chemist, And when I was 5, my favorite movie was "The Gremlins" Ain't got shit to do with this, but I just thought that I should mention"
which sounds completely obtuse when you read it, but to hear the guy bend this syllable and that to make it all rhyme, to give it his characteristic flow is something else. plus, he manages to rhyme 'chemist' with 'gremlins' which earned him a lot of points in my book.
i'll try to come up with some more examples. bottom line is that, in my opinion, hip hop is long past its peak, and lil' wayne is merely a blip on an otherwise downward trajectory. is he as good as our favorite emcees? no, but he's at least bringing something different to the table in this stale era of mediocrity.
I too watched on yesterday, touched by the immense joy and optimism Obama instilled in the crowd, the nation and the world. I wish he was my President. Unfortunately we have the Conservative leader coining in on the fact that what is very much needed is change.
Can anybody help me identify this song and/or artist? It's a song that my mom had on a mix CD and I've been trying to figure out what it is but Google searches for the lyrics turn up nothing, which is very unusual. Hopefully this player works:
Last night Niki called me at 12:03 am, waking me from my old man slumber to tell me that Rob Thomas has confirmed the Veronica Mars movie.
When looking for something visual to accompany this post, I came across this video of Kristen Bell singing along to the extended cut of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song. Everyone knows the TV version by heart, but how many do you who have the unedited version memorized? I didn't even know there was an unedited version. Here she is schooling these unfortunate photographers who got stuck photographing her for Complex magazine.
I know Kristen Bell will never marry me, and I swear I'm OK with that. Really, I am. I promise. Doesn't bother me in the least.
Here's a fun article in GQ about five journalists traveling to Cleveland to play against LeBron James 5-on-1. Not only does this article make me like LeBron more, which I had thought was pretty much impossible, but it also provides an amusingly accurate description of my hometown:
You know what else makes you question things? Waking up in Cleveland, Ohio, and looking north out the window of your Marriott hotel room and realizing that there’s a barely discernible line out there in the distance, and that that line separates the gray lake from the slightly less gray air; then going down to breakfast and watching out the window as two men carrying stacks of overstuffed binders walk straight into the teeth of the wind screaming off Lake Erie, their faces being savaged by tiny airborne razor blades; then going back up to your room and looking out your window again and observing that, while the gray slab of day has lightened a little, the contrast between lake and sky is still imperceptible; and then finally realizing that the people of Cleveland live a large portion of their lives inside a howling, subfreezing, youth-repelling, job-vanishing, anti-light box.
I’m a lifelong New York Knicks fan, and before going to play LeBron I was getting pretty pumped about the prospect of him coming to New York in 2010 and saving the franchise. But sitting there watching Will and Fred tramp around in the snow..., their breath rising in the already dark air, all I thought was, man, I hope you don’t leave Cleveland. I hope you stay here. This is your place. It’s written on your body. Stay with your high school girlfriend and raise your kids in your giant house and win championship after championship and let the side of the Sherwin-Williams building be an evolving piece of public art in a way it could never be anywhere else. You can be so much more, mean so much more, if you stay here. Don’t leave. Just don’t do it.
What do Ghostface Killah, Del, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, M.I.A., Santogold, George Clinton, Chali 2na, Kanye West, Tom Waits, Kool Keith, ODB, fucking Fatlip, KRS-One, RZA, John Frusciante, Method Man, David Byrne, Chuck D, and Gift of Gab have in common?
They are all appearing on this album, which I will be purchasing on February 17. The track featuring M.I.A. and Santogold kicks ass.
This has apparently been public knowledge since October, so why is this the first I'm hearing about it? You young hip people are supposed to keep me informed of this kind of thing.
Vinyl has always been touch and go for me. As a teenager, a friend introduced me to the music of The Beatles via an old Pioneer turntable and a souped up yard market sound system. A Day in the Life has never sounded as good as the day I heard Lennon's weird, haunting inflections floating out of these monstrous speakers in my friend's cluttered double-wide. Until that moment, records were an anchronism, an inferior medium from my childhood. Now I began to see them in a new light. My friend and I would spend hours studying cover art with a dusty copy of Let it Bleed cracking and popping in the background.
My own player had been sitting in the bottom of a closet beneath some old sweaters when I dug it out again. Around that time I inherited a small collection of records from my parents when they moved on, like the rest of the world, to cassettes and CDs, and my aunt gave me a crate or two of some discs that had been sitting in her basement for a decade. A friend and I took a couple of trips to the flea markets looking for good deals, and I ended up with some decent stuff. Then my player broke, and when my friend took it to have it repaired by his handy father, he got into a car accident. The other driver slammed into my friend's car in the exact spot where my turntable was riding shotgun. I had no job and no way of replacing it. After that, I stopped buying records.
Several years later, I decided to invest in a new player and get back into the hobby. I coughed up a couple hundred dollars for a new model, which worked great until a drunken party guest stepped on the thing, breaking the arm. He refused to buy me a new one, so that was that. I got addicted to mp3s and forgot all about music you can hold in your hands.
Then, I wrote a screenplay for a screenwriting class about an aging record collector and his quest for a legendary acetate. I did a little research as I was writing it, and I came across a book about obsessive vinyl collectors (Vinyl Junkies, by Brett Milano) that really piqued my interest. Reading first hand accounts of mind-blowing listening experiences and Holy Grail style fanaticism left me itching to take one more stab diving into that world. I know I'll never be as much of a nut as Thurston Moore or the characters in High Fidelity, but a nerd can dream can't he?
Thanks to Niki, I have a brand new turntable and I just spent some money I don't have on a couple of low end speakers. There are two decent record stores in Wilmington, Gravity and CD Alley. A lot of times you can find good shit at both of these places for just a couple of bucks. This solves the problem I've been having since I'm a) broke and b) a reformed music thief. All the old vinyl I started with is back at my parent's house, so it's kind of like I'm starting over. When you don't have a job, things like this tend to get you really amped up.
I took my first record shopping trip to Gravity over the weekend. My first record purchases, this third time around, were as follows:
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel
Paid full price for this reissue because it's one of my favorite albums, and it's one I know well. I wanted something that I could compare to its digital equivilant to see if all the reports of vinyl's superior sound are true. After several listens, I can't confidentally say that I could tell the difference in a blind test, but who cares? This thing sounds glorious, and it's as close you can get to the way they sounded live in the studio.
For Adults Only, Bill Cosby
Niki found this one. I love comedy albums. I love Bill Cosby. I love the way Cosby's voice sounds on a record. This is a copy from the 70s, so a lot of the grooves are dirty or slightly scratched. For $2, you can't beat it, and I'm one of those people who thinks the pops and hissing add a little something to the experience. Something vintage and inimate like this a great showcase for that phenomenon.
Songs From the Big Chair, Tears For Fears
Thanks to some long, late night music conversations with Paul, this was a no brainer. A classic album with Shout, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, and Head Over Heels. I'm listening to it for the fourth time as I write this and, again, it was well worth the $3 I spent on it. Originally, I had a shitty set of computer speakers hooked up to my player, but this album, with its perfect balance between pounding beats and high vocals, demanded that I get something better.
Something happens and I'm head over heels,I never find out till I'm head over heels...
On top of these, I came across a big stack of hip hop singles in the free and dollar bins at CD Alley. Nothing spectacular in there, but I picked up a couple of early Raekwon singles, some Guru, and a track by Big Daddy Kane. For some reason, they all smell like incense. Incense makes me think of hippies, which makes me think of my friend who first played A Day in the Life for me. And so it comes full circle.
Sometimes you find that special movie in Netflix's Instant Viewing selection that syncs with your time and space in a way you never could have anticipated. It was this mystical mojo that had me watching Bliss at one o'clock in the morning. It popped up as a recommendation after I added to my queue the 1978 Paul Mazursky classic, An Unmarried Woman. 'If like that, then you'll like this,' kind of thing. Never have I felt so transparent. Surely Netflix has taken to hiring clairvoyants, for I can think of no other reason why this shit-bag of a movie would find its way into my living room.
From the very first frame, including the cheesy Hallmark typeface of the opening credits, it comes off as a bad made for TV movie. Bliss, starring the motley crew of Sheryl Lee, Craig Sheffer, Terrance Stamp, and Spalding Gray (!!), is a 1997 "steamy romance" (according to Netflix) drama about a newly-wed couple and their relationship problems. The problem is that Craig Sheffer can't give Sheryl Lee and orgasm. So they go to therapy with Spalding Gray, whose creepy and anachronistic presence seems only to make matters worse.
Enter Dr. Fuck. Terrance Stamp plays Dr. Baltazar something or other, a new agey specialist in female intimacy. According to Spalding Gray, he operates on the edge of the law. In other words, he sleeps with his patients. One of his patients, on the dl of course, is Sheryl Lee. Sheffer finds out about it and confronts the cool and calm Terrance Stamp. The angry husband swipes everything off Baltazar's desk and screams at him, calling him "Dr. Fuck" in the process.
At that precise moment, I became entranced. With that single, inspired line of dialogue, Bliss goes from too-bad-to-watch to so-bad-it's-good, breaking the sound barrier on its turbo rocket surge to entertainment. I'm not joking. I haven't laughed out loud this much in a long, long time.
As a general rule, I lost interest in watching movies ironically quite some time ago, but this was different. I didn't seek this movie out with some friends in a video store. This movie found me. And by all accounts - the Netflix rec, the positive reviews - I was settling down for a serious exploration of adult relationships. When it turned out to be a bad Skinimax movie, I nearly turned it off. Dr. Fuck was having none of that.
So the jealous husband yells at Dr. Fuck (he obviously hasn't seen The Limey) and confronts his wife. She basically tells him to stay out of her business. Sheffer furrows his brow and wonders what to do next.
Have I mentioned that Sheryl Lee's character has a "borderline" personality? This, according to the illustrious Spalding Gray, is an incurable condition that makes people freak out about things like flies in the bedroom and cleaning the kitchen. She lacks an inner life of her own, and thus seeks approval from those around her. This is as scientific as they get.
With this information, Sheffer goes from being furious that his wife slept with another man, to wanting to save her soul. They way to her soul, of course, is through her vagina. If only Sheffer can give his wife an orgasm, then everything will be OK. Luckily, there's an expert in town who can help him out. The bulk of Act Two plays out like a softcore porn version of The Matrix, only instead of Morpheus teaching Neo kung fu, Dr. Fuck teaches the husband how to "injaculate" by holding his breath under water. You'll just have to take my word about that.
Unfortunately, my internet connection died out at this point in the film, so I never learned if the husband was able to apply his skills successfully or not. I never saw the movie's climax, as it were. But today is a new day, and as I fire up the stream once more, I can only hope that I'll find it as amusing as I did last night. Maybe the gods at Netflix only intended for me to see it at that precise time in my life. Like the sage and sensitive Dr. Fuck, they knew exactly what I needed.
If you have a Netflix account and I've left you on the fence about spending a couple of hours immersed in Bliss, let me leave you with my favorite lines from the movie, which read like a bad outtake from Attack of the Clones. Picture two men standing in front of a mirror, wearing matching pairs of blue boxer shorts, having the following exchange:
Dr. Fuck: How do you feel about your penis? Husband: To be honest...I like it. It's large and powerful. Dr. Fuck: Good. That's exactly how I want you to feel.
And these men do not have sex with each other. That is the genius of Bliss.
So here's my music. I've rushed it as I wanted to do it before I returned home away from the fast internet. I didn't get to convert them or figure out how to get it in the order I wanted but the music is there.
My favourite albums of the year were...
The Kills: Midnight Boom
MGMT: Oracular Spectacular
DeVotchKa: How it Ends
Hot Chip: Made in the Dark
Herman Dune: Next Year in Zion
Heres how it should play...
1) Tom Morello, Chad Smith w/the Wu Tang Clan: Wu Tang Clan Aint Nuthin to Fuck Wit'
I've gone from loving this version to hating it to loving it. I have always felt that Notes from the Muck was some kind of clan, a multi headed beast (including our glorious readers) spraying forth its fire ash into the night sky.
2) The Glimmers: Physical
3) TVOTR: Lover's Day - I just got this for xmas and really enjoyed the whole album though it didn't come in time for it to be one of my favourites of the year.
4) Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip: A Letter From God to Man
5) The Kills: Last Day of Magic- Granted, this WAS one of my favourite albums of 2008, but really, was it so good it merited 3 songs on here? I doubt it.
6) Kanye West: Love Lockdown - I don't really like much of the new album but I think this is addictive.
7) DeVotchKa: How it Ends - I wish I could tell you that my cultured tastes naturally led me to know about this fantastic band but I can't. I got it from a computer game advert. There. I said it.
8) Bon Iver: Skinny Love - Sorry Jeff. I guess we're just in sync.
9) Fleet Foxes: Ragged Wood - Sorry Matt.
10) Ida Maria: Oh My God - This is a great song to shout to.
11) Hot Chip: Ready for the Floor - I really should've put an extra song from this charming album instead of the Kills one. Hey ho. I can't recall a time when this song came on and it didn't lift my mood in some way shape or form. Also, these guys are from Putney. Where I'm from.
12) Herman Dune: Lovers Are Waterproof - A beautiful bit of story telling.
13) MGMT: Electric Feel
14)Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris: Come and Dance wiv Me
15) Cool Kids: What it is
16) Glasvegas: Geraldine
17) The Kills: Good Night, Bad Morning
18) Herman Dune: My Baby is Afraid of Sharks -it goes without saying I would include this.
19) DeVotchKa: Such A Lovely Thing - This will be the soundtrack to the movie Matt, Jeff and I star in. From the beginning we see Jeff on a tightrope walking across the city in order to get away with the precious booty, while below, Matt and I cause a diversion mascerading as belly dancers. 20) The Kills: Cheap and Cheerful.
Collecting music has been difficult for me this year. I forced myself to give up illegal downloading (for the most part), and I haven't had any money to purchase albums the old fashioned way, which is to say without fear of prosecution. What follows is a collection of some of the stand out tracks among the music I have managed to procure. This is labeled "Part 1," but truthfully I'm not sure I'll have enough for a Part 2. I just didn't want to seem uncool.
Due to my uploading frustrations last year, I have made no effort to organize these into a pleasing mix. The track list below reflects the order of the files when I zipped the folder:
Bodies of Water, Gold, Tan, Peach, and Grey Throw Me the Statue, Lolita Hercules and Love Affair, Time Will Kanye West, Heartless Beyonce, Single Ladies1 Fleet Foxes, White Winter Hymnal Maria Taylor, Lady Luck Weezer, Pork and Beans Bon Iver, Skinny Love Murs and 9th Wonder, Free Shugo Tokumaru, Button Lykke Li, Little Bit My Morning Jacket, Librarian Portishead, Machine Gun The Bug, Poison Dart Chad VanGaalen, Willow Tree Of Montreal, Id Engager Ray Lamontagne, Let It Be Me Lil' Wayne, Lollipop2 Wale, The Kramer
1The file in the zipped folder is incomplete, click on title to download full version 2A Milli is better (actually it's on the short list for my favorite of the year) but there's no sense in being redundant.
Same instructions as before, only the name of the file is now NFtMd2.zip. Here is the track list:
She & Him, Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? Dr. Dog, Uncovering the Old Fleet Foxes, Ragged Wood Franz Ferdinand, Lucid Dreams R.E.M., Mr. Richards Women, Black Rice Animal Collective, Water Curses Cut Copy, Lights & Music Ghostface Killah, Ghostface X-mas Lyrics Born, I Like It, I Love It Atmosphere, Can't Break Amanda Palmer, Oasis Kimya Dawson, Bobby-O Marlena Shaw & Diplo, California Soul TV On the Radio, Shout Me Out Belle and Sebastion, Lazy Jane Nada Surf, Are You Lightning The Decemberists, O New England Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, I'll Be Glad [Bonus Track]
And as a special bonus, and to spare you all the trouble of having to make up your own minds, I will now predict the favorite songs for each of our regular commenters, and some of our irregular commenters.
Matt: The Crippled Jazzer or Nowheres Nigh1 Ben: Comrade Z or Brooklyn (We Go Hard)1 Jeff: Ghostface X-mas Vikki: Home Sarah: No Pause2 JD in DC: A Milli Jenny: [Bonus Track] or Lights & Music1 Katy: Oasis Erin: Lazy Jane Ann: Can't Escape From You Will: Lights Out3 Cleo: Bobby-O __________
1Tie 2Despite the blatantly sexist Eminem lyrics, she won't be able to help herself 3But he'll continue to insist that Paradise City is the greatest rock song of all time
You may recall how this works, but if not here's a refresher: Follow the Rapidshare link above. Click on the "Free user" button. Wait for the timer to count down, then click the download button. Save the zip file (NFtMd1.zip) to your desktop (or wherever else it will be easy to find later). Find the zip file on your hard drive and double click on it, which will create a folder called NFtMd1 with 21 mp3s in it. Drag the mp3s into iTunes and look for the album called "NFtM Matthew's 2008 Mix 1." Burn to CDR. Enjoy. Leave a nice comment.
I will have a second disc of music to post tomorrow. Hopefully my co-bloggers will share some stuff, too.
Here's the track listing for disc one:
David Byrne & Brian Eno, Home Adam Green, Twee Twee Dee Langhorne Slim, Spinning Compass The M's, Ultraviolet Man The Magnetic Fields, The Nun's Litany Delta Spirit, Trashcan Ruby Suns, Oh, Mojave DeVotchKa, Comrade Z Flying Lotus, Melt! Girl Talk, No Pause Parts & Labor, Nowheres Nigh Lil Wayne, A Milli Jay-Z, Brooklyn (Go Hard) Marnie Stern, The Crippled Jazzer Santogold, Lights Out Vampire Weekend, Campus The Dodos, Park Song Bob Dylan, Can't Escape From You Elbow, On a Day Like This Jenny Lewis, Black Sand Scarlett Johansson, Anywhere I Lay My Head
OK, I know we've tossed around some ideas about getting together for a reunion, and I think I found the perfect venue. This place has a full rock-afire explosion band, and it's in West Virginia. There are games there and laser tag, so if things get awkward we'll have something to do...
This morning I woke up with an appropriate hangover. For me, the day after I drink is worthless, and I am susceptible to excruciating headaches. I thought I wouldn't even be able to rise from my friend's couch.