Saturday, December 31, 2005

"It's The End Of The [Year] As We Know It"

Well, 2005 doesn't have much life left in it. I'm getting ready to head out for a party with a few of my friends, so when next I post, it'll be 2006.

This year ended on a weird note, a rather surreal moment that drove home the fact that my life has completely and totally altered. Even if I fail out here in Virginia and have to return to Oklahoma, it won't be the same. Dad told me this afternoon that he went down to the courthouse yesterday afternoon and got the divorce between he and my mother finalized. They are now no longer legally married.

And it's funny, though not ha-ha funny: it didn't really bother me, per se. I mean, sure, it bothered me. My parents are irrevocably divorced, and there's no way mom'll go back to dad even if one or both of them wanted it. A part of my life ended today with the old year, just as a part of theirs is now over. I think, deep down, they both still love each other deeply; hell, they've both said as much to me on separate occasions. They just...drifted. I think my father has made this bizarre effort to isolate himself from anyone and everyone. All he does is work.

The frightening thing is...I can feel myself do something similar. I know I have his tendency to shut myself off from everyone else. Admittedly, I'm not anywhere near as much a workaholic as he is, but I do have his tendency to throw myself into whatever project I'm working on rather than facing what's bothering me.

It's a fine line to tread. In talking with my folks, I can see that they're both saddened by what's happened--I can even hear it in my father's voice, and I think he got as close to crying as I've ever seen him when we chatted this afternoon about it--but there's also this weight off of both of them the past week or two, even back during Christmas. Sure, things were a little tense, but my father smiled more easily than I've seen in ages, and my mom didn't nag nearly as much as she usually does.

And so when dad told me that they were officially divorced, a part of me felt great remorse. My childhood--which, really, ended sometime during college, I guess--was irrevocably closed off today.

Childhood has to end. It's a part of the growing up process, and these things just happen. Divorce happens; it happens to about 50% of those who get married in this country. Maybe this speaks to a problem with how quickly a lot of our citizens get married. But then you do have people like my parents, who were married--rather happily, for the most part--for 29 years. How do they fit in? Is it empty nest syndrome? Is it mid-life crisis? I don't know. It just happens. I never thought it would happen to my family, but it did. That's just how things are now.

My life will never be the same. My visits home will never be the same. Mom said as much on our drive home from visiting my grandparents Christmas Day. "You know this is the last Christmas like this we'll have," she said.

"Yeah, I know," I said. We both agreed that we'd probably still do the whole Christmas Eve at dad's parents' house and Christmas Day at mom's parents' house, but this would be the last time we--mom, dad, Clif, Scott, and myself--would spend the holiday together as a family. This is how our family has evolved. Maybe it's for the best, maybe it just destroys everything. I don't know.

This has all turned out much more morbidly than I originally intended. The divorce is fairly major, and it's colored my whole time in Virginia so far, and it put a strange cap on the year, but it was hardly the overblown, dramatic moment I'm making it out to be. Maybe a heartbreaking personal epiphany for me, but I didn't break down in tears or anything. I've accepted that this is the way things are, and I've dealt with it.

Anyway, on a significantly lighter note, I'm due at a party pretty soon. Some drinking might occur. I apologize in advance to anyone I call while even slightly inebriated. When/if we talk, remember that I tend to still use big words when I've had a few, I just slur them more.

And honestly, is there anything more entertaining than hearing someone slur the word "disquietude."


Song of the Moment: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, George Harrison, & Eric Clapton, "My Back Pages (Live)" <--best version EVER

Thursday, December 29, 2005

"Nobody Can Sing The Blues Like Blind Willie McTell"

Okay, I have to admit it: I've started listening to some bluegrass and country.

In my defense, the only member of my family who hasn't started down this road is Scott, and he's exceptionally picky about his music (he only listens to like three bands: Journey, Styx, and Boston). Dad has started listening to my uncle's band the way I was when I lived in Oklahoma (which means about every weekend), and they tend to play a lot of country. He doesn't seem to mind. Clif has really gotten into Johnny Cash and Hank Williams (among his presents this Christmas: a song book of Johnny Cash and one of Hank Williams and the Johnny Cash box set). Mom owns a freakin' Rascal Flatts CD (which I had to give her no end of trouble about: I mean, Johnny Cash is one thing, but Rascal Flatts? That's just pop with some twangy whine to it).

Me? I've been drifting that direction ever-so-slowly. It all started with Glen Phillips, oddly enough. His collaborations with Nickel Creek got me interested in that band. His interest in another band really set me down the path, though: Wilco.

Yeah, I started listening to Wilco because I heard someone request a Wilco song on one of Phillips's live sets I'd downloaded. Yeah, that's right: he didn't actually play one of their songs, but someone had clearly heard him do their stuff before, and he clearly liked their stuff.

I've had this problem--if it can be called that--for years. I have a tendency to seek out music I've heard someone else talk about simply because they talked about it. I started listening to Cake, Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd, the Barenaked Ladies, Moxy Fruvous, and Wilco this way. There are others. For instance, I purchased an Alison Krauss CD just this evening because my uncle mentioned that he liked them.

So I started listening to Wilco. About the same time, I heard a Rhett Miller CD playing in Borders one evening, bought it on a whim, and then began pursuing albums by the group he was in, the Old 97s.

These two bands opened me up to the joys of alt-country. I started listening to Uncle Tupelo, and Whiskeytown, and Ryan Adams, and Blue Mountain, and Healthy White Baby. I heard the Greencards open for Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, and I pursued their music as well. I pursued the roots of American music, seeking out the beginnings of the things I listen to now.

And I figured out why I really enjoyed these bands, this style of music and things of similar ilk like Woody Guthrie, Dylan, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and even the Band and Neil Young: because this was music about feeling, emotion, about conveying something in one's playing and one's voice that goes beyond the mere words sang or hitting the right key or playing note perfect. The way I figured it, there are two kinds of musicians out there. This applies mostly to folk, country, rock, and the blues (especially the blues), but to an extent it applies to all music. The first kind of musician relies on precision and perfection to convey emotional content. Good examples include BB King, Clapton beginning around his stint with Derek and the Dominoes, and Sting. Their music is designed to be expressive via its exactitude. BB King, for instance, plays every single note of his guitar solos perfectly. There's never a mistake, and that precision conveys a piercing, sharp emotion: his blues. Clapton is much the same way.

On the other hand, you have people who rely on tone and energy to convey emotional content. Let's face it: Dylan, Young, and so many of the others I enjoy can't sing at all. Dylan and Young are especially guilty of not being able to carry a tune in a bucket. But while they may not hit every note perfectly--and are in fact quite sloppy sometimes--they compensate by putting significant energy into their work. When Dylan sings of a wounded heart or a girl who has done him wrong, you feel it in your gut. When he sings that the world is so fucked up that the only man who could sing about it effectively is Blind Willie McTell, you feel that the world is that fucked up in your very gut. The emotional content is exhibited in the enthusiasm and the effort, not in the precision. This is why some Dylan albums really fall flat: his music is not compelling when he phones in his vocals. Take Slow Train Coming, for example. The music is decent if not exactly memorable. It could be a decent album in the hands of a precise singer, but Dylan doesn't sing like that. His vocals are flat on this record, and it kills the emotional content of an album that ought to be all about uplifting the spirit and presenting Dylan's new worldview.

The whole point of all this is that most country, folk, blues, and bluegrass musicians (though bluegrass to a lesser extent than the others) focuses on crafting a tone or feeling for the music through effort of will rather than precision or skill. Dylan's not the best singer or guitarist in the world, but his best work is exceptionally evocative nonetheless. These folks get it: you don't have to play perfectly to get your point across. Sure, precision is an excellent way of conveying emotional content, but there are other ways that don't require perfection. A lot of the bands I listen to now are steeped in this idea of getting the emotional content across in whatever way is necessary or possible, and it's a method I myself try to employ (mostly because I'm not all that good at playing or singing, either).

Anyway, tonight I purchased the aforementioned Alison Krauss CD (which is great: I mean, it's got a cover of Woody Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty." How could you not like it?) and the Greencards. I haven't had a chance to listen to the latter CD yet, but I've heard them in concert before, so I know it'll be worthwhile.


Song of the Moment: Alison Krauss and Union Station, "Pastures of Plenty"

"My Friday Night Enfant"

Christmas back home wasn't too bad last weekend. The trip was whirlwind, as I knew it would be, but everyone got along, there were no outbursts or tantrums or anything of that nature, no moments that were truly awkward. Present-wise, I got some nifty stuff: three new pair of jeans (both grandmothers decided that my request for a single new pair of jeans was simply not enough), a couple of giftcards (to Target and to Best Buy), Toy Story and Episode III on DVD, the 30th Anniversary Edition of Born to Run, and a few videogames. And cash. Quite a bit of cash. Of course, last but certainly not least, there's the guitar, my pride and joy, but we already knew I had that and I've gushed over it enough. Suffice to say it still captivates me and holds my attention like something shiny would a football player.

Travelling to and from Oklahoma posed fewer problems than I'd imagined it would from too many viewings of Die Hard 2 (y'know, the one where they hijack the airport and the planes can't land and all that). Our only problem was a one-hour delay going to Oklahoma Friday evening, but we ended up only being about 40 minutes later than we'd anticipated in our arrival, and my parents had only just arrived at the airport themselves to pick us up, so that worked out well. Returning, the only trouble we had was with a manicure kit Wendy had in her bag. It contained some sort of tool thing that apparently had some sort of blade, and they made her check her baggage with the thing (even though she'd already been through two different airports with it by this time: this was on our connecting flight from Kansas City to Baltimore on the way back to the East Coast). This was apparently the third time in as many trips that she's tried to bring the manicure kit along with her, and each time they've flagged it. Personally, I'd have stopped bothering with the damn thing after the first time, but I wasn't about to say anything to her about it.

Anyway, it's been nice not having to work this week. I'm not quite to the point where I'll say that I'm ready to jump back into work, and I'd really prefer to have another week or two off like I did in college, but I think I'll be ready to get back to it when the time comes.


Song of the Moment: David Gray, "Nos da Cariad"

Friday, December 23, 2005

"Hotel Senator"

So here we are, mere hours from my return to Oklahoma. I still need to pack, possibly draw another comic, and do a couple of other things. So what am I actually doing? Surfing the internet.

Yeah, that's right, I'm procrastinating like a mo-fo. Why drop my M.O. at this point in my life, right?

I really am looking forward to going home, though I know there will quite possibly be some awkwardness. Oddly enough, mom is accompanying dad to come pick us up at the airport. This is probably a good sign: if they can stand a car ride together, they can probably make it through Christmas morning.

'Tis the season, folks. Have a safe and happy holiday, and I'll be back in a few days.


Song of the Moment: Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLaughlin, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

Monday, December 19, 2005

"Top 10 of 2005"

As is readily apparent to anyone who's ever spoken with me, read anything I've written, or just heard about me through various other people, I'm obsessed with music. I have music playing constantly, or I'm writing it, or I'm playing it on the guitar, or I'm singing random snatches of songs throughout my day, or I'm talking about it. Writing about it. I'm caught up in music. As such, the folks down at Best Buy know me a little too well, and the cashiers at Tower Records are on something approaching a first-name basis.

But all that is immaterial, because the fact of the matter is that I like my music and I found some pretty damn good albums this year. It's hard to pare it down to just ten from this year that I feel are the absolute best, but I've done what I could. So, in no particular order:

1. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cold Roses: a double album from the prolific to a fault Adams that kicked off a year that saw three full albums from the man (the third, 29, comes out tomorrow). While Cold Roses suffers from an "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to song selection, the songs on here that are good are really good and more than make up for the filler that you tend to find on one of his albums. Best tracks include "Magnolia Mountain," "Easy Plateau," and especially "Let it Ride."

2. Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series Volume 7 - No Direction Home: the latest in The Bootleg Series concentrates on the first few years of Dylan's career, from his early days as an acoustic folkie to his stormy electric breakouts. This collection of outtakes, live tracks, and even a few unreleased cuts proves why Dylan is such a cultural force in American music. Standouts include alternate takes of "Mr. Tambourine Man," "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again."

3. Gorillaz, Demon Days: less hip-hop-oriented than the cartoon band's previous outing, it's still damn fun music. Damon Albarn manages to blend different genres and sounds into a cohesive, toe-tapping whole that you can't help but enjoy...even if you have no idea what the hell they're singing about. Favorites include "Dirty Harry," "Feel Good Inc.," and "Dare."

4. Van Morrison, Magic Time: every year or so, Van the Man releases another album that reminds you that he's still the best at what he does: fusing Celtic swing, blue-eyed soul, and jazz into a fun, warm sound that's irresistable. Best songs include "Stranded," "Celtic New Year," and the title track.

5. My Morning Jacket, Z: with vocals that feel like they're coming from the other end of existence and a dense, melodic sonic collage that would make Brian Wilson proud, My Morning Jacket have crafted one of the best damn albums I've heard in a long time. It's pure Americana, blending pop, country, psychadelia, and whatever else Jim James and the boys felt like throwing into the mix into a near-perfect album. Songs to listen to are "Wordless Chorus," "Lay Low," and "Off the Record."

6. Glen Phillips, Winter Pays for Summer: a solid album of strummy, folky pop-rock from the former Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman. The sound is cleaner and smoother than his previous solo effort, abulum, but this just makes it feel like more of an extension of latter-day Toad. Coupled with the fact that it includes long-time fan favorites such as "Easier," "Thankful," and "Falling," and you've got an album worth checking out.

7. Paul McCartney, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard: any McCartney solo album must be approached with caution lest one succomb to the sugary sweetness of his ballads and the inordinate number of throwaway and filler tracks that seem to populate his records. That's why Chaos is such a fantastic record: Nigel Godrich stripped away all of McCartney's pretensions, all of his tendencies to toss off half-baked songs and call it an album. What's left is a reminder of why so many of our favorite songs have McCartney's name on them somewhere. Best cuts include "Fine Line," "Jenny Wren," and "Riding to Vanity Faire."

8. Son Volt, Okemah and the Melody of Riot: I'm not sure what a "Melody of Riot" is, but I know that Okemah is a small town in Oklahoma where Woody Guthrie was born. With that knowledge in mind, Jay Farrar (formerly of Uncle Tupelo) crafts a batch of alt-country songs that use his work with Uncle Tupelo and the work of Guthrie as a starting point. It's a solid, well-made album in an era when too many records are just bashed out for quick cash. It may not be groundbreaking, but it's definitely damn fine music. Best songs include "Afterglow 61," "Jet Pilot," and "World Waits for You."

9. Wilco, Kicking Television: yes, it's a live album, but it's a live album that reminds us of why Wilco is such a great band: the fact that they can really cut loose and rock hard when they want to. And make no mistake, the boys cut loose on this record, pounding mercilessly on some of the finest songs from their catalog. What makes this live album essential rather than redundant is that they tweak songs just enough to make them fresh and new without changing the core of what the song is all about. Highlights include "Shot in the Arm," "Hummingbird," "Jesus, Etc.," and a relentless "Kicking Television."

10. Wallflowers, Rebel, Sweetheart: another album where the point isn't to break new ground but to consolidate strengths. The Wallflowers craft some of the finest traditionalist roots-rock out there, carving their own niche out of the territory Jakob Dylan's father Bob, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and John Mellencamp first explored. Jakob's songwriting talents grow with each record, and this particular album benefits from the presence of producer/guitarist Brendan O'Brien. Standouts include "Here he Comes (Confessions of a Drunken Marionette)," "From the Bottom of my Heart," and "Nearly Beloved."

Honorable Mentions: there were more than just ten great albums this year; as I said, I had a tough time narrowing it down to just these ten. Some of the other standouts this year were Ben Folds's Songs for Silverman, Mike Doughty's Haughty Melodic, Coldplay's X&Y, the Foo Fighters' In Your Honor, Bruce Springsteen's Devils + Dust, Charlie Sexton's Cruel and Gentle Things, and Jackson Browne's Solo Acoustic, Volume 1.


Song of the Moment: Ryan Adams, "Magnolia Mountain"

"Next Time You See Her"

Saw The Chronicles of Narnia this weekend. It was a good flick, but Wendy and I agreed: it was merely good. There's nothing truly flawed or wrong with it, nor is there anything particularly awe-inspiring or jaw-droppingly fantastic about it. It's a solid film with some well-done special effects and all that jazz. It's the sort of movie that, had it appeared before Lord of the Rings, would have been hailed as a masterpiece. Now it's an almost run-of-the-mill epic fantasy film. It felt for all the world like LOTR Lite. Which isn't particularly fair to either Narnia or LOTR (the books or the films), which are both fantastic pieces of art that strive for very different goals.

I got a rather wonderful package in the mail Friday. Let me give you a hint:

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Not obvious enough? Well, how about these:

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That's right, my new guitar arrived in the mail Friday evening (just after I'd finished a phone conversation with my father about how the guitar hadn't arrived yet. Sweet, sweet irony). To say that I am pleased with my new Martin is to grossly understate the circumstances. I think it would be fair to say that it fills a void in my life, a Martin-shaped hole that I hadn't even been aware existed. The guitar plays as beautifully as it looks, and I can't even begin to thank my dad enough for getting it for me.

That last sentence felt weird, mostly because I singled out my father as the buyer of the present (which is my big Christmas present this year...though even if it'd been the only thing I received, I'd've been perfectly content). It's accurate, though: dad was responsible for the big present, and mom's getting us a few small things (DVDs, CDs, books, things like that). It's weird to think that the presents will be divided like that this year: that we won't have presents that say "From Mom and Dad" on them as we always have. It's just another physical reminder of the fact that my parents aren't together anymore. It's a tough idea to wrap my head around, and this weekend is going to be rather awkward because of it, I think. I'm sure we'll get through, but that's not saying it'll be a piece of cake or anything.

This time Friday, though, I'll be on my way to Oklahoma. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, especially since I haven't seen any of my family in like five months.


Song of the Moment: The Eagles, "Take It Easy"

Thursday, December 15, 2005

"Hey Mr. DJ"

This is almost enough to convince me to get XM Radio. Admittedly, we're talking about Bob just spinning the records that catch his fancy and talking about whatever the hell it is he mumbles about. But honestly, at this point I'd probably pay money for him to sit there and read the phone book while he strummed a guitar, so maybe I'm not the most objective person for this matter.

We only had a half day at school today because of the weather. In a way, I was glad for the break, but I really think they need to stop burning through all of our snow days so early. We've still got January and February to get through, and the weather today didn't really warrant shutting the county schools down as far as I could tell. Admittedly, I think school closings are based on how well the buses can navigate the roads, so if there was concern that the buses couldn't operate in the crap we ended up with by the time school should have been out (a slushy rain. Mostly rain), then I guess I can see the wisdom in closing down.

And hey, I never mind working half a day for a full day's pay.

Still counting down the hours until the new guitar arrives. I was hoping (irrationally) that it might get here this afternoon--y'know, early--but no such luck. Honestly, it wasn't a logical expectation, but I'm anxious to get my hands on a Martin of my very own. Can you really blame me?

Part of me will miss playing the Fender, 'cause I know I won't really play it all that much after I get the Martin. I mean, why would I? I'll probably still use it for the Music Club at school, because I really don't want to take the Martin there (that's just asking for trouble), but aside from that, the Martin will get all the playing time. The Fender's been a good guitar, though, a great instrument to start out on. Considering it was also a gift from my father, I'm definitely hanging onto it (despite a couple of kid in the Music Club asking if I'd be willing to sell it).

I baked cookies tonight for school tomorrow. I feel all domestic and stuff. Now to play a couple of rounds of MarioKart DS before bed.


Song of the Moment: Tom Petty, "Christmas All Over"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"A Red Guitar On Fire"

A conversation with my mother this evening revealed that my guitar has been ordered and that it will most likely arrive this Friday or the following Monday. This is of considerable news to me, as I wasn't expecting to see it until something right before we left for Oklahoma. I figured at least another week or two.

I looked in a mirror yesterday afternoon and realized I looked like I hadn't slept since 1945 (an impressive feat, given that I wasn't born until 1980. That's right: I'm a retroactive insomniac). It was rather frightening: the skin around my eyes was blotchy and palid, with a sort of sickly yellowish cast to it. I looked almost...creepy.

Granted, I haven't really changed my sleeping habits. I was awake until almost 2.00 last night, and here it is almost midnight tonight and I'm still up. Over the break, I need to get myself into the habit of going to bed early so I can get plenty of sleep. The chances of this actually happening are slim, but it's fun to say I'll try.

We've been dealing with karma at the apartment this week. On the one hand, we've heard dozens of glowing praises for Wen's production of Oz. On the other, she got a five page diatribe yesterday from an unknown misnathrope (a note and plea: if you're going to bash and badmouth someone, please at least own up to doing it. Put your damn name on it, people!) that made every effort to belittle Wendy and the entire theatre department's achievement. I was rather miffed. Wen thinks she knows who it might've been (she has it narrowed down to a couple of possible suspects). Regardless of who it was, it was a cowardly and callow attack that showed a complete lack of decency or understanding of how this show was produced and put on. There were also scads of grammatical mistakes, and I took a certain vicious glee in finding most of them in a cursory read-through.

To end on a positive note, though: I ran into the apartment building's tenant leader, a teacher from a local middle school, and she had nothing but glowing praise for the show to pass on to Wen. It all balances out in the end, I say.


Song of the Moment: Coldplay, "What If"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Coldplay - X&Y

My interest in Coldplay waxes and wanes depending on how mopey I'm feeling. Chris Martin is a bit of a sadsack, dwelling in a personal space fraught with a meloncholy of the 18th century British variety: there's lots of laborious sighs, wistful navel gazing, and the feeling that this will all end in someone dying of consumption or tuberculosis. Martin's lyrics are so introspective that you feel like he's taken a page from his diary, set it to gently-swelling, anthematic Brit-pop, and recorded it for general consumption.

Which isn't to say it's bad music. I really enjoyed Rush of Blood to the Head, and I have to admit that Martin & Co. have a knack for soaring choruses and catchy hooks. But I'd heard that X&Y was ballad-heavy, and with a band like Coldplay--who start out pretty clearly in ballad territory on most of their tracks anyway--this is saying something. I'm not real big on ballads, to be honest: it all seems a little too forced anymore, and how many ways can you really write a song about heartbreak and wanting the girl back, anyway?

Well, Coldplay don't reinvent the wheel on X&Y. In fact, the album follows the pattern established on Coldplay's previous releases almost too closely. Ultimately, that's the album's biggest weakness: it's too by-the-numbers, too similar to its predecessor. The songs still sound good--as I said, Coldplay has a knack for catchy hooks and all--but it's a fairly predictable record. You can tell where the guitar fill will slot in, how the piano bit will start out the song, when Chris Martin will hit his perfect "I sound like my balls still haven't dropped" falsetto in a chorus. There's no surprises on the record, and that's what keeps it from being a mind-blowing album.

This isn't to say that X&Y isn't very, very good. It is. The band have a phenomenal sense of songcraft, and everything is done with the precision of a band much more mature than Coldplay's three proper albums suggests. And while the songs may not rock out in the conventional sense--but who really expects them to?--there's some fantastic uptempo numbers on the record that are hard not to like.

And that's really just it: it's hard not to like this record for what it is. It tries to be arty, but it's middle-of-the-road arty, so it doesn't alienate folks. The lack of surprises does have one positive point: you know the songs are going to be good. Tracks like "White Shadows" and "Speed of Sound" soar like vintage U2, sans the ubiquitous echo delay effect The Edge put on every guitar part between 1980 and 1991 (though even that pops up a couple of times on X&Y).

There's an earnestness to the record that makes you want to alternately nod your head in total agreement with the sentiment Martin is expressing and smack him and tell him to take himself a little less seriously. Honestly, he gets a little too wound-up in his navel gazing. He wants to be the next Bono, but he lacks the lyrical sweep of Bono. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing: Bono's social opinions are all well and good, but he tends to shove it into your face without the benefit of subtlety sometimes ("Bullet the Blue Sky," anyone?).

Ultimately, X&Y is a solid album that sticks with a proven formula. This keeps it from being a classic, but it's definitely worth a listen. Why fix what's not broken, right?


Song of the Moment: Coldplay, "White Shadows"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Imagine All The People"

Tonight is the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death. It still boggles my mind that anyone would even want to consider such an act. Lennon was a man of incredible creativity and vitality, a man adored by millions worldwide, and he was gunned down by a man who was clearly not in his right mind in an instant that defies reason, logic, and common sense.

Part of me always wonders what it would've been like if Lennon had lived. A cynical part of me feels that his death was actually for the best: he was cut down while he was still a force to be reckoned with, not a worn-out star whose heyday was years behind him. We might have had to suffer through ill-advised Beatles reunions, the Lads attempting to catch lightning in a bottle the second time around and tarnishing their legacy. As it stands, we dream of the music Lennon could have made, but never had the chance to. It's a sad thought, of course. He may have crafted another song as beatiful as "Imagine," as powerful as "Revolution," as surreal as "I am the Walrus." But we'll never know.

Thus, it's a day of reflection and mourning, a day to remember what was and what could have been. God rest you, John: of all people, you deserve some peace.


Song of the Moment: The Beatles, "A Day in the Life"

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"I Saw The Snow Fall In Black And White"

Let's recap the last week or so, shall we?

I spent all of last week either at Accotink teaching or at Wen's school helping get everything ready for Oz. I got roped into helping the witch "melt," and ended up with a headful of glitter for my troubles (long story). The show was a great success, selling roughly 2700 tickets over the course of the three-day run. We sold out Friday night and had great shows the rest of the time. I ran things on Saturday evening's show, so of course several things requiring important decisions on my part cropped up that evening. We muddled through, though, and we're all damn proud of how the show did.

Sunday was spent striking the set. We got all the important stuff done that afternoon, though we didn't get to repain the entire floor like Wen wanted to (in part because we couldn't find enough of the right kind of paint for them). It was strange seeing the auditorium empty like that, all the set pieces broken down and stored away. The show went by much too quickly, though.

Sunday night, Michelle came over and we exchanged Christmas presents. I got her Neil Gaiman's Mirror Mask and My Morning Jacket's Z, and she got me a collection of out-of-print/unpublished Dashiell Hammet stories and Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, which is easily one of the coolest presents ever.

It snowed yesterday afternoon/evening, ultimately meaning today was a delayed start morning: we didn't start classes until 10.30. Personally, these delay mornings strike me as ridiculous. Take the Oklahoma route, people: either have school or don't! Stop piddling around!

Last night managed to convince me that I'm glad I'm not a business/marketing major. I proofread a paper for Scott, and the paper was the driest, most monotonous thing I've read in a long time. Of course, the fault didn't really lie with my sibling: he's a good writer, it's just a crappy format/style to write in.

I also learned how to play the Flaming Lips' "Fight Test" on the guitar last night, which made me ridiculously happy. On a related note, dad says he'll be ordering my new guitar sometime in the next day or so, meaining I'll receive it before Christmas. This is a good thing.


Song of the Moment: John Mellencamp, "Rain on the Scarecrow"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"I'm Going Where There's No Depression"

I'm damn-near totally exhausted. I've been helping Wen with preparations for Oz all week, and given how worn out I am, I can only imagine how she currently feels. The show opens tonight, though, so we'll be done with this behemoth by Sunday.

Another stress factor this weekend is the visit of Wen' parents. They're coming into town to see the show and meet Tim's folks. Personally, I'm of the opinion that this is something we could do without this weekend, but we don't always get to choose our days.

Thankfully, though, work's going well. Most of my students have been exceptionally well-behaved this week, making my job significantly more enjoyable. Even being as tired as I've been from running around all over the place, I still look forward to work every day.


Song of the Moment: My Morning Jacket, "At Dawn"