Wednesday, December 31, 2008

cover me, slowly

so the trip. it was good. relaxing for the most part. the 26th and 27th were understandably and unsurprisingly a bit stressful- even a 30-minute strings set proved to be quite a bit to get together in two days. of course, i expected it. but at the end of the day we pulled it off. i think it was a success and everyone told me it sounded really good. the strings sounded quite nice and courtney and grace did an awesome job. billy always does an awesome job- so there were no surprises there. my mom kept remarking on how serious billy looks when he plays the cello. once the show was over relaxing and unwinding was really easy to do. even christmas day was more relaxing than last year was (not that that's a big surprise either). we stuck to a policy of not doing anything that we didn't feel like doing, but we still got a good amount in. going to the cashew was a lot of fun. a good mix of people. it degraded real quickly once stefanie suggested we go over to the condo to drink the sixth glass bottles. wow. i have never seen a group of people get shit-faced faster than that. i was the only one that didn't participate in the drinking of the sixth-glass since i was the one who had to drive stefanie home. that stuff truly is brutal. in a brilliant way. dad, if you're reading please keep that stuff coming- i love it.
stefanie and some dude sitting in the aisle next to us almost got into it on the plane. we were pulling out onto the tarmac to take off and this guy wouldn't stop talking on his cell phone and a flight attendant came by and said 'sir, please turn that off' and he still wouldn't so stefanie tried to tell him to get off of his cell phone as nicely as she could and he got all huffy- 'i know the flight procedure, miss' and she said something like 'well, i just thought you might not have heard them' and he got all sarcastic-like 'thanks soooo much for reminding me.' it's always fun when you have someone much older (and supposedly more mature) than you acting like a complete baby to you.
is it possible that people could just grow the fuck up for a change- everyone is so sensitive these days that you can't say 'boo' to them without them getting offended or touchy or shitty. she really wasn't being rude to this guy at all and he should've hung up his phone way back when they closed the doors and a flight attendant asked him to hang up. there's just no call for getting offended when someone says something to you about it when you ignore repeated reminders. this is something i'm beginning to just want to blame on the cell-phone culture that is beginning to infect our society. people just have no manners or consideration when they're using cell-phones. if i am at a restaurant and i absolutely have to use my phone i excuse myself from the table and go outside to take the call. it's not that big of a deal.
anyway, other than that and a really rough and scary landing (it was very wobbly) the flight home was fine. it was very fast- they made up all of the time that we'd lost in the delay.
i was a nervous wreck on the way to the airport- i'd thought that i was going to be able to get through the day without falling victim to my ridiculous pre-flight nerves, but i was proven wrong wrong wrong. wow. before the flight to kc i'd gotten my nervousness out of the way on the 23rd- of course it lasted all day. it also had to do with how horrible the weather was and the fact that i spent most of the day hearing everyone's horror stories about how no one could get out of town on a plane, train or automobile.
some shit might be about to go down at work. the owner asked me about getting certified today. it's possible that that means that he intends to fire anthony as he is the only other person who is food handling certified at work. it's one of the main reasons that he tolerates the constant lateness and saltiness with the customers- anthony is certified and that way he doesn't have to go to the trouble to have anyone else get certified. but now that i'm mr. dependable there (not a tall order, let me tell you) it might become me *shivers*.
read some more yelp reviews of the shop today. uncovered another little gem of a modern phenomena- the working stiff 'yuppie' inferiority complex relationship with 'hipsters.' it's a real paradigm folks and it needs to be addressed. read the review at the top dated 12/17/08. i normally don't give much of a shit about these because a lot of it is to be expected- people typically want organic hand-made sandwiches/coffee drinks but they want them as quickly as they get a big mac at mcdonald's because our culture is held up on a giant pillar of complete impatience and complete disregard for how long things take, but this really is too much. my favourite feature is the lecture on 'not judging a book by its cover' and then the complete admission at the end that this person doesn't even bother to take their own advice. i work at beans and bagels- i am not a fucking stoner. i smoke weed very seldomly, but by no means with any amount of regularity that would justify anyone writing me off by putting me in that drawer. i would be willing to bet the person (who wrote this review) that they probably smoke more weed than i do. i'm not a fan of the snarkiness that seems to be running amok at my place of work either, but it's not very fair to cast aspersions about everyone in the shop when you're only talking about one person (which is what a majority of these reviews do) and on top of that commit it to printed words. i guess i should be relieved at my absence amongst these reviews as it means that i haven't pissed any one of these people off enough for them to write me off on a website. but what to me is the most infuriating of all is this ridiculous paradigm showing up- why the fuck do people who consider themselves to have 'real jobs' and who have benefits and decent living-wage-allowing salaries, paid vacations, dental/vision plans, kids, life insurance, savings accounts with money in them, checking accounts that they don't have to watch like hawks and check their statements every day give two shits what someone in a fucking coffeeshop/record store/bike shop thinks of them? just look at what a huge stink some of the people on that page make about the fact that they're being served coffee by 'hipsters' make merely about the fact that they are 'hipsters.' who the fuck cares? it's a coffee shop that you spend 15 minutes of your morning in max? futhermore everyone there is paid minimum wage and our lives aren't padded with the comforts that their lives are- we don't have any of those benefits. i don't want to make this a 'selling out' debate because i've come to find that that's kind of a myth- everyone makes choices and sacrifices. being a 'hipster' working in a coffee shop/record store/bike shop what have you means that you've sacrificed these pillars of stability because you're just looking for something that you aren't going to get in an office environment. damned if i could tell you what it is because it's different for everyone so basically i don't understand why there has to be such a fucking hubbub about it from someone who's in a much-vaunted better social standing than i am. if i want to work in an environment where i can wear whatever i want then what skin is it off anyone else's teeth? is it harmful to anyone's pride? is it really such an awful thing? that's a choice i've made and have to live with AND serve people who are in a much better social standing than i am and listen to them bitch and moan about how i'm a fucking 'hipster.' where the fuck does the inferiority complex come from? what do they have to feel inferior about? i really want someone to tell me. i'm not defending how any of my co-workers treat customers because i've always felt uncomfortable when someone i'm working with gets shitty with the customers over nothing. i don't make a practise of doing that- i actually like the majority of the customers who come in. i just don't like this theme of people thumbing their noses like cowards and bitching on the internet when they really don't have anything to bitch about and i don't like being corralled in with people who i work with just because i'm there- i don't act that way and i don't appreciate being included in the catch-all write-offs.
or i guess i could just try to accept this fact and move on with my life. i'd be happy to if i didn't get weird looks every time i stop at a truck stop while i'm travelling or get randomly solicited for pot by someone who looks the part of a 'straight' and having to just laugh it off when they tell me to my face 'i know you're a stoner- you look like one. come on- i know you have some pot.' guess what- I FUCKING DON'T SO GO GET IT YOURSELF MR. HIGH AND MIGHTY JUDGEMENTAL PANTS. yay, rant over.
i got some really nice music for christmas and a few great dvd boxed sets. stefanie bought me 'microcastle' on vinyl. it came with 'weird era continued' which is nice. plus the vinyl is white and sounds like the aural equivalent of a warm down blanket. stefanie's mom gave us about 40 lps. we now have every beatles album in existence, as well. at least i think we do. we have 'magical mystery tour,' 'sgt. pepper,' the white album and the heap of early tracks. she also gave us a buffalo springfield double lp collection and the first black sabbath album. there's some dusty springfield, buddy holly, kinks and other ill shit mixed in there. nice. we were only able to manage to carry about 1/3 of it home with us though because it was pretty heavy carrying all of them on the plane.
i finally got ahold of a tasty nina nastasia bootleg that i was trying to get through those ridiculous bit torrent sites (i can't for the life of me figure that shit out- so annoying). i've only listened to a little over half of it. i have the next two days off.
i want to send out some sympathy to my co-worker emily who had to take one of her cats to be put to sleep today. i am not sure if she had to have both of them put down or just the one- but they are not very old cats. i don't even think that she's had them for a full year. after that she has to go out of town for an intense family visit.
i have to test out my new and amazing mics and preamp as well. i would like to give the harmonica mic a maiden voyage in particular. i figured out how to get it sit on a mic stand (it doesn't have a place to clip it on- but can be easily jerry-rigged). i am intending mostly to sing out of it as i am a huge fan of how jason pierce does this and i think it will prove to be a nice effect for the next record we are working on (and have already started). in fact i think i shall go to do so right now. tah for now! happy new year. my only resolution is to concentrate on decreasing my debt.

Monday, December 29, 2008

the top five of the year

at last. i finally picked my five favourite records released this year. it wasn't difficult- i just had to pick the ones i've been listening to the most. they are nearly all records that aren't getting that much love from big publications- but man these five are all unbelievable keepers.

1. spiritualized- songs in a & e (this might be my favourite spiritualized record- it's the second most played full-length record on my ipod)
2. sian alice group- 59.59 (this band and album are criminally overlooked)
3. the walkmen- you & me (this is my favourite walkmen album- hands down- the kind of record i'd always hoped they might make some day- beautiful)
4. the black angels- directions to see a ghost (i bought this on two formats)
5. portishead- third (this would be the only exception to that whole criminally overlooked thing as it's on everyone i've seen's list)

i also love deerhunter- 'microcastle' and jolie holland- 'the living and the dead.' i just had to limit it to five- thems the rules.

Friday, December 19, 2008

let it come down

it's snowing and snowing and snowing outside. it's fantastic.
i stayed up really late last night, but still woke up really early. i was here at the coffee shop before 10am. there's no one here either- all of the students have gone home for christmas. there's nothing i love more than our neighborhood when the students are gone on one of their many breaks. it's like night and day. the neighborhood becomes sleepy and quiet. beautiful.
we watched 'white christmas' last night. despite the fact that i'd seen it before i'd forgotten when all of the musical numbers were coming up. some of them pop up with absolutey no warning. i really hate that. it's one of the many things i hate about musicals. anyone who knows me has heard me wax about this for extended periods of time so i'll spare you. it's pretty much the normal reasons people dislike musicals.
today i am listening to all nick drake. i'm listening to 'bryter layter' right now which i haven't heard in years i'm realising. i never really thought much of it to be honest- i always preferred the other two- but now that i'm listening to it i am loving it and can't believe that i have cast it aside for so long. nick drake's biography is my current bathroom reading material (i keep books in there that i've already read). bathroom lit is very fascinating to me. i usually keep books in there that i've already read. it's fascinating to me how quickly i can finish a book. i don't necessarily spend extended amounts of time in there- but the regularity with which one visits the bathroom is ideal for reading books quickly. even if you only read a few pages it adds up quickly.
this might be the best blog entry i've ever done so far. ever.
i got back on the writing horse last night. it made me desperate to record again- but no! i shall stick to my recording exile. it will probably be longer than a week since i shall be home in a week. the last time i visited billy suggested that we could finish some of the stuff we didn't get to during my last visit over christmas, but i was adamant that since there was going to be an acoustic show that would be all i would burden myself or anyone else with.
i have a twitter account. i hadn't thought much of it but it has become a bit addictive. i kind of enjoy it. i'm even following two people i don't know for some reason (it just added them when i joined and i don't know how to take them off of the list) but i still read their little updates and enjoy them. it doesn't let you write long-winded updates- which is perfect for people like me- it keeps things short and to the point.
for some reason the holidays seem to coming up extremely quickly this year. it happened while i wasn't even noticing. it hasn't really hit me at all yet. it probably isn't going to hit me until christmas morning since we're getting in on christmas eve fairly late. i kind of hate that it has to be that way, but money's money and a deal's a deal.
i'm beginning to get depressed about the whole languishing in obscurity thing. i'm going to try and be strong though and not let it take hold of me. it's important to keep perspective and i'm getting better at it and i am more content with our position in the world. just the fact that the west coast tour worked out as well as it did was pretty encouraging. that is probably the first proper tour we've ever been on. plus the shows were good- the only clunker being that one in minneapolis.
i'm not looking forward to this week too much. either choice seems a bit unappetizing- either painfully slow or painfully busy and stressful. i guess i could use painfully busy and stressful at the moment. it would certainly mean i'd have more money for when we visit. i'm sort of hoping that we make some money for fun stuff when we play the show. i'm not holding my breath- but at least they will feed us. plus last time they paid us very well and the crowd was really not that big. ad astra draws a big crowd too, so hopefully that means we will be paid pretty well. the violinist seems enthusiastic about getting a bunch of people out to the show. then there will be friends and family who will most likely show up. it's nice that we're playing so early so if people aren't in the mood for the hawd koah then they can leave.
as always fingers are crossed. if we can just weather this slow period then we'll be okay. i'm sure that that's what everyone is thinking and telling themselves. over and over again. it's still going to be a fun holiday. i don't even really care what i get. i'm mostly hoping that i will get a decent income tax return (even if it is a vain and foolish hope) in january.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


the last few weeks have been a bit rough. on the upside a ridiculous amount got done. it is possible that the final mix for the 'dandelions' ep has been finished. there is one track that i might take another stab at because it's being a touch problematic, but other than that i am going to stick a fork in it and say that it's done. the tracklist has been changed a teeny bit because the christmas song for the christmas comp ended up coming out so well that i think i will add it into the ep as the final hidden track. i had wanted to put 'black is the colour of my true love's hair' as the final hidden track but the last mix i did is just a gargantuan hissy mess. i think that the original mp3 that i had of it was better... i don't really know why this is but there's just no way to make it sound listenable. as it stands now it sounds like going out with a whimper and that's definitely not what i want.
my co-workers forced me to play the ep for them through the stereo speakers and it actually sounded really fantastic. it's the ipod headphones as usual. i was happy with the way it sounded towards the end, but then i felt like no matter what i did it would never sound the way i wanted it to, so i just kind of lost hope. ironically them making me play it through the stereo renewed my faith in it. the drums even sounded really nice. they aren't perfect drum sounds, but they are at least distinctive and mine and figured out by me. if i want to push it forward it's going to be a question of getting nicer equipment- better preamps and nicer mics. that's what the release-free year is all about. and calming down my debt.
we just watched 'the dark knight' and 'batman begins.' they were the last two discs we had from netflix. we watched them in the wrong order. i loved 'the dark knight'- it was a fantastic movie- definitely the best of the batman movies. i also liked 'batman begins' quite a bit- it was probably the second best. the original one i would put at 3rd, the second one 4th and then those campy crappy ones at the bottom of the list (stefanie calls 'batman forever' the 'batman nipples' movie).
i did some mixdowns of the 'all hope is blind' tracks and i am thrilled to bits with those. they still don't have drums (i've done the drumless tracks first), but the string arrangements sound really nice. they will undoubtedly be the main feature of that record. the guitars are so gauzy that they are almost like curtains that frame the songs. the strings are so organic and fresh that they easily sit at the front of the mix. i might try a pass where they are a bit more buried, but i have a feeling that they aren't really going to work that way. during this recording-exile i'm imposing on myself for the next week i hope to get some more string parts written possibly for another megabus weekend in kc. we got about six songs done last time out of the 20 or so. the idea was to get the whole thing done in about three passes over the course of the next year as they are completed. i might try and coordinate some sessions with chris and katelyn at the same time- chris has told me he'd play better if he could play live with another string player than he would if he were just playing along to something that he isn't able to hear. this would also be a good way to keep him involved as i'm pretty sure that i want katelyn to play the violin parts on all of the album. her style is going to work perfectly for the sound i want on the album. plus if i have him playing the viola then it's going to make things easier on billy when i go home for these quick weekend sessions. it'll also make those weekend trips more fun for me- even though last time i went home for the weekend i had a really good time then even if it was very short.
speaking of which i should probably look into fares for that shit without waiting too long.
my shopping for stefanie is pretty much done. i wanted to buy her one last gift. not sure if it's going to fly though, what with all of the time off and what not. i think that tips will be getting better on the weekends if for no other reason than the simple fact that for at least a while we are going back to having three people work on saturday and sunday. this makes a lot of sense- things have tapered off considerably and i haven't left there on the weekend with more than $14 in my pocket for at least a month now. with three people it'll get back to the point where it's more worthwhile to work on the weekends. so basically once i get back it's going to be all about paying my way with my tips. it actually works out a bit better than i expected because the paycheck with all of the time off will be the one that i'm supposed to use to pay credit cards and whatnot. there should be enough on there to eke by on that and the tips from the week when i am paid for that time will be used more easily to pay for the difference. it's going to be about february before i'm going to be caught up enough to start buying tape and saving money for mastering and whatnot. after that it shouldn't be too terribly difficult to save money to press the cds. the packaging should be fairly easy to finance as it will be more spread out. so i think that a spring release is realistic (depending on how much work needs to be done to the tape machine). i am going to grab a few of the reel-to-reel tapes that i left at stefanie's parents' house that i had grabbed at the garage sale that stefanie's uncle had at the house he bought in the northeast in portland. i'm going to try a few live recordings and whatnot just to get a feel for working with the thing. i am still optimistic that we will get some money back from our taxes. this might come crashing down once the time comes, but whatever. we always do our taxes really early so even if we end up owing money then we will at least have some time to save up to pay for it. i am optimistic that it should be fine, though. if it's not then i'm going to change my exemptions to zero i think.
i'm still very excited about christmas. it's going to be very good and i'm excited about the stuff i am giving to people. i don't really care so much what i get- i am sure that i'll get plenty of the cds i wanted. even if i get two or three of them i would be over the moon. it's possible that stefanie already got me all of the ones that i really wanted anyway. i hope that i get the new deerhunter album on vinyl because i've really held out on buying that. of course if i don't get it it's no big deal since it's so readily available and so incredibly cheap. i'm just excited to go home and drink eggnog and hang out with my friends and my family. i'm also excited about the acoustic show- which dammit is going to go really well. i was real nervous about it coming together properly, but as long as the foundation is strong then it'll be fine- which it will be because stefanie have been practising for months.
on monday when it snowed i went out and did tons of filming- i filmed about 30 clips that average about 10 seconds each and one is 30 seconds. i used stefanie's sister's old digital camera that they gave to us because stefanie had her old digital camera. i'm very happy with the stuff that i ended up with. i'm not sure what else to do with all of it, but it is intended for a video for 'christmas song revisited' which was just finished and mixed down yesterday for the final time. i have to fill up the rest of the cdr and then it'll be delivered to those kids for that compilation. as mentioned before it's probably going to end up as the final hidden track on the 'dandelions' ep. i'm toying with adding something else instead of it and such, but i don't think that any of the 'down to sleep' outtakes are quite ready for that kind of treatment. i think i might go through some of it once we're back from christmas and figure out what to do with it all. i had spoken to chris about doing some recording, so i could possibly have him do some of that stuff and finish it up finally...
then there's the ubiquitous strings show. i hope that billy will still be able to do it, but i'm not holding my breath. with his new job and school and such. he's in the midst of finals week as well right now. i did figure out how to get an idea of what his schedule is- i just have to check the ku website and it has a school schedule section.
i'm running out of things to talk about now, so it's probably about time to end this entry.

Friday, December 12, 2008

watch a cure concert, dammit

i just found these and they are extraordinary! bravo to the people who have posted them!-


'pictures of you'


'a night like this'

'just like heaven'

'last dance'

'fascination street'


'charlotte sometimes'

'the walk'

'the same deep water as you'




in one fell swoop

i went out to beans and bagels and cashed my paycheck yesterday and went straight out and got i'd say about 80% of my christmas shopping done. i intend to do some shopping for stefanie today- i've almost got her done for christmas. i've ordered her something online. i'm going to go out today in the hopes of reducing the number of items i have to special order for her so as to avoid that whole 'will it/won't it?' question.
the acoustic show is fully on- i just got a confirmation email about it today from mike. it's going to be us, ad astra and two hardcore punk bands. pretty sweet right?
so things aren't quite as bad as i had thought. i am going to be working on christmas eve- i am opening and the store is supposed to close by noon. it'll be really sweet- it'll be me and my two favourite people that day- anthony and jenee. i have another opening shift on tuesday- those will both be a bit of an ordeal (i'm going to have to get up at 5:15am or so) but i figure it's the least i can do since i'm going out of town and everyone's going to be covering for my ass when i go home. a little sacrifice is definitely in order. plus i'll be completely dusted by the time i get on that plane so ideally i'll just sleep through the whole fucking thing. that'd be really nice. our flight doesn't leave until 4:40 so i'm not sure what we're going to do with that extra hour or so. it would be quicker for me to leave from work because it'd be an hour long ride as opposed to a 50 minute trip back to my apartment and then an hour and a half long ride to the airport. i don't even think there's time for that in the equation.
so i'm all good i think. for now. i'm sure something else will rear it's ugly head.
a few things from yesterday- 1) 'christmas song revisited' is done 2) the 'dandelions' ep is completed 3) unfortunately my cd-burner went on the fritz so mixing them down will be very tricky. i did a bunch of sweet sounding mixes of the new stuff that we just did with katelyn and the cd-burner had gone on the fritz at that point. it's purely a recording function mishap- it sounds fine going into there, but once it's recorded it sounds weird. it also did something really odd while it was dubbing something for stefanie- it jumped over a portion of the surface of the disc somehow while it was burning. ironically the music on the disc came out nicely. i'd be more worried about it, but i think that this is not the first time it's acted weird. one time it was doing similar things and all i did was get into the habit of turning it off in between uses (which hadn't happened for a really long time) so i think it's possible that it'll function perfectly well. i hope so anyway because i'm going to go home and do some mixdowns to the dat recorder and then mix those things down to cd. i also have a new song to demo today.
we watched 'the dark knight' last night and it was fucking awesome! loved it! i liked it a lot more than the original tim burton 'batman.' i've never seen 'batman begins' so i can't really say for sure but i'd certainly be willing to bet that 'the dark knight' is the best of the batman movies. it's about as realistic as a superhero movie could possibly ever be. what helps is that the characters aren't endowed with unexplained super powers. i'd completely forgotten that two-face was in the movie. naturally when harvey dent turned up i figured he'd be made into two-face in order to sow the seeds for a sequel.
yup, heath ledger was awesome as the joker. i'd even say that he did a better job than jack nicholson did. he was definitely a lot scarier. i was a bit skeptical when i heard it was him playing the joker, but i will eat those words.
one of my favourite moments was when they did that whole lower wacker chase sequence and they did that part where batman rushes towards him on that bat-motorcycle thing or whatever. the semi had turned over and we rewound and paused because saw an address on one of the buildings and it very prominently displayed '29 south lasalle' which is where smart resources' offices are- kind of cool. we both thought it was really cool that they pretty much seemed to have filmed the entire movie in chicago. my sister was walking around one night after work (she used to finish up there around 7 at night) and she worked on lasalle and evidently was walking around somewhere where she wasn't supposed to be and they were filming and some people walked up to her and told her that she wasn't supposed to be there because they were filming a movie and she said 'what movie?' and they told her some ridiculous decoy title and she just said 'yeah, right' and walked off. it wasn't exactly a secret when they were filming the movie what they were filming. my first day at smart resources there were trailers lined up clark street in front of some federal building. it was pretty sweet. so it was really nice to finally get to see it.
i can't believe that it's now less than two weeks until christmas. i have a feeling the next two weeks will go by like lightning and then the visit will feel like it was two days long.
i've got a nice early start going here, so hopefully that will mean that i will get some things done. we have two parties to go to tomorrow- both with some fairly precarious train rides. one is going to sam and ben's who live out near permanent records (well somewhat). the other is the aforementioned bird machine holiday party which is out in skokie. we are going to be taking the yellow line for the first time ever. i am fairly certain that that one will be a bit shorter.
i think i shall get going now and get my day started.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

diary 12.10.08

forgot to post this tracklist from a new playlist i just made-

1. underneath the stars- the cure- 4:13 dream
2. i'm only sleeping- the beatles- revolver
3. sailor- the brian jonestown massacre- bravery, repitition and noise
4. only shallow- my bloody valentine- 9.27.08 chicago, il- the aragon
5. i put a spell on you- screamin' jay hawkins
6. you're the one- sonic boom- spectrum
7. twilight at carbon lake- deerhunter- microcastle
8. no name #3- elliott smith- roman candle
9. love henry- jolie holland- the living and the dead
10. where is the love- mojave 3- ask me tomorrow
11. river man- nick drake- five leaves left
12. bird of cuzco- nina nastasia- on leaving
13. expelled from love- the raveonettes- lust, lust, lust
14. cliche- sebadoh- bubble and scrape
15. days of grace ii- sian alice group- the dusk line
16. shine a light- spiritualized®- 7.20.08 chicago, il- union park (pitchfork fest)
17. and let me drift away...- the telescopes- altered perception
18. overthrown- tom mcrae- like blood
19. blind spot- the vivian girls- i can't stay 7"
20. red moon- the walkmen- you & me
21. thursday's radiation- the warlocks- surgery

how to walk away

i just deleted an entire ridiculous entry about my financial woes. i'm not sure what to do about that stuff, but it never ceases to amaze me how events seem to cluster just as soon as i'm getting things under control. circumstances have a way of putting me back in the hole and adding a little depth in the process. i'd previously thought that the music expenses were solely to blame, but upon thinking about things i realised that before september i hadn't charged a single band-related expense in years and somehow the debt had managed to grow during that period. i'm thinking about this from the wrong point of view. a lot of it is to do with the whole cluster of van repairs and that ridiculous emergency room visit. that was about $3000 right there. even once we ran out of money on tour the grand total of charges i made on my card was $340. there's some perspective right there.
i'm just in the throes of some lovely financial depression just like everyone is at the moment. we discussed a decent idea that i'd had for a long time- we thought about trying to play a show (or shows) at some of the local colleges in order to make some money to recover some debt incurred by the band. we also discussed trying to get a college show here as a wind up for the tour so that we leave town with some money in the bank. it would also be good if we could prepay for the rental car. that way it takes a bit of the burden off. college shows are a very good way to make money it seems to me. i am going to do a massive mailing in february/march in preparation for a september east coast tour. the idea is to get about three college shows- again in the hopes of paying for all of the gas outright, paying for hotel rooms along the way (we know less people on the east coast) as well as food (which i felt like we did a fantastic job of last time- somehow we stopped for food a lot but it was never as expensive as i expected it to be) and then the desire was also to have some extra money alloted to pay whatever we were lacking for bill-paying once we got back. i think it can be done. fortunately we know what to do more now. even if it all goes wrong it's still not going to cost nearly as much as the west coast tour. also if we get college shows it tends to include a hotel room for free. since they tend to be in the afternoon we can also get a show at night if possible.
it's going to be tough to work off all of the debt, but i think it can be done dammit! a lot of what caused the depression of last night was the fact that we were going to get an igo car to drive up to skokie for the bird machine open house. after doing some research last night i discovered that the yellow line stop is actually a little under a mile from the bird machine, so as long as we get out of there before 11pm we should be able to take the yellow line back to howard. we just have to make sure to get out of there in time. that definitely takes a lot of the pressure off- we can also drink there now with this knowledge. speaking of drinking i've had to sacrifice my beer habit for a period because i just haven't been able to justify spending money on beer that i need for other things.
other than that i'm not real sure what else i have to talk about. i just discovered that i have some paypal rewards that will actually allow me to buy some tape for the tape machine. not a terrible amount, but not bad- about $50 worth of paypal coupons. i might as well use it. i already paid through the nose to get it.
nina nastasia played on tuesday night at midnight and i didn't end up going because we had people over at the apartment and i didn't really want to tear myself away. i figured everyone would be gone by 11. if that had been the case then it would've been easier to go. what's more it snowed like crazy and naturally it was a little difficult to persuade myself to get back out in the snow. i really did want to see nina nastasia but i've seen her play twice now and what's more it would've involved some pretty hardcore sleep deprivation to go. i would've had to walk from second city all the way to the north and clybourn red line stop in that blizzardy snow at about 2 in the morning or so. not too desirable.
i've missed several shows now that i meant to go to. it's not a bad season for shows really- i just can't ever seem to get off my ass to go to any shows. kind of a shame.
the next stress about the kc acoustic show- getting the run-through coordinated. i have to figure out where it's going to be held and we need to get ahold of the drums in order to do the run through. i have a sneaking suspicion that it might turn into two seperate run-throughs as i suspect that billy will have to work that day or night and that his schedule will clash with the girl who plays the violin- who unfortunately gets in on the 26th. so in that case i believe we will have to rehearse with the violist and the violinist seperately from billy. bumma. i guess it could be worse. i think i will probably try to get ahold of mike to coordinate getting ahold of the drums- bounce off some ideas as to how the sharing of these drums shall go. i almost think that it would be easier for us to rent the two drums that we will need so that we will have a bit more control over when we can use them and not step on anyone's toes as mike will probably want to do hairy belafonte practise the night before. i also know that if we had them with us when we showed up to the record bar things will go much quicker. i am a bit stressed about this. possibly more than the whole process of getting christmas gifts together. it's sort of turned into a blessing that we are only playing at this show for 30 minutes because it's put a more realistic cap on something that's this thrown together (possibly in a quite ramshackle way). so that's how it goes kids. i also have found that when i'm at home it's easier for me to get ahold of billy and mike. much easier. it's just easier to figure out when everyone is free etc. i guess i should quit worrying about it. i'm anxious about the show. i'm excited but quite nervous.

Friday, December 5, 2008

i'm on the side without the sun

stefanie and i got into an 'argument' yesterday. i wouldn't normally tell such a story here, but this one has a rather hilarious element to it (most of our fights generally do and we're both able to laugh about them later). there was the whole drama with the tape machine which didn't phase me at all- i did end up going to beans and bagels to check it out and came to the conclusion that the tape machine itself was pretty much fine- the box was quite beaten up but the people who shipped it were at least smart enough to wrap the machine in a few layers of bubble wrap- which is what you're generally supposed to do with those. so i unwrapped it and i even plugged it in and tested to see if the buttons worked. everything i tried did. of course i have no tape yet to test the recording and such, but at least the gears and the motors work. those would probably be the most expensive to repair. since i paid so little for it i am expecting to have to pay to have some things on it fixed. so that was fine. i went home to get an igo car and come back to pick it up and it would be timely enough that stefanie would be getting finished with work at the same time. bonus. we got home and stefanie had a bunch of bags and whatnot and i had that 50 lb machine to carry home. we got back into the apartment and i cancelled the remaining time on the reservation because that means that if you get the car back earlier they don't charge you for the remaining amount of time for which you had it reserved- i often overbudget knowing i'll probably get home and can release the unused time. it's a bit less of a squeeze and less stressful. we get inside and i release the remaining amount of time and we both realise that i left the cd i brought in the car, so i go out there to try and unlock it to get it out. how igo cars are unlocked is with a card and since i'd released the rest of the time it wouldn't unlock the doors when i scanned the card. so then i had to call their little hotline to try and get someone to unlock it. i get stuck in the automated menu because i don't push a button for emergencies that gets you a live person. eventually it just starts the menu over again so i then push 1 because i am tired of waiting and i didn't bundle up because i figured this wouldn't take more than a few minutes. i finally get a live person. they say they can't hear me speaking so i begin to speak very loudly and clearly and then the person hangs up on me. so now i am upset because that is a bit of a frustrating situation to be in. i go back and book time on the car for half an hour so that i will be able to unlock the car, get the cd and then hopefully cancel the rest of the reservation in order to not be charged (you have a bit of a grace period that can allow this). i am frustrated and cursing and mildly upset. i wouldn't say i'm too angry. stefanie tries to help me, i refuse her help and get huffy. she goes off to take a shower right as i am ready to calm down and then i get upset because she doesn't want to talk about it. i am meaning to apologise at this time and that would've been it. instead i got upset that she didn't want to talk so i turn to my trusty friend 'the silent treatment.'
my use of the silent treatment is something i started doing around my friend mike back about 10 years ago when we would spend a lot of time hanging out with teenagers and mike would kind of make me his clown in a lot of ways. if i was in the mood for it i'd go along with it and play the part. i was also recovering from some mondo depression so sometimes i wasn't quite in the mood to be his dancing monkey for this group of teenagers some of whom i didn't really like that much to begin with. sometimes when we'd go out and mike would start up with this dynamic and i wasn't in the mood i'd ask him repeated times to stop and try and talk about how i wasn't feeling up to it and i was depressed and blah blah blah. he would always continue anyway which would make me annoyed and upset. if he persisted despite repeated requests to lay off i turned to the silent treatment because it was the only thing that worked and i was quite good at it. i could easily go for three hours in a large group of people and not say a single word. this would be the only thing that would eventually make mike realise i really was upset. i have always taken great pride in this effective way to stick it to people who are fucking with me when i'm not in the mood. i've used it on will a time or two now as well.
so we aren't speaking to each other. i try to burn a screen, but the screen's all fucked up and i try putting on another layer on the back side. stefanie cooks dinner, but i don't feel like it's okay for me to eat any of it since we're in the midst of this 'fight' so i go out to go to do some birthday shopping for my dad that i was planning on doing today. since we're not speaking i might as well get something done. when i get home i do the dishes as well. finally i am at the computer and it has been about four or so hours without a single word. we make eye contact and finally i say something. so basically stefanie out silent-treatment-ed me. i have been bested. kind of a shame as we had the entire night and it was taken up by silent treatment. but also quite funny because now she has beaten me at my own game. yes, i can see the irony and funny side of this situation.
now i am in the coffee shop writing in this thing. i have to burn a screen later and i'm not so sure it's going to work. every time i make another screen it does something else that i am not expecting. i can't stay updated with this thing. i put too much photoemulsion on and it dripped through the bottom in several places, so now it's kind of bumpy. i added another small layer in the hopes that that would smooth it out, which was somewhat effective, but in a lot of ways not so much. it might fuck with the way that it will print. i am hoping i can finagle it, but we'll see. so that's what i have to do when i get home. kind of a concern since the lines in the film are a bit thin and i'll be using silver ink which nick has told me can be difficult to manage. we shall see. who knows- maybe it'll just ducky...
other than that i haven't got much going on. i'm still looking for places to send promo cds and such. i am just going to continue promoting 'down to sleep.' i'm not planning on sending many copies of 'dandelions' out for review since it would be so quick on the heels of the last release and being a diy-type who's just sending music to people without being solicited it's a bit of a case of overstaying your welcome. it will just make people a bit irritated, and understandably so. plus we're having such a good run of reviews i'd like to see if it will continue. it could make for a bit more of an impressive press kit. i am planning on working 'all hope is blind' in a similar way. i'm going to print up promo cds for that one as well- just 100 or so cdrs in white silk-screened arigato paks.
tomorrow is a recording session. woohoo! it is also the beginning of another week. hopefully this week will be a bit better than last week. it should be- tips should be better and i also get paid on thursday- it's the paycheck that i have to do less with so i will have some extra moneys. yay. extra moneys! i'm going to try and get all of my christmas shopping done with my earnings next week. i'm going to try and save my tips as well so that i can get some mastering tape to get the mixdown process going. the drawback of using tape is that it's quite expensive- $50 for 1 reel. i was thinking of trying to get some on ebay. people tend to sell it for cheap there and it's not that heavily sought-after. i believe that i need about four reels for mixdown- a master copy and a safety copy in case something happens to the master. then i can send magneto the tape reels and that'll be that. i'm pretty excited about it to be truthful. i'm thinking it will most likely sound a lot better. like a warm blanket in this cold, cold winter time.
i think i will end this really long entry now.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

the return

i finally have some time to write on here. what with thanksgiving weekend last weekend i was never able to steal away much hardcore sit-down time and that's generally what this blog seems to be for- to occupy my hardcore sit-down time. thanksgiving was fun. i had a good time. my parents came up from kansas city and we split the cooking duties amongst ourselves. i did the stuffing and stefanie did the cranberry sauce and made some miso gravy. lauren bought the turkey and made sweet potatoes and my parents brought up some mashed potatoes and rolls. all in all it made for a nice time.
i endured the gold coast on black friday. yikes. we also saw 'four christmases' which wasn't very good (big surprise, i know). it's not like i was expecting it to be fantastic- i went in with pretty low expectations, but nevertheless it just wasn't quite what it was trying to be. i like stupid holiday movies too- it's one of my weaknesses. there hasn't been a good one in a long time. i'd say 'just friends' is the most recent and best example of the stupid holiday movie. 'just friends' is good though. not just stupid.
as was our thanksgiving tradition we watched 'home for the holidays.' 'home for the holidays' always kicks off the holiday movie festival. from there we usually watch 'love actually' (which is a really stupid movie that's only saving grace is the fantastic ensemble cast- if 'four christmases' had been as decent as 'love actually' i would've been a bit more satisfied), 'just friends,' a few others i'm forgetting and then as it gets closer we'll probably watch 'it's a wonderful life' and 'white christmas.' i kind of wish we had 'holiday inn' on dvd- bing crosby in blackface singing a song about abraham lincoln for president's day is gloriously cringe-inducing. it's always interesting to me to watch an old movie where some of the acceptable material to put in a movie back when it was made doesn't translate so well to what's considered acceptable these days. it actually makes you realise that progress has indeed been made (even if there is still a ridiculously long way to go- which there is).
so much recording going on right now. i did some recording with another violinist named andrew who i found through craigslist and he did two parts for 'christmas song revisited' and the last part for 'glasslands.' 'christmas song...' just needs a glockenspiel part, as does 'sleep now...' and then those two tracks will be done and the 'dandelions' ep will be finished. it's pretty much entirely mixed as well- i think there might be something done to 'sleep now...' just to see if i can alleviate all of the tape hiss at the beginning of it- it's all coming from the cello tracks, but it is very bad. the original mixes are so good i don't see any reason to change them- which never happens. ever. they are even impervious to the ipod test. yes, i mix songs and then listen to them on my ipod- i've found it's the only way to tell if they are truly finished and the way that i want them to sound. if i like the way they sound through crappy earbud headphones on an ipod then they are going to sound good anywhere.
the christmas-time strings show is also coming together. i have cello, viola and violin now. i finished renotating all of the parts last night and i scanned them into the computer and converted them to pdfs and sent them out to everyone. the whereabouts of my old sheet music book are still unknown. i am a bit shattered about that. there really is only one song that had two parts that i wrote in the sheet music (i normally write it out in tab in one of my pocket notebooks) but that was the only time i did it. so those parts are kind of gone. i think i rewrote it out correctly, but i'll never be 100% certain. it was recorded and if i wanted to get real industrious i could listen to the parts on the 8-track and figure them out that way. at the moment they were better served to be rewritten for the acoustic show. i even wrote a few full arrangements for songs that don't normally have the full three-part treatment and i'm pretty excited to hear how those sound. on saturday i have a violinist named katelyn coming by our apartment to finish the parts that i did with billy back over halloween weekend. she responded to the craigslist ad after i'd already set up some recording with andrew. basically i figured i should go ahead and work with her since knowing three different string players here in town couldn't possibly be a bad thing- especially with the prospect of doing a full strings show here in town looms. i still want to get that put together for spring time or something. i suspect that billy will no longer be able to come up for that. i would pay for his gas if he would- what with gas prices being ridiculously low again. i think with his job and school he probably wouldn't be able to get the time off.
no shows on the horizon besides this small christmas time one. i think i might start trying to get something set up for us in february just to get us back into the mindset so that we don't sound rusty when we get to playing again. i am indeed hoping that we can go down for sxsw this year, although i am really not holding out much hope.
as far as how i'm doing i think i'm officially burned out at my job. familiarity breeds contempt. the timing is just about right- i get sick of every job i've ever had within a year. a lot of it's to do with how ridiculously type a my boss can be. he saw me cutting onions yesterday, didn't like the way i was doing it, showed me a different way to do it, insisted i do it that way and then as i was trying to cut the onions the way that he showed me to i cut my finger. it was a very small cut, but just the teensiest bit annoying. had i not been trying to cut them the way that he insisted i do and just done it the way that i've been doing it on my own for almost a year (i've never cut myself cutting anything there either) then it wouldn't have happened. irritating. he also now likes to complain to me about what he doesn't like about other employees- a few of whom he knows that i like. he spent a good five minutes telling me about how someone i work with insists on cutting onions with a serated bread knife just to annoy him. i kept saying 'he doesn't do that on purpose- he does it that way when you're not around.' this is sort of a holdover from when liz was working there. she spent a bit of time insisting that this same employee had left the cheese unwrapped when he'd closed purely to piss her off. when i get stuck in these kinds of conversations in my working life at this point in my life i am always reminded never to underestimate how petty and childish people can be no matter how old they are. like anyone would sit around going 'i know what i'll do to piss liz off- i'll not wrap the cheese in plastic wrap ON PURPOSE- bwahahahahahaha she'll be so mad it will be glorious!' that's just the most ridiculous thing i've ever heard in my life.
i just got some bad news- my tape machine that i ordered off of ebay arrived at beans and bagels packed really crappily- the likelihood that it works seems to be very low. i would be more upset if i had paid more money- you do get what you pay for i suppose. i'm going to see for myself how it is today. i suppose what i'm going to do is take a look at it and try to figure out what i should do. it is actually possible that i could get it fixed up- i don't know how much that would cost, but i suppose it could be worth a try. i am going to take some digital pictures of it and send it to them and then ask that they give my money back and if they want the item back they'll have to arrange for fed ex to pick it up at beans and bagels. if they don't want to do that then i guess i'll just send the pictures to ebay and figure out what to do from then- open a dispute. kind of a shame as there was this spectrum double 7" i wanted to buy up for auction right now. stefanie thinks i've been having some bad ebay luck lately. i'm not sure i agree 100%- i got a few good mics off of there. plus i only paid under $200 for this thing and it did come from a pawn shop. my hopes weren't really all that high. i knew that at the very least i would probably have to calibrate it. i dunno.
stefanie just told me on the phone and i wasn't really that upset. i think that it might be because i'm here in the coffee shop, but really the more i think about it the less of a big deal it seems to be. i know a website where i can buy revamped tape machines for reasonable prices (more than $200) that comes very highly recommended. if i still want to do the analog tape mixdowns i'll just save up my money and do it through this website. if it doesn't work out then that's most likely okay too because i still have my dat recorder that i'm perfectly happy with doing mixdowns- i like the way it sounds and it's pretty compatible with the kind of recording work i'm doing. every time i put 'down to sleep' on i am very happy with the way that it sounds and that is mainly because i mixed down to the dat recorder. i have plenty of dat tape to last me for a long time. also i realise that it's entirely possible that i could get my money back (or at least some of it) and then that i'll probably be able to keep the thing and get it fixed up. if they want it back and give me back all of my money then that would probably fine as well. i'll just save toward the goal of owning one of those tape machines and buying it from the aforementioned website. i also have the option of doing the mixdown at jim licka's- he has a really nice 2-track tape machine. i also would like to get less unglued about small things. this is a constant process and i think i'm getting better at it. the last few times i overdrew my account i didn't get as angry about it as i have in the past. i used to just get raging mad. i'd imagine most people do as well.
i could definitely use the money right now as well. it's the period of the month where i have the most expenses. when i get one of my checks i have to pay for rent, my transit card and my car insurance all within about a week so i have to pull from my tips to make it happen in time. the good thing about this arrangement though is that when my next paycheck comes i have extra money and i am able to save my tips.
anyway i should probably get going about now. i have a lot of stuff to do today- i have to burn a screen because my photo emulsion's going to go bad in a few days and i finally made the film yesterday and i got all of the sheet music sorted out last night so that i could devote some time today to getting the screen for the ep made. i am going to be able to start printing them immediately as well- i found some material at paper source that i wanted to use and it is very cheap even in small quantities- so if it looks nice i'm just going to do the printing the way that i originally wanted to and it won't be a problem to do it ahead because it isn't a massive upfront charge to meet all at once.

Friday, November 21, 2008

sparks are falling

yes, wintertime is in official swing. i actually had to wear a scarf and hat yesterday on my odyssey to beans and bagels to regain my forgotten record. ironically it took me longer to get there via the normal route- which is red line down to belmont then switch to north bound brown line to montrose than it did for me to walk from the montrose brown line station (beans and bagels is right under it) to the wilson red line station (about 25 minutes) then take the red line back up to granville (about 10 minutes including waiting time). oh the irony. i'm simmering in it. even though it was pretty cold i didn't really have a problem walking that far in it because the hat and scarf make a huge difference. coats are for ninnies.
i listened to 'five leaves left' today. i'm listening to the mangled bohemians right now- it took me an obscenely long time to listen to their cd. inexcusable! i am really liking it- not surprising. it's a shame that they weren't around back when we were living in portland- it would've been quite the dream team and i could've played a lot of shows with them (and then we even though that wasn't really the case until we were almost gone). if we lived there now it would be a bit easier. that said it still wouldn't be easier than living here, so don't you get any big ideas. they're not going to happen. now that you've found it... just kidding.
i streamlined our website a bit so some of the more highly-trafficked pages weren't so cluttered. i updated the news. we did indeed get in some recording time last night which yielded two finished tracks- 'ada' and 'willows.' i even wrote a new song last night. terrifying. it is a song that's in the 'angels floating on the head of a pin' tuning. i'm guessing it'll be called 'come to me' since that's the main repeated line. it would probably be smart of me to demo it when i get back. it's kind of a drony semi-rocking kind of song. the idea for the album after 'all hope is blind' was of more of a 'rock' kind of thing. at first i thought that idea was kind of dead until i wrote a song i wasn't sure what to do with. it kind of started a certain way and then sort of evolved with a newish way that i've been playing guitar- which is more with the reverse reverb only and less reliant on the delay. this 'come to me' song works in that way. it's looking to kind of get back to these weird demos i did at the apartment above the congress a few years ago- i did a few guitar based demos with these spacemen 3-like relentless tambourine hits. nice stuff. it's almost borderline garage-y. well, at least for us. i also have that really awesome demo of this song that is currently called 'new order-esque' because it's melodic and droney in the way that a new order song is- think something like 'temptation' or something where it's based around a bass melody line played over alternating open strings. that style that peter hook originated.
today is the day for the 2-track. hopefully it will turn out a bit better than it did last week. hopefully. it would be really nice if i could finally get that shit going. it has taken far too long to get to this point.
today after i get home i think i might attempt a bit of mixing-down. that 'ada' mix has to go out pretty fast. i'd thought that it was already too late until i got a message from the guy putting the zine mixtape together. it always takes some motivation to get us to finish things. always. that's why the new 'christmas song' is coming together so quickly (well, at least so far). i need to get the strings going soon- they are going to be the biggest roadblock at this point. the vocals need to be done next and quickly. the section with vocals isn't really that long per se, so it shouldn't take too long. the 'willows' song needs to be placed in the context of the rest of the ep, plus i have a cdr with some newer mixes that i reconfigured based on my last little listening party that i had. for the most part the new mixes sound fantastic- there are only a few cases where the eq needs to be redone, etc. 'sleep now...' has some really bad hiss problems- it's from when i recorded with billy at his old apartment- the electricity in it was all wonky-like so it caused a lot of hum on his parts on that song. on the other tracks i'd done with him there you couldn't tell so much because there was so much texture that it overtook the hiss. that's one of the bonuses of playing the way that i do- it kind of hides a multitude of sins that occur when the recording is being done. i've had to make myself really conscious of it on the new stuff which is one of the reasons for an upgrade in microphones. so far it's been working fairly well *fingers crossed*.
i've really lost my thread here.
i think that i might have endeared myself to the booking guy at the record bar. nice. i emailed him filling him in on what's going on with the show and evidently kurt hasn't gotten back to him yet about who's playing on that show at all. again. *fingers crossed*. hopefully if we get all the way to kc and it doesn't work out we can do something at yj's or something. speaking of which stefanie and i need to practise for it. we haven't been practising at all lately- not since the tour. once upon a time the concept was to practise every saturday no matter what, but it's translated to only if we are active in the live realm. i guess if we get into sxsw we'd have to start up again. hee hee. if. if only.
so i think i'm going to post something on craigslist in kc trying to get some string players on the hook for that. hopefully that will work out. i'm not holding my breath as i'm sure i've said before.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

everything happens today

today some drum recording is going to happen. not sure if i even knew that we were doing this last week, but james posted on the cllct board about doing a christmas songs compilation- either covers or originals- and i thought about doing a revamped version of our 'christmas song' until a little inspiration struck and i ended up writing a pretty nice new song based off of the first 'christmas song.' what's it called? 'christmas song revisited.' nice, huh? the weird thing is i'd already written a 'revisited' song but now i'm going to have to think of another title for that one. the new christmas song is based mostly around the same chords and has a similar structure and i'm taking one of the melodic elements from the original one and building on them. the verses are pretty different. there's going to be an awesome loud drum part at the end with christmas bells. since no one's going to be able to understand the words (and since they are very loosely linked to christmas anyway) the bells would serve to be festive enough. so that's that.
we're also going to do a drum part for 'willows' which will finally make it a finished track. then that ep with have a few little touches that it needs- i mainly am in a bit of a panic at the moment because chris, our violinist, is really busy at the moment and won't be able to do any recording until after christmas time. he sounded really stressed last time i contacted him and he offered to do some work if it really urgently needed to be finished, but i don't think i should take him up on it. it's possible that the mixing of the ep won't be finished until the new year even if i can find someone to redo that violin part. there isn't too much wrong with the playing per se- it's mainly that it's a bit rickety at the beginning (which i would normally just leave in there because i kind of like that sort of stuff) and there is way too much bleed from the guide guitar that i played along with him. i figured out how to lose the bleed even on the most stark tracks when i was recording with billy last time so his parts have no bleed at all so i wanted to redo the violin part since it can be done without any bleed because you can really hear it on that track when it's in there. i should probably just ask drew at work if he could do it but i feel bad taking time out of his schedule because he practices the violin for 6 hours every day. i feel like taking some time to record with me would be a bit of a waste of his time because he's in it for pretty serious and i'd rather not make a habit of interfering with that because i don't want to fuck with his shit.
so it's crunch time i guess is the basic theme of this entry. i'm trying to get ahold of a 2-track right now. i had the opportunity for the perfect deal on one last weekend and it was snatched out from under me on ebay at the last second because the auction was ending on a friday night at 9pm. it was the night we went to the brauhaus and i got rip-roaring drunk. i'd bid on it earlier in the day and my bid held firm until the very absolute end. it was torture and i'm still gutted about it- i should've raised it right at the very end. in the future i guess that will be something i'll do, but at the time i didn't think of it. so i found two of the same kind of 2-track on ebay ending tomorrow in the afternoon, so i'm going to try and get one of those. hopefully it'll work and i won't have paid too much (i'm thinking i'll probably end up paying a lot for one of them). the other thing about this last 2-track was that it was a pickup only auction and the machine was in lemont, which is not that far away- it's on I55 near the bolingbrook exit about an hour away, so no shipping costs. bummer.
anyway, that's what i'm going to be doing tomorrow at about 2pm.
i had a wretched week last week. i feel like it started with that whole losing the auction thing. after that it took us two hours to get home on the cta because shit was all fucked up for some reason- i had to wake up early the next day and go in to work so the longer we were stuck waiting on the platform the more annoyed i got because it's like watching the precious few hours you're going to get slipping away from you and there's nothing you can do about it. stefanie got upset at me for getting upset (even though i had every reason to) and we ended up getting into a giant fight when we got home, which then took another hour to resolve itself. all told i went in on about 5 hours of sleep. plus the normal opener wasn't there and the person covering the shift is someone who i know as notoriously flaky, so i knew i'd get there and the place would be empty and i'd have to open things up. that's pretty much what ended up happening- except that the normal flaky person had gotten someone to cover the shift for them who had never opened the store before and had no keys. this replacement person seems to lack a decent amount of common sense as well, so all in all it was a bit of a trainwreck and everything ended up taking double the time because the few things i asked them to do they didn't know how to and i ended up having to redo everything they did and hold their hand through every teeny tiny thing they attempted to do. as if that weren't enough this girl knocked into me while i was holding my latte that i make for myself in the morning and spilled it all down my front. i'm not a morning person at the best of times and being on five hours sleep and being a bit annoyed with this person to begin with i can only imagine the kind of shattering look i gave her after this occurred. naturally the person who used to open every saturday isn't going to be coming in on saturday mornings anymore and for some reason will has delegated this opening shift to this person who does not know what they're doing. at all. but that's okay with him because he's never there on the weekends and doesn't even keep it in mind that we are open at all. so now i have to open with this girl on saturdays until she 'gets the hang of it' which i don't anticipate happening any time soon. until then it's going to be me and her there at 7am every saturday morning (which is my monday morning by the way). i even said 'you know what, why don't you just let me open that day?' and he didn't even take the bait there instead delegating me to train this person on how to do it. i don't want to train anyone- especially anyone who is that devoid of common sense. oh yeah- she also kept stopping albums i was playing on my ipod and changing them after five songs. at one point she was back there and i was playing the new spiritualized album and she goes 'you have so much stuff on here- i can't chose something' so i said- 'put the ipod down! we are listening to the rest of this album. do not touch!' i am not equipped to work with the ADD generation. that sort of shit's just annoying and rude. and you know my policy on rudeness. i'll put up with any amount of crap from anyone as long as they are capable of politeness and are considerate.
so this carried on through the week and by wednesday i was ready to kill someone when i walked in the door. my manager opened and did his little three strikes act with me which resulted in me not speaking to him for about two solid hours. my manager does this thing where he'll do something belittling or rude to me that i don't like and i can manage to be graceful and not think anything of it until the third offense and then the graceful forgiveness is stopped dead and i'm pissed, usually for the rest of the day. when i get pissed though at work i mostly just walk around with my scowl sewn to my face. i never have a problem being nice to the customers during this though. i never have a problem being polite and nice to the customers there at all come to think of it. the customers are the least annoying bunch in that place. i like anthony- he's a nice person. at least to me. he's a get what you give kind of person. i'm nice to him so he's nice to me. what people complain about him principally is that he's late everyday. news flash- even our manager makes a habit of coming in at least 15-30 minutes late every day as well. i think i'm the only one who shows up exactly when they're told to show up. he gets a little salty with the customers sometimes- but he isn't the one at the front counter most of the time. it also just depends on who it is and what they do.
so that was my week. suffice to say that i'm incredibly relieved that it's time for the weekend. hallelujah already. i went to bed fairly early last night (about midnight) and slept like a log until 9:30 and now i'm here at the coffee shop. after this i have to go back to beans and bagels because the new walkmen lp came in the mail and i forgot to take it home in my eagerness to leave. i did come up with a decent 'life plan' should i get so irrevocably burned-out with that place that i actually have no other choice but to leave and actually do something with my life. i decided that if i'm going to back to grad school for english/writing/whatever that i should look into going to grad school in london or someplace in england. it'll be perfect- i can get a student visa and it probably won't be too much of a problem bringing stefanie with me since we're married now. i don't know how that works, but i'm sure that that somehow will make it easier in some respect. go to grad school, do some internships and then hopefully that will parlay itself into some kind of employment there. what's more we would be living in london (ideally) and we'd be able to start playing shows over there. then we could test the little thesis i have that we'd be more readily appreciated in the uk and possibly europe. 90% of the song downloads/listens are from oversees ip addresses. when someone in chicago downloads/listens to a song it's generally either my ip address when i'm checking a link or it's james' ip address (he lives in elgin) or it's a complete fluke. a lot of people from the bay area listen, which is ironic to me since we weren't able to play there over the tour.
this brings me to my next little thesis- the tour. stefanie and i now agree that it was a really great experience and that's why we're so down in the dumps about everything else at the moment. my life seems a bit meaningless and rote now that the tour is behind us. obviously we're going to have get out and go again. unfortunately this won't be for quite a long time. i hope we get into sxsw because it will give us an excuse to get the fuck out of town. i'd like to play at the record bar again on the way down there (or on the way back). speaking of which i'm still not 100% sure of what's happening with the acoustic show- if that's a firmed up thing or not yet... i guess i should write.
i think i might actually get my ass to the coffee shop. at least it'll give me something to do to waste away the day. plus i'm not the monthly pass again so it's basically like it's free- or at least that i've already paid for it so i might as well use it.
i think i'll talk about the new walkmen record now. i know no one's made it all the way to the end here- but i would highly recommend it. it's become one of my favourite records released this year- i actually might like it more than the first walkmen album which has always been my favourite of theirs. it's such a beautiful record and it's like the audio equivalent of a warm blanket- a perfect winter album. all of the tracks are wrapped in this layer of gauzy dreamy reverb and the effect is quite nice. talk about a mood enhancer. i'm a bit biased as i'm obviously of the opinion that you can never have too much reverb- anyone who listens to the music i've been making these days can tell you that. the songs are all really strong as well. it also has all of that weird, fucked-up, grimy walkmen-feeling all over it too that i really like. they don't really care if they sound sparkly and perfect- that's not the point. there's some vintage amp grumbling in there that i usually leave in our stuff as well that i obviously love.
there have been too many amazing albums released this year. surely there has to be a ceiling somewhere, but it just keeps getting higher and higher. i thought that last year was a good album year, but this year has really taken the cake. the 'white chalk' of this year has been the new sigur ros album. what i mean by that is that it's the album by a band i've loved for a long time that i somehow haven't gotten around to buying. i still don't have 'white chalk.' i put it on my christmas wish list and never got it- it was a scheme that did not work. i also never bought 'mountain battles' by the breeders which i've heard as well and that sounded like a really excellent album as well. haven't gotten the new mogwai album either. criminal really.
i guess i should go though- this post is much much much too long.

Friday, November 14, 2008

lifted sugar eyes

listening to mbv at the moment- big surprise.
got some more work done yesterday- a lot of it might fall under the category of 'scratch tracks.' when we have a song that's considered 'dead' and i continue to work on it i usually tend to record a drum part myself because most of the time i feel like i'm wasting stefanie's valuable time working on it when i've pretty much already given up on it. i did drum parts to two 'dead' songs yesterday- both of them ridiculously old. i have had a desire for a while now to finish the unfinished tracks from the 'down to sleep' sessions. the true test i guess would be whether or not i will bother to add strings to them. i guess i wanted to have them finished because a few opportunities have come and gone for compilations- i like to give out extraneous tracks for those just in case anyone's paying any attention and because i often have songs that i'm thrilled with that just don't fit in anywhere.
the two tracks- one is called 'all i have' and the other is called 'swirl around you.' 'all i have' i think was started when i was 18- i rewrote the lyrics twice while we were working on 'down to sleep.' i filmed myself putting it together for the whole 'down to sleep' diary thing that i never bothered to post on youtube and then ended up abandoning it because i had a fantastic scratch track and a great vocal recorded but could never get a decent sounding guitar or drum track. i did both of those yesterday. it's possible that i didn't get those yesterday- although the drum track sounds pretty nice. the guitar still doesn't sound quite right. not sure why...
i guess that since i can't really work on anything at the moment finishing these tracks will somehow keep me occupied and i'll have a well of extra tracks to draw from should anymore of these opportunities for compilations or anything like that spring up. that way if one does i can hopefully get string parts recorded for them very quickly and that way i'm not wasting time recording strings i'm not going to use. 'swirl around you' was written when i was living on the plaza with tom. it was actually written about someone from the past- i wrote a few songs about girls from that period and this is one of them. i toyed with putting it on 'down to sleep' or at least giving it a shot and recorded a really nice sounding acoustic guitar and this awesome weird tremolo electric guitar. i even wrote a really ornate string arrangement for it- it was going to be very ambitious, but naturally it never came to pass.
i emailed some people who do diy booking in europe and the uk to see if they'd be interested in helping us out and they emailed me back saying that we're not really their cup of tea, but that should we ever cook up some solid plans to tour in europe we should get in touch with them and they'd be happy to get us in touch with people who they thought could help us out. nice. i actually appreciate this kind of response- it's quick and doesn't cause you to pull your hair out wondering and getting upset. i much prefer being told the truth in lieu of waiting, wondering, waiting, waiting and hearing absolutely nothing.
maybe the europe thing will have to wait. i think maybe it would be best to just stick with our current plan- touring the east coast in september next year. we are planning on taking a trip for stefanie's birthday next year. i'd like to finally get us to europe. i am trying to get this current ep released and saving the money for that should be somewhat manageable as it's in different parts, as opposed to how it normally is where i have to scrounge all of the money together at once and meet tons of unexpected costs along the way, this is kind of bit by bit since i'm going to do the packaging myself. once that's released we're going to try and get 'all hope is blind' released with an arts grant since it's going to be so expensive for us and we are going to have to buy some equipment to get it the way we want it to be. that way hopefully we can get it released before the next tour and then take 2010 off to figure out what we're going to do next and pay back some incurred debt and whatnot. keeping this going for so long has been quite emotionally taxing as well. it's kind of taken over my life. anyone who wants evidence should take one of these rambling blog entries at random to read through. i don't talk about much else. i wanted to watch that cure 'trilogy' dvd yesterday but in my brain i actually heard the words 'you don't have time to do that- that would take three whole hours!' it would be nice to get a slower pace going. i'm finding that the nagging urgency has sort of lead up to the 'all hope is blind' album because there isn't really anything real planned beyond then (except maybe 'chinese blue' which is only about halfway through the massive writing process). there are a lot of good ideas related to what to do next, but it would probably be well advised to go at a slower pace. that will allow us to save more money towards touring and getting a functional 16-track analog studio going, as that is the eventual goal.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

back in business

i had a really productive day yesterday. i sang the vocals for a song called 'willows' and then lugged all of my mountain of crap to the stairwell to record some reverb for those new vocals and several of the 'all hope is blind' songs with vocals that are finished. i used the new microphone to record the reverb and it seemed to work quite nicely- much less tape hiss and the reverb sounds a bit clearer. the 'ess' sounds are going to be murder though and i'm a bit worried about that once it's time to press the record to vinyl as 'esses' are murder on vinyl. time will tell. i think that 'down to the willows' from 'all hope is blind' might be a finished track now- i'm not 100% sure. the string parts are slightly dissonant- can't figure out what's wrong with them- but i did a mixdown and it seemed to me that it is probably a good dissonant- it actually moves in and out of dissonance which makes for an unsettling feeling- which suits the mood of the song. what's more i don't think that the instruments are out of tune like i had previously thought. so i've got the mix of it and i'm just going to listen to it a bunch as a finished track. nice. it feels good to have a finished track. '4am train' sounds fantastic now- all it needs is a violin part and then it's finished too. 'windsong' is nearly finished as well- it really only needs a few things period. the others are coming along.
so then i got all of that done and now there isn't much left to do for the 'dandelions' ep (which has been true for quite a while, really). i've started mixing the ep- i have a few final mixes in hand as well. i listen to the whole thing and i am quite pleased with it. i was worried that the quality was going to dip a bit after 'down to sleep' but now i don't really give a fuck about that stuff because the songs are good enough that i need them to be out there. what's more we've been playing a lot of the songs live and they've already become mainstays which means that they are good. i've found that if we don't play new songs live it's usually a bad sign. i'd almost given up on 'willows' as well until i listened to it. the guitars i had thought were kind of crappy but really what ended up happening was that i tried them without any eq and basically that is the way that they sound best- exactly as they were recorded. the same is somewhat true for 'glasslands'- which is so good it was supposed to be a hidden track and ended up being added to the group of listed tracks. it serves now as a buffer between two songs that basically have the same drum beat.
other than all of that it feels really good to have a real weekend off again. it made the week feel a bit more bearable knowing that i was going to have a weekend at the end of it- a real one. this is my first proper weekend in about a month or so. i guess i'm not surprised that it kind of got me inspired to get productive again. i felt really good yesterday.
i have a nice fat paycheck waiting for me at work today that stefanie's going to deposit for me today. it will have something called 'extra money' on it. just in time for her birthday- which has become a three day extravaganza. tomorrow night we're going to the brauhaus with a bunch of people from her work, a few from my work and hopefully my sister and her boyfriend. saturday night we're going out to dinner with claire. saturday night is also when deerhunter is playing at the metro and stefanie doesn't want me to go now since we're going out to dinner. then sunday night stefanie and i will celebrate on our own and she'll open presents and whatnot. i also have to buy her another present and then pay for dinner and such and the brauhaus is always a dent in the wallet so i don't really expect to have anything left by the end of the weekend. then thanksgiving is basically the week after that- i think that as it falls it doesn't affect my work week at all- which i'm going to decide is a good thing right now.
the acoustic show is making some progress towards working out. fingers crossed. as it stands now it looks like we'll be playing at the record bar at 6pm on a saturday night. probably a decent fit. we are going to play for about 30 minutes- which will probably be a good thing. i didn't want this to be too much of a production. i hope that people show up. it still amazes me how few people we know can show up at our shows when we manage to play in kansas city even though we hardly ever play there. i hope that this time is different but i'm not holding my breath. at least we'll get to play. i just have to remember to record it this time. i didn't remember to record the last show, which was a shame because it went so well and everything sounded so good. i also really wish i'd recorded the seattle show as that ended up being the best show that we played on our tour.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

sian alice group luv

i can't quite shake my obsession with this band- i have everything they've released so far and i wait with baited breath to see what they release next. one of the things i'm most upset about missing while we were on tour was their set at the empty bottle. i was so bummed about missing it that i almost went to see them in kansas city at the record bar. the other one was missing neko case at the hideout block party. i guess that in a pinch this will have to do-

Monday, November 10, 2008

how could i forget????

for some reason i totally forgot to post our new video here. dep...
i recommend that you click on the youtube link and watch it in higher quality as it looks much nicer. the downloadable version down at the bottom looks nicest of all. (awwww...)
download here (ipod format).

Friday, November 7, 2008

i have precious little time

whenever i listen to music it makes me want to make more music. whenever i read more it makes me want to start writing again. i've been reading joan didion's 'the year of magical thinking' which is about the aftermath of her husband's death and her daughter's serious illness (which escalated dramatically after her husband's death). it's an incredibly interesting and insightful book and i really love it. naturally it fills me with morbid thoughts- similar to the 'love is a mixtape' book that billy got me for christmas one year.
one of my favorite tidbits i've picked up from 'the year of magical thinking' is what joan didion refers to as 'the vortex effect.' i finally have a term for what happens to me when i go home. the older i get the more i see this even though i am still much younger than joan didion is (thus the effect is much more dramatic in her life). basically when i drive around in kansas city i usually can't drive around without driving past something familiar that sucks me back into this weird kind of chain of vivid memories and i'll remember the strangest things that i haven't thought about in years. they're very sudden and the effects are kind of curious- i usually can't explain it after it happens, but it happens a lot.
that's usually the state i'm in when i've gone through a deep myspace wormhole and i start to get completely overwhelmed with nostalgia for things and people that i haven't thought about in years. my last trip to kc was a lot like this in many ways. i don't know that i've written about it too much. i haven't really written about anything other than the parts that got finished (big surprise). i managed to get to lawrence on this last trip, which was incredibly unexpected. on my first day in town after recording billy had to go up to lawrence for school and i ended up tagging along with him and i had about an hour or two (not real sure now- an hour sounds too short and two sounds too long) to walk around and do whatever i wanted. he parked right by where the pirate house used to be (which is where the short bus kids used to play probably 90% of the time) at 14th and kentucky and i walked downtown from there. it was interesting- kind of a dual time- i went to a lot of places i used to go all the time and then some places that i never used to go. lawrence is kind of nice in this regard- i spent a fair amount of time there but i did about the same four or five things every time i went there, so there's still new groung to cover when i go back these days. i went to mass street music for example, which i'd always passed on the way and never gone inside of. i went to the lovegarden and bought the vinyl version of the first walkmen album- which is basically two short records in one package- the tracks are all in a different running order and there are some extra tracks. i went to java break too which has changed a ton over the years- that was a highlight i'd say- a place i used to go that had changed enough but still stayed the same in other ways that it was really nice to be there. i didn't get to the bourgeois pig, which is a place i normally go when i'm in lawrence because i like the beers they have on tap and because i never went there when i was living in kansas city so it's a new place to me. i had a really good time there.
i'm amazed at how much i was able to squeeze in in kansas city even though i wasn't even quite there for two full days. all of the recording and then there was a decent amount of loafing time as well. it served well as a prelude to the christmas visit. i feel like there's less pressure to get more fitted in when i'm in town. we're currently trying to get an acoustic show going. we were going to play at the record bar on the 29th, we changed our flights to leave on the 30th (it only cost $40 total) and then the booking person there told us he made a snafu and couldn't offer us the 29th after all, but that the only slot he had left was on the ad astra per aspera show on the 27th. naturally that would work well. i haven't heard from mike yet. i kind of feel like it will work out since we've played with them before and that they're our friends and all but i can't help feel a bit anxious until it's firmed up and i know it's going to happen. we really fucked up last year not getting to fit the acoustic show in- i was really bummed about that. i guess it's probably better not to do it every year in reality. i'm going to try to get more string players for this one to play for about half of it. if that doesn't work it's not the end of the world.
anyway, the battery is getting low and i'll just ramble on anyway and i can't seem to get an outlet at this coffee shop to save my life. i think it's time to get a new computer. i think i'm just going to have to pay for it myself and have to do the apple payments on it- they can be as low as $24 a month. why not? we can't go on like this and the last two laptops have belonged to stefanie, it would be nice to have gotten one that belongs to me. they definitely have more memory space than this dinosaur- 120 gb is the lowest storage that the bottom of the line one has.