Think it's really him? I posted a Roxy-positive tweet yesterday.
The time is long past for my annual list of favorite music from the past year. Possibly better late than never:
The Go Buy It Now Tier-
Mates of State - Re-Arrange Us. The kool kidz didn't seem to like this. It doesn't sound like the prevailing indie sound of the day. Instead, it's full of melodies and harmonies that will not go away and leave me alone. But this time, that's a good thing.
Sloan - Parallel Play. Super good rock and roll from Canada. Buy it; love it.
Vampire Weekend - s/t. I guess there's been some kind of backlash. It's really an excellent record and has gotten a lot of airplay in the Church/Camp house.
The You Should Buy It Tier-
Fleet Foxes- s/t
Eric Matthews- The Imagination Stage
Gary Louris- Vagabonds
Los Campesinos!- Hold On Now, Youngster
The Magnetic Fields- Distortion
The You Might Want To Buy It Tier-
Novillero- A Little Tradition
Bob Mould- District Line
Brian Wilson - That Lucky Old Sun
Supergrass- Diamond Hoo Ha
The What I Liked Pretty Well Tier-
Becky Schlegel- For All The World To See
Alejandro Escovedo- Real Animal
Destroyer- Trouble in Dreams
She & Him- Volume One
Wire- Object 47
It's kind of a lackluster list again this year and I'm not even going to mention the piles of records that bored me.
this is the modern world
My parents get series tickets for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. When they are out of town, I often get to use them. Kassie and I got tickets for last night as part of our Christmas gift.
First, we went to dinner at Little Szechuan, and it was really, really good. Kassie's been trying to get me there, but you know, it's in St. Paul, so that means fueling the car, packing a lunch, etc.
Kassie had the Fish Fillet in Spicy Tofu Broth. It came with a huge pile of peppers on top, and it was seriously spicy. She loved it. I had the tiniest sample, making sure to keep the peppers to a minimum, because, well, my stomach was not in greatest mood.
I got the Sweet Sour Scallops. They were much better than I expected. I figured they'd be good, but they were super tasty.
We got to the Ordway, I used the restroom (because my stomach was not in the greatest mood), and we found our seats. They were about fifty feet from stage left. We caught a part of the International Chamber Orchestra Festival.
The first piece was Sir Michael Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra. It sounded like a film score. Nice, but kind of boring.
The second piece was Plain Old Ralph Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, which sounded OK from the men's room, where I was busy yakking up my dinner (because my stomach was not in the greatest mood).
I felt better, and it was time for the intermission.
The third piece was Not Sir Either Béla Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. You know who's dead? Béla Lugosi. Yeah, this sounded like the soundtrack to a horror film. I liked it pretty well, I guess, but it was a little hard to take seriously.
And really, that's the thing with modern orchestral music. I didn't necessarily get the "Look at Me, I'm A Super Modern Composer, Look How Crazy This Can Sound" vibe last night, but I don't really enjoy Modern music the same way I enjoy music from the Baroque, Classical, or early Romantic periods. It was fun, though, and made for an enjoyable night.
And it's a good thing my mom wasn't there to hear it. I don't think she would have enjoyed it much at all.
this one's for Corey
But everyone should feel free to rock out.
stupid hard drive
I have all our music on an external hard drive. Sometime last week, it started to make unusual noises.
whizz, click! ...then nothing for a little while... whizz, click! ...and on and on...
From what I've gathered reading MacWorld, we're not alone in our failure to properly back up our computers. But I've been meaning to get at least a second external drive to back up the music and our computers.
The odd noises were all the motivation I needed. I went to FirstTech and paid a little bit more than I should have for a 500GB LaCie d2 Quadra drive. I don't mind paying extra, though, because I got good help and information from the guy working there (as always) and it's a local business.
The first time I moved my music was when moved it from my computer's hard drive to the drive that's acting up. As I recall, it went pretty well. I followed some directions that I found online and got it right the first try.
Well, moving the music files from one external drive to another is easy enough, but making sure iTunes knows where they went is apparently almost beyond me. Two days later, I finally figured out the simple little thing I had to do to make everything work properly.
In the meantime, I lost a bunch of music that got deleted off the bad drive. In the process of trying to make iTunes aware of what I was doing, I moved the music around a few times. Every time I moved it, I lost more. Fortunately, we have almost all of it on CD. But it's a significant hassle to go back and rip it all again.
As soon as I back up my computer's hard drive, I guess that's what I'll do.
have you got a bad back?
As I waited for a bus to take me home this morning at 24th and Nicollet, a punk rock girl, maybe 16 or 17 years old (I can't really tell anymore), walked to the bus stop. She had this logo (just the head, and in color) on the back of her leather jacket:
Of course, I asked, just to be sure. Ohhhhh, yeah. She digs the Toy Dolls groove, baby! Nice. I didn't think anyone cared anymore... at least anyone under the age of 30.
I've delayed making this post because I'm kind of annoyed with myself, or with the state of music, or something. I don't really know what the problem is, but I seem to be really bored with music again.
The usual disclaimers apply: We purchase our music, so I don't hear everything I should or I'd like to. Kassie's student loan repayments kicked in, so our music budget is smaller than it has been in the past. Also, I never get to listen to what I bought as much I'd like to, etc. etc. etc.
Anyway, I'll try to make it short. And alphabetical.
The records I liked most:
Basement Apartment- Pine Tree Hill
The Clientele- God Save The Clientele
Jason Falkner- I'm OK... You're OK
Mandrew- The Wonderful World of Mandrew
New Pornographers- Challengers
I like records that leave me wanting more. I love a 45-minute, 13- or 14-song record that makes me wish there were a couple more tracks. I liked the following records quite a bit, and would have liked them a lot more if they had restrained themselves or gotten an editor or something:
The Apples in Stereo- New Magnetic Wonder (24 tracks, plus 6-track bonus disc)
Future Clouds and Radar- s/t (27 tracks)
Sloan- Never Hear the End of It (30 tracks, plus 2 online bonus tracks)
Wilco- Sky Blue Sky (So there were only 12 tracks for 51 minutes... too much guitar wank!)
Then there were a bunch of records that I liked pretty well, but that I just couldn't get really into:
The Alarmists, The Arcade Fire, Cloud Cult, Mitch Easter, Explosions in the Sky, The Ladybug Transistor, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Los Campesinos!, Low, Eleni Mandell, The National, Of Montreal, Owls, Rogue Wave, The Sea and Cake, The Shins, John Vanderslice, Laura Veirs.
I think we only picked up three tribute/covers records this year. Somewhat surprisingly, I like the I'm Not There soundtrack (Bob Dylan covers) better than both Sensory Lullabies: Tribute to Jellyfish and Stereogum Presents... DRIVE XV: A Tribute to Automatic For the People.
Now playing: Kevin Tihista's Red Terror - Don't Breathe A Word
I ran into a woman at the dog park who went to school with my brother. They may have attended elementary through high school together. I'm not sure. As usual, I would have probably seemed a lot less creepy if I'd just not said anything. But what fun is that? I remember people and I like to say hello.
Then I ran into Ranty and her husband at Tracy's tonight. We've never met in real life, but I think it was OK that I recognized them and said hello. Wyatt, T-Unit, Teresa and I were there for pub trivia. The Shock Monkeys (Trivia Division) got destroyed again.
I have a class of three who will take their CDL tests tomorrow. Here's one of them practicing the straight back. In three tries, I've been unable to do it. Bad instructor!
I went to Kowalski's for some groceries this evening and noticed an interesting sign. I took this picture from the next aisle over because a woman was working in that aisle. Perhaps she was stocking cat liter!
Kassie and I went to lovely Wausau, Wisconsin last weekend to celebrate my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary. Yeah, you read that right. They've been married a long time.
We saw a polka band in the middle of downtown.
I have a somewhat complicated relationship with Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson. You know, Rush.
It starts with the fact that I grew up in a blue-collar part of middle-class Bloomington. Musically speaking, I mainly listened to (post-) punk, but classic rock was an acceptable alternative. I knew a handful of Rush tunes from KQ's rotation.
As the '80s came to an end, I found myself at a musical loss. Many of my favorite bands were using way too much synthesizer, metal invaded hardcore, and tie-dyed pseudo-hippies started showing up in what had recently been dubbed "alternative" music.
So what did I do?
Influenced by my friend Eric, I listened to Windham Hill. And Rush.
Eric had a huge stack of Rush's albums and I taped nine or ten of them. (I hadn't learned about copyright at that point in my life.) And I listened to a lot of Rush for a couple years.
I found that I really liked everything up to 1982's Signals. I actually thought Signals was pretty good, but there was all that synthesizer again! So I wrote them off and stuck to listening to their old records.
In 1989, I heard that their new record, Presto, was a guitar-based return to their old sound. I bought it and liked it. But there came a day when I had a date and no money, so I sold it to a pawn shop, along with 1999, The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, some Ziggy Marley thing and a couple other, obviously forgettable, CDs.
I occasionally pull out one of those old cassettes I dubbed from Eric's records and play it, but I haven't really listened to Rush for quite a while.
I meet a guy named Erik for pizza every couple of months. He was a camper in my cabin when I was a camp counselor. I recognized him one time when he got on my bus and we've become reacquainted.
Erik is a big Rush fan and when he saw that they were coming to the Xcel, he asked me if I wanted to go with him.
Last night, I did.
Have you seen PCU? I don't remember much of it, but I love the part where our hero chews out a guy who is going to see a band:
You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don't be that guy.As we drove down West 7th, I noticed that there were going to be a lot of Those Guys attending the show with us. I parked close and as we walked to the Xcel, I was somewhat surprised to see quite a few younger people on their way in, many of them hipsterish. Of course, most of the crowd was my age or older. And I wasn't looking too hard, but I noticed one guy who was not Cauc.
We went inside and, after a long hike, found our seats. See, we got the cheap seats. They were $45 each, and neither of us felt that we could justify spending more than that. And, as the video introduction started, it was obvious that we had "skimped." There was a bank of lights between us and the giant screens. Ah, well. I think we were far enough away that we got a bit of a delay, but we could hear well enough. Added bonus: No earplugs necessary.
I have no idea how ticket sales work, but we were just about as far away from the stage as we could be (section 216, row 2) and our entire row was filled. However, rows 1 and 3-8 or so were completely empty. The top rows were draped off. We moved up into row 3 and got comfortable.
During the second song, I noticed something strange. People were leaving the section next to us. Then I saw that official-looking people were asking them to leave. A number of things crossed my mind. Then an Xcel worker was talking to Erik. He had tickets. And we were leaving, too. I thought we might be moving down a level, as the show had clearly not sold out.
Erik told me that we were not moving down a level, but in fact, we were going to move down next to the stage!
Here is a map showing our approximate original location (look for something-something Egypt) and our new seats (X marks the spot).
And here are two pictures (from my camera phone). The first is from our original seats, and I've zoomed in with my phone. The second is a non-zoomed shot from our new seats.
If you look at the stack of amps on the near side of the stage, you can see a collection of toy dinosaurs. I assumed that was some self-deprecating humor. After all, they are getting older- they're in their mid-fifties- and their music isn't exactly the height of fashion. I thought Neil looked like my dad behind the drums. Anyway, if you look to the far side of the drum kit, you can see an orange glow. At first, I thought those were Geddy's amps, but when the camera was on him, we could see that they were two rotisserie ovens full of chickens. I noticed people dressed as chefs occasionally basting the birds.
And the show itself? It was really fun. Since I am only really familiar with their pre-1982 material, I was hoping to hear quite a bit of that. I knew "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" was most likely out of the question, but I was pretty excited to hear quite a few of my favorite songs. Apparently, they played a song they haven't played live for nearly 30 years. When I was in high school choir, I'd get sick to death of songs we'd sing for a year. I don't know how Rush can still crank out "Passage to Bangkok" year after year after year after year.
They played for 65 minutes, took a 30-minute intermission, then played another 90 minutes or so. When I saw REM's Monster tour, which might have been the last arena concert I went to, they played 50 minutes.
I assumed that Rush were playing a lot of their new songs, and, according to Mr. Raihala's review linked above, I was right. I liked the new songs; I might even buy their new CD.
Overall, I have to admit that I really enjoyed the show. As I sort of mentioned, I don't really get to a lot of big arena rock concerts. The smoke and lasers and videos and pyrotechnics were kind of fun. But I probably won't do it again for a long time.
I did something a little unusual last night.
It's been twenty years since I graduated from high school. My parents recently received a notice for my class reunion. My mom threw it away for me. I'm in touch with all but a few of the handful of people from my high school that I want to be.
But I was also active in my church's youth group. My friend Manda, who lives in California, had plans to visit and proposed a get-together with that crew.
Last night was the night. Getting there required a road trip. I packed a lunch, fueled the car and made sure I had a map. I headed south on 35W. I drove past Crosstown. This is where I start to feel a little out of sorts. But if I need to go to a mall, it's usually Southdale. Plus, I drive several buses that go out that way. I continued down 35W. I drove past 494. You may or may not know that I grew up in Bloomington and my parents still live there. So this wasn't exactly out of my comfort zone, as I visit my parents on occasion and a couple buses go out that way, but I can't remember the last time I saw Bloomington on a Saturday night.
Then I got real crazy. I drove over the Minnesota River. To Burnsville. That's right. Burnsville. I had decided to push on without eating my lunch, and even though I'd stopped for a restroom break, I was exhausted when I arrived.
Fortunately, I brought along Surly Furious, to replenish my system like the monks do it. And John and Carol, our hosts, generously provided brats and burgers.
I really enjoyed getting caught up with some people I haven't seen for a while, and chatting with some that I have.
My friend Rick flew in from Oregon. While we were talking, he jumped up in the middle of our conversation and told me had something for me.
He's staying with his brother's family and took his brother's four kids for a walk yesterday afternoon. Rick noticed an elderly man sitting out near the sidewalk on his walker and said hello. They got into a conversation and the man's wife came outside. They were on their way to Old Country Buffet for lunch. They continued to talk as the old folks got into their car. Then the old woman asked him if he'd ever heard of Hüsker Dü. Of course he had and said so. He was a bit taken aback by the question, given the source. The woman told him that her son Grant was in the house sleeping and that he had been the drummer for Hüsker Dü. Nice. They parted ways and Rick continued down the sidewalk. Then old folks' car pulled up next to him and the lady reached out the window with something for him. It was a cassette of one of Grant's solo records. And Rick knew I really like Hüsker Dü, and that I'd probably like it, so he gave it to me. Excellent.
Good thing the old Corolla has a tape deck.
why I love mary lucia almost as much as ice cream, donuts and kassie
Today on my way home from the Instruction Center where I spent the day proofreading tests, making copies and purchasing cone cups, Mary Lucia played "Icky Thump" by The White Stripes on the radio.
I've mentioned that I'm not really a fan of Meg and Jack, and I'm not really tuned in to their whole scene. As I listened to "Icky Thump," I thought, "The White Stripes: Making it cool for hipsters to like Led Zeppelin."
Then I wondered, "Do hipsters already like Led Zeppelin? Do hipsters even like The White Stripes? Or since a 38-year-old bus driver knows them well enough to have an opinion of them, are they way uncool?"
Then I thought, "I'd sure like to hear some Led Zeppelin."
And then Mary played "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" by... Led Zeppelin.
Thanks, Mary. I love you. (But not as much as ice cream, donuts or Kassie.)
Now playing: Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love
With almost 12,000 songs to choose from, iTunes (on shuffle) just came up with a weird coincidental selection: Sean Lennon followed by John Lennon. Some others I've experienced: Bob Mould/Hüsker Dü, The Three O'Clock/Jupiter Affect and Morrissey/The Smiths.
The Daff rode with me the other day. I haven't seen him for quite a while.
The spot next to me was taken, so we didn't get to talk for most of the ride. But when that seat opened up, he moved forward.
The Daff loves Christmas music and listens to it year 'round. He told me that he has a Hooked on Christmas CD. One of the tracks, he couldn't remember the number, was listed as being 3:46 long. But do you know when it ended? 2:55! Someone really got that wrong! He also told me about putting one of the Christmas songs on both sides of a short cassette, because, "Why not?!?"
He also wanted to know how long I've been married. Kassie talked to him on the bus for quite a while one day.
It was good to see The Daff. He always brightens my day.
It was a beautiful day; Kassie insisted that we had to do something besides sit around on the computer all day. I suppose...
We tried to look for a new light fixture at Creative Lighting, but they were closed.
So we went to the Electric Fetus and purchased the latest from:
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Southern Culture on the Skids andLaura Veirs.
We went home for a little while, then took Jeff to the Minnehaha off-leash dog park. He ran around and swam and ran around some more for well over an hour.
For dinner, we went to Sea Salt, a place we've wanted to try. It's in Minnehaha Park, so we were right there. We got the Oil Pan, which is shrimp, oysters and pickled herring on ice, plus a pitcher of Surly Bender. It was ever so delicious. We ate at a park table with Jeff sleeping underneath us.
We walked around the park for a while, then came home. I'd have to say it was a good day.