I've been back in the States for eight days now, and I am just now realizing how much I am recuperating from my stay in the Middle East. On the long list of changes that I have undergone in the last week, here are some of the most notable ones:
1. There is humidity in the air, which means
2. That my nose isn't perpetually caked with dry snot. I remember what a normal nose feels like. It feels fine.
3. I can go outside for longer than ten minutes during the daytime and not burst into flames, which means
4. I can exercise more!
5. I am reintroducing myself to foreign, colorful items known as fresh vegetables.
6. I can be inside without having to endure the constant hum of an air conditioner. Being indoors when it is quiet = relaxation.
8. Customer service!
9. I'm not completely isolated from humanity!
In return for those benefits--and many more--I have given up music and movie Internet piracy and a tax free income. It has been a good tradeoff thus far. After another week or so of relaxation, it will be time to make job-searching my new job.
Tomorrow I leave for South Dakota for a week. I look forward to playing some live poker.
Oh, and Chapter 40 of Quincy is finally available here. He'll soon either be dead, imprisoned, or playing in the Main Event. I'll let a three-sided coin make that decision for me.
After one of the busiest months of my life, I'll be leaving back to the States on July first.
Contract is finished. Goal has been achieved.
I'd say it's really nice to be at this point . . . but it isn't, not yet. Not till I have my bags completely packed and loaded onto the plane, where I can buckle myself into my seat and realize that there is truly nothing left to do except watch movies until I arrive in Chicago.
I miss good pizza. I miss Mexican food.
I already know how Quincy finishes, yet I still have 11 chapters to go. I'll be working on that on the plane and after I arrive, when I should have tons of free time.
Quincy has been a real learning experience. It's difficult to sustain Quincy's brand of insanity for 50 mini chapters. Despite the lulls, I hope you've enjoyed it.
Downloaded a bunch of albums in May. I just haven't had time to mention them here. So I figured I'd do a speed round version, thus shortening even further an album-capsule concept that was already ridiculously short to begin with. If you don't mind, I don't. This blog is turning out to be an excellent way for me to keep track of new music.
Solid album by a guy who reminds me of a number of different dudes--Matthew Sweet especially. Retro sound to it. Standouts are "Turn Away" and "Peace of Mind." Excellent sounding guitar, with the slightest hint of Beach Boys melodies. It's the kind of album that invites multiple replays. The biggest weakness seems to be Cronin's singing on some of
the slower songs.
* * *
Trouble Will Find Me
If you love the National, like I do, then you'll be happy to hear that they haven't done a lot to change their musical formula, inspired in equal parts by Leonard Cohen and the Tindersticks. Trouble Will Find Me continues the band's excellent four-album streak of truly excellent music, from Alligator to Boxer to High Violet. No active band captures disillusionment and world weariness like this one, especially when it is carried by the darkly humorous baritone of Matt Berninger.
* * *
Deerhunter moves in a new direction with this album, with rougher production and harder rocking songs, each song a nod to a different influence. It'll strike the listener as off putting and a bit scatter shot on the first few listens, so it's not likely to gain a lot of new fans. But the album is solid. If you already like Deerhunter, then throw away any expectations you might have of dreampop fed by looping guitars. The band has moved in a new direction--actually a dozen new directions, all at once.
* * *
This is the most exciting, hardest rocking female band since Sleater Kinney. Others might be inclined to call them a female Joy Division. It's been a long time since I've heard such a forceful, assured first album. Lots of fun.
* * *
Good contemporary folk album. If you like Lucinda Williams or Nancy Griffith, you'll like this one. It's not an album that I'll play very often, because it's not one of my favorite styles, but it's beautiful Americana.
* * *
Random Access Memories
Unless you've been stuck in prison, you've probably heard "Get Lucky" a few hundred times by now. My favorite track from the album is "Lose Yourself to Dance." This is nothing short of an awesome tribute to disco. One of the best albums of the year. Even if you hate disco, you'll probably like it.
* * *
Pale Green Ghosts
Funniest yet saddest album I've heard so far this year. I offer as evidence these lyrics from "GMF" (linked below): "Half of the time I think I'm in some movie / I play the underdog of course / I wonder who they'll get to play me, maybe / They could dig up Richard Burton's corpse." These lines are soon followed by the chorus, in which Grant calls himself "the greatest motherfucker / That you're ever gonna meet." In other parts, he sings about contracting HIV. So it's a real rollercoaster. Grant's got an incredible voice. The only thing the album suffers from is sameness.
* * *
Modern Vampires of the City
Vampire Weekend takes a mellower turn with this one, an album which the band calls an end to a trilogy starting with Vampire Weekend and continuing with Contra. This album has some excellent moments, in particular the end of "Hannah Hunt," the geeky funk of "Diane Young," and the gemlike "Step."
* * *
Eight down, eight to go. As if this post wasn't long enough, here's the update of 2013 music so far, with new additions in bold:
Vampire Weekend--Modern Vampires of the City (89/100) Youth Lagoon--Wondrous Bughouse (88/100) Foxygen--We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (88/100)
My Bloody Valentine--MBV (87/100)
The National--Trouble Will Find Me (87/100) Yo La Tengo--Fade (85/100)
Kurt Vile--Wakin' on a Pretty Daze (84/100) Atoms for Peace--Amok (84/100) Devendra Banhart--Mala (83/100) Matmos--The Marriage of True Minds (83/100) Wooden Wand--Blood Oaths of the New Blues (83/100) Waxahatchee--Cerulean Salt (83/100) Rhye--Woman (82/100) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds--Push the Sky Away (82/100) The Haxan Cloak--Excavation (82/100) Autechre--Exai (82/100)
Patty Griffin--American Kid (82/100) Nosaj Thing--Home (81/100) Grouper--The Man Who Died in His Boat (81/100) The James Hunter Six--Minute by Minute (81/100)
John Grant--Pale Green Ghosts (81/100) David Bowie--The Next Day (81/100) Mogwai--Les Revenants (81/100) Parquet Courts--Light Up Gold (80/100) Steve Mason--Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time (80/100) Jim James--Regions of Light and Sound of God (80/100) Iceage--You're Nothing (79/100) Indians--Somewhere Else (79/100) Mountains--Centralia (78/100) Bilal--A Love Surreal (78/100) Local Natives--Hummingbird (78/100)
Mikal Cronin--MCII (78/100) Autre Ne Veut--Anxiety (77/100) Phoenix--Bankrupt! (77/100) Ex Cops--True Hallucinations (77/100)
Toro Y Moi--Anything in Return (77/100) Low--The Invisible Way (77/100)
No Joy--Wait to Pleasure (75/100) Broadcast--Berberian Sound Studio (74/100) Night Beds--Country Sleep (74/100) Johnny Marr--The Messenger (73/100) Josh Ritter--The Beast in Its Tracks (73/100) Justin Timberlake--The 20/20 Experience (72/100) The Men--New Moon (72/100) Young Galaxy--Ultramarine (72/100)
A$AP Rocky--Long.Live.A$AP (72/100) FIDLAR--FIDLAR (71/100) Foals--Holy Fire (71/100) California X--California X (70/100) Chvrches--Recover EP (70/100) Bonobo--The North Borders (70/100) Four Tet--0181 (70/100) Suede--Bloodsport (69/100) Phosphorescent--Muchacho (68/100) The Flaming Lips--The Terror (68/100)
Pantha du Prince & The Bell Laboratory--Elements of Light (67/100) Widowspeak--Almanac (67/100) Jacco Gardner--Cabinet of Curiosities (66/100) Frightened Rabbit--Pedestrian Verse (66/100) Yeah Yeah Yeahs--Mosquito (65/100) Sally Shapiro--Somewhere Else (64/100) James Blake--Overgrown (64/100) Suuns--Images Du Futur (64/100) Chelsea Light Moving--Chelsea Light Moving (64/100)
Brokeback--Brokeback and the Black Rock (57/100) Various Artists--Trance (Motion Picture Soundtrack) (56/100) Clinic--Free Reign II (48/100)
Everything Everything--Arc (46/100) Depeche Mode--Delta Machine (29/100) Jamie Lindell--Jamie Lindell (16/100) The Strokes--Comedown Machine (7/100)
So I read online that the fourth Thursday in April is National Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, while other parts of the innertubes claim that the day has morphed into Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
When I think of this day, I can't help but think of the implications--or actually just one implication in particular.
Imagine that you take your daughter to work on that day, and your boss asks you to step into his office. You do. He is there with his daughter, and he is frowning. His daughter is frowning as well. Take a seat, he says. You do. As he begins speaking, you quickly realize that this day is more special that you had imagined. Your daughter, a bit slow on the uptake, looks at you with inquiring eyes.
"Are you being fired, Daddy?" she asks.
Okay, this is strange, unfortunate, and morbid, but here's my real question, which is even more strange, unfortunate, and morbid: If the purpose of the day is to give your daughters--your daughter and your boss's daughter--the full experience of a day at work, then shouldn't his daughter fire your daughter too?
A corollary to this implied rule is that if Daddy works at Micky D's, then his daughter better come home smelling like the Fry-o-Later.
Things are insanely busy these days, which basically means that my days are busy, and I am insane.
I am gearing up for my last month in the United Arab Emirates before the semester is finished. Near the end of June, I will be giving a two-day presentation on Business Law to some Emirati dudes for a nice chunk of change, in return for which I will have to endure another insanely busy month.
After that, I will get to enjoy the benefit of being back in the States. I will also get to enjoy a long-deserved period of unemployment. I don't want to find a job immediately, but I also don't want to go a year without working. It is a porridge situation, but I forget which folk tale the porridge is in. Three bears? Did the big bad wolf come and blow their house in? No, those were pigs.
Why are there so many instances of threes in folk tales anyway? Three pigs, three bears. Are they just trying to confuse us?
A quick search leads to two wikipedia-based observations, one of which says that the "Rule of Three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, and more effective than other numbers of things."
Huh. Never knew that. I guess that's why so many jokes start off with lines like "A priest, a nun, and a rabbi walk into a bar."
The other thing I read was a phrase: "omne trium perfectum," which means that "everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete."
So, folklore and jokes use the rule of three . . . as do threesomes. Duh!
Who knew that the number three was such a powerful number?
Hugh Hefner, I suppose.
In other news, the music releases for the month of May have been very, very good, from the National to Daft Punk to a variety of other good albums, I really can't wait to give them a listen. Without music, I don't think I could be anything but miserable.
Got a bunch of albums downloaded recently that I haven't had time to listen to, and today is the first day of relaxation that I've had in a while. Things get hectic when you're getting ready to stop working abroad and return home. The university's human resources department has a bunch of hurdles to leap through. Then you've got to sell all of your shit. Those things alone would make things busy enough, but now this semester has become my busiest, with by far the most work. But enough whining . . .
No Joy Wait to Pleasure
If you're a fan of My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Lush, or any other major shoegaze band, or if you're a fan of noise pop, or if you like music that gives you a reason to feel miserable, or if you just like to weep for no reason at all--say, in the pasta aisle at the local grocery store--then you'll probably enjoy this album. Hello, reverb. Welcome, distortion. Atop this ocean of sound, you can occasionally try to make out a word or two of Jasamine White-Glutz and Laura Lloyd's vocals. "Prodigy," below, is the closest thing to a pop song that you'll find on this album. This is the kind of insecure, morose album that doesn't seem to mind being background music. I like it.