Friday, December 31, 2010

Frankenstory

Yellow and I finished another Frankenstory today. For some reason, I feel like this wraps up the blog year quite well:

I was reading a long list just now about things to do to change my day. One item suggested that I carry a camera everywhere I go so people see me differently. Another said to collect everyday objects. Don't I already? I turned my thoughts to the jar of half-chewed, half-used pencils but couldn't help thinking about the box of tiny white fortunes. I wondered if daily Kung Pao made those little paper verses of hope and comedy something more commonplace. The other day I read a page that said if you hang your hangers backwards once a year, you'll know which clothes you never wear. I have two shirts I wouldn't throw away even after that long. It's the everyday objects that get you, I thought; they become their own fortunes. Considering minimalism and the thrill found in one room, bed, chair, and book, I picked up a used eraser from the ground and began again.

See you on the flipside everybody. I should have my first post of the new year up tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Weekday

Tonight
she said

"You can remember that
the next time you fly
a kite on the beach"

which I
assume

will be
sometime

between
now and

the day I figure out
the best way to find
my kite a proper beach.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

New (Old) Video

My drummer just posted this the other day. This is us playing "From the Sands of a Concrete Shore." I want to say this was from our first Cabin show, but it might have been our second.

I do remember, however, that this performance is significant for the fact that I do not use my slide, which I usually do. I had put the slide in my pocket so I wouldn't lose it, but then when it came time to play the song I'd forgotten where I put it, so I just winged it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What's Up

So today my band Anyway, Soon was reviewed in What's Up! Magazine, which you can read here. I just wanted to share the news. It's so rare to actually here stranger say anything about my music that I tend to get all giddy when something like this happens.

I've been taking more steps to solidify this group lately, including a more active share in writing and (finally) helping to look for shows. I promised I would do this when I finished grad school, so I'm happy to be making good on that. More importantly tough, I'm having more fun with the group now than I ever have during our short one-and-a-half year history. In my opinion, our new songs are much stronger than our old ones, and I can't wait to have recordings for all of you to hear.

If you haven't noticed, you can listen to my band on the sidebar, or you can go here to buy a copy (yay for shameless self promotion). If you want to make me more giddy, you can tell me what your favorite song is in the comments thread.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sternest Meanings

Here's some Flarf. Source material here.

-----------------------------------------------

How's it going, you terrible bitter loner?

I hate the show "What Not to Wear"
It's basically asyllabic.

Or monosyllabic, you loyal snob.

My misspellings are helping the anagrams,
but sheepish gremlins pig mentally.
I fed them nachos after midnight.

The high-flier despises healthy semen.
Odder rottenness stinkers.

Maturity woman-hater hotheads.
Agitate appal anus. Rent sets.

I couldn't find "appal" in my dictionary.
Are you making up words to beat me?

Fouled-up, incompliant rainy day.
I'm an artistic, down-market goodbye.

You're leaving me?
The Great Satan?
Earth stagnate?
Infertile wasteland?

Do you want me to turn on the air conditioner?
White-hot, unodious, mad twit.

You pirate's moth-eaten nurturer.
You cretinoid.

I am the neater younger. I am
the swooning thuggery inebriation.

Well, it is Friday

you wasp-like, young,
eager young man. Rent sets.

Rent just cleared the bank this afternoon
you stealthy, nasty, encumbered jerk.

You obturate, weepy, toughish mutterer,
songlike practical application.

Endanger fat-witted hullaballoos
with a prenatal pistol-whip.

Palpitate to this rotten whiplash.
I am the crazed blow-out womanizer.

I feel like you're inherently sexist,
an eerily hero-like, funny elitist sexist.

That is simply nonsense. You're skirting the issue.

I may tweet about this later,
the wittiest, amoral beauty.

And you, the hypocrite's adulterate deviation.
You, the penetrative, stodgiest of sphincters.

You hoodwink the filthy in ethylene hubs.
I hear that's popular in airport bathrooms.

Dirt-cheap high treason hesitates
with you, the odorous ultra-patriot,

the cheap boobification of the heavy-hearted devil,
the off-broadway ovations.

I am an unpretty, a white-hot monkery,
a famously ethylene adoration.

I am a thrilled heat rash to retardation.

I am the tameable gunk agitator.

I am pliantly error-free blisters.

I am hot sores.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment - Weezathon Day 3

I probably won't get through it all today, even though I'm nearing the finish line. However, my calendar today is full of buying things and drinking beers. A bro's got to have his priorities, right?

(Side note: if you ever hear me say "bro priority," it has nothing to do with the popular usage of bro, broing out, or bromance. At least not overtly. My little sister and I saw a dude holding up a name card at the Houston airport that said "Bro Priority," and it's kinda just become our thing. I'm waiting for it to become a meme, but apparently I am not cool enough to know how to start one.)

About 11:45 - Raditude, cont.: B-Sides

There really are two different Weezers, aren't there? The B-Side Weezer is simply a different beast, and one I really like. "Get Me Some," "Run Over By a Truck," and their mashup of "Kids/Pokerface" are excellent. I have to admit that I'm apparently so out of touch that I did not realize that the aforementioned song was a splice of MGMT and Lady Gaga. I heard both of these songs for the first time through Weezer, and then I heard the originals. No matter what, they're awesome though.

I remember having a similar experience when Local H covered Britney Spears' "Toxic." Ostrich that I am, I'd never heard Britney's tune, even though it was already a few years old before the H got ahold of it. I was excited. The song rocked. It was a good lesson in songwriting vs. packaging, one that I won't soon forget.

Ah, "Story of My Life." It's official: I'm a sucker for lo-fi Weezcoustics.

Okay, let's all say it together: Dance remixes always suck. Maybe, maybe, if I was out dancing (because I do that so much) I could enjoy these things, but mostly they just grate on me. I would skip this shit if it didn't break the integrity of the marathon.

Three. dance. remixes. in. a. row.

About 2:20 - Hurley

Ah, Hurley. I have now entered the this-is-so-new-my-opinion-is-still-forming portion of this marathon. So far, I really dig this record. A lot of people have said it, but this feels more like vintage Weezer than anything else post-Pinkerton, whatever that may mean.

Thank you to Epitaph Records, who provided me with both a free digital download and a CD of this album when I bought in on (clear green) vinyl.

A song like "Memories" I would usually dismiss as overly sentimental, but it sets the mood for this album so well, and includes piss, vomit, and sex. So how could I not like it?

Deli-fresh pastrami sandwiches go well with the Weez. My ocular nerve went pop zoom.

Going back to my B-side comments earlier, I feel like this is the album where they actually gave precedent to this sound. Maybe it was the move to an indie label, or maybe it was just time, but I'm happy they decided to put this sound front on center. I like the play in form with "Trainwrecks" and "Unspoken."

I think "Where's My Sex?" is what really holds the album together. Not because it's the best track, because it's probably the worst, but I think that's my point. The worst song on here isn't that bad, and it kind of breaks the stinker-an-album precedent that began with "We Are All on Drugs," then continued with "Everybody Get Dangerous" and "In the Mall." Here is works, and there was much rejoicing.

I also like the dance rock thing they have going in some of the later tracks like "Smart Girls" and "Brave New World." It worked so well for them with their cover of "Kids/Pokerface" that I'm glad they decided to give it a stab. Plus, it's nice to hear a song promoting intelligence in women.

Oh, and "Time Flies" is a fantastic song. Lyrically s'okay, but the recording is perfect.

About 4:50 - Death to False Metal

Well I'll be. Looks like I'll be getting through this today after all. I'm definitely at the burnout point here. It's been a fun experience. I think, taken all at once, this band has a much sturdier body of work than I would have previously given them credit for. I remain fascinated at Weezer's ability to polarize people. Something about them essentially challenges people's ideas of what music like this "should" be. However, what kind of music is Weezer? Not pop. Not punk. Not emo. Not metal. Alternative, sure, but that's a big umbrella.

I've often wondered if my interest in this band simply stems from my attraction to controversial items. I'm sure that contributed to my lasting interest in them, but that wasn't the initial draw. The initial draw was that I was entering 7th grade when they came out and back then they were cool. Blue was probably the only universally adored Weezer record. As much as people view Pinkerton with rose-tinted glasses these days, they hated it when it was new. And so a precedent was born.

I've got no specific comments on Death to False Metal. It's clearly a collection of almost-good-enoughs. Not bad, but not a real album.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment - Weezathon, Day 2

I kept thinking that I didn't get through very much Weez yesterday, then I remembered that it took me almost three hours to get through the deluxe Pinkerton. Anyway, let's get going here.

About 10 a.m. - The Lion and the Witch

I remember this came out the same day as Beck's Sea Change, and that I wanted both really badly. I actually had to drive down to Seattle from Bellingham to buy this at Easy Street Records because they were only selling it at independent record stores. Also, it had limited edition numbering on it, so I was powerless against its charms.

This little live EP is what it is. The sound quality isn't fantastic, but it reminds me that I'd love a proper Weezer live album. Two things stand out on this recording. The first is the extended jam before "Death and Destruction." As I said yesterday, I'm interested in hearing this version of Weezer. The second is Scott's total fuck up during the vocal breakdown in "Holiday." Everyone on stage laughs, and I laugh too.

I understand that during this tour Rivers had some elaborate system involving D&D dice and the setlist was selected by random throws. Scott was new to the band, and hadn't learned "Holiday" yet. Good times.

Ah, listening to it now I totally forgot about the part where Rivers screws up the verses on "El Scorcho." That's what I like about this little EP. The blemishes are the best part.

Misc. Weezer.com recordings

During the Maladroit days the Weezer website often offered free downloads of demos and other random recordings. Some of these were purportedly going onto the next album (what became Make Believe), but I don't think any of them did. I remember a Brian Bell song on here called "Yellow Camaro" that I really liked, but apparently I never downloaded it. Here I just have three tunes, comprising of two Christmas songs and the "Star Spangled Banner." The Christmas songs are actually pretty good, and I guess it's the right time of year to get into these.

Make Believe

Darn, we're here. I don't like this album. It just sounds so forced and lifeless. I was happy for the band that "Beverly Hills" was big hit for them, but really wasn't that just Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" slowed down a tad? If I remember correctly, this album sold really well for the band, and I told myself I liked it for a while, but every time I listen to it now I just get so... uncomfortable. This is not to say there aren't good songs. I like "Perfect Situation," "This is Such a Pity," and "Haunt You Every Day." "Freak Me Out" is interesting, but I don't think it quite worked.

This album is all we got from Weezer during the entire middle part of the decade. The band has turned in the right direction since this, but I remember thinking I'd be okay if they broke up right around this time.

Listening to it right now, I'm reminded that this album is well-intentioned, and kind of an apology for Maladroit. It's a very positive record lyrically, for the most part anyway. It's like the band its sincerity back, but forgot how to write good songs in the process. "Hold Me" and "The Other Way" still sound lazy to me. For the most part Weezer has been cheesy-chic, but this album is cheesy-cringe.

But "Haunt You Every Day" is really good, in that Aerosmith "Dream On" sort of way. The album's probably worth it for this song alone.

About 11:20 a.m. - Alone: the Home Recordings, vol. 1

Sweet, well I've never heard these, but when I decided to do this project yesterday I figured it wouldn't be complete without this album and (later) vol. 2. This is Rivers' solo stuff, some of it made it in as Weezer songs, but much of it is unheard. I've wanted these records since they came out, but I just never scooped 'em.

My first impression so far is that Rivers has much more of an Elliot Smith sound in the recordings when he's by himself. Weird. I never thought I'd make that comparison. I love listening to people's unpolished demos.

This is actually the perfect set of recordings to clean the palate after Make Believe. This is wild and experimental. Not all of it's necessarily good, but it's fun to watch people try to push their boundaries. It would have been interesting to hear some of these songs fully Weezerized.

Yes! More barbershop stuff. I love it when that happens.

About 12:40 - The Red Album (Deluxe)

This album still makes me very happy. Something about it just sounds like the band got together and said, "Fuck it. Let's have some fun again." I love that Brian, Scott, and Pat all get their own songs on here. I love "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived," and I love all the bonus tracks. Seriously, people who have not heard "Miss Sweeney," "Pig," "Spider," and "King" are seriously missing out. I don't care how hipster that makes me sound either.

Some of the songs on here aren't that great. "Heart Songs" and "Get Dangerous" are both kind of meh for me. "Automatic" has some cringe-inducing vocals by Pat, but that awesome guitar riffs make up for it. I would bet my bottom dollar that the band had fun recording this.

To this day I can't figure out if I like "Dreamin'" or not. It's very Blue Album-y to me, which is a good thing, but it also kind of feels paint by numbers. Hm.

1:40 - Alone II

I like how both Alone albums start with little sound games. Already liking these first tracks.

This one seems more overtly poppy and upbeat than Alone I. One day I'll have to check out the recording dates for these tracks.

Ah, so there's at least two demoed tracks that found their way onto Raditude. I seem to remember some people complaining that the demos were way better than the album cuts. Ah, fickle Weezer fans.

Whoop, make that three. "Prettiest Girl in the World" was a bonus track. Also, the guitar intro to "I Can't Stop Partying" made me think he was doing a cover of the Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm," which woulda been cool. Weird.

Another "Paper Face" demo. At this point in my marathon I'm starting to hear a lot of the same songs over and over. This song is pretty rad though, and actually it seems like this version is pretty different from the Blue Album's bonus tracks.

About 2:30 - Christmas with Weezer - EP

Last I heard this I remember being disappointed at how straightforward these recordings were. No real quirk to them at all. I always feel like a jerk listening to Christmas music by myself, but at least it's not summer.

If I have to pick a fave on here, it's "O Holy Night."


About 2:40 - Raditude (iTunes Pass Version)

Christmas EP was blissfully short. I don't want to sound like a contrarian, but I don't get why everyone hates this album so much. Sure, I'll grant that it's rather brainless in its content, but I'll also argue that it was on purpose.

Yesterday I mentioned that Green felt like a dissection of a pop album, and I've always had the feeling that this was too. Raditude takes that dissection a bit further, I think. Where Green sounds almost resentful of the form it was following, this album revels in it.

Kind of like with Beck's Midnight Vultures (strange how much I've referenced Beck in these posts), I just get the sense that the group consciously set out to craft a ridiculous party album. Maybe it's because I was in grad school at the time, but I read it as social commentary. Call me crazy, but I actually consider this a strange sort of concept album.

Looking at it in those terms, I can't get mad at it because it succeeds so well. The sound and thematic content are unified and the energy level is high. "The Girl Got Hot" is awesome, and so is Lil Wayne's guest appearance on "Can't Stop Partying."

Considering that Weezer had three releases in the past couple months, it's hard for me to believe that this only came out a year ago. I think this was the first album where Rivers started co-writing songs with musicians outside of the band. A lot of people were pissed about this too.

And off to work. Next (perhaps not tomorrow) I finish with Raditude, Hurley, and Death to False Metal.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment - Weezer Marathon, Day 1

Weezer have entered a very interesting stage in their career. That band has released three albums of brand new material since 2008, not to mention an album of previously unreleased tracks, a Christmas EP, and an expanded version of their 1996 classic Pinkerton. With such an output, the band has forced fans like myself to keep up, which means a constant regimen Weez listening.

It's made me stop and take stock of the near 20-year-old band. The history of Weezer fandom is long and complicated and ultimately boring. Weezer's ability to polarize fans - you other love 'em or you hate 'em - is why I like them. The band's got a narrative. They've had their lulls and down moments, but they compel me to listen further because I simply don't know what is coming next.

So today I decided to listen to all of Weezer's albums, stray recordings, and Rivers demos, and to approach it chronologically. I'll just kind of make notes as I go.

About 11 a.m. - The Blue Album (Deluxe Edition)

Still just puts me in such a good mood. On the first sunny day of the year I always put this album on, especially if I'm making the 80-mile trek down to Seattle. One of my favorite things with grunge/post grunge music is that it sounded like it was having genuine fun sounding "slackery." Whatever that might mean. Early Beck is also a good example of this.

Bonus tracks on this are great. I am still just blown away by how good "Suzanne," "Mykel and Carli," and "Jamie" are. I remember "Jamie" from the DGC Rarities, Vol. 1 cassette I bought and played into the ground in 6th and 7th grade. I remember stealing $5 from a friend in order to go buy the tape, but I like to think that I made a good investment with my dishonesty. I really liked that tape, and I still think "Einstein on the Beach" is the best song the Counting Crows ever recorded.

About noon - Pinkerton (Deluxe Edition)

I sharted when I found out about the 4LP release of this. Ever since I started my record collection about two years ago, I've dreamed of owning Pinkerton, an album that will always rank among my top five.

So much of me thinks it was Weezer's dormant period after this both blessed and cursed the band. Yes, it gave Pinkerton a chance for its audience to develop, but that same audience put the record on an unrealistic pedestal, myself included. A lot of Tool fans did the same thing with ├ćnima. So in May 2001 when Green and Lateralus were released on the same day, it was just a little bit anticlimactic.

I was in 9th grade when this album came out, and I remember taping Weezer's performance at Shorecrest High School, so it's great to hear these songs again.

As I get to the bonus content, I realize that I've only had the chance to listen to some of these songs once or twice. It's cool to hear old Weezer songs for the first time, and these are pretty good.

I remember thinking the first time through these four records that different versions of "The Good Life" showed up entirely too much. I love this song, but too much repetition of anything can wear on you.

Duet on "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams." I guess Rivers partnered with someone before Lil' Wayne after all. Oh wait, didn't Rivers guest on a Limp Bizkit song back in the day too?

Yep. Definitely too many versions of "The Good Life."

Very happy that there's an alternative version of "Butterfly" on here. The whole fourth record is pretty great, actually. "Getting Up and Leaving" and the track before hint at a larger Pinkerton project.

I wish the tracks were ordered better. Perhaps something like B-sides, unreleased, live, then remixes. Oh well.

About 2:30 - The Green Album

I remember sitting in the lecture hall during my Intro to Logic class one day when I noticed someone had scrawled some of the lyrics to "Knock Down Drag Out" on the desk. Underneath, I replied with some of the lyrics to "Butterfly." When I sat at the same desk again a week later, the girl had replied that "Butterfly" was one of her favorite songs ever, and there was an e-mail address beneath it. To this day, I wonder why I never dropped her a line. In my mind she was a hot geeky chick, but that would be too predictable, wouldn't it?

Besides this memory, I was pretty disappointed with this record. Nowadays I find the album interesting as a kind of dissection of the standard pop formula, but I always felt it was lacking any real enthusiasm. It wasn't that they went back to a more produced sound. That was fine, but I was hoping this album would be more of a celebration.

Perhaps the off-putting thing about this album is that it sounds angry while trying to sound happy. It's a very confusing mix of emotions for such simple songs.

I went through all of high school without a new Weezer album, and those are some pretty opinion-forming years. Couple that with the huge shift in popular music from the mid-90s to the early 00s and it's really not the band's fault that this didn't impress me more. I was stoked they were back, but I was worried about their future.

About 3:15 - Maladroit

Whatever I may have felt about Green, I didn't have much time to dwell on it, considering this album came out only about a year later. From the opening beat of "American Gigolo" the band essentially promises that this is something different than the last record. It breaks the ten-song-an-album rule, most songs come in at less than three minutes, and unconventional song structures are a little more common.

In a lot of ways, this is the antithesis to Green. It's brash and full of swagger and directly confronts the band's whiny fans with songs like "Slob." I especially get a kick out of "Burnt Jamb," and "Death and Destruction," and still feel like I would have enjoyed more of that kind of Weezer.

A lot of people I know didn't like this record, and in fact I a lot of my friends gave up on the band right around this time, but I remember feeling like my faith was restored with this one, and I still feel like it's the best album of their middle period. It's not perfect and feels half baked at times, but the energy is great.

Tomorrow, I begin with The Lion and the Witch.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

90s Off, Special Edition: This is Halloween

Well, this came out rough, but I have to follow the code of the 90s off. Turns out this tune has more chords than... something that has a lot of chords in it.

Here is Danny Elfman's "This is Halloween," and me being a big loser. Happy Halloween everyone.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment - Believed to Beautiful

My good friend Yellow has a pretty awesome series going on on her blog right now, and you should check it out. Something happened today that made me want to copy her approach, namely this guy:


Here I am, doing some "Sunday" cleaning (it's my Sunday anyway), and I find this guy sitting next to the stove, in a sealed baggie, in the ladle dish. Clearly he does not belong here.


On closer inspection, it turns out he's a snowman. So really, on Halloween Eve Eve, he doesn't belong anywhere. But here he is. I haven't been using the kitchen at home much lately, that's what happens when you work full time in one, so I have no idea how long he's been there. So here's to awesomeness that doesn't belong, neither temporally nor culinarily. In a day of tedious housecleaning, I have to call this guy the bright spot.

Lyrics: Listless

Here I orbit round a thought
in gravity's ellipses
I am trailing off.
I can will the time to pass away
drifting listless through the day
but what to say to you?

And in this satellite I bide my time.

Let's pull the covers overhead
poke hole into the sheets
and fall asleep
counting all the shapes
the constellations that we name
for all the people
in our dreams

And in this satellite I bide my time.

There's always a distance between
the things I say and the message received
but even light years can't change
the time it takes until your ear's in range.

Friday, October 22, 2010

90s Off: It's a Celebration

Hoffie pointed out several days ago that it was the first anniversary of the 90s Off when he posted this video, a medley of every song off Radiohead's OK Computer:

OK 90s Off from Susie Derkins on Vimeo.


I was humbled and so proud of our little baby for reaching this milestone (in this region, the infant mortality rate is exceptionally high). So, I decided to do a medley as well, playing a song from each year of the 90s:

90s Off - Anniversary Medley! from Choppyrocks on Vimeo.


Stay tuned for Halloween. I can't speak for the rest of the crew, but I've got a good one coming.

Bored Bartender Haiku

So I was bartending a wedding tonight, and it was boring, though not unproductive. Enjoy:

Stand behind bottles
cork flakes floating in the wine
brush fruit flies away.

*

Bubble toast unburnt
transatlantic applause, pause:
corkscrew, pigtail, cake.

*

Time of the fruit fly
kept by the bartender's hand
watching plastic dry.

*

Beware of squirrels
dumpster ninjas raiding rinds
from buffet snack line.

*

In public houses
ghosts avoid the memory
collectors' snapshots.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Frankenstory

Yellow and I have written yet another Frankenstory, and methinks this one is pretty good:

Space provided but left open is not space wasted. You should take heed of this, and you should forget what I told you last: a man who scares goats can't fight lobsters. You should forget, if you can, the wisdom of the ages spelled out in odd scenes - the scruff of the barnyard and the cool tank of the ocean, both hoarding light for the coming winter. It's not that something has to illuminate the empty spaces, just that someone has to appreciate them. You were the first to make me appreciate that. I offer you: the man who dances with lobsters dances on the shore. But you should forget that, too. It's all leftover lyrics - you taught me that. Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

90s Off

Well, Hoffie began with this:


and then today the Bearded One came back with this old standard:


and then I was bored so I figured I'd do this:



and then our new entry into the game, Mr. Josh Browning came in with this:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Frankenstory

Yellow and I have struck again:

I'm stuck on this notion that the horror is in the revelation, and I really want to show you something. What do you want to see? I could show you the way words tumble off each other like waterfalls, but I often like the clink clank of letters that beat against each other within the words, like marbles knocked about - somehow remaining inside the game circle. Today, unexpectedly, I took down a note to myself, lines lingering on the post-it pad that had long since lost its adhesiveness. Something tells me I won't remember to check the note, but it's not yet time to check it anyway. I've long forgotten what it said, but if you were me, and if listened to letters, you'd know that it's more than waterfalls - words waffling on the page. You might, if you were me, find the scribbled scrap street-side and add your own line, a note to yourself that begins with an end.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Epiphone of an Emo Cook

Life is like sharp cheddar cheese.

No matter how much care you take

to produce discreet uniform slices

it will still crumble in your hands

the second you get a handle on it.

*

Also, I feel it's worth reminding the world about my greatest accomplishment ever.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

90s Off

Me with Soul Asylum's "Black Gold"


The Bearded One with Radiohead's "Killer Cars"


Hoffie with the Gits' "Another Shot of Whiskey"

Monday, August 30, 2010

90s Off - Collected

Here are the 90s Off songs collected thus far on one handy playlist. There be lots of them. Those scrolling arrows on the side will allow you to move between all the videos, proving once again that the Internet is magic.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

90s Off

The Bearded Shithead with Modest Mouse's "Styrofoam Boots"


Hoffie with the Toadies' "Tyler"


and me limping in with Frente!'s "Labour of Love"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

90's Off: Round Awesome

Hoffie with Tool's "Stinkfist"


The Bearded Shithead with the Eels' "Grace Kelly Blues"



Choppy with the Presidents' "Tiki God"


A Special Shithead Bonus Round with the Flaming Lips' "She Don't Use Jelly"

Monday, August 2, 2010

90's Off: Oh yeah, we still do this

Mr. Chris "Hoffie" Hofstrand, with Local H's "All the Kids are Right"



Mr. Chas "I Can't Position a Webcam Straight" Hoppe, with the Deftones' "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)"

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hello. I've missed you.

I was looking for jobs today
when I saw an ad on the Craigslist
seeking an "Infant Teacher"
and immediately thought
of a baby wearing a mortarboard.

But like the grizzled veteran
with the shoulder holster
in the buddy cop movie,
I'm getting too old for this job.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Frankenstory

A new Frankenstory, from Yellow and me:

I have stood in line for release dates that most people would roll their eyes at. I roll my eyes at people who insist on using the correct form of the/er/ir/y're even though I was once an insister myself. I have three parts to myself: the insister, disclaimer, and ceaser. In the mornings, when I consider the day, I wonder how I might avoid what I don't understand while remaining simultaneously persistent about the precariousness of that which is definitely deniable. I have the words but not patience. And I really want to tell you something. Funny isn't it, how these words could build a raft and float down this stream of consciousness if only I had the time and twine to untangle it all. At night, before I retire, I return to the same stumbling stitches of self and silly and sentimentality, and I think once more of the absoluteness of anonymity and I insist once more that I understand the understated.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment - Monkey Bank

Don't Panic is the phrase written on the back of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in the book series of the same name. At least, that's what I understand from the movie because I've never read the books, and though people seem to agree the movie is good they also agree the books are better. Yesterday was my last class of any kind--at least for now--and Monday I will turn in the keys to my cushy university job. Then I'll be shot out into space with nothing but a towel, a paucity of oxygen and a vague idea of a story that I hope I eventually get around to reading, because I think it might be a good one.


Here is a monkey carved out of a coconut. At least I think it's a monkey. I have to admit I've never really seen a monkey that looked like that. It guards the living room (and the psychedelic tissue paper beside it) from the speaker it sits on, a totem to... something. It has a slot for coins, making it a Monkey Bank, though I've never put any money in it. Also, it's from Hawaii.

My sister Sara gave this to me at Christmas some years ago, though the exact when eludes me. All I remember for sure is that it was wrapped in plastic and I broke the little hat off almost immediately. I've never been to Hawaii, but Sara has. More than once if I'm not mistaken. To be honest she's been fortunate enough to go on many trips to many amazing places in the past several years. So many stories of so many adventures I hope one day to hear.

Every day the Coconut Monkey mocks me in my beat up recliner. "I have seen shores that you thought only existed in postcards," he says. "And instead of getting off your ass to experience them yourself, you stare at me as if I'm supposed to let you in on some sort of grand secret about the whole thing." Why is it when I anthropomorphize my household objects they're always such smart asses?

Two days ago my sister had her last day of high school, and today I'm driving down to watch her graduate. In the fall the promise of new adventures at Evergreen awaits her, finally, and I couldn't be happier for her. With Sara I don't worry much. She's been disarming me with beyond-her-age wisdom since before I left for college ten years ago. She's like those penny-flattening machines at tourist traps. Sometimes she seems to take in the whole world at once, and two seconds later she's personalized it, stamped it with her own impression, and handed it back to you. The coins you get back may not be legal tender anymore, but these exchanges always have the best payoff anyway.

Though I don't worry about what the future holds for her, I know she does, so I find myself wishing I had some grand secret about the whole thing to give her, preferably something that didn't sound like it came directly from a bad commencement speech. I wish I could return the Monkey Bank back to her, full of 10 years' worth of my experiences, mistakes, and (most importantly) victories, so that perhaps she can go a little more confidently into the world than I did.

But I also remember being 18, and I know that advice was only worth so much back then, when I would listen to advice, but somewhere in the back of my head I knew I was destined to make many of the same mistakes anyway. And though I don't think it should be any other way, is "don't pay too much attention to the advice of your elders" my best advice to my sister? Is that the advice I would give as a commencement speaker to a class of eager students?

Sara, as you prepare to graduate today, I want to tell you the thing I like to call "The One Thing I Wish Someone Had Told Me," though most likely someone did and I just wasn't listening. Know that every victory you ever have is as important as you think it should be, and that it's always worth celebrating. Always. Know that the day after the celebration you'll look around and the thing you've put so much energy into for so long is gone, and you're going to realize you miss it (yes, even if that thing is high school). Know that we always miss the things we've gotten used to, even the annoying things.

Know that in transitional moments you'll be beside yourself, thinking that you're not doing enough even though you'll have no idea what you should be doing, and that you're going to feel very nervous about whatever's coming next. Know that it's okay to not really know what's coming next, and that things are always different than how you expected them to be, and that that's okay too.

Know that I'm telling you all of this because I need to tell myself too. Know that I've been sitting in my recliner for the past month, staring at the Monkey Bank and feeling totally useless. Know that in the past 10 years this is at least the fourth time I've felt this way, but only the first time I've ever expected it, and definitely the first time I've ever looked forward to it. Know that my writing this letter is the first piece of writing I've been excited about in a month.

Know that feeling uncertain is always temporary, that these are simply the down moments between the adventures. The past few years have been a great adventure for both of us, and it's time to rest. And though you should be resting, know that you're going to feel restless, but know also that all this restlessness will eventually propel you towards your next great adventure, and that each adventure will be more epic than the last, because life experiences have an amazing way of building off each other.

Know that your own personalized "One Thing I Wish Someone Had Told Me" you can only learn for yourself, and that when you learn it you will likely interpret the experience as failure at first. I did with mine.

Most importantly then, know that it's not. It's simply wisdom for the Monkey Bank, legal tender for all the adventures still to come.

Congratulations Sara, and enjoy the downtime this summer. You've earned it.

Oh yeah, and don't panic.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Amniotic Buzzsaw, Redux.

My other band/recording collective/whatever, Amniotic Buzzsaw, has been busy lately. We have some new tunes, and I'd like to share them with you.

For those of you not indoctrinated in the Buzzsaw way, here's the deal: we meet occasionally, drink beer, invent arbitrary rules and then write/record a song. Jake and I are on every song, and Amanda and Krista are frequent collaborators.

None of these are the final mixes for the songs, but I'll call them a teaser. We're hoping to complete at least 10 tunes, polish the recordings up a bit, and put out an official album before the year is over.

I hope you enjoy them. Please comment and tell me your favorite. Otherwise I'll be sad.

Don't Cramp Us, Krampus!



This was recorded right before Christmas, I just didn't get around to finishing it until last week. The Krampus, by the way, is a Christmas demon that hangs with Santa Claus and beats the naughty children with rusty chains.

The rule of the night: Jake and I would record two separate pieces of song, collaborate on a third, and put them all together. Hence, this song is episodic. It's like an epic trilogy squished into three and a half minutes, with lyrics vaguely describing the character of the Krampus.

I think the dialogue comments on the evening, and I think this song is strange, but I'm always really happy by the end of it.

Kitchenettes


If there was a song in this project that I was pretty sure would fail, it was this one. However, Jake did an amazing job completing it and transforming it into a goth/industrial tune. I didn't see that coming, and I love it.

The rule of the night: Jake has a poster of guitar chords. We wrote them all down, put them in a hat, and randomly drew chords. After recording several different parts, we found the ones that worked together, and deleted the rest.

The lyrics were a combination of watching Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Dunham (I think they're both pretty terrible) while flipping through a pictoral interpretation of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. Pure awesomeness.

Trust Falling (the Ballad of Clusterfuck Jones)


Hot off the presses. We just recorded this on Saturday. There had to be an acoustic ballad eventually.

The rule of the night: no computer effects, no sequenced drums, all recording done with one microphone set up in the room. Also, I wanted to tell a story. We realized that all our songs have certain themes in common, and decided that this whole record is telling the tale of Clusterfuck Jones, the character of our eponymous first (completed) song.

The dude's a down and out guy, and we can only hope things work out better for him in the future.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment - Statement of Purpose


Okay, I have to present on this project in class tomorrow, so I have decided to come up with a nice bullet-pointed list of why I thought this project was important, and what I've learned.

My Intentions
  • blogs have an interesting relationship to photography in that they are both stamped with a specific date and time, and it's difficult to make them go away.
  • Similarly, I wanted to show that every object in my home is stamped with a memory. I can tell a story about myself and how I've been living in the course of a month through just about anything in my home.
  • the chosen format of the blog changes the nature of a person's interaction with the stories. As one example of this, blogs like mine are formatted newest to oldest. A reader coming in now would have to put out effort to get to the beginning. Or click this link.
Pleasant Discoveries
Unpleasant Discoveries
  • the posts come out like a roll of film. Not all of them are keepers. Like a thumb on the lens, something just got in the way.
  • This mistake says it all.

I guess the moral of the story here is that I helped define for myself the difference between blogging and more traditional methods of print. Here, the process of discovery is somewhat transparent. You can see through these posts that I'm trying to figure out what works best. This either makes me the Jackson Pollack of blogging or it makes me seems less professional and more like a hobbyist. I'll go with the latter.

The "why should anyone care" question is an important one, too. Honestly, who gives a rip about minutiae? I have a hunch that the informal nature of the voice, combined with the fact that no one post is especially long, suits the subject matter. Further, if you look at this series as part of a larger blog-document (it has transformed many times in its year-and-a-half lifespan), a more detailed picture of me begins to emerge.

Considered in that way, it's like a new thread. I can return to the "My Apartment" series any time I want, or never again, but at least now I can add storytelling and photography to this blog's arsenal.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment - Casually Lethal, Apparently


Here is a bookshelf. It is full of books, as well as postcards, birthday cards, receipts, a couple dragons, some boxes, candles and vases. Yellow once guessed the contents of my bookshelf, and was correct in his first three guesses, though I can only remember two of them now. To this day I'm not sure if I'm more impressed or embarrassed that she could be so accurate, but I guess something about me declares very plainly that I am the kind of person who would own The Daily Show's America: The Book and have it sitting right next to a Calvin and Hobbes collection. Those books are not far away, but they're not on this bookshelf. Actually, the Calvin collection has doubled as a writing surface for the past school year, so it's on no shelf at all.

Here on the top of the bookcase I keep all the books that I need to read. My favorite mainstay in this group is Infinite Jest, a 1000+ page test of patience that is really fun to read, but also really hard. I've been working on this for over a year, and I know the title is just there to mock me, but dammit I will finish it. I've already put too much time into the damn thing to just walk away. Plus, I think that dragon will probably bite my hand off if I don't ever try to put that book away unfinished.

There is nothing that remarkable about this shelf, that's what makes it so deadly lethal. It's like old episodes of the 60s Batman show, who ever would have thought that a bust of Shakespeare would actually provide the entrance to the famed Batcave? Here, a white cardboard box sits like a wallflower, calling very little attention to itself among its more colorful surroundings.

However that logo, so perfectly hidden by the two candles, looks familiar...

That's right, I have batarangs. Like ninjas, they hide in the open. Unlike ninjas, they come in a handy pouch that attaches to your belt.

In America I imagine it's fairly common for a father to give his son a lethal weapon at some point or another. I imagine in a lot of places this is considered a rite of passage, perhaps to signify the passing into late adolescence or adulthood. Also I imagine these lethal weapons are guns, big-ass rifles or something else equally manly.

But last Christmas I didn't get a gun. I got batarangs. And I was 27, a little past the prime "rite of passage" years. Or perhaps not. Perhaps it was right on time.

Anyway, these 'rangs are effing sharp.


And they're new to the apartment. Home, but homeless. Were they guns perhaps I'd have a nice gun rack to display them, or at least a bad-ass safe, something all blocky and heavy and radiating authority from its corner of the closet.

How do you display batarangs anyway?

A digression: Dad has already corrected me several times for calling them batarangs. "They can't be batarangs," he says, "because if you throw them they don't come back." I feel like I could develop a metaphor about father/son relationships with a statement like that, but I think I'm gonna let it sit, because the question remains: how, oh how, do you display prized batarangs?

I swear if it wasn't an apartment I would like just throw them into the wall somewhere and let them stick out, the evidence of an epic battle long past, but alas. Perhaps I could have them mounted in a frame, maybe get Dad to write some inscription for plaque. Something "presented to the honorable Charles Hoppe for not being the hero this city deserves, but the hero it needs."

Of course no one needs batarangs, but I have to say it's just what I've always wanted.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment

"You're doing it wrong." Though not a new phrase, the saying has taken on new meaning in the meme-crazy world of the internet. The phrase is almost always accompanied by a photo that demonstrates a mishap, a foible, or an accident of some kind.

Here is Mario from 1982, the year I was born, and all I can think about when I look at this image is that the artist got him wrong. This is not Mario. This looks more like Waluigi than Mario. The trappings are there--the overalls, the mustache, the cap--but what's with the eyebrows, the purple undershirt, the pointed chin, the eyebrows that create a general look of aggression?

The temptation then is to say "this is not the Mario I grew up with," but I'd be wrong. This is the standardization of my memory and not the actual experience. I didn't grow up with any one Mario at all. The Mario of Donkey Kong, and the Mario Bros. series changed with each game. In Mario 1 the undershirt was brown. In Mario 2 the colors of the trademark overalls and shirt are inverted. In Mario 3 the overalls are practically black. Of course, this doesn't even include the times Mario moonlighted as a referee and a doctor.

I have a very specific idea of what Mario should be, static like Mickey Mouse. And indeed Mario has become quite standardized, the summary of our collective story making with the character. Growing up Mario must have been more of a wild card, brash in his young age.

These stickers are as old as me, and I've only owned them for three months. They do not reflect my childhood any more than the standardized Mario does, because the Donkey Kong Mario is coaxing quarters from Dad and Uncle Bob at pizza parlors after softball games, and the Mario of the original Super Mario Bros. is the Christmas my parents felt so sorry for my sister and I that they finally broke down and bought us a Nintendo.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment - What's Missing, pt. 2

Still haven't gotten the camera thing taken care of. Went to Fred Meyer to take care of it today, but I ended up being unable to find what I needed. Pretty sure the problem was the card reader though, if these reviews are any indication.

So let's talk about something else that's missing, this time something dear to me that I lost a long time ago, and it was another long time on top of that before I realized it was missing. But I guess before I talk about this mistake I need to talk about the mistake I made when I was 15, because really it's the thing that set the table for it.

I've been playing guitar and wanting to be in a band ever since I was 12. I even still have my first guitar [not pictured] hanging out in my closet, and the case still smells the same the day I (my parents) bought it. The guitar itself is covered in stickers. Billy Joe from Green Day's guitar was also covered in stickers back in 1994.

I started my first band in the 1996/7 school year. We were MaYDaY, pointless capitalizations and all. We played a lot of covers, a lot of Silverchair, Foo Fighters and Local H, but we also had originals. I found out about some contest in a guitar magazine, something involving free studio time or some sort of bogus tour. Not a scam, but not really worth most bands' time, then or now.

We got a good deal on cheap recording from my friend Carrie who babysat for a sound engineer. We got a CD of all five of our songs, and before I could have the engineer make duplicates for me I sent off the original (read: only) CD to the damn contest. So, that's the story of the original digital copy of my earliest recordings and how much of an idiot I was to get rid of it.

Fortunately I'd dubbed a copy onto cassette, which I distributed to bandmates and friends. I took good care of my cassette copy for years, and I played it to death too. It made it with me up to Bellingham during my undergrad days. Every now and then I pulled it out to show friends, but it was getting harder and harder to find anyone who had a working tape player. It's amazing how fast that medium died out once it was obsolete.

I think, but will never be certain, that the tape was lost in the final tape deck I've ever lived with, the tape deck/record player combo that I discussed in an earlier post. I thought it had made it out of that old house in the same plastic tub that held a lot of my other electronics equipment, but alas. I didn't figure out the mistake until at least two years later when I decided to make a new digital copy off the cassette. You know, so I wouldn't lose it. I tore up my apartment that day looking for it in other places, but it was gone, and my heart was broken.

So thank god for memory; today I realized that I still knew how to play all the old MaYDaY tunes. The songs may be gone, but today one of them stopped by to visit my pad for an acoustic rendition.

So, for posterity, I donate MaYDaY's greatest hit to the silent vacuum of the internet, where it can rest in peace.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment - What's Missing

Camera is still down. The problem is either with the memory card or the card reader. Not sure which. I'll have to buy some stuff tomorrow.

So, since the images are missing, this is about missing things, about the things that never find a home in your home, relegated to the closet or shoved underneath the bed. They sit there for years, surviving round after round of decluttering. They are things you'll get around to someday, although when that someday comes all you do is get around to getting rid of them.

I think I was in 5th or 6th grade when I demanded a chin-up bar for Christmas, the kind that get mounted in door frames. I'd seen one at a friend's house sometime that fall, and decided it was a very important thing to have. Sure enough I got, but we were missing some mundane part that prevented us from mounting it, so it sat in my parents' closet for at least a year, maybe two, before we got around trying to put it up.

It took us about two seconds to realize that my door frame was too narrow to support the mounts, and in fact there wasn't a suitable door frame in the entire house that worked. The chin-up bar had no place in this home, and yet it went back to my parents' closet after that, or maybe it ended up in the garage, I seem to remember it both ways.

I'm not sure how long it lingered, but it certainly gained seniority among our many ignominious possessions.

Also I don't know how or when we got rid of it, just that I got used to seeing it not being used, and then one day it was gone.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment - Grrr


I have two posts ready to go up, but my camera is in an argument with my laptop, and I can't seem to make them get along.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment

I got my first sunburn of the year two days ago. Five days from now my band is playing our third show at the Cabin Tavern. Today I saw Iron Man 2. Nineteen years ago I moved to Washington. In 1968 Night of the Living Dead was released. I watched that movie a week ago. I defended my thesis the day before that.


The same night I watched the movie Amanda was out of town. I was staring at the various piles of documents on the living room table, the paper trail of my academic life separated into piles of various ages.

What is it about kitchen tables that resist having dinner eaten on them?


Here is a part of myself I'd forgotten. It's from December of 2003, when I was but a lowly junior at WWU. That quarter I completed my first 300-level English class. Until that moment, a B+ had meant that I hadn't cared enough to try. In English 311, however, that B+ was the best I had. That was the first class to ever truly kick my ass.

Jake, a grad-friend and occasional collaborator is TA-ing for that very same class this year. We were hanging out a few weeks ago, and he mentioned that my professor had been using my final from seven years ago as an example of what the projects could look like. Until this moment, I had completely forgotten its existence, and in fact it took a little bit of description on Jake's part for the project to even ring a bell. I had no record of it on my computer either.

Suffice it to say, my professor had made a photocopy and was happy to return the original to me. I remember that the idea was inspired by Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, which prominently features a spiral staircase. The text is printed onto tracing paper in a boxy spiral. The effect, then, is that as the pages stack up you can see traces of other pages underneath. Trust me when I say the text itself is garbage, but I have to admit that seven years later I'm pretty impressed with my 21-year-old self's idea.

That same professor served on my thesis committee this year. Thinking about it now, I'm not surprised that the same person who handed in "The Spiral Staircase" seven years ago thought it would be a good idea to write a sequence of poems based on a zombie dream I'd had a year ago.


Here's what my first attempt at ordering the project looked like. This was late February, according to the photo. I remember it took several hours and a lot of anger before I was happy with an order. Two months after, I'd say a very substantial amount of the pages you see on the floor here got cut anyway, but it was the first time I actually saw a story starting to take shape.

During my defense I was asked why there was such a preponderance of media in my thesis. At the time I answered something along the lines of this being code between myself and my family, and that I'm fascinated with being from a generation that only knows living in a time of heavy mediation.


The day after my defense I was watching Night of the Living Dead by myself with the lights out, and kicking myself in the ass for somehow failing to watch this while working on a zombie text. Now I have a much better answer to the media question: because in zombie texts the media always represents the protagonist's only contact with the outside world. What a fool I was not to see it earlier.

What is it about revelations existing just outside of time?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment: Happy 20th Birthday Katherine!

So, as you can probably tell from the subject heading of this post, today is in fact my sister Katherine's 20th birthday. I will not dwell on how old that makes me feel. Katherine has, on several occasions, given her drawings to the family as birthday/X-mas presents. And while the visual is her trade the verbal is mine. Katherine, this post is (one of) my present(s) to you.


Katherine drew me this Yoshi for my birthday either last year or the year before. I can't remember because, like a true Hoppe, I didn't get the present right away. Also, the drawing really served two purposes. Besides being a gift, it was also a school project. Funny, so is this post. Forgetful and procrastinatey as we are, at least the Hoppes are pragmatic.

Yoshi greets me every morning when I am getting dressed. As a result, he (she? What gender is Yoshi?) reminds me every morning that I still haven't gotten a frame for the picture. There's that procrastinatey gene again. Somewhere among all the t-shirts hanging in my closet is this shirt that she (my sister, not Yoshi) gave me for Christmas.

Clearly she gets me. And this is not to say that the rest of my family doesn't--we're all pretty much variations on the same chord progression--but with Katherine I see the echoes of my formative years.

In junior high my mom owned a gift shop and my dad worked at the Woodinville Weekly, so no one was home in the afternoons. As a result, I became default babysitter for Katherine. It was actually a pretty sweet deal. I'd get off the bus, walk over to her elementary school and pick her up, and then we'd spend the rest of the afternoon watching movies.

Movies of my choosing, that is. Being in the 12-14 age range, I had the conviction and zeal to go with it that my opinions and tastes were damn near unimpeachable. It was my solemn duty to make sure she was inculcated in pop cinema properly, and I relished the opportunity. Sure, as she got older our tastes split along the lines of Pokemon (I was just too old for that trend), but I can still see the impression that those years had, and I still buy her a ton of movies on holidays.

My favorite memory of these times, though, is how she would let herself in my room while I was practicing guitar and fall asleep on my bottom bunk. I had only been playing guitar for a year or so at that point, and was just starting to understand how songs work. One of the first songs I ever learned how to play, besides "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Smoke on the Water" (thanks, Dad!), was Weezer's "Say it Ain't So".

This was Katherine's favorite song to hear me play, and it was usually the first thing she would demand upon entering my room. "Play 'Stepfather!" she would say (the song's lyrics say "like father, stepfather..." during the song's emotional climax), and I would be happy to oblige.

In honor of this memory, I sat down yesterday to record myself playing "Say it Ain't So" on guitar. But you know what? Katherine's heard me do that before. So, riffing on the video game-themed nature of her Yoshi drawing, I decided to reciprocate by playing this Weezer classic on Rock Band instead.

The twist? I went for vocals and drums at the same time, both on hard. I got five stars. Yes, this is an incredibly dorky thing to do, but if you're from my family it makes sense. Happy Birthday, Katherine. I love you with all my heart, and I can't wait to see how you get me back for this!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment

What I didn't tell you about yesterday was the bigfoot sighting. I had been sitting in my apartment, minding my own business when I heard something stirring in the bushes. I set my laptop down and instinctively grabbed my camera. One never knows what one might find lurking in the bushes.

I nudged open my patio door and heard something to my right. I reeled around and snapped off a shot. There was a loud Grrrrraaauuggh! I fell back, and that's the last thing I remember.

I came to, and fortunately my camera was still intact. I looked around. Footprints trailed off into the bushes. Eager to discover what exactly I had taken a photo of, I quickly imported the photo onto my camera. The results will shock you:



Yup, it was my old pal Chewbacca. Chewie and I go way back. I first met him when I was living in Seattle, must have been about 2006. I was walking from my shoebox apartment in Belltown up to Capitol Hill to see a chap who I'd been recording at the time play a show. On the sidewalk was a plastic grocery bag full of Star Wars and Star Trek toys (that's right, they intermingle).

I resisted the urge to just grab the whole bag, which, if you know me, was not easy to do. But there was a certain Wookie whose work I was familiar with that I wanted to track down. Sure enough, he was there, and we became fast friends. He always has a position of prominence in my living room.

Speaking of intermingling, it wasn't uncommon for my Star Trek toys to hook up with my big sister's Barbies. One time I threw my Lt. Commander Worf toy down the hallway, breaking him to several pieces. We put the parts on the bed in Barbie's Beach House and said he had "Worfitis". If there were coroner's reports for my toys, Worfitis was certainly the most common cause of death.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment

Today was a mercifully unbusy day. After a couple hours in the office, I realized I could do the rest of my work from home. I'm not used to being home on the afternoons, especially on weekdays. It's pleasant.

I've waited all year to find out what shapes the sunlight makes on the floor of our living room. My last apartment had two windows, both facing north/south. It was dark all the time, and I didn't realize until I moved here how claustrophobic I'd been for the previous year at my old place. Oh well, at least it yielded this.

My old place smelled really bad, and the fire alarm went off every time I used the oven. Actually the fire alarm goes off all the time here too, but at least it smells good. I didn't even know what it was like to have an air freshener budget before I lived there.

The light lines are gone now, and to suggest that they'll be back tomorrow is to suggest that light is recycled. That's just strange. On Sunday night I was watching the Discovery Channel, something about black holes and the universe. I didn't know that at the center of our galaxy is a supermassive black hole. I also didn't know that the "singularity" at the very center of a black hole is actually just a euphemism for "fuck if I know," but there you go. Apparently our universe may just be the other side of a black hole.

Muse had a song called "Supermassive Black Hole" on their album Black Holes and Revelations. The album after that, The Resistance, I didn't really like that much, so now it just sits on the strange shelving unit that houses our cds, dvds, records, and books. You can see it right there by the record player, which is currently playing Sunny Day Real Estate's debut album Diary. This album had a huge influence on me growing up. Apparently it had a huge influence on a lot of people.

The album art alone is worth your time. It's got several paintings of those old Fisher Price toys, but in real awful situations. I bought this at Avalon on Sunday before going home to watch the Discovery Channel. Outside of their doors they had a free records bin, where I picked up an old swing record, a "Movie Themes of the 30's, 40's and 50's" record, and a classical record. As much fun as I have buying music by my favorite bands on a medium that by all rights shouldn't still exist (though I'm so glad it does), picking up these strange castaways is always one of the most exciting things.

Of course, my record collection began by rescuing castaways. About half of my current collection first showed up sometime in 2002. A friend of a roommate was going overseas, and he gave them to the roommate as sort of a permanent loan. The record player we had at the time was ancient and nothing sounded particularly good, but we felt pretty cool to have a record player.

You can kind of see it in this picture, taken after an epic cleaning session in 2003. The records are mostly obscured by the green plastic picnic table, which my roommates had fished out of one of the local lakes sometime in the year prior. We left it out on our front lawn for a while, but then decided it was a perfect bench for drinking games and moved it inside.

That was a great place to live. My roommates were messy, left dishes everywhere, and they took naps in the living room in the middle of the day, but at least that place didn't smell bad.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Welcome to My Apartment

Alright, so National Poetry Month is done, and with it the poem-a-day project. That was exhausting, but also a nice way to take my mind off of my thesis. I like projects like this. Don't know if any of the poems are keepers, but they definitely gave me some ideas for the future.

There is a new project his month. I am in my last class as a grad student at Western. It combines nonfiction/autiobiography with photography. I thought it would be fun, especially since I already have the machinery of a blog up and running, to do my final project here. I think blogs are similar to photographs in that they are both tied to a specific moment in time, but kind of drift along into the future, bouncing off whoever might stumble into them.

For autobiography? I'm going to take you on a tour of my apartment. We spend a lot of our time at home, but I think we forget that we're surrounded by totems to our personal histories. How you decorate changes every time you move. Some things get donated, or given away. Some things just don't fit the vibe of a new place. And some things, the most Darwinian of all your belongings, find a place in every subsequent place you live.

The first thing you need to know about my apartment is that there's a cow on the couch. His name is Big Mac. He's always there. I don't pay any attention to him. He's not mine. He's Amanda's. She's had him for a long time.

A couple of weeks ago I got really bad food poisoning from eating at McDonald's. Big Mac was by my side the entire time, always eager to put me in a better, ahem, moo'd. I am going to hell for that pun.

I really should know better when it comes to eating at McDonald's. I worked there for three years, ate more Big Mac's than I would like to think of. The last time I was in my current professor's class, I also wrote about McDonald's. My Grandma gives me $5 in gift cards to McDonald's every year for my birthday.

I like gifts that you can count on. Last week I was checking my mail at school and I found two sheets of Pac-Man stickers, circa 1982, the year I was born. I can't say I was expecting these specific items, but it was only a matter of time before Yellow struck again with something awesome. Not long ago, it was haikus written on Post-Its. Before that it was Nintendo trading cards, about as old as the Pac-stickers.

What's great about the stickers, besides reminding me of the Atari that was my only gaming system until 1989, is that Pac-Man kind of bookends my grad school experience. In one of my first classes, I wrote a poem that compares a pie chart to a Pac-mouth. Not the most original thing, of course, but I remember Yellow commenting that my choice to use that particular metaphor was how she knew we would get along. The poem just got published a few weeks ago, my first publication outside of my own school. I got the stickers a few weeks later, and in a few weeks I graduate.

I thought at first that I might preserve the sheets. They were nearly thirty, and yet they were still in such good condition. I decided to add them to my own history, though, and stuck them to the front of my record player. It looks like Pac-Man is about to eat the start button.

As long as that record player works, Pac-Man will always be about to eat that start button, and then one day he will. And then he will turn around and make those ghosts pay.