Showing posts with label Stalling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stalling. Show all posts



...and with that, year two draws to a close. 

What does this mean? 

Look at those two sentences. They're barely strung together. Every time the year rolls around, I look at where I am and evaluate. Not in the 'Oh God make a resolution and stick with it' sort way. More in the 'Where did I start and how did I get here and where am I going' kind of way. 


It's been another year. I've switched formats. Less daily writing, more reflective and personal. Less focused, more free wheeling. The reasoning behind it was fairly logical, if not practical. I couldn't keep up the established pace and I wanted to branch out into more personal subject matter. I examined my life a bit. I exorcised some anxieties. I confessed some things. I gushed about others. I bought a house with the love of my life. I learned about mowing the lawn and becoming a suburbanite

So where do we go from here? 

Another shift. I'm not certain how to execute this one as gracefully, though. Please allow me to explain. Establishing the blog was a means to work on my writing while spinning my wheels on a book I was writing while simultaneously sharing awesome things with the world. The tone and style shift came as a result of life's increasing demands and an exhaustible amount of enthusiasm. I was running low, frankly. 

Now, another year later, I'm taking a sabbatical. The scant free time I have to write these days is spent on the blog, where I would prefer to get back to the book. Pretentious  I know. But bear with me. Writing this blog has been a great pleasure but at the same time it becomes an obligation if I don't have something sufficiently noteworthy in mind. I don't want to waste your time and I want to make the most of mine. I want to get back to a larger project from which I've strayed, leaving it unfinished. It gnaws at me.

So here's what I'm doing. I'm taking some time away from the blog. I'm not going to post for a while and get back to the story I have yet to finish. When I feel the need, I'll come running back here. I promise. I love the feeling of doing this and I am always amazed anyone ever bothers to read it. I'm sure I won't be able to stay away. Just know that if you don't see a new post for a while, everything is still cool. I'll let you know what prevails, but I'm sure we'll have much to talk about. 

To explain the combination of pride and chagrin at taking a sabbatical (prigrin? charide?), here's a picture of me standing triumphant after a game of Charades last Christmas, ribbons and bows in my hair:
Know that I am grateful. Know that I appreciate you reading. I'll be back soon. If for no other reason than to remove that picture.



Night Moves

So this'll be an experiment.

I don't know how this is going to work, but I'm going to try dictating a post to see how handy Siri actually is. I'm on the drive home from the office and Halloween is approaching so I thought I would impart something freaky that happened about eight years ago. 

Nothing paranormal has ever happened to me but there was one particular time where my veins ran cold. I was living with my sophomore year roommate in college. While we shared an apartment and before we moved in we knew each other well, you only really get to know somebody until you start to live with them. He was a very nice guy and my closest friend but I had no idea until we signed the lease that he suffered from night terrors. He kind of played it off and made seem like it wouldn't be a problem and that it was fairly rare. I had no background in sleep disorders so it all seemed fairly innocuous. I figured it couldn't be any worse than what I dealt with in the dorms. However he told me that sometimes he would wake up and not know where he was, and that if it happened I should keep my distance and CAREFULLY try to wake him up. No approaching, no touching and a wide berth.

We shared a room.

It was a one bedroom apartment with a sheet running down the middle of the room, Odd Couple style. It wasn't optimal for a couple of college dudes, but we made it work in our own weird way. It made us like brothers, in a sense. Goofing off on those carefree nights he introduced me to Bill Hicks and we streamed Nova specials and tripped out over String Theory. It was pretty rad.

One, night, though, it was not rad.

It was early in the fall semester and we had only shared the apartment for a few months. I had been out carousing and celebrating the arrival of the new scholastic year, which happened to take the form of a drinking contest. A sober and reliable friend dropped me back off at the apartment. My roommate had a part time job which required he be up early on Sunday. Knowing this, I attempted to make a stealth entrance to our shared abode and began to contentedly munch on some leftovers. I was out of the dorms and living the college dream!

This dream shattered when I was mid-forkful of lo mein noodles. Dead calm in the apartment, I was jolted out of my stupor by the roomie screaming "Hello? Hello?" There was a rustling of bedsheets and feet shuffling in the bedroom. Hearing his panicked voice made my blood turn to ice. It was silence, then screaming.

Thankfully, I could still remember his instructions. I called his name, carefully woke him up. I talked him down, explained where he was, why he was lost in his own home. He got his sense and then his bearings. We shared a shaky laugh. It was a kind of bonding moment. It freaked my business right out, but I was able to sleep. Hey, beer. 

Not much of a pre-Halloween story, but it's something. Right? Right. I'll keep digging. There has to be something spooky in here somewhere.



Hi kids, ya miss me?

It's been an interesting couple of weeks, getting settled in our new house. There's no finish line anymore, essentially. It's the kind of thing where you just keep improving and fine tuning. All of our furniture is in, a strong majority of the boxes are unpacked and it feels like a home. Not necessarily OUR home yet, but at least A home instead of an empty building where we've been crashing. We just need to give it time while we make it ours. Wallpaper needs to come down, things need to be rearranged, designations need to be assigned. We need to get our scent in there, you know?

In the meantime we're trying to resume life as we knew it. We've slowly been regaining the ability to prepare a decent meal instead of just sandwiches and salads. Cooking is what makes it feel like home, it would seem. Also, we still have no Internet. That makes getting posts done a lot harder. As a mea culpa, I thought I'd share a few anecdotes I recall about the house in which I grew up.

The Big Butt Alarm.

You see, our house was already over 100 years old when I was a kid (for vanity's sake say mid 80's to mid 90's). While it was a great old house with loads had definite flaws, one of which was a stove/oven deal from the 70's that had a broken face plate on it. It still worked just fine, but the knobs and dials on the front for setting the oven required a bit of familiarity/intuition. Not really a guessing game, but you would be much better off leaving the cooking to someone well versed in its idiosyncrasies.

As a result of the broken plastic on the front, a timer would occasionally go off when jostled. It sounded like an incorrect answer tone from The Family Feud. Lean a little too close to the stove and touch this innocuous little knob and "BZZZZZT!" you get the sound of angry bees. Having a family of five in a small, outdated kitchen, our table barely fit in the space we used. Anyone who tried to sit on the stove side of the table ran a significant risk of knocking their butt against the knob as they sidled into their chair and setting off what we all began to refer to as the Big Butt Alarm in that short-hand way all families make jokes. Being a bunch of miscreants, we would all announce it when it went off.

My mom also tended to sit opposite of stove side when she would have coffee with her friends, most of whom were not aware of our dumb jokes. So when a friend of hers slid into place one morning with a cup of coffee and brushed against the faulty knob too hard, my mom gave the Pavlovian response when it buzzed and called out "Big Butt Alarm!" to her own dismay.

She told me her friend looked mortified and cocked her head askew, asking just what she was talking about. Cue my mom's profuse apologies and her swearing up and down that it was something the family joked about, and not a personal dig.

We don't have a Big Butt Alarm at our new house, but I'm sure we'll find something.


Crown Jewel

Hi, gang.

It's been stressful times, as of late. I'm not speaking solely of the moving process; in fact given the potential for stress and heartache in a huge move like that, I think it went amazingly smooth. No, I mean more in the last 8 months or so. Basically, since the time I stopped having a place of my own. It wasn't solely the living situation, though, and I mean in no way to impugn my wonderful housemates. I mean more the external, coincidental factors coupled with being a married couple cast adrift while we weathered the seas of uncertainty.

Times got to be overwhelming.

The little things, the simple pleasures got to be reassurances. I liked being able to cook a meal. I'm no foodie, but I am a growing sous-chef to my better half, who has become a talented chef on her own. Most of our free time was spent preparing meals and dissecting what made things good. She reads cookbooks like literature. I try to keep up, but mostly my skills have favored pouring wine and doing dishes. One little bonus we had lost was the ability to watch copious DVR'd shows from the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. Honestly I think it was about the only TV my better half would watch, save the occasional Simpsons or Daily Show. So being without a kitchen staple, missing the lovely white noise of those specific shows, took a toll.

There was a life raft, though.

While we had no cable to speak of, we had access to the local PBS-esque affiliates. Turns out, on a regular basis they show cooking and food related programming. The best of the best? Our cream of the crop? Old episodes of Julia & Jacques Cooking At Home. It's a bit dated, being filmed and broadcast in 1999, but it is all kinds of awesome. So while we go about our business, getting settled in our new home, we make sure we tune in whenever possible.
In short, it's a classic cooking program and Julia Child is every bit as legendary as you'd expect. She was 86 when they filmed these! That she would have the gumption to still shoot these instructional shows, with the energetic yet patient Jacques Pepin, is nothing short of incredible. One cannot help but admire her spirit and passion, even past the point most others would have simply retired and coasted. No, Julia Child is amazing. She's totally the embodiment of all the parodies and jokes and SNL skits. She's so sincere and genuine that you can't help but find her endearing. Whether or not my palate can handle the amount of cream and white wine in her recipes, the shows are still a sight to behold. There's nothing quite as astounding as seeing a woman as old as your grandmother grab a gargantuan meat cleaver and hack a gigantic fish in two, without skipping a beat. Nothing broke her composure. She was super fun. Plus, I'm learning just from watching.
The stress will alleviate over time, certainly as we get more boxes unpacked and more things put away. In the meantime, we can cook with the limited means we have available and tune in to these hidden gems from a generation ago. If this is suburban living, I'll take it. Even if it means doing more dishes until our furniture is delivered.


Fog Light

Hey gang!

I know, it's been a while, but sometimes that's just how it goes. I feel bad about that, but hey - what can you do?

I've got some things planned, a couple larger pieces in the pipes, but they're not finished and another's just starting. I also started a tumblr, because I like to both post inane Pop Art and overextend myself. In the meantime, I'll try to drop some things here that I've really been digging. There's never a shortage of new stuff for me to paw through, it's just a matter of what stands out from the pile. 

For example! The Wombats - you guys heard of them?
They're great. I totally was not on board for this Liverpool trio. Missed the boat, if you will. However, hearing their single 'Jump Into the Fog' was enough to shake me from my moorings. It's a brilliant piece of weird pop music that shifts and slinks into your head with fantastic synthesizers. 
Released off of their album This Modern Glitch earlier this year, this single sounds both old and new. It seems to possess that unassailable British swagger that bleeds cool, yet plays it so nonchalant despite this. The single possesses these odd tones that almost feel eerie and morbid. They play so well with the bright, poppy bass running beneath the verses, though. The hook is something that calls back to the 90s alt rock scene in the most British way, like I said.
It's just such an odd song, but I can't help but love 'Jump Into the Fog'. This is just one of the things I've been tripping myself over, as of late. I'm aiming to be updating a little more often going forward, so keep an eye peeled, kids.


Still Alive

Hey kids!

I remember when I would do this every single day. Man, those were good times.

So it's been a few weeks since I posted anything here, and I've noticed a couple things. One - people still visit. That is amazing. Thank you. Things will pick back up, I promise. 

Two - I've been hearing from people, not just online, but actual people, that they read this site and enjoy it. That is even more amazing. To hear from flesh and blood folk, not just text on a page, is so validating.

Three - I've enjoyed my life a little more without the constant deadline hanging over my head. While it's a sheepish admission, that is also amazing. 

So how do these things tie together? Easy. I'm going to get back into the groove. It's going to be a little less frequent, just so I can refill the mental well from which I spew. It's also going to shift in focus. There's only so much fantastic material with which I'm familiar that I can write about. I would either start writing about things I knew too little or cared to little to justify the words. That would have felt false. 

So nuts to that! Let's get back to it! I'm gonna start getting weird with it, take this place to strange new places. Maybe write about some personal, embarrassing things. I'm cool with it. It's easier for me to write about embarrassing things than it is to tell people face to face. That doesn't mean I won't make emphatic recommendations, anymore, though. I've still got things I want to tell the world about. 

I've made my way through a couple books, saw a handful of movies, worked through a shamefully out of date backlog of videogames. I've been sleeping better and even running in the winter. I've been cookning crazy meals with my better half, including a mega-meal with the very friends who inspired me to do this in the first place. It was a blast to do so, especially to compare and contrast where I was a year ago versus our shared impressions of how it turned out. 


Stay tuned.

Stuff's coming.



This has nothing to do with resolutions.

A year ago, today, this all started.

My better half and I were entertaining another couple, having spent the day skating and then drinking. Now, due to poor ice conditions, we would have to just drink. Anyway, as the evening wound down someone asked about a book I had been in the process of writing. I began to talk about how I had been growing frustrated by the times in which I wanted to write but found myself unable to advance the plot sufficiently. I had the desire and wherewithal to write, just not the architecture in my head. I had no platform, I whined. I needed to kick myself in the butt. 

This patient soul shrugged and looked at me, simply stating "So start a blog."

"About what?" I asked. "What could I have to contribute to the world at large, that hasn't already been said?" 

"I dunno, write about what you like," he offered.

So I did. 

It was tentative, at first, a series of cautious recommendations of things I wanted to expound upon during happy hours and over dinner. The benefit of the writing, in this case, was that I would no longer divert dinner conversations. I could ramble on and extol the virtues of any thing I pleased. So I kept writing and slowly an audience grew. It was really fun and it provided a way to exercise my mental muscle when I couldn't push my plot forward and make the story evolve. I had an outlet. It became an everyday thing after I realized I hadn't missed a daily update after the first two months. So many blogs and sites start with high hopes, only to peter out after interest wanes. I wanted to defy the stereotype of the start-and-stop newb. 

So I kept at it, posting consistently and without fail. Some posts were better than others, but traffic kept increasing. There was a short reprieve when I got married and went on the honeymoon, but every day I had a fresh post on fantastic things that I felt didn't get the recognition they deserved. After a year of that kind of regular writing, I'm calling an audible.

It's not the end, I promise. 

All I'm saying is that I need to step back for a moment. To reflect. To reevaluate. I know it may not seem like a lot from the other side, but posting fresh content every day does take time and energy, and I want to make sure what I'm offering you is only the best. There have been times where I'm just shambling to the finish line. I don't want that. I want to be able to have time to edit and refine - doing this all while starting a new job, getting married and moving has been hard, but fun. I just need to take a moment to assess where I am and what's happening. 

So here's what's going to happen. I'm not going to post for a bit. Maybe just a week. Maybe longer. Maybe I find myself chomping at the bit to get back to it. I'm going to take time to figure out how to proceed from here and how to refocus my efforts. Maybe it's more personal in the future, and less review-centric. I'm hoping my fiction endeavors resurface. Hopefully I can start to share with you what I've been working on. 

Maybe you're bummed about this. Don't be. I'll be back, soon enough. Probably to edit this post. BUT! Know that things will change for the better. I promise. Thanks for reading. If you want updates, follow me on Twitter @jdtoycen. I'll let you know what's up. Thanks for your patience. See you on the other side.


Year End

...and with that, we draw to a close.

It's been one insane year. I don't know about you, but I am about to start getting duded up for a costume party. Lots to do and miles to go, etc. I've really enjoyed writing for this site every day (or as often as possible, as the occasion would permit). Sometimes it has been a snap, when coming up with ideas. Other times I've had to push myself to get an idea out there. One little trick has been to keep a running list of things I want to cover and write about, in case the well ran dry or inspiration never struck. As a result, there have been some things I've wanted to do longer posts on but have never been able to fit in to the schedule. So rather than force a bunch of half-hearted ideas and arbitrary posts, I thought I'd just run through them all in one shot, to show what could have been. 

In no particular order, here are the ideas and things I wanted to write about and will be culling from the year's to-do file:

The Goonies - I wrote about the soundtrack, but never mustered the wherewithal to really dig into why I love this childhood staple so much. Still a favorite of mine, all these years later.

Despicable Me - Super fun and overlooked. An adorable, surprisingly funny movie with Steve Carrell and Jason Segel providing voice work. Mad scientists doing wacky stuff.

Ectopiary - A crazy, long running web comic that only gets better and better. Free and not for the faint of heart.

The Elephant Vanishes - A great collection of short stories by one of my favorite authors. Simply too overwhelming to attempt to unpack the myriad of ideas put forth.

Bioshock - This amazing game got me into the modern era of videogames after holding out for about five years. Astounding and groundbreaking in every way. A must play, if you missed it (like I did).

Earthbound - My favorite old school SNES game. The internet already had enough articles about this quirky and idiosyncratic masterpiece.

Lunds Sandwich - No joke. Didn't want to be another food blogger, but this thing had turkey, cranberry mayo, swiss and bacon on cinnamon bread. I was in heaven every time I had it. 

That about does it for 2011. It's been phenomenal for me. Thank you so much for reading. I'll see you on the other side. Happy New Year!


Diorama-Rama Redux

Hey gang.

So I'm back in my home state, after the holiday travels. I know the content has been a bit wonky, as of late, but I appreciate your patience as I sort things out and revise some of the unfinished/bare-bones posts. In the meantime, let me share with you something that might just be an annual tradition. Back in January I shared a bunch of pictures I took  of toys invading the ceramic village in my parent's basement. This year I did two smaller things. One was a surprise party for a California Raisin:

The second set is of a mugging gone horrible awry. Long and short of it is that I found my old toys in my nephew's toy box and had to do something. This is the result:


Night Wares

Merry Xmas, gang.

Thanks for reading this. It really means the world to me that you would spend any time here. It's been almost a year since I started this project. Hopefully you've found some cool stuff as a result. I know the holidays aren't as fun for everyone else as they are for me, so that's why I broke down my Xmas Xceptions here, to give you a little relief and a dose of levity for the season. So how about one last Xmas Xeception?

Let's pretend, for a minute, that the Goth/Mall crowd didn't co-opt this one.

It's Xmas Eve, and you might be tired of all the Yuletide cheer. I've got just the thing for you. It's something dark, twisted and unlike anything else. Just try to forget about all the obnoxious Tweens sporting cheap jewelry and black nail polish. I'm saying turn off the lights and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I know, it's all old hand by now. But if you try to look at it through fresh, sincere eyes, it's a pretty remarkable and dynamic piece of work. Tim Burton's impeccable blend of Halloween and Christmas hits the intangible sweet spot between childlike wonder and sinister malice. The music is all kinds of amazing and Jack Skellington is an iconic, uniquely strange character that is unlike anything else you'll see around Xmas.

Happy Holidays, kids. Enjoy this weird, special time of year any way you please. All I ask is that you make it as awesome as it can be. It's your own day. Do what you want with it. I'll see you tomorrow!


Glandular Problem

I keep trying to run but the tiles are tricky.

Hard At Work

Heeeeeeeeyyyyyyyy kids!

I am a little low on fuel right now, despite the feast that occurred earlier today. I made a fairly sizable road trip out to my family in Wisconsin and back, followed by an additional round of gear to the new homestead. As such, I have had little to no time to write to an emphatic recommendation of pop miscellany.

So here's what I'm proposing - I'm going to post some short fiction, at which I've been poking away. They are a pair of unrelated, but similar in tone, pieces that stem from nightmares I've had. Maybe you're reading this on a slow Friday morning. Word on the street is if you have to be in the office on Friday you don't have to actually work, you just have to do compliance training. So you're all caught up? Good. Read these fictions and tell me what you think on the ol' twitter 

No Exterminator

Glandular Problems

I'll get back to my usual routines as of the weekend, despite the big day for moving. Zero hour, man. It's gonna be a trip. I'll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck and read up!


Gone Fusion

Well hello, there!

I've got good news and bad news. No mincing around, I'm gonna just lay it out there.

The bad news - starting today, there's going to be about a two week hiatus on this site. I've considered bringing in a guest writer to fill in while I'm away, but so far nothing has fit quite right. I truly appreciate everyone who comes here and reads what goes on, but just know it's a temporary absence.

The reason?

That's the good news.

I'm getting married today!

I know what you're thinking - how can you be writing when thats happening? Thing is, I have a few minutes before I suit up and am typing this on my phone.  She's the love of my life and truly my better half. I couldn't be happier to marry her. But we are going on a honeymoon and I won't be able to post until I come home.

So please check in while I'm out and read old stuff you might have missed. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to sneak something on here. But when i come back I'll get back to business as usual.

See you soon, as a married man!


The Other White Album

Evening, cats.

I'm not gonna go crazy with content tonight, as tomorrow will be the first part of a larger concept posting that I want to do with the proper care and not as an off-the-cuff, exhausted-as-I-type-this sort of thing. Cause I am. What I am feeling like doing is taking a look back at one of Atmosphere's best records, in my opinion. I know I could take flack for it, but I love Seven's Travels.
Released in 2003, I didn't really get into the album until the end of my spell in college. My better half picked it up and let me rip it before she left town for summer classes out of state and I ended up putting it on the hard drive of my well worn Xbox. So while I would spend lazy summer nights playing Tony Hawk games and sipping beer, waiting for friends to get off construction work, I heard this album on a pretty frequent loop. Something about it hooked me and I can't quite put my finger on it. I know a lot of rap heads dismiss it as the back packer album or the subtle subterfuge of emo into indie rap, but I really don't care. It would seem that the people who spend so much time debating the purity of one genre of music or artist's work might take less enjoyment in it as an experience. Basically instead of complaining about sell outs of change in styles, maybe we should try to be less uptight and appreciate the artistic endeavor for what it is - an artist making art, be it visual, aural, sensory or taste related.

But I digress.

Similar to how Doomtree showed me that music can be a completely self driven, DIY affair, this album showed me that not all rap is of the kind news-anchors make dire warnings about. No violence, no gun play, no excess. Sure, Slug writes about women, but that's the thing - it's about women, not derogatory terms we use to subjugate them. He approaches his songs with humor and intelligent insight, tackling any topic he feels necessary. 'Trying To Find A Balance' is a fantastic track about just that - finding a medium in our contradictory culture. I adore the snapping chords that Ant used to create 'Reflections'. 'Gotta Lotta Walls' has this dizzying, disorienting sense of whipping your head around to grab perspective. One of my favorite tracks, 'The Keys of Life Vs. 15 Minutes of Fame', has a this crazy, peppy little sample that scrapes along, making you nod your head in time. 'Apple' feels like a modern version of a Motown track filtered through Slug's peculiar vision. The 8-Bit roar of 'Cats Van Bags' introduced me to the wonderful and massive Brother Ali. 'Shoes' is a simple yet classic hip hop track built around a drum loop and little else, showing Slug's verbal dexterity and sense of humor. And of course, how can I write about this album without mentioning 'Say Shh', about my home state of Minnesota.
I know it's got a reputation for being one of Atmosphere's less respected albums due to its appeal to mall kids, but I really don't care - I love the sound structure and feel to it all at the same time. It reminds me of that last, glorious gasp of a college summer and the fun times I had. If the sun shines this summer, put on Seven's Travels.




I'm burnt like a match head. 

As in completely devoid of combustive. Spent. Used up. This is not a matter of only getting to this now, but a matter of not having the mental and physical wherewithal to type something of legitimacy and significance that would warrant your attention. 

So I'm going to be honest. 

I'm taking a dive tonight, gang. I'm tucking in and hoping a decent night's rest will bring some restoration of character and will power. I sincerely apologize for the lack of mental sustenance tonight, but I promise you I have something on the horizon. Something unique and novel that I have never attempted on this site before. Something I think you'll be surprised to see, and it's pretty hefty. 

So I'm asking you to be patient. 

I appreciate that you're even reading my groveling. Trust me, it will be worth it in the end, I just need to charge the batteries desperately. In lieu of the written word, here's something to bide the time - some artwork based on my favorite television series ever, LOST. I can take no credit for any of the work, but it still blows me away. Enjoy, and hopefully I'll see you tomorrow.

Still here? Cool.

Quick sidenote about the Mellon Collie breakdown - a comment from an insightful reader completely broke it down for me in succint fashion. Rather than force you to find it in the back logs, I'll just quote the comment in it's entirety  here:

 "Corgan was writing from a prospective as a teenager here, not as a "rock star". He set out to write a concept album ("The Wall" of his generation he perhaps foolishly boasted early in the writing process), and didn't exactly end up with one, but the voice of the album is still a teenager, perhaps Billy himself (10 years ago at the time), perhaps not. That's why you get such bizarre swings of emotion...from "God is empty" to "deep in thought I forgive everyone".

See? Dude totally broke it down for me in a digestible, instantly understandable way. I was close, but pretty much off target. Funny to see why it made so much more sense as a teenager than when I'm closer to 30. 


It's Free & Legal Entertainment

Do I really need to tell you this?

Dude, it's Saturday night and I have to tell you what's up?

Alright,'s the deal - I'm getting married and have little time. My DVR is handy but fills up too damn fast. Really, it's mostly full of shows preferred by my better half. While I have little free time to kick back, especially in the coming weeks, it is important that my time be consolidated and used wisely.
Basically this post is just a short little reminder to use Hulu while you can. I recall the confusion over their bizarre ad campaign featuring Alec Baldwin and jokes about aliens and the atrophy of brain cells. Here I am, years later, with a long-standing account with play-lists and subscribed shows despite having cable and Netflix. It's fantastic, in a word. I can't always catch stuff as it happens and often times forget to record shows in order. Hulu has my back. Not only that, its modern and up to date - basically the only way I found time to watch Fringe and SNL this year was through their presence on Hulu. Now that they have my two faves back (The Daily Show and The Colbert Report) I make even better use of the site. 
Honestly, it sounds like whoring and maybe it is, just a bit. But to be blunt, Hulu is awesome if you take advantage of it. It's free and incredibly convenient. Do yourself a favor and peruse the sheer volume of shows they have on tap before the pay wall becomes larger and more enforced. I'll see you, along with a more fleshed out post, tomorrow. Happy Saturday Night Viewings, kids.


I'm Waiting Patiently



It's bad, gang. Furreals. Like, bad enough that my better half called me on the way home this afternoon to say the readout in her dashboard said 109 degrees. That's not okay for anywhere, ever, at least on Earth. Maybe if it gets down to 109 degrees (Fahrenheit) on Venus, then we'll talk. The heat is making me dumb. Groggy. Sluggish. Groggish. My favorite restaurant, a mere five blocks away, has closed due to power outage. It's the first week of June and there's some kind of minor brownout due to this insane heat. I'm tempted to go raid the coolers at Fuji Ya, just so their amazing selections don't go unappreciated in this mini heat wave.

I love it.

It brings me back to this time last year, when I was still mining the vaults of Portishead's canon. It was summer and my soon-to-be sister-in-law kindly bestowed upon me a gift card for iTunes, which still is one of the best gifts of which I can think. Seriously, it's like free reign to find esoteric stuff you would normally never experiment on! Anyway, free music in hand, I started poking around on the store, then remembered that there was something by the phenomenal trip hop band I had yet to hear - their stand-alone single 'Chase The Tear', released after their most recent and genre busting album, Third.
In short, I love it. It's a fantastic song from the band that not only shows they're still vibrant and full of life, this far into their career. Plenty of bands with this level of clout and free-pass would take the opportunity and squander it - Smashing Pumpkins, I'm looking in your direction: shape up or hang it up. Instead, Portishead, fresh off the heels of their rejuvenating and more-aggressive-than-ever Third, decided to go into the studio and record this single. Not only is it a great song, it's at a pace rarely touched by the band - trip hop and fast tempos are typically mutually exclusive things. Not here. Somehow the band flexed their creative muscles to conjure up a driving, hurtling piece that throbs and snaps, jerking you along with it. 
My only gripe is that we've yet to hear what else is coming down the pike. Word on the street is that while there are high profile gigs lined up for the rest of the year, there's no word on a new album or any new material. This single dates back to 2009 - I don't want to wait any longer, but for this amazing band, I will. Until then, I have the memory of last summer's (and now this summer's) steamy walks to work in the morning, getting a little out of my head on this crazy music and the summer sun beating down in the morning. I'll keep my fingers crossed. If I don't melt, I'll see you tomorrow.



Week ends.

It's an heartbreakingly gorgeous day here in MPLS for once. It seems like the entire spring has been a cold, rainy affair but as soon as June rolled over we've had warmer weather. It's almost as if May was the month for the weather to get the water out of its system before it got hot. Anyway, it's too nice to sit inside writing about music, so I'll just tell you about something I love and get on my way. 
If you're like me, you probably love folkster extraordinaire Sufjan Stevens. Fantastic music that bobs and weaves, floating in and out of your ears. In particular, the album Come On, Feel The Illinoise. Great, unusual music that is not quite unlike Andrew Bird. As wonderful as it is, I do, in fact, prefer a secret remix of the album. Done by Donald Glover under his DJ alter ego mcdj, the album Ill-inoise! serves as a complete reworking of the Sufjan Stevens masterpiece. The resulting remixes are absolutely gorgeous. It's as if Glover took these beautiful but grounded balloons and just undid the tethers that grounded them. All of the tracks have a lightness to them, partly from the raised pitch of the original samples, but also stemming from the fact that there are some deftly crafted drum loops and atmospheric touches. Glover's sense of space and style show an intrinsic love of his craft and a deep understanding of the source material.
I find it quite fascinating that our culture has taken such flight with the idea of reworking pre-existing works of art - I struggle to think of other generations where there has been such a movement that is so meta-contextual and almost self referential. I've written about the circular nature of our mashup culture; I've also heard grumblings from older generations about the shallow nature to the culture as a result. Some would say it certainly seems a mixed blessing at best. I don't think that's the case - after all, listen to how gorgeous this album turned out when mixed by a second artist. What are the odds that he would have created a similar work in his own right if the source material hadn't existed? That's your homework assignment - download this album and make notes. Test is Monday. 

I'll leave it at that and let the remixes speak for themselves. Go find mcdj and his music here - it's serene music for a barbecue or pool party scene like today. I'll see you tomorrow.


Changing Times


The kids these days, what with their rocknroll music and their societal progressions!

I was out to dinner tonight with my better half and my younger brother, talking about movies in honor of Movie Week, and while we established several good ideas for later posts, we struggled to find something appropriate for tonight. Then my younger brother made a joke about black and white TVs and it hit us all at once.


You guys remember Pleasantville? You totally should, it actually holds up as a pretty cool movie, especially considering the star power it now possesses, retroactively. Released in 1998, the movie starred Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as a couple of jaded, disaffected kids from the millennial era (picture Roy from the Simpsons) who end up trapped in the fictional world of the TV series Pleasantville. All seems well until some incidental changes are made to the established social norms. Suddenly up is down, wrong is right and what was black and white is now Technicolor.
What was kind of a gimmicky premise turns out to be a cool, dynamic choice for film making, even today. The movie's stark color palette and distinctive tone are really fascinating presentations for what amounts to be a fairly rote morality play about civil rights and the progression of society. 
While not a groundbreaking film in any major sense of the word, Pleasantville still stands as an intersting, if overlooked, film from right around the millennium. If you're looking for something to pop in to help unwind over the long weekend, give this movie a shot, if for no other reason than to see some major players of the modern Hollywood scene in their younger days. I'll see you tomorrow for another Movie Week post.



Hey there.

Had a bachelor party last night. Had a bit too much fun. Spent the day nursing just a bit of a hangover. As such, there was little time for productivity. I promise there will be a better post tomorrow, but for tonight it'll be short and sweet.

Not everyone is into Netflix, be it whatever reason. I don't know why, its fantastic. But if its not cost stopping you and you still wanna see some great documentaries for free, head on over to They're a legit, free and excellent quality. The great site is an awesome resource for watching interesting docs when you don't want to shell out for a subscription to the big red behemoth. Don't get me wrong - I love Netflix but not everyone can be contractually bound to their services. We're in a recession, people! They host tons of docs on a variety of subjects with some big names making appearances, like the works of Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore. If you're in the mood for a movie and want to learn a bit without spending a bunch, do yourself a favor and head over to their site. If you really dig what they do, make a donation and help keep the cause going.
Like I said, just a short bit as I recuperate today. Tomorrow - back at it with a post that goes all the way back to the beginning of this blog! Stay tuned to find out!