Monday, October 20, 2014

A Boy Named Araby

I know you've rushed back here for my already eagerly anticipated post about post-black-metal, but that's something, let's admit it, that I'm still working up to--that I need the time to get ready to write it as much as you need the time to get ready to read it. Since it's been months, and I mean months, since I've much flexed my cultural-critical muscles.

Preamble strikes me as of utmost importance to my ability to link sentences into things like paragraphs, emails, blog posts, screeds, overly long bathroom stall graffiti, etc. I've been known to write entire letters about the fact that I am writing a letter. There are a lot of details to cover. Is it stalling? I don't think so... certainly, in some contexts, that must be what's afoot -- like here, where I've resuscitated a left-for-dead textuo-collaborative effort and am, like, scared to actually write the first post that I wanted to get to in the first place.

Or! fear is a primary motivator for my language-using self (let alone my not-language-using-person-complex. ("Fear is [my] only God, nah, fuck it, turn it off again[?]")) So that this and many other non-utilitarian writings are an attempt to capitalize--or at least to eek some good out of--my generally fucked up mess of a fight-or-flight reflex (more accurately, my flight-or-more-flight reflex)? Which, were it a deep insight I've just shared of myself, I'd be, like, "Hey, man, that's, like, totally not blog-worthy!" but instead I'm, like, "Hey, internet (or, as of this writing, 'Hey, mom,'), check out my awesome preamble? Isn't it rad? Fucking Araby at the fair, am I right?

I don't want to be a scaredy-pants, especially in such a public forum. So maybe I should get over myself, as enjoyable as this is and/or might or might not be...

Two bands, neither exactly topical, except that they've been on tour together this year: Liturgy and deafheaven. Just in case you haven't been believing me so far about their listenablility, please review the following, and I'll follow up, like, really soon, to get to the point about both of them that I've been meaning to get to for a couple of weeks now:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

No One Likes a Dead Blog Anyway

There's still a month and half left before it would have been a full year without a post on here, but I realized that that was the case today and panicked. That overstates it; I didn't panic. But I thought to myself... well, I thought to myself, but I'm not exactly sure what I thought. If you put the right kind of pressure on the correct spot of your brain stem, maybe, you activate the language centers up in the not-fish-brain part of yourself? Fuckin'... limbic system... parasympathetic nervous system, you know?

My friend Nick's blog--where I'd been podcasting for the call-it-8 months prior--shut down earlier this year (he's got a new comic coming out, by the way). So for the past 6 months, I've been, like, barely on the internet at all. Or not contributing to it, or not much, at any rate. So... internet, I've missed you? Or, pretend-internet-that-is-maybe-my-brothers-maybe-my-dad-and-maybe-nick, I've missed you?

Or, I haven't? But the thing that I've actually had on my mind to blog about is a couple of variant strains of post-black-metal, and it seems like I should say "hi," first, before I expect our little corner of the internet to find that even--let's say it--mildly interesting. Or, you'll probably find it interesting, because, if nothing else, it'll be some kind of insightful, but you maybe probably won't find it all that listenable.

So... yup, Blog's Not Dead (and heaven is, like, totally real).

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Landing Pattern

I just flew from Pittsburgh to LaGuardia this evening, and the plane's landing pattern was the one where you slide up Manhattan from south to north and then start a 270-degree turn over the George Washington Bridge. Fortunately I was in a window seat on the right side of the plane, so I got to watch the cityscape go by. It's one of the great views of New York, especially at night. The place looks positively delicate, and the lights are beautiful. Even the housing projects look beautiful.

The Freedom Tower looks better from that vantage point than the ones on the ground that I've tried so far. The Empire State and Chrysler Buildings are still the class of the skyline by a wide margin.

On a more prosaic level of city appreciation, the MTA started running an express bus between LaGuardia and the Roosevelt Avenue subway stop in Jackson Heights earlier this year, and it's basically the best bus line ever. A straight-up boon for you and any flight attendants in your life.

Thanksgiving night at Chris & Jeana's was a fine occasion, par for the course, and I rode with Mom & Dad & Mike & Cameron to Pittsburgh for a highly relaxed couple of days (board games, pizza & movie night, etc.) and brunch with the grandparents this morning. Snow on the ground in both Rochester and Pittsburgh, the first real snow of the year from my perspective. Not a bad vault into December by any stretch.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Further Brother Nonsense, Patent Office Dept.

An exchange edited down between some emails and texts between Jack and me this afternoon, starting when he shared some of the news of the day:


Aw, man, you can’t patent human genes? I had so many of those in the works.
This used to be super hard, but with a human gene mutation anyone can do this. The mutating process will be accomplished through a patentable method of organic stasis indcution and targeted DNA intervention with radioactive Thorium. It also enables a speed burst. 
(maybe you guys write that part, I just put it here in case)

Okay but what if it’s a gene that’s naturally found in deers but it’s my idea to add it into humans. I am just saying that I deserve to get the patent money because I’m the one that invented “mantlers” 



I love this guy’s understanding of how patents work.

I’ve been the worst offender in terms of blog quietude and arguably more of our day-to-day nonsense should be shared rather than buried in our GMail accounts. But somehow, casual workplace email correspondence is a particularly comfortable medium for spontaneous character generation.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

All the Right Moves

I know I've been on a serious blogging drought here, for the past year. But! Something has finally passed my attention with sufficient profundity as to document it and share it here.

First, go here: Australia: Life Explodes.

Next, click the green "WATCH THE PROGRAM" button in the right hand corner of the episode's homepage.

You'll have to watch an advertisement, but once it's finished and the program starts to play, fast-forward to as close to 32:42 as you can without going over that mark. Then watch the next 10 seconds or so of the program.

That is all.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen

I don't get to hear concerts with Nate any more, but over the past couple of weeks the youngish Jerusalem Quartet took their four-concert complete Shostakovich cycle to both Portland and New York, so we at least got to hear some common sounds at a remove. I write this in the expectation that Nate will share his doubtlessly copious Shostakovich-thoughts at some point, too.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center had been advertising the series for a few weeks; seeing posters about Shostakovich in outer-borough subway stops delighted me quite a bit. Nate saw the complete set (of course), and I made it to two of them, encompassing quartets no. 2, 3, 7, 9, 13, 14, and 15.

Normally I'd have more to say about the Ninth Quartet, which has an ambitious scale and an especially urgent expressive impulse. But my lasting impression from the two concerts is very much from the late quartets, Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen.

Thirteen I knew the best, having heard it in concert and even before that loved it for its modernist edge, unusual for Shostakovich. In context with the other quartets I found it extremely unsettling. It's an angry piece, raw and out of place, inviting the frightening question of what kind of pain would drive him to write something so far away from his normal voice. The program note reminded me that he composed it in between hospital stays, in deteriorating health, and it was impossible not to envision the enclosure of a hospital bed and fever dreams. A strong note in my feeling afterward is guilt for having liked the piece without acknowledging exactly what an evil experiences it suggests for its composer. I doubt I'll hear it the same way again.

Fifteen is his last, and one of his final works, understood as an elegy written for himself a few months before his departure. Late Shostakovich is all sparse, cryptic stuff, but even in that context Fifteen sits a distance beyond. It sounds less a final expression of life than a series of prepared public remarks on the occasion of death. Not a question of coming to grips with a farewell, but sketching a series of quizzical situational observations having unambiguously reached its doorstep. There are doses of anguish and bleak humor and some beautifully heartfelt sentiment, and I shouldn't go without marveling at the first movement, a peaceful mulling-over of what I assume is Russian orthodox chant. But the feeling overall is resolved and muted and very hard to figure out. The Jerusalems played it with the lights down low, which is apparently a performance tradition for some quartets.

The one that haunts me is Fourteen, though, the next-to-last. Where Thirteen and Fifteen seem to inhabit the boundaries of a defined emotional space (however pained or remote they might be), Fourteen seems to wander an open ground. Musically, its memorable feature is a recurring impulse towards sweet, folk-like tunes, including a fairly jaunty opening theme. But the accompanying rhythms lose their structure, and the harmonies fall slack into odd dissonances. It's not grotesque, or even that unsettling most of the time; just odd and elusive. There are long stretches of spare, slow, monologue-like music, and episodes tend to arrive and pass without reaching climaxes or establishing dramatic purposes. Overall it struck me as an extremely interior piece, like the depiction of a wandering train of thought, passively encountering various quiet moods and mental images. It has a memorably peaceful ending, beautifully set up as the last movement trails off. But I still can't make heads or tails of it, and the musical material itself is so wispy that only a couple of melodies and gestures are still in my ears. I find it extremely difficult even to describe the piece in words.

The members of the quartet played with constantly evident conviction and a rich expressive range, and the acoustics in Alice Tully Hall are grand, so all was well on the performative front.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Say! I Like Them

Maddie made green pancakes for breakfast this morning.

You can't taste the spinach at all!