I apologize for the lack of posts lately. Between moving, visiting my parents, and living in the mountains for a week, I haven't had time to really do much. And blogger has been refusing to post my blogs for about a week.

I just spent about week in a cabin in the woods. There were gross bugs everywhere and there was rarely hot running water, but waking up every morning to see the mist rolling over the mountains in the distance, and seeing the sun go down behind those same mountains at night until they disappeared into the darkness was one of the most amazing things I've ever had the opportunity to do.

In the mountains, I listened to a lot of Ratatat (to bring me back to modern existence), The Submarines (because I missed my S.O.), Tortoise (because that's what I do when I need to relax), and Will Oldham (because that's also what I do when I need to feel like I am suspended in a moment).

I also read quite a bit. When I am agitated I read Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island of the Mind, or parts of Fight Club. I've been making my way back through Bukowski's Run With the Hunted anthology, which reads almost like a child's narrative. Overall it was a good trip and helped me unwind and appreciate cell phones, the internet, and electricity a lot more.

More to come.


Billy Corgan still believes

The Smashing Pumpkins are recording again for the first time since their 1999 breakup. This, believe it or not, was SEVEN years ago. Am I the only one who does not feel like 1999 was SEVEN years ago? Then again, the world in 1999 was entirely different than it is now. I am curious to see how the new album will reflect that. Will it be political? Will it be more commercial? Who will the new guitarist and bassist be? I'd like to say that I'm excited about the prospect of a new 'Pumpkins album, but part of me feels like I am not nearly angsty enough to listen to them anymore, resurrected or not.


I'd like to dedicate this to my grandpa, who taught me all my moves.

Little Miss Sunshine is HANDS DOWN the best movie I have seen in...2-3 years. First of all, the cast is amazing: Toni Colette (also recently in The Night Listener), Greg Kinnear (who did an amazing job in that Bob Crane biography movie Autofocus, and Steve Carrell (who has really made a name for himself in the stupid-movie genre that most often includes Will Ferrel, and is also in the American version of The Office are amazing as the adults in a completely disfunctional family whose daughter, Olive (played by Abigail Breslin), is this totally awesome pageant-obsessed eight year old with huge glasses and a hilarious relationship with her bum of a grandfather (Alan Arkin). Her brother (Paul Dano, who will be in Richard Linklater's Fast Food Nation with Greg Kinnear) is a tortured Nietzsche-reading teenager who has taken a vow of silence and literally not spoken for 9 months. When Steve Carrell's character (uncle Frank) tries to off himself and is taken in by the family, they all go on a road trip from New Mexico to Rodondo Beach, CA to take Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Let me repeat this again: a crazy heroin-snorting grandfather, a neurotic mom, her suicidal brother, a motivational-speaker dad, a non-speaking teenager, and a very very cute little girl go on a roadtrip together in a VW minibus. There are too many awesome things that happen along the way, and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, but there was really never a dull moment with this movie.

A few things I especially appreciated:

-There is very delicate treatment of the issue of body image. The movie opens with Olive mimicking contestants on a Miss America pageant, but immediately we see that she is anything but a Jon Benet. Her character is definitely one of the most interesting because as the story unfolds, we get a sense of the unadulterated self-confidence of a child her age who really feels like she can do anything. The denouement, near the end (trust me--you'll know it when you see it), gives really appropriate closure to this idea, especially as Olive is juxtaposed against the creepy little pageant girls being gawked at by child molesters during the pageant. Seriously-I used to watch Miss America all the time, but there is something incredibly strange and sad about seeing little girls dolled up to look like their Dallas Trophy Wife mothers. Ugh.

-Character development. The main reason there is never a dull moment in Little Miss Sunshine is because the characters are so dynamic. Each one undergoes a complete transformation, while doing a couple of uncharacteristic things here and there that keep the story interesting. Uncle Frank is probably the least dynamic character, because he is such a subtle individual, but even then, his antics produced quiet a few laughs.

-The end. I can't say anything without giving it away but I will say that I was in a huge theater full of people who all swore they nearly peed their pants. I definitely think this movie is going to replace or at least enter the funny movie rotation that is now pretty much occupied by The Birdcage.

GO SEE IT NOW. You will not regret it.


his mother says he has boring percussion

Check out Pitchfork's latest interview with Stephin Merrit.

We sat down with the irascible Magnetic Fields leader to discuss Chinese opera, technology and songwriting, the theatricality of pop music, and his extraordinary work ethic.

He mentions his mother more in this interview than any other I've read. There is a lot of technical music-making talk that you might understand more than I did, but the sections on writing Chinese opera to accomodate tonality are fairly interesting. The funniest part is when Stephin compares himself to more or less "wordy" pop artists. "I suppose that I am less wordy than Madonna," I think he says.

Also in the last few days, I've been listening to tracks from my favorite little elven harpist,Joanna Newsom's, album to be released in November, Ys, forthcoming on Drag City. More on that later in the week.


i dare you to live forever

Back in April, when I started this blog, I reviewed two of my favorite bands: Pretty Hot and Ghost Mice. Earlier this year, the two Bloomington, Indiana bands released a split together on Anti-Creative Records. The Pretty Hot half includes re-recordings of Carlisle, Slingshots, and Where In the World Is Diana Spitzers, in addition to three new songs. The Ghost Mice half is all original, as far as I can tell. I'll review each band's contribution separately.

Pretty Hot:

There is definitely a lot more maturity here than we found in the demos, but I feel like they lost some of the melody they once had. The re-releases of Carlisle and Diana Spitzers weren't too exciting, although I really enjoyed this version of Slingshots. Right now, I'm wondering if this half of the album will grow on me if I listen to it a few times (I just got it in the mail this morning). I am a bit disappointed that there weren't more original songs. Pretty Hot has a lot of potential as a band, but I kind of wonder whether it is really very good for all those Bloomington bands to be concentrated in one spot. Sometimes geographical proximity can refine collective music styles, but in this case it might hold Pretty Hot back. I'd like to hear them sound less garage-y and better produced.

Ghost Mice:

Man, oh, man, is this half superb. For a completely acoustic band, Ghost Mice sound amazing. Chris's voice has this clarity that really sets the band apart from a lot of other Plan-It-Xers, and Hannah's violin is every bit as crisp and clear. Although their politics are pretty clear, I feel like most of Ghost Mice's songs have a pretty widespread appeal--there are the social critiques that every angsty teenager can appreciate, and the more grown up "life reflection"-type ballads. There is something timeless about their songs on this split. I can totally imagine elementary school kids rocking out to Ghost Mice just as much as I do.

My wireless is precarious so I might post some songs later. You really should just buy this album. Its like $4 from No Idea Records.