jump to navigation

Paint Out the Light December 17, 2010

Posted by monty in music, personal.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

I hadn’t intended to take quite this much time off, but I’m busy here in the frozen Midwest, visiting family, opening presents, and eating way too much. Also, I accidentally asked a recovering alcoholic if he’d ever tried Four Loko, so there’s that.

Regular programming will resume on Sunday.

In the meantime, here’s #3 in my 100% arbitrary list of Favorite 2010 Albums (but it bears mentioning that if these weren’t completely arbitrary and I were ranking them in order of preference, today’s entry would be my unequivocal #1 choice):

The National  – High Violet

I’m an unapologetic fan of melancholy.  Much of my favorite music over the years (or at least, much of my favorite music since I started listening to the stuff I currently listen to) has sported a rich vein of the stuff.  The Smiths, Joy Division, Nick Cave, Elbow, Elvis Costello, Tindersticks – for me, there’s always been a strange sense of comfort in listening to music that, to other people, often comes off like a huge bummer.

And that’s why, right now, The National is my favorite band in the universe (next to Elbow, which will undoubtedly be an entry in my 2011 Favorite Albums list).  As someone who was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor with this band, it’s been fun to listen to them mature over the course of their five albums, becoming more confident and sophisticated with each release.

For fans of the band, High Violet is an extremely satisfying collection of songs that also provides a useful entry point for newcomers.  While its stock in trade are the slow-burn numbers that make up a bulk of the album (like opener “Terrible Love,” which escalates from funereal to ferocious in the space of four-and-a-half minutes and the gorgeously bittersweet “Runaway”), High Violet is peppered with the stripped-down rockers that have arguably been the high point of previous albums.  “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is propulsive, euphoric, and one of the best things they’ve ever written.

Some have criticized the band for treading water on this album (I guess they wish there was more superfluous bleeping and blooping like the new Sufjan Stevens album, or maybe a cameo by T.I.), but to me it sounds like a sophisticated and triumphant culmination of the sound they’ve been developing over their last four albums.

Here are two songs from the album.  The first is their video for “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” the second is “Terrible Love,” taken from their amazing show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  You have to watch them on YouTube – which is sort of stupid – so click Play, then click one more link to get to the song.  The extra click is worth it.

*****

Current listening:

Rollerskate Skinny – Horsedrawn Wishes (1996)

Advertisements

Intermission December 24, 2009

Posted by monty in Uncategorized.
Tags:
1 comment so far

All apologies for disappearing without a trace for the last ten – or so – days.  After the semester ended, and I survived the blizzard of portfolios and final assignments that needed to be graded, I decided to take a little break, which I’m still currently enjoying.  At the moment I’m in the wilds of rural Ohio, being coddled by my parents and enjoying a little snow and holiday cheer.

Three Seconds of Dead Air will return to full capacity sometime next week.  When that happens you can look forward to my fifth Stephen King review (John Carpenter’s Christine), catch-up reviews of a few other flicks (Up in the Air and The Road, maybe, and probably Avatar, too), and the list of my Top 50 albums of the decade.  Among other things.  Until then, have a happy holiday (yes, I am waging a war on Christmas).

Current listening:

Sigur Ros – ( ) (2002)

Current reading:

T.C. Boyle – Talk Talk (2006)

Last movie seen:

The Road (2009; John Hillcoat, dir.)

Intermission December 7, 2009

Posted by monty in Uncategorized.
Tags:
add a comment

It’s the end of the semester, which means my free time will be in short supply for the next five or six days.  Much grading will be taking place, and when that’s done, it’ll be a swift transition into working on a couple articles I’ve been meaning to tinker with.  And somewhere in there I need to plan for next semester.  If I feel inspired or bored with work or something happens out in the world that’s just begging for comment, I’ll put something up – but it’ll probably be a little quiet around here for the next few days.

*****

Current listening:

Rooftops – A Forest of Polarity (2009)

Death by Diamonds and Pearls November 12, 2009

Posted by monty in news.
Tags: , , , ,
2 comments

out-to-lunch

This semester was cruising right along until I hit the last couple weeks.  Now I’ve been so fried and preoccupied with job-related stuff that my initiative and inspiration for this little site have been sorely lacking.  I could also blame my abandonment of what I was working on for National Novel Writing Month on those factors, but that would, of course, only be partially true.

So anyway, activity around these parts might continue to be a little sparse for the next few days while I recharge my batteries.  It’s entirely possible that I’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated with the advent of the weekend, but it’s also possible that I’ll spend the next 72 hours curled up at the bottom of my closet, sobbing softly and talking to myself.

Just so I’m not leaving you completely high and dry, here are two recent videos of Carrie Prejean.  I wrote about her appearance on The Today Show the other day, and now you can see the interview in all its unhinged glory.  The Larry King clip is nearly as good – which means you get even more evidence of just how batshit crazy this broad is.  If God wants to reward us all, he’ll give us a Palin/Prejean ticket in 2012.

*****

Current listening:

Roxy country

Roxy Music – Country Music

Meet Me at the Lookout Point October 28, 2009

Posted by monty in Uncategorized.
Tags:
4 comments

hate writing2

And here’s where I hit the lull.

I kept a near-daily blog for almost three years, and now I don’t know how I did it.  Once I started work on my Ph.D., a combination of being insanely busy and constantly exhausted stymied any serious attempt at starting the thing back up.  I’ve tried to resuscitate the blog in various forms for the last three years, but after a few weeks I find I run out of things to say.  When I was keeping a regular blog, I either had a more interesting life, or else I had a higher tolerance for writing about myself.

And there’s part of the problem.  Every time I start  a new blog (and this is at least the fourth iteration I can recall off the top of my head) I resolve for it not to be one of those annoying repositories where the author simply recounts his or her day.  For one thing, my life is just not that interesting.  But the main thing that the “Dear Diary” bloggers fail to acknowledge is the public nature of this little endeavor.  If all you want to do is keep a running account of the weeks that make up your life, buy a journal.  There are several people of whom I’m inordinately fond, but I’m not sure I’d want to read a blow-by-blow account of what they did each day, no matter how much I might genuinely like them.  Blogging is a pretty self-centered act to begin with, and making yourself the subject of your writing is even more solipsistic.  Unless you’re Anne Frank, your life is probably just not worth documenting.

So I try to keep things interesting by focusing my lens outward, examining education, politics, pop culture, etc. (And, for the record, I don’t pretend for a second to analyze any of those things especially well.  I do what I can, but it’s strictly Amateur Hour around here.)  When I do write about myself, I try to make sure it’s not really about me, but about what I’m experiencing.  Case in point: my dissection of race relations in Georgia. I mean, yeah, on the surface it’s about me getting acclimated to my new home, but it’s more about the veiled hostility around here that no one really talks about.  And in those rare instances when it really is all about me (such as in this post right here), I at least try to be entertaining.  I don’t always succeed, but at least I acknowledge that there’s a potentially disinterested audience I somehow need to snag.

All of this meta-blathering (Whoa, he’s blogging … about the difficulties of blogging!  That’s deep, maaaaan.) is really my way of saying that keeping things fresh around here is tough.  I used to just bitch about politics and the conservative media all the time, but seriously: how many different ways can you say Fox News sucks?  And I’m not sure it’s any more interesting for me to keep writing about authors or comedians or musicians I like.  It’s interesting to me, but it actually runs the risk of being just a variation on writing about my day.  But I’ll try to find a way to keep this site entertaining and interesting, despite my lazy inclination to throw in the towel yet again.

So, a mission statement, if you will.  I’ll keep pottering around on here simply because I think I need to force myself through the resistance I always feel right around this time.  But having said that – and noticing that my readership has been steadily increasing – do bear in mind that I write this for an audience, and I do spend a fair amount of time crafting these little missives for others’ consumption.  If you’ve taken the time to visit my little corner of the Web (and especially if you’re a regular visitor), comments are welcome and appreciated.  I try to respond to them as time allows, and I’m genuinely interested in hearing what people think.  A dialogue is much more interesting to me than a monologue, so don’t be shy.

*****

Current listening:

weezer 12x12cs3.indd

Weezer – Raditude

Please Hold October 26, 2009

Posted by monty in Uncategorized.
Tags:
add a comment

customer service

This is going to be an exceptionally busy week for me, so my posts will be sporadic for the next few days.  I’ll try to put up one or two things to reward my regular readers (Songs of the Day probably, and any quick links or pictures that seem entertaining), but between teaching, observing student teachers, attending meetings, grading papers, polishing an article, and starting to run again, I’m not going to have a lot of time to write anything weighty.  Apologies for the inconsistency, and thanks for reading.

*****

Current listening:

Moldy peaches

The Moldy Peaches – S/T

Current reading:

BANR2005-full

Amber Dermot – “Lyndon” (from The Best American Nonrequired  Reading 2005, ed. by Dave Eggers)

Silence Can Be a Headline October 13, 2009

Posted by monty in Uncategorized.
Tags:
3 comments

technical-difficulties

If you’re one of the five people who currently reads this blog, things are going to be quiet here for a few days until I get my computer situation sorted.  Long story short: My keyboard (and specifically the letters i, o, k, l, m and the number 8) doesn’t like pinot noir.  Everything I type on my laptop takes about three times as long to do (switching as I am between the real keyboard for most of my typing and the virtual keyboard on my screen for the inoperative letters, which are way more common than you might think), and since people aren’t exactly clamoring to read this, I’ll just shutter it until the problem’s solved.  I’m sure you’ll find some way to survive.

*****

Current listening:

Ride nowhere

Ride – Nowhere

Current reading:

DennisLehane_MysticRiver

Dennis Lehane – Mystic River