Just finished watching The Spanish Prisoner for th…

Just finished watching The Spanish Prisoner for the first time in far too long. Quite possibly the best neo-Hitchcock film in the past…er….ten years? I keep thinking of it as a fairly recent movie, but I’m reminded that I’d seen it before my senior year of college began, meaning that it’s at least five years old….

The Pernice Brothers’ Yours, Mine & Ours is on at the moment, and it’s making for an enjoyable close to this Sunday night.

Listening to Gavin Bryars’ Jesus’ Blood Never Fail…

Listening to Gavin BryarsJesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet — because there are some nights when listening to 70+ minute-long compositions in which Tom Waits appears just seems right.

Alternately: I’m broke, hung over, and wanted something quiet on the stereo; the new Grandaddy disc didn’t quite seem so suitable.

The sticker on the cover indicates that I picked this album up used, on vacation with my parents in the summer of 1994 or ’95. It’s not an album that I knew much about at the time — I suspect that I read something about it in SPIN or Magnet, as my knowledge of modern classical composers was fairly minimal at the time. (Qualifying statement: it’s not much better now). This is a disc that I haven’t listened to much over the past few years; it’s not really given to brief, ten-minute periods of listening the way many pop and rock records in my collection are.

The composition is built around a field recording of a down-on-his-luck man singing a religious song; the five lines of the song are repeated more than 150 times over the course of the piece, with a shifting musical accompaniment. It’s an absolutely hypnotic piece, moving as hell, and hard to ignore. Leave it on in the other room and your ears are still drawn to it. Years later, I can’t explain it; I’m not a student of music, I can tell you nothing of how it was made, only its effect on me.

***

(I ought to say something witty here to counteract the pontification above, but nothing comes to mind. It’s 12:45 AM, I’ve still got some writing to do, and these two are terrific folks. Have a fine night.)

I lost a couple of unfinished pieces in the Great …

I lost a couple of unfinished pieces in the Great Hard Drive Implosion of 2003, and a handful of finished ones as well. One of them, thankfully, was printed out before things went to hell, and I’ve decided to look it over with an eye towards proofreading it in mind. I’ve got a couple of music pieces to wrap up before too long, but my mind’s been gravitating towards fiction lately, and who am I to argue?

This bit of news has made me reach for the “S” sec…

This bit of news has made me reach for the “S” section of my record collection…specifically, for the copy of Cavale that I picked up in Portland three years ago. I rarely make it past “What Do You Think of Love”, which may be one of the most breezily sweet pop songs I’ve ever heard, but tonight I’m taking it through to the end. There’s something about a remarkably pretty song titled “Smooth Ass” that brings a smile to my face…

Listening to this disc – as well as the Souled American collection currently on the shelf behind me – is an often revelatory thing: hearing the bits and pieces of what’s become cliche in some quarters when the folks making these sounds were still working them out. You can hear the joy of working new things out, of bringing new influences into the mix for the sheer novelty of it….warms my jaded soul, it does.

1. After quite a while of these two telling me th…

1. After quite a while of these two telling me the artist in question was the proverbial bee’s knees and me never quite catching on, I’ve just fallen for John Vanderslice‘s Time Travel is Lonely big-time. It’s a case when my mood has nicely dovetailed with the feel of a record, and said record is fitting in wonderfully with my brainspace right now.

2. It appears that I’ll be doing some traveling in about two weeks. This brings a smile to my face.

3. Had a fine dinner with friends tonight. That, in and of itself, has taken quite a bit of stress from me. Tomorrow: hockey, and hopefully a bit of writing as well…

I. Had a post-work work function this evening, …

I.

Had a post-work work function this evening, which lasted until 8:15 or so. I boarded the 7 train and took that and the B61 bus to get home, where I changed out of my quasi-formal work clothes into something more comfortable/rock show friendly. Called Pianos: “Is tonight’s show sold out?” No, I was told. At just after nine, I left my apartment and made it to Manhattan in around half an hour, arriving at the club in question at 9:40 to see the debut of Bling Kong.

Except that by the time I arrived inside, the show had sold out. No, really. First show ever. I feel kinda proud of the fellas and ladies now, five hours later. At the time, though, I was cursing the wrathful hand of fate (okay – my language did get a bit overblown) .

So at this point, R.F. and I were standing in the back of the bar grumbling about arriving too late to get in. One of the many Bling Kong-associated folks (there are around a dozen altogether) grabbed both of us – I was told to tell the fellow working the door that I was someone else (someone else who wasn’t likely to show up); said person had a plus one. Things seemed to be improving.

Got to the door. “I’m on the list with a plus one,” said I. “The name’s [a name which is not mine].”

The door guy found the name and waved us both through. At which point, I was recognized by some other folks whose attempts to enter had been stymied. “Toby!” I heard. “How’d you get in?”

I looked straight ahead, tried to put my best “Toby? I know not this ‘Toby'” face, and walked in, resolving to explain myself later.

II.

What do Bling Kong sound like?

1. The quick version: “Like Big Black crossed with a pep rally”.

2. The elaborate version:

“Here’s the pitch, Bob. Let’s say Le Tigre go out on tour with Andrew W.K. One night, Kathleen Hanna and Andrew get smashed and, well, hook up. Fifteen years later, they’re married in the suburbs with a bunch of fresh-faced kids. And those kids decide to put a band together.”

It’s kind of like that.

I’m curious to hear the proper CD; for Bling Kong, the live experience is — well, kind of overwhelming. Four cheerleaders, crazy video projections, bananas thrown into the audience…

It was a fine night.

III.

It’s 3:04 AM right now, and I have work tomorrow. The Mountain Goats’ Tallahassee is on the headphones right now, and sleep seems like an incrementally better idea with each passing moment.

O blessed happy day: Jury duty is over. And yeah,…

O blessed happy day: Jury duty is over. And yeah, I do feel like I learned more about how our judicial system works, just like the video they showed us featuring assorted 60 Minutes folks and a re-enactment of trial by ordeal said I would. Feels like I’m back in school an’ stuff.

***

I’m just getting around to listening to Mojave 3’s Excuses for Travellers now. This is a sprawling, gorgeous album; I’m a sucker for the slide guitar, and it can be found in abundance here. I’m suddenly feeling the need to drive somewhere, the above album played at maximum volume.

***

Mr. Voith is in town. This, too, is a fine thing.

I picked this book up close to two years ago. For…

I picked this book up close to two years ago. For a while, it sat on the shelf next to Underworld and Bleak House, part of a triad of fend-off-an-attacker thick books that perpetually gazed up at me resentfully.

I’m now three hundred pages into it. Yee-haw.

***

I’m feeling slightly proud of myself for reading more history books lately – or, more properly, more books about history – I don’t want to give the impression that I’m digging out old textbooks or something similar. My absolutely scattershot knowledge of history, though, is especially shameful given the number of history buffs I count among the people closest to me.

Both this and this come highly recommended. Next up: The Guns of August. Slowly, I’m making my way through the 19th and 20th centuries…

Went to a Jonathan Lethem reading / book release e…

Went to a Jonathan Lethem reading / book release event tonight at St. Anne’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. It was a fine time; I can’t really argue with free beer, hearing one of my favorite authors read excerpts from his new novel, and a mostly interesting q & a session (though the fellow up front who kept asking questions about the novel that was released today was, I felt, kind of flaunting the fact that he’d read the book before, assumably, everyone else there).

At the moment, drained from a late night at work yesterday (followed by a random run-in with a friend of mine from New Jersey), I’m trying to make some headway on a couple of pieces – some reviews for Earlash and a piece or two for Copper Press….not to mention the ever-present fiction in varying stages of completion that’s currently scattered around my room.

Ninety more minutes. I can get a decent amount done in that time, I think.