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Monday, November 30, 2009

After All These Years

This is a fun topic to come back around to: revisit your favorite records from years past and say what you think of them now. Since a number of sites have done "Best of" lists for the decade, let's review, shall we?

2000
I don't think I came up with a list for this year, but At the Drive-In's Relationship of Command was definitely one of my favorites of that year. The first nine songs really blew my mind, but it wasn't until years later that I grew to love the entire album. After the first nine songs, I just grew fatigued of the near-constant sonic assault. Now I think of that record as important in so many ways, so far as influence on many bands that came afterwards, and how powerful this record still sounds.

2001
Memory is very clear on this one: Ryan Adams' Gold. While I always liked the record, it wasn't until I was stuck in a 50-minute back-up on I-45 through Corsicana on the day before Thanksgiving that I realized this was my favorite record of the year.

Make no mistake, a lot of Ryan's work is great fodder for brokenhearted. I was still upset over a break-up that happened in the previous year, and a few months into 2002, I would feel even more brokenhearted over another proverbial flight to Hawaii that crashed into the ocean. So, Ryan's music was a great soundtrack. So was Demolition, Love is Hell, and Rock N Roll in the ensuing years. I don't listen to Ryan's music nearly as much as I used to, but I still enjoy it.

2002
The one record that I cherished during this time that I don't cherish now is Bright Eyes' Lifted. I went through the whole painful-but-necessary transition from a full-time college student mentality to a full-time worker mentality in 2002, and it's very safe to say that there were some very bleak months early into the year. When you tell yourself you're nothing because of you don't have a full-time job and you have a major falling-out with one of your best friends, it's easy to be drawn into Bright Eyes' music.

That was me at the time, and listening to this record now is like reading some prose or poetry I wrote that hasn't aged well. The record still sounds phenomenal, but Oberst's lyrics and singing are less appealing to me year after year.

2003
Truth be told, I had forgotten until last Friday night that Cursive's The Ugly Organ was one of my favorites of that year. I have listened to all of Cursive's stuff between Domestica and Mama, I'm Swollen so much that I forgot. Hearing songs like "A Gentleman Caller" and "Butcher the Song" again live, the record has not aged a day to me, and it's still massive.

However, the record that I liked the most that year was none other than Hey Mercedes' Loses Control. This is still a good record to me, but I tend to lean towards the band's debut album, Everynight Fireworks, when I want to listen to some Hey Mercedes.

2004
Look in the archives of this blog and you'll find my write-up on Modest Mouse's Good News for People Who Love Bad News. My sentiments on this record remain the same.

2005
Bloc Party's Silent Alarm still doubles as a fantastic debut album and a singles collection by default.

2006
Cursive came through with Happy Hollow, and like how I feel about The Ugly Organ, this is still an ace record.

2007
Wilco's Sky Blue Sky is the moody older brother to this year's (The Album), but it's a perfect soundtrack for a gray day with beams of sunshine spilling through.

2008
I still like Journey post-Steve Perry, and I still like their post-Perry albums as a whole more than the albums with Steve Perry. For the most part, I still enjoy Revelation, but one song that keeps getting skipped is "After All These Years." Hearing that song so many times on the radio killed the charm for me. It's pure slow-dance cheese at a wedding anniversary party -- something I won't be a part of for a long, long time.

Cursive

My review of Cursive's Black Friday show is now online.

Watching the four-band bill on Friday was like watching many Dallas Cowboys' wins: Everything came together in the last part.

The mighty Cursive arrived at one of Denton's finest venues with a relatively new lineup. Whereas the last time they came through DFW with three additional members on various instruments, the band had only one auxiliary member this time. Oh, and a new drummer as well. But, despite the ever-changing lineups, Cursive has yet to disappoint live, and the show at Hailey's continued the winning streak.


Read the rest here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A year in music

I heard plenty of good/great stuff this year, and with only a few weeks left in the year, I thought it was time to share. Since I like to list the artists that I listened to and enjoyed the most during the year, regardless if they put a new record out in 2009, here's the whole enchilada.

Thank you, Jason Hensel
Jason, my good friend, bandmate, and housemate of five years, decided to move out and buy a house at the beginning of the summer. As he prepared to pack everything up, I combed through his vast CD collection to burn copies of anything and everything I've wanted to hear but never got around to.

As I filled up half of a CD-R spindle, I came very, very attached to Beth Orton's first two albums, Trailer Park and Central Reservation. I shied away from Orton's material for years because I was led to believe it was mostly electronic with some forays into folk. Luckily, especially upon listening to Central Reservation, I realized the opposite was true.

Since summer, I've listened to "Sweetest Decline" about a few hundred times. Something about the combination of a jazzy groove, Orton's sweet vocals, and a lively piano just kept me listening over and over again. All that led me to check out the rest of Orton's material, and while there are plenty of merits on Daybreaker and Comfort of Strangers, her first two just ring the truest for me.

Thank you, Ryan Slavinsky, Borders, and Half Price Books
If it weren't for my friend Ryan and his love for Sloan, I'd probably miss the greatness that is this band.

I've known about Sloan since their One Chord to Another record, but I never felt inclined to check out any of their albums. While waiting to pick Ryan up one night, I heard tracks from the band's marathon album, Never Hear the End of It, playing in his den. I was struck by how tuneful the songs were and loved how each song transitioned into the next one. Getting a copy of that record, along with copies of almost all of their records, I had plenty to go through.

As luck would have it, the closest Half Price Books to my house happened to have every single Sloan record that I really wanted (from Navy Blues to Parallel Play) for cheap. Couple that with a massive clearance sale at all Borders stores where Never Hear the End of the It was over half-off, I now had much more Sloan in my library than just my rarely-listened-to copy of their A-Sides compilation.

Thank you, Vagrant Records' sale at the Warped Tour
While covering the Warped Tour for the Observer back in July, I came across Vagrant's merch booth. They were selling a ton of their CDs for only five dollars a piece. I picked up two records: The Hold Steady's Stay Positive and Placebo's Battle for the Sun. I liked the Placebo record, but man oh man did the Hold Steady have a more powerful impact. Songs like "Constructive Summer," "Sequestered in Memphis," "Lord I'm Discouraged," and "Magazines" helped me through some really rough months between the summer and fall. The Hold Steady is a band that plenty of people believe in; and now I'm one of the converts.

Listening to the Dillinger Escape Plan every year has unexpected pleasures
I can't seem to get tired of this band. They might sound like what a fit feels like, but tracks from Miss Machine and Ire Works have been played many times on my computer and car's CD player. I look very forward to their 2010 release, Option Paralysis.

Combine Glasgow with Las Vegas
Based on description only, Glasvegas's self-titled debut album (which saw stateside release this year) sounds like a bad retread of what the Jesus and Mary Chain did many years ago. Shimmering guitars, girl-group melodies, and simple drumming might make people dust off a copy of Psychocandy, but this Scottish four-piece put out a very fine album. It's loud, it shimmers, and it's hard skip a track. (And the stateside version has two great bonus tracks tacked on at the end.)

Music that's good when you're driving home at night and you're not sober but not drunk
I've found Neko Case's solo records work better while driving at night or in the early morning. Something about the scope of her voice and her hard-to-pinpoint version of country, folk, and gospel sounds so good when the sun isn't out. Her '09 release, Middle Cyclone, continued that trend for me.

Sometimes re-recording a B-side is a great idea
For the first time in their entire career, Zao made a record that featured the exact same, full lineup from the previous one. Awake? is not as frantic as The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here, but boy, does it cook. And the new version of "Romance of the Southern Spirit" just towers over the original version that was recorded as a bonus track for the Japan release of The Funeral of God.

The best two dollars I've ever spent on an album
Saddle Creek did a great promotion with Cursive's Mama, I'm Swollen: release the album digitally a full week before the proper street date for a price that was too good to be true. Thankfully, the MP3 copy I purchased for only two dollars (it was one dollar the previous day and three dollars the following day) was the real deal.

I'm not going to lie: previous Cursive albums flow better than Mama, I'm Swollen. The middle of the album just seems to drift, yielding songs that I usually skip over. People who really like Cursive and the Good Life might have liked this record more because it seemed to strike a balance between both bands, but not so much for me. Yet the power of the first four tracks and the final track are up there with the best the band's ever done. I'd even go so far to say "What Have I Done?" is one of Tim Kasher's best songs, period.

The Paper Chase (thankfully) did not follow The Foghat Rule
I remember when John Congleton told me he had enough material for a double album following the Paper Chase's Now You Are One of Us. I got very excited at the idea, but after listening to the first volume of Someday This Could All Be Yours (the second volume is due to arrive next year), I'm happy to take a new Paper Chase one disc at a time. Their records are so dense with a lot of twisted beats and melodies along with friendly melodies. Trying to wade through two discs worth would probably be too much for one sitting.

Nothing seems to stop Converge from making great records
I didn't have high hopes for Converge's Axe to Fall. Like most metal-infused music, not every record by a band you love will blow your mind. Even though Axe to Fall has all the earmarks of the Converge sound and style since Jane Doe, the band comes through again with another fine album. And the Tom Waits-like detour in "Cruel Bloom" is one of the best surprises I've heard on any album this year.

The lack of a lineup change between albums did not sway Wilco from making another great record
Definitely a happier-sounding record compared to Sky Blue Sky, (The Album) continues my love for Wilco. I couldn't help but think of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass when I heard Sky Blue Sky for the first time, and the same applies to this album. If Sky Blue Sky was more "Isn't It a Pity" and "All Things Must Pass" then (The Album) is more "My Sweet Lord" and "What Is Life?" And that's perfectly fine for me.

One record helps gain a major appreciation for a band's entire catalog
Mastodon's Crack the Skye helped me realize the many wonderful qualities of this band. This is definitely a record I'd suggest to people as a starting point, and highly recommending checking out all their previous records if you like what you hear. These guys aren't trying to be the Heaviest Band on Earth; they're trying to best they can be and be unafraid to expand their sound. This is still the same Mastodon but with other welcome additions like meaty grooves in spots. After years of eluding me about their greatness, I now understand.

If I'd have to pick just one new record above all else, this would be it
I distinctly remember the early summer night my friend Seth gushed to me about how amazing We Were Promised Jetpacks was. Their debut, These Four Walls, was about to come out in the U.S., but he had an import copy for a few months beforehand. Since Seth and I like a lot of the same music, I was inclined to check out something he raved about.

Without a doubt, this record grabs me with its twists and turns. On one hand, there's a familiar kind of vibe with the hopping drumbeats, but on the other hand, you don't really know where the songs are going. These aren't traditional, verse/chorus/verse/bridge/chorus songs. There's anger mixed with propulsive energy and catchy melodies. For many of the same reasons why Bloc Party's Silent Alarm is one of my favorites of the decade, this album fits nicely in the same league.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Have I Done?

"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure," says Bill Cosby. And I agree completely. The problem is, my fear of failure is much greater than my desire for success. Except when it comes to writing books.

I've tooted my horn quite a bit about why writing POST was such a big deal for me. It was, for the first time, something I wanted to start and finish, and not chicken out on or lose interest in. I was determined from the day I decided to write the book and -- save for a few fleeting moments while watching a certain section of Spider-Man 2 in the theater -- to never give up. Why that desire was so strong is that I'm usually easily turned off by things when I hear about potential, severe downsides.

Case in point, if I were to quit my job today with no other job lined up, I'd think about the struggles friends and family encountered with finding a new job. Couple that with all the things I went through when I was laid off a few years ago. Add in a statistic I recently heard about job-seekers (most job-seekers these days take at least seven months to find a new job -- and that's not an average). So, my fear of failure keeps me at bay.

Another example is all the bands I've thought about starting versus the ones I've actually been in. There were a couple of projects I wanted to do in college that never got off the ground. Trying to find people that wanted to play emo/post-hardcore yielded no results. Years later, trying to come up with material I was satisfied with after listening to a lot of Kinks and Elliott Smith yielded no movement from jamming on my guitar alone to laying down tracks at a friend's studio. I just gave up those projects, but I still play. I can't help but tap along and want to get behind a drum set. That appetite never goes away, thankfully.

I do not think of myself as a failure, but I often run into a kind of writer's block with a lot of things in life. There are a couple of things in my life I'd really like to improve and/or change, yet any sort of traction with getting on the road seems to get derailed. I think I would really be game for trying new things if I didn't get so distracted and deterred with potential downsides. So I choose to stick to what I know and am cautious to step outside of the proverbial comfort zone.

Without going into specifics, I did something outside of my comfort zone as a drummer a few months ago. The whole time I was out of the zone, I felt nervous and the situation felt awkward. When I got home and back into my regular routine (aka, the comfort zone), I thought about the experience and didn't want to experience something like that ever again. That's when I thought a step outside of the comfort zone can be (but definitely not always) a step in the wrong direction. There are times when a step out of the zone is exactly what I need; other times, not at all.

Yes, I do ask "What have I done with my life so far?" but I think almost everybody thinks that. I just question my boundaries and goals, and I find things hard when I see all sorts of warning signs on the road. Yet there are plenty of warning signs that do not deter me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It was in the laundry room with Mr. Mustard and the candlestick

The ongoing comedy from my laundry room has yet to give a curtain call.

Yesterday afternoon, a washer and dryer repairman came out and checked to see what the problem was. Turns out, there's nothing wrong with our dryer, but an electrician must come out and fix the wall's outlet. So that means yet another day of no working dryer. That also means I'm down to maybe two more days of clothes, and that's it.

I have not done a proper load of laundry since October 30th. Jason was kind enough to let me do the rest of my laundry while he hosted a party at his new house. When I was led to believe that the dryer was fixed a week later, I went ahead and did a load. The deal was, that was when I found out that the dryer had very little (and eventually) no heat. Since some of the clothes eventually dried out, I got a few more days.

Now with two sets of towels and sheets that need to be washed in addition to nearly two weeks of clothes, I'm grasping at straws. I have a couple of options (do another load at Jason's or my upstairs neighbors'), but one option I'm pretty much ruling completely out is going to a laundromat.

I don't want to sound pompous, but I don't have fond memories of lugging a full basket of laundry around and hoping that a washer and dryer were available. I had plenty of experiences with people forgetting to pick up their clothes while I lived in the dorms in college, and I had plenty of those similar experiences (along with machines eating quarters and dryers blowing up) after college. Plus, a laundromat is a cold and lonely place, while Jason's house and my upstairs neighbors' place are friendly and welcoming. The choice is a no-brainer.

Now the obvious, no-brainer desire is to have a working dryer ASAP. But once again, life has taken on the words of Bob Nastanovich: "You'll just have to wait."

Monday, November 16, 2009

You mean I gotta drink this coffee hot?

Tomorrow marks the fourth time I will purchase Clerks, as well as the second time to purchase Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. What's the occasion? Well, Clerks and Chasing Amy debut on the beloved Blu-ray format, and since it's available in a three-pack with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back on Blu-ray, I figured what the hell.

But a better question can be: why the hell am I buying these Kevin Smith movies again?

The answer is simple: with new bonus material on these BDs, I can't resist.

I have yet to encounter a flimsy, unfunny, or boring commentary track from Kevin. I even bought the special edition of Road House just to hear Kevin and Scott Mosier's "fan" commentary. I find this pure entertainment that is worth hearing again and again. So, my hopes are high with the long-awaited debut of the Oh, What a Lovely Tea Party on the Clerks BD and the new commentary and featurettes on the Chasing Amy BD.

Yet earlier today a fellow View Askew fan asked me why I wasn't inclined to pick up Dogma on BD, which currently goes for only $8 on Amazon. My reason: no new supplemental features, and supplemental features shot on 480 dpi are still no match for featurettes filmed on 1080.

Certain people I know still find Blu-ray to be a silly fad, but I think it's very, very safe to think otherwise. Even though I still hear rumors that on-demand movies are the way of the future, I'm still quite on board with DVD, and moreover, Blu-ray. It's just a good thing to hold onto those old standard DVDs when you end up at a friend or family member's house who doesn't have a Blu-ray player.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Life is Right

While I have a tremendous bias towards this article on original Big Star bassist Andy Hummel (I lent the author my copy of Rob Jovanovic's Big Star biography for research), I found such a breath of fresh air in what Hummel had to say about his post-Big Star life.

Too often, I hear about how the life of a full-time musician, along with a full-time actor's, is the glamorous life. As in, this is the dream for those who don't want the apparent dread that comes with a regular, 40-hour day job. Well, there can be dread in almost anything you do job-wise, even if it's a job you love.

But the point at hand is how Hummel prefers the life he's had after quitting Big Star in the 1970s. He's married with children and works at Lockheed-Martin. On paper, that sounds like an ordinary life, but I've found that life only looks ordinary on the surface. Hummel still plays music, and that's what I find even more endearing about his path.

Too often, we hear about a full-time musician trading his or hers full-time status for something apparently less. Something apparently normal or average like a regular job along with marriage and family. Well, that doesn't have to be settling for anything. What you do in your spare time is your business and your passion alone.

For me, I don't have aspirations to become a full-time musician, but I can't stop playing the drums. No matter what kind of job I do, I gotta find some time at least for the practice pad when I get home. No matter where I am, I can't help tapping along, air-drumming along, and so on. As long as I have two arms and legs, I want to play. And if I were ever lucky to make a livable wage playing drums full-time, then great. But I'm still perfectly satisfied with working forty hours and practicing for three hours with my new band on Saturdays.

So yes, there is life after the cameras stop rolling, writers want to write books on your band, and record reviewers laud something you did decades ago. So nice to know that life isn't a sad past like a former high school quarterback who thinks his best days are behind him.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Feels Creamy

Sometimes, there are epiphanies that are simple but profound.

Recently, an epiphany came to me after reading a single list out of the A.V. Club's recently-released book, Inventory. Flipping through the book before I went into the theater to watch Where The Wild Things Are, I turned to page 114 and saw a large picture of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. With the list's subheading of "1 Amazing Mid-'90s Sketch-Comedy Show That Towers Above All Others and Still Provides Endlessly Quotable Material More Than a Decade Later," I figured it was time to jump in the deep end with Mr. Show.

Since my epiphany came from a book filled with lists, I figured it would be fun to explain my reasons in a list.

Feels Creamy
Why It Took a Good Ten Years and A Couple of False Starts For Me To *Get* Mr. Show

1. I had seen the show a couple of times late night on HBO when it was originally on. I don't remember laughing at a single joke. That said, I laughed really, really hard (and still do) when I saw the Yo La Tengo video for "Sugarcube," which features Cross, Odenkirk, and John Ennis.

2. I watched a couple of episodes from the third and fourth season with a couple of friends in college who, from time to time, liked to get high and laugh hysterically at almost anything. Anything included episodes of Mr. Show. Since I didn't (and still don't) get high, I found the show's brand of humor to be mainly for people who liked to get high.

3. While I laughed at the Oasis and Beatles spoofs on the show, I couldn't understand what was so hilarious about stuff like Ronnie Dobbs or Drugachusetts. Again, if high, you laugh. If not high, you're just in the dark. Once again, if I'm not getting what's so funny, I don't pretend to follow along just to fit in.

4. I had five years to borrow a copy of the first and second season set during my time living with Jason, but alas, I never borrowed it. Same goes for In the Company of Men, The Tao of Steve, Happiness, Your Friends and Neighbors, Y Tu Mama Tambien, and Wet Hot American Summer. I was too interested in checking out other things during that time. If I really an inkling to borrow them, I would. But still, no real strong desire.

5. But thanks to Jason having the entire collection of Arrested Development on DVD, I finally got into that show, featuring none other than David Cross. Of course, whenever I watch an episode of AD, I often forget that Cross plays Tobias Funke. It's like I don't think of Wayne's World when I watch Mike Myers in an Austin Powers movie.

6. Couple that with watching all of the Dinner For Five episodes multiple times over dinner, I watched both Cross and Odenkirk talk a lot about the business and got a sense of their humor.

7. Cap all this off with seeing Cross give a phenomenal two-hour show recently, I figured it was time to go back to where Cross really found his footing.

8. It didn't hurt that HBO shows are now (and have been for a couple of years) affordable to buy on DVD. It was very nice to buy a new copy of the entire series on DVD for almost the same amount I spent buying a used copy of Six Feet Under's first season on DVD seven years ago.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Dryer Trilogy

Normally I prefer to talk about movies and music, but the problems in the laundry room keep rearing their head. It's like a comedy of new issues when one is solved.

This past Friday and Saturday, a very friendly and hardworking electrician came out and swapped out another breaker. Getting the right breaker was a multiple-trip-to-Home-Depot ordeal, but he found the right one and installed it. With the dryer's light coming back on and the dryer working, everything seemed to be working . . . for a few minutes.

For whatever reason, before the electrician came out, the dryer would randomly stop a few minutes or ten minutes into a cycle. When I would open the dryer, the light would be off and I would then flip the breaker. One day of laundry meant flipping the breaker nearly a dozen times. (Yes, the lengths I will go to get laundry done.)

So I start up the dryer as the electrician finished putting away everything, and it stops two minutes in. I flip the breaker, start the dryer again, and then ten minutes later, the dryer stops again. Luckily, the man had not left, so I got him to come back in.

Then we looked at the outlet in the wall and took the whole outlet apart. After putting everything back together, the dryer worked just fine. The only problem was, (and I did not notice this until I came home late Saturday night) no heat came on. The only way that my clothes dried at all was that they had been in the dryer for three hours.

The following day, I kept trying to troubleshoot what else could be the problem. I pulled a ton of lent out of the outside vent and made sure the collapsible hose between the dryer and the wall worked, but still nothing. I don't know about you, but trying to troubleshoot a problem alone with no other plans for the day makes for a pretty wasted day off.

Luckily, the latest word is that my landlord will come by later in the week with parts that will hopefully fix the problem once and for all. My clothes will appreciate this greatly, and so will I.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Crash

My first full-page feature for the Observer is online. This one is on The Crash That Took Me.
A few years ago, downstairs at Sons of Hermann Hall, the wooden staircases and walls started to shake as two bands in the room above played a song that sounded like something off of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Four guitars played one bendy riff at top volume, and drums pounded like wrecking balls. The song was called "Bloody Basin," and the two bands onstage were [DARYL] and Black Tie Dynasty.

Now, in 2009, you could say this was a defining transition moment for Dylan Silvers.

Read the rest here.

Also, I reviewed the band's newest record, and it is here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Unmasked

Last night, I decided to check out the new, modern retelling of V. As apprehensive as I am about the idea of remakes in general, I make special exceptions from time to time. Like Battlestar Galactica, I had no longstanding love for the original series, so I came to V like a cold fish.

Almost.

I've told this story before, but I don't think I've told the nuts and bolts of the whole story. So here's the context.

Though I spent a lot of time playing by myself in our house when my family lived in New Orleans, there were a few times I went over to friends' houses and played. One friend was named Janelle, and I seem to recall going over to play a handful of times. This was the early 1980s, and I can't remember my exact age, but I was maybe five or six years old.

A lot of neighborhood kids would come over to Janelle's house, and one day, a boy a few years older than me wanted to watch a show called V. I had never heard of the show at the time, but I still vividly remember watching a scene where a V peeled the skin off of his head to reveal that he was an alien. Being that young at the time, I had never known of make-up and prosthetics, so this looked very real to me, and I was grossed out and freaked out.

I didn't run home crying to my parents or have nightmares, but that experience has stayed with me ever since. Now as somebody who understands what make-up, CGI, and prosthetics are in the world of TV and movies, seeing that kind of stuff doesn't scare me. But I won't lie: I've never had a desire to watch the original V.

Looking back, I know there are far, far worse things to scare a child and scar him or her for life. Spousal or child abuse can do more damage than getting scared by flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz or the man in the big white suit in E.T. But it seems like a lot of people have some sort of story about seeing something when they were way too young to comprehend it. Be it seeing Halloween on USA late one night or getting the sex talk from a doctor in fifth grade and being totally in the dark about the concept and why women make weird sounds, we have some sort of experience to share.

So I had no qualms or fears about watching a modern day retelling of V. Overall, I enjoyed what I saw, especially Elizabeth Mitchell's overall performance and the pacing and tension of the second half of the episode. And no Vs pulled an entire piece of skin off. But if they ever do, I won't be scarred for life.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Dryer Wars

The dryer woes continue, but they have made for a rather amusing adventure in getting my weekly laundry done. And this has made me wonder about my laundry habits in the first place.

While I own enough different outfits to wear for maybe two or three months without a trip to the laundry room, that number is greatly reduced by the number of clothes that fit the size I currently wear. Thanks to sticking to a regular exercise routine and being mindful of what I eat, a lot of my clothes are too big for me. I still want to hold onto these articles of clothing, mainly out of fear I'll gain back all the weight I lost. So in other words, I wear maybe a quarter of the wardrobe I actually own.

I own a lot of T-shirts (mainly bands I was really into while I was in college), and while T-shirts are fine to wear to my workplace, I prefer to not wear them everyday. Pretty much every work week involves khakis, loose button-down shirts, and socks. I wear clothes until they fall apart, so I have many of the same pants and shirts in the washer and dryer every single week.

I like the routine of doing my laundry during the week, but when I can't stick to that routine because of issues that I have no control over, I get really crabby and antsy. I prefer to keep my loads of laundry down to three a week. That way, doing laundry takes up an afternoon and nothing more. Doing more loads infrequently is almost unfathomable for me.

For a few days after our new breaker was installed, the dryer worked just fine for Matt. But when I went to dry my clothes, the dryer wouldn't start. It was like the dryer quoted Superchunk and said, "I'm working, but I'm not working for you." So, out of the graces of my neighbors upstairs, I got to do a load of laundry including my bedsheets and workout gear. Those items are, in my mind, essentials.

The deal was, due to the fact that my neighbors were leaving for a trip the following day and needed to do their own laundry, I could only get one load done. I was thankful to get that one in, but I had to think about how I could dry my two other loads of laundry. I didn't want to take them to the semi-seedy/nasty laundromat around the corner from my house, so I came up with an idea.

Since I was going to a party at Jason's house on Friday, I asked if I could dry my clothes at his house while I was partying. He and Dana were kind enough to let me do my business, so the laundry got done.

But now it's Tuesday and I want to start laundry the first thing in the morning tomorrow. My landlord, who's been out of town for the last few days, hopes to come out tomorrow with an electrician to see what the problem is. I certainly have the patience for that to happen, but what has made me more antsy is just trying to understand why the dryer works for other people, but not me. I know I'm stretching one of the Four Agreements here by trying to not take things personally, but I'm just wanting an answer or two about this whole thing.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Hey, remember the 90s?

I can't remember exactly when or where I heard this last week, but something about 1990s nostalgia was brought up in a conversation. Something was mentioned about how it was going to be the next nostalgia trend with people my age and younger. As in, more modern bands referencing 90s bands and people throwing parties centering around a theme that is very 90s-centric. And within just a few days, I talked with some friends at a party that were en route to a party where people were asked to dress up as a character from a 90s' sitcoms.

I know nostalgia doesn't stop, and I don't think nostalgia is a bad thing, but I find things strange to experience nostalgia for an era that actually lived through.

Being a teenager who was born at the end of the 1970s meant there were no 8-tracks, Led Zeppelin concerts, or a Vietnam War to deal with in your teenage years. So it's easy to imagine how things were much cooler in the 70s when the Ramones and the Clash put out their debut albums and how awesome films like Star Wars and The Godfather were in the theater. While Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Pavement were cool at the time in your teenage years, there was this strange (but understandable) kind of connection to a past where you weren't there. It's the, "things just aren't what they used to be" kind of thought process.

I'm very guilty by association with feeding into a mentality that certain things in the 90s were "better" (see my first book and my second book in the works), but I'm not trying to change the course of the past and alter the future. Rather, I think it's necessary to talk about the context of the day to understand why certain bands and movies were great in their day and are still great today.

That said, I'm definitely not somebody who wants to pretend like the 90s never ended. Far from it. I'm definitely not the same person I was in middle school and high school, and I don't pine for those days as much as I pine for the days ahead. I think I'll find myself in a time warp for the next few years seeing oversized pants, flannel, and vintage Big Muff distortion pedals back in style.