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Showing posts from 2012

Start Today

If something is staring me in the face that needs to change, I'm not patient enough to wait until January 1st to take care of it. Last week, Jenny and I enjoyed spending time in Florida with her family and a few days at the beach. The hope of any vacation - no matter how short it is - is that you are relaxed while you're on it and come back to regular life with some clarity. Being at the beach last year was great for me, looking at Lake Michigan felt great earlier this year, and I certainly felt clarity while on the beach last week. I thought about things I could change in my life, and how to change them. Loosely, I've made some resolutions in the new year, but they're not the kind I want to be extremely vocal about. There's some housecleaning to do in my house as well as in my mind. I already started on some of those today, and I'm not finished with them until I say they're finished. I look forward to 2013. Lots of good stuff is on the horizon, and th

My first . . .

This week's edition is a monster. I reached out to a dozen people I interviewed this year for the column, and almost all of them got back to me via Facebook. Since it's the holiday/best-of version, it's OK that it's long. And I contributed to a year-end list for best local releases. It should come as no surprise that I praised Things of Earth once again.

The Tenacity of the Cockroach

( I briefly mentioned this in yesterday's post, but I wanted to write a separate post on Keith Phipps' departure from The A.V. Club.) When Keith broke the news on his site yesterday morning, I was surprised and saddened. I'm not one to think that one person will remain in the same job position until retirement, but the departure seemed abrupt. Especially since this was just a few days after The A.V. Club reached a pop culture milestone when it was spoofed on The Simpsons . I will remain a daily reader of the site as long as the content is worth reading. I hope Keith will land on his feet in a job that brings out the best of his talents as a writer and editor. But I can't help reflect on how much the site has meant to me under his command. He had been with The Onion for fifteen years, helping make a small section of it into a full-on epicenter of pop culture discussions. How I came to know Keith was from a very brief encounter while I was writing my first book. 

One day at a time

On my way back from Houston yesterday, I saw a sign outside of a church: "You can argue with God, you just can't win." I had a good chuckle because I agree with that sentiment. While I don't brand myself a Christian, I do have an attachment to the ideas of being hopeful, a good person, helpful towards others, and a positive-thinking person. And it's taken me a long time to understand the difference between things that are in my control (which is a small number) and the things that are not in my control (which is a very large number). I spent most of this year upset about things that happened in 2011. I couldn't shut the door on a drastic change in my personal and professional life that happened over the course of four short months. I had started 2011 in a happy relationship while I was in a band I enjoyed playing with and made the best of a hostile work environment. By the end of October last year, all three of those situations were not in my life anymore.

My first . . .

This week's edition is with Jonas from Turbo Fruits. Usually, I have my interviews scheduled, taped, and transcribed well before my Tuesday afternoon deadline. I was going to interview a different member of the band on Tuesday, but when I called him, he said he was in the hospital. He suggested that I talk to a different member of the group and I rescheduled with the publicist. My interview with Jonas finally happened last night at five, but he was afraid his call was going to drop because he saw mountains ahead on his drive. Luckily, the signal did not drop and we had a great conversation.

A year in music

If there is one word I could use to describe my life in 2012, it's rebuilding. Rebuilding in the sense of figuring out what I truly want in my personal and professional life. I thought long and hard while trying to move forward. Music, as always, kept me sane through all of this. I listened to a lot of music that was released this year -- a lot more than I had in previous years. This list reflects that, as well as a number of the shows I saw and stories/interviews that I did. The Best Records Released This Year Title Fight, Floral Green Despite the vastness of options on the Internet, I still go off of friend recommendations the most when it comes to finding out about new music. My friend Seth was highly enthusiastic about Title Fight's second record, calling them "Seaweed Jr." Upon listening to it, especially "Secret Society," I agreed, but I also added No Knife, Hum, and Lifetime to the list of obvious influences. Most of these guys are not old eno

My first . . .

This week's edition has a peculiar origin. I met Andrew at the Converge show early last month.Our mutual friend Nikki introduced us and I thought he looked like he was in a band. Turns out I was right and I asked him about any upcoming shows. He mentioned the show on the 6th, so I figured I should interview him for the week of the show.

Unanswered Prayers

Dear Garth Brooks, There was a time when you were one of the biggest entertainers in the world. Not just in country music, but you were an icon. Your name was up there on the pop charts with Yanni, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, and Celine Dion. It was all because you had that incredible run of chart-topping albums and singles starting back in 1989. As a weekly reader of the Billboard charts when I was a teenager, I was very aware of this throughout the 1990s. And I was also aware of your music even though my ears were more attuned to Nirvana, Metallica, and Green Day. Whether it was a Boy Scout trip or a family trip, I heard "Friends in Low Places," "The Dance," "The Thunder Rolls," and "Rodeo" many, many times. I even played along on one Boy Scout trip and sang along with "Friends in Low Places." Most other times I scowled, moaned, and ultimately, put up with hearing your music on endless roads. I never hated you, but your music was

Clockwork Angels

Not only did I get to review last night's Rush show at the American Airlines Center, I also had the pleasure to snap a few pictures up in the front. Turning around and looking at the crowd in the arena, I thought I was in The Song Remains the Same . Absolutely special night.

My first . . .

This week's edition is with Evan Chronister, someone I've known for years. He's told me plenty of great stories about seeing pivotal and influential bands, but he had never told me about seeing Rush. I hope to see him tonight when I cover the Rush show at AAC.

My grown-up Christmas list

For two decades, when it came to compiling a Christmas list, compact discs were at the top of the list. Every year, from middle school to last year. Be it a box set, single CD, or double-CD, there was a continuation of my want-itis for years. But this year, my Christmas list doesn't feature any CDs. As much as this might sound like a joining with modern society, I'm still a CD buyer and only listen to CDs in my car. But when it came to things I most wanted for Christmas this year, DVDs, books, golf-related stuff, and bike-related stuff came to mind. I still listen to plenty of music, but given the MP3s I get every month from eMusic, along with used LPs I get from Half Price Books, CDs aren't the go-to format for me now. I certainly will not fathom abandoning the format completely. But for now, my wants (and the things I want to buy for others) lies in other things. I credit (credit, not blame) this to a decision that music isn't the only important matter in my life.

Meet the . . .

I'm rather perplexed by the supposed pressure we put on ourselves before meeting possible future in-laws. I've put pressure on myself before and it ended up not being a big deal. I've had friendly relations with my previous girlfriends' parents and I'm happy to say that has continued with Jenny's family (I met her mother and one of her sisters a few weeks ago, and I will meet the rest of the family at Christmas.) When we're teenagers, there's a bigger sense of pressure. The whole, "Why are you dating my daughter?" awkward conversation and all. Since every girl I asked out in high school turned me down (sad trombone), I never had to deal with that. No questions like, "What are you going to do with your life?" or "Where do you plan to go to college?" When I got to college, I had a relatively pressure-free experience with my college girlfriend. These days, on paper (and in the eyes of suspicious skeptics), I sound like a qu

My first . . .

This week's edition ran a day later for a technical difficulty. Our interview was scheduled for noon on Tuesday, but all attempts to make contact didn't happen. Hans called me yesterday, very apologetically, and we did the interview. We spoke for less than ten minutes and I asked a lot of questions. Then I transcribed it and uploaded it. Also, in print edition, I wrote a couple of blurbs about two winners of the DOMAs. I wrote one on Burning Hotels and one on the Foundry. I couldn't make the awards showcase on Saturday due to a wedding, and I couldn't make the ceremony since I was at the Title Fight show at Dada. The promoter and one of the bands on the bill won DOMAs and were very gracious of their respective awards, but they seemed like they had more fun being at a show (and a rowdy one, no less).

What Happened?

For the past three years, I have looked for a single book that went out of print years ago. Almost every single time I went to Half Price Books, I dropped in on the TV books section all for the hopes of finding Mr. Show: What Happened? by Naomi Odenkirk. I wasn't sure how the book would be filed: "Mi" for mister or "Mr" for Mr? Repeat trips to the section found me looking a plethora of Monty Python-related books as well as books on Mr. Ed and Mr. Bean. I can't remember exactly where in the filing I found this, but I was tremendously happy to find it last Sunday: I wouldn't consider myself a super-fan of Mr. Show . I didn't really find it funny when I originally saw on HBO or when my friends would watch it. When it was on HBO, I thought the humor was over my head. When I originally watched it with my friends, I thought I had to be high to get the humor. Luckily, I gave the show another shot a few years ago and I finally appreciated the dark/tw

Merry Christmas, Baby?

There is a little war being waged in my household over Rod Stewart's career in the past ten years. Yes, Rod Stewart. (War might not be the right word, as the extent of it has been posting links on Facebook timelines and hurling light insults at each other. Nothing has come to fisticuffs or hurt feelings, yet.) If my memory is correct, my housemate Matt casually mentioned his love of Rod Stewart's recorded output. Rod the Mod's been on his mind quite a bit lately, mainly with all the used vinyl LPs he's found in the past few months at Half Price Books. I have plenty of appreciation for the material found on these LPs, going back to his days with the Faces to his early solo work, and all the way to songs found on his mid-1990s albums. For those keeping score at home, that's "Stay With Me" and "Maggie May" all the way to "My Heart Can't Tell You Know" and "Rhythm of My Heart." Where the line goes off in different directio

The Un-Friend Zone

Before Friendster, MySpace, LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Facebook, who you kept in touch with was not for public knowledge. A lot of people had a Rolodex or an address book filled with phone numbers and addresses. (Throughout high school, I had a small piece of paper with my friends' phone numbers on it.) With cell phones, keeping any number stored in your phone was groundbreaking. But ever since those aforementioned social networks came into prominence (especially MySpace and Facebook), deleting anyone from a virtual (and public) Rolodex has become a touchy subject. Un-friending someone doesn't mean, "I don't want to hear your political rants, what you're eating, or what was the last movie you saw." Instead, it often comes across as, "I need distance from you, so I'm breaking communication ties for now." And sometimes (usually with the blocking function) it means, "I don't want to have anything to do with you for the foreseeable future."

My first . . .

This week's edition is with Shane from Title Fight, a band I've come to love in the last few months. My friend Seth highly recommended their latest, Floral Green , to me, and I returned the favor in the first question I asked.


I believe it's safe to share this information now: while it's not a full-time job, I have a new, regular freelance writing gig. Writing copy for dentist offices throughout the country, it's something I am learning more about by the day. My skills as a blogger and copywriter have come in handy, allowing me to finally break from the box I've felt trapped in for so long. I will continue to write about music and books because I feel extremely passionate about doing that. I might make little or no money off of writing about music, but I'm not going to stop. Writing in general still keeps my chops in shape and my thoughts flowing. I'd be foolish to quit. Something that was hard to explain to non-radio people was my actual job with my last company. Essentially, I was the guy who took a lot of information about traffic and made it readable and understandable for quick reports on the radio and TV. That involved a lot of multi-tasking with plates spinning in the air,

This is for the hearts still beating

I've been very lucky to see many great shows this year. From Chris Botti to the Jealous Sound to Ben Folds (with and without the Five) to the Afghan Whigs, all of these shows will be in my (usually lengthy) end of the year recap. Yet it was the show I witnessed last night that trumped everything else I've seen in 2012: Converge with Torche, Kvelertak, and Enabler at Dada. This was a show that reminded me about what life is truly like in the now, not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. Just living in the present and having a ball. Performances alone made the night, but the kicker was the camaraderie with the people I knew at the show and some of the new people I met. Before the show began, I had the chance to meet and chat with Jake Bannon at the merch table on the patio. Following up on the conversation we had for this week's My First Show, we talked and talked about other things, like the hold-up on the vinyl edition of All We Love We Leave Behind (that new Beatles


In this week's print edition, I wrote the main feature on Bobby Patterson's life after radio. Even though I've talked with him plenty of times before, I immensely enjoyed interviewing him for the first proper time. As in, the recorder was on. Doing traffic for him was the highlight of my final year as a traffic reporter, but like him, I'm moving on. My hope was to write something honest and personal, but in a way that people who haven't heard his music can relate.

My first . . .

Nice little background on this week's edition with Jake Bannon from Converge. I had never interviewed him before, but one of my friends had. The word on Jake was, "He's intense." I didn't know what to expect, but when I called him a few weeks ago, he was one of the nicest guys I've ever interviewed. Obviously we talked about a lot of different stuff, but I'm happy it's stuff you don't normally see in an interview with him. Looks like all that time listening to the band's material and following MMA helped me.


I made a big hub-ub about getting a new bike, but I haven't really written anything about it since then. Well, the bike has served me incredibly well. So well that I clear an average between 20-45 miles a week. The key is to stay consistent and there is immense enjoyment in staying consistent. I've had to make some adjustments to the bike in order to handle everything I like to do: got new tires (the ones that the bike came with had large nubs, so it felt like I was peddling a tractor), new tubes (it's not fun to get ready for a ride and finding a flat tire), and new pedals (the plastic ones that came with the bike broke after a few long rides). Thus, I recognize all the employees at the bike shop I go to. Finding a safe route from my house to the White Rock Lake trail, I can clear 22 miles in two hours. That's two nine-mile laps around the lake as well as four total miles to get from my house and back. I get a strong feeling of happiness when I'm able to accomp

Turn On the Fun

I know I've written about going back to the Best Buy I worked at in college, but there were new thoughts that came into my head when I was in Houston last week. I don't miss working there, and the store layout that I remember is completely different now. Instead of drawing customers in with CDs and VHS tapes, the emphasis is (and has been for a few years) on cell phones and computers (especially their Geek Squad service). My area of expertise has been relegated to a pit stop before checking out. What was once a dozen aisles and shelves is now a couple of shelves and kiosks. And the CDs are shelved in alphabetical order with no room to break things up by music genre. It's Kanye West next to Wilco across from Jason Aldeen and As I Lay Dying. I'm not bitter or hurt; I simply reflect how I've moved on from there as a former employee and a regular customer. Working at the store between 1997 and 2000, I experienced the last hurrah of the music industry with CDs. I sto

My first . . .

This week's edition is with Hormones, a local band. Turns out, we have a few close mutual friends, so there was no shortage of things to talk about. And it certainly helped that these three guys had been friends for a long time.


I don't think it's ever too late to try something, but there are matters that seem more apt when you're younger in order to fully experience. It's like a rite of passage; getting the sense of what it means to be an adult and (mostly) unafraid. Latest examples: riding a Ferris wheel and visiting a haunted house. Kind of like those John Hughes movies I wrote about a few weeks ago, you can experience those at any time, but there's more of a lasting impact when you're becoming an adult. In one 24-hour period on Saturday, Jenny and I went on the Texas Star for the first time and went to Screams, a haunted amusement park, for the first time. We had a ball with both, and neither of us came away frightened or scared to go do those things again. Riding the famed Texas Star, we (including my sister and one of her daughters) enjoyed an amazing view of the city and the rest of the State Fair. Motion-wise, it felt like we were in an elevator with a windy 360-degree view.

My First . . .

This week's edition is with Matt from Joyce Manor. If it seems rather short, well, it had to be done over e-mail since the band was on tour in Europe. Matt gave some good answers, and the brevity of the interview seems apt for how short their songs are.

Your Eyes Were Shining

For the past two nights, I was able to let go at two different shows. Absolutely let go without breaking the law or making a fool of myself. Just being able to do that has been difficult in recent memory, but it looks like the Afghan Whigs and Jealous Sound helped me get out of this box I've been in. Prior to Sunday night, I had never seen Greg Dulli perform live. Not with the Gutter Twins, the Twilight Singers, or the Afghan Whigs. Thankfully, I was able to see the reformed Whigs (assisted by players from the Twilight Singers) play a magnificent set at the Granada Theater. Playing all of the songs I love by them (especially from Gentlemen , Black Love , and 1966 ), I was quite a happy camper. I sang along without a care about who was around me. Dulli's lyrics and singing certainly convey an incredible vulnerability -- hence why people still love him. Even though he sings about a lot of broken relationships (and I've sung along to them while going through one in recent

My first . . .

This week's edition is with Jayson from California Wives. Special note: this is the first time I've ever asked a band, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" It won't be my last.

Sixteen Candles John Hughes?

For many years, I had seen only a couple of movies with ties to John Hughes (whether he was the writer or writer/director): Ferris Bueller's Day Off , Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York . That meant no Sixteen Candles , Pretty in Pink , Some Kind of Wonderful , or The Breakfast Club for me in the 80s. Of course I knew about those movies, but I wasn't drawn to R-rated movies in general because my parents didn't want me to see them. The R-rated movies I was attracted to were action flicks, not salty-language pics about romantic triangles. When I really got into movies that were beyond what the multiplexes had (aka, college), I was more into horror flicks and indie movies. I'm talking the Scream franchise (and its ensuing knock-offs), some of the Halloween movies, Good Will Hunting , Swingers and all of Kevin Smith's movies. While I did see Weird Science , I had been told that I must see The Breakfast Club , Pretty in Pink , and Sixteen Candles by man


What happens when I receive an e-mail about a VIP pass sitting at the Observer 's front desk for me and a couple of other freelancers? I go by and talk with Audra for a little bit. Knowing that the pass is good for a show that's very close to my home, I then open my big mouth and ask, "Is anybody covering this?" That's how this review came to be.


Well, since I talked about it on Twitter last week, it looks like I can make this official here: I strongly believe I have another book in me to write. That's book number three for me, officially. Even though I had an idea to write something about vampire zombies in suburbia during Christmastime (really), I've shelved that idea for now and will focus on something different. It will be a (gasp!) novel and I've already begun working on it. What it will be is an extremely loose concept: pop culture critics. That's all I can say for now since that's about all that I have in the can. I don't foresee this book taking years to write, but if that's what happens, then that's what happens. As exciting as it would be to write an entire book in the month of November, I'd rather create qualitative results over quantitative. Meaning, fifteen pages of useable stuff after a few weeks instead of fifty pages of crap that must either be chopped into pieces or throw

I Want Your Skulls

When it comes to decorating, there is usually only one time of the year that I do it. And it's not Halloween. What gives? I've always enjoyed Halloween as an adult and a kid. I'm always happy to see what my nieces will be each year, and I'm very eager to check out horror flicks I have not seen before. Giving out candy can be fun, but in the neighborhood I live in, it can take a lot out of me. But for all my time out of my parents' house, the most I've done in terms of decorating was placing a plastic jack-o-lantern on the kitchen counter and filling it with candy. No skeletons, skulls, vampires, goblins, or ghouls. In the last five years, I've had the pleasure to carve jack-o-lanterns with my friend Amy. Making a party of the event by adding caramel apples, this has been a wonderful get-together every time. This year, though, Amy is moving out of town, taking a great job in Houston, so there probably won't be a party. But I'm adamant that M


Changing things up a little bit with the ongoing "Playing music for our kids" series, I had my cousin Andrew listen to a dozen songs I associate with my high school years. What he thought was pretty cool. I still remember him being only a few weeks old, sleeping soundly through my mother's PhD commencement in '96. A few years ago, he inherited my old Casio keyboard. Not too long after, I bought him "Who Let the Dogs Out" on iTunes. Last year, he told me how much he liked Andrew Bird and Fleet Foxes. It's great to have another music enthusiast in the family.

My first . . .

This week's edition is with Brandon Butters, a local drummer who plays with two of the best new Dallas bands, the West Windows and Things of Earth. We discussed things over drinks and food at the Anvil Pub last week, so the conversational side really came out on this one.

Kickstarter My Heart

A suggestion that's been passed my way about publishing and promoting When We Were the Kids : How about a Kickstarter campaign for it? While I have no problem with fans helping fund an album, a tour, or a promotional campaign, I'm not sure a Kickstarter pledge drive is the right thing for this book. Based on what it took to get Post out there, the total cost of publishing, promoting, and having the book listed as "returnable" (an important factor if you ever want your book in a store) is somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500. That's not an unreasonable number, but it's not the kind of money I have lying around and burning a hole in my house. The problem I have with fans and friends funding a project like this: I can't really offer much in return other than a thanks and a signed book. There's no signed vinyl, guest list appearances for life, a camping trip, a lunch date, or having a song written about you. This is merely a 200+ page Word document tha

Do It Anyway

This past weekend was a long one -- longer than most weekends for me -- but I had fun. On Saturday, I reviewed the first Texas edition of Riot Fest for not only DC9, but also the Houston Press 's blog, Rocks Off. My DC9 review is a little different than my review for Rocks Off because I wanted to give the perspective from a local and an out-of-towner, respectively. Of course, it was hot, and I found Rise Against's set to be a long and painful way to end the evening, but I enjoyed the day. I certainly enjoyed the Gatorade when I got home. Last night, I had the privilege of seeing Ben Folds Five and taking photos during the first three songs. My review is a basic rundown of the show, but I'd like to share some more that obviously didn't fit in the review. When I walked up to the stage as the band came on, a rush of feelings came over me. I still remembered what it was like to drive around Kingwood in 1997 listening to my dubbed cassette copy of Whatever and Ever

The "Perfect" Candidate

September is coming to a close and I can't help thinking about how long it's been since I was laid off. October 26th, 2012 is only a few weeks away, but October 26th, 2011 still feels like a few months back. I can't stress enough how much of a relief it was to be laid off. That said, I've been ready to get back into a full-time job situation for months. I haven't been lazy, as I have stressed many times before. Every promising job lead, I've looked into. Frustratingly, when trying to go outside of my realm with jobs, I run into a brick wall created by recruiters. Loosely, I understand why companies have recruiters, but I can't wrap my head around something that I frequently experience. Great people who fit the personality and most of the job description don't get considered while mediocre people who don't fit the personality and have all of the skills in the description get considered. Which leads me to this question: is there such thing as a "

Hold That Thought

I recently drove Jenny around Fort Worth to show her the TCU campus and the places I lived between 1998 and 2002. I still have fond memories of my time living there, even though I'm much happier living in Dallas. I couldn't help remembering all the times I drove alone around Berry St, Bryant Irvin, Stadium Drive, and Hulen. Music kept me company, as it always has, but thinking about my time in college, I spent so much time alone in my '92 Toyota Camry.  I listened to a ton of different bands in that Camry, three different dorm rooms, and two different apartment complexes. I hung out with many good people in those days, many of whom I'm still friends with. Yet the band that takes me immediately back to my senior year of high school and all my years in college is Ben Folds Five. Today, the Five have a new record out called The Sound of the Life of the Mind . I wasn't expecting a new record and wasn't pining for the band to reform. I was perfectly happy listeni

The Old Man in the Room

While at shows, there have been times where I've felt like the old man in the room. It's not often, but it does happen every once in a while. This feeling is like being an odd duck, coming across as someone trying to hold onto youth while being around those who are in the prime of their youth. It's like a denial of adulthood. A few years back, I watched Tilly and the Wall play at Hailey's to a very large audience made up mostly of college students. Seeing all these post-teenagers in thrift store clothes, break-dancing to hip-hop, and going nuts for these twee darlings, I wondered what the hell I was seeing. Clearly I was not one for this band or audience, but I was there because my band was fortunate to open the show. I didn't feel like the old man when I saw Mission of Burma on Friday night. Seeing three guys with plenty of gray in the hair along with friends who are close to my age (including Andy Odom, who covered the show for the Observer ), I felt welcom

Gone with the Schwinn

Last year, I had to let go of a body board that I had enjoyed since middle school. This morning, I had to retire my mountain bike. I've had this Schwinn Frontier since 1991. It got me from my house to seventh and eighth grade every single day without any issue. When I was struck by a slow-moving small truck while going through a crosswalk, there was no significant damage to the bike or me (aside from a sprained ankle and the chance to tell a story that starts with, "Did I ever tell you about when I was hit by a truck?") When some kids up the street thought it would be funny to chase after me a few times (including the day I was hit by the truck), it got me out of harm's way. After middle school, the bike sat in my parents' garage until last year. My parents were kind enough to get new grips, seat, and tires. I enjoyed the hell out of riding that sucker, but I knew it couldn't last for too much longer. The brakes were failing, rust was here and there, and the f