Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Cassette Jam '05

Everybody run right out and dig my cover story in the latest Resonance, available at a corporate bookstore chain near you. And yes, I asked him all about OK Soda.
I think it's safe to say this officially now ... my old lady, Lori Shakespeare, has nabbed herself a new job in the University of Washington library system that will afford her slightly more money and considerably more respect. Things were up in the air for a while, but this essentially stakes us down to Seattle for at least another year (barring unforseen disasters/triumphs). Lori gets her MLS degree in December and she'll be eligible for full-on librarian gigs after that, but Seattle isn't the strongest market for such things, so it's possible we'll have to leave for her to pursue a real career.

Personally, I'm glad we're staying for a little while longer. Like all places, there's a lot to hate about Seattle (the bus system, panhandlers, inefficient police force, general big-city frustrations) but on the whole I love it here and there's still some unfinished business I'm trying to wrap up before we move on.

By the way, I haven't exactly fixed the comments section, but they are functional again ... you just have to click on the # below each entry to get where you need to go. Don't ask me how, why or how ... the personal computer is like a car to me, I know how to drive it where I want to go, but once something goes haywire I'm completely lost (though I can occasionally jerryrig an improvised fix).

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Damned project was nearly derailed Friday, and then again Saturday. Mere hours before our first full-on practice we all got phone calls from frontman/genius Jeremy (he of the scarves and tight pants) who sullenly declared that there was no way he could go through with this thing he had started. Various financial and residential pressures were turning his head inside out, he had no time to adequately rehearse, and there was no way he wasn't going to suck once the big day came. I gently suggested he sleep on it, as he's usually a very enthusiastic cat (to a fault) and I was sure he'd change his mind the next day. He did. As for Friday, however, the band (imaginatively named "New Rose" by Jeremy, by the way) was officially off, and I was pretty irritated, so I rented a handful of Doris Wishman films and beered it up.

Saturday, I get the call that our guitarist Brother James was still hip, and was essentially taking over organizational tasks in an effort to make it happen. So an afternoon practice was arranged ... this time it was my turn to make a frantic phone call. I've been having minor (but persistent) chest pains for the past few days, and a sudden flareup an hour before practice was too weird not to investigate. With Lori's prodding, I urged everyone to practice without me, and I split for the emergency room.

I got the full treatment ... EKG, chest X-ray, blood work, and the good news is I was not having a heart attack. The doctors couldn't identify exactly what I was experiencing, but immediately life-threatening causes were not to blame. It was a stressful afternoon, lying nearly nude with a needle in my arm for four hours waiting for results, listening to the heartbreaking caterwauling of the psychotic patient a few rooms over ("WHY CAN'T I SEE A DOCTOR? I'M VOMITING BLOOD! HELP! I DON'T WANT TO BE HERE! DON'T LOCK ME IN THIS ROOM! I'M VOMITING BLOOD!"). More doctors today, in a less intense atmosphere, but I'm not so worried anymore. The pain is barely noticeable, but it is real and is still with me, even as I write this. With luck it's just stress, which means it won't be going away for a while, but psychosomatic illness is something I can live with.

Sunday I got up early, spent several hours working on "the book" (more information to come), a few minutes doing homework and was off to practice at last. With better organization we could have easily shaved two hours off the session (my time is stretched thin these days and two extra hours would have been very welcome) but when it finally came to all of us rocking in unison, everything sounded great and I'm confident that Halloween night will be swimming. The drummer is a maniac Keith Moon type, and playing that bass with said maniac was very satisfying. After seven years, I still have the beat ... the callouses on my fingers could be thicker, but aside from that, I wailed solid.

The next week will be full, at least three more practices, homework, class, last-minute Resonance stuff and a million other tasks I'm sure I'm forgetting about. Fellow heads, please forward a portion of your stash to my secret mailbox ... I would hate to have to depend on my own naturally-produced endorphins over the next seven days.

Friday, October 21, 2005

El Smasho on All Music Guide

Pretty nice review, this, and J. Ankeny had some kind words for the "Notorious/Frank's Five Speed" single as well ... didn't think I'd ever see the day. If only I had the forethought to make sure my name was on the record somewhere. The first, still undocumented single had actual song credits, but I got ripped off on this one ... for the record, "Foster Brooks" is mine, a bitter tribute to an old girlfriend named Cindy that I wrote after repeated exposure to Superchunk's "Slack Motherfucker." Well, at least Tom Deja's name will live on in infamy. All hail Sonic Tom!

Speaking of rock n' roll, I'm playing bass in a Damned tribute band on Halloween night at a Seattle dive called The Fun House. We're doing the Damned Damned Damned LP in its entirety. For those of you keeping track, this will be the first time I've played bass guitar in front of an audience since 1998 ... I got the Knobgobbler restored special for the occasion after seven years of decaying in various closets. First full-length stage gig since The End Times in 1999, not counting this incident. Come on out if you're looking for booze on Halloween and can afford to stay up late (we're headlining for some reason ... tonight I meet the drummer for the very first time).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Untied, a short film by Deborah Stratman

Currently writing an article about Stratman for Resonance. If you can get hold of In Order Not To Be Here, check it out, it's powerful work, a creepy crawl through a midnight suburb as seen through the lens of a surveilance camera.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Back again from another trip, this time east to Minneapolis for the nuptials of my cousin Aaron and his ladyfriend Eli. As both parties are confirmed renaissance fair enthusiasts, I was concerned that the culture clash would be entirely too harsh to handle. As it turned out, no costumes were involved with the ceremony and both Lori and I had a fine time, despite a total lack of alcohol at the reception (they had a Mountain Dew bar ... yeah, it was that kind of wedding).

The train was excruciating. My fear of flying kept us on the ground, and the 36 hour ride there was spent in coach, "sleeping" upright amongst hillbillies, corn-fed Midwesterners, a gaggle of Amish folk and one mouthy, no-class African American girl who bitched loud and often and blamed racism for the fact that no one could stand her. Actually, the fact that she was tolerated at all was a miracle of politeness and/or passive-aggression on the part of everyone around her ... when a second young black person got on board she dove into full-bore ghetto mode, cussing up a storm about how badly she needed the chronic and how the train personnel were out to get her (again, racism).

Thankfully, we rode the sleeper car on the way back, and it was much better. The room was tiny, but private, and the ability to lie prone made all the difference for our mood. Meals were included; the food was terrible, but there was lots of it. Still, we were ready to kiss the filthy streets of Seattle by the time we returned. Unfortunately there was no time ... it was straight back to work for the both of us, Lori to sweat over her portfolio for grad school (she's done in three more months) and me to struggle with a batch of DVD reviews for Resonance.
The Tell Tale Heart