Friday, July 23, 2021

Journey Through the Past

There's a lot to dislike about Amazoomer Billionaire Space Phallus Thrusters, but one of the few small pleasures they offer is that they have my old addresses on file, dating back through every dodgy apartment or shared house I ever had. All the way back to when I was in grad student housing, somehow ordering Krazy & Ignatz books on my Mac Classic, probably paying with a postal money order. Kind of crazy to think that I've been involved in internet commerce for nearly thirty years now. But I digress.

One of the things to dislike about Amazoomer is that they keep all your old addresses on file. My wife was ordering a few little trinkets for the boy, and somehow she ended up sending them to a house where we haven't lived in fourteen years. I pointed this out to her and we both gasped. "It's OK," I said. "I'll drop by there on the bike with the boy tomorrow. It's not that far out of the way."

So yesterday I'm riding home with the boy (he does not care for the unannounced detour AT ALL) and I stop by the old house. Weird to be there, right? I walk up to the door and there's package 1 of 2 with her name on it. I ring the doorbell and wait. I notice the "Protected by ADT" sticker on their window. I knock. No answer. I look in my bike bag for paper and pen. The only paper that I have that is at all usable is one eighth of an old church bulletin, so I tear that off. Sweating, I write a little message and my phone number and wedge it in between the handle and deadbolt. On the way out, I grab our package and I feel like a total criminal.

Today I get a call from the current resident of the house, and he says to swing by after 7. I ride my bike over, and on the way there I get a message saying that he's going to be late. No problem. I pick blackberries by the side of the trail, ride up some trails on Powell Butte, ride around the old streets, largely unchanged. It is awesome.

I head over to the house once he says he's home. I knock on the door, he opens, I pick up the package, and I resist the temptation to look past him into the nondescript ranch house where I lived for two years and where I nearly died once. I know what it looks like. You always remember the places where you nearly die, right?

Somehow I wedge the package onto my bike rack and I head back home into blinding sun.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Richard Youngs

I'm not always inclined to listen to Richard Youngs, but I like the fact that each time I do go to listen to him, he has like eight new albums:

The YouChoob Music algorithm fed me a very pretty cover of "Soon It Will Be Fire" this morning (triggering my RY search), and I'm a little surprised that more people haven't covered his stuff. Whoa, whole-album cover of Sapphie? Good idea!

It sounds like the pandemic has been good to him in terms of his output. Sometimes I wonder how much music I could crap out if unconstrained by job or small-child responsibilities, but then I remember when I barely had a job and I didn't have a small child, and I was not exactly cranking out the hits. (But I think I did manage to play Shenmue II more than once, gulp.)

What, there's another AMOR album as well? Man has the Internet let me down! OK, off to listen to it.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

"For lovers only"

When I'm doing the dishes, I like to watch videos on my tablet, but nothing too engaging, right? Old game shows or Canadian football are about my speed. Things where you can tune out and put away spoons until the noise gets a little louder and it's time to stop clanking around. 

The other day I was watching a 1978 episode of Tic Tac Dough (with commercials) and this ad stopped me in my tracks. The very spirit of soft rock, distilled down to 30 seconds. What on earth is she doing with her vowels in the phrase "Penn Hills?" Is that a triphthong? What, who, or why is "Dynamic Sound of Heather?" Are those heart-shaped hot tubs? She whispers "for lovers only" at the end in case you missed it the first time. It all seems so appealing. So I went to DuckDuckGo* to look for more about this place, and it sounds like the ensuing 43 years have not been kind to this particular love nest. After years of urban-adventurer decay, it's been leveled and returned to the Brodhead Watershed Association. Soft rock dream's loss, wildlife's gain.

*I use the less-creepy and less-good search engine for most things but then I spill out my guts on this Gwoogwoo-owned platform and stumble on 1978 soft rock fantasias on a Gwoogwoo-owned video site. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Crazy person stereo update

On Sunday I was biking around and stopped by a few yard sales in the manufactured home community down the hill. This park is always having yard sales and they're usually not that interesting, but one of the sales was offering this thing for $10, supposedly working:

[record scratch sound combined with bike brake sound]. Whoa, it's a... Technics SA-6800x. How many knobs and buttons and switches are on that thing? I examined it more closely and the answer is "a lot." Is this thing...quad? It's quad. I have no need for the quad features now that we're in the actual future, but more knobs and switches are never a bad thing, right? Plus three tape deck in/outs (!!!) so I can dub back and forth between any number of formats, both obsolete and non-obsolete. 

I pick it up (with my car, not the bike - my bike heroism knows some limits), plug it in, and lo and behold, it does work, pretty much 100%. Knobs are a little scratchy, but a few twists later, things seem to be working OK. Definitely an improvement in both sound and fun over my previous adequate Denon receiver.

Plus, fun fact: My stereo now has pieces from the 70s (receiver), 80s (turntable), 90s (tape deck), 00s (CD player), 10s (Chromecast Audio), and 20s (work computer). And enough jacks to plug everything in. Thank you for reading this very nerdy entry.

Goon Sax Mirror II Pt II

The previous post compared "Temples" to Crabstick. The reviewer would like to change the reference to Crabstick to a reference to Blairmailer and regrets the error. "The Chance" is the one that sounds more like Crabstick.

Also, pretty amazed by the harmonic and rhythmic acrobatics on "Temples." One of those songs that just gets more interesting the more you dig into it - it has sections in 7/4, 4/4, 6/8, some other time signatures probably, and I think it ends up in a key that is not altogether related to the one in which it began? Now I think it sounds more like early Soft Machine, so I guess dude's Syd Barrett reference isn't mere namedropping. Total epic despite its 3-and-a-half-minute running time.

A couple small quibbles now that I've listened to it ten times or so:

  • There are a couple songs that are content to be merely pleasant. I want to see them go BOAT ("Balls Out All the Time", acronym that I inflicted on Cosmonox/All I Feel Is Yes, let's see this trend on Urban Dictionary please, also do not search for this phrase on the internet). 
  • The mastering (at least on the CD) is a little over the top. Things are so squashed. (BOAT, I guess?). Not much room for anything to breathe at all. Sigh.
Where will they go next?

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Goon Sax _Mirror II_ initial thoughts

I was a big fan of the first two Goon Sax albums, so I preordered the new one, especially since the first two singles ("In the Stone," song of summer 2021? and "Psychic") were so good. A slender digipak CD showed up in my mailbox yesterday. Props to a certain large indie for continuing to put out CDs for the cheapskates among us, even if the script font they use doesn't work so well at the smaller scale.

I've only listened to it a few times so far, but so far so good. Things get a lot weirder after the first couple songs.

It's been interesting following the press about this album. The young hipsters in the band name-drop some absurd artists in the press release like Les Rallizes Desnudes (did I recall that correctly? It feels better not to fact-check this one) and Jandek. Reminds me of myself when I was that age, name-dropping DNA or Pere Ubu or something while making garden-variety sad-sack home-taper indie-pop. The press has dutifully stenographed said name-drops because it makes them feel cool themselves to name-drop Luh Rallizay Duhnood or Jaandeqq in their article about this weird little indie-pop band. What a world.

James' songs in particular are very interesting, particularly the all-over-the-place "Temples," sounding not so much like the Representative from Corwood Industries as, well, a high-budget version of Crabstick? Which is actually totally great, but no points with the prestige music media if you name-drop Crabstick (45 views on YouChoob). A bit of on-own-planet wildness that reminds me of Eric Gaffney zagging hard against Lou Barlow. I worry about schisms, but for now things are holding together OK.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Vocalist accompanied and lit by illuminated goose


Listening to Wire's totally inscrutable Document and Eyewitness right now. I bought this one my freshman year of college (I think on the same trip where I bought the Bird Nest Roys LP?) and remember a fairly profound sense of disappointment when it was finished playing, coupled with the fact that I spent a princely $7.99 plus tax at the Princeton Record Exchange. That was like two hours of work study - either delivering junk mail to professors or photocopying impenetrable economics journal articles on a giant hot toner-scented green OcĂ© copier. 

Now that I listen to it again decades later, it's all right. I admire the cheek, the weird descriptions of the on-stage action (see post title), some of the weird moments, the wild version of "Go Ahead." But it still stings that the $7.99 I spent could have been converted into like 32 packets of ramen, or three or four shared pizzas. Still, I survived, and somehow this album keeps following me around.

My boy likes Wire now, particularly the song "Outdoor Miner." Good taste!