Archive for August, 2009


tpcThe Smith EP contains 4 songs.  The first two tracks are bouncy energy filled tracks, like on A Lesson in Crime.  But the third track “A Lesson in Crime” sounds very distinctly mellow-Death Cab for Cutie-like.  And it gives the whole EP a slightly more mellow feel.

Track 4, the remix (of “Be Good”) doesn’t change it too much, but makes it more dancey.

Not an essential addition to the TPC fan club, but it’s certainly a good collection of songs.  It’s also got some video content (“Cheer It On,” “Citizens of Tomorrow” and “Nature of the Experiment”) which does increase its value to fans.

[READ: August 19, 2009]  “Laugh Kookaburra”

This David Sedaris piece didn’t make me laugh as much as some of his other ones.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  There are scenes with his sister where they are singing in bed together and their father comes up and yells at them.  Quite funny.  Especially David’s  reaction:

If I had children and they stayed up late, singing a song about a bird, I believe I would find it charming. “I knew I had those two for a reason,” I think I’d say to myself. I might go so far as to secretly record them, and submit the tape in a My Kids Are Cuter Than Yours competition. (more…)


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dfw-title-pageSOUNDTRACK: GARBAGE-Garbage (1995).

garbageI was thinking about how IJ reminds me so specifically of a place and time (I instantly think of the apartment I was in when I started reading it).  And there are also some discs that I was crazy about at the time too.

I very distinctly remember when the first Garbage single “Vow” came out.  I remember seeing it in Newbury Comics [the absolute best record store chain, ever] on Newbury Street and it was plastered with stickers about how it was the new band from Butch Vig and he had produced every popular alt record in the 90s and blah blah blah.  But so I basically got Vigged out and didn’t bother listening to it.

Strangely, I don’t remember what changed my mind about them.  I assume I heard the first proper single “Queer” and instantly fell in love with the band.

It makes me laugh that the band was initially marketed as Butch Vig and two other high-profile producers got together and made this great music and they found this unknown Scottish woman to from the band.  And then, shortly there after the band was Shirley Manson and three unknown guys.  Heh, prettiness wins out.

Garbage was at a record store in downtown Boston that year.  I went down, but went to the wrong location (Doh!) and by the time I got to the right one, the line was too long and I was told I wouldn’t get in.  Alas. (Hey, I’ve still got my autographed poster from The Verve before they released “Bittersweet Symphony.”)

This album was in very heavy rotation at my house at the time.  I must’ve listened to it 1000 times.  But this is the first time I’ve listened to it in awhile.  It’s hard for me to be critical of it since I know every nook and cranny.  But listening to it today I think it is still pretty damned awesome.  The vocals are tight and creepy/sexy.  The songs are all solid rocking/catchy.  And the production is superb (obviously).

Not a bum track on the whole release, even 14 years later.

[READ: Week of August 24] Infinite Jest (to page 729)

There has been much discussion here on the forums and here between me and Infinite Tasks about the IJ timeline.  There is the pretty glaring observation that M.P. tried to kill herself  on November 7th, was in the hospital for five days and then appears in Ennet House on November 8th.

In last week’s reading, the WYYY engineer is musing about M.P.  He was told that she was hospitalized, and I considered that maybe that five day gap came BEFORE she tried to kill herself (for otherwise, how to explain that Mario missed her radio show sometime in late October?).  And yet that doesn’t seem to jibe with the fact that she’s apparently in there for an overdose.

A new timeline issue may be cropping up in this week’s reading.  A green Nunhagen-sponsored car appeared during the Escahton match.  We learn this week that Steeply is driving a Nunhagen-sponsored car.  But she arrives during the Hal/Stice tennis match, three days after Eschaton.  Has she been trying to get into E.T.A. for three days?  But, also, note that she left AZ, and Orin met the Swiss hand model (and Orin is having his second go -round with her during the match), early on the 11th (I think).  So I don’t think Helen could have been at ETA during the Escahton match.  Is there a second gunman green car?

This timeline stuff bugs me mostly because I feel like IJ is really fantastic.  And I assume that DFW spent a lot of time on it. (Certainly more time that I am spending reading it!). I imagine him with charts and graphs and circles and arrows explaining where everyone is at any given time.  Now, there are a number of conceivable explanations for the mistaken timeline:

  • Most of the stories about Madame Psychosis are second-hand, so they could be wrong.
  • There is ample evidence that people in this book are crazy and therefore not to be trusted.
  • And of course, there’s always the possibility that DFW just screwed up.

If this final option is the reality, I won’t be devastated.  I don’t think the book hinges on a few minor timeliness issues.  But I will be a bit surprised.  DFW seems like such a meticulous guy (I mean, geez, look at the detail he puts into his scenes) so it would be really surprising if he got timeline issues messed up.

There is always the possibility that these issues will be cleared up, after all, he ties up so many loose threads, but I suspect they won’t.  And that’s okay.  I won’t turn into Steeply’s father poring over every page and keeping a journal in little notebooks (that’s what the blog is for!)

ijdot1It is incredible serendipity that I did the JOI filmography during this week as this week’s readings actually count on knowing a bit about it.  And since I had just reevaluated it, I was aware of a thing or two during Hal’s viewing scene.

ijdot1Week 10 starts off seeming like a lot of nothing is happening.  There’s a few post-Event scenarios.  Until we get to November 14th, and a whole lot goes on.  A whole lot! (more…)

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sp5SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-SYR 5: Sonic Youth Featuring Kim Gordon/DJ Olive/Ikue Mori (2000).

syr5The fifth SYR disc is rather different from the others in that the only SY member is Kim.  This is a sort of side project for Kim, Ikue Mori and DJ Olive. They’ve played shows together as well.

This disc is also different because it features a number of short songs rather than a couple of long ones.  It also features a lot of different instrumentation: turntables, keyboards, that sort of thing.  Most of the tracks are instrumental (more or less) although a few have Kim’s vocals on it.  And Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto does vocals on one track.

Kim’s side projects (like Free Kitten) are usually pretty abrasive. She lets her freak flag fly with her vocals.  And that in a nutshell will determine whether you like this or not.  Kim is playing mostly guitar, so the other instruments tend to take over a bit.

It’s always interesting when SY mixes it up with another band or solo artist.  But it doesn’t really make it a SY record, proper.

Oh, and all of the writing on the disc is in Japanese.

[READ: August 25, 2009] Scott Pilgrim vs the Universe

There’s a new Scott Pilgrim website which lets us know that Volume 6 will be out in 2010.  I can’t wait that long!

This 5th volume seemed a bit different from the other four.  The lines were crisper, it seemed like Ramona looked a little bit different (her eyes were bigger or something) and overall, the volume was a lot darker (in tone).

Today is Scott’s 24th birthday (he’s now the same age as Ramona, yup he finally asked her).

But at a party Steven Stills tells Knives that Scott had cheated on Knives with Ramona and on Ramona with Knives (which wasn’t true exactly), which sets Knives off again.  She violently confronts Ramona and when she says why, Ramona gets pissed too.

At this same party, Ramona’s evil ex-boyfriends (the twins Kyle and Ken Katayanagi) show up.  Scott prepares to fight them, but they send their robot after him instead.  The fight continues downstairs while everyone pretty much goes to other rooms, kind of bored with the whole escapade.

We also see a bit of Ramona and Scott’s domestic life (Ramona runs errands all day and Scott does, well, nothing). (more…)

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ny[READ: August 27, 2009] “Perfect Match”

This is my second un-“regular” Infinite Jest-related post this week (it’s getting a little out of hand).

I would normally not read a 6 page article about doubles tennis.  But, since we’re in the midst of a heated tennis battle between Hal and Stice, it seemed like mandatory reading.

First off, Burkhart Bilger (wonderfully near-fictional name notwithstanding) is no David Foster Wallace.  While his writing style is much more streamlined, I feel that his passion for tennis is not quite as strong.

Nevertheless, the article was really fascinating.  It’s not available online, but the abstract is here.  I was particularly struck by the explanation that a good doubles game can only help your singles game.  Singles has become very baseline dominated, while in doubles there is a lot more running to the net, giving for broader skills.

Of course, the more IJ-related stuff concerns a) eating.  Bob Bryan says that if he eats just three meals he will lose 3-5 pounds in a day (!) and b) the synchronicity of twins during doubles. (more…)

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vol 4SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-Silver Session for Jason Knuth (1998).

silverThis record came about for two reasons. One was the suicide of longtime Sonic Youth fan (whom the band didn’t know) Jason Knuth.  And the second was because when they tried to record vocal tracks for One Thousand Leaves, the band upstairs was so loud, it kept interfering with their recording.

So, SY turned all of their amps all the way up, put all of their guitars and basses against said amps, turned on a boombox for feedback fun and then left the room.  They say it was so loud that even with hands pressed against their ears it was still too physically oppressive to be in the room.

The band recorded it all (of course) but rather than releasing it all like some kind of Metal Machine Music, they cut the tracks down into small chunks (“Silver Shirt” is 7 minutes long but most are about 4, with “Silver Son” and “Silver Breeze” being under 2).  They also somehow turned what sounds like a noisy disturbing mess into rather pretty ambient pieces.  (In honesty, I have to believe that the band was in the room with for some pieces, since some of “Silver Flower” seems to have strumming on it).  And “Silver Son” actually has a beat of sorts to it.

As with the other disc in the SYR series, these aren’t really songs. They’re not even what you think of as Sonic Youth, but they are interesting experiments (some are actually quite nice).  Not for everyone (heck, hardly for anyone) but if you’re intrigued, its worth checking out.

[READ: August 23, 2009] Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together

This volume mixes things up a bit for the series.  The cover is a wicked reflective style, and there are even 8 color pages at the beginning of the story (that work as a sort of catch up device).  I didn’t really like the color pages all that much to be honest. While it was nice to see that Ramona’s hair is blue, for the most part the color pages felt a bit more mechanical than the regular pages (the edges were crisper, which I didn’t really care for). But whatever, don’t complain about a free addition.

As for the story itself, it seems to up the ante in intensity. (more…)

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blackSOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-SYR 4: Goodbye 20th Century (1999).

syr4This SYR recording consists of Sonic Youth’s interpretations of 20th century composers’ works.  Some of the composers are obscure, but a few are more or less household names: John Cage, Yoko Ono, maybe Steve Reich.  I knew a few of these composers from Kronos Quartet, but for the most part the pieces are all new to me.  Since I don’t know the original pieces I have no idea how faithful they are.

The most fascinating thing about the disc is the CD-ROM video of “Piano Piece #13 (Carpenter’s Piece)” which shows the band performing.  The “song” is literally the band nailing the keys of a piano down.

There are a number of guests on the CD, including the first (I think) performance by Coco Haley Gordon Moore (on the 17 second “Voice Piece for Soprano”).  And, the liner notes are all in English.

This is the longest SYR disc (at over an hour and a half) and it is a fascinating mix of noises and sounds and screams and spoken bits (okay okay okay okay okay okay okay).

This is not for everyone, not even the average Sonic Youth fan.  There’s absolutely nothing in the way of “songs” here.  The abstractness of the disc is palpable.  And, clearly, just knowing that one of the pieces is a bunch of people nailing keys of a piano, you get a fair idea of the breadth of “music” that the disc covers.

[RE-READ August 19th] J.O.I. Filmography

Before reading this week’s section, I had noticed that many people on Infinite Summer (and elsewhere) have discussed James’ films and how they relate to incidents in the overall story.  So, I decided to go back and re-read his filmography Endnote, just to see what else I could learn.

In general, with more background, the Endnote is much more interesting. The first batch of films are more amusing to read about just to see the emphasis on pain and disfigurement.  We also see that he had been using students and teachers from E.T.A. in his films for a while.

We have had an in-depth look at some of these earlier films: The Medusa v. The Odalisque; Homo Duplex, The Joke, The ONANtiad (which the endnote describes as unfunny).  But the ones we haven’t seen show distinct commentary about the state of the country since the Reconfiguration (it’s clear that J.O.I. was against it).  The American Century As Seen Through a Brick deals with anti-O.N.A.N. riots; The Universe Lashes Out is about the evacuation of New Hampshire during the Reconfiguration; Poultry in Motion concerns the toxification of Thanksgiving Turkeys; and No Troy is about miscalibrated Waste Displacement Units that crashed into Troy, NY (which was mentioned in the scene about people looking for entertainment outside of their living rooms).

[Unrelated to the story, on page 990 of my paperback IJ (with forward by Dave Eggers) every italicized word contains a superscript 1 after it (indicating, what? more footnotes?) It is an astonishingly weird glitch/typo and I can’t believe that it wasn’t spotted before going to print as it makes the titles actually harder to read.] (more…)

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ny1It took me going to Seattle to learn about The New Yorker magazine.  I was visiting my friend Rob and he was really surprised that I didn’t read the magazine all the time (my reading always seems to surprise people, see The Believer.)

Upon my first read of the magazine, I was surprised to see that the first twenty pages or so are taken up with upcoming shows: films, concerts, sports, everything.  I actually wondered how much content would be left after all that small print.

Since then I have learned that Sasha Frere-Jones writes columns in here quite ofuiten.  For reasons known only to my head, I was convinced that Sasha was a black woman.  Little did I realize that he is not.  And that he was in a band that I have a CD of called Ui.  He is an excellent resource for all things music, whether I like the artist he’s talking about or not.  Some entries are here.  This audio entry about Auto-Tune is simply fantastic.

But of course, there’s a lot of content.  And the first thing you get are letters.  I don’t think I have EVER looked at the letters section. (more…)

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