Wizards Taste Falafels

If you can’t tell, I haven’t exactly been busy posting here lately.  I’ve been taking advantage of the short-attention-span-theater that is Twitter and it’s suited me just fine.  So if you need your fix of me – and who doesn’t? – you need to go there to find me.

As things go, I simply haven’t had the time to sit and write anything.  Even writing this is requiring some rebudgeting of time.  Things have just gotten busy.  I have to say that when people said life with kids is time consuming, I didn’t understand that, at least not with only Amanda around.  I realize that when they said “kids,” they literally meant the plural of kids, because what free time we have is not used to sit and write on this site, obviously.  It’s also not used to pull weeds from the front yard, as the letter from our Home Owner’s Association can testify the presence of “weeds that have been allowed to grow to maturity.”  Nor is it used to finish up sprinkler systems that broke last fall.  Or get the dresser I wrote about weeks ago out of the garage so I can park there again.  Whatever.  I’d rather be in with the kids and Alissa, bouncing Danielle on my knees and making her giggle, watching Amanda draw and be a big sister.

I can do a lot of things – not bragging, I just mean I have enough skills to get things done, maybe not perfectly – I’ve kind of felt like one of those “jacks of all trades” for a long time, but I’ve realized recently that a lot of stress is involved in many of these projects I take on.  It hit me not too long ago that despite having the ability to do these things, the tools, etc., when that kind of stress builds up around anything you’re doing, it may just be because it’s just not what you’re suited to doing.  You know, when you have plenty of free time, it’s fine, but when your time is stretched thin, it’s hard to not get a bit stressed out doing to Home Depot three time and Lowe’s once in one weekend . . . and then find out you still have to go back for more stuff to finish off the job.  It’s times like those when I think, “This why people pay others to do this stuff.”  I never got it before – why pay someone to do something you so easily could do yoursef?  I get it now.  I have to finish now – everything’s half-finished and no one could pick up where I am, but in the future, I will seriously consider handing things off to others to do.  Everything else is far too precious to waste all this time doing on tasks I pretty much hate doing.  Am I the last to figure this out?

I’m not a big vinyl buyer, but when I stumble on something unusual I have to pick it up, like this Spanish pressing of one of my very favorite albums of all time (seriously, just listened to it today) – Rush’s Signals.  What’s so weird here is that much of the text and all song titles are in Spanish – something you just don’t see.  The song isn’t “Muchacho Analogo,” it’s “The Analog Kid” in any language it’s played – it’s not like they sing it in Spanish, afterall.  Anyway, I grabbed some not-so-great pictures of the thing for you to enjoy since you may never see one yourself (click through to Flickr to see ‘em at full resolution):

Rush - Signals, in Spanish, front side

Rush - Signals, in Spanish, back side

Side A tracklisting of Signals in Spanish

Side B tracklisting of Signals in Spanish

Side A of Signals in Spanish

Side B of Signals in Spanish

By now everyone has heard the Billy Bob Thornton deal – if not, in short, he was a prick on-air in Canada because he didn’t want to talk about his acting career in lieu of his music.  Thing is, if you watch the video, I think ol’ Karl there went in to this interview with a major chip on his shoulder to begin with and decided he wasn’t going to play along with the radio host no matter what.  Watch him at the beginning – he is clearly not paying attention even though he knows the camera is on him.  His entire problem with the host is that he simply mentioned that he was an actor at the beginning – it’s not like they spent the interview talking about his movies or upcoming films.  His acting career is never brought up after that.  He simply throws a low-key tantrum because the host does what a good host does best: gives the often unaware listeners a frame of reference.  As in, “why should I pay attention to this?  Oh, it’s Billy Bob Thornton, cool.  I’ll see why he wants to make music.”  Billy Bob wants nothing of his acting/writing/directing career mentioned.  Some have argued that he wants his current art to be taken for what it is and not judged based on his fame in other areas, but that’s just possible.  If he’s so concerned about the bleed through of his fame, I have to wonder if maybe he’s also not concerned about how good the music of his band actually is?  Zooey Deschaniel hasn’t had a hard time being taken seriously as a musician.

Let’s put that aside for a moment and look at something else: Bad Santa didn’t bother to show up with his drums, nor was he prepared to sing.  What, exactly, was he going there to do?  I believe he went into this interview/performance for the sole purpose of being a prick, wanting to make a scene.  If he had walked in there in a good mood, ready to rockabilly-out, he’d have had his drums, and a better attitude.  But he didn’t.  Maybe he wanted to stage a Joaquin Phoenix-on-Letterman type of “hilariously bad” interview, but this wasn’t it.  He was just an ass.  Where Joaquin’s bizarre behavior kind of made him an internet hero of weirdness, Billy Bob has shown him to be what I kind of assume he really is – a difficult, angry, unpleasant man.

It’s probably a good thing he cancelled his Canadian tour after calling them “mashed potatoes with no gravy.”  This will give him more time to write up a script for Armageddon II.

It was my mom’s birthday, and I didn’t get a chance to e-announce it in any way, so . . . happy birthday, mom!

Even though I’m two full years into allergy treatments, this year’s crop o’ crap is wreaking havoc on my system.  I guess it’s not as bad as it could have been, but, man, this is pretty bad.  When you sit in a building all day and feel okay, then leave and are accosted by the wind, then feel horrible within 15 minutes – headache, achy teeth, sinus congestion, etc. – that’s really bad.  And, again, I’m being treated for this crap with shots designed to train my immune system to fight off the effects.  I can’t imagine how bad off I’d be without that, or my trusty “fexos” (Allegra generic.)

I spent Saturday watching the DVD that comes with Mastodon’s absolutely ruling album, Crack The Skye.  I declare it a MUST SEE for anyone interested in this album.  Do not be cheap and buy the regular edition.  I started watching it before we left for my mom’s birthday, thinking it must be 30 minutes long or so, then had to stop with what I assumed must be 10 minutes left.  Came home later that night and watched another 40 minutes . . . and that’s only the making-of portion, which is followed by a 30 minute track-by-track commentary by the band.  The whole thing is fascinating – humorous, interesting, intriguing, and informative.  Not only do you get to see the album come together, you see why, and with something as dense and weird as this album, it really helps.  What also helps is that, despite their heavy prog-rock leanings, especially here, these guys do not take themselves at all seriously.  They do, however, take their music very seriously, and the difference between a band that can’t separate themselves from their music and a band like this makes all the difference in the world when trying to swallow ridiculous concepts like those fueling this album.

Sunday night, another “nothing TV” night, was filled with Jeff Beck’s great new DVD Performing This Week Live At Ronnie Scott’s.  If you are at all a fan, this is also a must-see.  For a while, guitar-gods operated in dead-serious mode, where not a smile was to be cracked on stage because what they were doing was ART.  Well, not here.  The small stage was filled as much with equipment as it was with exuberant smiles, and it’s all the more fun to watch a great band because of it.  Also amazing was finally getting to see the amazingly young Tal Wilkenfeld, Beck’s 23 year old female bassist who can seriously rip it up.  I point out her gender for one reason: rarity.  Sorry ladies, but this is really unusual.  She’s a tiny, cute little thing, and it’s extremely unusual to find someone in this realm who can seriously hold court with guys like Jeff Beck and especially drummer Vinny Colaiuta.

The end is nigh for music and DVDs at BordersAs I mentioned about a year ago at the old site, Borders is doing away with CDs (and apparently DVDs, too,) and right now is “entertainment armageddon.”  The only upside to this is that good savings are to be had, but I’m sad because Borders had been one of my local stores in years with a reliably eclectic selection.  Not anymore.  (Sorry Chris.)

The music section was already obliterated.  Not much to be had. I found one CD, which was actually for Alissa, and decided to hold onto it for a small Easter gift, so no mentioning it here.  What was stunning was the number of absolutely brand new titles – I mean just-released titles, including the one I picked up.  Things that came out in the past couple of months or weeks when, surely, Borders main offices knew what was going on and knew the plan.  Why bother to stock new titles?  Why spend more money on new stock when you’re just going to fire-sale it shortly?  Or did they truly not know and this is indicative of the other rumors I’ve read about, that Borders itself is in deep, deep trouble and may be sold or file for bankruptcy?

Anyway, I finally picked up a replacement for my ridiculously “defective” Fargo which the equally ridiculously defective Circuit City wouldn’t do anything about last summer.  (Won’t miss you at all, Circuit City.  Good riddance.)  Also grabbed Pat Metheny’s The Way Up Live DVD, because that is just how I roll.  All for $22.

Hooray piracy!And finally, as a Pearl Jam fan, it’s hard not to feel slighted by the decision to include the famous Drop In The Park concert only in the super-expensive “super deluxe” package.  I understand including it on vinyl, but the included mp3 download . . . why couldn’t that have been included for everyone who bought at least the deluxe version?  Many of us didn’t want the box because we don’t have the means to spin vinyl and therefore 75% of the contents are pointless.  Luckily, others felt exactly the same way and “liberated” the mp3s that come with the vinyl for fans like me to hear.  And I thank them.  “Exclusivity” in 2009 is a concept for the birds, despite the many expensive sets that tout that word.  Hooray piracy!

I’m handy, I’m capable, I can do various things with tools, but I have my limits.  I can build things, mostly.  I’m good at getting things put together – a pile of parts, with or without instructions, and at some point in the near future I’ll have a finished thing.  What I’m not so good at, I’m coming to find out, is finishing, and I mean the literal act of finishing something, as in “to give a particular desired surface texture.”  I’m just no good, and I’ll tell you why: I’m impatient.  See, the act of building is satisfying because it is a process that constantly results in verifiable, visual progress.  I need that.  I have to have a sense of progress to feel like something is being accomplished.  With painting, I can’t get that.  Paint is slow.  You paint and you wait, and then you look to see how it came out, and then you paint some more.  And I have no patience for that. (more…)

For you freaks looking to make sure your mp3 artwork is all in line with the CDs, I’ve scanned the sleeves for the deluxe editions and put ‘em up on my Imageshack space.  Two versions of each, even – one super large for whatever reason (1467 pixels square) and another more reasonable size (600 pixels square.)

(Those of you with a good eye will notice on the large-size version that the single cover thumbnails appear to have been hastily tossed on there.  I don’t know why – it’s very easy to align boxes in any graphics program, but someone sure had a hard time keeping things lined up.)

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