Sunday, June 29, 2008


Okay, I lied. How about one more post?

I haven't written much about music at all this year, a fact I hope to change. I thought you might be interested in what I've gone out and bought, rather than just downloaded (plus, you can go back and look at my eMusic download posts for those albums). So, here are the 18 new CDs I've put on my shelves so far this year...

1. Drive-By Truckers/Brighter Than Creation's Dark
2. Vampire Weekend/Vampire Weekend
3. Nada Surf/Lucky
4. The Mountain Goats/Heretic Pride
5. Gary Louris/Vagabonds
6. The Gutter Twins/Saturnalia
7. The Raconteurs/Consolers of the Lonely
8. Kathleen Edwards/Asking For Flowers
9. Uncle Tupelo/No Depression
10. REM/Accelerate
11. The Black Keys/Attack & Release
12. Big Dipper/Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology
13. Old 97s/Blame It On Gravity
14. Death Cab For Cutie/Narrow Stairs
15. Sloan/Pretty Together - actually, a gift from my brother
16. Aimee Mann/ @#$%&*! Smilers
17. Sloan/Parallel Play
18. Coldplay/Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends

Since I haven't done much writing about my reading the last couple months, I thought I'd inflict one more post on you tonight and just list the 26 books I've read so far this year...

1.Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon (Jan. 1 - Jan. 4)
2. Dreamsongs: Volume II by George R.R. Martin (Jan. 5 - Jan. 14)
3. Zeroville by Steve Erickson (Jan. 14 - Jan. 17)
4. Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo (Jan. 18 - Jan. 23)
5. The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick (Feb. 3 - Feb. 9)
6. Inside Straight edited by George R.R. Martin (Feb. 10 - Feb. 14)
7. Like You’d Understand, Anyway by Jim Shepard (Feb. 15 - Feb. 17)
8. Hunter’s Run by George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham (Feb. 18 - Feb. 22)
9. Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost (Mar. 1 - Mar. 4)
10. The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes (Mar. 6 - Mar. 9)
11. Lush Life by Richard Price (Mar. 10 - Mar. 16)
12. My Revolutions by Hari Kunzru (Mar. 17 - Mar. 19)
13. Is This a Great Game, or What? By Tim Kurkjian (Mar. 24 - Mar. 26)
14. The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford (Apr. 1 - Apr. 8)
15. Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon (Apr. 12 - Apr. 16)
16. The View from the Seventh Layer by Kevin Brockmeier (Apr. 20 - Apr. 26)
17. Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser (Apr. 26 - Apr. 30)
18. So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger (May 1 - May 4)
19. Devil’s Cape by Rob Rogers (May 4 - May 8)
20. The Martian General’s Daughter by Theodore Judson (May 9 - May 12)
21. Wit’s End by Karen Joy Fowler (May 13 - May 17)
22. The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon (May 23 - May 26)
23. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (May 26 - May 31)
24. The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Ellen Datlow (June 1 - June 6)
25. Superpowers by David J. Schwartz (June 16 - June 17)
26. Elliott Smith by Autumn deWilde (June 27 - June 29)

I've been doing a lot of reading and listening and watching and not a whole lot of writing about it lately, so I thought it might be a good idea to at least document what I've been up to. The year is already half over, which is just hard to believe. I still have plans and the second half of the year could see a lot of changes in my life, so this is a good spot to sum up the year to date.

I read 3 books in June for a total of 26 on the year (I also started and abandoned 2 other books). Last June I read 5 books but only had read 19 on the year by that point. My book goal for the year is 48, so I am definitely ahead of the pace, needing to read only 22 books in the next 6 months. If I keep up the same pace, I can finish the year with 52 (one a week). My average books read per month is 4.33.

I read 43 stories in June for a total of 144 on the year. Those stories came from The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the June issue of Asimov's, and the April, May, and June issues of F&SF. Last June I read only 9 stories and had read 89 on the year. I don't know if I've ever read 4 of my SF mags in one month before; I do still have 3 of them still piled up, though that's the smallest the pile has been in a long time. My average stories read per month is 24.

I read 14 comics in June, all of which were trades (9 of them were rereads). On the year I have read 62 comics, 24 of which were trades. Last year I had read 85 comics by this point in the year, 19 of which were trades. Like with the stories, I don't think I've ever read 14 trades in a month and certainly not in years and years; I do still have 3 trades stacked up. My average comics read per month is 10.33 or 6.33 single issues and 4 trades. Like last year, my books and trades are pretty close in number.

I bought 3 CDs and downloaded 5 more for a total of 8 new CDs in June and 50 on the year (18 bought and 32 downloaded). I also downloaded 3 songs this month, bringing that total to 8 on the year. Last year I had 13 new CDs (buys and downloads) in June and a total of 60 on the year. I can tell that my more frugal ways have had an effect. My average CDs bought per month is 8.33.

I saw 3 movies in the theater in June (Kung Fu Panda, The Incredible Hulk, and Wall E) for a total of 5 on the year (the other two were Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). I didn't keep track of when I saw movies until July last year but I'm guessing I saw 4 movies in the theater last June and had seen 11 on the year by that point. My average movies seen in the theater per month is .83.

I stopped keeping track of DVDs and TV shows shortly after my last roundup in January, so that's the end of the numbers!

I finished out my current round of downloads just a couple days ago - here's what I grabbed this time out...

My Morning Jacket/Evil Urges
Julie Ocean/Long Gone And Nearly There
Centro-Matic & South San Gabriel/Dual Hawks (double album)
I Love Math/Getting To the Point Is Beside It
Tokyo Police Club/Smith
"Ant In Alaska" and "Say You"/Liz Phair (bonus tracks on the Exile In Guyville reissue)
"All I Got Is Me"/Spoon (new song on the Don't You Evah single/EP)

Project #1: Start writing a novel
Progress: None whatsoever

Project #2: Work towards recording an EP
Progress: I have written one new song in the last few weeks

Project #3: Reread all 9 volumes of Y: The Last Man in preparation for the 10th and final volume
Progress: Completed, along with reading the last volume (it was fantastic!)

Project #4: Start my wife watching Battlestar Galactica
Progress: We are currently a few episodes into the 2nd season; she is completely hooked

Let's get right to it...

1. Our Faces Split The Coast In Half/Broken Social Scene (1)
2. Bloody Nose/Earlimart (11)
3. Loretta's Scars/Pavement (6)
4. Agony of Laffitte/Spoon (7)
5. He Brings Out The Whiskey In Me/Amy Millan (15)
6. I Understand/Sloan (18)
7. When The Angels Will Put Out Their Lights/South San Gabriel (2)
8. Undertaker/M. Ward (16)
9. Personal/Stars (7)
10. Your Desert's Not A Desert At All/Pela (10)

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Garage sale season is in full effect around Valparaiso and yesterday was the one for our neighborhood. 56 houses were participating with ads in a variety of papers complete with maps and the like. We weren't planning on participating but our neighbor had so much stuff that we opened up our garage to her and then decided we might as well get rid of some stuff. It came at a perfect time, as we were at the point of needing to figure out a new storage plan for all of our CDs and books and comics. Instead, we went through and culled.

I used to have a real problem getting rid of anything...I didn't even want to get rid of issues of the various comics magazines I had (never know when you might need to refer to it!). I've gotten better at it over the years and purging my entire collection of comics back in the early 2000s (well, all of the single issues anyway) helped me be more receptive to it. In a perfect world, I would keep everything but we just don't have the space. Nowhere close to the space. In any event, I've been able to get rid of comics and books fairly easily since then but the one area I still couldn't get past was music.

I think my reluctance to get rid of CDs comes from 1994 when I got rid of a ton of CDs during one of my biggest depressed periods. I got rid of all my Springsteen and Dylan albums as well as a bunch of other stuff that I subsequently spent a couple years reassembling. It made me a bit gunshy with the whole idea. However, we just had too many CDs around here and I went through them. If I knew I hadn't listened to an album in years, I should get rid of it. If I could look at the song titles and not conjure a single song to mind, it was time for it to be gone. Albums I kept trying to warm up to and never could? Gone. The big step of getting rid of albums by artists I liked and kept other albums from? Done. For example, the first three Weezer albums were kept and the rest were not. And yes, I could have converted all of them to mp3s but it seemed like a waste of hard drive space and time; I did convert about a dozen CDs in the end, though. Some stuff seemed more suited for that format (I also went through the digital files and deleted stuff I just didn't listen to outside of random appearance on the Sunday Shuffle).

In the end, Jill and I put out over 125 CDs and 90 books for sale. I put out about 50 trade paperbacks and maybe 80 single issues of comics. We saved ourselves a lot of room (don't worry, we still have plenty of stuff) and ended up making some decent money. Rain kept some of the business away yesterday, so we are going to try again next Saturday morning and I hope to get rid of as much of it as we can.

That purge has bled over into my pop culture intake as well. Late last week I'd checked three books out of the library, one I had requested and two I grabbed on the spur of the moment. Just too much. I've also been in the habit of putting any book that seems interested on my request list and I just can't do that. I need to go back to grabbing one book at a time, maybe two, and just letting my interest at the time lead me. So, I took all three books back realizing I may check out one or more of them again in the future. For now, though, I'm content to work my way through the pile of 6 trades and 5 SF magazines. Feels good.

I've added more music to iTunes in the last week than I've ever added in that span. I'm interested to see if any of it pops up today...

1. Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now/Spoon (8)
2. I Need All The Friends I Can Get/Camera Obscura (20)
3. Punch And Judy/Elliott Smith (15)
4. Down South/Tom Petty (6)
5. Brass Ring/The Broken West (20)
6. Sick File/Archers of Loaf (10)
7. Bitches In Tokyo/Stars (5)
8. God, Make Up Your Mind/Cold War Kids (7)
9. Distant Stations/The Mountain Goats (9)
10. Involuntary/M. Ward (11)

Guess not.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I've been very restless the last week or so. Part of it is that I'm figuring a new course for myself and I'm waiting on some information. Part of it is that I'm not working much at all and that disconnects me from myself. Plus, when I am working it's not necessarily teaching my own classes. I don't know. Just feeling restless and unsettled in general and today in specific. So what did I do with myself?

I watched most of the U.S. Open playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate. That's weird, because I very rarely watch golf and never for that long. I guess the intrigue with Tiger's knee and all made me interested. It was a really good match too - lots of high drama and great shots.

I also played golf on the Wii. Twice. I played all 9 holes both time and was horrible the first time, with a +13. The second time was much much better, as I was at a -3 through 6 holes. Then I got cocky on the 7th and ended up at +2 overall, which is still my personal best.

Jill and I also bowled on the Wii tonight and I beat her with a 174...somewhere in there. Not bad. Our friend got one for a Father's Day gift yesterday and he and his wife were talking about their Wii Fit scores. Jill and I had never done that, so we did. Jill's fit age was 50; mine was 38. The baseball did me in too, as I only hit one home run. I'll try it again some time.

In between all my game playing and sports watching, I managed to read 212 pages of the book I started this morning - Superpowers by David J. Schwartz. Obviously, it has kept me turning the pages and I'll be surprised if I don't finish it tomorrow (just over 160 pages to go).

I did watch some TV besides sports, diving into the DVR to try and catch up. I watched the Agatha Christie-centric episode of Doctor Who from Friday (fun stuff), about 10 minutes of the debut episode of Swingtown (which I promptly deleted along with the second episode), and then the second episode from the current season of The Venture Bros. (Dr. Henry Killinger is sheer brilliance!).

And there's my Monday.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


After seeing no movies in the theater the first four months of the year, I've now seen 4 in the last month-and-a-half. We also have designs to see several upcoming movies as well, so my average should soon climb to one a month. I've also watched a number of movies on DVD over the last several months as well, so here's a quick recap of all of them...

Iron Man - I had hopes for this movie but it exceeded all my expectations. The opening was a textbook example of how to hook people and the rest of it just kept up the momentum. It's such a 21st century movie and I thought Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic. Of course, my geek heart was thrilled, especially with the after-credits bit.

Indiana Jones - We showed Grant the first three movies in prepartion for the new movie and it was fun going back and watching them again. Jill and I had watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Temple of Doom when that DVD set first came out a couple years ago but had never gotten around to The Last Crusade until now. I had completely forgotten that movie opened with young Indiana Jones...played by River Phoenix! Anyway, I had fun with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It is certainly of a piece with the rest of the movies, even if it isn't my favorite of the bunch (which is still Raiders - that first love is deep).

Kung Fu Panda - Speaking of exceeding expectations, how about this movie? The animation was amazing. Amazing. I actually sat and watched all of the credits just for the drawings that accompanied them and therefore was the only person in the theater to see the little coda at the end. The story was a fun one and the action was awesome and I love Jack Black, what can I say? I highly recommend this movie.

The Incredible Hulk - We just saw this today and it was a solid movie. It doesn't reach the heights of Iron Man but it was entertaining. Lots of nods to the old TV show and a very solid performance from Edward Norton. At the end, you also see the Marvel movie masterplan coming together and it makes me a bit giddy. I hope they can keep up the quality.

No Country For Old Men - It's been over two months since we finally watched last year's Oscar winner. I'm a fan of the Coens and I really liked this movie. Heck, I didn't mind the ending either. I got where they were going with it and everything up to that point was great, so why quibble.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story - I was very disappointed in this one. It seemed set for greatness - a cool idea, John C. Reilly, Judd Apatow, cameos from all sorts of cool people - but it just fell flat. I didn't laugh very much at all. At least we got a lot of the gorgeous Jenna Fischer, so that redeemed it a little.

Juno - This one was pretty much all it was advertised to be - great writing, great performances, and an awesome little movie. If you haven't seen it yet, you should. Soon.

Cloverfield - I was prepared to be disappointed. I wasn't. They took a monster movie and made it into something really cool with the way they approached it. The handheld style didn't bother me at all. At all. Maybe it was worse on the big screen, I don't know. When I first saw the trailer for this movie, it looked like all sorts of awesome. And it was.

Into the Wild - I'm still not sure what I think about this movie. I liked how it was shot and how it was told via flashback and Emile Hirsch had a great charisma as Chris McCandless. I guess my biggest problem was with McCandless himself. Just so stupid and selfish and blind. Which was part of the point, I know. I'm not sorry I saw it, that's for sure.

I haven't talked to much about my pop culture intake of late, so I thought I'd do some posts to update that. This is the first of three (I think) and it covers what I've been reading since the beginning of June.

The first and only book I've read so far this month (I did abandon a second) was The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, an anothology of new stories edited by Ellen Datlow. It was a solid collection, though the percentage of stories I liked a lot was relatively small...but nothing was horrible either. My favorite three were "Ardent Clouds" by Lucy Sussex (don't think I've read her work before); "All Washed Up While Looking for a Better World" by Carol Emshwiller (a creepy and cool story about a woman searching for adventure only to have it backfire); and "Daltharee" by Jeffrey Ford (hard to go wrong with Ford...this one is about a bottled city).

I've read both the April and May issues of F&SF, finishing the latter this morning. Solid issues of each but the standouts were "The First Editions" by James Stoddard (about people who have been turned into books); "Five Thrillers" by Robert Reed (pretty much what it implies - five stories packed into one, all featuring the same amoral character); "Reunion" by Robert Reed (yeah, him again); "Rebecca's Locket" by S.L. Gilbow (dealing with a potential change in how the dead live on); and "Immortal Snake" by Rachel Pollack (a wonderful story about stories and how they can both save and destroy).

I've also been reading a lot of comics. I just now finished Y: The Last Man - Ring of Truth, which is the 5th volume of the series. I'm glad I made the decision to reread this series before the final volume comes out this Wednesday, as it as been many years since I've read the ealier stories. I had forgotten quite a bit, though I also remembered quite a bit too. I've been caught up in the story all over again as well as marveling over the art by Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan Jr. Even though I've gotten through five trades since last Sunday, I don't think I'll be quite ready to read the last one on Wednesday. That's okay...I've waited this long, so what's a few extra days or even weeks?

Lastly, I also read Fables: The Good Prince, which is the 10th and latest volume of the ongoing series. It's a thick one too, collecting 10 issues. The story centers around Flycatcher, who has recently recovered the painful memories of the loss of his family, and his quest to get vengeance. Actually, something much more interesting happens. It's a very uplifting tale in the end and I kept turning the pages to see what was coming next. Well done, Bill Willingham. And the same to you, Mark Buckingham and his inker posse. Looking forward to the next one already.

So, have I exhausted my reading material yet? Ha! In addition to the 4 remaining volumes of Y: The Last Man, I now have 6 trades stacked up and ready to go. I have 2 issues each of F&SF and Asimov's in a drawer next to the bed. And after my trip to the library on Friday, I now have three books piled just to my right. So there's the next couple weeks or more...

It's a Father's Day edition, which means no change at all. Big shock, I know.

1. Onions/The Mountain Goats (7)
2. Tyrants/Black Mountain (4)
3. The Story Of Yo La Tengo/Yo La Tengo (9)
4. Carolina/M. Ward (7)
5. People Think They Know Me/Sloan (12)
6. The Gymnast, High Above the Ground/The Decemberists (10)
7. Georgia, Georgia/Elliott Smith (7)
8. Missing Pieces/Voxtrot (6)
9. I Don't Know Why/Ben Kweller (2)
10. 1209 Seminary/The Ponys (4)

Interesting grouping of songs - 3 were 7:16 or longer and 3 were 2:15 or shorter, with the rest falling somewhere in between.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


That's right, I now have a Twitter account. Come follow me...

This is also my 500th post and it might be the least amount of content I've ever done. See, I'm sooo ready for Twitter.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


A very late start to the Shuffle today but we only got home about a half hour ago. We stayed overnight at my parents' house because we had an open house to go to last evening and then needed to go to graduation this afternoon plus another open house. Yep, it's open house season. A nice night last night and and a nice day today. And to top it all off, our friends Tammy and Craig had their second child this morning, 10 days ahead of schedule. Congratulations to them and welcome to the world, Cole Snyder!

1. The Thanks I Get/Wilco (11)
2. Proud Mary/Creedence Clearwater Revival (4)
3. Time Fades Away/Neil Young (3)
4. Kamera (Alternate Version)/Wilco (25)
5. on the occasion of a departure (ps 39:4)/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (22)
6. The Conversation/The Twilight Singers (12)
7. Woman/Joseph Arthur (10)
8. Duet For Guitars #1/M. Ward (7)
9. Plaza Trinidad/Destroyer (4)
10. Faust Arp/Radiohead (15)

Sunday, June 01, 2008


I spent a good part of my morning clearing the decks - paging through the Wizard I wasted money on the other day, plus the new Previews, Spin, and a couple issues of Entertainment Weekly. I just felt like I needed to make some psychic space for myself. Why? I have some summer projects in mind and as today is June 1, it seems like it's time to start.

When I looked like I would have 5 weeks off of work, I decided that it was time to finally start writing a novel. Now that I may be working more, I still want to start writing a novel. I know which idea I want to start with and I'm looking forward to the challenge. I have not as yet decided on a schedule or set word goals or anything. I think I'll just start and see how it goes.

I've also got it in my head that I want to record an EP and have it out by the end of the year at the latest. I have enough songs now but I'd like to write a couple more to give myself options. I have people who I would like to be in the first recorded version of Aquatic Detective and I'm pretty sure they will all say yes (Graham already has). I'm very excited about this possibility as well and will obviously update on any progress.

I want to reread Y: The Last Man in preparation for the final volume, which is supposed to arrive on June 18. That gives me about 2 1/2 weeks to read 9 trades. Of course, I have 2 books out from the library right now (I started in on The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy this morning) and another 7 requested. And that doesn't count the 4 issues of F&SF and the 2 issues of Asimov's that are stacked up. We'll see.

Side note: I've decided that I'm going back to reading only trades for my comics input. Jill did some cleaning this weekend and it solidified for me again that it's far easier to store trades than individual issues. I also have two trades in my file at the comics shop and buying a couple comics every week like I've been doing doesn't get me closer to getting those in my hands. So, back to trades it is.

Finally, I'm going to start my wife on Battlestar Galactica. I know she will like the show and it will be a good way for me to watch everything up to this point again. Only 2 more episodes left of Season 4 for now and who knows when will get the rest...maybe not until next year. Sigh. Oh, and if we get through BSG quickly enough, I want to start her on The Wire too.

I've set myself up for a busy summer and this doesn't include socializing and open mics and all of the other small pleasures that pop up along the way. That's fine. I'm ready for some ambition and can't wait to get going.

Not even 2 weeks have passed since I posted about round #27 and here I am talking about my May downloads. Wow! I was feeling kinda 90s this time around with some other stuff thrown in...

Guided By Voices/Bee Thousand
My Morning Jacket/It Still Moves
Buffalo Tom/Let Me Come Over
Pavement/Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
The Decemberists/Five Songs EP
Sloan/"All Used Up" and "Try To Make It" - 2 new songs from A Sides Win: Singles 1992-2005

Welcome to June! Looks like summer might be here to stay - I took the storm windows off yesterday, so it had better be.

1. Trouble/Voxtrot (6)
2. Introduction/Voxtrot (5)
3. Arms & Hearts/The Hold Steady (15)
4. Astro/The White Stripes (7)
5. Kicking TV/Wilco (13)
6. Honey, I Never Had You/The Raveonettes (3)
7. New Year's Day/The Broken West (18)
8. Stop Breaking Down/The White Stripes (7)
9. Summertime/Josh Rouse (9) - A perfect song to pop up today!
10. Ella's Arms/Warren Zanes (10)