It’s embarrassing to explain to explain that the reason why i’ve not been updating the website is because i’ve destroyed my own computer. When i returned from Mike and Stephanie’s wedding, the Athlon that my brother has been promising for over a year was waiting. In no time, I had the computer dismantled & rebuilt around the new CPU & motherboard. Unfortunately, with conflicting drivers, registry errors, & corrupt .CAB files, the Athlon driven computer was more crippled than the lightning-fried K6-2 one. Trying to rebuild the old one has been a lost cause as well. For now, i’ll have to post when i can on borrowed on computers, until i’m in Wales with Louise.
It’s maddening how much i’ve had to miss… Jeffords going independent & possibly lifting the Republican stranglehold on the Senate (but with scumbag Democrats like Breaux and Landrieu, so what? They voted for Shrub’s evil budget plan) several amusing Pitchfork reviews (Weezer, Tool, & REM) the track listing & commentary on SFA’s new album, which seems potentially brilliant (despite repeated mentions of the Beach Boys,) and lots of reports & photos of chemtrails throughout the U.S.
It tickled me when Tool outsold REM on their release date, mostly because i like to see marketing by corporations go wrong. The last time i checked, they were running dead even in the store. That’s a pity, because, without a doubt, Reveal is a good (not great, so far) album, perfect for doing housework, while Tool’s Lateralus merely gives me a big old headache. (Not that i need a defense, but i bought the Tool album as a wedding present for Mike, and Reveal for myself, as what’s $12 difference going to make with the obscene prices of plane tickets.) I’ve seen Tool in concert twice, & feel like their hearts are in the right place sometimes, but Lateralus is just a big Blah. I like them for the precise reason that Brent does not… “gothic stop-motion Primus” sounds entertaining to me. Someone else wrote that Lateralus is Tool’s Lark’s Tongue in Aspic. Wrong. It’s Tool’s Thrak. Lark’s Tongue in Aspic had a definite organic feel & some fiery inspiration. Thrak was muddle-headed experiments in formalism that wound up being used extensively in sports highlight films… now apply that to the Tool aesthetic. A big yuck, huh? Here… say it with me…. Yuck.
As for REM’s Reveal, it’s definitely okay. The allusions to Document had me looking for a kind of raw, garage rave-up, especially since Peter Buck has been playing with Scott McCaughey and getting surly on airlines. Nope… just a nice housework album, meditatively washing the dishes, contemplatively folding the towels… which makes me think of the people that pick up Reveal from the display racks to examine it. Young couples with a toddler or two, bent on being respectable and upright, but wanting to cling to a band of their “rebellious” youth, even though they might have really been rocking out to Bon Jovi.. you know… the obvious target market. Anyway, originally i planned to make fun of how the album’s cover looks a lot like the Burger King version of Two Against Nature, but where does one go with a comment like that?.
By the way, i just don’t care about Weezer. i remember 1994. i remember the Blue Album. i remember the hoards of guys ironically wearing buttondown shirts with names that was not theirs on the upper left breast. i remember the girls who loved them. Outsiders, my crooked-toed foot… it all struck me as an inverted mating strategy at the time, and it still does now.
Without being able to get online, it’s been easy to read. I plunged through the second book in Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy The Subtle Knife, to be surprised how theoretical physics & heretical theology are tossed about as child’s play. It feels even more vindicating than before for pushing these books on kids who have finished the four Harry Potter books, but were not ready for the Lord of the Rings. Aside from the comcepts that it introduces in such easy terms, it doesn’t follow the standard trilogy formula, like… oh, Star Wars. Consider how Empire Strikes Back was the the darkest, and in a sense, the most satisfying (for me.) So far, the Dark Materials trilogy seems to have that flavor, of redemption only through great loss, and when one thinks that the loss has been paid in full, and it’s time for the upswing in fortunes, the bottom drops out.
Finished James Morrow’s Only Begotten Daughter, but felt a little cheated, as i didn’t know that it it was the dry-run for the Corpus Dei trilogy. It revisits most of the same conflicts, images, and even a character or two. it’s hard to fault him too much, as right when i start to kick myself for plowing onwards, as it would be better to move on to another of his books, like the Eternal Footman, and then he’ll toss out a phrase or sentence that will leave me floored with amazement. Hell, sometimes just laughter, as while describing the smell of the muzzle of a pistol as being like “Robbie the Robot’s asshole” isn’t necessarily brilliant, it’s weird comic relief in a suicide scene. I’ve read four of his books so far, and feel devastated at the end of each one, but i keep coming back for more, as the surreal narratives are addictive.
I also managed to read House of Leaves, recommended for over a year by my now ex-coworker Merritt (yeah, i finally quit my job at the bookstore.) David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, and all those damned footnotes left me feelign mighty ambivalent a few years ago, although i should give him another try now that the chemicals that were fogging my perception are gone, as House of Leaves proved to be engrossing, even if deeply flawed once i finished. Large sections of the book seemed to be filler & dead ends… not necessarily, “Aha! Gotcha!” clever dead ends, but accidental deadends, in which the author decides to keep something tidy or mysterious, but merely leaves a reader irritated. For example the second narrator Johnny Truant (as the first narrator would be the anonymous editor) keeps hinting about Zampano & what motivates him. Unfortunately, it never seems to come to fruitio. As i’ve read reviews after completing the book, Zampano is a take on Borges, a literary puzzlemaster (somethign i would never have noticed, as i don’t have that kind of literary depth.) However, who is Zampano supposed to be in the context of the book?
Even Danielewski seems to have forgotten that Zampano was writing about a book that Johnny Truant could not find any proof of its existence. A facile explanation would be that Truant was too far gone in psychosis to remember that most of the footnotes were inaccurate or outright lies. It definitely bugs me that no one ever asks why. No one explores Zampano’s relationship with the stray cats, after that detail is mentioned. No idea is ever fleshed out about how Truant keeps having seemingly meaningless sex with women who are acquainted with Zampano. Right when it seems to be becoming a theme, it’s punctured and forgotten. It’s arguable that that the structure of the book is like the house itself, but it’s obvious where Danielewski intends that. These trapdoors fight against the notion of an unornamented labyrinth winding back into the world.
When i was reading House of Leaves, i was enthralled, even reading the book by flashlight when the power went out (and it truly could not get much more properly atmospheric than that.) Now that i’m finished with the book, i’m left with too many questions, & not the kind a mystery leaves, but second-guessing the motives of the author. One of the oddest clues to that was a throwaway piece of cross-marketing, saying that one can “hear” House of Leaves on the new Poe album. I remember Poe, even though she’s an artist that i never contemplate. Checking the trusty old AMG, it seems that Danielewski and Poe are brother and sister, and their father was a documentary filmmaker. Suddenly House of Leaves seems less than a sloppy pseudointellectual game, & more like an awkward veiled confessional. No, i don’t know what i prefer it to be. It was an enjoyable book, in its peculiar way, but challenging in ways the author possibly did not intend.
Damien’s new album Lark has been delayed. I was already having problems with time, money, & paperwork, but it turns out that Damien wants another album as the first “official” Zygote Records release, Onanism. All i know is that it’s supposed to be less pop, but with Damien, that often only means odder lyrics and more sonic experimentation, as he’s hardpressed not to write a catchy melody. Lark is not even to be released next according to the currenbt schedule, but a folkish album called Tail of the Shadow. Damien’s also mentioned that Zane’s confirmed that he’s compiling a new album. Instead of excitement, i feel impatience, and anger at myself, as i feel more like an obstacle than a facilatator.
I give up. I’m now obligated to buy Radiohead’s Amnesiac. I heard “I Could Be Wrong” on the radio, & the perverse appropriation of the Outlaw Country Guitar seized my attention, making me wonder if Radiohead really does have a sense of humor, or at least, a sense of the absurd that can pass as humor. Innovation (or what is intended to be innovation) does seem all that worthwhile if a sense of humor is not involved.
To break with all reality… my Paul McCartney renaissance came through… surprise, Damien. Paul just seemed to be a tired, worn-out boring fucker after the Beatles. While i avoided rock music until my late teens, that was an avoidance excepting all that music deemed inoffensive enough to be pumped into every shopping mall and supermarket. The number of times that i must have heard “Jet”, “Live & Let Die”, and “Band on the Run” by the age seventeen was innumerable, and really… quite inexcusable. When i began listening to the Beatles, Paul was the Muzak Beatle. Solo McCartney seemed to be as interesting as Yanni or Kenny G. It was surprising to discover that the “Uncle Albert/ Admiral Halsey” song was not by the Beatles, but just plain old Paul, but it just didn’t seem worth the trouble. It was not until i started playing Guided by Voices albums to Damien that he answered with the first two solo Paul records, saying that if i wanted warm, homey Beatlesque sounds, that GbV was great, but Paul did it first and better. Listening to these albums back to back on a rainy summer afternoon in still revelatory. Taking the albums out of context with McCartney’s career, but keeping the songs in context with the albums… yeah, these are wrongly maligned! No fair! However, the only reason i’m thinking of any of this is because that new McCartney and Wings comp was on in-store play for Barnes & Noble, and it was driving me, a McCartney sympathizer, bonkers. Every hours or so, i had to remind myself that he meant well, and was not trying to poison my mind with nonsensical words and melodies that barred all higher thought. Damned Muzak Beatle!