Archive for April, 2007

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The Veils’ Nux Vomica

April 25, 2007

It’s brilliant. I stumbled onto The Veils through, of all things, an episode of ABC’s short-lived second attempt at Night Stalker (“The Five People You Meet in Hell”). The only other album of theirs available on iTunes, The Runaway Found, seemed a little uneven at first, but I was wrong. It’s terrific. Nux Vomica is better.

“I don’t want to know the time,
I don’t care about that at all,
nobody knows the way to heaven baby.”

(“Advice for Young Mothers To Be”)

A lot of it is the voice. Finn Andrews does some stuff on this album that should be cheesy or melodramatic, but he’s so genuine and the music is so precisely mixed that it works. He does great things with the sounds of words — halfway between Gordon Gano and Alex Kapranos.

But it’s always weird. A song like “Advice for Young Mothers To Be,” with it’s quasi-’50s style and melancholy message, is a strange mix that I can’t explain and can’t deny. (See the video.)

Plus the whole album is a little pretentious, and you know how I love that. The nux vomica is an Asian pine, also called the Poison Tree. It’s a source of medicines and toxins. It is part curative and part strychnine. Nice.

“Now the wolves all howl
And the birds all sing it:
‘He backed down.'”

(“One Night On Earth”)

This is one of those records where the lyrics and the music sometimes wander far apart, calling to each other through the trees. Other times they meet up on the road and hold hands. Whatever strangeness they’re up to, these songs are greater than the sums of their parts.

“What say you, Lord,
For the olive boys down in the house of corrections
As they try for love and any form of ascension,
Am I on the right train headed in the wrong direction?”

(“Nux Vomica”)

And this is an album with its own through-line themes, all punctuated by inescapable musical hooks. Religion, death, torpor, doubt — plus snow and animals — keep coming back. These aren’t just songs with great hooks, they’re, all together, a long, weird conversation that goes off, comes back, wonders out loud and soaks in its pauses. It feels like an all-night drive through dark, wet scenery.

“Take the scalpel, Miss Ivonne
Time of death is 1 am
The blood is going to my head,
By God, I’ll never touch another’s heart again.
I’ve been brought back to life so many times I don’t know what’s real”

(“Night Thoughts of a Tired Surgeon”)

Good stuff.

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Other People Make No Sense

April 23, 2007

Man, if other people made sense, I’d either be happy or bored. Sitting in the coffee shop, trying to work, but with my headphones left at home, I’m left overhearing a lot of the kinds of people I would turn off if they were on television. These are the people who respond to a friend’s invitation for a night out with, “I can’t go back there; too many memories.” These are the people who sit down casually with a friend, as if they were here to meet them, and shortly after say, “You had a kid? Really? Whose?” Turns out, it’s not someone either gentleman knows particularly well. These are the kinds of people who see a friend of theirs and say, “Heeeey, pretty girl!” in exactly the same way my wife says that to our dog.

These are the people who have nothing else to do than sit around and talk, who actually have enough free time to be bored, who gauge their success as people and the quality of their personal relationships by the degree to which they resemble Grey’s Anatomy. These are the people who, like every character on Grey’s Anatomy, speak only in declarative sentences announcing their own actions and feelings. “I am so mad at her.” “I’m just going to do my nails tonight.” “I think this new shirt I got is totally hip.” “I want to talk about me. I want you to talk about me. I apparently want strangers to listen to me talk about me.”

I am a terrible snob, but at least it breaks up the monotony of self-loathing.

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Things That Are New

April 20, 2007

A handful of the doohickeys on this blog get swapped out now and again. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. Normally they’re not worth drawing attention to, since you’d probably spot the difference if you cared and I’m just wasting your time if you don’t, but I just updated a bunch of them, so let your eyes wander and see what’s new. It might be quotes, part of the bio, that self-indulgent “Currently…” list or the pictures at the top of the site.

If I was a good boy, I’d write some brief reviews of some of the stuff I’ve seen or read, if only to help me digest them. But I’m not. So I haven’t.

In theory, those pictures up top were supposed to change every month or so. But it turns out that not nearly so many of my photos actually look good up there as I expected. Frankly, I still think the blurry Icelandic countryside and cathedral in a hospital gown looked better, but fresher is fresher, so there you are.

What you have up there now is a view from the Blue Lagoon (is that right?) hot springs outside of Reykjavik, a statue with a busted puss from the Necropolis in Glasgow, and a door at the front of St. Magnus Cathedral on the Orkney Mainland.

Now I’m off. I’ve got to be up in less than six hours to participate in “team-building” exercises at the big company retreat in the morning. I don’t know where we’re going. I don’t know what we’re doing. I don’t know when we’ll be back. But I can imagine how I’ll feel when we’re done.

Music: Gorillaz, “Every Planet We Reach is Dead”

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The Things That Tell You #8

April 20, 2007

One way you can tell my wife is out of town is certain things get pushed to the back of the fridge, like the jar of what looks like swamp water (but is actually pickles), and the Mike’s Hard Lime bottle, and other green groceries.

Music: The Mountain Goats, “Alpha Rats Nest”

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Parting with Books

April 16, 2007

Books are oxygen. I need them to live. It’s hard for me to just give them up.

That said, there just isn’t room in the house or the office (or the car, or in the attic, or under the house) for the ten or twelve crates of gaming books I’ve collected over the years. As part of the inevitable course of the game designer, I have reached that point where my collection outmatches my time or likelihood to use it. So I’m selling it off a slew at a time.

Okay, to be fair, my wife is selling it off. She’s the eBay expert. But don’t think this was her idea. Rather, we need the money and the space and I need to cut back on my petty, pathetic, desperate materialism. The things you own end up [t0taly pwning!!!1!] you, or something.

(My apologies to the creators of any of this stuff, many of whom are friends of mine. I understand that it’s not menschy of me to go selling this stuff under your nose, but money don’t come from nowhere.)

Some of this stuff is in good shape. Some of it really very not. And if nothing here catches your fancy, stay tuned for lots more stuff.

Get yourself something nice.

Music: David Holmes, “7/29/04 The Day Of”

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More Than A Year’s Worth of Text Messages

April 16, 2007

As part of this weekend’s spring cleaning, housekeeping and self-deluding, I went through and deleted a metric slew of stale text messages that have been sitting on my phone. Some of these things have been in there for a year or more. I tell myself that I’m deleting all this in preparation for getting a new phone, but that’s a ways off yet. (Read: After the IRS pays me my money.)

These messages come from a dozen different people (left mercifully anonymous here) and pertain to a dozen different events. Some of these may be obvious (a midnight screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark), others make sense if you’ve been reading for a while, and remember when I got stranded at an airport in Laredo, Texas, for a bunch of hours. Some don’t make any sense at all anymore. At least one didn’t make any sense when I got it.

Enjoy.

Throw me the whip, I’ll throw you the idol. No time to argue!

Go to mexico. I can make some calls for you.

DESTROY ALL SHREVEPORTS.

Fulcrum

Customer just called me an “arrogant bomb”

Gregory Hines!
Gregory hines
Gregory hines

Yeah rowdy hit that!

Frosty mug!

No can defend

No. We sold him to a poor Hungarian family.

The intern dave is a trainwreck

In my pantsu.

Mississippi Githyanki FORTRESS.

New Hampshire Yoda BRIS.

Six demon bag!!!!!

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Oh. That’s Why.

April 12, 2007

Had kind of an awful day, what with the rats in the walls (not “The Rats in the Walls”), the crushing of my toe, a bout of delirious insanity that cost me hours in dizzyingly shameful emails, and all of my plans for the day’s schedule coming apart at the pull of a single thread.

What was it that turned the rain I dig into the rain that lays me low, I wondered. I never really felt like I had woken up. I couldn’t figure out what cosmic fault had broken open and swallowed everything good about this day, but now I know.

Kurt Vonnegut died today.

Music: Andrew Bird, “The Supine”