Song of the Month, June 2007 = So Begins Our Alabee
(09 Jul 2007 at 17:02)
All my websites were down this morning while I updated the arbitrary unique number that identifies my computer on the internet. I think they should be working now, but since I haven't changed that in 6 years there might be some problems still. Let me know if so. Also Song of the Month:
Back in college I listened to Of Montreal a little bit and played them on WRCT but mainly as a kind of methadone treatment while we waited for other mainline elephant 6 artists like Neutral Milk Hotel (never came) and The Apples in Stereo (maybe not a monotonic plummet but certainly Cauchy) and The Olivia Tremor Control (likewise implosion) releases or even stuff like Belle and Sebastian that I always associate with Elephant 6 even though they are like not even distant cousins.
And sometimes I have this sad thought that some band that I own one of their CDs and they are moderately interesting okay music that I once saw unenthusiastically open for some other mildly successful indie band, that this band is so low on my radar it is almost undetectably low, like when top guns fly their jets below the radar to avoid detection, but here's it's because their wings are too small or something like that, not because they are deliberately dodging the radio waves. That this band is borne out of the absence of music, the raw embarrassment that mostly empty record store shelves would feel if they only had the discs from the real good bands. And the sad thought is not that B-movies and B-bands and B-sides exist but that probably some of the people in these bands think that their bands are not weekend side projects but actually really super, that they have written some really standout original pop tunes and are just working their way to the top and wondering if maybe they should only have started their band's name with A or 0-9 or Zyzzyvas for the minor abecedarian advantage bestowed for such early or late placement in otherwise arbitrary orderings. Like that they take themselves far seriouslier than their CMJ ranking justifies. This is sad to me, sadder even than when a formerly great band starts Cauchying to 0.
So Of Montreal was a shoe-in for this month's song of the month artist since I used to kind of think that this band maybe should have changed its name to Zyzzyvas but holy moly have they made a turn for the A-list. (Thanks to jaked1 for making me listen. I responded to his e-mail: "dude these are some fucked up motherfuckers") Both of these albums are filled with great songs, and as I write this "Alabee" is my current favorite, but other highlights include Forecast Fascist Future, The Party's Crashing Us, Requiem for O.M.M.2, Suffer for Fashion, Cato as a Pun, etc. The width of their sound is mind blowing. It's clear Kevin Barnes (that's the pilot of this jet craft) is kind of a messed up insane genius, but in the recording asylum is the perfect place for such people. Don't stop!
Here's my monthly pac tom update. I've been escalating my attempt in order to improve my chances of finishing before I graduate; aside from the obvious stuff like running more often and for longer distances, I've also been planning my routes more carefully. I now usually draw or print a map before I go somewhere, so that I don't miss a little street somewhere, and I'm also now using an "outside-in" style where I try to run the most distant streets (edges of the city) before the inner streets. If I do that then I'll waste less time later because I won't need to run through inner sections I've already covered thoroughly on the way to outer sections. So, I hope that after doing this, the big empty spots in the map like Squirrel Hill will fall fast.
Neighborhoods totally done: Friendship, Garfield, Morningside. Very close (1 or 2 more trips): Shadyside, Upper Hill, Strip, Larimer, Central and Upper Lawrencevilles, Stanton Heights, East Hills.
Yesterday I took a trip to Dornbush St. in the East Hills. This is the second steepest street in Pittsburgh and the eighth steepest paved road in the US (slightly steeper than Filbert St. in San Francisco) at a 32% grade. 32% means that for every 100 feet traveled in the horizontal, there's a rise of 32 feet. That is really steep!! Check out the preposterous uptick in the elevation chart at the bottom right of the image. If you live in Pittsburgh, you can compare the popularly tilty Negley Ave.—it is less than half as steep at "only" 15.8%. Pittsburgh's steepest street, Canton Ave. is 37%, probably making it the 1st or 2nd steepest paved road in the world (depending on what you count). That's not in my goal area ("continental Pittsburgh") but it I do hope to make it out there just for fun some day.
Hey I made it! I have a little chill time so let me tell you some travel tips and an in-flight movie review.
Travel tip #1: Since basically all US airlines are part of the same government-bailout conglomerate—we might call it the FAA—sometimes when you're supposedly flying on one airline (the dudes you bought your ticket from) you're really flying on another. It is important for a variety of reasons to understand this fiction. One reason, this is tip #1, is that if you get to the airport and there's a 999999-bajillion km (that's kiloman, here man meaning man, woman, or child) line for the United checkin counter at 6:45am, then you should instead go to the US Airways desk because that's which airline you're really flying and they have a much shorter line and if you waited in the United line you might have been sent over there when you finally got to the front anyway. (This last thing is especially true for connections with international airlines.) Don't be a chump: If it says "X Airlines flight 1234 Operated by Y," then behave as if you're flying Y Airlines. Tip successfully employed!
Mini-review: I was watching Lost re-runs on my laptop so I missed the first 3/4 of it, but do you ever get a phrase stuck in your head like you sometimes get a song stuck in your head, repeating? Because when I was watching the last 1/4 of this movie The Astronaut Farmer I had a Spanish-language phrase running through my head and that was muy idiota. Wow, maybe I just missed out on the continuity in that film because they cut out some important not-family-safe scenes or because I missed subtle dialogue in the right stereo channel, unable to reach me in my airplane-incompatible headphones, but damn what a dumb film. Synopsis. Billy-Bob Thorton is a farmer (also his name is Farmer, making the title of the film a clever double entendre) who wants to go into space so he builds a rocket ship in his farm. Then he shoots off into space, with his family being like mission control. Success! There's a montage of the other farmers in his village and some local policemen looking off into space, slapping their thighs with their cowboy hats and mouthing, "Well I'll be!", I am not exaggerating at all here. BUT THEN SOMETHING GOES TERRIBLY WRONG... a nearby satellite causes his radio to fail and he can't talk to his family. Can you hear me, Major Tom? And how is this crisis resolved? He sees his wedding ring somehow floating around in the space cabin, so he takes his space glove off (the whole time he is wearing a bubble-head space suit, but I guess it is just for fashion or something) and puts the ring on. Then he hits the control panel and he can communicate with mission control again. Right? It's a Power Ring. Why does he need to communicate with mission control? So his son can tell him the "coordinates" for his farm, because he couldn't have just written down the coordinates of his farm before he left for space with his Radio Shack POS radio. What the? Then they get pizza and that is the end of the movie.
Travel tip #2: This is some kind of weird nom de net hotel that I booked online where their phone number doesn't work and they aren't in the yellow pages, so I have to find another hotel with a very similar phone number and address, because although they say they have a complementary shuttle in the online info, the bus drivers tell me that these dudes do not have a shuttle. Sorry, this should be in the 2nd person because it is a travel tip. The bus drivers told you that these dudes do not have a shuttle. Anyway, so you finally find the hotel where you are actually booked and they call you a complementary taxi and ask what airline you flew, and you say "United or US Air"—you've already screwed up! Because those are different parts of the SFO. You need to be on top of your shit and apply travel tip #1 proactively because the hotel and cab are not going to be on top of your shit even though this is like their business. You are waiting in the wrong place where you were told to go for like 45 minutes, and keep seeing your cab drive by and you wave at him but he is like, "wrong place, dude!" but eventually relents and on the ride you kinda wonder if you're the weakest link in this game show, but then when he eventually drops you off at the wrong hotel and tries to explain to the understanding-faced but obviously context-lacking concierge why you're so late because miscommunications etc., you can be pretty sure it's not you.