Belle and Sebastian

Thursday, October 18, 2001

It’s funny. I’ve received two notes from ex-girlfriends in the past week, both of which have included the word “love,” making me question the definition of the word. If I’m going to go on an evening spree of listening to my housemate’s CDs without asking, Belle and Sebastian is probably the direction I need to be going… They write good music about beautiful screwed up people.


Yo La Tengo

Thursday, October 18, 2001

The good tracks by Yo La Tengo are the ones that feel like it feels just before you have sex with someone new, when you’re careening quickly into something and emotions are all over the place crazzy and everything feels so weird and right and wrong and ticklish… Maybe I’m giving myself away.


Saturday, October 13, 2001

Saturday night and I’m at my computer, working on the Austin Museum of Digital Arts website, coding music, listening to This American Life episodes, and drinking Newcastle Brown Ale. Well, god damn if Newcastle Brown Ale doesn’t have a URL on their label. Jesus. I don’t know — it’s like putting your phone number on your label. Prominently. I suppose it’s just trendy. Anyway, let’s check out the site, shall we… Oh my god! I think I’ve come across my most annoying web experience in weeks. “Newcastle: It’s a fokkin’ hardcore hard-house ragin’ Biritish rave in a fokkin’ bottle! Rock out!” I think that’s what they’re trying to communicate. Whatever. Back to coding…


Live at Mojo’s

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Last night I played my fourth time at Mojo’s Daily Grind, my second time with Rich Bailey (also known as Proem in the electronic music universe). It felt good. Since Sean, I haven’t really done much but solo performances. And solo shows have their charm, but having someone who has you back and vice-versa feels nice, too. Not that we were doing any more than playing at Mojo’s. But still. It takes some of the weight off.

We both had just laptops, Rich with his new Windows machine and me with the trusty Powerbook. We didn’t synch with MIDI or anything, we just individually made sounds — mostly arhythmatic noises — and just wove together the textures. About a third of the way in I asked Rich if he’d mind slowing the tempo down to 120 beats per minute from 140 so I could use some .wav file drum loops I’d made, and we did that. Then we sort of synched, but not “officially” via computer communication or anything.

I started the set using some SuperCollider programs I’d been writing. When I tried to launch Logic, my whole machine went down, and I gave up SuperCollider and just fed samples on my computer through VST plug-ins within Logic. There were a couple drup loops I crunched up and then some recordings from CC’s Coffeeshop I’d made last December of people talking that I distorted and delayed (and pitch-modulated into some creepy shit!) and some recordings from the whole Gloryhole Incident (which you can learn all about at Good fun. We made a racket.

Now I’m chilling out at home after a fast-paced day, listening to “Freedom Rock” by Stars as Eyes — a very pleasant album, indeed. My housemates are alive and noisy, but I’ll probably go to sleep sometime soon.


Out of Alignment

Sunday, September 30, 2001

I’ve been feeling exhausted and spaced-out for the past couple of weeks. I don’t know what the problem is but I’m narrowing it down to poor sleeping habits, poor eating habits, and my stressing myself out over little things like finding my truck very uncomfortable to drive across town on bumpy roads against poorly-timed streetlights. I do this every time I drive to work, from work, to my parent’s house, or from my parent’s house and I can get myself really worked up when the music on the radio sucks, I accidentally screech my tires, or I hit a pothole and bounce on my seat. Especially after all three. So I’m trying to take some steps to realign myself — recenter myself — to get myself back on the happy-productive trail.

It all starts with exercise, I think — keeping the rubberbands that hold the machine itself together elastic and quick. The past several weeks on Friday I’ve gone out to Clark Field (recently shrunken to accomodate the new San Jacinto Residence Hall down by Jester and Roberts dorms) to play soccer. I don’t play soccer very well, but shit! it feels nice to just go outside and run around in circles like an idiot for a couple of hours. I found this soccer group through a friend from the House of Commons (Jason Wheatcroft) and I’m not sure how he knows about it, but he stopped showing up so I’m sort of alone out there amidst kids majoring in electrical and mechanical engineering and handfuls of foreign students from seemingly every country between Argentina and India (especially Turkey and, more recently, France). It’s a good crowd — some cute undergraduate girls even come out and play with us, which, well, makes the whole thing twice as worthwhile. I’m having difficulties getting to know people as I spend most of my time running around in circles like an idiot, and everyone sort of splits in opposite directions after we finish, but I have fun and get to shake out the physical oppression of having to sit in my truck, stand behind a counter, or sit in front of a computer for much of the day. And I get all sweaty and dirty and sometimes bloody and sweaty and dirty and sometimes bloody is a good way to be.

Then there’s stretching, a good form of refreshment I picked up from Claire.

I’ve been working at Russell’s Bakery and Coffee Shop for a couple of months, now (at the corner of Hancock and Balcones in northwest Austin, if you’d like to stop by for a scone!). While interesting at first, having never held a food-service job before and being new to the world of dealing directly with customers and maintaining a physical space, it’s become highly repetative. Let me provide a demonstration of a pattern that repeats about four-hundred times (it seems) during the day:

It starts when the door makes the distintive electronic ‘be-ep’ when a customer opens the front door to the shop. I’ve become trained to jump into action when I hear that particular ‘be-ep.’
“Hi, how are you, ma’am [or sir]?”
“Just fine. Can I get a cheddar scone, two croissants, and an apple fritter?”
“For here or to go?”
“Oh, for here.”
I start to put the pastries in our shallow black plastic baskets.
“And can I get a grande latté with skim milk and a shot of hazelnut?”
“Is a grande a large?” (I obstinantly remain unfamiliar with Starbucks-ese.)
“Um. Yes. But can I get that in a to-go cup?”
I finish with the pastries and fix the drink. This takes about three minutes. One who makes coffee drinks for money gets called a “barista,” by the way.
“Is that with skim?”
“Yes,” I reply. I go to the register and push a bunch of little buttons that go click and bink. “That’ll be $24.18.”
I get handed thirty and make change from the register.
“Enjoy the food and have a good day!”
I find a wet rag and look around to see if any tables or countertops have crumbs on them and eliminate those crumbs before going back to folding cake boxes, windexing the front doors, or stealing and eating sandtart cookies — whatever I was up to when interrupted by the customer.

I hope you enjoyed that. Right now the only way I can get through an eight-hour shift of this is with a ten-minute stretching session in the restroom about four hours in, usually either 10 AM-ish or 4 PM-ish, depending on when that day’s shift starts for me. I use the restroom simply because I know I look silly when I stretch myself out and I’d rather just not have to worry about my co-workers poking fun at me. Or interrupting me. And I get to look at myself in the mirror which I find entertaining.

My stretching, whether at work or at home or wherever usually follows this pattern: I start bending myself at the torso in different directions, twisting and folding myself over until I can feel all of those muscles that band around my stomach, chest, and back filling up with blood and life. Once I start doing this, once the juices are moving around, I realize just how much of my body feels half-dead — from my eyes to my fingers to my calves — and I just manipulate and stretch everything I can find that doesn’t feel limber and alive. I’ll reach up high to the ceiling, and fold down to touch my toes. I’ll bend my neck every way I can. I massage my forearm muscles because I find those particularly difficult to stretch. I squat to limber my hip joints and lower back. I puff my face as big as possibly and compress it back into the tightest raspberry-lipped, I-just-tasted-the-most-sour-thing-on-the-planet face. I swing my eyes side-to-side, up and down, focussing on a finger close to my nose and then to the farthest thing in the little room. I shake out my ankles. You can understand why I do this in private, I’m sure. I run my fingers over my scalp, just to get the feeling back up there. I come out of the bathroom feeling alert, excited, ready to move my body around. Alive.

Maybe my big body needs more stretching like this than some other bodies do. I really do shake myself out pretty violently. Maybe some people feel like I do after I stretch without nearly as much effort. It’s scary, otherwise, to think of how many people out there who don’t stretch their bodies or really use their bodies except for the most controlled behaviors might be living their lives half-dead without even realizing it. I do get scared sometimes when I think of how many people have behaviors and habits that totally prevent them from experiencing the fullness of their own lives. Myself included, I’m sure.

Anyway. That’s enough for now.


Drugs are Fun

Thursday, September 27, 2001

This hasn’t been finished yet and needs to be tidied up, as well. It’s just a loose draft; read at your own risk.

My friend told me this evening that she’d given up pot. Argh. I cringed a bit when I heard it, like a friend had told em that she’d given up listening to music she loved. As I get older and my friends get older, we become more caught up in the world of jobs and tasks and goals that must be met. This leaves little room for time-consuming behaviors such as drug use that don’t offer any tangible benefit except a few hours of pleasure. That our society can slap you around pretty solidly if it catches you toking up only strengthens this process.

I don’t like it. Granted, her grades will probably improve this semester. She told me that she’d already received an “A” on a test in an important class. And that’s excellent. But I st

First, saying “I’ve given up smoking pot” connotes, to me, that a person plans to shift gears out of the chilled, mellow lifestyle where they’re willing to hang out for long periods of time talking or watching movies or watching people and into a more focussed, get-the-job-done lifestyle where the job takes priority over the feeling. This might be a complicated point to explain.

In my experience, experimentation with drugs come along with other forms of experimentation: with the bounds of authority and with one’s sexuality, for example. The stereotypical time for this sort of behavior would be maybe a person’s freshman or sophomore year of college, when they get hat first taste of independence from the immediate watchful eye of their parents but still live a fairly pampered lifestyle (if their first few years were anything like mine, at least — tucked away in a cozy dormitory with a ton of bright kids, college bills taken care of by someone else).


Design Boy Redux

Monday, September 24, 2001

I just spent four minutes deciding whether I should use a blank line between the title of my Blog and the body text. Most of you would probably have what is commonly referred to as “something better to do.” Like sleep.


Design Boy

Monday, September 24, 2001

Having spent nearly six hours of the past twenty-four tweaking the layout of, I’m super-tuned and in hyper-design mode. I redesigned this page in the lean style that my other pages on this site have. It makes more sense, I think, and I find the simple layouts somehow much more expressive that the more complicated. I have a long history of enjoying the works of van Doesburg, Mondrian, and the de Stijl Krew, so it all makes sense, I suppose.

Anyway, you might be surprised how long it takes to nail down a color scheme that satisfies me. This new Breakfast color scheme (and layout, as well, but primarily color scheme) took about an hour to reach. I began with the old redding-orange-on-black page that had the funky orange title logotype at the top. After some unsucessful futzing with cascading stylesheets, yellow-shades on white, lavender text on a dark red background (yikes!), and such I ended up with the scheme you see right now, the Wired-Magazine-circa-1996-brand jolting pink + black + CRT green combination that might someday during the next decade come to be associated with the “glam-days” of the Internet (for those people who will be working hard to justify and mythify the four years of their lives they spent in front of radiant screens with a totally inappropriate comparison to the sexy, coked-out death-of-disco days of the last generation). My head just turned itself inside-out. Um. Anyway., on the other hand, is professional shit; design that needs to be quite right and appropriate before it gets put on the web for use. I made the basic colors and layout several weeks ago, so I had that to build on, and so my six hours this weekend essentially went into laying out a table with search options, fixing up a header and footer, and reformatting the “About” text. Is this rediculous? I don’t know.