Thursday, December 20, 2018

A sad anniversary.

I've been pretty quiet around here this week, huh? I think it probably has something to do with the fact I was sort of dreading this day. It's the anniversary of my ex-wife filing for divorce. She was as nice as one could be about it, and had her attorney deliver the papers electronically, but it was still a huge blow and quite possibly the worst day of my life. I still remember leaving work early and just walking in a daze down Michigan Avenue in total shock.

2018 has generally been a pretty dark year, and while the divorce was a major factor, it was just a year where all my luck ran out. If I owed karma a debt it has certainly been paid back many times over, with interest. There were times I honestly did not know how to even move forward.

Things have gotten better since our house sold, and it feels like my life is back on an upward trajectory. But I'm still in complete uncertainty about what my future looks like. I had a built a life with someone else and when that ended all the plans I had vanished and I was staring at a blank canvas. If I was younger that might be a more exciting position to be in, but at this age it just feels so daunting.

But, repaint the canvas I shall. I don't really have another option, do I? The year has been rough, but I'm exiting it having learned a couple hard lessons and that certainly contributed to my self-improvement. I'm not going to make those mistakes in the future so that's a positive thing, right? I just wish I'd learned those lessons more quickly, because I'd be in a very different place right now if I had.




Friday, December 14, 2018

Walls work! (Not.)



I came across a press release from the Department of Homeland Security a few days ago that was posted on December 12. It was astoundingly poorly written, and completely different in tone than other press releases on their website. It is filled with misinformation and outright lies. For instance did you know a "violent mob of 1,000 people stormed our Southern border" just last Sunday? Yeah, neither did I. Because it didn't happen.

It looks like they went in and fixed some of the worst grammar mistakes today, but luckily for you I took a screenshot of the original. You can see it here, and just click on it to magnify it so you can read it.

Our taxpayer dollars at work, people. Government agencies should be printing false propaganda to further one madman's obsession.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

I think I have the plague.

Anyone else out there have a nagging cough / cold that sticks around for weeks and just won't go away? What makes it even more fun? I work over 60 stories up in the Sears Tower, and that means the elevator rides are super fun because my ears won't pop due to congestion.

O.K., time for more TheraFlu.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Go, go Carly!



I'm not generally a fan of vertical video, but I'm certainly a fan of this one!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

In an era of too many reboots, 'Get Shorty' actually deserved to be reimagined.


I stumbled across the TV series version of Get Shorty last night, something I didn't even know existed, and decided to give it a try. And now I'm hooked. I've never read the book, so the '90s movie with John Travolta is the only version I know. The two share similar backstories—mob guy breaks into the movie biz—but they couldn't be more different.

While Travolta's Chili Palmer was all smiles and grace (with a touch of menace), while on TV Chris O'Dowd is Miles Daly, a more sullen menace who is sick of the crime world. Ray Romano is also excellent as a down on his luck film producer who teams up with Miles. But you probably already knew that since the series was just renewed for its third season! I am so behind on this one.

Anyway, if you're as out of the loop as me, and want a darkly comic (and sometimes scarily violent) TV series to binge, fire up the Netflix and sink in.

Monday, December 10, 2018

You know, for kids!

It was kind of an up and down weekend for me, but it ended well with a fundraiser last night that was also one of my favorite shows of the year. I was even home by a reasonable time! The evening really made me appreciate the friends I still have and I managed to keep out of trouble (not always the easiest thing to coat Liar’s Club).

I shot video of the show last year, but last night the phone stayed in my pocket and I just took in the music and enjoyed the show. Going to concerts still occasionally feels like “work” but this was just pure pleasure.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Fri-yay!

Action packed weekend! Parties! Shows! Old friends! New friends! Birthdays! Tree trimming! Yowza!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

I spent a lot of time trying to think of a funny headline to go along with the band name "Ruler" but they were all lame so just read this and listen to some killer tunes.


Let’s dig into some more ridiculously hook-filled rock and/or roll today, shall we? Seattle’s Ruler is let by Matt Batey, and he’s clearly a man who never met a hook he didn’t like.

His debut, Winning Star Champion came out earlier this year but only reached my ears last month ahead of a scheduled show at Scubas in December (which has sadly since been canceled). I know I could’ve used it’s buoyant tunes this summer, but I’m still grateful to have them in my ears to melt the wintry Chicago assault with their sunshine pop.

Did I say sunshine? Please note that while the music is all blasting primary colors the lyrics carry a deeper reverberation, highlighting the daily struggle of just getting through it all. Hell, the opening track is titled “Petrified” and track two has the chorus “‘Cuz I’m the winning star champion of fucking up!” This ain’t self-loathing though, it’s self-acceptance. Maybe that’s why it resonates so deeply with me?

Give it a spin. And if you like it, buy it! And if you don’t have any money, you can download this Gin Blossoms cover the band did for free.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Jeff Whalen unleashes his bubbleglam on the world. Rejoice!


Do you remember Tsar? Probably not. They had a brief but super promising career in then early aughts where all signs pointed to massive stardom. But, like many other bands, it simply wasn’t to be. I sometimes wonder how different things would be for the power-pop giants had they debuted a few years later. The blogosphere would have tripped over itself with praise.*

Well, the band (sort of) has a second chance! Tsar’s singer and primary songwriter Jeff Whalen has a new solo album 10 More Rock Super Hits. And it is FIRE. It is big, over-the-top, absolutely gloriously glittering power-pop. One might say it’s a collection of super rock hits.**

Whalen describes his music as bubbleglam, and I have to admit I’m a little jealous I didn’t come up with that first, since it perfectly describes his joyously stomping style of songwriting. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit its presence has actually saved me from a December that has been a little emotionally challenging. I am only sad it doesn’t get a full, public release until February, because this is joy I wish I could share with you this holiday season.


Whalen has only released one track publicly (“Jendy!,” above) so you’ll just have to take my word on the other 9 super rock hits. You can set yourself up to be one of the first to hear the album over at Whalen’s PledgeMusic page.

O.K., I’m off to play the album yet again!


*Technically they did release albums later in the decade, but that prime moment had passed by then. At least in my opinion.

**Truth in advertising!

Monday, December 03, 2018

Chicagoist delves into the deep mysteries of the Alderman.



Looks like the gears over at Chicagoist are grinding again! Chance the Rapper debuted "Chicagoist TV" over the weekend. And no, I don't know any behind the scenes knowledge of this, but I'm plesased to see he's starting to produce content under the Chicagoist moniker.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Relearning how to enjoy some of the core pleasures in my life.

I’m still having a hard time writing. Personal writing that is.* I think it’s just after months of emotional depletion, it’s going to take a while for the juices to fill up and start flowing again. In fact one of the most insidious things about the last year was the robbing my ability to both write personally and enjoy music. Two of the things that form the core of my being gradually went grayer and grayer. I mean, I’ve been able to do both things, but it takes more out of me than it used to. I have to work harder to emotionally connect to either one. Especially personal and music writing, which is distressing since those were things I could do immediately and effortlessly.**

But it is coming back. Throughout the past couple of months I did write down topics I wanted to talk about, and just never got around to. Don’t worry, it’s mostly fun stuff! Bands, recommendations, and funny memories. Of course there are also notes I completely don’t understand what I was trying to say—one is “Human Switchboard”?—but I keep them just in case they spark again.

So I guess you could say I’m priming the pump to take advantage of what I feel is an impending wave of output. And hopefully that output won’t contain too many terribly mixed metaphors like the previous sentence.

As always, if you’re still here and still reading, know that I appreciate you greatly.


*Work writing has never been better. But I use a different part of my brain (and soul) for that stuff.

**Some might say it’s a good thing I pulled back on the personal writing, and I’m inclined to agree with them. So maybe there’s a silver lining in there after all!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Regaining nocturnal normalcy.

Clearly Pickle the Kitten has no problem relaxing.
I am exhausted! Last night I was asleep at 9 p.m.! What the what?!

After months of living a largely nocturnal existence of watching TV until 3 or 4 a.m., I’ve found my world turned upside down!* Clearly the main reason this is happening is because I have a job again, and am keeping normal hours.  But the other big reason is a major reduction in stress. Many of the things that plagued me over the last 12 months have been resolved and my life has slowed to a relatively normal place again. The hamster wheel in my head is no longer spinning into a blur and keeping me awake with dread.

It’s a nice feeling.

I still feel a certain melancholy—12 months ago this was not the life I thought I would be living—but it’s more of a calm contemplative state. It’s the kind of thing that allowed me to actually get 8 hours of sleep last night!**

I never thought I’d be so boring I’d be excited about sleep.

The one part of the routine I’m still working out is the gym. My new job wants me in the office earlier than most of my other jobs, so I’m still trying to figure out the right timing so I can hit the gym before work. I haven’t quite perfected that yet, which means I’ve been working out in the evening instead. I prefer the morning because a workout really gets me revved up and ready for the day. It just puts me in a positive mood, and I like bringing that optimistic halo into the office with me. I’ll get it figured out though.

Don’t worry, I haven’t lost all my edge. But I've sure learned to appreciate not being on edge all the time.


*Actually, it wasn’t so much nocturnal as it was not marked by any kind of routine. I was still up early in the morning, going to the gym, and staying busy throughout the day. I simply just wasn’t sleeping much at all.

**Altogether. I do still find myself waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. pretty frequently and watch TV for an hour to lull myself back to sleep. Yes, I know that’s not the healthiest habit, and I’m trying to wean myself off it, but for now it does the trick.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Winter jam.



I don't know how Peter Bjorn And John do it, but their latest album Darker Days manages to sound like winter while allowing a few slivers of sunlight to break through. And it's those beams that keep the music from being desolate or depressing. Even when the lyrics are morose, there's an odd sense of hope that still manages to bubble up.

I've been listening to it a lot.

Monday, November 26, 2018

What a rollercoaster couple of days!

Last week just before the holiday the woman I was seeing and I parted ways (totally amicably). Wednesday I visited an old friend in the ‘burbs and experienced the insanity that is a night out in the town I graduated high school from on the night commonly known as “Blackout Wednesday.” Thanksgiving was a lovely family affair, but I got so stuffed I was incapable of leaving the house later that night for a concert I had planned on attending. Friday I saw The Struts at House of Blues and I’m glad I did because I went to see them Saturday as well and lasted 4 songs because I was so sick. Like, one of the worst two-day bugs I’ve had in a long time—can’t keep anything down, knocked me flat on my back sick. Which means I spent all Sunday on my couch watching streaming shows and napping since there was no way I was calling in sick after only 2 weeks at my new job and I had to get well ASAP! That also meant it wasn’t until this morning I realized we’d had a snow storm yesterday since I hadn’t opened the blinds, aside from one point earlier in the day when it was clear Pickle the Kitten wanted to get a peek outside for herself. And when I walked out my front door this morning I discovered the storm had been so so strong it split off huge portions of a neighbor’s tree across the street, damaging a few cars that were parked nearby.

Today everything seems pretty back to normal. So far.

Friday, November 23, 2018

I dunno why but this song just makes me happy.



Agree? Disagree?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

One year later.

This is a tough time for me. This time last year my marriage was imploding. I was basically living in our basement when we should have been celebrating our first holiday season in our first house. Instead I was being self-centered with no clue of what was coming around the corner. I wasn’t even allowed to attend our first Thanksgiving and had to spend the day and evening in the suburbs until the festivities at our home had drawn to a close.  If I could go back in time I would have slapped myself silly and told myself to wise up and realize just how good my life actually was.

Instead I kept barreling down the path of alienating my wife, and less than a month later I’d get the email from her that divorce papers were on the way.

I should have done more to fight for my marriage when it was still salvageable, but of course I didn’t realize how bad things were until it was too late and there was no solution left for us, other than painfully moving on to separate lives. Make no mistake, divorce is a two-way street, but I take full responsibility for my half of the equation.

While this time is tough, I’m also grateful that we both made it through what was truly a hellish year. I’m happy that my ex has found happiness and stability through friends and relationships both old and new, and I’ve been striving to do the same thing. I also hope that through all of this I’ve managed to become more self-aware, so that I don’t repeat the mistakes of my past. There simply isn’t enough time in my life left for me to do that again, and I’d rather focus on making myself a better person and the world around me a better place.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cool housewarming gift.


Maybe I should have a housewarming party so I can get more awesome stuff like this? If you don't understand the poster, dig through my stuff and divine what one of my top movies of all time is. Then you'll get it.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Structure.

I know everyone likes to complain about their jobs, but after being unemployed for almost six months I've learned to love employment. While my job search never slackened, as the months went on I could feel all the structure in my life dissipate. You'd think with all that free time I'd be a raging party monster, or be ripping through stalled projects I never had the time for before. But instead I ended up just watching a lot of Netflix and rarely going out. Aside for festivals and the odd concert here or there, I was a pretty big homebody. I know; super exciting.

Since getting a job offer a few weeks ago my productivity has skyrocketed. It's funny how having less free time means I'm actually getting more accomplished! My stress levels have dropped and I've noticed I'm sleeping much better now. The last few months I've been plagued with insomnia, much of it caused by the hamster wheel of my thoughts that wouldn't stop spinning. Nowadays, if I'm not out, I'm in bed around 10. What the—?! Who is this guys! I love it.

This also means I'm able to be more supportive of the people around me. And I really enjoy being available in that capacity too.

So, appreciate the structure in your own life. You might not know it, but with that structure you're able to accomplish a lot more than you realize.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Gettin' groovy with Teddy Glass.

Check out the two suave gents that make up Teddy Glass.
My bad on this one. It's been sitting in my inbox for months and I kept trying to find just the right time to write about it, and I just never did. What I now realize is that while I kept trying to find the right moment, that was never going to happen because Teddy Glass' Nights And Weekends is pretty much right for every moment.

Nights And Weekends is a woozy, sway-worthy collection of tunes that dip their toes into light funk while also swirling around in the Yacht Rock territory. It's a foggy, hazy day in Chicago and these tunes seem to perfectly emerge ever so slowly from the mists. Conversely, these'd be terrific for a lazy summer day in the park. Or a sultry swirl and twirl around the dance floor. Or just nodding off on your couch with a really nice pair of headphones wrapped around your skull.

So lay back, enjoy your Friday, and let Teddy Glass show you where it's at.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A positive update.

Pickle the Kitten gets cozy in her new digs.
We all know what a lousy year I’ve had. Divorce, basement flooding, a break-in, getting laid off alongside a bunch of other talented folks, selling my house, moving … and that is literally just scratching the surface. I could go on and on. I even noticed my hair is noticeably thinning and balding in odd places since July, and I can only guess it’s due to the physical effect stress has had on my body.

But a few weeks ago, things really started to turn around. I guess I had to hit the lowest of low points before I could start rising again. In fact, this whole thing made me realize how much the arcs of my life and my dad’s life match, as far as rising really high and then getting knocked down. And, like my dad, as daunting as things seemed (and for a spell there they were rather dire) there was no choice but to keep moving forward. Eventually things would work themselves out, just as long as we didn’t give up.

And things are getting better.

I like my new apartment. I still need to actually start hanging stuff on the walls and making it feel more like a home, but it suits my purposes. It’s big and can hold everything I own (I'm using a back bedroom as a “storage room” as well as holding the one drum kit I have set up). And Pickle the Kitten is constantly roaming and exploring. Or sitting in really weird places, as if she’s been laying in wait just to surprise me. The place is literally across the street and a few doors down from my old house, and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that, but I really like the neighborhood and the close proximity to the Blue Line. It makes my commute so much easier.

Wait! did I say commute?! Oh yes I did!

I started a new job today. It took me almost six months—the longest I’ve been out of work since 2002—but I finally found an agency I gelled with. Let me tell you; interviewing nowadays can be frustrating. Most places make you go through multiple rounds of interviews and then ghost on you. I actually interviewed with my current employer earlier this summer and they didn’t have a place for me then. But when one opened up a few months later they actually reached out to see if I was interested in coming in again and speaking to a few other folks. And then they hired me! Perseverance pays off!

If you’ve ever been job hunting you know places say “we’ll keep you in mind if something else comes up” and then promptly delete your name from their brain. But this agency actually did keep me in mind when something else came up! I have a very good feeling about this place.

There’s other good stuff happening as far as personal relationships go, but I don’t think you need to hear about that. Let’s just say new relationships are blooming and old relationships are naturally healing as best they can. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

So yeah, it’s been an exceptionally rough year. Easily the worst year in my life. And it might seem hokey, but I’m kinda thinking God might’ve put me through all this for a reason, because when the clouds did finally part, it happened pretty suddenly and all at once.*

So here’s to tomorrow!


*We all know I’m not a religious person, but this year and the way it rolled really did make me start to wonder. A the very least I way overpaid whatever debt to bad karma I’d accrued over the decades!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Greta On Fleek.


I've had a hard time squaring this in my head. Great Van Fleet was one of the best bands I saw at Lollapalooza this year, yet their debut album is leaving me cold.

I mean, I knew they were mining the Led Zepp fields from the first not of their set, but they were such a magnetic presence I was willing to just sink myself into the music. So I can't figure out why that energy didn't translate to Anthem For The Peaceful Army. What happened?

Take my word for it, I'm cool with bands mining their influences—the new Struts album is amazing—but this disc is just so, meh. None of the energy the band brings to the stage is evident. Which sucks. Perhaps it's just the result of too many cooks in the kitchen sucking the life out of the band's spontaneity?

All that said though, this thing will sell like mad. And if you have a chance to see them live you totally should!

Post-script: Title of this post totally taken from me calling the band the wrong name backstage. Whoops!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Unblocked.

I've been "digital" since the early '90s, but being blocked by someone is definitely a more recent occurrence. My ex finally unblocked me from most of her profiles, and I'm grateful. I've regained a decade's worth of stuff that we shared. And I've learned to not talk about them. I know my ethos on this site, since 2001, has been to be honest. But I'm learning that there are some things you don't have the right to know.

I've been actively dating since the start of this year, and the early part of that was probably me moving too quick, but I haven't written about the people I've dated. And I'm not gonna do so.

So I'm crafting my own narrative now, and keeping it central to me. I thought I owed my readers full transparency, but as time as has gone on I realize you're looking in through a porthole and have probably seen too much.

Does this make me an unreliable narrator?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Triple Fast Action's final show!



It's no secret Triple Fast Action is probably my favorite Chicago bands that came out of the '90s signing frenzy that swept through town. A few years ago their drummer Brian sent me a DVD of their classic final show at Metro. The band tore through pretty much every song they ever wrote, and it ended up with every guitarist that had ever toured with them. I'm not gonna drop names, but stick around until the end of this video and your mind will be blown. I remember going to this gig with Photogal, and by the end of the evening both of us could barely stand.

I've seen few truly epic sets, despite the bajillion shows I've been to, but this was one of them.

Dig it.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

HotLips Messiah go big on their new album, ‘Disco Miscarriage.


HotLips Messiah is a Chicago quartet well known for their raucous live sets, led by their mesmerizing singer Traci Trouble. In a band where every member is careening around the stage, Trouble's charisma and searing energy help keep things as grounded as they can be. Which is to say bordering on the edge of chaos.

 The band has been hard at work over the last few years on their new album Disco Miscarriage, a sprawling double-album of 46 songs featuring a virtual who's who of the Chicago rock scene, including guest appearances from (and this is just a sampling) members of Naked Raygun, The Bollweevils, The Gravetones, and Destroy Everything.

While their stage shows are always one step away from complete and delicious implosion, the band's songwriting has grown ever tighter over the years, so expect this new opus from them to be something that will be something you cn dig into and unpeel listen after listen.



The band celebrates the album release at Cigars & Stripes tonight, October 25. The show begins at 7 p.m. as part of the venues's 9th Annual Freaktoberfest, and according to the press release, features "a beer tasting of 13, Big Ass, sought after beers including Founders KBS and other dark, gruesome beers." The tasting begins at 5 p.m.

 Chicago's The Hamburglars will open the show, and if you haven't seen their memorable take on just what a live band should look like, you definitely want to get their early for them. Fire dancer Kimchee Clownstar will also be performing throughout the night.

 Holy mackerel.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Big changes.

I'm moving in 2 days and have a ton of concerts this week so life has been a little hectic. But I'm also pretty excited to close this chapter of my life and move forward. And I had an encounter this weekend that I don't want to go into but it was incredibly positive and cathartic.

I'm feeling good about things in general. 2018 has been a rough year, but the horizon is brightening.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Feeling decadent.

I move next week. It's only across the street so that's lots of less stress. But I'm treating myself (mainly because the move is, well, so short) and having the movers pack my stuff. I mean, there are certain things I'm gonna pack myself (teddy bears, expensive artwork, erm, personal items) but holy heck, I love the idea of a bunch of folks just tearing through my house and packing everything in three hours.

Less than a week an counting.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

I've never gone this long without writing (here).

So.

House is sold.

I'm moving.

Across the street. (I am not a fan of change.)

Mich and I speak sparingly, but at least we speak.

I'm still figuring this out, but I feel less lost.

Once I land a new gig, I have a feel everything will right itself. But I've managed the worst of it.

I hope she has too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

TFW your first meeting with your ex-wife is captured in print.


It had been online forever, but it was a slight shock to see me and Mich's first meeting make the jump from digital to paper. Especially jarring considering our divorce just became final a few months ago. At the same time it's extremely flattering (though I don't come off as well) to see that moment ambered in time. When I saw it I texted Mich—we now communicate, but still rarely—and both of us were a bit taken aback, I think. But I'm glad it's there. My marriage was a failure, but my relationship with her was not.

And for the record, Jess got it right; no one got in Mich's pants that night. But she did still stay over at my place afterwards, and it was the beginning of one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Last night my new girlfriend read the piece, and she laughed. There are funny bits in there! It felt pretty neat to be able to share something like this with her, and have her response be a positive one. Divorce itself sucks, but this piece reminded me of the beginning, and all the good things therein.

Also, while the names have been changed in this piece, I did totally get Mich's name wrong when introducing her to Jess.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

Still gathering my thoughts on Riot Fest.

One thing I've been enjoying about writing for different media outlets has been the return to me following my muse instead of just filing something as quickly as possible. So instead of rushing to type up a few quick notes about a couple various bands, I have the luxury of actually sitting on my thoughts for a day or two in order to write something more (I would hope) thoughtful and substantial. I think people care more about the festival experience as a whole, and less about a bunch of quick thoughts on this or that band's setlist. Given the response to my Lollapalooza write-up, I think this thinking is probably right. Is that gonna change how other media outlets sprint to get words up ASAP for fear they'll miss eyeballs? Probably not. But I do think it's the right approach, and I think as time goes on it'll gain more traction. In other words, we'll move back towards the days rock writing was actually writing. That makes me happy.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Solid contender for one of the best albums of 2018? Fer sure.

Photo by John Londono
The new Fucked Up has been on constant repeat for me. They really expand their sound waaaaaay further than the shouty punk you probably know them for with this one. It's long. It's ambitious. And I haven't tired of it yet.

I can't think of anything more punk rock than fearlessly messing with your recognized sound to achieve your artistic ambitions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Go! Summer ain't over yet.



I wrote about these folks a while ago and posted this tune's audio, but didn't even realize there was a video for it. To celebrate my return to regular writing in this space* (and in advance of me listening to their forthcoming new album, which I just downloaded) here's is Valley Lodge's "Go." And yes, you'll totally recognize the song and not realize how amazing it is after the first super familiar intro.

* It's been a rough summer. But I'm starting to feel optimistic about the future. I mean, I have to. And part of that is returning to regular writing again. I'm actually slightly embarrassed that after 15+ years of posting every weekday I stumbled, but again, it's bee a heckuva year. I think y'all needed a break from me as much as I needed a break from writing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Radio silence.

Yeah. The first time I haven’t written daily since 2002. Sue me. It’s been a rough year. Heck, I haven’t even been writing concert reviews. (Which is funny, because I’ve spoken them to folks and they’re like, “That’s totally complete! Just type it out!”)

Anyway.

So after 16 years I dropped the ball for a few days. But I’m back. So, stay tuned.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Digging deep into the rawk with The Dirty Nil.



The Dirty Nil are an Ontario-based trio that realize the fundamentals of a good rock song is melding massive hooks with even more massive guitars. I know, sounds simple, huh? But believe me, it ain't.  I've been listening to their upcoming Master Volume, and it's the kind of album you put on first thing in the morning to rev up for the day, or last thing at night because there's no reason to stop the party.

They just released a video (above) for "Bathed In Light," Master Volume's opener, and it gives you a good idea of where the band is headed. Trust me, the rest of the album is just as good.

Oh heck, here's another taste of what to expect.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

My thoughts on Lollapalooza 2018 are now up!


Head on over to Third Coast Review for my recap of this year's Lollapalooza. After years of rushing to do daily recaps it was nice to take some time and try to write something a little more comprehensive about the fest as a whole instead of just running through notes on a million bands. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Post-fest funk.

Something no one ever seems to write about is the series of blahs in the days that follow attending a large festival. This is especially true of a festival that stretches across, oh say, five days for me. It's not a depression, per se. It's more that your body and brain have been running on overstimulated overdrive for more days in a row than it's used to, so there's an inevitable recovery period.

For me that recovery usually takes a day. Historically I take the Monday off any festival off to recharge. But I must be getting older because now it's day two and I'm still run down. Maybe it's just because I'm still in-between jobs, and in the past I sort of willed myself to recharge a little faster? I don't know. But it sure is making me feel old to see Pickle the Kitten being more active throught the day than I am!

Monday, August 06, 2018

I survived another Lollapalooza.

I have a full review coming later this week—I was covering solo so need a little more time to write—but I'm still alive. Luckily my legs don't ache as much as usual, but I'm still exhausted. I'm heading to the shower now in the hopes of washing (most) of Grant Park off me and feeling slightly more human again.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Bittersweet.

I've been to every Lollapalooza since its inception, save two. This will be the first time in ten years I'm going without my longterm Lollapalooza companion, and the first time ever I'm going solo. I'm two days in and it's already a bit of a different experience. I'm trying to enjoy the newness, but it's still a little weird.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Interesting Lolla stats.

Aerial shot of Lollapalooza 2016 courtesy of Soaring Badger Productions
According to Vivid Seats...

  • Average Ticket Price: $423 
  • “Get-In” 4 Day Pass: $564 
  • “Get-In” Day 1 Ticket Price: $245 (Arctic Monkeys, Travis Scott, Khalid) 
  • “Get-In” Day 2 Ticket Price: $225 (Bruno Mars, The National, Post Malone) 
  • “Get-In” Day 3 Ticket Price: $202 (The Weeknd, Vampire Weekend, Logic) 
  • “Get-In” Day 4 Ticket Price: $161 (Jack White, Odesza, Lil Uzi Vert) 
  • Average Distance Traveled: 444 mi 
  • Price Change Since 2017: +3%

Sooooo, it appears Arctic Monkeys > JackWhite. Hmmmm....

Also, my cheat sheet to surviving Lolla from last year still applies.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Lollapalooza!


Who's going?


Here are my must-see bands that aren't headliners. Understand this is with the caveat that the undercard is mostly unknown to me so I'll still be wandering around taking in new music and hoping someone knock me out.
Thu 08/02/18 2:45 PM - Stars, Grant Park
Thu 08/02/18 4:45 PM - Franz Ferdinand, Grant Park
Thu 08/02/18 6:45 PM - CHVRCHES, Grant Park
Fri 08/03/18 1:50 PM - Post Animal, American Eagle
Fri 08/03/18 2:30 PM - Taylor Bennett, Perry's
Fri 08/03/18 3:45 PM - LIZZO, Tito's Handmade Vodka
Fri 08/03/18 7:30 PM - BØRNS, Lake Shore
Sat 08/04/18 4:45 PM - LL COOL J, Bud Light
Sat 08/04/18 5:30 PM - Carly Rae Jepsen, Lake Shore
Sat 08/04/18 5:40 PM - morgxn, BMI
Sat 08/04/18 6:45 PM - St. Vincent, Bud Light
Sun 08/05/18 12:45 PM - The Regrettes, Grant Park
Sun 08/05/18 4:30 PM - The Aces, BMI
Sun 08/05/18 5:30 PM - Manchester Orchestra, Lake Shore
Sun 08/05/18 7:30 PM - Chromeo, Lake Shore




Thu 08/02/18 3:45 PM - The Wombats, Lake Shore

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

'Preacher' v. Anne Rice.


Yet another in a series of brief posts because I think I'm suffering from general writing fatigue yet still have Lollapalooza staring me in the face for most of the remainder of the week. Still trying to figure out my mode of coverage, but I think I'm going back to my old school timestamp stylee because, after a few years of being told I couldn't, I now can again. Yippee!

Anyway, this week's Preacher features a secondary story that absolutely lampoons the Anne Rice style of vampire lore, and it's a gut-buster. I grew up on Anne Rice (I worked in a bookstore when the Interview With A Vampire / Lestat craze was first peaking and admit I completely fell for the series for a while) but holy hell is this some funny stuff.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Another (mostly) non-digital Monday.

Today I spent most of my time not texting people and watching fair to middling Netflix fare. I admit at this point the experiment is starting to fill me with a slight sense of dread because I avoided most of my email over the weekend already and I am not looking forward to plugging back in and catching up tomorrow.

So the question is: Is unplugging worth it if it's only going to make you feel a little anxious about plugging in again?

Now I have to escape the house for another showing! Bye!

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Phonographs.


I did a short piece on an excellent Chicago power-pop band called The Phonographs today. Check it out!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Frunching it up.

If you're looking for something to do tonight, I'm venturing to the South Side to see the July edition of The Frunchroom. It should be fun!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Lolla deluge.

Sorry for the short posts, there's just not a ton to to write about lately. However the press trigger on Lollapalooza-related emails seems to have been pulled, so my inbox is even more a battle to keep up with than usual!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Summer lull.

The job market seems to have slowed down, and while I've only been out of work for 2 months that's the longest I've been unemployed in a really long time! Cross your fingers for me, because I'm starting to run out of Netflix and Hulu shows to watch!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Spoon, the band, in the '90s.

Spoon at The Metro in 2014, photo by me.
I know I said I'd stay away from digital stuff on Mondays, but a short daily post won't hurt. And I just realized I totally forgot to share the recent episode of Dig Me Out I appeared one where we discussed Spoon's 1990s output!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Just realized something weird.

This year will be my first major music festival as a single guy. I'm not counting Lollapalooza in the '90s. But still, it's weird.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Hiding down the corner.

One weird thing about showing your house to potential buyers is not being in your house when the showing is going on. I've been spending a lot of time at the restaurant at the end of my block or just taking long walks around the neighborhood lately!

I've found the walks, especially during the day, are great for clearing my head. So while there is the inconvenience of constantly having to leave my house there is as least that upside.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

P4K 2018 preview!

I contributed to the Third Coast Review Pitchfork Festival preview. While I'm mostly not attending as a writer this year, I just couldn't resist supplying some content!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Unplugged Mondays.

Trying a new thing where I try to stay offline and away from my mobile phone on Mondays. So, this is pretty much the extent of my "content" today. Hee.

Friday, July 13, 2018

When you live alone you spend a lot of time talking to your cat.

Of course I had to become single around the same time as that New Yorker short story. Only I actually have a cat! And am not nearly that awkward.

I'm getting used to dating again. After an initial foray, and then some time off, I dipped my toes back into those waters. I made the conscious decision to not write about particular folks I date, but an overall view seems O.K. And the results are good. Some dates last a bit and end with a hug or handshake, and others go for hours or days. Both are fine with me.

I'm also learning how awful many dudes are on dating sites / apps. Women share their exchanges with me (and some truly horrifying photos) and I begin to realize that for all the dumbass moves I've made in the past, I'm actually a pretty reasonably decent guy! I can't tell if other guys approach dating as a sport or from some center of desperation but hoo boy, it ain't good.

I do miss being in a relationship, but I don't miss it so much I feel the need to rush into another one.

But you never know what'll happen. Each date is unique and holds the potential for countless possibilities. Or not.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Blazing Saddles.


It's still one of the funniest movies of all time yet it could never be made today. That makes me a little sad. I'm considering heading out to Wheaton next week to see it on the big screen!

Who's got a car and wants to go?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Billy Corgan may be, erm, problematic, but the first new Smashing Pumpkins single proves he needed to get the band back together.



The song came out a while ago. And when it did I told a friend to listen, and she did with great trepidation having been a huge "classic" Pumpkins fan. Afterward she smiled and agreed that the line-up of the band we missed most (minus one) delivered the goods. Now that the video is out—O.K., it's a few weeks old but I didn't get around to watching until today—I reckoned, why not post it here?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Want to buy an awesome house in an amazing Chicago neighborhood?


Well, now you can.

It's a 2-minute walk to the Blue Line, and we made a bunch of improvements to the place when we thought we'd be here longer, so all the updates were made with longevity in mind. It's actually a pretty decent steal, so I don't think it'll be available for long. Interested? Call 312-399-0470.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Facebook birthday wishes.

My friend Mike is doing a little experiment based on Facebook birthday posts. I know some view them as "whatever," but IMHO anyone that takes time to even write a quick message is doing you a welcome show of appreciation.

This year, hilariously, I didn't realize until the end of the day that I had set my own Facebook privacy settings in such a way that people could only comment of stuff I wrote, not leave their own stand-alone "happy birthday" posts.* Subsequently I got almost no birthday wishes and, especially after the last year, it was kind of a bummer.** A bummer of my own making—which believe you me, the irony of which was not lost on me—but a bummer nonetheless. It also made me feel a little better once I realized that's why people hadn't been posting on my wall in general!***

So I don't know how Mike's experiment will end up, but I'll keep wishing people a happy birthday since I know that no matter how you slice it, it can only brighten up their day.


Clearly this was based on me changing my settings a few months ago when I particularly needed to get away from negative posts and comments in general, and I just forgot to open posts back in later once everything was in a more positive place.
** Super smiles to the folks that messaged me, or texted me, or sent me belated greetings, once they realize they couldn't post due to my mistake.
*** I was also offline all day and off my cellphone so I missed extremely nice folks like my friend Alison trying to text me that my settings were off early in the day!

Friday, July 06, 2018

Creating a 'Beautiful Future' with Janelle Monáe.

Got invited to see Janelle Monáe play The Chicago Theatre last night and it was mind-blowing. The tickets came last minute from folks at Belvedere collaborating with Monáe on a women's film initiative, A Beautiful Future. Below is a video describing what to expect, but given Monáe's super close attention to detail, countered with emotional performances, I'm expecting her to give her backing to some really interesting project from these filmmakers.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

An unusual 4th.

Spent the day relaxing and watching movies, then watching stand-up and conversing, all the while avoiding the usual holiday tropes of fireworks, beer and BBQ. I didn't even see any explosions in the sky until I was walking home a few minutes ago. One of the parks nearby was obviously still the staging station for yet another "unofficial" Chicago fireworks show. But it was pretty, so I didn't even mind the late night booms.

By the way, I finally watched Dunkirk and now really regret missing it in 70mm. You know where I'll be should a theater run it in that format at some point in the future!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

I've been bullied for a really long time.

Watched It this morning and while the supernatural monsters didn't scare me, the brief moments of Stephen King's writing about bullies did.

I was bullied from grade school through high school. In grade school I took shit for being smart and weird. In high school I took shit for being smart, and weird, and outspoken. And, jeez, I almost forgot, but in college I took heat for all of the above too.

I was bullied for over half my life. And it had an effect. I grew sharp, and hard, and defensive. And developed a wit that could cut to the core. It made me even smarter. And adaptable.

And, honestly, though it made me into the man I am today, I wish none of it had ever happened.

I was tortured for a very long time. And it did change me. Once I got the upper hand in life, I wasn't always the best person. After years of abuse, I finally felt I was getting my due. But that's not how it should work. Being bullied made me harder. It took away the vulnerable guy who was a good person. It killed the "Ducky" in me. And when I ended up on top of the world, it fed into much of the stuff that killed all the good I had going for me.

Being bullied had a profound effect on me. But I can't even imagine what being bullied nowadays feels like. I feared for my life at times, but I could still barricade myself in and escape. Now? There is no escape. Online bullying never stops. So every time I try to feel sorry for myself I wonder what the new generation of "nerds" has to suffer.

Being bullied made me who I am, for better or worse, but it didn't kill me.

If bullying feels like it's killing you, please tell me. Let's talk. Yes, bullying can screw up your life, but it doesn't need to impact your hold on life.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Sonny Falls are anything but hazy on 'Some Kind of Spectre.'


Hoagie sent me the unmastered version of the album a few months ago, but the new Sonny Falls LP is finally officially coming out next month! I've written about the band a few times (most recently for The Reader, which if you missed it online you might not have seen since the physical column had the misfortune of appearing in an issue that was quickly pulled due to a (thankfully, quickly fired) idiotic senior editorial decision) but here's all you really need to know:

Sonny Falls is awesome. Both one of my favorite Chicago bands and creators of one of my favorite albums of 2018.

Here's a taste of the new stuff. Order the vinyl. I already did.



Oh, and for the visually inclined, here's the video for their first single.

Friday, June 29, 2018

You've been Yorned!

OK, that headline is such a super secret inside joke only less than a dozen people will get. But this surprise cover was shared by a certain musical legend who supplies most excellent background vocals (and, honestly, while no one could ever beat Kim Deal's original take, this artist makes it their own) so I wanted to share this.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

One week ago, I got legally divorced.

Much needed comic relief.
It was supposed to be a procedural hearing and even my attorney seemed surprised I showed up. Apparently lines were crossed and I thought I was supposed to be there, even though I didn't need to be. Good thing I was.

Mich had decided that was the day she wanted everything to be over. Which made sense; it had been almost 6 months to the day since this whole thing started, and in Illinois, 6 months is the earliest you can finalize things.*

So, while I wasn't really emotionally prepared, I did everything I could to reach an agreement, and we did. I kind of wish we had pushed things until July, when the house would be on the market and the majority of the bits we went back and forth on would no longer matter, but she wanted what she wanted and I wanted her to have what she wanted.

So we reached an agreement and the judge legally split us up. There was crying on both sides. And even the judge seemed a little sad. I'm sure he sees this sort of thing a zillion times, but he truly seemed to take what was going on seriously. Which only made us cry harder.

If I'd written this a month ago, it would be filled with juicy details and observations about my take on various parties' involvement, and often obstruction or obfuscation of the process that got us here. And blah blah blah. But I'm different now. I'm clear headed. And I'm tired. And I've lost enough in the last 6 months to last me a lifetime. I've been stripped down to the bone. And the good news is that by being forced to rebuild myself, the guy Michelle fell in love with, and that my friends have probably long been missing, is back. It's ironic that it took the destruction of a relationship and a series of almost comically catastrophic events to put that guy back in the driver's seat, but there you have it.

So, what's next? I guess we'll just see what happens.

*Over the last few months I kept being asked why this was taking so long, but the truth is that everything ended just as early as it legally could. Illinois' no-fault rules are pretty basic, so anyone that tells you things "could move faster" are either lying or don't know what they're talking about.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A few simple truths.

Trump isn't going to be impeached. So that's not going to save us.

There's a good chance Mueller's findings will never become public. So that's not going to save us. People misunderstand how these things work.

Tweeting about rising fascism and just how unfair everything is won't save us. It'll make you appear involved, but it's pointless.

Sharing fringe articles that support your tribe's views won't save us. It just makes you even more blind to reality while bathing you in the warm froth of perceived inclusion.

Voting? Getting involved? Running for office? Coordinating resistance instead of tearing resistance apart through either bullheadedness or apathy?

That will save us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Bite into this Giant Peach.

Frances Chang and Mike Naideau of Giant Peach.
Giant Peach comes at you straight outta Brooklyn, but sound like downstate Illinois circa 1996. But You Made Me Such A Beautiful Thing is a noisy, clanging affair, full of bent feelings and sharp guitars.

The songs on this album sound like little journeys that go wherever they feel they need to instead of adhering to any kind of strict structure. But that doesn't mean the music is unfocused; in fact the tunes rock hella hard, even when the melodies turn introspective and walk more delicate pathways.

The band performs as a four-piece right now, but the core songwriters are Frances Chang and Mike Naideau. I haven't a clue how they split the duties of crafting the band's music, since everything sounds like a singular, fully realized vision, but whatever they're doing 100% works.

The band is touring throughout July, and plays a Chicago show at The Burlington on July 21. As usual, you can stream their new album below, and I urge you to throw them some cash and download it if it pulls at your appropriate internal levers.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A secret summer jam from The Melismatics.



It's Monday. It's nice out. Depending on when you read this, you are probably at work right now, or on your way in, or on your way out. Or sitting on a patio preparing to work / wondering why you're not working.

I don't remember quite how I learned of The Melismatics. I'm pretty sure they just sent me a demo or an EP or something when I was booking The Note. They turned into one of my fave semi-regular out of town bands to book, though. By the time the time the album this song was on came out, they had rejiggered their line-up and I really only wrote about music, I no longer worked with bands. Which means I had no excuse to drag them from Minneapolis to Chicago so I've never heard this tune live.

But it kills.

Happy Monday. Hopefully this tune sets your week up to rage in all the best ways.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Do you miss Supergrass? Well, let's scratch that itch!


A few months ago my friend Johnny alerted me to the fact that the drummer from Supergrass, Danny Goffey, had released an album under the name vangoffey a few years ago, and shared a video from the LP with me. I dug the song, but was at work at the time and didn't dig any deeper, and then promptly forgot all about it.

Here's that original video.


Good, huh? Why did I not go back and just stream the whole thing right then and there? Oh yeah. if I remember correctly I had to run into a meeting. Stupid meeting.

Goffey just released a new album, Schtick, under his own actual name and it reminded me of that earlier video. So I did what any rational person would do and immediately downloaded both Goffey albums to give them a listen. The new Gaz Coombes solo release had left me a bit flat, so I didn't have high hopes, but reckoned Goffey's stuff was worth a listen.

Wowowowowow!

Both albums are cram packed with 100% classic Supergrass-type stuff! It was just the kind of thing I needed after a traumatic life-changing event* and 48 solid hours of dreary rain! It's all kinds of "Yeeeeaaaaargh! Whoops of joy! Jump around! Let's dance, motherfuckers!"

Here. Just wait for the chorus.



See?!

Don't be dumb like me, give the drummer some and jump on the Goffey train right now and take in both his albums for yourself.


*Still processing and not ready to write about it yet. One benefit of being clearheaded and focused these days is I tend to (mostly) be able to avoid that reactionary writing trap. Thank God for everyone's sake.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Well, that took a turn.

Something I expected to be a routine turned into something far more—well, more—than I was really prepared for. So instead of writing anything about it today (it's all that's on my mind, so there is nothing else for me to even write about) I'm just going to make Pickle the Kitten cuddle up with me and watch the raindrops trail down my family room window as the trees sway with the wind. Let's call it a meditative moment.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Westy can still drum.



I saw Pavement a bajillion times between 1994 and when they finally broke up, and then once again during their brief reunion when they played P4K Fest in 2010. I am certainly in the minority when I say I kind of hope they never regroup again. The reunion show was good fun, and I loved that so many younger fans finally got to see one of the '90s indie legends they had grown up on but never saw live, but compared to the band in its prime it was more a fading carbon copy than a brilliant reenactment of what made the band great.

That said, I do always love mini-reunions like this one: drummer Steve West joining Stephen Malkmus at a Jicks show at The Cat's Cradle to knock out two Pavement golden oldies. No pressure, no build up; just plain fun.

[h/t Stereogum]

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

You ever see a ring tan fade?


The first couple of times I listened to this I was just taking in the vocal melody and sparse backing music, finding the whole thing poignant and affecting.

Then I paid attention to the lyrics. And they are devastating. And a little too close to my own personal experience. The simple line of "you ever see a ring tan fade?" carries a crushing weight that is only made heavier and heavier as the song progresses. The minimalist construction just make the whole thing so much more emotionally powerful. It's like a wrecking ball of ephemeral memories designed to shatter the heart over and over again.

Monday, June 18, 2018

So, I did it!


After all that back and forth ultimately I thought, "Why not cap off a trip out of town with a new haircut and a new beginning?"

Friday, June 15, 2018

Little Junior enters with a boisterous 'Hi."

Photo by Calm Elliot-Armstrong
I wrote about Little Junior a while ago, when they released a video for their pretty excellent Carly Rae Jepsen cover, but I just realized their album is finally out and available to stream and buy on Bandcmp (among other outlets).

This album has grown even better in my estimation since I first listened to it back in March, though I don't really have much to add to my initial write up of their music. It's just damn freaking good, in a totally spazzy, swaying way.

Sadly I missed the band's Chicago stop so I'll just have to content myself with the recorded version of their music for the near future.* The good news is now you too can bop along to their high energy debut all you want!

I have a vacation coming up—I have to get out of Chicago for a spell—and this is just the kind of album I want to blast while hanging in a park, or on the beach, under the summer sun.

I think you'll want to do the same.



*How did I miss that show?! Oh yeah, looking at my calendar I see I was in the 'burbs visiting a friend that night. D'oh!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Please bear with me as I talk hair.

Me, the first time I grew my hair long. My dad was not pleased, but got used to it.
Please don't take this as a post steeped in vanity, even though its primary subject regards the stuff that grows out of the top of my head. But I am truly struggling with a serious question!

Should I cut my hair short again?

I didn't plan on growing it out long again. It just sort of happened. In college my hair reached down to my chest—it was the early '90s, so not that weird—and it just became so much of my identity that it took me years and years to finally cut it. I was worried that doing so would cost me countless cred points and I'd suddenly turn back into the dork I was in my adolescence.

This, of course, is absolutely idiotic. But 20-somethings aren't always the clearest thinkers when it comes to self identity.

So here I am 20 years later facing the same quandary, though not nearly as fraught. I like having long hair. But my hair is thick, and curly, and when it grows it sort of stops at the shoulders and grows outward for a long period of time until it hits that critical length and suddenly drapes down my back. And I don't think I have the patience for that this time around, nor do I seriously think I'll look better that way. At the same time, and yes, this is idiotic too, there is always a small whisper related to Samson that crops up every time I seriously consider the shears. This is clearly based in insecurity.

See? Not so bad short, right?
I'm also searching for a job right now, and while with some companies long hair on a creative might be considered a plus, I'm also aware that not everyone finds it aesthetically pleasing, so it could knock me out of the running for a gig I might actually love, and be a perfect fit with. It's just the way of the world.

At the same time It's festival season! And I will admit there's a certain shallow part of me that likes to look the rock and/or roll part at festivals. Again, idiotic, but if we're being honest, I may as well disclose that. Plus, I'd have to go back and update all my dating profile photos though that might work out in my favor. Most of the women that respond seem to love the hair. But I'm betting there are more that probably prefer their dudes and little less shaggy and a little more groomed. So that's a toss up as well.

I guess I could always go short and then grow it out again, right? But what if I cut it off and suddenly start balding and realize that I can't go back again?! I did notice a thinning spot on the top of my head that suddenly appeared, but since I cut out booze and started working on again adopting a healthier lifestyle that seems to be filling in again, so I'm guessing it was probably more a result of stress and a bad diet than anything else.*

I know this is all incredibly self-indulgent, and if you're still here I truly appreciate your putting up with it. As I said at the outset, this isn't about vanity: I'm well aware I look pretty decent with short hair. It's just that a decision like this really does dredge up a whole torrent of insecurities I should have overcome, you know, years ago. But do we ever outgrow basic insecurities? I'm not so certain we do. We deal with them, and handle them, and move on; but they'll always crop back up at times we consider radical change.

Anyway, what do you think?**

KINDA UPDATE: I actually wrote this draft over last weekend, and then ran an Instagram poll on the question to get feedback from my friends a few days later. The result? 87% said to chop it all off versus 13% who said to keep it. At least now I know what most folks think! Of course, once it ended I found myself in the midst of a particularly good hair day so...


*Since I started working out regularly again, my stress levels have dropped through the floor. Heck, in the last couple of weeks my resting pulse has dropped 17 beats-per-minute! And I feel great. I mentioned it before, but the human body is truly amazing once you start giving it the good stuff it wants!

**With the understanding that, by the time you read this, there's a good chance I've gone and gotten myself shorn anyway.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Well, this certainly makes me feel inadequate as a drummer.



This is Yoyoka Soma, and she is 8 years old. And she is already a better drummer than I will ever hope to be. Amazing.

Now excuse me, I have to go upstairs to my office and start practicing so I can be 0.001% as good as she is.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Rating the dating apps.

I know, you're like, "Dude, I'm surprised ANYONE swipes right on you!"
After a few months of being "actively" single, and going through a number of different dating apps, I feel like I have some key learnings* to share with anyone else also navigating these turbulent waters. I've only used a handful, but they're varied enough that, despite most people's assumptions to the contrary, they each do have their own specific flavor.

So here are my experiences using a few of the more popular apps, though I'm well aware that if you're not me, your experiences may be wildly different. The times they are a'changing, so I've been open to profiles that are looking for everything from traditional LTRs to non-monogamy to existing open relationships to just about whatever.** My only real app turn-offs are a) no bio at all or b) profiles inundated with group photos so you have no idea who the poster is. What the heck?!

It should also be noted that I purposely have a kinda goofy photo as my first shot in most of my profiles—included in this post—since I reckon that immediately weeds out the people that probably wouldn't "get" me in the first place. So that may have an effect on people swiping right / hitting "like." C'est la vie!

Tinder: The OG of dating apps. I know it began as a hook-up app but those days are long behind it. I've had reasonable luck getting a couple of dates through Tinder, but nothing that really lasted all that long. If you're a woman, I understand the number of dudes swiping right on you can be overwhelming, but if you're a dude it's totally manageable. I dunno, my personal jury is still out on this one, but it is one of the easiest to use.

Bumble: Don't call them "the other Tinder." The big difference here is that when you match with someone, they have to start the conversation. I like that since it puts the power in the hands of the other person to get things rolling, but it also means that when you match with someone, if they chicken out, there's not much you can do about it. And if the 24-hour window in which they can chat starts to close, Bumble will bug you to pay money to extend the window. No thanks. I see a lot of the same women on Tinder also on Bumble, but the Bumble dates I've gotten have been more "quality," and even if things haven't worked out romantically, I still chat with many of the folks I've matched with on Bumble. I dig it.

Zoosk: The UX on this app ain't great, and responses are few and far between. From what I can tell, this is the preferred app of suburban single moms, and there is zero wrong with that. However, I don't own a car, so that's not really my scene. Also, the distance parameters constantly go out of whack, so it keeps trying to match me with people who live 50-75 miles away! But if you live in the 'burbs, by all means, this may be the app for you! Me? I'm deleting it.

CasualX: I tried this out based on a Mashable recommendation a few months ago. It is 100% a hook-up app, and it also has a terrible UX, and I'm still not sure exactly how it's supposed to work. And a pure hook-up really isn't my thing anyway. There are also already existing communities out there much better at supporting this approach, so I would skip this app and try those out if that's your thing. For me, CasualX is a full on delete.

Match: If Tinder is the OG of dating apps, Match is the OG of online dating. I only recently started trying it out. Since it's populated primarily with folks looking for long term relationships, I avoided Match for a while, but decided to stick my toe back into its waters. (I first had a Match profile in, what, 2001 or 2001 during a period Photogal and I had broken up?) The response rate still isn't great, but it's a pretty mellow experience overall if you're in no rush (and I am in no rush).

Also, I've also found another approach that works: introduce yourself to someone when you're out at a bar or show [gasp!]. I've had some luck with that as well. Just don't be intrusive, and be prepared to beat a polite and hasty retreat if the person you're talking to obviously isn't into it. It's not that hard to pick up on (though it appears there's an epidemic of men, in particular, who either can't or choose not to see that).

So what am I missing? Should I be trying something else out? And what have been your own experiences with dating apps?


*Sorry, I couldn't resist using that marketing buzzword. It's funny!

**Almost whatever. When friends or ex co-workers (or just plain exes) pop up in my feed I swipe left out of courtesy, and to avoid potentially embarrassing situations. Well, except for one, but that's only because I knew she'd find the humor in it, and she did.