Friday, March 29, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mountains in the night.

Mountains are massive beasts in the moonlight. Hulking. Looming. Spooky.

And beautiful.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How many thousand feet above sea level?!

I was indeed this close to the slalom skier. Check out the red gate she's smacking down!
I climbed up the side of a mountain today. Man was it steep. I actually only made it 3/4 of the way up to the starting gate I was trying to reach before I decided perhaps it would be better to view the slalom run we were filming from the halfway point instead. Kudos to the film crew I'm working that did make it to the top! Muy impressive.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Putting it in perspective.

I listened to a man today that reminded me that everything, every gripe every whoop every tear every smile, needs to be put in perspective. It's al relative. Things are never what you expect them to be, so appreciate them for what they are. And don't be blind to that which you should be thankful for.

It's a simple, deep sentiment. And it's one I constantly forget. So I thank the man that reminded me of its importance today. He was truly inspirational.

Friday, March 22, 2013

In defense of an unfairly maligned artistic period practiced by one Mr. David Bowie.

One of the more abhorrent trends in new media is the list. Often pointless and use to garner pageviews and drive up ad prices they tend to be--in the worst cases--difficult to navigate and--in the best cases--just exist to generate a back and forth amongst readers over whether the list / rankings / whatever are complete shit or not. When lists do succeed, and in my estimation year-end lists are perfectly O.K., they offer something that's critically useful. Music publications LOVE lists, but do you really believe any one of them can rate the "best music of the '90s" or, ferchissakes, the "best music of all time?" Those wastes of font space are there merely to get eyes on the page.

But the list need not always be evil! I'm all for a well thought out critique of a band's output or "the weirdest moments of [musician x]'s career or anything else that feeds a true fans brain or tickles their fancy. And if something that's well written elicits a well thought response then, to me, that's a wonderful thing!

As happened with me earlier today while perusing Stereogum's ranking of David Bowie's albums from worst to best. Many sites attempt this, as is excellently parodied on a regular basis by The Awl, but Stereogum usually employs people actually familiar with the artist's work on their own series tackling various artists' canons. Of course when you're looking through someone's entire career your biases jump to the fore pretty quickly and it's fairly obvious what morst personally resonates with a critic. And this Bowie list is no different. All in all, I won't really argue with it as a whole, it's a valiant attempt and Aaron Lariviere shows himself to have a fine grasp on Bowie's career. In fact this isn't a response to his rankings as much as it is a response to a general judgement of one section of Bowie's career I feel is constantly and unfairly maligned.

No, don't worry, I'm not about to come to the defense of Tonight.

No, what I want to talk about is the weirdly intense hatred felt by most music writers for Bowie's work in Tin Machine.* The idea of Bowie creating an album of loud, messy hard rock seems to drive these people nuts. In fact I loved the first album from the first time I slid its tape into my Walkman in 1989. I thought, "Thank god, Bowie's playing a guitar again! And it's tuneful! And it's raw!" And yeah, O.K., so maybe the lyrics weren't at the height of avant-garde word-smithery but kee-rist it had been a decade since Bowie exhibited anything close to his old actually snarly and arch self.

I've read quite a bit about this time in Bowie's career since I couldn't figure out why people hated it so much and I think I finally found the answer; Hunt Sales. From every interview I've read it seems this guys was kind of a prick at the time and poisoned the music press when it came to Tin Machine. An alternate theory is that critics were confused by Tin Machine at first and when the clearly inferior Tin Machine II** followed it they just wrote off the whole project.

I think it's a combination of the two, to be honest. But I also think the concept of "Bowie as an equal member in a band" seemed grating as well, but any listen to the group's output shows that Bowie was pretty much running the show and when he didn't (ahem, "Stateside") things ran rapidly off the tracks.

So, dear reader, I posit that if the Tin Machine work is honestly judged the first album still holds up remarkably well. It marked the true return of the more artistically adventurous Bowie--even if the backlash briefly shoved him back towards the Let's Dance-light of Black Tie White Noise before Outside brought him back on track towards albums that got steadily better and better leading us to this year's The Next Day. If anything a true Bowie fan should exalat in the tin machine era, else we might have forever lost him to the drudgery of commercial expectations and an unseemly striving for public affections.

*While Lariviere ranks it as one of the worst of Bowie's work he does go out of his way to say it isn't as bad as others have said, and I suspect had he split the albums apart Tin Machine might have edged a bit better in the rankings since Tin Machine II, as I theorized above, may act as a critical weight on that entire period.

**It's actually so bad*** Bowie has allowed it to go completely out of print and doesn't even allow it to be sold on iTunes. Ouch.

***Actually "Baby Universal," "You Belong In Rock And Roll," and "Goodbye Mr. Ed" are pretty great songs, which kind of tells you how bad much of the surrounding material is that thos have largely disappeared. Which is truly a shame.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kitty power.

Ever since a certain beagle decided her time was up, the cats have slowly been changing their behavior. At first they seemed confused; where was that big noisy dog? Pickle the Kitten in particular didn't seem to know what to do since the furry post with four legs she would rub up all over was nowhere to be found.

Never mind just how annoyed both cats were that I was suddenly smothering them with attention.

But time has passed and the kitties have adjusted. They've taken to more lounging around whenever they feel like it, and surprisingly they've been a lot more playful. Most surprising? Pickle actually seems to like our company and attention! Sasha the Cat has adjusted to the extra attention I give her quite nicely too, but then again she's always been a love bug.

I'll tell you this though; even though both cats tried hanging out on Betty the Beagles big pillow at one time or another they seem to have allowed that to remain her place. Maybe they hope she'll come back?

I know I still do.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Do you like '90s indie-rock?

Photo by Laurie Scavo
It is so deeply ingrained D├ętective's genes to sound like Guided By Voices meets The Breeders it's almost funny. In fact it would be a ridiculous similarity were they not literally born with the blood of those bands flowing through their musical veins.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Remember kids, it's important to schedule at least one day of vacation from your vacation.

I have learned through the years that, whenever possible at all, you buffer any vacation with a single day home to do nothing before you go back to work. This is essential to allow your system to get acclimated to no longer being able to do nothing. Otherwise you risk a severe shock that will immediately dissipate all the positive effects gained from those all-important days off.

Today is our vacation from vacation.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I don't wanna go home!

It was truly a lovely time in New Orleans over the last few days, spent with GalPal and some close friends. And now we're heading back to Chicago. To what appears to be sleet and snow and cruddy, freezing weather.

Can we stay here just one more day?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Taylor Swift is into "hipster costuming." And I don't care.

For the record, this tune was neck and neck with the other Taylor Swift song I chose for my top tunes of 2012. In retrospect I should have just included both of them!

Wayne Coyne makes a pretty good pitchman.

The FlamingLips have been popping up in commercials for a few years now, and I'm certainly not going to bemoan them the chance to make a few extra bucks, even though they are far from the scrappy and poor psychedelic punks of yore. Luckily they've always attempted to make the commercials they're in at least a little interesting.

Well, now Wayne Coyne has gone solo in the ad world and he appears in the sort of commercial I always envisioned the band ACTUALLY making.

Excellent fun.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Check out my longform review of the new David Bowie album.

Via Bowie's FB
Every once in a while it's nice to truly not give into the "MUST POST NOW BEFORE ANYONE ELSE" mentality that has so shackled recent music writing and allow an album weeks to saturate your system before writing about it. This is one of those times. Please read my piece, David Bowie's 'The Next Day' Shows An Artist In Full Bloom, Not A Nostalgia Act. Let me know your thoughts on the album too!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Time for writing?

After a number of hectic weeks, things have actually slowed down to a reasonably normal pace around these parts. At the 9-to-5 that means I have time to actually catch up instead of just staying ahead of an avalanche. Elsewhere that means I have time to actually write about all the music I've been listening to.

Oh! And I'm on vacation soon, my first real vacation in months, so I'm hoping to catch up on some reading of all those books I was ordering like a fiend earlier this year. Who knows, I might go completely nuts and crack open a sketch pad again!

It's nice to be able to catch your breath!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Heading home!

I'm coming back Chicago! I'm so excited to see you again.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Sick of altitude, altitude sick.

The views where I am are beautiful but the climate is taking its toll on me. When you're at this altitude even walking up a few stairs takes its toll. You always feel simultaneously hungry and nauseous and there;'s a low grade headache constantly thrumming in the background. And it's so dry even your teeth fel ready to shatter.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

That hair.

I have good hair for an old dude. But also, as an old dude, I'm highly cognizant said hair has an expiration date that's approaching with alarming speed. So forgive me this self portrait. And I extend my never ending gratitude to the Twitter follower who say this photo and responded "Babehair." Lurve. Blush. Repeat.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Simple dinners.

So I have a new tactic. Look for the simplest sandwich on the menu, and just eat the core sans bun. And pray to gawd it doesn't come with some weird veggie side. Because if there's one thing I've learned thought the years is that plain, no garnish, no side may be just as well sonically invisible to 99.57% of the service industry,

ALSO FILE UNDER: Whines due to a non-stop travel life (but also holding a deeper meaning, honest!).

Monday, March 04, 2013

Let's go!

The last few months have been a whirlwind. Up is down, down is up. Cats kissing dogs, sheep raining from the sky. Absolute pandemonium. But none of that matters now because I have a vacation coming up soon and it's so close I can almost taste the beignets I am going to stuff myself silly with.

Bring it on!

Friday, March 01, 2013

What's good on the menu?

I'm a picky eater. I like things plain. I wish I were different since everyone else seems to have so much fun being adventurous when it comes to restaurant dining,  but I'm just not wired for it. On one hand this makes me lucky since I'm never going to spend the money to have Grant Achatz make me a meal. On the other, that really sounds like it'd be a pretty cool experience! So it's a little frustrating.*

But hey, I'll always love a good steak.

*It frustrates galPal too. She's love to be able to cook exotic dishes that just wouldn't make for good leftovers at home but since I'd never eat them, and she'd only be cooking for one, she rarely does so.