Friday, May 30, 2014

In which I consider a wife reviewing a record collection and somehow end up angry at other music writers angry with her. Plus: David Bowie.

Alex Goldman's record collection, ready for review.
I learned of My Husband's Stupid Record Collection through TL:DR back in March and have enjoyed it off and on ever since, despite much caterwauling by other music writers' about some girl daring to write about music without their training! And getting lots of attention for it. THE HORROR.

Me? I enjoy some posts and am bored by others. Sarah O'Holla's naiveté and lack of knowledge about most of the records she writes about is sometimes interesting and sometimes annoying: just like pretty much everyone else's music writing. But don't confuse naiveté with stupidity or some "little girl listening to her oh-so-smart husband's records" misguidedness because that's just dumb and judgmental on your part.

Anyway, for an example of how her approach can both be lovely and maddening, read ho she responds to two terrific David Bowie records. She doesn't get Low, yet she loves Ziggy Stardust. And she manages to approach both with zero preconceptions and—I can see how this would annoy some—acts as if it's two completely different David Bowies at work here by not even acknowledging the history between the two albums. But she makes that work for her. So hate all you want, I'll keep reading (and skimming when she digresses a bit too much ... just like I would with any other music writer).

P.S. I find much of the backlash even more galling since some of it comes from music writers I really appreciate and respect, but if there's anything I've noticed it's that in the last 5 years too many music writers are worried about becoming irrelevant and scream at anything they believe is eroding the credibility of the practice. To that I say: whatever. I write because it's what I do. If you're writing for any other reason or believe you need to be protected in some walled enclosure it's time for you to find something else to do.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"It's not gong to stop."

I'm watching Magnolia, probably for the first time since I watched it right after buying the DVD when it was originally released. I think I've always avoided re-watching the film because it's such a heavy time investment, and it's not the sort of thing you play in the background while doing other things. And now I'm watching it and realizing that when something is this good, this adept at making you feel amidst steadily rising waves of tension broken by quiet meditative plateaus, it's worth revisiting on a far more frequent basis. 

Or maybe it's my long absence from the film that makes me appreciate it so much again? Not that it ever dropped in my estimation, but I'm sure taking so long between viewing allowed me to be genuinely surprised by some of the emotional beauty that rises out of sometimes difficult, often heartbreaking situations. 

But isn't that what being human is kind of all about? Finding the beauty; finding the meaning; finding the deep magic that is at the center of being human. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

So I saw the new X-Men movie and...

...I enjoyed it despite there being a few glaring holes (one of which I totally missed until the end of the movie when my friend Chris noticed they never explained Professor X's reappearance after being killed by Jean Grey in the weakest movie of the franchise). There was a deft enough tough to the movie that allowed enough humor to seep in and keep the whole thing from feeling too dire in the "past" and too hopelessly apocalyptic in the "future." Bryan Singer still has a bit of a problem with pacing, but at least his slower reflective moments helped balance out the bangy-bang huge smash 'em up segments.

This was also the first X-Men movie to make extensive use of characters introduced after I had stopped reading the comics (I gave up on the series in the early '90s, so that should give you a pretty good idea of my basis) but based on the post-credits tag at least I'll still understand the story lines for the foreseeable future.

Monday, May 26, 2014

This is how you do it.

My lovely fiancé demonstrates how to correctly celebrate a day off of work

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Goodbye, little Lucy.

I can't remember the exact year Lucy came into the lives of me and Photogal. I'm guessing it must have been 2004 or 2005, but it could have been a little earlier or a little later. What I do know is that she seemed like she had been in our lives forever. We met her as a stray little dog, running all over Division Street, and we cornered her in a gangway by Mirai—which by the way I discovered that day that the people in Mirai's kitchen will not notice a small dog running all over the place under their feet, leading me to never eat there again—while we waited for Animal Control.

Animal Control never came so we coaxed her out slowly, and were able to walk her home on a piece of rope offered to us by a shopkeeper next door. We brought her to the Anti-Cruelty Society but the second we left her Photogal started crying because she wanted adopt her so badly. We waited the appropriate amount of time in order to give Lucy's previous guardian time to pick her up if they wanted her, but we visited her every day. And adopted her as soon as enough time had passed.

We knew she was an old little girl, missing teeth and a little mangy, but she was so sweet and sprightly we fell so in love. Even Betty the Beagle saw it in her heart to make room for little Lucy.

Through the years Lucy did get up to some devilish adventures—I'll never forget spending an entire night looking for her after she escaped from the back yard only to have a neighbor half a block away call me and tell me she was wandering around their back door—but she never ran out of sweetness and love.

And one of my absolute fondest memories of Lucy is watching her and Betty running all over the huge lawn at Photogal's farmhouse in Michigan; they both just looked so happy.

As you know, Betty left us over a year ago and last week Lucy followed her, so I'd like to think that the two of them are just having the times of their lives getting endless belly rubs and running all over a huge lawn up in doggy heaven.

Bye little Lulu, I'm so glad I was able to get in one last visit with you last week before you had to go.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gray days part three? No! Time to take a stand!

Enough wallowing.
Enough griping.
Enough upset.

Today I shake off the malaise and return to form. It's one thing to hit a dark spot and a whole 'nother thing to start to let yourself just endlessly sink into its inky depths. Yes, it's been a tough season and yes there have been a couple bummer events and speed-bumps to happiness and productivity thrown my way recently but fuck it, man, it's time to just get over it.

Sometimes you just need to figuratively dunk your head / brain / emotions into an ice cold bucket of realization to remember just how good, and much of it is just so good, everything around me is.

I've returned to my old routine of getting up super early and doing a quick round of exercises just to wake me up and shake off the sluggishness. Time to take that get-up and go an apply it more deeply, to my core.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Gray days part two.

The sun is out today but I keep getting bad news from all sides, leading me to believe that maybe we're not just under assault by an endless physical winter, but an existential one as well.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Gray days.

Today was most definitely a Monday. Yesterday was sunny and nice but it wasn't enough to dispel the malaise this extended winter has helped burrow deep into our bones. Even now I look out the window and look at gray skies. My gas bill is through the roof because by now it would've usually been mostly turned off. Hell, it would have been mostly turned off two or so months ago.

The worst thing is that when a beautiful day does arrive, this city views it with distrust. We look at the sun and say, "We know you're just fucking with us and getting our hopes up, only to disappear again tomorrow." We can't enjoy even the brief respite because we know we'll just pay an even heavier price for allowing hope back into our hearts.

Chicago, I love you, but you're beating me down.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mystery date!

I frequently take GalPal on mystery dates—the surprise is always exciting—and last night she returned the favor and surprised ME with a mystery date! It was Beer Under Glass at Garfield Park Conservatory, with tons of craft beer and tasty food to sample. It was a little chilly, no one really expected it to be between 40 and 50 degrees in May, I'm sure, but we had a wonderful time anyway. After a few beers I definitely felt a little warm and fuzzy.

Mystery dates are awesome!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Riot Fest!

Riot Fest just out-Lolla'd Lollapalooza, with last night's announcement of the Chicago line-up. (Which band is playing THIS10th anniversary party instead of Lolla's 10th anniversary in Chicago, hm?)  In other news, in an era where I was certain big festivals had finally hit the point where they had to cannibalize each other to stay afloat, Riot Fest proved you can still put together a bill of top-notch talent without looking like every other summer bill.

I can't wit.

Here's an interview I did with Riot Fest founder Riot Mike to hold you over for a bit.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The best fest.

Riot Fest: Where else can you listen to Dinosaur Jr play live while waiting in line for the Ferris Wheel?
Had you asked me ten years ago if Riot Fest would grow into my favorite Chicago festival I'm sure my response would have been a blank look of disbelief. But here we are ten years later and it has grown into my favorite Chicago festival. There are lots of reasons behind this, but I think the biggest one is how proud I am that a truly independent and still DIY organization would build something this big out of love for music and the neighborhood they live in (because I do think those things are intertwined).

Here's a video recap of last year to get you stoked. This year's line-up is going to be announced tomorrow.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Tuff Tamale!

Photo by Aubrey Boonstra
Keep posted a bunch of Tuff Tamale songs on Soundcloud last night, so I feel like it's time to finally start pushing you to follow our social media presences. I promise we don't spam, and when we do send out messages they are usually fun (primarily because it's usually Keep behind the wheel and not me).
So, please do this for me.

Follow @TuffTamale. Like us on Facebook. Listen to us on Soundcloud (and heart us / follow us there too if you like what you hear).


Thursday, May 08, 2014

'Wicked Waltham' is finally finished!

Keep turned me onto Waltham, an amazing band from Massachusetts who had minor fame in the mid-aughts and then kind of disappeared. The members kept busy in other projects—singer Frank Pino, Jr. did some solo stuff and guitarist Dave Pino tours with Andrew W.K.—but I thought Waltham was over. Then they popped back up unexpectedly with a fantastic new song paired with a hilarious video, beginning the slow trickle of singles released over the last year. They've finally released the last of the single and packaged the whole thing up as the Wicked Waltham EP, so if yo've been missing the party before now, you can get fully caught up.

This is recommended to anyone who really, really likes incredibly catchy power-pop powered that hews closer to the rock than the pop.

Stream and download the whole thing below. It's pay what you want so if you're broke grab it for free and if you have a few bucks go ahead and throw them the band's way.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

My new obsession: 'Orphan Black.'

After hearing a segment about it on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, I decided to finally check out Orphan Black. Holy mackerel, is it good! The story is—thus far—perfectly paced and well told. I've been looking for a good sci-fi series to get invested in for a while now and this perfectly fits the bill. Today, Slate's Cultural Gabfest also discussed the series, so I feel it's hitting that point of critical acclaim that transforms it from cult show to mainstream success. So jump on the bandwagon, there's plenty of room up here!

Also, I appreciate the BBC's stance on allowing naked butts, both male and female, to occupy some screen time. But that's just an added bonus.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


Having one of those days where I really miss that little troublemaking beagle. 

Monday, May 05, 2014


Going to see these sexy gentlemen tonight. It should be a blast!

Friday, May 02, 2014

Remember a day?

Stuff like this doesn't always work but whoever the person is that's behind this has done a stellar job of crystallizing that year for me and while making me feel super ancient. I look forward to reviewing more of this person's work...

Thursday, May 01, 2014


I wrote an unusually long review (for me, lately) of the new album from Archie Powell & The Exports. Dig it.