josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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24 Feb '02 09:46:41 PM

Awesome.

24 Feb '02 10:29:49 AM

Listening tonight: Very Soon, and in Pleasant Company by the Shipping News, Rusty by Rodan, Dmitri Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues, and a disc from Miles' In a Silent Way box.

Topics considered tonight: my inability to understand math rock as a genre, the tendency for new classical music to not 'stick' with me despite supposedly being plenty receptive (I should think).

Progress made: nil.

24 Feb '02 10:23:35 AM

All of the stories in this Citypages cover story about radio are well worth reading. I found the one about Minnesota Public Radio especially interesting in and of itself, and also because I lazily leave my alarm clock set on MPR because it comes in so much better than the music stations that do come in (which are unfortunately not the ones I like) - and more importantly, because Midmorning with Katherine Lanpher regularly fills me with white-hot rage, which I've found to be effective at at least keeping me from falling back to sleep. I can't believe she makes $90000 per year doing that show for ten hours a week and whatever other miscellaneous crap she does around the station. The show is simply awful. Occasionally they stumble on to a good topic or guest, but even then the shows are sabotaged by Lanpher's inane questions (which I get the impression are intended to be incisive), Lanpher's treatment and management of the callers (if MPR is supposed to be so cultured, then why do they rely on a format like this which stifles real discussion?), and Lanpher's grating voice. Matter of fact, I think I'll give up and find a way to make my radio pick up the hip-hop station. Now.

(The thrice-annually perpetuated fundraising drive mentioned in the article has indeed started already, and while I have to admit it's not as annoying as the one done twice a year by WOI, the central Iowa NPR station, it weaves in and out of employing similar TV telethon annoyances, when it's not giving listeners a guilt trip about what an awful job the recession has done on MPR's budget specifically. Wouldn't it be interesting to have a Midmorning episode about the apparently quite adequate sources of funding mentioned in the article? Or the payoffs to affiliated executives? Or... etc.)

24 Feb '02 03:24:17 AM

As part of a conscious effort to stay more caught up with Freaky Trigger since Tom took over editing again, I just read Nitsuh's article on the Strokes. It was good and all, but the prospect of thinking critically about it seems to tiring to me at the moment. I suspect this has a lot to do with my impression that Nitsuh is bringing a lot of his pet ideas to bear (for instance in his casual intimation that indie listeners have gotten tired of 'knob-twiddling auteurism', but from what I remember from working at say a college radio station, people weren't that much into such a thing anyway - so it seems to be projection on Nitsuh's part) in a practical rather than critical role. I mean, I guess, that I'm made uncomfortable by the flurry of ideas that could all stand to have their own articles. Of course, I've seen Nitsuh defending or working through plenty of them on ILM, but a) it feels different in an article, and b) just because I've seen him doing so doesn't mean I was made to be happy with all the ideas. This is all just a rough impression, though.

23 Feb '02 08:42:02 AM

Oh, and I guess I have some other reasons for doing it again too.

Last year, I was often miserable. Some of that was just the usual, which has thankfully dissipated some, or gone into remission at least, this year. A good part of it was girl-related - either the continuing effects of a breakup, or the brief and mostly self-generated chaos that resulted from being lovestruck and then gently rebuked. That, too, is better this year. (Neutral is better than bad.)

So, last year I didn't think my enjoyment (or lack thereof) of 69 Love Songs had much to do with my ongoing emotional state, love-related or not. I still don't think it does - but why not check obsessively and exhaustively by writing about every single song?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

And. Despite its size, this task somehow seems approachable in a way that a similar one for a much smaller favorite album of mine doesn't. And because I've come to recognize that this is indeed one of my favorite albums, I feel compelled to sort of give in (again) to the task that the album, with all its Leyneresque dimensions, seems to taunt any listener with.

23 Feb '02 08:20:49 AM

A little over a year later, I think I'm ready to go song by song through the Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs again.

The things I wrote last year were written while I still had a somewhat adversarial relationship with parts of the album, or for some of the songs, just an indifferent one. I think it's only in keeping with the josh blog modus operandi to do the whole thing over again, then, now that I hear the album differently. A lot differently.

This time I won't be doing solely Love Song entries until I finish, so things may take a bit longer. I will be setting myself a Merrittesque formalist restriction, though, since I'm doing the songs in alphabetical order. That means I'll start with "Abigail, Belle of Kilronan" when I get a chance.

I don't really have a plan, again, but one thing I want to aim for is making the value of each song more perspicuous. I had been thinking off and on about doing this again for a while now (be astounded by my proliferation of time words!), but today I idly read a review that invoked the commonly-used idea that the album only really has maybe one album's worth (the figure varies but one album is common I think) of good songs. While I don't dispute that people might think that - that they might only like about that many of the songs, or think that that many qualify as 'good' - I think it's lazy reviewing to come across that way. Perhaps one key reason this happens is that the album is large and varied, in style and yes even quality. But reviewers lean slavishly on the idea of albums like this (and by "like" I mean "with lots of songs and apparently having varying levels of quality", i.e. the similarity need only be superficial) being "messes" or "shambolic" or whatever, and I suspect that this tends to make it easy for their personal inclinations come off as objective judgments about where the diamonds in the rough are. I don't want to make every song out to be perfect or anything like that, and I don't just love every song despite what I think of its quality. I just want to look more closely.

A side motivation here is that my old trudge through the album is one of the things I most wish I had transferred into my semi-new database widget. It only seems appropriate to have 69 (or so - I rushed a couple at the end when I did some real-time listener response kind of thing) entries floating around in the widget. But I don't want to just figure out how to hack those in there without doing it up proper-like. So instead I'll just do it again, and maybe make links to the old ones in each new entry. For now. That will please me sufficiently.

21 Feb '02 07:50:21 AM

NB: I saw Singin' in the Rain tonight for my film class and it was really good.

(Most prejudices are maintained through an inertia of ignorance.)

20 Feb '02 08:46:52 AM

What I listened to today:

Emergency & I on my way to campus. I seem to be attuned so much to every little bit of "The City" that every note in the opening alternating guitar line sends another cascade of chills down my spine (we say "down my spine" but really they're all over, it just sounds perverted to say "across the surface of my body"), so that inevitably after so many notes I lose the clarity of attention that helps the chills come more easily, because things sort of overload with all the ones that have already come.

"Ex Girl to Next Girl" a few times before I went to teach. I've been drawn a lot to this song lately. I haven't much felt like listening to any other Gangstarr, just this song. Today, twice, the part stuck out where he ends a series of phrases with "wherever my Beemer goes / you know that I'm drivin." He does a metrically similar thing later - the line doesn't really rhyme with its neighbors, and doesn't seem integrated into the rest of the flow. It gives pause, is the least I could say, I guess.

Whenever I'm walking to "Rosa Parks" I start stepping in time to the woodblock, without fail.

Damon's tape, which I haven't mailed yet, turned out alright, except that I'm not totally happy with the track gaps on the song side. (I've already said how I screwed up the gaps on the Change side, though on hearing it, it's only noticeable on some songs, and surely it sounds a lot worse to me because I know the songs so well, but I still expect Damon would notice it anyway at least on the gap between "Sentimental Man" and "Face of the Earth".) The gap between Jay-Z and the Wu-Tang is too long, and maybe another second between Mystikal and the Betas would have been better. Also "Laser Beam" should have had like a 5 second gap, or more.

I suspect that my roommate's stereo, which I recorded the song side on, did something funny to the sound quality, because that side sounds a lot worse than the side with the Dismemberment Plan on it, which I recorded at work. The songs all sound OK, but the low and high ends are greatly diminished, and everything is just a lot less clear. For a number of the songs, this was very surprising. Mogwai and Labradford suffered the most - the detailed sonics are crucial to those songs coming off, at least in those performances of them. Others like "Tomorrow" worked better than I would have expected. The great sound makes "Tomorrow" amazing on headphones, but with a lot of that garbled or stripped away, it was still something. Oh, and Jay-Z's voice was a lot higher-sounding.

20 Feb '02 08:30:54 AM

"Everything is slow and hazy and drained and it all happens around the word seem." - The Body Artist, Don DeLillo