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February 2005

Alice in Chains Reforms?
February 1 2005 11:40 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Everybody say with me: "WHAT?!?!?"

I saw this news blip on and thought it was a joke at first. Apparently the remaining members are reuniting to play a tsunami relief benefit.


A few days ago, teasers went out that some famous Seattle band was reforming for the show. I spotted people on a Pearl Jam board speculating that it was going to be Soundgarden. I thought that was feasible. I certainly didn't expect this.

The good question: who's singing for Layne? Or is anyone? Cantrell's been playing Alice in Chains tunes at his solo gigs for the past few years, so maybe it'll just be those songs.

And that is your WTF News for Tuesday, February 1st, 2005.

Tinkering, Etc.
February 5 2005 02:41 AM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

The last couple of months, I really started getting the feeling that this site has become a lumbering clusterfuck of outdated ideas. There are some good ideas and writings lying around, but it's generally hard to find anything, and the organization is particularly atrocious. So I spent part of tonight moving things around, just to see if I could simplify what's here.

Now Playing has more or less been phased out. I just haven't felt like it's accurately represented what I've wanted to say about new music. I've tended to write either when I've just discovered an album (hence, before I can make any good judgement of it) or long after the fact (when I've already pretty much burned out on it). I'm going to try to figure out some way to talk about new music, but I haven't figured that one out yet.

I folded Articles, Musings, Cartoons, and My Websites into a section called Other Projects. I'm not sure if/when most of these sections will be updated again, and it just seemed redundant to have them all listed on every page. I did fold the Musings entries into the "Search Blog" field (on the main Blog page), so one search will search them both.

I've got many more changes in mind. I'm ready for a new design, too, granted that this one debuted in the summer of 2002. But I'm not sure if/when that's going to happen.

In random entertainment whatever:

Yahoo! News: Search on for Next Bond to Star in 'Casino Royale'

The original Casino Royale is a rather bizarre movie, a seemingly random comedy spoof of Bond films. When I was a kid, though, I dug the music, for some strange reason. Especially the hyper Herb Alpert theme that runs during the lengthy last scene of the movie. As it goes, there's a serious Bond book called Casino Royale, so this new one won't be a comedy.

If Ewan McGregor takes the role, they should make him do it in his Sean Connery voice from Trainspotting. That's probably the only way they could get me to run to a theater to see a Bond film. (I think the last one I saw in a theater was The Living Daylights.)

Then again, I'm not exactly the movie industry's target audience as far as theater-going. I finally caught The Incredibles this past Tuesday, after hearing raves about it for weeks from friends and family. Man, they weren't kidding. The 14-year-old comic book geek in my head was going bananas throughout the movie.

BoingBoing: Dinner with Joe Grand

Strangely enough, I have driven by the UFO house (in Chattanooga) more than once, but, for the life of me, I cannot remember why.

The Camera Guy
February 6 2005 01:01 AM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Back in 1998, a friend of mine clued me into one of his friend's bands, called Collapsis. He and Collapsis singer Mike Garrigan had become friends while attending UNC Chapel Hill, and both played semi-regular solo acoustic shows in and around Chapel Hill.

After catching a couple of Collapsis shows that November and meeting them, I ended up attending nearly every Atlanta-area show of theirs (plus a couple of nearby ones) over the next year and a half. More than one of those shows had an audience consisting of myself and two other people, one show being the one that their guitarist dubbed a year later as "the lowest moment of our career". Through all of that, I ended up becoming a familiar face at their shows, and it wasn't uncommon for me to help load equipment and/or help sell merch during shows.

By early 2000, their album (and touring) had gone national. I caught one last Atlanta show that April. By the end of the year, their label had more or less given up on promoting them. They played a show in early 2001 in Athens that I didn't make, and then that was it. The band dissolved.

After that, I kinda lost track. Mike joined Athenaeum not long after Collapsis' breakup, and, honestly, I'd never really gotten into their music. He put out a solo album in 2002, and I kept meaning to order it from CDBaby, but hadn't actually done so.

In January, Mike booked a solo acoustic show at the same venue that I'd seen Collapsis play the most often. At first, I was kind of hesitant, granted how long it'd been since I'd seen Mike play. On the day of the show, I convinced myself to go, largely driven by my recent pledge to attend more live shows.

The show ended up being a lot of fun, even with the songs I didn't know. It wasn't a big audience by any stretch: probably thirty folks, many of whom were with the opening band (who stuck around to watch). Mike ended up playing for about 90 minutes, and, I have to admit, it didn't feel anywhere near that long. Early in the set, Mike surprised me by asking me if there was a song I wanted to hear. Off the top of my head, I chose a Collapsis song, "Superhero", that was one of my favorites from those days.

As I was sitting there, it struck me how hard it was to believe that it had been almost five years. I recently turned thirty, and it really is true: spans of time that used to seem like an eternity start to feel like no time at all.

And I had to laugh: early on the show, one of the audience members had to leave, but wanted to buy a CD. I ended up selling merch. Just like the old days.

Towards the end of the show, Mike asked me if I'd take his videocamera and film part of the show for his video tour diary. He mentioned later that he'd gotten the camera to record footage for his website, but hadn't been able to get any footage of himself playing. So I ended up filming probably the last half-hour of his set.

It turned out pretty well. Mike built a video about the evening around one song in particular, called "Water and Wine". I think the video sums up the evening quite nicely. (The "twin" effect that pops up at one point in the footage was something he added while compiling the video.)

Anyway, you can watch his video tour diary (including the footage I shot) here:

Mike Garrigan Tour Diary: Smith's Olde Bar

(Edit: Oops. Now links to a local copy.)

Next time he pulls through town, I think I'll be there. And I can guarantee I'll know more of the songs.

Putting Your Empties to Good Use
February 8 2005 02:24 AM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

So, you drink a lot of beer and like playing music. Might this be your dream instrument?

Link: Peterson Beer Bottle Organ

The Mixes
February 17 2005 10:50 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Link: The Mixes

I mentioned before that I dropped Now Playing because I didn't think it was working as I'd hoped. Here's the replacement.

For years, I've been making mix tapes/CDs of songs. Early on, I decided to mark each mix with the date that the mix was made. At the time, it just made it easier to name the tapes. But later, it also became handy for nostalgia purposes.

I kept thinking about how to talk about new music, and it just seemed like the most blisteringly obvious method available. I haven't made the actual mixes in a while, but I've still been keeping a list of songs for the period - so why not put those lists to good use?

For now, I've got the last two "mixes" online. I may add more of the older ones. (I've got lists and tapes dating back to December of 1990, so there are quite a few to choose from.)

For more info, read About The Mixes.

Pangs of History
February 19 2005 08:09 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

The past couple of weeks have just been crazy. I've been on this weird emotional roller-coaster that I can't quite pinpoint the source of.

Last weekend, I headed up to Charlotte to help out at a tournament. Back when I was in college, I made the drive from Atlanta to Durham (via the same stretch of interstate) on a semi-regular basis. But, granted that I haven't done much travelling of late, I haven't made that drive in six years.

The tournament itself was a college tournament, and, for whatever reason, I found myself longing for the days of piling into cars and driving somewhere to play Ultimate for the weekend. The last time I travelled anywhere out-of-town to play Ultimate was October of 2001.

It turned out that I wasn't needed for Sunday at the tournament, so I ended up with two options: 1) return home and play the Goaltimate game that I'd already told our captain I wouldn't make, or 2) drive the two hours up to Durham/Chapel Hill and spend the day checking out the old haunts.

I surprised myself slightly by how quickly I came to a decision. Maybe it was the thought of doubling the amount of driving I'd have had to do on Sunday or the realization that we were probably going to be short-handed for our game, but I ended up driving home to make the game.

And it's a good thing I did. I got to the fields, and, at game time, we only had three players. (In Goalty, there are supposed to be four on the field at all times.) I thought for sure we were going to get killed. Yet, somehow, we pulled out the win. It was absolutely phenomenal. I think it was easily the most rewarding game of Goalty I've ever played.

(We chuckled to ourselves when two more of our players arrived after the game was over, thinking we had the late game.)

But in the days that followed, I kept having more and more flashbacks to college days. And, to me, that's kind of scary. While I loved living there and the life I had around the area, I hated college. I can pretend for a few minutes that I loved my college experience, so long as I forget about my freshman year, where I spent a great deal of time imagining myself loading up my car and driving nowhere in particular.

Oh, yeah, and so long as I forget the semester where I was having regular panic attacks and was bordering on suicidal. (I lived on the fourth floor that year. Our suite's commons had windows with no screens and overlooked a concrete patio. When I'm down, I use that image to push me to think about something else.)

Last night was probably the lowest moment of this week. I couldn't get my mind off of how long it'd been since college, and how little I have to show for those years. Christ, I tried to think of one memorable thing that happened in 2004, and came up empty. I mean, I know there were a lot of little things, but no one major hey, man, that was fucking awesome moment to mark the year. I've never had a year that I could completely write off, but I'm worried 2004 might be the first.

And the weirdest part: as 2004 was happening, I was okay with it. So why the big issue last night?

Actually, that wasn't the weirdest part. The weirdest part was that after continuing to deal with that this morning, as of this afternoon, I felt fine, as if nothing had happened. Even writing this, I'm just kinda, enh, whatever.

Was it just the regular ups-and-downs that I've documented eighty million times?

I'm wondering if I'm just becoming more aware of lengths of time. Maybe it was turning thirty. But I thought about those tapes I made in college, where I blew out fourteen songs in a day and a half. And the one song in my head today was something I wrote in the fall of 2001 that still doesn't have any lyrics. And it's an awesome song. Yet that three-and-a-half-year gap covers almost as much time as my entire college experience. By comparison, it seems unfathomable.

But I think that's off-topic. What's getting to me is how I can hyperfocus on one period of the past for several days, for no apparent reason. During the college pangs this week, I kept looking at the photo in the upper right hand corner of the collage on the Who Am I? page (taken in May of 1995), and seriously wanted to trade places with the guy. (Actually, I'd want to skip back to a week before that, but beggars can't be choosers.) That guy just spent a weekend at the beach, is now in Florida, and is about to spend the summer working for the Olympics and working on songs with his band.

Then, today, I look at that same photo and feel nothing. Simply nothing.

Part of how I've felt this week motivates me to want to do something. Apart from working on music (which I've been struggling with), though, I can't think of anything significant to be motivated to do.

Maybe that's what's getting to me.

More Pangs
February 22 2005 05:18 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Now, if only life could get a little more retro.

Poison ivy. I haven't had poison ivy since I was in high school.

I spent a good part of last week trying to figure out where it came from. I have gone back behind the house more often lately, but not in the week prior to the outbreak. And while there's a ton of ivy back there, I've never seen any poison ivy.

Then it dawned on me. When I drove in from Charlotte for the game last Sunday, I was wearing street clothes, since I didn't want to drive three-plus hours with Umbros on under my pants. So I grabbed my gear and changed in a wooded area off the field.

Ugh. Both sides of my legs. Annoying.

It reminded me: the worst reaction I ever had to poison ivy/oak/sumac/whatever might have been the last time I had it. I went out to help one of my classmates videotape a soccer game. We climbed up a hill to the side of the field to get a good view.

Apparently, I ran my hand across the plant on the way up, and, at some point, wiped my hand across my face. The next day, I had what looked like a horrible outbreak of acne across most of the left side of my face.

Being "that age", I was unbelievably self-conscious about how it looked, and kept mumbling about how mortified I was. I remember pointing it out to one of my classmates, and was stunned by his sharp response: "You know, I never would have noticed if you hadn't pointed it out."

It was one of those moments that stuck with me, pointing out the key of high school life: everybody wonders why nobody seems to care about their drama, yet it's only because they're too busy worrying abut their own.

Ugh. Both sides of my legs. Annoying.


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