For the starving minstrel.
I have seen the dead and dying,
The personless open-mic Sunday nights,
The musicians playing to bar stools and dust.
And I have seen the dead and dying,
The free-form empty death,
The poets shouting to themselves.
And I have seen the dead and dying,
The stocked-shelf wasteland,
The authors composing messages in bottles.
And I have seen the dead and dying,
The future furniture outlets,
The homeless artists with homeless art.
And I have seen,
The dead and dying,
The lack of fervor,
The unwillingness to listen.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you,
For the starving minstrel.
So I opened up the CD case to find that there was no CD. For a brief instant, I wanted to go back into the store and return it, but I quickly decided to just throw it out. It was 69 cents. I wasn't going to cause a scene for that amount of money. Others certainly would.
So then Bobina and I went into a Borders, where I got a copy of Looking for Alaska with a gift card. I'd been wanting to read it ever since I finished Paper Towns, but only now just got around to it.
I'll admit I'm more than behind the times with this one.
So I'm starting in on it tonight.
After I came home and said bye to Bobina, I was invited by some friends to return to the same mall I just had been at less than an hour ago. Just for kicks, not to buy anything. So I went, because I would've been bored out of my tree at home anyways. We went to Best Buy, which is without a doubt one of the craziest places to be at for Black Friday. But like with the other stores I had previously visited, this one was already pretty calm by the time I got there. Which was good, I didn't want to witness the obsessive shoppers first-hand at all. Just from a distance.
Upon reaching the store, the five of us went into the musical instruments section. I sat down in front of a piano, and played it with no intention of buying it. I'd say maybe .01% of the people who play the keyboards there ever intend on buying them. I improvised, loud enough to only let the music reach my ears, because the most annoying people of all time are those tools who crank up the volume in music stores because THEY NEED TO BE HEARD. I KNOW SMOKE ON THE WATER LISTEN *sour note*
Then out of nowhere, just when I was certain I was playing quietly enough, some guy came up to me saying that he liked what he heard. He wore a yellow cap, short greying hair, trimmed beard. Probably in his 40s. His son, I assume his son, was at his side, tugging subtly on his forearm in an act of quiet, defiant impatience. He asked me if I knew how to play this song or that song, and I said no, I just play my own stuff, mostly. I asked him if he played. He didn't. Just guitar. Asked me if I knew any Pink Floyd, I said "I tried once to learn Great Gig in the Sky", which wasn't even true, but I didn't want the guy to walk away hopeless, crestfallen. He seemed too nice. His act of just coming up and talking was so unexpectedly wonderful to me that I had to return the favor in some small way, shape or form. A pause, a beat. And then the break.
"Alright man, good luck." were his parting words. "You too." I said, nearly inaudible over the music being blasted overhead.
I wish more people were like that guy. He showed me that not everyone is a soulless nothing on this bleak day. And maybe that I shouldn't be so quick to judge everyone. And maybe that there are still humans out there.
I was going to post about how the US military shouldn't be holding joint exercises with the South Korean military and how that has the potential to escalate the North Korean conflict to the point of a devastating war. But instead I'm going to talk about how I got two books for $1.99.
This is America's fastest rising tradition I'm talking about: Black Friday.
Bloodthirsty consumers stay up all night to form one big line outside of their store of choice, which will open at some ungodly hour in the morning. Why the stores open this early is so beyond me, because regardless of how early they open, there are still going to be herds of sheep who worry themselves more over that discounted pair of jeans then their disrupted sleep patterns. Now that they've heard the phrase "big savings", these people are determined: the hour of the day is irrelevant. Now they just HAVE to get that 84" LCD for their den. They just HAVE to get that red lounge chair that will NOT gather dust in the attic. IT WILL NOT GATHER DUST IN THE ATTIC
Spending = happiness. Profit = exuberance. The doors open and the United States is even uglier than it was before.
The first time was with Bobina. We went hours after the opening madness, but cars were still everywhere in the Fox Run plaza. We went to Savers to get something for her sister, but we ended up shopping for ourselves. She got a suitcase for some reason, a bag for her laptop, and a sweater that I thought was tacky but she insisted she'd wear. I had to dig to find something worth buying, but finally wound up with a book of short stories by Guy de Maupassant for $1.99 and a used copy of Talib Kweli's "The Beautiful Struggle" for 69¢.
When I got in the car, I opened up the CD case to find...
I'll finish that tale tomorrow. Nothing like a good ol' cliffhanger.
In response to Dave:
The thing with the Kanye West album is that I tried to approach the album as a piece of music, not a piece of his precious ego. It was hard to separate the two, but with a bit of a struggle, I managed. And I think it's possible for everyone to listen to it that way. So I say, although it's tempting, don't knock it until you try it.
Song of the post: Gong by Sigur Ros (video's not too bad itself)
Look, I know I'm a white kid. I know I'm a white kid who has spent little to no time listening to hip-hop (the one hip-hop album I can really get into is The Score by The Fugees). But all of the buzz about Kanye's new album made me too curious; people left and right, critics and amateur listeners alike, proclaiming that he is now the prophet of modern music, or something. So I got a copy of it from my brother, uploaded it to iTunes, and listened.
Verdict: It's good. But I don't. get. the universal praise.
The production of "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" is oft-immense and always ambitious, because of course, Kanye's first love was producing. A lot can be said about the varied styles from song to song: no two songs are alike (unless you count Lost in the World/Who Will Survive in America). The subject matter is pretty much unique to this album, half candid autobiography, half satire of the modern rap industry, but multiple verses border on typical hip-hop fare. There are some good beats (POWER, Devil in a New Dress, and Runaway will be in my head for a long time to come) that are unfortunately offset by some less memorable ones (Lost in the World, Gorgeous).
Some of the lyrics were seriously lacking. In particular, "Look like a fat booty Celine Dion/ sex is on fire, I’m the King of Leon-a Lewis" (Dark Fantasy) and "The way you look should be a sin, you my sen(sin)sation" (Devil in a New Dress) and "Baby, I'm magic, ta-da" (So Appalled). Now, to be fair, these are only three lyrics out of a ton, but I don't want to make this post entirely about lyrics I don't like. There are definitely some memorable verses. Nikki Minaj's in Monster and Pusha T's in So Appalled were my two favorites. Kanye's never really wowed me. I found that he was never really consistent throughout a verse.
Something also has to be said about the drawn out song lengths. Some of these songs could have been trimmed down by a couple of minutes without any damage to the end result. Particularly the end of Blame Game: a two and a half minute monologue by Chris Rock in which he obsesses over a woman's vagina would be the lowest point of any album. It just didn't stop. The incessant auto-tuned moaning at the end of Runaway is also dragged out to a miserable length, as is a gratuitous gap between Kanye's verse and Rick Ross's verse in Devil in a New Dress. When the music underneath is virtually unchanged, it just leaves you checking your watch. It dwells. It dwells a lot. And this is coming from a guy who enjoys meandering 15-minute post-rock songs.
That's about all I have to say. There is more to like than there is to hate, but all things considered, I'd give it a 7 to 7.5. Not a 10. It's far from a 10. But maybe I'm biased or undereducated on the hip-hop business. Like I said, I'm just a white kid.
Also, it took me about 10 minutes to format the "FREE DOWNLOAD!" from the last post. It was almost as fun as decorating for Christmas. Almost as fun.
SONG OF THE POST: So Appalled by Kanye West, Jay Z, Pusha T, CyHi da Prince, Swizz Beatz, and the RZA.
If you have an account on thesixtyone, it would make my day if you hearted either one of the two. <3
I pitch my music oh-so-well.
Bobina's sister made this. Since her name is Tiffany, this is dubbed a tifgif. ^
(Clicking gets you to the video this is derived from)
Squirrels are great creatures. As long as they don't get into your house, or have rabies, or get seen by your dog who then proceeds to freak out until they skitter up a tree for their very lives.
In other, I'm running a 5k tomorrow, only to ruin every single second of the exercise by eating three tons of food for the Thanksgivings. I am giving most thanks this year to Thanksgiving itself. Is that a paradox? Yes.
I'm still centered on the page.
I've been reading a lot of poetry lately, particularly T.S. Eliot and e.e. cummings. These two lines in particular have stuck with me:
"Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance" (Portrait of a Lady, Eliot)
"the/moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy" (the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls, Cummings)
SONG OF THE POST: Hotel Orlando by Atlas Sound (Over the last three days, Bradford Cox has released 41 Atlas Sound songs in 3 albums dubbed the "Bedroom Databank" demos, for free download on his blog. I just downloaded the first one, will be getting the other two later.)
The mind is interesting when you wait for someone to show up who ultimately won't show up. This happened today while I was waiting for Nesbit to drop off a notebook at my house: The first five minutes he was late, I thought nothing of it. He's late, sometimes people aren't on time, he had to pick up his brother from basketball after all. Somewhere between five minutes to twenty minutes in, the anxiety starts to mount. In the back of your mind, and this is hyperbole at this point, factor trees form to sort out every single permutation of where that person is. Could they have gotten in an accident? If so, what type of accident, was it his fault? Was he not in an accident and did he just go home? If so, why didn't he stop at my house? Did he forget? Is he just going to get that notebook to me in the morning? And so on and so on. You keep looking out the window in hopes that a car will show up, but it doesn't.
Eventually you gather up the common sense to try and contact the person. All of these combinations in your head become too much and you have no choice but to resolve it instead of forcing yourself into further contemplative hell. There has to be a reasonable reason for this lateness. Then you find it out. Your mind, content, circles one of its permutations, or scolds itself for not having figured out why the person didn't show.
In my case, Nesbit's just gonna get the notebook to me tomorrow when we go to see the new Harry Potter with Bobina. Strangely enough, this won't be the first time the three of us have gone to the movies, despite it seeming like we would be an awkward combination, Nesbit being a "third wheel". In all honesty, we mix together really well. And it's Nesbit's birthday, and it's the first time I'll have seen Bobina in SIX WEEKS, so I have to make sure both people are attended to. It should be good. Chipotle after the movie.
Simple burrito pleasures.
I made a card for Nesbit. Here's the image on its cover. (via Hyperbole and a Half, great blog, check it)
Nesbit will appreciate it. Nesbit likes weird things. Like this:
Now am I removed from a walking paralysis.
My name once more on that glowing roster that grew dim the more I Fell;
Now of crowd a)
Instead of b)
Or god forbid d).
I think it's right.
The Answer lies between the
3rd, second, and first.
The fifth rests rigid on slow-yellowing surfaces,
The fourth removed by vermilion streams.
Too much to witness, impossible commitments.
Now, nous nageons à l'avenir,
Même si l'eau est trop froid.
So strike up a fire.
A passion for this.
While we're young, remiss, removed.
And still have
too much to learn this much to learn.
I have learned this with nothing more -
While we're young,-
This I've learned with nothing more
Than a stick
Indeed, my love. There is still more to learn.
Not much to lose but ever more to earn.