New Words For Old Desires

I don't know what happened, but for the last week all I've been listening to is The Weakerthans. Mostly from their first two albums: FALLOW (1999) and the essential LEFT AND LEAVING (2000). It's one of those moments where one of the needles in the haystack of your iTunes library gets pulled up on shuffle and you realize, hey, this was a pretty great song, I should put this album on my queue.

I was 13 years old when they came out, so I didn't get to examine them in their time. I can't even pinpoint when I did finally get into LEFT AND LEAVING. I know that "Watermark" was one of those songs my sister played and thus was part of this familiar background music. It would have been sometime in college that I found the whole album to be my shit, and I only picked up all of FALLOW during this most recent kick.

They're a little dated, definitely the kind of 90's power chord music that isn't really around anymore. Coupled with John Samson's timeless opie voice, it's music that would sound right at home as the intro music to a 90's teen romance flick - EMPIRE RECORDS or 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. Something with Freddie Prinze Jr. I feel like this type of music became unfashionable after Blink-182 and their also-rans rushed through the scene. Today the style would be to let the guitars breathe a little more, with echo and space, a sound that is harder to pin down. But I can't imagine a romp like "Aside" with anything less than these driving guitars. It's become part of the charm, like 90's nostalgia or retro trappings.

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Norm MacDonald Brand Christianity

Earlier in the week, Norm MacDonald went on one of his familiar, lengthy Twitter sprees. These are binges of tweets and retweets — usually about golf, sometimes even attempts at literary fiction — and they're great. If you have any affection for his style of sincerity and unpredictability, this look at Norm amusing himself 140 characters at a time is a golden dream. Earlier this week was different. A golfer had mentioned scripture, someone reacted angrily, and Norm aired his concern about that reaction.

If you were online when it happened, you would have seen hundreds of retweets by Norm and his responses to them one by one. A lot of people don't know this, but Norm MacDonald is a pretty devoted to studying scripture. He spoke about it on his episode of WTF with Marc Maron (the only podcast episode I've gone back to relisten to):

I've been struggling with faith, I'll just throw myself into religion sometimes. The problem with that is you get into churches and stuff, and then you get into men and stuff like that. It's very easy to fall into the trap, "God's bad because this priest fucked a kid," which is retarded, why's that mean God's bad? If you go to any church, obviously it's led by fallible men,and you can't believe in them, so you've got to come to it yourself somehow. But I don't have the answer of how you do that or anything.

He seems to be religious in the way the great Russian authors were religious, and skeptical of people who have things figured out. The problem is, in the context of modern day America, and especially on Twitter, siding with religion is a highly loaded political position. The voice of religion has been co-opted by the loudest on the right, while the left's loudest have been very willing to cede that ground.

The outrage online was predictable. Many were disappointed at Norm, some were angry at him, several challenged him on the grounds of "what about dinosaurs??????" and other incisive gotchas. There were those who supported him, declaring that believers were oppressed in today's America. When it got to the more ethical criticisms, such as the church's association with pedophile priests or its stance on homosexuality, Norm's responses were pretty mainstream: pedophilia is a problem with man, not with scripture, and the stereotype to which we hold men of the cloth is unfair when most work very hard for little pay, and other professions are just as infected but not held to such judgment. On treatment of gays, Norm's response was along the lines of, "Says who?" and found it irrelevant to his understanding. In his response, the bible was a way to salvation, not a rulebook on how to live.

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The New Community

Like most fans, I tuned into season 4 of COMMUNITY with trepidation. The first line of the post-Dan Harmon season was appropriate: "Does something feel different?" It was important to me that they acknowledge Harmon's firing. The show had cultivated a relationship with its cult following, and if they wanted to put us at ease that the heart would be intact, they had to acknowledge it in even a brief, metatextual way.

But we're 5 episodes in now, and the feeling that this is not the same show, and never will be, is starting to creep over every laughless half hour. It's not that the show is bad, or even unfunny. It's just no longer a great show, one that I would be eager to show to strangers or recommend to my friends. In their right-headed move to retain their fanbase, they've simultaneously made it a show that's just for us.

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Martin Starr, Alison Brie & Charlyne Yi at Central SAPC | 02.07.13

Every day when I get out of work, it feels like the scene at the start of a movie where the main character gets out of jail and has to figure out what's next. I'm usually wiped, a little bit out of my mind, and need to acclimate myself to the world that has changed since I've been inside. On Thursday night, my next moves were already set. There was a show at nearby Central SAPC, a bar and club in Santa Monica, with a weird and intriguing lineup. A lot of people were on the bill but the clear draw was a one-two-three punch of comedic actors: Martin Starr, Alison Brie and Charlyne Yi.

It wasn't a sketch show or anything. They all have musical side projects that they take seriously enough to book shows. I liked all these people as actors, and so I was curious to see what they do otherwise. Charlyne Yi was the only one I could imagine having musical chops. I didn't know what to expect from the other two. I meet up with my buddy Ray for some lamb shawerma before we go to the show.

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Long Live 30 Rock

Because you never really know what you've got until it's gone.

30 Rock never occupied a revered spot or iconic designation the way other major comedies like The Office or Seinfeld did. That may change now, as critics and the bloggers look back on its 7 seasons favorably and wonder why we didn't celebrate it more while it was still on-going. We all enjoyed it a lot, it definitely had its following, but we took its lunacy for granted. It was a such a circus of a show, tightly loaded from end to end with silliness, that we didn't see the serious worth in it. Neither did the show itself. It was always characterized as a good time, but rarely "important."

I'll miss it as a unique comedic vessel. Without any hint of overarching drama or emotional cores, it was often the home of television's purest absurdity. It was a playground where nothing could be so serious that it didn't warrant parody including, and this is important, itself. A lot of comedy has the mission of making fun of "everything," but that often comes off as an elitist condescension. 30 Rock never felt like it was above the things it was skewering. It was honest and self-deprecating, so that when it would make fun of outrage or controversy, it wasn't looking down on it with disgust. We were in this big stupid muck of life and the media together. It was "Look at us!" not "Look at them!"

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On Royce White, Tentative Rocket

Whatever ultimately happens to Royce White's career, he will remain a fascinating player in NBA history. Either as a landmark first, someone who changed how the league handles mental illness, or as weird trivia that will be the focus of a pretty good magazine article in 40 years. Until his recent interview on Grantland, there hasn't been a lot of clarity on what the Houston Rockets & Royce White were fighting about. There was heresay about the Rockets being generous to accomodate him, and then counterclaims that they weren't as compromising as their public face would seem. It was hard to really pick a side, although that didn't seem to stop the majority of sports fans. Now picture is a little clearer, with record of White's demands and, even more importantly, his reasons behind them. Yet somehow things aren't any easier.

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Album Release Wishlist for 2013

2013 still smells fresh and I'm getting impatient with the music industry's release schedule. There have been few drops in the periphery of my taste, but I could really use something big and powerful to punch me in the head right about now. I don't know what's coming this year, other than a new Thao and Youth Lagoon. Those are already on my List Of Big Deals. I have plenty of anticipatory excitement to spare, and it seems like in our day and age, the heads up & lead-in time is becoming shorter and shorter.

With that spontaneous nature of the industry in mind, this is what I'm hoping for in 2013. I'm hoping these bands will put out a press release over the coming 11 months with something to the effect of, "We're done with our new album, and it will be out as soon as I finish this sentence." Ever since IN RAINBOWS that seems to be a favorite buzz getter -- Death Grips did it most recently, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's how the new My Bloody Valentine comes out. With that in mind, these are bands that I miss and follow-ups I'm hungering for.

I would love to hear from you guys.

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Coachella 2013 Lineup Is Good Enough I Guess

  • The Stone Roses is one of those names that is always floating just outside my area of awareness. A headline spot though, so, good on those guys, whoever they are.
  • Grrfggh Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don't even dislike them, I think they're one of the more likable parts of KROQ canon, but giving them another headlining spot when AMAZING RACE wins Best Reality Show at the Emmys. Probably warranted, but hardly worth celebrating anymore.
  • As Coachella's popularity has skyrocketed as a thing that everyone in Southern California goes to, I can't help but feel like headlining RHCP again is throwing a bone to the party-goers that don't even like 90% of the performers at the fest. A big, unimaginative, arena rock bone.
  • Font size is, as always, confusing! Observe: Portugal, The Man is bigger than Pusha T, Kurt Vile and 2 Chainz. For all his buzz, Alt-J should at least be a size up. Surely Grimes
  • Then again, who cares about font size? Has it ever reflected actual billing or set times? Does it matter or make any difference other than a flier?
  • I'm imagining a one-two knock out punch of The XX followed by Sigur Ros. By knock out, I mean put to sleep knock out.
  • Although the strategy seems to spread acts of one particular taste across all three days, I always find that one day in particular pulls at my sensibilities far more than the others. In this case: Saturday.
  • Yet, even though Saturday is some kind of Indie Rock Parthenon, I can't help but feel a little indifferent to it. There are definitely a lot of great bands, but nothing that feels like a only-here-only-now event (save for The Postal Service.) I would like to see many of these bands, but I don't need to see them, certainly not all at once for three bills.
  • Let me put it this way: 90% of Saturday looks like a reasonable expectation for a 2nd tier festival like Sasquatch or Outside Lands.
  • Perhaps we've just been spoiled by the big bombs of Coachella's past. They've conditioned us to expect special appearance bookings, even in their second or third billings.
  • Imagine if they did group these things by genre. I know why they don't, but can you imagine if you could see Trash Talk, Cloud Nothings & Japandroids in one day? Earl Sweatshirt, Danny Brown, El-P & Wu-Tang consecutively? Stars & The Postal Service?
  • I don't know who or what Sam XL Pure Filth Sound is, but damn, that name has got to look good on a t-shirt.
  • Moby???
  • I feel like I've only been saying bad things. It's a perfectly acceptable festival, probably even a great one. But Coachella set its own bar so high in years past, it's hard to ignore.
  • Jurassic 5 is boring.
  • I liked Coachella before it was cool.
  • I roll with FYF Fest now.
  • Whatever, I'm already booked for 3 concerts in April anyway.

Some Dylan Days

As a matter of coincidence, I've been consuming a lot of Dylan or Dylan-adjacent media these past few days. So through no choice of my own, I've had him — or the myth he's become — on the mind. Three things I want to talk about: BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, Jakob Dylan on WTF with Marc Maron, and Joyce Carol Oates' WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

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Reading Bad

For the past couple of weeks, I've been reading the science fiction novel ESCAPE FROM HELL by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It's pretty bad. (Sorry dudes.) The idea of a modern Dante's Inferno is cool and there are some decent moments, but on the whole, it's pretty bad. It reads like it wishes it was a movie script instead of literature. The craft of writing on display here is substandard with dry, meaningless prose. The characters are lifeless dialogue delivery vessels that, together, have all the expository context to point out every celebrity cameo in hell. There is no driving tension, it's more like standing on an airport moving walkway, except this one's in hell.

But I'm still reading it. I'm willing to chalk up my dislike of the book to taste. It may be that I was hoping for Douglas Adams for religion & history, and couldn't deal with what I got instead. The person who let me borrow it was pretty enthusiastic, and the book that preceded this one (which I have not read) seems to be pretty beloved in sci fi circles. So it's entirely reasonable to assume that this book is bad because it's not my style. It does not speak to my cultural field. I'm going to finish it.

As I write this, I am just past the halfway point of this miserable 324 page hardcover. I've had several people tell me that I ought to just quit, that my time is better spent on other things, and that if I haven't had fun at this point, it won't make an about face later on. I agree with them on all of that. But a few months ago, I read Carl Wilson's 33 1/3rd book LET'S TALK ABOUT LOVE: A JOURNEY TO THE END OF TASTE and that ruined how I go about these things. Now I'm convinced that even the things I don't like have some value to me. Maybe as a learning experience, or to better understand those who do love this stuff. The remaining half probably won't sell me, but I might learn something about my tastes in the process.

While exploring the adored/despised cultural standing of Celine Dion and attempting to give her an objective review, Carl Wilson wrote:

"A few people have asked me, isn't life too short to waste time on art you dislike? But lately I feel like life is too short not to. ... In retrospect, this experiment seems like a last effort to purge that insularity, so that my next phase might happen in a larger world, one beyond the horizon of my habits. For me, adulthood is turning out to be about becoming democratic. ... This is what I mean by democracy — not a limp open-mindedness, but actively grappling with people and things not like me, which brings with it the perilous question of what I am like. ... Through democracy, which demands we meet strangers as equals, we perhaps become less strangers to ourselves."

Now that book, I liked a lot. It's really the best 33 1/3rd book I've read and presents interesting challenges to criticism and fandom. I'm all-in. This enthusiasm only goes so far though, and it turns out it will always be tough to meet the vision of taste that this book advocates. 

If ESCAPE FROM HELL isn't my bag, I should be able to express why. My college indoctrination into "proper" literary fiction has something to do with it, I'm sure. Yet there are passages in this book that make me want to scribble, this is objectively bad all over it, because there is no way you can just copy & paste whole sections from your first book and call it a flashback. No way a published hardcover book, by TWO writers who seem to have a lauded pedigree, should read like really well-edited high school fiction. 

But this is what I've decided to do with myself. I don't have to like it, but I have to understand something about it.

New | Lovestreams & Youth Lagoon

Two artists dropped a song today, right in the middle of the work week. Conveniently, they're both named with bodies of water! Thanks for making this tie-in easy, you guys.

Lovestreams is the name of Will Sheff's new electronic side/solo project. I know, I'm surprised too. "I decided to do a project there I’d wanted to do for years and years, which is to make an album by myself and for myself, an album that doesn’t owe anything to music I made before," he writes on his website. That's no understatement. Other than the familiar voice, this is not Okkervil River at all; not in structure, flavor, style or in any of the other intangibles that makes that band great.

Usually I'm a little skeptical of the electro side project. It seems that when an indie artist needs a creative jolt, they either take left turn toward the synthesizer or a right turn toward the country slide guitar. I had my doubts, but Will Sheff manages to pull out a convincing song that's better than anything on the last Okkervil River album.

A big part of it is that he knows he's working with a different medium and adapts appropriately. A lot of other bands making the shift will write the song they normally would, but run their voice through a vocoder or something. "Shock Corridor" has no literary references, no fables about forgotten pop figures, no tour through the thesaurus. Sheff writes a barrage of laser-focused confessions as the song's fists clench tighter and tighter. He feels more personal here than I've heard him in a long while, and that's just as refreshing as the drum machine beat.

Check out that drop 3:25 in. More importantly, check out how his singing and writing turns into a stream of consciousness dropping of everything, like he's clearing everything out, or maybe it's all just falling through his fingers. Fantastic stuff.

On top of that, we have Youth Lagoon with the first single from their upcoming album, WONDROUS BUGHOUSE. "Dropla" is also a departure, but not as dramatic. THE YEAR OF HIBERNATION songs often went like this: a delicate soundscape, a fuzzy incoherent voice, then a cool beat kicks in and suddenly we're all bobbing our heads. "Dropla" foregoes the build up and kicks in from the first note. Any tenderness runs alongside the song's natural bounce.  Drums here sound more organic, without hand claps or crisp cuts, and Trevor Powers isn't obscuring his voice under nearly as much distortion. He wants to be heard, and the song is alive for it.

If you're familiar with Youth Lagoon, it might read like he's getting rid of everything that made him distinct. But the key is that it's not just change, it's growth. He's learned to sustain the climax of his old songs for 6 minutes, which is already his longest song yet. I don't expect every song on the upcoming album to sound like this, but it's nice to see him try some things out. Lyrically it's not a barn burner, but youthful idealism about mortality is always a powerful hook, especially if you make it sound like a plea from the bottom of the heart. It ends just as it began.

I'm really liking 2013 so far.

My 10 Favorite Albums, 2012

10. Tame Impala - Lonerism
When an album entitled LONERISM has song names like, "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards," "Why Won't They Talk To Me?" and "Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Can Control," there are certain expectations to its sound. I'm always down for the sadness — it is actually kind of obnoxious how down I am for the sadness. But separated from its words, LONERISM is a joyous album. Very few albums try to talk about these things like isolation and social anxiety in the framework of bass grooves and upbeat atmospheric melodies, and even fewer manage to be this infectious. Social anxiety you can dance to, it turns out, is a gleeful playground. LONERISM makes me wonder how I would've turned out if in my formative years I had found something like this album to express my teenage angst. I envy the theoretical High School sophomore that discovers this album, and learns to get pain off his chest with multicolored sunlight.

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I Love A Good Ethereal Jam

So while I was exploring Tumblr tags, I happened to come upon The War on Drugs playing their amazing song, "Best Night" on KEXP. It's an old video, especially with the new year looming on us, but dang, what a cool band.

The in-studio live radio performance is a different breed from the concert performance or the album recording. It's a midway point between the two -- they're not responsible for making it more bombastic or engaging the way they would in a 1200 seat concert venue, but they don't have all the tricks of the studio to polish off their work. The changes from the original are pretty glaring. Adam Granduciel sings with an even heavier Dylan affectation at first, and he just plays with the weirdo vocal melodies. The song can't be a glittery, warping, kite in the wind in this environment, so they make up for it by just jamming. It's a great cruise.

They're due for a new album in 2013, right?

The Heat Death of Instagram

In 2008, I bought a Polaroid camera from a thrift store near Diamond Bar, California for $2. It remains to this day my best thrift store find. It was a point of pride: unanimously cool, appealingly retro and no one else had one. Sure, a pack of 10 shots cost me $22 and within a few months Polaroid ceased manufacturing the film. But in the mean time, it was like being a member of the secret instant film treehouse club. I followed the updates of The Impossible Project, filled an album with my pictures and felt like I had something special.

The rise of Instagram didn't kill instant film, but it did makes its revival unnecessary. Before the app changed the playing field, The Impossible Project was putting out some beautiful cameras and film packs while Polaroid rededicated themselves to their forte with a campaign helmed by Lady Gaga. Yet it was all for naught when nearly everything people liked about Polaroids was aped and improved upon by those bastards at Hipstamatic and Instagram: the character of the borders, the randomness of the focus, and the way it seemed to pull light from the air. The only thing they didn't have was the physical product, the picture in your hands, but like everything else digital we just stopped valuing solid objects.

I hated Instagram at first. It was an irrational, petty hatred; I knew that and gladly indulged. Part of it was obviously the opening of the gates that let all these kids into my secret treehouse. Whereas I had to sift through a pile of second hand crap and buy overpriced endangered film on the reg, every asshole from my high school suddenly achieved the artful character of instant film in their Facebook profile picture. Popularity is one of the stupidest reasons to dislike something, and I have a track record of it. Notably, I never signed up for a MySpace in its heyday, simply because everyone insisted that I needed one. (I jumped ahead to thefacebook and got to feel like an elitist early adopter.) With Instagram, the ship was already sailing, full steam ahead, and I was stuck in the past with a bulky camera that I couldn't buy film for.

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Los Angeles Veins


One of the trademarks of SNL's The Californians sketch is the constant, meaningless jibber jabber about traffic and freeways and alternate routes. It's one of those things that you don't realize you do until people start making fun of it. Ever since then, I've always felt stupid about every traffic-related tweet I've put out and continue to put out. I can't help it. Here in Southern California, traffic is a way of life. It's bigger than everything. We shape our lives around it, and any way we can circumvent its massive gravity is a victory that delays our final unmourned grave. It's that serious. It feels as if I've spent a third of my 20s in LA traffic.

In an effort to perhaps exorcise my person of all traffic-related thoughts and ideas, I've decided to indulge completely in the art of traffic ruminations. If New Yorkers can write endless poems, short stories and personal essays about sitting on the subway, why can't we do the same about inching half a mile in 30 minutes? Surely there's a way to do it that isn't as excruciating as the real experience. Someone out there must be able to romanticize it into something less Californian and obnoxious.

For me, personally, my traffic life as been shaped by 3 major freeways branching out from my ocean-adjacent home base: California State Route 91, Interstate 110 and the San Diego 405. Highways draw activity and life, the way trade routes and rivers once did, but they lack the character of their predecessors. The 110 has no special power or significance in its uniform concrete the way the Mississippi river does — unless you give it one, as defined by the function it serves in your life. My reasons have never been especially meaningful, but they've been significant to my life as a 20-something, marking different chapters the way moving out of your childhood home does.

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Let's Put Superman In Jail, Y'all

This is the recently released movie poster for Man of Steel, the forever incoming Superman movie reboot directed by WATCHMEN and 300 guy, Zack Snyder. The image of Superman subordinated, especially in cuffs as a reversal of one of Superman's most iconic poses, is an attention-grabber, but also a gimmick. It's the kind of imagery that could only be done with this character to acheive this level of intrigue. It wouldn't imply the same things if it were Batman or The Punisher or even Captain America, certainly not on the same level. It takes advantage of Superman's cultural place as the father of all superheroes, and yet, it's not an instantly cool poster.

My initial reaction was skepticism. People seem to love a powerless Superman, from the beatdown scene in SUPERMAN RETURNS to the 1990s comics event THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN. While the premise of a powerless Superman can create good stories, the reason people love a weakened superman is silly: they think his power is boring, or they think he doesn't face enough adversity. In short, the fans who feel this way aren't Superman fans. They're Iron Man fans that want Superman to be Iron Man.

It might seem like they're doing it again here, trying to make the boyscout appealing to non-fans by taking away what's great about the character. Instead of showing people why optimism, morality and hope are actually cool, they instead infuse the character with grit and weakness. If any character in superhero comics should be about daylight and saviors, it's Superman, and they no one wants to seem to be into trying that out. At least, that's the first impression, probably spurred on by the muted colors and kind of faceless soullessness of everything so far in MAN OF STEEL.

But upon closer inspection: It's a flimsy pair of cuffs. It's not so much Superman subordinated as it is Superman going quietly and willingly, deferring to civilian authority. It's a different way to display strength and morality -- still a quick gimmick about shifting the power dynamic, sure, but true to the character's 80 year history. Maybe it's an alright poster and maybe Zack Snyder won't go for the quick dumb gratifications he did with WATCHMEN.

I guess the worst thing you can say about it thus far is that it brings to mind that ridiculous body builder arrest photo that was big on the internet a couple years ago.

This Is A Line

For a long time, whenever I wrote something on this blog, I always had to include some kind of disclaimer that I didn't really want anyone to read this, I just wanted to put it out there for myself because it helps me sharpen my craft and distill some thoughts. It was petty, silly hand-wringing and the only way I could deal with the inherent arrogance of wanting to be a writer. It took a couple years of good writing teachers before I got over myself and wrote both because I wanted to, and because I wanted to be heard.

With that neurosis more or less resolved, I have decided to draw a line between the past and present and reinvest my efforts into blogging and less into maintaining a sparse personal essay depository. At some point, if you ever intend on taking your attempt at freelancing seriously, you are going to have to show people a body of work. A place for your tiny baby portfolio, proof of your consistency and evidence that you don't just write, you live like a writer. With the hosting help of Squarespace, I've finally sprung a few dollars at creating a blog I can build on more frequently, while being slightly more professional and indicative of how I am. At last, a place for me to type.

If this is the sort of thing that I want to have associated with my name, there are things on the old blog that I want to keep around. There is a sentimental history to the things I've put online since 2006 as a very scared college freshman with no writing knowledge, and I think that's worth preserving. They are far from masterpieces and might reflect poorly on me, but it's a big chunk of honest, wart-filled work.  Penny Arcade is a multimillion dollar comic & video game enterprise now, but they've never decided to scrub their earliest, most amateur works, and that's always been a point of endearment.

So there's that, and then there's this. I want to participate in conversations, even if my voice is small and sometimes talked stupid. My hope is to turn this into something constant and full of thoughts in the process of being built on the things we're talking about. Something I can grow to share with people without feeling like a total asshole. That starts with writing more things of substance, and less self-referential meta stuff like this.

Of course, the best way to actually go about doing something is to just do it. Not announcing it in a way as gaudy as this. But I like the idea of planting a flag. It doesn't have to mean anything to you, but it does to me. I've been trying to write here for 6 years, now. Maybe that's enough of a warm up.

Cultural Soil

Between Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace and Frank Ocean coming out, it feels like this is a major moment not just in music culture, but in America's long struggle with sexual orientation and gender identity. Sometimes I think this is exactly the kind of sea change we need in our popular culture to make social progress. While I still have faith in the voting system and the theory of our representative democracy, that's also powered by our cultural battle. Whatever it is we try to get on the ballot - gay marriage, ending the war on drugs, the prison industrial complex - it's still a matter of changing the common sense. So when big pop culture figures open up about their sexual identity, it's huge: their fans are forced to look inward to find how they feel, the culture opens up a little bit more, and somewhere some transgender teenager doesn't feel as alone. It's a powerful, important key to progress.

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The House Puzzle

I don't even know why I like HOUSE. I know what's good about it -- the dialogue is often sharp, Hugh Laurie is a titan and the show has a sharp style top to bottom. But I don't know what part of it grabbed me so thoroughly that I've been watching it for 8 years.

Not non-stop, mind you. There was a period in the middle, probably season 4 and 5, where I fell out of touch with the gang at Princeton-Plainsboro out of laziness. But when I got back in, during the season that introduced the ridiculously stunning Olivia Wilde (seriously her face is unbelievable I want to say absurd) I fell back into the habit of spending an hour a week watching House solve medical mysteries using only his intelligence, hatred, and bum leg.

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I mark my post-graduate life by eras of employment, or lack thereof. First there was Unemployment I, which was the three job searching months immediately after I got my diploma. That brought about The Retail Era, where I gave up on finding a "real" job and decided I just needed money to continue my search. Later on there was the Production Assistant Era which was really just 10 days before I rationalized my way out of that plan. There was The Golden Internship Era, where I worked at a magazine for 6 months in what was probably the coolest thing I've ever done.

The longest era, the longest thing I had ever done since graduation, came in at just under 10 months: Unemployment II, the period of dark nothing that came after my internship. I don't have any explanation as to why it lasted so long. It's like asking a man why he was drowning for so long -- because he can't swim and that's how long it took until he caught a line. I was about to crack, again, and had lined up a food service interview right before I picked up a pretty decent administrative job. I am typing at a coffee shop across the street from work, passing time while the freeways clear up.

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