Thursday, December 31, 2009

My New Year's Eve

I'll be taking care of this one tonight. Happy New Year!

A Seminal Moment in my Development

My mother-in-law and I were flipping through the channels the other day and came across the film Pump up the Volume. That movie blew my mind when I was a kid, and really was my introduction to rock music that can't be classified as "classic" (an introduction I didn’t walk away from). Some quick thoughts about the flick:

- The soundtrack rocks. Some songs are a bit dated, if hysterical: Peter Murphy's Miniature Secret Camera. Any soundtrack with Sonic Youth is good IMO, and if the song happens to be Titanium Expose (one of their all-time best), so much the better.
- I had a huge crush on Samantha Mathis. Looking at it now, the fashions still kill me, but she’s got that type that does it for me. Watch the scene at the school after she and Christian Slater get together for the first time - the one where she's laughing while waiting for him to kiss her. Yum.
- While the movie is pure teen-drama, it still has some good messages in it, and can still be quite funny. I'm biased, but still think it's a fun little flick.

It only feels infinite...

Infinite Jest: an endless, infuriating, fascinating, exhaustive book, ultimately done in by its refusal to use one word when 10 sentences would do. And I say this as someone who likes long books! I typically like digressions and following thoughts down fascinating rabbit holes (I am a Steve Kilby fan, after all...)

I'm 500 pages in (only halfway!) and I’ve been alternately impressed, interested, and bored. The book is divided into multiple sections, most of which share continuing story lines, including
1) life in a tennis prep-school academy (boring)
2) a midnight-oil philosophical discussion between a government operative and a double (or is it triple?)-agent in the hills above Tuscon, AZ (interesting)
3) the life of drug addicts and AA members in the Boston-area (impressive)
The setting is the not-so-distant future where some very intriguing events have changed the face of America as you know it, and the description and analysis of these events is insightful and compelling. But all of this is undercut by his verbose prose that keeps circling around upon itself, Ouroboros–like, to repeat itself over and over as he ponderously plods his way towards whatever point he’s making. While at times this approach works, as when he’s detailing the effects of withdrawal, most often, like when describing a supposedly-hysterical game about the end of the world or digressing on tennis, it's just boring. In short, the very definition of hit-or-miss.
DFW actually described the effect of the writing in this book the best when he wrote about a Marijuana-anonymous meeting: "...the social isolation, anxious lassitude, and the hyperself-consciousness that then reinforced the withdrawal and anxiety — the increasing emotional abstraction, poverty of affect, and then total emotional catalepsy – the obsessive analyzing, finally the paralytic stasis that results from the obsessive analysis of all possible implications of both getting up from the couch and not getting up from the couch..." p. 503

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Welcome, Trey

My second son, Trey Alexander Meigs, was born into the world early on 12/23. I've been relaxing with family since then, is the reason for the radio silence. He's a very well-behaved kid so far, sleeping up to 3 hours at a go, which is more sleep then I had dreamed of getting before I met him. Anyways, things should be settling down shortly so look for more action - and perhaps baby pix - shortly.

Trey two minutes after being born

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Quote of the Day

If miracles were....intrusions into this world from another, a kiss of cosmic pool balls...
- Thomas Pynchon

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ray Davies, Still Rocking after all these Years

I went to see Ray Davies perform at the Berklee Performing Arts center a few weeks back. I've been meaning to type up a whole review of the show, but I just haven't found the time, so here's the quick hits:

  • Ray's an old time showman, so he really tries to get the audience to participate and sing along, even if at times this is in detriment to the actual song. It's also a hell of a lot of fun, and I found I had lost my voice by the end of the evening.

  • Ray has two solo albums now and with the notable exception of The Morphine Song chose probably what I would consider to be the weakest tracks off of them to play.

  • He still rocks out. When the band joined him on stage, the concert really kicked into high gear. But...

  • The audience was mainly older folks who, as my buddy Norb put it, "only have a few stand up and sit downs in them," so I found the shows pacing to be odd in its quiet/loud dynamic. He never really got on a tear where people were moving for more than a few songs in a row, which was a shame because...

  • Did I mention that Ray can still rock out?

I need you
Not Like Everybody Else
In a Moment
Believe in a God for a New Age
Dedicated Follower of Fashion. (hysterically, he sung part of this like he was Johnny Cash)
Morphine Song
Sunny Afternoon
Celluloid Heroes (halfway through this song, the rest of the band joined him)
All Day and All Through the Night
Where Have All the Good Times Gone
After the Fall
One more Time
Come Dancing
Moments (from the Percy soundtrack - I'd never heard of it either)
20th century Man
Long way from Home
Really Got Me
Low Budget
Starstruck (from VGPS)

Quote of the Day

I'll never forget the first time I read Wallace Stephens' The Snow Man in Andrew Barnaby's Shakespeare classes at UVM. It didn't make any sense to me for a long time. However, the poem really opened up as I started to learn that reality is different depending on your perspective. If you don't understand something, you can't even begin to relate to it. (Stanisław Lem's brilliant novel Solaris is another excellent depiction of this conundrum.)

Context is everything. And, to quote DFW, never underestimate objects.

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
- The Snow Man, by Wallace Stephens

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Small Thing that's Always Bugged Me

I don't understand why some people flush the toilet before they go to the bathroom. Does it help them go to the bathroom, is it a weird cleanliness thing, or do they just like wasting water?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don't Know What to Think

I've stopped paying close attention to the health care debate, because it's been going on way too long and trying to understand all of the different options that are in play is very confusing. However, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

1. Having a government run, single-payer health care system is the best way to lower health care costs. The only reason we're not seeing this happen is that the insurance lobby has too many senators in their pockets.

2. Joe Lieberman is a despicable hypocrite whose only logic for acting like he is - other than perhaps the allure of Hartford insurance money - is that he wants to stick it to liberals. Not the millions of lives that are affected by not being able to afford health insurance.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your government at work!

3. Any health care reform is better than none. As Matt Yglesias puts it in a very astute analysis:
But had the left taken the advice of the wonks and surrendered earlier—in particular, had Harry Reid not included a public option in his merged version of the health care bill—then I think Lieberman et. al. might well have dreamed up something else to oppose. As it stands, the level-playing field public option took a bullet for the team. And consequently, millions of currently uninsured Americans are closer than ever to having insurance and the rest of us are closer than ever to having a sense of security that if our own insurance goes away we won’t be left high and dry.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick Thoughts

Some quick thoughts I've had recently but I haven't had the time to write down:

Been meaning to mention that Bella’s leg is as healed as it’s ever going to get. She doesn’t limp anymore and is able to walk and run – and run away from Hunter - without any issues.

People that dismiss Suzanne Vega as the folkie that wrote Luka aren’t paying attention. Her subsequent work is complex, moving and musically adventurous. The Bound and Unbound songs off of the Beauty & Crime album are excellent examples of songs that could also work as poetry, but are accentuated by the wonderful music that accompanies it. And she sings like an earth angel.

I’ve been enjoying some films that revel in ambience more than plot, such as Blade Runner, Eraserhead, and Solaris.

The disposable nature of Birthday and Thank You cards have always bothered me. Why can’t we take care of this stuff online and get rid of all of the physical waste of the cards themselves?

The artwork on the Hellboy series has been taken over by Duncan Fegredo. Duncan’s an excellent artist (and artist he is: he does his own inks like the best of them) but his does not have the sublime, humble simplicity, of creator Mike Mignola’s work. Put pretentiously, Duncan’s the moon shining off of Mignola’s earth: luminous in his own right but overshadowed by the complexity next to him.

I finally picked up DFW's Infinate Jest these days, and it's everything
that I hoped it would be: smart, verbose, entertaining, and it sticks with me after I put it down. Hopefully, I'll have more intelligent stuff to write about it later, but for now i'm just enjoying myself.

Crow Attack!

As I walked Bella around 2:00 today, I saw a large number of crows dive-bombing two Red-tailed Hawks that were perched in the top of an evergreen tree. It looked a lot like this. It was quite a sight. The crows were extremely noisy, but the hawks just waited it out and eventually the crows gave up the physical attack and flew across the street in favor of an endless verbal squalking.
I'm not entirely sure why they were attacking, but it was extremely entertaining.

Shuffle off to Buffalo

Typically, Buffalo only makes the news when it gets one of its infamous lake effect snowstorms that can dump up to three feet of snow at a time. But what most people don't know is that the city, while economically depressed, does have some very nice qualities, as the Dish points out:
Buffalo has elements of beauty dear to a few doughty hearts. These include Olmsted-designed boulevards radiating from an Olmsted central park (Delaware Park); a number of early twentieth-century architectural icons; lots of big, boxy beautiful Victorian houses that can be had for a relative song; a handful of long, graceful commercial and residential avenues that make a vital urban enclave; a surprisingly vibrant arts community; and prices that make it almost like living in another country.

I might add an old school NFL stadium where the tailgates are incredible and you can actually afford seats close to the field. (The quality of the team is another thing these days.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

That Hissing Melody

I’m spinning Echospace: The Coldest Season today, that Deepchord album Innerfuze gave me a while back. It's *very* subtle, so much so that i'm afraid I didn't really "get" it the first time around. However, listening to it today as I slog through lots and lots of documents, I realize that it’s like Orbus Terrarum (my favorite Orb album) in that there's a lot of ambient noises used to create hints of melody that, all taken together, orchestrate a moving mood piece. For instance, the tape hiss that plays in the background undulates like a bit like waves coming into shore, changing the somewhat static keys that are played by the randomness of the interaction between the two. He's using the tape hiss as a kind of melody, which I must admit never occured to me before.

Of course, the beats hold a lot of this together, and I like me some deep house walking bass lines! The strange thing is that there doesn’t seem to be too many complicated beats on the album, with the possible exception of the syncopated keys in Elysian, which had me tapping my foot.

Overall, I like the album, even if it's a bit too subtle for engaging background music, but it rewards active listening with a journey that few albums of this type can take you on.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


One of the most horrible ironies of my life is that while I love to sing - I mean, really love to belt it out - I'm horrible at it. Can't carry a tune with an electrified tune-carrying machine. Not that this stops me in the privacy of my own home or car, but it's there nontheless.

Hunter has reached the point where when I sing he'll just look at me with those wide eyes and say "Daddy, stop singing." And i've not no defense.

However, he will still let me sing a lulliby to him. I sing Taps to him every night I put him down. Amusingly, he's started singing along with me recently but, being a toddler, he quickly tires of the normal words and starts making up words of his own. The closer they are to the word "poopie", the better.

I've Been Busy

As most you probably know, Kelly and I are expecting another son soon. Thus, all of my free time that I would normally spend thinking the big thoughts and spinning them off into pretentious blog posts has been spent planning for and getting ready for the small child that's about to enter our lives. That and taking care of the increasingly demanding child that's already in my life.

Not that i'm complaining. But taking care of "real life" does leave prescious little time to write anything intelligent. But i'll try.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

With Apologies to Thomas Pynchon...

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they're not out to get you.

Follow the link. Yikes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fiscal Responsibility

Ezra Klein points out
one of the big hyprocracies of our current political debates: the unwillingness to raise taxes to pay for our wars while insisting that any health care reform be "deficit neutral".
This is, to put it simply, insane. As Annie Lowrey points out, Obey isn't trying to make the Iraq and Afghanistan wars deficit-neutral. He's not even trying to pay for the total 2010 spending on the two wars. The 1 percent surtax would fund one of the wars, for one year. And even that's proving too much. We're not just unwilling to pay for these wars. We're unwilling to pay for 6 percent of these wars. To put that number in context, the Senate health-care bill pays for 114 percent of itself. And people say that's not enough!

Politicians that really care about the deficit should focus on paying for war.