Archive for March, 2010

8:14 (7)

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2010 by darryl zero

The pleasure I take from listening to this Nadja song more than makes up for the irritation tomorrow will likely bring.

I had happy hour today with arguably the best of my three best friends, a twice-divorced man in his 60’s who never ceases to provide me with the kind of blunt advice only a true friend would give you, like “have you considered selling your body?” As the conversation extended past the completely unnecessary image of exactly what I would do for money (and to whom), we realized we were in something of a family establishment–and kept shit-talking anyway. I wrote on a piece of cardboard the lyrics to Smog’s “I’m New Here” and we nodded to each other’s stories of confusion and frustration at the things that make our lives what they are.

Probably my favorite part of the conversation was when we settled down, past jokes and ribbing, and realized where we were in our lives. I’m soon to enter my second 30 years, and he’s in his “third thirty” (“the third of four,” I joked good-naturedly), and we realized in turn that his father was about to begin his fourth. Having met the man’s father, I can confirm it’s not far-fetched to expect the guy to live to 120–the dude’s made of granite and bleeds kerosene, the kind of old-school bad-ass motherfucker they don’t build anymore. I always get a kick out of meeting guys like that, like the Vietnam vet grandfather of one of my pre-schoolers who always smells faintly of beer but looks at everyone he meets with the kind of warmth and good humor of a person who might actually have seen humanity at it’s worst and had it inspire them to value every encounter.

Time’s up.

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8:14 (6)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on March 29, 2010 by darryl zero

I’m right at the part in this Mono song (“Yearning”) where everything explodes, in typical Mono fashion, howling and crashing even though you know you’ve spent the entire song building up to that point right in the middle. For the most part, I’m please the band has done little to change their modus operandi in the seven years I’ve known of their existence–it makes their albums a comfortingly familiar experience, even if the novelty has worn off somewhat. I suppose that’s a blessing in itself, though, since there is that whole notion of getting tired of their gimmick for an album or two until they come back with a return-to-form.

Working at Devil’s Point always makes me wonder why I quit working in bars on a regular basis–the people who work there are fantastic (on par with the team of me, Kelly and Danny at Claudia’s, which is still the best group of people with whom I have ever worked), the dancers are incredibly gracious and patient with me, and the crowd is so much less of an irritation than they were at Chopsticks, The Boiler Room, etc. The built-in pacifier of naked ladies I suppose helps with the last point, but still–it’s nice. Not having a regular gig also means I don’t really devote the time to getting sick of it, and I’ve lucked out in that I haven’t had to work a slow night yet.

No 8:14 yesterday–I baked a ton of cookies, including a new favorite recipe–the “Bridemaker,” a triple-chocolate molten masterpiece with caramel (although I might replace the caramel with peanut butter, as caramel’s a pain in the ass to make and incorporate.

Today, I was told by one of my co-workers whom I greatly respect that I would “make an amazing teacher.” I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

My roommate’s cat is talking to me.

I should see if I have practice today.

Time’s up.

8:14 (5)

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 by darryl zero
As always, this comes when I should be doing something else, but I can’t help it; I’m determined to take little steps against life, doing little things I want to do rather than things I should be doing.  I’m slipping deeper and deeper into “withdrawal” mode, a usual end result of my having more than two days off in a row.  With nothing to properly barricade myself from the world, I’m better off; another friend popped into town today with her husband, providing me with enough inspiration to keep ideas in my brain.
The sinus infection clings determinedly.  I’ll give those little bastards credit; they’ve stuck with me longer than I expected them to.  It almost makes me smile; no, dammit, it makes me smile for real.
I should have done more this Spring Break.  I really should have.
Is there something about getting older that makes it essential to take a vacation someplace other than a familiar surrounding?  I find myself overcome with the desire to go anywhere I haven’t gone before.
Interesting observation: when I tell someone I “have no money,” they don’t seem to realize that I literally mean I have absolutely no money in pocket, bank account, or availability.  It’s telling.
I already want to re-arrange my room.  Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow instead of baking, since that’s losing its potency as a means to making the weight go away.  I hope band practice does something for me tomorrow; I’m sick of complaining.
I want to tell a story, but I don’t have one that’s interesting to anyone other than me.
Oh!  Funny thing happened at lunch–conversation with friend and husband made me realize why I write in the first place.  I’m neither talented nor particularly motivated enough to ever expect to get money for what I write (mostly the latter), not do I really think my stories are all that creative or interesting, but the creative process itself is invigorating enough to remind me that there’s something I am capable of doing that’s actually worth my time.
I need many jobs.
Time’s up.

8:14 (4)

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2010 by darryl zero
I actually wrote this on 26 March at 5:50 PM, but had wandered out of internet access range and neglected to post it.
I wish I could stay focused, always a problem (one I’ve mentioned before) but even more of one today.
Sunlight always does weird things to my brain, mostly making it want to shut down.  I’ve pumped myself full of so much coffee today, though, that it’s hard for it to do anything.
I try so hard to forget how pretty this town is when it’s sunny; it’s like everything blooms.  Toddlers get that extra bit of free space from their moms, girls wear just a bit less, the trees and flowers raise their hands in gratitude.  It’s the last thing that makes me smile; the light bothers me, though not as much as it has in years past, but I love how verdant this place is.  It simultaneously makes my desire to leave more potent and bittersweet.  It also motivates me to walk, or ride my bike, or do anything to enjoy the fresh air without having to worry about stupid Oregonian drivers or cyclists making the road less safe.
This was supposed to be a happy entry.  I guess I’m getting there.
I’m seeing puppies everywhere.  It makes me want to go to the park.  Jesus–is it even close to April yet?
Clinging to optimism gets harder the more I realize that all of this bullshit matters on some level, the one in which no one really functions unless they’re able to sell something.  I have nothing of value to anyone other than myself.
Time’s up.

because i need to do this from time-to-time…

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2010 by darryl zero
I talk about a lot of things that make me miserable. Here is a far-from-comprehensive list of things that make me happy.

– All things Sesame Street between 1966 and 1990. I will still sit down and watch old episodes of the show and smile and laugh at everything just as I did when I was a little kid. My parents started me on the show when I was an infant (“Sesa” was one of my first words), and it always brightens my mood. I prefer the earlier stuff largely due to my appreciation of the work of Jim Henson and Frank Oz, whom I firmly believe to be two of the greatest American entertainers to have ever existed. Ernie, Kermit and Grover were always my favorite characters, but the discontinued muppets (Herbert Birdsfoot, Farley, etc.) fascinate me. I’ve always maintained that the show is the greatest television show ever, and even though it’s gone in the commercialized “Elmo” direction, I’m glad it still exists.

– Black comic book characters. Static’s my favorite for obvious reasons (google him if you don’t know what those reasons are), but I’ve recently revisited my interest in Black Lightning, Blade, and (especially) the Christopher Priest-written Black Panther. The recent revival of the Milestone Media universe has made me a happy Darryl.

– The Chicago Bears. The greatest fucking sports team in the history of sports teams. Even when they suck, I’ll watch every second of a Bears game. It’s my church.

– Indian food. I feel about Indian food the way most people in this fucking town feel about Thai food–I crave it constantly and am often overcome with an urge to drop what I am doing in order to seek it. Spicy, mild, meaty, vegetarian, I do not care–I will eat the hell out of some Jalfrezi, Bhuna…dammit, now I’m hungry.

– Rain. I’ve never understood the fascination Portlanders feel about sunshine. Portland rain comes in so many different varieties, it’s hard to get any sense of sameness from it–it’s usually pretty warm rain, too, which makes it perfect for walking around in. I moved to this town to get away from the sun.

– Doom metal and puppies, linked here under this bullet point because neither requires any explanation other than “because they’re awesome.”

– When someone on a train or on a sidewalk looks at me and smiles, not that “I’m amused” smile or a condescending grin, but that kind of grin you get when you lock eyes with someone for a second and the two of you realize that, if only for that fleeting instant unreclaimable by anyone, you had a shared experience.

– Cheesy action films made between the early 80’s and the mid-90’s. Maybe it’s because I grew up on a steady diet of them (among other films), but a good, crappy action film never goes out of style, particularly those that tread the precarious line between taking itself seriously and trying to be something it’s not. Most of Steven Seagal’s pre-On Deadly Ground films, for instance, fit the bill–especially Marked For Death and Out For Justice; they held onto just enough of the idealistic preachiness of 70’s exploitation films, but had an entirely different shifting cultural paradigm to mine for cheap humor and violence. One of the things I value the most about such movies is that they never really tried to be art; performances were cookie-cutter and straightforward, and any messages were too obvious to be lastingly offensive.

– Everyone who works on Sundays at Devil’s Point on SE 50th and SE Foster in Portland, Oregon.

– That moment when playing with my band in which everyone is on the same page, and we’re locked into whatever it is we’re playing.

– My friends.

8:14 (3)

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2010 by darryl zero

Met with a protegée today, a girl who reminds me of everything I should have been and wasn’t. Something about seeing her makes me remember that I’m not entirely the fuck-up every other aspect of my life seems to make me think I am. Being useful is probably the most important thing, to me; I cannot stand a situation in which my skills serve no actual purpose and, thus, try to learn as much as I can in any given situation. Either that or cherry-pick what I do so that I’ll always have something valuable to contribute.

Teaching has always been the only thing I’ve been good at other than being a student. I’m fairly sure I have other skills, but there’s nothing really marketable about being able to tell you the secret identity of everyone pre-Crisis who claimed to be Two-Face. I’m good at remembering things I care about and, fortunately, I care about a lot. Part of this aimless wandering constituting my adult life has been because I don’t really know what I could actually do. It’s the reason why I can’t, for the life of me, sell myself on paper enough to get a decent job; I don’t really know how to do anything other than know.

Naturally, there is no real place for anyone who knows how to know.

I really need to stop thinking, as all it does is verify that there is, in fact, no purpose for my continued existence other than to inject money into various sources with no real result.

Hey, I just said I’d write every day for eight minutes and fourteen seconds; I didn’t say they’d be deep.

Yesterday, I spent most of my day listening to Sesame Street records and wishing I could spend eternity doing only that.

Maybe that’s my heaven.

Time’s up.

music rant.

Posted in music, nerdiness on March 25, 2010 by darryl zero

With all the major-label musicians for whom I’ve lost my taste on my descent into the realm of indie-punk elitists (Moby, I’m lookin’ at you–make an album with some balls, will ya?), I was always pleasantly surprised that the Deftones hadn’t made the list. Every one of their albums was always a pleasant surprise, moving their sound in a good direction, even if that direction wasn’t necessarily forward. That the band was able embrace a more mature sound was what always set them apart from their contemporaries both higher-and-lower-selling; they adroitly managed to push themselves away from rap metal much more comfortably than Korn or Limp Bizkit, and never quite dipped into emo melodrama as much as Far or Incubus.

For their part, much of what made the band so refreshing was their constant, obvious push-and-pull of influences–frontman Chino Moreno’s love of dream-pop successfully transitioned from being a bonus-track afterthought on the band’s 1994 breakthrough Adrenaline to being the featured attraction on 2000’s White Pony onward, all the while dueling with guitarist Stephen Carpenter’s penchant for increasingly-precise metal riffage. While most bands would collapse under such competing artistic visions, the Deftones took the tension and used it, often to startling effect. Saturday Night Wrist, the band’s grossly underrated (and underselling) 2006 album, featured the most evocative examples of the band’s duality, pairing the band’s melodic tenderness (lead single “Hole In The Earth”) with its dark, jagged aggressiveness (“Rats!Rats!Rats!,” the band’s arguable career highlight). Wrist reportedly nearly broke up the band and, while the real reasons why are lost to the time and memories of all involved parties, the band’s subsequent actions were almost as telling as events outside their control.

By the time the Deftones re-convened to record Wrist‘s follow-up, Moreno–who had begun playing guitar during the writing of White Pony–handed guitar-playing duties back to Carpenter exclusively; with it presumably came a concession of control in songwriting as well, as the band proclaimed their new material to be closer to the sharper, more “metal”-oriented sound of their first two albums. Subsequent songs debuted at live shows seemed to corroborate this, particularly “Melanie,” with its staccato beat and hacksaw guitar. However, before the new album, Eros, ever saw release, bassist Chi Cheng fell into a coma following a car crash, and although the band repeatedly insisted it had nothing to do with their bandmate’s condition, the album became repeatedly delayed. In the meantime, the band added a member–former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega–and resumed touring. Eventually, the band elected to shelve Eros and hit the studio again with Vega; the result is Diamond Eyes, due out in early May, and while the album isn’t a complete misfire, it does represent the first step the band has taken in a wrong direction.

Or, to be more accurate, it doesn’t really seem to be a step in any direction; each song has just enough to make it distinctively a Deftones release, but the overall image gets muddied in overstated production and distracting slickness. Rather than, as they had for Eros, enlisting longtime collaborator Terry Date (who handled production duties on every previous Deftones album save for Saturday Night Wrist), the band turned to Nick Raskulinecz, best known for his work with Trivium, Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver, and Danzig, among others. The difference in production values is striking: guitars are heavily compressed in the mix, much flatter than on previous albums (almost to a point at which they’re indistinguishable from keyboards), and Moreno’s vocals seem closer to the front and significantly less-processed. While the latter point isn’t entirely a bad thing (particularly after the Auto-Tuned awkwardness marring some of the brighter parts of Wrist), the former is frustrating to the point of irritation. The title track begins fantastically–Carpenter riffing menacingly while Moreno’s pleasantly-mature voice dances above–before descending into an almost orchestral-sounding swell of voice and keyboards sounding more at home on a pop-“emo” album than a Deftones cut. “Royal” and “CMND/CNTL” pick up the pace a bit, but, after sludgy highlight “You’ve Seen The Butcher,” “Beauty School squanders another promising beginning by lapsing into this radio-friendly melodrama. “Prince” puts the album back in familiar territory (Moreno alternating between hushed, near-whispers, honey-sweet melodies and nails-on-chalkboard screech) before the album’s main highlight: “Rocket Skates,” a time-changing, head-banging march featuring Carpenter’s Meshuggah-ready steam engine of guitar. After that, however, the album seems to limp to a conclusion; “Sextape,” though inoffensive, is an indecisive pop-rock song, and, while “Risk” mostly feels like a typical post-White Pony exercise in metal-tinged dream pop, “976-EVIL” and “This Place Is Death” both squander decent Carpenter riffs in favor of swells of vocals and keyboard.

This isn’t to completely disparage the album, which is admirably performed by all contributors. Drummer Abe Cunningham continues to be one of the best in rock, punctuating arrangements with creative fills and excellent drum tone, and Vega admirably adds his own style to the band’s attack. Moreno’s voice is stronger than it’s ever been, and Frank Delgado seems to have completely abandoned the turntables in favor of keyboards, which he uses capably despite their excessive place in the mix–itself an interesting turn of events, given how much they’ve been buried in the mix on previous albums. Nonetheless, the excessive production and radio-friendly mix make Diamond Eyes a large question mark, if not an outright disappointment, which begs the question: exactly what does Eros sound like? I say “does” because the band has promised the album will eventually see the light of day; hopefully, if nothing else, the album fills in the blanks between Wrist and this one. I’ll definitely buy Diamond Eyes as soon as it hits stores, but it’ll likely end up ripped to my hard drive and relegated to “also-ran” status.