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Archive for January, 2008

I have to get something off my chest and my conscience won’t be cleared until I set this right. I have been selfish…blatantly, wickedly, and immorally selfish. You see, there is this band that I adore and cherish very dearly.

First, let me introduce you to the band. You may have already heard of them, since the debut was released back in 2006. They’re called Quiet Company and they hail from the great musical mecca of Austin, Texas. The band’s actually comprised of just singer-songwriter Taylor Muse and a sort of revolving door of guitarists, drummers, bassists, etc that surround him (sort of like Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, except Muse isn’t as “solo,” I guess).

Quiet Company
From left to right: Thomas Blank, Taylor Muse, Michael Delaney. Oh, Mrs. Taylor Muse, aka Leah, who took this and many other photos, happens to be a pretty good photographer.

After the first release, which Muse recorded almost every facet of all by his lonesome, there seemed to be a set, stable band lineup for tours and future releases. But from what I’ve read, they’ve been looking for a new drummer as well as a bassist. I think the guy on the left in the picture above, Thomas Blank, has been in the band a while though. (Going off their Myspace, the guy on the right, Michael Delaney, is that new drummer.)

But yes, Taylor Glen Muse writes well-crafted, soaring, complex-yet-pure pop music that leaves you smiling and feeling all kinds of elevated emotions. Yet, I’ve pretty much kept it all to myself ever since discovering him two years ago. I don’t know why I did it; I’m usually very open to share and discuss music with anyone.

The songs on the debut just draw you in. When I first heard the record, I hadn’t felt such a connection with an album for a while. It was sort of like my Precious… Well, I guess it wasn’t that I was being selfish…it was more me being very selective with who I shared this music with. I didn’t want to let just anyone know about the band only to have them simply disregard and forget about them, not loving/appreciating their music as much as I do. But that was stupid.

Now I am repenting of my wayward ways, and I am letting anyone who has been so unlucky as to be unaware of Quiet Company to find out about them. Here are some tracks from the 2006 debut album, Shine Honesty:

“Fashionabel”The build-up intro for this song is really nice.
“The Emasculated Man And The City That Swallowed Him”A coming-of-age anthem.
“Love is a Shotgun”This will be a small litmus test for my future relationships. I’m almost 100% sure that my future wife (if marriage is in my future that is) will love this song.

They are supposed to release a new album titled “Everyone You Love Will Be Happy.” I don’t know much more about it, but here are a couple of unreleased tracks I’ve found floating around the Internets that may or may not be on the album:

“Golden (master 12)”May be just a working title.
“It’s Better to Spend Money Like There’s No Tomorrow Than Spend Tonight Like There’s No Money”Long title, fun song.
“Our Sun Is Always Rising”I like how the most sentimental, mushy lyrics are masked by loud guitars and drums in the beginning…like they’re balancing it out. I found it a little funny, because I imagined that it was them almost sneaking the lines through to whoever the song was written for.

I remember reading on the band blog, back in November of 2006, that Taylor hated his day-job — especially the fact that he had to “stock dogfood and clean rodent shit.” I don’t know what the job was/is (pet store employee/exterminator?) but this is a travesty to me. Someone who made one of my favorite albums in recent memory should not have to “stock dogfood and clean rodent shit” while guys like Soulja Boy, Ashlee Simpson, or K-Fed make all the music they want and live it up like crazy.

You can buy the album HERE — I guarantee it will be one of the best investments you’ll make. You can also check out their Myspace to listen to more songs and find out tour dates and stuff. I leave you with the music video for “Fashionabel,” directed by Cameron McCasland:

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You’re Old

study of an old man by rembrandt
Study of an Old Man in Profile — Rembrandt van Rijn

One of my biggest pet peeves (fairly recently developed) has to do with my age and, consequently, the age of my peers or people who I interact with…which is ridiculous as I will explain. It is when I hear:

“Oh wow, I’m so old.”

or

“Oh wow, you’re so old.”

…coming from mouths of people (or referring to people) in their late teens up to their late 20’s. (I start giving a little slack to late-20’s people. You guys really are kind of old…haha) When/Where/How/Why did this start? If someone said this within my hearing distance, I used to occasionally point out to them one obvious fact:

“You’re not old.”

Then I would get all sorts of weird (and offended?) looks or an awkward pause with expressions looking like they’re searching for something to say, like I said something they were not expecting at all (which they are not…but this is also ridiculous, considering how young they are).

You’re in your freakin’ 20’s (or teens). Okay, you might not be talking about physical, chronological age measured in years… Although a conversation that goes something like:

“How old are you?”
“Twenty-_____”
“Wow, you’re old”

…sounds like physical age is the measuring stick. I remember a terrible high school APUSH teacher who didn’t teach me much history once said something. He said that age doesn’t make you mature, but responsibilities do. So…are you married? Do you have kids? Okay, maybe you have a job or two to work, a few bills to pay, but does that make you old? But I’m kind of going off on a tangent now…we’re talking about “old,” not “mature.”

Oh, you feel old you say? Right. And no one can argue with feelings right? Whatever, okay, you’re old.

Seriously, why are young people so worried about this? Or is it that referring to yourself as “old” is the cool and/or popular thing to do? Maybe it has become some sort of badge of….whatever. I really don’t know, but I think there are too many young people who actually believe that they are old.

In my experience, there are three major types of people when it comes to this subject:

1) There are these young old people, who are not old at all but are just maybe delusional — mostly right out of high school, in college, or just out of college.

2) Then there are people who are usually not that annoying at all and are much more tolerable than the people who motivated the creation of this entry (see #1), and they are, quote-unquote, “old.” After these people get “older” they lose the quotation marks and can be referred to as kind of old. You can tell that they are “old” because they are constantly reminding you of how young they are. But these people are still not really old.

3) And then finally there are people who are truly old. You can tell they are truly old by looking at one thing: whether or not people who are older than them refer to them as old. And I’m talking about everyone older than them can call them old. A 25-year old and a 23-year-old calling each other old doesn’t count. Ask a 45-year-old if they think those two are old. Then ask a 75-year-old if the 45-year-old is old.

Then ask an 85-year-old if the 75-year-old is old, and you’ll probably get a different answer (e.g. “Yes”). So everyone else worrying about “being old” should take a deep breath and relax because you don’t even have to start worrying about “being old” until you’ve reached this point. The truly old people just don’t care much about it and rarely bring the topic up because they know they’re old and they know you know they’re old…which can be sad for some of them, I suppose.

Or

The fortunate ones realize it doesn’t matter.

Songs of the Day:

Bob Dylan – “Forever Young” / (album link)
The Beatles – “When I’m Sixty-Four” / (album link)
Peter Bjorn and John – “Young Folks” / (album link)
Stars – “Ageless Beauty” / (album link)

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ipod ad

My trendy, hip, relatively poor quality ipod earbuds totally broke down a month ago. I have some good Sony DJ-ing cans that I use at home and when I’m stationary, but I had nothing portable. So I had been using these cheapo, ugly earbuds made by poor Chinese kids and sold by poor Mexican kids that I got while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago when I forgot my ipod earbuds at home. (That sentence itself is worthy of a blog post or two.)

So yeah…I needed a replacement. Christmas came and went and I decided to put some good, portable headphones on my shopping list for myself (I do shopping for myself after Christmas…a short list of stuff I really want/need and could get through the comforts of the internet). Now I could’ve gotten some regular, everyday 30 dollar earbuds (like the Apple earbuds), but I decided my Christmas pretty much sucked and I should splurge a little. “Splurge” meaning I collected all my change from my car, pockets, desk, bed, and sidewalks, took it all to a Coinstar machine and printed out a nice $42.74 gift certificate to Amazon. That is more than enough right? Well, I then used that to buy a $200 (msrp) pair of Shure E3 ear-BUDS!

Update: Shure recently replaced the E3 with the current model…which is the exact same thing in all aspects, except the name. They changed it to the Shure SCL3.

I guess I did splurge…with the help of American Express. But being the savvy consumer that I am, I found a merchant selling them for $99 (no longer available), so I really paid around 60 bucks, since change-money is basically the closest we can get to magical, grown-on-tree money — comes out of nowhere and doesn’t really count.

But yes, you read right. $200 Ear-buds. Not a surround-sound mini home stereo system. Not a crazy pair of studio monitoring headphones. I bought little, small earbuds, which are probably smaller than the ipod earbuds they replace. And they’re a very plain charcoal-grey, not the pristine Apple-white that everyone wants. (The white model was about 40 bucks more expensive. Damn viral Apple marketing. Infecting every brand in sight.) But don’t be fooled by the class, size, or color of the product (you classist, size-ist, racist bigots). (more…)

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The title of my post serves no other purpose than to put the two film titles into one sentence. But did you also know that I find improper grammar annoying? Especially when it is featured proudly in the title of a blockbuster film. Man…first Timbaland’s song and now this. Are you a legend? Is your name actually Legend? (I’m aware that it is the title of the book that it’s based on. I’m just messing around. But can anyone tell me why the author chose to do this?)

I know these movies have been out for a while…I just felt like writing about them. Maybe for the people who haven’t seen them. Or the people who hated them and need to see them again. =)
______________________________

I am far from being a regular moving-picture-flicker-show attendee, but I did see two films fairly recently that I really enjoyed. One was a highly-promoted box office juggernaut of apocalyptic proportions while the other was an innocent, happy, fuzzy and warm little love story. And both I Am Legend and Juno were worth the ticket price and the time.

I Am Legend
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Watch out now. I’m going to flip the routine here to spice things up a little. Today, I’m offering my “Song of the Day” at the beginning of the post. Yeah, I know, I didn’t think you guys would be able to handle it either, at first, but I think it will enhance your enjoyment of the post. So here it is:

Timbaland – “The Way I Are”

Listen to the song if you haven’t heard it yet, then proceed with the post. I’m not even gonna go into length about the grammatically incorrect title…

I’ve heard this fine piece of music all over the place…blaring from radios, cell phones, leaking out of ipod earbuds, I’m pretty sure I recall it was played the one time I went to a club last year, and basically everywhere there was a speaker. It features a bouncing beat, synths, and the signature “yeah”-guy present in seemingly every Timbaland production.

But it wasn’t until I recently downloaded it from a blogger’s end of the year list of “hot tracks of 2007″that I actually listened to the lyrics. And wow…I was shocked. The guy in the song is totally me — if I, for some ridiculous reason, decided to try to be fly and hit up the club scene and find a girlfriend there with the meager funds I have in my checking account. I am sure this song would be the exact result; musically and lyrically, it really captures that situation perfectly. Check out these opening lines:

I ain’t got no money
I ain’t got no car to take you on a date
I can’t even buy you flowers…
…Talk to me girl.

… (YEAH!)

Whoooo! How’s that for a pick-up line? Does T-to-the-Imbaland have you girls just swooning and out of breath? I sure would be if I were a female. (Okay, that “Yeah!” wasn’t really in the song)

Alright, let’s look at the similarities. (more…)

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Golden Compass I was reading through some Xanga.com blogs and I came across an entry by Nathon, titled “Tarnished Compass,” about the new movie, The Golden Compass. If you don’t know already, the movie is based on the first of a series of books by an atheist author, Philip Pullman, who has expressly stated that at least one of the motives for him writing his books is to discredit, and turn people away from, Christianity. Nathon (the Xanga blogger) is a Christian and his charge to other fellow Christians is to boycott the movie, not to “protect” against its “harmful message,” but “solely for the principle of standing up for what you believe in.” I see where he’s coming from, but I don’t think I’m going to actively boycott the movie. At most, I may end up involuntarily boycotting simply because I don’t watch many movies in the theaters as it is.

Okay, let’s go back, wayyy back….to the basic foundations of the story as described by Philip Pullman himself. In the novels, “Dust” is like the ever-present, spirit-like force of Light and Good, while “The Authority” is the evil-God, on which the theocratic society is based on. The origin of life and creation story in his novel series is summarized thusly :

[…] the notion is that there never was a Creator, instead there was matter, and this matter gradually became conscious of itself and developed Dust. Dust sort of precedes from matter as a way of understanding itself. The Authority was the first figure that condensed, as it were, in this way and from then on he was the oldest, the most powerful, the most authoritative. And all the other angels at first believed he was the Creator and then some angels decided that he wasn’t, and so we had the temptation and the Fall etc – all that sort of stuff came from that. (The Telegraph, 2004)

In Pullman’s world, the Authority basically tricked everyone into believing he was an all-powerful God — the Judeo-Christian God, in fact. He even birthed a Jesus through a virgin named Mary and created a dove-like Holy Spirit; and together, as a “Trinity,” they ruled the world through their various churches and organizations, the most powerful of which is “The Magisterium.” The foundation of the story is influenced by ancient mythology and clearly draws heavily from the modern interpretation of Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Fast forward a number of millenniums and we arrive at the beginning of the series. The story is about a girl named Lyra who lives in a world ruled and governed by the “Magisterium.” In the Catholic Church in our world, the magisterium is actually the “teaching body of the church.” (Note: This pattern continues throughout as the bad guys are referred to and labeled with very Christian or church-like terminology, while the good guys are labeled and described with vocabulary that has been traditionally looked down on by the Church — e.g. witches, gyptians [like “gypsies”], and “daemons,” which are, ironically, essentially the soul of a person.) This “Magisterium” has strict rules and guidelines for the people to live by and operates under the authority of…well, “The Authority.” (Were you running a little dry on the creative juices there, Phil?) The narrative follows Lyra on her adventures that lead her to discover the Magisterium is evil and the Authority (aka God) is not really an all-powerful, benevolent god, and both of them are working together to stay in power and prevent people from connecting with Dust, which is the Good that will free everyone…and undermine the Trinity’s power. The last book in the still-continuing series ultimately ends with Lyra, some other kids, and all the other good guys, finding and destroying the God figure, “The Authority,” and being connected with Dust, which leads them to truth, and true self-knowledge. There are giant, talking polar-bears, magical hot air balloons, cool nymph-like witches, maybe some midgets/dwarves, and umm…I don’t know…a lot of magical stuff, along the way. Oh yeah, there’s also a special, golden compass. (It tells you the answer to any question…sort of like one of those psychic cube toys, except it’s 100% accurate.)

I guess one could see how it could be a little controversial. I guess. It seems pretty damn creative to me.

I’m not really that fervent in my “evangelical” beliefs. I’m actually more on the fence about faith, God, and religion than ever right now — which is probably why all this controversy surrounding the movie has so firmly caught my interest. And I can’t help but find all the hype and dialogue about the movie somewhat peculiar. I don’t understand why the author is so outspoken and bitter in his statements and views. Before this huge mountain of controversy over the film adaptation, Pullman was met with a small amount of controversy (relative to what’s going on now) a few years ago when his trilogy of books, His Dark Materials (the first book from the series is the basis for the film), began growing in popularity and acclaim/criticism. Back then, he said some stuff which I’ll quote now:

(more…)

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