Friday, February 26, 2010

Other People Are Neat

Write less, learn/laugh/feel more. Links today:

10 Reasons to Avoid Talking on the Phone

On Colleagues (vs Friends)

Hmong Veterans of the CIA's "Secret War"


Pretending to be Christian in Texas

"World Sick" - Broken Social Scene

Facing SXSW 2010

I really hope that I'm not still unemployed come SXSW (March 16-21), but I'll go ahead and prepare for the worst. Been downloading mp3s of tons of new and smaller bands I have not heard of, per show lineups. See my picks below. I haven't seen too many big names yet, 'cept for The xx, jj, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Seeing TPOBPAT last year was more than enough for me, and I've warmed up to 2 songs of The xx, thanks to the Olympics. It seems like it is more about seeing as many hot bands as you can, and then bragging later to your friends and/or over the Internet about how you were at all the "it" places. Or maybe that's my tainted, hipster-informed perception. With too many places to be and too many bands to see, it can easily become a consumption race. B and I are both pretty much over live music since we have no desire to stand among crowds of strangers waiting for delayed performances that are probably poorly mixed anyway. But I can't get over how big SXSW is in this town, and I can't help but get infected by the buzz and participate. One roadblock is that for half of the free parties I come across, you have to RSVP on Facebook. Vom.

The darling Gorilla vs. Bear flyer (click for larger):


The xx - Night Time
(source: creamteam)
Avi Buffalo - What's It In For
(source: laisthenewny)
Bear in Heaven - You Do You
(source: tympanogram)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Alain de Botton

I like this particular Brit. His books are interesting, his tweets lightly thought-provoking (as tweets should be), his Monocle contributions worthwhile. Who is Alain de Botton? I'm still finding out. He's somewhere in between a scholar, psychologist, and a regular guy, something of a well-read self-help sage. Someone who is endlessly curious about the world and how to live, and who presents information in a neat and easily digested form. I enjoyed his book The Art of Travel, if only to be comforted by the fact that I am not the only one who painfully longs to be in a vague, unfamiliar, mysterious place other than where I always am. With titles like The Architecture of Happiness and The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, how could you resist? This article reports on his response towards a disapproving reviewer of his latest book- he sounds so darn eloquent when "losing his temper"! He had a hand in starting The School of Life, a non-traditional institution offering humanities classes on how to live life better. Here's their blog. As someone who struggles with alienation, I appreciated this lite post about feeling down. Their teachings are attractive to someone like me: thinking about things occasionally, but not terribly deeply, and not interested in delving into scientific and theoretical minutae behind ideas. People with active minds who need a soft kick in the pants to help them contemplate matters of weightier importance. Recent tweets:

"If we let the true impact of events resonate, we'd need hours to process minutes." This truth has always terrified my perfectionist self. It is impossible for us to ever fully experience everything that comes our way, and I feel very bad about that. About missing out on gaining new depths and learning new lessons. The problem with that is that it gets in the way of trying and actually doing.

"Even if we learn from our mistakes, life is continually too new and uncharted for us (me) to avoid outright idiocy on a regular basis." I love this tweet. I live in a constant fear that I am far too behind on maturity and wisdom, and that other (maybe older) people have their shit together. It helps to have a reminder that we're all pretty much bumbling through life, sans rehearsal, and that it's crucial to have a humorous attitude about it all.

From Erin's Etsy:

For more of this set, check out Flickr.

"Acts of Man" - Midlake

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

To the Order of Night

Slaughterhouse 90201 is one of my favorite new blogs, which is saying something, since I am loathe to add blogs to my daily perusal list. I've been trying to pick up books again, and these finely paired quotes and shows help me on my way. There's an unmatched greatness to being able to say exactly what you want to say in a novel, succinct and readable way. Even though I watch way more (trash) TV these days, I still don't recognize most of these shows. It's worth it to keep scrolling and 'next-ing' until I find one I understand and appreciate. Then I end up googling the book and then probably adding it to my Goodreads to-read list.

Another blog I fell upon today is this one. Dunno who the dude is, just a young guy with brainy and somewhat cynical posts. This post of his berating work-eschewers resonated with me because of his last remark. "Let's be frank: life is defined by how much you do, how often you took the difficult road and were rewarded for it. It is not, and will never be, improved by how much you avoid and scheme and congratulate." Doing isn't the issue for me, it's deciding what to do that leaves me stumped.

Been watching a lot of dance lately. On MTV's America's Best Dance Crew, the Olympics Ice Dancing, at the AFED art auction, and this local video:


Which is odd for me, as I've never been into that type of performance. I'm don't listen to hip-hop/R&B/rap, and nor do I particularly enjoy the times that I hear it on the radio at the store or in a friend's car. Their music videos have always struck me as oversexed and overly glamorous. Plus, the whole cultural hipness factor bothers me; telling the world that you are so cool seems so directly stupid. Subtlety and humility go a long way. Anyways, it may be that my criticisms stem from a personal lack of coordination and knowledge of how to express myself through body movement. The golden years for that were at the end of college and pre-B; my gang and I would go out multiple times a week to whatever bar off Red River was the current place to be and dance all night long. Not that I was any good, but the free-flowing alcohol and crowds of sweaty bodies that gave me a buffer of anonymity loosened me up. My girl friends were much better dancers, as they probably practiced moves in front of floor-length mirrors growing up. I did no such thing, as the sight of my body and of it trying to move scared the heck out of me. It still does, which makes me marvel all the more at people who move gracefully and skillfully (ballet, figure skating, modern dance), or explosively and in sync (street dance, hip-hop, jazz). I see that it takes so much talent and a certain spark, when I look past my feelings about its cultural or artistic connotations.

Another RyanHoliday post of note, entitled "Imaginary Audience," relevant to social media. I have this tenuous, uncomfortable relationship with Twitter, and I haven't quite decided how I feel about using it yet. NOTE: I like to post things that are personally fun and challenging to think about. I don't agree with all of this guy's views (i.e. other posts), and I don't have an opinion about everything he says. Silence doesn't necessarily imply assent. Sorry for any confusion.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Still Coasting

Feeling pretty directionless with so little structure in my day. You can't look for jobs for 8 hours, or even 1. I would like to start working again, if only to keep myself busy. Can't seem to make it funemployment at all. Today I tried this gorgeous looking recipe, and failed horribly. Basically, I killed the yeast because I didn't follow the instructions in the right order. I hate wasting good ingredients.. darn you, temperamental yeast. You and sticky messy dough are the reason I stay away from making breads. I'm not into accumulating flashy kitchen equipment, but this makes me put the ubiquitous Kitchenaid stand mixer on my wish list.

B and I drove to Dallas last weekend with Sam for Chinese New Year. We got to lunch with Mema at Jeng Chi, a Lee family favorite. She was a good sport and tried all the various dumplings, and seemed like she enjoyed the meal. It's always kind of a challenge taking her places, because she is not very mobile and uses a folding walker to get around. And she usually has trouble getting into our low, sporty car. I can't even imagine being so physically restricted, but she has a great attitude. B and I visit her each time we go back to Dallas, as she is so dear to us. Even though I've still got my priorities to sort out, I can't help but admire a woman who has such a big heart. She is 80, but she is super open-minded; B is trying to convince her to get an iPad when it comes out.

For holidays and birthdays, our family in Dallas always gets together for a potluck dinner. The 3 sisters, my cousins, recently bought a house near ours in Plano, and we gathered there. B gets along well with my extended family, although sometimes I feel that he wishes they were a bit more rambunctious. Or drank more. A Chinese New Year tradition is to give or get red bags (red envelopes with cash). Kids get them, parents and grandparents and their older friends give them. I was not expecting anything, since when you get married, you're no longer in the kid category, but we were pleasantly surprised. We all said the standard phrase "gong xi fa cai" to our grandmas and they gave us red bags, B included. He only knew the Cantonese version, but he did better than the other white guy (cousin's boyfriend). My cousin J broke out the board games, and we spent the rest of the night sipping wine and playing Sequence, Rummikub, and poker. Even though we both had off on Monday, we left Sunday night so Sam could get some work done for class the next day. We spent the car ride listening to various Radio Lab podcasts, including a mind-boggling speech talk about the multiverse. It's like swiss cheese, where both the holes (universes) and the cheese meat (space) are ever-expanding...

B and I are visiting some friends in San Francisco next weekend. It always helps to have something to look forward to for getting through the day/week/month/etc. B applied for a job at Twitter (so did I, rejected), which is located there. We shall see. I never keep my hopes up, because they inevitably get dashed.

I changed my website banner. I didn't realize I could use a photo. I guess banners are not supposed to be that large or long, but I sorta like it like that. The photo came from my first roll of 35mm film developed on my Canon SLR. Not only that, I scanned it with a crappy 3-in-1 printer. Gave it a real aged, yellowed look. I no longer have that scanner, since the scan quality was so unacceptable, and personal printers are somewhat hellish to maintain. And well, I just have not been taking any photos lately. Everything seems old in this town. Old and seen. The only real new factor in this town is probably the crazy number of food trailers that keep springing up each week, it seems like. Not just in Airstreams anymore, but even in industrial shipping containers. I've realized that the besides dishes with tons of butter in them, I don't actually have any favorite foods or restaurants. What makes eating fun for me is novelty and good companions. Although I like to bake, I usually don't crave foods I can make myself. It's all about the mystery.

New: Balmorhea - Bowspirit
Surfer Blood - Swim

(mp3 sources: knox road, daily rind)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

i believe in everyone

The elven harpist/songwriter Joanna Newsom finally emerges after the mystical haze left by her last masterpiece in 2006, Ys, has long settled. I was so completely enamored with it at the time that I managed to write an entire paper about it in my Western European Philosophy class. All I really wanted to do was pass the class and introduce her otherworldly compositions to another intelligent person. I even forced my poor brother to sit through one of the song, the twelve minute one, I think. It was a very good album, and challenging at times, but we're the type of people to automatically dislike something when other people try in earnest to convince us it is good. So sorry, Samuel. But apparently it didn't turn him off completely to her, thank god, as he was my informant about her new album. Fun fact: her cousin, Gavin Newsom, is the mayor of San Francisco. Weird fact: last I heard, she was dating funnyguy Andy Samberg. She looked better with Bill Callahan.. I was lucky to see both of them perform a few years ago at The Parish, a strong two-in-one.

'81

(mp3 source)

i found a little plot of land
in the Garden of Eden
it was dirt and dirt is all
the same
i tilled it with my two hands
and i called it
my very own
there was no one to dispute
my claim

well, you'd be shocked at the state of things:
the whole place had just cleared right out
it was hot as hell, so i lay me by the spring
for a spell, as naked as a trout

the wandering eye that i have caught
is as hot as a wandering sun
but i would want for nothing more
in my garden; start again
in the hardening to every heart but one

meet me in the Garden
of Eden
bring a friend
we are gonna have ourselves a time
we are gonna have a golden party
it's on me
no siree, it's my dime

we broke our hearts in the war between
St. George and the dragon,
but both in equal parts are welcome
to come along
i'm inviting everyone

farewell, two loves that i have known
even muddied as waters run
tell me, what is meant by sittin' alone
in a garden, seceded
from the Union in the year of '81?

the unending amends you made
are enough for one life; be done
i believe in innocence, little darlin'; start again
i believe in everyone

i believe, regardless
i believe in everyone

(lyrics source: stereogum)