Saturday, February 13, 2010

rocky mountain take me to the sky

One of the long term problems I have with personal blogging (that is, blogging with no specific aims or topics in mind) is that I put unnecessary pressure on myself to be entertaining. Everything I post has to be terse or funny or caustic or clever, or some combination of those things, and falling short of the bar means that I'm boring and plain, and will therefore be denied entry to the Writer's Club in the unlikely event that I become successful. Writers are expected, after all, to be good with words, and so many of them (Gaiman, Dave Eggers, Pratchett, even Stephen King on a good day) fill interviews with quirky banter that you (or, more accurately, I) wonder how it doesn't drain them to the point of exhaustion. Relatedly, it would be comforting to know that Neil Gaiman's private conversations limit themselves to sub-literate grunting because he burns up his daily wit allotment for the press.

Anyway, this wasn't what I came here to talk about; I wanted to share links to the stuff I listen to when I write. When going about the task of writing Serious Literary Output, one needs the right soundtrack. For me, it's experimental rock with plenty of groove, by which I mean repetitive rhythmic sequences that drill themselves into the ground.

One example of this is 1994!, who have a post-punk, Revolution Summer thing going on, but they're way better musicians than any of Ian McKaye's friends and they write wacked-out songs that are equal parts stoned jam band and frenzied punk. "New Holland 1995" is my favorite song of theirs to write to; the bridge is an extended jam that's intricate and catchy enough to put me into a trance, almost.

I'm also a big fan of Weekends, who are a local-to-Baltimore psychedelic punk duo; their music is loud, trippy, often catchy, and pickled in reverb. And while they play with toys in the studio, they can bring it live. "Camp Nowhere" and "Alligator Feet" are two songs I often put on when I'm writing.

Explosions In the Sky have certainly built a fanbase for their post-rock instrumental stylings, and I'm not really a fan of theirs unless I'm writing. Then songs like "Your Hand In Mine," which I've linked, hit me just the right way. I can almost build a story in my head just listening to this.

Ava Inferi are a gothic doom metal band by way of Portugal, and they simply make beautiful music that is powerful and heavy, but not distorted. "Dança Das Ondas" is a good example of how atmospheric their work is. I really like the images their singer's voice puts into my head, too. 

Finally, Bongzilla make up in sheer, balls-out intensity what they lack in not having a stupid name. "666 Lb. Bongsession" takes its time building to a furious, sludgy assault on the eardrums. And yet, the pacing and energy are kept. Love finishing a writing session with stuff like this.


I could go on all night with this, so I'll do the honorable thing and stop myself here. More later.

Friday, February 12, 2010

i'd quit my preaching and i'd work on a building too

Today is one of those days where I wish I'd brought my tape recorder out. Had a 10am tech call for Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, a show that goes up at UB next week, which was mostly spent hanging and focusing lights, although we managed to write cues too. That'll save us time at tomorrow's cue-to-cue, where the actors will get pissy when the focus isn't on them. Typical.

Anyway, the point was that I light-railed it to and from, and the ride back featured a crazy guy testifying about being a warrior for Jesus. His had been a jailhouse conversion, from the sound of it, and now he was preaching on the light rail in a somewhat charming sing-song, separating each thought by stomping his foot. I really wish I'd been able to record him, because while he was clearly ranting, it didn't have the malignancy one usually associates with crazy people in this town; he wasn't hating on cops or the government or Jews or any of the other usual crazy person targets. It was a nice change of pace, although I'm still wondering why exactly we're supposed to be warriors for Jesus. There's obviously a force we must oppose - warriors makes that much clear - but he never said what it was. I'm hoping it wasn't gays or abortion, because too many Christian sects are hellbent on picking fights over those wedge issues to no productive end (aside from fundraising, I guess). I'm hoping he wanted people to be warriors against hunger and want and poverty and the non-specific plights of those without hope or structure or a sense of greater purpose. I'm not a religious person, but there's objective worth in fighting those things.

So I've decided to bring the tape recorder tomorrow, just in case lightning strikes twice and wacky things are said within earshot.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

you can't kill what you can't see

I have returned! My Internet has been out since Friday, and with the roads and sidewalks in lamentable condition, I haven't felt terribly motivated to seek out free wireless elsewhere. Something about trudging towards probable futility through thigh-deep snow neutralizes my frontier instincts, I guess. So I spent the past week on the couch waiting for the inevitable Yeti attacks to begin. The naked fear present in recent weather reports suggested they were on the way.

Fortunately, they never came. So to keep things rolling here, I'll post some short fiction I wrote in between bouts of frenzied cabin fever. It's a somewhat experimental piece, inspired no doubt by my Experimental Fiction class, and doesn't have a set title yet. Suggestions from readers would be lovely, assuming I have any. Click "Read More" to give it a gander.