Tis the Season

nichijou santa

I’ll totally admit to having a soft spot for Christmas music, whether it’s pop, alternative, or classical.  Even during my retail and warehouse years, and especially during the HMV years.  I never quite got all that cynical when it came to hearing holiday music.  On the contrary, it usually gets me in a good mood, even when the streets and the malls are packed with far too many people.

Wishing all and sundry the best of the holiday season! Thanks for sticking around Walk in Silence all this time! 🙂

Meanwhile, 1985

Personal:  Eighth grade into ninth grade, going from Junior High to High School.  A long-awaited, much-needed change of pace, setting, and mood.  After nearly fucking up my educational track by getting an F — in English, of all things, thanks to boredom, inattention and distraction — I get my shit together and become a middling student for the rest of my school years. Not nearly as inept socially as I was in junior high; I embrace the fact that I’m a nerd and a weirdo.

Writing:  Headlong into the Infamous War Novel project.  Still finding my way through it, with multiple false starts, outtakes, and notebooks.  Somewhere along the line I come up with the brilliant idea of creating an outline via a set list of music, and it all starts coming together.  Eventually I’ll start a draft that will take me about two years to finish, in between music listening, homework and social life.  A few unrelated snippets written at this time that don’t really go anywhere.

Music:  Listening to a lot of Top 40 countdowns on the weekends while listening to rock radio during the week.  Music collection still small but expanding thanks to used record stores and trips to the mall.  Creating mixtapes from stuff off the radio in high gear now.  I start cataloging these mixtapes on a steno pad.  [Decades later I use this same list to recreate the mixtapes on mp3.]  Probably one of my favorite eras of pop music in the 80s…a lot of really great stuff came out between 1985 and 1986.

Getting in Tune

self-tuning guitar

I could totally use one of these, tbh.

The downside to owning guitars, especially in places where the weather has notable temperature and humidity changes, is that they can go quite out of tune very quickly. Every six months or so I need to retune them.  And I’ve been playing them for long enough that I can tell when they’re just a bit off.  It’s not fun when you’re strumming a few chords and that one string is painfully flat.

One of the other downsides is having to restring them now and again.  I’ll be honest, I don’t restring nearly as often as I should.  I haven’t restrung my acoustic bass probably since I bought the thing, so the strings had lost their sheen as well as their resonance quite some time ago.  I spent Sunday putting new ones on it, and let me tell you, it’s one hell of an awkward process.  I’m used to restringing my electrics, which are easy to do.  Acoustics are a bit tougher, because you’re not only working around a bigger body while you’re winding the string around the tuning peg mechanism, but you’re feeding the other end through a hole in the bridge and holding it there with a plastic peg that you hope won’t come flying out into your eye.

Anyway…once the new strings are on and secured, there’s the few weeks where the guitar sounds all too trebley and twangy.  Or worse, when you’re in the middle of playing and the string slips just a little bit from its tuning peg or its bridge, and you jump back in case that G ends up flying loose and lacerating you.

But once everything settles and you get used to it all, everything is just fine.

Step On My Old Size Nines

For some reason the above Stereophonics track popped into my head the other day. It’s one of their older tracks from Just Enough Education to Perform (such a wonderfully acid way to describe a hack writer, I think). They’re an excellent Welsh band that sort of fell into my lap during the HMV years and I’ve been following them ever since. They just came out with a new album a few weeks ago (Scream Above the Sounds) which is definitely worth a listen.

Here’s a few tracks I think you might like from them as well. Go and check them out!

Boots and Cats

boots and cats

One of my favorite birthday cards ever.

I do blather on about alternative rock quite a bit on this blog, don’t I?  Well, considering that it’s been a major part of my life for over thirty years now, I’d say I’ve earned the right to keep blathering.

It occurs to me, though, that I don’t give enough time to some of my other favorite styles and genres.  I’ll mention them in passing, especially when I’m doing my new release round-ups, but I don’t dedicate nearly all that much blog space.  I should probably do something about that.

I don’t often mention it, but I also listen to a lot of electronic music.  I tend to lean more towards the chill-out / ambient / moody stuff, of course, considering I’m definitely not what you call a club-hopper.  I find a lot of remixes tedious and little more than a keyboard preset left running for ten minutes (with maybe a few seconds of the original recording thrown on top somewhere in minute eight), and I find the bass drops and overmodulation of dubstep kind of ridiculous.  [In fact, overmodulation really irritates me because it just sounds like unprofessional crap.  But hey, that’s just me.]

On the other hand, I find Primal Scream’s Screamadelica an absolutely PHENOMENAL album that everyone should have in their collection. It’s a perfect blend of psychedelic hippie rock and 90s UK techno. I also particularly love the 90s trip-hop of Massive Attack, Tricky and Sneaker Pimps.

That’s not to say I don’t like the loud stuff. I jumped on the Chemical Brothers bandwagon pretty early during my HMV days. I find Aphex Twin weird as hell but amazingly creative.  I love Lords of Acid‘s sexy freakishness.

But yeah, for the most part, I’m more the laid back guy who’ll lose himself in a really cool groove.  [For the record, I’m not a listener who uses additives (so to speak) during my listening.  I tried that once and found it irritating as hell.] I love to listen to this sort of stuff, especially during my writing sessions, because more often than not it creates a positive, consistent mood that works well with my mindset when I’m working on projects.

So yeah…maybe it’s time I started talking about more electronic bands here in the future!

Music On the Go

btdt

been there, done that

Ages ago when I had a long-ass commute halfway across the state of Massachusetts on a daily basis, I’d always have tunage with me.  Mind you, my old Cavalier (and later my Firebird) only had a tape player, so a lot of my traveling music was my older tapes or, more often, my mixtapes.  That kept me sane, made the time pass, and gave me a soundtrack for when I was pondering what I’d do next in my writing.

Nowadays my travel tunage is on two mp3 players.  Much easier to carry, thankfully.  I bring them on vacation for in-flight entertainment or background while I’m working on revision.  I bring them to the gym for something to listen to while I’m on the treadmill.

I’ll switch out what’s on those players every now and again, depending on my mood.  One of them is filled with releases from this year, while the other usually contains an ongoing soundtrack to whatever writing I’m working on.  Since I’m not going anywhere on that treadmill and the view is mostly of the ongoing construction across the street, I’ll let my mind wander so I can think through issues I’ve been having, or play out a scene I’ve been planning to write.  This works out quite nicely, actually.

Lately we’d been looking into buying a new car.  Ours is a 2004 Civic that, while it’s still running strong and has less than 60k on it (thank you SF transit!), I can definitely feel that it’s aging.  It’s getting worn out.  While A has been looking into the specs and whatnot — she’s more knowledgeable about cars than I am, I will admit — my only major request is that it has a decent stereo, and perhaps a USB outlet so I can plug said mp3 players in so we can listen to our own tunage.  Secondary requests, of course, are that I can fit into the car without needing to get into a yoga position, has minimal blocked vision, and that it can climb the hills of this city without significant rollback.  Everything else I can adjust to.

So on Friday, we went shopping, and came home (after some delay and some unexpected shenanigans) with a 2018 Honda Fit.  It definitely hits all my requests and more, and I’m looking forward to getting used to tooling around town in it.  At present we’re just waiting for the dealer to finalize all the DMV paperwork (they’ll take care of the plates/sticker/etc for us), and on Monday we’ll call our insurance guy to update the information.  I love it so far.

Now I just need to make an inaugural mixtape for it. 🙂