Hungry

I haven't been writing much lately. I haven't been reading much lately either. I haven't been sleeping well lately and it's not because of the squirrels in our attic or the pretzel-like configuration my partner, my dog, and I make when we tuck in for the night.

It's all tied up in this constant anxiety I have that I'm not making something. I work, I attend class, I work on assignments for class, and I drive to and from places where my attendance is taken. After analyzing the data, I found that about 87% of my current life is spent in one of those places, commuting, or sleeping. Between it all, there's just 13% where I can finish my taxes, get fitted for a wedding, get my oil changed, see my parents, bathe my dog, or enjoy a few hours with my partner.

It's a compulsion, making things. I sit down at my iMac not because there is anything in particular that needs to get done, but because something has to get done for the world to be okay. When I log in, I aimlessly open tabs and programs while I wait for my brain to tell me what the plan is. There's never any blueprints, just a vague feeling that the materials are here and they need to be assembled or else...

I'm on Spring break now for a few more days. Mae has work, so I've got plenty of time to myself throughout the day. My goals were to finish the chores that have been piling up over the past few weeks, complete a few assignments to give myself some breathing room when the semester resumes, and to get back to basics. What the latter means is ambiguous even to me. I do know that I want to write more. I haven't really written anything of substance in a year and a half. I know that reading ties in here. I write more when I read more and I haven't finished a book since Gene Wilder died.

I'll tell you what though, I've certainly purchased books since Alzheimer's took Leo Bloom. My shelves are bursting and my Barnes & Noble membership has been twice renewed. Whenever the mood strikes, I think "Yes, but first..." and then I'm down a rabbit hole of CSS tricks or Beatles Bootlegs. It never fails.

Digression is eight tenths of the process here, so I suppose it's okay to mention that thanks to a combination of Merlin Mann programs I've been listening to, I was sent into my yearly Beatles deep-dive a few months early. Normally my Fabsession starts when it's a little warmer, but last year's Sgt. Pepper's remixes were calling and I found some nifty books at the aforementioned brick and mortar. I've actually been reading those, but I haven't kept the streak going long enough to call it a comeback.

This post was the result of the hunger to make something, but it came out as a late dessert. I logged in with the intention to write something at about 6:00PM yesterday. It's 1:55AM now and what I have to show for the time spent are three Letterboxd entries and the new site layout you see before you now. My fingers were itching to type and my mouse navigated to my Squarespace admin panel, but I was getting tired with the old layout. It was a reminder of a time when I took this blog more seriously than it deserved and it needed to be changed before anything else could be done. Goodbye steely blue and slate, hello hamburger.

I hate nothing more than a podcast or a blog post that reminds you that it's the first one published in a while. It peeves me to no end when apologies are made to an unseen audience because it assumes that there is an audience left to begin with. I've seen my social media interactions decrease and my page views fall steadily over the last few years. Content is king and my blog is no empire. I'm not sure how royal it ever was to begin with, but it's surely a sad fiefdom now.

I'm not mad about that. I've given up entirely on what motivated me through my first round of college. This analogy lacks the green icon on your local bistro's menu, but the music industry is a lot like a packing house and if you don't stop moving, you'll quickly be hung up solid with the rest who couldn't cut it. No no, I prefer warmer air. What irks me is that I let something I was once good at spoil with the rest of it all. When I left UTG, when I stepped away from Substream, when Variable Bitrate burnt out, I had no reason to write. I suppose still don't have a reason, or to write is a reason in and of itself, but it feels good just to do it. It's weird how there's always something from Dig Up The Dead that relates, but here we are. I'll end with this sentiment from Chris:

Well God is dead and there are no good reasons I should sing
But I still do it anyway, yeah, I am singing all the same

Mae said I should keep a journal and let her know where I keep it so that she can read it. This should do.

VBR #09: 'A Place For Us To Write Freely', with guest Brian Leak

After months of following up with the poor guy, I got Brian "Lion" Leak on the show with me. Initially, when this thing was going to promote Under The Gun and its writers, Brian would have been my co-host. It's wild how quickly things changed. Now Brian has jumped over to Substream to take over editing duties across the board. I've read through his first issue and it's quite good. I'm very impressed and eager to see how the rag changes moving forward.

This episode, like just about every one so far, had some issues with the recording process. First, Brian got ridiculously sick, but stuck to his commitment to record. What a saint! Second, it was lawn care day at his apartment complex, so there's a super brief intermission in there. Then there's the product of his feverish delusions that tacked a few additional hours (over several days) in the editing process: he forgot to put on headphones.

It's not a huge deal. It's only noticeable when either of us "crosstalk", but whatever. Like I've said before, I've got to learn to roll with it everyone's set up and access to equipment is different. I still think this one came out better than most skype-centered programs. Pre-recording reminders is something I'm working on in my efforts to ever improve the quality of the show. Hope you dig it.

When this thing started as an Under The Gun branded show, Brian Leak (aka The Lion) was initially supposed to be my cohost. Alas, a change in career led him to Substream Magazine where he is now Editor In Chief. A week removed from dropping his first issue there, we discuss how starting at a local rag evolved into a career.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

Goodbye AbsolutePunk, Hello Chorus

Jason Tate has bought back the Absolutepunk name and URL from SPIN Group and launched a new platform for the community to move to.

I had started my first business, AbsolutePunk, LLC, as a teenager with cargo shorts and puka shells. I started my second, Chorus, LLC, in my early thirties — an online consulting business that included running that very same website I had started when we all wanted to look like Kenny Vasoli. Today I’m writing to announce that my second company is buying back my first.

This follows a lengthy contract with SPIN that kept ap.net looking dated, vulnerable to spam, and Jason creatively discouraged. Speaking to him recently, I've drawn a lot of parallels to my struggles with Under The Gun and SPIN but I can hardly compare the levels of hardship. Jason had it rough for years and if I felt defeated for my lack of control at UTG for 2 years, I can't imagine his anguish for the past 7 or so. This is a very good thing.

Chorus looks great, works great, and already has a wonderful community of beta testers. I've had the pleasure of testing out Chorus for a few weeks and, for the first time in years, I am enjoying the conversation and interaction with strangers on a message board. Chorus is everything I liked about Absolutepunk without everything I didn't care for at Absolutepunk. The code of conduct is more strict—which hopefully keep the homophobic trolls at bay. Some senior members and popular posters at ap.net have moved over and will provide new members guidance and set a hospitable and inclusive tone. Most importantly, the site is under Jason's full control which means a tighter relationship between user, developer, and the business models put in place.

I encourage anyone who has been a user of Absolutepunk in the past 2 decades to read Jason's letter. I think a lot of people think they know the guy, but never consider the weight he's had on his shoulders. Weight put there by a terrible company seemingly bent on crushing the souls of the property admins they convinced to "sell out." I know I mistakenly resented him for many years for Lord knows what reason, perpetuated by thinking that he felt the same way towards me. It's only because he reached out and invited me to see what he was working on at Chorus that I actually got to know him a little. I'm excited at the prospect of getting to know him and the community that he's built better as they both move forward. I think Chorus has promise far beyond that of Absolutepunk and I'm eager to see how the big switch plays out.

PS: You can find me on Chorus here.

Chris Miller's Analysis Of The Force Awakens series

Chris Miller (AKA Darth Hound) is several features into an insightful series on The Force Awakens and its characters on The Star Wars Report.

According to the Visual Dictionary and the novelization, Snoke sees Kylo as the perfect embodiment of the Force, having familial connections with both the dark side and the light. This could be a clue that the Force philosophy they follow is not that of the Sith, but something newer, or older.

Chris has penned his thoughts and observations about TFA characters primary and secondary including Maz Kanata, General Hux, Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, Poe, Leia, Snoke, Lor San Tekka, the droids, and Chewbacca. If you are interested in expanded knowledge of the film and its cast but don't have time for the books, Chris' writing would be a valuable asset to you.

Perfect LP: Mansions

The folks at Modern Vinyl asked me to write about Mansions some more, so I did. A few thousand words spewed out over the course of 7 hours and 10 loads of laundry.

Crafting an ideal tracklist encompassing Mansions’ career is like writing a eulogy for a loved one. Few write so candidly as Christopher Browder, which makes choosing highlights from his musical journal enormously complex and exceptionally personal. While each track chosen here is certainly a personal favorite of mine, none are more important to the scattered emotional narrative than this perfect LP’s omissions.

Read the full thing at Modern Vinyl.