This stain on the carpet, this drink in my hand.



27 years old today.


(no subject)
I am successful but I am bluffing my way through a number of projects, big and small.
My family is hopelessly scattered across the globe and that depresses the hell out of me.
My love life is a mess and about to self-combust.
I've disappeared up my own asshole. Smarmy and inauthentic and all false bravado and bad jokes.
I am tired and afraid but I'm trying to do better.
Trying to bring it                                                                             back.  


Wolf on the floor laughing.

I'm about 60% sure a woman was 
howling like a wolf outside my house 
in the early hours of this morning.

This is far more likely than a real wolf.

60% strange woman, 38% my mind playing tricks, 
2% a real wolf. Banshee? 
WOMHH: Wolf outside my house, howling

WOFL: tasty breakfast snack.

Wolfle: German wolf waffle. Werewaffle.
Luftwaffle. Auschwolf. Wolf War II.

That would be the best movie ever.

Maybe this morning was where 
it all kicked off, air raid sirens howling.
Waffle in schlep’s clothing. 

Now fireworks, or explosions.

Build a bunker. Build-A-Bear 
at the same time to keep your mind 
off the calamity.

I might join forces with the wolves.

You can’t lose. 
I need bigger teeth.

OK, I need wolfier teeth. Fangs for the music.

Buenos Aires was blurring into dawn. George had been walking for an hour

on the sweaty black cobblestones

of the city waiting for night's end. Traffic crashed past him. He covered his mouth

and nose with his hand as five old buses

came tilting around the corner of the street and halted one behind the other,

belching soot. Passengers streamed

on board like insects into lighted boxes and the experiment roared off down the street.

Pulling his body after him

like a soggy mattress George trudged on uphill. Cafe Martinez was crowded.

He found a corner table

and was writing a postcard to his mother:

Die Angst offenbart das Nichts

There are many Germans in

Buenos Aires they are all

cigarette girls the weather

is lov--

when he felt a sharp tap on his boot propped against the chair opposite.

Mind if I join you?

The yellowbeard had already taken hold of the chair. George moved his boot.

Pretty busy in here today,

said the yellowbeard turning to signal a waiter--Por favor hombre!

George went back to his postcard.

Sending postcards to your girlfriends? In the midst of his yellow beard

was a pink mouth small as a nipple. No.

You sound American am I right? You from the States?


The waiter arrived with bread and jam to which the yellowbeard bent himself.

You here for the conference? No.

Big conference this weekend at the university. Philosophy. Skepticism.

Ancient or modern? George

could not resist asking. Well now, said the yellowbeard looking up,

there's some ancient people here

and some modern people here. Flew me in from Irvine. My talk's at three.

What's your topic? said George

trying not to stare at the nipple. Emotionlessness. The nipple puckered.

That is to say, what the ancients called

ataraxia. Absence of disturbance
, said George. Precisely. You know ancient Greek?

No but I have read the skeptics. So you

teach at Irvine. That's in California? Yes southern California--actually I've got

a grant next year to do research at MIT.

George watched a small red tongue clean jam off the nipple. I want to study the erotics

of doubt. Why?
 George asked.

The yellowbeard was pushing back his chair--As a precondition--and saluting

the waiters across the room--

of the proper search for truth. Provided you can renounce--he stood--that

rather fundamental human trait

he raised both arms as if to alert a ship at sea--the desire to know. He sat.

I think I can, said George.

Pardon? Nothing. A passing waiter slapped the bill down onto a small metal

spike on the table.

Traffic was crashing past outside. Dawn had faded. The gas-white winter sky

came down like a gag on Buenos Aires.

Would you care to come and hear my talk? We could share a cab.

May I bring my camera?

A new home.
If anyone wonders where the hell I've been,
I've been keeping a (more public) blog over at
I would love it if you guys checked it out. 
It's a little flashier than this one, a little more opinion-column-oriented.
In addition to writing new entries, I'm moving some of my old favorites from this blog over to that one.

For a while I flirted with the notion of updating both blogs simultaneously, but it's kind of a pain in the ass.
This LJ has been my home for a good 7 years. It wouldn't feel right to stop updating it.
So I've decided to keep this blog for more intensely personal entries. Stuff I wouldn't want my mom reading.
ie expect a lot of very emo updates here. And maybe some sex stories. 'CAUSE I HAVE SO MANY OF THOSE.

Raiders of the Lost Dignity (no, really, this is a clever title)
Steven Spielberg took the stage at the San Diego Comic-Con the other day, for the first time ever, and delivered the soul-crushing news that a new "Jurassic Park" movie is in the works. Because the world really needs another installment in the fascinating series of movies about dinosaurs running around stomping on shit.

 Seriously, more of this shit.

I mean, just think of all the possibilities. Like, dinosaurs eat people! And, people flee in terror! Really, the sky's the limit.

You know, I remember a time when Spielberg’s name was almost synonymous with cinema; a far-reaching world of imagination and endless possibility, a quixotic and inspiring beacon of childlike wonder in a medium populated with cynics catering to audiences hopelessly enamored with the grim & gritty.

I'm of exactly the right age to have grown up at a time when Spielberg had already established himself firmly in the pop culture landscape as a dreamweaver, and right before his artistic decline. The first Spielberg movie I saw in the theater was "Hook". I was five years old at the time and I remember being blown away by what I was seeing. I came upon some of his other movies through video rentals, not because I sought them out, but because... well, they were the movies you would rent back then. "ET" marked me, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" thrilled me, "Jaws" terrified me, and I had absolutely no idea they were made by the same person. To me, they were just magic. When you're a kid, everything seems possible, and Spielberg’s work tapped into that and somehow augmented it.

I guess years go on and every artist is bound to start running dry. Gradually, Spielberg’s work started seeming less magic and more hokey, contrived, boring. And who could possibly hold it against him? That run of movies from "Jaws" 'til maybe "Saving Private Ryan" (which, mind you, amounts to over 20 fucking years of awesomeness) is pretty amazing and if he had retired after that, he would've gone out a legend. But he didn't.
Oh Steven.

"Hip." The word you're looking for is "hip".

What he did instead was stick around and make a number of adequately mediocre features that, although matching the eclectic and scattershot tapestry of the first half of his filmography, fail to connect on the ever-important human level, like his best work did. He re-released some of his old work, making much-derided edits and changes to it several decades after the fact. He licensed. He cross-marketed. He produced en masse, in bulk, all the while sporting a knowing wink at the audience; a "hey, remember this? And hey, didn't we have all kinds of fun back then?".


Oh man.
"Boy we... we had some fun times, huh? What say we dust off ol' Brucey and give it another go? Just one more, for old times' sake?

Nowadays-- especially after the catastrophically ill-conceived "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and especially after the recent announcement of a possible fourth "Jurassic Park"-- Spielberg seems like a nostalgic old fogey, desperately clinging to past glories. Out of fashion, out of touch, finger far from the pulse of the moviegoing public but with a built-in fanbase of hopeless optimists.

And I'll be right there at every premiere with them, hoping to recapture that magical wide-eyed amazement that used to be synonymous with the name "Spielberg". Holding on to the hope that maybe we'll stumble upon it one day and be reminded of why we fell in love with cinema and the first place. But we won't. Or we'll think we did, but then it turns out to just be bad gas. Either way. It's gonna shit.

Father's Day Megacheese
I put this together for my dad. I wish I had gotten the idea sooner ’cause I only had one day to shoot everything and haphazardly edit it together if I wanted to get it to him on time.

It’s super cheesy, but hey, he likes cheesy.

Little Triggers: 22 Elvis Costello Songs That Are Better Than Your Favorite Song
Anybody who knows me even a little bit knows that Elvis Costello is my favorite musician. Like, all-time favorite. His music is the soundtrack to my life, which you'd think would make for a dire and gloomy existence, but I'm a generally happy person. I just really really love his music.

And being such a big Elvis Costello fan, I am mostly bothered by the fact that nobody around me seems to like him. I'll meet a few casual fans who know "Alison" or "Pump it Up", but it's very rare that I ever meet anyone with the same ridiculous degree of fandom. And, living in Argentina where he's mostly known for his contribution to the "Notting Hill" soundtrack (a song whose title will NOT be uttered here), it annoys the crap out of me that nobody really knows what he sounds like.

So I've put together a bit of a starter kit. This is a 19-song "mixtape" (with 3 bonus tracks) that I feel is fairly representative of his body of work;  one of the richest and most eclectic catalogs by any musician ever. Anybody interested in downloading these songs (in lossy mp3 format) can do so by clicking here.  If you're not familiar with this man and his amazing work, or if you only know him as that awkward geek from the "Pump it Up" video, or if you LIKE GOOD MUSIC, please do yourself a favor and download this compilation. You're bound to find something you love.

Without further ado, I give to you... "Little Triggers: A Beginner's Guide to Elvis Costello".

1- "New Lace Sleeves" from 1981's "Trust". This wonderful little song has that stuttering drum line by the awesome Pete Thomas and sharp, biting lyrics about the disappointing realization that your achievements in life add up to nothing but disgruntled pillow talk.

Key lyrics: "The salty lips of the socialite sisters with their / continental fingers that / have never seen working blisters / I know they've got their problems / I wish I was one of them".

2- "Stella Hurt" from 2007's "Momofuku". The guitar line, nothing less than vicious, casts a less-than-sympathetic light on the story of the thirties swing and blues singer Teddy Grace's fall from grace (no pun intended. You know, 'cause "Grace" is her last name). Cacophonous jam at the end that sort of just... stops.

Key lyrics: "Then she saw those soldier boys throw their bonnets in the air / Self-made men would pledge their fortunes / and dream of her, and dream of her".

3- "All the Rage" from 1994's "Brutal Youth". This is an album that's filled with awesome pop gems, and this song is no exception. The "cheerful"-sounding melody does a good job of masking the fact that this is a bitter, hateful breakup song if there ever was one.

Key lyrics: "Alone with your tweezers and your handkerchief / You murder time and truth, love, laughter and belief / So don't try to touch my heart, it's darker than you think / And don't try to read my mind because it's full of disappearing ink"

4- "Shoes Without Heels", outtake from 1986's "King of America". One of the things I like the most about EC is how his (very vast) catalog is littered with hidden treasures. This is one of them. This beautiful little country/folk ballad about the complicated relationships between women and their johns (sort of? Think of The Police's "Roxanne", except for the sucking) was written and recorded for the King of America album, and then relegated to B-side status. That such a beautiful song could be so effortlessly written and essentially kept in a drawer for years is a testament to the extremely prolific type of songwriter EC is.

Key lyrics: "Well, I thought that I was bigger than this town / I thought I'd stand the pace and go the distance / But she picked me and she used me up and then she put me down / And now I'm driven 'til I'm crying or I'm dreaming 'till I drown"

5- "God's Comic" from 1989's "Spike". A portrait of a drunken comical priest shivering in fear at the prospect of meeting his maker in the afterlife. Great little details courtesy of T. Bone Burnett's production-- the xylophone arrangement is awesome, as is the hilariously paranoid-sounding harmonizing in the chorus.

Key lyrics: "He said, before it had really begun / I prefer the one about my son / I've been wading through all this unbelievable junk and / wondering if I should have given the world to the monkeys"

6- "No Action", from 1978's "This Year's Model". The term "punk rock" was applied to Elvis a lot in the early days, even though his music bore very little resemblance to punk bands of the time. If there is ONE album that sort of approximates the "punk" sound, it's This Year's Model. This song, the opening track, encapsulates the neurotic, jealous, borderline-mysoginystic tone of that album. Short, snappy, "punky". Once again I have to comment on Pete Thomas' drumming. Just spectacular.

Key lyrics: "And I think about the way things used to be / Knowing you're with him is driving me crazy / Sometimes I phone you when I know you're not lonely / But I always disconnect it in time".

7- "Episode of Blonde", from 2002's "When I Was Cruel". This is one of two great EC albums marred by production issues. WIWC contains some of Elvis' most clever, dexterious songwriting, but the sound is so unbelievably compressed and unnatural it's literally painful to listen to, so this version of the standout track is a live rendition. A kind of deranged mambo-samba-rock and roll with borderline surreal lyrics that's, at heart, about the one subject Elvis likes writing the most about: girls.

Key lyrics: "I tried to keep a straight face but you know it never pays / He would stare into those eyes and then vacation in her gaze/ She was a cute little ruin that he pulled out of the rubble / Now they're both living in a soft soap bubble".

8- "All This Useless Beauty", from 1996's "All This Useless Beauty". This is probably one of the most divisive records in EC's career, partly because it was the first record after he got back together with his rock band (The Attractions), yet instead of full-on RAWKIN' it was filled with mopey ballads. However, those mopey ballads turned out to be some of the prettiest, most melodic and understated songs he's ever written, and the title track, a song about a woman out of love trapped in an unfulfilling relationship, is a prime example of that. As an aside, I always felt this is the Elvis Costello song most likely to be sung by a Disney character. I mean that as a good thing.

Key lyrics: "She won't practice the looks from the great tragic books / that were later disgraced to fail celluloid / It won't even make sense, but you can bet if she / isn't a sweetheart, a plaything, a pet / The film turns her into an unveiled threat".

9- "Bedlam", from 2004's "The Delivery Man". This blues-rock number is driven by Pete Thomas' propulsive drumming and Davey Faragher's off-center bass line. This is the song Eddie Vedder wishes he could write. A ridiculously clever analogy between modern-day immigration struggles and the story of Mary and Joseph roaming Bethlehem looking for a place to stay (get it? "Bethlehem"... "Bedlam"... heheh). The genius of Steve Nieve and his crazy theremin make this song ten times as demented.

Key lyrics: "I've got this phosphorecent portrait of gentle Jesus meek and mild / I've got this harlot that I'm stuck with carrying another man's child / The solitary star anouncing vacancy burned out as we arrived / They'd throw us back across the border if they knew that we've survived".

10- "I'll Wear it Proudly" 
from 1986's "King of America". I went through a period where I convinced myself this was the most beautiful song ever written. I'm not completely over that period yet. This simple, heartfelt, INTIMATE (yes, that is the word) folky ballad contains some of Elvis' loveliest lyrics. It really is a love song at heart, a rare occurence in a career full of cruel words about ex girlfriends. The moment you realize you've found -the one- who puts the spark back into your excruciatingly dull life, you won't stop singing the chorus to this song.

Key lyrics: "Well I finally found someone to turn me upside down / And nail my feet up where my head should be / If they had a King of Fools, then I could wear that crown / And you can all die laughing because I'll wear it proudly".

11- "No Dancing" from 1977's "My Aim is True". I love the songs in EC's first album. I really do. I think they're extremely clever slices of pop rock. The one big problem? The band. See, this record was made before Elvis had put The Attractions together, and the band that backed him during the recording was a country-rock outfit called Clover. The story goes that Clover would then go on to become Huey Lewis and The News. Yeah, interesting bit of trivia there. But they make these songs sound like cheap Byrds knockoffs. It wouldn't feel right making an Elvis Costello mixtape without including at least one song from this album, though, and I feel this is the one track that actually benefits from the Wings treatment. This angsty song of jealousy and female oppression (that is oppression by females, not of females) is a great little 2-and-a-half-minute pop song that only augmented (get it?) the Buddy Holly comparisons his bespectacled, scrawny appearance generated.

Key lyrics: "He's getting down on his knees / He finds that the girl is not so easy to please / After all these nights with just a paper strip tease / She's caught him like some disease".

12- "My All Time Doll" from 2009's "Secret, Profane & Sugarcane". Elvis is one of the most prolific songwriters well over 30 years into their career and has pretty much been releasing a record a year for a while now. To keep it interesting, these records deviate into different genres and styles-- last year's album was a country/bluegrass experiment. This is one of my favorite songs from that record, a dark, brooding song of jealousy and obsession-- as you can see, not exactly uncommon theme in the work of Costello. The instrumentation in this song-- the double bass, the mandolin, the fiddle, the accordian-- is awesome. Plain awesome. Listen to it and you'll see country/bluegrass songs don't have to be about dead dogs and trucks.

Key lyrics: "Every time I rant and rail, every time I try and fail / Every time I could and wouldn't say that's the end of it / When I stand and turn to leave you cool my brow and tug my sleeve / You're my all-time doll".

13- "Next Time Round" from 1986's "Blood & Chocolate". So 86 was a pretty big year for our boy, having released thegentle folk masterpiece that was King of America. But he wasn't done there. Nope, before the year was over he summoned The Attractions and banged out this beautifully abrasive, punchy post-punk record of angry songs only a thirty-something divorcee could write. Reportedly Thom Yorke's favorite Elvis album, "Blood and Chocolate" yielded some awesome tracks, and this-- the closing song-- is one of my favorites.

Key lyrics: "There's a secondhand emotion on a battered 45 / My tears were never enough to keep that girl alive / Now she seems contrived, will she make the change / the next time 'round?"
14- "Spooky Girlfriend" from 2002's "When I Was Cruel". This is another one of those WIWC songs damaged by the terribly compressed production, so I've included a live version. This song is as sexy as you could possibly imagine a song by a bespectacled middle-aged English geek could be. I always thought Timbaland should've produced this one. It's probably too clever, though.

Key lyrics: "I want to paint you with glitter and with dirt / Picture you with innocence and hurt / The shutter closes, exposes the shot / She says 'are you looking up my skirt?' / When you say 'no', she says 'why not?'"

15- "Wave a White Flag", from what's commonly referred to as the "Honky Tonk Demos", solo demo tapes recorded sometime around 1975, a couple of years before his first album. This is the oldest song in this compilation and it's also the simplest. This snarky little ditty about s&m is equal parts Randy Newman and Hoagie Carmichael. Only a few of the tunes in this demo tape ended up in his first album, some dramatically rewritten.

Key lyrics: "Beat me in the kitchen and I'll beat you in the hall / There's nothing I like better than a free-for-all / To take your pretty neck and see which way it bends / But when it is all over we will still be friends"

16- "Man Out of Time", from 1982's "Imperial Bedroom". This is my favorite Elvis Costello tune, and thus, probably my favorite song of all time. The reasons for this have more to do with personal sob stories than I care to get into right now, but everything about this song is wonderful. It's just a big, joyous burst of ingenious pop songwriting.

Key lyrics: "Love is always scarpering or cowering or fawning / You drink yourself insensitive and hate yourself in the morning"

17- "High Fidelity", from 1980's "Get Happy". Arguably the last of the "classic" EC period, this album ditched the punky edge and New Wave arrangements of albums past in favor of a Stax/Motown-influenced sound, resulting in some great songs with the best basslines Bruce Thomas ever produced. This bitter song of anger jealousy is one that, I feel, most benefits from the jumpy arrangement, and results in an accusative, spiteful and unbelievably catchy tune.

Key lyrics: "There's nothing that he can do for you / To shut me away as you walk through / Lovers laughing in their amateur hour"

18- "Still" from 2003's "North". A beautifully slow, delicate, contemplative album about losing then finding love, "Still" is a pretty divisive album in EC's discography-- some fans find it deliberately impenetrable and horribly self-indulgent, while others think it's among his best work. I am of the latter inclination. I find this album works best when listened in its entirety and original track listing, as with Frank Sinatra's "In the Wee Small Hours", it is a mood piece, an emotional journey, from lonely and desolate to unabashedly blissful.

Key lyrics: "You were made of every love and each regret / up until the day we met"

19- "A Voice in the Dark" from 2010's "National Ransom". Yes, 2010. Last year, Elvis Costello along with T. Bone Burnett and an ensemble cast of musicians incorporating members of The Imposters and The Sugarcanes (as well as others like Levon Helm and Marc Ribot) put together one of the most exciting, rollicking and (why not) essential album of his career. This album was playful and fun, sad and wistful, angry and accusatory. The performances are a complete delight to listen to, the lyrics steeped in wordplay and historical references (without sounding like a Decemberists album). This song, the album closer, is a bit of bouncy fun with a wonderful melody and stopstutter rhythm. The album was fiercely promoted in radio shows and television performances... and it didn't sell. EC now says this may be the last proper studio album he's putting out. And though that's sad if true, it's also pretty befitting to end such a wonderful career on such a high artistic note.

Key lyrics: "Kings reign beneath umbrellas / Hide pennies down in cellars / And money pours down and yet / Not everyone gets soaking wet"

BONUS TRACKS (if you can call them that)

20- "Lipstick Vogue" live from "Hollywood High" (1979)
21- "Couldn't Call it Unexpected no.4" from "Mighty Like a Rose" (1991)
22- "Deportee" (demo) from the "King of America" sessions (1985)

Download here.

5 Albums to Make Bureaucracy (A Bit More) Bearable
Envelopes. Paper clips. Photocopies and stamps. Tiny scraps of paper with hastily-scrawled numbers on them. Waiting on an uncomfortable chair in a large white room for what seems like at least an hour but then looking at the watch and oh man it's only been about 10 minutes. That joyful moment when it's your turn to actually talk to someone... who then inevitably gives you a stamp and redirects you to another similarly large white room. For more waiting.

If you're living in a foreign country for an extended period of time (like I am) you're probably going to have to do your share of tedious, bureaucratic office-hopping--a dehumanizing ordeal where you go from branch to branch, authority to authority, department to department gathering paperwork like some sort of sick, demented scavenger hunt. And for all the astoundingly petty displays of beadledom, for all the money spent or time wasted, the one thing that really drives me mad is the interminable waiting. Waiting to get a document signed, waiting to get my name called by some office clerk, waiting to see my number on that big digital scoreboard from hell.

I recently had to go through the horrible ordeal of getting my Argentinean residency renewed, which altogether took about three whole days of my life. It would've been excruciatingly tedious if I hadn't had my trusty little iPod with me. These are 5 albums that were with me when I needed them, keeping me focused, encouraged and... well, sane.

Crooked Fingers-Red Devil Dawn
Crooked Fingers- "Red Devil Dawn"

Eric Bachmann's crowning achievement. Now, I love Archers of Loaf as much as anybody-- you can't beat Icky Mettle for that energetic, pseudo-angsty, just-indie-enough 90s mall-rock sound (granted calling them "mall-rock" might be a tad unfair but I will always associate them with the Mallrats soundtrack, so take it up with Pavlov), but Crooked Fingers-- and, specifically, their third album-- has just the right combination of hook-laden pop choruses, folksy instrumentation and lyrics just oblique enough to sound brainy, not pretentious. This is a perfect early-morning album, and most of my horrible paperwork had to be done very early in the morning.

Bomb the Music Industry!- Adults!!!: Smart!!! Shithammered!!! And Excited by Nothing!!!!!!!
Bomb the Music Industry!- "Adults!!!: Smart!!! Shithammered!!! And Excited by Nothing!!!!!!!"

A seven (well, six and a half, really) song blast of snarky, self-aware and self-deprecating ska/punk (without sounding like any of the shitty ska/punk bands you know), this sprightly and thoroughly entertaining piece of work is, at just over 21 minutes, short enough to be digested in its entirety while waiting for a turn. It's also a great album to get your fighting spirits up, which you probably need if the turn you're waiting for is to beg and grovel for permission to stay in the country for a little while longer. Not that I'd ever do that. I'm a valuable and respectable contributor to Argentine society. Why would I have to justify myself? Get out of here with your silly accusations and your judging eyes.

Shugo Tokumary- Exit
Shugo Tokumaru- "Exit"

A brilliant companion to the sound of two dozen computer keyboards tapping away in the background, and that strong coffee smell that somehow permeates every corner of the Immigrations office in Buenos Aires-- this album is an absolutely beautiful piece of art. Every song a 50-track marvel of tiny, subtly melodic and deliciously rhythmic touches. This album is wistful, uplifting and bizarre all at once, and helped me through the most intimidating of my paperwork dalliances-- obtaining my criminal background check. Oyy.

Bill Frisell- History, Mystery
Bill Frisell- "History, Mystery"

Bill Frisell is one of the last living jazz guitar geniuses, and this sprawling double album of silent-film weirdness is an exciting, invigorating piece of work. It really is remarkable that he's still producing music as vital and exciting nearly 40 years into a career that has led him through paths as wild as John Zorn's Naked City and as subdued as his Nashville album. An incredible player with an exceptional songwriting gift and a beautiful ear for orchestrated melody, this particular album finds him rediscovering his classic chamber-jazz sound and doing something new and inspiring in every track. The fact that it's so long also ensures you'll be able to take your headphones off at any time, talk to the office jockey for as long as it takes, then go back to listening to some absolutely beautiful music without ever hitting pause. He's still there, waiting. Like a lover. Wait... what?

The Weakerthans- Reconstruction Site

The Weakerthans- "Reconstruction Site"

The second Canadian band on this list. John K Samson is probably indie rock's best lyricist. I know it, he knows it... everybody knows it. But more than his lyrics, what makes this album such a great companion to bureaucratic paperwork is the beautiful melodies in these songs, their Epitaph debut and third album overall. A collection of uplifting, slide-guitar lullabies and rockers, The Weakerthans find the humanity in the stale and insipid,in the small corners and office appliances, in a letter of resignation of a cat to its owner. This is a fantastic record, one that's been with me for many years and one that's incredibly comforting. And yeah, okay, it also contains lyrics like "pulled along in the tender grip of watches and ellipses/ small request: can we please turn around?". Well... can we?

Of ebullient sadness.

Ever since the advent of the singer-songwriter era, there's been this pervasive notion in pop that songwriting should be personally revelatory and confessional; that it should be an exercise in soul-baring intimacy and earnestness. After sometime in the early seventies, a pop song was no longer merely a pop song, but a scrambled enigma to decode and find details of the songwriter's life. Gone were the days of people like Cole Porter writing wide-reaching "Night and Day"s or Jerome Kern composing something as universally appealing as "They Didn't Believe Me"; now, thanks in large part by records like John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band and Joni Mitchell's Blue, the measure of authenticity was the constrainedly autobiographical.

And just as many other musical tropes established in the early 70s, this concept has largely stayed with us. Music seems contrived and hokey if it is perceived to lack this intimately confessional character, or is seen as nothing more than a farcical distraction, devoid of any real emotional poignancy; a cover band playing all your favorite singalongs with copasetic accuracy. It is rare to see a performance of other people's songs, delivered with all the histrionics and gusto of a bawdy lounge performer, that still carries a great deal of emotional weight.

Meet Uruguayan musician/performer/author, Dani Umpi.

Dani Umpi has been a sort of cult showbiz personality this side of the continent for many years now-- having published several novels (which have inspired film adaptations) and as an electro-pop musician putting on pretty over-the-top shows, gathering fans and accolades in the process. This is the side of his career that interests me the least: the songs are a little too synthetic for my tastes, the shows are a little too big (they will often culminate with dozens of people dancing on stage to the loud sound of synthesized beats and sugary keyboards). At last Friday's show in No Avestruz (this cool little art bar in Palermo with awesome ambiance and shitty drinks), however, there was none of that: all we had on stage was one guitar and a couple of microphones.

Dani's collaboration with fellow Uruguayan guitarist Adrian Soiza is known as Dramatica. The duo perform an eclectic array of covers-- from Ace of Base to bossa nova classics to Argentinean punk rock-- in sparse guitar-and-vocal arrangements, often times radically changing the songs to fit the format. The tone is set as soon as they take their places on the stage: Dani-- wearing a tattered dress, sporting a long black wig and tall black heels probably too big for his feet-- is all outrageousness and exuberance, inhabiting the songs like a master thespian, prancing unabashedly around the small stage. Adrian, by his side, in a suit and tie, short curly hair and sneakers, complements Dani's stage presence with a calm and collected cool. The shtick is in place and executed perfectly, but what absolutely astounding here is the actual performance.


Dani and Adrian's nearly two-hour set was an emotional rollercoaster-- skirting the line between flamboyant outrageousness and heartbreaking beauty. Dani's animated, nasal and sometimes-not-quite-on-key vocals bring an intense fragility to the songs, which are in turn held together by Adrian's playfully masterful guitar playing-- a rich and melodic fingerpicking style that's equal parts bossa nova and punk rock, making tasteful use of the effect pedals to give sonic brushstrokes to the bare-bones arrangements. The interactions between these two enormously talented performers, their banter, the interplay between Adrian's stopstutter guitar and Dani's glottal stomp had the crowd delighted cheering and in great spirits throughout the entirety of the show.

And as the show reached its end, after its third enthusiastic encore performance (a wonderfully heartbreaking rendition of Argentinean punk-pop band El Otro Yo's "No Me Importa Morir"), I couldn't help think how silly and overrated the concept of "honesty" is in music-- how putting on somebody else's skin-- or in this case, a wig and high heels-- can bring out beauty and meaning in a song. Like Pollini playing Chopin, it's all about how you make it your own, and the Dramatica duo certainly did that. During the quieter numbers, the entire theater would be in absolute silence as Dani's plaintive vocals and Adrian's elegant playing brought these songs-- largely throwaway cover material-- to emotional peaks much more powerful and satisfying than any other yahoo with a guitar singing about his pain possibly could.

So I've been away.
My absence from the world of blogging has been pretty inexcusable. I could blame it all on being "busy", but there's been plenty of times where I've stared blankly at this very Update page, scribbled some logging-for-the-sake-of-logging and deleted it in exasperation. Followed immediately by that "why put myself through this? I don't have to write about every single thing" that inevitably leads right into a good 45 minutes of playing Angry Birds.

I guess I miss that zealous passion for documenting that I used to have when I started blogging about 8 years ago. That urgent need to just say something, anything, for posterity, and proudly flaunt it-- linking friends, relatives, anybody who cared to read, requesting comments, attention. Motivated by the notion that I had something unique and entertaining to say. That's gone away, to some degree, and my writing has been confined to assignments for school, work, the message boards I frequent (where, perhaps to make up for my lack of blogging activity, I've become increasingly longwinded and pedantic) and my own creative outlet-- like the feature-length screenplay I'm writing and hope to get financing for sometime this year.

It's a shame, though, because I still feel that tug. I think what I need is a kick in the ass to pry me from that state of blogging lethargy. And I think I got that sometime last night when I was sitting in a dinner table with two travel bloggers, discussing boundaries and privacy in the world of public living. I immediately wanted to sit myself down and write a long, rambling, vaguely nonsensical entry about what's been up in my life.

The truth is I don't even know where to begin. The last couple of months have been intensely strange. I turned 24 (an age I've been dreading for a while as it marks the formal end to my "early 20s" and the beginning of the mid--- and how dreadful it is to be mid-anything), I saw a shitload of movies in the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival (bought tickets to 34, fell way short of my goal and ended up watching 28, which is still pretty good for 10 days of hardcore festival-living. Big entry on each of the movies I saw to come very soon), I found myself involved in a pretty strange and wonderful pseudo-relationship ("pseudo" as in, not an actual relationship but a collection of pretty joyful moments with someone I forged a pretty deep connection with) and all sorts of wacky misadventures.

We'll talk about all these things-- some in more detail than others. It'll have to wait, though. For now, here's a bunch of recent pictures, because I like pictures.

in lieu of words


An epiphany of home.
Making my way up Santa Fe avenue (which I have spent a considerable amount of time doing for the six years I've lived in Buenos Aires, always living on it or near it, or transiting it in my meanderings and commutes) at 5 in the morning with my head abuzz, I am suddenly struck by the ease with which I navigate this street; not "ease" as in dexterity, but "ease" as in comfort. A lack of pretense or performance, a far cry from the general stand-offishness of a nighttime stroll through the streets of Barranquilla, or the downright hostility of a Bogotá evening. This city, that is often a tumultuous pain in the ass, often a mess of civil unrest with bureaucratic black holes of disorganization and wildly fluctuating weather, that serves as a symbol and venue of my independence-- this city resonates with me at a frequency no other city ever did, in a thousand and one wonderful ways. And it has truly become, in more ways than I have ever known, my home. A smattering of culture and art and sighs and grunts that find me, for once, being gladly and irrepressibly me.

And then I get to my apartment, content with my sudden realization. I have a glass of water and I look out my window towards good old Santa Fe, whose last rumbling vestiges of Doppling traffic lull me to sleep at the break of day.

Of dance punk and crowd rape.
You know, I didn't really pay attention to LCD Soundsystem prior to "This is Happening". I mean, I guess I was vaguely aware of them-- I distinctly remember seeing the video for "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" on MTV about a hundred years ago (cue "remember when they played music on MTV?" joke) and thinking they sounded like a slightly irritating, completely ordinary dance-rock band. Years went by and every once in a while I'd see their name on some music blog extolling the virtues of "Sounds of Silver" or their energetic live performances. I didn't really care either way.

It took me a little while to really catch on. When "This is Happening" came out and everybody was raving about it, saying it was the best record of the year, declaring it a forward-thinking piece of art, I was still disinterested. For some reason, I just had no desire to pick up the album and listen to it. It happens to me with a bunch of new artists lately-- you have no idea how long it took me to listen to Janelle Monae, for instance, and when I finally did it was an epitome and a half. In the case of "This is Happening", all it took was a very good friend linking me to a Youtube video featuring "Dance Yrself Clean". I was hooked.

The album itself is brilliant. A rhythmic, upbeat, danceable tour-de-force that's pumped me up on my way to work more than once. A joyous, humorous, melodic journey that's equal parts New Order and Fischerspooner that somehow also manages to be emotional and compelling. It ended up near the top of my own personal Best-of-2010 list. The record was so great, so addicting, it made me want to turn around and ask my peers "WHY DIDN'T ANYBODY TELL ME ABOUT THIS EARLIER?!". Before realizing that, in fact, they had. I just wasn't listening.

When I saw them live in a mid-sized but completely sold-out venue in Palermo, it's safe to say they defied any expectations I had. I didn't know how their music would translate to a live setting or how the mostly jaded Argentine scenester crowd would react to their music. What I got was about two hours of what felt very much like a punk rock band playing-- in the intensity of the sound, the conviction in which the band soldiered through all the songs, the reaction of the rowdy crowd. Everything added up to one of the most visceral, intense shows I've ever been to. I came in a fan of "This is Happening", I left a total LCD Soundsystem convert.

I was pretty up close to the stage during the first-- oh, two minutes of the show, after which I was forced to make my way to the back by my need to protect my camera from the pushing and shoving of the insane crowd. After I finally made it to a point where I was comfortable enough to hold a camera in my hands and still get a good view of the band (which, let's face it, is never really a problem for a guy of my height), I was faced with another problem: a strange girl vigorously grinding her butt against my crotch.

Seriously. This girl was aggressively pressing her rear against my crotch area, for the duration of three or four songs, making me feel... well, conflicted.

Now, listen, I'm a straight guy. I love women and I love the act of sex. However, I also consider myself a deeply respectful and, y'know, why not, chivalrous guy. When I so much as brush up against a woman's privates in a crowded Subway train, my immediate gut reaction is to apologize vehemently-- maybe to a fault. Fact of the matter is, I hate feeling like I'm taking advantage of a woman, however accidental it may be. But was this butt-grinding accidental?

Here's the evidence: There was ample dancing room in front of her. In my awkward attempts to move away from her contorting behind, I could see she had a good three feet of empty space in front of her. She was obviously aware that she was pressing up against someone. And let me tell you, as a virile 23 year old, three our four songs after some girl (who, from what I can tell is pretty attractive) pressing her butt against your privates, there's... you know, a physiological reaction. A stiffness, if you will. And there's absolutely no way she's not noticing it, it's RIGHT THERE.

I should just... what, enjoy the ride? Maybe this is her simultaneously-direct-and-not-at-all-direct way of telling me she's interested. But wait, she hasn't even gotten a good look at me. OH SHIT, MAYBE SHE THINKS I'M SOMEONE ELSE?! There's a guy right next to her, probably her boyfriend, maybe she's so far gone she thinks he's the one behind her and not me?! Holy shit and what's gonna happen when she realizes her mistake? Is he gonna try to kick my ass? Could I take this guy? I could probably take this guy. But do I want to get in a fight? I have my camera with me and I haven't slept in 24 hours. Is this happening? Am I gonna get in a fight with some jackass 'cuz his girlfriend's too high to discern who's crotch she's using as a scratching pole in a concert? What if she freaks out and start screaming?! What if everybody around turns around and thinks I'm a crowd rapist?! WHAT IF THE BAND STOPS PLAYING AND SINGLES ME OUT AND GOES INTO AN IMPROVISED JAM ABOUT ME BEING A CROWD RA--

and then, thankfully, some drunken bozo pushes his way from behind me, through the crowd, effectively pushing this girl away from me. And a wave of relief comes washing over me. I'm free.

... And then I get a little sad.

Colombia trip, in pictures.

Back tomorrow with an actual update. You know. Words.

Oh brave new world with such strangeness in it
Jesus Christ, 2010, where the fuck did you go?

To say the last couple of months have been intense would be an immense understatement. The pressures of a healthy social life coupled with the lumbering tower of doom created by schoolwork and work-work piling on top of each other pretty much guaranteed that any creative outlet I dabbled in had to be graded by a qualified education professional. Otherwise, sorry, no time. And this is, in essence, a creative outlet– the meandering babbling of an obnoxious loudmouth amplified by the power of the world wide web. This can’t possibly take priority over, you know, real things, like school and work and going out. And if it’s not already abundantly clear that I’m just making excuses for not updating in a while, I’ll just quietly move along to the next paragraph.

The dawn of a new year finds me, once more, back in Colombia, with old friends and family. The journey here was a harrowing ordeal that started with me misplacing my glasses somewhere in my apartment right as it was time to go and abandoning them in a fit of frustration rather than have the taxi wait five minutes for me to find them, thus avoiding the paralyzing headaches I’ve been having thanks to my astigmatism. Not only that, but my hipster cred took a steep dive the moment I left my apartment, de-spectacled for the first time in forever. I immediately put on Sung Tongs on my iPod to salvage my indie-point ranking. Alas, it was too little, too late. And with Animal Collective on, also incredibly irritating.

That was just the beginning of the most tortuous travel experience I’ve ever had (and I’ve had some bad ones). In order to get the dirt-cheap tickets I got, I had to compromise. And that came in the form of layovers in Lima (not too bad, except for the security at Jorge Chavez airport being a complete pain in the ass– I’m talking TSA-level intrusive and insufferable and incredibly slow) and Bogotá (the single worst airport experience I’ve ever had as I was basically stranded in the nearly-deserted El Dorado airport from 1 to 7am, pushing my luggage around in a little cart, trying to find a way to nap in those little airport chairs the way the few destitute souls that inhabit a Colombian airport’s food court at 3am the day after Christmas would). All in all, a solid day of traveling.

You know, I used to romanticize airports in a big bad way. I used to find them beautiful and exciting. These days I'm just annoyed by the bureaucracy of it all. Also, constantly worried I'm misplacing very important documents, because you always seem to be carrying a bunch of those around.

Thankfully, I made my way back home and it’s been a blast. My family’s as crazy and chaotic as ever. Running into old acquaintances– which I seem to do just about every hour here– has been a pleasant stroll down memory lane. I’ll be hanging out here ’til the second week of February, at which point I’ll come back all rested and relaxed to Buenos Aires, to face the million different challenges I’ve pushed ’til after my trip.

I’m not really one to make new year’s resolutions– or I am, I just don’t really follow them– but there’s one thing I really want to work on getting better at, which is my infuriating tendency towards procrastination. I just put everything off. Constantly. And I fool myself into believing I actually “work better under pressure” when really I’m just being extremely mediocre. See, it’s a bartering process in my mind where I somehow always end up going “pfft, I can get this done in 15 minutes. But first, this South Park episode…”. It’s ridiculous high school mentality I just never really grew out of. And it always seems to result in losing sleep. And I like sleep. So that’s one thing I’m going to try and change.

2010 was an extremely strange year for me. All things considered, I’d label it a success– it was definitely not without its low points, but it also featured a lot of happy surprises and wonderful people. I’ve seen great films, I’ve heard great music, I’ve had lots of fun. Sure, 2010 saw the crumbling of a promising relationship, some unfulfilled expectations and a whole lot of mediocre grades. But it also saw the return of a good friend, the introduction of others and countless tiny victories. It’s the good and the bad, the sour and the sweet.

Normally I’d segue into a movie quote from that, but right now I’m too tired, so I’m just going to go ahead and let myself fall asleep. I have babysitter duty in the morning. Happy new year, everyone.

BLOG SWITCH: Rease Kirchner
Eease and I decided to do a guest entry on each other's blogs. I know, it's an incredibly nerdy thing to do, but we're pretty nerdy. You can read my entry at her blog. Over to you, Rease...

Jorge and I met in May 2006. I was on a group study abroad trip that stopped in Buenos Aires for a few days of tourism. After a couple days of this tourism crap, I was getting annoyed and wanted to see the city. The group I was with was off to take an expensive Tango Dance class and I had had enough. I told my professor I would not be attending, which resulted in a flurried argument in Spanglish, but eventually, I won. Another girl on the trip, Rachel, stood by me and also refused to go. I like to believe it was my stubborn nature and general dislike of group dancing that resulted in 2 amazing friendships that have had a great influence on my life.

Jorge was staying in the same hostel as us and I attempted to speak to him in the best Spanish I could muster after 5 years of high school Spanish and 1 year of University. After maybe 3 exchanges in Spanish Jorge broke into his perfect English- "Okay are we doing this in English or Spanish?". I tried, fleetingly, "No me importa. Hablo espanol". Alas, he stuck to English. I remember my confidence taking a nice hit, chalking up my conversational Spanish failure. Of course, Jorge remembers this incident in a much more positive light, saying he was only trying to make me more comfortable.

Jorge and I's interaction after that was fairly limited. We discussed music a bit and spent a few hours in a group of ridiculously immature and silly boys from Catamarca, snapped a few photos and that was about it. When it came time for us to head to Mendoza, I scribbled down this very web address, simultaneously puzzled and awed that a Colombian knew and used the word platypus.

At first I was a frequent visitor on this blog. I checked it often, fascinated by Jorge's seemingly unfair command of English. His posts were amusing and better written than anything most of my native English speaking friends could hope to compose. As time rolled on, however, I admit I didn't visit his blog nearly as often. We began to slowly lose what little contact we had in the first place, but then along came Myspace and eventually Facebook. Jorge found me and we began to revive our pseudo friendship through strange, random interactions. A wall comment here, a weird video there-- nothing of real consequence. This carried on for 3 years. Who was this Jorge person? Just some Colombian I met in a hostel in Buenos Aires. We Facebook stalked each other just enough to have a vague idea of what was happening in each other's lives. Finally, in May 2009, my graduation from university arrived and with it, my return to South America.

I used trusty Facebook to alert Jorge -- my own real contact in South America save my host family in Mendoza-- of Rachel and I's epic, long awaited return. At first it was just for advice on where to stay in Buenos Aires, but Jorge was actually quite excited about our trip. He was his usual, forgetful self and it took a few reminder messages to get all the information I needed but in the end, Jorge made sure we got a nice room in a hostel of a friend of his. He even called a few days before just to make sure we were all set for out arrival. Jorge came to visit us at the hostel after we arrived, went out to lunch with us, and really gave us a great welcome back. He even dedicated an entire day to us in Tigre where we made a spontaneous (and awesome) decision to go to the Parque de la Costa theme park.

Upon leaving Buenos Aires, Rachel and I reflected on how cool it was that 3 years after out initial meeting and with limited contact, Jorge spent a significant amount of time with us and it felt completely natural, like we had always been friends. We also were saddened by the fact that we had no idea if we would ever see him again.

Luckily, it wasn't so long at all, for me at least. In February 2010 I had a messy breakup that had quite the domino effect on my life plans. Jorge was one of the first people I contacted; within minutes of the breakup I decided it was time for me to make the huge move to another country and in the moment, I decided it had to be Buenos Aires. I wrote a quick, admittedly cryptic message to Jorge asking for information on job possibilities, saying my international move needed to happen immediately. Of course, Jorge replied within minutes, jokingly asking if I had murdered someone and planned to flee the country. Once he was filled in on the real situation, he went into full on friend mode. At first, I don't think he truly believed I was going to move; but he still responded to all my questions about the city, looked into jobs for me, and even sat on Facebook chat listening to me talk with a suffocatingly depressing tone weaving its way into even the simplest of conversations.

When I arrived to Buenos Aires Jorge was the only person I knew, but, honestly, "knew" is kind of a stretch. I am now 4 1/2 months into my life in Buenos Aires and I can confidently say that Jorge is one of my best friends. I think it is both strange and awesome that this all started with an act of stubbornness in a hostel, held together by a thread of blog and wall posts and has resulted in a completely necessary, awesome part of my life.

Here's to you, Livejournal turned Wordpress, Myspace turned Facebook and Colombian stranger turned Strange Colombian friend.

Buenos Aires Gay Pride 2010
We sang, danced, saw an enormous amount of ridiculous outrageousness and got lost about half a dozen times. The first Gay Pride Parade since same-sex marriage was legalized nationally earlier this year, this one felt more festive and celebratory than the outright defiance of years past. It was, as the parlance goes, a gay old time.

You hung the moon from a gallows in the sky
If you've been checking the blog lately, waiting for that podcast, I'm sorry to disappoint-- podcasting has been put off temporarily due to technical limitations. Turns out to... record? You need some sort of... mic setup? Who knew, right? Anyways, it's coming, and we'll burst gloriously into the already-overcrowded podcasting scene in early November, with extreme obnoxiousness and pedantry.

I've navigated the last couple of weeks with bemused uncertainty; every day stranger than the previous one. It's a good thing. I'd much rather be confused than bored. In the span of a couple of weeks, I've been dragged into a hip-hop party by drunken strangers, I've seen the viral-video stars of Latin America milk their 15 minutes of fame to the very last second by putting on an elaborate and ultra-kitsch live show, I've participated in a global Michael Jackson tribute and I've been convinced my sister was killed in a car accident. Yes.

A few of those might require further explanation. My sister, Cristina, who is currently wandering the globe (actually, the tri-state area) found herself (and her boyfriend. and his newly purchased car) in a terrible traffic accident in upstate New York, apparently flying off of the highway, doing a whopping 5 flips and eventually colliding with a tree. Thankfully, they're both alright, just a little beat-up and with a redefined sense of mortality. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what most 20 year olds need.

There was a moment this Saturday when I was honestly convinced my sister had died, since I received news of her accident rather disjointedly. In fact, I found myself questioning my fierce agnosticism (if there can ever be such a thing? I mean, by definition, wouldn't "fierce agnosticism" be an oxymoron?) after I nearly caught myself sending out a prayer for her. Words can't describe the weight that was lifted off my shoulders when I was finally able to make contact with her and confirm her well-being. As different as we are, I love my sister, and would be crushed if something had happened to her.

Speaking of, I've been granted permission to visit home for 6 weeks! I'll be leaving the 26th of December (yes, I'll be spending Christmas in Buenos Aires, thanks to my school's ridiculous idea to have finals 'til the 23rd), spending two weeks of vacation and then working from home for a month. I can't believe I'll be working from my dad's office. There's something strangely poetic about setting up residence in the office I grew up visiting. I'm looking forward to it.

Great news! The new Elvis Costello album is out and it is amazing. Yes, amazing is right. I realize I'm a fanboy and can sometimes go a little overboard with the praise but it is my honest belief that this album deserves every bit of praise it can get. A thrilling collection of songs ranging from straightforward rock and roll to Tin Pan Alley-influenced jazz stylings to delicate folk featuring only guitar, voice and bass. All brilliant lyrically, rich with imagery and emotion. It's his third new album in as many years (and the time I've been a diehard fan of his) and it's still unbelievable to me that somebody could still churn out such a masterpiece this late into their career. Just an incredible album.

In other, Elvis Costello-related news, I was chosen as the recipient of one of only 25 sets of two autographed 78rpm records containing four songs from the new album. Yes, only 25 people in the entire world. This is a huge deal for as massive an Elvis Costello fan as myself, as well as for someone who never really wins anything (except for the hearts of women... ahem).

This weekend has a lot to offer. Here are a few pictures of the last few.

LA VIE ENNUI: New Podcast
Hello beautiful people of the internet. How are you today? That’s nice.

I come to you braving indifference and derision to call your attention to a new project of sorts.

Ahmed Nawaz (seen above, kinda) is a British-Canadian-Pakistani web developer, shopkeeper and arms dealer, among other things. Currently residing in Buenos Aires under mysterious circumstances, we formed an unlikely friendship as I stopped by his establishment every other day after work. We developed a rapport that was equal parts entertaining and pedantic, so obviously we decided to go public with it.

Enter LA VIE ENNUI, a weekly document of our meandering palaver. We’ll dissect music, movies, memes. We’ll bicker about socialism, Ahmed’s militant atheism versus my indifferent agnosticism, whether Wu-Tang deserves a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and other such pressing, culturally relevant issues. Look at you sitting there, being all giddy with excitement.

We’ll be posting our very first episode early next week. We hope you’ll listen and comment.

(Note: I am fully aware “La Vie Ennui” was also once the name of a short-lived, obscure 2002 stage play about Edith Piaf. Whatever.)

90s pop culture references aren't just for shitty emo bands.
I met Tom about five years ago, during my first few months in Buenos Aires. At the time I was still staying in Hostels and, though I was never going to admit it to anybody, still not quite sure of my new life in the big city. At that point people were coming in and out of my life at an extremely rapid pace, and it was hard to keep track of names and faces, but we got along great. He was with two other English kids-- Cass and Joe. We escaped from a gun-toting madman together. It was fun.

Five years later, Joe's made a few wonderful youtube videos (here's a small sample of his work) and has grown a wonderful mustache. Cass is an awesome musician and meme connoisseur-- here is a video of him doing his thing. And Tom is a med student. He's also a member of a band I want to call your attention to in this post-- Clever Girl.

Yes, their name is a Jurassic Park reference. That alone makes them amazing. But they're more than a clever pop culture reference. Clever Girl manages to blend post-rock melodic inflections with an almost sea-songy sensibility (say that three times fast) that is as wildly invigorating as it is playful and brimming with good vibes. The inclusion of a saxophone and the generally misty, jazz-y (but not jazzy) feel of the music makes it sound like this could be the result of Paul Gonsalves' unholy union with This Will Destroy You. More nuanced and less onanistic (also infinitely less gloom-and-doom-y) than the majority of instrumental post-rock, this is great morning music.

Clever Girl recorded an EP called "No Drum and Bass in the Jazz Room" before going on an indefinite (and possibly permanent) hiatus as members dispersed to various corners of the world. The album can be listened to and downloaded (for free!) on their MySpace. Though it is free to download, there is a "Donate" button should you enjoy their music so much that you feel compelled to-- gasp-- pay for it. I encourage you to do so, and hopefully the band will come to their senses and reunite to pursue the artistic heights they are so obviously bound for.

You can listen to their song "Elm" by clicking the player below.
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You got a sus, sus, sus, suspect device!
A couple Saturdays ago, my mom, who's been here for a few weeks, asks me to meet her at this restaurant. La Cosa and her mom were joining us for lunch in one of Buenos Aires' trademark tenedor-libre open-grill all-you-can-eat restaurants. I had been suspecting for a while that there was something going on, due mostly to my sister's cryptic Facebook messages about "sending me a pretty big package". I thought this was going to translate to a surprise visit by my sister. So I arrive at the restaurant fashionably late, sit myself down next to my mom and a table conspicuously set for 5, look around expecting to find my sister and am instead faced with my dad's larger-than-life frame.

Yup. Turns out my mother, God bless her, accidentally purchased two tickets to Buenos Aires (thank you faulty website interface) and transferred the extra one to my pops, who was able to take a week off his busy schedule to come chill in Buenos Aires. This, then, resulted in the most unexpected of pleasant surprises: a week of hanging out with both of my parents in the city.

It was a good time. My dad, who had never been here, was fascinated by the architecture and the steak-- particularly that of "Siga La Vaca". My mom, who had raved about Buenos Aires to my dad for years, was finally able to show him around and have her love for the city wholly validated. I always enjoy being a tourist again for a while, and falling in love with the city that's been my home for the last five years all over again. More than that, it was great for my dad to finally see the life I've built for myself here. He got to know my neighborhood, my workplace, the places I typically hang out at. We got to watch a couple movies together in my favorite movie theater in Buenos Aires ("El Hombre de Al Lado", an adequate yet deeply flawed Argentinean drama about neighborhood harassment; and "The Last Exorcism", which I thought was surprisingly entertaining, mostly due to that chick's performance being all sorts of crazy and intense and I don't know if it's just the Satan thing but I think I fell in love with her kinda). He got to meet a few friends of mine. It was awesome.

These sorts of things also get me thinking about how great everything turned out for my mom and dad, in terms of their relationship. My parents' divorce was incredibly messy-- involving custody battles, police intervention and a whole lot of yelling. Ten years later they're best friends, hanging out together, making jokes. It's a huge relief to me that from the web of resentfulness and childishness that my extended family has become, my mom and dad-- once mortal enemies-- are getting along great.

In other news, my faithful 32GB iPod Touch died in at the hands of a well-intentioned British-Canadian-Pakistani, which resulted in obtaining a 160GB iPod Classic, and I have to tell you, I'm thrilled with how it all went down. As much as I'll miss the niftyness of the touch-screen and all the applications, being able to sync the majority of my music library is absolutely priceless. No more of the painful process of picking and choosing which 32GBs of music to carry with me at all times. Thanks to this I've been rediscovering albums I've neglected for a while, like the genius of "Mingus Ah Um" or the energetic and spastic "Mclusky Does Dallas". I'll be writing more about some of these pleasant rediscoveries later.

For now, I leave you with this; my favorite picture from my dad's trip.

Another annoying call
in which I spout factually incorrect nonsense about movies and prove how obsessed with "The Room" I really am.
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This is a calling card, maybe it will be a farewell note
Don't laugh at me. I've been watching the Batman movies in chronological order. I said don't laugh at me.

It's been a slower process than expected since I've been so absurdly busy the last few days, but I'm making my way through them. Of course, the Nolan films are pretty fresh in my memory so I'm not in any sort of hurry to get to them. Two things immediately came to mind upon watching the two Burton films: Holy shit, these are much better than I remember-- and holy SHIT, Batman Returns is much much better than I remember.

After Nolan's wonderful movies, it's easy to write off everything that came before it as campy and ridiculous, and a lot of it is-- certainly the Schumacher movies fall within those categories-- but I had almost completely forgotten how relentlessly strange and dark and film noir these Burton films are. "Batman Returns" in particular floored me. I loved the winter-y feel to it, the characterization of the Penguin, the Roach subplot-- a genuine Dickensian nightmare. Catwoman's "origin" story was a little heavy-handed but Michelle Pfeiffer's performance more than made up for it. Just the right amount of classic childlike wonder and macabre strangeness. A really fun movie, a lot better than I remembered it.

Also, is it wrong that I bewail a lost iPod more than the crumbling of a relationship? It probably is, right?

In other news; my mom is here to visit. Yes, my mom is back in Buenos Aires. I won't lie, as much of a relief as it is to have her here and as fun it is to take her around and introduce her to all of my friends... seeing her step into the strangeness that has been my life as of late is a little off-putting. She seems a little misplaced, a little out of context. It's still been really awesome showing her around. I brought her into the office and introduced her to a bunch of people. I'm taking her to dinner with a few friends tonight. She's sure to embarrass me with childhood stories I've no recollection of. I'm fine with that.

And I get a huge kick out of this picture.

Yes. "Aww" is what you're thinking of.

Yes indeed I'm alone again.
The breakup. I've been trying to come up with the most elegant ways to describe it, but it doesn't really come out right. It always ends up feeling a couple levels too overdramatic or nonchalant or bitter or bemused. It never really captures the complexity of the situation, how nice it felt, how sweet and tender and reasonable and logical it was, how we spent an entire day together before and after the fact, how our paths simply drifted away from each other and how much of a pretty sendoff it was to a beautiful, fulfilling relationship. It also never quite captures the deflated disappointment, the creeping realization of being alone again, the misplaced feeling of abandonment and alienation, the ughhhhness of having to work hard to get laid again. I never really know what to say when these things happen, and I'm always bombarded with "omg is it true?" and pangs of "what if"s. If it was really worth giving it more of a shot, working it out, pursuing a long-distance relationship, whatever. I don't know. But I'm closing that chapter with a smile and looking forward to the future.

I mean, it had to happen, didn't it?


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