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The rising life and declining times of Y.K.E. Monk and the B-movie cliches

Dec. 29th, 2008

11:59 pm - How will you know you didn't get it all wrong

A little essay I wrote over on Everything2 for the edification of the reading public. It's about shaving, philosophy, and Whit Stillman: http://everything2.com/node/1964635

Oct. 1st, 2008

12:32 pm - Mix tape for October 1, 2008 "Soundtrack for a Debate Watching Party"

This tape is as named. It is designed to be listened to in conjunction with a US presidential debate. The first five songs are portraits of typical politicians and the things typical politicians say -- every day, as part of their jobs and their election campaigns. Then there's Radiohead's "Electioneering" and R.E.M.'s "Ignoreland", which are two all around great songs about politics that are so beautifully angry. (These lines from "Ignoreland" sum it all up: "If they weren't there we would have created them. Maybe, it's true,/But I'm resentful all the same. Someone's got to take the blame"). Finally to wind us down from all this vitriol and raw anger, we have Mates of State's "Get Better" which contains the lovely refrain "Forget all your politics for a while/Let the color schemes arrive" and the encouragement that "Everything's gonna get lighter, even if it never gets better". The Owls' catchy "Channel" doesn't have anything directly to say on politics, but it continues on the same theme as "Get Better".


Track listing:

1. Cream - Politician
2. Pixies - Mr. Grieves
3. Madness - Mr. Speaker Gets the Word
4. Kinks - Mr. Churchill Says
5. Leonard Cohen - The Captain
6. Radiohead - Electioneering
7. R.E.M. - Ignoreland
8. Mates of State - Get Better
9. Owls - Channel

Sep. 18th, 2008

12:05 am - Mix Tapes for Sep 17, "My Counter-Culture Crush" and "Thanks for the Music"

Since I haven't posted one of these in a while, I have two of them.

The first one, titled "My Counter-Culture Crush", is inspired by a recent crush of mine. The crush's identity doesn't matter, but what I'm struck by is her distinctive taste and aesthetics. I mean, she doesn't play "Wipeout" on the drums or hand out the Bhagavad Gita, like Ben Fold's Kate, but she might as well. Apparently, this phenomenon of stylish crushes is a pretty obvious concept for songs, since I've noticed there's a bunch of these songs out there, and that they are all quite the same in terms of sentiment, only the detail of the particular counter-culture the crush seems to belong to changes -- Disco, Rock'n'Roll, Mod, or Punk for the BMX Bandits; Beat for Talulah Gosh; Punk again for The Math & Physics Club; Ben Fold's crush seems to be a Burnout; Supergrass have always been attracted to the plain weird; and the scuzziest of all countercultures, Eurotrash, for Cracker -- this one has to be a joke.

The second one, titled "Thanks for the Music", is a set of songs by some great artists that are dedicated to their musical heroes and influences. Stevie Wonder, gives a general ode to jazz and big band music, but focuses on Duke Ellington. Paul Westerberg of The Replacements doesn't hide his love of Big Star's Alex Chilton. David Bowie writes a loving song that starts out praising the power of Dylan's protest songs ("words of truthful vengeance"), but then seems to veer and focus on a persistent fan, whom "a couple of songs from your old scrap book could send ... home again". Regina Spektor paints an impressionist picture of Lady Day singing the blues in a smoke-filled room, bringing a tough audience to tears. Finally, The Boo Radleys reference the Beatles in "The White Noise Revisited", but it is about the therapeutic effect of listening to music -- really listening: letting it permeate you, feeling it deeply, and meditating.

As my new, post-muxtape, mix-tape solution (http://stencil.homedns.org:8181/) allows me to have multiple tapes on, I will upload over the next while all of my earlier mix-tapes.

Sep. 6th, 2008

06:55 pm - American Teen

I just came back from watching a matinee at the local non-profit -- "American Teen". It's a great documentary about high-school seniors from a town in Indiana. I forgot how big high-school basketball is in Indiana. I think they could have put it together better, but the material they had for this film was golden. My instant response to this Game Theory song lyric, "All you kids in your teens may not mean to, but you all impress me". So yeah, I recommend it.

In other news, muxtape seems to be in legal troubles with the mafIAA, so I'm looking into other solutions for my mix-tapes. Try this for the Game Theory song mentioned above.

Aug. 13th, 2008

03:51 pm - Mix tape for Aug. 13, 2008 "The vent tape"

This tape is intended for the noble purpose of venting. These are all songs about jerks -- all different kind of jerks ("The people who were cruel to those that don't deserve, the people who talk too much, the people who don't care, the people whose lives are going nowhere, the people who just give in, the people who don't fight, the people I don't like", as the first track partially lists) -- and about what makes them so abominable. Some paint portraits of specific jerks and were picked because they evoke specific jerks I know, others are general in hating pretty much everybody ("Kiss Off" and "You Should All Be Murdered"). These songs are invariably angry, intensely angry. This is, in most situations not a very productive sentiment I find, so the purpose of tape is not to ferment it but instead to help put it behind you and out of your systems. It even serves, at least for me, to examine and subdue the jerk within: "Books Written for Girls" is a song that always hits me hard because the jerk in the song reminds me a lot of myself, and it makes me fear how easy it would be for me to unwittingly be a jerk to people, and "Screw You" is a song about how everybody is a jerk in a jerky world.


Track listing:

1. Another Sunny Day - "You Should All Be Murdered" (4:39)
2. Spoon - "Johnathan Fisk" (3:16)
3. Ben Folds Five - "Sports & Wine" (2:58)
4. Violent Femmes - "Kiss Off" (2:56)
5. Elton John - "Screw You (Young Man's Blues)" (4:43)
6. Garbage - "Stupid Girl" (4:19)
7. Bob Dylan - "Masters of War" (4:35)
8. Joan Jett - "Fake Friends" (3:17)
9. Camera Obscura - "Books Written for Girls" (5:14)

Jul. 17th, 2008

12:01 am - Mix Tape for July 16, 2008: "At the end of the day"

This is a weird one. I started out trying for a more cohesive theme (whose identity doesn't matter any more), but it sort of expanded into an amorphous glob of a theme, with recurring ideas being the insular nature of the ego and the importance therefore of being at ease in your own head, sunsets and thoughts at sunset, insomnia (or hypnagogic consciousness of emotions specifically), and others. So it didn't end up that cohesive, but I really love and am proud of what came out. The lyrics on all songs are particularly good in this one, and mesh well with each other (for example, the first song talks about "your ghost" being your "one sympathetic companion" and then the second song has this great line, saying "How much did we give the ghost up/When we learned how to get where we're going"). So, since I think the lyrics are really important for grokking this mix tape, I'm going to reproduce them here. Link.

Track listing and lyricsCollapse )

Jul. 10th, 2008

03:14 pm - "A soundtrack for wandering the sun-scorched wastelands of fallen civilizations"

Subtitled: "A fantasy of deindustrialization"

I've been away in Germany, busy as hell, but now I'm in Israel with nothing but time. So here's a belated mix-tape.

The title is stolen from this Cat and Girl, and this mix tape is dedicated as a tape to take along with you for just that kind of journey. Track listing below, link to playable version here.

Chapter 1:
* Tramway - Maritime City (3:15)
* Ivy - Get Out of the City (3:10)

Chapter 2:
* Pixies - Wave of Mutilations (2:05)
* R.E.M. - Find the River (3:50)

Chapter 3:
* Camper Van Beethoven - Flowers (3:00)
* Talking Heads - (Nothing But) Flowers (5:36)
* XTC - River of Orchids (5:53)

I guess the loose plot line I was going for here is a protagonist having enough of the city (Chapter 1), leaving it and going into the wild (Chapter 2), and then drifting into some sort of psychedelic fantasy of a deindustrialized world where flowers are growing out of the toppled remnants of fallen civilizations (Chapter 3).

P.S.: Cat and Girl has its own muxtape up of songs mentioned or referenced in the comic: http://catandgirl.muxtape.com/

Jun. 24th, 2008

12:28 am - Mix tape for June 23, 2008 "Britpop B-Sides"

One of the great things about British bands, and in particular those of the britpop wave of the '90s, is the excellent quality of the B-side tracks on their singles. This mix tape has my 5 favorite B-sides from the 5 biggest acts in britpop:

1. Radiohead - India Rubber (B-Side on both Fake Plastic Trees and High & Dry for some reason)
2. Suede - My Insatiable One (B-Side on The Drowners - these two songs plus "To the Birds" comprise one the most perfect singles ever released)
3. Pulp - Ansaphone (B-Side on Disco 2000 - Pulp are a great band that were awesome way before britpop and got huge riding the britpop wave; they are easily the most instinctively creative britpoppers)
4. Blur - Inertia (B-Side on There's No Other Way)
5. Oasis - The Masterplan (B-Side on Wonderwall - this one's such a classic, it's hard to believe it never got released on a proper album)

link: http://emonk.muxtape.com

PS: Is playback on muxtape not working for anyone else?

Jun. 17th, 2008

12:56 am - Mix tape for June 16, 2008 "East Coast/West Coast"

Three New York City cuts on side A, then three California cuts on side B. http://emonk.muxtape.com

Side A
1. George Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue
2. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Autumn in New York
3. Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer

Side B
1. David Ackles - Oh, California!
2. Joni Mitchell - California
3. Magnapop - California

Jun. 2nd, 2008

01:44 am - "Talking 'bout my generation"

I've been reading these sparring pieces in Radar magazine, one being a Gen-Xer hating on Millenials, and the other being a rebuttal by a Millenial that doesn't take no bullshit from no Gen-Xer. They're both pretty entertaining and get some good fair blows. So, for this mix tape I picked one song from every decade from the fifties through the aughts of bands trying to speak up for the young generation of that decade, usually to call bullshit on the crap the generation's getting. As you can see, it's a decades long tradition, and I'm not sure Marx got it right when he said that "all past history was the history of class struggles;" at least 50% must have been generational struggles. Here's the line-up:

'50s: Buddy Holly & The Crickets - Well ... All Right (2:14)
'60s: The Who - My Generation (3:19)
'70s: David Bowie - All the Young Dudes (3:32)
'80s: Game Theory - In A Delorean (3:12)
'90s: Smashing Pumpkins - 1979 (4:26)
'00s: Spoon - The Way We Get By (2:40)

And here's the link: http://emonk.muxtape.com/

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