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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 26, 2022] Fixer

I saw this book at work and was attracted by the cover (obviously San Francisco) and that it was about a tech startup company (sort of).

The book is set up with each chapter being about one of the five main characters.

Meghan is a single woman whose life has been one of upheaval.  As we meet her, she has just gotten laid off (with about one third of the firm) of a tech company that has had to resize itself.  She’s not even sure why she works in marketing–she has no real sense of self and would love to be an artist.  But she doesn’t dare risk things for that.  She has also just had a very good date with Diego Garcia.

Diego (Digs) is techie guy with great ideas.  He has been working in the tech field for many years and has brought some of his good college friends to work with his at Del Oro, a startup tech firm with one of the hottest apps out right now.

Kari (he is Norwegian) is Diego’s college friend.  They have been close as anything for many years.  Kari (and his father especially) have very high expectations for Kari. Kari is the more business minded side of Diego–he knows about money and how to get it.  He is passionate about very few things.  One is success.  The other is Kari.

Kira (the similar names are cute, rather than cloying, I think) is his girlfriend of many years.  She is possibly more driven than he is.  She is very successful and expects the best from everyone.  She has known Kari and Diego since college.  She likes Diego but gets a little tired of him.  When Diego starts dating Meghan, she finds her unbearably boring.

The last of their college friends is Ravi.  Ravi is gay, but he has not (and could never) come out to his strict Indian parents (who are back in India).  They would love for him to come home, but he has made a life for himself here. He is actually just about to get married to a woman.  She is his best friend (they’ve known each other forever) and she is a lesbian.  She also needs help with her visa to stay in the country. It solves everything.  Even their serious significant others are on board.  Ravi is very close to Kari as well.  His boyfriend is serious and they imagine settling down someday is gay marriage is ever legalized. Continue Reading »

[POSTPONED: January 25, 2021] Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets [moved to Spring 2022]

indexI saw the Saucerful of Secrets show back in 2019 and loved it.  I had okay seats, so I wanted to get closer if they ever did another one (which I never imaged they would).

And yet here they were…  timing their show right during the COVID resurgence.

This was supposed to be a very busy week of shows.  All but one has been postponed.  However, it’s a cold and blustery January night and The Kimmel Center is a hassle to get to at the best of times, so I can certainly wait until the Spring when I won’t mind a multi-block walk.

 

 

 

 

[POSTPONED: January 23, 2021] Fucked Up / Empath [moved to July 17, 2022]

indexI’ve known Fucked Up for a few years and thought that they’d be a wild band to see.  They last played in Philly in 2018, and they’ve only gotten better since then.

Shows had been getting postponed, but this one was pretty hushed until only a few days ago when it was officially postponed.

I’m okay with it getting moved to July–I much prefer going out to shows in the warm weather than the frigid cold of January anyway.

Empath are a Philly band that play a kind of noise punk.  Rolling Stone says “They sound like four people who sat in a room flexing their own freaky styles until — before they realized their interests might be wholly incompatible — the chaos created its own logic.”  They sound pretty great. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 22, 2022] In Beta_

I saw this book at work and was grabbed by the cover (yes, clearly covers do signify something about the book).  I decided to read it before reading much about it.  I didn’t understand the accolades until I read the acknowledgments at the end.  The book was self published through Inkshares, but it then went on to win (or at least do very well in some Nerdist/Inkshares Contest.  Which I guess is a big deal, maybe.

The book is set in a small town in the rural Pacific Northwest in 1993.  The town of Bickleton is boring.  Super boring.  There are like three businesses in town, one is a restaurant and grocery store together.  Everybody seems to work in the mines.  And there’s like a curse on the high school.  No a single person has ever gone to college.

And people aren’t exactly sure why–their grades are good, they just apparently aren’t good enough for even community college.

The main characters are Jay Banksman and his best friend Colin Ramirez.  They are nerdy boys who love video games and probably won’t be going to the prom.

Their school is a strange set up in which Jay and Colin and some of the other brainier kids are in a special classroom set apart from the rest of the school.  I have no idea if this is even remotely realistic, but who knows.  There was A-Court, the largest building which was close to the main parking lot and seemed to house all of the cool and popular people.  C-Court was smaller and shabbier and was where the dumber kids went–the burn outs.

Jay and Colin felt that A-Court was too vanilla and C-Court was too raw.  So they stayed in their trailer area called Tutorial.  Their teacher was Miss Rotchkey.  She had asked to teach these kids as a kind of experiment.  The school principal rolled his eyes at the whole thing but allowed it.  Miss Rotchkey was cool, teaching them existentialism and allowing them to use the school’s computer.  She was convinced that her class would be  the first to go to college.

But then came rejection day.  Everyone in the class was rejected from all of their schools, even their safeties.

Things were pretty much the same every day at school.  Then one day a rumor spread that there were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pies in the A-Court vending machine.  And Jay wanted to get one.  So he and Colin snuck down to the A-Court and managed to evade detection from the jocks and the cheerleaders when suddenly there was Jeremy and the Johns.  Jeremy McCracken was the most popular boy in school.  A handsome jock and star of the baseball team.  The Johns were everyone else on the baseball team (I love this little joke that literally everyone else is named John with no last name just initials).

When they see Jay, they crush his pie and punch him in the face.  The principal sends Jay to the guidance officer because, hey sometimes life isn’t fair.

Jay’s only solace is in video games.  He gets a lot of video game and computer magazines and is always looking for new games to try out.  One day he gets a game called The Build.  When he puts t into the school computer, the graphics look like just like Bickleton.  It’s 8-bit graphics, but there he can see the whole town.  Including people walking around.  He mouses to his class room and when he raises his hand, the pixel version of himself raises its hand too.

He can’t believe this.  He tries to tell people about it, but every time he starts to talk about it to someone, they glaze over and seem to forget everything he just said.

Then things start to look up for him.  Liz Knight, the most popular girl in school (who he has known since like first grade when they were actually friendly–the held hands once) breaks up with Jeremy and asks Jay to the prom.

Liz’s best friends (who only like to talk about Beverely Hills 90210) don’t seem to be on board with this–they look down their noses at Jay like everyone else does.  So what gives?  Is it a prank?  It’s hard to know because Liz has been acting really strangely lately (in addition to asking him to prom that is).  Has she has a breakdown?  Or a breakthrough?

The next day Liz and Jay are talking when Jeremy approaches and asks her to go for a ride with him.  She does and Jay is very jealous.  He looks at The Build and sees the red Mazda Miata driving away with a little heart above it.  He clicks around the screen and sees a menu for disasters.  So he clicks on tornado.

And within minutes a tornado appears on the screen.  And in the town–a town  that has never had a tornado in its history.

There’s a lot going on in this story (although it’s a very fast read).  I don’t want to give any kind of spoilers away, but I do like to mention that Jay finds out his avatar’s stats: Strength; Speed;  Hit Points; Intelligence.  And at some point he moves them all up to ten.

This allows him to take sweet revenge on the Jeremys and to have access to intelligence and memories that he’s never known before.

The story sounds like an all boys story and it kind of is, but as the story moves along, two women become essential to the story.  There’s Liz of course, and there is also Stevie, a computer nerd who has mad programming skills.

Having the book set in the nineties means that Harvey overloads the book with 90s pop culture.  It goes a bit overboard.  He throws in some good music cues (Beck, My Bloody Valentine) and some bad ones (the bullies drive around playing Kriss Kross’ “Jump” all the time.  I’m also curious, since I didn’t go to school in the 90s, but would they have played Rage Against the Machine at a prom and would the kids have slam danced?  I cannot imagine.

So this was a fun story and one that I read very quickly.

And, if you’re wondering, as I was, about its similarity to other popular culture books and movies, he says in the acknowledgments that he started it about a decade ago and was about a group o seventh graders who found a magic VCR that brought 80’s movie clichés to life.  While he was finishing it up, Ready Player One, The Lego Movie and Free Guy (I don’t know this last one) all came out.  So he changed his tactics a bit.

[POSTPONED: January 21, 2021] The Beths / Lunar Vacation [rescheduled from April 29 Kung Fu Necktie and August 27, 2020 from World Cafe Live; moved to February 24, 2022]

indexThis show has been bounced around now to three different venues.  I was sure I’d finally get to see The Beths, but then this new uptick pushed their tour back.  I don’t know how wise pushing back a show for one month is during this pandemic nonsense.  Especially since they’re saying the spike will drop away in mid-March, but darnit, I really want to see The Beths.

I was looking forward to Weakened Friends opening, but Lunar Vacation…

Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, the story of Lunar Vacation can be traced back to eighth grade, when Grace Repasky and Maggie Geeslin met and started sharing musical ideas. As soon as the pair became old enough to drive, they started to take Lunar Vacation on the road, playing venues across the sprawling suburbs of their home city and fulfilling so many teenage dreams along the way. As the buzz around the pair grew, so did the band, as they expanded to their current four-piece line-up, and upon finishing school, they started to self-release their music, in the shape of two EPs, Swell and Artificial Flavors.

And their new album, Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp which dives into the the waters of dreamy-indie, psychedelia and bedroom-pop.  Sounds pretty great!  Come on boosters, let the bands play. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 15, 2021] The Prox Transmissions

I had recently seen Starset live and decided to check out lead singer Dustin Bates’ books (which I had gotten for my son for his birthday and I think he hasn’t read).

All of the CDs have a theme and the story of the Prox Transmissions is meant to tie into the album called Transmission.

My understanding was that the graphic novel was an adaptation of the novel.  I couldn’t find the novel in his room, but I did see the graphic novel, so I started with that (even though I’m sure it would have ben smarter to read the novel first).

The most impressive thing about this to me was that it was published by Marvel.  Not because I’m a Marvel fan boy but because I just assumed it was self published.  That being said, I think a thing or two was lost in the abridgement.

There are double crosses and possibly triple crosses and seemingly minor characters come to have major roles without a very satisfying explanation.  Basically it feels like a story that has has a lot removed (which it is).

The actual story line is pretty cool though. Continue Reading »

[POSTPONED: January 14, 2021] Guster / Ben Kweller

indexCOME ON!

In March of last year, Guster was supposed to come to NJ to play An Evening of Acoustic Music & Improv–a tour that had been going great.

Then it was cancelled.

The band waited almost a year to reschedule a NJ show–who knows if they were going to do an acoustic show or not.  (Probably not as the last show all tickets were seated).

And then the jackasses who didn’t get vaccinated caused the virus to mutate and infect all of us.

I tested positive last week and tonight was going to be the date I was allowed back into society.  I don’t blame the band for cancelling–literally everyone is catching it.  I blame the idiots who trust Facebook more than science.

Who knows when they’ll want to come back–although come back they will because Guster doesn’t give up!

UPDATE: Until Maryann commented, I didn’t realize (or I forgot) there was a special guest (I didn’t look at this poster very clearly, obviously).  I know Ben Kweller from the compilation The Bens, which has Ben Folds and Ben Lee on it.  I didn’t think I knew much else from Ben Kweller, until I just saw that he sings lead on “I Hope Tomorrow is LIke Today.” which, how did I not know that?

I hope that he is still the opener for the rescheduled date.

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 13, 2022] The Genius Under the Table

Why would anyone read an autobiography of someone they’d never heard of?

Well, in part because it’s a children’s biography, and therefore a fairly easy read.  But mostly because Eugene Yelchin grew up in the Soviet Union under the watchful eyes of Lenin and his KGB informants.  And it’s a fascinating look at a world that is as bizarre as it is unsettling.

And it’s a well-written and interesting story, too!

Yelchin was the youngest of two sons.  His older brother was on track to become a national figure skater.  His mother worked in the ballet, assisting the ballerinas and having a close up view of the amazing Mikhail Baryshnikov.  His father was a working man as well–they needed all the money they could get (which wasn’t much).  And what of Eugene (Yevgeny)?  He had no talent.

He couldn’t play sports (not even chess).  He couldn’t dance.  He wasn’t super smart.  He wasn’t exactly a disappointment to his parents (although he was, kind of), but they knew that the only way to get out of the squalor they lived in was to be great at something.

And he wasn’t great at anything. Continue Reading »

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 12, 2022] The Bad Guys Episode One

A movie is coming out about this book series (Scholastic must have SO MUCH MONEY!).  S. brought it home from the library and I figured I’d give it a read.  And five minutes later I’d finished it.

It’s pretty funny (although not as funny as I would have liked).

It’s also clearly designed for young readers since there are usually no more than five words per page.  I guess it’s a graphic novel, although there are chapters.

The book opens with Mr Wolf staring at us and telling us to come closer.  But we are smart, we know he is a monster so we do not get any closer. Continue Reading »

[CANCELLED: January 8, 2021] Nap Eyes / Kiwi Jr.

indexNap Eyes opened for Destroyer in the last show I saw before the quarantining.  I really wanted to see them headline a tour and do their own thing.

They had scheduled a show at Johnny Brenda’s for May of 2020 which was cancelled.  Then they bided their time and waited until 2022 to schedule their new tour.  But people are jerks and wouldn’t get vaccinated and now the virus had transformed itself so that everyone is going to get it.

I actually tested positive this week and wouldn’t have been able to go to this show anyhow, so I guess I’m glad the tour is on hold for a bit.

But damn, I want to see some Nap Eyes!

Kiwi Jr. is a fun Canadian band, recently described as “clever, easy-going jangle pop” that I’d really like to see live. So I hope this lineup stays the same when Nap Eyes comes back to Philly again.  Some day.