Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This Zine Will Change Your Life


                I think this zine did change my life. Located in America’s poetic capital, Chicago, it has been working tirelessly over the past three years to bring life-changing pieces of literature, YouTube videos, and blog posts to an internet near you. Some of these touched me in places I’ve never been touched before; parts of my soul I didn’t even know existed were made stronger. Knowing my life had been changed and for the better this time made me happy. Plus they include sweet songs into the posts from time to time. Music and literature should always go together. 

                The contributor list reads like a college lecture’s attendance sheet. Anybody you would want to see there is there, starting from Sam Pink’s inaugural post “Move in with me.” Sam Pink means business having written multiple books, done live readings, and generally been an active participant in this great thing we call alt lit. If you go to his blogspot (one of many) you’ll notice his blog picture is of the utmost seriousness: a strawberry defecating in a man’s mouth. I had asked if strawberries are the sluts of the berry world once. Now, after seeing this picture, I know strawberries are not merely whores; they are into scat as well. 

                Actually I don’t know a great deal of the people posting on here. I’m familiar with Greg Santos, Sam Pink and Salisbury Bushnell. Perhaps if there were more life changing shout-outs, news or events I might know more. One could argue though that a post in itself is a life-changing event, as the posts seem to happen whenever they damn feel like it. Greg Santos’ piece is particularly fantastic; reassuring me it isn’t the end of the world. While it is a shame about the world getting shinier and more expensive at least we have charming graffiti bunnies.

                Salisbury Bushnell, face-painter extraordinaire, has the most recent post for this delightful outing. The cellular gospel is certainly the good word. Mr. Bushnell is in his now-trademark face paint, suspenders, and gold tie. If the business world ever needed a bizarro businessman they could worse than Salisbury Bushnell. As an added bonus he reads (or yells) live from some really nice looking apartment using a microphone he pilfered from an unsuccessful comedy club. 

                With all this prestige, all this pomp, you’d think it would be hard to enter this rarified blog world. Let me tell you nothing could be further from the truth. “This Zine will change your life” wants you. They want you so bad. You won’t get paid but you’re probably used to that by now if you’re submitting writing online. Shorter posts are beloved. That’s a standard anywhere on the inter web. And as the final touch, they want to know you. Not merely as some bored person submitting prose, but as a person. What are your hopes and desires? Put that in the bio to let us your greatest achievements during your brief time on Earth.

                Go hereto learn more about how this zine will change your life.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Glitter on, you crazy Neon


                All that glitters is neon. That’s the word on the internet-based street. It has certainly been a while since I wrote about one of my internet besties, none other than Neon Glittery. Located in an obscure part of the great United States, she toils away behind a hot camera, taking sweet pictures. She paints, writes, makes music, and generally her output makes me feel sloth-like. Wish I could write music or poems, I’m working on it. But I can’t compete with Neon’s swag especially regarding her ridiculously beautiful website. Her site has fully drawn animals, exquisite detail, and is easy to navigate. I have a bookshelf background for mine and you can sometimes click on stuff. 

                Neon already had swag. Her swag is legendary. She walks into the local soda pop shop and everybody whispers “It’s the glitter queen.” People have to pay her to use things like neon and glittery as she’s pure art. Only she has mastered the concoction of neon with glitter. Finally, after so many requests, she has decided to grace mere mortals with art-based swag items. 

                Joining with a big cartel (hopefully a kind one) to distribute T-shirts to the T-shirtless Neon wants to clothe the cool country, finally creating an alt lit dress code. People have tried for these dress codes before, like those all black turtle necks, but I think this has a bit more traction. Glad she’s decided to translate her art into T-shirt form, perhaps one of the most relevant art form known to man. Personally I dig the bird T-shirt, but that’s because Neon is close to her fellow animals.  

                What if T-shirts aren’t your thing? First of all, you’re crazy. You need t-shirts to cover up your shame (no offense to my nudist colony readers. Keep on living the life.) In case you have no shame you probably possess some kind of shelter, preferably one with flat walls and a ceiling. Does that describe the luxury you live in each and every gosh-darn day? If so are you in luck! Neon has decided to distribute en-masse of her Frank, whose backstory I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say Neon meets more interesting people in her dreams. My dreams usually consist of rainbow colored unidentifiable objects asking me for directions to the bus stop.

                 Her writing continues to come out all over the place. According to her she has tons of blog posts just waiting for a single press of a button, than presto, new material. One of them appears on her blog “What is this even” which goes over the joys of love and the ocean, two of my favorite things. LetPeoplePoems features an excellent, absolutely awesomely amazing piece called “totes rant”. This poem is known as a ‘crowd pleaser’ as crowds of people sing its praises. The best line in it must be “i’m not mocking our generation i’m flirting with it”. To me and millions of sloths that’s life changing stuff. 

                Put glue on your life and roll around in some Neon Glittery.

Caleb Stone - 4NAHNA 7.5


                4NAHNA is everything. It is ridiculous. Caleb Stone has no problem throwing together the most absurd samples from ‘Law and Order: SVU’ or creating an Oval-like ambient track all under the course of a half hour. None of this makes any sense. What it does show is how absurdity and experimentation can exist in the same sonic ecosystem. Albums like 4NAHNA give me hope in humanity, showing me that musicians still possess a healthy amount of absurd humor. 

                Classifying this is near impossible. The default for this album may be ‘chillwave’ as there’s a great deal of nostalgia running amok. Even that definition is somewhat limiting as there’s a great deal of experimentation going on during these seventeen tracks.  You can hear old Buddy Holly “Buddy Holly Remix”, messed up remnants of old theme songs, and various voices trying to break free. Of course they don’t break free and the whole thing is set up to work against them. Caleb knows the samples can never escape so he quite playful with how he uses them. 

                The beginning song reminds me of a Christopher Willts track, right down to the tasteful skipping guitar sounds. It’s welcoming, warm, and energetic. “Fantasy Factory” presents a sillier version of the future, with ridiculous noises and a surprisingly catchy melody. 

                None of this lasts very long. Most songs last under a minute. A few are surprisingly touching to show the playful nature does have a purpose. 4NAHNA is pop culture at its most concentrated. And it is free right here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Up by Carolyn DeCarlo and Ras. Mashramani


                Earlier this year, Carolyn DeCarlo and Ras Mashramani told you to get down. You were wet and lonely. Now it’s time to get up. Stand with your fellow literary lovers. Before you were lonely but this must end. Today you are greeted by these two internet poetry powerhouses. They’ve been waiting for you. They want your body; they want your body of literature. Show it to them. Don’t be shy. 

                Carolyn and Ras call this a ‘body’ of literature. What’s a body of literature really? To me, it is a great, lovely collection of words. In Carolyn and Ras’s case, it is sexually charged language or an actual body with sexy poems on it. Re-reading their ‘Down’ project reminded me of all the loneliness from that project, all the quiet, one-on-one sexuality. I’m glad they’ve decided to move on to larger, more participatory poetry. Before those poems were for a select few. Consider ‘Up’ akin to a poetry orgy. Get involved. You’re invited. How exciting!

                Nothing is up yet. That will change. Wait for it. Or what you could do is add to it. It is dramatically more open than ‘Down’. ‘Down’ celebrated what’s inside their minds, what their hopes and desires were (sexually at least). After that project I figure they wanted to see what goes on in the average internet-dwelling poet’s mind. Probably something really excellent, they thought. Probably a bunch of porn, they thought. 

                Don’t leave them hanging. They want to hear from you. According to their website, they already dig your body. Isn’t that nice of them? Clearly all that working out has not been for naught. Take a bow. What you can do is send them your guts to them. Email them. Or send them a link of the massive greatness you’ve been accumulating over the past several years. Perhaps you thought some of that writing was too dirty. Believe me; nothing is too dirty for this duo. Give them a little piece of yourself to them. They want to love your mind, not just your body. Your body is simply a start. 

                These two care greatly about your welfare. I’ve spoken to both of them, one in real life (Ras) and one via this great technology called ‘the phone ’ (Carolyn). Each one has nothing but care and compassion for the online literary community. Both are frequent visitors to that great online sensation known as ‘Tinychat’. And finally, they have both offered tremendous amounts of support to online readers like you. How about you support their project through the power of boost, completing the circle of boost?

‘Up’ will lift you up on the power of collective love. Embrace it. They’ll embrace you with arms wide open.

The Residents - Not Available 9.9


              Years ago, when the teeth were as white as teeth and puppets spat ether into fires, a strange occurrence happened in the heart of Louisiana. Several children were born, children who would grow up knowing the comforts of self-imposed obscurity and the charms of wearing eyeballs over their heads (one would choose a skull) in order to hide their identities. From a religious education that would appear in many of their later recordings, either subtly or not so subtly (like God in Three Parts), they took their bizarre philosophy from the intense dislike of anything popular. Pop music was sarcastically “covered” by their eventual band. Religion would help them to avoid outright cruelty towards artists that produced music for the sole purpose of turning a profit. Also their albums that spoke of God or a God-like figure stayed respectful of His importance.

            Louisiana did not offer this strange band an environment proper for their oddity. Only in California could they find a place that welcomed such unusual characters. Their first album was sent to Warner Brothers, and when it returned with the words “send back to the residents”, they had found their name. Over two decades would pass before their debut album would be released through their Ralph record label. Ralph records introduced the world to the Residents through their first release “Meet the Residents” which had the old “Meet the Beatles” album cover totally wrecked. Fifty of the Residents records were sold before they were faced with legal action from a label with actual financial resources. 

            I could begin to describe their first album, but this review is about their second, which is better musically and theoretically. The album’s title “Not Available” should clue the listener in to what sort of eccentric characters the Residents are. It was their third release but second album they recorded. Officially the debut’s late release was attributed to a discussion with a German philosopher about how nothing should exist until it has been completely forgotten. How much of this story is true cannot be properly checked, since these musicians basically are total pranksters and have a distorted sense of reality. Artists such as the Residents release much material but rarely have concerts; they live in obscurity on the fringes of most music scenes like plunder phonics and avant-rock. Staying safely inside their costumes, there remains no need for explanation or taking their music at face value. Rather, the listener should just relax and already enjoy esoteric music before delving into this bizarre universe.

            Immediately the album begins with “Edweena” and a cymbal crash. After the crash you are treated to a somewhat surreal creation of cruise music, made with the help of natural horns and synth violin chords. The synth sounds permeate most of the album, and they are those of the analog sort (since it was all created in the 1970s, if you can’t handle the synth sound, just turn it off because its presence is felt all over the album). An odd chant comes in with their electronically altered voices providing rhythm. Piano chords intermingle with the synth, and a woman’s voice, quite pretty, offers almost some connection to reality. Drums and their chants suddenly come to the forefront, with all else dropping out for no good reason. Eventually even the drums leave, bringing us face to face with the obtuse lyrics that weave a bizarre story which the whole album is based upon. Knowing what the story is about is not important, besides its actual point is obscured by so many subtle references that it would take far more time than your average human being would dedicate. 

            “The Making of a Soul”, the second song, is even longer. It continues with the theme of traveling music mixed in with odd chants. These first two songs comprise over half of the album’s running time and eventually this song breaks up in a different, much less expected (in case somebody thought the first one was predictable) fashion. This sounds much more dramatic statement than the first song, which felt like that of a polite introduction. Eventually there’s a dropout of the tortured horn which becomes another chant that dies to begin a strange speech that seems a bit self-aware at times. “But fantasy moves ahead/For the Iceman just took a turn for the better”. When they realize their own oddity, they seem to confirm it with such a weird statement.

            Finally, the last three songs of “Ship’s A’going down”, “Never Known Questions” and “Epilogue” all resolve the tension set up by the first two songs. “Ship’s A’going down” is probably the most abrupt of the collection found. Screaming, hollowed out spaces, and the cut in between this calm and hysteria is particularly fascinating. The two speakers have a conversion where the calm quiets down the screaming, confused individual. 

            “Never Known Questions” is the resolution and triumph of these characters. They seem to have built up to the happy conclusion of all the problems which made them so hysterical. Their journey to a place that initially offered so much anger and frustration made them depressed, until they realized the good that could come from it. An evolution into what sounds like parade music makes this apparent to the listener. “Epilogue” looks back on all that has happened, the equivalent of a condensed version of the main ideas. 

            The Residents are truly among those few artists who can make “concept albums” and not feel restricted. Rather, the concepts they use help to give their music clarity. Sonically, it is quite obvious when you listen to their first album which seemed shattered and disorganized in comparison to this strong effort. “Not Available”, although somewhat strange, does have certain attractiveness musically. Overall the changes are dramatic and frequent enough to maintain a listener’s interest, despite their apparent dislike of popular music, the separate sections of each song seem to cater to a short attention span and brought on by the very thing they hate popular music. Irony is funny.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Poncho Peligroso got popped off


                It happened. Poncho Peligroso, the 2011 Poet Laureate, got popped off of the internet. The internet saw what he was doing, how he was doing it, and decided: “Go forth and write these wrongs young one”. According to Poncho’s oft-visited website he had been getting too angry from everything on the internet. While I love the internet and everything happening on it sometimes it can be a sad place. Not all is lost though; you can still buy his book ‘the romantic’ complete with a flanneled figure looking out towards the future through thick-framed glasses. Why it needs glasses is beyond my comprehension. Guess the inanimate object wants to find its way around.
                Will the internet be able to go on without one of its most prolific tweeters? I just don’t know. Facebook already misses him, his many status updates, his embrace of all things political, poetic, and pop. People wonder when he’ll return. At least the hiatus is temporary. Someday, maybe soon, he’ll return with a tweet of such high caliber, one he crafted over many long nights, that he’ll become the Poet Laureate of 2012, 2013, and 2014 based off of his exquisite genius. Before he left he had become interested in the “Occupy Wall Street” moment and the police response to it.
                People have already had an outpouring of support for Poncho. He still lurks around the internet. Sometimes, if you look really closely at your Gchat, you can almost see him sign on. If you’re lucky he may IM you saying truly profound like “Sup bro” or “Damn dog diggity”. From my perspective, I feel the pain of his departure from this electronic plain. My fan page on Facebook lost a fan, a fan who I have even met in the real life, not in some distant way, but in an “I embraced this bro IRL” way. Will my fan page ever be the same again? Since the hiatus is only temporary, my answer is “yep”.
                Got to admit I’m glad Poncho is doing this, however much it pains my slow-beating sloth heart. People need time to think, away from the internet. The internet is a great place. All my friends live there. You live there. You are my friend. But sometimes real life calls us for bigger and better things. Even prolific poets/bloggers/etc. need breaks from the fast-paced internet life. Real life is far slower, far steadier, and far more susceptible to change.
                Here’s hoping Poncho comes back to us, returns on a Facebook status/Twitter Armada. I hope the social networks are ready for the re-introduction of such a prolific Poncho. Perhaps he will inspire me to take some time off. Time will tell.

The Hacker – Reves Mecaniques 6.1


               Each time I listen to this, I understand just how much the Hacker needs Miss Kittin. Her track “Masterplan” is the only one with anything verging on intensity or interest. Sadly, even with the Hacker’s skills, he feels lost with the other vocalists. Without a singer, his experiments tend to wander a bit much, with little to show for all the wandering.

                His tracks are decent, passable, but they never reach the giant nature he wants. Songs like “The Brutalist” fail due to an extensive track time (almost 9 minutes) with nearly nothing to show for its considerable length at the end. In fact, the only time he succeeds with a buildup (besides the Miss Kittin track) is the song “Village of the Damned”. Everything he strove for in the other tracks is met on this one. Had the other tracks on this album contained this level of quality, I’d highly recommend it.

                As it stands though, most of the songs are just forgettable. Excluding those two tracks, the rest of it grows tiresome. It gets difficult to get through due to a lack of excitement, of sameness. Vocalists can’t add much when the backing track is so weak.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Colours – Colours EP 8.0


                Colourscome out with a strong, blissed out take on shoegaze. The hooks are infectious, the vocals far away, and the amount of comparisons to that holy grail of shoegaze, “Loveless” is unavoidable. The opener “Could I?” does a particularly fine job of showing off their skill. Fortunately they don’t stop there with their tasteful renditions of the sound.  

                Besides the obvious shoegaze elements, they engage in a great deal of slow-burners. “I’ve watched you suffer” a relatively sinister track takes a little longer in building up. Unlike the others it is more rhythm propelled than mere melody. The mood is what gives this song so much heart. Vocals on here are closer than what’s encountered on the other tracks. At times it sounds like an evil little chorus gently mocking you. Let them do it. 

                The second half of the EP is my favorite. “Sleeper” is pretty much a perfect title for what’s going on, vocals barely consciousness and a melody that possesses the best of spaced-out bliss. A lumbering bass in the background only adds to the mood, as does the wild drumming in the background (it feels infected by the same level of happiness). My favorite track is the closer “A Thousand Words”. It’s a positive light ending to a rather diverse bunch of songs. 

                I feel Colours holds its own among the other shoegaze revivalists out there, like Pink Playground (a fellow label mate) or Experimental Aircraft. Glad to see Australia’s been enjoying the sound as well. I’m happy to see Free Loving Anarchists encouraging this behavior.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Life as a Power Point Presentation


                I wonder if my life would be interesting as a power point presentation. Obviously I’m not alone in this thought. Many people use power point each and every day. Whenever I give a presentation about blogging, I think to myself: would people be able to stay awake for a whole presentation on my life? 

                Thus far I’ve had a fascinating life. A father of three children living on a farm in rural Maryland, I’ve got the life. In the summers my kids work diligently picking crops in the hot sun. My job is to motivate them by occasionally going up to them, patting them on the head and saying ‘good job’ before I continue to re-watch the entire series of ‘Freaks and Geeks’ on DVD.

                Yep, it certainly has been a roller coaster of excitement. First I was born. Then I worked for a couple of decades, got married, had kids, but most importantly started a blog. Blogging would be on that power point presentation. 

                Below is a short outline of the main points of life as a power point. Though my experiences may differ from yours, I hope it will be helpful in letting you truly discover yourself. With our attention spans considerably shortened, this power point would be crucial in any estate planning. Your heirs will be able to talk about your life with an outline already made. Plus you won’t even need to do the whole ‘life flashing before my eyes’ nonsense. Instead you can simply load power point and get the basic gist of what you accomplished in life. 

1.       Birth – this isn’t really much of an accomplishment. I didn’t do much. 

2.       When my parents discovered I was alt – my first word in life was ‘indie’. My parents took me to a doctor to see what this meant. I remember what the doctor told them. ‘Your child will have a fascination with independent films, music, and literature. I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do to change this disposition. You’ll simply have to acknowledge some children are born alt; others have alt thrust upon them. Make sure your child never combs their hair.’ And I never did, not even once. 

3.       I kissed a girl – and I liked it. 

4.       I got my first radio – Some people say finding religion or Nemo changed their life. For me, it was listening to the radio and taping my favorite shows. I still have the tapes and have a fondness for them. 

5.       Learning how to ride a bike – this calms me down. Little did I know bicycle riding would transform people into hipsters, or maybe I knew it all along? 

6.       The digital revolution – we are still fighting it. Suck it reality. Someday computers will overtake reality and I’ll have more time to blog. 

7.       My first CD – CDs are basically our generation’s 8-track tapes. When I got my first one it was immediately after watching Rocky Horror Picture Show, a movie which forever changed how I live my life. 

8.       My first job – I remember my first job fondly. I was a lifeguard. I saved people. I learned how to twirl and whistle. Lifeguarding also taught me how to get free food since I was a swim coach. 

9.       The first blog – Truth be told, my first blog was terrible. I basically wrote it every day and nobody read it.

10.   Living on my own – this was fun. Though I didn’t enjoy coming back to my dorm and seeing my roommate ‘whacking it’ all the time. Wish I could un-see all of that. 

11.   A real job – Having my own cubicle gave me a sense of ownership I cannot describe. 

12.   Beach Sloth – I embraced my inner sloth by writing vast quantities of material, trying to distill my experience and relationship with culture. This is an ongoing process. 

For this power point I’d probably have some cheesy animations, like a fade in. The birth slide would have something like a star animation, showing how a star was born. Using the star animation would probably help me feel a bit better about myself. None of the slides would include any pictures of me. A few would have pictures of Tim Curry from ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ because why not. 

Point to the power in your life!

What I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving


                I’m on a bus. Next to me is some guy looking at pornography. This wouldn’t be a problem except he has the window seat. I want to see the beautiful landscape pass me by as I travel northward towards the Promised Land. But if I turn my head it’ll be weird, like I’m supporting all that weird ‘women in school uniforms’ he seems to enjoy. While I’d like to say this is the first time I’ve seen pictures of half-naked women on this bus, it’s not. Last time I traveled on this deal I saw a guy Skyping with his topless girlfriend. That seemed almost sweet to me, like romantic nearly. I doubt this guy next to me has that sort of thing to be thankful for, as he now appears to be looking at weirder stuff and I must turn my laptop slightly to avoid him reading anything I just typed out. 

                Thanksgiving is upon us. What do we do? I’m thinking of everything to be thankful for, of having actual readers, of meeting some of the people I’ve covered on this blog IRL. Yes, it has been a great year for me, probably one of the more eventful ones of my life, though the amount of blogging I’ve done may suggest otherwise. I started up this blog over a year ago and thought I’d get bored of it. Glad that hasn’t happened yet. 

                 Glad this didn’t turn into a political blog. To me political blogs are some of the saddest creatures known to man. Who even visits your political blog anyway? Usually it ends up being mostly trolls, something I’ve avoided for the most part on here. Politics and trolls are part of the same internet ecosystem. Besides political bloggers generally whine a bit about how things aren’t going their way, how the country is being destroyed by “the left/the right/the moderates/the progressives/the street protests/the tea party/the cashier at their local coffee shop/etc.” I hate seeing kids sitting at some political convention live-blogging events. However I’m technically live-blogging this now, so I can’t really condemn them for the live-blogging thing. I’m on a bus though. There’s not much to do here beside catch up on albums I wanted to listen to and try to catch up on deleting emails. 

                What am I thankful for? I’m thankful for you, thanks for reading. Music is great, I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful I have shelter, food, and the internet. More than that I’m thankful so much has happened this year. The past couple of years I’ve been sort of on auto pilot. I’m happy 2011 has brought me into reality to some large degree.

                But what are you thankful for? Are there any albums that changed 2011? Will you be celebrating thanksgiving with your loved ones? Those of you located overseas, while its not thanksgiving, we are coming close to ‘end of the year’ lists. What would be on your list? Is that list the best list it can be? Have you accomplished everything you wanted to this year? I hope so. I hope you’ve succeeded at whatever it was you set your mind to, and I believe 2012 is going to be an even better year for you

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kip Hanrahan – Desire Develops an Edge 8.8


                Kip Hanrahan’s “Desire Develops an Edge” is a masterful collection of jazz, rock, beat poetry and sensuality. This is an extraordinarily unusual performance with a late night, cool vibe. I’m actually a bit amazed by this album. It is so good it has made me reconsider one of my long-standing biases against the bongo. Bongos are usually the most infuriating instrument to me. The fact they are used perfectly in the album makes me wish more artists understood their use the way Kip Hanrahan clearly does. 

                A great deal of influences can be felt on here: of poetry, of prose, of jazz, bossa nova, and rock. The fact all these different elements can co-exist together is no mean feat. Often they exist within the same song. Each one has its own peculiar rhythm, and yes, Kip is a trained percussionist, so the rhythm is perhaps the best part of the album. It is simply as perfect as it gets. 

                “All Us Working Class Boys (For Jack Bruce)” has a glamorous piano behind it. Though it is used sparingly, it works both as a form of percussion and as a part of the melody. Silence in this song is employed as a form of tension. Even towards the end when the saxophones come in it feels like just the right moment. 

                Other songs have even slower, funkier grooves. “Trust Me Yet?” should never be played before sunset. It is one of those songs made for late-night grooves. “Nancy (The Silence Focuses on you…)” has a quiet, bossa-nova quality and shows off Kip’s singing ability. Full-fledged bossa-nova can be found on here in the song “Nocturnal Heart” which sounds timeless. 

                This is a great album. Shame more people haven’t heard it. Find it if you can. “Desire Develops an Edge” grows better upon multiple listens.

Feng Sun Chen


                Feng Sun Chen recently appeared on the infinitely excellent “NewWaveVomit: for everything you need to let out”. Her poems had hart. I hadn’t heard of her before. No real reason why, I try to find out about all kinds of unusual literature. On NewWaveVomit, Feng focused on soup and mothers. To me, both of those things are life-changing. Mothers literally give life and sustain it through soup. Perhaps people eat food other than soup but I doubt it. Right now that’s all I can afford so the poems helped me feel better about my wrenching poverty. 

                Curious I decided to check out Feng’s wordpress which you can find right here. I felt anxious doing this as wordpress remains one of the few blogging sites where I never have had a presence. Mostly my avoidance of wordpress stemmed from a belief that everything on there was whiny political screeds I’d probably strongly agree or disagree with as I’m extremely passionate about politics. Good thing she also has a Tumblr or I’d be a bit scared.

                The blog is a mix between being poetry and a journal. Anxiety runs strong as Feng discusses the importance of discipline in an MFA program in her “Air, Water, Earth” post, a nod to the children’s cartoon “Captain Planet” where a bunch of kids combine powers to create a half-naked buff blue guy. She talks about how difficult it is to be so focused. I feel the same way regarding school. Often there are so many choices and I always feel like I’m missing out, like I’m learning about the top of the iceberg when it is the bottom part that’s really going to blow my mind (metaphorically speaking). Feng has traveled more than me and remains considerably younger than myself. Plus she writes some fairly excellent poetry. 

                I liked the poem “All the Powerless People” because it made me feel innocent and pure like a baby or ‘babees’ as Feng calls them. Deliberate misspellings appear in her work on a fairly regular basis. From what I see they are used as a way of showing affection towards a particular object or individual. Misspellings in general can be used as a way of showing off one’s individuality, hence why many poets use them on a fairly regular basis. 

                What impressed me most about Feng’s talent is not her ability to follow David Lynch on Twitter but her ability to review her own book on Pangur Ban Party entitled “Arcane Carnal Knowledge”. Feng did a great job exploring the themes in her own book. The book is available free of charge on the infinitely excellent Pangur Ban Party website. In the book you learn about the mystery of Christ’s lady bits. Some other stuff happens too.

                Feng Chen is a shadowy figure, as shown in this picture depicting her as a literal shadowy figure. I’m glad she’s so prolific and so odd. Life seems better that way.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Did Wolverine used to be a Sloth?


                People disagree about this aspect. I’ve had a great many discussions with fellow blogging sloths about it. Since they are also nerds (hence the blog) they argue, no, he’s accomplished too much. Look at all that success. No way he could be anything but a super hero with a troubled past. Besides there seems to be quite a drama in his life, something noticeably absent from your average sloth’s life. However, I treat Wolverine as something of an aberration of the sloth lifestyle. 

                You’re heard the origin story. Some boring ass Canadian guy living in luxury decides to move in with wolves in the wilderness. Later people put in an exoskeleton of metal into Wolverine because experimenting on humans seemed like a fun thing to do; he joins Dylan Carlson’s doom-metal project Earth in the early 90s, later ends up doing some random hippie stuff in Vermont, starts up an ice cream store, and eventually gets around to saving humanity. 

                The random trip to Vermont is pretty hardcore sloth. Most sloths do live in warmer climates but we occasionally enjoy traveling to New England to participate in its slower way of life. Sloths live in jungles. Jungles teem with life, too much life. I really can’t think of an environment chiller than Vermont. 

                Wolverine must be a sloth. . Claws, I mean come on. According to the comic book, he sleeps eighteen hours a day. He struggles with self-control. Sloths do that too. That’s why we sleep most of the time, to avoid bothering others. Ours is a polite species, consider us the Canadians of the world, perpetually bored, clean, disinterested in whatever you are doing, and damn near psychotic about hockey.  

                Here’s where I think something was lost in translation. The original reporter who first wrote about Wolverine got some of the translations from the sloth language incorrect. I’m certain of it. But what really burns my biscuits is the discrimination sloths face each and every day. Just because we are the embodiment of sin doesn’t mean you can toss us aside. Hanging upside down and doing nothing isn’t something to be ashamed of, it is what evolution intended. Besides, if you toss us aside we’ll only get back up again in a couple of hours. 

                Changing Wolverine from a sloth to a Canadian shows the bias the mainstream media has towards sloths. Things got to change, they can’t stay the same. We need to stand up for ourselves by slowly moving towards a large structure, getting a grip on it, and pulling ourselves up to approximate the action of standing up. 

                Dear Earth, let us have Wolverine as the superhero for the sloth community? Our current hero ‘Slothman’ only appears in one poorly animated YouTube short and maintains a Livejournal about gaming memes. Please, please let us have this one.

The Sea and Cake – Oui 8.1


Bossa Nova meets low key tasteful indie rock. Lead by Sam Prekop’s smooth vocal delivery, it embodies sunny lazy summer days. Perhaps this particular album shows off some of their considerable mellow chops. Even the electronic flourishes, later to take front stage, are restrained for the good of the song. 

Thrill Jockey released this around their prime of relevancy, back in 2001. 2001 saw Thrill Jockey putting out great material by the boatload. Now I think Tortoise’s underrated “Beacons of Ancestorship” and Mi Ami’s efforts are the only things worth mentioning, the rest falling into a bland morass of indie. 

Anyway, this is bright music. Pieces sink themselves into your mind. Baroque pop might be an effective description of songs, “All the Photos” being a particular winner. Changing halfway through the song into an up tempo, it subtly shifts down again towards the end. I wish more pop music sounded like this.

Whenever I re-listen to this (for I’ve listened to it many times, always rediscovering new corners) I get the feeling somebody transformed my dreams into reality. The lyrics are abstract, broken up, and normally would not work if delivered by anybody else. Sam makes it work, and the instrumentals on here are glorious as well, working as more in-depth landscapes.

Really, you can start the album anywhere. It doesn’t matter, it is all good.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Susie Anderson comes to America


                Susie arrived in America via ustream. The beginning part of ustream involved filming a plane touching down in America’s capitol, Washington, D.C. It looked like the beginning of that film “Stranger than Paradise”.  While Washington isn’t the poetry capital (that’s Chicago) it is still a start. Having Australia’s poetry ambassador come to Washington may motivate the city to do a bit literature-wise. 

                Jess Dutschmann started the reading with life-changing tweets about Justin Timberlake. Justin Timberlake hasn’t come out with an album for five years. Guess he’s been spending a lot of time lately posting anonymously on the internet. Perhaps he’s even posted under an alias online, as a sloth, because no one could believe he might be interested in alternative literature and culture. Maybe people should realize Justin Timberlake finds Tao Lin’s work awe-inspiring.

                DJ Berndt, a cool bro, spoke about living in a nice house with a dog and a lawn. The poem was about selling insurance. Surveys make up a large part of his insurance salesman’s life. I wondered when the salesman will finish all of his surveys. People called him very smart. Having a sharp mind has helped him become well-respected in his overworked profession. 

                A poet from West Virginia, Jae Dyche, found a great rocking chair. Her poem dealt with her boyfriend. Intersex was one of my favorite words in the poem or it could have been intersects. I’m not sure; the poem had to do quite a bit about math. The second poem about her boyfriend discussed his foot fetish. 40s of Budweiser came up in another one, the beverage of choice for those lucky enough to be at the reading. Just kidding, they drank Blue Moon and PBR, as they are super-cool.

                I learned about people’s favorite sitcoms. Jess showed the room the best looking tie I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Once everyone had calmed down Jess began reading once more, reading some adorably sweet poem. Feeding the pigs, reading the new age, doing backstroke, this was a tender poem. 

                Shaun Gannon showed up wearing his excellent outfit. By now everyone knows the yellow sweater jacket that is his copyrighted attire. The first poem was about conspiracy theories. Oddly he didn’t raise his voice. For the second poem he began with some extremely mundane events before diving into goofy surrealism.

                The Australian poetry ambassador (Susie Anderson) began. Everyone was excited. No one had ever seen her read from the Northern Hemisphere but on Saturday, November 19, 2011 that all changed. While she read her poetry she smiled gallantly. People were going wild online. At the physical location the crowd was quiet, deep in its admiration of her oratory skill. 

                Allison Wyss, a member of the elite crew of MFA people, read an emotionally charged poem from her Apple computer. This was a sad poem. She goes to class with the excellent host Carolyn De Carlo who read next. 

                Carolyn DeCarlo read from her Metazen poem. Wearing a sweater that drove Steve Roggenbuck wild, she used her vocal inflection to seduce the entire viewership. Next she read her poem from her excellent collaborative chapbook with Jackson Nieuwland one of New Zealand’s tallest poets. “Jobs” was a pretty funny poem. It explored how hand jobs and blowjobs are not so different after all. Maybe one day all forms of sexual jobs can hold hands or whatever they use in a great circle of peace. 

                Michael Michael Motorpsychle jumped out of seemingly nowhere and began reading. In the poem a bunch of people got shot by shotguns. Getting shot by a shotgun seems bleak. The next one talked about girly magazines and sex, so it ended up balancing out. Somehow those two things were complimentary. 

                Lucky us: we saw Megan Boyle. I’d never seen Megan Boyle besides on the internet, in those MDMA films, and on Facebook (Facebook is the internet squared). Hearing her read from her best-selling book was great. The reading made me re-read the book again. Megan Boyle’s voice gave it a whole other level of humor to it. In my mind I had an entirely different depiction of how she would speak. Glad I got to witness this once in a lifetime ustream event. 

                Anna followed. “Wednesday hump day” discussed the brutal days of working. I wonder if laser cats can be zombies. Carolyn stated Anna is an MFA. What Carolyn failed to mention is how great Anna’s voice would be, I wasn’t prepared for it. 

                People took a break. Confusion followed. I kind of wish I had gone to this bathroom orgy reading. Guess my education got in the way of hedonistic reading sessions. This hurts my heart. Wish I had gone in hindsight. Next time I may attend. 

                Katie read. I couldn’t tell if this was Katie or not. Perhaps it wasn’t Katie. Her face was obscured by some mysterious mask. After the reading she might be going to a party at Carolyn’s place, a party which no ustream could possibly capture. Some of these poems were quite old, a few of them going all the way back to 2000. Like fine wine it aged well and made me drunk off of its words. I’m happy to know YUPPIES are afraid of the poem. 

                Duo readings started. Jess and Michael stood together at attention. They wrote it together using the Google Documents application. Finally people have decided to use Google Docs for good instead of last-minute disorganized reports. I’m happy to see Jess and Michael co-existing in peace and comfort. One of the poems “Ice” was unfinished yet blew my mind in eighty different ways. 

                Susie returned to us to read one of Stacey Teague’s poems. Those of you unaware Stacey and Susie are best friends forever. Actually I’ve covered her dinosaur-related poems before. I enjoy her dinosaur poems quite a bit, they are absolutely adorable. Not sure how Stacey’s work is received in New Zealand but in the United States her work is revered. Having a T-Rex love its child is great, as is the threat of eating its own children, like those sweet ass hamsters.

                “Mercenary Soldier” came up, read by the exciting Jae. Jae’s hair looked pretty excellent as did a bottle of liquor in one hand. The voice was loud. Apparently the piece had served Jae well as a part of her MFA lifestyle. 

                 The ever popular DJ Berndt stood up ready to spread some sweet-ass knowledge. I told him I loved him. He did a heart symbol with his hands and began his reading. A volcano came up in the poem covering everyone with filth. 

                Long luxurious hair entered the screen. It belonged to none other than Megan Boyle. She read a great poem written by William Smith, a famous rapper. “Getting jiggy with it”, for those unaware, was a song which changed the planet. If any song could create world peace it would be this one.

                A short story came up about an evil man. This evil man wanted to write a story. He enjoyed talking to Jenny, a hot babe. Jenny in the story is based off of Jackson Nieuwland and the evil man is Carolyn. I’m not sure if this is true or not, at least this is what alt lit gossip stated. 

                Reading about the life of the suburbs was Allison Wyss. Giant boobs were mentioned. Boobs were a bouncing.  Spandex was mentioned as well. Asphalt went by quickly. Skateboarders followed. Everything the poem blurred by in some gorgeous display. Vibrations juiced through the person. Whoever this cyclist is I want to meet them and hang out with them. 

                Short fiction came to us from Michael, that guy so nice they named him twice. And they also misspelled his last name motorcycle but whatever. He read passionately from a phone far more sophisticated than what I have. While we waited for a certain DJ Berndt Allison jumped up and began shout poetry at us. 

                By the end everyone became too drunk to speak. Instead we were treated to loud thumping music, Zachary German in a tub, and assorted random nonsense. It was good.

Farben – Xango 6.2


                Jan Jelinek’s “Farben” moniker is back in full force. After what seemed to be a one off from last year, it looks as if this project is getting a complete re-haul. Generally I’m a huge fan of what Jan Jelinek though I have been tempted to state that his more recent material has been somewhat lacking compared with his earlier stuff. With Xango, that is unfortunately the case. 

                Head-nodding grooves are present. Many of these are nearly un-recognizable from his previous work. Little crackles and hisses from records, those have also been edited away for the most part. What we hear in this latest outing is purely clean sounds, lacking in the other-worldly charm of his previous tracks. 

                “Xango” the title tracks starts out awkwardly before shifting into a heavy bass with some noises thrown on top. Considering how he used to create some truly cryptic micro-dance tracks this is a big step backwards. Ditto goes for the finale’s uneasy shuffle which appears to take far too long in going nowhere. 

                Not every track is a dud. The beginning does have an elastic beat, and the random percussion elements create a strange sort of atmosphere. It sounds like a potential place for Farben to expand into; at least that’s my hope. “Parada” is perhaps my favorite track, as it mixes everything good about Farben in a single track: a good beat, an unidentifiable sample and a general playful mood. 

                This is only the second EP he’s released under the Farben moniker in the past seven years. Maybe it will take him time to fully embrace it again. Unfortunately Xango does come across as being a bit scatterbrained as a result.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beequeen – Port Out Starboard Home 6.6


                Beequeen started out as a classical drone band. You can still hear some of the old drone influences around the album. Since 2000 or so they’ve been making a concerted effort to become something more of a relaxed pop band. With “Port Out Starboard Home” they continue down this path. The album is essentially a collection of extremely mellow rock in the vein of Movietone and Stereolab. 

                “Port Out Starboard Home” is the best track on the whole album. It reminds me of a long-lost Movietone tone track, complete with a slow, comforting mood. This is probably where the theme of traveling feels most sincere. A few tracks on here try to copy the Stereolab template (such as “Someday today” and “Giant’s Hill”) complete with drum machine and bass. Unfortunately these often feel a little flat as Olga Wallis does not have the same dynamic range as Stereolab’s many singers. 

                The drone tracks belong to their previous incarnation. Actually these often mix with their pop inclinations, leading to a nice mixture of rock conventions with drone. The Fun Years does a similar thing, mixing drone with rock aspects. However Beequeen’s take on this seems rather original and a little darker. Often the drone pieces conjure up mixed emotions: at times they add to the rainy day spirit of the album, other times they appear to simply exist failing to add much to the recording. 

                I felt the entire album felt a little uneven. The memorable songs on here are quite enjoyable but there seems to be too few ideas. What was supposed to be a more meditative outing ends up sounding a bit thin. “Port Out Starboard Home” isn’t bad by any means but it could have been more engaging.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Leonardo Rosado - Mute Words 7.8


                Leonardo Rosado moves slowly but surely through these ambient landscapes. There are a number of classical structures to be found within these eight pieces. What makes this album so engaging is the vast quantity of sounds involved (such as water, mild knocks) and the voices. A few times the voices are obscured, waiting to be re-configured by our imaginations. Scrambling of the voices takes place in “How in between came to be” where eventually it becomes recognizable language. It also makes an appearance for the tender finale “Out of Pure Kindness” where one can almost make out the breaths for air. 

                In “The Study of Doubt” you can make out every word. A soft piano comes together with sustained notes to create a comfortable sonic atmosphere. There’s water somewhere around as the female vocal soothingly states her case about language. Her voice sounds normal but the strange environment adds an additional emotional resonance to the piece. It is my favorite piece on the album.

                “Mute Words” focuses primarily on mood. There are melodies, some of them quite beautiful in their ability to glisten. What makes the pieces so infinitely enjoyable is a certain hope. No matter how dark a turn the music may take, it always returns to an optimistic, positive view. While it is drone the textural qualities are never completely muffled, allowing for a strange intersection of the treated and untreated. Listen to this while traveling. The music lends itself well to the concept of traveling, of having an ultimate destination.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

If that’s moving up then I’m moving out – Steve Roggenbuck


                Steve Roggenbuck is embarking on an adventure. This adventure will take him to never before visited places, places as Grenada, Manchester, Montreal, and exotic Ohio. On this adventure Steve will spread poetry seeds, much like Johnny Appleseed did. Unlike Johnny Appleseed though, there will be no one eradicating apples upon the blossoming of the poetry trees. Since I understand what the apples went through during that dark time, I eat bananas. Bananas are total bastards. 

                You may be familiar with Steve’s IRL Poetry Tour he conducted last summer. Well, this spring prepare yourselves for IRL Lifestyle Rebrand Tour. In this tour Steve will take up the position of a wandering bard, celebrating the ancient tradition of oral literature. From what could be your house he’ll scream at the top of his lungs about dubstep, about wubstep, and most important luvstep, where the two of you will hug each other out of a deep appreciation of the English language! That is as excellent as it sounds. 

                 All of this and more shall come forth from Steve’s magical mystery tour. Now that Steve has left the ivory tower he’s running on poetry power, nourished only by his love of the language. I’d say Steve always had this power, this appetite for excellence; he simply needed to leave school to truly find it. Once he learned the true meaning of an MFA he quoted the great poet Billy Joel and stated “If that’s moving up then I’m moving out” in an epic 2,000 line flarf poem which the faculty will never forget. Steve’s departure flarf poem may be the ‘Ulysses’ of all of flarfdom and its entire “Feel like new. Feel like you. Mariah Carey did it, you can too! "Like" Jenny Craig today. Jenny-Set-Go!” is sure to inspire countless aspiring flarfists. 

                Support Steve as he wanders around this big old world of ours. Steve needs very little. To get his mind moving he needs to travel across the country, finding friends, transforming online to IRL. Let him do this to you. Don’t let fear get in the way. Embrace Steve in your home today. Once you do you’ll get to witness IRL all he has to say. As a bonus he shall buy his own food. 

                The internet city Steve Roggenbuck founded has responded warmly offering things like vegan collective farms, you know, everybody’s dream come true.  Everybody should get a Steve Roggenbuck in their home if only for a short time. Our alternative looks bleak: Steve goes back to rural Michigan, plays in some more melodic death metal bands, and gets sad at the lack of friends. Be a friend. Adopt a Steve Roggenbuck. Even once compared to the most adorable of creatures he far surpasses their sweetness: does a kitten write poetry? Can a dog avoid pooping on your rug? I know as a fact that Steve Roggenbuck not only writes poetry he is also housebroken. 

                Accept some Steve into your IRL today. Steve’s going fast.