Monday, July 30

well i don't feel better when i'm fuckin' around

There were a lot of uncommonly brilliant musicians at Rockygrass this past weekend. Which almost goes without saying. In bluegrass, the baseline price of entry - not even to popular awareness, but to participation much beyond the first tier of circle-sitting - seems to be a formidable competence,1 and scales up from there. At the higher levels of bluegrass, there's a good chance the bass player is John Paul Jones.2 Manifestations of the Planet Bluegrass empire like Rockygrass seem to pull in people who define the solid center and major edges of the form. You wind up with a lot of scary individuals walking around.

Among the people you should check out, if you haven't, are

Then there's Nickel Creek.

They announced they were breaking up3 a while ago - and after a show I caught in Denver last year, it wasn't that surprising. You could see the tension then if you were looking. This time around it was something like watching a married couple dance with knives held behind their backs. Except not really, given that the divorce is just about finalized and it's a lousy, hackneyed metaphor to begin with. Anyway, you get the sense that Chris Thile and Sean Watkins may not exactly hate one another, but they are sure as shit annoyed.

I guess this is what happens. At any rate, I'm sure I don't know anything beyond an impression conveyed by a set of smart people who have been on stage since they were children, and I hate this kind of fannish speculation. The main thing is that, despite the fact that there is no longer a sense of joy emitting from the enterprise of Nickel Creek itself into the public sphere, they are still so fucking amazingly good that it hurts.

1 As nearly as I can tell, this emerges from a culture of participation. How many people make rock music, despite the theoretically lower technical threshold, as vs. fans of acoustic music who pick or sing? Subjectively, it almost feels like the fan:participation ratios of basketball/baseball/football as compared to Ultimate.

It probably also emerges from working within a remarkably specific and conventional form.

But what do I know? I can't pick a goddamned note.

2 Somewhat literally, although I wrote this sentence in a figurative frame of mind. Of course, no one is John Paul Jones, excepting possibly himself. But you know what I mean.

3 Hiatus. Inevitable reunion tours. The template is set, but when does it not dictate a fundamental end-point?

Thursday, July 26

Have scored Rockygrass tickets. May not be eating until next paycheck.

Wednesday, July 25

The Winfield tickets came in the mail recently. My friend Shawn called up not long after and said unjustifiably kind things about my writing. I haven't written anything in what feels like months and may be longer. T reports that he's been serving Chris Thile coffee in Lyons, and I suddenly realize that I might not be able to live with myself if I skip the festival this weekend in order to sit around the house sweating in the dead still air and skimming craigslist for tolerable jobs in the physically / morally / mentally / intellectually corrupt bullshit scam artist bureaucracy-enablement industry that is software. (The new boss is the same boss but behind a keyboard we the latest iteration of an ineffectual technocratic elite are allowed to pretend that this privilege is a sign of change. Jesus wept.) And meanwhile Elizabeth proceeds, through all the petty torment imposed by her parasitic and almost unbearably successful employers towards an advanced degree and a suburban basement preschool.

Sunday, July 22

Anybody know of a decent place for rent in or about Boulder, CO, for less than 1200 bucks?

Saturday, July 14

I've been skimming MJD's Higher-Order Perl this past week. It's a very clever book. If you enjoy hacking Perl at all, it's almost certain to be worth your time.

For some reason, HOP has got me thinking again about producing a book-length work - and feels, somehow, like the sort of book I would like to produce. This is an odd thing to be thinking, possibly because "very clever" is not in my bag of tricks. Certainly because I don't have much to say about code.

Perhaps there is, in that collection of books that I would like to have written, some unifying theme or orientation. Then again, maybe not. It's always possible to construct some grand theory to unify the lies you've told yourself about art, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Sunday, July 1

recent observations

  • I wasn't sure about Sky Blue Sky until I watched the DVD that came with. I'm more inclined to like it now, though I still think "What Light" is the best track.
  • The teriyaki quesadilla may not actually be the worst culinary idea on earth, but it's going to need some refinement.
  • PHP sucks donkey balls.
  • I have an affinity for tools and methods which trigger knee-jerk dismissal by highly-paid professionals.
  • Everything that's wrong with the institutional culture of the Boulder Public Library is neatly expressed by the number of unused library-catalog-only PCs at the end of the row of public web access machines, which are always in use and usually have people waiting in line.