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The Rural Alberta Advantage at Bottom of the Hill

This was a show I was happy to show up late for, because the two openers didn't sound like they would be much fun. I was proven right when I got there halfway through the second band's set and it was pretty lame.

I was most surprised by the engagement of the crowd; the show was sold out (though it didn't feel like it, compared to scarier-packed shows I'd seen there) and a lot of people jumpy-danced and shouted their favorite words.

In many aspects, they definitely sound better on the album than in person, but Bottom of the Hill's tendency to blow out the sound system didn't help any.

The lady third of the RAA is really, distractingly pretty but she's not given a lot to do. Sometimes she plays the xylophone. Those lady-harmonies are definitely important, though.

In the encore they did one of those go-out-into-the-crowd things, and played "Good Night" about a foot away from my face. It was really fucking special.
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summer update

Today I had my new More Expensive But Much Smaller desk (courtesy Room&Board) delivered, fufilling the desk-size-reduction drive I've had since moving into this apartment three years ago. Now maybe I can consider switching out my rental cable modem for the one I bought when I moved in. Someday.

And I caught up on my flickrs, which was backlogged by about a hundred photos to meaninglessly caption. At least I don't bother to tag them. Notable events pictured: a visit to Monterey Bay Aquarium (amazing), the opera (strange), the SF recycling center (rad), some criticalmasses (typical), and Voxtrot's last (SF) show (sad).

I am basically sick of Facebook; no matter how many people I hide from my feed it doesn't stop producing information that doesn't matter to me. I've cut down my website-refreshing habits to Twitter, LJ and Google Reader. If Twitter and LJ occupied the same space that would be great. Given that probably less than ten people I know have updated LJ this year.

At some point I have to get a hair cut. Other than routine sideburn maintenance, it's been growing continually since the great hair reboot of Mid-January 2010.

I installed Windows 7 because Just Cause 2 won't run on XP. I guess now I kinda sympathize with Microsoft with regard to supporting a decade-old OS; I always thought putting DX10 on Vista+ was a dick move, but given the version fragmentation problems on iOS and Android I've started to see it in a new light.

Recently I've played through Starcraft 2 (amazing production values, bad writing), most of Just Cause 2 (very relaxing sandbox, ultimately unfulfilling), some of Dragon Quest 9 (obnoxiously oldschool, borderline unplayable), along with some movie-watching and what have you. I've just about stopped reading books altogether. It makes me fall asleep.

I am grateful for the Nintendo DSiXL I bought, as it keeps me awake in times of boredom, notably Caltrain. Picross 3D is great.

Basically I've spent the Summer not challenging myself in any way, which is comfortable. The summer is a great time to sortof exist without having to expend a lot of effort doing so. It's winter when I always have to go out of my way to stay entertained.

Looking forward to:
Movies: Scott Pilgrim
Games: Fallout: New Vegas, Rock Band 3, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Grand Theft Horse whenever Rockstar feels like putting it on PC.
Shows: Tokyo Police Club next week, Treasure Island.
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important event

Yesterday Lillie dropped her iPhone into the Sutro Baths.

Only in San Francisco!

I fished it out and it's currently hibernating in a bag of rice. She got a new one from work, so whether or not it comes back to life is a mostly intellectual exercise.

After that we ate at Burma SuperStar. They bring you a bunch of exotic salad ingredients on a plate and then mix it up in front of you, as if to say "hey i brought a salad for you OOH NOW I MESSED IT ALL UP I MESSED IT UP RIGHT IN YOUR FACE. nerd."

Sorry for not updating. Sorry mostly to myself.
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a far too long list of band names in bold text

Stripmall Architecture was great; they're the modern survivors of this other band Halou I guess, who I kindof like. Ima gonna see them again soon.
Twin Tigers was too loud and generally noisy-not-catchy.
Lilofee were their normal selves. I almost got showered with tambourine-stuff when she shook one until it broke.

In recent experience, whenever they let just-anyone into the Rickshaw Stop, there are a LOT of under-21s at the Rickshaw Stop. Which can be a menace, but I've found them to often bring a great enthusiasm, that is when they're just standing about being super grossly young. Which is to say, they have dance in their pants. So there was a lot of uptake on the sort of beatlesy-teen-heartthrob thing The Saucy Jacks had going, at least among the people there early enough to see them play. People were similarly active for Pleasure Kills, which is fronted by this Karen O. type character of a vocalist, and I hope I am not just saying that because she looked asian. She had like this punk rock attitude that I could take or leave, drinking some water and spraying it into the crowd and you know what ever.

By the time Slow Club there was still hardly anyone around, I guess it can be hard to fill a room at a Wednesday concert. They played the song acoustic in the crowd which was lovely, and their set was every bit as adorable as I'd hoped. For how few people were in the room, there were an awful lot making a ruckus back by the bar during most of the show, causing a lot of hushing and shushing from the band. They played their encore (a cover that I didn't recognize) acoustic from the bar, where members of the second band and their entorage had been chatting it up following their set. That shut them up, at the cost of being kind of silly and awkward.

Altars seemed very good, though the vocals are lacking. They're just starting out it seems, and with a name that generic it's real hard to google for them.
Geographer put on a reliably great show. As always, I wish the kids in the crowd were more into it. When he mentioned the new EP was available at the merch table Ben yelled out "I BOUGHT IT ON ITUNES" which was silly.
Lovelikefire was unremarkable and I was dog-tired from attending GDC that week so I left early.

Sally Crewe & The Sudden Moves: not good. Poor vocals, uninspired instrumentation. I feel like a dick for saying so. Set the expectations low for the rest of the night, I guess.
I'd been fully exhausted and reluctant to even try too hard to get to this show, given that I'm not too big on the new Ted Leo record. But once he started playing, holy shit. He bears down on every song with a relentlessness you can't hear on the album. A joyous experience.

This became one of those shows where I fall in love with a headliner so hard just before the show that they outclass the main act, the last example I can remember being Oh No! Oh My! opening for I think Suburban Kids. I often ignore the lyrics to songs, but when I was biking to the show and Freelance Whales "Starring" hit me over the iPod with "shut me up with your long tube socks, they don't seem hey-let's-just-be-friends" I knew this was going to be a band of great interest to me. They fought through some serious sound difficulties (I think they had to play at least one song completely without a bass) but overall were stellar, I'd definitely go see them headline anywhere.

There was a snarky voice in my head that told me I shouldn't be liking people who look as Williamsburgy as this, bopping around being my age and singing songs about shit that people my age think, with banjos and glockenspiels. That voice is an asshole and whosoever created it can have it back.

They do have a real dumb band name, though. It's genericly Adjective-Noun enough to be hard to remember.

Bear in Heaven self-list as 'psychadelic' on their myspace which makes them not as much a thing I would Actually Listen To. But they were very technically competent for what that is.

Cymbals Eat Guitars lead singer bears the very slightest resemblence to Jason Segal and sweats an amazing amount through the show. Like, there was sweat just raining off his nose like a faucet. I could never get that sweaty without the desire to continually wipe my face so he's definitely got some manner of constitution over me. The crowd was reserved, someone sarcastically heckled "way to get into it, crowd" causing a band member to retort "I've never heard crowd-on-crowd heckling before". But nonetheless it was great. By the end there were very few people left, maybe most had came for the earlier bands. I guess it was a Thursday afterall.

The next thing I'm going to see is Whitest Kids Alive on April 14th, giving me a needed break.
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reoccurance of a phase, or more literally: concert dates

Dearest friends, potential friends, frenemies, strangers and strange enemies,

I have purchased tickets to the following upcoming music shows.

Day Band Place
2010-03-10 Slow Club Rickshaw Stop
2010-03-11 Lovelikefire and Geographer Rickshaw Stop
2010-03-23 Ted Leo and the Pharmacists GAMH
2010-03-25 Cymbals Eat Guitars BotH
2010-04-14 The Whitest Boy Alive Slim's
2010-04-20 Ra Ra Riot The New Parish
2010-04-23 Stripmall Architecture and Geographer Cafe du Nord
2010-05-07 Los Campesinos! Regency Ballroom
2010-05-19 Frightened Rabbit Fillmore
2010-06-02 Why? The New Parish

You are welcome to consider attending and your suggestions are also encouraged.
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read: South of the Border, West of the Sun

Man this is one short easy book. Gotta have the lowest word count of any Murakami. For all I know. I'm no good at reading, but this 200-pager must've taken me less than five hours total.

I guess it is a lot like Norwegian Wood in that it's "guy is hung up on some ladies he knows from childhood". Moves fast. Teaches us valuable lessons about life is hard and people hurt each other because they want to have sex with other people? I guess. Maybe it doesn't teach those lessons.

This breaks a long streak of my worrying that I couldn't read any more fiction. Turns out I can as long as it's written at the eighth grade level. No offense, murakams.

People on the internet are reading 2666; this was what Infinite Summer was supposed to do as its follow-up, but it got passed on to this Roberto Bolano blog. Hard for that to pull me in, because that blog looks like a big ugly pile of gross. But I imagine I'll start it sometime before they finish.
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video games, personal maintenance, and forgetting always forgetting

About three weeks ago, I finally stopped watching The Daily Show / Colbert Report, after a five year streak of never missing an episode. Prior to that I'd normally try to catch up on Sundays, and also experimented with watching them on the train with the Macbook Professional.

I no longer performed this task to derive joy, but out of obligation. It wasn't entertainment so much as medicine, and I wasn't sure what it was supposed to cure. The jokes were stale and hurtful and the method of their telling hadn't seemed to change in years. Formula rants, whooshy graphics, angry fights with republican guests, making fun of people doing political things outside, same stuff every day.

I can say my life has since only changed for the better. I can spend those three hours weekly doing something other than being yelled what to believe about the political process.
Did a cursory runthrough of Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion, which I started right before going to New York and promptly and correctly forgot all about.

This at least allowed me to finally uninstall it and the gazillion mods you have to cobble together to make Oblivion playable. That's like twelve gigs I've got back in my life.
Tore through Mass Effect 2 in a couple of days; one of the best put-together games ever. It shot its way right onto the list:

Planescape: TormentBlack Isle1999
We Love KatamariNamco2005
Mass Effect 2Bioware2010
Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2iNiS2007
Deus ExIon Storm2000

This evening I tried to move my car across the street because of street sweeping, but the key wouldn't turn. I knew I'd encountered this issue before, but didn't remember how I solved it.

Went home, got my spare key to see if it would work any better. It doesn't help that my car is a 15 minute bike ride from my apartment.

Just when I was ready to call AAA (necessitating another home-and-back trip, I don't keep my card on me), I read-the-fucking-manual: if the key doesn't turn, try moving the steering wheel left or right until it does. Done. Goddamnit.

See, this is only a problem when I park with the steering wheel way all the way to one direction, which happens maybe once a year. I remember enough to know that it was a problem in the past but I can never recall how the problem got fixed.

Programming-wise, this is how I tend to feel at work every day.
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the goings-on of the weekend of 2010-01-22 - 2010-01-24

The hair is coming back okay. Soon enough it'l pass the stage of "why did you shave your head?" to "why did you cut your hair so short?"

A couple weekends ago there was a Steam sale: Civilization IV + expansions for $10. I hadn't played any Civ since II, so I figured why not.

Saturday while I was looking for things to do that involved going outside I clicked open Civ4 around 2pm. Left the chair only once, to get a burrito at 2:30am, before everything closer than Safeway would stop providing food. Finished at 5am, a weak-assed Time Victory.

Sunday after wandering outside a short bit I clicked open Beyond the Sword and emerged at the slightly more reasonable 10pm. Space victory in 1960 or so.

Both games were on the default (second-easiest) difficulty, not so much playing a strategy game as lingering around clicking on stuff in a game filled with people who rarely attack you. I fail to see how you can win a Domination victory in this game; enemy civs stack units so deep that even when your force vastly outclasses them (modern armor vs longbowman) it takes forever just to sit and chew through them.

I promptly uninstalled Civ4 forever after concluding I had other things to do with ten-hour spans of my life.

I got to visit the new Rosamunde late on Sunday, which was a sad/creepy/bewildering experience. They're open till 11pm on Sunday, unlike anything else in the Mission but bars and corner stores. But people either don't know this or they've satisfied their hungers in other ways; I was the only one desiring of sausage in their big expansive 24th-street adjacent location.

Just me, the register girl pumping out Outkast tracks on vinyl, a guy cleaning this and that, a girl doing her homework with a beer, and a guy cooking a sausage. Felt like the largest goddamned emptiest food eatery in the San Francisco.

Not to say they're doing poorly; I'm pretty sure they've had a packed crowd during regular business hours this week. I expect they'll pull back their Sunday hours though.

The new Los Campesinos! apparently leaked shortly before Christmas, but I didn't find out until Friday. So far, I find it hit and miss. I'm blaming a lot of what I don't like on the production, but I don't really know enough about what that means to know if it could be correct. A lot of the sounds just wash all together, the cymbals seem to cover everything on "I Warned You". "Plan A" in particular is hard to get through because the vocals peak so high.

Conversely "Straight in at 101" and "This is a Flag" have awesome openings. "I Just Sighed" is a standout, and I already liked "There Are Listed Buildings".

Seems to me that a lot of these songs work better singly than trying to hit them all in a full album listen. I guess that's fair; I don't ever listen to "Hold On Now, Youngster" in order and I only find the first three of "We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed" indispensable.

They're coming on May 7, by the way. To the Regency Ballroom, which is weird.

Next week includes a probably-soggy Critical Mass, and Geographer is playing what sounds like it might be a pretty fun gig at the Rickshaw. Who wants to come with me?
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the real vacation, in review

Christmas break was hardly a vacation since I spent it in San Diego worrying about my life. How have things been since?

Wednesday: video games

NYE: Bootie. Seemed like just a regular bootie, albeit with more party favors / countdowns / balloon dropping. Not something I'd pay $55 (!) for again, but glad to see what goes on there for New Years.

Friday: video games

Saturday: some climbing, music downloadery. Trying to formulate a comprehensive plan for attacking all the music I ain't listened to yet. Checked out the new Borderlands Cafe in the mish. It's strange. I have Opinions about it.

Sunday: Rode across the bridge and wandered up the Coastal Trail for a bit. There's other trails out there that I want to explore but I really needed to get to the end of this one, because the last time I went it got too dark and I had like hiker interruptus.

Saw Up in the Air which was perfect, amazing, spectacular, I can't heap enough praise on this movie. Makes me worried about trying to see Avatar, because I know I'll hate a lot of it, especially in comparison.
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what books did I probably read this year

Oh, gawwg. I don't remember. But luckily I'm such a moneybags that I buy and keep whatever I read, so I think this is accurate, barring any books I've thrown away/eaten/sold:


Beth Lisick, Helping Me Help Myself C-

Bram Stoker, Dracula D (not just d for dracula)

Cormac McCarthy, The Road B

Dan Kennedy, Rock On C

David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System C+
David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster A-
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest A+

Doug Dorst, Alive in Necropolis B-

Haruki Murakami, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World B
Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood A+

Jonah Lehrer, How We Decide B-

Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated A
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close A

Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food B-
Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma B

Nick Hornby, High Fidelity A-
Nick Hornby, About a Boy B+
Nick Hornby, How to be Good A-

Saul Bellow, Seize the Day B


15%: Michael Pollan's A Place Of My Own. Lacks the punch and purpose of his later work. Lots of talk about feelings and not so much about plant secrets.

35%: Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Hundred Years of Solitude. Couldn't relate to any of the murdering and child raping and whatever else goes on in magically realistic somewhere-in-the-past.

30%: Larry Wilmore's I'd Rather We Got Casinos. Read some but threw it in the free bin at Dog-Eared after finding it one of the least funny 'humor' books I've ever read. You can companion that previous sentence with the fact that as a youth I read almost every Dave Barry book.

10%: A short drift into self-help with Leil Lowndes How to Talk to Anyone, because hey, I want to talk to anyone. Couldn't make it very far without my stomach churning from all the phony-ness, which I guess must be how it is to listen to someone who claims they can talk to anyone.

Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (reading, in theory)
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men (under the 'read short books' plan ... )
George Orwell, Animal Farm (took it to San Diego, didn't read a word)
Roberto Bolano, 2666 (for if the Infinite Summer crew reads it like they promised)
Paul Auster, Oracle Night
David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing... and Girl With Curious Hair
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
John Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore and probably also whatever the next Murakami I see on a bookshelf is.
Douglas Coupland, JPod (reluctantly, Microserfs really annoyed me)
Abbot Stewart, Flatland
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
Dave Eggers, What is the What
Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation (purchased, but don't really care about reading. You can only put so many "what you eat is wrong" books in your mouth)