Monday, November 01, 2010



I'm migrating over to a new blog because by some awesome and strange chance is available, and it looks a little more professional and all as I'm making steps into the real world. So. I guess head that way, because this one is pretty much dead.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Going for it on 4th and Long

Quick one before I crash.

I'm moving to Portland in a little over 8 days. It's sort of my Hail Mary pass on 4th and Long (football references are surprisingly apt for life situations). This marks the beginning of my final week in town. Trying to make it something of all sorts of epic. This includes catching the Michigan v Michigan State game in the big house, drinking at the Peanut Barrel, running Lake Lansing, probably hitting up Sip n Snack and Tasty Twist. I'm open to suggestions.

I'm very nervous about the move. About going out there with nothing.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Empire Strikes Back of Life

I'm not entirely sure what to call what happened to me on Wednesday. It's not exactly fired so far as I can tell. It's not exactly laid off. It's not exactly let go. I didn't exactly quit.What happened was that, as of 5:00 PM Wednesday afternoon I found myself completely unemployed. Here's how it went down...

I graduated in May, but I stayed on with the library because job hunting has been even less than unsuccessful. One awful interview the whole summer (I put in my time, got my piece of paper, where's my job?). So I stayed on with my school job, figuring they'd be willing to work with me come the fall.
Wednesday afternoon I'm sitting in our teaching classroom, a smaller room with about twenty computers. No one ever comes into the classroom, which is nice because it affords me the time to sit around and surf youtube, read wikipedia, and job hunt (usually in that order). My boss comes in with a group of the new recruits to use the classroom and give them a rough orientation on a lot of the software and services our office supports. But before that she takes the time to introduce the couple of people in the classroom already.

When she gets to me she says, “And this is Nathan, but you won't be seeing a whole lot of him because he's not going to be working with us come the start of the semester.”

Ok, I think and offer a perfunctory wave while I'm working on the flyer for some of the classes offered in the fall, that makes sense, I'm planning on moving out to Portland, Oregon and attempting to wing a bohemian life out there with the friends who've already headed out, and that's happening in October, a few months away.

Then I stop. Something doesn't jive with something else. The start of the semester. So I go to the school's website and search Academic calendar. Pull up Fall 2010, and see the starting date for the semester: 09/07/2010. Next Tuesday. Then another thought comes rushing out in an angry, confused fury. I don't work between Wednesday and Monday (and we're closed on Monday for Labor Day) Then the two thoughts jump together. My stomach lurches just to get in on the building shock. I don't work again between now and the start of the semester. Today is my last day. Would've been nice to have a heads up, I think.

I think about, after the class has split, stopping in my bosses office and confronting her, but if this is her way of saying I'm fired, it's really nonconfrontational, and I'm not feeling like stepping it up much and taking the higher road. When I get home I fire her an email asking her if, all things considered that makes today my last day.

“Yeah,” she says, “I guess it is.”

“Oh, ok,” I respond, “can I get a letter of reference?”

“Yep, not a problem,” she responds.

And that was it.

It's put everything else into a desperate perspective. Student loans are about to start rolling in, here with October so close. I'm not finding any work. I'm barely finding any potential, and those that I can apply for are rarely taking the time to write back and say “Sorry, we're not interested.”

I'm a graduate from the Univeristy of Michigan with a marketable degree in information literacy an library services. I'm articulate. I'm young, and driven. I'm stuck so far behind the eight-ball.

I don't know what I'm going to do.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost a retrospective.

Warning to Travelers: Here There Be Spoilers

I was going to make a post last night after the end of Lost, but admittedly I wasn't entirely sure where I stood on it. I got swept up in the instantaneous twitter feedback (just search #lost on twitter) and the spitting ire of everyone who felt they got somehow gypped. Where did I stand on the whole thing? Did I feel two-timed by the writers for not so much reneging on their promise that the whole thing was the afterlife (it wasn't but it's something a lot of people missed because they were too busy being mad and not taking the time to listen)? Did I feel vindicated for the six years that I dedicated to being a fan of the show? It had my head spinning so much that I, instead of jumping into the debate decided to take some time to really mull on it.

I'm not going to do a play-by-play review of the episode. There are enough reviews out there that do that. Besides, I'd rather see you put in the time to finish the series and savor the episode in its context. What this more is a reflection on the series, and the implications on storytelling.

What Lost is, what it's revealed to me in the hours since seeing the finale yesterday, is a first draft novel. Every episode a chapter. The full story not visible until the conclusion. Why a first draft? Because with a format like television, things are written on the fly. Ideas can change or morph. Bursts of brilliance emerge that weren't initially there (Ben Linus going from a cameo to a pivotal character). What you think is so important at the outset might just be a red herring or a tributary away from what's really at the core of the story. When you get to the end what you have is this unruly mound of stuff. There is a shape to it, and in some places there are moments and periods of truly refined brilliance, but it is still at its core a first draft novel. In need of revisions, and shaping, and sometimes of killing your dears for the sake of the story you're trying to tell.

And that's what Lost is. Like a first draft the early parts are refined. That kernel of a story has time to percolate and the opening chapters of the story all bristle and move with an electric excitement that a new story has. It's bursting with ideas and it's just so damn excited to tell you about them, yet it's still nervously hesitant to give anything away because it wants to make sure that you get a whole story. And we as readers pick up on that. When the writer is excited, we're excited. It's why we can read things that turn out to suck, and get through the opening chapters before realizing it sucks. We get swept along with the sheer exuberance of the storyteller.

Something happens to the story though. Maybe a third of the way through, maybe half. The story gets burdened down. The writer knows where the story has to end up, and the writer knows where the story has already been, but the writer is stuck in the middle. Surrounded on all sides by messy loose ends they've got tie up as much as they can. Tie it all together. Things get wandery as the writer has to try things out and find what's important. They have to make mistakes, and they have to get sidetracked by their "babies" until they realize that, while it might be interesting, it's not important in the grand scheme of things. Lost had these moments right around seasons 3 and 4.

Then a threshold is crossed. Maybe the writer just reaches a point where there is so much goddamned weight behind the story they're trying to tell, maybe the writer has just had it and finally liberates themselves of the burden of the middle, and they come screaming out of the shoot like a rocket, barreling full on to what they hope is a brilliant conclusion. A conclusion that they hope is sound. A conclusion that is just so epic that they can't wait to tell it. A conclusion, which oftentimes feels a little inevitable and expected. The problem is that when examined as a whole the ending might not entirely fit (at the moment) with the story behind it. Spiritually it does. It fits, but it's a little wonky. It fits but there some parts hanging out that just don't quite tie up neatly (not that everything needs to). An ending that for the moment leaves the writer satisfied, but is undeniably in need of the craftsman's hands smoothing out the parts leading up to it. Shaping everything, whittling away at the fat and carving in the details. Killing the babies.

That's what Lost was. A first draft novel. A first draft novel where every week for a year the writers release the next chapter immediately, and can't ever go back to rearrange what preceded it because it was always out there. A first draft novel that realized the importance of somethings and the unimportance of other things, and lacked the ability to go back and change it and tweak it before the world hounded down on it. It's a ballsy statement of storytelling and craftsmanship.

When Jack's eye closed for the final time in last night's episode, no one could deny the power of that bookended image, and the understanding that the writers had a rough idea of where they were going, and probably had an ending in sight (I know I did while writing the first draft of my first novel). That the writers weren't entirely sure where it was going in the middle (again I had no idea, and was willing to play out whatever sidetracks were necessary to find the true story). It's also undeniable that the writers were under some of the sharpest scrutiny ever to be leveled on a show because it demanded the viewers and the fans to give more than just their viewing time, but to full appreciate the show had to immerse completely in the culture. It has and still is changing the face of how we approach media, and the television medium. It was daring and it was ballsy. It demanded a lot of its viewers and it proved its very theme, live together, or die alone.

When the doors to the church were opened by Christian Shepherd one last time during last nights finale, and we were all watching breathlessly as the characters we loved moved on, we the viewer were forced to move on too. But we did, as Jack charged the crash victims of flight 815, live together.

Lost you were and are loved, and you will be missed. Thank you for challenging me to think about writing, and about being a fan, and about being a person.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lost Finale Tonight!

Watching the two hour recap of Lost in the preparation for the finale of the show. It's making me think a lot about storytelling and about reader/viewer involvement. It's got me thinking a lot about the endings of stories (for obvious reasons) and about letting go.

It's something I have a hard time with, I think, letting go. I noticed it with the musicals back in high school. I'd get to the end of the cast party and then spend a day or two after in this sort of funk because a phase is over. I noticed it when I finished my first read-through of the Lord of the Rings, silly I know, but something like that is a massive time commitment. I noticed it with just about every show I've finished, the LOTR movie trilogy, Battlestar Galactica, the Dark Tower book series, and now tonight, Lost.

It's a testament to the power of story, and to the mastery of the craft that the creators of those aforementioned works. To be able to take these fictitious creations and to engage people so much that letting go is hard. That it feels like being dumped. That it feels like the ending of an era that happens with graduation. It's something that I could only hope to achieve with my creations.


In other news I'm less than a week away from the Madison, WI marathon. I'm feeling less prepped for it than I did for Detroit. I got sick a week ago and I'm still reeling from the damage. Either way it should be a good time, I'm just hoping that my running time will be better than last. Shooting for a 3:40:00 (ran a 3:55:28 at Detroit).

I'm also still in the midst of the job hunt. I'm not working as hard on it as I should. Planning on stepping it up this week, and maintaining a level of productivity to get the job.

And now Lost is starting, and I've gotta go. Post-Lost reflection when I get done.

Until then, go here and read my book reviews:

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Iron Man 2: First Impressions.

I'm not sure if anyone else has said anything like this, if they let me know because I would like to read it, but after seeing Iron Man 2 tonight I've walked out with many first impressions and one very important conclusion. Cinematically speaking Marvel Studios and the "Avengers Initiative" has the future of movies standing on a very interesting and probably very dangerous precipice. This is ground that has not yet been tread on before (the X-Men films have kind've done it, but not quite to this extent).

As everyone is no doubt aware at this point, Marvel Studios has a plan. It's a grand plan. It's a plan that now has the financial backing of the Disney juggernaut, hell, the Disney Colossus, behind it. It starts with the Avenger Initiative, but where does it end? For the non-comic reader, what this is is a cinematic reproduction (or adaptation) of the Marvel Universe. What that means is this: Over the last 60+ years of its life Marvel Comics has given us many heroes, initially all were in their own titles, and their own universes, and their ramifications were all effective in their own universes. Much like the early Marvel films of the aughts (including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Punisher, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four) each of these films seemed to exist entirely separate of each other. Then in 2008 came Iron Man and everything changed. Not the movie itself. No, the movie was a thrill ride. It stood alone, and it stood proudly (with maybe a bit drunken of a swagger). It came after the credits. Half the audience left by the time it happened. The last credit rolled. The company title. Black screen and then bam:

Samuel L. Jackson. The basis for General Nick Fury in the Ultimate Marvel Universe was sitting in the living room of Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark, spouting off about the Avenger's Initiative, and everything fucking changed.

Comics entered the movie world, and the ball started rolling towards the Avengers. Two years later the Incredible Hulk has come out, Thor is in production, Chris Evans is cast as Captain America, and Iron Man 2 has just come out. And what does all this preface have to do with my review of Iron Man 2? This:

Continuing down the road that we are on with films that rely on established characters, or massive multi-character/multi-movie franchises we are facing what could potentially become the end of traditional cinema. In this sort of visual medium, television shows have always been akin to serialized stories or novels (see any sitcom for the serial, and shows like Lost or Battlestar Galactica for the novel). We have cable, and each week we tune in for another installment of what will hopefully come to a conclusion of sorts eventually (Lost has helped set the stand for future "maxiseries" televised novels (a rant for another time)) unless we fall prey to the Gilligan's Island Syndrome (also a rant for another time). Movies on the other hand are short stories (the well-made ones can be as far as novellas, but are generally shorter stories). We pay our ten bucks (hopefully less, probably more) and we sit down and are told a satisfying and mostly complete story. Sometimes there are series, but each film gives us a complete story. Even Christopher Nolan, the helmer of the current (and IMO, best) Batman incarnation has said that with the third film he will bring it to a conclusion because movies are not comics, and movies have to end. "Au Contraire," says Marvel with their Avenger Initiative. With the cashcow of the Marvel Universe and their established characters all they have to do is build in connections, and let the movie/money machine roll. Thus comes Iron Man 2.

Is it a good movie? Not really. Essentially it relies on a couple of pretty cheap deus ex machina plot devices (many scripts do, sure, but "don't cross the streams!" really?). It builds up a lot, and doesn't really give us the satisfactory ending we deserve. But on the whole it was a damn good ride. Stuff blows up real good. Tony has some funny one-liners. There's a few awkward sexual moments, and AC/DC provides a wonderful soundtrack.

Walking out of the movie my geek side was dancing like a drunken leprechaun inside my head, so pumped for the Avengers movie (2012), but my more mature movie-goer/storyteller mind was saying "wait a minute." The movie itself is a giant two hour preview for the Avengers. We're given teasers. The Hammer. The Shield. SHIELD logos. References to the black-ops. Fury saying he's "the most real person you'll meet." Things to get my comic reading, mythology loving head practically screaming and singing along with AC/DC (which I did considering it was a private screening and there was some alcohol involved). All this preparation for what's coming is great, but someone forgot to remind Favreau that we need Iron Man 2 first, before we can get Avengers, and that this movie needs to stand alone by its own merits.

To harp further on the story, Iron Man 2 confirms a lesson that was alluded to by the rather lackluster ending of the Dark Knight (a rant for another time), and made quantifiable by the trainwreck that was Spider-Man 3. When dealing with superhero films, an intricate story is fine, but what there needs to be is a very focused villain. Rhodey's potential betrayal, Hammer's ineptitude, the US Governments oppressively-presented attempts to acquire the Iron Man suit, Ivan Vanko's rather wasted early appearance and quick resolution. All of these villainous plots serve to muddle a story that can't quite find its focus. There is the beginning of intricate links between them, involving the introduction of War Machine, and drones for 4 out of the 5 branches of the military (what no love for the coast guard?) but then things go all explodey, and it seems like the script-writers were looking for a fast way to tie things up. All in preparation for a scene between Fury and Stark discussing what's to come, and not what's happening.

But am I to sit here and harp and harp and harp about the story, about the occasionally draggy talky spots in the middle, about the way the story sort of drunkenly stumbles like Tony Stark in the Iron Man suit at his birthday party, and have you leave thinking that I walked out of the movie grumbling? Because I didn't. If you've made it this far you need to know that, if nothing else, I had a great time. It drunkenly stumbled and tumbled forward like a good comedian who is better when he's sober, but is still riotous when he's had a few, and I was led along happily to its lackluster conclusion, smiling and laughing, and cheering all the way. What it does, it does well, and what it doesn't do well it manages to slather in geeky nods to the fanboys that warmed the cockles of my comic reading heart. Go see it, if only for AC/DC, the shield, the hammer, and Scarlett Johansson in a catsuit that is almost physically impossible.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The First Day of the Rest Of Your Life

I graduated on Friday. And again on Saturday. The Friday ceremony was the School of Information ceremony. A more personal one with our individual names being read as we walk across the stage and our families cheer and try to embarrass their graduating children with louder whistles or cat-calls (thankfully no air horns). The whole affair was fun. My grandparents were there, as were my parents. There was a reception after with good food, and a chance to meet the parents of all of the people I went to school with (many "ah-ha!" moments as I could see the evolution of my friends' habits reflected in their parents). It was odd, though, still having the same sensation that graduating from Columbia had.

When I graduated from Columbia there was definitely a sense of celebration, but it was muted with the knowledge that really all that was happening was I was packing up, moving home, and prepping to start school again in the fall at the University of Michigan. Everyone else had this sort of shell-shocked, yet excited sense of being done, but I was just bracing to start the whole process over again. That was how the first of two ceremonies felt.

Saturday was the University-wide graduation at the big house. As you know, it was also the one that Obama spoke at. His whole speech you can watch online.

They had him set about on the 50 Yard Line, and I was out on about the south-side 10 yard line in front of the band. They were saying the audience was upwards of 80,000+ Only the section behind the main stage was empty, and the giant Michigan block-M was visible. It was a pretty mighty sight.

That commencement for me came with a surprisingly bittersweet revelation that this was it. That after essentially my entire life in school that I was finally done with sitting in lectures, staying up late writing massive assignments that I should've factored more time to do, and formal learning. Considering how long I've been looking forward to it, it rather left me with a slightly scared, but more sentimental realization that I'm going to miss it.

I've been planning to sit down and write a reflection of my school career from the end. I might write it soon. More than likely it'll slip by in the wake of everything that's coming up and I'll never do it. Either way, I've been writing it in my head for a while, and the one thought that always comes to mind when I sit down to think about it was that, for me, the most memories of school don't ever come from the times that I'm sitting in class learning, but instead from the times that I was between classes with friends, learning about life. The late nights at the bars. The group projects and learning to give and take. The skipping of classes to go do other things. The memory of school for me will always be the moments between classes. The opportunities to meet people that I'd never meet any other way. The collective experience with hundreds of other people. That I'll miss more than anything else, that I'll remember better than any other part. Not the readings. Not the lectures. The friends.

One of the things lost in the wake of being out of school, and at this point still without a real job, is the sudden surplus of free time. The ability to just get lost in not doing a damn thing. To fight this I'm giving myself an ambitious to-do list to attempt to do each day, in the hopes that I can set a level of productivity to carry me, instead of just getting swallowed in the summer slacking. First and foremost on it is getting a job, but a strong second is editing the novel. I'll be splitting my focus on this blog on both the job prospects and issues facing a library grad, as well as the process of writing, editing, and hopefully publishing. Should be amusing.

Saturday, May 01, 2010


It's been about a month and a half. This isn't going to be a real blog post, that'll come when I've had a chance to get my thoughts in order. Mostly just a heads up that I'm still here.

Over the next few weeks this blog is going to be undergoing some changes I think. I just graduated from the University of Michigan with my Masters of Science in Information. The infamous job-hunt is about to begin (well, it's about to restart really...) I'll be shifting focus of this blog a bit away from the writing and lifestyle stuff, and hopefully starting to build a bit of a professional blog tracking what I'm doing in the library world as well as what I'm doing with writing.

More to come. Stay Tuned...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Back to Reality

I'm back settled in Michigan. It's consistently in the 50s here now, and I'm afraid of being premature and jinxing our good fortune, but I think somebody found old man winter and finally put one through his heart. I'm sure of this because yesterday I drove around with the windows down and the Apples In Stereo playing, and everything felt really good and right.

Coming back from Los Angeles to Minnesota I met a guy named Duncan on the flight and we talked for hours about everything from writing to library senior programming, and the xenophobic nature of mankind. Usually during flights I plug into my headphones and disappear either in a book or into writing until I fall asleep, but this time, when the snack cart came around I took of my headphones and the conversation started up about how clean my handwriting is. It was a welcome change of pace.

I was in Minnesota long enough to get a beer and watch an episode of the Office on the bar's television before I hopped a terrifying little puddle jumper up over the great lakes and then back home.

Now it's back to school, and work, and generally just biding my time for another 38 days until graduation is at last upon us.

Yesterday was errand day. I took care of some library stuff, got a haircut (one that will be good, eventually, but that I look in the mirror at and think "you're not bad, but I'm not happy..") and had lunch with my mom.

I'm also starting to prep for this event much in the vein of NaNoWriMo called Script Frenzy. Over the course of April the goal is to write a hundred page script (Movie, TV, Comic, Stage, whatever). Because I'm going to be in the midst of finals insanity, my friend Duke and I are collaborating on a new idea. I'll be blogging the progress of that over the course of April as well as Graduation stuff.

Other than that I've not been up to a whole lot. Wrote two songs over break (the first new songs I've written in 3 years). For a while there I was worried that this was the end of my song writing days. If I ever get around to recording them, I'll post them, if not then you'll have to come out to Homegrown open mic in Lansing to hear them.

Now I'm stuck at home cleaning my room and watching movies, and thinking about how I'd rather be reading comics.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Documentarians, Europeans, and the Job Hunt

A post from the city of angels.

Tonight Kate dragged (read "invited") me to the International Documentary Association's Networking Party. This one is timed to coincide with the Oscars (which is Sunday). While there we met Anders and Torstein Nybo, members of the Norwegian production company that made the Oscar nominated documentary Burma VJ, a film about the Burmese Monk uprising in 2007. And let me just say that Norwegians are great people. Very polite, and talkative, and more than willing to buy the next round (which is great when you're a broke library student hobnobbing with the heavily alcoholic filmmakers). But beyond that Documentary Filmmakers are all great people. They remind me of more talkative librarians in some ways. Very conscious of social justice and full of dreams of the good they want to do with their films, and it was very refreshing in comparison to much of Los Angeles.

Time in LA has been great so far. A lot of hiking the trails and the area in and around West Hollywood, and Burbank today. On Friday Kate and a former roommate of Ben's, Sappy, drove down to the area just north of San Diego and did wine tasting at 3 different wineries and topped the evening off with a stop at Stone Brewery.

The other major thrust of this trip out has been job hunting. Now more than ever I'm sure that I want to get out this way, even if it's only for a small amount of time. I've been firing off job applications at anything with a decent pay check and a location in the city. From more traditional library jobs, to a publishing company sales representative position, to a film company's production assistant. Like I said. Anything.

Now to go watch Lost. More to come, and pictures soon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Go West, Young Man!

Sitting in Flint Airport waiting for the puddle jumper that's going to take me up, and then immediately down again into Detroit for my next plane that will take me into Los Angeles. Constantly amused by the fact that it's cheaper to fly from Flint to Detroit and then to LA than it is to just fly direct to LA. Proof of the arbitrary nature of flight tickets, I suppose. At the very least the wi-fi here is free. I'm not sure if that's true everywhere now, or what.

I'm spending two weeks (roughly) out in Los Angeles to job hunt, explore, and generally recharge the battery for the last 40 odd days of school that'll be left when I return. There's talks of a trip down to Mexico for margaritas, hiking in the hills around West Hollywood, and probably more than one visit to Santa Monica.

I've been trying to get the brain to focus to get the novel rewrites done by the start of March, but unless I suddenly pull another couple of days out of thin air, it's not going to happen. I'm just starting to rework chapter 4, and I haven't touched that since at least a week ago. Chapter three is one of the more violent and emotionally charged chapters. It's sort of the breaking point where readers are either going to say "Edmund, you're one sick sonuvabitch," and they're going to stop reading because he's wrong, or they're going to say, "I feel so sorry for Edmund, but what he's doing is still deplorable," and then they'll throw their lot in for the rest of the novel. God knows I'm hoping for the latter...

We had a writing group on Sunday, and instead of working on one of the multitudes of half-cocked ideas I have sitting around in notebooks or on hard drives, or floating around my brainpan, I instead started with something new. Something about the underground beneath Chicago. Maybe a war between the topsiders and the underground. Something. I'm not entirely sure what yet, but I'm enjoying the vibrancy of the new idea a bunch right now.

My bag is an inch or so bigger than the carryon cutoff. I'm hoping it doesn't cause an issue, because I'd rather not have to deal with checking my bag and having to wait for it, and worry about whether or not it's actually going to make it to LA anyways. Here's hoping, eh?

Hilariously appropriate Sleep Talkin' Man sound for the flight

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reviewy things

Internet is currently shut off, but I've been able to find a pirated signal by sitting on my steps, which I'm doing right now.

I'm in the middle of reading Dante's Divine Comedy right now. It's a spectacular, and obviously very very dense read. The imagery of hell is haunting in ways that I've not seen it before, and should provide some interesting pieces to draw from when I get around to writing again. Writing is something I've not done a lot of lately. I wanted to be done with the Rider by March 1, but at this point I'll be lucky to have finished Act I by then, let alone the whole book by the end of March.

I've finished 2 books so far this year, which is good for me. A friend and I got to talking about books we read last year, and it took me far too long to think of what the last book I finished was. Eventually it came to me. Soon I Will Be Invincible by (I have to look this up) Austin Grossman. It wasn't very good, but it did have moments of success.

So far this year I've read Under the Dome, which was a surprisingly competent and riveting read. The ending was surprising and King's ruthlessness with his characters was very surprising, and refreshing. It took a helluva long time to read, but then again it's a huge book.

The other book was Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse, by Victor Gischler. It was a post-apocalyptic comedy, which is of interest to me considering the story idea I'm working on, Bombed! Go Go Girls was a competent read, but not as spectacular as I was hoping. There are moments of sheer genius (the survival of the Jack Daniels distillery comes to mind first) and there are moments of bland (the rushed climactic battle and rather cliched movie ending). All in all I'd recommend it for its fun popcorn read. It left me with the vibe of an author's first novel. A ton of ideas, and a ton of work, and it'll never be as refined as their later work, but it's the clunky intensity and the sheer labor of love that makes it enjoyable.

Other fun things has been in music. Angels and Airwaves put their album out last weekend, Love. It's one of those that is just so ridiculous and over the top and utterly absurd and intense that you can't help but love it for its many failings. And anything negative I've said about Sleeping at Last's 2009 release, Storyboards, is completely rescinded. That album was a work of pure staggering genius.

Anyways. I leave for LA in 5 days, and I graduate in 59. Life is good.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy 3

Just a quickie while bored in class.

I completely forgot my blog's birthday. February 5th. We're three this year. Real post, reviews, and whatnot to come..

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Procrastinating at its best

This is not good. This is not good at all. I am in the throes of full blown inescapable senioritis. All the symptoms are there. Constant griping about school. Surfing the internet in class. Procrastinating homework until literally hours before its due. When I got my syllabi at the beginning of the semester I caught myself examining them and calculating what I could flub and biff, and still get by with a moderately acceptable grade. If I were performing triage on me, I'd bag and tag myself and move on to less helpless cases.

At this very moment I have a reading response and a 4-6 page paper due tomorrow, neither of which I've started, or have done any of the reading for. Instead I've reviewed a couple short stories, I've religiously checked my inbox, run seven miles for marathon training, done some laundry, made a playlist, and visited my library where I picked up 3 new movies and a couple comics to read and watch and continue procrastinating. Now to go for broke, I'm packing up writing stuff and heading out to the local Biggby for a writing group my friend Duke wrangled, and is asking me to spearhead because of my knowledge of writing workshops from my undergrad. I also wrote a song. First one in a while. It's not finished yet. Maybe I'll work on it tonight.

For being a lazy procrastinator, though, things have been all sorts of insane hectic, which have kept me from doing a proper update for a couple weeks.

First and foremost is the less than wonderful death of my Jeep, Kate. It was a good morning last Tuesday I was making tracks down to Ann Arbor. Smoking my pipe. Stomach full and happy from a breakfast at Sip n Snack. Figuring that it was going to be a good day. Then, about 10 miles outside Ann Arbor she starts to rattle and shake and then dies. I got towed all the way back to Okemos where the guy at the shop took one look at it, said, "yep, it's dead," and have been splitting drive time with my dad's car. More than anything else it's left me angry with this perception of my inability to really care for myself right now. I can't even afford to buy a car on top of other bothersome expenses. Its making my entire move home, which was supposed to save me money, sanity, and allow me a base of cash for when I move to wherever after graduation. That's been shot so hard in the foot that it riccocheted back and hit it in the head.

I had a great rejection letter from a magazine where I actually caused a little bit of conflict between editors, and made a couple of them feel self conscious and pass on my short story. A bummer, yes, but it made me laugh so that was ok. Here's the best part:

"I'm very sorry to say that this story did not pass the review of the entire editorial board.

But I would like to emphasize that I particularly liked this story and the writing. The other editors didn't care for the "dude-based fiction", which seemed hypocritical to me since they are themselves dudes."

And on that note it's time to get my schlock together and go procrastinate further by writing fiction and enjoying myself. 71 Days, 42 Minutes and 5 seconds to go.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Slogging through the editing process

First actual run of training this morning. Verdict is: I don't like running in the cold. I think it aggravates my old athletic-induced asthma.

The big news is that I'm starting to make some serious headway in editing the rider. A couple weeks back I took the weekend and read the novel from cover to cover. This more than anything else showed me how truly far I still have to go. Beyond the couple of "ADD SCENE HERE" notes there were bad jumps in logic, and wandery, unfocused passages, and just a lot more mess than I thought when I first finished the novel. All to be expected. What was the pleasant surprise was just how many problems had really clear and smart solutions that are easily rectified in the rewriting.

The issues started right away with chapter one. Mort Castle, my teacher and friend from Columbia, was always fond of the idea of starting at the start. He explained this as the writer often times needing a few pages when in first draft to just play around and really get settled in the story before the plot takes off. This was exactly what happened (though I'd sworn before that it wasn't) at the beginning of the rider, taking its gentle time introducing us to things slowly before the ball starts rolling. It was an odd sort of juxtaposition, considering how the novel from then on is one relentless barreling barrage to the ending. So I made about a three thousand word chop from the beginning of the rider, knowing that once things get rolling I could go back and touch more on what's been missing. It's been a very smart move.

Finished chapter 2 today with not much hassle and have started outlining the intricate storyline mess of chapter 3.
The actual events aren't all that confusing, as everything sort of all comes together around the rider and ends with him massacring the lot of them (pretty typical device I've noticed in this story), it's just the intercutting between story lines to make sure that the suspense builds properly.

When it comes to the rewriting process, I've found another of my skills has been sharpened to an efficient point. Procrastinating by web surfing. It's unearthed some great gems.

Like a video shot within the University of Michigan Libraries where I work:

And also this wonderful "viral marketing" website about doll warriors that just has to be seen to be believed.

That is all.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Best Kind of Marathon Training

When June 15, 2009 rolled around and I started training for the Detroit Marathon, I had no idea at the time what I was getting myself into. The furthest I'd run before then was no more than 10 miles, and even that was something I was insanely proud of. Yes I could run double digits. I also didn't think that come October and the race I'd be already docking up my next marathon. What I did know was that I liked the training program Kate (my marathon buddy) pointed me towards. Because on Day 1, the training read:

"Monday is always a day of rest...Let's begin this Monday, the first day of your marathon journey, by contemplating the training that will begin tomorrow."
So here on January 5 (now the 26th by the time this thing gets posted) I am again. Resting comfortably with a hot toddy in my basement watching Zodiac. This, long-time readers, is the best kind of marathon training.

Things are a little bit different this time around. When I started last year it was the middle of summer, I was steeped in an internship, just at the end of my first novel. I had a brand new pair of shoes (Size 13 Mizuno Waves). Now it's January. The middle of winter. I'm too broke to buy a new pair of shoes (The ones I have, have at least 460 miles and probably more like 500 miles on them). I'm back in school, and I'm editing the novel that I was finishing. The race instead of training in the heat and running in the cold will be an exact opposite. Training in the cold and running the last weekend of May. Madison here I come.

An interesting fact I discovered: The distance run during training could get me well past Madison (which is only roughly 376 miles).

Tomorrow is the first run distance: 3 miles. A nice casual start.

I was planning on doing a blog on funny discoveries in my journal, that'll wait for tomorrow.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Under The Dome: A Review

There's two thing that I've learned over the last couple years of reading Stephen King. The first is that Stephen King loves sprawling ensemble casts. He even mentions it in the afterword of his 2009 sprawling ensemble epic, Under the Dome. That 1100 page tome sports a cast of almost 30 major characters, outstripping his other 1200 page behemoth, The Stand. The other thing I've learned is that, as much as he loves these large cast grand epics, he has a tendency to biff these novels by relying on a less than satisfying deus ex machina to shake things up at the end. He is, as I can see, better suited to shorter novels (The Gunslinger, The Shining, Carrie, etc) and short stories. But in Under the Dome, King manages to use his weaknesses to his advantage, crafting a scathing commentary on small town life, politics and fear in a post 9/11 world.

It's mid-October in our favorite New England neck of the woods, not far from Castle Rock, and close enough to Shawshank that the fear of imprisonment hangs over one of the characters in the opening chapters. From the sky their drops down a (maybe inappropriately named) Dome around the town of Chester's Mill. A woodchuck is sheered in half, and an airplane is crushed like a fly on a windshield. The dome is completely invisible, save for where they townsfolk stain it with their fruitless attempts to flee, and polution coats it in a shroud of muck. The dome is also for the most part impermiable. The two-thousand-ish residents are trapped and left to their own devices.

Chester's Mill, like any good small town has its own self-important politics and politicos, and it also has its share of dark secrets. Its darkest of which is hidden in the christian radio station on the edge of town. And its this dark secret which might spell doom for the residents of Chester's Mill. The town also has its own demagogue who is both Dick Cheney and George Bush, who is a bit of Hitler, and a bit of Stalin, who is, as every good King villain is, charismatic, and utterly evil. Cut off from the rest of the world this villain, Jim Rennie, a used car salesman and town selectman, assumes slow power complete with his own burning of the Reichstag. And in true Stephen King form this town will be put through the ringer.

The lines get drawn, and for much of it, Under the Dome turns into a black and white battle of good versus evil. A battle which pit neighbors against neighbors, and family against each other, and for the lion's share of the novel, the dome itself takes a backseat to this gruesome small town showdown. And a warning for those approaching this novel expecting explicit explanations, you should know that in terms of story what you're getting yourself into is more Spielberg's War of the Worlds than Emmerich's Independence Day. These are normal folks caught up in a shitstorm, not scientists and soldiers fighting the good fight. This also isn't a bad thing.

Under The Dome takes its time, showing us the town and surrounding area, introducing us to the people that inhabit it, and putting us through the paces with them. The writing is always the breezy prose of Stephen King, never getting bogged down in thick prose, and always promising us a story. At this point King knows how to handle a large cast spread over a large area without losing the big picture and the geographical locations of all his characters. But King is not without his faults. Some of his descriptions almost too original that they illicit groans where awe should be. The sound of an explosion being described as "God's own vacuum sweeper" had me full of chuckles at the wrong time. And certain conclusions are more appropriate but less satisfying than they should be.

Those few minor complaints aside, Under The Dome is one of King's premier works. We are in the throes of a pulp god, and this is one creation of his that should not be missed.

A Later Evening, and kind of Early Morning post.

Frontier Ruckus at the Blind Pig was everything it should've been. I had all my closest friends gathered from Portland, Kalamazoo, and elsewhere. My friends from as far back as elementary school, and as recent as grad school were all together, drinks were involved as well as good music, and it was, as Magnet said, "a little slice of heaven."

Now we're watching the Family Guy Star Wars special, drinking hot buttered rums, and I'm wishing I could've finished Under the Dome tonight. I'm thinking tomorrow it'll happen. And by tomorrow, of course, I mean later today.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Waking up has been very stuttery today. Around 8:30 I was jingled awake by the dog coming around the edge of my door, looking at me and going "woo....woo..." really quietly to let her outside. My first reaction was to want to fly off the handle because I'm waking up, but then I stopped and thought, "she's saving me trouble of having to clean up a 'this is what happens when I'm angry' present in the living room." So I let her out in my pajamas and watched her run around the back yard, and the brisk morning air was waking me up to a point where I didn't think getting back to bed was an option. But still I came back in and laid down. And fell asleep.
Then I rolled over to the sound of my alarm at 9:30. I'd forgotten to turn it off from earlier this week when I have to wake up and hit the road to Ann Arbor for school (86 days left). With that once again off I laid on my back listening to the rattle of the heater stuttering on and off. Thinking, "ok, a few more minutes and I'll get out of bed." And promptly fell asleep again.

Now it's five minutes to 11. It's rather later than I'd like, but because I have the blog open, I'm definitely up at this point. Now I just need to stumble to the kitchen and get some coffee going and attempt to make sense of the day.

Friends from Portland (who were in the first place from here) are back in town for the week. We celebrated their return last night at Dublin Irish Square, a pub that has very little to do with Dublin, and only a passing "hey we have Guinness and Jameson!" fancy to do with the Irish. It was a bizarre evening with a crowd of my Portland friends' friends passing through. We also ran into people none of us had seen since High School (a thing that happens when you go out drinking in your hometown).

Tonight we're going to the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor to see Frontier Ruckus.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Back To School

I love having a stationary bike in my room near the TV. With training for the Madison marathon still 2 weeks away, and no desire to run in the cold unless I have to, I've been spending an hour or so a night on the bike, riding and working my way through Lost (just started the second episode of season 5). Yesterday I rode 25 miles and through the season 4 finale.

Wednesday was the official start of the semester, and though I wasn't supposed have class until Friday, by some sheer coincidence I found myself in Ann Arbor at noon working for four hours and then going to class. Originally my schedule had me taking two classes on Monday and one on Friday (a graphic design class that I signed up for strictly because there was a lack of other classes that were interesting or in my field). Then at 11:30 PM on Tuesday night an email goes out saying "Hey, we're offering SI:515 on Wednesday from 4-7." SI:515 "Material Culture and the Interpretation of Objects" is more an Archivist class than a strict library science class, but it interested me, and was one that I'd originally wanted to take. And by sheer coincidence, a four hour work shift opened up beforehand. Check out the Open courseware syllabus here.

Yesterday I read the first 200 pages of The Rider, in an attempt to start on the editing process. There having been about 6 months since I finished it, it was like reading a brand new novel, which is exactly what I'd been hoping for. There are some glaringly obvious errors and weak spots. Better than that, there are stronger solutions logically presenting themselves that I can work on over the next couple months of editing. I'm hoping to finish the readthrough (minus note-taking) tomorrow.

I was invited along Chrissie (a fellow SI student and gamer) to start writing for The Indie Arcade, an independent game review and news site. I'll get a permanent link up soon.

I'm also currently reading Stephen King's Under the Dome. It's a lot of super fun. Full review on the way.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

2009 In Review

Alrighty, here's another recap continuing and catching up what's happened over the last year.

All through New Years Eve and the last week leading up to and following the start of the year, there has been an overflowing amount of cynicism and anger to the end of the decade. And I'd be lying if I didn't mention that I joined in with the choruses berating 2009 as being a terrible year. Then I sat down to write this blog, figuring I'd be talking about the strife of my mom's job hunt, or the exhaustingly long semesters, maybe the summer internship that was unpaid, and how I owe my dad for floating me through it with cash, maybe about how my car is sinking very slowly (the trunk wont open, the door had to get welded back on, the wheels have been replaced as well as other stuff underneath that I can't even remember), but the more I started making lists of stuff during the past year, the more and more awesome 2009 turned out to be.

Here's something for each month.

In January I got a random girl's number, and was featured in Neil Gaiman's blog about a library issues post.

In February I flew out to LA. (it was a quiet month (as far as I can remember with my blog) but that's ok). I also had a date at some point during this month (first in a long while).

In March I was in LA, and Chicago, and Kalamazoo, and East Lansing, and Ann Arbor, and just generally living the travel heavy life that I love.

In April I finished up school for the summer and moved back home.

In May I moved back home and officially became a single unemployed 23 year old living in my parent's basement (not good, not bad, but at least there's a deadline at the end).

In June I started training for the Detroit Marathon. I started my internship at the Capital Area District Library in Lansing. But the real whopper of the month was the fact that after 2 years of diligent (that should be surrounded by wacky finger quotations) work on the novel, I finished it with a whopping 117,000 words.

In July I helped protest the closing of the Michigan Department of History Arts and Libraries (MHAL) that was closed by the governor I voted for, Jennifer Granholm... I also went and saw Dave Matthews down in Indiana, and stayed at my friend's, Nate and Justine Bell's.

In August my internship (a massively successful one if I might say so myself) came to a close, and with it was published CADL's teen literary magazine. You can get an issue of it online here, but just please respect the copyright of these kids' hard work.

September honestly just sort of blurs by. It's amazing what school will do to you.

October was the other big month. I ran my first marathon in Detroit, and managed to finish with an admirable 3:55:28.

November was another all school all the time month. As was December.

So all in all it was a pretty good, and very busy year.

Now to look forward: 2010 is going to be even better. I've got graduation in April, which means moving somewhere and getting a real job. I want to be published this year. I also want to get the Rider out in the hands of publishers, and be finished with at least the first draft of a second novel. I've got the Madison Wisconsin Marathon in May, and another sometime at the end of the year. Maybe something in California, maybe the Vegas marathon. We'll see.

Friday, January 01, 2010

10 Albums of and Around 2009

Ok, so looking back over the dates in my blog it's been about 3 months since my last post, which probably means my readership is toast. One of my new years resolutions (same as last year's) will be to post a little more regularly on here. More on that with my next post (a year in review).

Last year I did a "10 albums that rocked me during 2008" post that you can read by clicking here. So, I figure an inaugural post for the new decade covering the new music that rocked me through 2009 would be good. As I said last year, these albums didn't necessarily come out during 2009 (though many of them did), and, except for my album of the year, are in no particular order.

First off here are a few statistics for the number crunchers. Of the ten albums, eight are from 2009. One is from 2008 and one is from 2007. Four of the 10 different artists are returners from last years list. The ten albums have a total of 127 songs, which equates to about 7.8 hours of music. And with that, on to the albums.

Kicking off with an artist who appeared here last year, Regina Spektor came back strong with her first new release since 2006 (unless of course you count the wasted and phoned in "You Don't Know Me" on Ben Folds's 2008, "Way to Normal"). Far is, in my opinion, her best album to date. From the first few seconds of its strong opening track, "The Calculation" through to the very end "Man of a Thousand Faces," the one strength that stands out above all the rest is the recording. For my ears, this is one of the most perfectly mixed sonic recordings I've ever heard. Each instrument and vocal is clear and crisp and can be picked out while not overpowering the appropriate mix. Standing at the forefront of this album in my opinion, and what would've definitely made a better closing track than the actual album closer is "One More Time With Feeling."

One of the most important part of my writing processes, one that is hotly debated by writers as a strenght or a detriment to the writing process, is a good soundtrack. Ask a dozen authors and you'll get one of two answers: "I can't write without music," or "I can't write with music." A good soundtrack is essential for me. The two major artists that put me in the mood while writing the Rider during the last year both put out new albums during 2009, and both have made the list.

The first of these two bands is Pilot Speed. Their album, "Into the West" was (like much of my music) a random discovery on my iPod. With hints of U2 and Coldplay filtered through a more "indie" sound, their heartwrenching crescendoing compositions became the voice of the bleak arid world that Edmund is riding his motorcycle across. So when a month back I discovered their third quarter release Wooden Bones I was expecting more of the same. What I got was nothing at all like that, and it was freaking great! Still building and layering, their sound has become harder, and Todd Clark's voice more mature. For my money, nothing beats the strong opening track, "Put the Phone Down," but I can't get away without mentioning the way the title track, "Wooden Bones," opens up about halfway through into a soaring epic.

The second band ironically took the exact opposite approach. Paring away the huge string sections and the wall of sound effects, Sleeping At Last has instead taken their introspective and poetic lyrics and let its quiet ruminations on faith, life, and love infect the music with a stripped away simplicity that hides a mature intricacy. Storyboards shows the band's range and their ability to create a truly intimate experience with their sound. I would be lying if I didn't say that I found their 2003 release, Ghosts, a better album overall. That album, more than any other, defined the Rider for me (as can be seen with each song having a playcount well into the triple digits), but Storyboards does come strong and will no doubt grow with my in the coming year. Check out Clockwork from that album.

I Monster was sort of the trojan horse of my music collection. A few years back, Duke put them on my computer, and made me put them on my iPod with the promise that I'd listen to them soon. "Sure, sure," I said until he let it drop, and I probably did listen to it at the time. Or, at the very least, I turned it on and let it play. Whether or not I did, I couldn't remember ever hearing it and enjoying it, but for some reason, it stayed on my iPod. Then, at some point back around August or September I was feeling sort of stagnant with the music I'd been listening to and flipped to a random artist. It was, of course, I Monster, and their 2003 release, Neveroddoreven. It was great! It stayed at the front of my listening for a week, accompanying me as I made my twice a week trips to and from Ann Arbor for class. Of course, not much after, the first thing I did was seek out more of their music. By coincedence or otherwise, when I went hunting for them, happened to be the same week that A Dense Swarm of Ancient Stars was released, and what I'd enjoyed in their first album was exponentially increased with their sophomore release six years later. Bending genres like a rolled over semi truck bending fenders across an eight lane highway, I Monster is something like psychadellia, and something like electronica, and something like what lounge music might sound like if Bosch, Dali, and Dr. Seuss had a morbid bastard child lounge singer with a huge libido. Picking a track off this album is tough, but I'll go with my first love and tell you to check out "Dear John." This album almost took the album of the year position.

Mike Doughty is an artist very near and dear to my heart. He's also one of those artists who releases shorter albums more frequently, so last year his 2008 release, Golden Delicious, made my list. He's back with Sad Man, Happy Man, an album that at once feels more akin to his early solo record Skittish, but benefits from the production values of his later albums. The compositions here are more spoken word acoustic rap than before, but his joy of chorus's repeated ad nauseum are not gone. I can't get the drums and driving sound of "Lord Lord Help Me Just to Rock Rock On" out of my head.

One of the two albums not released this year that are making it onto my list is Angels and Airwaves' sophomore release, I-Empire. Knowing that they are band members from Blink 182, The Offspring, and 30 Seconds to Mars, would've been an immediate turnoff for me, but thankfully I was nowhere near a computer when I first heard the album. Like Sleeping At Last, and artists that made last year's list (Coldplay and Snow Patrol), Angels and Airwaves hits you with an epic anthemic wall of sound, sweeping string sections, and balls to the wall driving intensity. Their guitars ape U2 at its biggest, and their lyrics all bleed with craving and intensity. I eagerly await their 2010 release Love, and the accompanying movie. Secret Crowds is the song to check out.

Another returning band from last year's list is The Panderers. Where many of the previous artists rely on chorus pedals and synth fill to bolster their sound and fill them out to a broad sweeping size, the Panderers do the exact opposite, stripping away everything until you have a clean electric guitar, thumping plucked bass, and a drumset that probably has a snare, a tom, a ride cymbal, a high-hat, and a kick, and nothing else. These guys are in your face with simplicity and catchiness that can't be matched. Their first major label release, Mucho Diggo, has a plain stripped away southern rock feel. The kind of music that makes you feel like a badass listening to it. The closing track, The Prison Song, is the one to check out, sounding like something Johnny Cash forgot to record.

Back at the start of the year Zach (guitarist of Ambush of Tigers) introduced me to the band School of Seven Bells. This trio (made up of a skinny guy and two attractive twins) is an electronica group hailing from New York. Their freshman release, Alpinisms, is a fun electronica album with ethereal synths and driving beats. Check out "Face to Face on High Places."

These last two albums presented a challenge for me. Both have been huge on my playlist this last year since I found them, and both are deserving of album of the year, but after much deliberation I've picked one (not wanting to cop out).

The runner up was an end of the summer discovery. Duke got it from his work, and, on the night James left to meet Zach and the rest of Ambush of Tigers out in Portland, we drove around and listened to the entire thing. Owl City is the insomnia-induced project of Adam Young. With its catchy pop hooks, and tight electronic instrumentation, Owl City's third album, Ocean Eyes is their best yet. When we heard it, all three of us (Duke James and I) knew that we were hearing the long sought after second coming of the Postal Service. After a bunch more listens, I can't necessarily say that it was as groundbreaking or generation defining, but the album is above all else, damn good and freaking catchy. By this point everyone knows their single, "Fireflies," but if that's all you've heard, it's just scratching the surface of this album. Veering wildly from its roots in the Postal Service to 80s New Wave and synthpop and 90s dance electronica, Owl City is able to do it all with a mostly straight faced. It's also the only band that could get away with terribly punny lyrics like "I've been to the dentist a thousand times, so I know the drill," and other great zingers. This entire album is great, and that's why it gets the number 2 slot, but the track that really stole my heart was "On the Wing." Make sure to check out his other 2 albums under the moniker Owl City, their quality is just as good as Ocean Eyes.

The Album of the year slot for me was, as I said, a really tough decision. Hell, the ten albums of the year was hard enough (I had 15 on the list when I started this post). But after a lot of thinking, and polling friends, I finally picked one. Returning from last year's ten list, with their newly released Act III: Life and Death, Casey Crescenzo's solo project, The Dear Hunter has managed to take a stonking great project and move it another step further along. Act I gave us their sound, heavily produced, intricately layered, and utterly shameless. Act II showed us their range, veering from harmonies that would sound at home on a Boys2Men album, to tango, to the emo-rock of "Red Hands." Critics of Act II decried the variation as too schizophrenic, unfocused. With Act III, the Dear Hunter takes the range and breadth of Act II, and puts forth a unified and maturing sound. The story takes our hero, The Dear Hunter, and sends him off to war in a situation that is like the worst nightmare of the Great War's western front. The album takes us to the midpoint of the six album cycle, and with its release came the announcement of an even more ambitious nine album project based off the seven colors, bookended by a black and white album. Casey Crescenzo is, as far as I can tell, certifiably insane with work, but his output has been constantly good, and he's not disappointed us with delays or wanderiness (here's looking at you Sufjan). I'm eagerly awaiting his next album. Everything on this album is pure gold. Perfect Production mixes, great lyrics, and gorgeous sound. But to pick one that really took the album and made it stick, I'd have to go with "The Tank."

So those are the ten new albums that got me through 2009, and will stick with me for years to come. Others that didn't make the list included Passion Pit's "Manners," Bon Iver's "For Emma, Forever Ago," Styrofoam's "A Thousand Words," Ben Folds' "Way to Normal," and the bizarre Beatle's solo projects mashup pretending to be the new beatles album from an alternate universe, "Everyday Chemistry."

Next up I'll do a recap of 2009 (with pictures) and a sneak peek of things to come in 2010. Thanks for sticking with me.

(note: all images are copyright of their respective whatevers, and are used without permission...if this pisses you off in some way, let me know, and I'll pull em)