Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Bit of An Update From My World

As promised, I'm going to take some time to give you a bit of a peak into what I've been up to.

The short story is work. When you elaborate into what that actually means, you find a combination of moving, travelling, packing, unpacking, writing, interviewing, hiring, depriving myself of sleep, playing futbol, attempting to watch it on tv, as well as adopting, acclimating and raising a new dog. I've been a bit distracted with all of that. I don't want to make excuses, but that's the way it's been.

On the moving front, yes we've actually moved from an apartment to a house in Roxborough. More specifically, half of a duplex. It's about twice the space we had at our apartment, it's only a fraction more expensive.

We've officially settled in and gotten used to the fact that we no longer have to patron places that specifically deal in doing laundry. Love that! We also have a bit of a yard and a deck. Can't wait to get a barbecue going on that thing! We even have a garage and a shed. Inside, we've got more storage space than we know what to do with. We've got 2 living floors, plus a basement and an attic (I call it my fort). Now, all we have to do is have an actual housewarming and I think our living there will be symbolically official. Even better still is that the city is still completely accessible and the bus ride doesn't feel much longer than at our old place (which was actually in the city). We were really lucky to come across this place and even luckier to actually move in.

The move, I must say, was simultaneously easy and a pain in the ass. We were lucky in that we'd just paid our rent at the old place and, due to the whole first month/last month clause in the lease, were able take the better part of 2 months to get from one to the other. That was a great thing to think about. Throwing a wrench into that engine was the fact that we had to move over Christmas as well as do the whole Christmas travel as well. There's nothing quite like biting off more than you can chew.

Christmas was quite the fiasco too. I went to visit the parents in Portland (yeah, they moved to Portland, Oregon). This was our first trip out west and, believe it or not, it felt more like an Iowa winter than anything else. We get there and there's probably a foot of snow on the ground. To make things worse, no one there has any idea how to deal with it, people talk like it's the friggin' apocalypse and the mention of snow shovel meets more blank stares than anything I've ever seen. At any rate, the holiday was basically a microcosm of how living at home was for me. Everyone is happy to see each other for a few hours, we all coexist in some form of harmony and then someone disagrees with someone else (like always, this happened to be me) and the waters grow rough. The one anomaly was the fact that all parties involved here were able to amicably agree to disagree. Then what comes is the all out war that usually breaks out (usually because someone wants to jump into the middle of something they don't belong in - this is also my territory normally, but not this time out). The war is timed to perfection to be the night before the first part of us leaves (which is usually us) and then order is restored. It's not a vacation with my family without a fight and we refuse to disappoint.

In the midst of all this, I had to basically hire another newswire staff for mxdwn. That entails dealing with the lovely, but often uncooperative, folks at CraigsList. While I have my problems with them, I cannot fault their ability to give me an outlet to hire decent individuals. I could easily go on a rant against them, but the red tape they require me to get through in order to get an ad posted has to be needed for some reason. And, while it's not a full compliment yet, the staff I've gotten together are really pulling their weight well and learning quickly. I don't consider myself good at interviewing or training, so that makes the work doubly hard because I have trouble getting motivated for it. But, it has to be done, right? Right!

Staying in the mxdwn realm, I was given the opportunity to review what may become the best album of 2009. If you don't recognize the image on the right-hand side of this text, it's the cover of Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion. This album not only combines everything that's made the band great to this point, it contains a lyrical timelessness that'll make it great for years to come as well as enough accessibility to bring plenty of new fans into their camp. If you haven't heard, please go listen to it in any way possible. If for some reason you don't like it, I apologize for wasting your time, but with songs like "My Girls," "Brother Sport," "Summertime Clothes," "Bluish" and "Also Frightened," I can't imagine how anyone can get through this album and not find at least one thing they like about it. Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist have once again brought forth an album that exhibits the joy of making music in bold, new, thought-provoking ways.

I was also given the chance to review the new Asobi Seksu album Hush. Now, this album may not even be in the running for album of the year by the time July rolls around, but there's still a certain greatness due for a band that makes albums that are akin to genre films in the golden age of Hollywood. Shoegaze may not be on the radar of every hipster in the world - hell, Loveless by My Bloody Valentine may have been the album to kill the style despite being the undisputed heavyweight champion of it - but Yuki Chikudate and James Hanna have, over 3 albums, injected new life and energy to the style. Songs like "Mae No Meh," "Layers," "Transparence" and "In the Sky" create a solid foundation of a great set of songs, but the really jewel of this set is "Me & Mary." A lovelorn ballad of drained emotion and loss, Chikudate's in perfect vocal form and an argument could be made for this as Hanna's strongest hook to date. That's why I nominated it for song of the year last year.

And finally, the biggest thing that kept me busy over the recent past was the newest addition to our family. His name is Milo and he's coming up on a year and a half. He's a rescue dog with bags of both personality and strength on top of being adorable as hell. Overall, we really couldn't be happier with him, despite him driving me to question whether or not we were ready for another dog after Brixton. He's got a very dominant personality and he's a challenge to keep calm, but he listens the vast majority of the time and is pretty good about going into his crate for the day when we go to work. On walks, he tends to be more of a challenge. He knows that, inside the house, he's not the boss. He's still trying to be boss outside. It could be worse, he could have a bad attitude and be aggressive. Thank heavens he's not. Instead, he's just a fantastically welcome addition to our household.