october 2022

We've learned never to be too comfortable with any aspect of the process of rebuilding our house, but in terms of the house itself, things seem to be moving along. The external walls are up (although not yet covered with brick), the framing inside is mostly done, and the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC are mostly complete. If things go well, the final doors and windows will be installed in the next couple of weeks, and then they can start doing the drywall on the inside and the brick on the outside.

There's still so, so long to go, but the January/February timeline is what the contractor is aiming for, and barring any disasters, that seems doable. That's still nearly half a year from now, and we've already been displaced from our house for over a year now, but hopefully the end is in sight. We really need to get back to our home and start to rebuild our lives in the place where we expected and hoped to live out the rest of them.

Today is the one year anniversary of moving into the rental house where we're still living while our house is being rebuilt. That also means it will soon be one year since we adopted our mother and daughter pair of cats, Lola and Gracie—we had gone to visit with their rescue host while we were still living in the Airbnb, and two days after we moved in here, we picked them up and made them part of our family.

It's a nice little place, but we were hoping we wouldn't reach a one-year anniversary here. And when it seemed likely the construction wouldn't be finished by the end of the summer, we were hoping we wouldn't have to experience a second holiday season here, but that's out the window now too. Now we're hoping that we won't still be here by next spring, and that our re-establishing of our lives in our new/old house will coincide with the time when everything is blooming anew.

I was planning to see a couple of shows this week, but the side effects from a new medication are really messing with me, and I just wasn't up to it. It's a shame, too—both nights were going to be at my favorite music venue in Atlanta, the Earl, a place I haven't been to since before the pandemic.

And the bands were great too—Monday night was going to be Titus Andronicus (who I've only seen live once, and that was as an opener), with openers Country Westerns (a Nashville band I'm fond of who I saw earlier this summer when they opened for the Hold Steady). And Tuesday was going to be Momma, a band from Chicago who sound like a cross between early 90s Liz Phair and early 90s Smashing Pumpkins (who both hail from Chicago themselves).

My next concert is in a couple of weeks, when Regina Spektor returns to Atlanta to support her latest album, and then there will be a break of our couple of weeks before we get to the week of Nov 6, when I already have tickets for four shows, and could add up to two more depending on my energy level.

We're five episodes in to Rick and Morty season 6, and I have to say, so far it is my least favorite season by far. After willfully not making any heavy canon/lore episodes last season until the very end, this season started off with three very lore-centric episodes, none of which were as good as previous lore episodes (and none of which were helped by having them stacked three in a row).

Things have gotten better with the last two episodes, which return to non-lore, self-contained stories, but it's going to take them hitting the rest of the season out of the park for this one not to be my personal least favorite season.

This show can still be so great when it's great, but even though as a fan I appreciate the somewhat regular delivery of new episodes since they signed their 70 episode mega deal after season 3, it's also clear that they've lost a little bit of their mojo (which isn't helped by the show's two creators also working on other projects while still trying to make this show).

Will's fall break started last Friday and goes through today, and although we weren't able to do as long a trip as we had originally hoped due to other obligations, we did manage a short getaway to a place we visited a couple of years ago: Howard Finster's Paradise Garden in Summerville. We again rented the Airbnb that's inside the property, which means that when the museum shuts down for the day, we have the grounds all to ourselves.

Last time we only stayed for one night, but this time we booked it from Thursday to Saturday. We mostly explored the grounds when it was closed to the public, and when it was open on Friday, we took a short drive to James H. "Sloppy" Ford state park, which had some nice trails around a lake and a steep climb up to a cavern with a waterfall running down over it.

It was a good trip, despite me still suffering from some of the side effects that prevented me from attending concerts earlier in the week. We again got many visits from one of the cats who lives on the grounds, Hobbes, and we also got to spend a lot of time with his brother, Calvin, who was a little standoffish with us last time.

Even though we've been there twice and have gotten to know the grounds of the garden very well, we'll still likely return here again—the Airbnb is really nice, and there's a lot of stuff to do nearby to make it a good home base for other outings.

I was supposed to go to the final home game of Atlanta United's doomed season on Sunday, but thanks to the side effects of this medication, I had to cancel at the last minute. I did watch it on tv, but they predictably lost, which they've done an awful lot this season. They were already eliminated from playoff contention, but it would have nice to have a win in what might be Josef Martinez' final game with the team.

I went back to my new doctor for a six-week follow-up from my visit in August, and I wasn't surprised when my bloodwork came back and indicated that my dosage of one medication was too high.

It was somewhat of a relief—I've had some pretty severe side effects since starting back on it, ranging from crippling anxiety, stomach aches, and migraines, but I kept taking it because my doctor said I should only stop taking it if I started to have heart palpitations, and that I should expect some side effects because we were going straight to a full dose instead of gradually building up to the level I had been taking it before.

He told me to stop taking it altogether for a couple of days, and then start on a new, lower dose after that. Hopefully these side effects will fade quickly, but since I'm not scheduled for another follow-up until mid-December, I'm not going to wait for my next appointment if they persist—whether it's a result of the medication or there's something else wrong with me, I can't live with these symptoms for another two months.

I haven't made any trips to record stores recently, so this week I made a point to visit a few, with the guideline that I would mostly stick to used records (save for a few recent colored vinyl reissues that I had on my list).

My first stop was Wuxtry Records in Decatur on Sunday, where I picked up three used albums by the Police (one of which I already had, but I was SURE that I didn't) and then three of the four new records on my list (Candy-O and Panorama by the Cars, and Remain in Light by Talking Heads). I usually don't find much stuff used there—it's too popular and gets picked over too quickly—and I haven't seen many used Police records in the wild in my year of searching used bins, so it was nice to find three (even if I already owned one of them).

On Tuesday afternoon, I went up to Alpharetta to visit Comeback Vinyl. They have a great stock of new records, and I was going primarily to pick up the other reissue I was looking for (MGMT's debut album, Oracular Spectacular). They have a decent-sized used section, but I usually don't buy much used from them for a couple of reasons: first, they don't have a lot of records that I'm looking for, and second, they tend to be overpriced. But Tuesday was my best haul from their used section so far: I got five used records from them, all of which were very reasonably priced and four of which were no more than $6.

And then today I went to visit two other shops, the first of which was Disorder Vinyl in Summerhill, near the old Braves stadium. I'd never been there before, and I got there about half an hour before closing, just enough time to give it a quick scan. I had a nice conversation with the owner while I looked around, and I came away with a record that has been on my wantlist since the day I decided to start collecting vinyl: Camper Van Beethoveen's Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, which I never expected to find in the wild, especially for a reasonable price.

My second and final stop was at the new location of the Record Loft, which used to be located in Avondale about five minutes away from our rental house, but which moved to East Atlanta/Ormewood in early September. It's a farther drive, but it's not too bad. Plus, it's now in the same shopping plaza as my favorite Thai restaurant in Atlanta, and also our favorite ice cream place. I only picked up one record here as well—Julian Copes' My Nation Underground—but again had a nice chat with the owner, who I've talked to several times before when they were in Avondale.

It's been 22 years since my first post on this site. I say this every couple of years, but I don't know how much longer I'll keep doing this. But 25 seems like a reasonable target to aim for at this point, so I'll keep finding a way to make this work at least until then.

By a weird coincidence, today is also another writing/posting anniversary: it's the first day that I posted to the Now Playing group on Facebook. Here's a reposting of that post:

Jeff Rosenstock - POST-
Half Cloudy/Clear/Half Silver with Light Blue Spatter
Purchased from Polyvinyl website

"Dumbfounded, downtrodden, and dejected Crestfallen, grief-stricken, and exhausted"

I've been lurking in this group for a while but this is my first post here because, up until today, I hadn't listened to music via a physical medium in a decade or so. This is a long-ish post, and I don't know how many of you will make it to the end of it, so let me say this early: thank you for this weird community of music lovers, and thank you for all the stories about your music you've shared.

I've always been a big purchaser of music, and that continued even as I transitioned away from CDs to downloads. I'm also a serious collector of things, and I've long considered buying vinyl records as a way to have a tangible connection to the music I love.

But I only have so much time and money to spend on collections, and only so much space to display them, and I was pretty set with my other collections, notably my vinyl art toy collection, which has been the main focus of my collecting impulses for the past 15 years. That collection included hundreds of figures from dozens of different artists, with a focus on artists like Amanda Visell, Huck Gee, Tara McPherson, Dok A, and most importantly Frank Kozik, whose work comprised about a third of my total collection.

But about a month ago, our house burned down from a still-undetermined electrical issue, and the fire and smoke and water took with them everything I had collected since I was a kid: thousands of comic books, hundreds of Star Wars figures, tens of thousands of baseball cards, thousands of CDs, and hundreds of books. And even though it was in the basement closed up in display cases as far from the fire as you could get, pretty much my entire art toy collection.

I couldn't bear the thought of trying to rebuild any of these collections, especially the art toys - every time I looked at the rebuilt collection, all I would think about were the pieces that were missing, especially the one-of-a-kind pieces that can never be replaced. So I decided to start completely fresh with a new collection.

Vinyl records are a good fit for a number of reasons: I already have a strong link to the objects through the music, there's tons of version and gear rabbit holes to go down depending on the obsession level I end up at, and they don't take up a ton of room (this important because we're going to be in a rental house for at least a year while we rebuild). But the music is the most important part, and I really like the idea of experiencing already-beloved songs in a new format that might let me hear details I've never noticed before.

I had long been tempted by the two recently-issued colorways of Jeff Rosentstock's POST- (Half Cloudy/Clear/Half Silver with Light Blue Spatter and Clear Dark Teal). I love that album so much that I almost bought both versions even before I had any intention of collecting vinyl records, so it was a no-brainer to make those my first purchases.

There's a lot of coincidental symbolic meaning tied up in this record too, starting with the title POST-: everything in my life from this day forward will be post-fire, with the day our house burned down joining my pantheon of personally significant days along with events like my first date with my eventual wife and the day my son was born. And the closing lines of the first verse of "USA", the first song on the record: "Trapped in my room while the house was burning/to the motherfucking ground." Rosenstock meant that metaphorically, but the song's visceral punch hits you even harder when you've been in an actual, literal fire.

I'm still figuring out what kind of collector I'm going to be, but I've made a couple of rules for my initial forays into this world: I'm only going to buy vinyl copies of albums I already know I love, and I'm going to try to buy from local record stores when I can. I can also already tell that I have a weakness for colored vinyl that's designed to complement the artwork of the album cover, and that has comprised the bulk of my new purchases so far (this is my first day of listening because I just acquired a turntable, but I've been in collecting mode for the past couple of weeks).

Diving into Discogs, hunting down copies of records on my wantlist, getting lost in multiple branching gear tributaries, and seeing your posts every day has been a welcome distraction from all the fallout from the fire: documenting our destroyed possessions, moving to an Airbnb, moving AGAIN to a long-term rental, and rebuying every necessity, from computers to toothbrushes to clothing to dinner plates. Brighter days are ahead, and as always, music will be a big part of my journey back to a better place. Thank you for letting me share my story.

We were supposed to take Will to see Regina Spektor last night, but a couple of days ago, right after she played her first date on this tour in Chicago, she announced that she had contracted Covid and was rescheduling all the other dates. Hopefully that will happen—there have been other times when artists have announced a rescheduled and then just ended up canceling altogether.

She joins a fairly long list of artists/shows that have been canceled due to Covid since touring started up in earnest a year or so ago. For me, this includes Origami Angel, Bartees Strange, Car Seat Headrest, Spanish Love Songs, and Modest Mouse. Of those, only Modest Mouse rescheduled, but they did so after canceling, so I wasn't given my previous seats (although the ones I got were decent enough). I do have a chance to see Origami Angel in November and Bartees Strange in December, but Spanish Love Songs are recording a new album and aren't likely to return to the road until that's out (hopefully sometime next year), and there hasn't been a peep from Car Seat Headrest on either the recording or touring front.

Anyway. It would be great if Regina Spektor is able to reschedule, because she doesn't tour that often and we really want Will to see her. But I won't be surprised if she gets added to the list of permanent cancelations either.

I've been somewhat reluctantly working my way through the Marvel tv shows on Disney+, starting with Wanda Vision and Loki.

Neither was really a killer show that I would revisit in the future, but of the two, Loki was far better. Loki the character is more compelling than Wanda Maximoff, whose Scarlet Witch is turning into a sort of Jean Grey type whose power seems boundless and whose motivations are unclear. Marvel also compliments the Loki character with a more compelling world, including more compelling quirks and side characters you can get invested in.

The biggest flaw with each show is the same, and it's the same flaw that all the Disney+ shows suffer from: the entire narrative arc across many episodes is merely setting up an ending that will lead us to the plot of a tentpole Marvel theatrical release. Almost all of these series are just an extended setup that only has a real payoff in the next cinematic appearance of the characters.

Although I like that Marvel is invested in building its universe outside of the movies, I wish they would approach it more like when Amazon was making Marvel shows, where the point of the shows was the shows themselves and not their eventual tie-in to a movie.

Disney's handling of the Star Wars series is also instructive—again, the point is not to set up a movie (although it wouldn't be surprising to see the Mandalorian eventually end with a movie to wrap the series up), but to explore other characters and other parts of the universe that aren't featured in the theatrical releases.

I was late to the Great British Baking Show phenomenon, but I eventually did start watching it midway through the pandemic years and it found a special place in my heart. It was my lunchtime companion during those homebound months.

I've continued to watch each new season as it has become available on Netflix, but each cycle seems to feature fewer compelling bakers and challenges that seem more designed to be an inscrutable puzzle box rather than a platform for the bakers to show off their skills.

That's certainly the case with this season—there are still a few episodes left, but I'm not invested in any of the remaining bakers, and it's a show I now watch increasingly as a background show rather than one that garners my full attention. I don't know if there's an easy fix for this, but I would definitely start with getting rid of the forced international theme weeks and not being afraid to repeat challenges from previous seasons instead of having every challenge be one that is completely novel.

I got my most recent Covid booster shot on Monday, and as usual, it knocked me on my ass for a couple of days. I'm also taking tomorrow off because I have to burn a vacation day by the end of the month or I won't accrue any vacation next month, so it's been a pretty light week for me in terms of work.

Unfortunately, the booster shot aftereffects leave me pretty incapacitated, so I'm not able to do much more during those sick days than sleep or be miserable while watching tv. I emerge from the haze still needing a few more days before I'm completely back to normal, so that's what the day off tomorrow and the weekend will be for.

The house rebuild continues, and while there's definite progress, it seems almost impossible that we'll move back in by the end of the year, and even January or February seems increasingly unlikely. At this point, I'll be happy if we're able to move back in by May, but obviously, the sooner the better.

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