18 March, 2008

Journal 019

I guess it's been long enough since my Christmas haul, because I'm feeling that urge to discover new music again. I'm trying to hold back my spending of money on luxury items, considering that I don't have an income, and that this Burning Man thing looming on the horizon threatens to be an expensive chip in my pocket. But sometimes I just can't hold back.

I just got a few things, including a Muddy Waters anthology, a Freddie King DVD (spicy!), and Steamhammer's third album, Mountains. I was thinking about what I recently said about Steamhammer sort of being one of my underdog favorite bands, and since then every time a Steamhammer song comes on my playlist I've noticed how great it sounds. The atmosphere of it is incredible - the distinct vocals, the guitar tone - it not only stands apart from everything else in its neighborhood, but it has this ethereal quality that appeals to me...and even at the bottom line, it is what I love - guitar-driven blues-based-but-exploratory rock, and yet, as I already mentioned, it manages to stand out from every other band of that kind...

Mountains is hailed as Steamhammer's definitive effort. I don't completely agree, though there's still time for me to change my mind. However, if the second half was as strong as the first half, it would easily be true. The first track contains a mind-blowing guitar solo, and the second and third tracks actually constitute an awesome live blues jam (lasting over 15 minutes all told). The second half of the album is less outstanding, but I have yet to really get to know the songs. Still, the album is ultimately not any better than the band's first two amazing albums. After Mountains, there was some personnel change, then one last album recorded before disbanding (guitarist and new bass player heading off to form Armageddon) - that last album is considered disappointing by the author of the liner notes, and is indeed harder to get a hold of, but it apparently contains only three tracks, hinting at the band's seeming progression from blues to progressive rock, and it's certainly an album I'll have to hear some time in the future. For now, the three albums I have will serve well to place Steamhammer as one of my all-time favorite underdog bands - meaning that they are not only not as popular as the legends, but also have less material. Let's see, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, both legends, each had only a small handful of albums, and I think, despite those two bands' clout, I like Steamhammer more. Not that they're better in /all/ categories - I mean Hendrix and Clapton are both amazingly talented guitarists - but that they're closer to my heart. In the end, Steamhammer is more /me/ than either Cream or the Jimi Hendrix Experience have ever managed to be.

The Committee is a great film, although it's more of a surreal audiovisual exploration ("I may have cut my own head off and sewed it back on...") of the philosophical implications of certain aspects of society and their relation to individual psychology ("What is the difference between your relation to yourself in the future, and your relation to other people now?")...than an entertainment flick, and it does get pretty complicated and hard to iron out in places, but I love it. "In the womb, the individual thinks that he is the universe. When he is born, the first thing he understands is everywhere else - that he is /in/ the universe, that it was made for him. Then, he discovers other people." I'm only paraphrasing. And the scene where The Crazy World of Arthur Brown performs a song to an upscale party, complete with the torch-headdress...oh, it's great stuff. And Pink Floyd does the ambient soundtrack. Anyway, I watched that movie again recently, and it refueled my desire to hear more Crazy World of Arthur Brown - the last time I ordered the album, it never showed up. I'm hoping for better results this time...

I could easily spend hundreds of dollars or even pick out hundreds of titles of CD's to buy, but I have a lot more discretion than a certain someone else, whether for better or worse. In any case, discovering music is one of the excitements of life.

Switching gears, today's episode of Millenium (Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me) was rather humorous, in a morbidly funny sort of way. The whole episode was about four devils disguised as old men, sitting around a table at a donut shop in the wee hours of the morning, telling stories about their preferred methods of torturing mortals. It was great. Frank Black had only a tiny role in this particular episode, as he perchance encountered each of the four devils during the course of each of their stories, concerning them since Black, unlike most mortals, has the ability to see evil for what it truly is - in other words, he could tell they were devils and not old men. There was also a hilarious scene where a tormented censor board official broke onto the set of what was clearly the shooting of an episode of the X-Files, complete with Mulder and Scully stand-ins, about to do an alien autopsy before a couple of aliens with machine guns interrupt. I love the seriousness of this series, but it's nice to have an episode like this every once in awhile to make light of it all.

Speaking of episodes scarce on Frank Black, a couple days ago there was an episode where the character of Frank Black was completely absent! It was focused on Frank's wife Catherine and her interaction with Frank's now-and-then Millenium Group partner Lara Means. Considering not only the importance of Frank Black's character to the series, and how good a character Frank Black is (thanks in no small part to Lance Henriksen's portrayal), it's telling that this episode was so good even without him. I'm getting towards the end of the second season, and I suspect things are gonna heat up quick. The time is near.

Fantasy >>> Reality

Do I really want to talk about how I received instructions for enjoying Absinthe ("The Green Fairy") from the reporter(?) who covered the Open Stage last weekend? Do I really want to talk about how Stickman's bringing me in to record a track for the Coffee Den tribute album he's engineering? Do I really want to talk about how I received an offer to play lead guitar in a local band, but I'm too scared and lacking in confidence to even respond? Do I really want to talk about how much trouble I'm having trying to become a normal, to the point that I'm already prepared to give up? Do I really want to talk about how my eye is temporarily screwed up and it's made me pretty miserable the past few days? Do I really want to talk about how much it sucks only being able to see clearly for half a day, since my glasses are broken and there's no hope of getting new ones?

No, I'd rather talk about fantasy. About how, after a full year of procrastinating, with the advent of Holy Week (coincidentally, though), I've finally completed Purgatory and have entered Paradise, and am well on my way to the end of the journey, long as I keep it up for a little while longer. I really hope Milton's book is an easier read, though I suspect it will be. The worst part about Dante's composition is the history lessons. Not just a lesson, the book is a freaking course! I've already railed about that, though, so enough. Beatrice's presence is pretty inspiring.

I had a lab partner named Beatrice in physics class in high school once. I remember there were a lot of girls in that class, which was kind of nice. But now we're talking about reality again. And the reality is, my Beatrice will meet me in hell before she ever escorts me into heaven - and that's never gonna happen. I guess that's just a reflection of my soul...


  1. It sounds like you've got a lot of great news lined up in reality... you should take the chance and record with Stickman. At the very least, I think you should also try to meet that band and see what's up with them.

    Even if it turns out that for some reason or another, you guys aren't compatible, you might learn something or make some jam buddies.

    Or something.

    It's not like the experience is going to end up with you hanging yourself from the tree in your front yard.

    I really don't know what to say about your eyes except that you really, really should just work up the nerve to go to the optometrist soon. New glasses are a must.

    On the other hand, when you're blind, you could just be sitting back on your bed with the liquid light projector running as you listen to music.

    When you say Milton, do you mean Milton's Paradise Lost?