Future Mythologies

A Textual Journey with Maxwell Von Bismarck

Friday, January 30, 2004

I found these questions on Courtney's livejournal. I guess they were meant for me, so I will answer them.

1. so when are you coming to visit anyway?

Ah. I would absolutely love to come visit you in the land of Milwaukee, but I don't have a car or any money to speak of, actually. At this point I can’t really say thought the thought often crosses my mind.

2. what's your favorite christmas song and why?

Despite serious competition, “Fairytale of New York” is the greatest Christmas recording. Some of my other favorites will be covered on my 2004 X-Mas album, so I don’t want to give them away, but I can also tell you that “Little Drummer Boy” by Low is #2.

“Fairytale of New York” is about what Christmas represents. What it brings to mind every year. It’s about the way love develops between two people, about the way we see our lives, about the relationship of the past to the future. It’s a song I play all year round, and one of my most played songs during my difficult 2001 year. It’s also one of Steve Lillywhite’s only great productions, most of his music being tinny and lifeless. I’ll probably go on about “Fairytale of New York” in an upcoming Kirsty MacColl post, if such a thing is desired.

3. who put the bomp in the bomp sh bomp sh bomb?

Well, is "bomp sh" perhaps the vocalized interpretation of the standard 4 to the floor house beat? If so, I'd have to say Roland, for making the wonderful TR-909 rhythm composer that makes us all need to get up and dance when it plays.

No, a 909 kick doesn't go "bomp". That's far too close in approximating an "authentic" kick drum sound, and not enough in getting at the complete artificiality of the rhythm composer (one of its most important aspects).

4. who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?

The songwriters.

5. why is schizopolis such a good movie?

Well, it has nothing to do with the breakdown of communication. Nothing to do with the ineffectiveness of language. Nothing to do with Soderbergh as a great director. It's just massively funny in very subtle and nonsubtle ways.

It's the jokes, stupid.

1 - Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3 - You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 - You'll include this explanation.
5 - You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Yay! Comments have been installed!

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

Same as Nick's. I was hoping to see the other options.


Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Also, I'm TOTALLY in favor of the idea of e-books. I love books, of course. I love the smell of the paper and the carrying them around and being seen with them. (Sidenote: I came VERY close to taking my driver's test with a paperback copy of Crash on the dashboard, but I wussed out at the last minute. Probably a good idea as I barely passed. I think the instructors like to give the impression that it's only by their grace that you get your license.) The thing about e-books is that they don't have to be any less pleasant than real books. Yes, it's horrible to stare at a computer screen. I have my lids shut tight and they're burning at this very second. But that's just the technology of the present. Computer screens will become a lot more pleasant to look at soon enough, and carrying about a computerized book won't be any heavier either. You will be able to cross reference, carry around lots of books at once, and search through the entire text at will. How many times have I seen a character make an entrance and then spent 30 minutes searching through the book to see who the author's talking about? Maybe that doesn't happen to smarter people, I don't know.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

There's always something about music technology that worries me. Mp3s for instance. How much worse do they sound than CDs or records? Everyone seems to have an opinion on this, and they're almost always based on elements other than how they actually sound. It's always about how people don't like having to hear music out of their computer, how they need something to hold on to, how they don't want to pay through the nose for cheap pieces of plastic that have a short life, or something else. It's pretty much the same as the CD vs. Vinyl debate. How many arguments are actually based on sound? Yes, I'm sure it's easier to clean your weed on a record cover than a jewel case, and they can be pretty. I personally think that people who seem to value "records" more than "music" are more fetishists than anything else. When I tell someone I have a copy of Orange Juice's live "Felicity", it certainly does not mean that I have the very rare flexidisc. But I know what it sounds like, don't I? I can fucking listen to it, can't I?

Now I'm not sure about mp3s vs. CDs. Some of the arguments are ridiculous, such as "You can't tell the difference between CD and 128 kbps" or "mp3s don't have any frequencies above 10kHz." It's well known that mp3s use a system of data removal, but to my ears I can't yet decide if there's a noticeable deficiency or not. Some say that mp3s have no re-listenability, i.e. "I can't listen to an mp3 over and over for hours without suffering a major earache". But I've done it. There was some minor discomfort, but I'm using a pair of Koss headphones that essentially vise to my head.

What I mean with this is that I feel ashamed about listening to mp3s. I feel like I'm showing that I have no regard for audio quality. It's easy to make me insecure about my ears, though maybe a mass mp3 challenge a la Pepsi is in order here.

So to clarify one stance I am sure of: I am a music collector. I am most definitely NOT a record collector. I use terms like "record", "single", "LP" because those are the terms of our shared experience as music listeners, not because those physical objects hold any mystical properties in their tangibility.

Monday, January 12, 2004

It's a new trend, and I don't think I like it that much.

People writing great songs that are younger than me.

It was okay when it was just Dizzie, because he was inducted into the canon a couple of hours after his album came out. But it's much worse with Rooney. Why? Because they're not that good. I have no desire to hear the album, but the song "Blueside" was a staple on late night Noggin programming, and I have since listened to the song many times. A lot more than I thought I would. If at first it sounds like a bad Beach Boys song, it gets really catchy once you divorce it from the possibility it was influenced by Brian Wilson. The production is great, the pace is perfect, the vocals are exactly like a California Liam Gallagher (not my fave, but a good sound here), and the chorus is so beautifully unlike the verse, but very much like it at the same time. I'm not talking about "Don't Sleep in the Subway" but more a turnaround progression that doesn't totally spin in a circle. The "show you my blue side" sticks out like an incandescent sore thumb.

I'm hoping this will spur on my hopeless laziness. This guy was born a full year and a half after me. Where the fuck have I been?

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Let's get to the point and make this quick.

2003 In Review


Dizzie Rascal - "I Luv You". Yes, we heard it in 2002, but this song has just gotten better and taken on its true form in 2003. Incredible song that makes me feel at the edge of everything. Other songs on the album are good, but this song is the reason I don't dismiss the hype. I can't think of anything to say about it, really. Read the other stuff.

M. Ward - "Outta My Head", etc. "Vincent O'Brien" helped me make sense of a lot of my sadness this year, and "Outta My Head" is the one that always sounds great. The classic pop song you always knew but had never heard.

Outkast - "Hey Ya". It always takes me a long time to get my head around the latest hiphop, but for this one it was just a matter of hearing the record. The video looks cool, but the audience cheering covers up the melody, and its easy to forget that some of these cutting edge new hits have them. Anyway, the year's great genre-ignorer. Especially dig the synth bubbles.

Belle and Sebastian - "I'm a Cuckoo". One more year and I would have forgotten about them entirely. Lucky for me. I played this one over and over back to back, and I fucking hate that Thin Lizzy song.

Kill Bill, Part One - Anyone who says that this is inch-thin is missing the bloody point. And not about this movie, about all movies. I'm not a big fan of them, but this movie has more substance, feel, atmosphere, emotion, significance, importance than anything I've seen all year. Return of the King was all well and good. It looked incredible, but it was really just an illustration of a book. A work that was supposed to recreate a mythology for the Celts and Britons. Kill Bill is a movie that speaks to the consciousness of our time.

Finally Discovering 2002 Music - Especially the Streets. I can't think of any more 2003 songs to mention, although it was a fine year for music and I'm sure I'll get to it in time, but a year isn't about itself. Thank you Mike Skinner for enriching my 2003. It's the album I would have made if I were 20 times more on the ball, 20 times more talented, and 20 times more dedicated.

"Ask" - The Smiths song that I listened to all Spring. So important to the earlier months that I refuse to play it before the next thaw. More to come about "Ask", because there's volumes I have to say about it.

Marcello Carlin - A most inspiring recovery for a man I deeply admire and am deeply indebted to.

Regaining contact with estranged friends. - Totally rocks. Totally recommended.

Rite Aid, 7-11

John Coffee - I disagree with everything you say, but you enriched my life more than you'll ever know. OK, actually you were right about an awful lot of stuff, but you're very popular, and I think most people in your class take everything you say at wholesale, even if your only source is a rare out-of-print book that you lent to a student who never returned it.

Graduation - Magna Cum Laude BA. I never did find the tickets my family was supposed to use to get into Commencement.


The Blogosphere



Being screwed by U-Haul

Being REALLY screwed by my former landlady.

Unemployment - Really hard on me.

No X-Mas album - Next year, true believers. But not until after the 2004 release of Teacozy.

The Agonizing Wait for Simon's book

Still Working for Temps (In America, no less.)

Oh yeah, America

Hopeless Laziness of myself - Like Coleridge without the poetry

Not Blogging enough

Thanks for putting up with me everybody. 2004 is going to be the year of Maxwell von Bismarck! How do I know? Well, I haven't made the claim before!


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