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need time machine, stat

maura @ 8:49 pm

No time for anything tonight, not even to detail the millions of things I have to do. I’m tired, though, and need music to work by. Maybe music by people who don’t need as much sleep as I do will help? Let’s try it:

Extra bonus tie-in to yesterday’s post: watch for Kristin Hersh’s cute crazy dancing kid w/no front teeth, so excellent.

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and most importantly riboflavin

maura @ 9:33 pm

A quick search shows that I’ve blagged about daylight savings time in the past. I’m generally a fan of falling back, though since becoming a parent it’s less of the extra-sleep-fest than it once was. My kid still doesn’t get the sleeping in thing, but at least he’s old enough now that he lets us sleep even though he wakes up at the usual schoolday time.

I spent the whole day today thinking about the “Time Travel” episode of Pete & Pete, most of all about one of the songs in the episode. Of course I don’t know the name of the band or the song. I could probably just go out to the living room and fire up our DVD player and see, but I prefer to sit here typing and believe that it’s a Drop Nineteens song.

Alternatively (who’s been writing a scholarly paper!), you could watch it for me and let me know whether that’s the song I’m thinking of. Here you go:

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twenty years

maura @ 11:04 pm

This fall is a big anniversary of many events. We’ve been in NYC for 20 years now, which means we were here on 9/11. I don’t really know what to feel about the 10th anniversary. I’ve been thinking that I should have something to write about it, but even the things that I start writing in my head don’t get anywhere. Then I feel guilty that I don’t have more to say. But we were here and we were lucky and I am still grateful for that: I was 6 months pregnant, everyone we know was safe + sound (if scared). I was proud to be a resident of NYC* and to experience how well the city pulled together.

* I still am: thank you, Occupy Wall Street.

On a much much much lighter note, this fall is also the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album. I know it’s reductive to pin all of the changes in music since then to one record, but it’s always seemed like that to me. Before that record it was “college rock” — played on college radio, mostly on independent labels, small venues + shows. And after, after it was “alternative” — on all of the radio stations, big shows, etc.

For us it coincided with leaving college and coming to grad school (version 1.0), which I’m sure is at least part of the reason it feels like lots of big changes. I had a show on my college radio station with a pal; when we got to grad school, the station was much more professional and didn’t have time for us. I know it’s trite to complain about bands getting big — “I liked their first record,” said in self-mocking tones, was something we said often. But there’s a practical side to a smallish music scene, too. Big shows are more expensive for tickets + drinks. Big shows are harder for shorties like me to navigate; I’ve spent innumerable shows jumping up and down, not because I love to pogo but because otherwise I couldn’t *see* anything.

Of course music is completely different now in our internet world, some things better, and some things worse. It seems almost quaint to think back to a time when radio mattered that much, and when the freaky kids suddenly got popular.

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actually from last monday

maura @ 3:45 pm

This morning I woke up feeling crabby and crappy thanks to various small entities interrupting my sleep last night: a child, cats, unsettling dreams. File under damned if you do, because I actually went to bed early last night fell asleep reading the New Yorker, which of course makes me feel even more crabby and crappy.

As I started my walk to work my internal soundtrack was a weird mashup of Nirvana’s songs “Negative Creep” and “Breed” where the beginning of the first song morphs into the chorus of the second song. (This fall is the 20th anniversary of the release of Nevermind, but that’s a post for another day). It’s a mashup that’s a common earworm for me, but this morning it just felt too gritty and mean to start my tired day like that.

So I spent the walk to work trying to dislodge that and cram another earworm into my brain. All of my c’mon-get-happy usuals weren’t working, not Spice Girls nor Gaga. After cycling through Public Enemy and Joy Division (for real, brain?), I finally got to Janelle Monae: “Sincerely, Jane” from the Metropolis EP. Phew.

I haven’t been walking to work much recently. It’s been hot and rainy and I’ve been tired and tired. But this morning’s walk reminded me why I should push past the whinybrain and get moving. Because I may be too tired to ride my bike or scooter, but once you start walking it just gets easier, and by the time I get to work my head is clearer even if I am still tired. And it’s downhill all the way, too.

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methods of dance by japan

maura @ 11:05 pm

It struck me tonight, as I listened to the album “Gentlemen Take Polaroids” by Japan while doing the dishes, that Air is very similar to Japan in many ways, despite being many decades apart in time. Both are synthy, ethereal, sort of quiet (except when they’re not). I listen to a lot of Air while I’m working, both in-my-office-at-the-library sorts of work as well as writing work at home or in the library. I’d listen to more Japan than I do, but their other records are caught in the amber of old media, some on cassette and the rest on vinyl.

I’ve complained many times about the labor of digitizing old music. Even with the USB turntable the process is, frankly, a pain in the ass and takes forever, so I haven’t digitized much. Really that task has over the past couple of years transformed from “something I’ll chip away at on the weekends and in my spare time” into “something to do if I’m ever on bed rest for some reason.”* What I really need is a clever monkey or gnome to do it for me. It has crossed my mind to pay Gus to do it, too.

*(Along with putting the actual photos in actual albums with little adhesive corners. When I told a friend that I’d bought those photo albums with adhesive corners–about 8 years ago now–he was like “just get rid of them now, you will never use them, it’s too much work!” And he was so, so right.)

But it’s a shame, because I miss their other records. I’ve got a pile of stuff to do tomorrow on the holiday, but maybe I should take some time out for digitizing. Just to prove those naysayers (including myself) wrong.

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up the hill backwards by david bowie

maura @ 8:07 am

On the drive down to our annual beach trip we left early to avoid the traffic and ended up hitting the worst snarl we’ve ever experienced on that route. We stopped at a McDonald’s to meet my mom for lunch because it was too early to check in and everyone was starving. Afterward Jonathan and I went to the grocery store to get started on the shopping while my mom took Gus to get the key and open the house. I tried to drive through as many strip mall parking lots as I could to get to the food store, but eventually I had to go back out to the main road and inch along like everyone else.

At some point while we inched we realized that music could make things better, so I started pawing through the more easily-accessible cassettes and picked my very old (20 years?) yet still perfectly functional Aladdin Sane/Scary Monsters tape. Despite all of the hullaballoo about the impermanence of tapes I still have a pile from as far back as high school that work perfectly well, thankyouverymuch.

The tracklisting was written in my long-ago handwriting, so very legible compared to the scrawls of today. Aladdin Sane in red marker, Scary Monsters in blue. Jonathan had just been telling me a few days ago about an article he’d read about Scary Monsters so that was the logical choice. It is a weird record, partly because of the time (which was what the article was about) – 1980 was in-between for so much music, and for Bowie especially given what he’d done before then. I’d written the dates on the tracklisting, too, because I’m a nerd and like to know those things (Aladdin Sane came out in 1973).

I do like the record, despite its weirdness, and especially the A side. Halfway through I realized that I must have listened to the A side much more than the B, because I was far less familiar with the B side songs. The occasional static and pop from the vinyl (which I still own) is well-preserved on the tape. Now that I’m an old lady I’m instantly nostalgic when I hear those imperfections, despite my own clear preference for digital media: when’s the last time I broke out the turntable? And it was such a pain to have to flip the record over. I’m sure that’s why the A side songs are so much easier for me to remember.


elevator love letter by stars

maura @ 11:18 pm

This song used to remind me of working for Amex Publishing, because that’s when I first really started listening to Stars. When I did production on the websites I’d often put something on the headphones on repeat (we had a pretty open cubicle plan so headphones were a useful signal that someone was hunkering down to get stuff done) and Stars went well with HTML. Then we went to Montreal two summers ago and now I only think of Montreal when I think of Stars because that’s where they’re from.

Last week my research partner and I got an acceptance email from the Anthropological Association of America (AAA, but not the car kind) for the conference proposal we submitted as part of a panel on library ethnography. The conference is in Montreal this fall, so it’s been Stars in my head ever since. It’s been years and years since I’ve been to the AAAs, should be an interesting trip. The conference will be in the rainbow-hued Palais de Congres so I will finally get to see the inside, too.


i kissed a girl by katy perry

maura @ 11:49 pm

Jonathan said he’d never ever heard this song and if you’d asked me before I’d have said the same thing, though once I heard it I remembered it. We were at a county fair while visiting family up in Vermont, and for some reason only the Himalayas ride was playing any music. First it was a bunch of Gaga remixes from the first record, then the Katy Perry song came on. J and I were both holding paper plates with the kids’ half-eaten pizza slices on them, waiting as they rode. The kids whizzed around, first forward and then backward. Gus’s hat flew off but we were able to get it back when the ride ended.

The rides were all a little sketchy, just a little bit too Springfield Tire Fire than I’m entirely comfortable with. The kids only wanted to go on spinny rides, which I loved as a child, too. But now that I’m old and crotchety the spinning makes me feel ill, sad to say. So I held the pizza and listened to Katy Perry and thought about all of her many wigs and costumes. Kids today.

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fills my ears

maura @ 10:06 pm

I’ve been listening to a lot of Lush recently, blissing out all early 90s style. I miss Lush: their best songs are layers of guitars that made your clothes move during live shows, with dreamy effects that makes it seem like you’re being wrapped up in a warm snuggly blanket. I think I need an effects pedal for my days sometimes, to kick in a shoegazy headbangy outro (like at the end of “Superblast”) as I’m walking out the door to go home, for example.

It all came from the car. A couple of weekends ago I had to drive a couple of hours to visit family for the day. Jonathan and Gus had to stay here so I drove down alone. The car only has a tape deck (I know!) and since we don’t even have a tape creating thingamabob anymore most of the cassettes are really old (except for the few kids’ music tapes we made when Gus was a baby). I hate the car and driving but I do like listening to music in the car (and singing).

Weirdly for people who have as many records/CDs/tapes as we do, we don’t really listen to music around the house anymore. When Gus was a baby we seemed to have Raffi/Dan Zanes/They Might Be Giants on an endless loop (which is not as awful as it sounds!). But as he’s gotten older that’s faded away. I’m not really sure why — partly it’s probably videogames, which have their own music. He also sometimes complains when we put our own music on.

I feel guilty that we’re not giving him a chunk of music to remember from his childhood. It’s true that I kind of hate many of the bands my parents listened to when I was little — James Taylor, Carly Simon and Carole King, for example — there are other 70s icons for which I retain a certain embarrassing fondness — Fleetwood Mac, Abba, Steely Dan.

Gus doesn’t have much music of his own these days either. After Michael Jackson died Gus decided he wanted some MJ music so we got a couple of CDs, and we all love the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack (duh!). I’m trying to ease back into some music some times, we’ll see how it goes. I left the Lush tape on in the car last week and there wasn’t any complaining, so that’s a first step.

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and the circus in my head

maura @ 1:06 pm

I’ve done pretty well w/writing this week, despite coming down with a cold on Wednesday. Word count’s at a respectable 4003 this morning not including this post and whatever else I manage to write today. We’re all sick now, Gus with a fever, so leaving the house probably isn’t going to happen. Right now Gus (who is crazed for cephalopods) convinced us to let him watch a truly stinky straight to netflix-watch-instantly movie about a giant shark + octopus starring Debbie Gibson. O internets, whatever did we do before you existed?

I’m working on an article about using games in my library instruction sessions so I decided to use some of those gamey tricks on myself to help keep me motivated. I’m recording my word count in a spreadsheet — watch my score rise! — and printed out a calendar sheet so I can add checkmarks to the days I get a chunk of writing done. So far it’s helping, though maybe not as spectacularly as I’d like. I find myself resisting the urge to categorize my writing: bloggy, academic, research-related, work-related, etc. I think that’s ultimately dangerous though — I have a tendency to hold research-related writing up as the most valuable thing I could be doing at any point, and I’m not certain that’s a good thing.

One thing this writing hasn’t done yet is make it any easier to write the literature review for this article. Oh literature reviews, how I hate to write you, with your endless struggles of synthesis. Sometimes I wish I could just present a list of everything I read: here’s some good research on the effectiveness of games-based learning, here are examples of games used in library and information literacy instruction, etc. I keep trying to remember how valuable a good literature review can be, but that’s cold comfort when I’m deep in the trenches of paraphrasing and summarizing, sigh.

You probably noticed that I haven’t stuck to my “what’s my current earworm?” writing prompt. For about the past week and a half it’s been “Bright Yellow Gun” by Throwing Muses. Over vacation I finally read “Rat Girl,” Kristin Hersh’s memoir of the year Throwing Muses got signed to 4AD, she was diagnosed as bipolar and also got pregnant with her first kid. As expected it was fun to read about the early history of the band, but the descriptions of her bipolar experiences were fascinating. As someone who wishes I needed less sleep it was interesting to read about how it feels to not need much sleep at all.

This earworm is much less mysterious than the last: there were lyrics sprinkled throughout, so that’s why the song’s been stuck in my head.

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