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Category Archives: bloggish

Blog Spotlight: Meish.org

I’ve decided that as frequently as I can I’d like to highlight a specific blog I love by talking about the blogger and linking to my favorite recent entries. It’s only fitting that I start with the single blog that was at the top of my link list when I launched nine years ago, and continues to be a daily read today:

Meg Pickard’s meish.org.

Meish wasn’t always Meish – it was once Not So Soft. In that capacity I consider it my parent blog, as I created my own specifically to ape what Meg was doing daily.

I’ve read Meg ever since, and she’s never stopped being compelling. She lives in London, was schooled as a sociologist, and spent time abroad conducting ethnographies. She presently works in some capacity for The Guardian.

Meg has a way – as all great bloggers do – of making the common seem very compelling. She also writes wonderful lists (frequently etymological in nature), takes clever and pretty photographs (even with an iPhone), and shares thoughts on social media.

And, as borne out by her original blog name (an Ani reference), Meg has wonderfully eclectic taste in music (and shares some of my OCD organizational qualities).

Some other recent highlights: she tracks the occurrence of “Flying Ant Day” with uncanny accuracy; she ruminates on the concept of time tourism (which I have discussed at length with Rabi); attempts to create a universal theory of measurement; dissects nationalist “visit us” campaigns; makes tables out of old maps; details past packing mishaps; and she bemoans a lack of adjectiveless sandwiches.

And that’s all just in the last year. Meish posts a few times a week, which makes it easy to follow in RSS; more voracious readers will want to subscribe to Meg’s many-times-daily tumblr.

Having met Rabi a long time ago, and Alison more recently, I’d say Meg is probably the blogger I’d most like to meet in real life.

Good blogs and the opinions I spouted at them.

This post could easily be about how I spent the last two weekends sweating my physical and intellectual butt off to completely reorganize my home office and upgrade CK to WordPress 2.8, but you would be like, “Whatever, it looks the same to me,” or “Um, I’m reading you on my RSS feed, so I don’t really care,” or possibly, “Dude, I haven’t read blogs for two years. Send me a tweet about it.”

Which is fine. I mean, should I also tell you about how I swept the floor? Backstage is backstage for a reason. Props people work hard to keep actors focused on their performance, not for the applause.

(Plus, at CK I’m the prop person and the actor. And the box office manager, the technical director, and the old lady ushering you to your seat. You get the idea. Excelsior…)

In my increasingly uncluttered life I’ve been trying to make some more time not only to read other blogs I admire, but to interact with them. That means reading carefully and responding, which sometimes yields thoughtful comments.

I’m sometimes hesitant to leave my thoughts lying around in other people’s homes when they could possibly lead to interesting content back here at my own homestead, but I’ve arrived at a happy medium – I’ll link to all of said intriguing posts as well as giving you a snippet of my reasoned replies.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the discussions I’ve weighed in on in this past week.

(If you find yourself wanting to do the same, try subscribing to Backtype, a simple monitoring service which will doing all of the the keeping-track for you.) Continue reading ›

don’t fail me now

The last forty-eight hours of my life.

At six o’clock on Monday I am playing guitar. I have been playing for hours, drilling songs against a metronome. The bridge of “Unengaged” for twenty minutes straight. I’ve worn through a callous for the first time in ages.

Later I rehearse piano and vocals equally as hard. I fall asleep reading Outliers in bed, which just two chapters in already has caused one blowup with E because I said if I had me as a child I’d call me a failure.

I don’t want to be a failure.

Tuesday I have a fun, frantic day at work – the kind where you realize at the end of the day that you never stopped to hang your coat. I start writing the second my ass is on the bus, and emerge almost three hours later with that last post.

I rehearse. Hard. Again. Trying not to fail. Despite my voice sounding brittle and inflexible due to the lack of a warm-up, I venture out to an open mic while E stays at home and works on freelance.

At the restaurant my first song is awesome; the room is quietly transfixed. (I’m not a failure?) Afterward I promptly break a string and become shy and faltering when I’m handed another guitar. I fuck up “Like a Virgin,” of all things, and promptly lose everyone’s attention.

Today I feel slightly beaten up (thank god I don’t drink at those things), on top of beating myself up. Still manage another frantic work day that barely includes a coat-hanging. On the way home I listen to my own voice on my iPod, which a lot of days is the only thing I can manage to do.

I’m listening to “Like a Virgin” from 2006 and thinking, This is awful. Why am i singing like that? (Of course, I wouldn’t make it ten seconds into “Like a Virgin” from 2001.)

Then I listen to a Trio from 2008 and realize, God, I really did get better.

I am not a failure.

I get home and am kissed goodbye as E heads out to front her band at the Khyber. Another hour of writing.

thoughts right now / subway ride

I ran into one of my favorite professors today on the subway, trundling to work in this non-event of a snowstorm.

We briefly caught up (me, married! him, reconstructing his house! my band, awesome!), and the conversation then turned to my blogging proclivity and how I have yet to abandon it. Which, (a) hilarious that my senior project adviser still asks me about my blog five years after the fact, but (b) way to stick the personal “blogger / songwriter” branding so that it’s the first thing he thinks of, even five years after the fact.

(me, old!)

Anyhow, us being two massive communications nerds having a conversation about communications on the subway, I sketched out the situation. Longest running, blah blah, own a single topic of conversation, blah blah, more magazine style content. Hit tracking, publics, &c, &c. Minus points for not somehow mentioning Cultivation Theory to prove that I am actually as big a nerd as I represent myself to be.

And, you know, as I was being my hip nerdy self for sixty seconds of subway exposition, it occurred to me that I spend more time plotting about blogging than I actually spend blogging.

It’s not such a bad thing, really. Well, it’s a medium bad thing. It’s equally good and bad. I love planning and organizing things so much that sometimes I’d rather not ever do the actual thing.

(This is actually a running theme in my life. See also: song database but no new recordings, exercise plan but no new muscles. The only time it works in my faovir is when having a plan inherently leads to the plan being success, as with a budget.

Anywho…)

There is technically a column I was going to post today. Well, it being 11:35, I think maybe technically has edged into theoretically. But the fact of the matter is, after a non-stop weekend of alternating social engagements and hardcore freelance writing and editing, I am in no mood to write a column.

And that, my friends, is the difference between a blog and a magazine. I can own all the topics I want, but there will still be this inanity sandwiched between.

God bless it.

a protozoic peter

I’ve been methodically tagging old CK posts in seemingly every spare moment ever since I first transferred from Blogger to WordPress in November of 2006.

At first the process was easy – I started with a list of my common post topics, and the content was new and familiar. It didn’t begin to get difficult until over a year later, when I found myself in the 2002 era. There I began to encounter memories I didn’t remember, or oblique themes I didn’t anticipate. I found myself walking over to E’s office to ask her about details I had forgotten, and constantly adding new topics to encompass some of my older worries.

As my excavation continued into the fall of 2001 I began to pass by the start of some topics – time traveling into the mind of a former me that had never been in a positive relationship, never met Elise, or never lived with Lindsay and Erika.

I already wrote about my sympathetic response in the current day, about how getting into the headspace of those old posts alters the current me. I’m past that now, though, past the first time I met Selina and the last time I was cast in a play.

It’s hard to imagine a Peter, less those milestones, but easy to understand why he’d seem so foreign without them. Every time I catch myself thinking, “this blogger is so young, so naive,” I remind myself that it’s not the years between us that cause that impression, but the experiences.

The last signpost of the modern me is Rabi, her personage and page omnipresent in my life for a seeming eternity. Yet, she too had a first post, and as I checked the box next to her “Rabi” topic I had a twinge of sadness that I wouldn’t get to check it again, so far back am I into my pre-history.

Two years after my big move from blogger and I am finally entrenched in my first three months, my first 900 posts. Posts about papers I had to write. Posts about days at the coffee shop. Naive posts. Posts about nothing. Posts prior to all of the major players in my current life. Is it even me that’s writing? Would that blogger recognize this current writer, content and a scant 14 days away from his wedding?

As I drilled through another dozen posts of tagging this morning I had an inkling that it might be time to give up, but there this OCD quality of mine to obey: I can’t let it go unfinished.

Will anyone care whether or not a three line post from December of 2000 is categorized in “rain”? The likely answer is no, but if I didn’t care about that I also wouldn’t care about a dozen other things that have kept CK lurching forward for over eight years. It’s the very point of CK – that I can excavate and time travel. It’s why I started it, and why it’s still here.

That’s the connection between your author here and your author then. That’s why I have to tag another 899 posts, no matter how tiny they seem from this great distance.

That’s (not) all, folks! (or, The Conclusion of NaBloPoMo)

This evening marks the end of the third annual National Blog Posting Month, during which I posted a healthy 37 posts in 30 days, including 10 songs in the first 10 days in three Trios (Good Bones, Morning Light, and Instants) and a bonus tune. I also blogged on my typical wide range of topics including a celebration of our President-Elect, a two part recap of my wedding style, thoughts on Joni Mitchell’s Blue, a list of newly discovered blogs, my experience playing a terrific benefit show, and a few random inane thoughts.

As with the first NaBloPoMo in 2006, I found that a month of enforced posting transforms me into a more inspired and productive blogger, and a cheerier, more fulfilled person in general. The first time around I reinvented myself, read 2000+ blogs, and relaunched CK on WordPress. This time the effects were much subtler, but no less worthwhile.

I’m now heading into recording a new Arcati Crisis demo and playing the last few shows of our productive year, toiling through a holiday season I hardly celebrate, and enduring 47 more days of wedding preparations until the big event finally arrives. Hopefully in the course of that I’ll squeak out another Trio or two, as well as a few posts that might catch your attention.

As always, thanks for tuning in.

invoke the infield fly rule!

Hmm.

So, in a bit of Philly surfing the other night I stopped by Philly Future, which featured a link to Fork You, a Philly food blog. And, in checking out the personal blog of its proprietor Scott McNulty – Blankbaby – I found myself thinking, Gee, that names sounds awfully familiar. I wonder how long he’s been around?

The answer to that question is two months longer than me. Which presents a conundrum: is Scott the longest-running blogger in Philadelphia?

Technically, yes – he made 11 posts prior to the launch of this fine establishment. However, said flagship posts were made from Yonkers, New York, not Philadelphia.

Now, let it be known that I am not one to hang on to my tagline via imagination or technicality – after all, that’s why I turned against Ms. Clinton earlier this year. At the same time, I don’t know that it’s fair for any carpetbagger with a long-standing blog to just roll into town and usurp me.

I’m really not sure what to make of this development. Have I been legitimately dethroned? Do we share the title, in different capacities? Have I found my nemesis?

I’m thinking I might have to drop by Fork You Live next Saturday to have a little duel showdown thumb war chat with this “Scott.”

Arcati Crisis and friends Stand Up For Kids

So, before all of that introspection crap started happening I was actually having an amazing weekend.

The story picks up mere seconds after my Friday post, which was interrupted by Dante’s appearance to ferry me and my various PA equipment to The Dark Horse on South Street for a benefit for Stand Up For Kids.

Stand Up For Kids is a nationally recognized and acclaimed charity that supports homeless and at-risk kids and teens. They offer many levels of service, from counseling children at risk for leaving home, to conducting outreach to kids on the streets, to staffing and maintaining outreach centers where teens can get help in obtaining a birth certificate or finding an apartment.

The Philadelphia chapter of Stand Up For Kids needs support to provide that full complement of services. Their benefit raised money towards supplies for their outreach packets – like juice boxes, deodorant, or sweatshirts – as well as for an outreach van that would allow them to be more mobile in their efforts.

Arcati Crisis has played a slew of shows this year, but the SUFK benefit ranks high amongst our favorites.

First, The Dark Horse Pub is a fantastic bar – one of my favorites in all of Philly. It’s just north of South on 2nd – across from Headhouse. The pub is comprised of multiple rooms that each have their own personality, all clean and comfortable and serving delicious food along with their drinks.

Second, the bill – we played with a lineup of people who we would go out of our way to see. Seriously. It was such a profoundly humbling experience to be listed in the middle of the people whose songs I hum while I walk down the street.

Joshua Popejoy, a model of sharp hooks and specific strumming, and increasingly my go-to for all discussions of mixing. Bill Butler, an outstanding songwriter and one of my favorite Philly vocalists, and the director of the charity The Philadelphia Sessions. Dante Bucci, a virtuosic percussionist who has transformed a zen instrument into a songwriter’s treasure, and who can engineer a PA solution for any space. Jon Glaubitz, an enormously talented guitarist and songwriter with a chameleonic ability to blend in anywhere – no matter if it’s a coffee shop or a rock club. And Andra Taylor, an arresting new voice on the Philly scenes, her hypnotically circular guitar riffs evoking a prism of contemporaries from Patti Griffin to Madonna. And, we made new friends – with David Miller and Jeremy Davis, performers we surely will see again in the future.

However, beyond all of those pleasures was the charity itself. SUFK volunteer, event organizer, and AC-fan Nina found the right venue to turn a gathering into a celebration, found the right music to fill it, and then packed the room to the very limit of its capacity.

Throughout the night Nina sent SUFK volunteers up to the microphone to share their stories about the organization while we set up for the next artist on the bill. The one that really caught me came after our performance – maybe because we were still trembling from a powerful closing swing through “What’ll I Say” and “Apocalyptic Love Song,” or maybe just because she was so very compelling.

She spoke about how she helped to found the Philadelphia chapter four years ago, and how at the time it was just a handful of people who wanted to make an impact. She spoke about how we all pass homeless children every day without realizing that we see them, partially because they so desperately don’t want to be homeless that they will do anything to blend in. She spoke about how – four years later – she is so energized by the enthusiasm of her fellow volunteers and the changes they effect in the world, but that they aren’t enough – they need more support and more volunteers to truly change the streets of Philadelphia.

When she was through I found myself with tears welling in my eyes.

All of these things we do take time. Four years ago Arcati Crisis was an in-joke name for our studio recordings. Four years ago Dante Bucci didn’t know what a hang drum was, and Andra Taylor had no idea she’d be living in Philadelphia.

In that four years we’ve devoted to ourselves, Stand Up For Kids has devoted itself to others, and because of our collective commitment we were able to come together last Friday to share and celebrate positive music and a positive message. We came together into a room as strangers to each other and left with a common cause.

That is the best kind of gig to play, and after the clouds of my weekend introspection clear on a bright Monday morning that is the memory that I’m going to take with me. Even if our music only made SUFK twenty dollars it was worth every minute of playing. If I could raise a thousand I would play for days at a time, stopping only to breathe.

That didn’t turn out quite how I meant it to.

I didn’t even mention the Swamps of Sadness and how Artax dying is the saddest thing ever and how I’m wrapped up in my desk chair reliving all of these old emotions and that at first it was so hard to understand why I was writing the things I wrote but now I’ve been reading for so many days in a row that they make just as much sense as the present day and that I’m afraid that if I keep at it for much longer I will be nineteen again with all of the desperation and uncertainty that came with the territory.

Well, maybe it’s better off the way it is. More coherent, anyhow.

Thoughts right now.

It’s close to the wire, and I haven’t drawn up any speaking points. I was out all night at my crazy amalgam jobby/hob in assisting with Lyndzpalooza’s open mic, where I at once have to represent our organization, rock my own music, and make Arcati Crisis seem awesome and alluring with just a handful of songs.

Tonight was a success on all fronts, so I’m feeling pretty good about the state of me at the moment, not only because it’s a good state to be in, but also because I’m just able to be in it.

Having eight years of blog to read in my spare moments is a wonderful reminder of how I’ve changed over time. Even if it’s an over-reduction to claim that the atoms in your cells are refreshed every seven years, as reductions go at least it’s illustrative – an eight-years-younger you shouldn’t look like the same person. There are now some memories I have forgotten, that if it wasn’t for this blog would have disappeared from my life entirely.

I like to claim that I haven’t changed materially, but that’s just a function of that forgetfulness – maybe a willful one. Clearly I have changed. Not just the superficial ways – the lack of curl in my hair, or the newfound power in my voice. Not just my newfound ability to be in a steady state. I express my opinions differently. My confidence is more tempered, and my fear of failure more subtle. I play my worries much closer to my chest, and they’re a lot more complex than wondering who I’ll kiss next.

Reading old CK makes me afraid that in exchange for my steadiness I don’t see as many colors in the world. I used to delight in church bells and saxophones, and all the colors they brought out in the world. When is the last time I saw that color in sound?

I also used to post every fifteen minutes.

Some things are better left in the past.