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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.

Preoccupational Hazards

Tonight was my one night off for the week, except I wanted to spend it on – do some blogging, maybe start my next Trio.

That wasn’t meant to be. I had some more pressing concerns to attend to, such as washing dishes and laundry. And, I’m not just talking about from a normal “chore” perspective. No. This was a no drinking glasses left and completely out of pants situation.

You might laugh at my situation. Ha!, you might think, he seems to be so together with his podcasts and his Groom Team, but it’s an illusion! You might continue to gloat, Aside from his yuppy job he’s living the slovenly, disorganized life of a lazy bachelor.

Yet, that’s just not the case – and not just because I’m living merrily in sin with Elise. I’m certainly spending time being clean, orderly, and tenacious outside of my yuppy occupation – it’s just that the time is invested in all of my yuppy pre-occupations.

At this point I have so many non-occupational jobs that it’s not unusual for a week to go by without me even finding the time to do a single load of laundry. Take this week, for example.

I spent half the weekend recording and mixing the four songs in the last two posts, and the other half working on an arrangement for Drexel’s all-female acappella group. Monday I spent a few hours cleaning up the back-end CK, and then I went to a concert of someone who is playing at my wedding. Tomorrow night I’ll be co-hosting an open mic with the other half of Arcati Crisis, and on Thursday I’m the artist liaison at our Lyndzapalooza Fall Mixer.

Did you catch all of that? Recording engineer, transcriptionist, network administrator, event planner, rock star, and A&R rep. That’s six hobbies that I’ve turned into part-time jobs. Hobs? Jobbies?

At least with the latter half of wedding, AC, and LP I knew from the start that I was getting into something that was both time-consuming and rewarding. However, the former three – CK, arranging, and DIY recording – all started out as innocent distractions from the rest of my life. I never meant for them to become staying up until 3am, working until I nod off in my chair sorts of engagements. It just turned out that way.

Is this insane or just slightly abnormal? Do you have jobs aside from what you do for a living and taking care of your home and family? If you do, did you choose to make them a priority, or did they sneakily transform into one over time?

Exteriors.

Over the past few days I’ve spent most of my free moments unknotting the multi-thousand post mess that is my neglected Google Reader.

It’s fascinating to me that I let it go unread for so long, because I’m always looking for something to consume. I spend all night pinging in a circle from LiveJournal to MySpace to FaceBook to Huffington Post to Ain’t It Cool News, seeking out ever-more-incremental updates. Eventually if none of them seem to be in motion I’ll settle for mindlessly playing the newest game over at Kongregate.

Think about that for a moment. Elitist, progress-oriented me will settle for the empty feedback mechanism of a flash video game rather than check up on the lives of hundreds of my peers via my Google Reader.

What the hell? It seems my introversion extends to the blog arena as well.

And, I know you’re all like, “Peter, enough with the introversion already, you’ve kept a blog for eight years and in each of those years I’ve seen you make a willing spectacle of yourself in public at least twice.”

I had that in mind as I caught up on Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, reading her tongue-in-cheek FAQ post. In response to a question about agoraphobia, she says:

I diagnosed myself with mild agoraphobia because although I PREFER to never leave my house, I still CAN leave my house if it involves doing something fun. But even then, I usually choose to stay home. I’m emotionally, physically, psychologically, urologically, and ophthalmologically attached to my home.

Note that this woman lives and actively works on a ranch, so to some degree the concept of “home” likely includes some portion of the vast outdoors, which makes her not your traditional agoraphobe. Yet, in her mind she is still mildly agoraphobic, because left to her own devices her natural orientation is to remain in her home space.

That description perfectly fits my view of my own introversion. In areas I define as “home” I’m a natural socializer: work, meetings with friends, the stage … all perfectly comfortable environments where I can be myself.

However, socializing with co-workers, attending friends’ parties with people I don’t know, or hanging at the bar prior to playing … those experiences all make me feel weird and out-of-place. And, I know not everyone is a social butterfly and that it takes time to adapt to different environments, but my reaction is on a different level. I stop being interesting, opinionated, vocal me. I literally forget how to do it. I’m back in grade school, unsure of which lunch table I should approach to garner the least teasing.

That can really get in the way of my success in the arena of local music. Because, much to my disappointment and chagrin, you do not get booked all across the town just for showing up once or by being able to play for an hour without interruption. I assumed people would listen if I trained my voice and wrote well-structured songs.

Well, I was mostly wrong. You have to be persistent. You have to make connections. You have to build to your own personal tipping point. Otherwise, you’re some asshole stranger trying to make a splash in an unreceptive room.

I’ve been that asshole too many times, and I’m really trying to learn how to just be a regular regular, even if my regularity is slightly irregular, because being regular is really an extroverted attitude rather than a frequency of appearance.

I’ve been striving for that this summer, both solo and as Arcati Crisis. Each has their own challenges.

Solo means its hard to get me out of the house, but once I’m out I’ll sit and endure hours of open mic. Usually after my set I work up the nerve to say hello to a few people, as prior to it I am endlessly revising my set list. (One day I’ll play a solo gig and adhere to my setlist exactly. Once. Eventually).

Arcati Crisis gets me out of the house more quickly, because – duh – I get to hang out with Gina. But, once we’re installed at a coffee shop or bar I clam up around the other musicians because – duh – I get to hang out with Gina.

For a while we’d hit entire strings of open mics without making any new connections or friends, but lately we’ve been taking turns being sociable, and we’ve been rewarded by meeting some amazing musicians, like Andra Taylor, Year Long Day, and Kursten Bouton, just to name a few we’ve gotten up the balls to talk to.

So, that’s going well. The more people I meet, the more reasons I have to get out of the house and play – I am cultivating pocket of “home” at every open mic in Philadelphia. At Lickety Split I can be myself at a single table, but at Blarney South I’m me at the whole back half of the room.

Google Reader presents the same opportunity – to turn peers into pockets of extended home. Yet, if I neglect to read Pioneer Woman, and Mark Larson, Akkam’s Razor, Moose In the Kitchen, What If No One’s Watching, You’re Doing It Wrong, and dozens of my other favorite blogs, then they stop being familiar, and my barriers go up. No emails, or comments, or track backs. CK becomes the splashy asshole.

In my Google Reader cruise I was also catching up on longtime CK peruser Karl Martino, and happened upon a post about the apparently ongoing Philly Blogger Meetup.

Imagine that – a setting that can combine the terror of going to an unfamiliar open mic with the daunting task of talking to total strangers alongside the deeply uncomfortable experience of talking about my blog to someone who has never read it before.

I signed up.

Not Dead, Just Floating

February tends to be a pretty sparse month on CK, aside from the first two, whose blogging were fueled by infatuation with the Queen of Darkness and Elise, respectively.

Actually, February tends to be an infatuated month – a 28-day Fat Tuesday of topical gluttony – which is maybe why the blogging tends to drop off. In 2004 it was SongFight; last year, consuming media. 2006 was… being scruffy? I honestly couldn’t tell you.

I bring those three years up specifically, as they’ve dictated much of my month so far. The scruffiness aspect finally ended this morning, when I shaved off what I think (if we’re being fair) I can say was my first ever mustache. It was charming at first, and looked dashing in photos, but the prickliness of it finally got to me (just as Elise was claiming I had progressed past Brillo-pad stage, too; oh well).

The mustache was, in turn, indicative of my preoccupation with things other than self – as typically I am much too busy examining myself in the mirror to allow any such deviation from core residual self image – and those two things correspond to the other two years I mentioned above.

Like a square to a rectangle but not visa versa, SongFight is to Arcati Crisis. SongFight was perhaps the first time Gina and I masqueraded under our proper name, though we had certainly recorded together before as an entity. And, from our fours-years-ago SongFighting emerged “Moscow, Idaho,” which we played an utterly stunning version of on Saturday ever-so-shortly before my voice-losing escapade.

(“Moscow” is a curious story unto itself, but I’m saving a recap of that for when we have a better demo of the song.)

Like 2004′s before it, this February so far has been a very Arcati Crisis month. We performed three separate times, and this last one marked a major milestone that we just realized this morning: we’ve now played every one of our current songs in front of an audience. That’s sixteen tunes, which represents a nearly indescribable leap from last February when we knew just three or four.

In fact, with the exception of “Fisher Price” the songs which we now consider to be the most “solid” and “reliable” didn’t even exist as duo tunes this time last year – they were still relegated to the various demo discs and Blogathons from which they originated. Suddenly we find ourselves with thumb-twiddling time at rehearsals where we once were dreaming up new riffs to catalog tunes, and so far this month we’ve filled it with new songs and rehearsals with cello (!). Tomorrow we’ll be recording the few stragglers who haven’t yet made it onto one of our Live @ Rehearsal discs, and then I’ll be spending the rest of the month mixing.

I know that other bands have come farther in a shorter amount of time – after all, of those sixteen songs all had been written prior to 2007 – but I still can’t help but be infatuated with our progress.

Not just our progress, though – that’s an old-Peter model of infatuation, that restless addiction to revisiting a process and its product, rather than living in the present. This time I am actually infatuated with the present tense of us, and all that we are capable of. Could we have imagined in 1994 that one night we’d wind up on stage at Doc Watson’s a hair shy of last call with our friends bouncing and singing along to every word of our songs?

Well, maybe we could have, but in that mental image I probably still had my Spock haircut, which is not nearly as ravishing as the current one, AKA “Dean Winchester.”

Which, in retrospect, probably prompted the stubble.

Meanwhile, there is the aspect of 2007 that I am repeating – I’ve been very much absorbed in media consumption. It’s partially because I have been following the primary elections on various news sites, but really it’s just an input/output thing. I’m outputting riffs, harmonies, new songs, project plans, site maps, engagement party thank you notes – all manner of creativity. And if I don’t ingest and digest input from some other sources I’ll be left with nothing to output.

(Or, worse, I will return to my past-process addiction and just output recursive, painful feedback. Sort of like this post, but more shrill.)

(Okay, while we’re parenthetical already I just need to point out that I started talking about that whole input/output deal almost seven years ago, and at work we’re reading this horrific business book that I won’t even do the justice of name-checking, and it has a whole fucking chapter about how you need input in order to maintain output. Like, with a chart of a Pac-Man-esque circle eating and shitting information. I kid you not. So, yes, 20-year-old-me could teach this business guru a thing or two about a thing or two.)

(Any, mucho digression; do you see what February causes?)

My increased intake of media – particularly election coverage, which has been nigh-unavoidable the past few weeks – has re-awakened my love of media critique. Especially after nearly four years of freedom from the bonds of television I feel like I’m seeing messages for what they really are for the first time – often just inelegant, thinly-veiled agendas meant to obscure the actual meaning behind the message:

Disney loves to sell its girl-empowerment, but don’t look for it to offer a fair payout to the author behind one of its hugest properties, The Cheetah Girls.

Similarly, CNN trumpets its bottomless cadre of cell-phone equipped i-Reporters, but when one of their segment producers runs a hip, snarky blog that gets too opinionated he is promptly fired.

And, in perhaps my favorite example, our favorite brand names and supermarkets re-purposed plain old oats in increasingly portable and nutrionless forms until we are paying dozens of dollars on the pound for curiously un-oat-ish cereal bars, with MILK INCLUDED (TM).

I’m not sure if the sudden transparency is coming from me, or coming from the internet, or coming from the world at large having finally gone in for a look at its cataracts, but I’m loving it.

And, with ten days left to go, that is my February, so-far.

pee ess

Okay, so, forgive my meta-ness for a second here, but we need to chat.

We are now at the halfway mark of the month, and I must confess I am not really feeling the NaBloPoMo love this year.

I’m quite sure the NaBloPoMo Ning site is mostly at fault. Last year there were over two thousand of us scrambling to post before midnight every day, and the only way for us to communicate and commiserate was to read each other’s blogs and leave a trail of comments in our wake.

This year there are six thousand of us, all amiably mingling on a social networking site, and our blogs would seem to have become secondary to our networking.

Or maybe it’s just me and my busyness, which is even more meta, because the whole point of NaBloPoMo was supposed to be talking about how great it is to be busy all of the time, as opposed to last year when I spent the entire month in my room reading blogs, drinking martinis, and cultivating my carpal tunnel syndrome.

I had quite a schedule plotted out to cut through the busyness with posts and Trios and links, but these days weeks go by so quickly that I don’t have time to figure out what to do with them. That, combined with some of the less amusing chapters of the engagement story and a Trio that doesn’t seem to want to be recorded, are a veritable blogging blockade.

Or, maybe I’m just taking this all a little too seriously, as is my wont. So, I’m looking to you, gentle readers, to tell me what’s what. Are there some NaBloPoMo blogs that I seriously need to be reading? Is there a type of post you’ve been dying to see from me? Or, for the more well-versed of you, is there a song I’ve been neglecting?

Speak now, or your next fifteen days will most likely mirror the last. Which, honestly, were fifteen days of fairly quality blogging, but I’m nothing if not an overachiever.

The road flows like a river, and pulls me around every bend.

I think that was a sufficient amount of time to bask, uninterrupted, in being a fiancé.

Much stuff is afoot in chez krisis, and not just our impending wedding. I have more to say on that topic than you could ever hope to consume in a single sitting, so I’ll be dragging the whole mess of it through National Blog Posting month, and beyond.

Okay, I’ll say one thing now: I love all the dire wedding warnings that come from every quarter when you first get engaged. I suppose it’s a cultural hazing thing? I just don’t get it. Each of our favorite weddings were relatively lacking in insanity and drama according to the various brides. Also, we’re both OCD project managers with the same taste in everything.

Right. Remind me to come back and read this post in about twelve months and see what I have to say about it.

If that was all that was happening it would be, oh, say, the most exciting time of my entire life. However, chattery on the topic of engagedness tends to eclipse the fact that there are also some other life events in motion, such as the massive behemoth of posts that is NaBloPoMo looming a mere two days away.

You should be comforted to know that I’ve drawn up a comprehensive content grid so I’m never lacking for post topic (see, OCD project managers). The challenge will be finding myself awake and at a computer long enough to do any posting.

Part of that challenge is that Gina and I (AKA Arcati Crisis) are playing a second trio of songs with a rhythm section on November 9th at the Rotunda, followed by multiple holiday performances, and moving through a half-hour set at Doc Watson’s in January (and, possibly another appearance at the Tin Angel), all of which results in plenty of rehearsals, both together and separately.

Oh, and the normal busyness, such as having four of my projects reviewed (and approved!) by our CEO over the last month, learning various exercises and arias for my weekly voice lessons, working up a communications plan for our homegrown music festival, and trying to drag my sorry ass out to East Falls every Thursday to play our favorite open mic.

And, last but certainly not least (though, what could really be least in this list?), I suddenly – and completely out of the blue, I assure you – can play piano. I’m still slow to learn actual pop songs, but I seem to have collected a modest enough palette of rhythms and riffs that I can bang through my own stuff with increasing ease and surprising variation, and I actually prefer some of it on keys to guitar strings. Imagine that!

Anyhow, that’s life, at the moment – full of activity, but paradoxically forcing me to take frequent naps in order to keep up with it.

How have you been?

Uncluttering

A week ago a blog I’ve become quite fond of – MLarson – quoted my statement from “Why A Link Is Not Enough“:

Links aren’t life.

His reflexive link might have been a thank you for all of the links to him I’ve featured in the past few weeks, or maybe it was an ironic commentary on the fact that I followed up a post stating “Links aren’t life” with a post with several dozen links in it. Or, maybe it was both.

I don’t dispute that links are a big part of blogging. I love posting links. I just like to pair my links with some personal commentary and context so that I at once show you interesting things you may not have read or seen and remind myself about that said things exist when I am old and senile. In, like, a month.

Anyhow, per positive feedback on recent link posts, for the moment they’re going to be a semi-weekly feature.

Unclutterer is to blogs what Real Simple is to magazines. I love it.

Gimme Sanity is back has been back, but I was too dim to look for it at its domain name. Duh.

Axis All Areas is a Garbage fan site with a very comprehensive breakdown of the gear the band has used on every tour. Also, the author has a signed Guild guitar identical to mine! Cool.

Mighty Goods is a shopping blog written by the author of the seminal Mighty Girl. Despite my unequivocal love for her taste in stuff I’ve never bought any of her selected items. The most recent contenders for first purchase are fork easels, and a pattern book that presents patterns in EPS and high res JPG so you can use them for various web and print projects.

Philly Blog The BM Rant tells the tale of the original (ghost)writer of The Hardy Boys. Also from my town, Vintage captures a scene from my daily life. And, XPNer Some Velvet Blog introduces me to Trolleyvox, an awesome local band.

Visual Search Lab is like a user-powered Google Image search, aiming to “find visually similar images.” via Photojunkie.

Brandon Fuller, creator of the technology behind my Now Playing sidebar, laments missing the boat with other big ideas. I feel his pain, having missed out on cashing in on a number of great ideas and web trends due to lack of time or lack of savvy. But, I say, never give up: Friendster seemed to have the annoying lock on social networking before the even more annoying MySpace cropped up, and now they’ve both been eclipsed by the classier Facebook.

10 Future Web Trends is an apt examination of up and coming web technology, via Akkam’s Razor. Also at Akkam’s: the math of making money on your blog.

CNN shares five simple keys to nutrition. Unlike their organization article, I have yet to master any of these habits. Also handy: how to clean your home in 19 minutes. I really enjoy when CNN subcontracts their open article slots to magazines rather than shoddily written AP stories.

Awe-inspiring communications blogger Debbie Millman contributed to A Brief Message – which combines a 200-or-less word essay on design with an accompanying illustration. I love their current one, Arrogance and Humility.

Links from usual suspects: this week TDavid and I chatted about link rot and social networking. Kottke posted a highly addictive web-game, Bloxorz. I grew bored in 15 minutes; Elise beat it within an hour. Also from K, light pollution, and the absence thereof is one of the many reasons I’m jealous of E’s impending trip to Australia.

Largehearted Boy posted a great interview w/Rufus Wainwright; oh, Rufus, if only your album didn’t suck quite so much. Also from LHB, a 69 Love Songs wiki. And, finally, the aforementioned MLarson found an illustrated guide on how to be creative.

Fin.

Why A Link Is Not Enough

I know some of you are more interested in my recent Trio highlights than others, and that those others have been counting down the days until I do a proper blog post where I amusingly contemplate my navel and/or contemplate the amusing navels of other blogs through extensive linking.

The latter post topic has always seemed to me to be an interesting conundrum, which was highlighted succinctly by Ernie several weeks ago.

Ernie, AKA LittleYellowDifferent, was (is?) a major-league A-list blogger who celebrated his seventh-year anniversary of blogging a scant month before my own. As a birthday gift to his readers, he reinstated hundreds of old posts that had been long-since gone from his page.

Commenting on his great post reinstatement, he made the following observation:

…although a couple hundred of those posts are left unpublished since they’re links to dead websites. … Like all bloggers that started in the early 2000’s, content centered around link commentary, rather than having your blog be a personal soapbox.

I never really fit in with the bloggers Ernie mentions because I’ve always been more parts soapbox and/or megaphone than links, and his post crystallizes the reason why.

Links aren’t life. When you spend all your time blogging about the hottest video or the latest tech news your blog stops being about your life and starts being about everyone else’s. Seven years down the line those links are dead, and you’re left skimming off a seventh of your posts that are now meaningless.

That’s why you’ve spent three days listening to the ancient best of Trio. Trust me, I have plenty of interesting links – enough links in the past five days that I could dole them out one per day and almost make it to Thanksgiving. But, looking back there wouldn’t be any blog there – no life or music – just other peoples songs, lives, and blogs.

And, if you aren’t interested in my songs, life, and music, I’ll still share some of the links with you every week or so.

(Now if only Ernie would reinstate the archives from SurvivorBlog and PuppetMaster. a-hem)

My Favorite Trio Tracks:
#15 – Crashing (from Trio Season 1, #2)

I recorded and uploaded my first Trio seven years ago tonight.

After a week of blogging at all hours of the day I realized that I had something more to offer to the internet than just words – I had songs. Just over a hundred, at the time. And, it was time for them to be heard as a regular part of Crushing Krisis:

As of this instant i have added a new weekly feature affectionately dubbed trio. … i will sit down in front of my computer and play a continuous live take of three songs … i’ll always play a trio of songs – no more and no less.

In the seven intervening years I’ve violated each of those introductory terms. Trio certainly didn’t stay weekly … at one point it went on a two-year hiatus! On the other hand, last November I posted nine Trios in a single month – some on consecutive days.

Furthermore, starting with the latter half of Season 3 I stopped recording all three songs in a continuous live take, instead working on them one by one. The first trio of Season 4 Trios were dubbed and mixed just like album tracks, though I have since abandoned the process (it was too time-consuming).

Finally, a handful of Trios have featured more than four songs – quite intentionally in the first season, but since then just as spontaneous extra tracks.

I’m due to start the sixth season of Trio in a few weeks, now armed with twice as many songs as I had when Trio first began.

While I am rehearsing behind the scenes for the new season I’ll also be counting down my fifteen favorite live Trio recordings from seasons one through four (since nearly all of five was a favorite), offering a la cart versions of each song as excerpted from a newly remastered mp3 version of the original Trio.

My first selection, “Crashing,” is from my second-ever Trio, recorded on September 10, 2000.

At the time “Crashing” was hardly a year old, and still a regular staple of my live sets. Since then it has sped up, slowed down, included piano, and quoted Destiny’s Child. However, through all of those recordings, its Trio debut has remained one of the most definitive, and one of my favorites.

Getting Regular: OCD moms, Suck flashback, pop economics, APOD, and other think-provoking links.

In case you haven’t caught on, I have lit a bit of a fire under myself on the topic of Year 8 of Crushing Krisis, and part of that flame had extended to reading other blogs.

Blogs don’t exist in a vacuum, but if you pretend that yours does then its reality will conform to your whim. That’s been one of my biggest problems – I have plenty of regular reads, but beyond Rabi, Amanda, Jett, and Alison I don’t make much of a point of regularly reading, commenting and – most importantly – linking to my favorite compatriots.

I’m trying to surmount the first two difficulties by using Google Reader to aggregate my favorite RSS feeds. The reader has a handy “starred” feature to let me highlight my favorite posts, which will hopefully lead to many bounties of links such as the one you’re about to experience.

Okay, so I lied a little – I read more than just those four blogs on a regular basis. Like every other blogger on the face of the internet, I regularly read Dooce, ostensibly so I can chat about it with Lindsay over lunch, but more and more often because I love how she weaves in her OCD with her toddler stories.

(ps: Linds, I know you’re reading. Check out this post about photocamp. Spin any gears in your brain?)

On that same topic (the one before the parens), Whoopee is one of my favorite blogs from NaBloPoMo, as is Flotsam, with the terrifically statistically improbable phrase, “our embryos are the most beautiful embryos that ever underwent meiosis.”

I’m also a long time reader of Acerbia, which tricked me into thinking it was telling the truth for the first time in a while. And, I’m a devotee of Things That Make You Go Hmm, though TDavid often blogs faster than I can read, offering an embarrassment of rich links.

My favorite Hmm-link of the week was a brief feature on Whateverlife, a flashy-as-hell free MySpace layout website run by Ashley Qualls, a 17 year old girl living in Detroit. Oh, did I mention it gets roughly 60 million page views a month? For more interesting background, check out “Girl Power,” an article from FastCompany.

Not only is Ashley amazing, she’s saving us all from having to dumb down our web design skills just to satiate the beast that is MySpace.

God bless her.

Mlarson is another terrific blog for useful and/or thought-inducing links … without never ending commentary of TDavid or, say, yours truly. My favorite of his this week was a link to a diagram illustrating the difference between generalist and specialist approaches to problem-solving. That’s via Communication Nation and how could I not like a blog named that?

Speaking of things you can’t help but like, did you ever read Suck? Back in it’s late-90s heyday it was an utter addiction of mine – a daily dose of irreverence from a snarky group of anonymous writers.

Whether you recall it or not eZine Keep Going featured an amazing article about what they rightfully deem the first great website.

(What I love the most about the article is that it’s a whopping 15,000+ words. I love a piece of journalism that you can really sink into.)

That link was gleaned from Karl @ Paradox1x, proprietor of Philly Future, who has been reading CK a long-ass time. We’re talking early Year 2. This week he made an absolutely essential post (partially) about the problem with Facebook which I later commented upon. Also good: the power of tagging is as a byproduct, not a feature.

Jumping back one topic, another weighty article you might enjoy is The New Economics of Pop Music (via Smokler‘s del.icio.us). Oh, also, while you’re enjoying thing please enjoy my two favorite photos of the week, via Ugly Green Chair and Dooce.

Finally, randomly, the top ten most amazing pictures taken by Hubble. Trivial note: every desktop I work on has a background from Nasa’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, which draw endless complements. At home it’s stars, dust, and nebula, at work it’s blue lagoon. So, clearly I am a nebula fan, but, really, there are so many good ones that it’s very hard to choose.

One Astronomy shot i glanced at while compiling that sentence wasan illustration of the relative size of Earth, which is coincidental, as I had pegged this Debbie Millman post on planetary proportions as a must-link because it’s the first time I’ve ever truly been impacted by such a visual representation (probably because it shows depth).

As a rule of thumb, that’s roughly a fifth of the amount of great reading I’ve been missing out on in the past year just because I didn’t have an RSS reader. Scary.

Gilt & Hail

While out in the world I am constantly seeking out details to ferry back to this little white box.

Some days are just as plain as the box itself, monochromatic and empty, and so the smallest sensation of actual life sticks out. Last Friday, a fever, riding home in a cab from work. He had attached a small plastic hose to the passenger a/c vent, and it pumped air under the divider, directly onto my naked ankle. In my hyper-sensitive state the sustained blast of air was alternatingly soothing and intensely painful.

I sank into a kind of paralyzed trance, in rhythm with the throbbing veins beneath my skin.

Other days the world is so vibrant with narrative color that I can hardly take it all in. Not if I had a tape recorder for my thoughts, or a camera for the view. And so I marvel at the human mind, and how in a life full of gadgets it is still the best recording device I’ve got so long as I make sure each aspect of the world is remarkable in its own way.

I prise away at every little detail.

A beautiful voice is emerging from the post office boxes. At first I think it might be the radio, but it slips remarkably from disco to R&B to lullaby without changing key. I don’t think digital satellite can do that.

I peer through the keyholes and tiny windows in the doors of each box to try to catch a glimpse of her. Gilt, but fading, each door is set with a key hole surrounded by a multi-pointed star, each of ten successive letters marking its points.

I don’t understand why. I still can’t see her.

A pleasant-looking woman in a Ft. Lauderdale shirt strolls in with her toddling son, adorable with untied shoes. In line behind me he too is drawn to the singing, or maybe just the gilt, and strays beneath the nylon divider to investigate.

“Get yourself back in here,” she croaks. She speaks like a bull frog, lower and more destroyed than a woman who had smoked for twice her age. She yanks him under the rope and lays a firm smack across his midsection. It reverberates across the tiled floor as he looks up at her. No tears, still quizzical.

She catches me staring, and I hold her gaze for long seconds.

The posters, I notice, are coded. A star means to leave them up indefinitely. A plus means they will expire; their shelf-life is printed below, white on black. And it isn’t just the posters – laminated mats and signs as well.

The tiny woman in front of me is trying to pick up mail in her maiden name; she drops pennies into her purse and they make a peculiar clinking sound, like the inside is made of tin. At the next window the clerk informs a man that he was lucky to receive his package, as it had no address on it.

I can’t figure it out, either.

I am at my bullet-proofed window. I think I could slip a pvc tube around the edge and spray aerosol poison into the face of my clerk. But that wouldn’t be an effective way to pick up my package. She is fussing with her watch, which is clearly two or three links too small for her wrist. Had it swollen suddenly?

There are scratches everyone on the inside of the bullet-proofed window; who is trying to escape?

The woman behind me bobs, up and down, back and forth. The stamp machine does not take dollars. There is a mural on the wall of some Midwestern settlement, and I can’t understand what it has to do with post offices or Philadelphia.

I fiddle with each tiny ball bearing that chains the pen to the bullet proof window as if they are rosary beads.

I pray: remember each detail.