Archive for March, 2014

Some end of the month links to make you feel old.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by goatmeal

There’s been lots of stuff like this coming out recently due to the impending 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. They pretty much all say the same thing, but there’s one in particular that I had to share because it’s more ironic than anything that ever happened to Alanis Morissete. Remember when this happened? Well, twenty plus years later, this is happening. Regardless of what grunge musicians thought about the relevance of Time magazine 20 years ago, at least it was about things that were happening. You know like the Berlin Wall coming down and a person of the year who usually seemed to be the right choice. Life magazine was the stuff of fifties nostalgia. Whenever I saw a Life magazine in the public library it made me think of the smell of mothballs and Ben-Gay. And now there’s a life magazine about Kurt Cobain: I don’t know if anything has ever made me feel older than realizing this is actually happening. Dying celebrities is one thing. Putting those dead celebrities on a Life magazine is like mummifying our youth for posterity. I’ll have more to say about Kurt Cobain on Friday and Saturday, but we are officially old now.

If that weren’t enough to make you feel old, apparently last week was thirty years from the date of the detention in The Breakfast Club. That movie has to be in the top 5 movies that define Gen X. I should have written a whole post about it, but didn’t realize that anniversary was coming up until it was too late. I’ll just leave it at this: like most things that matter to our generation it is completely misunderstood by people of other generations. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone under thirty what they think it is about and you will be surprised.

Finally, I saw this great article in the Atlantic about parenting. It does a much better job of explaining what I was intending to say in the birthday post I made about my son. Glad to hear there are professionals who agree with me.

If you want more links, check out jenx’s blue plate special from a few days ago.

Music Friday- Cherub Rock

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 28, 2014 by goatmeal

Smashing Pumpkins were the source of both a fulfilled and an unfulfilled hope of mine in the 90s. I’d always secretly wanted paisley to become a thing, and they came as close as anyone to making that happen. I’d also wanted argyle to become a thing, but that didn’t happen until long after I had stopped paying attention to things.
This might not be my favorite Smashing Pumpkins song, but it is the one song from the 90s that I wanted to see live that somehow never happened. I have listened to it many a time while getting a car wash, however.

Music Friday: Would

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 21, 2014 by goatmeal

When I was a junior in high school, there was a metal head in my chemistry class. He was always wearing t-shirts from bands like Voivod or the Rhino Humpers. I don’t know what those bands had in common other than I didn’t know anything about either of them. He seemed to know everything about everything when it came to music. When some kids were talking about De la Soul, he told them which of the people in the “Groove is in the Heart” video were actually part of the band, and then he’d go back to talking about heavy metal. But there were two bands he spent most of his time talking about: Sedated Souls, and Alice in Chains. Apparently there was some kid in our class who was in Sedated Souls, and they practiced at the same house where this other band, Alice in Chains, practiced. There was lots of interesting trivia regarding Alice in Chains that I learned in that chemistry class: my algebra teacher was mentioned in the liner notes of their first album, for example. That seemed like kind of a cool thing because my algebra teacher was kind of cool in a Bobcat Goldwaithe meets Robin Williams sort of a way. But it was sort of like having him say that my algebra teacher was listed in the liner notes of a Voivod or Rhino Humpers album: kind of cool but what does it matter? It’s not like anyone’s ever heard of those bands. It’s not like those bands would eventually sell 25 million albums. I’d been listening to this guy talk about Alice in Chains for the better part of six months, so when he mentioned around this time of year that they would be performing a free concert in Seattle because of some movie, I didn’t think much of it. I don’t know if it was a free concert that high school students would be able to get into, but maybe he figured we all knew how to get around that if we had to. Regardless, whenever I watch this scene, I keep trying to spot him in the crowd.

Music Friday: A Warm Place

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 15, 2014 by goatmeal

Last Saturday was the 20th anniversary of The Downward Spiral. I’ve already said lots of things about Nine Inch Nails on this blog, so it seems appropriate to acknowledge this in some way. But I must admit that I’ve had a hard time singling out one song from the album to share this week. The obvious lazy choice would be Closer, but even if you haven’t heard that song in ten years you’re probably humming it to yourself right now. That song became so famous that many people think it is what Nine Inch Nails is about, but it’s probably not even the most representative song on this album. There’s certainly a lot of intensity to be found on The Downward Spiral from anti-government to anti-religion to anti-violence, so maybe it’s just the kind of intensity that showed up in Closer that the seething masses most strongly identify with. It would be way too easy to dismiss the entire thing as filth the way Joe Lieberman and friends did when it was politically convenient to do so. But then why twenty years later can Trent Reznor’s name be listed in the company of John Williams and Hans Zimmer?
I wasn’t at a point in my life when I first heard this album that it was something I strongly identified with the way I did with Pearl Jam, for example. But if I had been in that place and someone asked me which song best describes you, I think this is the one I would pick. I think it’s the song a lot of people who have had a much stronger connection with Nine Inch Nails than I ever had would pick. I know some of those people. It’s the only song that I remember there being applause for the one time that I saw them in concert. All the other songs are about what is wrong with the rest of the world; this song is about finding a little bit of shelter from all of what those other songs are about. And this song might have a lot to do with why we can talk about Nine Inch Nails in the present tense twenty years later.

Music Friday: Birthday

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 7, 2014 by goatmeal

In honor of my son’s birthday, I’m sharing my favorite birthday song. Though it’s more about spiders and cigars and Bjork’s amazing voice than it is about birthdays. But there’s nothing wrong with any of that.

Musings from the Trunk of a Volkswagen Rabbit

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2014 by goatmeal

Tomorrow my son turns one.  It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year.  It’s hard to believe that someone could change so much, learn so much, in a year.  It’s been a great year, but there’s something I haven’t quite come to terms with yet: my son will never get to experience one of my fondest childhood memories.

My father owned a Volkswagen Rabbit diesel from my earliest memories up until somebody smashed into him when I was somewhere between twelve and fourteen years old.  This was before there were cell phones, so he had to walk home and then eventually buy another one that I would end up wrecking myself a few years later.  When I was in elementary school, we would get excited when we could hear him coming home from several blocks away: nobody else in the neighborhood had a car that sounded like my dad’s.  But it’s my earliest memory of that car that is the fondest: my earliest memory is of riding in the trunk as my dad drove across the Palouse visiting radio stations and churches.  I could hear the road beneath and the peculiar chugging of the engine.  It was a sound that somehow felt adventurous and safe at the same time.  Sometimes as an adult while making solo road trips in the summer as the sun went down, I’d sometimes imagine that the road sounded the same.  But the chugging of that engine is gone forever.

My son will never know that sound.  It would be illegal, and my wife would probably divorce me if I even tried to reproduce it.  That sound is gone forever, and I’m not quite sure what to replace it with.  It seems to me as I start on this path of parenthood that one of the struggles is going to be how to reproduce the good from my own childhood while leaving out the bad.  There was definitely a lot of bad; not that my parents did anything wrong, but in the age of the Exorcist and the Children of the Corn, being an infant wasn’t really very popular, and society treated that stage of life accordingly.  Having suffered through neglect and scorn as children, my peers have taken it upon themselves to make life better for their children.  And thus was born the helicopter parent.

If generational theory holds true, my son’s generation will most resemble the Silent Generation: the generation that gave us Woody Allen and skyrocketing divorce rates.  Raised by a generation that was neglected, they were so coddled that they followed all the rules until they ended up middle-aged and in need of a mid-life crisis because they never had a chance to find out who they were.  More recently, Millenials, raised to think they were all unique snowflakes, have had a hard time adjusting to the real world where nobody cares how special their kindergarten teacher told them they were.  And generational theory says that sort of conformational trend will become even more pronounced in my son’s generation, the so-called Homeland Generation.  As much as it sucked to be raised in a time of neglect and hostility, it seems to me so much worse to hit adulthood without a clue of how the world really works.

And how can I possibly protect my son from that in the age of car seats and standardized testing?  When society is neglecting children, it’s something that can be mitigated to some extent by an increased focus on parenting.  When society wants to coddle all its kids, how do you make the space for your child to find out who they are?  Becoming an anti-helicopter helicopter?  That doesn’t seem like it would work very well.

In the end, it is just the same dilemma that every generation has faced.  By trying to make things better for our children, we inevitably swing the pendulum in the other direction and they will end up taking their own measures to mitigate all the things that we did wrong when they were kids.  And the cycle repeats itself every eighty years or so, and the only generation we will ever know that is like our own was either dying in a nursing home when we were too young to understand, or will be too young to understand when we ourselves are in that predicament.  The cycle of life.