Once, Ratatouille

Once is a beautiful, perfect little movie, filled with beautiful, perfect songs. I keep hearing it described as a musical, but that is silly talk. Music is entirely important to the movie, and that’s it. I have recently become a big fan of Glen Hansard’s work with The Frames (Set List and The Cost are both incredible), and now I’m nuts for this movie, too. If you’re lucky enough to find it showing where you live, go see it.

Ratatouille is no doubt the best thing I’ll see come out of Hollywood this year. I enjoyed seeing it in the theater, but I can’t wait to watch it again, in hi-def, at home. It’s a charming, likable story with a nice be-yourself-and-follow-your-dream message. Visually, it’s gorgeous. Gorgeous, I say. I dare any other animation studio to come anywhere close to this anytime soon. Don’t believe me?

Happy birthdays with Wilco at Ovens

Julie and her friend Maggie came down to Charlotte to celebrate Maggie’s birthday with a killer Wilco show, which I didn’t even know about until she asked if I wanted to go (I live in world of frantic self-isolation). We tried to go to always-rockin Lupies (rockin) for dinner, but it was packed-as-usual and we ended up at some suck ass jackalope place (I give it two middle fingers up) down the road. They reluctantly gave us food, but at least the girls got some pre-game beers. Some guy’s show ticket (unbeknownst to him) blew across the sidewalk in front of Maggie as we walked up to the place, but we weren’t quick-witted enough to try to sell it back to him.

The sound was pretty good for a big room. I had a beer after the show. I think it was my first this year. Living on the edge, you know it. I think my contacts absorbed all particulate matter in the arena air, especially the pound of weed the guy in front of me constantly smoked throughout the show. He must have been afraid of being frisked on the way out.

I enjoyed having visitors, particularly ones who are cooler than I am and take me along with them to concerts. Bonus cool was that she even brought me my electric guitars and amps (I am a shitty friend and left my gear at their house for over two years), so now I can practice hard and be cool when I grow up.

Cowboy Junkies in Charlotte

I finally got a chance to hear Cowboy Junkies live! The old church inside Charlotte’s Spirit Square is an intimate setting with excellent acoustics — a nearly perfect venue for music. The Junkies were in wonderful form; highlights for me were the always-perfect “Ring on the Sill”, and the vocals during the climax of “Brand New World”.

Oh, and I still have a huge rockstar crush on Margo.

Richard Buckner – Meadow

As if I needed more proof that I’m mostly out of touch, a new Richard Buckner album was released on Merge in September without me noticing.

Although Buckner’s sparse acoustic arrangements always have enormous weight (and how could they not, with that huge voice?), I tend to prefer his songs with full-band instrumentation, even if it’s just Buckner layering in all the tracks. Even better, Meadow feels like Buckner has a real band behind him, and it’s often a perfect counterpoint to his deep, off-twang vocals.

Sample the tunes on the iTunes Music Store or Amazon.

Multiple things

I’m considering selling my Canon Digital Rebel to a friend and upgrading to the 30D. It’s likely I’ll do this, but I’m still hesistant to cough up the extra cash.

I have all but decided to move Uptown Charlotte in a few months. It’s almost time to begin dreading the move, but I am still able to put it to the back of my mind.

I have found the new Pearl Jam album to be very, very good. When I was in high school and early college, they were often my idea of near-perfect modern classic rock band. They have the energy again. Eddie Vedder simply doesn’t sound like a parody of himself to me, even though I’m often disgusted by all of the rock vocalists since who have mimicked his mannerisms. Feel free to call me lame, all you post-Emo sucktards.

Lately I’ve been using a new Logitech G7 cordless mouse at work, and I dare say it’s the best cordless mouse ever. I prefer the grippy sides of the corded G5, but these mice fit my hand better than any others I’ve ever found. The G7 comes with two batteries and a charger base, so you can swap batteries as soon as one runs out. Which is a good thing, since they really only last a little over a day per charge.

I’ve been using a dual core Dell Lattitude 620 at work for the past few weeks, and the improvements over the last generation of Dells is impressive. The keyboard (and trackpoint, especially) is quite good, and the widescreen LCD is decent, even if the resolution is less vertically than the 610. The Nvidia Quadro NVS graphics chipset appears to be decently capable in the 3D department. Finally, a decently capable small laptop that can handle a few instances of Visual Studio. I may still have some hair at 40, though the combination of multiple cores and CPU speed scaling can make accurate timing in Windows a bit hard.

Junkies

Few people cover Springsteen better than Cowboy Junkies, and 21st Century Blues has a couple of his, as well as Dylan, U2, and a few originals from Michael Timmons. I love their poppier “Anniversary Song” era (if you can ever call the Junkies poppier), but this sparse sound is more what they’re known for. Peak form, and the best lonesome hollow-body electric guitar sound on modern record.