Forecast for the Future

"Every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself. The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact that he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. 

Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not that far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."

- Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Friday, February 29, 2008

Week 8, Day 4 of Running: "Runnin' like I got bears on me / My Timb's start feelin' like they Nike Air's on me"

For the first time this week, I actually felt good during (part of) my run tonight. Maybe it was cause it was the first time I'd ran at night, or maybe (maybe) my body is actually loosening up a bit and beginning to expect that it just might not go another 4 months between exercise again. Crazy, I know. I did notice while doing pre-stretching tonight that I was already having an easier time touching my toes than I had on Monday, so I dunno.

And just as my energy began to wane, I was treated by "Run" by my man Ghost.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

UPDATED Week 7, Day 1: Acrylic Painting

Ok, so it's a week overdue, but here's the recap of art week's painting day 1 in full.

We began by gesso-ing cardboard. I had a lot lying around the house and we just cut some up into shapes we liked and used as we saw fit. I had never gesso'd anything before and didn't even really know what gesso was for, but using it basically allowed us to turn junk into a canvas.

After the cardboard was gesso'd and dried we got ready to roll and began mixing paints.

Becca is insane and made a beautiful ostrich... in like 20 minutes. I do not believe that I will never paint an ostrich or anything else so well or so fast.

Shrimp Cracker found a drawing of a hot air balloon for inspiration, but it morphed into something else.

E-Bad went for a tiger, which started out nice and ended up full.

And then, me. I was drawn to this image immediately--it made me think of John Wilkes Booth for some reason, and I couldn't take my eyes off of it.

And voila, magnifique. A great time had by all.

And finally, here's a lil video from that night (if you ain't seen already):

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Week 8, Day 3 of Running: "Ima Volcano Filled Wit Lava Bout To Erupt"

running sucks.

Also, this is hilarious:

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Some Things Last a Long Time

Lately I've been obsessing over a few songs, over and over and over. Can't seem to let go of this one. Beach House just put it on their new album and it right now it plays over and over, working in the now and also in the forever. [Late Added Note: in a strange coincidence, i put this post up this morning prior to seeing that Pitchfork released it's album review today for Devotion, a glowing review which I concur with completely.]

Here's Daniel, Tubed, live:

And mp3 of his original version, off the album 1990 (also featuring perhaps his best--and equally covered song--"True Love Will Find You in the End"):

Daniel Johnston - "Some Things Last a Long Time"

And some great (arguably superior) covers over the years:

Doug Martsch - "Some Things Last a Long Time" (live) - unreleased

Beck - "Some Things Last a Long Time" (live on KCRW) - unreleased

Beach House - "Some Things Last a Long Time" - off Devotion

and my absolute favorite of them all:

Built to Spill - "Some Things Last a Long Time" - single, available on The Normal Years

Some things last a long time.

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Week 8: Time on my hands

This week will be physically and mentally difficult for me, but thankfully, 30-45 minutes of a.m. activity gives me a little extra time to relax in the evening and get caught up on some backlogged writing.

Up this week I shall post on (posts added as I go):

- Week 6, Day 7: French Food cooking

To come:
- Week 7, Day 1: Acrylic Painting (update and rest of photos)
- Rod/Faces and other Anglophilia mixes
- Thoughts on general failure of religion week
- Recap on some successes
- Posting of March Hyperliving schedule

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Week 6, Cooking Day 6: Freedom Food

Sorry for the delay, but here is my long overdue post on February 16, my final day of cooking week.

The end of cooking week.

While most of the food I prepared during cooking week were dishes that I might at some point decide to incorporate into my diet as "staples," I decided to wrap up my week of Hypercooking with one meal that would go a bit above and beyond and into the realm of "fun as a special treat": French Food.

My stupid burned sushi, fucking with me harder.

My inspiration for French Food day came out of two recollections: 1) i remembered that I love French onion soup more than any food in the world and 2) I remembered that, oddly enough, I was given a comestibles firing torch for Christmas in 2005 which I'd used once and no longer had in my possession. From these two thoughts came the impetus to go full monty: a four course meal of French Onion soup, blue cheese-pecan-pear salad, creme brulee, and a powerful, fancy main course. Racking my brain for fancy courses, I came up with nothing, but then the idea of roast duck was floated in my ear and I thought, Perfect!

These were my recipes (click titles for links):

French Onion Soup
1/2 cup unsalted butter
5 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 pound grated Gruyere

Blue Cheese-Pecan-Pear Salad
1 to 2 Asian pears
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
3/4 pecan halves, toasted
2 heads Romaine lettuce, leaves only
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5 fresh basil leaves, minced
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

1 whole 6 lb duck
1 bay leaf
1 confusing set of instructions, care of Julia Child
1 nervous idiot unqualified to cook duck
Beef stock, garlic, onion, other ingredients to season
Salt and pepper as necessary

Creme Brulee
9 egg yolks
3/4 cup superfine white sugar plus 6 tablespoons
1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean

As you might have guessed from the above, my duck didn't come out so great. I didn't think out the recipe well enough, understand the totality of cooking process required, or know anything whatsoever about preparing a frozen bird in a package for edible consumption. I tried, and despite one mega drama queen "go-in-my-room-and-turn-the-lights-off" moment, I did come through with something in the end. It wasn't terrible, but it a) wasn't good, and more importantly, b) it wasn't "roast duck" (or even roasted) at all. So, bummer.

But luckily, save the duck disappointment, everything else turned out great--especially the soup and the dessert. And we made so much creme brulee that we were able to eat it for a few days afterward.

I'd also be remiss to not credit Becca for helping a lot in preparing the creme brulee ("Umm Ben, i think you want egg yolks and not egg whites, yeah...") and E-bad for talking me off the ledge when i thought duck failure was spelling the end of my humanity. Had I taken the Ice Princess's advice and began preparing stuff early in the day I'm sure I would have had less headaches but thankfully these two helped me pull off (to some degree) what was for me a very challenging task.

Here's some photo documentation--a little less thorough than with the other days because I was running around the kitchen trying to make four dishes at once:

Onions begin to cook and carmelize

Carmelized onions now cooking in shitty red wine.

The nearly finished soup is waiting to be ladled into crocks and topped with baguette and gruyere.

Sugar and creme mixed into egg yolks for C.B.

C.B. custard put into crocks and ramekins for cooking

Cooked C.B. custard beginning two hour refridgeration process.

Attempting to pull a wing off of a duck. I truly have no idea what i'm doing.

At this point I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. Nervous breakdown imminent.

Post-drama meltdown, mind lost, hunger and insanity taking hold.

French onion soup: no matter how it looks to you, this came out GREAT.

And voila, food to be eaten (finally). 11:50 pm. Note the brown meat on plate is duck.

Firing a blow torch was undoubtedly the best part of preparing this meal.

Some good brulee action.

The cracking of the creme brulee.

Overall I had a great time even though I spent too much time and money on everything, but it was definitely a great learning process and I feel much more prepared now to do this kind of thing again (and also now feel ready to incorporate one of the other three dishes into another meal). There was a lot of mess and the apartment smelled like bad duck and everlasting sushi (from the night before) for a few days, but it was a wonderful end to a truly special week.

Just a beginning sniff at the massive amount of dishes--let alone general cleaning--needed to be done.

Doorknobs having a C.B. the morning after (he missed out first time around)


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Monday, February 25, 2008

Week 8, Day 1 of Running: "Smokin' dope, loadin' bullets in my clip for you / I ain't even wipin' my sweat, it's keepin' me cool"

This is what a tired and out of shape idiot who slept in his contacts looks like after his first 30 minute run in two months (and fourth run in six months).

Note weary and reddened left eye, dried and destroyed by contact non-removal.

I will say though that starting one's day at 6:30 a.m. by listening to "Mac 10 Handle" by Prodigy (Mobb Deep, not the "Firestarters") is a hell of a way for a King Cracker to get things going.



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Week 7, Day 7: Photography

I had a wonderful afternoon and evening today with good friend Spiffae aka Ben D, semi-official Hyperliving photographer.

Before the efforts of this year's Hyperliving endeavors, I had basically never attempted to do any photography (a fact certainly made clear by the middling non-Ben D images I've put on display). Like many things, taking better photographs is "always something I've wanted to learn how to do," but I've never really owned a camera before and I've also never felt focused enough to feel ready to do it right.

The decision to take photos today came from a suggestion from good friend Steve to do a week of Hyperliving of shooting a roll of film each day. A great week, i thought, but one that would probably be wasted if I didn't learn some basics of phototaking and camera use before getting started. I told Ben about the idea and he suggested I come by his place for a tutorial.

I arrived yesterday around 2:30 and Ben began to break photos down most simply: "90% of photography," he said, "is understanding light. And the main factor after that for people to take good photos is whether or not they know how to use their cameras."

Ben went on to explain to me by drawing on a piece of paper (photo of which to come later) the concept of a spectrum of light and demonstrating how in a total arbitrary spectrum of 0-100 light to dark, a camera will only take a slice of that light and that it is up to the photographer to figure out how to best utilize the camera to capture an image within that spectrum without having part of the shot bleed white or go dark. Continuing on these lines, he then explained that the three basic principles of a camera that a photographer should understand are the light settings, the aperture (f-hole), and the ISO (film speed). By understanding what each of these are, a photographer can assess her or his environment and figure out the best way to take a photo (without a flash, ideally).

We didn't have a film camera on hand to use, but to demonstrate, Ben set his DSLR (Canon EOS 20D) to manual and had me run through the apartment with some exercises. By taking one photo of him sitting in his chair, he explained, I would be able to get a light reading that I would be able to use for the entire room. I walked around testing it out and, sure enough, he was right. He explained that this is one of the ways that digital cameras fuck with people's understandings of photography, because the automatic settings of a digital will reset and change the light settings everytime you move the camera and take another photo. In one sense, this is an attempt to get the best photo each time out, but it also does a disservice to the photographer because it can mean that a series of photos in one room taken within seconds of each other may all look and feel completely differently, despite no desire for changes by the photographer her or himself.

Ben spent a while longer explaining this and other technical concepts to me before concluding his lesson with a review of some photo books by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Franks, and others. "Basically," he said, "these people know what they're doing."

We then went outside and shot some photos, with Ben along the way offering suggestions on good photos, landscapes and light settings:
"That'll never work."
"Right there. Yes."
"I will advise that smoking while attempting to learn photography on a nice camera is not a recipe for success."
"Ben, honestly, have you been listening to anything I'm saying?"

In all seriousness though, Ben is a great teacher and I think I came away with some solid photos (I shot about 60). Here are 12 I liked for different reasons--yes, they're all shitty too for one reason or another, but I'm ok with them. I will try to add a doctored route Google Map when I get a chance, but for now know that these were all taken in Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens.

[Some of these look kind of dark on my old Powerbook laptop screen, but they all looked bright enough on Ben's spiffy flatscreens, so I'll cross my fingers they're still ok now. Also, Ben spent some time showing me how to do Photoshop editing, but I haven't the time to do that now. Perhaps a later project for my photo week down the road.]

This is what you call the "cheap n' easy any-retard-can-win" postcard photo

Ah, Brooklyn. Old and new.

I originally centered this signpost, but Ben suggested lefting it and he was right.

I wish i lived inside of this cylinder.

Ben says people still buy chicken from here.

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