Sunday, January 06, 2013

Where Did the Time Go?

Well here we are, nearly a week into 2013 and I've taken something of a vacation for the blog. Or so it seemed. I decided it's better that I start the year with a personal essay rather than another review, although I have a steady stream of things that I want to review. But I was reading the Riff column in the Sunday New York Times magazine today where Hugo Lindgren talked about how all the great ideas he's had for stories, sitcoms, musicals and what-have-you have died on the vine. He went on to site a Times article written about cab drivers who were aspiring to be poets, playwrights, actors, you-name-it. As time went on, that story went, the even split between making a living and doing what you want starts tipping towards the former category with very little left for the latter.

I've been feeling that a lot lately. A whole lot. I'll get up at 6 a.m., or even at 5:30 a.m., with the coffee pot already full, since I programmed it the night before. My plan is to get in an hour of writing before everyone else wakes up and I have to get involved with insiginificant things like breakfast, a shower and getting dressed. What happens is I feel like I need to take just one more listen to a disc I'm supposed to review. Or check email first. Or remember there was one thing related to work or the band that I need to take care of. Or the worst - Facebook. A quick check of my FB messages can easily digress into the scrolling down of overnight posts. Then - WHAM! - the first cup of coffee is gone, I'm hungry and there's no time to even start a decent review so why bother. Yesterday morning, our water pressure was really low, so I put on the a.m. news hoping to find info. When that was a dead end, I finally called Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, who didn't really know anything. Then as I was walking out the door to work, remembering activities for the band I hadn't done and now feeling TWICE as surly, the water pressure was restored anyway.

One resolution I did make this year was to not let Facebook suck up too much of my time. So far, I've been mildly successful. Tomorrow is the first day off I've had since before the holidays where I'll have some time to myself and I plan to devote at least some of that time to here. Because I don't have any freelance work due either.

Last week I had to get an extension on a story about Jeff Mangum, who's coming to town on Thursday. Mangum, the reclusive voice of Neutral Milk Hotel has made something of a comeback which has made fans of his band's 1998 indie classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea sob in the aisles whenever he shows up. But he's not doing interviews. Not that this is new. He's been refusing them for a while, and won't let either Joe Indie-Elite or NPR record a second of any of his performances. No, no, I knew that going in. But I had it in my head to write an article titled "Searching for Jeff Mangum," bolstered by quotes from bandmates and friends and associates, all giving a picture of what he's all about, summarizing the majesty of his music at the same time.

Nope. My sources dwindled, politely declined or changed minds. It was looking like it was going to be all me, with references to quotes from NPR and Magnet. (Though in retrospect, perhaps I should've interviewed my editor at Blurt, the esteemed Fred Mills.)

One wildcard source came through, though, and he had great recollections. For details, pick up Pittsburgh City Paper on Wednesday. And if you're thinking of coming to Pittsburgh to see Jeff on Thursday, grab you ticket like now. (How am I doing with these italics? Too much?)

With that out of the way, it's time for my annual self-flogging entry on my participation in "Best of the Year" lists. Actually, I'll leave you with this thought and nothing else: Blurt did a freakin' Top 75 albums of the year. I don't know anything about #1, and I haven't heard anything on the list until #9. Don't axe me, Fred. Here's the list.

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