Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Failure of the Day: Poison

Remember Friday morning? Those were the days, eh? The whole weekend looming before you like an expanse of pure pleasure, the promise of sleeping in, of catching up on the DVR backlog, of eating solid food…

On the plus side, I’ve lost two and a half pounds since Friday morning. On the minus side, I can’t even think the word “chicken.”

There was what we call an all-day “marketing all-hands” meeting on Friday. It was probably very interesting and informative for people whose job it is to do things like “craft messaging” and “differentiate by pain points,” but since my job is about telling people that the first word in a sentence needs to capitalized, it was long, long day. Oh, but they gave us breakfast and lunch!

It was an innocent-enough looking chicken breast in ginger sauce over steamed rice. Inviting, even. But that little chicken was the devil. I’d never had food poisoning before, so all I can say is: I had no idea. I was terrifically ill all Friday night, still dehydrated and sore and exhausted on Saturday, and I didn’t eat a thing until late Saturday night when I braved a slice of bread. Today I’ve managed a cereal bar and a diet coke, and I’m optimistic about there being a sandwich in my not-too-distant future. But oh me, oh my, some weekend.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Failure of the Day: Señor las Cabras

Seeing a performer in person for the first time is really risky. When the first Harvey Danger record came out in ’98, I was in a full-blown swoon. And I still consider it to be one the finest records of the 90s, but when we went to see them play at Slim’s, they were beyond dreadful—they were insulting. They came across as smug and aloof and so utterly phoney that I was inexorably put off by them. Their next couple of records were OK, they were fine, but the passion I had initially felt for them was dead.

I was a little worried about seeing John Darnielle (aka The Mountain Goats) play live, because he looks just like someone—and maddeningly, I can’t recall exactly who—but he looks just like a person I used to know. The feeling is so strong it’s practically déjà vu. The person he reminds me of was someone who I tolerated to be courteous, but disrespected intensely. I might have actually hated him. And I still feel this way when I see his face, whoever's face it is I see when I look at John Darnielle. All of which is to say, I was worried that his face would ruin his songs. I am as shallow as a saucer.

In fact, seeing The Mountain Goats in person is like traveling to the molten core of just how much he Means It. You think you know how much he means it, listening to his records, but you don’t. You don’t have any idea how much. From my vantage point, I saw his face become deformed by passion. His mouth buckled violently to pass his songs through it. I needn’t have worried. His face is not his face when he sings. His face is the barrier through which the songs strain, and eventually, finally, break.

He didn’t do a single one of my favorite songs (The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton, Going to Georgia, or the sublime Orange Ball of Hate), and I felt overly employed and awkwardly carnivorous in the hipster crowd, but I didn’t care, didn’t care, didn’t care. It was awesome.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Failure of the Day: Mr. The Goats

We are dizzy with love! We cannot breathe! The Mountain Goats new CD, Get Lonely, will be released this Tuesday, 8/22. He/They are playing a free show that day at Amoeba, apparently as the inaugural session of YouTube’s “Sessions at Amoeba,” which I have never heard of but that sounds pretty cool.

The 6 PM show means that I will have to leave work by 4, take the train up to the city, take a bus across town, watch the show, take a bus back across town, and take a slooooooooooooooow train back home, getting in just after 10. That’s six hours of work for one hour of music. Why do it? Because I heard one song off the new record, and in it, he describes angels’ voices as sounding like marbles being thrown at a mirror. That’s why.