Album Review: "Clarity" by Jimmy Eat World

In December of 1998, I was a semester into my first year of graduate school.  I'd chosen to go to grad school at the same place I'd gone to undergrad, although saying that I made a decision is a bit of a stretch.  I honestly had no idea what I was going to do with myself after I graduated, but I knew that, during my senior year, I felt like I was actually starting to learn something.

I applied to a few different school, but Ohio University not only took me, they offered me an opportunity to teach for money, not to mention a tuition waiver.  Plus, I didn't have to move very far and I actually had some friends there already.  Done and done.

My first year of grad school was something of a disaster, perhaps one of the darker years of my life if I really look at it objectively.  I half assed both my studies and my teaching responsibilities because I still wanted to live life like an undergrad.  I spent my time focusing on a half way decent band made up of people who had, a year earlier, been in other bands, so in my head we were a super band (in my head I can also sing).

I was also stuck -- by my own choosing -- in a chasm of a relationship, with one side being an actual real relationship that was ultimately impossible for any number of reasons, and the other side being a clean break and moving on with my life.  I thrived on things that made me feel bad about myself, particularly things I was almost solely responsible for.

I'm guessing that I bought the Jimmy Eat World EP released by Fueled by Ramen sometime after the band I was in returned from a disastrous tour in which we ultimately only managed to play four shows.  I was in the right frame of mind for something "emo," as the kids had started calling it a few years earlier.

The first two tracks or, to be more specific, the only two songs on side 1 (I think I actually still have the record around here somewhere, even though I've gone mostly digital these days) were from JEW's upcoming third album, Clarity.  They were nice enough and had me interested in what to expect from the full length.

It was the B side that got the most time under the needle.  All three songs have since been released, I believe, in compilation form or as addition to re-mastered albums or some such.  But for years after the release of this record, you could only get three songs here.

The first was "Your New Aesthetic (Demo Version)" which, when I eventually heard the final version of this song, is absolutely insane.  The song is haunting and simple and delicate and nothing at all like the song of the same name that made it on to Clarity.

The next song was my favorite.  I liked it so much that I more or less ripped it off for the aforementioned band I was in.  "Softer" had a nice rhythm, but with dark undertones and angular guitars, the kind that don't really come through on CDs.

The last song, "Roller Queen," was atmospheric and lovely and, I think, pretty clearly created by one person, not an entire band, which was fantastic fodder for my overactive imagination (as if I had the chops to ever record a song by myself).

The EP was enough to whet my appetite, and while I don't remember it, I'm willing to bet that I bought Clarity when it was released in February of 1999.

Jimmy Eat World has been considered an "emo" band for most of their career, although they started off with a pretty straightforward pop punk sound.  Appropriately enough, that was the direction that "emo" had moved toward as the decade was coming to an end.  While initially made of of musicians baring their souls on stage, contemporary "emo" had become pop songs about girls.  By the time Clarity was released, "emo" was probably on its fourth generation, when it probably should have ended after its second (when Sunny Day Real Estate broke up the first time).

You won't hear any argument from me if people consider Clarity to be an "emo" record.  It's not an unreasonable label.  At the time, I was more than happy to call it that, because there was a darkness to it that you couldn't find on the latest Promise Ring or Get-up Kids release.

The music charts in 1999 were dominated by boy bands and divas, happy, shallow party music that seemed to be influencing even the independent label bands.

Clarity opens with "Table For Glasses," a song filled with enough vocal harmonies that it could, in fact, have been performed by a boy band.  It was far more dynamic than anything that could be found on the radio, though.  It was also something of a rallying cry for the album; as pretty as it is, there's definite sadness to "Table For Glasses," not to mention a wide variety of instruments.  When the chorus kicks in that final time, we're treated to the giant, orchestrated sound that would show up elsewhere on the album.

Sad was good; I could do sad.

I could go through the album track by track, but that would probably be boring for anyone but me.  There were a few songs that stood out to me almost immediately.

"Your New Aesthetic" took me by surprise.  I'd heard the demo version on the JEW EP, but this was nothing like it.  The guitars were so heavy that this song actually sounded kind of angry, which was definitely something I could get behind.  I also immediately latched on to how this song built, and how it did it in such a simple way.

"Crush" was the kind of pop punk "emo" that I could never write and generally didn't enjoy, but this one had some rock behind it.  This track was something that could have fit on Jimmy Eat World's previous album, which I enjoyed.  This song works even better when paired with the song after it, "12.23.95," yet another version of a previously released song ("Christmas Card").

There is a stretch through song 8-10 of what I call middle of the road Jimmy Eat World songs.  This is the style that would ultimately come to define the band -- clean guitars, medium tempos, earnest lyrics, angsty vocals, some distortion and harmonies for the chorus.  Individually, these songs are fine, but stretched out in a row like this they kind of make me glaze over.

If that stretch of songs was kind of boring for me, the album is rescued by the last two songs, "Clarity" and "Goodbye Sky Harbor," two of my favorite Jimmy Eat World songs ever.  "Clarity" is something of a blueprint song for Jimmy Eat World.  Their heaviest songs on later albums would have the same basic guitar pattern (see: "Bleed American" and "Nothingwrong").

Sure, the really long, a little obnoxious, ending to "Goodbye Sky Harbor" made it hard to put on mix CDs without hunting down an MP3 splitter, but the song is just so damn good.  It has that primal guitar rhythm that follows a pretty rocking riff and the chorus is quietly great the way the verse is loudly great.  They're not inventing the wheel here or anything, but they're producing a really great one.

From what I understand, Clarity didn't do very well when it was released, and its poor sale performance led to Jimmy Eat World being dropped by Capitol Records.  Clarity eventually became something of a cult hit.  I would imagine it became something of a deciding factor in whether or not people were "true" Jimmy Eat World fans once the band got big.  If you bought Clarity when it came out, then you weren't a bandwagon fan; you were old school.

I haven't really paid attention to any of that.  I'm a fan of the band, but not so much that I'm reading every article about them or following every trend.  And as much as I enjoyed Bleed American and more or less enjoyed the albums after that, Clarity remains, in my mind, the best album Jimmy Eat World has ever produced.

My Top Music of 2012

I didn't listen to nearly as much new music this year as I normally do.  Part of that was excessive periods of nostalgia where I would, for example, listen to nothing but the Pixies for weeks on end.  I also seemed to lose track of when albums came out, so both the latest Pinback and the latest Baroness failed to show up on any of my lists because I've yet to listen to them.

I'm going to do things a bit differently than last year.  Because I often buy albums that come out one year, but don't actually listen to them until the next (or fail to realize they even exist, as with the aforementioned Pinback and Baroness), I'm going to include them in my list.  After all, this is the top music that I listened to this year -- there are no other parameters.

I will, however, mark the albums that came out this year in blue.

I'm also only doing a Top 5 album list, but I'm going to throw in a list of best songs to round it out.

The Top 5 Albums I Listened to in 2012

Honorable Mention: Starfucker -- "Starfucker"

          I realize I'm late to the party on this band and this album.  And, yes, it was "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second" which got my attention.  But the rest of this album is so damn catchy and just layered with pop goodness.  I don't even know if I'd consider the single to be in my top three from this record.  It's certainly not number 1.  That honor goes to the amazing "Isabella of Castile."

5. Nada Surf -- "The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy"

          I'll be honest, this one almost didn't make it this high up on the list.  It had no problem breaking the top 10, but does it belong in the top 5?  I'm sure part of this is sentimental, given that Nada Surf is probably my favorite band.  But it's also hard to look past songs like "Clear Eye Clouded Mind," "When I Was Young," and "The Future."  The problem is that it's another 10 track album and there are a couple of fairly average Nada Surf tracks to be found.  That said, an average Nada Surf track is still a few steps above songs by most bands.  In the end, the rather wonderful acoustic versions found on the deluxe edition put this album over the top and into the top 5.

4. Oceanographer -- "Spilling Blood"

         It's been a while since a new Oceanographer album came out, but, boy, was it worth the wait.  I'm constantly amazed that this band doesn't have a bigger following.  The opener, "Hardest Thing to Say" is both beautiful and incredibly catchy, with some of the best lyrics I've heard in a while.  Oceanographer have always produced lovely, atmospheric music, but there's a sense of urgency on this album, there's more drive.  They've also never been afraid of expand the variety of instruments they use, but they push the envelope even more this time around.

3. Thrice -- "Major/Minor"

         This is one of those albums that was released last year, but I just got around to listening to this year.  From what I've read online, this was Thrice's last album.  It's also quite possibly their best.
         Thrice started off as a pretty straight forward punk/hardcore band, morphed into the "screamo" genre, and then began dabbling in other sounds -- they even recorded a concept album (two, technically).  And while the sound on "Major/Minor" is in keeping with the album before this ("Beggars"), the overall quality is higher.  These songs rock, but they rock not because of blown speaker, drop D power chords, but because the riffs have power, the song structures are dynamic, and the vocals are urgent.  The entire record is great, but if you want a song that's emblematic, try "Anthology."
2. Grouplove -- "Never Trust a Happy Song"

          I'm just as surprised that this album is on this list -- not to mention at #2! -- as you are.  I would imagine your surprise stems from the fact that you are only really familiar with Grouplove because of their big hit, "Tongue Tied."  I was actually pretty confused by that song, because the first song by them I ever heard was "Cruel and Beautiful World," the second to last song ever played on Chuck, and it sounds nothing at all like "Tongue Tied."  In fact, both of those songs stand out on the album as being relative departures.
          What the songs on this album do have in common, though, are crazy catchy tunes, fantastic harmonies, and an abundance of energy.  The band has three singers, and while one handles the lead on the majority of the tracks, the other two hold their own on their respective songs.  It's something of an embarrassment of riches, as they could easily be lead singers in their own bands.  If I were you, I'd check out "Lovely Cup" and "Close Your Eyes and Count to Ten" for a good indication of what Grouplove can do.

1. Minus the Bear -- Infinity Overhead

          I could not be happier to name "Infinity Overhead" as the best album of 2012.  I didn't discover Minus the Bear until 2006, at which point they had a combined 5 EPs and albums out.  I couldn't get enough.  I loved everything they released, until they released something new.  "Planet of Ice" just didn't do it for me, and even the superior version of "Burying Luck" on "Acoustics" did little to quell my fears that Minus the Bear was losing their touch.  "Omni" wasn't much better, and perhaps even worse, as I was frustrated that a B-side on the "Into the Mirror" single was better than all the songs on the full album.  To say the least, I was unsure going into "Infinity Overhead."
          I could not have been happier with what I found.
          The songs are more focused this time around.  The duel guitars and keyboards have finally found the balance that has so often been missing.  "Steel and Blood" opens the album and it is darn near the perfect modern Minus the Bear song.  It's the perfect mix of choppy guitar riff, operatic keyboard parts, catchy vocals, and a driving rhythm section.  The angular sound from their earlier albums has been replaced with something approaching 70's anthem rock, but in a good way.  Now that I think about it, I'd kind of love to hear Minus the Bear cover a Styx song.
          "Lonely Gun" lays down a crazy groove that is begging for a club remix, but manages to avoid being cheesy.  Have fun trying to figure out the pattern and rhythm to the ending of "Empty Party Rooms" as it will haunt you until you're able to go over it in your head without hearing it.  "Cold Company" finishes the album with dramatic flare, going so far as to reference Sisyphus, and nothing says drama like Greek mythology.
          For all the albums I listened to this year, this was the most welcome.  Minus the Bear have returned to pedestal upon which I'd held them for so long.  I feel like they're just now hitting their stride, and I can't wait to hear what comes next.

The Best Song I Listened to in 2012
(in no particular order)

"Anthology" -- Thrice
"When I Was Young" -- Nada Surf
"Isabella of Castile" -- Starfucker
"Percussion Gun" -- White Rabbits
"The Void" -- Metric
"Ho Hey" -- Lumineers
"Blood and Steel" -- Minus the Bear
"Saccharine" -- Sunday's Best
"Chain Reaction" -- 31knots
"Hardest Thing to Say" -- Oceanographer

As much as I love all the songs on that list, Song of the Year has to go to the unbelievably delightful single from the Lumineers.

I'll say this much for the year in music: I've got an awful lot of stuff to catch up on.

Best Albums Released in 2011

My usual caveat with these things: these are the best albums I've listened to this year that were actually released this year.  There are quite a few albums that were released this year that are not on this list because I've yet to get around to listening to them.  There are also quite a few albums that I listened to this year more than the ones on this list, but they were released years ago.

Anyway, here's this year's top ten, in order from awesome to most awesome.

"Angle" by the Strokes
10. The Strokes -- "Angles" -- I almost consider this half an album, really.  Because let's be honest: half of it is crap.  But the other half of it is fan-freaking-tastic.  "Under Cover of Darkness" might be the song of the year, and one of the greatest pop songs of the last ten years.

9. Telekinesis -- "12 Desperate Straight Lines" -- A dozen catchy pop songs with a broken hearted tint.  Telekinesis doesn't do anything all that new, but what they (he, really) does is great. Sure, "Please Ask For Help" sounds a bit too much like a Cure song, but I'm okay with that.

"The Valley" by Eisley
8. Eisley -- "The Valley" -- It's entirely possible that the most amazing part about Eisley is that they're not all cult members.  I mean, how often does a band made up of siblings ever really work out well for anyone?  While not as creepy and dark as their best (and first) album, this one has some great songs on it, filled with absolutely beautiful vocals.  Eisley has two main singers; Sherri kind of sounds like Jody from Team Dresch and Stacy, who sounds kind of like Regina Spektor.  I find nothing wrong with either of those things.

7. Foo Fights -- "Wasting Light" -- The Foo Fighters lost me at a certain point; I think it was the double album.  Their music started to get redundant to me.  It's not that I didn't appreciate what they were doing, it's just that I was kind of over it.  This album brought me back.  As soon as I heard the crazy off tempo beginning to "Rope," I was sucked in.  An overall rockin' album.

6. Foster the People -- "Torches" -- If there was ever a band primed for one hit wonder status, it's this one.  "Pumped Up Kicks" was everywhere this year and, to be perfectly honest, it's not even the best song on this album (that's probably "Houdini").  Fantastic dance music for those of us who don't really dance unless we're really, really drunk.

Office of Future Plans
5. Office of Future Plans -- s/t -- I am something of a J. Robbins aficionado.  While no band he's in will ever hold a place in my heart the way that Jawbox does, I've enjoyed everything he's done since, from Burning Airlines to Channels.  His latest band is Office of Future Plans and in some ways it might be the best (Jawbox notwithstanding).  Robbins seems to have finally found a balance between the intricate, dissonant guitar parts that arrived on Burning Airlines second album (and moved on to all of Channels' catelog) and the hook driven, almost emotionally driven songs that we got on Burning Airlines' first album.  He's yet to reproduce the majesty of the latter Jawbox records, but I attribute that to no longer playing with Bill Barbot.  And it's fine, really, particularly when we get such a fantastic debut like this one.

"Pedals" by Rival Schools
4. Rival Schools -- "Pedals" -- Full disclosure: I loved Rival Schools.  It wasn't so much that their first album was that great (although it was), but their sound is exactly what I would consider the sound in my head to be like.  It's rocking, but a bit poppy, and a bit emo.  I was beside myself when I heard they had reunited (by fate!) and this album lived up to all of my expectations.  If you're looking for examples, try the combo of tracks 6 and 7, which give a nice range of what this band is capable.  Both songs ("Shot After Shot" and "A Parts for B Actors") are amazing.

3. Wugazi -- "13 Chambers" -- Good god did I listen to this album like it was going out of style.  Okay, fine, some of the Fugazi songs chosen for this mash-up album are kind of obscure, but, nerd that I am, I know them all.  Has the Wu Tang Clan ever sounded this good?  Okay, probably, but when was the last time they sounded this fresh?  Only a crazy person could listen to "Sweet Release" or "Slow Like That" and not find them completely awesome.

"The Whole Love" by Wilco
2. Wilco -- "The Whole Love" -- I'll be honest: I did not see this coming.  While I liked the last few Wilco albums, they lacked something.  They lacked courage.  There seemed to be an emphasis on fairly straightforward song writing, and not a whole lot of experimentation going on.  And let's face facts: we listen to Wilco because they are insane people.  And that's what we finally got again on this album.  In fact, this album is so good it made me realize how low my expectations had become for this band.  This is "A Ghost Is Born" level good.  If you don't believe me, go listen to "Born Alone" and tell me it couldn't have been on an earlier album.  And then go listen to "One Sunday Morning" and tell me they're not insane.  But in a good way.

"We Are the Tide" by Blind Pilot
1. Blind Pilot -- "We Are the Tide" -- I liked Blind Pilot well enough.  They had a song on "Chuck" and I really liked it and I went out and got their first album and thought it was really good.  And when their second album came out, I dutifully bought it.  What I got was the best album released in 2011.  It's layered and complex, yet at its core made of simple, emotional song writing.  It's a guy with a great voice and an acoustic guitar writing imminently relatable songs.  And then you add the keyboards and the xylophone and trumpet and mandolin and banjo and the absolutely crazy vocal harmonies and you get a fantastic record.  It's poignant and uplifting and it's my favorite album of the year.

So there you have it: ten albums that I would recommend to anyone.  Go check them out if you get the chance; they're all worth it.

The Romance of a Mix

Full disclosure: I've had my fair share of whiskey this evening.

Now allow me to describe the series of thoughts that have brought me to this particular blog.

I clicked on the coverage of the Haiti benefit and, in turn, followed it to the Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris cover of "Hallelujah." I rather love that song and I thought their version was pretty damn good.

Hearing their cover of it made me want to listen to my favorite cover of it, by the late Jeff Buckley. And while I could have just pulled it up from that album, I instead headed to the playlist for a mix CD I made over 5 years ago.

"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley is the last track on the first mix I made for my wife, Nicole.

This is part of the brilliance that is Nicole and I: on our first date, we exchanged mix CDs. No, really. We'd "met" initially online, so there was a great deal of virtual conversation well in advance of our initial meeting. When we finally did meet, we came baring CDs. Nicole was going through a big Wilco phase, so she made me a mix of Wilco songs (a funny side note is that she refrained from putting any of their "weird" songs on that first mix, not knowing back then that their weird songs would be the ones I liked the most).

I, on the other hand, had put together a mix of multiple bands, carefully organized to flow from poppy to sappy, back to poppy and ending on sappy again. It was a High Fidelity moment, to be sure. And while there are a few bands on this mix that were clearly of the moment, most of them have stood the test of time.

So here it is, the first (of many) mixes that I gave to the most important person in the world to me the night I met her for the first time.

"How to Be Dead" by Snow Patrol

I went through a BIG Snow Patrol phase at one point. For those who have read it, "Unrequited" is actually based entirely on my interpretation of the lyrics to "Run." Funny enough, everyone who has read that story assumes the female lead is based on Nicole, when I actually wrote it before I ever met her.

"Lola Stars and Stripes" by the Stills

I love the Stills. That's all you need to know.

"20 Years" by Idaho

Yeah, this is one of those bands that was of the moment. This is a great song (and they have a second on this mix, as I was going through a phase), but this isn't exactly a band that really stuck with me.

"Title and Registration" by Death Cab For Cutie

The best part about this song is the fact that Nicole actually hates it. Okay, "hate" might be a strong word, but she thinks it's stupid. And, you know, I kind of love it.

"Too Much Thought" by Oceanographer

What's that? You've never heard of Oceanographer? Go buy their stuff then. No, seriously, do it now.

"Shoe-In" by Secret Stars

Karate (the band) is a hard sell. But Secret Stars? Well, they're a much easier sell.

"Wait" by Death Cab For Cutie

See how clever I am, going from a Secret Stars song to a cover of a Secret Stars song?

"Inside of Love" by Nada Surf

Kind of a bold choice for a first mix CD, I'll admit, but anyone who knows me knows that I generally wear my heart on my sleeve. This was also good because Nicole would have to accept Nada Surf into her life when she started dating me, as I'm rather crazy about them.

"Penelope" by Pinback

Pinback is one of those bands that I really like, yet don't often proclaim my love for.  They rather perfectly a certain type of music that I love, that being hooky yet relatively mellow indie rock.

"Same" by Snow Patrol

Like I said, I was going through a Snow Patrol phase.  Again, this is a pretty ballad-y song to be putting on a mix CD for a girl I'd never meant.  And the lyrics are overly identifying, which is kind of creepy.

"Yesterday Never Tomorrows" by the Stills

Have I mentioned that I love the Stills?  This is such a fantastic song.  And, at the time, incredibly appropriate for me.

"The Sound of Settling" by Death Cab For Cutie

Not exactly a winning sentiment to put out there on a first date, but it's a really catchy song with some really great lyrics, so I went with it.  Of course it could be looked at as a cautionary tale, one which Nicole and I took to heart.

"Happy Kid" by Nada Surf

I would imagine that if there's a single song Nicole associated with me during the early days of our relationship, it was this one.  The opening line is "I'm just a happy kids with the heart of a sad punk."

"Concrete Seconds" by Pinback

Not really much more to say about Pinback, aside from the fact that they're one of those bands that not many people know, so I suppose putting two of their songs on here was my way of establishing some indie credibility, which is funny, given how little of that I actually have.

"Last Night's Fight" by Mellowdrone

Mellowdrone was a band of the moment, for sure, although they were also a local Los Angeles band so they carried a little extra weight in my mind.  This song is probably really depressing to most people, but I find it kind of uplifting, in a sad way.

"Gunner" by Denali

And speaking of a song that sounds depressing...You know, listening to this again I am struck by the fact that Nicole must have thought I was horribly depressed.  I guess she was willing to look past it.

"Bass Crawl" by Idaho

Another song of the moment, another depressing song -- it's becoming clear to me that I was lucky to meet Nicole when I did.

"Mad World" by Gary Jules

Funny that I would end this CD with back to back cover songs, and pop culture infused cover songs at that.  This one is, of course, from the end of Donnie Darko, a movie I will go to my grave defending from those who claim it's for hipsters and intellectuals.  The final scene with this song over top of it punches me in the gut.

"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley

A few years after I made this mix for Nicole (and maybe even just a few months later, really) this song was everywhere.  It was unreal.  It's a great final song, yes, but perhaps not a great final song for a mix CD for a girl you just met.

Kyle's Bizarre Fascination With Cover Songs

I have a bias against singers who don't write their own music.  If I had a dollar for every time I'd gotten into an argument with my parents about the merits of Celine Dion, I'd be writing this from a gold plated tower in Maui.  I suppose she can sing, but she doesn't write her own songs, and the ones she "co-writers" consist of her writing lyrics.  Bully for her.

In my mind, this means she's a performer, not a musician; they're very different things.  Not only that, but she's getting all the fame (and most of the fortune) for something someone else created.

But, you know, it's freaking Celine Dion, so let's move on.

Strangely, I love cover songs, otherwise known as songs performed by bands that did not write them.  In my defense, most of the cover songs I love are by bands I already listen to, so it's not as if they're making their names based on these covers.  And, more to the point, they're very clearly covers; none of these bands pretend they wrote these songs.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite cover songs:

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Night Radio

Nicole started her new job tonight.  While I'm toiling away during the day, my wife and all around awesome person will be working from five hours before midnight until five hours after.

It's not the first time she's had such a shift, but it's been a few years, and it brings back some memories.  The last time we had opposite schedules like this we were living in our first apartment together.  It was street parking only over on Edgemont, and as Bohemian as that area of town is, it's still Los Angeles, and I'm still me.  Every morning, just before dawn when Nicole was nearing the apartment, she would call me, and I would get my tired rear end up out of bed, walk down to the street, and drive around with her until we could find a parking spot.  Then my skinny, tired body would escort her back to our apartment and we'd go back to bed, her for the "night," me for a few more hours until I had to get up for work.

I didn't get much sleep back then, but I'm sure I slept more soundly for those few hours than I would have had I let her walk to the apartment at night by herself.

Thankfully, as our relationship has evolved since then (what with us no longer living in sin and all), so has our living arrangement.  We have underground parking.  I truly doubt this will help me sleep, though; I'm just not used to going to bed without her, and I'm fully aware of how pathetic that sounds.

I will do that patheticness one better, though, by saying that Nicole working the night shift is going to do wonders for my productivity.

The truly bizarre thing about my life right now is how busy I am, given that I don't really seem to do anything.  But I have a full time job that I loathe, which means I also have a full time job trying to find another full time job.  On top of that, I have a side job (which has caused me much consternation as of late...that's a great word, "consternation," and I think I'm going to start using it more) that I'm on the fence about as far as whether I'd like it (or something similar) to be more.  And then, of course, there's my writing, which often seems to get the short straw in this bunch.

Midwestern work ethic posturing aside, I'm also Nicole's husband, although I'll fully admit that the label hasn't really changed my behavior much.  But if you ask me what I want to do with any given evening (or day), my first answer will always be "spend time with Nicole."  And sure, maybe that will change the longer we've been married, but that's irrelevant.  The bottom line is that my desire to be with my wife tends to overrule all other things...and I'm a man with very little control of myself.

This, of course, is why Nicole working the night shift will allow me to be more productive, as that laundry list of tasks I listed above consists of things that get pushed to the side or, at the very least, delayed on the average day.

And, honestly, it's not as sad as it sounds.  If I'm to be upfront about it, Nicole and I seem to be at odds with the universe of late, so we've gone into lock down mode, which means our time together isn't just something we want, it's something we need.

So consider this a warning, those of you who periodically read this blog or get spammed by notifications on your Twitter or Facebook that this thing has been updated: it will be updated quite a bit over the next 12 weeks, because I'm going to have a lot of time on my hands.

Currently on the T&V Radio: "Together," by the New Pornographers, "Insomniac Doze" by Envy, and pretty much everything Hum has ever recorded.