I press out days in perfect carbon copy

It's either because I've come back early (comparatively speaking) or because I've come back early and I am jobless, but I feel somewhat inactive. I have stuff to do, mind - I have money to make; for example I intend to begin selling all of my CD collection. I have had some attempts to dissuade me from this; but that's a lifetime's worth of music there! Having lots of CDs is brilliant and makes you look cool and knowledgeable when it come to music! I never thought I'd see the day when you, Rich Fox, would sell- and all that nonsense. I came back from university with no CDs and a handful of DVDs that I'd taken with me, and that's how I like it now. My room in my dad's place feels claustrophobic; racks of CDs collecting dust, let along books and DVDs (although I currently have no intention of selling either of the last two collections, essentially because they have not yet become available in any satisfactory digital version).

Yes, one of the reasons I have completely succumbed to the Great Digital Revolution is because of the convenience of it all. Many Luddites out there claim that you don't get the sound quality of CDs with mp3/mp4, but that's simply not true; if your songs are 256kbit or above, that is standard CD quality (and in fact Digital Audio Broadcasts around the 128kbit region). I download at 320kbit if that's an option. Another argument against a digital music collection is the risk of losing it all one go - to which I reply are CDs not flammable? Are they impermiable to flood or sewerage? Where, pray tell, do you keep your back-up CD collection? It's not hard to make multiple copies of MP3s, in fact for this very reason it's better than CD.

I've sold may, many CDs over the years, yet always kept certain ones behind for mainly sentimental reasons - but not now. It'll probably take ages to sell them (no doubt some will never sell) but they're the kind of thing that I don't think I'll enjoy lugging to my next home after university, wherever that may be. I'm also going to sell my vinyl as well. I don't have many LPs and 7"s, but again, they just collect dust..

My plan of action (at least whilst I'm jobless) is to keep active mentally, physically and financially, in any order. Physically, I'm finding then absence of a swimming pool in walking distance from my house hard to deal with. I really got into the swing of swimming back in Canterbury, which included the 60 minute total walking time to and from. I also miss the ability to find someone to play Aerobie with at the drop of a hat. As a result, I do go swimming here at home, but my physical exertion is greatly reduced. Pontesbury is not the kind of village one can jog/run around, and the best option is Pontesford Hill; a fair rocky clamber which takes around one hour to transcend then decline and be home in time for sherry. I'm going to try to climb it several times a week (I said to myself I'd climb it daily, but that isn't going to happen. I'm not disciplined enough). Mentally, I've been reading the books on my bedroom shelves. I'm currently completing Empire of the Sun (1984). J G Ballard died in April, so I've been meaning to have a Ballard renaissance ever since. It's hard to believe that this is the same author who wrote dystopian nightmarish satires like The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) and Super Cannes (2000). Such a vast change in style. There is rumoured to be a book published soon of conversations between Ballard and his oncologist during his cancer treatment, which will no doubt be a deep philosophical tract.

I'm also going to take up drawing as well. Recently I discovered some old pen drawings I did when I was 16. Very fine, dot-shaded drawings of Kurt Cobain, Henry Rollins,
Björk, and other musicians. The one of
Björk I gave to my friend Jo, who turned 30 the other day. The drawing was in perfect condition, and I knew she's a fan. Below is the original Kurt Cobain drawing I did which I think started my interest in technique at the time:

This was done the summer before I went to college. All through school, and up until I was at college, I always wanted to do something to do with art. By the time college was over and I had started my first semester at Wolverhampton University, I really was not into studying art any longer and had no idea what I wanted to do.. except perhaps make it in a band. But in the summer of 1994, I really enjoyed drawing, and I never really kept it up. I think that this piece in particular is something I still get great pleasure from looking at, mainly because of the simplicity of it - I find it hard to believe I stopped where I did with it, and I know it's finished because I'd signed it. I don't believe it looks exactly like Cobain, but I think it conveys his iconic haircut and slouch, which is enough. At the time, through sheer will power, I finished it with it looking like this. No need to add extra to the left-hand black sleeve, no need for any more guitar neck. Done. This is a restraint I think I show very little of in many ways (creatively or otherwise) and it has inspired me to get drawing again this summer.

A combination of mental and physical activity has also become manifest after I took up more physical exercise from reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2008) by Haruki Murakami. This is a memoir of sorts on Murakami literally explaining why he started running thirty years ago and why he still continues to do it to this day, along with being a novelist. It's short and reads almost like one of his novels (I'm guessing this is his style) and although I wouldn't say I've specifically come away from the book feeling totally inspired to take up running, it has made me want to take up some form of regular exercise, for the discipline and for the positive results. Murakami, in the book, discusses the kind of music he likes to listen to whilst running; something that really keeps him motivated. This has inspired me to choose some music to exercise to (maybe not swimming, though).

Today I hastily clambered up Pontesford Hill to Join Us (1998)by Bluetip. Because of this choice of music, I can say that what with my first year at UKC ending, my return home, and my original intentions for this blog, everything has come full circle. I'm sure that I've bored half my music-appreciating friends to death with this, but once more, for the cheap seats, this is the greatest album I have ever heard in my life.

I first got the CD around 2000/2001, when I was very much into Fugazi and the whole Washington DC/post-rock scene. After years of straight-up hardcore, post-rock seemed like the natural progression (it is for many a generic rock fan such as yours truly). Once I discovered the cheap-priced records from the Dischord Records website (owing to Ian MacKaye et al's decent business ethics) I bought a load of albums by bands either through recommendation or just because they had a cool name. Bluetip came from neither, but I bought it anyway. I won't deny that after the first few spins, Join Us hadn't cut it. In fact, for a while I preferred Polymer (2000), and it wasn't until I began to listen to the lyrics of Join Us that I slowly began to become aware of its brilliance; first the lyrics, then the music followed.

Front man/guitarist Jason Farrell is a man not afraid to bare his soul, but in more than just a godawful, mawkish, syrupy manner - Join Us is harsh, cynical, poetic and continuously funny. The album haemorrages great lines like "Stamps make shitty Band Aids / Letters come back stamped with Fuck The Sender" (Cheap Rip; about the ordeal of writing a love letter), "Mean, sweet and empty, my teeth are singing 'Sugar, come back to the cavity'" (Bad Flat; the woes of being on the road), "The word 'bitch' makes its appearance / You can hear men's thoughts click to fighting / So they take to kissing each other with their fists" (Jersey Blessed; no doubt Farrell's heartfelt interpretation of the place), "I want to piss on every continent / Treat my body like a suitcase, pack the scars / In case I catch myself forgetting" (Slovakian; final track, and a heartfelt cry to the pleasures of being on tour, regardless of the hell also). As a matter of fact, the title of this post, and also the Soft Reminder quote at the top of this blog, are also lifted from the lyrics on this album. To say Join Us has been an influence on me would be an understatement.

Aside from the lyrics, the music here is also the best guitar-driven rock I've ever heard. The production is phenomenal (J Robbins, of course) and I realised after this became more in my favour than Polymer that Dave Stern may have been the musical driving force behind the band here, with Farrell being the front man. There are some timeless riffs on this album, and a sound I have heard few replicate well (if at all, nobody's heard the damn thing!) The final riff of I Even Drive Like A Jerk is something I savour repeat after repeat (is that a xylophone..?)

Absurdist Media gave a fine and comprehensive estimation of Join Us back in early 2007. I just came upon this by chance after a particularly feverish attempt to find guitar tabs. The post comments on how the lyrics can be relatable to a certain kind of guy in a particular period of his life, which I found an intelligent and interesting observation. There is undoubtedly a specific belligerence and ability to self-deprecate here that a lot of people (guys?) seem to drop in later years for wont of seeming to become more settled and mature. However, regardless of whether I still relate immediately with Join Us, it still stirs me like nothing else I've ever heard.

It doesn't matter what has come since, even from Jason Farrell or Dischord Records. It doesn't matter what bands influenced Bluetip at the time (which are hard to spot anyway given how original and fresh this album is). This is it, the best record ever recorded. One of the best pieces of art ever produced, full stop.

Another reason I say things have come full circle now is because I am here, with too much free time, too much thinking time, and I can feel Old Rich sneaking back in; the Rich I seemed to put partially on hold whilst at UKC. The Rich who gets depressed for no good reason and thinks everything is worthless. The Rich who is paranoid when his friends don't return calls right away, the Rich who thinks his university friends will have ditched him by next September, and that everything is awful and we're all going to die. Well, Join Us helps tame Old Rich, and it also does nothing but encourage New Rich (if there is such a thing beyond the degree) -the more nocturnally social, reasonable, and 'slightly' less stressed-out Rich.

A lot of people are not frank on their blogs about their mental deficiencies, their concerns or weaknesses. They tend to write about how awesome their day has been and how worldly they are at times; this goes back to my original disdain towards Facebook and Twitter and all that diabolical nonsense, how easy it is to edit or gloss-over frightening facts about ones existence. But I've always planned to keeping it real with my blog, even if means banging on like this, but stick to it I shall.

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