Sunday, October 22, 2006

Starflyer 59 vs. Jeremy Enigk

[migrated from myspace blog]

Okay, the title is really misleading. Jason Martin won't be squaring off with Jeremy Enigk, but yesterday both of their new CDs arrived in my mailbox together. Both of these artists are responsible, in my opinion (along with Dave Bazan, Poor Old Lu and others - thanks Seattle), for pushing musical boundaries and allowing me and others to enjoy some originality in music. (I know, nothing is truly original in music.)

For Enigk, it's his first solo release in 10 years, having reunited Sunny Day Real Estate for a time and formed The Fire Theft. World Waits less avant-garde than Return of the Frog Queen and a little closer to The Fire Theft, yet it still employs some acoustic guitar and more guest musicians than I would think to be possible. For me the highlight of Enigk's music has been his voice. His vocals manage to be heartbreakingly painful and unabashedly joyful at the same time.

With My Island, Jason Martin takes Starflyer 59 on its continuing evolution that logically follows Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice. As an album, it's creative and playful, yet a little dark and very gritty. If Jeremy Enigk is about the voice, then Starflyer is about the guitar. It's ALWAYS been about the guitar. Perhaps not a guitar virtuoso, Jason started out on the first albums with about 20 layers of guitar on each song, but has come to be a catchy songwriter with simple but memorable guitar solos, and sometimes more than simple (I Am the Portuguese Blues). TV vs. SV saw Jason's guitar with a whole new set of pedals from Smart People Factory. It sounds like they're still there, but this time around with a little more distortion. Overall the songs are faster and more driving than the laid back sound on TV vs. SV. The song "Good Sons" might fit on My Island, giving a glimpse of where the current sound came from. My Island's bass lines also have a lot of movement compared to any previous SF release. It can't be easy to put out songs of this quality, but Jason has managed to continue the streak.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tea Fee

[migrated from myspace blog]

Somehow I've become a bit of a TV junkie this fall. I had about 5 shows on my "must watch" list last year. Then I had to go and add two more incredible shows to that list. The only new show I've really bothered to watch had me hooked before it ever aired. I downloaded a copy of the Heroes premiere over the summer and knew I'd have to watch it when it showed up on NBC in the fall. Now, four episodes into its first season, it keeps getting better with every episode. I was never really into sci fi, even though I did watch Star Trek TNG back in high school. Ever since Lost, though, sci fi has been making a mainstream comeback. Battlestar Galactica is moving to NBC in the spring and Heroes has the largest audience of any new show on TV. I'm not able to quantify the reasons for a mainstream sci fi popularity, but I know for me it's been the shift in the approach to storytelling. Writers bring such a fresh approach to the genre by focusing on the drama and making us care about the characters first, and secondly creating an incredible story shrouded in mystery.

Twice I've come away from Heroes with goose bumps. The first time was seeing NYC in the middle of a nuclear explosion just before Hiro jumped back to Japan and 5 weeks earlier. It took the story to a new level. We knew the stakes were huge and the time was short for a Japanese office worker to try to save a huge portion of the American population. The second was seeing a ninja Hiro (if Heroes is the best new show, he's the best new character on TV) from the future speaking perfect English and bringing a message to help the Heroes on their mission.

Lost has had a goosebump moment in each episode so far. Seeing Flight 815 crash from the Other's POV, Ben revealing several big secrets to Jack, and Desmond's new ability to quote speeches from the future as if they were past.

I can't imagine there's ever been a better period to be a TV junkie than this time of incredible writing, ensemble casts, and storytelling that knows no limits.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

On Teaching

[migrated from myspace blog]

I never imagined at any point in my life that I would be a teacher. A year and a half ago when I set out on the road to become a flight instructor, I hoped I would be able to find a different exit ramp to flying and time-building before I got to that point. Even though I've only flown with two of them so far, I have five students that I have to take from zero hours to FAA certified private pilots. Now, as I'm sure most would assume to be the case, I know quite about more about flying airplanes than any of my students do. If I didn't then they wouldn't need me to be there. I've passed 5 ground schools, 5 FAA written exams, 8 FAA checkrides consisting of ground and flight portions (my initial instructor ground session being 8 hours long). So clearly the FAA has found me proficient to instruct others in flying.

That being said, after just under 25 total hours of flight instruction given, there are times when I feel a bit like a fraud because I don't have all the answers on the tip of my tongue. I certainly have my strengths when it comes to ground material: systems, aerodynamics. Those come easier to me because they can be understood. Other classes of ground knowledge are just rote memorization: FAA regs, etc. The rote stuff is "use it or lose it." There are things that I'm certain I knew when I took my private pilot checkride that I'm not sure I could answer or rattle off if asked to right now, most likely because of disuse of that information. Granted, 18 months ago I had zero flight hours logged, but I sometimes wonder if people in other professions have the same feelings on occasion. I guarantee my job is easier than being a doctor, but I wonder if a doctor ever feels like there's something they should know better than they do. I sincerely hope more confidence will come in time, but I want to be good at what I do, and be better than / know more than just enough to get by. AOPA's Flight Training magazine has a motto of: A Good Pilot is Always Learning. Maybe that's all it really takes.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Lost Season 3 premiere

[migrated from myspace blog]

Is it sad that I've been waiting for this night for more than three months? I guess we all need things to do with our Wednesday evenings.