Known Johnson

June 12, 2005

The weekend haul

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 9:11 am

When we cleaned out the one bedroom, which will soon be the soon-to-be-known Johnson‘s nursery, we had to move out a small bookcase, which, of course, we had to empty in order to move. The books have been lying in the hallway for about a month now because I’m extremely slowly working my way toward finishing the painting in the nursery, and so everything from that room is essentially piled up around the house, making our house look frighteningly like one of the apartments of one of the hoarders on Discovery Health’s disturbing (but entertaining) new show, Life of Grime (sorry for the lack of info – can’t find much about it, but check it out when you can.) We decided, kind of on the spur of the moment, to go through the books and take them to Bookman’s, a local used bookstore, hoping to get rid of a bunch of stuff. Well, as it turns out, I’d done a pretty good job of getting rid of unwanted books years ago, and simply cannot part with my Arthur C. Clarke collection, which is a surprisingly large number of his books. Not because they’re worth something, just because I have a great love of Clarke’s vision of space exploration. Reading his books occupied a great amount of time in my childhood and teens, and somehow most of his writing manages to stand up even all these years later. Not only was he a good hard sci-fi writer, he’s a genius, too.

I’m a deliberate reader (that’s “slow” to most people) and milk most books for months at a time, and sometimes simply never finish others. Sick, I know. And I really don’t have that many books, but when I finish a book, I’m most likely done with it, permanently, so there’s no point in keeping most books. Or I used to feel permanently done with them, probably because I read stuff that didn’t mean all that much to me, but over time I’ve amassed a small collection of books for which my only reaction is “awww, I can’t get rid of that,” mostly for nostalgic reasons, I guess (yeah, I know – I’m always saying how un-nostalgic I am. I’m allowed something, right?) How likely am I to read Stephen King’s “Eyes of the Dragon” again? Pretty unlikely. Will I ever get around to reading the copy of Asimov’s Prelude to Foundation that I bought years ago as an attempt to get into the series? Actually, I still want to read that, so there’s your answer. Regardless, the process of elimination was pretty easy, but not as fruitful as I’d hoped. In the end, the piles look about the same as they did before, but we wound up taking a very heavy box and a couple of bags of books and really old software to Bookman’s last night. In the end, I wound up with a whopping $29 in store credit (“A credit,” good on CDs, DVDs, etc., as well as books, or it could have been $59 in “B credit,” which is only good on books and magazines. Annoying, I know – this is why I don’t go to Bookman’s very often.) I’m not very fond of buying old books – I don’t like the smell and the feel of the paper, even if they’re in perfect condition – so B credit is pretty useless to me. I also don’t have a huge list of books I want to dig around for – I usually know what I want and go get it when I want it.

I put that A credit to use and picked out some stuff from their unfortunately small used CD department. Their selection isn’t exactly teeming with the kind of unusual stuff I tend to gravitate to, so I wound up picking up a couple of those “I really should own this” discs, things I’d once owned years ago and, for whatever stupid reason, used as trade fodder, then spent years regretting it whenever their music popped into my head, likely for long after I’d traded in whatever I’d bought with the trade culled from those regrettably sacrificed discs. So I picked up Alice In Chains’ Dirt, one of those albums that, when it came out, seemed kind of prickly and unpleasant in spots but, in retrospect, is really an absolute classic of the 90s, and, maybe in preparation for the release of their new album Tuesday, Foo Fighters’ self-titled first album. I have a love/don’t-care relationship with the Foos – some of their stuff is really pedestrian, run-of-the-mill rock, or, as I read somewhere online once, “beer commercial jingles,” which is a really apt description, and other stuff of theirs is actually quite good. They’ll be ripe for a very solid best-of one of these days.

I also picked up Rooney’s self-titled album, who are one of those bands of inconceivably young guys making music far smarter than their years would make seem possible. If you’re a fan of Weezer or Phantom Planet (coincidently, original Planet drummer and Rushmore actor Jason Schwartzman’s brother fronts Rooney) then I highly suggest checking out this band. They have that smart-guys-rock-out feel about them like Weezer, and their music is infused with a sunny disposition (as well as harmonies) reminiscent of the Beach Boys, and I even picked up a little ELO in a few spots (specifically the “Mr. Blue Sky”-esque hit “Blueside” – coincidence? Probably not.)

And now for something completely different: the rest of my credit was sucked up by a used copy of Neurosis’ Times of Grace. If you’re not familiar, these guys make harrowing music that, for me, feels apocalyptic – huge, long, drawn-out guitar riffs, distant, echo-y yells for vocals, and just plain pummeling structures. There’s nothing “easy” about Neurosis – it hard, harsh music, and I love it. In fact, I’ve started to notice that my collection has split between two types of music, separated by a pretty extreme stylistic gap. I’m either listening to punishingly heavy music like Neurosis, Isis, Meshuggah, and a few others, or I’m listening to bright, happy pop-minded rock like the above-mentioned Rooney. There’s not as much stuff making a gradation between the two styles as there once was in my collection. For whatever reason, I bounce back and forth between these two styles pretty much all the time. I’m not sure what that says about me as a person, but it’s probably pretty strange.

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