This post is to signify that Flying Houses will be going on hiatus for an indefinite length. Don't worry, the reasons for it are not serious. The fact is I have started The Magic Mountain today and it is 851 pages and I do not know how long it will take to read. So do not think me lazy and realize that I am hard at work, whether it turns profits or not.
In recompense, I would like to offer a Best of 2008 List offered up in the Pitchfork style, as if I were a celebrity they wanted to query. Complete with a biographical profile.
Welcome to the first and only edition (for now) of Flying Houses Year-End Guest List. Each year we poll one blog author about his favorite things that happened that year in music, other various applied arts, and general living. This year, 2008, it's Christopher J. "Jack" Knorps, who is responding to us from a supine position on his bed in his parent's house, with his laptop sitting on a little tray which prevents extreme heat from irritating the groin area. This year Mr. Knorps wrote his second novel and accepted a temporary assignment as a proofreader!
Favorite New Songs of the Past Year:
Pretty much whatever songs are on the top 10 albums list I intend to include somewhere in this "interview." If I had to make a top 10 singles list, I would put "Nothing Ever Happened" by Deerhunter at the top of the list. I would also put "Ativan" by Atlas Sound up there. I enjoy "Flashing Lights" by Kanye West. That is a song that is on my iPod shuffle that I listen to though I rarely listen to Graduation. I thought "The Pretender" by the Foo Fighters was a pretty cool song, especially when I saw the video totally randomly on a motel TV the first and only time. I think that is from 2007 though. I haven't consumed enough in 2008, that's my problem. The song "The Lucky Ones" by Mudhoney was a great classic track to come out as if it were in a time capsule from 1992.
Favorite Older Songs at the Moment:
The Germs, because of the previous post here. I am very intrigued by all things Darby Crash. This past year though, I don't know. I seemed to have listened to a lot of Smiths this year, but that is probably true for the last three or four years now. I also listen to New Order a lot and a few of those reissues--like Technique--I really wanted to get but ended up passing on because I didn't want to drop $20 on a CD. The same goes for the new Cure album, whose critical reception didn't excite me enough to make me want to seek it out. That is true for the new Of Montreal album as well. I have listened to Liars a lot this year. All of their albums are better than they seem at first, and I really want to get Drum's Not Dead. I also went through a huge Black Flag phase where I had to get all of their albums while I was living in L.A. One friend in particular hooked me up with In My Head, Loose Nut, Live '84, and Family Man. I always enjoy listening to Sonic Youth and it seems like they haven't put out an album in a while, but two years isn't really that long of a time at all, especially since Thurston put out a solo album and Kim put out a Free Kitten album this year. I have gotten around to realizing why the Slits Cut album is so awesome. I also really got into !!! this year and can't wait to see what they do next, though I really wonder if they can top their previous highs. I think "Me and Giuliani Down By the Schoolyard (Based on a True Story)" may be the best single of the 00's decade, but others may disagree.
Favorite New Band:
I would say Be Your Own Pet but they aren't exactly new and they aren't exactly still extant. I thought These New Puritans were pretty cool. I haven't listened to Fleet Foxes and I might say them if I had.
Favorite Song Ever:
That's a really hard question to answer. There's very few songs I don't get sick of after hearing so many times. Maybe some old long classic song, like David Bowie's "Station to Station" or Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray."
Best Recent Concert:
I didn't go to many shows in 2008, and though the Deerhunter set I saw at the Metro in November was highly notable, nothing compares to seeing My Bloody Valentine live in person. That was at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago at the end of September. "You Made Me Realise" was everything I hoped it would be. Their setlist may not have been my ideal MBV setlist but it was hardly unsatisfying. And the mystique, the way the show was carried out, totally didn't make me feel like I was being put on, or that MBV were selling out doing a reunion tour, even if it cost me $50 to see it.
Last Great Film I saw:
Also, not many movies in 2008. Many On-Demand and on cable and even a few rented on DVD, but in the theaters, it would have to be Synecdoche, NY. A very bizarre movie that I'm not sure I would watch again. Okay I might watch it again under the influence of particular chemicals. Obviously it is a great script from Charlie Kaufman, though there has been some question about his directorial skill, as this is his debut in that field. This film is not a classic masterpiece, but it is great for being things that all other movies never try to be. It is completely original and there is nothing else like it. Philip Seymour Hoffman totally carries the film, though I would be lying if I didn't admit I got a little bored towards the end.
Last Great Book I read:
Well, Lexicon Devil really moved me more than anything recently. Of all the books reviewed on this blog, I will have to say that in 2008, obviously the two big Thomas Mann books astounded me entirely--Doctor Faustus and Buddenbrooks. Dead Boys by Richard Lange was the best recommendation from a friend, the best thing I borrowed, the best "discovery" I made. It had been a long time since a book of short stories had captivated me. Desolation Angels reminded me of how great Keroauc could be. I was surprised to find that it might be my favorite book by him, so far at least.
Favorite Piece of Musical Equipment:
My $75 guitar and $25 amp. My guitar has been restrung by a bunch of random music store employees because I don't know how to do that, and has probably cost about $50-$75 in the process. But I have had these for over four years now and they supposedly still work, even though they are sitting in my garage and I haven't played them in about five months. It was great to have my little bungalow-type studio in Silverlake where my neighbors were almost entirely cool with me practicing whenever I wanted. But I'm really bad about trying to bring my guitar playing up to an ability where I can say, "I actually know how to play." I may never know actually how to play, but making noise for the sake of it is an unique pleasure that many others may not understand. I still wish I could be in a band somehow though. It's just as hard as trying to make it as a novelist, though. But I think your individuality is able to stand out more in music.
Favorite Record Shop:
Tie. Amoeba Records in L.A. and Reckless Records in Chicago. Amoeba is like the Disneyland of record stores. You go there and you just know you're going to have fun. Reckless is not as fun but you still feel very cool whenever you go into any of their 3 locations in the city. I like the Wicker Park one best for feeling cool. I am not sure which branch inspired the film High Fidelity, but probably that one.
Best Purchase of this Past Year:
Nothing. I really cannot think of a single purchase that was useful or worthwhile or made me particularly happy. Probably some clothes or something. My most recent haircut. This laptop tray. My new pair of headphones. My new replacement cell phone which was supposedly free but which they charged me $10 for anyways.
Best Thing I did this Year:
Went to Las Vegas for the first time. That may not be the best but the first night I spent there was very eye-opening in ways I was not expecting. I went to the beach in Malibu one day in July after living in L.A. for about nine months. That was a worthwile and good thing to do. You cannot complain about beaches in Malibu. I also went to a Cubs spring-training game in Scottsdale, AZ, and though I have problems with a particular bar there, seeing a Cubs game at a home venue outside of Wrigley Field reminds me just how great the Cubs fans are, and how no matter where they play, they will always be the most beloved team in sports. Their choke in 2008 was not the best thing, but it was exciting to see them get to the point where they choked. I'm also glad I saw Dodgers, Angels, and Lakers games while in L.A.
Favorite Music Venue:
Spaceland in L.A. because I could walk there from my apartment and because they had this weird fishbowl type room where you could smoke inside (even though it's usually not so bad to have to go outside in that climate). The Echo and Echoplex were also pretty much comparably cool though.
Favorite TV Show at the Moment:
Intervention on A & E because I like the reality aspect of it and I like seeing people talk about why they need to do drugs. It is helpful from a rehabilitative standpoint, but I have to admit there is a bit of a perverse vicarious thrill in watching them fulfill their need, and that probably doesn't necessarily want to make the viewer stop doing drugs. It's always interesting when there's a new episode, they're rarely disappointing. But aside from that....Family Feud or Who Wants to be a Millionaire? or Jeopardy! Or weird cable shows about people running from the cops--I saw this show called "Why I Ran" once and that was pretty sweet.
Favorite Video Game at the Moment:
Zelda: The Twilight Princess on Wii, which I am still in the midst of and have been playing for the last several months very rarely. It's an amazing game, but it gets harder and more frustrating as you go on, and that maybe contributes to me not wanting to play as much. I really like the Wii News Network--I like doing the slideshow.
Favorite Radio Station:
Indie 103 in L.A. I also like Chicago Public Radio on 91.5. XRT in Chicago (93.1?) is pretty cool too. I bought the new TV on the Radio album when I heard them play a song from it on that station.
Is the annoying basic Verizon one on my new phone. I should change it to something cooler. There are a few soothing ones. I wanted to get a real song for my ringtone but I was too cheap to buy the LG Chocolate. I think "Blindness" by the Fall would be a cool ringtone.
Top 10 Records of 2008:
10) These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid
9) Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life
8) REM - Accelerate
7) Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel
6) Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash
5) Portishead - Third
4) Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward
3) TV on the Radio - Dear Science
2) No Age - Nouns
1) Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.
Honorable Mention goes to Scarlett Johansson. While her album was not necessarily revelatory, it is probably one of the best albums to be put out by an actress, and was therefore "surprisingly good." Zooey Deschanel does not count as her album with M. Ward is probably much better.
The Breeders also deserve a nod for "Mountain Battles."
Wolf Parade deserve a few props for "At Mount Zoomer."
Silver Jews "Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea" is surprisingly strong, though admittedly not as appealing as "Tanglewood Numbers" or "American Water."
Islands' "Arm's Way" is front-loaded like crazy, but ambitious and worthwhile.
The Hold Steady's "Stay Positive" continues their trend of albums steadily decreasing in quality, though still being very excellent on the whole.
Vampire Weekend is bigger than Arcade Fire. I think.
Times New Viking "Rip it Off" is not the #39 album of the year (as it is according to Pitchfork) but they are a better live band than a treble-y recorded one. See them live, wait until they release their "Do the Collapse" to spend money on an album by them.
I really want to hear Fleet Foxes and Titus Andronicus. And I also want to get the new Of Montreal album.
And as for 2009, the new Animal Collective will probably be the first purchase.