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sunny boy

when you neglect to take any good pictures at the big official Major League Soccer team announcement event #AustinFC ⚽️

journal – MLS 2 ATX

I don’t usually drink on Tuesday evenings, though then again I don’t usually start drinking at 2:30, even on weekends. But today was a special occasion – the official official announcement that Major League Soccer (MLS), the top soccer league in the country, is coming at last to my hometown of Austin, Texas. It’s been a long road, littered with the roadkill of multiple previous lower-league attempts (RIP, “Aztex”, a truly terrible name that we nevertheless supported wholeheartedly during its two brief incarnations). It was always clear that we wouldn’t get a top-flight team here until some rich person came to town and decided that’s what they wanted, and sure enough, here he is. It’s a couple more years until we’ll get to see them on the field, but that’s all right. I’ve been waiting, and I can keep waiting. I heard the league commissioner, the owner, and Austin’s mayor – plus gloriously ridiculous Alexi Lalas, as well – say this was going to happen, and though that doesn’t really seem like it could be real, it seems more like a dream or something I’d watch happen on a livestream from some other city, this swag on the table came from somewhere. I mean, someone was giving away Heineken (until thank god it ran out and they let us have non-MLS-sponsor but tastier beer, e.g., 512 Oatmeal Stout) all afternoon. So here’s to it actually, for real, can-you-believe-it happening. 🍺 ⚽️

Women’s March in Austin, Jan. 2017

journal – nearly back to normal

We’re taking our daughter back to college today. She had an eventful winter break, featuring a ten-day study-abroad trip in Germany, with an added few days in Vienna for fun with a friend who also went. It’s been exciting, for us vicariously as well, but I’m also glad to return to normal, such as it is. Though my wife also starts a new job next week, so maybe I shouldn’t count my normal-returns before they’re hatched. Thankful that these are good things that are interrupting that normalcy. This year is getting off to a good start and I’m feeling pretty optimistic about what it holds for us. Though I’m superstitious enough about jinxing myself that it’s taking real effort to not delete that before publishing this, ha ha.

Middleton Brewing’s Pecan Amber
⭐️__ __ (1/3)

just think if these pics came close to reality

los gatos

The Guardian, with six key things to know about Trump’s border wall speech. tl;dr – a border wall is a dumb thing that wouldn’t solve the non-existent problems he claims it would. lose-lose-lose. #trumpshutdown

apocalypse earlier this evening

The Bruery’s Bakery

journal – what you had for lunch

Did some thinking this morning about what I want to do here, in my morning pages writing (a practice I’ve found to be valuable; I should write about that sometime). I was trying to understand a justification, a why, for this urge to write more personally and at more length. And the old “who cares what you had for lunch?” question came to mind.

One effect of that attitude was to dismissively discourage people from sharing anything mundane or non-fabulous. And another, further effect is the tendency to only post the good stuff, the living-my-best-life stuff. The artfully composed and beautifully filtered Instagram pictures of an amazing lunch. Now you’ve answered the question of who cares about what you had for lunch, because look at it, it’s a masterpiece!

But then people do look at it, among the dozens of other jealousy-inducing pictures of fantastic meals in their feed. And maybe they start feeling a little bad about their own plain, non-amazing meals. Which they’re certainly not going to share on social media now, it would be embarrassing. Next week, on vacation in Hawaii, there might be an Instagram-worthy lunch, but not today.

So the tendency drives what’s published to ever more rarified heights, while also keeping people from sharing their more genuine lives. But on the other hand, would I follow a random person who posted boring pictures of uninteresting lunches? No, probably not. It’s no strategy to increase social media “engagement” or grow followers or go viral, that’s for sure. But why do those have to always be everyone’s goals?

Because what I realized is that I would like to see my friends, the people I actually know, post more about their lives. Not every meal, not even every lunch, but the occasional boring, mundane glimpse would be great.

journal – try-hard losers

I’ve been thinking I’d like to write more, and more personally, here on my blog. I like, and I like having my tweets (most of them) originate here. But it’s still only been just tweet-style stuff: links with an excerpt, or a joke or pithy comment. I have some hang-up about opening up too much, but lately, at least, I’ve become so tired of nobody ever doing it that I guess it’s kind of getting to me.

I also have come to feel like writing anything online is a big effort, that requires a lot of work and planning and thought and polish. And the other side of that coin is how it may or may not be received – who and how many read it, like it, comment, retweet, etc. Which for me, somewhat to my dismay, is rarely ever many folks. So there’s high effort on one side, and low reward on the other. The result of that calculus is unsurprising: silence.

After hearing her on a recent Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me, I listened to an old comedy album by Maeve Higgins on Spotify. It was odd and not super funny, but it had its moments. She admits right up front that her style is more rambling storyteller than punchline-joke-deliverer, and that’s accurate. But a turn of phrase in one of her stories stuck with me. She said that she and her sister used to think people who used potpourri were “try-hard losers”, and they laughed at them behind their backs.

I think the barb of the comment was directed at herself and her sister much more than it was at potpourri people. And it’s kind of muddled to me so I’m sure it will be to anyone who comes across this (I mean, talk about rambling), but something about that scoffing aloofism resonated with how jaded I feel – and think many of us have become – in particular as members of the online “communities” we’re in.

So. I’ve disconnected automatic crossposting to Twitter of everything I write here (or I think I have, anyway); going to try to get back to being a try-hard loser for a while.

our NYE movie was A Simple Favor, which was a lot funnier & more fun than it seemed from the trailer. recommended 👍 🎬

two dark beers with orange labels, one slightly more fabulous than the other
1: Shiner’s S’more, ⭐️/3 (#blesstheirhearts)
2: Goose Island’s Midnight Orange Stout 2018, ⭐️⭐️⭐️/3

last sunset of 2018

Best of My 2018 Music

Time once again for my annual best-of music review! Each year, I pick my ten favorite new albums of the year, where “new” means new to me, not necessarily released this year. Any albums I bought in the calendar year are eligible for the list, regardless of when they were released.

Here are my 2018 selections, in alphabetical order by artist (I pick the top ten, but I don’t order them further than that). A playlist of all these albums is on Spotify.

Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really FeelTell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett – An oddly weak opening track is followed by another solid album from this amazing singer-songwriter. Her collaboration with Kurt Vile wasn’t my bag, so I was glad her solo material returned to the clever lyrics, rocking songs, and Australian accent that made her debut one of the best of 2015. And no surprise that she sounds as good live as she does on her records. (concert pic)

Neko Case, Hell-OnHell-On, Neko Case – Another repeat artist on the list, Ms. Case gets the hat trick following her last two albums’ appearances (Middle Cyclone in 2009 and The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You in 2013). I’ve only seen her live at ACL Fest, but will rectify that in February at Bass Concert Hall.

Lucy Dacus, HistorianHistorian, Lucy Dacus – The repeats continue with Lucy Dacus’ second full-length album. More down-tempo than the one that was a best-of just last year, this one took a little while to grow on me. But the lyrics and her voice are as good as ever. I already have tickets to see her again (the day after Neko Case, as it happens).

Hop Along, Bark Your Head Off, DogBark Your Head Off, Dog, Hop Along – Their sound and lyrics as distinctive as ever, this band is becoming a real favorite. They put on a great show, and this is every bit as good as their previous album (a 2017 best-of). I also picked up their 2012 release, Get Disowned, which I found to be more of a mixed bag (see “Best of the Rest”, below). (concert pic)

Janelle Monáe, Dirty ComputerDirty Computer, Janelle Monáe – Finally, a debut artist on this year’s list. I’ve liked her music since 2007’s Metropolis, and really appreciated the concept albums she’s put together. But they also all have some low spots, and I rarely find myself listening to them in their entirety. Her latest is less concept, and more consistent throughout, in my book. We saw her at ACL Fest, and her show was fantastic. (concert pic)

Metric, Art of DoubtArt of Doubt, Metric – Following 2012’s Synthetica (a best-of that year), 2015’s Pagans in Vegas was good, but didn’t crack the top ten. Despite a late-in-the-year release, I’ve really enjoyed this latest from the Canadian indie-rockers. Here’s hoping they headline their own darn tour and stop opening for other, lesser bands (Smashing Pumpkins, pshaw).

Moving Panoramas, OneOne, Moving Panoramas – And here, at last, is a brand new (to me) band making it’s top-ten debut. This is an Austin-area group that opened at a Wye Oak concert I saw late last year. The dreamy, chill synth-pop makes this album the kind where particular tracks don’t really stand out, which in their case is not a criticism. They have new music coming out early in 2019 (One was released three years ago), and I can’t wait to hear it. (concert pic)

Nervous Dater, Don't Be a StrangerDon’t Be a Stranger, Nervous Dater – Another debut artist, this is just a fun, rollicking indie band. Perhaps their Bandcamp bio puts it best: “A Brooklyn band that is the music equivalent of finding out aliens are real but the documents are covered in T Bell fire sauce.” Or perhaps not.

Soft Science, MapsMaps, Soft Science – The last brand-new artist in this year’s best ten, with a really lovely sound. Somewhat shoe-gazey, but with propulsive rhythms that keep you nodding along, rather than nodding off. I’m looking forward to what else this band gives us, and I’ll be digging in to their back catalog while I wait.

Speedy Ortiz, Twerp VerseTwerp Verse, Speedy Ortiz – Last, but hell no not least, here’s another band making their third appearance in my annual best-ofs. First was Major Arcana on my 2014 list, then Foil Deer in 2017, and they just keep getting better. I also got to see their consistently great live show again this year. (concert pic)

That’s it for my ten favorite “new” albums of 2018.

And then there are all the rest of the albums. To complete my annual time capsule, I also make a playlist of favorite single tracks from all of the year’s albums that didn’t make the best-album cut, ordered not alphabetically, but in the best mixtape order I can manage. This “Best of the Rest” (minus the song from the 1992 Curve album) is also a playlist on Spotify.

  1. A Beginning Song – The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
  2. Act My Age – Dream Wife, Dream Wife
  3. Wish You Dead – Curve, Doppelgänger
  4. Go Loving – The Joy Formidable, AAARTH
  5. Never Giving In – Jenn Champion, Single Rider
  6. Become the One – Goldfrapp, Silver Eye
  7. Little Girl Blue and The Battle Envy – Skating Polly, The Make It All Show
  8. It Probably Matters – Interpol, Marauder
  9. Fire Drills – Dessa, Chime
  10. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino – Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
  11. Singer’s No Star – Waxahatchee, Great Thunder
  12. Cake – Wussy, What Heaven Is Like
  13. You of All People – Wye Oak, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs
  14. Buenas Noches, Desolación – Julieta Venegas, Algo Sucede
  15. Ben Franklin’s Song – The Decemberists, Ben Franklin’s Song
  16. Bummertown – Lola Tried, Lola Tried
  17. Jeannie Becomes A Mom – Caroline Rose, LONER
  18. Rusalka, Rusalka / Wild Rushes – The Decemberists, I’ll Be Your Girl
  19. Patricia – Florence + The Machine, High As Hope
  20. Night – Zola Jesus, Stridulum
  21. Let It Go – The Black Ryder, Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride
  22. Vulture – She Keeps Bees, Dig On
  23. Kids On the Boardwalk – Hop Along, Get Disowned
  24. Tea-Soaked Letter – Anna Burch, Quit the Curse
  25. Miracle – CHVRCHES, Love Is Dead
  26. Medley (The Hermit/The Flame Still Burns/Gold and Green/Living in the Country) – Ace of Cups, Ace of Cups

– saw band live this year
– link to concert pic


Past years’ bests: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Baltika Breweries’ Russian Imperial Stout

just watched a full play-through of a new Switch game called Gris, and it was a legitimately lovely cinematic experience

Oskar Blues Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy

want a project for the holiday break? is giving away 3 free months ($5/mo), now through Jan. 2 (via invite; DM me your email address if you’re interested). there’s a way to be online without being a giant tech company’s livestock.

Middleton Brewing’s Galena

Firefox is my primary browser and has been for years. slash (/) to search (except on sites that hijack it 😡) is my oldest favorite thing, and the Containers add-on is my newest. Containers are a little fiddly to set up but super handy.

Jeremy Keith on browser diversity in a Chromium-dominated world:

“which browser you use no longer feels like it’s just about personal choice—it feels part of something bigger; it’s about the shape of the web we want”

happy Texan holidays

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (again; & sometimes the drinkware doesn’t live up but what can you do)

the collected-tweet genre of article is usually disappointing but this one cracked me up: Londoners troll New York Times with deluge of ‘petty crimes’

beautiful: actual good environmental news

“It’s amazing … with limited budgets and widespread poverty, [Native American tribes] are the leader in wildlife restoration when compared to the state wildlife agency”

utterly damning summary from The New Yorker:

“The President of the United States knowingly & eagerly participated in a scheme with a hostile foreign leader who he knew was seeking to influence the Presidential election.”

Founders’ Canadian Breakfast Stout
#saturdaybeer #mlscup 🍺

tonight’s the night: the championship match of the top soccer league in the U.S.: MLS Cup. tune in to regular Fox at 7 CT to see 70k fans going nuts in the brand new, sold-out stadium in Atlanta

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