Liner Notes (January 3rd, 2020)

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2020. In this week’s newsletter, I share my start of the year routines and resolutions, share some fun party games we played on New Year’s Eve, talk about what music I’m anticipating this year, and go through my usual music and media diet rundown. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Five Things

  • Well, 2020 is here. At the start of each year, I like to do a variety of reviews/audits of things in my life to see how they’re working and if anything could be changed or improved. This involves things like going over financial records, health, exercise, and diet goals, and various things around the house. That means doing a pretty deep “tech audit” dive as well. This year I decided it was time to upgrade our router. The router we had before (TP-Link Archer C7) was having some WI-FI issues, and it was the first version of that router so it didn’t have the feature where you could have one SSID for the network using both frequencies, and it would automatically switch between them. After doing some research and deciding that our home isn’t big enough to need something like a mesh network, I picked up the TP-Link AC5400 to try out. It is ungodly ugly, but it’s hidden away in the living room and not seen, so I’ll deal. The beautiful thing about this router is that it’s tri-band, so it has two 5ghz and one 2.5ghz “networks” going at the same time. This allows you to better distribute what devices are on what and theoretically everything should run a little smoother. So far, I’m delighted with it. I ran some basic speed tests before and after installing, and there’s around a 10%-15% speed increase, so that’s an additional benefit. Range seems to no longer be a problem at all. The website and app for managing the network are a nice improvement, and I like being able to see everything that’s on our network for troubleshooting purposes and security. So far, I’m happy with the upgrade. I also decided to re-think my Time Machine backup solution as well. Previously, I had a very old Apple Time Capsule that was my router from years ago that I had repurposed as a simple network attached Time Machine backup. It was slow and very big. I purchased a new 1TB Samsung SSD and connected it directly to my iMac. I cannot believe how small and relatively cheap large SSDs have become. I posted a photo on Instagram comparing the before and after. It’s an incredible difference. And, lastly, I decided to take the plunge and upgrade the iMac to Catalina. So far, no significant issues beside way too many annoying dialog boxes. I’ll have more thoughts on the new Apple Music app in the future, but by and large, I think it’s an improvement. I also took this time to clean out and archive old files and give myself a bunch of new daily wallpapers. I like to have a collection of wallpapers that automatically rotate each day to a new image. I was using space and landscape images for the past year, and now I’ve switched it up to a bunch of these abstract ink/water/smoke images from Unsplash. Everything feels new and fresh and organized, and it’s a great way to start the year.
  • While on the topic of the new year, I’ve been thinking about if I have any “resolutions” for the year, or maybe a “theme” that I want to focus on for the year. I think more than individual goals or specifics, I’m more interested in working on being more present and engaged with my friends and family. I find I often get caught up in the day to day dredges of the news cycle, and I’d like to spend more time removed from all of that and instead doing things with family and friends that keep my brain away from all the toxicity.
  • There’s going to be some great albums coming out this year and I think I’m most looking forward to new music from The 1975, Hayley Williams, All Time Low, Brian Fallon, and Butch Walker. And that’s just stuff I know is coming, there are possibilities of so much more. Regardless of everything else going on, it is shaping up to be an excellent year for music.
  • We spent New Years Eve at home with some friends hosting a little game night. (After a very drunk driver caused us to get into a car accident a few years back we’ve sworn off going anywhere we’d have to be in a car.) We played Telestrations, which was was harder than expected but very funny. And then quite a few rounds of Anomia, which has become my favorite party game recently and comes highly recommended. I’ve also decided that we need more friends that are into strategy games. And then we rung in the new year with some classic Catch Phrase. I ate more chips and guac than I should have, but had a lot of fun.
  • We’ll be launching our best of 2019 list this coming week. If all goes as planned and we get all the blurbs in on time it should go up sometime on Monday. I’ll of course link to it and include my list in next week’s newsletter.

In Case You Missed It

Music Thoughts

  • I’ve been giving a shocking amount of time to All Time Low’s new version of Nothing Personal lately. There’s just something about how much fun it is that I’ve been drawn to and find myself craving.
  • I revisited Fall Out Boy’s MANIA at the gym this week and think it holds up exceptionally well. There are some great songs on this album, and it’s still remarkably re-playable.
  • I enjoyed the new single from Great Good Fine Ok called “2020.” I’d love to see more from this group this year.
  • I liked the new Set It Off b-side better than the first one they released, but both of these songs still feel like b-sides that were left off the previous album for good reasons. They’re just not as strong.
  • I don’t have many thoughts about the Coachella lineup besides that it looks like a lot of fun for people that like music festivals. I’m not a festival kinda guy. I was surprised that My Chemical Romance were not on the bill because I’d heard from pretty reliable sources that they would be. I’d also heard they’re playing Riot Fest from similar sources, and that was how I knew about the reunion before it was announced. Guess we’ll have to wait and see if that information comes true.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • The Kitchen was all over the place tonally. I couldn’t tell what the movie wanted to be, and at times it felt like the three main actresses all thought they were in different movies. Ended up feeling like a mediocre mini-series that I wouldn’t recommend.
  • Ok, I’ve finally seen Joker. My take is that this is a movie trying to be other, better, movies. And it ends up being a performance way more than a film, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what it’s trying to say. The theme and message end up being trash. The direction is nothing special. The writing is sophomoric at best. The ties to the mythos and legend of Batman are hamfisted and the idea of making Joker some kind of anti-hero and inspiration against greed and capitalism is fucking stupid. I suppose the performance is good, I guess, but I think Joaquin Phoenix has been better in much better films. I pretty much hated everything about it and wish I could Eternal Sunshine it from my brain.
  • After watching two meh to bad movies early in the week, we wanted to watch something we knew was going to be good. So, we decided to finally sit down and watch The Favourite. It was nice to see a competently made film. It ended up being funnier than I expected.
  • We are up to episode eight of season nine of Doctor Who. It’s been hit or miss with the episodes in this season so far. Some are slogs to get through, but the last two were pretty good. I’m looking forward to finishing up this Doctor’s run and getting into the new stuff; I think a change of pace and fresh take are needed.
  • This season of Below Deck has been madness. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to throw more guests off the boat. I can’t even count how many times Hannah and I have had some version of a conversation that starts with, “How the fuck do people act like this, ever, let alone when they know they’re being filmed and will be on TV?”

Random and Personal Stuff

  • We printed up a bunch of our engagement and wedding photos to hang on our wall. The photos that used to be there had been up for over six years, and it’s nice to see a new fresh batch adorning the condo.
  • Apparently we are a thousand years old now because Hannah and I have started playing random card games at night. So far we’ve tackled Gin Rummy and Nerts. If anyone has any recommendations for other card games that can be played with two people, I’d love to hear them.
  • I read the news last night and this morning about everything going on in the Middle East and I can’t help but think that I’ve seen this movie before. The parallels to when I was in high school and watching the build-up to the disastrous Iraq war are uncanny. To have another grossly incompetent President leading our nation to war is almost too depressing to think about. Now, more than ever, I wish we had an actual anti-war party in this country. Too much from the democrats is all about throat clearing and posturing to not get called weak. Not very many of them are actually against war, they’re against Trump doing a war. Bernie Sanders’s response has, so far, been the best I’ve seen from the current candidates running for office. But, because we’re apparently running all the hits from the past over again, it’ll probably end up being Biden doing his best Kerry impersonation as he gets beat by a clown with mashed potatoes for brains. The more I think about it the more angry and depressed I get. Virtually my entire adult life, we have been at war in the middle east; it’s so normalized we barely even think about the destruction and perpetual violence anymore. And yet that cost is hardly ever brought up in debates or on editorial pages. Instead everyone clutches pearls about how to pay for healthcare (my premiums for my shitty plan went up again this year; rejoice!) or making sure everyone have a place to live and things to eat. It’s pathetic. Sorry for ending the newsletter on a rant, but I’m angry and frustrated. I do, however, hold out a little hope that things can get better.

Ten Songs

Here are ten songs that I listened to and loved this week. Some may be new, some may be old, but they all found their way into my life during the past seven days.

  1. Great Good Fine OK – 2020
  2. Fall Out Boy – The Last of the Real Ones
  3. Set it Off – So Predictable
  4. Now, Now – Can’t Help Myself
  5. All Time Low – Walls
  6. La Bouquet – Anxiety, My Best Friend
  7. Pennywise – American Lies
  8. Press Club – Same Mistakes
  9. Hailee Steinfeld – Wrong Direction
  10. Small Talks – Bed

This playlist is available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Community Watch

The trending and popular threads in our community this week include:

The most liked post in our forums last week was this one by Zilla in the “Accountability in Music” thread.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. It’ll be nice for the music industry to wake up from hibernation next week. There’s been a real lack of significant news the past month.

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Previous editions of Liner Notes can be found here.