Liner Notes (November 9th, 2018)


Another week has come and passed. As I sit here writing this, I can see the leaves falling from the trees, and we’re already making plans to cook turkeys and put together gift lists. I love this time of the year.

In this week’s roundup, I rank Star Wars movies, talk about new iPad apps I love, recommend digitizing your paper files, give some first impressions of the new Andrew McMahon album, and go through my usual weekly media diet. Plus, a playlist of ten songs I loved this week. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

Four Things

  • Taking a small break from my usual music rankings, I decided to do some Star Wars ranking this week. Star Wars remains one of my favorite movie franchises/things of all time, and I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about these movies. So, as of now, here’s where I land:
    • Empire Strikes Back: In play for my favorite movie of all time, definitely in the top five. I love this film. I don’t think anything will ever surpass it in the Star Wars world, but that’s fine to me.
    • Star Wars: The original, especially the despecialized edition, remains a classic. It’s hard to put anything above it given what it started, how well it holds up, and the nostalgic ties I have to the movie.
    • Force Awakens: I’ve got this here, and I waffle with it, because of how much it’s re-inspired my love for everything Star Wars. Being introduced to new characters I’ve come to love, seeing old friends, and giving me a massive smile every time I watch it, all come into play. It has flaws, but I find myself not caring when the movie’s playing.
    • Return of the Jedi: As a kid, this was my favorite, and then I had a period where it was my least favorite, but now it’s settled back in here. The end of Luke’s transformation, his decision to not fight, is one of my favorite moments in all of film.
    • The Last Jedi: As time goes on, this film climbs my ranking. It’s an incredible achievement that captures my wonder, subverts my expectations, and carries with it a great message. It also contains some of the most gorgeous shots in the entire Star Wars universe. If not for my entire childhood being a thing … this would be above ROTJ.
    • Rogue One: The third act of this movie is incredible. Unfortunately, the first two feel disjointed to me. Even with that, the third act being as good as it is raises it a step above.
    • Solo: I didn’t think this was nearly as bad as the original “buzz” suggested. It was fun, completely enjoyable, and I will absolutely watch it again in the future. I’ve only seen it once, so for now, it sits here. But in time I could see it finding a place above Rogue One.
    • Phantom Menace: The music’s the best part, there’s one great lightsaber battle, and the rest is … not good. Still the best of the prequels.
    • Revenge of the Sith: When you fail at the one thing you’re supposed to do — show me how someone becomes Darth Vader — the final act of that story loses points by definition. Narratively broken and overstuffed.
    • Attack of the Clones: I don’t like this movie. It’s coarse, and rough, and irritating, and it gets everywhere.
  • I should have just accepted my fate the moment I saw that new iPad Pro. I was coveting that sucker immediately. Then all the reviews and podcasts hit, and it got even worse. So, after selling my 12″ MacBook and iPad Air online, I was able to get the price down on a new iPad Pro to a comfortable spot and pulled the trigger. I picked up an 11″ 256 GB Space Gray iPad Pro, with the keyboard folio thingy. I’m holding out on the Apple Pencil for now because of the price. What I want is for this machine to be my portable machine, and my around the house computer. So far, and I’ve only had it one day, I really do think it might just work. I rediscovered the Copied app over the past week while looking for clipboard/workflow solutions to things I do on my Mac — it’s incredibly powerful. After getting that set up how I want, with the extension and template building, I can get about 90% of the way to how I’m used to working. That’s big. I also played around with Working Copy (a git client for iOS), Textastic (a text/code editor), and Prompt (an SSH client), to see if it would be possible to do little code edits if needed on the iPad. It works. I would never want to tackle a huge project this way, but if I was on vacation and needed to fix something on the website, or make little changes, I think this is completely doable. If I had my iPad Pro with me, and a keyboard, I’d feel like I could handle any emergency work that could arise. That’s big. I also spent some time putting together new workflows in Drafts to handle posting news to this website. If needed, I think I could get a lot of news posted, in only slightly less time than it would take me via my Mac. I’ll need to play around with it a bit more to see what works, or doesn’t work, but I feel pretty good about it right now. I’m sure I’ll write more about these experiments/what works/what doesn’t work in the next few weeks, but my first impressions of this machine are extremely positive. I wanted something that felt easy to use, light, fast, and that could handle most of what I need it to do. 90% of the time this is the computer I use on the couch watching TV and checking Twitter/the forums; however, I also want it to be able to handle some work-related things if I went on a vacation, or away for the weekend, and wanted to get some work done here on the website. I am extremely optimistic about this future.
  • I don’t know if anyone else uses Pinboard, but I use it to keep a giant catalog of bookmarks. I find a lot of websites or articles that I find interesting and want to remember, but don’t want to clutter up my browser’s bookmarks with them all. So, instead, I keep track of all of these in Pinboard. Anything online I want to remember and be able to find again, I put there. On the desktop, I use Spillo to catalog and search these, and on iOS I’ve been using Pushpin. It never got updated for the iPhone X, and I’ve wanted to move to something new for a while. This week, apparently becoming “new app buying week,” led me to grabbing Pinner. It’s exactly what I was hoping it would be. Fantastic Pinboard app for iOS that gives me instant access, and search, to my 1,345 bookmarks. It gets my full recommendation.
  • This week’s midterm election had me more nervous and anxious than usual, and when I get that way I find myself wanting to organize and clean. I think it’s my brain wanting to have some aspect of “control” during a chaotic period. This week I finally decided to tackle a project I’ve had on my task list for a long time: putting together a system for digitizing paper files. I had two drawers filled with tax returns going back to 1987. Piles of paper. And I’ve wanted a better way to keep track of things I get in the mail, and maybe don’t need right now, but wish I had a better way to keep and find, in the future. So, I went about scanning and automating the entire process. I picked up the Wirecutter recommended Epson ES-200 and set up the software to scan to an “incoming scanned files” folder. From there I have Hazel watch the folder and add today’s date and time to any incoming filename, run an OCR scan via PDFPen on the document (to make the entire thing searchable), and then catalog it a folder by year and month. With this method, I got through everything, and it was a lot, in about three hours. And now whenever something comes in that I want to make sure I keep and can find again, I’ve got the system in place. I figure I’ll do this on the 1st of each month when I pay bills. Now the process of shredding and recycling all this paper begins. This is the most “god damn I’m an adult” paragraph I’ve ever written.

Music Thoughts

  • After a week with the new Andrew McMahon album, I’m starting to put together my thoughts a little more. 9/11 songs I absolutely adore. I don’t like “Goodnight, Rock and Roll” (to the point where I skip it now), and I can take or leave “This Wild Ride.” The stretch from “House in the Trees” until the end of the album, however, is fan-fucking-tastic. All the songs are good, the music shines, and it’s everything I want from an Andrew McMahon album. People will complain about the vocal effects, probably some of the more raw sounding instrumentation, but I think it adds a level of character to this album and helps elevate the songs. “Penelope” isn’t as good without the strings and this is the first album in a while from Andrew where other instruments feel like they have a specific place in the music. The felt more background in the past few albums, here, they often are brought up in the mix and take center stage. The Butch Walker/Andrew McMahon combination has not disappointed me.
  • I’m falling hard for this Copeland album. It’s beautiful, haunting, and so gorgeously weird. This week’s obsession was “As Above, So Alone.” More on this album, soon.
  • Finally got around to listening to the new Vince Staples album. It’s good! It feels a little scattered in places, but that feels intentional.
  • I continue to love the new record from Shad. I’ve played that at least once a day this entire week.
  • I posted about this in the Q&A thread yesterday, but I brought the last album from The Maine out again this week. I think it may be my most listened to album in the past few years at this point. I keep coming back to it. I’m relatively shocked by how much I love that album. I like American Candy alright, but the rest of their discography is a complete miss for me. It’s rare for a band to grab me this late in their careers, let alone with such dominance.
  • I plan to listen to the new Muse album a little later today.
  • I gave the new Lil Peep album a spin this morning, and it was my first real experience with his music. I enjoyed it. It’s sad, and even more so now, to hear. I’ll go back and listen to his previous material in the next week. (I skipped the song that had XXX on it.)
  • Scott Sellers cranking out music this year has been one of the bigger surprises. Also, a surprise? How much I’ve enjoyed these pop-punk songs. They’re excellent. The latest release, Strings, is another perfect gym/running album. All the songs have memorable parts, great choruses, and fun guitar riffs. It’s remarkable that one guy has released three pop-punk albums this year better than most of the genre in the past ten years.
  • Fickle Friends’ new EP is great. I love “San Francisco” the most.
  • That new Sick of it All album is a real kick in the teeth. I love it. If you’re looking for some energetic punk, this is a must listen.

Entertainment Thoughts

  • Sorry to Bother You was incredible. I haven’t been as immediately “in” on a movie in a while. Biting satire, laugh out loud funny, and extremely relevant social commentary. I loved this one.
  • I was worried Crazy Rich Asians wouldn’t live up to the hype in my head. Instead, it was everything I wanted. It’s a great romantic comedy with laughs, heart, and memorable characters. As soon as it ended, Hannah turned to me and said, “keep that one, we’ll definitely be watching that again in the future.” I agree. This seems like one we’ll throw on multiple times when we want something enjoyable to watch.
  • Titans continues to be an enjoyment each week. I liked the Doom Patrol episode, and the teases for Jason Todd have me excited. I want to see more Robin or … hopefully Nightwing … at some point.
  • I liked this season of Always Sunny apparently way more than the consensus. I don’t really get the hate. Almost all of the episodes seem like they’ll play just fine when I throw them on in the future. Some better than others, but that’s not anything new for the show.
  • I didn’t watch much else this week besides some basketball games. The NBA is still a whole lot of fun, and I’m excited about this year in college basketball.

Random and Personal Stuff

  • I am not quite sure how, but I lost weight again this week. I’m still right within the range I want to be, but I found it funny. It may just be a fluke/noise, so I’m not going to add any extra calories yet. Especially with the holidays coming up. It was around this point last year that I stepped on the scale and first said: “oh fuck.”
  • Speaking of the holidays … we’ve got turkey duty this year. Cooking and bringing it to one family dinner. Does anyone have tips? Let me have them. We’re probably going just to do the basic. I mean, soak that fucker in butter, but basic enough.
  • Today’s November 9th. One year from today I’ll be getting married. Woah. We’re going to the bar at the venue for happy hour tonight to celebrate. This weekend is hopefully food/drink menu/guest list planning weekend.
  • It was a good water week. Averaged 61.3 oz a day.

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. Sick of it All – That Crazy White Boy Shit
  2. Greyhaven – Blemish
  3. The Maine – Black Butterflies and Deja Vu
  4. Andrew McMahon – Paper Rain
  5. Fickle Friends – San Francisco
  6. Great Good Fine Ok – Always
  7. Matt Nathanson – Different Beds
  8. Now Now – SGL (Audiotree)
  9. Lil Peep – Life is Beautiful
  10. Shad – Progress Progress

The playlists are also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Well, during the time I’ve written this it seems the President has threatened our entire democracy and election system, so, that’s super cool. It’s not like he’s testing the waters for what he can do and say in 2020 at all. Great. Uh, well, I’m going to try not to freak out about that the rest of the day. I hope everyone has a great weekend! I leave you with a quote from Bruce Lee:

Know the difference between a catastrophe and an inconvenience. To realize that it’s just an inconvenience, that it is not a catastrophe, but just an unpleasantness, is part of coming into your own, part of waking up.

Previous editions of this roundup can be found here.