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Liner Notes (November 15th, 2019)

What a week. This week’s newsletter has me looking at music and entertainment released over the past two weeks. I finally get to dive into some of the Apple TV+ and Disney+ shows, plus give some updates on living the first week of married life. 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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Liner Notes (November 8th, 2019)

I’m getting married tomorrow, so this week’s newsletter is going to be different than usual and wedding-themed. (Since I am thinking about the wedding, final wedding plans, and really nothing else.) I wanted to write something, but I don’t have the time to breakdown all the music and media I’ve consumed over the past week. Instead, I’ve been putting this together in small stages over the past few days. I’ll be back next week with a longer piece that has a deeper dive into the entertainment and musical stuff I’ve been enjoying lately. The supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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AirPods Pro First Impressions

I bought the first generation of AirPods back in 2017 and fell in love almost immediately. The ease of use and freeing sensation of having no cord attached to my pocket led them to become the most used, and most adored, pair of headphones I’d ever owned. From running errands, to cooking dinner, these became a staple of my everyday carry. With the release of the AirPods Pro, I decided to pick up two pairs for Hannah and I as an early wedding gift. I didn’t think I’d be saying this, but they’ve been improved in virtually every single way. They’re now, without a doubt, my favorite pair of headphones I’ve ever owned. It starts with the new smaller footprint. I never thought the original AirPods felt “big,” but the new ones feel like nothing in my ears. You combine this with the more snug fit from having the rubberized tips, and they feel perfectly secure walking around town or working out in the gym. The sound is improved, partially by having a better seal in the ear, and they offer a nice, fairly neutral, experience for music. The bass is pretty close to what I prefer, not too heavy. I usually like a little more high-end in the treble, but it’s surprisingly steady. If I want more clarity, I have more expensive cans I can turn to, but for most moments when I want to listen to music, or more often, a podcast, these are downright perfect and sound better than expected. (I tested the sound mostly using My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days.) The noise canceling is a nice feature, but one I don’t often find myself needing. I’m sure there will be times in noisy coffee shops or other places where I’ll find it useful, but most of the time I find it overkill, and actually a little unsettling. I’ll probably be using them most often while in Transparency Mode. This mode lets in, and slightly amplifies, just enough sound so that it feels like you have nothing in your ears, while still being able to hear whatever you’re playing. It’s perfect for when you’re in the city and want to make sure you can hear your surroundings. Or when your significant other starts talking to you while you’re listening to something around the house. It’s such a game changing feature that I don’t know if I could go back to any buds that don’t have it as an option.

I’ve had no issues with the new interaction model of squeezing the AirPod stem instead of using taps. The small “click” sound is comforting and it only took a few hours to retrain my muscle memory. The only thing I’m still not used to is the actual way you put the AirPods back in their case. It’s reversed from what I’m used to and I still mess it up. I am also a fan of the new features that came with the second generation AirPods but I hadn’t used yet, such as the always on “Hey Siri” access. It’s is surprisingly handy. Also, the new feature where you can have Siri read messages to you when they come in and immediately respond is something I didn’t know I’d want until I used it for the first time.

I have more expensive and better sounding headphones around the house. And, there are times when that’s what I am looking for and want; however, the ease of use and convenience of having a pair of wireless buds in a tiny case in my pocket is more than worth that trade-off. I already knew I loved AirPods, but adding noise cancelation, transparency mode, and a new smaller footprint has more than exceeded my expectations. This is the future I’ve been dreaming of ever since the opening scene of the underrated romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe.

Battery life has been almost exactly as advertised. The slightly larger carrying case feels negligible in my hand or pocket. The latency of connecting to and controlling the AirPods seems dramatically improved from the first generation. The cost is, well, an issue. They’re expensive and due to their size and physics will not hold the same battery charge forever. For most people, I’d recommend these if you really want noise cancelation, really prefer a rubber tip fit in your ear, and are attracted to the smaller design.

Martin Scorsese’s NYT Essay

The entire essay by Martin Scorsese was extremely well written, but this section really resonated with me:

In the past 20 years, as we all know, the movie business has changed on all fronts. But the most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk. Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption. Many of them are well made by teams of talented individuals. All the same, they lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist. Because, of course, the individual artist is the riskiest factor of all.

Very much worth a read.

Deconstructed Special: The Noam Chomsky Interview

Some great stuff here:

Well, you have to take each case on its own. Take the Electoral College, that’s bad enough, take the Senate. The Senate is one of the most undemocratic institutions in the western world. Take a look at the number of voters that each senator represents. If a country tried to enter the European Union with the U.S. political system, they’d be turned down by the European Court of Justice. I mean, there’s a whole history here that has to be thought of. The Constitution in the 18th century, though it was a pretty conservative doctrine nevertheless, by the standards of the eighteenth century was pretty novel and even progressive in some respects.

But to adhere to the 18th century constitution in the 21st century is a pretty strange phenomenon. I mean, take the people who are called originalists, you know the right-wing originalist Gorsuch and so on who say we have to interpret the Constitution the way the founders and the framers in the 18th century understood it. I mean, does that even approach rationality? To discuss the modern world the way somebody in 1780 perceived it?

I always like hearing Chomsky’s perspective on things.

Liner Notes (November 1st, 2019)

This week’s newsletter has the definitive ranking of My Chemical Romance albums, some first impressions of the new Anti-Flag album, thoughts on some other music I spent time with this week, and my weekly media diet rundown. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved this week, a few articles I enjoyed, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (October 25th, 2019)

This week’s newsletter looks at some of the music out this week, answers a reader question about my favorite Halloween movies, and then goes through my weekly media diet. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved this week and a bunch of other random thoughts. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (October 18th, 2019)

Welcome to Jimmy Eat World release week. Let us all rejoice. Today’s newsletter has my thoughts on music, some of the entertainment I’ve consumed over the past week, other random tidbits, and a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (October 11th, 2019)

In this week’s newsletter, I expand a little more on my Jimmy Eat World thoughts, share some comments on music out this week, and go through my light media diet. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I loved, and this week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (October 4th, 2019)

It’s a pretty big album release day today, and this week’s newsletter has my thoughts on quite a few of those. It also has my very early first impressions on Jimmy Eat World’s new album. So that’s fun. There’s also my weekly media diet roundup and a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (September 27th, 2019)

In this week’s newsletter, I offer my first impressions after one week with the new iPhone 11 Pro, share some thoughts on new music, go through my usual media diet rundown, and share a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (September 20th, 2019)

Happy Blink-182 day.

In this week’s newsletter, I celebrate the release of new Blink-182 music, share some thoughts on the new album from Tegan and Sara, and offer random thoughts about the other albums I spent some time with this week. I also go through my weekly media diet and share a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (September 13th, 2019)

Let’s get ready for action.

This week’s newsletter has my first thoughts on the upcoming album from Blink-182. I also have some opinions on other new music released recently, including MUNA, Fall Out Boy, Green Day, and Charli XCX. I also have a few brief thoughts on preparing for trips, a couple of thoughts on the Apple event, and I go through my usual media diet rundown from the week. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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The Secret to Adam Ottavino’s Calm: A Little Black Notebook

James Wagner, writing at The New York Times:

Before every game, one of the linchpins of the Yankees’ talented bullpen, Adam Ottavino, finds a spot in the clubhouse to sit and write.

To combat the six-month mental minefield of self-doubt that is baseball’s regular season, Ottavino has found solace in a daily routine of writing in a journal. In it, he tracks how he cares for his powerful right arm, how he sharpens his focus, how he plans to attack an opposing lineup and, sometimes, he gives himself a pep talk by writing such messages as, “I am a great pitcher.”

“Sometimes you slip into that natural state that you’re getting beat out there,” Ottavino said. “Or maybe you’re starting to doubt your ability a little bit. Sometimes it’s important to remember how good you really are and the many tens of thousands of good pitches you’ve made.

“So I just try to remind myself, ‘I can do whatever I want with my breaking ball.’ Or, ‘I can throw perfect fastballs.’”

There’s some good advice in here for just life in general.

Liner Notes (September 6th, 2019)

I’m currently headed out to a friend’s wedding, but I love you all so much that I wrote throughout the week to bring you this week’s newsletter on time and full of goodies. This week’s newsletter includes my first impressions on the new album from The Menzingers, some thoughts on the new Blink-182 single, as well as my usual rundown of other music and entertainment habits from the last week. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I enjoyed this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (August 30th, 2019)

This week’s newsletter looks at some of the new music out this week and dives into my weekly media diet of mostly comic books and comic book related movies. There’s also a playlist of ten songs I liked this week, and a few new apps I discovered and have been playing around with. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (August 23rd, 2019)

This week’s newsletter looks at new music from The 1975 and Taylor Swift, as well as offering some first impressions on the upcoming album from Tiger Army. There’s also some thoughts on a few other records, as well as my weekly media diet rundown, and a playlist of ten songs I loved this week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (August 16th, 2019)

This was a fun one.

In this week’s newsletter, I offer first impressions on new albums from The Early November, Somos, Grayscale, and Refused. There are also some comments on a bunch of other music, my weekly media diet rundown, and the usual random other thoughts. And, we close out with a playlist of ten songs I loved this week. (If Somos were out on streaming services right now, I’d probably have led with “Iron Heel.”) This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (August 9th, 2019)

This week’s newsletter contains thoughts on new music from Bon Iver, Colleen Green’s Dude Ranch covers, Shredders, and more. Plus, there’s my usual media diet rundown, a playlist of ten songs I loved this week, and my PSA to make sure your surge protectors are working and healthy. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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Liner Notes (August 2nd, 2019)

This week’s newsletter has first impressions on the new Strung Out album, thoughts about new music out this week, and my weekly media roundup of movies and TV I enjoyed last week. This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

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