In general, I don’t like reading music reviews before I listen to an album, and, as usual, I didn’t find Ramona Falls through a review (though the Pitchfork one is SPOT ON), or look for one before I spent time listening. And I’m so glad. The thing about Ramona Falls is that you have to let the full force of the layering that’s happening hit you without anybody else telling you first that it’s going to happen. I know that this post completely contradicts what I’ve just told you, and I might be better off just posting links to the songs, but the music is so incredible that it might be worth spoiling it for you just a bit in order to make sure you experience it. This stuff is absolutely like nothing I’ve ever heard before, and I listen to a heck of a lot of music.
Brent Knopf comes from the Portland-based band Menomena (also really good, with some of the same weaving of unexpected instrument combinations), striking out on his own in 2009 with Intuit. I don’t know why he hasn’t become famous, but thank goodness, because now I get to surrender to that one completely ridiculous hipster behavior in which I shamelessly indulge: claiming obscure musicians as my very own, and getting really, really fussy when anybody else claims to have discovered them. Oh yeah.
I’m not going to say any more about the music, other than that it’s gorgeous, and that the emergence of each “impromptu choir,” each surge of electric guitar or violin, brings the listener to an all new level of ecstasy that can’t possibly be surmounted, until, of course, it is. As Pitchfork writer Joe Tangari sums it up, Ramona Falls is “a combination of Where the Wild Things Are, a fever dream, a pagan woodland ceremony, and a notebook doodle.” Check it out.
Now that my first semester as a graduate student his half way over, I’m realizing that this 5-year adventure is going to go a lot more quickly than I had imagined. It was almost five months ago that Moody and I were unpacking all of our stuff and hanging out in a bathtub full of cold water for hours at a time to escape the 106° summer heat. But it seems like no time has passed at all!
I feel like a little bit of a black sheep in my program, because I’m 5 years younger than the next-youngest person in it, with many of the other PhD-seekers well into their thirties and even forties. In some ways, it’s not as weird as you might think (I don’t know what’s in the water here in Rochester, but none of these 30-something-year-olds look like they could possibly be older than 25). But I think there’s a certain level of resolve needed to go after this degree, and it’s expected to come with age and experience. As a result, I’m not always taken seriously. If I were a dude, I’d grow a beard and look oh-so-distinguished. Problem solved. Moody’s been growing a prodigious beard, and, just yesterday, he bought a toasty grandpa cardigan from Banana Republic. When beard and cardigan join forces, I’d put him at about 65 years old. Lucky duck. Anyway, I've decided to embrace immaturity for just a bit longer. Abusing graduate privileges can be oodles of fun. For example, there are a number of lounges and study spaces on campus that are devoted to phd-seeking people, and it's great fun to go in there and eat an apple as loudly as possible. The physics and engineering phds, in particular, get super enraged. Cookies work as well.
Halloween is coming up! Sadly, I don’t think we’ll have an occasion for dressing up, but we had planned an excellent corny couple’s-costume: Moody was going to be the Doctor, and I was going to be the TARDIS. As it is, I think we’ll probably have a beer and candy-fueled double feature movie night. We keep buying big bags of candy to put away for the holiday itself, but can’t manage to leave them unopened for more than a day or two. I’ve been in a Sour Patch Kids-induced semi-comatose state for about a week now. And I’m ok with it.
We jumped the gun a little on buying our pumpkins. We picked one up two weeks ago on our weekly Wegmans trip, but, failing to remember that a pumpkin is a fruit and, like any other fruit, needs to be kept cold, woke up after a few days to find a big soupy pumpkin mess in the middle of our living room. In case you didn’t know, rotten pumpkins smell terrible. Now we’re biding our time and praying to the pumpkin gods that we’ll be able to find what we need a litttttttle closer to Halloween. Moody hasn’t ever carved a pumpkin before, which I consider a crime. Soon to be remedied.