You should be interviewing

I posted this as a tweet thread, but for once I think it could benefit from being posted here where it’s linkable, etc.

I’ve been thinking lately about this guy I used to work with. He was a manager, and he coached all of his direct reports that they should be doing at least one first-round interview for a new job per quarter.

At the time I thought this was kind of loony, but I have very much come around to his line of thinking. For one thing, interviewing is a skill, and as with many other skills, you improve with practice.

And it is far far easier to practice the skill of interviewing if you’re already gainfully employed, and especially if you’re happy in your current job. The stress factor is lower & you can thus focus on your performance without the fog of excess cortisol to fight through.

It’s also an opportunity to improve your understanding of what other people in your field are doing — any interview should be as much about you learning about the company as the opposite, and it can be eye-opening to hear how other people are tackling problems in your domain.

Along the way, you can also build your network outside of your own company, which can have many positive impacts regardless of whether you leave or stay put.

But what about the employers doing the interviewing? Aren’t you wasting their time if you’re happy in your current job, and unlikely to leave? No!

For one thing, they can probably use the practice too. Some people (like me) conduct interviews for a living, but at a lot of companies, interviewers have other jobs, and only do it when there’s a pressing need.

For another thing, anyone hiring for a position should welcome the chance to talk to anyone qualified for that position — speaking to the widest possible range of candidates is the best way to set a baseline for your own expectations.

And! You may think you’re happy at your current job and aren’t thinking of jumping ship, but how do you know for sure? Giving someone the chance to pitch their opportunity to you isn’t wasting anyone’s time.

Now, the one major caveat I will include here is that first-round interviews are one thing, but going the full distance becomes increasingly expensive for both parties, and you should gauge your interest at each step.

As a hiring manager, the most painful part of my job is the offer process (although my current staffer rocks and makes it a lot easier). If you take me all the way to the offer stage with no real intention of seriously considering the offer, I will definitely be annoyed.

But any well-constructed interview process will have multiple checkpoints, so there are multiple places where you can pause and gauge interest. If you’re genuinely doing that, then you’re not wasting anyone’s time!

Which is why I’m now firmly on the side of my former colleague. Get out there and interview!

p.s. the guy I’m talking about got a new job & left the company like 6 months after he told me about his philosophy, so . . .

You should be interviewing

Revisiting my IFTTT setup after realizing that my old WordPress integration had been intermittently dying for months. Whoops! Cc @jason0x21

Revisiting my IFTTT setup after realizing that my old WordPress integration had been intermittently dying for months. Whoops! Cc @jason0x21

My favorite albums of 1st quarter 2017

I just got done tweeting out my list of 14 albums I really enjoyed in the first three months of 2017. Here it is in Storify form, for easy consumption:

https://storify.com/rossgrady/favorite-albums-of-1st-quarter-2017

My favorite albums of 1st quarter 2017

I also saw some movies in 2016

In compiling this list, I fairly quickly gave up on putting things in any sort of ranked order. Instead, I have three broad sections: Movies I truly enjoyed & would highly recommend, movies that were an excellent way to pass some time, and movies that I saw but wouldn’t necessarily recommend wholeheartedly. Here, then, are those sections, with no concrete ordering within them:

Movies I truly enjoyed & would highly recommend

The Fits
The VVitch
Arrival
Jackie
Kate Plays Christine
Moonlight
A Bigger Splash
Midnight Special
10 Cloverfield Lane
Green Room

(I would especially recommend doing a double feature of Jackie and Kate Plays Christine; likewise with Midnight Special and 10 Cloverfield Lane)

Movies that were an excellent way to pass some time

In Order of Disappearance
Rogue One
The Lobster
City of Gold
Deepwater Horizon
Swiss Army Man
Hell or High Water
Ghostbusters
Don’t Think Twice

Movies that I saw but wouldn’t necessarily recommend wholeheartedly

Author: The JT LeRoy Story
Mavis!
Cameraperson
Love and Friendship
Nuts!
Off the Rails
Weiner
Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
By Sidney Lumet
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You
Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru

Note that at least half of the movies in the above category are perfectly fine. They’re just not memorable enough to make me want to urge you to rush out and see them. I guess it’s also worth mentioning that, except for certain extenuating circumstances, we generally don’t go see anything that has below around a 68 metascore on Metacritic.com.

I wish I had the stamina to blurb all of these, or even the top 10. I figure, though, that unlike my favorite albums, you’re probably more likely to have already read, or at least be able to find, ample blurbage about all of these.

There should be a fourth category: Movies that I likely would have loved, had I been given the opportunity to see them. Sigh.

I also saw some movies in 2016

My favorite albums of 2016

Not to be confused with “the best” albums of 2016. I didn’t hear everything that was released in 2016. Heck, over at Bandcamp, they said that something like 11,000 vaporwave albums were released in 2016 alone. Not that I listen to vaporwave. But the same could probably be said of any number of genres.

So the only claim I can make is that I probably listened to all or part of ~300 albums in 2016, and these are the ones that truly stuck with me:

A Giant Dog – Pile

No record had more spins in the car, or the office, or the headphones, than this one. My only theories about why this isn’t topping every list in America are that (a) critics apparently draw conclusions based on band name & album cover art without bothering to listen, or (b) America hates fun.

Horseback – Dead Ringers

What is Horseback, exactly? Occasionally black metal; nearly always a meditative examination of tone, texture, space, drone. Whatever you thought it was before, this album forces yet another expansion. The most beautiful album I heard this year.

Rebar – Rebar

This album was recorded ~20 years ago; I’ve had a CD-R copy of it for most of that time. But it was only in 2016 that the members of this greatest of all Greensboro bands finally got around to mastering & releasing it, in all of its woozy glory. Remarkable “indie-rock” played at all the wrong speeds.

https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rebar1

Al Riggs – Breakdowner and the Hungry Months

Al released three full albums and a half-dozen singles in 2016, and they were all excellent. Why did I pick this one to highlight? Probably because the leadoff track, “Hungry Months,” still gives me chills every time I hear it.

Body Games – Damager+

Bandcamp is awash in electronic music, but there are precious few artists with this level of talent at melding beats, melodies, wrenching samples, and the human singing voice. I can’t understand why this isn’t huge. Maybe people are scared of how it makes them feel?

Mannequin Pussy – Romantic

Sophomore outing from this astonishingly great Philly band. Imagine everything good about 90s grunge (& post-grunge Alternative) but with all the tedious boring stuff (boy singers, guitar solos, multiple verses, instrumental bridges) stripped away. 11 songs, 18 minutes.

Davidians – City Trends

Three former members of the greatest NC hardcore band of all time (Double Negative) join forces with midwestern transplant Colin Swanson-White, whose mindblowing guitar playing is simultaneously not hardcore & yet totally hardcore. Big hollowbody guitar, judicious application of weird flanging & chorus effects, shitloads of whammy bar.

SubRosa – For This We Fought the Battle of Ages

This Salt Lake City doom band finally perfected their sound — centered around two stereo-panned violins & three majestic women’s voices — on this, their third album. It’s “metal,” unapologetically, but if you’re a casual music fan, it’s probably utterly unlike what you think “metal” sounds like.

Zeal and Ardor – Devil is Fine

A thought experiment — ersatz field recordings of [satanic-seeming] faux black spirituals & chain-gang songs, melded with black metal instrumentation — turns out to work so well that it becomes one of the great albums of 2016. Which has subsequently been mostly removed from Bandcamp, leaving just a couple of songs behind.

Flock of Dimes – If You See Me, Say Yes

Flock of Dimes is Jenn (Wye Oak) Wasner’s solo side-project; this is their debut album. Though Jenn’s rep is as a great guitarist, the instrumentation here is dominated by synths. But the featured sound throughout is Jenn’s glorious voice. Lyrically & metrically the vocal lines are pretty complex, even as they’re backed by synth tracks that are by turns lush-n-simple, blippy, and/or occasionally K-pop or Afropop influenced. It’s rare for the backing music to simply support her voice & mimic the vocal melody, which makes this a far more interesting & repeat-worthy album than it might initially appear to be. It’s pretty clear that Jenn has spent a lot of time with Joni Mitchell’s 70s and 80s catalog, in the best possible sense.

Bubbling under, as the chart ppl used to say:

Angel Olsen – My Woman
Radiant Beings of Light – Carnatio
Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows
Liquid Asset – Colony Denied
Holder’s Scar – Public Acid
Goat – Requiem
Howls of Ebb – Cursus Impasse
Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
Ian William Craig – Zugzwang for Fostex
Sarah Louise – Solo Acoustic Vol. 12
Krallice – Prelapsarian
Year of the Cobra – In the Shadows Below
Chateau – Moons Over the Slaughter

This year I tried something new, compiling lists quarterly, and tweeting them out. I managed to remember to storify the first two quarters, but failed to do so for the third, so I’ll just post those lists here in one place. I don’t have easy answers as to why some things made a quarterly list but didn’t stick with me — taste is a fickle thing, and so is longevity. Looking back, I do think my final list skews towards the 2nd half of the year — an artifact of my always seeking out something new, I suppose.

First Quarter:

Savages – Adore Life
Al Riggs – Breakdowner & the Hungry Months
Professor Toon – Take Notes
Blursome – Age
The Astounds – The Astounds
Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
Ian William Craig – Zugzwang for Fostex
Body Games – Damager
Naked Naps – The Middle

Second Quarter:

Jenks Miller & Rose Cross NC – Blues from WHAT
Colin Stetson – SORROW: a reimagining of Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony
Dogs Eyes – Measure the Earth
Konvoi – S/T
A Giant Dog – Pile
Zeal and Ardor – Devil is Fine
Phatlynx – Loosen Yer Belt!
Rebar – Rebar
Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust
Liquid Asset – Colony Denied
Howls of Ebb – Cursus Impasse
Al Riggs – Blue Mornings

Third Quarter:

Al Riggs – Night Freedom
Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows
Horseback – Dead Ringers
Ryley Walker – Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
See Gulls – Curtain Call
SubRosa – For This We Fought The Battle of Ages
Magpie Feast – To Keep It All Spinning
Dex Romweber – Carrboro
Sylvan Esso – “Radio”
Angel Olsen – My Woman
Flock of Dimes – If You See Me, Say Yes

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to extrapolate what my fourth-quarter list would look like.

Finally, if you really like lists, I just posted the WXDU Top 101 NC Releases of 2016 over at that website. That list is compiled by adding up plays by all WXDU DJs, so it’s far more than just a reflection of my personal tastes, although I did review + add over 70% of the albums listed.

My favorite albums of 2016

A thing I didn’t expect to be writing 20 years ago

20 years ago (today!) I sent the following email to the ch-scene mailing list:

So, what’d you do over the holidays? Well, I made an alt.music.chapel-hill website: [ . . . ]

And, most fun, a page of picks for the week or two upcoming. This is in direct response to Alec Vance saying “so-and-so would never write that Rebar are playing this Friday.” So WE’RE going to write that. And since it is perhaps (a) impractical, due to UseNet, and (b) unfair, due to various factors, to make folks sift through dozens of posts looking for something to do, we’re gonna put it on the WWW.

That website I made was the first version of what shortly thereafter came to be known as trianglerock.com. No, I can’t believe I’ve been doing that website for that long either.

That initial website was all hand-coded HTML, and was hideously ugly. No, really:

(The current design was completed in like 2000, maybe 2001. I have literally barely touched the template since then.)

Anyway. The basic concept hasn’t changed: Show listings for the Triangle. Minus the blues lawyers, the cover bands, and the open-mic nights. My filter has gotten looser & tighter from time to time over the years, but overall the concept has been to hopefully only list shows that I at least wouldn’t walk out of in disgust.

When I started this project, my main inducement was the realization that I was occasionally missing great shows because I literally hadn’t known they were happening. In 1997, the primary method for show-promotion was flyers stapled onto those kiosks along Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Very few of the local venues had websites, and in those pre-CMS days, updating a website with calendar entries was for the most part a manual endeavor.

So I would wander up & down Franklin Street, jotting down upcoming shows, and then go home & compile a list that I’d update every week or so.

Which is basically what I still do today, minus the walking. I still visit every venue website myself, copy/paste likely shows into a master list, and then input them into my custom CMS, which uses a database that has been accruing since January 1, 2000 — which is why I can, say, list off nearly every show the $2 Pistols have played locally in the past 16 years:

Band Name Show Date Venue
$2 Pistols 2012-06-03 Haw River Ballroom
$2 Pistols 2011-05-20 The Garage
$2 Pistols 2008-02-22 Broad Street Cafe
$2 Pistols 2008-02-08 Berkeley Cafe
$2 Pistols 2007-12-08 Local 506
$2 Pistols 2007-11-10 Hideaway BBQ
$2 Pistols 2007-09-29 Cat’s Cradle
$2 Pistols 2007-02-23 Hideaway BBQ
$2 Pistols 2006-12-15 The Cave
$2 Pistols 2006-11-19 Bickett Gallery
$2 Pistols 2006-10-13 The Garage
$2 Pistols 2006-02-24 Local 506
$2 Pistols 2005-12-09 The Garage
$2 Pistols 2005-09-25 Lincoln Theater
$2 Pistols 2005-09-10 Cat’s Cradle
$2 Pistols 2005-02-19 Ooh La Latte
$2 Pistols 2005-01-14 Raleigh Music Hall
$2 Pistols 2004-12-17 The Cave
$2 Pistols 2004-11-19 Local 506
$2 Pistols 2004-09-09 Cat’s Cradle
$2 Pistols 2004-05-21 Cat’s Cradle
$2 Pistols 2004-01-24 Go! Studios Rm. 4
$2 Pistols 2003-12-12 The Cave
$2 Pistols 2003-11-23 Retail
$2 Pistols 2003-07-12 Cat’s Cradle
$2 Pistols 2003-06-27 Kings
$2 Pistols 2003-05-31 Go! Studios Rm. 4
$2 Pistols 2002-12-31 Cat’s Cradle
$2 Pistols 2002-11-09 Kings
$2 Pistols 2002-09-06 Cat’s Cradle
$2 Pistols 2002-07-19 The Basement
$2 Pistols 2002-01-11 Kings
$2 Pistols 2001-12-13 Cat’s Cradle
$2 Pistols 2001-09-22 Cat’s Cradle
$2 Pistols 2001-08-31 Fowler’s Gourmet
$2 Pistols 2001-07-06 Local 506
$2 Pistols 2001-06-16 Humble Pie
$2 Pistols 2001-05-19 Cat’s Cradle
$2 Pistols 2001-05-06 WXDU 88.7 FM
$2 Pistols 2001-02-17 Humble Pie
$2 Pistols 2001-01-27 Go! Studios Rm. 4
$2 Pistols 2000-03-24 Humble Pie

Good times.

Over the years I’ve added (and dropped) features; some are still there, zombie-like, having largely been untouched for a decade. Others are definitively gone. Still others, such as the daily tweets, have been hugely successful. Seriously, follow the site on Twitter. Over 3000 other people already do.

Why do I still do this, after [literally!] 20 years? Because nobody else is doing something quite like it. Sure, there are other sites with show listings — but they’re either too broad (like I said, I’m not here for cover bands & open mics, sorry) or too narrow.

Years ago I also ran, with some friends, a site called movieminder.com. It was movie listings for the Triangle. Super simple concept. Huge amounts of work involved (again, at the time, all the data entry was painfully manual). We killed that sucker without much hesitation once we realized that Google Movies did everything we did, but better & more accurately.

So this is my invitation to anyone interested: do what I’m doing with trianglerock.com, at least as well (or preferably better), and I’ll gladly retire. But I’m not holding my breath. This is a pretty niche market at this point.

One final note: for the first 20 years of its existence, my site was hosted — for free! — by the good people at ibiblio.org. That is no longer the case. After sticking with them through name changes, major hardware upgrades, intermittent periods of instability, etc, I finally bailed because I realized that I could no longer bear to be hosted on the same site that gives Eric Raymond a platform for his paranoid, anti-feminist, gun-nut rantings. So I left. No hard feelings.

A thing I didn’t expect to be writing 20 years ago

Durham Restaurants Holiday Closures

This isn’t comprehensive — it’s primarily focused on the downtown area, and it only contains info for restaurants where I feel fairly confident that the info I have is accurate.

But so yeah, here’s a link to a google spreadsheet of some Durham restaurants & which days they’ll be closed over the next few days. Enjoy.

Durham Restaurants Holiday Closures