February 28 – March 5, 2015

Ugghgghgghghggh will this winter never end?

Saturday night we watched Force Majeure, whose thesis is something like “ugh, men, come ON,” which I can get wholeheartedly behind. It was intermittently hilarious and painful to watch.

The mystery flu-like ailment that attacked me on Thursday was mostly gone by Sunday, weirdly, but I still felt undermotivated and spent a lot of time on the sofa reading comic books.

Oh, and I finally finished 10 days of posting current NC bands on Facebook.

My friend Grayson documented this little game, started by my friend Julie, wherein everyone on Facebook was posting 10 of their favorite NC bands. Given the age of my friends, it wasn’t surprising that a substantial percentage of the bands mentioned (let’s say, in aggregate, somewhere north of 75%) weren’t just defunct, but were LONG defunct. Great bands, yeah, but 10+ years gone.

I felt like it would be a nice thing to list some bands that are actually currently active – brand new, even – and who are also really good. Just as some small indication that there’s still music to pay attention to around here.

So here’s my list:

OK. Back to reading comics. Maybe we’ll watch the latest Broad City later, although I’ve really disliked over half of the episodes so far this season.

February 28 – March 5, 2015

WXDU’s Top 65 NC Releases of 2014

Based on airplay by all of our DJs during the 2-month period each album was on playlist. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had the same band back-to-back in the top 5 before.

1 – John Howie Jr & the Rosewood Bluff – Everything Except Goodbye
2 – T0W3RS – TL;DR
3 – See Gulls – 2 Songs
4 – Hiss Golden Messenger – Bad Debt
5 – Hiss Golden Messenger – Lateness of Dancers
6 – Reigning Sound – Shattered
7 – Dex Romweber Duo – Images 13
8 – Solar Halos – Solar Halos
9 – Various – Merge 25th Anniversary Covers EP
10 – Daniel Bachman – Orange County Serenade
11 – Lilac Shadows – No Dark / No Light
12 – Humble Tripe – The Giving
13 – Last Year’s Men – Underwhelmed
14 – Datahata – Spectral Cities
15 – Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba – The Great Peace
16 – Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
17 – Horseback – Piedmont Apocrypha
18 – Silent Lunch – Late to Bloom
19 – Horizontal Hold – This is Not a Living
20 – Logical Sound Discovery – Thrill Seeker
21 – Shipwrecker – III
22 – Wesley Wolfe – Numbskull
23 – The Loudermilks – The Loudermilks
24 – The Tender Fruit – The Darkness Comes
25 – Dan Melchior und das Menace – Hunger
26 – Jenks Miller/JJ Toth – Roads to Ruin
27 – Curtis Eller’s American Circus – How To Make it in Hollywood
28 – Sagan Youth Boys – Annotated Universe
29 – Ezekiel Graves – Chthonic Journey
30 – Wood Ear – Electric Alone
31 – Secret Boyfriend – This is Always Where You’ve Lived
32 – Ashrae Fax – Never Really Been Into It
33 – Davidians – 2014 demos
34 – Flesh Wounds – Bitter Boy 7"
35 – Ama Divers – An Echo in the Sound
36 – Lud – Defenestration Boulevard
37 – Le Weekend – No Object
38 – Spider Bags – Frozen Letter
39 – VVAQRT – Detainee
40 – Backsliders – Raleighwood EP
41 – Blursome – Heavy Resting
42 – No Love – Tape #2
43 – The Tills – Howlin’
44 – Whatever Brains – SSR63/SSR64
45 – Drag Sounds – II
46 – Flesh Wounds – Flesh Wounds
47 – Chatham County Line – Tightrope
48 – Tashi Dorji – Tashi Dorji
49 – Museum Mouth – Alex I Am Nothing
50 – Solar Halos/Irata – Split 10"
51 – New Light Choir – Volume II
52 – Jack Carter & the Armory – Anthropomorphic Transfiguration
53 – Bo White – Millennial Tombs
54 – Staton Embassy – From My Head to Yours
55 – North Elementary – Honcho Poncho
56 – Malcolm Holcombe – Pitiful Blues
57 – Brain Flannel – Empty Set
58 – Jenks Miller & Rose Cross NC – Hopscotch 2013-2014 Recordings
59 – Art Jackson – Tulip Tree Poplar Flower
60 – Beauty World – Beauty World
61 – Totally Slow/Black Market – split 7”
62 – Kneads – 2013 Demos
63 – King Mez – Long Live the King
64 – Kaleidoscope Death – Restofthdrumtracks/DeadDrum
65 – Alpha Cop – Cue the Cold Air

WXDU’s Top 65 NC Releases of 2014

December 8-9, 2014

Monday was a vacation day, which meant I only spent half the day working on work stuff. 

I neglected to mention this the other day, but at some point over the three-day weekend I successfully replaced the cords in one set of cellular shades, so I guess I can add that skill to my CV. All hail FixYourBlinds.com for selling the special string.

Monday afternoon I met with Durham City Councilman Steve Schewel for an hour or so to discuss development, incentives, and the recent protest-related arrests. I really appreciate Steve taking the time to talk to me. Full disclosure: I worked for Steve, indirectly, for several years in the early 90s, when he owned the Independent and I was a frequent contributor.

He was extraordinarily kind to me then, and has continued to be so in the intervening couple of decades. 

I came away from the discussion with a slightly better understanding of just how comparatively little power municipalities have in North Carolina, since we are a state without municipal home-rule, meaning that the legislature fully controls what powers it does or does not grant to cities.

This is actually a reasonable high-level primer, if you’re interested.

Makes me doubly glad that I focused all of my campaign contributions this cycle on state legislative races, even though the outcome wasn’t enough to change the balance of power in the legislature.

At work lately I have been doing a lot of technical interviewing, the first time that I have done so at any sort of scale. It has been an interesting experience.

One thing I have noticed, and have been thinking about, is that some universities have Computer Science curricula in which any given student might do coursework in any of three or four different languages over the course of his or her studies. They might be trained initially in Java, take a couple of courses in C, and then pivot to Python or some other language for some of their higher-level electives.

Based on my experience as a technical manager & interviewer, at the undergraduate level, anyway, this is perhaps not an optimal configuration.

I’ve talked to a decent number of students who have difficulty keeping the syntax and structural idiosyncrasies of their various languages straight in their heads. (To be fair, I suffer from this myself – and it’s a real problem.)

Moreover, it seems clear to me that many of them haven’t used any single language long enough to have mastered it, or to have begun to understand its nuances and idioms.

This effect seems to have increased in recent years, as more schools switch their entry-level courses to different languages, while leaving the professors of higher-level courses free to use whatever languages they want.

Presumably once these students graduate & get jobs, they will eventually wind up in a situation where they’re able to focus on a single language for more than 6-9 months at a time, and will get a more holistic view of that language. 

But I feel like students are missing out on an opportunity to dig deeper and master a discipline in an educational environment that should be designed to support that.

Plus it’s kind of frustrating to me as a hiring manager.

December 8-9, 2014