Economy of Effort

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I spent this weekend in Pismo Beach, which is located in California’s beautiful (well, nice) central coast.

I was feeling pretty crappy Friday morning, so I skipped my first class, and only went to my second. Later that afternoon, I helped my folks load up their car, and we departed. While we have made use of on-the-beach hotels in previous Pismo trips, we stayed at a family friend’s condo in Grover Beach this time. The nightly rate for the condo was less than half that of Pismo’s beachside hotels. I expected the place to be fairly small, but it turned out to be a two story, 3 bedroom condo. I was thoroughly impressed.

This trip is probably the last one I’ll take with my parents. Though in reality, I spent most of this trip on my own anyway. I didn’t take my own car (a 2001 Hyundai Elantra), but that was only because my parents took their two cars (a 1996 Nissan pickup and a 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe) and gave me the keys to the Santa Fe for use while at Pismo. So there was no need to take a third car.

We arrived Friday night, unpacked, and went to the beach. They went and walked on the beach and the pier, while I walked around downtown (which is just off the beach). The only places that were still open were the bars and the arcade. I spent a few bucks in the arcade, and then headed for the beach myself. After a couple of hours of beach and arcade time, it was getting late, and I joined my parents and brother in returning back to the condo.

The bedrooms were great in this place. The one I stayed in was about the same size as my bedroom at home. The full-size bed was also nice. I don’t have a full-size bed. Rather, I have a twin-sized bed with a water mattress. My parents have offered me a full-size bed, but I won’t give up my mini-waterbed for anything except a proper waterbed. But anyway, when I do have to sleep abroad, I enjoy having a bed in which my feet actually have mattress underneath them. Anyway, I got in bed, threw Low’s Songs for a Dead Pilot EP into my Discman, tossed on my headphones, and relaxed to the wonderful sounds of this Minnesota softcore band.

The next morning (well, closer to noon), I drove back out to the beach. I took my Discman with me, as well as a few CDs. I don’t often listen to my Discman when walking around in public, but doing so this weekend has made me re-evaluate my lack of Discman usage. It was quite interesting to walk in a crowd of people listening to various different musics. Initially, I was listening to Labradford’s Mi Media Naranja, which was nice and serene. After Labradford was over, I switched to Eskaton’s 4 Visions. Now that offered a very different experience. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but walking down the sidewalk while listening to this French zeuhl band was a unique experience. Walking on the pier with 4 Visions playing was even more of a trip. I think I’m going to start carrying my Discman around more often.

I’ve decided that there are a couple of things mobile Discman users need:

  1. A Discman waist pack - While you want to avoid the “fanny pack” look at all costs, you can still get one of these that doesn’t look quite so lame. A simple, slim, black waist pack is ideal.

  2. A pair of headphones with volume slider - These things are divine. The ones I use not only have a single cable wire coming from the left earpiece (as opposed to one coming from each, forming an annoying little “V” around your neck), but it also has a volume slider further down on the cable. This way, when I want to adjust the volume of my music, I can just use this slider rather than fumble around with my waist pack. Hey, if you have to have a damn cable dangling in front of your chest, you might as well attach a practical use to it, right?

So anyway, later Saturday night, I returned to town. I spent a little more time in the arcade. I have gotten better at Ms. Pac Man than I ever expected I would. I just threw one quarter into the machine and played, and I got relatively close to the high score (of the day, at least). So I tossed another quarter in, and played some more. I beat that high score in the last second of Ms. Pac Man’s life (I gobbled a 5000 point piece of fruit approximately 0.8 seconds before a ghost robbed Ms. Pac Man of the last of her already-too-brief lives). Still, victory! I raised the bar! After that, I headed down to the beach, with Ozric Tentacles’s Erpland in the Discman.

Sunday was Zeuhl day. I listened to Xaal’s On The Way (En Chemin) in the car on the way to the beach. This CD only cost me $6 from Wayside’s limited stock and has proven to be easily worth it. It’s not the most well-mixed CD (the volume level seems to be universally too low, which did pose a problem when listening to it on my Discman - I had the volume maxed and it was still a bit too quiet), but it’s a great album. I fully intend to get more Xaal, as this album has simply impressed the pants off of me. It’s like the more jazz/fusiony moments of Magma, except less repetitive (note: Magma’s use of repetition is for great dramatic effect, but it is nice that Xaal goes in a different direction rather than imitate Magma).

After lunch, I headed toward the pier. I yanked Xaal out of my Discman and threw in Koenjihyakkei’s Hundred Sights of Koenji. Wow! The driving bass and powerful vocals made me want to kick somebody’s ass. If I had sung the vocals out loud as I walked, I would have scared the shit out of everyone on that damn pier. Just imagine this 6'1", 230 lb white boy, with the sides of his head shaved down fairly close to the skin, spikey hair on top (which is not altogether unintentional, but is actually just how my hair naturally acts when it’s freshly cut short), chanting and shouting these deep unrecognizable vocals with an almost Nazi-esque fervor. They would think I’m speaking in tongues (which, well, would be correct, as Koenjihyakkei’s vocals appear to be in Kobaian, like Magma’s). To fully understand what I’m talking about, click this link to download Koenjihyakkei - Ioss.mp3 (3:58, 3.82MB) Ioss.mp3). You simply have to hear the pounding chorus of “Ioss! Ioss! Ioss! Ioss!”.

As I started to leave the pier, who should appear but my best friend. Turns out he was staying in the area with some of our other friends. He was most likely checking out UC Santa Barbara, which I suspect he’ll choose as his school. I talked with them for a little while, and then went to the arcade for some more Ms. Pac Man action (as well as some dual-gun, two-fisted-fury House of the Dead blasting). After that, I went to a thrift shop, looking for some used vinyls. There were some, but they were all crap (both in terms of the condition of the records, and the music stored on them). Ah well, it was time to head back home.

During the car ride home, I put Tortoise’s TNT into the CD player. Ooh, it was wonderful. Especially the twangy “I Set My Face To The Hillside”, which came on as we past the Corcoran prison and drove through what amounted to little more than desert, a canal, and a single row of power lines.

When I got home, my copy of Mogwai’s Ten Rapid was waiting in the mailbox. Outstanding. I threw all my gear into my room and plopped down in bed, as I was dead tired. I missed my first class this morning because I was unable to get myself up and around early enough.

On a different note, I have started thinking about a female friend of mine in something of a different light than before. While this friend has always been just a “good ol'” friend in the past, the idea of pursuing a closer relationship has been bouncing around in my head. It’s strange… I’ve never quite thought about her “like that” before. However, I have had a gut feeling that she wouldn’t be totally repulsed by the idea of dating - I even have felt at times that she’d say “yes” if I just asked her (whether this is enlightened intuition or a happy self-delusion is anyone’s guess). Anyway, I’m not completely sure about how I feel about the idea of dating her. I don’t know if I could just walk up to her and ask her to dinner with these confused feelings. I do know that I need to talk to her and re-acquaint myself with her a bit (we don’t have any classes together, so I only see her in passing). Perhaps talking to her will help clear up some of my confusion…

Back to music. Here’s a list of the things I listened to this weekend:
Bozzio Levin Stevens - Black Light Syndrome
Supersister - Present From Nancy
After Crying - Megalázottak és Megszomorítottak
Labradford - Mi Media Naranja
Eskaton - 4 Visions
Low - Songs for a Dead Pilot EP
Isotope 217° - The Unstable Molecule
Xaal - On The Way (En Chemin)
Koenjihyakkei - Hundred Sights of Koenji
Magma - Mekanik Destructiw Kommandah
Ozric Tentacles - Erpland
Mogwai - EP+2
DFA - Duty Free Area
Happy The Man - Happy The Man
Tortoise - TNT

Well, I haven’t proof-read this big post, and since it was written in sections rather than straight through from beginning to end, it’s possible that something might not make sense. If that turns out to be the case, click the “E-mail Legion” link in the left menu and berate me for my errors.