So Day 9 of my 12 day qualifying exam period just ended.  I’m doing pretty well, to the point where I feel comfortable saying I’ve just about finished.  Maybe a few revisions tomorrow, maybe not.

All three of my exam questions concern digital media in some way: a lit review/methodology of online ethnography, an ontology/phenomenology of digital music, and the changes to the musical commodity in digital media.  For the last 3 years or so, this is what I’ve done.  Digital media, digital music, online culture, online music, blah blah blah.  And then I realized, about 6 months ago, that I’m completely sick of it.  Beyond the practical difficulty of studying a moving target, I found that, quite simply, I have just stopped caring.  I’ve stopped caring about the cultures popping up around digital media, I’ve stopped caring about the technologies of digital media, and most distressingly I’ve stopped caring about the music I encounter via digital media.  Even music I used to love.  Even music that I currently love when I see it performed live.

I can’t exhaustively explain why this is.  I’m just really not totally sure.  I’ve dealt with a lot of the relevant issues in my papers on ontology/phenomenology and object/commodity status.  But nowhere in those papers do I attack digital media the way I find myself doing in conversations with my peers and day-to-day engagements with music.

As an experiment, a desparate attempt to reinvigorate my passion for music, I’ve been exploring the question of format in these past few days (I suppose there’s nothing like dealing with a topic you hate – and only that topic – for an extended period to get you thinking of evasive maneuvers), and the one that’s resonating with me right now is the 7″.  I don’t doubt that in a few weeks, when I’ve amassed a sizeable collection of these little bastards, I’ll suddenly say to myself “WTF?  Why did I think it was a good idea to invest in a format that requires constant interaction and, quite honestly, discourages extended listening sessions?”  I mean, really.  These things hold, what, 10-15 minutes of music at most?  And still, I can’t help but feel incredibly excited about this ridiculous inconvenience.

Maybe it’s because I have to physically intervene on a constant basis to keep the music playing.  Maybe it’s because the time constraints don’t let me sit back and space out.  Maybe it’s because I’m a consumer whore who uses objects to make my pathetic life more meaningful.  Probably a bit of them all.  But regardless of the reason, and regardless of how long this infatuation lasts, I’m really excited about listening to music in a way that I haven’t experienced in far too long.

Just about half a year since the last post, and very similar content to report. Rather odd, that.

This past weekend was the 54th annual Society for Ethnomusicology Conference, at which I presented a slightly updated version of my IASPM-US paper, albeit with a different title (“Creative Listening: Playlists, Mixtapes, and the Virtual Ethnography of Virtual Music”). I got some really good questions, including a prompt to consider the ways I’m using the term “consumption” (spoiler alert: I used it really sloppily). That might actually end up being a major part of my qual essay on the same topic – what exactly it means to consume something without the explicit exchange of goods. Then of course there’s the issue of radio, which I’ll need to deal with in some way. We’ll see.

Amazing food was had in Mexico City, including tacos piled sky high with delectable meat (the highlight being carne asada+bacon+onions+charred queso fresco), verdolagas (my new favorite vegetable), and escamoles (which, while very tasty and fun to eat, were a bit too pricey). Other highlights include lamb with beer/tequila salsa and getting drunk from two bottles of Negra Modelo because of the altitude.

VerdolagasHere’s my attempt at pork & verdolagas in salsa verde. Turned out pretty well!

Aquapuke recently performed a new piece, “Aquapuke and the Reefed Victory,” at the first UCSD Grad Forum of this academic year. It was a piece less obviously related to contemporary issues of body/presence/sexuality than, say, “Industrial Transsexual” was. Rather, it drew from the mythology of sirens as seductive/destructive binary, effectively making Clint into the siren to my ocean/sailors. The sailors, conquering the ocean, are lured to and eventually destroyed by the siren, bringing about the realization that their conquest was false, unattainable from the start. Plus it was loud and noisy and I was in fishnets and booty shorts. High art indeed.

The xoconostle beer that Clint and I made is almost ready. The unconditioned beer that we tasted (right out of the carboy, prior to bottling) was incredibly tasty. Very light body, with a great balance between sugary sweetness and fruity tartness. Plus some really great yeasty flavors from the mix of Trappist and Belgian Ale yeasts we used.

And now it’s all preparation for qualifying in the early half of next quarter. Woohoo. Then I can put some of this work aside and move on to the stuff I’ve been loving lately. More to come.

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, long story short, I have a great opportunity to revamp my website.

Long story long, I had been thinking about trying out a new CMS.  Drupal was just way too big for me.  Sure, it’s insanely powerful, but for a simple blog it’s huge.  I had thought about WordPress, given that it’s a very targeted type of system.  I figured I’d give Drupal one last shot.  Update to 6.6, trim out some fat, get back to a really basic site.  Well, the update script totally freaked out, corrupted my database, and made the entire previous installation useless (without a bunch of pain-in-the-ass restore work).  So here we are, WordPress.  I have a feeling it’s going to be much better for me anyway.