I've been having a reoccurring
(two times) nightmare about a mutant seal with no head. It can't do anything but thrash and flop, but still it terrifies me with its tortured desperation.
It's dark in this brain of mine, readers. Lynchian, almost. (Brotha Lynchian.) But when
I share it with you, it takes a little bit of the darkness away, because now
you have to deal with it, too.
Fortunately, my thoughts aren't all bad. Listen to this idea
I had for an ashtray. It's just a regular ashtray, but along the side it says:
"I'm dead without my coughing in the morning."
That's pretty funny, right? If you know anything about
ceramics, hit me up.
As far as birding goes, I've got robin news, gosling news
and grosbeak news. I'll start with the robin news, because Robin is the first-best
I was chilling at my computer the other day, trying to write
a blog post while my roommate waltzed around the room examining things, yelling
questions at me and telling me things that were wrong with the house, when
something crazy-by-my-standards happened.
"Yo!" my roommate said. "Check out these
I like to think of
myself as a skeptic, but I can't resist bait like that.
He wasn't bullshitting. There were two birds--robins, it
looked like--clearly visible through the back window, zipping around an unremarkable
but still-kind-of-dope-in-my-opinion tree in my yard that my mom's been trying
to get me to cut down. (Here's a picture of it, in case you want to judge for
) Breathlessly, I zipped off to my room to get my binoculars
and Birds of Northern California guide,
while my roommate did commentary.
"It looks like they're building a nest."
Sure enough, they were robins. The guide confirmed it. And
they wereferrying tiny sticks to the
"Isn't that cute?" I said in an I'm-a-dumb-girl-who-likes-cute-stuff
voice. "They just fell in love, and now they're building a new home
together to raise a family in." It was kind of cute too, if you imagined
them doing human things like smoking or getting drunk.
But there was trouble in paradise. As the old birder saying
goes: "joy is fleeting because jays are fast." The merry robins (<--this
is a reference to the film MARY POPPINS, which has a robins nest in it) were
soon interrupted by a very violent jay, who rapiered them mercilessly with his
beak, bringing nest construction to a a literal screeching halt.
"Hey" said my roommate. "Do you want to get
The next day, my mom brought up the tree.
"What's so special about it?" she said. "It's
not contributing anything. All it's
doing is robbin' you a view.
That jostled me. "Funny you should say that" I
said. "There's a pair of robins that just moved in. They're building a
That jostled my mom. "No way" she said. "They
wouldn't build a nest there. The branches are too sparse."
"It's true" I said.
"Show me" she said.
I didn't actually have a lot of faith that we were going to
find evidence of the robins. The jay had scared them off, after all. I had that
geared up as an excuse.
"Look low to the ground" my mom said. "A lot
of people think that bird nests are going to be up high in the trees, but most
of the time they're right at eye level."
We looked at eye level.
"Wow!" said my mom. "There's a nest!"
Somehow, the robins had finished it. It wasn't a beautiful
nest, but it definitely wasn't a random pile of sticks. We checked for eggs,
but there weren't any.
The day after that, I was in the yard with my neighbor, drinking beer.
"There's a nest in that tree" I said, pointing to
"There ain't no nest" said my neighbor. (He sounds
southern when he's skeptical.) "The branches are too sparse."
"I'll show you" I said.
But the nest was gone.
"There was a nest" I said. "I swear it."
"There wasn't no nest" my neighbor said.
But there was a nest.
The gosling and grosbeak news will be faster, I promise. In
fact, the grosbeak news is just that there have been grosbeaks at my mom's bird
feeder recently, so we can check that off right there.
The gosling news is that the mailman was driving down my
street recently, as he does, when a gosling darted in front of his car. The mailman slammed on the brakes and stepped out the truck to see what happened, and the
gosling just kept sprinting down the street and quacking, like some kind of
fucked up goose version of chicken little. My mom (who is popping up a lot in
this post, I'm realizing) got involved, and so did one of the neightbors, and
eventually they sheparded the gosling into the neighbors pool...where it was
soon joined by ANOTHER GOSLING.
Fast forward a couple hours, and I'm hanging out with my mom
at the creek, smoking a Gandalf-stlye pipe. She's filling me in on the gosling drama, and speak
of the devil, there's a honking noise coming from the creek.
"That sounds like a gosling!" my mom says, and
sure enough there's a third little gosling, swimming up the creek with all its
might, looking like it's definitely going to get eaten today.
But the story ends happily for the goslings actually,
because a third neighbor (sorry for making you keep track of all these
characters) goes kayaking in the creek later on that day, and chances upon a
gaggle of goslings--WERE THEY THE SAME? Who knows--swimming in a nice orderly
line behind a fat mother goose. They looked grateful to be alive, he said. It looked like the ending of FULL METAL JACKET, he said.
You know how if you're really bad at hunting, you can go to
one of those places where they just push a captive, tranquilized deer through a
gate, right where your gun is aimed, and all you have to do is pull the trigger?
You might've seen a King of the Hill episode about it once. Going to one of those
places is the hunting equivilent of getting a hooker: it's frowned upon by the non-desperate,
but sometimes you get so tired of nothing that your lust conquers your pride
and you do it anyway.
For episode 7 of DIAL B FOR BIRDER, Thomas and I decided to do
the birding equivilent of that: we went birding at the bird store. The store
was YOUR BASIC BIRD, in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley, CA, and sure
enough there were a ton of birds there. Red birds, green birds, white birds--the
list could go on an on. They were all in cages, but that doesn't mean we didn't
Satisfied, but somewhat guilty, we then decided to take a
stroll around the serene, romantic Berkeley Marina...but I'm not going to tell
you what we saw there, because I, like birds, am coy. Photos after the jump.
Oh hi! How are things? I have a bunch of music to share with you, so let's get to it:
93 Feet of Smoke
Oh man, I am VERY excited to talk about this guy! Easily one of my top 5 favorite artists out right now.
This is the first song I ever heard by him and also a good jumping off point to see how much his music has evolved. The beat features a simple guitar loop over percussion that sounds like it's collapsing in on itself, but the real winner is the vocal effects, which sound completely bonkers. It sounds like he is buried in a coffin and yelling from a megaphone while also being waterboarded.
My first impression of this song was "wow, bad mixing and mastering", but something about this one really gets under my skin, especially the bass guitar plucking @ around the 1:30 mark. What gets me is how the song builds from a simple guitar melody to a wall of noise and I LOVE how expressive his voice is, going from melancholy crooning to distorted screams. 93 has a level of musicality that is 10 steps above your average SoundCloud rapper with crushing drug problems.
Wow I just realized there are like 6 more songs by this guy that I want to share, but let me just end it with this one for now. This is from his latest EP and the atmosphere of this beat is INSANE. If feels like you are bearing witness to the world ending in a very dramatic fashion. I also now know how to properly pronounce "Foyer", which is a big plus. All of his songs are about being a miserable piece of shit drug addict, so I really hope he is doing OK IRL.
Lil Narnia is the answer to the question "how emo can emo rap go?" Turns out, very emo!
Oh man this song is an odd one and took me a long time to wrap my head around. The beat sounds like a downed power line; all jagged hi-hats with almost no low end. Listen for the bass in the beat, it's barely there! The guitars are dope, it sounds like a Deftones B-side that early 2000s teens would cry to. The fact that Lil Narnia looks like a craft beer and weed aficionado but has a high pitched emo voice will probably be the thing that sticks with most people and I too was definitely like 😮 when I first saw this. Major props to you if you can understand more than 20% of the lyrics. Embrace the unintelligibility as part of the aesthetic.
The beat feels like an angel is playing a harp with a drum machine in the clouds for you (I am trying to avoid using the word "ethereal" lol). The chorus of this song is great: "thought we were humans/ but I was wrong/ things in pain is all we are" 😢
A COUPLE LOOSIES
I get a strong New Wave/Post-punk vibe from this song and love how the drums don't come in until the 1:58 mark. Am I veering too far away from rap music at this point? As a former big time metalhead it was always a constant point of contention on the internet about what subgenre a particular artist fell under. Like there would be real human beings who liked death metal, but not black metal and vice versa and they would get in long-winded internet arguments about how their favorite bands should be classified. It feels like this is something people are taking less and less seriously these days and the idea of aligning your personal brand with one particular subgenre of music seems preposterous in 2019. Artists freely meld together whatever music they want nowadays and we are better off because of it. I feel kind of sorry for all the Punk Dads out there still stuck listening to the same 3 albums by the Vandals or whatever 😕
Let's finish with your regular reminder that Bladee is still the greatest rapper out of this niche of music. Again, the atmosphere is key; the downtrodden beat matches Bladee's emotionless autotuned voice perfectly. An essential track for all of the Doomers out there.
OK I have many more songs to share with you, but I will save it for next time! Thank you for reading, friends. Have a nice time out there and stay safe 😊
Thomas is a blogger, birder and sad music enthusiast living in Oakland, CA.
Yeah yeah yeah....hiatus sorry long time do better. What you have to understand, fans, is that it is VERY, VERY COLD in my house. (If you think I can put off blogging or uploading a podcast for a long time, you should see how long I can put off insulating a floor. Especially when it's cold.) My feet are cold and my computer is cold and my typing fingers are cold, and that's my excuse. For this episode of the podcast--"episode 6"--Thomas and I went to an east bay birding location selected by Thomas: "Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline." The whole 10 minute drive over, Thomas was going on and on about how dope it was gonna be, and how many birds he'd heard were there. "It will be like nothing you've ever seen before," he said at one point. The episode before this one, if you can remember that far back, was the "zero birds, and I get poison oak" episode, so I was really hoping we'd knock it out of the park this time, to get things back on track. Did we knock it out of the park? Will Thomas and I be podcasting more frequently in the future? Will there be photos from our expedition after the jump? Listen right here, or on iTunes or Stitcher, to find out! Expedition photos after the jump.