February sees me taking on some work in Dublin and facing into a daily commute totalling 5 hours to and from my job. I'm trying to be as zen as possible about this and want to maximise my use of the down time afforded by the bus trip. If I turn off my phone, I can completely tune in and turn on to a good book, a podcast, or an album. I can give my attention fully over to these things without feeling the nebulous guilt that can cling to such activities at home. Nebulous guilt and/or the lure of the 7 or 8 shitty social network sites (with slightly different USPs) that take up real estate in the part of me that should probably contain a soul or something.
Stuff I enjoy on the bus:
1: The 1UP Games, Dammit! podcast
This is an excellent podcast for many reasons: chief among them is the sharp wit and intelligence of the Games, Dammit! guys who wear a lot of learning lightly and effortlessly frame games within the wider culture. For example, if a game references ancient Greek mythology, the chances are that these lads know their classics and can riff off of that sort of stuff. Their intelligent approach is a pleasant reminder of the significance of computer games in our recent cultural and social history, and the validity of taking them seriously.
2: The new Caretaker album
Leyland Kirby, everybody's favourite navigator of the softening grey landscape of the dying brain, returns with Patience (after Sebald), a new album of atrophied music. This time, he gives the music of Franz Schubert his treatment and the results are as uncannily moving as anything he has done previously. I find that watching the lights of Dunshaughlin creep past the bus window at 7am with this on my iPod makes me feel all existentially reflective and shit.
MP3: The Caretaker-When the Dog Days were Drawing to an End
3: Elizabeth Bishop's prose.
I found a book of the famous poet's lesser known prose in Chapters. It has a neat short story called 'the sea and its shore' about an alcoholic man who cleans up a beach for a living and constructs a mental world out of all the written material he finds during his surreal and lonely job. It's a bit like Beckett in how it explores the disconnect between the intended meaning of written words and how they are interpreted.
4: Oval DNA
There is a bumper compilation of Oval's music newly released. Bisto gravy granule music. DNA music. Cell music. It's for fans of lots of tiny things unfurling leisurely like a scene under a microscope. Stoners, in other words.