Reading too deeply into these things since 1981
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“It’s a Bit of a Pain,” Faust
Faust IV, 1973

The final season of The Office began last week, with the lowest-rated premiere the show’s ever had. Even lower than the premiere of the first season, which I’m pretty sure was only watched by people so that they could give it a voodoo curse. As far as season 9’s premiere? I think more people witnessed the birth of Christ. So I thought it would be fitting to look for the silver lining on the cloud of crap, and highlight each of the 10 times that the US version of the show succeeded in not being utter shit.

I know I’ll be accused of exaggerating here, but, honestly, I think I’m totally justified in saying that there were, in fact, ten distinct times that The Office rose above the level of “outright garbage” and succeeded in being “arguably watchable.” You may think I’m being too generous, but I think it’s quite fair.

So join me now as we look back at the ten times The Office managed to narrowly beat the odds, and become something that didn’t reflect poorly on viewers everywhere.

“The Fire,” Season 2, Episode 4

Why It’s Not Shit: Whenever anybody tells you Ryan is their favorite character, they’re unquestionably referring to the Ryan of the first few seasons. It didn’t take The Office long to undo what could have been their richest and most interesting character, reducing him to a generic hipster stereotype and robbing him of his complicated brilliance. This episode sees the Ryan and Michael dynamic at its best, with a truly well-handled and ever-shifting sense of power: first Michael attempts to mentor him, then ridicules him for the vast knowledge he already has, then humbly appeals for guidance himself, and finally, with irrelevant triumph, puts Ryan back in place by taunting him about a small fire he accidentally started. It’s a great, real, character-driven story that shows these two characters being the flawed — often awful — human beings they are, without resorting to caricature or cartooniness.

Why It’s Actually Still Kind of Shit: Jim leads the rest of the office in a few time-killing games during the evacuation. That’s fine, but one of them is the rather baldly intentional “Who Would You Do?” The rest of the desert-island exercises are fun, but openly asking “yo who do you want to stick your genitals in” to coworkers he barely knows comes off as perverse, and a bit revolting. Additionally, it’s odd that Kevin gets yelled at for saying “Pam” before Jim finishes telling everyone how the game is played. This makes it seem as though Kevin behaved inappropriately, which is funny, but ultimately, no, that pretty much is how the game is played…so it’s puzzling that his response was treated with disgust, as though anyone else’s later responses shouldn’t be.

Ending on a High Note: A great, early character study showing Ryan and Michael both behaving like actual people, and Dwight showing real — not overtly manufactured and instantly undone — weakness. Enjoy it while you can.

“Take Your Daughter To Work Day,” Season 2, Episode 18

Why It’s Not Shit: It’s not exactly an episode that weaves several plotlines together, but its central conceit of introducing children to the office gives nearly everyone at least one great moment, and it also provides a good example of how to sketch out the personal lives of these characters without OH I DONT KNOW SENDING THE WHOLE OFFICE TO THEIR HOUSE FOR SOME SOCIAL FUNCTION NONE OF THEM WOULD ACTUALLY GIVE A SHIT ABOUT. We also see Michael at his most vulnerable, Pam displaying a humanizing (as opposed to irritating) kind of neediness, and Stanley yelling at Ryan…which is indeed genuinely scary.

Why It’s Actually Still Kind of Shit: Everything about Michael’s appearance on the children’s show works fine, until the writers seem to think we need everyone in the room to decide for us what it means. The short moment between young Michael and the puppet should be an act of devastating restraint, but instead it’s followed up by variations on “Hey, that thing you wanted is something you never got, huh?” A little too on-the-nose, and it hurts the moment substantially. Also, it ends with Michael and Dwight singing “Teach Your Children,” which works within the episode but lays the groundwork for every future episode in which the employees sing and dance for no fucking reason whatsoever, and otherwise remind you that the show was never as good as you thought it was.

Ending on a High Note: The interactions between Michael and Toby’s daughter are a series highlight, and this is a great way to give so many characters a fun spotlight without it feeling like the isolated sketch comedy of season eight.

“Grief Counseling,” Season 3, Episode 4

Why It’s Not Shit: The death of Michael’s old boss is met by the rest of the office with a notable lack of emotion, but an opportunity to discuss, explore, and accept death comes in the form of an unfortunate bird who flies into the glass doors downstairs. “Grief Counseling” is a strange episode that manages to be sombre without losing sight of the comedy, and manages to be funny without sacrificing some genuine insight into the human condition. It’s certainly a chance to explore Michael, whose emotional responses drive the action of the entire episode, but it’s also a fine showcase for Pam, who plays into Michael’s depressive fantasies by designing a respectful casket for the bird, and delivering a monologue to her hurting boss under the guise of eulogy.

Why It’s Actually Still Kind of Shit: MEANWHILE JIM CALLS SOME PEOPLE TO FIND POTATO CHIPS IN THE LEAST RIVETING SUBPLOT THIS SIDE OF TOBY DANCES FOR COOKIES.

Ending on a High Note: The meeting in which Pam, Ryan and Kevin relay the plots of popular movies rather than share their own stories of death is an all-time great. Also, the conclusion of this episode has a great payoff in “The Return,” when Oscar asks about Dwight and Creed replies, “You didn’t hear? Decapitated. Whole big thing. We had a funeral for a bird.”

“Traveling Salesmen,” Season 3, Episode 13

Why It’s Not Shit: Episodes that pair up characters in interesting ways and give them each a chance to shine, in the case of pretty much any show, tend to be quite good. During season 3 of The Office, the writers still remembered how to do that in a way that was organic to the situation, and realistic in terms of the work environment. While the sales calls themselves are brief we learn a lot about how these people operate day to day, while the cameras are off. We see normally suave Ryan falter, learn that the obstinate Stanley has actually built up a valuable network of business relationships, and we see newcomer Andy scheme his way to success, despite demonstrating a complete lack of aptitude. This was back when Andy alternated between conniving and frightening…two very interesting modes for the character that the show has abandoned in favor of making him sing all the God damned time.

Why It’s Actually Still Kind of Shit: The Phyllis / Karen sales call is really just an excuse for a sight gag, and Angela’s glower during Andy’s final talking head is a bit obvious. But, to be honest, those are minor complaints, and this is a pretty great half hour of television.

Ending on a High Note: The entire thing is a high note, catching the office (and The Office) in a state of flux. New characters have been introduced, and the show is shaking up and developing existing relationships. These are both trends that would continue, but with conclusively diminishing returns. For now, the rewards are great.

“The Return,” Season 3, Episode 14

Why It’s Not Shit: “The Return” sees multiple plotlines — and ongoing dynamics — pay off in a single episode: Oscar’s “vacation,” Dwight’s resignation, Angela and Dwight’s relationship, Jim and Karen’s relationship, Jim and Pam’s flirtation, Andy’s angling for promotion, the dickishness of Jim’s pranks, and Andy’s anger issues. It’s a simple episode in which not much happens, but relationships are changed and characters are further defined. It’s a watershed episode in a show that at the time cared about what it meant when its characters said and did things, and Andy punching the wall is still as shocking a moment now as it was six years ago…only now it’s shocking because we’ve spent so much time with him as a defeated doormat that it no longer seems feasible.

Why It’s Actually Still Kind of Shit: The party for Oscar and Dwight is a collection of unnecessary visual gags (Meredith in a mustache, Phyllis shaking her breasts around), but the amount of wasted time in this episode can be measured in seconds, and that’s all we can really ask.

Ending on a High Note: It’s about time there was a consequence for Jim’s immaturity, even if he’s not the one facing that consequence. Andy would return, emasculated, but we do get one truly brilliant moment with him before he’s changed forever, as he intends to apply his upwardly-mobile aggressiveness to anger management training itself, intending to complete it in half the allotted time.

“Product Recall,” Season 3, Episode 21

Why It’s Not Shit: The list of Office characters that haven’t become overplayed through the years is a short one, certainly, but Creed manages somehow to be both a continuing highlight, and consistent in his characterization. “Product Recall” is the closest thing we’ve ever had to a Creed episode, and even here he’s used sparingly. His off-camera shirking of his job responsibilities drives the plot, and he only really pops up to descend — beautifully — rung by rung into the levels of despicability. It’s a great and fittingly dark episode from an era in which the writers didn’t feel the need to soften blows and humanize monstrous behavior. We also get a great Andy and Jim pairing, and probably the only genuinely funny prank on Dwight, with Jim imitating his nemesis…and then receiving some payback in kind at the end of the episode. “Product Recall” took a lot of things that The Office so frequently got wrong, and then did them right.

Why It’s Actually Still Kind of Shit: A Kelly subplot is never a good sign, but this one has a great moment of Oscar / Kevin bonding that more than redeems it. It’s disappointing that the cartoons look nothing like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and Andy pining for a high school student is beyond creepy, but there’s enough great stuff here to warrant its inclusion, right down to the perfectly awful moment at the end, when Creed pockets the money he collected for the woman he got fired.

Ending on a High Note: Michael’s apology video may go literally nowhere, but it’s nice to see a crisis situation in this show that isn’t resolved by the staff hoisting him onto their shoulders and singing “We Shall Overcome.”

“Dinner Party,” Season 4, Episode 13

Why It’s Not Shit: It’s all kinds of not-shit up in here. If I were to single out just one episode of The Office to be spared from a nuclear blast, and I do look forward to that day that I am put in such a position, this would be the one. It’s brilliantly acted, terrifyingly raw, and unrelentingly dark. What’s more, it gives the audience credit. While some of the Jan / Michael bickering is a bit heavy handed, we’re left with a lot of blanks to fill in on our own, and even the talking-head moments don’t bother to hammer home the obvious…they’re legitimately funny, perhaps due to the genuinely unsettling atmosphere of Michael’s desperate dinner party. There’s a real feeling of entrapment and helplessness there, and none of the characters involved know quite how to act. It’s true to life and it’s human, even down to the surprisingly moving climax that silently follows each of the characters home for the night. Until this entry, we haven’t had any episodes on this list that feature the staff leaving the office for anything other than work-related (ie: understandable) reasons. Dinner with the boss, however, is a situation both rooted enough in reality to work, and rife enough with awkwardness to make horrifying. The cameras follow the staff for good reason here…not like when they decide to have a charity run for rabies, or Michael gets lost in his hometown (huh?). Like “Product Recall,” it’s an episode that takes a lot of the ingredients of the show at its worst, and reassembles them into a thing of beauty.

Why It’s Actually Still Kind of Shit: Michael ran through a sliding glass door because he thought he heard the ice cream man. For that tiny detail, he must have shifted from well-intentioned-but-a-bit-dumb to Benjy Compson levels of retardation. Also, Jan’s character change (competent executive to raving lunatic) lays the groundwork for all too many other characters to do the same thing…with severely diminishing returns.

Ending on a High Note: Almost nothing but great lines in this one, though the standout goes to asskissing Andy, when Michael half-heartedly asks him and Jim if they’d like to think about investing $10,000 in Jan’s home-made candle business. “Thought about it. I’m in.”

“Prince Family Paper,” Season 5, Episode 13

Why It’s Not Shit: As many of the episodes on this list are turning out to be, this one is a great character showcase: in this case, Dwight. The show doesn’t always know what to do with Dwight. He’s a psychotically-devoted businessman, an ignorant farmboy, a sensitive romantic, a violent maniac, a playful child, a sycophant and a flailing comic boob, cycling through those roles as any particular script dictates. In this case, he’s firmly in the first category, and that’s good, because that’s what should drive him as a character. In “Prince Family Paper” he pairs up with Michael for some reconnaissance work at a small rival firm. What they find there, though, is a small family running an honest business, more interested in securing their own futures than in taking down the competition. Michael, of course, goes soft when the family extends the sort of human kindness to him that he wishes he could always expect from others. Dwight, however, has a different view. “It’s not personal,” he says, and as callous as he is he has a point. “It’s business.” This is why Dwight is the most successful salesman. This is why Dwight is so devoted to his work. This is why Dwight is almost always capable of being a more interesting character than he usually gets to be. He will sink a family as long as it’s business, just as quickly as Michael would spare one in spite of it being business. It’s a great and appropriately heavy episode which more than earns its bittersweet resolution.

Why It’s Actually Still Kind of Shit: Unfortunately around a third of the episode is given over to a pointless and unfunny office debate about whether or not Hillary Swank is hot. It’s garbage. Fuckin’ trust me.

Ending on a High Note: While the episode would have been far better as a Dwight / Michael adventure with little or no input from the rest of the staff, the A plot is more than strong enough to carry the episode. Also, Michael’s “bittersweet” speech at the end of the episode is one of the only times the show truly nailed the mix of comedy and pathos that should end an episode like this.

“Dream Team,” Season 5, Episode 22

Why It’s Not Shit: The Michael Scott Paper Company arc is not only the last truly great thing the show ever did, it’s arguably the single best thing the show ever did. New boss Charles Miner lends such an air of uncomfortable change to the familiar surroundings that pretty much any arc that sprung from it would have been welcome. But Michael crashing hard against reality when he tries to start his own rival paper company is both a perfect fit for the character, and an excellent way to ground a show that was already becoming a bit cartoony. “Dream Team” may or may not be the best episode of the arc — it’s hard to say, because this particular storyline is more heavily serialized than anything else — but it’s a great distillation and exploration both of Michael’s tendency to dream too big, and why one needs to feel satisfied in his or her own life. Everything from Michael’s panicky overcooking of French toast for breakfast to Ryan stealing shoes from a bowling alley to Nana’s lucid refusal to invest in the company fills in the blanks in such a way the The Office really should have been doing since day one. And Pam’s emotional collapse toward the end of the episode leads to a genuinely moving conversation between herself and Michael. It’s a mixed moral — the fact that she quit her job is never quite presented as a good decision — but it feels like its own kind of happy ending. After all, if we have to go down, we might as well go down together.

Why It’s Actually Still Kind of Shit: Ryan popping up for this arc makes perfect sense. Ryan sticking around after this arc makes no motherfucking sense whatsoever.

Ending on a High Note: Charles Miner installing Dwight as his number two, making Kevin the receptionist and keeping Jim at arm’s length makes for some great character comedy, as our perspective is tweaked just enough to make familiar situations feel fresh. Also, the fact that Pam ultimately returns to the company as a salesperson leaves the reception desk wide open for the last great character the show ever created: the infectiously bubbly and adorably daft Erin.

“Counseling,” Season 7, Episode 2


Why It’s Not Shit: Toby’s role in the show as Michael’s foil so rarely got a chance to shine, as Michael was always fast to dismiss him cruelly and Toby — we see clearly — was fast to believe he deserved such dismissal. In this episode, however, Michael is forced to undergo a marathon six-hour counseling session with his nemesis, and it results in probably the last truly interesting character interaction this show’s had. Michael cycles through refusal, fabrication, anger, abuse, and finally acceptance in a script that feels like it could have been written for a two-man stage show. Toby never quite gets a handle on the situation the way he wishes he did, but he means well, and even has a genuine moment of breakthrough with Michael…though, of course, once Michael’s aware that he’s opening up to Toby, he shuts it down immediately, and storms out of the session. It’s a way for both characters to have a mutually-fulfilling experience, without sacrificing the inexplicable one-sided hatred that’s fueled the dynamic between these characters all along. In the end, they bond briefly over the uselessness of Gabe in a conversation that would seem at least slightly meta, if the writers could be counted on to realize that these two are right, and there’s really no reason for that guy’s continuing presence. Oh well, at least he dressed as Lady Gaga in the Halloween episode and oh boy was that fucking funny my God this show sucks.

Why It’s Actually Still Kind of Shit: Dwight’s Pretty Woman subplot genuinely feels like a rejected idea from Everybody Loves Raymond. It’s absolutely terrible, and probably a pretty good indicator of what a Dwight Schrute-centered sitcom would look like. THANK GOD NOBODY’S DOING THAT RIGHT. The better subplot revolves around Pam bluffing her way to Office Administrator. Why they felt they needed the Dwight garbage when they already had plenty of stuff going on in this episode is beyond me.

Ending on a High Note: Dwight’s idea for a daycare center in the building is kind of worthless, but I do like the sight-gag of an Insane Clown Posse poster on the wall, with “Insane” and “Posse” crossed out. It’d be a lot funnier if the camera didn’t obnoxiously zoom in the make sure we got the joke but what can you do.

Were there any other episodes that weren’t shit? If not, let me know in the comments below. And also you’re wrong.

Noiseless Chatter Advisory: Ben, of Ben Likes Music, likes music. He also wrote this, and hopefully more in the future. Please give a big welcome to our latest guest author. Or call him obscene things. It’s really up to you.

It only occurred to me relatively recently that the word fan was just a shortened version of fanatic. I’m 34 years old. Understandably, a lot of you reading this may have just snorted your Starbucks out of your nose at my incredible naivety, but so be it. When it comes to Pavement however, I do believe that I am indeed more of a fanatic than a fan. A fan – in my short-sighted eyes that are well into their fourth decade – is someone who has a passing interest in something; someone who will wave from the touchlines and not really care too much what is going on. A fanatic however, is someone like me. Someone who scours record stores and internet auction sites for an EP from 1989 and pays way over the odds for a record that has a B-side that has a slightly different mix to what was on the re-release 20 years later. That, my friends, is a fanatic.

Firstly, I must thank my good friend Mat Hurley. Not exactly the most inflated of name checks I’m sure you’ll agree, but one of my best friends who I have known for over thirty years is the person who is to blame/thank for my love of this band. In 1992, when a Sony Walkman was still considered the height of technology, he passed me over a tape (a tape!) of a band called Pavement. This tape was called Slanted and Enchanted which he had recently purchased from the only independent record store within a 30 mile radius of our homes. I had learned to trust him simply due to the fact that a week before, he had passed me an album by a band called Pixies entitled Doolittle which I had pretty much been playing non-stop on my walk home from school that entire week. I’ve never known what became of them.

To me, Slanted… was a grower. I listened to the first few tracks and thought “Meh…” (and this, ladies and gentlemen was a good 10 years before ‘meh’ was even invented). “Summer Babe” left me intrigued, but not inspired but I listened on. I finally got to track five, which was called “Conduit For Sale.” Never before had I heard anything so raw, so energised and it had me hooked immediately. I must have pressed rewind a dozen times before even getting to “Zurich Is Stained,” which was a mistake in itself given its obvious greatness in comparison. Twenty years on, and I realise that “Conduit…” is an obvious rip-off *ahem* I mean, homage to a song by The Fall – namely “New Face In Hell” should you wish to check my credentials as a music analyst – go ahead and compare and contrast. But still, a grower is a grower and now almost 20 years to the day since my ears were introduced to this lo-fi racket straight outta California it still sits there, proudly awaiting a further outing into my eardrums and it has certainly stood the test of time.

Little did I know when Slanted… was released, that only a month before, Pavement had released an album of bits and bobbins from their prior EPs; at least they had in the UK. It was called Westing (By Musket and Sextant) and was choc-full of ridiculous oddities – many under two minutes long – consisting of 90% feedback and 10% melody and all played in a ludicrous fashion. It might not sound particularly attractive to an outsider, but I lapped it up. Given that for the previous few years I had been listening to the relatively polished production of albums by bands such as The Stone Roses and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, this was a breath of fresh, lackadaisical air. On Westing… Pavement stumble and fumble their way through tracks that wouldn’t even be considered a D-sides by other bands and yet I and their now considerable fan base wouldn’t have it any other way. Listening to these songs now, it is obvious that they could be better rendered in a decent studio but they would lose all of their lustre and excitement if that were the case. I still challenge anyone to give me a complete set of lyrics to “Forklift” and even if they did I challenge them further to make any sense of them. I offer my brother in return; he’s very friendly and makes a mean Chicken Tikka Massala.

Then I have a little confession to make, Faith No More released Angel Dust and I was under their spell for quite some time. Even when the next Pavement record – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain came out in February 1994, I was still wandering around the halls of my school murmuring the guttural lyrics to “Mid-Life Crisis” and although I purchased it the second it came out, it barely came out of its plastic sleeve until Messrs Patton, Bordin, Gould, Martin and (tee-hee) Bottum descended into obscurity and started sacking and hiring guitarists willy-nilly.

So once I gave it a listen, I was horrified. What was this seemingly well produced bunch of songs from the kings of lo-fi? Granted it was never going to challenge Vangelis or Mike Oldfield for over-production but this was such a departure from Slanted… – how was this going to work? Essentially, it didn’t. To this day, I have never been able to get into their sophomore record proper. The songs, had they been recorded in the style of Slanted… or Westing… or somewhere in between would no doubt have been world-beaters, but there was something that didn’t feel quite right. Even though I’d been unfaithful to them by ploughing through three copies of Angel Dust in the intervening 18 months, I still felt no guilt or remorse. Are they the same things? Feel free to clear that up by emailing me and hurling abuse at me.

So that was that? No, of course not; silly me; Pavement was just about to unleash their greatest record on the listening public. As I had grown out of receiving chocolate eggs with a jigsaw puzzle inside for Easter, I had asked my mother to accompany me to my local record shop and purchase Wowee Zowee instead. I looked at the track listing and the first thing that occurred to me was the number of short songs on there. Over half of the songs were under two and a half minutes and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I literally pushed my mother back towards the car and because this was 1995 hadn’t quite hit me that our Ford Escort wasn’t equipped with the CD player that was required for me to listen to it as soon as I’d hoped. Forty-five minutes later however, I was reunited with my Sony Discman, popped the CD in and listened intently. Expecting unrelenting, dirty guitar noise, ‘We Dance’ came as a bit of a surprise as an opening track but not an unpleasant one.

“There is no…cas-tra-tion fear…”

Well, thank heavens I couldn’t play it to my mother in car, otherwise that would already have raised a whole lot of questions. She was still recovering from the time when she insisted that I played Carter USM’s Post Historic Monsters at my brother’s 7th birthday party because “…he might like the dinosaur on the cover.”

Wowee Zowee became, and still remains my favorite album by the band so I was of course ecstatic when I found out they were playing the Reading Festival that summer. Finally I would get a chance to see my favorite band perform my favorite album. I’d see Spiral (Scott to his mother) rip through the awesome guitar solo in “Rattled By The Rush” and Bob scream his way through “Serpentine Pad” – oh how awesome this was going to be. But on that balmy summer’s night in Berkshire, things didn’t go according to plan. Pavement had a shocker – sound problems and power cuts meant that despite being fairly close to the front, I barely heard a thing. The band didn’t seem too put off and still hurtled around the stage hitting whatever they could with sticks to make as much noise as possible but my first and sadly only time I would see Pavement turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.

In 1997, some eighteen months after the festival debacle, I was still playing Wowee Zowee pretty much every day. I had entered the world of work and could be found late at night stacking shelves at my local supermarket, air-guitarring and drumming around the aisles after finding an elastic band, wrapping it around the PA system so it was permanently stuck in the broadcast position and playing the CD to an empty shop aside from a few other shelf monkeys such as myself. Great, if not slightly strange times; there’s only so much pleasure you can get from belting out “Flux = Rad” with an armful of tinned sweetcorn.

“If the signatures are checked (you’ll just have to wait!)” heralded the entrance of 1997’s Brighten The Corners. It also heralded the time where I had taken to looking as much like Steve Malkmus as was possible; whether it was on purpose I really can’t remember but my hair was now at its floppiest and my clothes had attained a thrift store vibe. Pavement videos were now being shown on MTV2 – this of course being in the days that MTV2 and MTV in general used to actually be quite good. That all seemed to change when Korn, Limp Bizkit and that godawful band with a man called Chester Bennington started to infiltrate the alternative scene. Swines.

Brighten The Corners seemed to straddle the stripped-down production of Wowee Zowee and the slightly too glossy Crooked Rain… but it seemed to work. The fact that the length of the album was close to that of its predecessor and yet contained half a dozen fewer tracks didn’t bode too well for me. Where were the killer 2 minute songs? Certainly not here – only one song under 3 minutes in fact!

On first listen, it was Spiral Stairs’ two offerings that were the stand out for me. “Date with IKEA” was pure Pavement; slightly out-of-tune harmonising, dirty bass and guitar sounds and this was definitely a tune that only Stairs could carry off. You know when I said that Slanted and Enchanted was a “grower” about 5 minutes ago? Well disregard that completely. If there ever was a Pavement album that could be classed as a “grower” then it is Brighten The Corners. The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing. I would play it occasionally, but would still be playing the older albums more readily; so much so in fact that I only really deemed it as a great album just before its follow up – Pavement’s final album – Terror Twilight was released.

Given that the title of this article (oh, who am I kidding? Essay) proclaims that I was a teenager at the time all this was happening means I should really stop now. “YES! PLEASE!!!” I hear you say. But just hear me out. Pavement’s last was released shortly after my 21st Birthday in June 1999. By this time I had moved away from the South Wales Valleys and was now living with my soon-to-be fiancée in a flat on an estate in London. I had a job making price lists for perfume counters in department stores. I had shaved off my Malkmus hair due to the fact that it had started falling out of its own accord. In short, I had changed. I had discovered a new record label that seemed to be able to do no wrong. Polyvinyl Records was home to Mates of State, Aloha and Rainer Maria amongst many other amazing bands. Pavement had taken a back seat and Terror Twilight didn’t get the recognition at the time that it truly deserves today.

It’s not exactly a sad end to the story. I still love Pavement and I always will, but during my teenage years there was nothing that could touch them. If they hadn’t had recorded and released Crooked Rain in the way that they did and at the time that they did then it could only be described as a faultless discography. The special re-packaged, unseen material style re-releases have all been bought, MP3d and added to an iPod that is now 32,000 songs strong; 300 of which are by Pavement.

There you go – that’s 10 years of my life being obsessed with a band from Stockton, CA summed up in one handy bite-sized (2000 word) essay. I’ll leave you with my favorite lyric by Malkmus and Co.

“Show me a word that rhymes with Pavement and I won’t kill your parents and roast them on a spit.”

FIN

External: Mario Kart 7 Contest

September 21st, 2012 | Posted by Philip J Reed in contest | video games - (1 Comments)

Just a quick note to say that friend of the website Jeremy Hardin is hosting a Mario Kart 7 tournament, starting on Saturday, October 27. That’s just over a month from now, so get your practice in, and register for the event!

I’ll do my best to be there, and it should be fun. Mario Kart 7 is a great game, and Jeremy’s giving away a WiiU and some games to the winners, so it’s worth checking out.

If you have any questions, remember, this is a Nintendo Fuse event, not mine! So check out his site and find out what you need to know. Hopefully I’ll see you there, and thanks to Jeremy for the heads up!


“Jack Gets Up,” Leo Kottke
Live, 1995

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