Man, I’ve been a very bad blogger lately. I thought having my own computer would encourage me to write more, not to mention blog more. I haven’t even touched my writing notebook since, like, February 23. But as much as I love using paper n’ pen, I’ve got to get used to doing most of my writing this way. I paged through a few writing notebooks on friday night, and I could barely make out my chicken scratch in a few of them.

I actually love the new Blur CD. I’ve been so disappointed so often with them in the past that I never even bought 13 (or bothered to listen to it all the way through more than once.) With the shining exception of Parklife, their albums are so maddeningly inconsistent. Yet, I’m such a skinflint that I wouldn’t get their sterling greatest hits CD because I own everything on it except for the obligatory new track.

So, is Think Thank their best since Parklife? Possibly. I never thought they’d carry on without Graham Coxon, but his absence is liberating for them. Shorn of his creative but often murky and cacophonous guitar pyrotechnics, they’re left to focus on the rhythm section. And it’s all so melodic, in a sort of gaining-resonance-over-time way. “Out of Time”, for instance, sounds pleasant and understated enough the first time through. I’ve heard it about five times now, and everything in it is beginning to click. And although it sounds like a “Song 2” sequel, “Crazy Beat” is so much fun—the Donald Duck intonation of the song’s title; the Bay City Rollers turn the chorus takes when the music drops out and Damon sings, ‘I love my brothers on a Saturday night”; those “yeah yeah yeah’s”… and the rest of the album sounds nothing like it. They’ve mostly shorn the glibness that mars so much of their stuff, and the result is remarkably quiet, intense, and mature.

It’s also great walking-alone-at-night music. I listened to it as I strolled down Brattle Street Saturday night after going to see Japon at the Brattle. I went into this film knowing it was going to be difficult and Tarkovsky-like, and it definitely was. Although, fixated on death and desire and various absurd touches (such as a drunken sing-along scene), it seemed closer in spirit to Herzog. Director Carlos Reygaldas certainly has a strong sense of humor like Tarkovsky rarely had… the Russian master, for instance, would have never fixated on a portly pre-teen boy picking his nose for well over a minute. The opening shots are rapturous—point of view shots of driving on roads that regress from urban tunnels and superhighways to secluded dirt and gravel trails. The last five minutes are also genuinely shocking, with an extended shot that swerves around the landscape with the direction, tenacity and curiosity of a fruit fly.

I also saw Laurel Canyon. Not as compelling or as interesting a film as Lisa Cholodenko’s first (the Ally Sheedy/Radha Mitchell lesbo/drugs/photography flick High Art), but that film didn’t have a performance as wondrous as Frances McDormand’s here. In many ways, she’s the polar opposite of her character in Almost Famous, although they could’ve been separated at birth, as both are equally brash, quick-witted, and full of life. The rest of the cast isn’t bad either; Kate Beckinsale is much more enjoyable than she was in the stupid Serendipity; Alessandro Nivola makes one hot/cute/funny Coldplay-esque Brit rocker, and Christian Bale is good as always, even though he still sounds a little funny with an American accent. It’s a lightweight tale about East Coast repression coming to terms/rebelling against West Coast hedonism, and the desire to hold on to which ideology you subscribe to and dabble your little toe in the other. If that assessment sounds simplistic, well, so is the film.

And I walked through what will be my new neighborhood yesterday afternoon, taking in all the sights and changes since I was last their in 2000, getting beers with Julie, March and her father after going to see March in the Footlights production of To Kill A Mockingbird. I went in and out of a few CD stores (I was a good boy and spent my money on a fruittata from JP Licks instead), went down to the Pond, and walked past my new apartment. Ah, I can’t wait to get out of Watertown…