WordPress Automatic Update and 1&1 Hosting

Cup number three.

It’s nearly eleven o’clock, and I’m still in my pajamas, so it feels like a lazy Saturday morning, but I’ve actually gotten some quite significant things done: I played catch with Sean, and I finally hacked my WordPress install into compliance. (I use the word ‘hacked’ in an ever-so-loose way; any minor accomplishment that has anything to do with website stuff feels to me like a major hack.)

Anyway, I use 1&1 as my web host, and they’re mostly fine, but they do some quirky things, or, rather, don’t do them. I’ve had issues with some of the backend software stuff that I don’t really understand (PHP, MYSQL, stuff like that), and 1&1 basically leaves us poor users to figure it out ourselves.

So, for anyone else out there on 1&1 who can’t figure out why the WordPress automatic update feature gets hung up on the downloading blahblahblah.zip screen, read this.

It’s a fairly simple fix that involves adding a line of text to your .htaccess file. I did it and it fixed the update problem for WordPress, and a problem I was having updating my Google sitemaps plugin.

Via Out of Control

James Murphy: a love letter

Tawny port before bed.

Here’s something great.

A while ago, I was listening to Fresh Air and heard a remarkable interview with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem.

And I sort of fell in love with him.

In the interview, he presents the most down-to-earth philosophy of making music I think I’ve ever heard. I almost hate to use this word, but it sounded authentic. It sounded real. Sans bullshit. So I immediately went out in search of his latest record, ‘This Is Happening.’ I didn’t want to download it. I wanted to own the physical disc, which is a quirk of mine, or perhaps my generation, but I wanted to hold it in my hand, even if it was destined to slide into the computer and get ripped to iTunes, like everything else. When I’m buying music that I hope will have substance, I want that substance to be more than 0s and 1s on a hard drive. (And, yes, I know that a cd is just 0s and 1s on a compact disc, but a cd also has artwork and a nice little booklet, most of the time.)

I quickly fell in love with ‘This Is Happening,’ from the way the opener—’Dance Yrself Clean’—begins with a long and quiet intro that forces you to turn the volume up only to blast you in the face with a great synth riff at three minutes in, to the self-aware ‘You Wanted a Hit’ and ‘Pow Pow,’ to the sad and melodic and great closer ‘Home.’

In fact, if I could really nail it down, why I was so impressed by what Mr. Murphy had to say, I’d say that the way he talked about music reminded me of the way David Foster Wallace talked about writing. There just are not enough artists out there who are able to transcend the hype. Artists are almost always one of two things: cripplingly unconfident and embarrassed to talk about what they do in a knowing and interesting way, or embarrassingly over-condident in what they do so that they sound like douche bags when they talk about what they do, and come across as boring and self-involved (like those DVD ‘making-of’ featurettes that consist of everyone yammering on about how great the director is).

And perhaps the best part of it all is, he’s been saying all over the place that LCD Soundsystem is done. As a band that puts out albums every couple years and tours and does loads of interviews, it’s done. ‘This Is Happening’ is a great album, and it’s really satisfying when somebody bows out gracefully, rather than pushing their rockstar cred to its absolute breaking point (Tom Petty, anyone?).

So there you go. Favorite discovery of a band in maybe 10 years.

And One More Thing…

I’ve been complaining a lot about feeling creatively ‘wiped out’—that is, having no energy or ambition to make something. It felt like everything was going to the son, the wife, the house, the garden. I know: completely self-indulgent. It was a feeling, and feelings have a reality-distorting gravitational pull that can be difficult to escape, like a black hole’s.

And then the other day Danielle and I were having a recurring conversation that snapped me awake, so to speak. She wanted to know if I had a ‘roadmap’ (I think that’s the word she used) for how I was going to handle the application process for my MFA. I admitted I had none. I had set it aside as an impossibility. I had a whole list of excuses: Sean is too demanding. When on earth am I going to find time to go to class? to do the reading? to do the writing? The program at Old Dominion University (the only one in the area) is a three-year program. We’re only guaranteed to be here through 2012!

Danielle picked off my excuses one by one, pegged them for exactly what they were: stealth procrastination. Sean will be pre-school-age by next fall. I can make time to do the work. Babysitters. We can do a shore tour in Norfolk. All of my roadblocks had easy detours, if my eyes had just been open to them.

So I unshelved the Kaplan GRE study guides I bought six months ago when this conversation first came up, pulled up the ODU MFA website, and started organizing.CIMG0052

The whole thing is rather daunting, especially on mornings like this when I’m tired and Sean, like a predator who can smell fear, seems to sense it. But we need to do this. It cements my usefulness in the post-daddying future.

The Pregnant Widow – A Review

The Pregnant Widow The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I can see why some reviewers had a problem with this book. It’s talky, and there doesn’t seem to be much going on.

But that’s also kind of what I loved about it. It was just what the doctor ordered for the start of the summer: a funny book about a bunch of characters who seem like they’d be good fun to hang out with, which is basically what I did for the month I took reading it.

I’m a huge fan of Martin Amis–as in, ‘favorite living author’ huge–and that probably biases my review of this book a bit. His style strikes all the right chords with me. Reading it was like drinking a really great cocktail, and not getting a hangover.

View all my reviews >>

Bunny Butterflies

So, the other night, we were reading one of my favorite picture books, Bats at the Library, and Sean points to the picture of the bats and says, “Bunny! Bunny butterfly!”

Cuteness meter asplode.