Six Reasons Why Fall is Inarguably the Best Season

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, otherwise known as the first day of fall, otherwise known as the beginning of the best season.

This is not an opinion. Fall is the best season. There are plenty of reasons why, but here are a few off the top of my head:

1. The Halloween


It seems like Christmas should be everybody’s favorite holiday. You get presents, you know? But Christmas tipped into misery somewhere around the time A Charlie Brown Christmas came out. There are family issues, travel, Fox News stories about the War on Christmas, and just general existential mayhem. So in walked Halloween to take the throne for everybody’s favorite holiday. Sure, there are some awful, lingering issues with the “sexy” version of every conceivable costume out there (Sexy R2-D2? Are you goddamn kidding me?), but at the end of the day, we get to give candy to tiny humans dressed like monsters with gigantic smiles on their faces. What’s not to love?

2. The Horror Movies


You’re grown, Amazon exists, so you can watch horror movies whenever you want. But they feel better around Halloween. For years, a good friend and I did a “Tim Burton Halloween,” which began at a modern art museum with a Plan 9 from Outer Space/Ed Wood double feature. It was amazing. Then Burton made Planet of the Apes and that kind of took the shine off, so I started watching classic horror movies throughout the month of October. Roger Corman, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, (and yes, some) Tim Burton, as well as less well-known icons like Val Lewton…this is a tradition I would recommend to anybody.

3. The Earth


Summers are getting hotter overall, and if you live in a city like Los Angeles, which was built before air conditioning, that means they are getting tangibly more miserable. Just ask the Pope. But in the fall, the weather cools down…eventually…and the leaves turn. Fall in the northeast United States with a cold Sam Adams Octoberfest on draft is about as good as it gets for me. Which brings me to…

4. The Beer


Fall is when the beers get darker. I’ve never gone in much for lighter beers, so I often give summer beers a pass. Lemon peel is fine and all, but we can do better. And we do. Every fall. Sam Adams Octoberfest on draft is a beer made for a chill in the air. Buffalo Bill’s Original Pumpkin Ale is a seasonal fixture and trumps every PSL that has ever been blended. Do some places take the pumpkin flavoring too far? Sure. But that doesn’t change the fact that the real thing is The Real Thing. Also, that abomination that is Daylight Savings Time gets shown the door, and the sun sets when it should.

5. The Serious Movies

 

I love the summer blockbuster — unequivocally, not at all knocking them — but I literally paced the floor this weekend trying to decide if I would go see a movie about a Boston gangster or a movie about chess. I have more DVDs on my shelf made by Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa than I have films made in the last 20 years. So when new movies get a little darker, a little more earthy, it’s of-a-piece with the weather, and with the clocks, and with my own emotional rhythms. It’s thoughtful and wonderful, and when I miss one of these more-thoughtful films, I feel a little, quietly sad. Which is very autumnal.

6. The Playoff Baseball

Deeply ingrained in my psyche is the sound of baseball announcers as the weather cools down. Every year I buy the MLB At Bat playoff subscription so I can listen to radio broadcasts of the playoff games. I don’t care who’s playing. It is the soundtrack to fall. One of these days, though, the World Series will end in November, and it will feel deeply wrong.

(bonus) 7. I keep putting out music in the fall


I knew, of course, that I wrote, recorded, and released our EP October in the fall of last year, but I’d forgotten until just this week that I released the first Sci-Fi Romance album in an October a few years ago. Also, just FYI, the first single from our new album will premiere in the next few, autumnal weeks. Keep your ears open…

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October EP Now Available

Download the EP for free right here.

OCTOBER by Sci-Fi Romance

After a drought between albums, it’s incredibly gratifying to be able to put out a new EP today and release it as a free download. Two weeks ago, I didn’t even have the idea for this project, and I love that it now exists and is out there in the world, learning how to shamble along and getting its own apartment and all that good stuff. I explained the genesis for October in my last post, but the tl:dr version is that I got the completely indefensible idea to write and record songs inspired by the movies I watched this month, and to do it all as quickly as possible, I dug a 20+ year-old four-track cassette recorder out of the closet. Finding cassettes these days is, as you might imagine, a little tough, but the deed has been done.

Here are some details about exactly what’s on this lo-fi concept-EP of…what? Horror folk? Heartfelt monster confessionals? Well, call it whatever you like.

The Fall of the House of Usher, 1960

The film that kicked off the series of Roger Corman/Vincent Price Edgar Allan Poe adaptations is, fittingly, I think, also kicking off my tribute to classic horror movies I dive into every October. A very blonde Price plays the tormented Roderick Usher, who suffers under the historic weight of the Usher family’s many sins. He goes to great lengths to make sure that he and his sister are the last of the House of Usher.


Dracula, 1931

Watching Lugosi this time around, I asked myself a question I never had before: Why does Dracula leave Transylvania now, and for England of all places? I felt like he was bored after hundreds of years of relative solitude, and (to quote The Smiths) wanted to see people and wanted to see life. But Dracula’s problem is Dracula, wherever he goes.


Ed Wood, 1994

I couldn’t watch Dracula and not watch Ed Wood. Of the many, many lovely things in this, my favorite of all Tim Burton movies, is that in the end it doesn’t matter how terrible Ed’s movies are, it matters that he made them.


The Body Snatcher, 1945

Boris Karloff’s first appearance on the EP comes courtesy of his astonishingly creepy portrayal of John Gray, who steals bodies for “anatomy,” selling them to a medical professor for use in university classes. But when the cemeteries fall under increased scrutiny, it becomes easier for Gray to make the corpses himself.


The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935

It makes me sad that Una O’Connor screeches her way through this film, in which Karloff endows his monster with so much humanity and pathos that in the moment when he first sees The Bride, I want her to love him as much as he wants to be loved. Alas…


The Masque of the Red Death, 1964

Probably the best of the Corman/Poe/Price movies, this movie is endlessly evocative and Price is his at most mustache-twirlingly evil. But watching the film this time, I was struck by Hazel Court’s performance as Juliana, who on paper was no doubt simply a “jealous lover,” but on screen communicated much, much more.


So download the album, enjoy it, roll around in its warm analogueyness. And happy October.

 

New EP Coming

I’ve had the next full-length Sci-Fi Romance album written for over a year, but as it happens, newborn twins slow down recording schedules. The itch to record and get new music out has been terribly strong.

Poe Mug

Hot tea for my voice in a thematically appropriate mug? Check!

And here we are in October. The best month. Every year at this time, my wife and I watch as many old horror movies as possible. Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Béla Lugosi, Roger Corman, Edgar Allan Poe, Val Lewton, and, in a concession to the still-living, Tim Burton. As we sat down to watch the first movie this year, I got an idea. It is undoubtedly a terrible idea, but God loves ugly children, too.

Here it is a week or so later, and I’ve written songs inspired by each of the first half-dozen movies we watched this year. Since the movies are classics, I’m recording the songs in the quickest, dirtiest way possible — on a 20-plus year-old four-track tape recorder I haven’t used since probably 1996. Everything is analogue, and with very few exceptions, each part is recorded in a single take. No computers. Just a few guitars, drums, an old Casio keyboard, some random things that go bang, and me.

Tascam PortaStudio 424.

This is serious lo-fi. The instructions are dated 1990.

Half of the songs are recorded and finished, and by next week the whole thing will be done and available as a free download.

I figure, I made a concept album, why not a concept EP?

Cassette tape and lyrics.

Remember these? Never opened until now.