Friday, March 28, 2008

ESD#31: Yeah, Deval!

Right after I promised no more posting, I'm posting. I just heard on NPR that Deval Patrick is proposing to limit police details on construction projects in Massachusetts. Ooh! Here's the Globe's coverage.

I know this is terribly boring, but for someone who has thoroughly studied Massachusetts' transportation fiscal structure over the past few months (read: me), this is huge. I didn't think Patrick had the guts to do it. I don't have to tell you how strong the police unions are here. This could be a huge savings for the State. I'm excited.

Philadelphia, here we come!

My post title reminds me to promote again the new Phantom Planet song. It's so much fun. Here's "Leader, Leader":



[Original Source]

The new album "Raise the Dead" is out April 15th.

Oh, what was the point of this post? Philadelphia. I'm going there this weekend. For the second day in a row, I had a sign at Starbucks telling me to go. This time it was when multiple people offered to buy drinks for two people in uniform. "It's the least I could do" I heard repeatedly. So I felt like a punk that I wasn't willing to drive seven hours to see my pregnant friend who's in town from Germany (Air Force) for only one week.

Think I could convince my pregnant friend to go to the Fuck Buttons show with me?* She listens to mostly country music. Hmmm.

Thus, I won't be posting for a couple days. But I leave you with a promise to attempt a real concert review of the Dirty Projectors / No Kids show on Sunday night. No more excuses about not knowing how to write about music.

*Ooh, Jenny! Do you read my blog? I think E told you about it. Fuck Buttons is good. Creepy experimental stuff. And now that you're a Philly girl... I'll give you a call. Meg's in town, too, and free Saturday night, so we should hang out. Who am I kidding about Fuck Buttons? Meg would hate it, too.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Portishead's "Machine Gun"

Despite my love of Portishead, I wasn't that excited to hear the new single "Machine Gun". I guess I'm just content listening to Dummy over and over again. Well, I finally heard it, and it's kind of disturbing. On the creepy/sexy axis, it's WAY over in the creepy area. The entire song is punctuated with drum machine generated rapid fire sounds. It's a lot more Atari 2600 and a lot less M.I.A. "Paper Planes". Here's "Machine Gun":

Sufjan Stevens' "Seven Swans"

I just discovered that my copy* of Sufjan Stevens' "Seven Swans" is missing track 11, which is incidentally the title track. I just heard the song and freaked out**. This is like after twelve years of watching my version of "Star Wars" taped from Philly channel 17, seeing a whole 30 seconds missing from the trash compactor scene when it was re-released. Or like hearing "Wanna Be Startin' Something" without the multiple record skips (as a kid, I used to choreograph "Thriller" in my living room, accommodating for all the skips).

Here's the song:



*I know, can you believe with my love of Sufjan, I have a burned copy of "Seven Swans"?

**Also, the song is kind of creepy.

ESD#30: new Senegalese restaurant

Finally! A chance to use the Wolof I've been learning. This all falls into my plan to promote Alif as the next big world hip-hop act. I can throw their US debut party at Teranga in the South End. From South End News:

South End gets Senegalese
Friday Mar 21, 2008

With the ever-expanding palate of South End dining, residents will soon be able to enjoy another fine example of international options. Plans are underway for Teranga, a Senegalese restaurant, to open at 1746 Washington St, according to Washington Gateway Main Street (WGMS) Director Linda Rubin Royer. Royer says Teranga’s future owner, South End resident Marie-Claude Mendy, went before the Gateway’s design committee on March 7 to ensure that plans for the restaurant were consistent with the aesthetic, architectural, and historical character of Washington Street. Washington Gateway has given its preliminary support to going forward with the restaurant’s construction.

"She has interesting ideas for the storefront," said Royer, adding that large glass windows, integrated with the impressive architectural element of a gnarled Baobab tree, should make for an exciting and attractive addition to the neighborhood. "It should be quite beautiful," she said of the current design.

Royer was also able to glimpse the current menu offerings for Teranga. "They look positively mouth watering," she said. "Even if I’m not entirely sure what all of it was!" Owing to strong cultural influences from its West African geography, predominant Islam religion, and long history as a former French colony, Senegal typically offers a fusion of cuisine: peanuts, stewed and marinated meat (chicken, lamb, beef), couscous, beans and fresh fruit are all popular ingredients.

Mendy, owner of the restaurant, was unable to be reached by deadline. Given the current timeline of construction, zoning and permitting, Royer said she anticipates that Teranga would be ready for May 2008.
- Scott Kearnan

Gnarls Barkley, take two (plus Counting Crows!)

Buy your Gnarls Barkley album at Newbury Comics. They give you this free and freakin' adorable pint glass.

The Mystery Jets album isn't out yet (I was wrong) and someone hid the LCD Soundsystem's "Sound of Silver", so I bought the Devotchka cd instead. E will like it better than the Mystery Jets anyway.

While I was at Newbury Comics, they were playing the new Counting Crows album. It sounds great--lots of acoustic guitar and very little superfluous orchestration (like the last album). I adored Counting Crows in college, but it's not really my thing anymore. If it were, though, I'd definitely buy the album. Especially since I'd be supporting the mentally ill.

A little personal anecdote: I stopped by Starbucks and drank some Guatemalan Antigua like George Howell told me to do (not clover, though, and yes, it was still over-roasted). Simon & Garfunkel's "At the Zoo" was playing, and it reminded me of high school. I'm debating whether to go home to Philly this weekend to see some high school friends, but all signs are pointing to no. So cheesy Simon & Garfunkel songs are making me sad.

Crowded House at Somerville Theater!

Shmiggety shmack! Crowded House is playing the Somerville Theater May 5-6. I'm so there. Phew! Too many shows, too little time, money, PBR tolerance, etc., etc.

Gnarls Barkley's "The Odd Couple"

AOL is streaming the new Gnarls Barkley album "The Odd Couple". Check it out [expired]. It's ridiculously good and a breath of fresh air after two months of overdosing on indie rock.

Speaking of which, I think I may have hit a breaking point with all this new indie music. E hit this point a few days ago and detoxed by listening to only Talib Kweli for three days straight. I hit my point last night after reading numerous gushing reviews of the new Raconteurs album. Only stereogum had the guts to hint at the fact that it might not live up to the hopes and dreams of every indie music fan. It sucks, guys.* Just say it.

I think I'm going to take my money-making moneymaker self down to Newbury Comics today and buy the Gnarls Barkley album. And maybe the new Mystery Jets and the old LCD Soundsystem albums.

*If there's one thing I've learned from listening to lots of new indie music, it's that there's no rhyme or reason to why an individual listener likes one artist and not another. So there's no point in throwing the hatorade around. I'm making an exception here, though. I strongly dislike what I've heard of this album.

ESD#29: lovin' on the Times

In which I counterbalance my hatin' on the Times from this post.

Two quick thoughts on this morning's NY Times:

1. Since when does the Times include a front page photo of the Red Sox? You couldn't find a photo of David Paterson in one of his hilarious TMI press conferences, admitting to yet another irrelevant personal indiscretion?

Keep it up, Times! I for one am lovin' this trend. This totally alleviates my guilt of reading the Times and not the Boston Globe.

While we're on the subject, Boston friends, how awesome has it been to wake up to your alarm clock telling you, "and Moss hits a home run!"? I'm starting to think that all Red Sox games should start at 6am. I'm probably the only one.

2. Despite the fact that I know way more about coffee than the average joe (I used to work in the industry on the sourcing side), I'm not a huge coffee snob. Or, at least, I don't like to talk about my coffee snobbery. I buy fair trade and scoff at a poorly roasted bean in private. Nonetheless, I loved this article where George Howell, who really does roast the best bean in the country, tries multiple Starbucks' coffees made with the clover machine and calls it all shite. The Starbucks down the street from my work is one of the six in the country that uses the clover machine. You think I should try it? Hmm... I'm tempted after this article.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

nicole atkins, take two

Let's do two vanity themed posts in a row that are actually follow-up posts!

I came across this photo today, and immediately reacted, "Oh, no, is this what my hair looks like when I curl it? Gross."


You see, I'm not one of those people who asks their significant other, "Does this make me look fat?" My self-conscious question is always, "Does my hair look like hers?" As with the more commonly asked question, the only correct answer is, "Of course not, baby. You look great."

Turns out the picture above is of Nicole Atkins, whose gorgeous hair makes me cry, as I discussed here. So now I feel a lot better about not having pretty hair.

Follow-up question: is there something weird about how she's posing in this photo? Like she's trying to draw attention to her hair? Considering how perfectly coiffed her hair was at SXSW (where the picture in the previous post was taken), I'm guessing Nicole has a bit of a hair obsession, as well.

editor's pick, baby!

Back before I told anyone I was blogging, I wrote this post about a discussion in the comments section of a NY Magazine post on the movie "Crash". Under the guise of expanding my vocabulary, I wrote:
"I am a nascent commenter on NY Magazine's blog whose wit and insight will soon astonish the editors, such that all future comments will guarantee an "Editor's Pick" distinction."
I finally got Editor's Pick! And I wasn't even being witty. I honestly do want to know where I can get that skirt. I've been looking for a high-waisted pencil skirt for forever. They're so stylish, no?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mystery Jets' "Twenty One"

The new Mystery Jets album comes out tomorrow (I'm timely again-yea!) [editor's note: I was wrong. I don't know when it's coming out]. I'm really digging it. Come tour the States, please!

You can preview "Twenty One" here:



Also, to continue my trend of promoting stop-motion videos, here's the video for "Young Love":



And to end this Mystery Jets extravaganza, I Guess I'm Floating has a cool remix. Listen to it here:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

self-abnegation

Word: self-abnegation

The context in which I most recently heard/saw it used
: From The Believer's interview with Vladimir (March/April 08). Vladimir creates ViewMaster slides (calling them "Vladmasters") accompanied by a cd with a soundtrack and instructions for switching slides. There are also live group performances. When the interviewer asked Vladimir whether her experience as a projectionist influenced her thinking around "performing" film, she replied, "When you're a movie projectionist, the goal is actually one of self-abnegation. A good projectionist is an unnoticed projectionist. This is perfect for me because I'm always trying to make myself disappear."

Meaning in the aforementioned context: denial of self, renunciation of your own interests for the interests of others.

Further thoughts: I was utterly fascinated with this interview. It touches on many issues of art and its interaction with the creator and the consumer, a subject that always fascinates me. At first Vladimir's conceptual art may seem rather pretentious (not to mention the artist's moniker), but upon further description it's quite intriguing.

All my friends are getting these for Christmas.

High Places, Nicole Atkins

Nicole Atkins' hair makes me want to cry. Honestly. Click to enlarge and you'll get a little choked up, too.

[photo from You Ain't No Picasso]

Ditto for Mary Pearson from High Places.


I could try and try to get this look down, but at best could be categorized as a hot mess.*

Oh, also, did I mention I like their music? Especially High Places. If I were to create music, it's exactly what I'd want to sound like. You should listen to it. Hit up the links.


*Since E works with teenagers, he's usually much more aware of modern slang than I, so I was shocked the other day when he asked me ever so sweetly, "What's a hot mess?"

ESD#28: the best man

I was in Porter Square this morning and stopped by my old haunt Simon's Coffee Shop. Somehow, I never noticed that Simon's trash cans are decoupaged with... wait for it... screen shots from "The Best Man"!

It's no secret that my favorite film genre is African-American wedding movies. My top three in this genre are:

#3: The Wood
#2: The Brothers
#1: The Best Man

Oh, The Best Man. What other movie gives you:

- Morris Chestnut introduced on screen with The Roots' "What You Want" as his soundtrack
- pre-Lost Harold Perrineau with dreadlocks
- pre-everything Terrence Howard as a creepy/sexy lothario
- Taye Diggs and Nia Long (OK, every movie has these two)
- a potential hook up thwarted by the record skipping on Stevie Wonder's "As"
- not one, but two prominent songs by Cameo
- a classy version of the Electric Slide. I'm not kidding. See [1.20] in the trailer:



I appreciate that "The Best Man" deserves criticism regarding how African-Americans are portrayed in film--the same kind of criticism applied to tv shows like UPN's "Girlfriends". So to offset my promotion of this mainstream film, look out for Russ Parr's "The Last Stand" (hopefully widely available on DVD at some point?). Watch the trailer here. It's a realistic, humorous and touching film about hopeful comics in L.A.--all around brilliant. Unfortunately, it will probably only be seen by those who attended the 2006 Roxbury Film Festival (like me)-- such is the business.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear): "Too Little Too Late"

Wow. File this one under crazy cover songs. Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear covering native New Englander Jo Jo's "Too Little Too Late." I love it. E will hate it. From I Guess I'm Floating:

indie rock crushes

After writing this post about my indie rock crush changing from Sufjan Stevens to Zach Condon, this cracks me up. Apparently every other female indie rock fan feels the same way. From stereogum's 2007 Gummy Awards' Indie Rock Hotties of 2007:

"After last year, we began to think Stereogum patron saint Sufjan Stevens would have a lock on this category forevermore. But a year of garage rock and no wings changes things: the Mr. Indie Rock fixture ceded his crown to an upstart swooner, the oh so silent Swedish crooner Jens Lekman. Feist may have won her Gummy tiara in a landslide, but things were much closer on the Prom King side: Jens, Kevin Barnes, and Zach Condon were all incredibly close at the top spots. It could've gone either way. And the Mr. Indie votes were greatly divided along age lines: Zach was tops for those in their teens, Jens for those in their 20s, and Britt for those in their 30s! What's next, Thurston for the 40s, Jagger for the 60s? For the ladies, though, votes were relatively stable across the generations. (For the record, Zach is the ladies' choice.) Also, by the demo breakdown: Dudes love Thom Yorke. Ladies, not nearly as much."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

RZA's "You Can't Stop Me Now"

RZA's got a new track on his myspace page: "You Can't Stop Me Now". No surprise, it's heavy on the electric guitar. I like it, though--kind of a lazy, subtle beat. Great sound, but I think he rhymes for only about 30 seconds of the song; he lets the sample and guitar do most of the work.

ESD#27: celebrity and new criticism, revisited

I've been thinking again about celebrity and new criticism. I think about this subject a lot--like when I recently researched Ira Glass. What prompted me to do this? My latest thinking is that perhaps I like my art being sullied by the reality of an imperfect creator. It makes me feel less inadequate or less naive.

Regarding celebrity, after (gasp!) two years of reading perezhilton.com, I'm removing it from Google Reader. It's disgusting, vacuous drivel, and I'm sick of it. It used to be occasionally funny, but now, never. The only thing I enjoy is finding the conspicuously ghostwritten posts--like when "Perez" used the word vitriol. Not Perez. I'm further annoyed by his current promotion of music (he's starting a label). Ugh. Good riddance.

Let's move on to more high brow culture.

E and I used to attend a lot of book readings. My favorite book reading story is when E saw Elie Wiesel read from Wise Men and Their Tales. Before Wiesel signed E's book, he put down his pen, shook his wrist and let out a long sigh. E felt so guilty, thinking, 'This poor man survived the Holocaust, and I'm wasting his precious life making him sign my book.'

I experienced my greatest celebrity awe when seeing Douglas Coupland read (for Miss Wyoming, maybe?). I've read every Coupland novel and love them all to a varying degree. He ran his Q&A session as an A&Q session, Jeopardy style--how apropos, considering his "top Jeopardy category lists" from Generation X. Oddly, after the reading, I didn't want him to sign my book. I'm not sure why. His books often touch on themes of art and isolation, so perhaps I wanted the purity of remaining disconnected from the author. In j-pod, a more recent novel, Coupland actually inputs himself, the author, directly into the story; clearly Coupland wrestles with new critic themes, too.

For my own benefit, here's a list of memorable readings I've been to, along with notes. This is one of those "notes to future self" lists, since even now these memories are fleeting. You may want to stop reading at this point.

Harold Bloom--I think we've seen him speak, like, eighteen times. His reading of Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages was very insightful. He described himself as someone who was never meant to be a child; his childhood was very isolated. He recited Christina Rossetti by heart; it was quite moving.

T.C. Boyle--The short story he read was great, but I left thinking Boyle was a pompous ass. He probably is. My friend Deb was in the front row and nervously asked a question, as she has a major crush on him--so cute. Months later, I discovered that Boyle wrote Tortilla Curtain, which I thought was one of the most insightful and truthful books I've ever read about class, race and culture. My whole perspective of Boyle changed. When is the movie coming out?

Paul Farmer--Amazingly, a non-profit superstar can sell out the Sanders Theater. It's moments like this that I love Cambridge. I can't believe I still haven't finished Mountain Beyond Mountains.

Paul Feig--I've never laughed so hard at a book reading.

Frances Moore Lappe--She read from Hope's Edge, one of my favorite books. I had the pleasure of reading a few chapters before it was published (during some sort of activist workshop), and I was so pleased with the final product (despite the hard to read present progressive tense). A few years later, Lappe rented space in my office, and I got to know her on a more personal basis. This has prompted a lot of my thinking about new criticism and separating art from the creator. I'm too nervous to write about this experience here, so ask me about it in person some time.

Jonathan Lethem--Oh, Lethem. I read The Disappointment Artist over and over again, and never tire of it. Please write more personal non-fiction. Please.

Mark Pendergrast--There were only about ten of us crammed into a small space at WordsWorth after they sold half of the store. [Ugh, I miss that place. Harvard Square, take a good long look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? Do you realize what you've become?] I felt really guilty, because I asked him to sign Uncommon Grounds instead of the book he was promoting Mirror Mirror (oddly, E bought and read Mirror Mirror a few weeks ago, years after its release). I told him as such, and he replied, "It's OK. I really like this book." He was so sweet and funny. He signed it with the message, "Thanks for reading this," which was so clever, since he knew I had already read it.

Robert Pinsky--He produced(?) a documentary of people reciting their favorite poems. Touching stuff. This doesn't show up in the IMDB. Is it not completed? This was years ago. Hmmm.

Salman Rushdie--Fatwa jokes never get old. Some of the dialog he read was truly embarrassing (I can't remember the book). Rushdie should not attempt to write the voice of young American pop-culture. I wrote an essay about the night E and I saw Rushdie. It really captured that time E and I spent together before dating. Unfortunately, it's on an old computer that I can't get to start. I guess I'll have to be satisfied with the ephemeral memories of that night. Like all my ephemeral memories of life before dating and marriage.

Joseph Stieglitz--Boy, Stieglitz, did you ever predict our economic downfall.

Howard Zinn--I have no idea what he was promoting. Then again, he's always promoting something around here. I've seen him speak a couple of times.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

DeVotchKa's "A Mad and Faithful Feeling"

I've been going back and forth on whether I want to go to the DeVotchKa concert on 5/18. I'm hesitating mostly because it's a Sunday night. I'm lame.

Well, I just listened to their new album (came out today--I'm finally timely with new music!), and it's flippin' amazing. You can stream it here. [expired] [and it's back again!] It's all sorts of crazy horns, accordions and percussion. You know their live show must be bananas. Oh, if only I had seen them when they toured with Beirut. Big sigh.

I think I have to make another trek to the Paradise for tickets. [sad face.]

The Gutter Twins, Screaming Trees

This afternoon, I picked up tickets* at the Paradise and heard a bit of the sound check for The Gutter Twins. When I heard Mark Lanegan's voice, I remembered how much I adored the Screaming Trees' album "Dust". I don't think I've listened to it in ten years. I couldn't wait to get home and listen to it again.

And then I did.

Hmmm. Isn't it weird how much our tastes change over the years? I regularly listen to my old Pearl Jam albums, but I guess my love of all things grunge is not as strong as it used to be. I used to think I was born in the wrong time and place. In fact, even now, I'm about 35 in my head, 7 years older than my actual age. When I was 14 I wished I was living in Seattle, wearing flannels and going to shows.

Maybe I should further test the resilience of my grunge love by dusting off the Singles soundtrack.

Oh well. Even if my love for Screaming Trees isn't the same as it once was, they're still a great band. Here's "Nearly Lost You" from the Sweet Oblivion album to remind us of the glory days:



* Rogue Wave on 4/11 and Cut Copy, Black Kids & Mobius Band on 5/12. Anyone want to join E and me?

Monday, March 17, 2008

pi revisited

So after this post, I couldn't resist. See more here.

Spoon video

Yea! New Spoon video! I love stop motion videos! Here's "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb":



Speaking of videos, I've learned that many of my friends who read this blog don't generally read a lot of blogs. Thus, I can get away with repeating whatever stereogum and gorilla vs. bear tell me is cool, and I can easily impress people. I kid, I kid. Though I did get the Spoon video from stereogum.

So for those of you aren't already hip to the indie music blogosphere, but like good music, check out this site to see incredible live music videos filmed with hand held cameras on the streets of Paris. I've spent way too many hours watching these.

Like I have to tell you, my top recommendations are Beirut* and Sufjan Stevens. The Arcade Fire, The National and Menomena ones are also great.

* Beirut and Vincent Moon created videos for every song off of The Flying Club Cup. They're putting out a dvd at some point. Can we say Christmas present?!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

ESD#26: St. Paddy's Day minute

After all my talk about avoiding race riots on St. Paddy's Day, E and I decided to take the red line through Southie right after the parade ended.

???

I know. Not smart. But it did result in me coining a new awesome term: "St. Paddy's Day minute": the time it takes drunken Irish strangers to go from "I love you, brotha" to threatening violence. We observed this, mmmm, maybe half a dozen times on our subway ride?

When we got home we drank some Presidente, because we agreed that if a race riot were to occur in our neighborhood, we would side with the Dominicans. I think they'd have our backs.

ESD#25: pi

Apparently this blog is solely devoted to SNL now. Indulge me here.

In tonight's Weekend Update, Seth Meyers presented a story about Friday, 3/14 celebrated as pi day. He concluded by saying "I was so hungover this morning." The funny thing is, that actually happened to me. Friday, I was at a party where not only did people wear pi themed t-shirts, but at one point there was a contest to see who knew the most numbers of pi. I won! (3.1415926535, suckers!). Only ten digits? I'm not that nerdy. And the hangover? Yeah, that was pretty accurate, too.

SNL was surprisingly funny this week. But not nearly as funny as the "Tickle Me Emo" sketch on MadTV we discovered while flipping channels during commercials.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Alif's "Dakamerap"

Alif is an all-female hip-hop group from Senegal. I've decided to be their biggest fan/promoter. My one real contribution to the music blogosphere. More on this later. You can preview their album here:

ESD#24: top 4 under appreciated SNL sketches


After surviving two St. Patrick's Days in Roxbury, E and I have learned that if ever a race riot were to occur in our neighborhood, it would be on this night.

We have stories.

So tonight we continue our tradition of bunkering down in our house and praying that things don't get ignorant. We'll be watching "This is Spinal Tap"* and SNL.

After reviewing my blog stats, I've discovered that writing about an under appreciated SNL sketch guarantees lots of random traffic to your site. So in honor of everyone who googled "Dr. Uncle Jimmy's Smokehouse and Outpatient Surgical Facility" and was surely disappointed by my blog (how meta! it's gonna happen again!), here are my top 4 favorite under appreciated SNL sketches.

#4: Smigel cartoon "Saddam and Osama", 5/10/03, Adrien Brody as host
This was a superhero cartoon from the Abu Dhabi Kids Network. I don't really remember the cartoon, but what I do remember is the commercial for "Rocks". Rocks as in stoning. It was hands down the most offensive thing I have ever seen on TV. And one of the funniest. I can not believe this passed the censors. I've also never seen E laugh so hard. He was to the point of wheezing.

#3: "Dr. Uncle Jimmy's Smokehouse and Outpatient Surgical Facility", 3/14/08, Amy Adams as host
"I hope those aren't my ribs."

#2: "Falconer", 11/15/03, Alec Baldwin as host
The Falconer is stuck in quicksand and sends out the falcon for help. The falcon comes across a sign with one arrow pointing to "casino" and another arrow pointing to something like "rope". You then see the falcon at the craps table. Every time his claw rolled the dice, E was in stitches.

#1: "Snakes on a Plane", 2/7/98, John Goodman as host
With all the hype that accompanied the movie "Snakes on a Plane", I'm astonished that almost no one referenced this sketch. Similar to the film, the title pretty much sums up the sketch. But they took it one bizarre step further. After the plane crashes, a rubber snake rises from the flames and gives a speech about how he'll show up when you least expect it. I have a very vivid memory of watching this in my friend Jeff's room freshman year of college. No one really laughed during the sketch, but about 10 seconds into the following commercials, someone kind of giggled, which led to more giggling, which eventually let to everyone falling off their chairs laughing. For the rest of college "It's meeeee!" (the snake's calling card) was the most repeated line on our friends' voice mail.


*New Halloween costume idea? Mime caterer:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

U23D (go see it, fool)

Leave your cynicism at home and go see U23D. It would take me a long time to write a meaningful review, so read Wired’s if you require convincing. Here are my personal highlights.

Favorite moment? Bono kissing Clayton on the lips. Sincerely sweet.

Most surreal moment? In “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, when Bono sings “wipe your tears away,” his arm extends into the audience and literally wipes your tears away. I wish he had done this during “Pride” when I actually was a little teary. Oh, who am I kidding? I even got weepy during “Beautiful Day.” Sheesh.

How the film experience best mimicked my real U2 concert experiences? At the end of every song, my inner 15-year-old pleaded, Please play “Bad” next. PLEASE. PLAY. “BAD”.

Moment when the theater crowd acted most like a real U2 concert crowd? Two guys sitting behind us were very drunk (at 7pm? Eek!). It was quite reminiscent of “Knocked Up” when the guys go see Cirque du Soleil on mushrooms. They were really paranoid and freaked out by some of the more intense 3D effects; but by the end of the film, they had come down from their high. When U2 played the opening bars of “With of Without You” they simultaneously yelled out, “Yesssss!” This happens at EVERY U2 concert. All homophobic tendencies are tossed out the window when this song is played. Drunk men are hugging, swaying shoulder to shoulder, closing their eyes, singing, “I can’t LIIIIIIIIIVE”.

Quote I’ve heard from E during every U2 concert, repeated during the film? “Ugh. Why do they always play “Bullet the Blue Sky”?”

Best inspiration from the film? Halloween 2008.

Adam Clayton = E
Larry Mullen Jr. = Drew W.
The Edge = Luke
Bono = do I even have to tell you? Have you ever seen Paul S. not looking exactly like this:


Other thoughts. It’s so easy to be cynical about U2. Every time they produce another album, it’s like, ‘Uh, that’s great that you’re enjoying making new music and all, but really, guys. We’re cool with just listening to “The Unforgettable Fire”. You’ve given us enough already.’

So you kind of suffer through the tedious singles like “Stuck in a Moment”. But then they go and blow you away with something incredibly touching. Like the song “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own”. Yeah, the guitar riffs in the bridge are kind of cheesy, and the lyrics aren’t exactly brilliant. But the whole back story is so moving. Bono wrote this song for his father’s funeral and claims that when his father died, he gave him a voice. And sure enough, for the following couple of months, Bono’s voice was more powerful than ever. They depict this perfectly in the video. Bono walks down a street, hoarsely singing the opening lines; the instruments kick in, and his voice transforms.

Did you see U2 perform this on Saturday Night Live? Quite honestly, the only way I can describe Bono’s voice that night is angelic. Somehow supernatural.

Post-script:

A quick stop at the Sidebar on our way home from U23D taught me two things:

1. Seattle Supersonics’ Chris Wilcox is copping Method Man’s style.

2. Me + jukebox + $1 = Flight of the Conchords dancing to LCD Soundsystem (this dance, not this dance). Always. Without fail.

ESD#23: figure skating (again!)

Remember this post about watching a lone figure skater on the Frog Pond while listening to Beirut? It happened again. This time I was listening to “Sunday Smile”; here’s your post reading soundtrack:



I decided to investigate. Observing him up close, the kid’s definitely a professional. He skates in the morning when no one’s around. Then around 11, they kick on “Foreigner’s Greatest Hits”; he puts his ipod on and tones down the axels and stuff. Once the lunch crowd pours in, he leaves.

So my plan is to give him a Beirut cd. That way when he wins the gold medal in Vancouver after his long performance to “Sunday Smile” this whole blogging thing will be worth the effort.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

the mash-up that must happen


Last night, E and I listened to all sorts of new music. We finally heard local favorites Hallelujah the Hills.

When listening to music, E has what I call a very sensitive bullshit meter in his head. The meter went bananas after the first few lyrics of "Wave Backwards to Massachusetts":
a blizzard
a mallard
a stillborn Chinese baby speaking backwards
His response was, "You know what I say to Hallelujah the Hills?" He then played Method Man's "Konichiwa Bitches".

And this is how we discovered potentially the hottest mash-up of early 2008. Playing these tracks back to back was truly awesome. If only I had some good mixing software, I'd totally be on this. Give it a try!


Montreal road trip!

I've been waiting for a good excuse to take a road trip to Montreal (only five hours away--yeah, Boston!), and I was hoping it would be music related. Today, I got my wish. Leonard Cohen is playing his hometown June 23-26, conveniently right after E is done with school. I can not believe this man is 73 years-old and touring.

The only problem is that his latest work includes a lot of cheesy saxophone, for which I have little tolerance. But he still has that voice! I'm torn. Let's throw out a classic in honor of the man. Here's "Suzanne".

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sufjan Stevens' "Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake"

The first draft of this post included about 30 exclamation points. I get a wee bit excited when I hear new Sufjan Stevens. Here's the video:


Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake from Asthmatic Kitty on Vimeo


[Editor's note: I should clarify that this isn't new Sufjan Stevens. It's from The Avalanche. I've only listened to part of the album, so it's new to me!]

ESD#22: a young Mussolini

Sophomore year of high school, my World History class read mini biographies of Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. (I know, weird, right?). After the teacher passed out the Mussolini books and asked us to turn to the introduction, the entire class let out a collective, "Aah!" A sixteen-year-old Mussolini looked exactly like a kid in the class.*

Today, the NY Times reviewed a documentary on high school life, and included this quote:
"Hall was a serious, stern-looking man; yet he still understood just how soul-searing it can be when the Noxzema fails and the only boy to ask you to homecoming looks like a young Mussolini."
Is this a common occurrence? Awkward teenage boys being compared to Mussolini? I found this to be disturbingly coincidental.

On a related note, the Stalin bio included a picture of a young Stalin's mug shot, and let me tell you, all the sixteen-year-old girls in the room were like, "damn, he's cute." So I made it my mission to popularize the slang "stalin" to describe a cute boy. "Ooh, did you see Brad's new haircut? He's stalin."

In retrospect this is pretty creepy, but I think (hope) we recognized this at the time.


*Far more embarrassing, the following year, our AP US History class collectively discovered that Harriet Beecher Stowe looked exactly like another boy at the school.

Morning Benders' "Waiting for a War"

I'm diggin' everything I've heard from the Morning Benders so far. This might be the first time I'm anticipating a new album coming out (May 6th!) vs. "discovering" an album six months after its release. Also, yet another show to see at the Paradise over the next three months (June 9th!).

After today's eight hours of sitting in front of a computer, it's nice to see some "Office Space" -style anger in this video.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

ESD#21: in defense of Will Forte

Like every good indie music fan, I watched Saturday Night Live last night in order to see Vampire Weekend. I thought they were good; I'm still just not that into it.

But what I am into? "Dr. Uncle Jimmy's Smokehouse and Outpatient Surgical Facility." Oh my goodness. Will Forte continues to be the funniest person on SNL. Why doesn't he get more love? His Falconer and MacGruber sketches are genius!

This bbq/surgery sketch had me in stitches. Doing a quick search on this, no one else was so moved. Do these people have no senses of humor? Or did I just have one too many drinks last night? For my own sake, I'm voting for the former.

Last Night's Concert (I didn't go to): Freezepop

I realize it's ridiculous to continue to write about concerts I wanted to go to, but didn't, but I'm hoping this is a fleeting thing.

I didn't go see Freezepop Friday night, because E was still sick and couldn't handle kooky electro-pop.

Freezepop plays in Boston all the time, though, so I'll see them at some point. You can listen to them here.

On a related note, so many of my friends and co-workers have been sick these past few weeks; I'm amazed I've stayed healthy. I feel like X: The Last Woman.

I admit, that last paragraph was just a set up to note that I recently went to Newbury Comics and read through half of the first Y: The Last Man. The NY Times wrote an "A Night Out With" the author, and I was intrigued.*

I've never been into comics, but I've recently read a few graphic novels. My sister gave me Adrian Tomine's Shortcomings for Christmas, which was really enjoyable. Soon thereafter, our friend Alecia lent us Craig Thompson's Blankets, which both E and I found incredibly touching. Though this is obvious to any avid comic reader, it's amazing how graphic novels and comics can create narrative in a way that's so different from the traditional written word or film. I feel like I've just discovered an entirely new art form. This is all new to me, so if anyone has recommendations, let me know.


* It's no secret that I get all my cultural cues from the Times, so I won't bother to apologize for how lame this is.

I made you a mix-tape #4: dedicated to Luke

Last night we hung out with Luke, and conversation again turned to music. We listened to all his post-rock stuff while playing darts.

We still butt heads on Interpol and The Doves. I hate the former, love the latter. He's the reverse. This morning, I woke up to this voice-mail he left us last night: "Hey guys. I just wanted you to know that right after you left, I played Interpol, and everyone was like, 'ooh, these guys are so great.'" He then proceeded to play a little ditty over the phone. What a punk!

So I made Luke a mix-tape of all music I know he likes. Plus I added The National, Dirty Projectors, LCD Soundsystem and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, since I think he'd like them, too. I also added !!! to prove that I can like pretentious bands.

So, Luke, you want to go to the Dirty Projectors and British Sea Power shows coming up this month?

The Sandwiches' "Oliver Twist"

I told myself I'd never blog again about a dream, but here we go!

Last night I dreamed I was at a concert for the band The Sandwiches. I had never heard the name before, so I looked it up this morning, and it's a band! Fun stuff, too.

Thanks, subconscious! You can listen to "Oliver Twist" here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I made you a mix-tape #3 (guest dj Ivan)

Ivan is a former student of E. Awesome guy--definitely the next Jonathan Lethem or Zach Condon. He also sends us care packages, which is funny, since he's the one in college. His latest care package included Vermont maple syrup and a "Songs for Spring" mix.

Ivan has introduced us to a lot of good music. I only recently started listening to the Menomena and My Brightest Diamond cds he sent ages ago--wish I had done that sooner.

Here are selections from the mix. Thanks, Ivan! After a quick listen, I have to say Jens Lekman is just as good as the cool kids say he is (he's pretty much on everyone's best of 2007 list). Also, I'm nowhere near hip enough to listen to M.I.A.--makes me feel like I'm "forcin' it", as the young folk say these days.

ESD#20: Fat Joe

Last night, Fat Joe's street team plastered these posters all over my neighborhood.


E is home sick today, so I think in his free time he should have some fun with sharpies.


Nothing like fighting homophobia with homophobia.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Last Night's Concert: Syme, The Modern Skirts

Last night I had free tickets to the Paradise Lounge (thanks, Brad!*). As previously mentioned, I have no idea how to write about music, so I’ll stick to personal reflection here. Someday I'll attempt to write a proper concert review.

E has a nasty 3-day flu, so the lovely Sarah joined me—haven’t seen her in months! After quickly glancing at one of the artists’ Myspace pages, I sold the concert to Sarah as "folksy". Further investigation showed that the four bands were an eclectic bunch, and only one group fit that category. So being unfamiliar with Sarah's musical tastes, I was afraid I'd be 0-2 after the "Funny Ha Ha" fiasco (oh, A.O. Scott, the only time you’ve failed me, and I’m still bitter).

Fortunately, Sarah’s open-minded and enjoyed Syme, the first act. In fact, I learned she was in a hip-hop/funk band in college called "Trace Element". Awesome!

Sarah always has great stories. Turns out we’ve both traveled around Chiapas. Finally, I found someone with whom to gripe about San Cristobal! She agreed the town was full of ex-pat drug addicted “revolutionaries” who romanticized poverty while infuriating the locals. Sarah's Chiapas stories totally beat mine. Though we both traveled in rural, Zapatista country, I stayed in hotels, and she slept on dirt floors. Oh, and did I mention she had typhoid fever? Sheesh!

On to the music.

Syme was the opener--great recommendation from Brad, Boston’s most reliable, informative music blogger. With the risk of being unnecessarily vague, Syme’s sound is, uh, eclectic. One song would be electronica / experimental. The next would be straight up pop / indie rock. The next would combine all of this into a percussion-heavy, prog-rock sound. Obligatory band mash up description? Low + Wheat + Zero 7 + UNKLE + the Doves. In all, it’s a great sound – good energy, upbeat, not too sleepy experimental stuff. Also, Syme throws down some great falsettos, and you know how I love falsetto! Whether it’s R&B (Maxwell), alterna-folk (Bon Iver) or electronica (Syme), the falsettos get me every time. I wonder, is Syme the first Scandinavian experimental band not to include a female member? Hmmm.

The next band, Modern Skirts, was your standard fun, happy-go-lucky Athens, GA rock band. Good stuff—it’s just not really my thing. It would be my thing if I were picnicking on a campus green, basking in the ephemeral joys of life without responsibility, but alas. Those days are over and so is my tolerance for college rock.

The guitar player wore a Michael Dukasis campaign t-shirt, saying it was in honor of the competitive race for the democratic nomination. I honestly don't think he realized Dukakis was from Massachusetts, the far more obvious connection. I’m guessing these guys won’t be receiving any Vampire Weekend, nerd rock comparisons.

He also said he voted for Dukakis in his kindergarten mock election, and I was like, dude! I voted for Dukakis in my fourth grade mock election. Doing the math, that makes me… OLD. True story: I attended a conservative private school outside of Philadelphia from first grade through high school. With about 100 people per grade, I was one of 4 who voted for Dukakis in 4th grade, one of 8 who voted for Clinton in 8th grade, and one of 12 who voted for Clinton again in 12th grade. Crazy.

Sarah couldn’t wait around for the folk group, and Brad left early, too, so I spent the rest of the Modern Skirts set with the bass player from Syme. He scarfed down a salad as though it was the only thing he ate that day (probably was). I totally feel for these bands touring in unfamiliar places. Of course, it’s tons of fun, but you make no money, get no sleep and completely depend on the kindness of strangers. I was inclined to invite them to crash at my place, but my man is sick as a dog and probably wouldn't have appreciated tripping over four Norwegian boys on his way to work.

Alright, new goal: this summer, when E is off from school, we’ll invite bands to our house after shows.

The bass player and I bonded over the fact that my bill came in this insane Camel cigarettes sponsored leather holder that glowed a bright green upon opening. Each time we opened it, we reenacted the briefcase scene from "Pulp Fiction", exclaiming its contents: "It's cocaine!" "It's millions of dollars!" "It's the answer to who shot JFK!" Trust me; this was hilarious in context.

I left before the other two bands played: one folksy, one poppy. When I first moved to Boston seven years ago, I really loved the Boston folk scene, but I just can’t get into it anymore. And the other group seemed similar to the Modern Skirts, so I wasn’t that motivated to stay. I got home before 11 – rock star!

*E and I are forever in debt to this awesome Boston music blogger for posting the Arcade Fire concert we went to at the Orpheum last year--so good! Bonus points for Brad being a regular dj at River Gods---Best. Bar. Ever.

My only disappointment with the Arcade Fire show was that they didn't play "Wake Up". This is hands down one of the best concert sing-along songs ever. When we saw U2 in Boston for the Vertigo tour, they played this as their start-up song before approaching the stage. E might disown me for saying this, but I thought it was one of the best moments of the concert. Speaking of that concert, can we throw this photo up here?


WHO IS THAT GUY? He's like a skeleton! This was when E was in crazy marathon training. Ah, ban comic sans t-shirt. So sorry I washed you with E's red soccer uniform. You were once a great shirt--an easy way to find kindred spirits in a crowd of strangers.

One final side story. On my subway ride over to the concert, I’m pretty sure I was standing next to a guy from Doannie’s karaoke birthday party. Hopefully he didn’t recognize me as the girl who posted video of him dancing to the Spice Girls. Awkward.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

BLOG RECAP#2: notes to future self

I'm slightly concerned that my future self will read this blog and have an entirely false picture of what my life was like in my late 20s. So I'd like to clear up some inaccuracies here.

This may help me avoid becoming like my grandfather, who tells these wild stories that incorporate the experiences of various friends and family. For example, he tells people that my grandmother and he went to Honduras to teach indigenous communities how to grow coffee to sell to Starbucks. This one combines his life + mine + cousin Laura + brother-in-law Chad. His stories are pretty awesome, though. He's on this kick of describing multiple instances of killing mountain lions with just a pocket knife--awesome, Pop-Pop!

So, Future Self, here's the truth:

1. The reason you started this blog is mainly 3-fold: First, you bought a new receiver--the first real stereo system you ever owned. Suddenly, all music sounded incredible. Listening to just the first bar of Radiohead's "Let Down" gave you goosebumps. This made you feel really lame for listening to the same Wu-Tang Clan album on your ipod every day for six months. So you were inspired to listen to new music.

Second, when you turned 28, your biological clock started ticking like crazy. You realized there were only a few more years of staying out late and wasting time reading music blogs before the babies came.

Third, E got an i-mac from school. You see, Future Self, in 2008, Bill Gates still ruled the world, and owning your first mac was life-changing. Blogging was a good excuse to use this beautiful little white machine.

2. It appears that you listened to a lot of new music, but really none of it was new. In early 2008 you "discovered" everything that was new and hip in 2006 and 2007.

3. It also appears that you listened only to new indie artists, but truthfully, you kept a couple of Wu-Tang Clan and Sufjan Stevens songs on your ipod.

4. You weren't overstating your obsession with Beirut. If fact, you listened to them on repeat, non-stop for weeks and planned trips to Paris to see them, as that would be the ideal context for a Beirut concert. This surpassed 2006's obsession with Snow Patrol. I know, right? What's Snow Patrol? They were this cute little Scottish/Irish band that wrote an album that was one long apology for screwing over some ex-girlfriend. And even though you couldn't relate to this experience, the passion and sincerity of the album really spoke to you.

Also, you were indeed that obsessed with the Wire season four, the NY Times and the Wu-Tang Clan. You pretty much could relate any experience to one of these three things and had to edit yourself so as not to exhaust your friends with these constant references. Oh, and back in the day, there was this thing called a hipster. Look it up.

5. Further to Beirut, you thought that Zach Condon was really cute. You felt guilty about this. Oh no, not because you were married, but because you were afraid that one day you'd meet Sufjan Stevens, and he'd be like, "I'm not your indie boy crush anymore, am I?" He could see the guilt in your eyes!

6. E thinks you were too tough on the band Switches. At that point, you were into lo-fi, dirty vocals stuff, so if you were to like a polished, poppy British band, it had to be really danceable.

7. In 2008, all your progressive friends were obsessed with Obama, and you were like, "Hey, guys, I'm down with 'Bama," but the truth is you voted for Hillary. Oh, and guess why you voted for Hillary? Because she's a woman! Yes, Future Self. You were that shallow in your 20s; but back in 2008, the idea of a woman president was really exciting. Also, you were secretly sad when the Pats lost the Super Bowl, though you would never admit this, lest you lose any Eagles fan credibility.

8. Karaoke was not a significant part of your life.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

ESD#19: hatin' on The Times

Last week, The New York Times published this story about a former gang member making a home for her family in Oregon. The woman is releasing a memoir. When I read this story, I knew it was fake. I'm not sure how I knew. Looking back at it now, here's one questionable passage:
Besides being a consummate storyteller and analyst of inner city pathology, she is one of the few people who in the same conversation can talk about the joys of putting up her own jam (“I’m going to give you a couple of jars!”) and the painful business of getting a tattoo of a large, weeping pit bull across her back the day the state of Nevada set a close friend’s execution date.
Or how about this one:
Ms. Jones gave birth to her daughter while she was still in college, then graduated with a degree in ethnic studies, She stayed on in Eugene. Rya’s father, she said, was “the first white guy I ever dated, and she was the first white baby I ever saw. I said, she looks sickly, is there something wrong with her?”
Oh, let's throw this one in there, too:
“The first time my o. g. visited me here” — meaning original gangster, the gang’s leader — “he slept 20 hours straight. In L.A. your anxiety is so high you sleep three hours a night.”
I think this was the line that put me over the edge:
One of the first things I did once I started making drug money was to buy a burial plot.
Give me a break! If someone asked me to write a fake gang-related memoir, this is exactly what I would write.

This reminds me of when numerous reputable news outlets (including The Times) reported that the Pope saw Mel Gibson's "The Passion" and responded "It is as it was." There is NO WAY the Pope saw the film, let alone speak that line. Again, if someone asked me to write a fake quote for the pope, "It is as it was" is exactly what I would write.

Well, sure enough, it's all lies. She made up the whole thing. And it's making me angry that The Times let this slip through the cracks. Get it together, Bill Keller!

What makes this even more aggravating is the reporter's blatantly ignorant and offensive depiction of the woman and her home. Why does she have to mention her "fresh set of artificial fingernails" and the sofa that was "jacketed in a brown elasticized cover from Target?" Or how about this gem:
With its shootings, pimps beating prostitutes in the street and drug deals plainly transacted in front of children, the Los Angeles neighborhood where Ms. Jones lived is light years from her tame life now.
Ugh.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Sometimes I really hate The Times. The same page that included this bullshit story also featured "The Terrible Toll of Art Anxiety" a "crippling malady" afflicting the wealthy. UGH.

This whole thing make me think there's some credence to Malcolm Gladwell's (AKA Mr. Tipping Point) The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Surely there was some editor who read this and, like me, thought something was a little off. Maybe The Times should stick to reviewing inspirational business non-fiction and stay away from memoirs altogether.

Bus 23

Woah. Some kids from E's school documented the scariness which is bus 23. And the Boston Globe covered it. Good for them. I've certainly had some unsettling bus 23 moments (I ride it weekly). Once, some kids got into a yelling match with the bus driver; when she wouldn't let them on, they started chasing the bus and throwing rocks. Another time, all the passengers heard some frighteningly loud (and close) gun shots as we drove through Grove Hall. I generally feel safe, but I can't imagine being a teenager riding this bus every day.

I hope some other kids document riding the orange line after school hours. So many of E's kids won't do it, because fights are so common. Man, it's hard being a teenager in the city.

Beirut video

My current obsession with the band Beirut knows no limits. I'm inclined to fly to Australia just to see them live. This video makes me want to try some hardcore drugs. Writhing on a floor covered in confetti has never looked so appealing.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

karaoke photo essay#2

"Sake bomb? I heard about that from NY Times' "A Night Out With" Tracy Morgan." Honestly. Those words actually came out of my mouth. Because I am the walking version of this site and especially this post (oh and this, this, and this one). Fortunately, no one rolled their eyes at me.

Yes, it was another karaoke birthday party, this time for one of E's co-workers. I wrote a photo essay about it here.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Weird Weed's "We're Gonna Die"

I love Weird Weeds and their simple, ephemeral melodies. Here's "We're Gonna Die":

As an aside, in the off chance that my obsession with new music lasts a year, I'm totally road-tripping to Austin for SXSW next year.