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SXSW music! Part 1!

22 Mar

I’m back! And I’m cold.

Last week’s trip to Austin was everything I’d hoped it would be. And reminded me that I’m ready for spring. It was sunny and warm. That isn’t even close to important and perhaps I’m writing that because it’s the second day of spring and I’m fucking freezing. And a little sad the whole thing is over.

So our trip started with a funny (haha) little snafu on our part.  When we got to the Philly airport on Wednesday I said to Brad “So, I think I saw that we are flying into San Antonio?”. He looked at me funny and said “No, why would you think that?”. I looked at him blankly and said “I don’t know, maybe I made that up?”.

I didn’t.

We had originally booked our flight to Austin then needed to change it because of Brad’s work schedule. It seems that at some point during the switch we were offered “nearby airports”. 80 miles away. Which required renting a car to drive to Austin, park the car in Austin, come back to San Antonio the night before our return flight at 8am, rent a hotel in San Antonio (and ditch our already paid-for hotel in Austin).  So car+parking+gas+additional hotel ended up costing us about $700. FUUUUUCK. And that was after the $300 fee for switching the flights. What a waste.

We remained upbeat.

We had originally planned on hitting a Cold War Kids show at midnight on Wednesday, but after our little detour we weren’t able to make it.  Probably my biggest regret.  But then things got good.

Here’s one thing I learned about myself: I have absolutely no gauge on how popular bands are, apparently.  I find music from word of mouth, xpn, and random music blogs, buy music online and mostly see the same local bands over and over.  I guess this has lead me to have no clue whether a band is very popular or not.  Also, I think the number of shows and variety of venues at SXSW lead to crowds that are not necessarily representative of how many fans they have. I guess? I was repeatedly surprised.

Also, we had no SXSW badges to get into any official showcases – this really didn’t cramp my style at all and I don’t regret that decision one bit. This could actually be quite an affordable trip if you find the right place to stay and plan parties to get food and drinks (and don’t fuck up your travel plans to the tune of an extra grand).

Another fun fact: I drunkenly deleted all my pictures from my memory card on Thursday – the wise people from the internet say that I can get them back since I haven’t taken any more pictures on that card since, and hopefully I will.  I can be rather lazy. Cell phone pics for now, because if I try to wait and edit all that shit, we’ll be 6 months out and I won’t remember anything.

Thursday:

Cheers Elephant

We showed up about 2 hours early for a band I was sure was going to have a line wrapped around the block only to get a table with a waitress 15 feet from the stage, with about 20 other people there.  The band members were sitting at the table next to me.  While coming back from the bathroom I nailed my arm into the lead singers chair and felt like an awkward dork (he was very nice though).  I got a pretty nasty bruise on my arm which I consider a battlescar (in the war of me vs. clumsiness). The show was lots of fun and the perfect way to get started. High energy, small but fun and enthusiastic crowd, perfect sunshiny warmth, slight buzz. Ahh.

I also took an accidental 7 minute video of the girl-in-front-of-me’s butt. It’s very avante garde.  My 4 year-old niece thinks it’s the funniest movie she’s ever seen. Sorry, girl.

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Ali Wadsworth

We left and rushed over to Rachael Ray’s Feedback House Party at Banger’s – a really cool outdoor venue, to see a few of my favorite local acts.  Ali is actually an old friend of mine from when I was a camp counselor, and she is just fucking great. Banger’s was a converted house with a huge fenced in yard with looong picnic tables and cornhole and buffet. Free food, free drinks, free music. That part of SXSW was incredible – free shit everywhere.  Ali is an incredible singer and mixes some fun funny drinking songs with some huge, monster songs that will blow your hair back. She’s working on an album and I can’t wait for it.

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Toy Soldiers

I’ve probably seen them more than any other band in my life, and just couldn’t miss ’em down there.  Great show, as always, a little more low-key than usual – the frenzied crescendo that ends most shows was notably muted – but it was the middle of the day, with most people sitting and eating at that time, so I can see why.

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Jonny Fritz

I saw him as a “surprise” guest a few weeks ago and loved him – I honestly enjoyed his acoustic duo at the house show more than the full stage act, but still a really talented guy, with seriously quirky songs. He just seems like a super odd guy, but way talented and genuine. I talked to him a bit after the show and told him I contributed to the kickstarter he had for his wedding (I told you, odd!). He seemed almost apologetic about it (said he had to cancel a bunch of shows in order to do it, plus the total amount they were trying to raise was only $1500 – I donated 5 bucks to get the postcard they had as a perk!) and told me he just met her that week. I wasn’t sure what was true, but he was really nice. I was pretty drunk and ended up buying a copy of his CD that I already owned. Corndawg!

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So we stumbled back to the Convention Center to catch our shuttle (R&R shuttles, which worked pretty smoothly overall), I promptly accidentally deleted all the pictures from my big camera, and fell face down into the bed fully dressed. Success.

Friday:

ALT-J

So again, I misjudged the popularity of a band and started our day with a 1.3 mile walk (which included a long detour through some neighborhoods thanks to crap maps on Brad’s phone [they were beautiful neighborhoods, though]) we ended up at Waterloo Records headquarters to see Alt-J. No way. Hundreds of people wrapped around the place, long lines, people yelling at us that we couldn’t block the sidewalk. No go. Walk away. Ok, sorry – I had no idea they were that popular. We are not worthy.

Joe Fletcher with Jonah Tolchin and other guy with great big beard and smiley face

My goal was to see David Wax Museum and we showed up during the proceeding act, Joe Fletcher. I figured this show would be huge, I would be late and was ready to give up on the whole day after walking an extra 2 miles the wrong way across town again (Um, The Tap Room on 6 was… not on 6th. that’s some tricky shit.). It was 2:30 and so far the whole day was FAIL (well, except the flautas. Tex Mex food agrees with me). We showed up to the venue and it ended up being a smallish, open concept bar, uncrowded and perfect. These guys were fun, solid folk with harmonicas blazin’. Brad was lukewarm (his folk sensibilities are not quite as folky as mine), but I liked them. Not love, but maybe it was because I was SO! EXCITED! for:

DAVID WAX MUSEUM!!!!

This show was hands down my very favorite performance of the entire trip. AHH! I discovered David Wax Museum after shazaaming a song I heard on the radio, and quickly fell in love.  I hadn’t ever seen what he looked like though, so as I stood there waiting for him to take the stage I google image searched him and started looking around the bar for him. Yeah, he was right behind me on the balcony, watching me google him. STARING ME IN THE FACE. HA! He happens to have the bluest eyes I have ever seen, and somehow reminded me of a killer, so I was seriously freaked out. I can’t describe it. I was really uncomfortable.  He was making a very serious, murderer face.

BUT THEN! They started. With BIG, HUGE ADORABLE grins on their faces, obviously enjoying themselves more than possibly anyone I’ve ever seen on a stage, and just killed it. They describe their sounds as Mexo-Americana,  folk mixed with Mexican Son music. They play about a million different instruments. Suz Slezak (David Wax’s main partner in crime) was possibly the most adorable human I’d ever seen, as well as being sick talented. I was obsessed with her. There were a few parts of the performance when I literally laughed out loud – a thing my friend Mandy does when a band is unbelievably awesome, which I never understood before. Now I get it.

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Hacienda

We headed across town to see a friend and ended up catching a few songs from this band. I didn’t know much about them at the time, but later found out they’ve opened for the Black Keys, Grace Potter and and the Nocturnals and Dr. Dog.  Liked them a lot but I really wish I would have listened to them before. I spent too much time processing to really enjoy myself. Solid show to accidentally catch, for sure.

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Michaela Ann with Jeff Malinowski

Jeff was another friend of mine from when I was a camp counselor in Maine, many moons ago. He commented on a photo I posted on Instagram and mentioned that he would be playing in Austin the next day, so of course I had to go see him.  He was playing guitar with a friend, Michaela Ann at a cool place on the East side of town. A bit of a hike, but it was cool to see another side of town – artsier, scrappier, with even more personality than downtown. They were great – female vocals + country isn’t usually my favorite, but she had a lovely, soothing voice and seemed like the sweetest human being on earth. The show was in the front yard of the place, and the street quickly clogged up with people stopping to watch her. Lovely. Jeff mentioned before I left that he was sure our paths would cross again, and he hoped it wouldn’t be ten years this time (FORESHADOWING!).

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Jim James

We left and tried to hail a pedi-cab to take us across the lake to Auditorium Shores – a free “official sxsw” concert at a huge outdoor venue. The bike cab driver told us no – he said it was pretty much the furthest place you can go and maybe we could ask around to see if anyone else would do it.  After a long day of walking and sun we were fairly burned out but decided we’d hoof it.  It really wasn’t that terrible. We crossed the river lake with about a million other people and entered the venue – it was pretty well organized and hassle free. We got as close as I could get Brad to go (until he started hissing “we don’t need to be in the front!” – sorry, love, but we will just have to agree to disagree on that one) and Jim James started right away.

So I knew him, I knew he was in My Morning Jacket, and knew a few songs from his new album and liked them. I had no idea that many people would have gone to see him. I want to say it was in the tens of thousands.  Another big surprise in the “how many people will show up” arena, though I’m sure that The Flaming Lips playing after had a bit to do with it. Or I’m just totally out of it.  Anyway, I love the song New Life and was a little tipsy and swirly at this point and the sun was setting  and it was great. Wow, that whole paragraph was not actually about Jim James. Good thing I’m not a music critic, shiiit.

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Flaming Lips

Holy Moly. I don’t believe I can say that I was surprised by the antics that went on during this show, but I can say I found it absolutely grotesque and bizarre, horrendously painful and also relaxing and beautiful.  Wayne Coyne came out wrapped in cords of lights, with an incredible light show – carrying a baby doll. Cradling the baby doll. Kissing the baby doll. Talking about the baby doll. For at least an hour, while playing their new album (that no one has heard yet) – mid-tempo outer space rock. I hate to say it, and tried to be open minded, but whooosh. It was boring and creepy. When he said he had one song left I asked Brad if he wanted to leave. Brad, The Oracle, in his INFINITE wisdom, said “No, maybe he’ll play a good encore.” (In my defense I was really asking in case Brad was dying to leave. Crowds are pure torture to him, and he had been an amazingly good sport with all my rushin’ around). And then, there it was: 5 songs from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (starting with my absolute favorite Lips song: Fight Test. It’s my “song I never get tired of”. Check it.) and ending with Do You Realize?.  Everyone around me sang and danced like they were tripping. Actually I knew some of them were tripping, because I overheard them say it (come on, they were one foot from my face). The one dude right in front of me kept turning around and looking at me, and for some reason I knew I was reassuring him – he would smile a tiny bit with a scared look on his face and when I would smile and nod he would visibly relax and turn around again. I had no idea exactly what was going on in his mind, but I was glad to be of help. It happened like 7 or 8 times (and again, he was less than a foot from my face, so it was probably weirder than it even sounds).  I saw him in the crowd while walking out and he stopped dead and stared at me – I had no idea what to do so I just said “See ya later!” and ran off.  Oh, drugs.

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So that’s the first half – this shit is getting looong (2nd time I’ve used the word looong in this post, btw) so I think I’ll kill it there, and make a Part 2. Hopefully with real pictures. I haven’t even looked at them yet. Could be magic! Congratulations if you made it this far! Even if you just looked at pictures, I still love you!

South By Southwest: WTF am I doing?!

6 Mar

So, for my 30th birthday, my super nice husband said “Surprise – we’re going to Austin!”.  He had planned the trip for 2 weeks later, which would have put us in the last week of February. I was obviously excited, as we’d always heard that Austin was cool, but I was actually quite bummed that the trip he was planning didn’t include either of the two major music events in Austin (one being Austin City Limits, the other South by Southwest, or for short “SXSW”. Apparently really cool people call it “South By”, but I realize I’m not there yet and most likely never will be). Anyhow, his work schedule got all fucked up, as it tends to do when you work for a pile of dicks, and we had to reschedule. I saw this as my opportunity to mention that what I REALLY wanted to do for my birthday was sxsw! BAM!

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photo credit

Sxsw, which in case you don’t know, is huge and has hundreds of free concerts scattered up and down 6th st., in conjunction with a conference for music industry professionals. The amount I have learned about this event in the past few weeks is incredible, because it’s COMPLICATED AS FUCK! I knew that it wasn’t like other music festivals (get a ticket, find a spot).  Apparently there are official and unofficial showcases – and there are badges, wristbands and people (like me) with nothing.  For some shows you need a badge, many the people with badges are given priority and some don’t rely on badges at all. A lot of showcases require you to RSVP – an absolutely all consuming task where I search for events online through a million different channels then end up on a million different sites trying to sign up for parties that I don’t even really know if I want to go to or if I’ll be able to get into.  It’s nuts.  I’ve made a ridiculously intricate spreadsheet of events that even I can’t understand.

I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about people’s sxsw experiences (people are seeing 150 bands in 5 days!) and I am trying to set some small goals – maybe pick a short list of bands I’d like to see and a few Austin sights and not be disappointed in how it goes down. My biggest hope is that my husband likes it. He hates crowds, so this is a big question mark. I am actually very afraid I will be dragging him from place to place and forcing him to wait in long lines and pack into venues and he will be miserable. I hope I’m wrong on this one!

Since I have never been there before, I can’t really tell you how it all will go down, but I will tell you what I anticipate, my hopes and dreams and what bands I would really like to see, and then I’ll let  ya know how my dreams compare with reality after next week!

  • Eat at food trucks. I hear they have incredible food trucks in Austin and I don’t care if I don’t sit down for one nice meal (besides that Shady Grove Trailer Court, of course. My friends got me a gift certificate there and it looks incred. Can’t wait to gain 8 elbees!).
  • Make an attempt to see Cold War Kids (Brad’s favorite, so this is our #1 goal), Dawes, Foxygen, Cheers Elephant, Houndmouth David Wax Museum and Gringo Star. There are a few bigger bands I will try to see but won’t be surprised if I can’t, due to my non-badged state (Flaming Lips, Vampire Weekend, Frightened Rabbit, among others). I’m really bummed J. Roddy Walston won’t be there despite previously released information. Dick move, J. I have about 80 more on my list but, it’s too overwhelming to think about.
  • Go see my old reliable Toy Soldiers and Ali Wadsworth. I know they are local and I’ve seen ’em a million times, but I think it will be awesome to see ’em tearin it up at SXSW. Brad thinks that’s kinda dumb and that we should be seeing bands that we won’t be able to see another time. I get it. But I can’t miss ’em.
  • Hike at Town Lake. Apparently a beautiful spot for nature and enjoying warm weather.
  • Wear summer clothes, drink heavily and be happy that I’m there.

If you have any tips, suggestions, band recommendations or are going to be there, I’d LOVE to hear from you! I have no fuckin clue what I’m doing and would love to hang out with people – send me a message!

Up, up and away….

GIRLS S2 E5

14 Feb

Wo-oof. When I agreed to take on this week’s GIRLS recap I was excited. But then this episode happened and BUZZ, YOUR GIRLFRIEND, WOOF! There was so much cringing I was starting to get muscle contractures.  It was a totally weird episode, that follows only Hannah through a 2-day encounter with a rich, handsome doctor after she admits she was sneaking trash into his can. I liked how it started, I like the premise and I bought into how she ended up banging this hot, successful dude, as you can just tell he’s incredibly lonely. I really love “Before Sunrise” type moment-in-time love stories that are allll dialogue (I might have had one personal experience where I met a guy at the beach and we stayed up all night talking on a porch and ended up kissing knee-high in the surf as the sun came up, never to speak to him again and it was  l o v e l y.) and this episode could have been awesome. Only it really wasn’t.

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Things I liked about this episode:

  • The friggin beautiful house this man lived in, oh my.
  • When she asks him to beg her to stay (but not like he’s in Toy Story).  I don’t know I just really liked his response, and then hers. (Please don’t leave me, I want you to stay this night and every night, I don’t want you to ever leave my house, I will burn it down if you leave, there’s a good chance I’ll kill myself if you leave, I don’t ever want to be without you – I change my mind, it’s stressful!)
  • Scenes from next week’s episode. Other characters come back! Adam!

Things I didn’t really like about this episode:

  • Nudity – I like that Lena Dunham is comfortable doing sex scenes and being naked and I am honestly somewhat fascinated by the proportions of her body (as Jessa said “Her breasts! They’re teensy!”) but this was just. too. much. There is no reason not to put on a T-shirt when you are going to play ping pong.  I couldn’t even listen to the obnoxious drivel coming out of her mouth during that scene because all I was thinking was “you think you’re so kooky to have written in a naked ping pong scene! and “wow, those proportions!”.  And not to be a dick (said right before a super dick comment), but those see-through shorts were superbly awful, too.  I know I’m just too obsessed with bodies, but geeez.
  • I just couldn’t get over how much Joshua looks and talks like Gob Bluth, my mind kept saying “Hermano!”
  • Ray being a dick, wtf. I want to like him more than I do. Stop making him a dick, please. I do think he’s a good actor though.

Things I hated about this episode

  • Hannah (just one bullet needed here). She will also be running unopposed in this week’s Wound of the Week poll. First, her weird braggy confidence (You’re beautiful – You think so? – Yeah, don’t you? – Yeah, I DO it’s just not always the feedback I’ve been given) and the way she is self-righteously pissed when he just stares at her after her crazy rant.  There was an insecurity and uncertainty that made her somewhat endearing (I am 13 pounds overweight and it has been awful for me my whole life!) and now she is just insufferable.  I hated her being a dick and calling him Josh, her “baring her soul” about wanting to be happy (oh shut, up, you want a brownstone) and the kicker was the line “If anything I’m too smart, and too sensitive, and too not crazy”. Riiiight.

Comments?

Review Roundup: A Bunch of Unrelated Stuff

11 Feb

So, wow, yeah, I’ve been terrible at blogging. My excuse is that we opened our homebrew store this past week and have been really busy. It’s a terrible excuse because I didn’t really do much for the store opening and also who cares? Anyway, I’m going to cram a bunch of unrelated crap into this post for your digestion!

Act 1 – Guilty Pleasures: Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant

My biggest weakness when it comes to “bad” TV is the dynamic duo of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom (or as Brad now calls any bad TV show “Teen Baby Mom” or as JK called it “pregnant babies and teenage retards” [i don’t like to use the r-word, but please!]). I know I’m not alone in the love of these shows, and that does bring me some solace. But just a teeny, tiny bit.  It is SO bad, so, so painfully bad that it forces me to take a look at my life and realize I’m living on a golden fucking cloud. So, yeah,  it is the worst ever reason to like a show. It is the exact, exact same desire to look for a person lying on the ground as you drive past a car accident that causes me to watch these shows. Oh, look, your life sucks way worse than mine. Imma spy on you! HOLY SHIT, your life is a shitshow!  Wow, yeah that makes me feel pretty despicable.  But, oh, look – cute babies!

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And in response to you, Beddall – I also really loved Coyote Ugly and me and my friend Jess saw it in the theater and tried to learn dance moves and pretended to dance on bars for a few months. We were still in the “career exploration” period of our lives so it was totally worthwhile.  And we learned something – nope, I don’t think we can make it in the world of dancing on bars. Thank god we didn’t try songwriting – I’ve seen my journals from that age and there is literally nothing more horrible ever written in the history of human beings.  Not even Twi.lig.ht.

Act 2 – Oscar movie review: Life of Pi

I decided to go to the movie theater alone for the first time in my life. And actually I almost failed as I got the time wrong and found myself banging on the door of the movie theater when it wasn’t even open yet and I felt really stupid. No matter. I really didn’t know what this movie was about – I knew there was a part about a boy on a boat with a tiger – but what I didn’t expect was allllll the animals.  If you don’t know about me and my feelings about animals I will simplify – I am afraid of them and when animals are near me I feel like I’m right on the verge of peeing myself.  So there were some uncomfortable parts and many, many parts when I was really afraid of the tiger.  I honestly doubt most people will have this reaction, as I am a weirdo.

But the important points – the story was sad and heartwarming and the whole thing was a beautiful, huge, visual feast – it gets a little weird and fantasyish at points but the visual effects are dazzling.  I may have audibly gasped a few times when different animals appeared onscreen and I was embarrassed when people in the theater turned to look at me. Thank god no one was there for me to embarrass.  Yeah, that’s a whale jumping through a sea of bioluminescent plankton.

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I am honestly at a loss about which movie I think should win best picture this year. More in depth analysis when I’ve seen ’em all.

Act 2 – Bonus Movie Review – 50/50

This movie just came on TV so I left it on not expecting much, but I ended up really liking it. I must have totally missed it when it was new, or it just didn’t generate a ton of buzz (ugh, did I really just say that? gross.) but whatever.  Joseph Gordon Levitt is super adorable in it (much better looking than when he was in Looper and they did weird stuff to his face to make him look like Bruce Willis – which didn’t work by the way) even when he was sickly and didn’t have hair (it’s a cancer movie – surprise!).  His crinkly eyes, awwwh – just as cute as he was in 500 days of Summer. I also really like Anna Kendrick, she does an amazing job of being a little girl pretending to be a grown up. She’s going to end up being the biggest breakout of Twi.light after all. Great awkwardness, Anna! (Is that a good compliment or what?!).

Anyway, in just about every romantic comedy (this one is a little romantic, but I really wouldn’t call it a romantic comedy. Or even a comedy. What is it? Heartwarming, sarcastic cancer movie with cute boy and Seth Rogan?) there is usually a point where one character does something really stupid and annoying that pisses off the other one and then they are separated and have to jump through hoops and have a series of annoying misunderstandings and “DON’T DO THAT” moments and it makes me tense and angry and if I didn’t mention it, annoyed. This movie didn’t have that.  Also, I really like his face.

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Act 4 -Album Review: Local Natives, Hummingbird

Sigh. I pretty much never feel the need to write about music I don’t really love, but I just can’t stop thinking about the sad, sad phenomenon that is the sophomore slump.  Beddall was the one who introduced me to the Local Natives first album, Gorilla Manor and I was hooked. I listened to it over and over and couldn’t get enough. It had the lines and the punch that made me rewind and replay 10 second parts because I wanted to sing along over and over and squeeze my hands into fists because it was just so GOOD (A cubism dream, the most beauuuutiful squares I’d ever seen!).  So I was really excited to purchase this album the day it came out. But it’s gone.  Nothing offensive about this album, but the punch isn’t there, the floating feeling, the need to take a deep breath when a song was over. I feel sorry for it. It’s in the friendzone.

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Act 5 – Concert Review: Jeff Mangum (of Neutral Milk Hotel)

The back story is that after the album ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’ came out in 1998, he couldn’t tolerate the relative fame and he stopped performing publicly, with very few exceptions (a benefit for a friend, once for protesters at the Occupy movement in NYC, among a few others).  So when he announced a tour I was psyched (but still waited til the last minute to get my hands on some tickets, which wound up working out perfectly with awesome seats).  I think that the room of people at this show could have all been my soul mates. Just looking around at the faces I just knew that these people appreciate music the way I do – I was among friends and was somewhat distraught we would only be together for a night.

Anyway, the crowd sat in hushed anticipation as he walked out – and looked the part of grizzled hermit with long hair and giant mountain man beard. But his voice soared and everyone sang along and it was warm and fuzzy and when someone asked if we were allowed to stand up and he said okay and everyone walked respectfully as close as possible for the encore of ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’.  And we all sang along again, and we were happy.

And the crowd may have included Sean Hoots (of one of my all time faves, Hoots and Hellmouth) and seeing as how he was about 25 feet away from me I had to accost him and tell him I really liiiiked him and he was really nice and he looked at me with smiley, crinkley eyes and I’ve been listening to them for days with a smile. Geez, with the runon sentences.

My picture sucks, and pictures of him on the internet looked nothing like him so here’s a link to Mike’s: Mountain Man Jeff Mangum

Act 6 – Book Review: A Visit from the Goon Squad

So far I am having a hard time keeping everything straight and have to keep going back to remember who the fuck is who.  It’s one of those books with a million characters and jumps through time without chapter headings that say something like “Bennie, 1974”. That would probably help me. It has great reviews but so far I’m not too wowed. I’ll let ya know if anything changes. Or I’ll forget, you never know with me.

SO – here’s the question I pose to you – My “What I’ve been Reading” section has been really sucking, so I toyed with the idea of dismissing my reservations and reading 50 Shades of Gray just so I can review it here. But I don’t know if I should do that because I have avoided it like the plague and don’t really want to. eh?

Best and Worst Concerts, plus Shameless!

23 Jan

Disclaimer: I am a little hesitant to post this, as it may hurt the feelings of one of the most dear people in my life. But I hope upon reading this that instead of feeling betrayed, she will see only how much I love her by this confession.

Well, we should start with the best, right?

Pearl Jam featuring Neil Young (October 1, 2004) – In college I went to a lot of Pearl Jam shows but nothing compares to the show when we were reallly close, in a tiny arena and Neil Young showed up as a surprise guest. Unbelievable. It was during the “Vote for Change” Ten Club (PJ’s fan club, of which I used to be a member) tour, so the venues were really small and personal and fucking sick. Death Cab for Cutie opened and I remember thinking that was a weird band name and Tim Robbins also showed up (I saw him working a voter registration table when I came out of the bathroom, that was unusual). I took this picture and I’m still excited about how awesome it was! Sadly I apparently froze when Neil was there bc I don’t have a pic of that, loser.

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Live 8 (July 2, 2005) – One of the greatest days I can remember. I remember being drunk by 8 am (we took the train in at 6am), dancing for 14 hours. AND I never needed to pee once, which was a serious feat as everyone either had to decide to pee in a bottle with people holding up a towel around them or take the trek through the huuge throng of people to go to the porta potties and that took a minimum of an hour.  I had so many awesome friends around me, I was drinking Lemonade and Banker’s Club, Brad and I were “talking” and all was right with the world.  Looking back at the lineup, some of it was really terrible, but at the time I couldn’t have cared less. I will now attempt to list them in order from worst to best (I’m obviously looking this list up on wikipedia. Also leaving out the country acts, which I can explain on another day)  from kill me to FUCK YEAH!

Rob Thomas, Black Eyed Peas (they got it started, how original!), Jars of Clay, Linkin Park, Maroon 5 (somehow they ended up on both the best AND worst lists), Sarah McLachlan with Josh Groban (Angel? really? talk about a buzzkill), Bon Jovi (fun, honestly), Destiny’s Child, Def Leppard (Pour some sugar on me was my favorite song to play while pouring beer on my own head. ah, youth.), Alicia Keyes (I don’t actually remember her there. I think I may have passed out for a little bit in the middle, to be honest), Dave Matthews, Will Smith (Switch was the tune and it was actually pretty fun to dance to), Kanye (who’s this new up and comer!?), Jay-Z, and last and most – Stevie Wonder

Seriously, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as happy and joyful as I felt when Stevie Wonder played Superstitious and I was dancing my ass off with like 30 of my friends, 22 and drunk on the Parkway. Great decision, great day, some awful music but overall experience 10/10.

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This picture is totally not from Live 8. But it was the same year and pretty much the exact sentiment.

Robby Grote (November 26, 2012) It started out as pretty much the most awkward show I’ve ever been to and ended up on this list.  I brought my friend, and we walked into a tiny room with about 25 kids – it felt like a youth group meeting. We sat on the floor in the corner and felt like total weirdos for being there, and she was ready to kill me (I don’t blame her).  And then the music started and the walls came down and it was one of the best musical performances I’ve ever seen.  At one point I realized I was holding my breath, covering my mouth with my eyes bugging out and my heart was pounding.  We drove home with the music as loud as it could go singing at the tops of our lungs and it was one of those highs that are rare and magical and the reason I’m addicted to live music. And this kid’s ridiculous pipes.

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Bob Dylan (November 11, 2001) Maybe he was really old and sang a few recognizable lyrics to unrecognizable melodies but damn, he’s Bob Dylan. I was in awe. We were really close to him and I just couldn’t believe my eyes. I grew up with a serious Dylan lovin’ mom and listened to him since I was born and held him up as a god and BAM! a real person. Right there.  My mouth hung open and I was just so glad that I got to be there. I’m still glad.

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When I saw him he didn’t look anything like this, but a young Bob Dylan picture is always a treat, so you’re welcome. Especially you Maggie, your love for young Bob Dylan is the purest.

Honorable mentions: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (Goin’ to California and Tangerine… swoon),  Woodstock 99 (I was 16 and I met a beautiful tall blonde boy and kissed him in an airplane hanger during Moby in the middle of the night and it totally made up for having to pee in a resealable Cheez-it bag in my tent and having nothing to eat for 3 days. I love you Rose!), DMB (during high school, our friend would rent school buses and about 50 of us would take them down to the stadiums to tailgate all day and it was really awesome. How we all got away with that I will never know because we were all very underage and sloppy but it worked like magic!), Tom Petty (robo-tripping. That shit can’t be good for you, but Petty was great), Phish (that’s quite a marketplace), Weezer (the cutest super emo boy standing next to me held my hands and danced and sang every word with me told me he loved my glasses and asked me for my number, but I had a boyfriend so I gave him a fake one.), Chili Peppers (my sister took me to this in 7th grade – my first real concert [unless you count Gloria Estefan when I was 9 {oh my god the parentheses are getting out of control!!}]).

Worst:

Britney Spears and 98 Degrees (July 2000) I went with my aunt and cousin for my cousin’s 10th birthday (she’s totally an adult now and that will forever be weird) to the E Center (I will always call it that).  We were out on the lawn so we couldn’t even see anything.  It’s cute that we went, yes, but that’s about it. The highlight was when my aunt tried to do the “crane” karate-type move and my cousin swiped her leg out from under her and about 100 people watched her totally bite it in the middle of the lawn. It was cruel and delightful!

Q102 Jingle BallMya, 98 degrees, Pink, Shaggy, and the headliners: Baha Men! (December 2000) I went with a friend in high school, because I never said no to a concert. This was the second time I saw 98 degrees. Yes, two times in my life I sat through sets that included “Invisible Man” and the 1999’s hottest terrible wedding song “I do (cherish you)”.  Also The Baha Men win the award for grossest fucking thing I ever saw in my life. “Who Let the Dogs Out” was on Nickelodeon if I remember correctly, but their performance had a lot of pushups/humping the ground moves and and astonishing amount of shirtless body waves and pelvic thrusts in 40 minutes and it was seriously disturbing. I also got trampled while trying to fix my shoe, literally people stepping on my back and head while I was facedown on the ground- it was as terrifying as it sounds.  And I lost my purse, which let the horror continue after the curtain went down.

Train and Maroon 5  (2011) There is no gentle way to put this. It was the absolute worst. I ended up there because my husband told friends that I was free and would go without asking what concert it was or asking me (I have a track record of saying yes, so I don’t necessarily blame him. But I still do blame him to his face). Before I went I honestly couldn’t name a single song that Train sang, but once the show started I realized that I knew every fucking song. And I hated every fucking song.  And it wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t know it since every lyric was projected on the jumbotron and every single LA Gear and scrunchie wearing 33 year old woman in the E Center sang along at the top of their lungs. Oh, the humanity.  Since I was with my sweet, adorable friend who was actually enjoying this torture, I had to play it cool – there was no sense in whining and covering my ears (or cowering in a corner, rocking and crying, which is closer to what I wanted to do). So I danced, and sang feebly along here and there and slowly died on the inside.  What doesn’t kill us makes us… stronger?

So, that was long as shit. My apologies!

What I’m watching: Shameless. I thought it was going to be a slutty The O.C.-like show, but I was wrong and it’s totally not like any show I’ve ever watched.  I love the characters and the fact that it’s based on a trashy family and it sadly it kinda reminds me of my own trashy northeast Philly family, without the attractiveness or anything being funny.  Everyone’s fucked up and their house is gross and shit is going down in every episode but it doesn’t take anything very seriously.  And there are some incredible scenes  – the first things that come to mind are Joan Cusack’s wedding speech and gross dude Jody singing “Kissed by a Rose” intensely during sex then crying like a baby afterward. MY POWER, MY PLEASURE, MY PAIN!

That song will never be the same to me (which is a good thing, believe it or not).  But don’t say I didn’t warn you, that shit is NSFW.  You can stream both seasons and it’s a good one to watch in a marathon. Plus, there are some pretty hot people in it, too. Apparently there is a UK version, too, which I bet I would like even more because… mmm, accents.

Oscar movies – round 1

18 Jan

I have always done a shitty job at seeing the nominated movies so this year I’m using this blog as an excuse to go see movies. In the past week I’ve seen Lincoln, Django Unchained and Les Miserables.

Lincoln

Yeah, I probably don’t have much to say about this that hasn’t been said already. It was great, mostly dialogue but witty, sharp and really well written. The actors were perfect. It made me think that Abraham Lincoln was a clever, sneaky, complicated guy, which I’m guessing was the point. I didn’t know exactly how things played out with the way the Civil War ended and how that was intertwined with abolishing slavery (which is the focus of the movie) so at one point I whispered to Brad “I don’t know what’s gonna happen!”.  His response (regarding the amendment ending slavery) “I don’t think it’s gonna pass”.  Thanks, smartass.

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Django Unchained

I was against seeing this movie for some reason – I always think that I don’t like movies that are violent and then remember that isn’t true.  I don’t like movies that are stupid.  My favorite movie of all time is Fight Club and I love QT’s (2gether anyone? no? Good for you.) other films, at least Reservoir Dogs and Inglorious Basterds. Quentin Tarantino is fucking weirdo though and I heard a quote about how his Golden Globes acceptance speech was akin to masturbating on the podium and that was pretty spot on.

Anyway, about the movie: the word that comes to mind is badass.  Jamie Foxx was badass, his clothes were badass, and revenge is badass.  Tarantino movies are really satisfying.

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Les Mis (miser-gah-blehs!)

Forgiveness, strength of character, suffering, redemption, love, dedication, beauty, compassion. Lots of things come to mind when people think of this movie. What comes to my mind is how much I hate dialogue being sung and how I think Russell Crowe is gross. Just, no.  I’m so sorry.  I liked some parts, but I would say about 85% of this movie was boring and/or insufferable. I guess it’s just not my thing? I loved the story, the revolutionary dudes were really hot, and the little boy was the cutest thing on this earth.  But I would never want to see it again because COOOOOSSSSEEETTTE!! YES, ITS TRUUUUE!! I WILL SING EVERYTHING I SAAAY TO YOUU SO IT TAKES FOUR TIMES AS LOOOONNGGGG! That said, I did cry at the end and I thought Hugh Jackman was really good. Also, Anne Hathaway has the most enormous mouth. She’s like a beautiful frog!

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Hopefully I will see more movies and continue this, but who knows!?  Writing a part one with little confidence there will be part two feels like one of those vaguely “wrong” things to do, like sleeping with the TV on or laughing at someone who misbuttons their coat (But oh, the joy I feel when I see someone with a misbuttoned coat! And then I feel bad about that joy!  But seriously, if you want me to like you more, button it wrong. It makes you look flawed and adorable!).

What I’m listening to:

The Districts, but I can’t talk about them all the time (BUT! They are playing on Friday with Juston Stens and the Get Real gang and I’m going and you should, too. The Elks Club is not just a club for elks! It’s a club for music and beer and dancing and friends!). So someone else I have been listening to is another Philadelphia band, Cheers Elephant.  It’s kinda poppy, and I know that because it makes me snap my fingers! Two of my favorites are “Like Wind Blows Fire” (title track! WHOA!) and Leaves. I don’t really know anything about them, but I’d like to see ’em live as soon as I can (hmm… I actually thought they were much more popular than the views on these youtube videos lead me to believe)! Their album is free and that’s always cool. It’s happy music.

What I’m watching on TV:

Extreme Couponing. Because my internet is not working because the fucking router we bought 6 months ago is broken already so I can’t stream episodes of Shameless and I’m too lazy to get up and look for the remote and anyway it’s really just background noise.  But I DO have a secret desire to hoard shit and I’m actually really jealous of these people and all their toilet paper.  But again, the laziness!

So that’s it. I hate to be one of those people that begs for comments or likes, but seriously I just want to know who I should be embarrassed around when I see you in person. So like it even if you don’t particularly like it, ok? Sorry and thanks!

Airing of Grievances – Boardwalk Empire

14 Jan

So this is my first official blog post here on the GOP!  The idea started when I wrote out this year-end list on my other blog (that used to be about my house but then I stopped working on my house and just made about random shit) and knew that I wished I was reading the same list made by Beddall. So here we are. I plan on keeping up that blog too because apparently I’m a blog whore now. Post-grad school has forced me seek out alternative activities to aid in procrastination. Also, I excessively use parentheses and I apologize in advance. I will now officially start my pop culture blathering and air some grievances about Boardwalk Empire.

I will start out with the fun fact that I really like Boardwalk Empire and watched the show from beginning to current in a few (maybe 2?) weeks. Fucking prohibition, right? I love the seediness and never really knew much about how bootlegging/smuggling operations worked.  I like to see how people got around it and I get a hard on about the notion that public opinion can take huge turns very quickly and change our society right before our eyes. Drug war, anyone? Maybe I’m too hopeful.

There’s tons of killing and that’s all fine with me, I mean the shovel thing was a little much, but overall, I won’t complain about violence because, eh, we know it’s coming. After we caught up we started getting together with some friends to watch it on Sundays and being a person that is never, ever caught up with shows this was very novel and fun. Plus: a reason to keep drinking into Sunday!  Before the finale (following the best episode ever, oh! second-to-last-episode, you ruled) we placed bets on who we thought would die first, how many main characters would die, who would run Atlantic City at the end and what the biggest shocker would be. The episode was a bit of a letdown, but the point is I think it’s a fun show to watch and talk about.  The acting is great, I love the fact that it’s set in Atlantic City (near and uh.. a little bit dear to my heart) some episodes literally had me pacing, hiding behind the couch, and screaming at the tv. I enjoy it (even if the people watching it with me want to fucking kill me).

But I have some issues. Like, uh:

#1: the fucking awful characters.

I pretty much hate them all, or at least wouldn’t really care if something terrible happened to just about all of them. Some are more evil and therefore interesting than others, but every single one of them is a greedy, selfish prick and pretty much doesn’t give a shit about anyone, doesn’t care about any cause bigger than their wallet. Even the characters that they want you to like – the writers seemed to have  picked a single sympathetic character trait and applied it to anyone they want to have a “good” side: they are nice to children – Richard, Nucky, Eli, Angela, Al Capone, Owen.  Not very creative. Here’s my hope:

Please die: Nucky, Margaret, Jimmy, Gyp Rosetti, Gillian, Eli, The Commodore, Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Van Alden, Mickey fucking Doyle

I don’t care if you die: Al Capone, Angela Darmody, Chalky,  Billie Kent, Chalky White,

Please don’t die: Richard, Owen  (Though they still continue to do shit that pisses me off.)

#2 changing the characters personalities whenever they feel like it

Sometimes I think they are just writing a story and plug characters in, even if it doesn’t make sense for the character. I’m all for developing characters and having them grow and change but that’s not how it seems to go down. In one scene Margaret is a raging religious zealot, giving all Nucky’s money to the church and all up in the priest’s office, then she’s all women’s lib and getting birth control for poor women and sleeping with the help.  Angela’s running off to Paris and being an artist and then she marries Jimmy.  Van Alden is all rules, rules, rules and then just… changes completely.  Whatev. Do what you want.

#3 Too many recurring side characters

This is probably just me, but I found myself regularly asking “wait, who are these guys?” and Brad is all “shut up, it doesn’t matter, they’re gangsters” and I’m like “oh, okay”. And then they get killed. I think it’s a lot of wasted time. I’m probably just not paying enough attention and don’t place much value on the need for killing people. My bad. They just bring in a bunch of “guys” so they can kill people without losing anyone necessary. I’m certain I’ll think of more as soon as I hit publish!

Fin.

What I’m listening to:

Mostly The Districts, but I just can’t talk about them all the time. So, on my drive home I actually put my songs on shuffle and heard this song –  and really, really listened to the lyrics.  It’s about taking prehistoric materials (fossil fuels) and using them to create art – best line: “A bunch of 15 year olds made from dinosaur bones singing “oh yeah”.” I love the last lines. Plus, it’s pretty.

Father John Misty – Now I’m learning to Love the War

Here are the words:

Try not to think so much about
The truly staggering amount of oil that it takes to make a record
All the shipping, the vinyl, the cellophane lining
The high gloss
The tape and the gear

Try not to become too consumed
With what’s a criminal volume of oil that it takes to paint a portrait
The acrylic, the varnish
Aluminum tubes filled with latex
The solvents and dye

Lets just call this what it is
The jealous side of mankind’s death wish
When it’s my time to go
Gonna leave behind things that won’t decompose

Try not to dwell so much upon
How it won’t be so very long from now that they laugh at us for selling
A bunch of 15 year olds made from dinosaur bones singing “oh yeah”
Again and again
Right up to the end

Lets just call this what it is
The jealous side of mankind’s death wish
When it’s my time to go
Gonna leave behind things that won’t decompose

I’ll just call this what it is
My vanity gone wild with my crisis
One day this all will all repeat
Now sure hope they make something useful out of me

What I’m reading:

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I chose this book because it was near my bed when I got a visit from my good friend insomnia. I just found it in a still unpacked box (I have now lived here 5 and a half months. pathetic.) and I have no idea where I got it. I am only on page 25 because it keeps putting me to sleep. It might be good, I have no idea. Ringing endorsement!*

*as a sleep aid!