Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hypocriticisms.

I've complained before on this blog about musical snobbery and the practice of putting music into lists. With the end of the decade nigh unto us, the people of the internet are being bombarded with lists of all kinds, just not the music ones. With every press of my StumbleUpon button, with every snob on Facebook proclaiming his spectacularly hipsterish opinion, and with random perusals through the blogging community at large.
The very worst part? It all kind of makes me want to write one.

I'm not going to though. For one very important reason. Being that I am eighteen years old, I cannot say with any conviction at all that I recall what I was listening to at age eight. I mean, I've always liked music, and would listen to whatever my sisters were playing at the time, but I never had too much interest of my own in it. That's pretty clear in the way that I seem to remember only the chorus to the songs of my childhood- kind of like they never really fully penetrated my baby brain.*

Music really hit me in eighth grade, I'd say. That's when I started buying my own cds, researching bands I liked, and properly listening to lyrics. It was kind of a melancholy time in my childhood, and a time when I realized the saving grace of music, no matter the genre, if it instilled a feeling.

Therefore, the problem with creating a list of my favorite music of the past decade would be that ALL of my favorite music exists in the past decade, and that makes it a little hard to choose.
The second, and infinitely more troubling problem, is my inability to keep up with music as it comes out. I've just never been that diligent. For example, I listened to Arcade Fire's Funeral, out in 2004, this past summer. The same with Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which arrived in 2002. I like things (love them, deify them)** as they hit me, which is very rarely in the same year that they hit everyone else. I move through my music phases with little to no temporal discretion, and this makes me a very unreliable list maker.

Maybe next decade.


P.S. I really like this song.
*Except for Semi-Charmed Life. I had that thing memorized. Turns out it's about crystal meth, who would've known? (Probably any child actually listening to the words she sang.) In defense of my previously naive self, it was usually blurred out.
**My mother told me today, as I complained about people who proclaimed themselves as Beatles fans and then only knew their most famous songs, that I couldn't understand them because I don't become a fan of things superficially, but rather leap in with both feet. My tendency to be overexcited, and therefore wholly unclinical, also makes me an unreliable list maker.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Little Bit Tower of Pisa

Since I'm sharing videos today, I'm kind of in love with Rufus Wainwright as of late.








Never has mumbling and slurring sounded so gorgeous.

Kids

There is nothing quite like musically inclined kids to warm the heart strings. Here's a couple, for a rainy day.



I want to be Jeff Tweedy's progeny.



And trust me, despite the fact that this had been all over the interwebz, even Yahoo!News, it's still freaking adorable. Don't be jaded. Succumb to the cuteness.



Oooh, hey, that's not music kids, that's the music video for MGMT's song Kids.... Oh, well! It's good, you should listen to it.*



*Plus, I can play it on ukulele. HIPSTER ALERT.
**Oh, and just for the record, that's a fanmade video for Kids, but watch this one instead. I do not condone the official video because it is terrifying.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Ukulele-- I mean, Christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope it's wonderful for everyone, not just the three people who read this blog sometimes.

In honor of the sexiest ukulele in the world, which was found under my Christmas tree in a package addressed to me, and has since been christened Ophelia (to correspond with my guitar, Hamlet), some wintery musical love from my two favorite ukulele-ers on YouTube.

Enjoy.




Merry Christmas from Kaitlin and Ophie. :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

An Elongated Simile


I've always had a strange relationship with the musician Beck.
A relationship which I once related to my roommate in a sleepy, convoluted simile at three in the morning, in the midst of one of our late night conversations about everything and nothing.
A simile that I haven't thought much about until recently, and one that has some pretty good merits, now that I'm fully awake and willing to clean it up a bit.

Beck is like that boy you have a crush on, despite your best intentions, despite knowing that there is that one character flaw, weakness, or conflict in your personalities that will never allow anything between you to work out. You like him anyway, and in total spite of your better judgement, you let yourself get to know him better. And everything is beautiful and blissful for a while.
But, eventually, becoming more familiar with him just confirms your original fears. You are just too different to be together forever. So you break it off. And you don't see him for a while, but such is life.
Until fate throws him in your path again. It could be a chance meeting in the street or store, or in a movie, or being reintroduced by a friend. Whatever the catalyst, it convinces you that maybe it can, in fact, work out.
You know deep in your heart that it never will, no matter how much you wish it could. And each time this chance meeting and re-acquaintance happens, you come to the same conclusion.

This is my relationship with Beck. I recognize his talent, and understand why so many people like his music. I have a teeny-tiny talent crush on him.* However, no matter how much I try, I just can't get that click with him that I've gotten with so much music before him.
No matter how many of his songs I like - Lost Cause, Loser, Girl, Hell Yes, E-Pro, (really, the entirety of the album Guero) and most recently, a song he's done with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Heaven Can Wait, there still seems to be a barrier between him and my list of favorite bands. I don't know what it is, unlike in my metaphor of the opposed boy, but each time I re-touch upon him, I find a couple songs I like and then move on, no matter how much I will myself to have that crystallizing moment.
I keep trying to drive that escalator in the ground.**

Maybe someday.


Oh, Beck, why can't I love you?


*Talent crush. Definition: The crush you develop on a musician (or actor, or writer) that you may or may not have developed naturally, or may or may not be centered on a person who ordinarily would not catch your eye, but happen to be the recipient due to their talent in their given field.
** Seriously. Watch the Heaven Can Wait video. I love this song.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wayward



elope with me, miss private, and we'll sail around the world
i will be your ferdinand and you my wayward girl
how many nights of talking in hotel rooms can you take?
how many nights of limping around on pagan holidays?
oh, elope with me in private and we'll set something ablaze
a trail for the devil to erase

[piazza, new york catcher - belle and sebastian]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Click



but the night rolls around
and it all starts making sense
there is no right way or wrong way
you just have to live
and so i do what i do
and at least i exist
what could mean more than this?
[Hit the Switch - Bright Eyes]



“I think there is something beautiful in reveling in sadness. The proof is how beautiful sad songs can be. So I don’t think being sad is to be avoided. It’s apathy and boredom you want to avoid. But feeling anything is good, I think. Maybe that’s sadistic of me.”
— Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

more often sad than angry




I was reading an article that described indie music in this way. It doesn't seem like such a bad thing. It's good to have a little melancholy in your life. I don't know about everybody else, but I have music for all my moods. I have sad music, I have angry music, I have music to write papers to, I have music to sleep to, I have lists and lists of music that I have yet to listen to. I have cravings for music that have nothing to do with my mood.
I get all muddled up whenever I try to describe or give labels to music or how I feel about it. My roommate has a motto; "When words fail, music speaks." Let's just listen to it and enjoy it. Or not enjoy it, and then we'll find something else to listen to. Either way, let's do some listening.*


*I'm really into Ben Kweller right now. Start with him. I recommend Thirteen.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bittersweet Symphony




I have dreams of orca whales and owls
but I wake up in fear
you will never be my dear,
you will never be my dear, dear friend
[Hotel Song - Regina Spektor]

Friday, November 20, 2009

When I Forget How To Talk, I Sing

When I want to crawl into bed and never wake up,
Music makes me love the world again
.*



*wilco will love you baby

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Even Trades

Today, I've been a little assailed by stereotypes. Rather, lately, and today they have come in and accumulated.
I have developed into an angsty teen in these past few weeks more than I have ever been in my entire teenhood. I post song lyrics on my blog. I've bought a pair of skinny black jeans. I wear converse. Today, sitting between shelves at a mall Barnes and Nobles, I read the Hipster Handbook and attributed a surprising amount of it to myself, despite its jokey air.
These are all just little, stupid changes I'm making to my life. I like being well-dressed, and didn't realize it in high school because I always assumed that I wouldn't. I like hats, and bracelets, and fun socks, and nail polish and I have been missing out. But again, small changes. College is supposed to be a time of all-sized changes and self-discovery.
Self-discovery is an interesting concept. It involves getting lost and it involves epiphanies. I guess I'm at the lost stage right now, and there is that nagging thought that wonders if you look too hard for an epiphany, if it might not ever come.
There are difficult decisions ahead. What I want to do with my life. Where I want to live. If I want to continue on at this college or try one closer to home. What I want to study. What classes to take next semester, or the semester after that, or the semester after that, ad nauseum. If I want to take classes that I know I'll have friends in or if I want to strike out on my own. If I want to get a job. If any of this matters.
Whenever I start to think too hard about anything, my brain starts to wonder. Is it worth it? Is the amount of worrying over this proportional to how much impact it will have on my life?
On usual things, the answer is no. On big things, the answer is yes, but I'm having trouble discerning whether these are big or little things.
There's no point in crying "what if". What if I had gone to another college, and I'd be much happier now. What if I'd majored in something else and had found my calling. What if I set up a schedule and I hate it? What if I'm left alone in my dormroom for too long and start to feel unloved? What if what if what if.
What if I just wing it? How would that turn out?
I suspect that I know myself well enough to realize that if I attempt to wing it, I will inevitably revert back to worrying too much. Inevitably hate myself for not putting enough effort into it if something turns out wrong.



I've never worried so much in my life. And despite being generally happy, I've never spent so much time being anxious or sad. What is it worth? My comfort for some degree? Well-being and contentness for classes I don't care about? Am I making even trades here, or am I just doing what's expected of me?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Little Birds


may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

[e.e.cummings]

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rooftops























all winter we got carried
away over on the rooftops
let's get married
all summer we just hurried
so come over, just be patient
and don't worry

[death and all his friends - coldplay]








*If someone could explain to me this recent Coldplay kick, that'd be nice, as I've never liked them before.
**If somebody could explain to me why the five page paper due tomorrow still sits at half a page done, that'd also be nice.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Heading South (An Ali-style post)















and like a ten minute dream
in the passenger seat
while the world was flying by
I haven't been gone very long
but it feels like a lifetime


[we are nowhere and it's now - bright eyes]

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Somebody's Gonna Love You
















I was thinking about something my Ethics and Values teacher said a couple of classes ago.
First, though, let me detail my Ethics class.
The main gist of it is not as you would expect; it is not all about world religions and how we must respect and be tolerant of one another and what is important to each person.
It might be that way in other classes, but not mine.
My class is more concerned with what we are doing to the world. The fact that our society is not self-sustainable, and if we do not do something soon than it will inevitably crash.
It's depressing. It's enough to make you throw yourself under a bus.*
It is very, very probably true. But it comes down to helplessness. What can one class of twenty or thirty college freshman, scared shitless every Thursday from 4:15-5:30, do to make this inevitable end less inevitable?
The sad and naked truth is not too much. For anything to radically change would take a world wide effort.

But I'm getting off my topic. I was thinking about something my Ethics teacher said. He told a story about a man trying to catalog and record Native American songs, and wondering what they all meant. An old indian man told him the meaning, and the man reacted with annoyance at how almost every single song related to water.
The old man replied that his people sing about things they don't have enough of.
Many songs that we hear on the radio, or on MTv, or through our own speakers and headphones, or live and personal, they're about love.
Do we sing about things we don't have enough of too?


*As one student in my class threatened, if the teacher didn't start to offer some solutions to our depressing situation.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

College Me

.... does not appear all that different from high school me. She looks the same. For the most part, she dresses the same, except she now parts her hair a little differently and has swapped her glasses for contacts. She's blonde and somewhat tan for the first time in a long time thanks to a summer of basking in the sunlight, and a little more comfortable with herself thanks to a summer of the closest best friends. She's a little quieter, her jokes are significantly less inappropriate, and her references not near as nerdy in this new land of all new people. Sometimes, boys find her attractive. She is broke. She doesn't party, and for this reason gets left in the dorms alone sometimes. She hates showering with flip-flops on, and misses the luxury of not having to slip on shoes just to go down the hall to the bathroom. She misses her dog. She misses her sisters, her nephews, her best friends, and familiar faces and things. She doesn't miss high school, but she misses the easiness of it, and some of the teachers. She likes the dining hall food. She loves her Monday/Wednesday tall chai tea latte before film class. She makes forts in her dorm room. She plays sock-skating in the hallway. She talks on the phone more, and has a spot in the hallway where she sits and does this, next to the elevator. She still loves piggyback rides. She uses her desk to climb onto her bed, but knows better than to try and climb down in socks, lest she slips. She's gotten used to sleeping despite all the noise from the parking lot outside the window. She swears more. She does her homework at one in the morning, and puts things off until the last minute. She neglects her guitar but is making strides towards practicing more. She has made some nice friends, and would love to make more. She laughs often. She steps on crunchy leaves and jumps from rock to rock.

She's doing alright.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I miss my best friends. It's been a hard couple days, this continuing to be in my hometown once almost everyone else has left. Sure, I've kept busy by cleaning my room and by procrastinating cleaning my room, but this doesn't really change how lonely I've been feeling lately. It's difficult- to spend an entire summer, almost every spare minute, with four of the most amazing girls I may ever meet, and then all of a sudden* we are whisked to our separate colleges after an incredibly tough goodbye. Leaving me, feeling isolated in this tiny town I can't wait to escape. The loneliness wouldn't set in so much if I didn't have so much free time to think about it. I know that I'll still miss them at school, but at least I'll be meeting people and doing new things and this'll distract me.

I love them to death, and I've haven't felt this sad for a long time, mostly because of them buoying me up always. It's in their absence that I break down a little bit. But I'll love the texts, and emails, and facebook messages as we all move in our separate paths until we meet again. I couldn't wish for better best friends and I can't wait until we are all in the same place again.

*By "all of a sudden", I mean, of course, "even though I had all summer to prepare for it".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Hate Vampires

This is a well-known fact to everyone who knows me well. I hate them and all media that overuse the idea of them. I hate them for a couple of different reasons, and here they come.
http://a0.vox.com/6a00c2251fecfa8fdb00fae8e14620000b-500pi

1. Stalking
This is perhaps my biggest irker. Remember when stalking was a bad thing? Back in the day, when a man stared at you, or watched you from outside your house, or appeared in your bedroom, and this was a cause for fear? Well, I remember. And to tell the whole truth, I'm a little concerned by how this seems to be a good reason to swoon as vampires become more mainstream. I guess the appeal of vampires is the extremeness of the bad boy theme. Girls fall for dangerous men, and it doesn't get much more dangerous than a guy who can vault through your bedroom window and really wants to kill you and drink your blood. Moving on.
2. "Protectiveness"
I am about to call out the Twilight series. Nothing against Stephenie Meyer, but I've read them, and I think they're awful.* And I could spend a long time detailing all the reasons why, but this is not a blog for that. Rather, this point is a large part of why I despise the main love interest of the Twilight saga, Edward, so wholeheartedly.
http://fnanon.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/maxi-posters-twilight-edward-331876.jpg
He does lots of tyranty-boyfriend stuff in the name of protecting Bella, the female lead. Things like keeping her from seeing certain friends because he thinks their dangerous. Or just as a general rule not allowing her to do things because he does not deem them safe enough, because, obviously, she is incapable of ever making her own decisions now that she has a vampire in her life.* Ahem.
3. Brooding and Sulking
The catalyst for this post was the HBO series True Blood, which a friend recommended to me and, when encountered with the ever-present "uh, I don't really do vampires," response, made it sound interesting enough to try it out. And it is interesting! But it also reminded me of how much I hate vampires, and I probably wouldn't continue watching if not for two faults in my personality; the first being my inability to stop anything in the middle without finding out how it ends, and the second being my unconscious need for something, anything to procrastinate being productive with.**
The main vampire is called Bill*** and while I like him much better than the aforementioned Edward, I am still not his biggest fan. He definitely is better about being overprotective, albeit perhaps a little condescending about giving his love, Sookie****, her independence. No, the main problem I have with Bill is the brooding.
I can forgive a little brooding. In fact, I kind of like it a little bit.***** But just because he is a vampire does not give him the right to sulk around everywhere, spouting off to anyone who will listen about how difficult his life is and how delicious everyone smells. WE GET IT. Life kind of sucks for you! You can't be out in the sunshine, you can't really make friends on account of you might eat them, and to top it all off, you can't have macaroni and cheese anymore! And that's awful! But you've had centuries to get over it, and frankly, everyone except your personality-devoid love interest (coughbellacough) is tired of hearing about it.
Hmm. Maybe they should just stay away from humans, just like I should stay away from vampire fiction. It only upsets me.
This blog had no purpose other than general complaining. But it scares me that vampire boyfriends are so popular, when any human boyfriend portrayed with the same characteristics would almost definitely be dropped for being borderline-abusive, clingy, or just plain obnoxious.

I'm probably overreacting. I've lost my main point, and also.... Hi, my name's Kaitlin, and I'm fickle and excitable******, and I'm going to go watch another episode of True Blood.


*Was that vindictive?
**In this case, the ever-looming deadline of Saturday, the day on which i will be moving into my college dorm, and so therefore the day by which i should have my tornado-hit room cleaned by and all my junk packed.
***Which is just kind of a silly name for a vampire and totally not foreign enough.
****It is super fun to hear a Southern vampire proclaiming, "Sook-ay is Miiiiiine!"
*****Ah, noncommitment.
******Funny story. Once, a friend was trying to explain how she had described me to someone, and happened to use the term "down-to-earth". Another friend, listening in, looked vaguely disbelieving and interjected, "you mean, excitable?"

http://i614.photobucket.com/albums/tt224/danixxnicole/Untitled3-1.png
Me neither!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Obligatory Concert Blog


This blog post has been boiling around in my head for quite a while. Sunday, July 19th, I attended a Wilco concert. In the days just after, I counted myself as still too excitable and dazed to objectively write the words reviewing it. Once the loving feeling died down, it felt a little too late and after the fact. About five minutes ago, I decided to suck it up and write it anyway.

Allow me to begin by saying that what got me on the path to this concert was a very rash decision that I would become the fan of a band with a rather foreboding back catalog of music to catch up on, for the opportunity to be in the same area as a certain depressed boy* I have set my affections on.
Fortunately for me, Wilco turned out to be a band that I could really get into, and would become one of my favorites. The Artpark concert is what truly solidified this. That mob mentality is contagious; it's difficult to be in a large crowd of diehard fans without becoming one yourself.

But to begin at the beginning.
When Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band came out, fifteen minutes early, the crowd cheered politely but did not stand. The band all wore sailor caps (which Conor later admitted were new and just recently bought) and were modestly lit; Conor didn't have a spotlight on him at all. Ali and I sighed our way through the set, creeping down on our love through binoculars that her parents had had the foresight to bring. The songs were much better live, perhaps because the band did not drown out Conor as much as it seems to in the recordings. Also, I am weirdly proud to say that Conor Oberst sounds just exactly the same live, voicewise. It's nice to know he's not changing himself at all. The very last song he played was enough to make us fall in love with him all over again, and also raid stores for lime green nail polish.
There was a short break in which the lawn section relaxed on the, well, lawn, and I said some very nonsensical things in a post-Conor daze.**
Then, the strains of a cheesy Price is Right intro began, and out ran who we came to see.
As I said before, there is nothing quite like a live performance to set your love for music in concrete. I liked Wilco before, but as soon as I heard these songs, both familiar and unfamiliar, reverberating through the ground and the stadium, I adored this band. Although I am not a regular concert-goer (something I would like to rectify as often as possible), it was plain to see that this was a quality performance. Being a newcomer, and only knowing three albums, there was enough songs that I could sing along to, and even during the ones I couldn't, I was never bored. The fan base was so tight that we could dance and bop with the best of them and not be looked at twice. There was air-guitarists, peacefully drunk men, and a mini-mosh pit, but the atmosphere was really friendly and easy-going. They played their well-loved tracks, a bunch of new songs, and came back for three encores. The audience got exactly what they payed for, and I can't imagine anyone regretted their purchase.
Go see Wilco if you get the chance. You will not regret it.***


*Let us ignore that Conor Oberst is going on 30.
**"We'll be like, 'our eyes are sore!' and he'll be like, 'yeah, well..... my leg's on fire!'" I know. I don't understand either.
***And if you can, go with a best friend. Memories and great music is a pretty hard combination to beat.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Songs I Like In Spite of Myself

Don't judge me.



They've got kind of a Kirk/Spock dynamic going on. As in, the one is more classically handsome, and the other is the one I like better.*

Anyway, as Ali would say, "I'll never admit to anyone I like this song, but it'll be on my iPod by tomorrow."
Yes. That about sums it up.

But hey. Julia Nunes condones it!

That girl is quite possibly the coolest thing to happen to Ukuleles.


*This may only make sense to you if you have a group of friends likely to feud about who is more attractive in the new Star Trek movie; Zachary Quinto as Spock or Chris Pine as Kirk. I'll admit Kirk's attractiveness, but personally, I'm a fan of Spock's emotional intensity and also his pointy eyebrows.
Crap. In one paragraph I just made myself look like a nerd and then tried to save myself by admitting I like nerdy boys. I'll be over here, in this hole I dug for myself.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

And As We Go On...

The day of graduation. It's a day that kids have looked forward to since kindergarten. It's a day that seems like it will never arrive, especially during the long hours of high school. It's one of those days that you expect to feel so different on, yet when it actually arrives, feels just like every other day.
Don't get me wrong. I'm excited. But I've been mentally done with school for these two weeks between the last day and the actual commencement ceremony, so this just seems like more of a formality than an actual marker for the end of high school. And I'm nervous, but that's less because of the whole "beginning of our futures" aspect and more because I know that I am going to have to walk across a stage in front of an auditorium full of many people and, let's face it, I'm not too good at walking.
And I guess I'm also a little scared. Not so much of never seeing these people again, but never seeing them in the same context. In this, I don't count my best friends, my maruaders, those girls I've spent these years of high school with and wouldn't ever change that for the world, for a million dollars, even for Conor Oberst's hand in marriage. I'm not worried about losing touch with them. I truly believe our friendship is too strong for that, and we will always find our way back to each other.
No, what I'm worried about is my acquaintances, my school friends, or those kids that I say hi to in the hallway sometimes. I'm sure I'll run up against them in those great awkward meeting places; Tops, Wal-Mart, the annual carnival. But it won't be the same. We won't be high school students anymore, we won't be able to ask if this or that teacher assigned homework, we won't be able to say "See you Monday!" High school, that great equivocator, is gone, and so these students that I've spent so much of my life with and I don't have much in common anymore. I'm going to miss the easyness of high school, the hanging out in study halls, and the talking through classes. I'm going to miss having everyone right within close reach. I'm going to miss those people that I've made friends with, just in time to lose them to college. I'm going to miss those people with whom my friendship might not be sure enough to make the "keep in touch" promises in the yearbook come true.
I'm not mourning it. I'm excited to be out in the world, moving on to different things. I won't be crying at Graduation, because I'm not naive enough to believe that high school has been the best years of my life. I hope to God that they aren't my best years, because, while good, great, and at times even wonderful, there's more to life than high school. But breaking from those routines, becoming an adult, not having quite so many authority figures to chaperone and tell what must be done, that's a little frightening. But I embrace it wholeheartedly.
See you guys on the otherside. Seniors '09!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Crystallizing Moments

Lately, I've been listening to Wilco. This is because I am going to see them in concert. "Kaitlin," you ask, "why would you go see a concert of a band you hardly know?" And I would reply that the reason is because Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band are opening for them. "Kaitlin," you would continue, "I know that you have gone through a recent obsession with Bright Eyes, but you do realize that the Mystic Valley Band plays doesn't play the same music, right?"* At this point I would probably politely tell you to shut up and allow me to get back on topic.

My relationship with Wilco thus far has been me knowing that they exist, vaguely liking them, but never really getting into them. I made the decision to see them with the intent that I would throw myself into their music and be a huge fan by the time the concert rolls around.
So I got the album Summerteeth. And I listened to it. And then while listening to the title track, a lyric happened to catch my brain, and suddenly I was really listening to it. It was that crystallizing moment when I realized that I really like Wilco.
It may not be the same for other people. But for nearly all of my favorite bands, there was one lyric in one song that flipped a switch in my head and made me want more. That raised me from merely listening to listening. And from there, the band would grow from background music into a musical obsession. It would be all I listened to for a while. I would listen to it so often in fact, that I would make myself a little sick of it, and have to put it away in the files of favorite bands.
For the most part, I can still remember the specific line of the song. They may not give me chills anymore, but they're stuck in my brain since that moment. Here's a few of my favorite examples.

Wilco: Summerteeth
"one summer, a suicide
another autumn, a traveler's guide
he hits snooze twice before he dies"

Bright Eyes: Landlocked Blues
"and the world's got me dizzy again
you'd think after twenty two years, I'd be used to the spin
but it always gets worse when I stay in one place
so I'm always pacing around or walking away"**

Iron & Wine: Upward Over the Mountain
"so may the sun rise, bring hope where it once was forgotten
sons are like birds flying upward over the mountain"

The Shins: Pink Bullets
"since then it's been a book you read in reverse
so you understand less as the pages turn
or a movie so crass
and awkwardly cast
that even I could be the star"


Maybe this isn't interesting to anyone else, but I think it's a cool little phenomenom. I love that moment.


*Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band is Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes's solo project. It's okay, and likeable, but not quite as good as Bright Eyes music. It's just not the same to hear Conor in front of an actual band, rather than just him and his guitar, or those experimental noises in the background. Where Bright Eyes and Conor's voice is an acquired taste, the Mystic Valley Band is, well, a band, and hearing that acquired-taste voice in front of a more conventional line-up is a little disorienting. His vocals aren't really strong enough to carry it. I still love him though.
**Actually, there's been a few different Bright Eyes ones. I think Landlocked Blues was the first, but there was also "no one plans to sleep out in the gutter/ sometimes it's just the most comfortable place" from Road to Joy and "I keep making these to-do lists but nothing gets crossed out/ working on the record seems pointless now/ when the world ends, who's gonna hear it?" from Nothing Gets Crossed Out. That's part of the reason why I love Bright Eyes so much. It just keeps amazing me and drawing me in.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Feet Hurt

I"m still recovering, but Ball was last night. It was a lot of fun, in that almost-miserable way, but I only say that because we were all so tired, and we literally danced the entire night. We were all half-asleep for Laser Quest, which I failed miserably at (9th place out of fourteen people, eh, could've been worse. I was codename Godot!) Afterwards we went to Jesse's house and had a bonfire, where the caffeine-induced second wind kicked in. This was characterized mostly by ridiculous stories (complete with obnoxious hand gestures), giddy undirected laughter, moving chairs in and out of the tent as the rain came and went, and harkness-like discussions across the fire. It was really nice, in that mellow, peaceful way bonfires are, and it was only after the rain kicked up one too many times that we migrated inside.
We went inside with the intention of sleeping, but there was still those who were too hyper to allow anyone else to sleep peacefully. I can't complain, I was one of them, making those who hadn't yet dropped off stay up until five watching Spiderman 3, because I had never seen it before.
With that experience under my belt, I can tell you, don't bother staying up until five to watch Spiderman 3. It's not worth it, unless it's to watch Tobey Maguire dancing ridiculously around New York City and into the hearts of all women. (must be the new haircut) It was one of those scenes you spend most of it trying to figure out if it is supposed to be taken seriously or not. I'm still not sure, but I do know it was lame.


Cue emo hair flip and hand-points that haven't been seen since the 80s.

When I'm tired, I get strangely logical. Normally, I'm the sort of movie-goer who can suspend my brain and not get worked up about glaring logical flaws. But my tiredness kicks into hyper-observance, and suddenly I find every plot hole hugely distracting. Possibly the worst movie to watch with that mind set is a comic book movie, let alone Spiderman 3, which is rife with characters made of sand, who somehow find enough sand in New York City to replenish their supply (I guess Sand-but-mostly-dirt-man just doesn't have the same ring as Sand-man), and strange meteoric substances that are supposed to amplify characteristics, but turn random reporter into evil impossibly-large-mouth Spiderman. And dear god, who thought it would be a good idea to scar James Franco?

That being said, the AP class owned Senior Ball. We threw the King and Queen elections, made Come on Eileen our senior song, danced feverishly to requested songs such as Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, Total Eclipse of the Heart, Larger than Life and Freebird, and danced Thriller like we'd been learning it rather than studying for our AP exam.* It was practically Revenge of the Nerds, and I loved every minute of it.

*Oh wait, we were.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Saving Grace of Apathy

This past week has been one of the most hectic of my year, and the coming one only proves to be worse. But the last few days have instilled a new philosophy in me, partly born of anger and partly by a slow descent into a certain apathetic attitude towards school.

I could blame the apathy on senioritis. Except, I've had senioritis my entire high school career. It isn't so different this year, except that now I have an actual end to look forward to. I could apologize for it, because apathy is supposed to be a bad thing. Some people loathe apathy.* But it's not always bad. Sometimes it saves you from yourself.

This year, I took the plunge into AP classes.** I enrolled in Advanced Placement English, Biology, and Calculus. I lasted about two weeks, two failed tests, and countless nervous breakdowns into Calculus. I dropped it, a really difficult decision at the time, but now I am so glad. I didn't need that added pressure this year. So I was left in English and Biology. I've talked about English before, so let's take a minute to examine Biology.

I'll set the scene. Imagine a room. Imagine a mutant cat in a jar of formaldehyde, a dummy named Arnold, and a a projector that turns off by itself. Imagine coming on the first day of school, to a brand-new bio teacher with some very big shoes to fill, and seeing a beardy man in a labcoat and a band-aid on his head, and hear the story of a microwave dropped as it is carried up the stairs. Feel confused, mixed emotions of dismay and amusement. Fast forward through classes of part notes, part distracted tangents that often end derogatorily, and with almost half the class offended. Continue through the days where half the class isn't present, so the rest of the students watch "The Future is Wild", affectionately called Future Dinosaurs. Keep going through the days of doing almost nothing, the time the teacher wasn't there and so we put his labcoat on Arnold and left it there, and that whole period spent watching wasps have sex.*** Now stop about two weeks before the AP test. Look on as the students realize that the exam is so close, yet they are only just beginning the material that makes up about 50% of the test. Now move through a week or so, and watch as the students (well, the girls anyway) begin to study frantically, knowing that it is impossible to cover all this material in what is left of the class.
This has been my year in Biology class.
I realize now that I made it sound as if we were all in it together, teacher and students, in not really doing much 4th and 5th period. This is true to a point, but that's mostly because we're all seventeen and eighteen, looking forward to getting out of here, and just generally don't know any better. All our high school lives, we've relied on a teacher to keep us on track. And this year, this teacher failed. So I take my blame to a certain point, but I've tried. There have been many times in class where one of my friends or I have tried to lead the teacher back on track. Sometimes it's very hard, and this is why I abdicate most of the blame. I wanted to learn. It's not my fault no one wanted to teach me. But I've ranted and raved about this to everyone who would listen; my parents, my fellow Bio classmates, my English teacher, random people in my study halls, some girl at the gas station, my friends in college, my sisters. You name the person, and I've probably complained to them. Everyone knows. I've studied and studied, my yellow and black review book and my giant binder have been my constant companions for the last week and a half.
And then, last night, there was a click. (see: Brick from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, only less hot and less alcoholic.) My anger turned off, and morphed into something else. All this week, every time I was not studying biology, there was a little nagging thought in my brain telling me that I should be.
But last night, Ali, Emilie, Jesse, and I met at Jesse's house for a study session. We all sat down at the kitchen table, opened our books, and got out our highlighters. I answered eight questions, and my three friends all highlighted about maybe a page. Mostly, though, we ate and talked. We abandoned our books, practiced self-defense moves, looked at Jesse's dress, and had a pow-wow on her bed, talking about everything. After that, we piled into Jesse's very fly and very sexy pick-up truck, which we call the V-Mobile****, and went for ice cream, which we ate in the bed of the truck. After, we went back and watched a movie. It is not until you actually get to hang out with your best friends, that you realize how much you needed them, especially during such a stressful time.
And you know what? I don't regret it one bit. Never once during the evening did the little nagging voice speak up to try to get me to study again. I realized something, and it is that I could study constantly for the next ten days, and there would still be no possibility of doing as well on the exam as I had originally hoped. So, why kill myself over it? I will go over the material, perhaps with less conviction that before, and then I will take the test and I will not beat myself up about it, I will not cry afterwards. It is not, not, not not not my fault.
So thanks, apathy. For putting things into perspective.



*Mostly people we don't care about.
**I realized as a wrote that, that it's entirely not true. I took AP Psychology online last year. (And got a 5, which is a wonderful accomplishment, as I finished the course work about a week before the test. Sound familiar? At least that was my fault.)
***It was a lab, I swear!
****But I'll never tell why!

Monday, April 27, 2009

On the Subject of Music Snobbery

A blog written, rather than a research paper done, or a biology exam studyed for. The bio binder is open, the flash drive is within reach, but...... Well, read on.

Everyone knows a music snob. They are that frustratingly, irritating, higher-than-thou scene kid who asks you what you are listening to. You don't want to answer, because you know that they have ulterior motives than just being curious. But you're polite, you won't just say "None of your business!" and scamper away. So you divulge. And they react without really doing anything. Maybe it's just a syllable. "Oh," They reply. Or maybe it's just a nod and a quick turning away. Either way, they have made you feel like crap without actually doing anything. They haven't said a word against your musical choices, but you know they disapprove. And you may not even like them, but suddenly their opinion really matters.
I hate that.
Music is important to me, but it's really not an important aspect of a human being, their personal music taste. It doesn't make a friendship, relationship, etc etc, any less compatible, except maybe on a long car ride. Even at my most snobbiest, I'm only wondering how on earth you enjoy listening to rap, or anything on the Top 40. I may get a little twinge when I hear a band, especially one I thought I discovered ahead of the crowd, on a television show*, commercial or (do I dare speak it?) MTv**. But I won't stop listening to it. Despite what you may have heard, I am not that fickle, or maybe its just that I don't have the tremendous willpower it takes to just stop liking something because other people do too. I like having people to share interests with. Some things are better enjoyed by all.

So why are people like this? I don't know. (If you came expecting answers, you were woefully misled.) Personally, I like people to know what kind of music I like. It feels like a defining characteristic sometimes. It's not, but still. I wear every other trait on my sleeves, why not that one? So I'll hazard a guess, and say that music snobs like people to know what they like.
Moving on.

Another aspect of music snobbery I dislike, is the need to put everything into lists. Best Albums, Worst Songs, Best Frontmen, Top 5 Bands I'd Go Back in Time to See, it doesn't really matter. My tastes change and shift so often, I just don't understand the impulse to solidify such subjective things.
Lists have no point in the music world. Music is purely subjective and personal. Nobody likes all the same things. So what happens when you make lists? Well, no one agrees with you, someone will always think the Rolling Stones are better than the Beatles, and it all ends in heartbreak. No one really cares that you think Radiohead is the number one band of all time. The only reason they looked at your list, was to see if your tastes agreed with their tastes. Which they don't. Cue discord. So what's the point?

So not only do music snobs what you to know what they like, but they want you to like it too. The irony? Diverse music (music snobs tend to be indie kids, I'm working under that assumption), narrow mindsets. How did that happen?

I think the Animal Collective is insane, but I'd never judge Ali for liking them. (Make fun of, never judge.) I think Hannah Montana and High School Musical is soul-sucking, but I'd never judge Molly and Jesse for liking them. (Make fun of, never judge.) And they'll make fun of me for my tastes. But I share them with them, because they won't judge me. I won't get that vague, uncomfortable feeling when they ask me what I'm listening to, and I hope they will never get it when I ask them.

Can't we all just live in harmony?




Please file this under "things I have no right to be angry about", in the subcategory of "when i should have been doing other things". Thank you.

*Don't judge me, but I once heard Sherwood on Kyle XY.*** It was the first time I'd ever met (well, figuratively) someone else who had heard of Sherwood. (Of course, my high school is pretty music-deprived. We had a big Avril Lavigne epidemic last year. I know a girl who's first favorite band is Avril Lavigne, and second favorite is Def Leppard. Whaaaat?) Anyway, it was a total, "But they're MY band!!" moment.
**Still basking in the glory of new love, I heard the strains of Vampire Weekend's "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" on an MTV commercial. I dropped to my knees and yelled, "NOOOOOO!" and then got back to watching Next.***
***Don't judge me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Everybody's Gettin' Tasered, Yeah!*

As a calm, cool, collected, and savvy young individual, there are very few things I get really nerdy about.
Now here's my definition of getting nerdy about something. It is not quite the same as being obsessed. It is getting way too wrapped up in the characters, but not pretending that you are them or that you know them, or anything that has to do with fanfiction ever. Don't even get me started. It is knowing characters', places', animals', etc whole histories. Knowing when something happened, who it happened to, who was involved in the happening. Being able to just rattle this off at unexpected times. It is knowing which song is on which album, which event is in which book, which death is in which season. It is watching, reading, listening, etc it religiously when it first comes out, then again when bored or just because of a craving for it. It is having cravings for it.
Now, here are my vices, in no particular order. Harry Potter (probably the biggest and most chronic one), Lost, Heroes, Doctor Who, The Beatles, The White Stripes, Pirates of the Carribbean, The Mighty Boosh.
These are a few of my favorite things. (Sorry, couldn't help it.)

The things I wish to focus on are the television shows, namely Lost and Heroes. I have a very special relationship with them. Basically, they jerk me around, write confusing storylines, don't follow logic, go back and forth through time both literally and with flashbacks, and cause me emotional stress. For my part, I make the vow every week that i am going to stop watching them, and then come crawling back the next week, thereby successfully completing the cycle. But I just have to know what happens.

For the past few weeks, however, I had broken the cycle. Sitting on the tivo was a backlog of about six episodes each of these television series. I hadn't watched them in a month!
Enter my sister, on her spring break, which just so happened to coincide with my own. She was also backed up on her series. But she had the motivation to catch up, and the persuasion to get a companion to catch up with her.
Me.
And thus I was sucked in again. I really do love these shows, and am very excited for the prospect of knowing that when Lost is over, I will have watched it all the way through, not like those people who heard how awesome is was two seasons in and had to marathon watch. But unlike Harry Potter, I don't think I'll be having sad pangs when its over. I'll mostly just be relieved and, hopefully, satisfied. All questions answered. (I'm crossing my fingers.)

Then there's Heroes. The first season? AWESOME. I loved it immediately. Season two was a bit slow, but I stuck with it. It was the first half of season three that really broke my determination. The volume was entitled "Villians" and not wrongly. Suddenly, all my favorite** characters were becoming bad, or losing their powers and then becoming bad out of, I don't know, lack of better things to do. To top it all off, one of my favorite bad guys of all time was getting neglected in light of everyone else's newfound evil.
But I humored my big sister, and watched the new volume with her. Like the fickle viewer I am, I become entangled again, getting much too worked up about it. I cheered when Sylar says lame and ridiculous lines that should not be menacing, but he does it just so, and they totally are. I lament when Claire sends a hot nerd boy to Albequerque to save him and then never goes to visit him. I hate myself a little for it, but secretly, I really love my vices.

I'm not really sure where I was going with this. Maybe I just needed to vent. It's a little sad and pathetic that we as a human race get so worked up about fake things. Television shows, movies, books. These things that have never happened, but we watch intently, brood about, cry about.***
Because there aren't enough interesting things in real life? Maybe it's just that real life isn't as predictable, not as exciting, and definitely not as safe as it is watching action on a screen.
So, how about this for a deal. I'll stop vowing every week that I'm going to stop watching, and instead embrace the part of myself that really needs to know what happens at the end. But I won't ever allow these false realities to take over for my own. I will watch intently as Sylar cuts open another person's head, but I won't go out and do it myself. I will, however, go out and do something. I won't just wait around for the next episode. Promise.

Speaking of, I just watched the new episode of Heroes, and it was Sylartastic. AND I LOVED IT.


*After viewing the first episode of the new volume of Heroes, my sister and I were marvelling on how often the characters were tasering each other. We decided it was so often, that it should be the new theme song. We wrote two verses.
**Coincidentally, I was watching this really dumb, unintentionally hilarious movie on the Sci-Fi channel quite a while ago. It was called Cursed, and this was the moment I realized that Peter from Heroes and Jesse from Gilmore Girls were the same actor. Needless to say, I enjoyed the moment quite a lot. Ahh, crappy sci-fi movies. There's nothing quite like them. I recommend this one.
***I mean, I don't. But, you know, some people might. You know, um, complete wusses. Phh.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Life in a Box is Better Than No Life At All

My favorite class of my senior year, and quite possibly my entire high school career, has been without a doubt AP English. The teacher, the fellow students, the books we read, the movies we watch, the ridiculous and serious conversations we have, and the amount of time we spend trying to learn the dance to "Thriller" are all things that serve to often make 3rd period memorable (and sometimes 5th!).
I could go on and on about how this book has made me think differently, or how that harkness (aka, discussion table) so easily changed my view on a point, or how hysterically I laughed when another student said something absolutely ridiculous. (Examples: "Do you think Ophelia is named that to sound like "Paedophelia?" "No, Mary Tilford is a super baby-genius!" "It isn't as important when old people die as it is when young people die..") Suffice it to say that it's been an enlightening and entertaining class.
But lately we've been making our way through the "Theatre of the Absurd", and existentialist drama. We began with Stoppard's, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" and are now into the mind-boggling "Waiting for Godot".
"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" is a play that takes two very small characters from Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and places them in the forefront of their own story. (Hamlet is in it very seldom, which is disappointing if you, like me, discovered you have a crush on him. Whoops. Good night, sweet prince.) It is very absurd, indeed; they fall in and out of Hamlet's story, don't seem to realize what is going on and can't remember what they had for breakfast. It seems so funny at times, like when they are playing a game of Questions, forgetting their own names, or trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing. But delve deeper into the story, and although the characters are still likable and the play a pleasure to read, suddenly it no longer seems so humorous. Ros and Guil are not the masters of their own destiny. They are pawns in the much larger story that is "Hamlet" but can't see that, wrapped up as they are in the plot in which they are the main characters. They can't escape it. "If we happen, just happen to discover or even suspect that our spontaneity is part of their order, all will be lost," Guil says once it begins to dawn on him. They are spokes in a wheel inside a bigger wheel, etc, on and on. Every now and then in their nonsensical dialogue they stumble upon a deeper truth, but it is quickly passed over, or cut short with an odd joke. In Act III, when the two friends realize that their purpose is, quite simply, to die, the play takes its turn from not-so-funny to tragic. "Who would have thought we were so important," they ask, and they still do not realize that they have been disposable all along.
But they accept their deaths peacefully. Ros admits that he's relieved, really, and then disappears. Guil does not even finish his sentence- "Now you see me, now you-" and then he's gone too. They echo a speech Guildenstern gives about death earlier on, "It's just a man failing to reappear, that's all — now you see him, now you don't, that's the only thing that's real: here one minute and gone the next and never coming back — an exit, unobtrusive and unannounced, a disappearance gathering weight as it goes on, until, finally, it is heavy with death."
The tragedy is in the realization the no one is much more than a spoke in a wheel, part of something larger. Inside your own head, it is easy to believe you are the most important. But outside, no one may even be paying you a second mind. I guess that's existentialism for you. I was led very much astray by I Heart Huckabees. I thought existentialism was a fun thing.
I'm only thirty pages into "Waiting for Godot" and whether I'm still feeling the effects of the end of "Ros and Guil", or whether I'm officially corrupted by AP English to look too deeply into things, it already tastes strongly of sadness. Estragon and Vladimer seem tragic characters, waiting and waiting for something they are not even sure will come. They don't know what to do with themselves, they contemplate suicide for lack of anything better to do.
But, as depressing (see: "Death of a Salesmen", Act V: Scene II of "Hamlet", etc) and soul-search-inducing as this English class can often be, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Not the time someone compared the ending of a book to the ending of Men in Black II. Not all the funny looks we've gotten from Mr. Crowe for singing Come on Eileen or Paradise By The Dashboard Light, or for falling out of our chairs, tripping over things, or taking way too long to write something down. Definitely not when we were doing "Macbeth" and Mr. Crowe opened the door, painstakingly moved all the chairs out of the way, went out into the hallway and ran back in yelling "THE KING IS DEAD!!" to demonstrate how Macduff would have given that news, since we were not reading it with enough emphasis. I would not even give up all the AP review questions.
And especially not the times when someone who is not part of our little tight-knit group (we're all going to prom together...) walks in when we're doing something particularly stupid, and Mr. Crowe says half-exasperated, half-joking,
"Yes, folks. This is the AP class."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Decreasing World Suck

I have a problem.

I mean, besides being in love with Conor Oberst (I just made a giant poster of his face... crap), and besides still being awake at 1 o'clock in the morning when i have to be up at 8 o'clock in the morning, and besides the fact that sometimes when I minimize the internet on my computer it does not go down on the start-bar but rather disappears altogether never to be seen again except for when it randomly pops back when I least expect it.

No, my problem is none of these things.

My problem is www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers

It's no secret that I spend way to much time on YouTube, especially for someone who doesn't even have any videos on it. But there exists a form of blogging called video blogging, or vlogging, and it is actually a really cool idea that I would like to get into if I were at all interesting or eloquent.
But, anyway, the idea behind the vlogbrothers began with "Brotherhood 2.0". This was a project that Hank and John Green (author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns! Author!! This increases the awesomeness of the project SO much! What else increases it, is that I had read the first two books of his before realizing he was a YouTube celebrity, and really liked them) thought up, deciding that for the next year, the two brothers would only be able to participate in textless communication. That means no e-mails, no letters, no text messages. Only the occasional phone call and principally, a video blog. They alternate days, and take off weekends. Sometimes they have to do punishments if they miss a day or accidentally use text to communicate, they can challenge each other to do crazy things such as eat 100 peeps in under 6 minutes.

Pretty cool, right?

Here's what's uncool. This project started over two years ago. That means there are, count 'em, 460 videos that have occurred before I ever heard of it. I've been watching one every now and then when I get a chance, but as I get more and more interested, this threatens to take over the down hours of my spring break and maybe, if I'm not careful, my life.

And this is my problem. I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Serious Questions

Q: Sunday's on the phone to Monday, Tuesday's on the phone to me. Oh yeah.

A: Paul thinks he's Wednesday?



First day of spring break. Awesome.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Few Words On Love and Hate


Now, I don't know much about anything. But I love music, and that sometimes makes you feel like you can explain away the world. You can't obviously, but it's still nice to to spend the time it takes to play an album believing you know everything's place.
This particular mood is brought on by my latest musical obsession: Bright Eyes. I'm late on every band-wagon (Conor Oberst, the main musician of Bright Eyes and my future husband, was born four days after my oldest sister, has been writing songs since he was thirteen, and he is now a lovely 29) but once I'm on it, there is no getting me off. I jumped this particular band-wagon not even very long ago, a few weeks at the most. Late, late, late, I think, what was I waiting for? Where has Conor been all my life?
And then I think about how up until recently, I used to mock Bright Eyes. I refused to listen to the songs, and told everyone who hailed him as the best songwriter since Dylan that he was obviously just an emo whiner and could not possibly measure up to Bobby D. And besides that, in any picture I'd seen of him, he looked as if he was thinking "Oh God, please don't give me another swirly!" The only song I'd heard, "Lover I Don't Have to Love", gave me the heeby-jeebies for reasons that I can't describe, and it still does.
And then, one day, I heard the song, "Easy/Lucky/Free". And the weird part? I liked it. But, I figured, this is a fluke. I was still not a convert. Then, my sister had me listen to the false interview at the end of "An Attempt to Tip the Scales", and then months later when I listened to it again, I happened to listen to the rest of the song. And I liked that too. But I still did not get the message. Later, on a holiday break, that same sister and I were looking up songs we could learn on the guitar. I had rebuked her attempted Bright Eyes come-ons many times, so she was pretty much done trying. But she decided to learn to play "First Day of My Life". And I would sing it, but Aimee's version, because that was the only version I had ever heard. And would you believe it? Still, no fan-girling.
I suppose the real conversion happened after a friend and I started singing "First Day of My Life". I knew the words, but I didn't learn them from Conor Oberst. She referenced another song, I stared blankly. So soon after, I looked up the video, and found it was very sweet, and that I liked the song just as much in a boy's voice (and guess what? I can play it now too). And then I did the math. I like three Bright Eyes songs. Maybe.. just maybe... I should try out some more?
So I got an album ("I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning"). And I loved it. Then I got another, ("Fevers and Mirrors") and I loved that too. And then I filled out my Bright Eyes collection, and here I stand, an entirely changed person.
Now here's the really weird part. My strong feelings towards the music began to stray. I looked up one morning.. and realized I was in love with Conor Oberst. It was a total accident. Last month, I used to think he looked like he should be beat up. Now, suddenly, I see a picture of him and swoon at his apparent innocence, his dark-hair falling in his earnest eyes, his prettiness without trying, and that oh-so-heartbreaking look. And it was not the first time this had happened. As it turned out, in suddenly becoming obsessed with the band, I had accidentally rekindled one of my best friend's interest in it. And then something strange happened to her. She looked up one evening... and realized she was in love with Conor Oberst. We can't explain this phenomenon, although we have decided that it will mean we will go to college and fall in love with fixers; scrawny and pale, dark-haired boys, prettier than us, their emotional baggage out-weighing themselves. And they will break our hearts, but maybe they'll write songs for us along the way.
Dr. House once said, "No, there is not a thin line between love and hate. There is, in fact, a Great Wall of China with armed sentries posted every twenty feet between love and hate." But this strange happening, this refusing to even look at a band only to find out that I actually can't stop listening to it. And you know, maybe I'm just at a different point in my life musically, maybe even if I had begun listening in depth years ago, I still wouldn't have liked it. And then I never would have tried again, having already tried and failed and being influenced by previous judgments, and I would never even write this blog, because I wouldn't have Bright Eyes playing right now, or a picture of Conor Oberst on the background of my mp3 player. Who knows. What I do know, is that it was so easy to cross over from refusing to give the band a chance to listening to it non-stop. It was easy to one day suddenly stop thinking that the musician looked like a whiner, and find him attractive.
So, maybe House is wrong and the bridge between love and hate really is a fine line. Or maybe I'm just a really excellent climber.

Did I say "a few words"? I meant, "a novel".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

You Say You Want A Resolution?

I have realized something about myself. It wasn't an epiphany, but more of the slow and gradual dawning of a thought. And it is this: that I have no resolve.
It's not a huge realization. A lot of people don't have resolve. But this fault came to mind very clearly as I was reading a few blogs of friends of mine. I marvel at how they always seem to have a topic to write about, and when they do, well, they write.
And then I thought, "Well, I have topics. I think of things all the time." But then I asked myself, "So where are all my blogs?"
Here's the answer. They are floating around somewhere in my head; still in there, but too far back to call into existence. I don't write things down when they come to me, but leave them to stew and in doing this, lose them. I used to fantasize that my brain had a stenographer, and everything I thought could be filed away somewhere, verbatim, to be looked at and expanded upon later. I used to wonder where all my lost thoughts went. Because I do a lot of my writing in my head. I work out a sentence or a paragraph until it sounds perfect. But if I don't ever get it written down then.... poof. Gone. It could have been the beginning of story, an essay for school, or just another introspective blog. But I tend to trust too much to my memory, and expect that it will hold on to this one, even if all evidence suggests otherwise.
So, obviously, the inspiration is not the problem. I've been writing since I was.... phh, who even remembers the age? I do, however, remember the first story I wrote. It was a complete rip-off of the Goosebumps episode, Night of the Living Dummy, except instead of Slappy, we had a possessed computer. I also remember the first story I wrote that wasn't plagiarized. It was the tale of a bunny, whose name was supposed to be Flop, but his mother handwriting on the birth certificate was so bad (hey, they always told us, write about what you know!) that his name went into the record books as Frog. I don't really remember the plot, but I do remember that Frog's arch nemesis was a squirrel, named Delhi. I also remember how proud I was when I finished, printed it off, and showed everyone what I had done.
To be inspired, perchance to finish? Ay, there's the rub. (Oh, someone take Hamlet away from me...) See, there's no real shortage of ideas of here. It's the motivation I lack. Ask me how many things I've started, never to be finished. (I'm just kidding, don't ask me, I'll only get depressed.) Anyway, it's a lot. Notebooks full of scribbled on paper. Megabytes full of word documents. I know how wonderful it feels to finish something, so why don't I? I lose interest somewhere in the middle, unfortunately.
This blog wasn't to whine on about my flaws, but hopefully to call attention to something that has always been in the back of my mind, and now that it's at the forefront, perhaps do something about. Push myself.

If I can find the motivation.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nobody Broke Your Heart



Somehow, there is nothing quite as heartbreaking, not in the same way, as discovering a musician, falling in love, only to discover that they have been dead for years. It's about a step above finding out the band you just discovered has broken up many years ago (or been on an "indefinite hiatus" since 1998, a la Neutral Milk Hotel), but perhaps a couple steps below hearing the news that your dog just died.
My latest heartbreak? Elliott Smith. I use the phrase a lot, but this time I mean it. Music of the soul, if ever the soul made music.
It's mellow and muted, the kind of music that's almost too quiet; you can't listen to it in the shower or the car. It's beautiful and sad, but that's okay. With a search deeper into this lovely musician's life, you find that he was a troubled soul, who struggled with depression and addiction, and who died rather horrifically by his own hands. And that's still okay. The world needs sensitive, fragile people to make whispery music that makes everybody else feel that it's alright to be sensitive and fragile.
Elliott does just that, not quite curing a melancholy mood but definitely complimenting it. And I love it. And it breaks my heart that there will never be more.
But I'm certainly not the only one who misses him. Like the messages on the mausoleum next to Jim Morrison's grave or the gate outside Abbey Road studios, Elliott Smith has his own Memorial Wall. In Los Angeles, at the site where the picture for the album Figure 8 was taken, many fans have graffitied an impromptu memorial. Names, dates, song lyrics, or general laments, it's the sort of place that I love traveling to and just staring at, trying to read everything (in the cases of Jim Morrison's grave and Abbey Road, while my sister stand impatiently behind me, wondering out loud if I'm done yet). You can see a picture of it here and a video of it, set to Elliott's song "Between the Bars" here.
So as sad as it is that he is no longer around, I'm still glad that he was ever around at all, that I can listen to his music now and that there are still many people influenced by him. And I truly hope that Elliott is finally resting in peace.

With that, my favorite song of his at this moment in time. Angeles:

I love that smile at the end.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Forever Dead and Lovely


"Well, it's about people who kill themselves..."
That's not a very good way to begin a description of a movie, especially one that you're trying to recommend to someone.
"... and they go to this afterlife, which is exactly like the living world, only worse..."
It is at about this time that you begin to write this movie off as morbid and depressing, because who really wants to watch an entire movie about suicide? It sounds like the sort of movie that will bring you down, and that you'll come out of wondering, "Where exactly did that last hour and a half of my life go?" Feel-good movie of the year, contemplation of suicide does not make.
"... but it's a really charming and sweet movie! So do you want to watch Wristcutters: A Love Story?"
A love story? You're thinking, how on earth could this be a love story? It sounds more like a depressing story. Let's go watch The Princess Bride and think about how true love doesn't happen every day.
I know. I've been there. But hold on. First, understand, that it is almost impossible to describe this movie and make it sound like it won't have you hating the world. But it won't.
Zia, our main character, killed himself over his painful breakup with Desiree, and got sent to this limbo-like afterlife, where no one can smile and there are no stars. But, he says, what are you going to do? Kill yourself and get sent somewhere worse? In a chance encounter with someone from his former life, he finds out that Desiree killed herself too. So he convinces his Russian friend, Eugene (whose whole family is with him in this afterlife) to go on a roadtrip in search of her. It is on this trip that they meet a hitchhiker, called Mikal, who is looking for the PIC; the People in Charge, to rectify the fact that she was sent there by mistake, as she didn't mean to die. As you might have guessed, it is here where the ":A Love Story" part of the title comes in.
It's a fairly low-key movie, quiet, but so charming and, believe it or not, hopeful that it works. And Zia is played by Patrick Fugit, my favorite under-rated actor. I love his characters, as few and far between as they may be (he doesn't do very many movies), and it just thrills the latin scholar deep inside that his surname means "he/she/it flees". Patrick is a large part of why this movie is as wonderful as it is. You may remember him as young William is Almost Famous?
And lastly, the soundtrack of this movie is ace. It features many musicians who have also killed themselves, and also a song supposedly by Eugene's band (although it is actually a Gogol Bordello song) that makes affecting a Russian accent so much more fun. The song that Zia kills himself to is by Tom Waits, who is also in the movie playing a character called Kneller. It is called "Dead and Lovely", and it is so rough and jazzy that I appear to have fallen in love with it, especially the line, "He's not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at." Pure, satisfying genius.


So, in conclusion, give Wristcutters a chance. You may just love it.
To quote from the back of my DVD case, "Just because you're dead, doesn't mean you have to stop livin'!"
I know. Pure cheese. I guess they didn't know how to describe it either.



On a completely unrelated note, I believe this might be a song that never made it into Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas. Dead catchy but vaguely disturbing.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

All I Want Out of Life Is....

...some light-up sneakers.

It seems a little ridiculous, but every time I see a kid's shoes flash every time they take a step, I get insanely jealous.
It doesn't seem quite fair that this novelty is available only to children, or maybe that's just my reluctance to accept adulthood speaking. Either way, I would like some light-up sneakers.
The problem? No company makes these bad boys in adult sizes, which is depressing but not entirely surprising. There is one website that will add lights to shoes for you, but they recommend not to add them into the soles of shoes, which is exactly what I want to happen. Also, the lights that they offer appear to stay on continuously, and what I really want is flashing lights when I walk.
Another option is in some lines of athletic shoes, some of which can be see here, including running sneakers that can be lit up when going for a jog; a safety alternative to those lovely orange reflective vests. Unfortunately, these are turned on to be on continuously and turned off but do not flash, and also appear to be selling for approximately one bazillion dollars. This is a little out of my price range.
There is a third option. Supposedly, there are also tutorials on the internet for making some yourself by tearing up a pair of kid's sneakers and removing the bits, to be put into some adult shoes. But, my Padre is probably too busy to be prevailed upon to try this for me (and also may just laugh at me and walk away), and if I tried it myself there would be a good chance of electrocution at the first sight of rain.
At this point it looks like my best bet would be to either buy a pair of stripper boots with a light up heel, or to try to cram my feet into a child-sized LED sneaker from Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, I am quite clumsy when it comes to high heels (haha, you thought I was going to say I don't want to look like a stripper, didn't you?) and as far as trying to fit into kid's shoes, I have very adult-sized feet, and am the Bigfoot of my family, to the point that my sister even makes fun of me for them.
This may be a sign from God to grow up. But, with less than one month until I am, in the eyes of the law, officially an adult, I am a little reluctant to heed that sign. In fact, I think I might just go watch Mulan or try to get my mum to make me a pb&j sandwich....

And, now for your surfing pleasure, some other cool sites I found on my interwebz travels:
Wearable Electronics?!
The Coolest Sneakers Ever: The Dalek Version
Kurt Cobain Converse (Really fun to say. Try it.)
And something completely unrelated:
Welcome to Narnia!
I know. I'm not entirely sure what to think either.