Friday, May 25, 2012

Naturespace.

I've mentioned before that I very much enjoy not only immersing myself in nature, but also recording it from time to time.  At some point I'd like to get more hightech recording equipment in order to get some really good recordings, but for now I just use the voicememo app on my iPhone to record flora and fauna.  Below is my first ever video uploaded to YouTube of Vero Beach this last March.  Forgive the cheesy electronic music.  The wind on the actual sound of this video was loud, so I chose one of the rights-free YouTube music options in lieu of silence and this was one of the only tolerable ones available.

  And below this text is a playlist I've made on SoundCloud of all of my naturesounds I've deemed worthy enough to keep.  They're, again, by no means awesome, but they're fun for me to record and can be fun to practice some deep-breathing to...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

everythinginitsrightplace

Another mix.  This one I have posted in so many formats that it's becoming ridiculous.  The tracklist can be found here.  It is about calm in the face of extreme anxiety.  I've chosen most of the songs because they are calming to me and one of the elements that can be found in most of these songs is a resonant voice.  A voice that vibrates deep in the back of my throat when I hear it.  This is my calm center, apparently.  I suspect this mix won't be as calming to everyone as it is to me, but perhaps you'll find something here you enjoy.

There's one song missing from the YouTube playlist below and that's a track I have in my library as Macka's "Baggage".  I've not been able to find it anywhere online, so I either have a very rare song or my track information is inaccurate.  Either way, I figure this is fair game to upload the song to Soundcloud, so it is provided below, because I think it is a spectacular song.  If anyone has information on why I can't find it anywhere online (is my info wrong, is this a rare artist, etc?) let me know, because I'd love to have more from this man's resonant voice.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Top Five.

This is the Current, Etc article that came out last Thursday:

If we, as a society, have learned anything from High Fidelity (the book and/or the movie) I hope that it is this: that Top Five lists are important not only in everyday conversation, but in knowing if someone is worth your time or not.  You might want to reevaluate a friendship after finding that Lynyrd Skynyrd is among their Top Five Artists of All Time.  Your crush on that redhead in Physics may turn to true love when she states that Beck’s “Sea Change” is on her Top Five Breakup Albums, because now you know she REALLY gets you.  Your assignment for the end of May is to compose some Top Five lists of your own: they can be Top Five Flavors of Pop Tarts or Top Five People In My Life.  These lists can be about anything, and making them may just tell you something you didn’t know about yourself or those you love.  Email me your lists at mixtressrae@yahoo.com

Here are some of my music-related Top Five Lists (hopefully none of these will be dealbreakers, but in friendships, you gotta put it all out there, I always say):

Top Five Albums Ever:
*Portishead // Dummy
*The Cure // Pornography
*Fiona Apple // Tidal
*Kate Bush // The Dreaming
*Tori Amos // Under the Pink

Top Five Breakup Albums:
*Tori Amos // Boys for Pele
*Beck // Sea Change
*The Cure // Disintegration
*Fiona Apple // Extraordinary Machine
*Zero7 // When It Falls

Top Five Makeout Albums:
*Sarah McLachlan // Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
*Massive Attack // Heligoland
*Goldfrapp // Supernature
*Cibo Matto // Viva! La Woman
*Fiona Apple // Tidal

Top Five Dance Songs:
*Lady GaGa // Telephone
*Beyonce // Run the World (Girls)
*Benny Benassi // California Dreamin’
*Goldfrapp // Ooh La La
*Shakira // Ojos Asi

Top Five Soundtracks/Scores:
*Marie Antoinette
*Virgin Suicides
*Velvet Goldmine
*Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ
*Social Network

Top Five MarioKart Albums for the 5-disc Shuffle (whilst playing MarioKart 64, of course):
*Cake // Fashion Nugget
*Queens of the Stone Age // Lullabies to Paralyze
*MIA // /\/\ /\ Y /\
*Weezer // (blue album)
*Radiohead // Kid A

Top Five Albums of 2012:
*Santigold // Master of My Make Believe
*Sleigh Bells // Reign of Terror
*Grimes // Visions
*Fiona Apple // Idler Wheel... (yeah, it’s not out yet, I have THAT much confidence in it)
*TBA (We’ve still got 7 months for something AWESOME to happen, and I’m sure it will, as long as The Wolf & the Wolverine put something out...hint hint)

The Distance.

Another mix, babies.  If you're looking for a way to celebrate the anniversary of the Destructive Wind of 2011 that's a little more funky than the Tour of Destruction that's going on tomorrow, here's a mix I made about survival, again via YouTube.  This one is almost entirely music videos, so it can be very visually stimulating--no tornado footage, I promise!  The below soundcloud file is an introduction from Ms. Jackson, 'cause I know you're nasty.  Play that first.






And here's the tracklist in case you want to skip through to your favorites:

Army of Me // Bjork
Bad Reputation // Joan Jett
Blackbird // Glee version
Blow // Ke$ha
The Bomb // New Young Pony Club
Born This Way // Lady GaGa
Bulletproof // La Roux
Cheated Hearts // Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Distance // Cake
Empty // Metric
Everybody Got Their Something // Nikka Costa
Extraordinary Machine // Fiona Apple
Human Nature // Madonna
Outta Me, Onto You // Ani DiFranco
Run the World (Girls) // Beyonce
Silent All These Years // Tori Amos
Strut // Sheena Easton
Telephone // Lady GaGa
Try Again // Aaliyah
You Don't Own Me // Lesley Gore

Million Dollar Man.



This is an experiment.  Above you will find a mix that I made a few days ago called "Million Dollar Man".  It is all songs from 2011 and 2012, mostly female artists I'm obsessed with right now.

I've been searching for ways to embed an entire playlist into my zineblog.  Youtube seems to be the easiest option.  I wasn't able to do it with mixpod (because none of their links seem to work) or soundcloud (because the music isn't made by me).  Let me know if this works for you.  Most of these aren't music videos, just sound, so theoretically you can press play and listen to the thing without watching.  Give me feedback, especially if you know of a more elegant solution to embedding a mix than Youtube.  Another option if you have Spotify would be to look up milliondollarman playlist on my Spotify, and you can listen to it there in its entirety.  I wish I could do this more gracefully...perhaps I will figure it out soon.

Here's the original tracklist (two of the songs weren't available in Youtube--they're the ones in a different color).


Move // The Wolf And The Wolverine
No Light, No Light (remix) // Florence + the Machine
Look At These Hoes // Santigold
Million Dollar Man // Lana Del Rey
Circumambient // Grimes
Never Say Die // Sleigh Bells
Wasted Away // Dum Dum Girls
Disparate Youth // Santigold
Summertime Sadness // Lana Del Rey
Nightmusic (feat. Majical Clouds) // Grimes
Comeback Kid // Sleigh Bells
Immigrant Song // Karen O, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Freak Like Me  // Santigold
Video Games // Lana Del Rey
Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U) // Grimes
Crush // Sleigh Bells
Always Looking // Dum Dum Girls
Pirate In the Water // Santigold
Born to Die // Lana Del Rey
Infinite Love Without Fulfilment // Grimes
Demons // Sleigh Bells
Hardest Of Hearts // Florence + The Machine

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The 16th of May, 2011...

you don't hear much about her, but she's an important day last year too.  Don't discredit her.  So, at 4:14pm, May 16, 2011 I recorded this voice memo at the Fairview Cemetery on Maiden Lane:



Be thy silent slumber as peaceful
 as day dreams of youth.
I was on my lunch break from work.  It was a Monday.  This was recorded on my 3GS and it's terrible sound quality, but the part you may be interested in, because I was, is minute 2 to minute 3ish.  If you listen really close, you can hear a faraway buzzing that gets louder and louder and then fades away again.  This is the sound of thousands (yes, THOUSANDS....maybe millions?) of bees flying past my head as I lay on my rainbow blanket I always keep in my car.  The sky was black with bees.  I was pretty scared and I kept looking at the tombstone next to me, trying to stay as quiet as possible so as not to be noticed by the bees.  Stiff as a board, still like a corpse, I thought to myself as I meditated upon the tombstone pictured at right.  I was so glad I was laying down and not sitting up!  A full minute these bees fled past a girl on her lunch break peacefully digesting and recording nature from what would, in 6 days,  be a scarred town.  The 16th was only a day after the storm system that would become that wretched tornado began.

So, today I did a very superstitious thing.  I went back to the exact same spot at the exact same time with the exact same blanket (I rescued it from Sushilla [the dearly departed 2008 Yaris] after the tornado and still keep it in my new trunk, of course.  My new car's name is Agador Spartacus.) and recorded for the exact same duration on the voice memo app of my 4S (her name is Daughter of Avalanche, if you like to know names of my electronics as well as my vehicles, and I know you do).  No bees this time, but the sound quality is much better (there is still annoying wind, because I don't have fancy recording equipment or anything, just my phone), if you want to listen to that.  I've put it here for posterity and ritual-ness.  I tried to meditate as I was recording and I sat up so the bees would have to confront me directly if they showed their buzzy little selves again.  I am convinced that last year they knew it was time to go and that danger was afoot.  They were swarming northeast, is that a migratory thing or just a weird anomaly?  In my warped mind, the fact that millions of bees didn't swarm past me this 16th of May, proves that I am ok.  So, if this weird superstition makes you feel more ok, press play on the below sound file and meditate on the absence of bees.  Mmmmm....no bees.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

// ambients //


This is the article I wrote for the current Current, Etc:

// ambients //

There are many uses for ambient sound.  Sometimes one requires white noise to drown out unwanted distractions (dogs barking down the street, downstairs neighbor partying all night long, etc).  Ambient music produces a satisfying background atmosphere for studying or work (I’m listening to somafm’s “Drone Zone” station as I type this article).  Studies show that music can modify your mood (duh! like we need a study to tell us that!) in pretty much any way you wish your mood to be altered.

As we approach the one year anniversary of the Great Wind, many of us Joplinites will be feeling the pangs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or at the very least, some heightened storm sensitivity as we overcome this spring’s turbulent weather upsets.  I’d like to give you a few ideas on how to use ambient music (or any sound that calms you personally) to create an overall sense of wellbeing.  With any of these soundscapes, while you are listening, practice deep breathing and concentrate on imagery or feelings of calm.  Try to let this be a space where worry is not allowed to enter (it will still try, but with the following sounds in your ears, anxiety will fear to tread in your placid brainspace).

*Make a mix: This is my go-to answer for everything, and it really works for me.  If you are willing to put in the time of finding a handful of songs that soothe you and composing them into a mix for your phone or iPod, this will be the most effective stress-reducer because the more you listen to your personalized mix, the more ingrained the calming effect will become as you create specific associations with your distinct mix of tranquility.  If you can get your mix on your phone, you will have the added benefit of having it available whenever you need it.

*Find ambient radio stations online: A few great ones can be found on digitallyimported.com and somafm.comPandora.com is a great way to personalize your listening experience (If you’ve never used Pandora, it works by creating a station for you based on a song or artist you choose.  To personalize your station further, you input “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down” data for the songs played on your station.  If you don’t know where to start with ambient music, try basing a station on “Brian Eno”, the King of Ambient Sound.).

*Listen to nature: If you’re not able to get to a place that sounds calm naturally, I recommend naturespace.com (there’s also an app).  This site has many high quality (seriously, the sounds are fantastic!) recordings of any type of nature that relaxes you.  I also sometimes record flora and fauna on my phone’s voice recorder for later listening enjoyment.

The main thing to remember in times of stress is that we DO have some modicum of control over our moods.  We CAN create an atmosphere of tranquility for ourselves to feel okay in our uncertain world.  We are survivors, each and every one of us.
-MixtressRae

Subscribe to Sound.


My eighth article for Current, Etc (seriously, I researched the SHIT out of this subject, so if you have any questions whatsoever about MOG or Spotify, ask me, because I'm thisclose to all-knowing):


Subscribe to Sound.
This is a command.  If you do not have a music subscription service, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just do it.

I find that a lot of people don’t realize that this option is out there, so if you’re one of the uninitiated, music subscription services are online on-demand options for music-imbibing, and the service has been fully actualized in the last year or so.  Here, I will describe some of the features of my two favorites (MOG.com and Spotify.com).

When I say “on-demand”, let’s take a moment and ponder the sublimeness of this concept.  This means you can look up the new Madonna that I reviewed last issue and listen to it without accidentally owning it.  You can listen to anything (both services boast libraries in the millions, so most of what you covet will be on one of these sites).  Both MOG and Spotify offer offline options, so you don’t even have to be connected to the internet--this means that with the mobile apps you can actually download the songs to your phone.

The even better news is that they’re both free (with ads, 4.99/month without ads, and if you want to have the app on your electronic devices it’s 9.99/month).  If you’re near a computer right now, there’s no excuse not to type in one of those web addresses and start listening.  I’ll wait. 

As to which service to begin your aural nirvana, they’re both so awesome and free, I would encourage you to try each.  Spotify has more social and music discovery features, but MOG has higher quality bit rates (320 across the board, so everything sounds amazing).  MOG is browser-based (meaning one simply has to go to the website to use it) and Spotify requires installing a program on your computer, but both are pretty to look at (MOG’s user interface is mostly red and grey and Spotify is mostly green and grey, in the event you want to decide by color preference) and easy to use.

The most sparkling beauty of subscribing to music for me is the indispensable verity that I have avoided many bad purchases and discovered lots of new music (I’m listening to a new album right now on MOG) I might not have heard otherwise.  It’s a fantastic concept, and with the trickiness of music rights, we’re lucky to have this utopia, so get out there and enjoy it (If you’re at a loss for what to listen to, check out reviews on pitchfork.com.).  Seriously, what are you waiting for?

Make it so.


Make it so
-MixtressRae

Why you should have a good pair of headphones.


My fifth article for The Current, Etc and the inspiration for a big headphone test I'm currently conducting.  Soon I will have a big headphone review of all the cans I've gotten my hands on to test:

Why you should have a good pair of headphones.

When I’m not acting as your Current, Etc Music Advisor I am either working reference at the library or working for my mom’s Zen Cleaning service, in which I don my trusty fuchsia in-ear v-moda remix headphones and scrub toilets for monetary compensation.  I enjoy this job mainly because of the working-while-wearing-headphones phenomenon.  It’s indispensable to me to be able to sequester myself in the soundscapes of my choosing at all times.  If I could wear headphones during all activities in this life, I probably would.

I digress.  Anyway, I bring up my fuchsia wonders as the last time I arrived at my cleaning job, gasp, withOUT these instruments of my affection.  Luckily, I keep a pair of headphones in my car for just such emergencies.  Regular iPod headphones.  Let me tell you what a difference an earbud makes:
Firstly, the things didn’t block out pesky cleaning sounds such as vacuums and abrasive scrubbing noise.  I was not amused.  My fuchsia beauties squish perfectly into my ear canals and even with no sound going through them make excellent neighbor’s-dog-barking-excessively cancellation.  I immediately understood why, when others try to engage with headphoned-me (the nerve!), they comment that my music must be REALLY loud if I didn’t hear them.  No, they’re just good headphones.

Secondly, the blasted iPod issue earbuds kept falling out of my ear when I used the toilet brush (not INTO the toilet, thankfully).  My fuchsia lovelies came with four sizes of earbuds, so they fit like the dream I’m painting them to be in this love letter.

Lastly, iPod earbuds, as can be expected being valued in the 20-30$ range, sound like muddled din compared to the rich tones of my fuchsia pretties.  I no longer felt like I was in the room with Chuck and Josh (the delightful boys from the “Stuff You Should Know” podcast) and that was almost enough to make me put down my toilet brush and drive home to get my precccious.

All this to say that it is really worth it to drop the bigger bucks on headphones that pull their weight in the relationship.  If you’re comfortable with dropping $50 on headphones and you’re used to iPod standard issue, this will be an improvement, though I tend to drop about a hundred on beautiful sound.  If you wear headphones at least a couple of hours a week, do not pass go, do some research (reviews.cnet.com) and get some good headphones.  You owe it to your ears!
-MixtressRae

Just Dance.


If you've read my zine before, you have read a variation of this article...it's a thought pattern I extol frequently.  This was my fourth article for The Current, Etc:


I am always extolling the virtues of dance.    In my opinion, there’s no purer form of expression than the declaration of dance.  Dance brings joy into your soul effectively counteracting any despair I might have caused getting you to listen to The Smiths in the last issue.  Seriously, I defy you to be sad while you’re tripping the light fantastic.  You can’t do it!



Here are 3 proven ways to get your dance on:

1) Making a dance-tastic mix :  
  • for Mixtresses and Mixters, I give you full permission to spend hours on the perfect transitions and crossfading techniques.  Do what you do with the boogie in mind!
  • for mix-makin’ newbies, I have a few suggestions for jumping into the mix-y waters. First, go through your music library and add every song, album, or artist that makes you feel like dancin’ to a playlist.  Next, weed out any duplicates or weird R+B songs that accidentally got added when you dropped that entire Timberlake album in your mix (unless you like those grooves, in which case, groove away, baby).  Lastly, order your songs.  If you don’t wish to spend hours on transitions like we mix-nerds find endless delight in doing, I recommend ordering tracks in a dance mix from shortest to longest because typically, as songs get longer, beats get slower and serve as a good dance cool-down.  You could also just shuffle ‘em when you press play if you enjoy dance chaos, which can also be fun.
  • If all of this sounds exhausting to you and you want to JUST DANCE, pop on pandora.com and base a radio station on a dancey song you like.
2) Play the Just Dance game : This is one of the most fun games ever and its available for Wii, Playstation, and Xbox, so you have no excuse not to give it a try.  The entire premise is to pick a song and dance along with the neon-avatar on the screen.

3) If you’re the dancing-extrovert-type, simply go out dancing! Gay bars are particularly supportive for this environment, but if you like booty-grinding or line-dancin’, there are several places in town for any type of rug you feel like cutting.
Above all, enjoy yourself.  Dancing is about jovial expression and good endorphins.  Let go and embrace the cheesiness and DO NOT think about how you look doing it.  Just feel the beat and DANCE!
-MixtressRae

Why We Like Dark and Depressing Music.

Every two weeks I submit an article to a free publication in Joplin called The Current, Etc.  It's always short and about music.  This was the third article I wrote for them:

Why some of us Like Dark and Depressing Music.

I have in my digital possession almost 8 Gigabytes of “goth” music, or music one would normally label as sad, depressing, or just plain tragic, i.e. bands such as The Cure, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Smiths, Joy Division, etc.

I am not a depressed person.  In fact, Robert Smith (lead singer of The Cure, one of the pioneers of Goth music) has echoed the same sentiment in interviews.  He writes sad songs because he’s more inclined to write when he’s depressed.  Writing and/or listening about/to sad stuff, as Steve Almond (writer of the book Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, reviewed by me last issue) affirms, lifts that depression...expunges it, even.  Sometimes you just have to vomit up the bad stuff to move forward into an otherwise happy life.  Americans have been embracing the deep dark depths of a tragic soul since the lush lounge ladies of the Jazz Era, i.e. Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan.  It’s ok to wallow, as long as the act of wallowing leads you to better times.

That being said, I don’t even have to be sad to listen to The Cure.  In fact, when something from the first four Cure albums (Boys Don’t Cry, Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography) comes up on the shuffle, I can feel the rush of dopamine flooding into my brain like I’ve just eaten a piece of dark chocolate.  I feel elated and almost downright sedated listening to “One Hundred Years”.  Is it the nostalgia of a Gothic Girl adolescence?  Perhaps.  Is there something wrong with me?  I don’t think so.
I suppose what I’m trying to convey is the importance of acceptance, in yourself and in others.  Listen to whatever makes you happy, even if others don’t get it.  If you know a kid that is really into darkness, perhaps it is their particular form of chocolate.  And if this Dark music thing intrigues you, here are a few of my favorite Dark Albums to get you started:

Pornography // The Cure
Songs of Faith and Devotion // Depeche Mode
Treasure // Cocteau Twins
Garbage // Garbage
Tidal // Fiona Apple
Europa // Covenant
Exile // Gary Numan
The Information // Beck
Epitaph // Front Line Assembly

*honorable mention, a new album: Only In Dreams // Dum Dum Girls
-MixtressRae

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Day the Music Died.

Ok, so music is not at all dead to me, but I've decided to spend 24 hours without it (my Day of Emptiness will terminate when I wake up tomorrow morning, though this will technically make 34ish hours in total without beautiful, beautiful music).  As a verified music-junkie, this was difficult, but I had a few things that got me by: crutches, as it were.  I listened to podcasts as a substitute and I worked all day, so I didn't have much time to think about how silent my day was.

I also had the distraction of a blog to create, the one you're reading right now (again, created withOUT music).  This is an adaptation of my zine called Chickweed.  Unfortunately, chickweed.blogspot.com was already taken.  I could have accepted this if someone cool had the domain, but it's an unused blog!  I'm outraged that I couldn't have the web address I wanted because someone is stagnant in that space!  Whatever, so the explanation for chickweedish.blogspot.com is that normally my zine would have an ish followed by a number, i.e. Chickweed: ISH5 or what-have-you.  Now, the blog IS the ish!  Get it?  Anyway, here it is.  Those who know my zine know what to expect.  My plan is to have multiple contributors (email me if you want to contribute: mixtressrae@yahoo.com) and to post my articles I publish in the Current a day after the Current comes out (every other Friday, generally) in addition to regular articles/blog posts that are mostly music-related.

For those new to the Chickweed World, Chickweed is a zine I created a couple of years ago to write mostly about my music-obsessiveness.  I have decided to see where the blog version of Chickweed takes me, as production costs of the zine are considerably more than the FREE that this blog will be.

Now, back to my terrifying day without music...it really wasn't that bad until now.  The present moment is the hardest time for me, because normally when I'm sitting at my computer blogging, archiving, encoding, I am listening to Pandora, Spotify, di.fm, or somafm.  Instead, I am forced to attempt to blog whilst my husband watches 30 Rock, which is so not doing it for me anymore, the show, not blogging during TV, which was never doing it for me.

So that's my underwhelming inaugural post.  There will be more in the near future, because I have two from contributors ready to post, I just don't feel like formatting them tonight...I'll let this lame intro tide you over for the time being.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

all tingly and stuff...

I've been thinking about drishta dharma sukha viharin.  "Dwelling happily in the present moment".  May is my Zen month this year.  I'm learning to meditate, reading Buddhist texts, listening to soothing Scottish guys hypnosis-ing in apps and stuff (OMG, how awesome would it be if Patrick Stewart read audiobooks...OMG, what if he already does?), doing yoga, etc.  During the month of tornado possibilities, I will remain calm.  I will remain calm.  I will remain calm (repeat until insane).


So far all I've really done is start reading Thich Nhat Hanh's "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching" which is a book that CHANGED MY LIFE in 2002ish.
  
So far I'm struck by two things: one, that Buddhism is confusing.  They really could have SteveJobs-it into a much more simplified theory that still would have given me goosebumps when I read about the concepts (my secret is that the real reason I read Buddhist texts is because the way they talk about everything being made of everything else and stuff hypnotizes me and makes me feel all tingly...).  For example, the Noble Eightfold Path is a central tenant of Buddhism and consists of right thinking, right mindfulness, right action, right concentration, right view, right speech, right diligence, and right livelihood.  Don't some of these things sound like the same thing to you?  I would boil it down to two of these: right action and right mindfulness.  Body and mind.  Doing and thinking.  And the Four Noble Truths are basically thus:


1) Sometimes stuff sucks.
2) It doesn't have to suck.
3) Sometimes stuff doesn't suck.
4) There's stuff you can do to ensure that stuff sucks less.


A lot of emphasis seems to be on point #1.  Acknowledging that stuff sucks.  Duh, stuff sucks.  No one denies that suffering exists.  No one.  I will concentrate on #4 only.


The second thing that I'm realizing as I attempt to be more in the present moment: I'm already very good at this.  I'm usually TOO involved in the present moment.  I think remarkably less than I look like I'm thinking.  I'm usually just quiet and looking into the sky dreamily.  I take pictures of the same 5 things that I find beautiful (wait, two...animals and nature).  I don't like smoking pot because I'm spacey enough as it is...my natural state is that of a contented cow chomping grass in a meadow.  
Nonetheless, I enjoy reading Buddhist books because it makes me feel connected to the earth.  I love that feeling of becoming grounded, because so often my head is in the clouds.  I'm like Andre from season two of Project Runway...frolicking through the forest with a look of pure joy on my face.  Who needs Buddhist texts or koans when you can simply ask yourself, "What would Andre do?"??

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Impending Anniversaries We Dread.

The anniversary of our first vaginal infection, our first breakup, our first soul-deadening job, or 5:44 May 22nd in Joplin, MO.  That is the time for me, because that is the time my kitchen clock stopped.  I didn't get rid of it and every time I come upon it in the garage, my heart throws itself against my ribcage.  I could replace the glass and put a battery in it and it would be, will be, a beautiful working clock once again, but for some reason its eeriness prevents me from contemplating it for more than thirty seconds at a time every few months.

All this to say that I have set a date for myself...the anniversary of that torturous gust that snatched my home from me, that if I have not dealt with the last of my besmirched possessions, I will rid myself of them.

Today, I spent a few hours on the task of putting my life back together, an ongoing undertaking since last spring.  I have been dreading the venture for months now, not having touched a single item covered in insulation since before winter, at least.  However, when I dived into my burden today, I found that the multitudes have dwindled to only a few scattered items in the garage and basement.  Today alone, I finished cleaning and organizing what was left of my tattered belongings in the basement and have but a few hours worth of chores in the garage still remaining.  I am relieved.  I feel as if I have more control, just having done the little I did today.

I have decided to leave Tornado Barbie as is and have not cleaned one bit of grit from her hair.  She sits now on my windowsill, triumphant.  My gracious and wonderful aunt left us a bunch of stereo equipment, so today I FINALLY set up the cassette deck and it is the most spectacular-sounding tape deck I have ever owned and all 18 of my cassettes rescued still work!  Some are as old as 25 years.  Cassettes of Kate Bush with track listings penned in my dad's hand.  Mixtapes made my Christine Hale.  I may have lost all her letters to me, but I still have the mixtapes...two of them, anyway.  I am so excited to curl up in my papasan chair and listen to my cassettes on my serious headphones!

Also in the donated pile of equipment is a dvd/vcr combo that I will hopefully set up tomorrow so that I can start pouring through my old vhs video compilations.  I want to figure out how to burn DVDs of my favorite music videos of all time for my next zine.  I'm not sure how I'll accomplish that yet (if anyone has any ideas, please let me know...do I need a special DVD burner or will my computer suffice?  Can I extract Youtube or Vevo files in order to make a DVD compilation?), but the process will bring extreme joy to my geekheart!  I have about 7 vhs tapes set on SLP (so, 6 hours of music per tape--if only I had had the foresight to set them at higher quality, as I imagine some of them are pretty degraded at this point) filled to capacity with music videos from the mid-'90s to early '00s.  I will uncover many memories...thank the gods that I had these tapes safe in a box under my bed when the tornado hit!

This is meandering weirdness and I'm not sure what I'm saying except that combing through my tortured valuables is not as grueling as I thought and I am incredibly grateful that I still have a lot of my mixtapes given me by others, my yearbooks covered in scrawling humor by Christine Ohara Hale, my vhs music video mixes, and even more treasures yet uncovered.  My life is starting to feel like my own again almost a year later and that is so incredibly valuable, I can't even tell you.  I love our new house and I love all of the things that I have painstakingly saved from that devastating wind.  It really makes every little thing mean so much more when it has survived such a treacherous fate.

I suppose I am feeling appreciative today.  It's been a great Saturday.  If you are one of the many that still have tornado-things to revive, spend an hour and you'll see that it's not as bad as it was right after.  Odds are, your emotions have calmed and cleaning the crap is not quite as exhausting as it was last spring/summer.  Taking control, even if it's just to throw that shit AWAY, feels so good.

Happy 5th of May everyone...may you all be pleasantly buzzed on tequila right now!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Initiative

Episode 63.
airdate: 16 Nov 1999.

Episode opens with Riley and a friend in the lunchroom. They are observing Buffy acting all clumsy. Riley calls her "peculiar".

Spike is in a cell all parched and wearing his grey jeans. I love grey jeans. I need some of those. Camera pans to show that there are MANY such cells inside a big white mysterious building. Xander looks hot in a worn v-neck sweats/sweater. Giles' place is officially becoming a hang-out/meeting place.

Giles and Xander are hanging out a lot because they both feel like unneeded outliers. Riley realizes he has a crush on Buffy. The MOMENT he realizes he goes to find her and ask her out. What a manly-man. Blugh. At least he's sweet.

Meanwhile, in the vampire cell block, Spike is blaming everything on Buffy: "Bitch finally got some funding!" He escapes, of course. Strangely, he goes to see Harmony first. Harmony has turned a new leaf. She's hanging unicorn posters and is all empowered, kinda. She still falls for Spike after only cursory hesitation. Buffy drags Willow to a party wherein she's Riley's in for Buffy, so Willow is helping Riley talk to her, with a caveat: "Remember, if you hurt her, I will beat you to death with a shovel...a vague disclaimer is nobody's friend."

Xander finds Harmony in the woods burning a bunch of Spike's stuff and they're all posture-y and have a really hilarious girly fight. There's a lot of hair-pulling. Buffy is kind of lame for dragging Willow out to a party in order to cheer her up and then not hanging out with her much.

Riley is involved in something funky. It's the Initiative. The Army-lookin' dudes. Professor Walsh is the head of the thing. They're going to find "Hostile 17". Buffy goes out to find Spike for some reason. Spike is looking for her. Riley sees Buffy out waiting for Spike and tries to get her to go home, displaying a lot of machismo and a little bit chauvenistic.

Spike shows up at Buffy and Willow's dorm and Willow is there. He tries to bite Willow, but can't. There's a cute impotence metaphor here. Willow ends up comforting him and then he reassures her. So cute. Yeay, I love it when Spike's all neutered. He's so much more fun when he's vulnerable. Hostile 17 is Spike, of course. Buffy ends up fighting Riley, though she doesn't know he's Riley, since he's all masked. Spike gets away.

Buffy tells Riley the next morning that HE'S peculiar, so you know she's starting an inkling of liking him back.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wild at Heart

Episode 62 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

airdate: 9 Nov 1999.

The episode starts with a good old-fashioned slayer vs. vampire fight. Her confidence is definitely back. Spike is lurking in the shadows making idle threats when he gets tazed and captured by an unseen captor(s). Giles shows up at the Bronze and everyone is sufficiently perplexed. Veruca's second and last appearance. Oz is definitely into her. Veruca is sexy. Seth Green looks like the sweetest spooner.

It's the full moon and Oz gets out of his cage and wakes up in the forest naked with Veruca-oh, she's a werewolf too, by the way. Uh-oh. He acts like he doesn't know what happened, but you can tell he totally does. Veruca starts challenging his philosophies about the wolf within him. He's having a bit of an identity crisis, of course. Willow tries to seduce him, but he brushes her off. He's an introvert and he needs time to process. Willow goes to confide in Xander. Xander is so insightful and wise. Oz calls Veruca to his cage and lures her in. Willow finds them in there together in the morning. Interesting that with Willow Oz is the back spoon, but with Veruca he's the front. God, I hate it when Willow cries. Sometimes it gets to me and sometimes her whininess just bothers me. This time it's bothering me.

Willow is so darkly despondent that she almost walks out into traffic, but luckily Riley saves her. Willow starts consulting her magic books to ease her pain...typical copout Willow can't contain her pain. Veruca tries to kill Willow just as she's decided to stop her spell. Buffy runs into another masked Army-lookin' dude. Oz comes to save Willow as he's starting to change for the third night of the full moon and he kills Veruca, even in his wolf state. Buffy has to step in and sedate him.

Buffy talks to Giles about the Army guys. Willow goes to see Oz. He's packing. His exit is heartbreaking, but it completely makes sense. He has to go find himself. Goodbye, Seth Green. We will miss you.

Commentary (by Joss Whedon, Seth Green, and Marti Noxon) notes added 5.17.13: They're being all jovial and giggly, but it's endearing to me this time because it's Joss, Seth, and Marti together. I like them a lot.

Joss is saying something about (in response to Seth saying everyone on this show has nuance and the bad guys are always depth-y instead of just pure evil) how no matter how diabolical you are, you'll still think you're righteous and doing the "right" thing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Beer Bad

Episode 61.
airdate: 2 Nov 1999.

This is one of my favorite episodes because I really enjoy drunk Buffy.

She is still hung up on Parker and is having fantasies that she's saving him and he's overcome with gratitude, etc. She is in psychology class and Professor Walsh has a voiceover talking about the id and how it wants food, sex, shelter, all the time.

Xander got a job as a bartender on campus so he can be involved in their lives, but not marauded as a lowly "townie" anymore. It's not believable that Buffy is so hung up on Parker...have I said that before? First inkling of Riley liking Buffy. I wonder if the asshole philosopher frat boy was the basis for Logan on Gilmore Girls. He has the same vibe. The frat boys offer Buffy and drink and are very charming. I would have drank with them, 'cause they have big vocabularies.

First sighting of THC and Veruca. It's too bad they only had one album. When I first saw this episode I became obsessed with the music and it was really hard to find the album, but I finally got it from one of the band members. It was just a burned CD. They could have been a great trip hop band.

"Beer foamy."

So, Buffy starts acting weird. She steals a girl's sandwich in class and is speaking in short, dull sentences. She is drinking at the bar a second night and her and the boys are acting like neanderthals.

Oz had a reaction to Veruca and now things are all weird between him and Willow. It's not just drunkenness that Buffy is experiencing, she's regressing into Cavewoman status. Willow confronts Parker. Kumar is one of the neanderthal fratboys. One of them actual gets all cro-mag forehead and then they all start changing. Buffy doesn't fully transform, presumably because Xander cut her off from the beer and sent her home. Xander explains the situation to his boss when he sees the boys transform and his boss says "They had it comin'." He's been using magic or chemistry or something to poison the beer. Xander has some sort of UFO scene on his shirt...that's hot.

Xander gets Giles, of course, and Buffy has dredlocks and is using her lipstick to draw on the wall. "Parker bad." The Caveboys accidentally set fire to a dorm (or library? something on campus). Buffy still saves the day, even in her primitive state. She even saves Parker, just like in her fantasy, after she hits him over the head with a stick and knocks him out. Closure.

Afterwards, Parker thanks Buffy just like he did in the fantasy. She knocks him out again. Yes!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

No Explanation Necessary.

 

What does it mean to not want to be seen when you ostensibly don't care what others think and aren't particularly self-conscious about your appearance anyway?

This question is posited to me by my therapist and thus myself this Thursday, May 3.

It started by my question of why I was SOOO terribly invested in Sharon Needles winning Rupaul's Drag Race. Why was the goth girl within so obsessed with seeing her win? When I tried to explain this to Chad (I'm supposed to refer to him as Dr. G-----, but I just don't like that...too formal) I described the "goth girl within" and I even said that when I imagine my true self, she is this dark tortured form. This led to the discussion of the self-sabotaging of my creativity in general. How I can fully imagine costumes for costume parties, but I always wait until it is too late to actualize said costume. How I don't do art anymore and why? I originally stopped because I didn't like being an art major. It ruined artistic expression for me for a long time. And the loss of the fattest, longest-running sketchbook of my life also hampered my artistic expression, but years after both of these events, these have just become excuses.

And the issue is me seeing my art reflected in others. I don't like people to comment on my outfits. I don't like to explain Halloween costumes to others (and I always have to explain, because I have NEVER been a creature that's recognizable to others--literally and costume-wise). I HATED art critiques in college because I don't want my words to accompany my art. Seeing someone looking at me or my art (and I am one of those people that feels my physical shape is an extension of my art) makes me feel naked. The weird thing is that this isn't because I am worried how others perceive me. This isn't that I don't want others to perceive me at all. I just don't want to be confronted with them trying to figure me out. Not many people get me, and that's okay, because that makes the few people that do SO special to me. In high school when I dressed in full Gothic regalia almost every day, I knew my real friends were the ones that didn't comment on my shocking appearance...the ones that wordlessly knew I wasn't doing it for attention, I was doing it because I NEED to express myself in a visual way. I am one of those weirdos that feels that all of my body modifications have always existed, they just had to be surfaced, brought to fruition with needles and ink (in that I feel more whole with every self-made change in my appearance and it is a HUGE part of who I am). My self-expression is an obsession and at times I don't have the energy to present myself the way I see myself in my head. And sometimes I don't have the energy to deal with the repercussions of presenting myself the way I feel I truly am.

I have harped on this issue too much, but I suppose it is still something I'm processing. I have to express myself, but I don't seem to want to know others are seeing me as a sore thumb. I don't mind if they keep their thoughts to themselves, but I have this overall vibe from the general public that I am expected to defend my weird choices. I realized today that the point of contention is the point where I try to be nice and explain who I am to others. Why I'm like this...WHAT my costume is. I get defensive because often people are flippant with how I choose to present myself. Like when I died my hair hot pink and a woman asked me if I lost a bet and was simply flabbergasted that I would do this thing on purpose. This is a typical attitude I get from people and this has always left me with the feeling that perhaps others are suppressing their individuality, but this is also something I can't know for sure because for ME the thing that's flabbergasting is when others DON'T express themselves visually. After the tornado I was SO incredibly grateful that I still had my clothes because I'm not sure I would have survived wearing donated clothing for months before I could start collecting my particular garment weirdness again. I'm sure I would have received clothing from all the glorious weirdos in my life, and it would have been magnificent, but at the time I couldn't imagine not having the wealth of hand-me-downs and thrift store treasures I've collected since middle school.

I digress, this moment that I don't enjoy is the one where I try to explain myself, because I firmly believe that art should be interpreted by the viewer--within, in the case where an aspect of me is art. If you want to be thoughtful about what I present to the universe (my art, my writing, my physical self) and send me an email or text msg with your observations after contemplation or if you have genuine thoughtful questions as to why I do what I do, I am very open to that.

Ultimately, the problem is me. I have to be able to say "I don't feel the need to explain my art to you right now." And not worry if that makes me look like an ass. Sometimes I have a hard time being gracious and patient with others and sometimes when I'm particularly raw, I simply don't go out in public because I don't want to explain myself. This is why being goth in the '90s was so easy. People avoided you. Black lipstick was the "Do Not Cross" barrier written on my face. Those that crossed it anyway knew what I was about and accepted me without words. No explanation necessary.

I know this is an issue that not a lot of people understand. Just try to imagine if you looked like a weirdo every day of your life, and you looked that way because it was your idea of beauty and it was how you felt most comfortable in your skin, and others seemed taken-aback and shocked by your appearance EVERY DAY and felt the need to comment. Obvious things like "You have a deer tattoo on your arm!" and "That dress looks like it's from the '70s." etc. Every article of your physical being up for display and comment every day. I realize these comments are something that a lot of more extroverted people wouldn't mind fielding day in and day out, but it sucks me dry. Like a husk. It's a huge source of cognitive dissonance for me because I simply cannot leave the house unless I look how I feel...unless my visual form represents the innards of me, but when I'm a husk, I can't deal with the confusion my appearance causes in others.

So, the crux of all of this blather is that I somehow need to stop responding to the comments. I need to NOT explain my art and do it anyway. If I show up at work with fishnets on my arms on a regular Tuesday, I will act as if nothing is awry, because NOTHING IS AWRY. And when a stranger asks why, I will say "Because I like fishnets" or "I don't feel the need to explain my art to you" or "Why not?" or "Why are you wearing bracelets on your arms?" or perhaps I'll unearth the familiar and effective scowl. And part two of this transformation needs to actualize in the reactions of others having no effect on my energy. I can't let inane comments have influence on how I feel or how I present myself. I need to create more than I currently do. I can't let past suppressions of my expression dictate my current expression of self.

Again, thank you, Sharon Needles.

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