Thursday, January 24, 2013

Milktoast Music Review.

Adventures in Psychohistory: Part 1 Episode 1: The Galactic Fast One // Richard Pickman, Durkadub, Hail Zeon!, For the Galaxy aka Milktoast Music

If you like your industrial music full of cult movie clips a la Thrill Kill Kult and early Skinny Puppy, look no further than this 2013 release. It's frightening, embodies a minimalist/chaos melody dichotomy, and even includes clips from "Barbarella"!! This release feels very '90s, but in a good way. It's like my zine for your mind: you might emerge feeling confused and disoriented, but take an ibuprofen and jump right back in the entropy, baby!

Standout Track: Revelation on Terminus

I've received an advance copy (thanks so much, Milktoast kids!), so while you wait for the January 28th release date to roll around, check out their other music here:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

MixtressRae's Guide to Fitness for Free(ish).

Ever since I turned 30 in October I've been stepping up my game on the fitness front. Though I am totally in theoretical support of the Joplin Family Y, I do NOT work out in front of others. For me, working out is a solitary activity and it distracts me to think that someone could see me. When I run, I run in a weird secret spot close to my house that hardly anyone frequents. Needless to say, I've been avoiding purchasing a gym membership (I will have to give in this summer, because I know I won't run if it's over 75 degrees outside) for this very reason. One of my goals for 2013 is to pay off my credit cards, which adds a little more fuel to my anti-gym fire, because I can't afford the Y! So, if you're in the same boat as me (wanting to work out alone, work out on a budget, or just have an excuse to begin fitnessing with what you have on-hand right NOW) here's a guide that could cost you nothing, provided you have a few basics already lying around the house. If not, the most you'll have to spend with this guide should be under $50, or around the cost of just one month of a gym membership.

This guide is all about flipping off the idea that you have to have fancy stuff and spend beaucoup bucks to get in shape. You don't. Be inventive. There's no wrong way to shake it, move more, and streeeeetch. The following is simply what I have done and the things I tell myself to get it done day after day.

If you've got sneakers and sweatpants, you're ready to run. The only thing stopping you is YOU. If you're a smartphone user, download a free app called C25K that will take you from a not-running person gradually into a goddess that runs like a gazelle (see right).

I've never run in my life (well, not since I joined middle school track trying to impress a girl, but that was short-lived and my results were disappointing--both on the running and girl-getting front) until October and I used this app to begin and now I run two or three times a week. Another fun (and free) app that tracks your runs is Endomondo. For us non gym-cardholders, keep an eye on the weather and plan your runs accordingly. There are usually at least two days per week in our area that are upwards of 40 degrees--as long as it's above freezing, you should feel fine with gloves, a hat, and a hoodie. I read online that you should dress as if it's 20 degrees warmer than it really is for an outside run. Listen to something that moves you while you're running. If it's the nature around you, tune in with your very capable ears. Make your own playlist, use mine below, or listen to podcasts. Don't neglect this important aspect of the running workout. If thinking alone won't do it for you, plan your sounds accordingly. Finally, it is important to do it right. Check out this short, cheesy video on running posture and technique (I was doing it all wrong at first):

If you're not into the idea of running or it's just too crappy outside to run today, you'll need a few DVDs to get you through a more fitness-driven life. Again, you don't have to spend no damn money, honey, so go to your local library and find the workout DVDs (if your library uses the Dewey Decimal system, you're probably looking for nonfiction 613.7). If you live near me, our Joplin Public Library has a subject checkout limit of three, so grab a few that look interesting. Once you've sampled enough fitness DVDs to know what you like, either keep checking them out for free or drop a few bucks online for the used copies of your favorites.

My third favorite method of workout includes a game console, so if you don't have one, skip this step. If you do have a gaming console from within the last 5 years or so (xbox, wii, playstation3), check out some fitness games from Family Video or Vintage Stock for a few bucks a rental or just use those fitness games you already have and haven't used since the Wii came out in 2006. For a free option of game rental, ask around and see if any of your friends have fitness games they'd be willing to let you borrow.

One thing to remember about fitness is that you have to stay interested and like what you're doing, so try out as many DVDs/workouts/games as you can. My rule is that as long as I've done 30 minutes of workout-like activity per day, I'm good. That can be SOOO many different things. It totally counts if you go out dancing and actually work up a good sweat on the dancefloor. Werrrrrrk! Other ideas include taking your dog(s) for a walk every day, going for hikes with the kids, or cleaning the damn house. Don't be afraid to move that body, baby!

The only 5 items you need to workout, according to MixtressRae:

*yoga mat: $20 on Amazon.
*any old pair of sneakers you've got lying around
*any old pair of sweats/yoga pants/pajama pants that are intact enough for outdoor use: $5 or less at DAV or Salvation Army
*a sports bra (if ya got things that bounce too much for your comfort): $15 on Amazon
*a few workout DVDs: free to checkout with your Joplin Public Library card (Adult NonFiction section: 613.7), then drop 20 bucks at Amazon for 2 or 3 of your favorites used

MixtressRae's top5 workouts:

*Running outside: free
*Rodney Yee Yoga for Beginners Upper Body: Joplin Public Library VHS or Amazon for $3.50 used.
*Bellydance Basic Moves with Veena & Neena: Joplin Public Library VHS or Amazon for $2 used.
*Just Dance video game (for Wii, Xbox, and Playstation): Amazon for $20 used.
*Dancing: free or $3 cover charge at Plamor

MixtressRae's running mix:

warmup: Run//Air
Believe//Franka Potente
Bad Girls//M.I.A.
Oh Well (Black Light Odyssey remix)//Depeche Mode
Slow (Chemical Brothers remix)//Kylie Minogue
Self Control//Scissor Sisters
cooldown: Waking Will//Bel Canto

Saturday, January 19, 2013


It's time I come out of the closet.

I suffer from depression. I've never been "diagnosed" with anything; I've always been a pretty accurate self-diagnoser. I believe some of it is linked to PTSD, but I've had symptoms my whole life and so have at least three of my female family members. What I mostly deal with is episodic depression, but it is cyclical and usually corresponds to the down-swing of my menstrual cycle (the one or two weeks after ovulation and preceding menstruation). I don't take drugs for this depression (again, self-diagnosis would suggest otherwise as I do imbibe caffeine, alcohol, etc of my own accord to indirectly treat my lows), but there are many things I do to distract myself during what can sometimes be up to two weeks out of my month.

And they are just that, distractions. Depression is not plinky-plunky music after taking a pill while the possible side-effects wash quickly over the screen ("in some extreme cases, using Happy Fun Ball can result in coma or death"). It's not like genital warts. It's like life. It's like anything in life. If you work out, you get to force yourself to do it for all eternity. If you want to eat right, you have to make good eating choices day after day. Slugging through the world when you're fucking sad can feel like that scene in "Melancholia" when Kirsten is dragging around all that murky crap behind her like a couture dress.

I've had a day like this today and I share it with you not because I want sympathy (in fact, don't feel sorry for me, it only makes me sadder) but because I know others feel it too and I believe it is ok to live with sadness. I function as well as I can day after day and this is unaided by pharmaceuticals (I don't even take birth control--I am the all-natural hippie y'all think I am in some ways) and some days this means a day of mad creativity and some days this means breathing in and out for the entire day.

I used to spend a lot of time wondering why and feeling bad about seemingly meaningless despair, but I've learned to be a little more forgiving. What's wrong with me? Brain chemistry. Hormones. Maybe I should eat better and exercise more (I should ALWAYS eat better and exercise more). There's always something that can be done, but sometimes it's difficult to do it. I've heard bipolar people say before that they'd rather ride out the depression in order to still take advantage of that mania at the other end, and though I don't consider myself bipolar, I do understand the sentiment. I'd rather be me enjoying the benefits of my creativity and warrior-like attitude two weeks out of the month and deal with feeling the opposite the other half of the time than to be levelly apathetic. I suppose, because I don't know any different.

I do know that I am a healthy human being and I do the best I can and I will continue to try to do the best I can, even when that means canceling plans and hiding in my bedroom watching a Bones marathon on Hulu (this blog is actually cutting into that, so I'll keep this short). I know a lot of people deal with a hopelessness I couldn't begin to comprehend. I still got dressed today, fed myself and my animals, and even went out in the sun a bit before it went down. I still consider myself a SURVIVOR in that "Run the World"-music-video way. This is the first time I'm admitting my depression publicly. So there it fucking is.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Big Lebowski (1998).

ambience: 6
replayability: 7
characters: 7
dialogue: 7
music: 7


I'm not sure I'll have a lot to say about this movie other than, "Huh hu, huh hu, I love that line." or "I still say that all the time"... I haven't seen this movie in a long while, but it used to be the first film I watched in a new apartment while I was unpacking my stuff to get cozy in the new space (along with "Mallrats" and "Breakfast Club") and I imagine I will do so again...

I get it..."The Dude" is like the "Tumbling Tumbleweed". A thing out of place in the "City of Angels". There's a new book out about "The Dude" cowritten by Jeff Bridges and a Zen Master. The premise is something about how the character of "His Dudeness" relates to a concept in Buddhism...maybe the Bodhisattva of laziness? I don't know; I haven't read it yet. Again, I like a movie that has space built within it...a movie wherein not much happens plot-wise. Something simple and airy; that's my bag.

How will I keep myself from transcribing all the quotes from this movie that have become part of the pop culture language amongst myself and my peers. "You're entering a World of Pain, man!" "You're out of your element, Donny." "You're not wrong, Walter. You're just an asshole." "This aggression will not stand, man."

Michael wants to be Jesus for Halloween this year. That outfit might be hard to find. I wonder if bowling polyester outfits can be found in any color.

This has been an ennui day...I tend to call this state I'm in "hopeless bleak despair" though it's not really that bad...I'm being dramatic. Anyway, I'm going to score this thing and just enjoy the rest. Happy Monday, all.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Napoleon Dynamite (2004).

I think you know within the first 5 seconds whether or not this movie is for you. The opening credits are phenomenal. They really manage to get you geared up for the elementary-school-in-the-'80s-miasma of the movie. Somehow the infinite coolness of Jack White can't even undercut the current of nerd-setting you're about to be immersed within for the next 90 minutes. I'm always reluctant to start one of my favorite movies, like the time between viewings somehow negates my positive feelings for the film, even though it never works out like I fear it will. Already, I'm seriously on board and worrying that my tornado-damaged (it looks REALLY gnarly and this is the first time I've attempted to watch it since that awful day) copy of "Napoleon Dynamite" won't make it the full running time and I'll have to drive to Family Video to rent it or *gasp* spend the $9.99 on Amazon to purchase the digital version. I really don't want to do that when I know it will be $5 at Vintage Stock tomorrow, but I probably won't be able to resist the siren-call of the dance scene at the end for another 16 hours, so everyone hold your breath and hope that my spit-and-rubbing-on-pants-disc-cleaning trick worked like it's supposed to...

What's so brilliant about this movie is the space built into it. The (is it Idaho?) landscape is lush but realistic, the sound design is sparse but feels like the zen of youth, and who films the inside of buses anymore? since "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" anyway? Fucking fantastic!

"What are you going to do today, Napoleon?"
"Whatever I feel like I want to do....gawd!"

I used to begin mixes with this sound bite. Now I think it's my notification sound when I have a calendar alert on my me that little moment of rebellion before I decide to do what the iPhone tells me to do.

I love that Napoleon is all clandestine about throwing the action figure out the bus window, as if anyone would care that he's doing something so ridiculous. Tetherball is stupid, everyone knows that. Awkward humor is pretty much the only humor I get and regularly enjoy. This movie was made for me. So priceless that he puts his tater tots in the pocket of his pants.

Once, in high school, I was really nervous to go out with a cute boy. He asked me to watch a Pokemon movie with him at the cheap theatre and we were both super awkward and decided to meet there. When we got there we found that the movie wasn't showing anymore and instead of deciding to watch something else or do something else, we both just got in our cars and left without hanging out at all. So weird. That's what the moment where Napoleon slams his locker-door shut and runs away after giving Deb her craft-stuff back reminds me funny and so sad.

I also relate to the fact that Napoleon always takes the phone into the other room even though he's having the most mundane conversation ever. I do that too. I feel like I can't talk on the phone if I can't go into a separate room and shut the door.

Napoleon looks pretty hot in his suit. I'd totally clumsily slow-dance with him. I know the kids in this movie are obviously teenagers, but the ambience reminds me of my elementary school, probably because the era the movie seems to be set would be about the time I was in 5th grade; plus this was THE most unpopular time of my life. I'm really having a flashback here, apparently. I might as well go with it: so, in the last entry about "Moulin Rouge" I described my penchant for opera-singing-show-and-tell. I also farted frequently in class, asked out, and subsequently got turned down by, four different boys (in the having-a-friend-do-it-for-me or via "Do you like me, Yes or No" note way, of course), and sucked at all sports forever--even tetherball. I had two or three friends, at most, and girls were mean to me of course, but hey, such is life. If you don't go through stupid humiliation and embarrassment in school, when will you create the character to become cool later in life?

I'm going to have to start drinking things like Napoleon drinks his Gatorade. He does it like he's a super-athlete, like a dance warrior. Love it.

Napoleon dancing for Pedro's "skit" is one of my favorite moments in a movie ever. EVER. I get all giddy when I see's coming up!! I think the important thing to remember in life, the thing maybe this movie didn't mean to convey, but does for me, is that it's better to do what you love awkwardly than to fit in quietly. Be a Napoleon and not a Summer. Still an awesome movie.

ambience: 6
characters: 7
replayability: 8
dialogue: 7
music: 8


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Moulin Rouge (2001).

I used to be OBSESSED with this movie. It came out the year I graduated (I think in June, so RIGHT after) high school. I saw it in the theatre almost as many times as I saw "The Matrix". I don't have a head for statistics, so I can't recall how many times, but I'd say at least 5 and that's a BIG deal for me to pay for a freakin' movie 5 times! I have avoided it for years, thinking that maybe this is one of those movies that should be left in the past. Today, I break the silence and we shall see if I am still in love with this movie. I did listen to "Bolero", the song played during the ending credits in the car on the way to Springfield the other night and it still transports me back to the second or third time I saw this movie in the theatre wherein my brother Sagan and I danced up by the screen theatrically. It was one of the most gleefully-free moments of my life (I have had a lot of wonderful moments like this--I can't understate the value of a friend who can abandon social mores long enough to prance off to have a moment with me, dancing, skipping, laughing. If you have been one of those friends to me, I will never forget you.).

Anyway, at the start of this movie I have no idea if what whisked me away to a happy place in this movie was merely the visuals (elephant houses, red hair, and corsets, oh my!), the music, or maybe just the overall Bohemian spirit of the thing. My aunt Diana says the plot of this movie directly mirrors the plot of the opera "La Traviata" and she was the star of this opera when I was in 1st grade, so she should know. I also had an immediate obsession with that opera when I first saw it in 1988. I even had an "opera" party and invited my entire 1st grade class after a very unskilled show-and-tell performance from "La Traviata": as you can imagine, no one got me then and only two people showed up to the party (friends for life, Sarah Rosenberg and Nicole Anderson!). This movie usually gets me all emotional...I'll stop stalling and start the damn thing...

Ok, within the first five minutes I know I will still fall in love with this movie. If only Nicole Kidman were a drag queen. Whew! I still get chills and tears in my eyes when Ewan first opens his mouth to sing "The hills are alive with the sound of music." Why don't they let him sing more in movies? Yum. So perfect that Kylie Minogue is the green faery. Welled up again at the presentation of Satine. I don't even normally care for Nicole Kidman, but I find her divine in this movie (except for all the squealing and flittering about...oh god, I forgot about all that weirdness).

I still want that elephant. Nicole's wig is so good. Jim Broadbent is just spectacular in this. I love how creepy he is doing "Like a Virgin".

Wow, ok, so I've written two measly paragraphs since I started watching the movie. I must be really sucked in...I'm at the "Roxanne" part. The music is so well-placed in this movie: in fact, all the editing, the timing of this film is just stupendous. It yanks at every emotional string within me exactly when it's supposed to. Baz is playing me like an instrument, making me cry every time he says, "Cry, bitch!" Using Queen and Nirvana against me in a cruel emotional game!

"Play the game, play the game, play the game....!!"

"Hindi Sad Diamonds" is, as far as I can remember, my first exposure to Indian-inspired music and it was my favorite in the movie. I used to play it over and over, along with "Bolero" (a song I've made up my own ballets to, dozens of times). The movie is nearing the end and I need room to sob, so I shall total and end this blog...

ambience: 8
characters: 7.6
music: 8
dialogue: 6
replayability: 6

TOTAL: 35.6

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Best in Show (2000).

Just got done watching "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" for the first time since it came out in 2001 and man, I didn't get it the first viewing, but! That is just a phenomenal movie about self-acceptance and looking for validation in the wrong places and wow, it really effected me.

"Best in Show" is my palette-cleanser after the heaviness of "Hedwig...". Something just beautifully hilarious. I will laugh until I cry watching this movie. Christopher Guest is hit or miss with me. I wasn't totally in on "A Mighty Wind" or "Waiting for Guffman", but "Best in Show" kills me. I suppose I relate, because I spend most of my time with animals. I talk for my animals, I wonder what they're thinking, and I'm just as crazy as these wacka-do's, and this movie just SLAYS me. I love all the characters.

I love mockumentaries and this one is the ultimate for me, because I can completely believe that these people are for real. I'm barely 15 minutes into the movie and I've already laughed to the point of tears twice. The mundanity of life amuses me to no end. I love awkward comedy more than any other kind of comedy.

"If you get tired, pull over. If you get hungry, eat somethin'." I think of that line every time I go on a road trip.

I love how the vibe from each couple is so different, and yet they're all versions of extreme human familiarity. I feel awkward and uncomfortable when I see the Terrier parents. I want to hang out with the Shih-Tzu parents. I'm laughing the entire time the Weimeraner parents are onscreen and its like watching bad reality TV when Rhapsody in White's parents are talking.

I love it when the Shih-Tzu boys are talking to the Terrier couple at the party the night before the show. The boys completely throw water on the awkwardness of the Terrier couple, I think because both couples have a promiscuous half but the contrast lies in the fact that the Shih-Tzu counterpart is comfortable with his partner's former life while the Terrier-parent-other-half is very insecure about his wife's past. If only more time had been spent with these four.

atmosphere: 8
characters: 9
music: 5 (really, not applicable--so I give it middle-score)
dialogue: 8
replayability: 9

total: 39