Sunday, December 16, 2012

five ways to enjoy new music in an oldschool way.

In our digital-20teen-era, we often forget to sit down and truly let our music wash over us in the way that we did back in our more analog childhoods/adolescencies (is that the plural of adolescence? is now!). As the end of the year approaches, you might find yourself worn down by all the Christmas music and extra food-intake. Can’t think! Yams in the brain! What to listen to besides Bing Crosby (honey-voiced-perfection though he is) and that terrible Paul McCartney Christmas song? Thou shalt not fear; I’m here to help.

  1. Five “disc” shuffle: Remember when you were a teenager settling in for an evening playing MarioKart after school and you didn’t want to listen to the annoying MarioKart noises, so you put five CDs in your boombox and changed the setting to “5-disc shuffle”? No? So often in our digital age, we shuffle our entire libraries--gigabytes of music, and while this can be a formidable way to rediscover your music collection, sometimes what you REALLY need is to shuffle your five current favorite albums. For this task, create a playlist with five albums in their entirety and then shuffle it. Takes you right back to 1996, doesn’t it?
  2. Listen to a record: There’s something so deliciously chill about setting a needle on a record. From your comfy chair, read the lyrics in real time to the warm sound of the grooves on your LP. It truly is a divine experience and can feel like meditating to concentrate your entire brainspace to an album one side at a time. A really cool thing about LPs these days is that they often come with a code to download the mp3-version on your computer so you can have a warm and crackly record without sacrificing the ability to take it with you on your phone or iPod. Acquiring records is a great way to collect music you really love in a tangible form that’s still very relevant. As it’s often said by audiophiles, an LP delivers a truly singular sound, so invest in a record player if you don’t already have one.
  3. Go for a drive: I know, I shouldn’t suggest wasting gas, but this is still a way that I like to enjoy my latest mixes. If your car gets great gas mileage, jump in it and drive, baby! Amble mindlessly via feet with music in your ears if you don’t have access to an Earth-friendly car. I find this is a great way to clear your head on a stressful day...just you and the music.
  4. Block party playlist: Remember back in the days of radio (What, it still exists? Ok, fine.) when DJs used to play “Block Parties” consisting of three songs each of an artist? Create a playlist by choosing three songs randomly of your top five artists or use the “Three of a Kind” feature in the iOS app “Groove”. 
  5. “Radio”: I put this word in quotes because I must confess I haven’t listened to the real-live radio in YEARS. I fear that it’s all Pitbull and Taylor Swift, so I steer clear all judgmental-like. Please correct me ( if I’m wrong. That said, how I’m defining “radio” here is any playlist not compiled specifically by you such as Songza (app or, (app or, any other internet radio app/site, or even the ACTUAL radio, if there’s a station you enjoy in our area (seriously, if there’s something good on the radio and I’m missing it, email me). Letting a DJ pick out the tunes for you can be very enjoyable as long as you get to pick the genre you’re in the mood for at any given time. I’ve mentioned it before, but if you haven’t tried Songza, do it right now! You won’t regret it!

I hope everyone is enjoying our last days on Earth (just kidding--I don’t believe in Apocalypses unless they’re on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) with some great tunes.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

High Fidelity (2000).

This is probably my favorite movie of all time (we'll see by the time I'm done rating these movies--the stack is dwindling). I love the book.

The only thing that could make the movie better would be if the music were more my taste, but the aura of High Fidelity is totally and completely perfect. I AM ROB GORDON. Well, I'm not as much of a pushover (and I hope I'm not as much of an asshole), but my music habits are very similar. The concept of "top five" leeches into my existence on a daily basis. I find it indispensable. It's so much more quintessential than a top 10. It forces you to commit to FIVE. Genius.

Perfect use of Jack Black, too.

Ok, this movie could also be better if a female was a main character and NOT just an object of Rob's affection. And if there were gay characters...I'll dock "atmosphere" a point for that. I dig that Rob puts on music before he even checks his messages when he gets home from work, a place wherein he listened to music throughout his entire workday.

I get goosebumps every time I watch the scene when Rob is reorganizing his record collection "autobiographically". That is so fucking ambitious and awe-inspiring. I'm boring and I do alphabetical then chronological within artist. Well I did do, before my CDs flew away. Now, iTunes organizes for me. The distinctly specific comfort Rob describes at reorganizing his record collection is no longer a comfort I get to enjoy. However, I am starting to collect vinyl, so perhaps someday I'll have a wall covered in floor-to-ceiling shelving full of vinyl. What I really want is mixtapes. I wonder if I could get friends and strangers to donate their mixtapes to me, since I only have like twenty of my originals. If you're reading this and you have old mixtapes gathering dust in your garage, email me ( I will send you stamped self-addressed boxes for you to fill up and send me your beautiful old cassettes. Seriously.

Joan Cusack NEEDS to be in every one of John's movies. And vise versa. She is just a gem.

I want to live in Rob's apartment. It's so cozy and dark and full of personality. Like a little cave-like sanctuary. I will have that again one day.

This is one of the few movies that I still like the middle and end. I'm IN with this movie up until the end. Usually, plots blow their load in the first act, but not High Fidelity. And it doesn't end when you think it doesn't end when they get back together. And I think that's awesome. And their relationship isn't this divine thing that fixes itself and ends up perfect. It's not crazy or terrible, just good. I love it. Real.

Rob doesn't even describe the "art of making a tape" until the end of the it. It truly feels like getting a glimpse of a real person's life instead of a neatly packaged plot which doesn't happen in life! I hate neatly packaged!

I love that Laura says no to Rob when he proposes to her. And I love that he explains the "other woman" as being a "fantasy". It's one of the only examples of a realistic relationship in film I have ever seen. I thought it was primarily the dialogue and Rob's relationship to music that drew me to this movie, but it's also Rob and Laura and all the genuineness between them. Y'all know I'm not a sappy girl; this is a love story I can get behind!

replayability: 10
character average: 9
atmosphere: 9
music: 8
dialogue: 10


Friday, November 30, 2012

Top 5 Podcasts.

Top 5 Podcasts.

Today, I’m going to give you a little break from my weird tastes in music and share with you a different kind of aural pleasure, my weird tastes in podcasts. It surprises me how little of my friends and family are listening to podcasts, as they are extremely delightful little nuggets of people talking in your head that you can pretend are your friends. There’s a huge world of podcasting out there to every taste imaginable, so go out there and find something you love if none of my favorites interest you. 

Podcasts are the radio shows of our time. If you’re not much of a music-listener (first of all, what's wrong with you?), podcasts can get you through road trips, commutes, and those obsessive Thursdays cleaning the house. They are almost always free and available on iTunes or the websites for the particular podcasts you’re seeking. Here are my Top 5:

Nerdist ( or iTunes): This podcast is mostly comprised of interviews with celebrities. The host Chris Hardwick is the most engaging interviewer I’ve ever heard. He is open-minded and able to talk with his guests about anything they want to talk about and he seems to know EVERYONE in Hollywood. If you’re a nerd like he is, you can listen to a podcast with Brent Spiner, Liam Lynch or the Wachowskis. Comparatively, if you’re into more mainstream culture, he interviews Tom Hanks, Larry King, and Joan Rivers. 

Warnings: This podcast is full of joyous expletives and is typically upwards of an hour (sometimes even closer to two hours) long.

Further Listening: Check out the Nerdist website for more of their podcasts. There’s a whole host of weird topics and fun shows to listen to such as “Sex Nerd Sandra”, “Nerdist Writers’ Panel”, and several juicy comedy podcasts.

Pop Culture Happy Hour ( or iTunes): This podcast contains a delightful group of well-informed NPR editors talking about all aspects of pop culture from the dark dungeons of bad reality TV to German Art Song (yes, really). They regularly do in-depth analyses without spoilers of new movies and end each episode with “What’s Making Us Happy This Week”. It’s a very positive, intelligent and entertaining half hour of weekly pop culture entertainment. You’ll like this if you work with me at the library (this show is highly-regarded by librarians, according to their Facebook page).

Further Listening: As you can imagine, NPR has a lot of well-respected podcasts. Simply go over to and explore.

Stuff You Should Know ( or iTunes): It is widely agreed upon in Podcast Land that this is THE podcast to listen to, no matter who you are. Hosts Chuck and Josh delve into ALL SUBJECTS IMAGINABLE, while being humorous and freakin’ lovable! This is the podcast to listen to on a family road trip across country, because I can almost guarantee everyone will love Chuck and Josh as much as I do. Seriously, if you listen to ONE of these podcasts, choose this one.

Further Listening: has a plethora of informative podcasts such as “Stuff You Missed in History Class”, “Stuff to Blow Your Mind”, “Tech Stuff”, etc. They’re all very accessible (unlike NPR, which I find to be a little snotty at times) and informative. 

Stuff Mom Never Told You ( or iTunes): Another from the How Stuff Works conglomerate, this podcast deals mostly in feminist topics and issues that are more women-centric. These two feisty females (Molly and Cristen) are just as informed and almost as lovable as Chuck and Josh.

Sound Opinions ( or iTunes): Hosts Greg and Jim (longtime Chicago radio heavyweights--they’ve written books and everything) discuss new music, old music, interview bands, and even have occasional exclusive performances from the artists they interview. Their tastes are varied and they truly try to cover all genres, but their lean is heavy on soul. Their tastes rarely match my own, but I do find new music from this podcast often.

*Honorable Mention: Feast of Fun ( or iTunes): This is a podcast I’ve just started listening to, but I think it will become one of my favorites. Two sassy gay boys interview pop culture icons. They have a HUGE number of drag queens on their show, and for those of you that know me you know that I’m OBSESSED with drag right now, so this podcast is constantly in my ears this fall. Incredible amounts of fun here, if you’re into campy comedy and not taking life too seriously.

Warnings: Lots of debauchery on these podcasts (cursing, sex-talk, etc). If you find love in this podcast, you’ll have to subscribe for a fee to get all the episodes.

If any of you know of an awesome podcast that should be on this list, let me know ( Ooh, better yet, if you want to start a podcast with me about music, drag queens, and/or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, hit me up for sure!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In celebration of All Hallow’s Eve (yes, yes, weeks ago, but as ShAaron Needles says, "Every day is Halloween, ghouls!"), I want to talk a bit about a new(ish--the term was coined in 2009) genre of music that embodies the essence of the dark and spooky fall months.  It’s called “Witch House”.  When you boil this genre down to its “simplest terms and most convenient definitions” it is both a brain, a prom queen...wait, that’s The Breakfast Club...

Put simply, Witch House is the newest iteration of goth music.  The ethereal miasma of Ambient Dream Pop meets the electro-industry of Dark Noise.  It is simultaneously futuristic and covered in cob webs.   

The melodies are hooky and sweet, but each track has a throbbing undercurrent of menace that pulls you in like a riptide. It's hard to pinpoint exactly from where this pervading element of darkness springs...” -- Lindsay Zoladz from

The above quote was in description of Witch House’s most eminent artist’s debut, Grimes’ Geidi Primes, but is also indicative of the entire genre, in my opinion.  This music can set the stage for a haunted night in PeaceChurch cemetery, or put you to bed at night if you’re already a spooky girl like me.  It is truly fascinating to allow yourself to be entombed in the dichotic soundscapes, the surreal beauty of the almost angelic vocals mixed disjointedly with the torrid doom that seems always on the precipice of descending upon you with alarming ferocity.  It tricks you into falling in love with the witches and ghosts living within the whorls of your grey matter.  I can’t get enough of this genre.  I’ve been spiraling down the rabbit hole since I first discovered Grimes early in the year and discovered more related artists through a fabulous station/playlist on called “Haunted House”.  Start here if you’re remotely intrigued with this genre.

Here are a few artists that fall within the witchy distinction that I recommend (all can be found on Spotify):

Purity Ring*
Fever Ray
Crystal Castles
White Ring
Modern Witch

There isn’t enough of this music!  If you know of any additional artists (or if you already love this genre) within the murky cemeteries of Witch House, please let me know:

*Available at the Joplin Public Library for checkout!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Matrix (1999)

I never noticed Cypher was betraying them from the beginning until this watching. I really don't pay that much attention to movies, apparently. I usually just sit back and enjoy the pretty words/pictures. It's going to be difficult for me to give this movie any less than tens across the board because every shot is meticulously beautiful. The only complaint I have is that it's a typical hero/Christ story and that the "One" is male. If Joss Whedon had written the screenplay with the Wachowskis, this movie would be fucking unstoppable.

Agent Smith is perfect. How is Hugo Weaving not the biggest star ever? I mean, he lipsyncs better than most drag queens I've seen in person, has the vocal cadence of I don't know--God?, and the versatility of a contortionist. He's pretty much my favorite character in these movies. Ugh, I hate Morpheus, though. He's soooo tiresome. Fucking believers, man! What's their deal? And he's SUCH a drama queen. He's so patronizing and cryptic and self-righteous. Of course, I didn't feel this at first before I knew what was going on with this movie. So, ok, obviously, he's the audience surrogate and I need to let him do his dramatic thing and shut up about it already.

I think the pills are really just DayQuil and NyQuil. I've always loved the idea of questioning reality. I'm very much a pluralist in the way that I believe that we are only as good as our perceptions and our perceptions cannot...wait, I have to watch Neo unplug...our perceptions cannot be assured as reality. We can never see through someone else's eyes, truly. That's the true true. Sorry, I know...

So, was the pill just a symbol? No, it made him hallucinate...ok, so it loosened his perceptions of what he thought of as "reality". I wonder if fat people in the Matrix are really just people with bad self-esteem, because if everyone is really just a "battery" no one would be overweight. So, is no one overweight IN the Matrix?

Morpheus: Your appearance now is what we call residual self-image: the mental projection of your digital self.

God, I love that line! What would be the mental projection of YOUR digital self?

I don't really mind the doofus-ness of Keanu Reeves. Never have. Yes, I find him attractive. He's pale, skinny and dark-haired. That's my type. But, I don't mind his daftness simply because some of us are like this, but aren't actually daft. I choose to believe Keanu is this type.

Ok, so essentially Morpheus speaks in zen koans. I suppose I see his purpose, but I still respect a direct-talker.

I heart the Oracle! So, when the Oracle tells Neo he isn't the one, that he has "the gift, but it looks like you're waiting for something" this supports my theory that everyone is "The One", we just haven't, most of us, self-actualized yet. I hope that was an intended message by the Wachowskis, because I like it!

How many times have you handed someone a cookie and said those famous "right as rain" words? I've said it dozens! Ok, I'm calling it. Scores below. It's almost midnight and this might be the only "winter" night we have this year (if last winter is any indication) so I'm going to cuddle up without the computer for the movie's last half hour.

replayability: 8
music: 10
character average: 7.3
atmosphere: 8
dialogue: 7

TOTAL: 40.33

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mallrats (1995)

This is one of those movies that I really just like to zone out and not think about. I'm afraid if I overthink it, I won't like it as much. In fact, I'm sure of it. This is not a philosophical movie. I'm almost certain I wouldn't like this movie if I saw it now for the first time. Does this mean I should rate it how I feel about it now or how I felt about it then? The inane conversations of adolescent men used to amuse me to no end, but these conversations no longer exist in my age-group unless those within my age-group are stoned.

Ok, I remember why I like it. Because the dialogue is more intelligent than any adolescent male conversation, even though the subject matter is just as inane. I do, however, feel about the mall the way they feel about the mall. I enjoy the contained commerce of it all. The indoor browsing of meaningless goods. I like the visual stimulus of stuff I won't buy. I do buy meaningless crap at the mall occasionally.  Why not? Because of underpaid overworked overseas workers in factories? Yes. I really should restrict all my shopping to the DAV. And there aren't book, comic, or music stores in the mall anymore except Vintage Stock which is pretty cool, actually.

I've always been drawn to the unplot-plot. Most of my favorite movies are just a group of characters doing nothing. This movie is quotable, for sure. Sometimes movies are better in the constant pop-culture retelling you do with your friends and family out in the real world.

TS and Brandy are completely boring. I don't care about them at all. There's not a shred of quirk in them. borrrrrrrring. The pretzel-poop scene is not my humor. I like my revenge in the form of ass-kickings, myself.

"Understanding is reached only after confrontation."

Mostly, I just play this movie in the background while I'm knitting or something. And I really don't care halfway through the movie when the plot kicks in. It's simply a much-watched highly-quotable movie.

character average: 5.14
replayability: 8
music: 3
dialogue: 8
atmosphere: 7

TOTAL: 31.14

Monday, November 12, 2012

// emotional pornography //

Just sat through a NINE HOUR seminar at work about the Color Code. I am a white with a secondary color of red with about equal amounts of yellow and blue mixed in, in case you're wondering. Use the link to take the test yourself, if you're into that kind of thing.

I did feel very validated when they talked about the whites. I feel this pretty accurately represents me...

but, here's the thing. I feel that astrology pretty accurately represents me. I felt that Myers-Briggs pretty accurately represents me. I feel that psychological profiling could accurately represent me, were I to be diagnosed with something (Asperger's).

I think this is just the way with us as human beings. We categorize. I could make myself believe almost anything about myself, because don't we all have the traits of human beings within us at any given time? I tested yellow back in 2003! 

It felt a little like a cult, to be honest. Charismatic leader spewing, as a coworker called it, "emotional pornography" at us all day in the form of personal stories, lots of acting, and stereotyping. 

However, it did seem to fit. It was all very convincing, and this makes me suspicious. I am so tired...think I might be coming down with something. I apologize for the sloppy blog, but I can't find my journal anywhere, so here I write.

They did ask at the end of the seminar (after the plug to go spend $30 on their "more detailed" personality profile) how we each could better represent our colors. How we could "live our motive" better, and I like the question. I feel that peace is a motivator for me. And I also feel that I HAVE to express myself through music somehow. I feel a release when I make a mix, sing karaoke, or dance. I must find a way to make this into who I am. I am so bored with the gruel of daily life and something needs to change. I need:

*to be more CREATEive
*to have more time alone
*to find a way to express myself through music (writing about music? lipsyncing for my life onstage? karaoke? actually composing my own music?)

Oh, and the novel-writing is on hold. It's not going to be "a novel in November". More like "a novel eventual". I did get the ball rolling and I have a structure and I've written 25 or so pages and I like my idea and I think it will be good for me, but I've been too overwhelmed with the world lately. Overwhelmed good (drag queens, self-discovery) and overwhelmed bad (BK health issues, M's gpa, job incompatibilities). 

I think I might want "cunt" as a in Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent. and in a cool graffiti-type script so you can't REALLY tell what it is unless you meditate upon it or are fluent in aerosol art. This will represent the obvious (girl-power and shit), but also my love for drag queens and a symbol of how they (mostly ShAaron, but several others as well--past, present, and future) inspire me to be my most really real me.

Sometimes the world is so beautiful, it hurts to look at it.

With that said, I think I may just stop looking at it for the night and be completely unproductive and hope the germs inside my system don't overtake me this week...and also with you. May all of our germs just fly right back on out tonight, brothers and sisters.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Me and ShAaron.

11/10/12- She has a rat on her head.

Letter #1 given to ShAaron in San Antonio.

Look for San Antonio show.
Last night I saw Sharon Needles at Martha's Vineyard in Springfield...just 60-something miles from my home! I was so excited the night before last that I couldn't sleep. I watched an episode of Rupaul ("Dragazine" season 4) just to settle in to sleep. I made Sharon a copy of two of my mixes, my Halloween mix I've just renamed "Dead Man's Party" and my best of 2012 mix called "Circumambient" and wrote her a cheesy little card as well with sentiments you'd expect, like that she's an inspiration to me and that I feel super validated having a gorgeous goth ladyboy win a competition in the U.S.

And about how she woke me from a coma. He really did. I have been sort of ignoring that dark Stephanie for a long time, and it's a big part of who I am. I never cared what anyone thought until I stepped out of high school and into the "real world", but I've felt out of place ever since. Simply because I stopped making the effort. I stopped wearing fishnets on my arms and smears of black on my face. I even shunned the color black for awhile and I think it was just the poison of what I perceived to be "adult life" that ruined it for me. I remember when dressing up to go out I'd think, "All I know how to do is dress goth!" not making the connection that the REASON for that is that it's the way I'm supposed to dress. I think we all have our Valium against the world. The thing that makes us ok to breath in front of others. For me, this is my physical appearance. Because I don't generally say much, I expect to convey the entirety of who I am through how I look. This is why I have tattoos, piercings, and dress weird, because I genuinely feel that this is a real representation of how I feel on the inside. As I've said many times, I feel like my tattoos have always been there, I just had to DO something so they could surface (this is a metaphorical way of thinking about it, not metaphysical).

Ever since coming to know Sharon Needles on reality TV, I have been dressing up again and experimenting with makeup. I am truly inspired to be me, and I haven't felt that since the days of Shirley and Marilyn Manson. I once again have the courage to love the darkness that has always been my true aesthetic. Most people won't understand this perspective, but I feel so much better now. I don't normally become obsessed with celebrity, but I feel such a kinship with this beautiful creature. We're both left-handed, both got kicked out of school (mine was for a day here and there while he got asked to leave high school permanently, so NOT the same, but similar sentiment) for being a "distraction" to other students, both weird, both almost the same age (he's a few months older, I think). The fact that he's using his celebrity as a platform for acceptance among the weirdos is exactly what I wanted to do when I was on Maury Povich (it so didn't work after the editing, because it was not in their agenda for me to look interesting or intelligent, but I had this grand idea that I would be a glowing example of goth kids on television and the masses would see that we could be smart and nice and not hellbeasts that you have to protect your children from).


Gush gush gush. On Rupaul's Drag Race, as you can imagine, I was gunning for her since the very first moment I saw her in her witch hat on episode one. Every week I worried she'd be kicked off, because goth girls like us are always misunderstood. But for once in our straight world, a campy goth queen prevailed. I've said it so many times, but I truly didn't know I needed the validation until this show. The goth girl buried within screamed to see this beauty in the media telling me it was ok to be me. I'm ashamed I needed outside reinforcement, but I am so incredibly appreciative that it came. It really brought up a lot of emotion for me. Sometimes I get so stuck in my own head that I forget that some people get me sometimes, but it is very rare. I also forget that most people don't have this problem. I know we all get less validation than we need, but I truly think differently, and I feel out of place almost all the time. I don't get too hung up on it, but when I'm in places like a Sharon show or even just a regular gay bar, I feel the stark contrast between how I feel normally and what it feels like to be accepted and amongst my people. Last night I made some new dancey friends and I was happy. A woman told me I was "wearing that dress" and that I seemed "fearless" and that I must be a "closet performer". She also bought me a drink, so I think she was flirting, but she was very non-confrontational about it and sweet. I've always felt an outpouring of love at gay bars. It's like when the weird ones get together in one room, we can finally be ourselves and be unguarded.

ShAaron and me in San Antonio, 10/19/12
I first met ShAaron in San Antonio when he played Frank N Furter in the Rocky Horror Show. I told her I was sooo happy he exists and she said, "I don't exist honey, you've just gone mad!" She grabbed my head as he said this and bounced it around in her hands. I said, "Well, I like it!" He also liked my day of the dead girl tattoo and said, "I'm going to pretend that's me."

Last night she dedicated her fame, her crown, the reason he's become the icon he's becoming to "anyone who subverts the traditional images of beauty".

To sum up, I'm happy to be gothing it up again, I may have to become a drag queen, and ShAaron has made the list of top 5 all time celebrities and she's in good fucking company (Fiona Apple, Tim Gunn, Grimes, and Joss Whedon).
Me last night. I see why Sharon wears the white
contacts, 'cause you totally can't see my eyes, man.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Empire Records (1995)

Most of what I love about this movie is the snarky existential teenager dialogue and the atmosphere of working in a record store.  I always wondered if it could really be like this, but after experiencing Slackers, this amazing record store in Columbia a few weeks ago, I think it might be possible to work in a quirky record store with all the grit and the life of music like in the movies.  This is a fantasy of mine.  To work in an Empire Records or High Fidelity-like store.  Perhaps someday, I will.  This movie is so quotable.

Slackers in Columbia, MO.
"Who knows where thoughts come from: they just appear."

"Damn the man!"

"I don't feel that I need to explain my art to you, Warren."

"What's with today, today?"

"Well, Sinead O'Rebellion.  Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior."

"This music is the glue of the world.  It holds it all together.  Without this, life would be meaningless."

"Let's not fight...let's just RIP."

I love scenes in movies where women defiantly cut their hair/shave their heads while glaring at themselves in the mirror.  I've always wanted to do it, but I don't have the guts...yet.  Robin Tunney looks hot bald too.

This movie is just like a giant box of dark chocolate Raisinets with a cherry Pepsi on a day when you totally deserve it.  It makes me happy.  I want to know all of these characters, except Corry.  She's whiny and timid.  I love that everyone just calls that kid Warren Beatty without comment.  The music in this movie really tries to be diverse and interesting...everyone in the individual listening booths rawking out to their own respective records.

AJ was exactly my type when I first saw this movie.  I still like his long hair and grungy clothes and artist's soul, but he's not that heartbreaking.  I love that Corry just takes her bra off at the table at the pizza place.

Lesson in girl-bonding-in-the-bathroom scenes: Do NOT ask the girl that's not usually comforting to you, "Why are you being so nice to me?"  Every time my little sister asked me that when we were young, it ruined it, just like it does here.

That was a pretty good kiss, actually.  And it ends in dancing.  I'm a little too enthusiastic about this movie...

Character average: 6.875
Replayability: 9
Atmosphere: 10
Music: 8
Dialogue: 7

TOTAL: 40.875

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Clueless (1995)

(Oh, and I also already scored "The Crow".  I decided to disqualify it because it was pretty much just the first act that I enjoyed.  I like to put this movie on when I'm "gothing up" to go out on a spooky night.  I still get really jazzed up watching the first 20 minutes, but the rest is just a lot of darkness and shooting.)

Clueless makes me happy.  Cute '90s outfits, snappy dialogue, based on an Austen novel, has Paul Rudd (one of my top five heartthrob screen-boys ever alongside Seth Green, Justin Timberlake, Michael Cera, and John Cusack pre-2003)...what could be wrong with this movie?  Well, I predict that nothing is wrong with this movie, but let's check it and see, shall we?

Touchscreen monitor in 1995?!?  Three songs within the first two minutes.  Remember how funny it was when you first saw this movie that Cher and Dionne were talking on their cell phones in the hallway?  Like anyone would ever DO that?!  As IF!

"The maudlin music of the University station?"  I used to do that dance that Cher and Ty did at the party all the time with, like, everybody.  Ugh, I hate Christian.  "You think just because Sammy Davis, Jr. died, there's an opening in the Rat Pack?"  Alicia Silverstone is so good at whining.  My first driving test was kind of like Cher's.  I failed to yield and nearly plowed into a semi in front of the DMV and then afterwards asked how many points that almost-tragic wreck took off and the woman said, "Oh, you failed." and I had to drive us immediately back into the parking lot.  Yikes.  I passed the test the very next day, however.  I was a slow-starter in the driving category.  I really had to LEARN to see stop signs.  ;)

Final Tally:

Character average: 6.67
Music: 5
Atmosphere: 9
Dialogue: 7
Replayability: 8

TOTAL: 35.67

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Real Genius (1985)

The music during the opening credits is weird here (it's some jazz vocal tune).  It makes you think you're about to watch a romantic comedy or something, and it is anything but...

Widescreen is letterboxed here...this film definitely doesn't look as beautiful as the two previous in my list.  The ominousness of the men creating the "weapon" is cheesy, too.  Dr. Hathaway reminds me of Danny Elfman.  He's such a one-dimensional asshole.  That's one thing that I think has improved since the millennium. Even assholes get to have layers these days, which I think makes them more interesting. 

I used to hate Val Kilmer until I saw this movie and now I love him; he reminds me so much of Michael from high school.  He (almost alone) carries this movie.  I have such a crush on Kilmer here.  Mitch is pretty hapless.

"Would you be prepared if gravity reversed itself?"

Hmm, this movie may just be a guilty pleasure for me and not a top ten.  The dialogue is really only great for Kilmer's character and I might simply be charmed by him.  I didn't see this movie in its entirety until Michael and I started dating in 2006, however, I used to watch the last fifteen minutes when the professor's house was filling with popcorn on an old VHS tape my mom had over and over.  She had taped over the first 9/10ths of the movie, but I loved watching that last part and I will forever associate "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" with the image of a house full of popcorn. Man, who wouldn't love swimming through a sea of popcorn?

Really? All Mitch had to do was turn a knob and he fixed the laser?  Riiiiiiiight. Jordan is fabulous.  She reminds me so much of Denna Clymer (you'll see what I mean immediately if you know her). 
Time for the first montage!  This movie has like three full-length songs and it's my second favorite thing about this movie (Kilmer is first, of course).  It seems to be their main plot-advancing device, and I'm okay with that.  They're not scared to rock an entire song while the plot is furthering.  There's nothing hotter than '80s music set to nerds doing science!  I would watch a YouTube channel that was nothing but that!  The first song is The Comsat Angels' "I'm Falling" and I loooooooove it!  I'm just going to shut up and enjoy the montagey goodness now...."not prepared for thisthisthisthiss".
Swimsuits were funny in the '80s.  Ok, I've been a little bored the last fifteen minutes.  I'm going to go ahead and cll the stats halfway through.  I'll readjust, if needed.

dialogue: 4
atmosphere: 7
music: 6
replayability: 6
character average: 6.2
TOTAL: 29.2

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Breakfast Club (1985)

I literally cannot remember a time "The Breakfast Club" didn't exist for me. I watched it on old VHS taped from HBO from a wee thing. John Hughes was more important to me than any Disney film, and this one is my favorite.

I forgot the Simple Minds song is in the opening credits as well as the closing. The architecture of the library is still cool 27 years later. Can you believe 1985 was 27 years ago?!?! OMG.

I may not be able to comment on this movie. It's just so much a part of me...I feel like I was born knowing all the words...I can't accurately assess it with words. I can only worship the nostalgia in silent awe.

Atmosphere: 8
Dialogue: 7
Music: 7
Replayability: 9
Character average: 6.43

TOTAL: 37.43

Carrie (1976)

I love all the brazen pubic hair in the opening locker room scene, though this is obviously a male fantasy. No locker room has EVER been like this. And Carrie is having a pretty erotic shower there, eh? The brutality of '70s films is shocking at first. The gym teacher is pushing everyone and the girls are soooo mean.

Julianne Moore will do a great job at playing Carrie's mom in the remake. I can't wait! Her voice has such a cadence that sticks with you forever. When I first saw this movie I had it checked out from the library and I kept rechecking it for the entire summer (no renewal limits back then?) and showing it, one-by-one, to all of my friends. I think it was 6th or 7th grade. It was my first favorite horror film.

Why do the Jesus' eyes in the statue glow? That's so freakin' creepy. It's so heartbreaking to think that there are some women that might even still grow up with moms like this this or for whatever reason, don't know about their periods before they get them.

Is it really that much of a punishment to force everyone to do a bunch of exercises? That's only going to make them hotter for the prom. I would relish someone forcing me to work out. I never had to do anything in gym class. I kind of wish I would have. Learning coordination and athleticism could only help me. God, I hate John Travolta. I hate him so much that "Carrie" might not make the cut. His character-rating is a 0 simply because he's John Travolta. Every shot in this movie is really good. You can pause it anywhere and the color pops and everything is framed really well.

Sue Snell's hair is still the best hair I've ever seen in a movie. I WANTED her hair then and I WANT this hair now. Why can't you go to prom without a date? That's ludicrous. Tommy is so cute with his curly hair. I think I have to fast forward through the pig slaughter scene. I can't deal with it anymore.

I love that Jesus is this silent, scary overseer of everything in the White household. The only light in the house is Jesus and Carrie's pretty face.

Ugh, can I give Travolta a negative number of points? Ew, trying on lipsticks?! So unsanitary. "I can see your dirty pillows." Mommie dearest has got nothin' on Margaret White! I think all proms should look like the prom in this movie. I was so disappointed that mine wasn't like this. No men wore ruffles and no women went braless at my prom--how boring is that?

Time for the spinning dance scene. I might throw up.

Not even the cutting board is safe!!

I still get chills when the ominous music starts as Tommy and Carrie are walking to the stage. My hair is standing up...I once recorded this part of the movie onto a mixtape so I could listen to it over and over. Now comes the payoff. You messed with the wrong chick! Split-screen. You're trapped, bitches! Telekinesis is so cool. I have goosebumps all over...the fire just started and Carrie is silhouetted in blood with her arms out. This is one of the only truly iconic movies that I discovered on my own. I really have no idea why I even picked it...probably the image of a woman covered in blood. I've always been into that.

Candles on the bed? That's not safe. Michael said, "Only a crazy person could light that many candles." Time for the Orgasmic Death of the Mother. Love the sound of Margaret's arm being pulled off the wall. Each time I showed this movie to a friend I would watch their face with baited breath waiting for that arm to come out of the ground...Michael was distracted this time, so it didn't have the intended effect. Can you believe he hasn't seen this?!?!

Final tally:
*atmosphere: 7
*dialogue: 3
*replayability: 4
*music: 6
*character average: 6.43

TOTAL: 26.43

my top 16 movies...

are as follows (in chronological order):

The Breakfast Club
Real Genius
The Crow
Empire Records
Velvet Goldmine
The Matrix
High Fidelity
Best in Show
Moulin Rouge
Napoleon Dynamite
The Big Lebowski

That's wayy too many movies. I need to narrow it down to a top 10. To do this, I'm going to watch all 16 and rate them on a scale of one to ten on the following five parameters:

1. atmosphere/setting/cinematography
2. characters: this will be achieved by rating each of the main characters on the one to ten scale and then averaging their scores.
3. dialogue
4. music
5. replayability

Each movie has the potential of achieving 50 points. If there's a tie for 10th place, the two movies in question will have to be rewatched/rescored to break the tie. I will blog about each one as I watch it (or take notes and post the blog later, either way). Hopefully, hilarity will ensue and I will be reminded of why these are my favorite movies. If anyone would like to join me, I'll be watching them in the order above. I'm watching "Carrie" tonight, but text/msg/email me if you want to come over for popcorn and join in the movie analysis for any of the films below "Carrie" on the list.

Monday, September 17, 2012

How To Behave When Art Is Being Made Before Your Eyes.

In July, for the first time since my fixation began in 1996, I saw Fiona Apple in concert.  My husband and I had relatively good seats that we paid approximately 25% of our paychecks to obtain.  Fiona was phenomenal, but the crowd was NOT.  As a whole, the audience broke all of the rules below, and I felt separated from the woman I’d desperately wanted to share a room with for sixteen years, the woman I had driven two and a half hours to see perform her art...grr, digress digress.
July 17, 2012 -- Midland Theatre, Kansas City, MO.
Her setlist was as follows: Fast As You Can, On the Bound, Shadowboxer, Paper Bag, Anything We Want, Get Gone, Sleep to Dream, Extraordinary Machine, Werewolf, Tymps, Daredevil, I Know, Every Single Night, Not About Love, Carrion, Criminal, and It's Only Make Believe.

Here are five rules of etiquette (I know, I’m no Lady Von Halbach) for all-encompassing enjoyment of a concert (“concert” here defined as any single musical act you have paid more than 10 or 15 bucks to see: i.e., NOT a festival and NOT a typical Friday night at the dive bar downtown):

  1. As an overall mindset, try to remember that there are people in the crowd that really really really want to see the performer, you know, perform.  You will be doing those particular fans a service by being as reserved as possible during the evening’s events.  This is not a time for attention-seeking behaviors.  Your fellow concert-goers didn’t pay to hear or see YOU do anything.
  2. A note on phone usage: Y’all know I am serious about my technology, but when you’re experiencing an in-person event, such as music being created before your very ears, I am very anti-phone.  Don’t take video.  Don’t take pictures.  Put the screens in your purse or pocket for two freaking hours and be in the moment, people!
  3. No one wants to begrudge a concert-goer a beer or two, but please keep your drunkenness to a minimum.  If the booze-habit gets you in and out of the aisles for cup-fills and bladder-empties more than a couple of times, just stay by the bar and let someone else have your seat/standing space.
  4. If there are seats, sit down (especially if you’re in the front).  I’m 5’5” (that’s not short) and the behemoths standing in front of me made it very difficult to see the tiny glorious woman onstage.  For a large portion of the concert, a man’s substantial left ear was covering Ms. Apple’s entire head.  Common sense makes obvious the fact that EVERYONE can see if EVERYONE is sitting down. Conversely, if the venue is set up such that you couldn’t possibly disturb anyone by standing, by all means, dance your cute little butt off!
  5. Keep your clapping/screaming/yelling to an absolute minimum.  You paid for the ticket, the performer already KNOWS how much you love them. Admittedly, this is somewhat of a personal issue (I feel like a baby seal slapping her flippers together when clapping). There’s no reason to clap/yell during a performance unless, ill-advised as it most certainly is, the artist has encouraged some sort of rhythm-bastardizing-group-epileptic-fit (for the record, Fiona would never engage in such tomfoolery--she didn’t even leave the stage before her required encore, bless her no-nonsense heart).  Call me crazy, but I believe all displays of appreciation should be held until the very end of the performance, like at symphonies and operas.

NOW, you can applaud...You’re welcome.  I love you too.

Finally, I shall contradict myself completely and reap the rewards of the assholes that held their phones up during the performance.  Below is a playlist of videos from that night.  They're not well-done, but they're in order and they're for posterity, for me, so I'm placing them here...

// music rut //

Lately, I’ve been uninspired, listening to nothing new, and wandering around with a cloud over my head instead of headphones in or around my ears.  I’ve been phoning it in and not taking the care and thought into choosing what I listen to at every moment of every day or, gasp (!!), listening to nothing at all.  I haven’t even made a mix in weeks!  My dismal music rut has just been punctuated by the death of my favorite headphones (A beautiful pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50’s, if anyone wants to buy me another pair--I would like them in white with the coiled cord, please.) not ten minutes ago.  Oh, woe is me.  From within this deep dark pit of aural despair, I turn to you for guidance.  Yes kittens, it’s time for a survey, so get a writing utensil and fill in the margins, darlings.  I beg of you, help me with my music drought and

Take my survey!
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

places your entire music library could live.

In a post-apocalyptic Joplin, I am of the personal opinion that one cannot have too many places to store their music collection within.  Perhaps I’m a little OVERprepared for disaster in this aspect, but if there’s one thing that I cannot possibly live without, it’s my music, so here are places where mine lives (5 in total, yes, I’m deranged), and perhaps one or two of these options will be useful for a normal human being as well:

  1. COMPUTER-- At the very least, get all of your music ripped onto the hard drive of your computer.  Rip at higher bitrates for better audio quality (check the “preferences” or “settings” or “options” in your computer’s ripping software to tweak this.  I use 320kbps for all my ripping.).  You’ll need a disc drive to upload CDs, a tape deck, some cords, and some compatible software like Audacity to convert cassettes, and likewise a record player, Audacity, and more cords to convert records, though this process is a pain (here’s a good article on how to do this: so only do for things you absolutely can’t get digitally or through CD.  If you need to recover music you lost in the Wretched 2011 Wind, search our illustrious library’s catalog at for CDs you can check out--you can take home 4 at a time and we have a pretty decent selection (Seriously, this one time I got to help pick out a bunch of stuff...that was AWESOME!).
  2. EXTERNAL BACKUP DRIVE-- Once you have all your music stored digitally, this and the following 3 music storage options are available to you.  Having an external hard drive is a good idea to backup your computer in general anyway (I back-up my entire computer every 10 days), and these puppies can be had for less than a hundred bucks at RadioShack and BestBuy (Seagate is well-reviewed and has served me well--survived the year 2011, even!).  If you can, lock your backup-drive away in a weather-proof enclosure for extra paranoid protection.
  3. iPOD CLASSIC or OTHER LARGE CAPACITY MP3 PLAYER-- This option is probably only for the really big music geeks, because this little dream-machine (the iPod classic) costs 250$ for 160GB of storage.  I have all my music, movies, and pictures on my Classic.  I always get a little geek-thrill stomping out of the house with only my iPod the size of a cassette tape shuffling my entire music collection.  Every music-dweeb should have this distinct post-millennium pleasure.
  4. iTUNES MATCH or OTHER CLOUD MUSIC SERVICE: In the event that all of your earthly possessions are obliterated (the iPod, the backup drive, AND the computer) which is, unfortunately, no longer something far-fetched for a lot of us, you’ll need to also have your music backed up in the cloud, which is another way of saying uploaded to the internet.  There are several services that do this: I personally use both Google Music ( and iTunes Match, but there’s also Grooveshark, Amazon, and many other services as well.  They all involve time to upload and can suck the life out of your internet connection (in the case of me uploading my 9,000 songs to Google, it took about three weeks, but it won’t be that time-consuming if you have less music or a better internet connection), but wayyy worth it if your music is the second thing you grabbed last May (I know your animals come first--or children, if you’re into that sort of thing.) before climbing out of the rubble.  Check out the following article for a detailed analysis on all the cloud music storage options out there (

Remember, you don’t have to be as paranoid as me, but if you choose only two of these options, your music will feel snug and safe pending any season’s weather apocalypses.  If you need tech support carrying out any of these options, email me at and I’ll try my best to answer your questions.

Friday, September 14, 2012


In high school my English teacher (you remember: the cute one that is now a principal?) taught a class about pluralism.  Pluralism (as I remember him teaching it then) is this idea that perception is reality and everyone perceives things differently, so can reality be defined/constant?  This is something we've all thought about at one time or another, so I am presenting nothing new, but recently I had to take a hard look at myself.

Remember in Anne Rice's "Queen of the Damned" where spirits were these giant balls of misty energy that spanned hundreds of miles with a concentrated meaty center? After the tornado, I was forced to gather up all of my misty-wide energy and stuff it into the shell of my body.  I then turned that body into a fortress and tried to ignore it.  In the time since that stupid Spring day I've over-indulged in alcohol, food, and darkness.  Any escape I could find, I clutched onto until my fingers bled.  As a result, what was already growing stagnant within me even before last Spring became so still, so unforgivingly rigid, that I couldn't even see that I was frozen.  My father died and I felt as if I was looking through an opaque glass at myself from another realm.  Apathy has been my muse, and I thank her for her service, but I have to break the fucking glass.

Recently, a confrontation/intervention was placed in front of me that I could not ignore.  I have always known who I am, so it was really hard to admit that I didn't know who I had become.  I had become this insular being without ardor.  I had forgotten that what we all are is fluid.  We change and evolve and taking a look at who you are is required of you every day.

The only people that remain sane in this world let go of the perception they believe others have of them.  They don't let themselves be defined by that perception.  Not even the perception that is their own.  I've always known this, but recently I've lost sight of where I sit within it.  I feel SUCH a kinship to those that are being their genuine selves without definition.  What I am now is not who I will be.  What I have been is not what I am.  I always really liked the lyrics to Incubus' "Make Yourself".  The idea of creating your self has always been important to me, but the thing I am grasping now is that you have to do this continuously throughout your existence.  It isn't forever that you are, it's forever that you choose to be.

With one swift primal scream I must let that giant all-encompassing spirit take her space again.  It cannot be contained within my body.  It must pervade everything around me so that I can feel and be felt by others.

We cannot see things as they truly are, or they are what we see and we can't see what anyone else sees. So why construct an image without purpose?  If what you're trying to fit within doesn't feel comfortable, get out!

The celebrities that I find interesting usually have zero control over their personae (Courtney Love, Grimes, and Fiona Apple) and don't care.  They are raw and real and it inspires me tremendously.  I also enjoy when they have TOO much control over their personae (Lady GaGa, Marilyn Manson) because they're taking their art to such an extreme that it becomes an agenda.  Grimes IS art and GaGa forces you to confront your own art and both of these images make you look at yourself.  The video above makes no sense and that was probably Grimes' unintentional point.  She just gathered together people she liked and visual images that intrigued her and she danced.  I cried watching this because her weirdness feels so genuine to me.

My next tattoo is:


and this to me is my zen.  Reminding myself that what I think others think does not matter.  Who I am and that I am confrontationally genuine is what is important to me.  I want to be a Fiona, a Grimes, a Courtney Love.  A brash, bold, ballsy, blunt BITCH.  The witch within is emerging from the gristle she's been hiding amidst.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Top Five Music Apps.

So, you’ve just gotten a smartphone (Not that anyone’s calling your old phone dumb; It was probably quite astute for being 5 years old...) and you need some apps.  I’ve compiled a list of most of my favorite music apps that are available for both A’s: Android and Apple.

DISCLAIMER: Make sure you have the data available for all except #2 (and #2 will use a bunch of data if your music is stored in iTunes Match)--most of these apps will suck up a 200MB plan in a measly few hours of streaming music set on higher quality bitrates.

#1- PANDORA (free): First and foremost, you must to have Pandora.  It is the most easily accessible music app ever.  All you do after downloading is type in the name of an artist, composer, or song that you like and you will then have a radio station tailored to that artist/composer/song.  Then, you “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” tracks as you go along to further tailor your station.

#2- GROOVE 2 ($1.99 for Apple only): Ok, I lied about all the apps being available for both A’s.  I realllly like Groove, though, so you need to know about it if you have an iOS device, and hopefully someday it will be available for Android as well.  This app syncs with the music on your phone (so it’s no good if you don’t have any music uploaded to either your phone or iTunes Match) and creates playlists based on your music.  Some of the great featured playlists: Artist Duos play two artists back to back, Three of a Kind plays three songs each from an artist (remember Block Parties on the radio back in the day?) and Groovy Mixes are smart mixes of songs that go well together (works much more consistently than iTunes’ not-so-Genius: there, I SAID it!).  The app also tags your music so you can play by genre.  There’s even a Surprise Me button if you don’t want to think at ALL, which is especially helpful for short work commutes...because, we all know you can’t drive in freakin’ silence! This app is TOTALLY worth the $2. 

#3- SPOTIFY ($9.99/mo subscription): I have touted the virtues of Spotify’s on-demand music subscription service before. Being 10 bucks a month, it’s obviously not for everyone.  However, if you like listening to anything you want whenever and wherever you want without having to own any music, this is pure bliss.  Just make sure you have the data plan to stream or the space on your phone to download playlists before you leave the comfort of your own WiFi.  They’ve recently added a radio feature that operates similar to Pandora that’s actually surprisingly compelling.

#4- SONGZA (free): This is a really cool new playlist app.  Download this app now before they get too big and start charging.  The way the playlists work is time-sensitive.  For example, I’m writing this on a Monday evening.  When I tap into the app it says “It’s Monday night.  Play music for: Bedtime, Love and Romance, Unwinding After a Long Day, or Work or Study.”  When I choose “Work or Study” it gives genre options and I choose “Electronic”.  Finally, there are three playlists to choose from that are electronic ambient stations to melt into the background while I’m working/studying (I chose “Electronic Study: IDM” in case you’re wondering).  How cool is that?  In the morning, the playlist options will be different (such as “Morning Commute” or “Waking Up”), but you can also bypass the time of day and pick from a list of activities or favorite playlists.  The selection of genres and playlists are really varied and I’ve actually discovered some cool new music (Hello, Moderat, I think I fancy you!) from this app.  Seriously, get it now before they start charging $5 for it or something.

#5- SOMAFM ($4 for app, or free from I’ve also peddled the infinite goodness of somafm before within these pages. is a San Franciso-based internet radio conglomerate with a lot of really cool (mostly electronic and chill music, though they do have some other genres; check them out online before shelling out the 4 bucks) radio stations.  They are commercial-free and donation-based, so if you like them, support them!  I like to send them $10 every once in awhile, just to show I care.  My favorite station on SomaFM is the very ambient “Drone Zone”.  I usually play it  when getting ready for bed at night.
The above list is a great music app starter-kit, whether you’re just starting out in the smartphone world or recently learning to love the beautiful plethora of music apps out there in this gorgeous electronic universe of ours.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Something Blue.

Episode 65.
airdate: 30 Nov 1999.

Willow is "hanging on by a thread", still mourning the loss of Oz.  He sent for his stuff and it is now pretty clear he isn't coming back.  Spike is still staying with Giles.  Buffy goes on her first date with Riley.

Of course Willow wants all the pain to go "poof" so she does a spell to have her "will be done".  Willow has a fight with Giles because he disapproves of her doing a spell in her "unfocused condition".  She tells him he can't "see anything" so he starts going blind.  Willow says something about Amy being a normal girl and she turns from rat to person for a moment.  So Will's will is being done, though only her sarcastic unintentional will.  When Will says "why don't they just get married?" referring to Buffy and Spike, they get engaged.  Willow calls Xander a "demon magnet" and then demons come from all over and invade Xander's basement.

D'Hoffryn comes to try to lure Willow into the vengeance fold.  Her rage is righteous, apparently, and he wants to recruit Willow.  Sometimes it's difficult to blog about Buffy episodes.  The metaphors are great because of their simplicity, but there's not a lot to say.  There's some character foreshadowing with Willow because you see her become indignant with Giles about doing spells when she really shouldn't and her trying to make her pain, which is enormous and extremely dire, go away with a poof.  This is the way she's always coped, and Buffy writers are very good at being consistent with the character arcs of everyone, for the most part.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Pangs

Episode 64.
airdate: 23 Nov 1999.

Wow, I haven't done one of these since May.  That means I need to do two per week until the end of the year in order to finish, as per my goal.  I haven't been keeping up with all of my New Year's goals lately, but I've been half-assing them enough to say I'm doing something.  That's a metaphor for my life!  I half-ass everything enough to say I did SOMEthing.  Oh, well.  It seems to be enough at the moment to delude myself into thinking I'm content.  I just realized recently that I don't think about things in terms of "success and failure".  Everything in my life is self-defined and I'm really easy on my self, as it turns out.

Ok, this is the episode about a Native American poltergeist that's revenging against the Americans that wronged him because of Thanksgiving and new colonists and shit.  Angel is lurking.  Buffy decides to make Thanksgiving dinner for everyone.  The Initiative is searching for Spike, who's sad and neutered and alone.  Xander is working construction and ends up with the "funny syphilis" because he fell into an old mission no one knew was there at his construction site, which is the whole reason the vengeance spirit has been unearthed, of course.  Giles is harboring Angel.  Apparently he's in town because someone had a vision (Was this Cordelia?  Was she having visions already? I don't think so.) of badness associated with Buffy.

Spike is looking in on a vampire family eating a human all forlorn-like.  Angel talks to Willow and is all jealous about Riley.  Spike attempts to reconcile with Harmony, but she actually rejects him this time.  Willow doesn't want to kill the Shumash Indian because his anger is legitimate.  He's "recreating the wrongs done to his people".  Giles disagrees and Buffy is trying to be peacemaker and have a great Thanksgiving.

"Buffy is for to be slaying sometime soon, yeah?"  Spike seeks help from Buffy and friends.  He's so sad and pathetic.  So they let him in and tie him up.  The beginning of Spike's redemption.  Yeay!  More Spike!  I love when he gives them the speech about how they should shut up about feeling guilty about the Indians.  "You won...that's what conquering nations DO."  The vengeance spirit is after Buffy because he wants the leader of the community, which to him, a warrior, is the strongest fighter.  He "sieges" them, they kill him, Xander recovers from the syphilis, and they eat Thanksgiving dinner while Spike whines.  All very endearing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fiona Apple, please allow me to express how ardently I admire and love you.

In my life I have taken many opportunities to express my obsession with Fiona Apple, but here in the Current, Etc I have not yet sung her praises loud enough.  I feel like I grew up with Apple, though she is 4 years older than me.  Her lush debut “Tidal” saw me through my first makeout sessions and first hate-breakups, then more than a decade later saw me walking down the aisle.  She is a rare artist in that she actually waits until she has exceptional material before she releases music, feels no urgency and makes an album simply when it’s time to make an album.  I have always admired her raw sensibility, the way she says what she’s thinking the moment she’s thinking it without any guard stronger than the shield of her inability to communicate with most normal people.  I assure you, I count this as an extreme virtue.  Blunt honesty is undervalued, especially in the world of celebrity.  I knew she was one of my people the moment she made that infamous speech at the MTV Music Awards back in the late ‘90s.  People tend to call Apple angsty, but really she is simply real, having turmoil and depression just like the rest of us.  She is the embodiment of awkward and admits her inadequacies with reckless abandon and it is brilliant and beautiful and grotesque all within the space of one ragged breath.

Fiona Apple is one of the only artists whom I will trust enough to purchase her album the day it comes out without hearing any of it first, as I did with “The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do” when it arrived Tuesday.  She only writes one album per seven-ish years, but it’s always worth the wait, and this endeavor is no exception to the Apple barometer of excellence.

Speaking about who Fiona is is directly speaking about how her music sounds.  She is as genuine in her sound as she is in her actions.  Her words are raw and her music is unsettling when she feels unsettled, and she does here, most definitely.  Her musical timing is discordant and doesn’t hit on the beats you think they will.  For this reason, I had a headache the first time I listened to “Idler Wheel...”, but the thing with this album is that it is imperative that you listen to it without any other distractions.  Let Fiona Fiona all over you, with headphones on.  You probably won’t like it at first, but give it a second and third try and you’ll begin to feel more than you have in years.  You’ll begin to say things like “The bare eccentric percussion that serves as an accompaniment to her witty and perfectly-placed piano melodies do nothing but accentuate her developed, rich, and emotionally articulate vocals”, such as another raw and beautiful singer named Jonathan said to me today.  If you’ve ever felt a kinship with Fiona Apple, buy this record now.

Best Song (so far, as I’m sure this will change daily over the next year, then weekly the year after that, then yearly the decades after that, as this is how “Tidal” still effects me 16 years after its’ release): "Valentine"
Best Lyrics: “Just tolerate my little fist tugging on your forest chest.”

How to make a mix: 3 indispensable rules.

As I insist upon calling myself MixtressRae, I dare say I know my way around a mix.  I’ve been pressing record/play on tape decks since the tender age of waiting for songs to come on the radio; they have to be numbering in the several hundreds at this point.  Not all of my mixes were great, of course.  Some of them were really dreadful...nay, many of them are dreadful, if you take into account the times my mix’s recipients have played/enjoyed my mixes.  All this to say, I am only an authority on mixes if you decide me to be, and I hope the sheer volume of mixes I’ve created these past two decades will recommend me to advise you on this very worthy pursuit:

Rule #1 -- Find a reason/theme for your mix.  Do you want a workout mix, a love dedication mix, or just a drivin’ around summer night mix?  The reason is what drives the emotions in a mix...even if that reason is just “songs I like right now”.  I used to have a mix called “songs I’m ashamed to like” before I learned to be ashamed of nothing...mostly.

Rule #2 -- Decide a length for your mix.  If you’re not, as you probably aren’t, using a cassette or a CD, mp3 playlists can be daunting without an expiration within a reasonable listening duration, and you need one especially if you are intending to give your mix to others.  One can’t expect a person to listen to something longer than an hour and a half, in my experience.  If you’re making a mix for an exercise routine, make it as long as your routine.  If you’re making a makeout mix, consider the phase of your relationship and time it accordingly.  Of course, if you ARE making a mix for cassette or CD, your time is already set and working within the confines of sides on a cassette is a finesse that will be appreciated by your mix’s lucky beneficiary, if they have ANY sense whatsoever.

Rule #3 -- Pick a song order (if an order doesn’t show itself to you organically).  There are many ways to do this.  If you want to make it really easy, order the songs by length (shortest to longest or vise versa) or chronology, or even by alphabet.  If you want something a bit more evocative, I’ve found that it helps to start with excitement: high beats per minute and something joyous/rawk-us.  Then, make track 2 even MORE exciting, take it down a notch on track 3, and continue to play with emotions throughout with at least a 4 or 5 track wind-down at the end...personally, I think a really good mix ends in a nap, but only if they sleep when you tell them to sleep, gosh darn it!

Disregard all of the above, and any other rules on mixes if they don’t suit you.  MAKE MIXES FOR YOU, and no one else.  Make them to your liking, not only because people are exceedingly under-appreciative of mixes in general, but also, if you aren’t putting your heart (and freakin’ rhythm ‘n’ soul!) into your mixes, they REALLY won’t be appreciated, so do what you want always and worry not how they will be received/perceived.  I always make mixes for me and if they involve thoughts of another, I give that person a copy and hope they listen/love it as much as I do.
You have it within you: go forth and follow your rockin’ psyche, mixters and mixtresses!