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!

// Grumigold //


Three Albums I’m Obsessed With Right Now...

DISCLAIMER: Fair warning, my album reviews will probably always feel a bit disjointed and you kind of have to understand my particular brand of weirdness to get a good read from them, but check out all three of these albums for yourself on Spotify (or press play above), and then you’ll begin to understand if you can trust my esoteric words attached to them.

Santigold // Master of My Make-Believe: Santigold is a trip-hop electronic artist with some world beats/flavor.  This new much-anticipated installation from Santigold does not disappoint.  Within the walls of her make-believe, you can find dance euphoria, melodic hooks, world beats, and empowering ballads/statements of feminine fierceness.

Standout tracks: “Disparate Youth”, “Pirate in the Water”, and “Big Mouth”
Best Lyric: “While you’re burning away, the thing’s goin’’ve got to MOVE.  You’ve got to MOVE.” --”Pirate in the Water”

Dum Dum Girls // Only In Dreams: Dum Dum Girls are wallflower garage rock with surfer-guitar riffs.  They remind me of the ‘90s in the best possible way.  My husband described them astutely as “If The Ramones and Siouxsie & the Banshees had a baby that listened to Hole.”  They have a goth sensibility, with a weird dark optimism coming through with that surf-guitar droney thing they’ve got going on.  I’m sure the Cure is an influence, but their lyrics are much more literal and catchy.  Listening to the Dum Dum Girls makes me want to lay in my bedroom and stare at glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling wistfully thinking about a dreamy boy I can’t have...this is a good thing, a very very good thing.

Standout tracks: “Coming Down”, “Caught In One”, and “Always Looking”.
Best Lyric: “I never felt a beat in my heart ‘til you made it start.” --”Always Looking”

Grimes // Visions:  How can I describe the wonder that is Grimes?  I just discovered this electronic Master-Female a few short months ago and she’s already crept up to my #1 artist according to play-stats collected on my  I am in love with this woman.  She makes ethereal-weird electronic music (You know how there’s Ambient Dream Pop?  Grimes is like Ambient Dream Electronic with Occasional Nightmares).  She sings guttural-low 2 seconds before Mariah-high layered on top of operatic-awesome; strings right next to bleeps and clicks and Satanic-howls.  I think she makes up words like Cocteau Twins did.  When I first heard Grimes I was confused and didn’t know if I liked it, but I just kept listening and listening until my soul became one with this little weird girl that makes phenomenal music.  Luckily for me, this is her third album, so I now have more.  If you listen to this on Spotify and love it as much as I do, I think we’re soulmates.  Email me (, because I need someone to help me unravel the love (and I have a gift for you if you like this album and are the first to email me about it) I have for this artist.

Standout tracks: “Circumambient”, “Nightmusic”, and “Oblivion”
Best Lyric: “Oh baby, I can’t say that everything is ok.  I have a problem and I don’t know how to stop it.” --”Circumambient”