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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