Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Worst. Groundhog Day. Ever.

"I don't have to get a shot this time, right mommy?"

Those huge words in that little voice will echo in my brain for the rest of my life. I gave the standard, hesitant, uncertain, "We'll see," response ... the one -- at age 4, a mere 2 months away from his 5th birthday -- he's already become to understand means "no" more times than not.

I hoped this trip to the pediatrician was another likely over-reaction to some easily explained-away symptoms, but my anxiety had been growing over the past few weeks. I realize now that it took my mother-in-law actually saying the words "those are symptoms of diabetes," out loud on Sunday before I called and made the appointment.

A quick urinalysis and blood sugar scan confirmed a bombshell ... type 1 diabetes. The auto-immune type. The one that renders your pancreas effectively useless. The one that neither one of our families is known to carry. The one that likely was set off my some random low-grade cold virus. 

The one, we will find hours later at the children's hospital, that requires 4 insulin shots and at least as many finger pokes a day.

For my little sweetheart who fears and hates needles as much as I do.

I'm unable to sleep as my brain slowly tries to process all the new thoughts, fears and anxieties I now have for my little guy ... in *addition* to the daily worrying that comes with being a mother of a child in America. 

I know it could be so much worse. This is something manageable. Something he will not only live but THRIVE through, once we all get the hang of it. I'm eternally grateful for that fact.

I'm just scared. We are talking about my favorite little person in the whole wide world.

Friday, July 24, 2015

2015 July 22 | Veruca Salt

There are some nights that just come right on time. After a few weeks of mounting minor annoyances of all the little daily obligations we have, I was relieved to spend Wednesday night with two of my nearest and dearest over good food, drink and RAWK.

I arrived to The Grove early, so I parked and had a house Manhattan at the delightfully charming Handlebar, and while perusing the menu, I began slightly questioning our choice of restaurant for the evening. Mental Note: Come back here. Soon. There is Pirogi and Borscht on the menu!

It was actually a touch warm, albeit beautiful evening, so I parked my car and Di and I walked to the wonderful little Vietnamese joint in the St. Louis' Central West End, Little Saigon. Our server had a delightfully unexpected razor-sharp wit for the hour and withstood our either bad (Diana's) or refusal to attempt (mine) Vietnamese pronunciation, as well as the the constant delayed decision-making that comes with perusing a menu with a friend you haven't seen in awhile, with absolute beauty. It's great dining with a good friend who tells you to essentially "get your own damn spring rolls," because then you discover it's wonderful to not have to share. Our visit was made all the richer when we giggled over the hipster-appeal of Pho as the single gentleman in his 30s next to us ordered that very dish. He gave us a ribbing and tried to convince us to try it to no avail; it was too HOT for soup!

Off we sauntered to the Ready Room in The Grove and caught the tail end of Charly Bliss' last cut. We ordered drinks and waited patiently along with the pretty full house for the headliner, Veruca Salt.

Last I saw Veruca was in 2000 at Mississippi Nights, when Louise Post alone was the remaining original member on the Resolver tour and Nina Gordon also toured separately following her solo album, Tonight and the Rest of My Life. I celebrated both albums, but my love for the fearless leaders -- who have fortunately now buried the hatchet and are touring together with mates Jim Shapiro and Steve Lack in support of the first combined effort in 17 years -- is far stronger for Louise. Nina's vocals and songwriting is so pretty in comparison to Louise's more rock-and-roll, devil-may-care visceral style.

Their set stuck mostly to their joint efforts of Ghost Notes, American Thighs and Eight Arms To Hold You. The highly energetic set failed to disappoint musically, but was unfortunately mired by bad (house) sound engineering and some tuning problems with Nina's guitar, both of which Louise became less patient as the show went on.  By the time the encore rolled around, it was pretty clear by his waning tempo that Jim's was getting tired. After 1 hour 15 minutes, I'd be tired too; hell, I *was* tired, and found my old ass to be kind of thrilled the encore lasted only 2 songs.

We discussed possibly more dancing and drinks, but to me, no summer night is complete with out ice cream. Also too, it was a school night, after all. So at my behest, Beth drove us to Jenis for a few scoops, and just in time, too; we arrived with only a few minutes to spare. Fortunately, the girls behind the counter obliged us; my Black Currant Sorbet and Sweet Cream just the deliciousness and sugar blast I needed for the 40 minute drive home back to the suburbs.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fashion Through the Ages

My girlfriends and I were recently group texting regarding our bad fashion choices and collective dorkery of our youth. My closest girlfriend sent photographic evidence, so I felt compelled to share snippets of mine as well. I couldn't narrow it down to just one look, because as I looked through my albums, I realized that my own style was very uniquely evolving in its own mutant-dork way.

Please enjoy the varying questionable hair and fashion choices I made through my youth; it's amazing that I had friends with the various assortment of vests and the conscious choice of sporting a mullet and a perm ...

Age 8. The hoop dress and curled too-short bangs atop a mullet, Christmas morning. 

Age 9, the mullet continues ...  super cool shirt, huh? Yeah. I really thought so. Same with my awesome fanny pack (pictured).

Age 11. Jesus. I want to kick my OWN ass looking at this. Did I really think I was going to make it through middle school with this look!? A home-made vest? A herringbone chain? I look like DJ in that episode of Full House where she goes to school thinking she looks all awesome and instead is dressed identically to her teacher. PS WHERE are my eyebrows?

Age 12. The tie-dye onesie bib-type whatever that was. And fake Keds. And slouch socks. Growing out "the wedge."

Age 12, continued. More fake Keds. More slouch socks. And collection of sweet, sweet troll-dolls. Note the cinched V-neck tee. And perm. And music stand for my flute. Where is my effing Caboodle!?

Age 13. I legitimately promise I wanted a boyfriend, I swear.

Age 13, continued. I really, REALLY thought this outfit was cool. Like, off-the-charts badass. It was a body suit, that I got at the MALL, in an actual JUNIORS SHOP. Note the tulle ruffle around the collar and wrists. Note to future self: this is what trying too hard looks like. PPS My boobs didn't come in for another 2 years.

Age 13, continued (again). Okay, this one is actually pretty cool. Look at how AWESOME I am in my PJ shirt! I'm still pissed that I misplaced it after graduation.

Age 14. The 90s essentials; long dangly necklace, oversized rayon print dress, suede granny boots, and blonde hair dye. You actually wish you were this cool.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bye, Bye Doggie

I vacuumed up the last of the hair that would fall from her coat to the floor today. And although I know I'll be vacuuming up her fuzz for years to come, I'd been putting it off because I knew how sad that thought would make me.

Pragmatism tells us that losing a pet seems like it should be a natural thing. We know they're not going to out live us, that they obviously won't live forever. 

So I wasn't prepared for the heartbreak that would come with the loss of our Maggie.

She passed before we could say our final goodbye. She'd been declining every year of her thirteen, but had very sick for four days and we knew when she stopped trying to stand that it was time. We'd driven her nearly three hours home to the vet to put her out of her pain, and no sooner did they put in her IV in the operating room did she stop breathing. Brian said she lifted her head one last time on her way out the door. 

Her goodbye to him.

When they called us in to the operating room, she was already gone; we got to witness the death rattle as the vet informed us there was no heartbeat. We were both bawling and clutching her body, giving all our love with which we could to send her away, everything we should have done before she left the room and thought we had time to do as they administered her dose.

As we're hugging her body, the vet says she hears a faint heartbeat again. So she administers the dose and Maggie the Lab's -- the happiest, sweetest dog ever -- story has ended.

I haven't told Brian, but I get the feeling that its because of his presence that her heartbeat returned. Their love and bond was so strong, they were so close, that I think for a second she heard his voice and was trying to come back.

While Maggie lay dying on the operating room floor, I remember looking up at one point toward the open door to the crated animals. I saw the saddest little face on a small shaggy white dog peering at us. S/he was looking at me, and it made me sad that s/he had to witness this whole scene, but at the same time, that little look offered me more empathy and comfort than -- although both helpful and welcome -- any words of condolence from any human has yet to relay.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Tolerance is the new black

Michael Sam. Ellen Page. It happens at least once a year. Some prominent celebrity comes "out of the closet."

Instead of examining our personal feelings on the announcements themselves, let's instead examine why they felt the need to be in there in the first place.

Valid fears including (though not limited to) losing their livelihood, their families and -- the most terrifying -- their lives.

Why they are not "closeted" is to escape judgment. That is going to happen regardless of the world being aware of their sexual orientation. 

The fact is, the moral majority will always be swift to point out how wrong we all are in our daily choices: clothing, drinking/eating habits, how we entertain ourselves, what our professions are, whether we are appropriately single or divorced or married. 

What our sexual habits are, gay, straight whatever, are always going to be under the microscope. In the "majority's" opinion, we'd all be having sex solely for repopulation's sake.

They are in the closet because, as a society, we either actively encourage or -- through our silence -- passively allow the public shaming of our GLBT community. Every one of my friends who read the Ellen or Michael story and thought, but did not post or say aloud, "Yeah, so what? Who cares anymore?" you need to start asserting to everyone you know how much you support our gay friends and family.

It is simply no longer acceptable to rest on the sidelines and expect society to "accept" the gay community, because it won't. Society needs to be challenged, to be told, what direction to go when the overwhelming voice is tradition-laden nonsense drowning out good sense.

It's time for all of is with a logical, reasonable minds to start using our voices, to start insisting on tolerance.  No one is asking conservatives to accept the gay community. We can't possibly expect it. 

However, what we can expect and *insist* upon is tolerance. Have a racist, bigoted old gramps? Tell him to kindly keep his thoughts to himself, and remind him that no one of your generation agrees with his outdated, unnecessary views. Don't continue to brush it off as "gramps just comes from a different time ..."

This "silly old fool doesn't know better," logic is a very dangerous lesson to teach future generations. We must always, as people and a society, challenge ourselves to adapt and progress, to -- GASP -- evolve.

The progression is here. It is no longer time to keep laughing off these jackals who insist our gay citizens are somehow lesser than the rest of us because their outdated views and personal morality on life, love and family differ than what common sense and many, many modern families have far proven otherwise.

Ellen, Michael and so many more in the world suffer silently. They live in shame and guilt trying to hide their true selves.

They have absolutely nothing for which to be ashamed. They are being who they were born to be, the same as the rest of us. 

Let's stop trying to convince ourselves as a society of otherwise and embrace that one simple truth.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


So after a completely unmemorable -- as most Midwestern drives between Metropolises are -- Brian and I reach our destination of Louisville, KY from St. Louis, MO via double-decker bridge, which we discover we both find slightly disconcerting after the '89 World Series in Oakland, despite neither of us having been there and only witnessed it on TV.

After checking into and briefly admiring the beautiful Brown Hotel, we catch a cab to some local grub in the Germantown neighborhood via a comfortably outward racist cabbie, who prides his service on having "English-speaking only" drivers. I'll spare you the rest of his speech that involved strong views on camels and their -- ironically, as we were in Louisville -- jockeys ... suffice it to say, after a brief and uncomfortable ride, we find ourselves at the basement door step of Hammerhead's none too soon.

Jesus, those guys do FOOD. The space is cramped, seating for 49 only, and is in a very obvious residential basement. The bar is beer only, the wait was long, we were seated wherever they found room enough for our party and we were lucky that we even made it in time as we arrived at 9 PM local (which we didn't realize we'd even crossed a time zone until the moment we were waiting for our seats) and they stop serving food at 10.  Our order consisted of some German beer I can't recall that was heavenly and light, duck-fat fried fries tossed in truffle oil and garlic, mac-and-cheese balls, soft shell crab tacos and a half rack of BBQ lamb ribs (hence the reason why I can't recall the beer's name).

We were so fat and happy and stinking to high heaven of duck fat when we left, that we didn't notice as we'd stumbled our way the nearest "decent" bar (Siedenfaden's) that it was only semi-recommended by our server at Hammerhead's. The bar itself was alright, reminded me of a southside bar in STL, but the vibe was weird; someone was spinning dance music and they had Fat Albert cartoons on mute on a large projection screen and several of the TV bars. The drinks were cheap, though, the bourbon selection serviceable, but it was getting late, so it wasn't long before we found ourselves fumbling for a cab much like we would have to do in STL back to our hotel.

A bourbon flight, glass of red wine and a shared serving of Derby Pie in the hotel bar later, we collapsed in our gloriously squishy bed.

To Hillbilly Tea for breakfast! So yummy! So charming! I loved this place, down to the Ball jar glassware and tarnished silver wrapped in rags and cinched by a clothing pin.

We then ventured to Joe Ley's Antiques on Market, which is an incredible 4-to-5 story building artfully stuffed to the gills with stuff we loved but were not really in the mood to afford. So much great perusing and daydreaming; it's a Victorian home restorer's dream in there; all the great wood work, fireplaces, doors, mouldings and cappings and such ... even down to hardware like cold air return covers and fireplace grates, as well as reclaimed tile. Stunning stuff.

Since it's later in the afternoon, as all rational people on vacation do, we decide to do dessert for lunch. We head over to the Clifton neighborhood and enjoy the divine offerings of The Comfy Cow. And aside from amazingly decadent treats, it is really, really pretty in there.

As we were on our way to ice cream, we noticed a little store sign bearing the name "Guestroom Records," which was exciting because Please and Thank You on Market turned out to be a bust (just more coffee than records for our tastes) and Matt Anthony's Records in the same neighborhood proved to be nonexistent (that we could tell, anyway). It turned out to be everything we were looking for; and entirely overwhelming with the great selection of new vinyl they had. Almost disappointing, even, but only because -- while I was in the *mood* to afford lots of music -- our personal ledger sheets urged us otherwise.

After a quick change, at the urging of our host for the evening, we have some sumptuous snacks and drinks at the gorgeous and well-soundtracked (served by a well-educated staff, I might add) Proof before heading a few blocks down to catch Pirates of Penzance at the Actor's Theatre. I recently saw The Hypocrites' production of The Mikado at Steppenwolf in Chicago, so I had an idea of what I was in for; but I'd forgotten how downright mirthful and talented this gang was. So silly, so joyous, so much FUN! We sat in the promenade, which was insanely cheap and so very much "where it's at" for this production (especially for the space at Actor's, which I found to be well served by the show). I just kind of felt sorry for the suckers who paid 4 and 5 times what we did to be playing along with the cast on stage.

Afterward, we enjoy more knockout (and, dare I say, better) snacks with the Major General himself at Milkwood before heading across the street to Down One to enjoy a fabulous bourbon selection and yummy beers in the best of company I could have possibly appreciated that evening.

After we check out from the friendliest, prettiest hotel in the South in which I've had the privilege of staying, we head to Ghyslain on Market for breakfast and coffee. Dynamite coffee (served in small or large French press carafe), extensive menu, and delicious pre-road meal.

The trek back to St. Louis was uneventfully peaceful and full of happy chatter ... and, as always as we approach from the East, that skyline made me grin. 

Which is ironic, as it prominently features the world's largest man-made frown.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Loufest tickets = ACQUIRED.

After skirting the event for several years due to weather and only so-so lineups, THIS is the year we jump in with both feet.

LouFest 2013 Lineup:
The Killers
The National
Alabama Shakes
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Jim James
Local Natives
Fitz And The Tantrums
Toro Y Moi
Twin Shadow
Trampled By Turtles
Ra Ra Riot
Court Yard Hounds
Icona Pop
Youngblood Hawke
Robert DeLong
Jukebox The Ghost
Wild Belle
The Mowgli’s
Brick + Mortar
Desert Noises
Space Capone
Wild Cub
J. Roddy Walston & The Business
Andrea Davidson
The Lonely Biscuits
Kentucky Knife Fight
Tef Poe

I mean, Alabama Shakes and The MAH-FUGGING NATIONAL!? 


Not to mention obvious favorites like The Killers, Wilco and Edward  Sharpe, I can't wait to see Jim James perform AND shake my ass to some Icona Pop and Youngblood Hawke.

AND!  They moved it to September!   It's probably still going to be hot as a mother, but I care not.  It's time to party in the Lou.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

I <3 Pop

"Before this river becomes an ocean / before you throw my heart back on the floor / I'll reconsider my foolish notion / Well I need someone to hold me but I'll wait for something more ..."

So, as you've been able to tell by now, I sort of have a soft spot the size of the Grand Canyon for pop music. Don't get me wrong, I love the independents, and believe they are the last vestiges of true artistry in rock 'n roll.

However, there's always been something about the infectious feeling -- that undeniably happy, hopeful feeling you get when you hear truly timeless pop song -- that I've been in love with since as long as I can remember.

Save for influences by my classical training is a flautist, my dad's obsession with AM talk and classic rock radio, my mother's love of 80s metal and Bob Seger, I was raised on top 40 radio from the age of at least 5, and pretty much that was the extent of my exposure to (and obsession with) music for the vast majority of my childhood.

Until I started working in a music store at age 17; the rest is history.

But my recent laziness in updating my iPod, refusal to waste precious GB on the iPhone on music, unwillingness to use any "free" streaming apps (Pandora, fuck YOU), laziness to dig out my old CD collection from the basement AND being left with a broken DC adapter for my Sirius receiver for the ELEVENTY-EFFING-BILLIONTH time -- and subsequent refusal to spend yet another $12 on its replacement -- I've been listening to a ton of top 40 terrestrial radio.

Because, apparently, that's the only format that exists in the St. Louis market. Literally 4 stations are almost identical; and all are peppered with "favorites" from days of yore.

It's that, NPR, an independent community station, some country stations, and conservative radio. The end.

It's largely grating and annoying; even the independent station is largely unlistenable (except for gems like Allen Dahm's Bittersweet Melody, which I always be sure to catch 5-7 Wednesday mornings on KDHX, and you should too), and I can only take so much NPR before I want to kill myself (news) or kill someone else (Diane Rehm's voice, among others).

So I find myself flipping a lot. Longtime favorites that recur are "Dancing Queen," "Under Pressure" (and pretty much everything Abba or Queen for that matter), "Turn to Stone" (and all ELO/Jeff Lynne), "What Is Life" (George Harrison), "Freedom" or "Faith" (George Michael, you know, the singer-songwriter).

But I slowly noticed some newer big, power-pop acts started creeping their way in. It started with Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven," which is one of the catchiest, sexiest dance tracks I've heard in a long time. Then it was Florence Welch feat. Calvin Harris' "Sweet Nothing," followed by Brittany and's "Scream and Shout," and most recently Icona Pop's "I Don't Care."

Well, wait; it actually all started out with Fun.'s "We Are Young." Followed by the rest of the catalog. I'm a fangirl. That's just fun, good pop that reminds me a bit of Simon and Garfunkel at times. I'm unashamed of my admission. To hell with those who disagree.

Of note: most of these are dance tracks. I think my not-so-subconscious is trying to tell me something ...

Perhaps it's time for a trip to the CLUB!

Also, too, to Radio Shack. I do need to get that receiver back in order. I miss my *good* independent radio. And Howard.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Post-Birth WTF

In reading my last post, it's hilarious to note that my son very recently turned 2.

More hilarious is that by the time I decided that I was done nursing him (in his 7th month of life), I'd finished every one of those novels, either during many hours with the Medela in the "Mother's Room" at work, or while reading them aloud to my newborn son while he cooed on the floor, all blurry-eyed in his newly-born daze.

Well, all safe Infinite.  I'm one-half way in.  It is still fantastic. I am convinced I will finish it one day.


At times, I wondered if regaling him tales of Sci-Fi dweebs, drug addicts, homosexuals dying of AIDS and Horse-Tooth Jackasses was possibly not the best fodder for early-life cognitive development; but in the end, I just ran with it.  There's only so much you can do with a spitting, suckling, shitting little bag of life that a human is at that stage.

So I read.  And still do; only now, more age-appropriate titles, since he's spitting back every last word he can wrap his little tongue around these days.  We must be cautious.

Happy 2nd birthday, my little man.

Stay Tuned for more adventures of the pop-cultural kind.  Yes, I am keeping this old blog; I refuse to start anew, apologize for ghastly delays, or make any commitment of consistency of any kind, as always.

Don't call it a comeback ...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pre-Birth Culture Panic

In addition to the stack of four or so parenting (and pregnancy and birthing) books we've accumulated, I've finally gotten back into reading actual novels again. Part of the exercise was brought about by having to fly (nothing better than an iPod and a book for such an occasion ... well, unless you have an ereader ... but all things in due time), but mostly because once I got into it, I realized how much I missed it.

I pretty much hate TV. It's such a time suck. Such an overwhelming waste of time. Sure, there are films and programs that I'm consumed with, but aside from re-runs of "The Larry Sanders Show" and "Portlandia," lately it's left me pretty much bored to tears.

So almost a year ago, my dear friend Diana gave me Patti Smith's Just Kids for my birthday, which she also was awesome enough to have signed by the author at a reading she'd attended. I dug into that a few months back and somehow got sidetracked.

Then I bought Gary Dell'Abate's memoir, They Call Me Baba Booey, for Brian around Christmas, which he read on vacation, and on the flight back from our vacation he finished it.  I'd also gotten David Sedaris' Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, A Modest Bestiary at the airport in Tampa (which was short but cute, and I fully intend on reading it to my son) and finished it less than an hour into the flight back home, due to delay after delay at the gate.

So I started in on Baba Booey's book.  Which was really, really good. And inspired me to take Artie Lange's Too Fat To Fish off the bookshelf (where Brian had it stored) and dig a few chapters in.

Then I find out that Patton Oswalt has written a book, so I go pick up Zombie Spaceship Wasteland today and am currently halfway through the first chapter.

I also still have Wallace's Infinite Jest partially read from oh-so-long ago.  (Have I mentioned how overwhelming of an undertaking reading this book is?!) 

So here I am again. With four books started; all of which are very well written and compelling on their own merits ... but it begs the question, "Do I have enough time before this baby gets here?"

10 weeks (or less) and counting ...

Friday, October 01, 2010

Sounds of My Life: Come Sail Away

For all of my high school years, my absolute favorite activity was marching band. I'm not ashamed to admit it, and over the years it's gotten me a tremendous amount of jeering from my peers; but I'd also like to delude myself that on some level, there's also some sense of admiration for my commitment to and passion for music.

And football. Let us not forget the football; it was in marching band that my love for the game began and flourished, and while the NFL is surely flawed beyond all comprehension at this point, I still enjoy it.

Football aside, there was just something about the sense of accomplishment for me; a born klutz, I quickly developed an enormous sense of pride in being proficient in not only playing my piccolo while marching at the same time, but that every bit of it was done from memory.

Think about it. We're talking a set of 4-5 songs, of which each had roughly 5-7 drills or "formations" a piece. It wasn't easy, and we weren't even very good, but it was the first place in high school where I made a lot of friends and felt like I belonged.

While we were all geeks, I have many fond memories of practicing and performing and cheering along at the Friday night football games for 4 whole years in those god-awful green-and-white polyester suits with the hideously plumed plastic hats.

That's the beauty of band. No one cares if you're a geek, because you're all geeks banded together. (That's not to say we didn't judge within our own walls ... I won't even mention what we used to say about the flag girls.)

"But Janelle," you ask. "What the hell does any of this have to do with Styx?!"

Shut up.

I'm getting there.

Mr. Sharkey was a student teacher in the district when I was in 8th grade; so I'd seen him around in class. All I knew at the time was that he was young, Canadian, and pretty shy. Totally the opposite of the current high school band director, whose name escapes me at this moment, but suffice it to say all I can remember is that the upperclassmen referred to him as "Applehead."

He was an arrogant jerk, and no one liked being directed by him.

So it was a pleasant surprise when it was announced before my freshman year that Applehead was moving onto another school and Mr. Sharkey was going to be the big cheese at my high school.

I realize now that Mr. Sharkey was in the unenviable position as a freshman himself -- a freshman who pronounced tomorrow "tomoorrow," no less -- fresh meat being thrown to the proverbial wolves.

He was nice. Too nice. Easy to bully, which is never a good thing, even if we're talking about a bunch of geeks here; as it stood, we had a bit too much of a Bad News Bears element in us as a group.

As I'd mentioned, Mr. Sharkey was a young guy; probably 24-25 or so by the time he got the job in 1994, and as such, he had affectations that such young men of the time had.

Early on, he made the mistake of making the "Do Or Do Not, There Is No Try," Star Wars reference as his motivational tool in practice, which quickly earned him the nickname Yoda. And being from Calgary, he was a die-hard Flames fan; at one point, a bet between the band and Mr. Sharkey ensued over our motivation and, long story short, resulted in him wearing a Blues jersey for an entire day.

Most relevantly, though; he loved classic rock. Jazz rock, acid rock, prog rock. A few of the songs in our routine in my freshman year were Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever," Santana's "Oye Como Va," and Mangione's "Land of Make Believe."

Everything else is fuzzy, but my sophomore year's routine featured Joel's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," and, you guessed it, Styx's "Come Sail Away." You know the beginning synth flute part? I even had a little featured quartet with another flautist and 2 trumpeters for that part of the song.

So a few days ago, when Brian and I were watching the episode of Freaks and Geeks where Seth Rogen's character develops a crush on a sousaphone-lugging band nerd, and as the group looks on at the marching band practicing, Jason Segel's character makes a comment about how horribly the band is butchering a rock song, it took me back to Mr. Sharkey and the Panther Pride Marching Band and all of the shenanigans we pulled and fun we had.

Yesterday, as I'm driving to work and I see "Styx" on the artist list on the Sirius, I had to tune in; just to see. Since it was the Classic Vinyl station, chances of it being either "Come Sail Away" or "Mr. Roboto" were pretty high.

As luck would have it, it wasn't only "Come Sail Away," but the song had just started. So I rocked out and remembered and sang at the top of my lungs all the way into the office parking lot.

High school was brutal, but some times, I really miss those guys.

Artist: Styx

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

So here's the thing ...

Given my admitted soft spot for all things chintzy-pop, I am an love with the viral video du jour; and let's face it, the featured band in said video.

Partly because their music is catchy, poppy, happy, and goofy; partly because their lyrics are actually quite clever (even if trite and contrived); and partly, to state the obvious, because their videos are consistently awesome.

But the largest selling point for me was OKGO's frontman's op-ed piece for the Times that was published a few weeks ago appropriately-entitled "Whose Tube," which ironically supports the very idea of me posting their video.

Being American, I love things that are right and whole in a moment in time. This is one of those things.

Do watch the video and enjoy along.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Nothing short of ...

A film this year that meets up to the hype is certainly Wes Anderson's new creation, The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

What I love about this film, is that it's no different than any of his other films; one that is meant not so much to be watched as it is consumed. With the small exception, of course, only in that his cast is voiced-over an incredibly animated stop-motion world.

Which, as it turns out, is really perfect for films of his own particular brand of self-created genre. This is only a snippet one of the many featurettes that are out there online:

And having watched the HBO First Look, which appears to have been the most extensive, Anderson had no idea how to make an animated film, which really seems to have been better for the whole project. He layered voice-overs that were recorded on location at a farm with a script that was written at Roald Dahl's home in the British countryside, and provided a film he shot starring himself in all the blocking he wanted the animatronic puppets to follow to the animators, who then storyboarded and acted the film out in painstaking detail.

Truth be told, I've never actually read the Dahl story; but as far as I can tell, it doesn't matter. Even the late author's wife, after watching the film, was quoted in the making-of featurette as stating he would have loved it.

As with all of his films, it's chock fulla counter-culture geekdoms; not the least of which is the guest appearance by Jarvis Cocker.

So I guess the real question is this: who's up for a game of Whack Bat?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Morning Drive-Time

I'm loving the satellite radio concept more and more each day. Now that I know how to work my receiver (not to mention that I now have a receiver that has a remote); I'm missing my iPod in the car less with each passing day.

Case in point, this morning's track list:

"Heavy Cross," Gossip (AltNation)
"Smile Like You Mean It," The Killers (AltNation)
"Big Poppa," Notorious BIG (Pop2K)
"To Be Young, Is To Be Sad ...," Ryan Adams (Outlaw Country)
"Linoleum," NOFX (Faction)
"Strange," Built To Spill (XMU)

Paired with the unmistakable feel of the season's first snow in the air, I get the feeling it's going to be a good day.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Many bands tread a fine line between derivation and simply being "influenced by" certain sounds, bands, scenes, etc.

This is one such song that reminds me of the phenomenon, even though such a link may not actually exist.

When I first heard the song on Sirius Alt Nation, my first instinct was ... catchy chorus, not much else going on. The chorus is happy, fun ... I instantly liked it, of course, but then after I heard it the second time I realized it reminded me of something.

Malajube's "Montreal -40c," to be precise.

One of my favorites of 2008; but for the fact that I can't speak French. Do you know how infuriating it is to have a favorite song to which you can't sing along?! Forget the fact that later in the year I overheard it in a Radioshack ad.


Anyway, these "The Features" guys are apparently the Kings of Leon's pet project; which is no surprise, since the lead singer sounds exactly like Leon's.

Thoughts? What is crossing the line of just plain derivative drivel and simply having a sound of a relative influential nature (The Decemberists & Neutral Milk Hotel being a good example of the latter ... at least in the earlier albums).

Saturday, September 05, 2009

What ... the MOTHER FUCK?!

I apologize for my vulgarities. I try to limit them.

However, the number-FUCKING-ONE track on XMU's 15 this week is ... Grizzly Bear feat. Michael McDonald.

That's right. Ya-mo-blow-my-brains-out Michael McFUCKINGDonald.

The song makes me want to stab someone in the face. With a mother FUCKING vengeance.

Which begs the question. What the FUCK is going on with today's youth?!?!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gut Reaction

As a fan-bordering-fanatic; I'm entitled a few quibbles with Wilco's new release. So here you go.

1) The stupid cover art. It's a first for Wilco that an actual full photograph is used for the cover, and it's an incredibly dumb one. As is the typeface.

2) It's pretentious title. Wilco (The Album). Not just a self titled release, it's specifically: "Wilco (The Album)." It makes the bile rise a little ...

3) It's pretentious, self-aggrandizing track 1, named simply: "Wilco."

4) The bevy of "borrowed" licks. Is that "Werewolves of London" ("Wilco")? How about "Every Day People" ("You Never Know")? A true sign that a strong influence of Nels' "experience" is, indeed, too much of a good thing.

5) Jesus, Tweedy. I thought you kicked your addiction and were onto sunnier days. What's with all the ballads?

6) Yes, I even have a problem with the collaboration with Feist ("You and I"). It's a good song, don't get me wrong, but Tweedy always saved "celebrity" collaborations for his side projects (see also: Golden Smog). Wilco was always his creative stronghold; this departure from that stance makes me fear for the future. Specifically, Jeff beginning to "phone in" his career because he's too lazy/busy/wants the commercial attention. This song screams "radio friendly." I have no problem with Wilco attaining commercial success like it did with Sky Blue Sky, because -- true or not -- that felt at least acccidental; this new album's sound makes it feel like they're actually reaching in that direction. Horrifying.

7) "Bull Black Nova" just blows. It makes me want to stab someone!

8) The repetitive phrasing! In the music and lyrics. It's everywhere, all over this album, in every song; and it's horribly grating!

Still hoping it'll grow on me ... but man; this is A Ghost Is Born all over again. Thankfully, that one did eventually find its way in; but even then, not in its entirety.

Today, though, I'm really missing Jay Bennett. I think I'd rather retreat with my copies of Summerteeth and YHF for the summer and save the new arrival for fall; which is where the heart of the album seems to belong anyway.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's like a Reincarnation!

It occurs to me that I would be offended by Vampire Weekend's complete and total ripoff of Simon & Garfunkel's sound if it weren't for the fact that is so entirely pleasing.

Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend

It's like they took all the great parts from "Cecilia" and "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard" and forged a 10-song album from them.

As it turns out, sometimes hype is founded.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

File Under: "I Just Don't Get It."

It happens. Writers, friends, random acquaintances; people who typically share your music tastes rave, swoon and obsess over a band you just have to experience.

So you do.

Annnnnd ... you don't get it.

Two such bands for me, that I just want to like with all the want that's there, are the The Fleet Foxes and Guided By Voices.

The Fleet Foxes, with their beautiful, lush harmonies somehow absentmindedly omit music from their music. I get it. You love you some CSNY. And The Band. You are all bearded, scruffy nomad-looking folk from the Pacific Northwest.

Why should I care when there's zero going on with your highly-lauded self titled release aside from four-part harmonies? Especially when I don't like beards? You could be so much more engaging, complex, and -- well -- enjoyable if a fraction of thought was put into more than how prettily we can sing together.

The only saving grace for them, which gives me hope for future releases, is that in this interview with Under The Radar Magazine, lead singer Robin Pecknold actually mourns the enthusiasm the press expressed over the release because it felt so incomplete to him.

Let's just hope the success doesn't go to his head.

Then there's Rob Pollard. The quintessential darling of Magnet Magazine, my alt-rock periodical of choice.

I've made my way through a large portion of the GBV catalog. There's a lot of catchy in there.

A lot of catchy, half-finished thoughts.

What is it with this guy? Is it just that he's a punk rocker trapped in an indie-rocker's body? Why can't he see a full phrase through? Most of the songs just trail off into oblivion without any semblance of finality. It seems to me that if he'd taken half of what he'd written, stew over the songs for a few days and actually go through the editing process, he'd come away a brilliant poet/lyricist/songwriter.

Instead, the result is just aggravating, frustrating, annoying ... but not noise, like punk rock is ... it's just so ...


That's the word.

Rob Pollard's songwriting, to me, is sex without the courtesy of completion.

Or maybe I just need someone to explain it to me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summer of '98

This morning, while finalizing a mix for my brother, a bolt of genius struck my brain.

Why not make a time capsule mix for tonight's camping expedition? Say, perhaps, the summer of '98?


This idea was actually partially sparked by Sirius Faction Thursday afternoon, when I happened to tune in right at the time "Sell Out" started. Volume cranking, and top-o-the-lungs singing ensued; I even contemplated stopping for a pack of Camel Lights for a split-second.

The Summer of '98 was one of my best, probably because it the summer between high school and college, the summer I moved out of my parents' for good, the summer I started working full time hours at Slackers, the summer I saw Pearl Jam from the front row at Riverport with my best friend ... so it was my real first taste of "freedom." I was a kid in an adult's world. And it was pretty awesome.

"Turn The Radio Off" was the #1 CD of that summer -- played in the old Corolla through my portable player via tape-deck adapter -- and a close second was Save Ferris' "It Means Everything;" in heavy rotation were also Less Than Jake's "Hello Rockview," Rancid's "And Out Come the Wolves," Sublime's self-titled and Squirrel Nut Zippers "The Inevitable." The hip hop tracks were all Tanya, my college roommate's, influence.

I know it seems like a juvenile mix, and there's so much pop here it kind of makes me cringe sharing it, but what the hell. I can't deny who I was -- who I am still, to a certain degree -- and although the following season was when I delved deep into teenage depression, and discovered the likes of Modest Mouse, Piebald, and the other reaches of indie and emo culture, I can't ignore the fact that even though I was working for the rekkid sto', I was still quite the pop princess.

... and blonde!

Me in the summer of '98 with my graduation cake.

My college roommie Tanya, me, and my best friend Kerri.

Summer of '98
Good Enough for Granddad Squirrel Nut Zippers
Red Sweater! The Aquabats
Doo Wop (That Thing) Lauryn Hill
I Can't Wait Hepcat
Where'd You Go? The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three Big Bad Voodoo Daddies
History of a Boring Town Less Than Jake
Do the Evolution Pearl Jam
April 29, 1992 Sublime
Ghetto Superstar (That is What You Are) Pras w/Michel, ODB & Maya
Closer The Urge
Come On Eileen Save Ferris
Build Me Up Buttercup The Goops
Sell Out Reel Big Fish
Santeria Sublime
Gone Til November Wyclef Jean
Pharoah's Dreams Hepcat
Baby Got Going Liz Phair
My Skateboard Aquabats
She Has a Girlfriend Now Reel Big Fish
All My Best Friends Are Metalheads Less Than Jake
Roots Radicals Rancid
This Lonely Place Goldfinger
So Long-Farewell-Goodbye Big Bad Voodoo Daddy