Sunday, April 30, 2006
my favorite albums of 2006 (so far)
Perhaps it's a bit early for this post, seeing as 2006 is only 4 months old as of today, but I've always been one to do things a bit prematurely (usually it's overreacting, though). I do realize that there are two very hyped albums coming out within a matter of days - Pearl Jam (I still can't believe I'm giving them yet another chance) and Red Hot Chili Peppers - but the truth is that I'm deliberately posting before these two albums come out because it took me so long to figure out my current list that I don't really want to go back to the drawing board so soon.

I wasn't aiming for a certain number of albums to include on this list (I think I considered about 25 overall), but once I sat down to figure things out it turned out that I had eight that "made the cut" so to speak, which makes me happy because eight is a nice, even, god-fearing number. Finally, I include Pitchfork's rating just in case people are interested in an alternate point of view. In other words, not because it had any weight in my decision-making process or because I was trying to be pretentious or because I was trying to justify anything. (Well, maybe the Morrissey album.)

So (finally) here is it, my favorite albums of 2006 so far:

#1: The Life Pursuit (Belle and Sebastian)
There was a fierce battle in my head for the #1 spot but I had to give it to The Life Pursuit, which is damn close to perfection. This album is full of sunshine and happiness and puppy dogs and care bears. There just aren't enough words to describe how much I love it.
Favorite Track: "Another Sunny Day"
Pitchfork Says: 8.5 (out of 10)

#2: The Loon (Tapes 'N Tapes)
I'm pretty sure that this was released at the at the tale end of 2005, but I'm breaking the rules for this one due to it's perfect awesomeness.
Favorite Track: "Cowbell"
Pitchfork Says: 8.3

#3: Ringleader of the Tormentors (Morrissey)
I know, I know. I can't help it. Morrissey will always have a special place in my heart that most people won't ever understand, and I'm fully aware that he's like anchovies - some people like him but most don't - but this really is a very, very good album. Seriously.
Favorite Track : "You Have Killed Me" (I know - but it's actually quite catchy.)
Pitchfork Says: 8.0

#4: Fishscale (Ghostface Killah)
So, it's not really my genre, but every once in awhile (Deltron 3030, The Mouse and the Mask) I have to give rap a nod. Fishscale is a very impressive album - complex, catchy and consistent. Do I feel like a total poser for liking this album? A bit. Do I care? No, not so much.
Favorite Track: "Kilo"
Pitchfork Says: 9.0

#5: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Neko Case)
The more I listened to this album, the more it grew on me. I don't really like the first track very much, but everything after that is lovely, lovely, lovely.
Favorite Track: "Hold On, Hold On"
Pitchfork Says: 7.7

#6: Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not (Arctic Monkeys)
Highly hyped. Worth the hype.
Favorite Track: "Still Take You Home"
Pitchfork Says: 7.4

#7: Show Your Bones (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
There are several songs on Show Your Bones that are nearly perfect, but things weaken a bit towards the end. Still, I highly recommend it.
Favorite Track: "Gold Lion "
Pitchfork Says: 7.4

#8: With Love and Squalor (We Are Scientists)
There are moments when this album is incredible and moments when it tries a bit too hard (I'm talking to you track #1), but it's a pretty great album nonetheless.
Favorite Track: "Inaction"
Pitchfork Says: 6.7

P.S. Voxtrot's "Mothers, Sisters, Daughters and Wives" EP is truly excellent, but five songs an album does not make, so I decided I couldn't, in good conscience, include it on the list. Release a full album already so I can expedite you to #1. Sheesh.

P.P.S I do believe this blog comes with a comment button, so feel free to agree, criticize, tell me what I missed, rejoice in my perfect awesomeness, etc.

Thursday, April 27, 2006
please humor me while i attempt to shake my funk
Gah! There seems to be no end to things that irritate me today. I won't delve into my work frustrations but they were abundant, and then I come home to discover that, once again, I have lost my driver's license. Ever since I've started going to the gym regularly this has been an issue, but I'm pretty sure that it's gone for good this time, most likely having slipped behind my counter in my kitchen, rendering it forever unreachable. Honestly, the worst part is that I really, really liked my driver's license photo, something virtually unheard of and quite unlikely to ever be repeated. I guess I could find humor in the fact my next step was to search Google for what might happen to me should I get pulled over tomorrow and forced to admit that I'm driving without a license, but I couldn't find an answer to that question which only exacerbated my intense state of irritation. (Does anyone know the answer to that question, by the way? Please, please, please don't tell me that they'll arrest me. I'm far too cute for jail.)


One bright spot of my day? A student gave a pretty funny speech about, of all things, utopian religions. It made me laugh then and so I'll try to repeat the especially funny bits so I can laugh once more. After all, I might find myself in jail tomorrow. Again, I'm paraphrasing, but I'll try to be as accurate as my memory will allow.

On Mormons:
It was a distinctly American religion, which it pretty awesome when you think about it. We actually have our own religion. Ours. No one else's. And that means that you too can think up your own crazy ideas and get people to believe them and follow you. Golden tablets in a hill? Come on! I could do better than that! So who knows? You might be the next Joseph Smith, 30 wives and all. But you'd probably get killed like he was for being a nutcase, so you might want to think twice after all.

On Shakers:
They were a very bitter group of people, and think about it, if you couldn't ever have sex you'd probably be pretty cranky too. That's why they built such awesome furniture because, well, what else would you do? They just hammered and hammered and hammered. Had to relieve their frustrations! They were non-violent too, so they couldn't even beat their wives. (I think I snorted a bit due to laughing so hard when he said that last bit about beating their wives. It is bad that I found a reference to spousal abuse so funny?)

Wish me luck tomorrow. Although blogging from jail might be entertaining for you, it's a prospect I'd like to avoid.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
guess mom wasn't partaking of too much communion wine after all
Some of you may remember that back in January my mom thought she had spotted a cougar while driving in suburban Detroit and the laughs that her bigfoot/yeti/lockness monster elicited. Well, apparently the joke in on us, the non believers. Believe it or not, her mythical cougar sighting has been substantiated by the Detroit News. A cougar has, indeed, been sighted in Wayne County and traps have, indeed, been set.

Sorry mom - looks like your powers of perception should have been trusted after all. In the future, I'll look twice if you should tell me that you've spotted the face of the Virgin Mary in a tree or the Pope in a pancake.

public service announcement. re: the streets.
emusic's free daily download comes from the new The Streets album. Check it.

Monday, April 24, 2006
wake up.
This morning:

4:45 am- Alarm goes off alarmingly early. Hit snooze.

4:54 am - Alarm sounds again. Journey's "Wheel in the Sky" plays and I smile a bit, then snooze some more.

5:03 am - Yet again, alarm sounds. Song unknown. Vague realization hits that people are waiting for me. My sister is in the car outside waiting for me to open the store and I still have a lot of baking to do.

5:04 am - Decide that, although it's rude, my sister can wait another 9 minutes and I can hit snooze once more.

5:12 am - Alarm sounds. Rush plays "Subdivisions." Heart jumps in my throat and I sit, alerted. I'm late for my sister and the store and the baking.

5:13 am - Wake up enough to realize that:
a) I'm not late for anything,
b) I don't own a bakery, thus I have no pressing baking needs,
c) I don't have a sister, and
d) 4:45 am is way too early for any human being to have to wake up. Ever.

Sunday, April 23, 2006
good bye spring break. thanks for all the candy.

Saturday, April 22, 2006
NBA and NHL playoffs… I’ll see y’all in a few months, I’m not leaving my couch
Why do you keep relying on others to link to Bill Simmons? Y’all need to just bookmark Page 2 so Steve and Paul don’t have to keep directing you there. But since you haven’t bookmarked it yet, here’s his newest column. He sets the NBA playoffs to Pearl Jam lyrics.

I love Mason. This clip just gets me jazzed. And for those that don’t get to see the local broadcasts of Pistons games, this is how every game gets started. When the Pistons won the championship two years ago the team gave Mason a championship ring, just like the players got. Ten bucks says that he gets his second ring this year. Dude even got interviewed on NPR, here it is.

Here's Bud Light's Real Men of Genius salute to the Detroit Pistons Fans.

"Hello. My name is The Captain and I am twice the man you wish you were."

Every year the Red Wings launch a new slogan for the playoffs and have included such marketing gems as “Raise Your Hands,” “Let ‘Em See Red,” “Red Storm Rising,” and “Turn on the Red Light.” The slogan this year is:

Add the word “On” and add Eliza Dushku next to the octopus… then you’d have something.

I now return this blog to its rightful owner.

Friday, April 21, 2006
reunited and it feels so good

Beyond all else, Chloe was beside herself with happiness to be reunited with her favorite mud hole after spending six interminable days in a prison sandwiched between two half-crazed boxers and one love-struck spumone.

I'm not sure where she gets her love of all things filthy from but I, for one, blame her father. Biting strangers who try and enter the house she gets from me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
back from our nyc adventures

Nathan and I are back from our trip to NYC and we have the pictures to prove it. I'm feeling pretty tired, but I'm sure I can squeeze out both a proper post and a nap before The Amazing Race. I know you're all hungry for it, so here's some highlights from our trip:

Nathan and I decided to preface our trip by joining the paperchasers at The Lager House to see Voxtrot, my current musical obsession. I was in heaven, danced my booty off, probably made a bit of an ass out of myself by giving Ramesh a giant hug after the show and stayed up waaaaaaaay too late for our 4am wake up call. So late, in fact, that Nathan and I didn't wake up at all until the doorbell rang at 5am when our ride arrived to pick us up. Thank goodness we weren't driving ourselves to the airport - we would have never made it on time.

Miraculously, we made our flight and arrived in NYC - pajama clad and a bit tired - but ready to rock (if rock means nap in the hotel lobby for three hours while we wait for our room to be ready). It was clear that we were far too early for our hotel room, so we boarded a train to Brooklyn to see Matt's new apartment and the damage we were in for when we've have to help him move in the next day. While there, I encountered three of my favorite things:

My favorite building:
my favorite pedestrian crossing light:

and my favorite billboard:

The apocalypse is at hand! (You ain't just whistlin' Dixie!)

The next day we were properly rested and clean enough to go see Sweeney Todd. We had front-row tickets for the show, which - despite getting spat on a lot by the actors - was awesome. The actors could see us, and I often found myself getting the stare down while they sang about revenge killings and making pies out of people. Creeeepy! The show was awesome - easily making the list of my top 5 favorite productions ever. The staging was minimalist with the actors doing double duty as the orchestra, and the lack of a over-the-top set somehow made the whole thing all that more disturbing. Dad even got to be a part of the production - thanks to his bald head he was singled out and practically serenaded when Tobias sang "Pirelli's Miracle Elixer." It was hilariously awesome! We rounded out the day by eating some awesome barbeque at Spanky's and buying a lot of unnecessaries around Times Square.

We spent the next day moving Matt from his old apartment to his new apartment. Highlights include me and mom taking a terrifying ride in the back of a U-Haul, buying two cartloads of stuff at Target, me getting abandoned with two cartload of stuff at Target so everyone else could go buy a television, spending 30 minutes with a very nice homeless man until I got picked up from Target, dad nearly knocking himself out on the U-Haul door, and this spectacular view of the city from the roof of Matt's new place:

After that adventure I was too tuckered out to do anything else but sleep, however Nathan and Matt somehow mustered up the energy to suffer through and went bar hopping without me. From the sounds of it, things were crazed - Matt taught a prostitute how to dance (she only knew how to lead so he taught her to follow) and a Liverpool boxer taught Matt how to spar - but I was too much of a pansy to go out so you'll have to rely on you imagination since I have no pictures.

Nathan and I spent the next day wandering Manhattan. We got lunch in Little Italy, went shopping in Soho and got invited to a kinda creepy underground lair full of illegal handbags in Chinatown. We then headed back to the hotel to clean up for our jaunt back to Times Square to see Spamalot. Oh, the laughs we had. (Don't ask mom about it though; she fell asleep several times, which speaks more of the two glasses of wine she had before the play than to the play's merits.) We ended the evening, and essentially our trip, with a ridiculously large meal at Carmine's.

So that's our trip in a nutshell. We had a great time and my post was ridiculously long. I'd wrap things up with a quippier conclusion, but I've got Amazing Race to watch and no more Lenten fasting nonsense to interfere with my television viewing habits.


Thursday, April 13, 2006
it's a new dawn, it's a new day, and i'm feeling good
Finally, the tyranny of work is over (or, at least postponed for 10 days) and Spring Break has begun! Left work early, jumped in my car, put the i-pod on "shuffle" and the first song to play completely encapsulated my mood. It was Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" and I - sang - so - loud.

Heading to New York on Saturday; planning to tear it up!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
who said grading 57 research papers couldn't be fun?
Well, maybe "fun" is stretching it a bit, but it did have its moments, especially when they tried to impress me with "big words." Here are some of my favorite vocabulary mishaps, and, of course, I tease because I love. Enjoy.

"The beliefs of the Shakers were bizarre by conditional standards because they called for total non-procrastination, or celibacy."
Obviously, procreation was the word he was searching for, but I kind of liked non-procrastination, which I'd have to assume must be the opposite of procrastination. So I guess that means that the Shakers weren't putting off their celibacy until later???

"American was sweltering with national pride after the War of 1812."
Absolutely sweltering with pride, folks. 1812 must have been a scorcher of a year.

"This new way of determining one's destitute seemed more appealing and caused many Colonists to rethink Predestination."
I, myself, have been trying to determine my own destitute, but I certainly can't blame God. I blame tax payers.

"Immense slave labor forces toiled for long periods of time to produce a large amount of cash crops, however the tyranny of the slaves remained unbroken."
Damn those tyrannical slaves.

"After WWI ended, the American economy was booming; few citizens were unemployed and, overall, everything was writhing."
Writhing with greatness, I say!

Monday, April 10, 2006
i love the sopranos
I know that it's so after the fact, but I wanted to take a moment to say how much I loved last night's episode of The Sopranos. Testosterone is certainly nothing new for this show, but I really liked the direction they took last night by exploring how difficult it must be for men, especially these men, to maintain an aura of masculinity. First, making Vito Spatafore gay was a stroke of genius (apparently, it was partly Joe Gannascoli's idea as a way to "break out of the pack"), but I just hope it doesn't mean that suicide will be his fate, especially when I was just starting to care about him. That's probably where they're going though, don't you think? At least he has his fancy new Celebrity Fit Club bod, which should open up all sorts of doors for him after his inevitable Sopranos death.

And I must admit, I got a bit choked up when John Sacrimoni was handcuffed in front of the entire wedding party. Do I feel bad that he's in jail? No. But who wants to see the father of the bride whisked away in handcuffs at the end of the wedding? And really? People are going to throw stones because he showed one moment of weakness at his daughter's wedding?

And then there's Tony. His alpha male status has been an issue ever since episode one when he has his first panic attack and started seeing Melfi, but the final scene - smiling a bloody vomit smile after beating up the buffest guy in the room just to remind everyone that he's still the silverback gorilla of the pack - was, for lack of a better word, intense.

Besides being this single most entertaining hour of my week, this episode made me happy to be a woman. Act feminine - it's expected, act masculine - it's accepted. Honestly, I don't think I'd trade genders for anything - especially if it meant being a chauvinistic, homophobic wise-guy from New Jersey.

already monday and so far...
Number of Research Papers Graded: 57

Number of Arguments with the Student Teacher over Her Final Evaluation: 2 and counting (turns out getting someone to do your job for you ain't all it's cracked up to be)

Number of Times I've Stormed out of my Classroom in a Huff: 1 (because I'm a professional, damn it)

Number of Days Left Until Spring Break: 3

Jean-Paul Sartre said that hell is other people. I'm not sure about that, but purgatory is certainly the week before Spring Break. I'm sure all of this will melt away when I'm in New York on Saturday visiting my brother, shopping at H&M and in a theater watching Spamalot, but right now, Friday sure feels far away.

Friday, April 07, 2006
concerning jon bon jovi, wanted dead or alive for a spree of face rocking
Boy, this is funny, in part because I spent most of my twelve-year-old life singing Slippery When Wet with my eyes closed into a curling iron. How much do I love McSweeney's? Ever so much.

And if you should come in contact with Bon Jovi, do not look into his face. He will only rock it.

stream of consciousness-style post for a rainy friday
  • Discovered an interesting voice mail message on my cell phone today. Something to the effect of "I am bummed out to hear that you think I threw the floor hockey game. I assure you that I take my job as a junior league hockey coach seriously, and I would never favor one team over another, despite the fact that my son plays on the league. I'm pretty sure that this is really just the kids talking, but please let me know if it's the parents too." Of course it was a wrong number and I have no idea what he's talking about, but I'm pretty sure that this guy's guilty nonetheless.
  • Drove home today behind a conversion van touting a bumper sticker reading "You are proof that cowboys humped buffalo." Hmm.. so what, exactly, is this supposed to mean? That my mom's a buffalo? That I look like a buffalo? That my dad is a cowboy who practices beastiality? I'm pretty sure that none of these things are true, but perhaps I'm overdue for a talk with the folks.
  • Still feeling pretty disappointed that Austin and the gang weren't able to stage a coup during tribal council in last night's episode of Survivor. I love the underdog.
  • Probably shouldn't have told those kids today that they are evil and are going to burn in hell, even if it was meant as a joke.
  • Secretly, I'm pretty flattered that my dog loses all control over her bladder when she sees me.
  • Hell is standing in a very long line at the gym in front of four thirteen-year-olds who feel compelled to scream everything, including a boy who finds it necessary to yell "I'm awesome! I'm awesome! I'm awesome!" over and over while his friend is talking on her cell phone to another thirteen-year-old for all of eternity.
  • Was really nice to have the student teacher gone today so I could reclaim my desk and computer and let my anal-retentive organization compulsions run wild, even if that meant that I had to (gasp!) teach all day.
  • "Ten Gallon Ascots" is a pretty kick-ass song title.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006
first a rant, then a haiku
Pardon the cranky; it's been a bad morning...

This morning began with me opening my back door to let the dog out to the very unpleasant discovery of a light dusting of snow and ice on the porch and it only went downhill from there. Morning news told me that roads were icy, Wayne County decided that salting the roads was an unnecessary burden and there was a jack-knifed semi on 275 (my route to work) creating a parking lot where a freeway used to be, so I picked up the pace to leave early, poured hot coffee on the porch latch because it was iced shut and scurried to my car. As promised, 275 was a disaster, so I jumped on an exit ramp to try and maneuver the back roads for the 20 miles I had left in my commute (damn you urban sprawl). Things weren't very fast, but they were much better than the poor suckers still parked on 275 - that is until I had to drive over a two lane bridge. I know that most people don't tout a minor in Earth Science like I do, but any licensed driver should know that bridges like to ice over so you should stop riding my bloody bumper and slow the @#$ down. But leave it to police presence to only make matters worse; since there was a cop car parked on the side of the bridge everyone decided that 25 miles per hour was too fast so they started slamming on the breaks, creating a domino effect of cars swerving to avoid hitting each other. Thanks to my mad driving skillz I narrowly avoided hitting the person in front of me, but the driver of the mini van behind me proved not to be as talented when she bounced off my bumper. When I risked life and limb to get out of my car and inspect the damage I was lucky to discover that, miraculously, there was no damage to inspect, so I jumped back in my car on wobbly legs to continue my trek in. Looking at the clock, I could see that first hour was due to begin in 10 minutes, so I decided a call to the school secretary was in order since there was no way I'd be there on time. I explained my situation and she seemed to be sympathetic - that is until she told me that I needed to fill out a late arrival form so they could dock my pay for the 15 minutes of contractual work time I would miss. Stupid, stupid union job. I know, I know - I should just be happy to be alive and unharmed and all that crap.

And now the haiku:

April snow mocks me
bitter winds, frost on tulips,
a punch to the soul

Sunday, April 02, 2006
because a) god forbid i pass up a meme and b) i have 60 research papers staring me in the face that i don't want to grade
From Steve (aka Sawyer, aka Captain Sarcasto, aka born again Christian):

1. What I was doing 10 years ago: agonizing over which college to go to because I was under the impression that it mattered waaaay more than it actually does.

2. ...5 years ago: wrapping up my student teaching under the supervision of the "dragon lady."

3. ...1 year ago: painting and repainting every room in my freakin' house.

4. 5 snacks I enjoy: salt and vinegar potato chips, olives, chocolate peanut butter chex mix, chocolate peanut butter haagen-dazs, cheese nips

5. 5 songs I know by heart but wish I didn't: Really, only five? I'm like a human jukebox; I have whole albums I'd like to forget, but here goes...

"Love in an Elevator" - Aerosmith, "Everything I do (I do it for You) - Brian Adams, "Cherry Pie" - Warrant, "Electric Youth" - Debbie Gibson, Jesus Christ Superstar - the entire f-ing rock opera - beginning to end

6. 5 things I would do with a lot of money: send mom to Rome, buy dad his cabin in the woods and a shot gun to watch over it, buy Matt his own illustration firm, quit my job and travel everywhere, buy Detroit some competent leadership

7. 5 things I would never wear: holiday sweaters, mock turtlenecks, "teacher" pins, leg warmers, a thong bikini

8. 5 things I should have never worn: skorts, shoulder pads, jelly shoes, bike shorts, really big glasses

9. 5 things I enjoy doing: reading, traveling, watching television (when it's not Lent, of course), fixing up my house, making up stories in my mind of people at staff meetings, in AP step classes, shopping at the mall, etc

10. 5 bad habits: gossiping, obsessing over trivialities, lazy spelling, buying unnecessary shoes/handbags, swearing. a lot.


Saturday, April 01, 2006
e is for evil
Today is April Fools Day, and if I were really, really evil (I'm talking Rosemary's Baby meets The Bad Seed meets Basket Case evil) these are the pranks I'd play on you:

Mom: I'd call you up and tell you that all of your favorite cancelled television shows will be coming back. Not only will HBO be bringing back Carnivale, Fox will be bringing back Arrested Development and NBC will even be bringing back Third Rock from the Sun. Heck, I might even add that they're thinking of bringing Alf back while I'm at it.

Nathan: I'd have Chloe bury everything you love in the backyard. That's right, both television remote controls, your microwave burritos, all your Mountain Dew, your Uncle John's Bathroom Readers - they're all going in randomly placed holes out back. Have fun.

Matt: I'd have the aunts call you up to tell you that they've decided on a lark to take a last minute trip to New York and they want to stay with you. In fact, they're in Brooklyn right now and will be at your place in 10.

Chloe: I'd take all of your toys and put them on ledges and shelves where they are in plain view, but just out of reach. Then I'd hide all the pillows to make my house a "no humping zone."

Paul: I'd grab a sheet, cut holes for eyes and drive down to BG to haunt the hell out of you.

But I won't do any of these things because I'm not evil....or am I?? (insert evil cackle)