Sunday, December 30, 2007
aww shucks. f@!k devastating fantasy football playoff losses. let's dance!

Friday, December 28, 2007
my 20 favorite albums of 2007: #5-1
I realized this morning that I never did get around to finishing this, and since I'm sure the suspense is positively killing you - cold sweats, uncontrollable twitchiness and the like - I suppose I'll have to do something about that. So, let's...

#5: Beirut, The Flying Club Cup
What can I say? I'm a lady who occasionally craves a little trumpet and ukulele in her music. I suppose Beirut isn't for everyone, but considering the fact that I also like black olives, anchovies, lima beans and prefer my licorice to be black, I suppose he's pretty firmly for me.
Favorites: "The Penalty" and "Guyamas Sonata"

#4: Spoon, "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga"
A nearly perfect indie-rock album that was unfortunately saddled with an absolutely horrible name. At least for me, there aren't any real stand-out "wow" moments on "Ga Ga...", which is what probably keeps me from loving it as hard as some others I know, but I do like it. Quite a bit, actually.
Favorites: "Rhthm and Soul", "Don't You Evah" and "The Underdog"

#3: Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha
I read somewhere that Andrew Bird's songs come from random melodies he creates while whistling as he works on his chicken farm. I love that.
Favorites: "Plasticities", "Armchairs" and "Imitosis"

#2: Radiohead, In Rainbows
Good God I love In Rainbows - a return to form that's equal parts pretty, innovative and rockin'. It's all great, but when "Reckoner" hits the 3:08 mark I melt. Despite (or perhaps because of) all their experimental side-tracks, I still firmly contend that Radiohead is perhaps the best band doing it right now. You can try to challenge me on this point, but - well - you'll lose.
Favorites: "Reckoner", "Jigsaw Falling into Place"

 #1: The National, Boxer
 This one really surprised me because I only half liked their previous  effort, Matt Berninger's baritone voice is the sort that I would usually  find terribly off-putting, and Radiohead was supposed to be my trump  card, but try as I might I just kept coming back to Boxer. It's darkly beautiful and lyrically poetical, which are two things that slay me every time. Love, love, love...
Favorites: The whole thing, really, but "Slow Show" and "Brainy" if I were forced to choose.

Now here, eat your lima beans already because it's high time I go remind myself where the gym is...

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Thursday, December 27, 2007
turns out they don't really make coats for babies that barely weigh four pounds...

Still, she's adorable in it, and even more adorable pictures can be found here.

hope in her snazzy christmas gear!

Hope and Aunt Maggie
Originally uploaded by mrs. white

Sunday, December 23, 2007
happy holidays
Since I'm planning to pack the next handful of days to bursting with food and family, I'll be taking a wee break from here. I expect to be back sometime 'round Thursday (or shortly thereafter), but if I don't see you between now and then, have a wonderful holiday, safe travels, and much love.

Saturday, December 22, 2007
not martha
So, how did last night's cookie baking extravaganza go, Mrs. White?

So very glad you asked, and here, please take these highlights:

8:00 - Couldn't find the electric mixer.  Attempted to recreate the effects of an electric mixer by swirling an egg beater between both hands.  Failed.

8:15 - Found the mixer!  However, and despite what the recipe called for, I never was able to achieve a consistency anywhere even close to "fluffy".  Settled for "gooey".

8:30 - Realized that, despite having to zest two limes, I didn't have a proper zester.  Improvised with a potato peeler.

9:00 - Still improvising.  Hands are hurty. Will is waning.

9:05 - Decided potato peeler zesting is just not meant to be.  Switched to peeling off large pieces of lime skin and then cutting them up into tiny bits with a pair of scissors.  (Instead of a knife, for some reason.)

9:15 - Realized I didn't have parchment paper to roll the dough in.  Settled for wax paper.  Rolled dough into a log, placed in the fridge, prayed.

9:20 - Realized I now had to zest two lemons.  Nearly cried.  Poured myself a giant glass of wine instead.

9:30 - Spirits lifted and will restored, I proceeded to potato peel the hell out of those lemons.  Suckers never stood a chance!

9:35 - Got lemon juice in my eye.  Potato peeled my thumb. Drank a second glass of wine. 
9:45 -  Took cooled dough out of the refrigerator and attempted to cut it into cookies.  Discovered it was nowhere near the proper consistency to cut, and had an unfortunate habit of stubbornly sticking to the wax paper. Decided not to care and cut it up anyway. 

9:50 - Realized the pieces of lime "zest" are rather large.  Wondered how that might taste. Thought it might be best to give it a try before cooking.

9:51 - Grimaced.  Picked out as much of the lime "zest" as I could with the tip of a knife.  Drank more wine.

10:30 - Cookies are finally ready for the oven.  Put them on a disposable cookie tray and in they go! 

10:31 - Mom gives them a check and discovered I had left the plastic on the disposable cookie tray...and out they go!!!

10:40  - Realized I had completely neglected to pay attention to when I put the cookies in the oven.  Panicked.  Took them out.  Poked them with my finger.  Discovered they're not burnt, but are quite hard.  Decided they're done.

10:41 - Mom turns to me and says, "You know what?  Let's make some rum balls.  They need neither perfect measuring nor baking, so I think they'll be your cookie!"

10:45- Was properly supervised as I "helped" make rum balls (rather, I measured nothing, chopped nothing, but was allowed to roll my mom's batter into ball form).

11:00 - Realized I forgot to put an essential ingredient in the second batch of cookies I was making.  Ate another rum ball.  Decided it best not to care.  

11:15 - Took the second batch of cookies out of the oven.  Realized I hadn't spaced them out enough so they've merged into one, giant monster cookie.  Cut them out, peeled them off the tray, and decided to market them as my "super special totally on purpose square cookies."

11:30 -Looked over the mess I'd created and took the time to properly reflect. I am a woman who is a lot of things, however a Martha Stewart sort will never be one of them.  Ate another rum ball, and decided that's perfectly fine with me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007
what i love most about the holidays
I was all set to write about this co-worker of mine who, while normally a bit difficult, has truly been outdoing herself recently, leading me to spend an above average amount of time daydreaming of my nefarious  revenge (sample plots include: turning everything in her classroom upside down, hiding the soap in the bathroom so she can't obsessive-compulsively wash her hands for exactly thirty seconds before and after eating and using the toilet, and convincing all her students that they should collectively be five minutes tardy to her class every day until the end of the semester).  

But then I chucked it.  After all, it's Christmas.

And in the spirit of both that and the fact that I only have one more "get up" until after the New Year, here are the things I love most about the Holidays:

1.  The Christmas Movies I Know by Heart

2.  Sitting in a Dark, Christmas Tree-Lit Room
In a fit of bah humbug I very nearly didn't put my sad little tree up this year, but I'm happy that I did.  It might not be much, but it's pretty and it's mine.

3. A White Christmas
They're rare, but it looks like we'll probably have one this year!  (And I'll do my best to turn a blind eye to the giant blanket of black dirt covering most of the street-side snow drifts.)

4. Spending Too Much Money on the People I Love
Obviously a visit is the best gift, but it's still nice to be forced to think about what I could buy the people I love - people who I would gladly endure a annoyingly interminable string of dark, loud and cologne-soaked Hollister, Ruehl No 925, Abercrombie and Fitch and Victoria's Secret Pink stores for any day.

5.  Christmas Cookies
Although baking them isn't a yearly tradition for me, eating them most certainly is.  However, I'm thinking about skipping the yearly after-work trip to the bar this year in favor of making some cookies with my mom.  Simple sugar cookies are a given, but I'm also toying with trying out some new ones like these orange drop cookies, Shazam's lemon pixies and Martha's lime meltaways. (What can I say? I'm a gal who'd take fruity over chocolaty any day.)

6.  Coming up with Weak Justifications for Skipping the Gym Until After the New Year
Because I have a headache!  Because I banged my knee!  Because it's so windy outside! Because I really quite prefer it when my pants fit tight!

7.  Getting Random Surprises in both my Work and Home Mailboxes
The bills and junk mail have been pleasantly supplemented by an avalanche of Christmas cards and random sweet things, and that's perfectly awesome.

8.  And Finally, Friends and Family
It's all great, but I'm most looking forward to planes arriving from NYC, wassail-infused conversations that turn into make-shift instrument jam sessions, and newborn nieces.

And with all this, who really needs nefarious revenge schemes after all? Certainly not me, anyway! 


Wednesday, December 19, 2007
and in other news - i'm an auntie!
Just wanted to take a minute's pause from all my myriad whatnot to introduce my teeny-tiny little niece, Hope Victoria, who was born on Monday, December 17th.  Thanks to work and weather we haven't been able to meet her in person yet, but it will be the best Christmas present when we do because I sure can't wait to begin my tenure as "cool Aunt Maggie"!  And seriously, even when exhausted and only minutes old, isn't she just the cutest lil' thing?!:

my 20 favorite albums of 2007: #10-6

(And for those of you who think I'm speaking a different language when I write these music posts, I know you just ignore them and that's okay.  I'm almost done, I swear!)

Icky Thump took me a bit longer to "get" compared to all of White's previous efforts, but got there I did. Sure, Jack White can be pedantic and his choice in hairstyles is certainly suspect, but with this he can also prove himself to be completely versatile and eclectic. Icky Thump successfully bounces around between sweet and pretty, to slightly country, to an Irish sort of folk, to straight-up bluesy, and to downright weird, and I happen to be a lady who digs a man with range.
Favorite: "Effect and Cause"

Each time I set out to rank this one, I found myself having to put it higher and higher than I originally planned to. This album is seamlessly and impressively well-layered, and its perceived lo-fi simplicity really masks an impressive complexity. Also, it rocks. Even the cover art is awesome!
Favorites: "Weird", "The Pelican"

Admittedly, I had never heard of Okkervil River before The Stage Names, and if their previous efforts are anything like it then I've most certainly been missing out. There's a reason this is one of the best reviewed albums of the year.

#7: The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
No, it's not in my top five; no, I haven't drunk that kool-aid. But, it's good. I adore exactly half of the songs on Neon Bible (and the rest I like well enough too).

By now you probably already know of my love of and former involvement with musical theater and my deep appreciation for both harmonies and lyricism, but did I ever tell you about my very brief but glorious stint as a pseudo-raver kid? Well, if I had then you'd better understand my unashamed, unabashed, unwavering love for Of Montreal.
Favorites: "A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger", "Gronlandic Edit"

Finally, I'll leave you with a video of myself as I dance to Of Montreal's "A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger". My, but don't I look lovely?!?

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007
jesus: not much of a hunter, not much of a candidate
Don't be fooled; a vote for Jesus is a vote for increased violent crime in the Kingdom of Heaven!

Via Andrew Sullivan, and oh dear but it made me giggle..

Monday, December 17, 2007
a few things learned/affirmed after today's four hour-long kamikazee christmas shopping spree:
1. Although Hollister puts forth an excellent effort, Abercrombie and Fitch wins the prize for "most annoying store in the mall" for managing to smell exactly like a cologne-soaked Frat boy but being three times as loud.

2. The above statement means I'm getting old.

3. No one, but no one buys actual CDs anymore. Walked into FYE to buy that Dylan tribute album for a certain someone and it was me, a gaggle of giggling twelve-year-old girls, some crickets and a few stray tumbling tumbleweeds. So lonely!

4. Speaking of those giggling twelve-year-olds, as it turns out I have infinite patience for kids in a classroom, however absolutely none when they come in groups of three or more, are queued up in front of me and/or milling around in the middle of my desired path. (Flames...on the side of my face...heaving breaths....)

5. In regards to #4, please again see #2.

6. No matter how resolute I am about going out and only buying for other people, I am incapable of walking past a Lush store or a Moonstruck Cafe without entering and buying something for myself. It's a character flaw, I know, but one that leaves me with soft skin and champagne truffles so I'm not going to work too hard at fixing it, you know?

7. Speaking of Moonstruck, my goodness but these are almost too cute to eat. (Almost.)

8. After watching it happen three times at three different stores and to three different people it seems that the natural reaction to hearing that your credit card has been declined is as follows: First Stage - denial, Second Stage - mock confusion, Third Stage - demanding the cashier give it a second go, and Final Stage - spinning the epically long tale of one's entire financial life story. (Crying appears to be optional.)

9. No matter how far away I am from the school where I teach, I can invariably count on two things: 1) I will run into at least one current/former student, and 2) it will be when I'm shopping for underwear.

10. This is more than a little bah humbug, I know, but I really sort of despise Christmas music, and this is felt most acutely when I'm trolling for a parking space.
11.  I am positively brilliant at spending money.

12. Unfortunately, I am positively crap at earning it.

the #2 reason why i love my job...

Snow Day! Snow Day! Woohoo!!!  Snow Day!

Cue Shaun of the Dead, pass the blanket, and someone make me some hot cocoa because I don't plan to leave my sofa any time soon. (And I might not bathe today, either.)

Friday, December 14, 2007
in the parlance of my 9th graders:
Remember that thing that I wrote on that one day about the bad thing I did that one time and then there was that lady and then those other people and then I had that one...(what's the word?)...problem???

Well, it's up over here if you'd like check it out again.

But, of course, you certainly don't have to. After all, it's your life, babydoll!

Thursday, December 13, 2007
the good news is...
...the Christmas tree's up!

The bad news is we may not have many more winters left.

(Mental note: best move "give skiing a second shot" up on the list of "Things to do before turning Forty".)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
books: the brief wondrous life of oscar wao
To piggyback on yesterday's (sort of) post, a book that is certain to make the list of my favorite literary releases of 2007 is Junot Díaz’s debut novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Narrated by an old college roommate named Junior, "Oscar Wao" is, among other things, the story of Oscar LaInca - an overweight, sci-fi reading, Dungeons and Dragons playing, "ghetto nerd," whose nickname is Spanglish for Oscar Wilde (meant as an insult, alluding to both Wilde's girth and sexuality). Although Dominican, Oscar completely defies the machismo stereotype, and given that he lives in the more-than-a-little-rough Paterson, NJ, Oscar spends most of his time in his bedroom where he can safely escape behind his Akira posters, Tolkien and role-playing games when he isn't in the midst of an obsessive and wholly one-sided love affair with some disinterested female.

As can be easily inferred from the title, Oscar's life is brief; yet, Junior must span two countries and three generations in order to tell the story of it. He begins by explaining that the LaInca family is said to have suffered from a powerful fuku (curse) earned when Oscar's grandfather angered Trujillo. Anticipating that most readers may have "missed your mandatory two seconds of Dominican history," Junior explains:
Trujillo, one of the twentieth century's most infamous dictators, ruled the Dominican Republic between 1930 and 1961 with an implacable ruthless brutality. A portly, sadistic, pig-eyed mulato who bleached his skin, wore platform shoes, and had a fondness for Napoleon-ear haberdashery, Trujillo (known as El Jefe, the Failed Cattle Thief, and Fuckface) came to control nearly every aspect of the DR's political, cultural, social, and economic life through a potent (and familiar) mixture of violence, intimidation, massacre, rape, co-optation, and terror...He was our Sauron, our Arawn, our Darkseid, our One and Future Dictator, a personaje so outlandish, so perverse, so dreadful that not even a sci-fi writer could have made his ass up.
The story of the Trujillo-era Dominican Republic becomes the backdrop for Díaz’s tale, which is equal parts coming-of-age novel, historical fiction, and epic family saga that seamlessly weaves hip-hop, feminism, mythology, science fiction and magical realism throughout.

And if I haven't made it clear enough by my rambling and overly long overview, I loved it. Admittedly, it took a little while for me to fully get into it, but was hooked come fifty pages in. I felt two sorts of sadness at the novel's conclusion: one for the sweet, brave, pathetic Oscar, and the other because I simply didn't want it to be over.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, etcetera, whatever, amen.
I'm effectively taking the day off from blogging and forcing myself to write some other things that I quite simply haven't had time to tackle yet.  So, since I'm not posting anything of note over here, I thought I'd point you in the direction of John William's blog, A Special Way of Being Afraid, where he has begun posting his guest-written series of year-end favorite things. My installment was posted today, and it's on Matt Haig's The Dead Fathers Club.  

I'm sure no one saw that one coming (she said wearing a wry grin).

Monday, December 10, 2007
my 20 favorite albums of 2007: #15-11
(#20-16 is this way, in case you missed it and care about such things...)
In retrospect, I probably should have ranked this album lower since, overall, it's really just okay at best; however, moody synth-pop is to me what a shiny piece of aluminum foil is to a raccoon.  Terrifically distracting.
Love: "Hold on to This Coat", "Silja Line"

Call me crazy, but I like "We Were Dead..." better than "Good News for People Who Hate Bad News".  Or, at least I like it more consistently.  And by the way, does anyone know what Isaac Brock is so dang angry about?  Just curious...
Love: "People as Places as People", "Fly Trapped in a Jar"

I admit that after Everything All the Time, Cease to Begin sometimes feels like taking a step backwards rather than foreword, however it's still a really good album.  "Cigarettes, Wedding Bands" alone is worth the price of admission.  (And on a side note, after watching several YouTube clips of this band performing live in all their hippie, shaggy-haired glory, I can only assume that Mrs. White at a Band of Horses show would be comparable to Paris Hilton at a MENSA cocktail party.  I'd have me some inebriated fun, however it would quickly become apparent that I really just don't fit in with this crowd.)
Love: "Cigarettes, Wedding Bands", "The General Specific"

No, there's nothing particularly new or inventive here, but there isn't a bad song to be found, either.  Solid. Tight. Catchy. Good.

Although listening to this posthumous album makes me seven sorts of sad, I can't seem to stop, especially recently since the weather's turned.  Not that I could forget, but damn was he amazing.  Miss, miss, miss.
Love: "Big Decision", "Georgia, Georgia"

And since for obvious reasons I can't link to performances of any material from New Moon, here instead is my fourth favorite from Smith's repertoire: a live performance of "Angeles" in which he almost seems happy. Or, at least a close approximation of happy...

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Sunday, December 09, 2007
there are worse things than being wrong,
and being an unflinching jackanape makes the short list.

I know it was Albert Einstein who said "Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth," but was is Stalin, Hitler or Pinochet who said, "Oh, just shut up and obey already"?

You know me, always confusing my dictators...

(Unbelievable in that it's real letter via CollegeHumor)

Friday, December 07, 2007
the series formerly known as "saturday song"
I'm not sure whether or not this series has any real future past November, however I know I have at least one more of these in me and since the in-laws will be here in just a few hours it's coming today rather than tomorrow. Trust me; it's better this way.

Growing up I wouldn't call us poor exactly, but there were times when even "middle class" was a stretch. Our most threadbare moments came when I was too young to fully realize them. Dad's job was in a viciously cyclical laid-off/hired back on phase, and mom - who would have loved nothing more than to stay home with her two little ones - had no other option than to go back to full-time employment at the bank.

It wasn't until much later in life that the details of this time were fully explained to me, when I learned that a much-needed new winter coat came from Grandma Margaret and that Uncle Jim and Aunt Rosemary (themselves not exactly wealthy) often helped provide toys and clothes during the times when money was especially tight. Or, that during a particularly long jobless spell, my dad had to swallow his pride by taking a late-night shift bagging groceries in my uncle's store. And I certainly didn't know that grocery store was located in a neighborhood so bad that dad took to carrying a handgun to work in order to safely manage brazen shoplifters, loitering gang bangers, and the short yet scary walk to and from him car.

Understandably so, Bruce Springsteen got some pretty heavy rotation during this period.

And although unaware of these details at the time and despite a generally happy childhood, I did have a vague sense that things weren't always the way mom and dad wished they could be. Even still - and whether due to love, luck, displays of false bravado, listening to The Boss singing about believing in "The Promised Land", or some combination of all of the above - I remember having the utmost confidence that things would eventually work themselves out.

And you know what? They did.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007
i don't *just* love you...

I found this message stapled to my bulletin board at the end of 5th hour today. For those of you who don't read quasi-graffiti script it reads "I Freaking Love You." Not sure exactly who or what it's directed towards, but I do have an idea who left it. And you know what? I freaking love him too.

(But in an entirely appropriate way, of course. Any perviness gleamed from the above statement is wholly your pessimistic invention, buster...)


Wednesday, December 05, 2007
a few things i will never understand:
  • I know it seems like I've complained about this ad nauseum and perhaps I should just get over it already, but I'll just never understand people who wear street clothes to the gym.  Of course the elderly get a pass because good on them for their fierce dedication to geriatric physical fitness, but young people?  They should be learned, man.  Yesterday, I spied this guy lifting free weights in construction boots and tight black girl jeans. He looked absolutely ridiculous, and I would have loved to better communicate my distaste with one of my infamous looks; however, judging by his shaved head, confederate flag flying t-shirt and questionable tats I was more than a little suspicious that he may have been a skinhead, and this is one little lady who occasionally knows when to leave well enough alone.
  • Does anyone know why so many people appear to like Rachael Ray?  Her face is plastered on 50% of the packages in my grocery store and she makes no fewer than seven commercial appearances on my television each and every night (a truly impressive amount when you 1) have a DVR, and 2) watch two or fewer hours of television a day) so someone must like her, but Heavens to Betsy I just don't know why.  Her voice is like sandpaper to my ears, absolutely no one should be that perpetually perky, and her use of words like "delish" and "yum-o" make me want to do something truly awful.  Really awful.  I mean kick a kitten awful.
  • Speaking of awful, I feel a bit bad for even bringing this up since he's so beloved and all, but does anyone know what the Sam Hill Andy Rooney is talking about most days? As many of you well know, football has been preempting 60 Minutes which is then followed by The Amazing Race, so most Sundays I find myself watching Rooney's weekly commentary before I can move on to trying to work through my love/hate relationship with Kynt and Vyxsin, and perhaps it's just me but I think Rooney may be getting a bit...senile.  The other day he was talking about how he thought the sport of baseball was silly since it's so much more complicated than cricket, although less complicated than American football, although baseball players get payed less than football players despite their larger IQs. Huh? 
  • And finally, religious fundamentalists of any sort will always be beyond me.  Thank God that British teacher who didn't know better than to allow her students to name their classroom mascot "Muhammed" was allowed to leave the Sudan with both her life and an unflogged behind, however I'm fairly certain this incident isn't exactly creating a flood of Westerners eager to convert to Islam, so  I don't understand the necessity of the American evangelical Christian response:

    But, perhaps it's just me...
    (video via Andrew Sullivan)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007
not sure about great, but most definitely misunderstood
The kids were pretty funny today, so if you don't mind too much I'm going to tell you all about it.

And that was a pretty ridiculous statement when you think about it, seeing as if you DID mind than you'd just click over to some other blog and read that one instead. But, seeing as you're still here I'll take it that you DON'T mind and just commence with it already.

And so if you recall, my sophomores have been learning (sort of) about Transcendentalism, and this week is the presentation of their final assessment: a project wherein they reveal their *deep* understanding of the movement by creating their very own Utopian society complete with systems in place for leadership, economy, industry, and plenty of other etcetera whatever, and all in harmony with Emerson and Thoreau's major tenets. 

Here's the highlights of what I got:

Heavenly Harbor
This society is located in the clouds and populated entirely by people who are troubled in some way and need to get their lives in order.  It was founded by the presenters, whose parents died, leaving them a casino which they then (magically, I guess) threw up into the clouds.  This casino is the basis of their economic system, a system which is also supplemented by the fact that the founders just happened to discover an anecdote to blindness, which they sell for a mint to a top-secret Caribbean island.  In order to reach Heavenly Harbor (since it's in the clouds, after all), one only need look to the heavens and with complete sincerity say "Lakhapish!", and then *poof!* - you're there! (When asked how people literally live in the clouds, students explained "It's like a cross between Hercules and Carebears. Duh.") At the center of Heavenly Harbor is a rehab center full of doctors who are "mad into saving people," and since the economy is based on gambling and all residents are troubled, the doctors expend a majority of their efforts counseling gambling addicts. Recalling that the society is in the clouds, residents can earn wings by doing something extraordinary, however they can also lose those wings by doing something horrible. If you lose your wings, you are doubly punished by being violently hurled back to Earth. 

Treesylvania was founded when Christopher Columbus' rarely discussed 4th ship was blown off course, landing on a tropical island floating somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. (I'll give you a minute to think about that one.  Consult a map if necessary.)  Treesylvanians worship - you guessed it - trees!  Trees are sacred, and are never ever cut down. All inhabitants live in treehouses (where they get the wood for these structures is a mystery), seeing how it's a more environmentally sound practice than building homes on the ground.  (Clearly.) The monetary system is based on currency called "Leafy Magics," which are largely worthless since Leafy Magics are leaves, and so money quite literary grows on trees. In addition to being currency, Leafy Magics are also Treesylvanians' sole source of sustenance, seeing how there's no other way to get food since no one is - under any circumstance - allowed to descend from their tree.  Occasionally, however, someone is able to grab a bird to eat, and these days are celebrated with great jubilation. The leader of Treesylvania is called The Tree, and his/her right-hand man/woman is called the Vice-Tree.  All Treesylvanians are nudists.

and finally, Subwaterca
Subwaterca is located underneath an island floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (not, however, the island of Treesylvania).  Subwaterca, being entirely underwater, is surrounded by a thick plastic bubble.  Inside the bubble is a city very much like that of New York.  Trees (somehow) grow in Subwaterca, providing necessary oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide.  But since the society is located ON THE OCEAN FLOOR, there is a complete lack of sunlight, so these trees have been genetically engineered to live without photosynthesis.  Residents live in apartment buildings that were constructed on the above island and then hurled off of the island where they then sank to the bottom.  A pneumatic tube links Subwaterca to the land above, and if ever a resident were to break the one and only law - don't murder - then he would be expelled from the society by being forced back up the tube to live on the island, toiling for all eternity under the hot sun.  Consequently, the above island teems with a roving band of sunburnt, twitchy-eyed maniacs.  There is no set leader and no currency. Like Treesylvania, all Subwatercans are nudists.

So, as you can see, Henry David Thoreau would be proud.  Coming up next is the unit on Realism, which should prove interesting.


Monday, December 03, 2007
my 20 favorite albums of 2007: #20-16 (and my top disappointments thrown in just to keep things interesting)
My original intent was to write about my favorite ten musical releases of the year, but after sitting down to sort out what those would be and realizing that I had acquired 65 new albums this year (57 which were released in 2007), it became clear that I would have an absolutely impossible time limiting myself to just ten. And so, I whittled things down to 20 of my favorites and broke one monstrously long post up into four much more manageably-sized ones, which I'll be posting over the course of the next four weeks.

These are things you care about, even if you don't realize it yet.

But before all that, here are my two biggest musical disappointments of 2007, and in no particular order:

Interpol, Our Love to Admire
Although not a total lost cause (I rather like "The Heinrich Maneuver" and "All Fired Up"), two good songs an album does not make. It seems that a certain band of moody hipsters have finally gotten too big for their britches, assuming no one would notice if they put out a half-hearted piece of crap. Well, I noticed. Do better.

The New Pornographers, Challengers
I know. I'm surprised too. However, sometimes music is yummy and sometimes it's icky, and Challengers - well - it just tastes icky to me, which is a shame because I really, really like this band. Boo, man. Boo.

But, now let's on to the positive, yes?...

#20: Panda Bear, Person Pitch
To know me is to know that I am not at all afraid of experimental and weird. Person Pitch is what I imagine The Beach Boys would sound like if they dropped some acid and wrote an album for today. And even though I'm not entirely sure what I mean by that, I do know what I mean when I say that Person Pitch is actually quite brilliant. I'd have liked to rank it higher because I'm pretty sure that's what it deserves, however I just didn't listen to it enough for some reason.
What I Like Most: "Take Pills"

#19: !!!, Myth Takes
I'm probably a bit too old to like this band, but whatever. For God's sake, I still get carded for "R" rated movies, so I'm planning to keep denying my age and ride this funky train for as long as humanly possible. (Or, at least until I start to wrinkle.)
Best Moment(So Says I): "All my Heroes are Weirdos"

#18: Voxtrot, Voxtrot
I sure hope Ramesh isn't too mad at me for ranking this band so low, but even I can't excuse the two or three total duds on their debut. Even still, there are songs on here that I unashamedly adore, and so I just couldn't keep it off the list. So sue me.
Songs I'd Recommend: "Kid Gloves" and "Brother in Conflict"

#17: Explosions in the Sky, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
Prior to Explosions in the Sky I would never consider myself a fan of instrumental rock, however they've convinced me. I wrote 75% of this year's blog entries and graded a mountain of papers to this album. Perfectly lovely yet not at all distracting music to write to is what it is.
My Favorite: "Catastrophe and the Cure"

#16: LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
Oh, Sound of Silver. I loved you hard for two solid months and then completely forgot about you. Remember how we logged all hours on the treadmill together? How you kept me company while driving to work during the entire month of September? How I danced to you in my kitchen when I was alone and thought no one was looking? I'm sorry I forgot about you, little buddy. But see - I'm remembering you now! So, all's forgiven, right???
Me Likes: "Sound of Silver" and "Get Innocuous!"

And there's more coming. Just not today.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007
bubble crack
And just why didn't anyone tell me that my most favortitest video game in the whole wide world came in widget form? Hmmm????

(Point your cursor and click on "start", using your arrow keys to play. But be warned - doing so may mean that you're not making it to church, doing your laundry, washing your pet turtle, or tackling whatever other Sunday agenda items you may have had. There's a reason I've dubbed it Bubble "Crack." Nearly failed my 11th grade Trig class while under its iron grip...)