Entries from: June 2009

Best Last Tracks

A great last song ties up an album, bringing climax and closure to an aural experience.  It should leave you satisfied, like after a great roll in the sack, providing a sense of denouement to the listener. Secret tracks don’t count as great last tracks; the requisite preceding 30 seconds of radio silence breaks the continuity of the album (and used to be a bitch to get to if the silence and the song were tracked together).

Too many of my favorite bands end their albums with a track that feels like a poorly attached afterthought.  There’s nothing worse than finishing off a masterpiece of an album with a weak, emotionless throw-away song with no “oomph” to speak of (Tool – I’m looking at you).

To me, a great last song is: 1) iconic (Zeppelin, The Beatles), 2) perfectly exemplary of the methodology and style of the band (DMB, Pink Floyd), or 3) a perfect narrative resolution of the album (R.E.M., Rufus).

Here’s my tentative top 10 (as always, it’s subject to change as my tastes evolve… and as I clean up my iTunes to put all of said album tracks in order… I need Mike to hire me an intern!).

Disagree or have additions?  Tell me in the comments!

Best Last Tracks (in no particular order, as of 2009)

Environmentally-friendly entertainment?

I’m sitting here, watching the Borat movie on USA (don’t judge), and I saw an commercial for the National Geographic Channel‘s new show, “Hooked.”

I haven’t seen an episode yet, but by the commercial, it seems that it’s about fishing (duh).  And not any fishing, but virile man testosterone adventure fishing where they try to find large (and possibly exotic?) fish.

Do they throw them back?  That I don’t know.  But here’s what I think is weird about channels like National Geographic, Discovery and Animal Planet:

They broadcast really environmentally-unfriendly programming.

It’s not that I don’t watch “Deadliest Catch” and weep for crabs (because I also like to eat crabs), but I was really disturbed by the recent episode where we learned that if the boats don’t get to shore in time, the crabs die and are basically useless and dumped.  The futility and wastefulness of that made me uneasy.  I realize that overfishing is environmentally-irresponsible (I’m not saying that the captains on the show engage in this practice, only that, you know, it happens).

It was the logging show (“Ax Men?” I feel like there are two of these shows on different networks update: Ax Men is on the History Channel which is not necessarily pro-enviro, but it’s weird nonetheless) that really got me thinking about this.  I know that logging happens, I use paper, I print things at work… but I feel like it’s weird to have a show on a network that also showcases “green” programming and promotes environmentally-aware miniseries such as “Planet Earth.”

So what do you guys think?  Do you think the programming choices are weird?  Or is it just that these networks cater to all opinions, and chooses not to “force” environmentally-friendly programming on its viewers?  Is it irresponsible to broadcast a show focusing on logging (and getting the most work done to make the most money) without also letting the viewer in to the environmental impacts the practice might have?

Let me know in the comments.

Attention all big city hikers!

I’ve been asked to put a piece together for BACKPACKER magazine about great hikes in city parks.  Ever been in a city for a long weekend or a business trip and wanted to get some hiking in?  Do you live in an urban area with a bangin’ city park?  Can you get lost in a forest as easily as you can get lost on your streets?  Then I want your help!!

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And now there’s this…

Seriously.  We elect these people:

Republican Rep. Bachus Makes List of Socialists in House of Representatives [Huff Po]

And the coward didn’t even have the balls to release the names of these so-called “Socialists” in Congress.

I would think, in these times of international instability and economic unrest that there are more pressing issues at hand.

Creepy right-on.

I met my friend Frankie at Grape Street on one of those nights where one drink turns into leaving at 4 a.m.  I remember exactly what we talked about and it’s something that’s lead me to believe what I do today.  That night, Frankie ranted to me about astrology.

I knew I was a Virgo – even that I was a Virgo on the Leo cusp.  Compatible with Scorpios (mom, my buddy Jaxon) and water signs (John D., my first love), I critically analyze everything and enjoy doing so with people the most.  But, because I’m close to Leo, I’m also kind of gregarious and people like me.  I’m a lovable misanthrope with great hair.

I think this is how it goes, but I could also be very wrong.  I’m sure Frankie will let me know.

When Frank loves something, you know it because he doesn’t shut up about it.  You will eventually give in to at least the consideration of his ideas, mostly because of his impassioned persistence (a wonderful quality, really).  He kind of blew my mind with astrology that night, telling me things about myself that seemed entirely too perceptive for someone meeting me for the first time.  Coupled with the Jack Daniels, it was a great pick-up line, really.  I listened, completely enraptured, to qualities of my personality, the possibilities for change, and how everything really dependent on the alignment of a predictable system.

Needless to say, I’m a student of astrology now.  I believe a good chunk of it – at least that it’s an interesting way to categorize facets of life.  I read up on it and look at my daily horoscope.  Often, I’ll read it at night to see how much the prediction aligned with the truth.

Today, it’s creepy right-on:

Feeling anxious today isn’t necessarily your first choice, and it’s a challenge to calm your nerves when there is so much to do. Even if today is supposed to be a day of rest, you may be under pressure to finish a project that has lingered past its time. The good news is that you know what needs to happen and are willing to work hard until you have completed the job. But be kind to yourself along the way; take a break to revitalize your energy, even if it means that you won’t be done until tomorrow.

That being said, I have two major papers due in 2-3 weeks and I’m freaking out a bit.  Today is the day to buckle down.  Ironically, the alignment of the prediction and the truth also led to the blog post, which leads to anxiety and “pressure to finish a project that has lingered past its time.”

Frank – I blame this procrastination on you.

Tarot.com

Fat City Reprise

Clean.

I forgot about this little story and I wanted to share it.  I was showering after four days of camping, letting the water rinse out three states worth of dirt, and thinking about simultaneous cleansing of the soul, blah blah.  And I had this memory of another time I was cleansed by nature, in an entirely different – and far less private – setting.

It was the summer of 2001, the summer after my freshman year of college.  I was 18, studying Russian in Estonia for a month (weird, I know).  I took a side trip with my teachers, Svetlana and Tatyana (Sveta y Tanya in the familiar, konyechno!), to a monastery, somewhere in the Estonian countryside.  It was Russian Orthodox, literally in the middle of nowhere… I’m sure I still have my journal from that month abroad (it’s probably in the room full of boxes that I’ve still to unpack, 7 months later).

Anyway, it was a hot day.  I wore a long skirt, necessary to maintain propriety in such a holy place, but incidentally also black as to be slimming.  So I looked thin and sweaty the entire time.  My teachers led me through a field to a sacred stream to watch baptisms and cleansings.  Little did I know that “visiting” the stream would lead to my being dunked, buck ass naked in front of three other buck ass naked women, into freezing cold water.

But that’s where I was headed.

We walked into a wooden shed in a group, purposefully waiting until the women in front of us had completely clothed and exited.  Tanya shut the door behind us, leaving me with three quickly disrobing Russian women (the identity of the third escapes me now) and not nearly enough darkness for me to feel comfortable.

“You want me to do what?”
“Get een zee stream.”
“Naked?”
“Da.”

One by one the women took the plunge and one by one I stripped off another layer of clothing, relegating myself to the inevitable.  Soon enough, it was my turn.  I stepped carefully on the wooden slabs leading into the stream, which was moving faster than I expected and felt BALLS OUT COLD (I know, I’m in school for writing, I should think of a more eloquent description, but this so fits).

The women looked at me expectantly.  Now or never.

“Odin, dva, tree!”

I took the plunge.  Fully underwater, hair and all, arms crossed over my chest.

Naked.

Breathing came with some difficulty when I emerged.  Everyone was smiling.  I was smiling.  Refreshed.  Clean.  Naked in a stream in the middle of the Estonian countryside.

We dried off and got dressed, not really talking, but not ignoring each other either.  We sat in a field next to the monastery, warming ourselves in the sun.  Idyllic, yeah, totally.  But honestly, I remember feeling completely at peace in a foreign land, under the spell of a semi-foreign religion, after experiencing a foreign – and temporally unique – event.

Something tactile about tonight’s shower reminded me of that day.  It reminded me of home.

Aural Sex (made possible by Puscifer)

Like I needed another reason to jizz over Maynard James Keenan

Listen to Puscifer’s “The Mission” immediately.  It’s not on iTunes yet, but you can get the MP3 here and also listen to it at puscifer.com (ohhhh… and on MY profile page, stalker).  It features Milla Jovovich on vocals (who I would also gladly have sex with… okay, would PAY to have sex with) and is a superhot grindfest.  I don’t know what it is about most of Maynard’s stuff, but it speaks to me (and my ladyparts), whether it be Tool, A Perfect Circle, or his current project.  For how bizarre and ambient Puscifer’s music can be at times, I found the entire first album very sexual.  Maybe that’s because it was titled “V is for Vagina.”  Maybe.

Anyway, listen to the song, your ear pussies will thank you.

You know… Jerome, Arizona is only 18 hours by car from Boulder… road trip anyone??

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["It's all fire and brimstone, baby / I got my brand new pistol, baby"]

MP3 audio can be found here: The Mission

Ten Inches

On December 23, 2008, I lost 10 inches of myself.

Three years ago, my doctor diagnosed me with HPV.  I felt dirty, ruined.  That was before I learned that the disease affects over 20 million people in the U.S. alone.  In fact, 50% of sexually active people will contract HPV sometime in their life.

My form of HPV doesn’t lead to gential warts (SWEET!).  But, of course, I have the kind that gives you cancer.  The CDC classifies me as one of the 10% of women who “will develop long-lasting HPV infections that put them at risk for cervical cancer.”  That part sucks.

Luckily, my cancer scare was short-lived and treatable.  I had outpatient surgery to remove pre-cancerous cells from my cervix and get checked out about every two months to make sure that my cells aren’t mutating.  I thank my higher power every day that I got through that time relatively unscathed.  But I also pledged to try to make a difference for those who weren’t so lucky.

It seems silly, but I decided that donating my hair to Locks of Love could make a difference.  Over the next three years, I let my curly, thick hair grow down to my breasts.  It became my security blanket and my signature (as well as my scarf when it got cold).  People – sometimes random strangers – made comments about how gorgeous it was.  I felt confident, beautiful, and feminine.

But after three years, it was time (and finally long enough!) to let go.  I remembered my own fears and knew that they were nothing compared to those of a child dealing with a cancer diagnosis.  I decided to do it; the hair had to go.  I didn’t feel a sense of loss, but of freedom.  I felt like the last three years had been removed, like I had a new lease on life.  I also felt like someone else would get to experience freedom and beauty with a wig made from my hair.  There was no tax writeoffs, no public admiration, none of that.  I won’t even know who gets my hair.  I did something for myself and someone else and feel amazing.

If you fall into the qualifications for Locks of Love, I recommend donating.  If not for yourself, then just for helping someone else.  Hopefully, I’ll never need a wig and will be able to keep my own health issues at bay.  For now, I have a huge weight off my shoulders and I’ve never felt more free.

STFU John Mayer

I’m not a big fan of people outside my profession telling me how to do it.  However, I guess that John Mayer is allowed to since I talk about musicians all the time.  I still have a problem with him, being a muscian, being allowed to blog on The Huffington Post… and yeah, it’s because I’m jealous.

What I really have the problem with?  This sentence:

“[Don Rickles] made Perez Hilton look like a sycophant.”

Well – no shit.  Perez Hilton is a sycophant.  A sycophany who happens to be wildly popular (a phenomenon whose logic escapes me).  Panic – don’t EVEN think of linking to him – I don’t want to give him the traffic.  Also, Hilton’s so three years ago – there are so many other gossip blogs that are legitimately humorous and don’t get off on drawing jizz on the faces of celebrities.  Clearly, Mayer doesn’t read them (or maybe doesn’t want to admit that they’re actually… gulp… funny).

Yeah, Don Rickles is great, I get it.  But lauding him at the expense of the people who write gossip blogs puts you in the same realm of the people you bash.  Oh, and while you’re an incredibly accomplished guitar player, your first album sucks.

Read the whole article here.

Kevin Rudolf is Dancing in My Brain

I don’t know who this Kevin Rudolf guy is.

But I like him.

I’ve heard this song on the radio a couple times.  But it got stuck in my head since it’s featured in those damn repetitive Rhapsody commercials (the ones with the chicks in the bubbles).  It’s damn catchy and makes me want to dance instead of work on my finals.  Rudolf apparently worked as a studio musician and released his first album last month.  I think this might be a throw-away single, but it can play in the clubs until my ears bleed because it makes me want to dance.

I spent the $.99 om iTunes for this gem, but I’d hold off the album for now.  Totally worth it, especially for the tauntingly sexy line: “I’ll make you COME/alive…”

And anything Lil’ Wayne touches turns to hip hop gold.  Just listen to any iterration of “Tha Carter” and then tell me I’m wrong.

Here’s the video for the single:

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