Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Need More Stress To Survive (Oh God, Oh God, What Have We Become)

Sitting at home. In the C-O. No roommates. No homework. No endless opera rehearsals. No papers due in three hours. No exams at 8am. No dining hall closing in ten minutes. No article due an hour ago. No one using the elliptical. WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH MYSELF WHEN I HAVE NOTHING TO PROCRASTINATE?

I have:
- unpacked the duffel bags
- watched the entirety of "Jericho"
- developed a crush on Skeet Ulrich
- read "Ripped" by Greg Kot
- checked out enough music from the library to crash my hard drive (again)
- renewed my license (news on this one's celebrity photo attempt forthcoming)
- started an internship with High Noon Entertainment
- painted the "Disaster House"
- become obsessed with the band The Republic Tigers
- obtained a press pass to Comic-Con
- booked a flight to LA
- made reservations for a hotel in San Diego
- applied for a BAZILLION part-time jobs. (How will I pay for Wed's Sting concert??)
- caught up with the Rockies to the point that I know the pitching lineups for the whole week, every week
- went for a *ghasp* run (like, running)
- actually checked my twitter once a day
- told my Filliasco story to the neighbors

I have been home for, let's see, ONE WEEK, and already I am banging my head against the interwebs of my laptop. My only hope resides in the fact that one of my profs in the fall has requested we watched all of "Breaking Bad" afore our return to campus. HOODALALLY!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reasons If The Jesuits Were A Middle Aged TV Auteur, Or A Baseball Team, I Would Have A Crush On Them

I have many obsessions in this life. It all stems from the theory that one should never do anything half-way, including liking things. Or perhaps it's just the tickle I get when I visualize Jett Jackson in "Johnny Tsunami" saying, "Go big or go home." Either way, if I love it, I love it a great mother buttload.
The things which I tend to love up the most in these parts are A) Joss Whedon and B) The Colorado Rockies. But now I would like to show some love to another entity.

Reasons If The Jesuits Were A Middle Aged TV Auteur, Or A Baseball Team, I Would Have A Crush On Them:

1) My sophomore and senior high school Theology teacher, who interestingly enough is getting ordained in July.
2) AMDG - along with being a lovely motto (ad majorem dei gloriam = for the greater glory of God), the letters line up nicely and look quite good together. This is purely aesthetic.
3) James Martin, S.J.
4) The Spiritual Exercises
5) I heard a rumor from a Holy Cross priest once that there may have been a female Jesuit - just one! - back in the middle ages. She loved the Jesuits, donated oodles, and longed to be one SO MUCH that on her death bed they ordained her.
6) My high school theo Jesuit extraordinaire once described Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits as correlating to the three types of yoga. Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion, or the Franciscans. Gnana yoga is the yoga of knowledge, which is the Dominicans. Which leaves us with Karma yoga, the yoga of action, or the Jesuits.
7) They like to rustle feathers.
8) Loyola Marymount, where my broha is headed.
9) They have their own production company: Loyola Productions, Inc. ( HIRE ME, MAYBE? I CAN HOLD A BOOM!
10) Ignatius was like, "I'ma be a bad ass soldier. Bite me." And then BOOM goes the cannon ball, and whilst stuck in bed with nothing but a book of the Saints, he was like, "I'ma be a bad ass Saint now." And then HE DID.
11) Nothing is quite as satisfying in the midst of my quality Notre Dame education as hearing a prof mention a fact that graces over the word Jesuit and immediately pumping both my arms up and yelling "WHAT NOW! JESUITS ROCK, BABY!"
12) Coming up with a tattoo design for "AMDG," musing about it to my friends over the summer, and coming back in August to find two of them had inked themselves with my precise design.
13) Xavier in China.
14) I've never met a Jesuit without a killer sense of humour.
15) Sacred Heart Retreat House in Sedalia, Colorado
and the most important...
16) Regis Jesuit High School. BAM! Said the lady.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Drooling Fanatic

A link a friend posted on my fb wall eventually let me to the website of music writer Steve Almond, who just wrote a book called "Rock And Roll Will Save Your Life." After bopping around his site for a bit ( I came upon "What's In Your Ears?" a section dedicated to electronically wailing about personal music obsessions (or being a "drooling fanatic"). I wailed about a bit, and then decided I might as well share it with my minuscule blog following (aka my roommate Amanda), too.

When I was in middle school our family took a vacation to visit my mom's college roommate in Sacramento. I got housed in their daughter's old room, since she had recently left the nest for more collegiate enterprises. I had brought with me my beloved case of CD's which, I must admit, contained A*Teens, The Backstreet Boys, and both Spice Girls albums (yes, they are albums, because I listened to them all the way through over and over with sparkles in my eyes wishing desperately I had been born British, not French and Polish or whatever my parents kept telling me).

When I went to play them in her massive CD player (which blew my mind at age twelve, but which I now realize was only so massive because at that point the raison d'etre of music tech was to get bigger, not smaller), I found a CD already in there. Being the curious preteen I was, I I decided to delve into the world of my quasi-cousin's music repertoire, if only to feel "cool" for a few moments before popping in my personal anthem (because every twelve year old has one) "Never Give Up On The Good Times." My ears were quickly greeted by a punkish guitar riff and a mysterious cackle in the background, before the Police plunged into their barely-recognized-by-me hit, "Roxanne."

It was nothing liked I'd ever heard before, with the reggae guitar popping off chords and Sting wailing about an octave higher than God intended him to sing. I sat and listened, enraptured by this music I considered "Daddy music" (because I was too cool to listen to anything my dad liked on the radio, and that's where I'd heard this before). Then came "Walking on the Moon," and it was like my stomach fell out from under me. I'd heard it before, in car commercials and in the background at department stores, but I'd never heard it so distinctly or with such clarity.

I listened to "Every Breath You Take: The Classics" every morning that week, alone as I got dressed, hoping the call for breakfast would come later and later so I could hear more of the CD (because I, of course, had to start at the beginning every time). When I went home, I began looking the Police on my own. And I began to fall in love.

Four years of high school were spent preaching the Gospel of Sting, explaining why Stewart Copeland's innovative poly rhythmic drumming techniques revolutionized the genre, and defending Andy Summer's simple yet powerful guitar riffs. I was obnoxious, especially in a crowd devoted to Jason Mraz and Outkast. I cursed the fact that I was clearly born two decades too late, swearing that if I could see one band play live it would be the Police, who pretty clearly were never getting back together.

On June 9th, 2007, in the eleventh row of the Pepsi Center in Denver, I stood next to my dad as we belted out all the words to "King Of Pain" and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." It was, hands down, the greatest night of my life.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Summer Up the Nose (Or, Emptying the Purse)

Summer gets into your nostrils. Every time it rolls around, it barrels right smack into the middle of crunch time, when papers are being electronically flung from student to prof with the weight and resentment of cow-pies, and exams pop up like unsolicited buffaloes in the middle of the interstate. But even though academia is blaring in at all sides like Sue Sylvester with a megaphone, summer manages to find a way to pop in and wriggle right up the nose.

Flowers, grass, rain, all the lovely so-poetic-pardon-my-yawn bits and pieces that make up the smell of summer seep in and take up residence relentlessly. From the minute I wake up I can smell them slithering in through my barely-cracked window, and when I burst outside and into the sunshine on my way to class/review session/exam, it's a raucous cacophony of Not School in my nose.

This is, of course, what keeps me going. In December exams are survived by the smell of cinnamon and pine. In May, it's whatever delicious combo of outsideness that is currently dancing through my nose to the back of my mouth and down my throat.

This smell signals summer, and summer means one thing: freedom. Banal, cliche, overwhelming and unavoidable. Whether you're heading to the retail job you've had for years, to a camp full of hero-worshipping teenagers, or an internship that will make or break your post-collegiate career, it is something that is specifically un-school. Even if you've been sucked into the black hole of summer school, it still has the caveat of "SUMMER," which means it will be infinitely less-sucky, because even the profs feel bad for you.

But the freedom from school not only means freedom from school work. It also means freedom from the drama, the decisions, the delirious lifestyle that is university life. Summer is a chance to break free of whatever clustasters you've tangled yourself into.

The heralding of this summer is particularly sweet to my nose, because I finally get a chance to step back from this semester. After London, and all the epicalness it entailed, this semester came at me like a bus with faulty breaks in the middle of a rainstorm. BAM - there goes my bag, flung off me with fantastic force out into the street, unzipped in the process and entrails flying everywhere. Make-up, books, keys, and receipts all flew out onto the pavement as I was thrown back, neck crunching into a lamp-post. I sat there for a while, letting the rain fall and regaining feeling in my back. I stared helplessly at my stuff so unceremoniously strew about and getting damper by the second.

It's interesting what one can gain by sitting still against a lamp-post and staring at the insides of her purse. All those bits of life deemed too important to be left at home are suddenly naked in front of your own eyes. You have to look at all the crap you've been toting around for months, the ticket stubs you didn't throw away and the newspaper pages you forgot to recycle, the lipstick you swear you'll need the minute you leave it out and the year-old half-empty lotion that smells too much like a good memory to toss. Everything you and your subconscious has decided you need by your side at all times is suddenly bare and in the middle of everything, with cars and passengers and baby strollers and runners with their silly little arm-pods dashing past, back and forth on either side. And the worst/best part is, you no longer have control of your purse.

So that is what summer means to me this year. I get to clean out my purse. I'm going to catalogue the ticket stubs, toss out the receipts, and reconsider the lipstick. I'm going to finish reading that book and switch out the room key for the car key. But most of all, I'm going to have the FREEDOM to untangle my heart-strings and my head-strings from the knots and nots that have been pulling me taught for four months. And oh, it does smell sweet.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thrasing Through the Library's Compact Disc Collection

One of my most favoritest things to do when I am home is go through my local library's new acquisitions for the months I've been at school. I search their catalogue for artists currently on my radar, old and new, and place about 35 holds, fingers crossed for what gets in before I depart.

We have a lovely relationship, my library and I. They provide me with music. I provide them with quick-handed re-shelving of all pop/rock materials, in an attempt to get LL Cool Jay as far away as possible from Los Lonely Boys as I can, and Snow Patrol free from the vicinity of Soulja Boy, even if it is only for the few moments before the librarian notices what I'm doing and attempts to put them back in whatever God-forsaken system they think is musical organization. You cannot slap anything that isn't Beethoven with a "Pop/Rock" sticker and get away with it! PEOPLE.

I currently have 18 albums out, some requested, some happened upon, some lucky draws from the back shelf. They arrived in my possession thus:

Snow Patrol, "Eyes Open" (2006) - I've always loved these guys, and this summer a friend rekindled my love for them through the song "Make This Go On Forever." I've checked out this album before, but it must have been lost in the deep throws of my musical collection, because it doesn't appear in my library anymore. So it's a "replacement" acquisition.

Snow Patrol, "Final Straw" (2003) - Streaming their recently released "Up To Now" retrospective has delighted me, and I've decided to delve into their earlier work. The song "Chocolate," which opens the new album, is growing on me in fine fashion.

Phantom Planet, "Raise the Dead" (2008) - Three words: "Do the Panic." I spent the summer playing the tambourine to this song while a friend played guitar as we both mumbled our way through this song, neither of us really knowing the lyrics to the verses. But there is nothing so fulfilling as belting "BA ba ba, BA ba SHADOOBEE DOO!"

Mute Math "Armistice" (2009) - Loved these guys' first album. Haven't listened to the new one yet. But I am a sucker for rock soundscapes.

Boys Like Girls "Love Drunk" (2009) - Not my typical stash, but I've got a friend who's really into the pop-punk, emo scene, and sometimes all you really wanna do is blast some high-school drama and sing along, Good Charlotte style.

Frightened Rabbit "The Midnight Organ Fight" - There is no year next to the copyright in this disc jacket. Isn't that illegal? Anyways, four of these guys' songs were part of a music dump one friend unloaded on my computer a few months back. I heard the sing "Keep Yourself Warm" and was hooked. There is just something addicting about these kids. WARNING: DO NOT LISTEN TO WHILST STUDYING FOR FINALS, OR YOU MAY ACCIDENTALLY PURCHASE THEIR ENTIRE DISCOGRAPHY. (I myself did not do this, but I wasn't the only one to receive the music dump.)

Jose Gonzalez, "Veneer" (2006) - This guy got famous for the song "Heartbeats" being used in pretty much every indie venue...ever. It's a great song.

Joze Gonzales, "In Our Nature"(2007) - These fairly identical albums (just look at the covers) are hard to pick between, but I would argue the track "Teardrop" makes this one the winner, and not just because it's an acoustic version of the "House" opening credit theme, originally done by Massive Attack.

The Ting Tings, "We Started Nothing" (2008) - I spent a summer working in Gap, experiencing the dulcet tones of "That's Not My Name" on the 50 song playlist. Then the Rockies used that very song for their mid-inning vid of baseball bloopers from around the country. I caved.

Switchfoot, "Hello Hurricane" (2009) - Again, a friend this summer re-turned me onto these blokes, mostly with the songs "This Is Your Life," "Dare You To Move" and the surprise hit in my heart, an acoustic version of "Stars." I have a great desire to revisit their work, but this new offering should hold some gems.

Oasis, "Dig Out Your Soul" (2008) - After four months in the Yook, I've developed a fondness for them Brits, and their tunes. Though this album doesn't have their airwave-overwhelming hit "Wonderwall" or anthemic "Champagne Supernova," the most recent album should be a good trip, right?

The Starting Line, "Direction" (2007) - I know nothing about these kids. The cover looks promising. Indie-pop? Rhapsody has them listed as pop-punk. This is actually how I find most of my beloved bands - picked up their album on a whim at the library, decided to give it a spin.

My Morning Jacket, "Evil Urges" (2008) - A friend in high school used one of their lyrics as her senior quote. It was so depressing it got edited out. Intrigued, I've rented them out for the evening, as it were.

The Killers, "Day and Age" (2008) - I'm a massive fan of "Sam's Town" and a lukewarm supporter of "Hot Fuss." "Sawdust" is pretty hit or miss. But about a month ago I had dinner with a guy who swears by the Killers, and through the course of the evening we went through every. single. album. He didn't buy my reasoning that "are we dancer?" isn't proper grammar.

Skillet, "Awake" (2009) - There is something just so doggone PLEASING about heavy metal for Jesus. You feel pissed and holy at the same time. I enjoyed their last album, and I was pleased to run into this one on the racks.

Paramore, "The Final Riot!" (2008) - I enjoyed the album "Riot!" as much as the next indie-but-I'll-listen-to-your-emo-music-if-you-really-want-me-to rocker, and in my experience, the live stuff is always better than the studio stuff. You have to know what's going on (i.e., what the studio stuff sounds like), but live music is so much more rewarding, even if it's recorded. (Oxymoron much?) Music was meant to be live, people!

Phantom Planet, "The Guest" (2003) - I may be overkilling in this band's department, but I like to run the gamut of offering. 2003 was AGES ago, man!

Nora Jones, "The Fall" (2009) - Mainstream is mainstream for a reason. Would I like Regina over Nora? Yes. Will I listen to Nora anyway? Yes.

And there you have it. Thus are the interworkings of mine brain. In other news, I'm hungry, and I haven't been properly hungry for about five days. It's a nice feeling. But I'ma gonna go eat something. Cheers, y'all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Avatar: Or, You Cannot Buy Me With Floating, Flourescent Jellifish

Last night I went to see Avatar. This is after Alby both texted and posted on my facebook wall (multimple times): GO SEE AVATAR. GO SEE AVATAR. (etc.) So my little bro and I buckled down and went.

Unfortunately, we had to see it in 2D, because our theater of choice is not yet equipped with 3D apparati, and the theater that is has a history of being sold out for everything ever. So we didn't see it in super-shmancy-pancy 3D, which is probably why the movie left me feeling completely unfulfilled. Without effects to fall back on, the story was a flop (or, as one before me put it, Dances With Wolves...IN SPACE!!). Now I LUV me some Costner stache, but the dialogue in Avatar is so basic, by the third act I was laughing out loud at the real whoppers. I'm planning on seeing it again in 3D with mon pere, but as it stands, I don't think any amount of "full world emmersion" can salvage the elementary state of the writing.

If you would like the film COMPLETELY SPOILED FOR YOU (not that it won't happen anyway), here's my condensed version:

Generic Hero I-Haven’t-Found-Myself-Yet Marine (Good): Hello, I’m a paraplegic ex-marine with a dead twin brother *pity pity pity sprinkles*


Sigourney Weaver: I’m Sigourney Weaver. I went to Stanford, class of 1972. *points at shirt* Did you get it?

The Man: OH NO! We must harvest unobtani-adamanti-wonderflonium for MONEY! And the indigenous population is all that stands between us and MONEY! Because as The Corporate Man, All I ever want is MONEY!! I’M SO ORIGINAL!!!!

Native Population: But oh! I will represent everyone from Native Americans to Iraq! I shall be used to make a comment on everything from the War on Terror to Global Warming! Don’t worry, they will be so overt that you won’t need to bother with thinking! This is mindless entertainment for crying out loud – I’m gonna pump it with “Message” so you feel GOOD about feeling bad when it’s all over.

The Man: Oh no, the natives are in the way!

Bad Marine: Let’s pretend to care about moving them, because all we really wanna do is blow them up no matter what! WITH GUNS OF FIRE! I can’t possibly be a reasonable character because then who would we have to blame?

Good Marine: Hey, I’m kinda falling in love with this indigenous culture that is far more pure and genuine than my own…thank God I’m not a Kevin Costner fan or I might be having déjà vu!

Big Eyed Female Thing: I will represent every ethnicity that isn’t Anglo-American. And I will walk around being “clearly attractive” pretty much naked, but it’s okay because I’m odd enough looking that it won’t bother you. And whenever I feel emotion I will do this: *hacking scream*

Ohh, look! The glowing jellyfish have CHOSEN YOU!! YOU MUST BECOME ONE OF US!!

James Cameron: Now let’s spend 45 minutes flying around and looking at fluorescent plants. Because I’m James Cameron. And I can.


And now we must have military + Big Business versus the gentle, peaceful natives because banal conflict is all we need as an excuse to for an epic battle scene!

Good Marine: I must save the Na'vi. I must save my wife and my newly adopted culture, because I am now enlightened, and therefore everything I do is GOOD and everything opposite of me is BAD and even though I have been created by a culture than thrives on boasting relativity and grey area I have allowed NONE! “I have to take it to the next level.” (Really, James? That was the best line you could come up with?)

Oh, no! Our quasi-Gandalf/Obi-wan is dying and we must SAVE HER! Cue a religious ceremony that includes every type of worship that ISN’T CHRISTIAN.
[Do we really wanna make that comment?]
[Let’s hope they don’t notice.]

Meanwhile, James Horner decides to write a completely original, overtly moving score with ethnic influence. Oh no, how can I convey ethnic influence? “EEEYYYAAAAYOOOAEEEHHHHH” BOOM BOOM “AAAHEEEYYYYYHAAAA” BOOM BOOM BOOM

Bad Marine: Let’s blow a hole so deep in their racial psyche they’ll be reeling too much to fight, or something else that makes me sound impeccably racist. Let’s fight terror with terror, and spoon feed you some more subtext. And for a final comment, let’s foolishly ignore the Energy Of The Trees (even though their science is UNDISPROVABLE and I’m clearly just choosing to ignore it to advance my own business agenda subtext subtext subtext.)

Good Marine: I HAVE THE COOL FLYING BIRD!! I WILL NOW SAVE US ALL!! NOW TO PELENNOR FIEL –oh, wait. That was the other big December blockbuster that we’re trying not to mention lest it inhibit our intended claim on Best Movie Experience Ever.

EPIC BATTLE SCENE AND oh, no, every single auxiliary character is dead. FEEL THE WEIGHT OF THE SITUATION. FEEL IT. FEEL IT.

And now we must come to the final one-on-one between our layered hero (layered – that’s not a stretch at all…) and our villain, who must have burst forth from the womb in a fit of unjustified anger because we certainly don’t have any reason for why he acts the way he does. Oh, wait. He’s the military commander. He’s supposed to be a mindless mongol!

Meanwhile, our heroine is pinned beneath a rhinodactle because we needed to remove her from the situation without downplaying her role as a fully competent warrior.

Oh, no, he’s dying! Can his lady love save the human form she’s never met! CUE CIRCULAR DIALOGUE TO REMIND US THE CENTRAL THEME OF THE FILM! “I…see…you”? Quite appropriate for the film, since really all I got was a feast for my eyeballs.

And now the energy of our feminine God-tree [can we plug for climate change awareness one more time?] transfers his consciousness from his broken human body to the fully realized indigenous one! Open they eyes…open the eyes…CHYESS!! I AM NOW FILLED WITH DEEP SHAME AT MY HURTFUL CULTURE BUT BRIMMING WITH HOPE THAT WE CAN FIX IT – TOGETHER!!! Now let me toss my half eaten popcorn and get back into my SUV. Not to worry – I am now conscious of the pain that I personally caused Native Americans…and the Redwoods.


Well, kids, if this is what it takes to make you “think,” go see it again. And again. So Fox can make the money back (wait, people making money? Didn’t we already establish that that’s BAD?) so they can go back to making movies that don’t make me cringe.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sticky Note Radio

One of the greatest forms of procrastination I have found is "music popping." Ah, yes, you say, Golden Music Guru, what is this "music popping"? Well, my child, it is that fantastic realm you enter when you begin to look up an artist, and it leads you to another artist, and a song on a compilation album with another artist you must discover, and pretty soon you've gone from Gilbert & Sullivan to Jamie Cullum.

Often I will find myself deftly searching a new artist I've heard of or run across and I will suddenly find myself in a tidal wave of music, and as I begin to pick my way through it, soon I am hopping from artist to artist like a frog on lilly pads. This is how great music is found. You start looking up one thing, it leads your to another, and suddenly you run across Nightwish and realize Finnish metal is your one true calling and a love afair is begun! It is this innocent clicking and playing and wondering and pushing that is the real expansion of musical tastes. You're reading an article about your facorite artist, they mention their favorite artist, and suddently new worlds open.

I have also developed the nasty habit of collecting musical names on sticky notes, which get posted on the Nightwish poster next to my desk. Here we have the name Andrew Bird, who I've heard much about but never really "gotten in to," persay. Next to him is Juana Molina ("from Daddy") who I was directed to listen to. Next to her is The Blue Nile, who's first album, I've learned, is one of those gems that sets the electronic 80's junkies from the casual listeners. Then we have Inara George (lead singer of The Bird and the Bee), Sonos (funky little group that I came across on a Barnes & Noble Sunday album, and haven't found since), Neko Case (great homework album), Miranda Sex Garden (madrigal singers gone Goth), Renaissance (British folk revival from the seventies), Bat for Lashes, Sigor Ros, Bela Fleck, Abigail Washbutn (= Sparrow Quartet), Celtic Legacy (metal), After Forever, Visions of Atlantis (more chick metal), and a quote from House ("I was right, and more satisfyingly, you were wrong.") Also up there is a sticky note reminding me that Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard (just remember).

I am delicately working my way through each artist or group, listening to an album or two, reading the wiki band bio, and connecting the dots. If I'm ever at a loss for what to listen to, I pick a name and look it up. More often than not that just leads me to adding MORE names to the poster. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it! And there is nothing quite as fantastic as coming across a great resonator, or music that knocks my flip-flops off. That is, of course, the end goal in all this: finding the music that most perfectly hits the Point of Resonance, that shakes my soul and makes me yell YES YES YES THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!