Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On My Mind

Holy hell, it's SUNNY today in Seattle! Surely, the world has been plunged into the depths of madness. I'm excited.

It's hard to be a Californian in this town for many reasons. One: Your skepticism of others/new people is seen as douchey or cold (even though native Seattleites can be some of the nicest or some of the cruelest people I've ever met, and I grew up in the Pasadena area). Two: The sunshine is ridiculously elusive. Three: You're torn because you know that L.A. is hella liberal, but it's the old folks at the traditional Catholics that make the state sway to the Red every time there's a vote. /rant

The point is, I'm stoked that it's sunny!!!!

I just finished reading Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's graphic novel 'Local' for the third time. I bought the hardcover collection for myself for my birthday. It was a steal at $30 at this little place on 45th in the U-District.

It continues to inspire me to write about it, confound me, move me to almost tears, make me smile, and make me both love and hate the protagonist every time I read it. And every time I read it I get something new out of it. For example in the beginning I never really understood how "Two Brothers" was a necessary part of breaking Megan apart and helping her realize that she needs to start being decent to people. Sure she goes on a self-destructive, self-loathing bender of emotional breakups with peers for 3 years after, but that's called figuring it out and realizing that you really don't have all the answers. I hated Megan for what she does to Gloria and to her various suitors at first, but then I came to understand that it's all part of her larger growth as a person. Especially since I'm not the same person at 23 as I am now at 25.

Then there's chapter 3, "Theories and Defenses."

I almost always skimmed this chapter and never understood how it remotely relates to Megan's journey, seeing it as merely an indulgent chapter for the writer to get his thoughts about music and being in a band and being an outsider on to paper and not having an appropriate way to do it. But once I forced myself to read it, and to find a voice for the characters in my head, I came to realize that their struggle as a band and as people foreshadows Megan's struggle at the end of the book. Plus, is there a better metaphor for feeling like you're getting too old than being in a band that everyone loves yet nobody gives a damn about? You can't come home again; or maybe home was never meant to be your home in the first place?

P.S., if Theories and Defenses were a real band, I bet they'd sound like Thrushes.

Yaaaaay Baltimore. I love this band right now.

Josh and I saw The Raveonettes the other night. Yeah. It happened. I'll blog about it soooooon. Right now I need to go be out in that sunshine.

"I'm a dead man walking here,
But that's least of all my fears.
Ooh underneath the water.
It's not Alabama clay,
Gives my trembling hands away.
Ooh Please forgive me, father."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mix Tape Fodder: March

Some gems from March that got me through the month! Namely the highlights of: St/ Patty's Day at Cha Cha, drunk boyfriends at house parties where 24 is an old age, romantic walks around Pike Market, drinks and apps with friends in the middle of the day, public transit woes, yearning for Summer, and new jobs!

"He Gets Me High" - Dum Dum Girls

"Cut Me Out" - MNDR

"Still Sound" - Toro y Moi

"Roni" - Chikita Violenta

"Merry-Make It With Me" - The Republic Tigers

"Small Black" - Despicable Dogs

"Celestica" - Crystal Castles

"Sunshine" - Rye Rye w/ M.I.A.

"Caffeinated Consciousness" - TV on the Radio

"DNA" - The Kills

"Darling Buds of May" - Brother

Go download 'em!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wedding Things

Don't think that just because I haven't written much about it lately, it doesn't mean that my impending nups aren't taking up a good chunk of time/thoughts/energy. Quite the opposite: It's all we talk about lately. Which is fine. I mean, it's sort of a big deal.

Right now we're super close and have a lot of stuff done, but there's still a ton to do. We need to go buy our suits. We need to finish the decorations (we have amassed all of the materials, thankfully). We need to finish the wedding web site so that we can send the Invitations. We need to go scope hotels for our friends and family in the area to stay. We need to get Julie's backyard landscaped for the big day. We need to order tables and chairs and linens.

Biggest of all? We need to decide on structure.

Here's how the big day is planned thus far:

4pm to 5pm: People arrive and have some food and booze and hang out.
5pm to 6pm: ?????????
6pm to 7pm: Food, drinks, CAKE, and toasting.
7pm to Whenever: Dancing and getting hammered with friends and family.

Yeah, so, we don't know what we're going to do for a ceremony. The hard part about all of this is that there are very limited resources out there re: gay weddings, and those that exist really suck ass. If the suggestions and content aren't big and homo and flashy, they're absurdly trite or vice versa. Josh and I had a super-serio shower talk about it, and we came to the conclusion that we need to do what's best for us and what our ideal situation is.

The problem with that? My ideal scenario is just he and I, out in nature somewhere, totally alone, proclaiming our love to each other as the sun sets or rises or does whatever it wants to do. Then we make love and call it a day and we're married and everyone else can shut up.

His ideal scenario is a bit more . . . Grandiose. There are hundreds of people and cater waiters and hella stuff and a DJ and a dance floor.

Since we can't afford his ideal wedding scenario and mine seems like a scene from JD Salinger, we decided to try and find a happy medium. Which meant backyard wedding, less than 100 people, very simple food and drink, and very simple everything. But there's still the matter of ceremonial structure. Do we do the officiant/lines of people/super-duper structured vows thing? Or do we just go up there, say something quick and heartfelt with no one being "master of ceremonies" and then call it a night? Or do we opt out of it completely?

I don't know yet. I like the wedding in the film "Rachel Getting Married." The couple had an audience, but the audience stood in a circle around them. They had an officiant, but that person was their mutual friend. They had lines, but there were like 4 guys and 4 girls and all of them were only sort of wearing matching things. The ceremony was brief, and so were the vows, and at the end everyone cheered and threw glitter and confetti into the air. I love that scene.

What are your thoughts, gentle readers?

"Come on, let's talk about our feelings!
I don't care if what you say is needless."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Everything new is new again.

I started my new job yesterday. I'm training at the Northgate Mall (just 10ish minutes north from our place) to be the Full-Time Assistant Manager of a brand-new, currently under construction Forever 21 store in downtown Seattle, on the corner of Sixth and Pine in the crazy-ass shopping district of downtown.

Now say what you will about the company (the weird "John 3:16" thing comes to mind, as does the scandal from a few years ago re: child labour used to manufacture some of the merchandise), but it truly is one of the largest and fastest growing retailers in the States right now. They're even expanding to Europe in 2012, and the recession has pretty much left them unphased (much like the last company I worked for, Hot Topic). The new Seattle store is going to be one of their "anchor stores" and is expected to have huuuuuge volume and figures.

Is it intimidating? Hell yes. Is it what I ever pictured myself doing? Not really, no. But retail is something I'm good at. There's something about my personality that makes me a good seller. It's probably the writer in me that causes me to casually b.s. my way through life when really I have no idea what I'm doing; or the part of me that genuinely wants to please people and just make it so that they're happy with me.

In any event, this job is solid, it pays well, and it's going to allow me to have more free time to work on personal projects like this here blog and some of my (nerdy snort) fan fiction I've been neglecting for over a year. Not only that, but I can now categorically say that the collection of short stories inspired by modern music is officially underway! I began a notes/outline/crazy ass scribbling of ideas prospective for a story inspired by M83's "Kim & Jessie" last night. The idea is to tell the story of a suicide pact between two social outcast teenagers in the late 1980s that goes awry. See also: The movie "Heathers" and the fact that I've been listening to The Cure a lot lately.

So when I start the new job officially and training is over, I'll become a true Seattlite and start riding the damned bus to and from work every day. I need to find a good messenger bag or shoulder bag to carry all my crap in. Any good suggestions?

"Dreams dressed in blue,
It's all they need now and forever.
Chased by the moon;
They shatter their presence with their singing."

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mix Tape Fodder: February

A new feature where I'll share songs that I downloaded in the previous month that I think you should probably go download as well. Why? AWESOME, that's why.

"Where I'm Going," by Cut Copy

"Confirmation," by Wild Nothing

"Sta Upp," by Little Dragon

"Weekend," by Smith Westerns

"What Can I Do?" by The Black Belles

"Please Ask for Help," by Telekinesis

Go get some!!!!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Quitting Time

Oh, Ke-Dollar Sign-Ha; of COURSE unicorns bleed rainbows! Why wouldn't they?

But on to the more important stuff--I turned in my letter of resignation to work last week. I know it's utterly absurd and perhaps not the most intelligent thing to do considering half of this blog is me whining about not being able to have a career in writing, but I have felt like I needed to do this for months. I'm tired of being chained ot the job; I haven't had a day off in 3 weeks. Sure the money is decent, but I end up pissing most of it away in cell phone calls from work and gas to drive there (seriously--according to my bank account's stats I spend over $200/month in gas to go to work, and when your checks average $800 that's quite a bit less all of the other bills that I've got). Essentially, this job has made me its bitch, and I'm not going to take it like a a whore anymore. I refuse to be anyone's catch-all/work horse any longer. After a year there I still don't have health insurance, or sick pay, or vacation time, or a damned raise. And for how much time I spend there I find it unacceptable.

I know that there are those out there who would just love to have income--They don't care about the benefits or the respect. But I'm the kind of person who will go work at Dick's Drive-In right now if it means that I can actually enjoy what I'm doing. The unique and perhaps freeing thing about being 24 years old with a one-year old undergraduate degree is that I don't have that dream career yet, so everything else is just filler. And if that's the case, I may as well find a job that doesn't make me want to vomit.


So, masses of the unemployed, I join you starting March 14. I've got copies of my resume' printed on fancy paper, a slew of acceptable interview attire, and 30 or so applications/resume' s submitted already via online resources like craigslist and WA State work source. Now it's just time to hit the pavement.

Side-Bar: Speaking of hitting the pavement, a very Happy 26 Birthday to my friend Ellen today! I'm sorry I can't be there with you, ninja-girl, but said mentally abusive job keeps me from doing so (another side-effect of working 6 to 7 days a week at 10 hours a day on a very regular basis).

Last night we stayed in and got some food from Thai of Wedgwood, which despite having been literally 2 blocks walking distance from our place all this time we've never actually eaten at. While I'm not a big fan of spicy, my garlic chicken was delicious and all I can say is that that was the best damned peanut sauce I've ever had, bar-none. We only spent about 30 bucks and got two main dishes, some satay, brown rice sides, and extra peanut sauce. Great value! I have like an entire freaking tub of brown rice and an entire jug of the sauce in our fridge at the moment and so now we're trying to decide how we want to combine these two delicious leftovers for a meal this evening. Suggestions, people of the Internet?

"Wiped out--
They could see me;
That's what I want.
A casualty, but, I am upfront,
And I know what it's about."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ticket Stub: White Lies @ Neumos 1/22/11

Photo courtesy of gigsport.net official White Lies concert page.

We had the pleasure of seeing UK band White Lies perform a ton of stuff, both old and new, this past Saturday at Neumos. What I like about that venue is that it's a)centrally located to a ton of other things to do, which made it easy to have drinks at Lobby Bar beforehand and b)it actually has a great layout for the over 21 crowd where they can still see the action of the show yet maintain a safe distance and enjoy a beverage or some snacks. There's a balcony that overlooks the first floor, all-ages/main stage area so we got to enjoy big ol' bottles of Red Stripe while seeing opening band SHiPS perform.

SHiPS are a delightful local indie-pop group that remind me a lot of acts like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Yellowwolf. The drummer used to do his thing in Gatsby's American Dream and Acceptance, so there's tremendous talent backing them. They were warm and friendly to the crowd and had the perfect match up of silly and energetic. While the mostly underage crowd down below were doing the whole Arcade Fire "kids are still standin' with their arms folded tight" thing, the big kids upstairs seemed to really enjoy it. I saw plenty of head bobbing and foot tapping rather than shoe gazing and texting in the over 21 crowd.

White Lies put on a damn fine show. It was one of those rare moments where the live version sounded 97% like the recorded version, which really is saying something in the age of digital refinement and auto-tune. Plenty of tracks old and new were covered (including their most well-known track "Death") and they did a signing of the new album afterward. Harry McVeigh was like a more exciting Brandon Flowers; he engaged the crowd often and really concentrated on giving the most stellar vocal performance he could. Tommy Bowen's keyboards and synths are a HUGE part of the band's sound, and they didn't disappoint, either. He even got to go all wall-of-sound for a bit at the end, with only rhythmic bass to accompany his playing. The venue wasn't over-crowded but wasn't empty, so it definitely felt like a more intimate setting despite the high energy music, which was a good thing. The band really made the experience worth more than the cheap-ass ticket price.

And luckily there were veggie dogs shortly thereafter, as I was ready to maim for something to maw on after all that beer and good tunes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hey! Come to this show! #2

Sure, you could save your pennies and go see Ra Ra Riot in 3 days, OR you could go see a band with a bit more talent . . .


Photo courtesy of the band's official Shockhound.com page.

White Lies will be performing TONIGHT at Neumos! Doors open at 7ish, show starts at 8! $10 in advance (which you can actually buy up until 5pm today or until they sell out, which ever comes first), $12 at the door, and I myself will be there. How could you NOT enjoy yourself?

I don't know who the opener is because I can't find it anywhere online, but I'm sure it'll be semi-rad at the very least. Neumos has a pretty good rep. at picking diverse lineups for shows and covering a wide range of music (Twista and Deerhoof in the same month, even!).

Never heard of White Lies? The quick stats are that they're British and sometimes sound a bit like The Cure, but dancier. So I guess then that makes them sound like an early The Killers; before the self indulgence kicked in but witht he same hip swinging alt-pop dance moves!

Go Download: "Death," "Is Love"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Music I've Listened To: "From Light to Dark," by Oriya

One of the funniest/awesomest things about googling a band you know is seeing their Internet personas when you do a Google search and getting to know that said personas are about 60% true. Yes, my buddy Ryan is a great drummer whose musical sensitivities and talent are, in a word, epic--But then there's the fact that this is a guy who I get sloshed with on a regular basis, so it's hard to take the super-cool-rockstar-guy Google Image Search Results of he and the other guys in Oriya seriously. When we've fallen down in front of each other and he's seen me puke out of a cab on 6th, it's hard for either of us to still be the super-cool-rockstar-guy in the room without giggling like little girls.

Before we begin, I want to put out there that I'm going to be as objective as possible given that I know this band and have been drunk/stoned/hanging out and being all domestic with them in the past. And given that the lead singer's girlfriend might be making one of my wedding cakes.

I know the dangerous place that objectivity can go to when you review something a friend creates, be it music or writing or art or whatever. So I do ask, gentle and mostly anonymous readers, that if it feels as though my objectivity has strayed form the path and is somewhere over in Narnia with Mint Berry Crunch where it's being silly and nonexistently fictional, that you leave me a comment and let me know that I'm totally full of shit.

Now, on to the music at hand.

With roots firmly planted in mid-to-late nineties prog. rock, Oriya's first full-length release feels a bit like the soundtrack to an indie action flick from said era. There are intense highs, mellow lows, and a steady pulsing theme of struggle beneath every song. Maena's voice is strained on some tracks, and not because he's vocally at a loss, but because the mood is one of fighting to be heard. The ominous bass, slowly building drums, and melodic synth effects add to this sense of faith through hopelessness. Think of some of the Smahsing Pumpkin's earlier, more intense tracks like "Rhino" and you'll find an apt comparison.

Musically it's nothing that we haven't heard before, but it doesn't feel tired or played out in the slightest. Even though these are emotions that have been discussed musically and lyrically before, it's the pairing of matching vocals and instrumentals creating that moody effect that give you the sense that the band is one hundred percent sincere in their efforts. Tracks begin slowly with tortured sounding vocals and build and build until a tremendous crescendo where the drum lines sort of take over and smash everything to bits. In this way it's reminiscent of some of the bro rock that we were all subjected to in the early 2000s, where usually stoic and serious guys just wanted to be mad about stuff and sometimes scream their feelings. This, however, is much more enjoyable to listen to for the simple fact that the tracks have actually been composed musically first, lyrically second. There's a real caring touch to each verse in each song; you can tell that nothing has been thrown together for the sake of filling the record.

Standout tracks on the album are most definitely "Never" and "For a Day," which is interesting as they represent two opposing sides of the same idea. "Never" is an anger-laden, volatile, throw-yourself-against-the-guy-standing-next-to-you track that showcases some impressive guitar skills on Aris and Maena's part as well as the length and breadth of the band's vocals. That sense of struggle is no more so evident than on this track. There's a sense of giving in; or perhaps wanting to give in and let your troubles turn you into that emotional wreck if only so that you can have that sense of release.

"For a Day" is the polar opposite. It's the optimistic version of this idea; the whole "it's always darkest before dawn" thing. The drums are muted, the melody is softer, and the sense of anguish is replaced by a sense of peace. "I still believe we've been through it all/but it hurts to breathe/it never seems so small," is the repetitive, stand-out line in the chorus. That sense of struggle ever present in all of the band's lyrics is still there, but this track is the pick-yourself-up moment on the album. It fades out beautifully, releasing the listener with some truly harmonious string plucking and synth.

What Oriya has done with their full-length shows remarkable skill and promise. Some of the content feels old-hat, but the way the album in its entirety has been put together shows a band really trying to give its all and show that while some of the music might seem moshy, it's moshy with a conscience, damn it! Either way, it's a refreshing take on a genre filled with a lot of repeats and do-overs.

Go Download: "Intruder," "Never," "For a Day"

3.5/5 starxx

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nerdy Things I'm Stoked About: 'Age of X'

So for most of my childhood/adolescence, I was enamored with all things X-Men. Hell, I can still rattle off trivia about the universe and the characters like you wouldn't believe, and have to often suppress myself from going all Comic Book Guy when one of the movies or cartoons gets some aspect of their canon incorrect.

Like most kids, though, my passions were fleeting or sporadic. I was really into archaeology once. And rocks. And baseball. And dinosaurs. And marine biology. And . . .

. . . But the X-Men comic books were something that I would keep coming back to. Maybe it was the characters, or their long history, or the stories, or just the fact that cool people beating people up and looking cool while doing it appeals to 12 year olds.

At one point, the line of books sporting an X decided to boost sales and gain more interest/readers by doing a whitewash. of everything. They started this ad campaign that would totally not work in the digital age that "Hey, by the way you guys, in like a month we're just not going to publish these anymore. It's done. We're done. Everything you love is done."

So that happened. And what did they do? They let it sit for about half a month and then republished every book with a new title, new creative team, new look, and in an entirely different universe!A universe where villains were heroes, heroes were villains, the human race was damn near extinct, and Wolverine had one hand. They called it 'Age of Apocalypse.'

Sweet facial tattoos and shoulder pads, you guys! Yeah . . .

It's ballsy as hell from a publishing standpoint. From a writing standpoint, it toes the line between creative and cop-out. Of course in about 5 months everything was back to normal, and the alternate universe they'd created had the big ol' Reset Button hit on it. At the time, though, I as a 13 year old was freaking floored. I mean, Cyclops had one eye. One eye! And he was a total badass working for the villains of the story. Magneto and Rogue had gotten married and had a kid. And Kitty Pryde chain smoked! Actually Gambit, Dazzler, and Banshee all chain smoked, too. Life was hard in that universe and pretty much everyone was homeless, but luckily cigarettes were still available somehow.

Anyway, my inner child is stoked because this month the current line of X-Men books is sort of pseudo-revisiting this concept with a story line tagged 'Age of X.'

I'm not sure how they're going to get to it or steer the story universe of the titles in that direction or what the inciting event for moving everything to a new universe is. In 'Age of Apocalypse,' a time traveling baddie named Legion went back in time to off Magneto seeing him as a "major threat" to the X-Men's goals (he thought he was doing them a favor, I suppose) and accidentally murdered Professor X, which altered reality and made everything go to shit, genocide, and tattoos on your face.

Most things about the story other than concept art and random back-story tid-bits that the writers are calling "communiques" over at ComicBookResources are being kept very hush-hush. Like a fool, I've fallen for the hype. It's Cloverfield, the re-opening of Seattle's club The Pony, and new Facebook Privacy Settings all over again.

We'll see if the story lives up to the hype, and if my inner child/outer nerd is satiated!

"Danger inside;
Nowhere to hide.
Why don't you build,
A temple tonight?"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick Hits

A few things I'm really digging right now:

1) My new gray cotton pullover hoody from H&M. It's simple, it's comfy, and it's become a staple layering piece.

2) The Raveonettes' cover of "I Wanna Be Adored." Yes yes, I know that it's been out since August-ish, but I've just now had a chance to formally add it to my collection of their music. Sharon's voice is haunting and seductive, as always.

3) This lovely blog called It's My Darlin, which is the home of Ms. Dana London's inspiring street fashion, musings, and bitchin' recipes. If you're into all things Seattle, this is a great place to start! Plus she updates often, which is nice (and something I should aspire to a bit more).

4) This posting on blog Squarehippies, which made me die inside out of sheer joy. NSFW, but it's got disturbingly sexy, scruffy Australian dudes. And sheep! How could you not take a peak?

Review of Oriya's new album is on the way!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ticket Stub: Oriya CD Release Party @ Studio 7 1/7/11

Photo courtesy of the Seattle Weekly's online archives.

Last night a bunch of us went to see our friends in Oriya and support them for the release of their new CD, "Light to Dark."

Photo courtesy of the Oriya official Facebook page.

It was a really great show. Studio 7 is a funny venue; it reminds me of Fuel in terms of the crowd, but in a much better space with a much better bar. That, and for once there wasn't anyone trying to sell me Malibu Rum or Jameson by way of trivia. I really like that there's plenty of room for a good-sized crowd yet the 21+ area is both separated and opened up over the general space. Because sometimes I just want a beer and don't want to mosh, you know? 17 year old me is laughing right now.

Great turnout, and all of the bands played beautifully. Big props to Orison for putting on a damn fine show despite the crowd at that moment being sort of "in and out" in terms of traffic. Their surging guitars and swift drum lines compliment Oriya's sound nicely, so good on whomever added them to the bill. And damn if that lead singer Jacob isn't a total cutie!

Photo courtesy of Orison's official Myspace page.

I missed Burning of I play because we got there too late (a long story involving a shitty Spanish restaurant in the U District), but I'm sure they were fine. I'd seen Vibrant Society before so I knew what to expect, and what I expected was epicness--Which was what they delivered with their signature brand of hair metal meets prog. Head banging ensued, and you know that the crowd is digging it when everyone's heads seem to bobble in exact motion.

Lots of people showed up including the guys from Future Fossils and a ton of people I hadn't seen in forever because, simply put, the holidays become a time of joy yet social obligation as we get older, so there's little time for the usual skullduggery. The general feeling amongst everyone I caught up with was that we were all relieved and exhausted, and excited to get back to the normal work-and-play routine.

The new CD is pretty damn good, incidentally. The tracks are polished up nicely and put together in a way that feels natural. Nothing feels out of place, and Maena's voice sounds crisp as hell in a way I hadn't heard on the demo tracks (sorry that Josh and I didn't get to say goodbye to you and Pearl, by the way!). Everyone in the band was just on, and that came from a mix of the crowd's positive energy and the general feeling of accomplishment you could tell that they all feel. Julie's design for the album art and the banner looks classy as always. By the by, since I'm always hyping up her work, you can see some of her commerical samplings right ovah myeh.

I hope you'll all seek out "Light to Dark" to bulk up your Seattleite Winter to Spring music collection! My review of the whole thing is pending, but rest assured I'll be posting it later this week after I've had time to listen to it obsessively.

"I walk among the ghosts
Of all my former loves,
And all my future selves.
This is the final straw:
I'll take you by the throat,
I'll shake you like a doll;
Just feed my starving heart."