A lot of little nothings that are not in any way about April 1st

Last Saturday, Noah and I were driving behind this car and we were all turning left onto St. Rose and I watched in horror as it accidentally turned to the left of the concrete median (so, into the wrong direction of traffic). St. Rose is a state route that's something like ten miles wide, and it was at night, and there was no traffic going in either direction at the time, so it's kind of understandable that someone could make that mistake, but all the same, I was panicking for him [1]. St. Rose is also a state route that has a speed limit of 55, which means everyone goes at least 70, and I kept thinking this was a horrible fiery death in the making, and Noah had to listen to me anxiously call out to that car: no, no, you're going the wrong way, come back! Because wouldn't that be the standard instinct? To get your car onto the right side of the road ASAP? Especially on roads where there's only a center lane and not a median? Except there *was* a median and you can easily blow a tire trying to jump one of those babies, but the thing is– this guy, with the lights of cars in the distance gradually approaching him, instead did something that I thought was fairly brilliant at the time: he flipped a U. And I know it's not rocket science and a lot of you are probably thinking, yeah, duh, I would have done the same thing, but would you? Really? Before even considering jumping the median? In the face of oncoming traffic pummeling toward you at 70 MPH, 113 km/hr if you're in Canada or Europe or the rest of the world that unitedly uses the metric system? I don't believe you, but whatever, maybe now you really will.

*****

A long time ago, Noah asked me which music gets me pumped. I didn't have an answer for him at the time (I'm bad at questions like that when put on the spot, but give me six months to a year and one day I'll randomly get back to you with an answer), but tonight, I could safely say that  Death Cab, Ima Robot, Ludacris and Missy Elliot are all pretty solid answers for me. And maybe Aquabats, NOFX, Offspring and Black Eyed Peas. I like the energy of techno but strangely mostly listen to it to relax and zone out.

*****

I got hazed tonight at lindy. It was one of those "The Ring" deals, something so terrible that it had to be passed on, and since I hadn't shown up to the venue in months, my turn was due. Probably there was also a little schadenfreude thrown into that, too. Man.

Oh, also:

NO GIVING UNSOLICITED DANCE ADVICE ON A SOCIAL DANCE FLOOR. Why is it the ones who do not obey this widely-accepted and practiced rule are also typically the ones who have no business trying to teach anyone how to dance?

*****

What *doesn't* butter improve? Other than cholesterol and your ability to meet your weight-loss goal? Seriously.

[1] Not sure why I thought it was a guy driving. Typically when a driver is being a dick, I assign male status, and when a driver is being wishy-washy or absent-minded, I assign female status. Way to propogate stereotypes, I know.

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I should probably find out what happened to the mail, too.

Yesterday– or the latter half of it– slowly drifted off-axis and the inside of my head became attacked by something resembling a sturzstrom. It's spilling over to today, so I've spent most of my Friday thus far nitpicking over labs, putzing around outside half-heartedly attempting to do errands, and scouring my kitchen clean and freeing it from weeks of grease and residue and other crap.

So, disjointed items:

1. When I lived in San Diego, I used to listen to FM 94.9 almost every night for their Big Sonic Chill program, and since having moved away, I've tried to find similar music on my own (including acquisitions of The Chillout Sessions and Ultra Chilled Vols. 1-4) to little avail– until now.

Port Blue is a non-vocal side project of Adam Young (a.k.a. Owl City) and is more or less just that: the more mellow tracks of Owl City minus the lyrics. It's all synthy and Brian-Eno-ish-Sigur-Ros-y awesome, just like The Album Leaf, and I've been listening to the discographies of both. Pretty much anywhere you start with The Album Leaf will tell you whether or not you'll like them, but for Port Blue I would recommend starting with Butterflies or Glider (just hold out for 30 seconds, trust me), or even Mr. Chen, Sailmaker, which to my great disappointment isn't to be found anywhere outside of Songza.

2. We watched "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" earlier this week and I was surprised at how much I liked it. I knew I recognized Kat Dennings from somewhere, but couldn't place the source until I looked her up on IMDb and realized it was from "Raise Your Voice" (which is slightly embarrassing, but whatever; I like Hilary Duff sometimes, okay?). Just– really cute dialogue:

Norah: It reminds me of this part of Judaism that I really like, it's called tikkun olam. It says that, um, the world's been broken into pieces and it's everybody's job to find them and put them back together again.
Nick: Well, maybe we're the pieces, you know? Maybe we're not supposed to find the pieces, maybe we are the pieces.

and

Norah: Are you sad we missed it?
Nick: We didn't miss it. This is it.

Makes me think of the bottom part of an old xkcd drawing, and also that great quote from "Contact":

In all our searching, the only thing we found that makes the emptiness bearable… is each other.

3. When I was in second (or maybe third) grade, I started ballet lessons. A few weeks into it, the teacher announced that our class would be participating in a studio-wide recital and all of us would be performing for all the parents and so-on.

Despite having exhibited a love for performing in regards to theatre for a few years by then, the news of this recital overwhelmed me with stage fright, and in response, I stopped going to ballet.

In other words, because I didn't want to do a recital, I abandoned ballet (and have regretted that since).

Funny how 18 years doesn't do a whole lot to stamp out childhood proclivities.

4. Self-cleaning ovens are AMAZING.

Yet another example of why I don’t listen to the radio anymore, excepting NPR.

Apparently I am one of the last people on the Internet who 1) doesn't qualify for AARP membership, 2) doesn't use the search box in the top left right of the browser window, and 3) still defaults to the Yahoo! homepage to run my search queries. I use Google for mail, calendars, and even docs, but if I'm looking something up, I rely on the power of the Y!-bot to give me my answers. Some habits, like wild hearts, can't be broken.

So I'm on the Yahoo! homepage this morning, about to look up something arbitrary and entirely irrelevant to this anecdote at hand, and I see a little news item on how Kelly Clarkson's recent single has leapt from #97 to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. And I'm thinking, oh, good for her, and I'm remembering her from the days between her "Thankful" and "Breakaway" albums and when she was all sparkly and spunky and she had awesome hair and eye makeup, and I get so caught up in my nostalgic thrill that I'm motivated to trawl the Internet to listen to this wondrous gem of a hit song.

And then I find it, and I play it, and now I'm thinking, good god, is this for real?

Because– I mean– so, have you *heard* this song? Have you even heard *of* this song? It's called "My Life Would Suck Without You", for one thing, and yeah, everything a title like that suggests pretty much sums up the entire song. Well, no. Not the melody. The melody is actually pretty catchy, like most of her successful singles, but the lyrics– crumbling muffins and a bucket of holes, the lyrics are like something you'd expect from Avril Lavigne, only they're worse because you can totally imagine Avril Lavigne making a disgusted face at you, all like, "Are you kidding? I wouldn't be caught dead singing that song if my best damn comeback thing solely depended on it."

You don't believe me. Here. Here are the lyrics. Go read them, or try to. If you are not twelve or not permanently stuck in Angsty Teenage Angst of a Teenager Who is So Misunderstood and I Am a Unique and Original Unicorn and GOD Adults Just Do Not Get It mode, I dare you to follow the first verse with the chorus without wincing. I triple-dog dare you.

The gist of the song is, this chick blew up at her dude and he said some crappy things (like how he wanted anyone *but* her) and left, and then she felt all bad about picking a fight with him, but now he's on her doorstep and he wants to get back together and she is all baby we are two halves of a dysfunctional one!

Whatever. It's not an impossible, or improbable, even, premise. People have fights and say stupid things they don't actually mean, and then they come to their senses and have ferocious make-up sex and move forward with their relationship. Even the title, really, should be kind of commendable: her life would suck without him. Casual, brutal honesty, right? Her life would suck. Not end, not be ruined, not break into a million pieces that could never be put back together. It would suck– but she'd move on. It's not like she's saying she's nothing without him.

What's that? The last line of the second verse? Oh. Well. I guess she is.

That one line ruins the entire song for me. It makes her weak and melodramatic and codependent [1]. I think because I usually associate Kelly Clarkson with "Since U Been Gone", I envision her as this fiercely independent, strong, progressive type, all, "Woo girl power! We don't need a man to be awesome! Love yourself and you can stand on your own two feet without any assistance! Woo!" But then I started reading through the lyrics of some of her other songs (see specifically: "Addicted"), and it's pretty defeating. She's like the female pop version of Dashboard Confessional, except Dashboard is more impressive in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure.

–shrug–

In the end, what does this matter? Ten years from now, will people really remember this song? It's not worth being annoyed over, I know. But it's a crap hit song and it bugs me that there are pages of threads full of comments like "omg I toooootally agree with what shes saying!" and "lolz yeah this ROCKS the best part is when shes like i'm nothing without you ITS SOOOO TRUE".

No, sweetheart, it's not. You are, in fact, quite something without him. You are tooooootally something without him. Really.

Related/unrelated: This song agitates me every time I hear it. Actually, Beyonce just agitates me. Actually, a good percentage of contemporary radio hits agitates me. I would say, I'm not old, I just have excellent taste in music– except I get no end of delight from this song [2]. So maybe I'm just old.

[1] I am all for romance. I am not all for uttering self-deprecating, hyperbolic statements ("I'm nothing without you", "I would die without your love", etc.) in the name of romance. Dude. I'm no relationships guru, but shouldn't your partner be someone who enhances (as opposed to defines) your life?

[2] Also this translation of the song.

Or, “Everything that is past is prologue to this.” *

I don’t check my stats or referrers but once in a blue moon these days. I used to sort-of care, I used to be motivated to try and generate (and retain) new traffic, except then I came to my senses and realized that if I wasn’t actively recruiting new readers, I didn’t have to actively produce interesting content. I didn’t even have to produce content, period! (Friends, never underestimate the trump power of the Lazy card.) And while it’s not that I consider all this to be a worthless read… I don’t know. If people wander over here on their own accord– it’s in the public domain and shows up in query results and I’ve posted the link to it on other site profiles– that’s fine. But I can’t justify, in my own head, asking people to come here. When I hung out with Megan in Berkeley, she asked me who I wrote for, and I’m pretty sure I told her I didn’t know. I still don’t. Every once in a while, I’ll write with a particular person or group of people in mind, but for the most part, this is really just a self-involved dumping ground for narcissism. I write for my own amusement, or as some strange little test to make sure that I still exist. As such, I assume that the only people who regularly check in here do so out of a curiosity about or interest in who I am, because you’re not going to get a whole lot else out of my posts. My post topics are all over the map ’cause *I’m* all over the map.

But anyway. Stats! I think I’ve finally stopped getting hits for searches on freckled dog porn, but tonight I saw that someone clicked through to the Annex after a search on the meaning behind Mason Jennings’ "Darkness Between the Fireflies" and I got really excited. Dude! That was the second song of his I ever heard (the first being "Butterfly", and of course it was the Pablo Honey who introduced me to him) and it took me a few weeks to warm to it (and him), but when I did? Boy howdy did I warm.

This song in particular, though: I love this song because of how shrug-your-shoulders honest and frank it is, without turning cynical or pessimistic or unkind. Honey, you want to know what this song is about? This song is about not falling for all that fairy-tale schlock and Disney idealism regarding love, but conceding that there is no such thing as "one and only true love".

You should know by now
That someone’s always been there
Long before you
You’re never going to be the only one

And honey I’m sure
That you’ve been in love before
Plenty of men have held high places in your eyes

At 24, I’ve been in real, actual, dig-your-toes-in-deep-and-hold-on love three times, and twice it was Big Big Love, and once it was with someone who had been in Big Big Love with at least one other woman before I’d come into his life. Falling in love happens, but so does falling out of love; the existence of the latter doesn’t negate the existence of the former. Just because it didn’t last or turn into till-death-do-you-part doesn’t mean it wasn’t real. Having loved someone before doesn’t make you incapable of fully and wholly loving someone else later on, and loving someone now doesn’t invalidate the love you had for someone else once upon a prior time. Change happens, change is happening all around us, all the time. And sometimes it’s the world, sometimes it’s your life, sometimes it’s your mind, and sometimes– it’s your heart. What can you do? Other than accept the way of it all and move forward and hope that there isn’t much wreckage in the aftermath– and understand that countless others are going through the exact same thing, so be good and give them the benefit of the doubt should your paths happen to cross.

As for the title of the song:

But jealousy has got no use for me
The past is beautiful
Like the darkness between the fireflies

This is what makes the song. This is what keeps it from taking that jaded tone (well, this and his excellent, excellent (albeit kinda quirky) voice). The literal imagery is easy enough to explain– fireflies only glow so brightly because of the darkness that surrounds them. In full daylight, they’re just another bug with wings; but at night? They become enchanting and alluring as they burn amber trails against the contrasting shadows of scenery.

In this same way, our pasts– the parts of our lives which are always there, are always surrounding us, but on which we don’t directly shine light– make our presents (the part which *does* receive the spotlight) beautiful and are beautiful in their own way. Without our past, we wouldn’t *be* in our present. If you find yourself caring about someone, you have to realize that regardless of how you approve or disapprove of that person’s past, that past is what makes them the wonderful being you adore so much right now– in love and in all other aspects of existence. Why be jealous when it’s so much easier (and less painful) to be appreciative instead? You can’t change the past and you can only aim for the future; but you can control your present. The present is all we really have, all we really know; it’s wasted energy to focus so hard on everything else. So exist– exist, and enjoy.

*You know, I’ve loved that monologue for years, but I’d only read it– I’d never actually seen "Swingers" until last month. So I’ve never felt justified in quoting it until recently. It’s such a great line, though.

One song glory (or, So this one time, I had a vegetarian dinner with Thom Yorke’s secret love child)

So last summer heralded a number of milestones for me. I learned C++, got my first tattoos, and grew as a student, as a dancer, and as a person overall.

I also had a song written for me. I have to confess, it was never on my List of Feasibly Attainable Goals to have someone be inspired enough to write a song either for or about me, probably because I was pretty sure that said song would go something along the lines of "You sucked the life from me and, well, / I hope you die and go to hell". Despite the fact that 1) I am not really that bad of a person and 2) I was going to say I would never associate with anyone who turned out to possess such a combination of emo+petty, but looking back through my life, this is an entirely untrue sentiment.

ANYWAY. The song! Was recorded last week and posted a day or two ago! You can listen to it here and the lyrics are here. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see my name spelled correctly five times (six, if you count the title). And maybe it’s a sign of narcissism, but I couldn’t really claim to care: I love my song. It’s light and summery and silly, free of symbolism or pretense to deeper meanings. It is exactly what it is. Happiness, curled toes and all.

There was one Saturday in April when I played DCFC’s new album from dawn to dusk. *That* was fun!

When you’re not exactly in the mood for the Cary Brothers or the Shins, when you can’t take any more Jack Johnson, when Dave Matthews won’t do it, when you’ve even outplayed Mason Jennings (I know! But it happens)– when your heart feels small and in need of smoothing over and you just can’t find the music to heal the cracks and rough edges– solace can be found, surprisingly, in Ray LaMontagne’s "Trouble".

Feather and I saw him live when he was an opening act for Anna Nalick and Howie Day and we were severely unimpressed (Missy Higgins also opened; she, however, was amazing). Granted, we were giggly and hyper and thus not a suitable market for his mellow tunes, but if I remember correctly, he also lacked any modicum of stage presence. Dude. If you are going to just stand in front of a microphone and strum your guitar, um, maybe stick to coffee shops.

I do remember a year or two (or whatever) ago, the Hazmat (my taste-trustworthy music pimp) telling me I should listen to Ray LaMontagne, to which I replied, rather scathingly, that I’d seen the guy perform and didn’t care for him much, but thanks for the recommendation.

But then in Ulta the other day, The Wife and I heard some song being pumped in through the speakers, and it was slow and kind of scruffy James Taylor-y and we just looked at each other and were all, "We need to own this song and play it on repeat at home for hours on end." Or at least, that’s what *I* was thinking; she might have been closer to just "hey I really like this song". I looked up a line of the lyrics on my [trusty, very non-gay] phone and found out it was "Hold You In My Arms", by one Ray LaM. Which, when we got home, I found out I already had, because it was on the "Last Kiss" soundtrack. Oh, Zack Braff. You dear little noodle.

So now I have his full album, "Trouble", and I’ve been listening to it over and over again. And, you know? It does the trick. His funny folk-y music, it does the trick. Savage beast = soothed.

*****

Also: I did this with Ingrid Michaelson during the winter months. Mostly in my car, but sometimes at home as well, I would just play "Girls & Boys" on repeat, endlessly. As a result, I associate that album with winter and thus feel weird listening to it now, in these warm summer months. Oddness.

I used to think he was saying “the city of cotton”

Apparently I go through this phase often enough that I’m actually aware that it’s a phase. But, uh, yeah. I have about eleventy thousand hundred and two posts 90% written and saved as drafts. None of them have titles. I can’t let myself post anything unless it’s titled, and my title-generating machine is out-of-service. Someone’s scheduled to come by and repair it tomorrow between the hours of noon and never.

Anyway. Geo lecture was canceled today so I had an extra hour to dick around in the library stacks (which were freezing cold today), so I decided to participate in the song chart meme that’s been going around the Internet (again, I know this isn’t new or anything) like HepB and flu combined:

This is getting ridiculous.

Hands down, this one was our favorite to practice

To the person looking for the chocolate song lyrics? I don’t know what the song is actually called, nor do I know its author’s name. I don’t even remember the whole song– it was just one of the many songs we learned when I was in fourth grade, under the guidance and direction of our music teacher, Mrs. Fleming.

But! This is as much as I do remember (15 years later!):

I used to think that mousse was an animal
Rocky Road was just a rough place to ride
Black Forest was somewhere very far away
And Chip was a good friend of mine

Now I’ve developed quite a craving
And you’ll always hear me raving
‘Bout a certain food that’s high in calories
Don’t even try to guess
‘Cause it’s time that I confess
That something’s really got a hold on me

Chocolate! Give me chocolate!
I’ll eat it in a shake or a German chocolate cake
Chocolate! Give me chocolate!
Now: tell me the truth
Did *you* eat my Baby Ruth?

There was a second verse about not being able to sleep… counting sheep with M&M eyes… I don’t remember anything else, though.

Hope that helps!

Full, quarter and three-quarters are pardoned from the damnation, I guess

This song? This song, "El Scorcho"? Okay, so for one thing, it’s a Weezer song, so right off the bat, I’m expecting a relatively strong dosage of Awesome.

And then I listen to it for the first time? And the opening line. THE OPENING LINE, OH MY GOD.

I gleefully restarted the song five times before finally letting it play the whole way through. Love it. *Love* it. And you really ought to listen to it and partake in the devilish joy. It’s– oh! It’s perfect.

(And: I really like DCFC’s "Title and Registration," but, *damn*, Ben. Was that break-up really so devastating that you had to refer to it on two different albums, one of which is pretty much entirely devoted to the subject? Give up, indeed.)

Truthfully? I’m addicted to Muse right now.

History doesn’t lie. Annoying as she was from the very start, I was all about Avril Lavigne’s first radio single, "Complicated." It’s *catchy*, dammit. But then I saw the video and started reading her interviews, and she annoyed the living shit out of me, to where I would actually change the radio station if any of her songs came on. Which says a lot, for someone as indifference-capable as I am. Then "Sk8er Boi" hit the airwaves and I started to refer to her as "Advil," even though whereas the namesake is meant to relieve aggravating pain, she simply induced and furthered it.

Fast-forward five years. She’s got a new single, "Girlfriend," and I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t be letting bygones be bygones, I’m not one to hold a grudge and surely she’s grown and matured and whatever. Because– well– shit. The song. It’s catchy. (Dammit!)

And then I see the video.

Made me want to hunt that girl down and deliver a swift left hook to her jaw. (Also, for you literaries: doesn’t she look like "Cathy," from Steinbeck’s "East of Eden"? With her creepy eyes and her creepy teeth?) I change the station when that song plays, now. Which means I have to change the station A LOT.

On the complete opposite of the spectrum, I really did NOT want to like T-Pain’s "Bartender" because of the opening line ("Broke up with my girl last night so I went to the club")– understand the first time I heard this was the beginning of June, and, hey, I’m human. But the hook is so cute! How can you not adore that hook?

And: Mos Def is so fun. I remember seeing that years ago; super surprised I remembered about it, a little less surprised that I was able to unearth it on YouTube. @1:00:30 is when it kicks in for me. And, ha! For two seconds, yup, they’re "driving backwards." Oh, Chappelle.