My tweets of the last week:
Archives for December 2010
My tweets of the last week:
I always found eggnog to be a fairly terrifying topic of noshery. Sure, it’s like an instant milkshake, but the thing making it shakey is raw eggs.
Denise wore me down.
Denise is Gina’s mother, effectively my aunt at this point. I’ve been attending, playing, and now co-hosting her holiday party for ten years now, and every year she proffers several carafes full of egg nog along with a plentiful array of liquors to spike said nog with.
After several years she wore me down. I had my first sip of egg nog. AND LOVED IT, as I was both afraid and certain that I would. It’s like spicy little milkshake that won’t freeze your throat if you greedily gulp it – what’s not to love? My particular favorite brand is Southern Comfort, which has a particular spiceness that invites the alcohol of the same name to be added to the concoction.
The thing is (and, as alluded to above) eggnog is as terrifying as it is tasty. I wouldn’t drink raw eggs in any other setting, so why do it here? Also, though nog is charmingly suggested in half-cup portions (think of those wee holiday-party cups), I don’t drink anything in half-cup portions – certainly not anything that resembles a milkshake. And, in 8oz settings, eggnog is as deadly as it is full of holiday cheer.
Enter my beloved former boss Carol. I was going through a particularly militant/petulant phase of veganism at the time, so for her annual holiday cavalcade of food she brought me a carton of Silk Soy Nog.
Not only was it just as tasty as the real, eggy thing, but witness the nutritional head-to-head:
|Peter-Sized Serving||1 Cup||1 Cup|
|Calories (from fat)||400 (130)||180 (40)|
|Squickiness from consuming
raw eggs not even concealed by
being whipped into fluffy ice cream?
|YES, very||None whatsoever|
Advantage: Silk Soy Nog
I’ve never looked back at the real deal. Which reminds me – I need to pick up some Soy Nog for the Shubin Theatre Holiday Revue on Saturday, featuring Arcati Crisis as well as the highest holiday-decor:square-footage ratio I’ve ever witnessed inside of a habitable structure.
I am totally okay with that, because this year pop has had depth. It’s not just crossover hits from other genres. It’s not just prefab boy bands and girly girls. No. In 2010 pop was music created by auteurs, no different than singer-songwriters or rock bands.
Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Kanye West – hell, even slutty Kesha and Bieber with his lady-hair – these are pop artist who have an unusually high amount of investment and control in their music compared to the pop artists of five or ten years ago.
Which brings me to Robyn.
Those of you from the 90s might know her mostly as the singer of “Show Me Love.” I complete eschewed pop at the time, so I have no idea about that. Hearing it now for the first time it sounds adjacent to TLC. All I know is that I’ve seen her name around for the past several years, and then somehow I wound up watching this video…
… and I was like – alright, that’s a decent song. I dig the clear Cyndi Lauper influence on the vocals. I dig the the relatively unprocessed, clear vocals over thrumming synth bass.
That was it. No further thoughts at the time. No urge to buy the song.
Then, in a spree of catching up on 2010 albums, one of my dear readers (and friends) recommended I check out Robyn’s Body Talk releases – effectively, three separate mini-LPs that she collected into one monster pop release. So, I grabbed Body Talk, Pt. 1 and played it while I caught up on some reading.
Hole. Eee. Shit. I was putting my book down every three minutes to check out the name of the next song.
“Don’t Fxxxxx’ Tell Me What To Do” is hilarious and deadly catchy. “Fembot” and “Dancing On My Own” stand up against the Gaga powerhouses of 2009. “Dancehall Queen” and “None of Dem” cop a reggae vibe without transgressing against Robyn’s synth pop. Then, “Hang With Me”…
… no words. I love huge pop songs deconstructed to simple elements, the acoustic piano, strings, and electronic burbles on that song killed me. And, this is a song she LEFT OFF the fuller Body Talk – or, at least, it’s the full synth version that appears there, not this lovely stripped-down take.
Needless to say, Robyn is going to be making an appearance on my 2010 Recommended Music list. Until then, check out Body Talk, Pt. 1 and consider grabbing a ticket for her February 3rd show at the Electric Factory so I won’t be dancing on my own.
See what I did there?
A long time ago – like, about half a life – I attended a birthday party upstairs at Tattooed Mom on South Street.
That is the sense-memory that struck me in the face Friday night when I trundled my two amps up the stairs to the Textual Healing book release party and took in the room with its two pool tables. I’ve been to Tattoo Moms several times since then, but that was the only occasion I had ever been upstairs.
Now I have a second indelible memory of Tattoo Moms – me, standing inside one of the vintage bumper cars in the upstairs back room, singing and playing squelchingly distorted acoustic guitar licks from my place in the back seat.
The whole story of Eric Smith and his book is a sort of hazy dream to me. I can’t believe I wrote a song to the first chapter, or sent it to him a minute later, or wrote another one, or then wrote AN ENTIRE BOOK inspired by his manic and infectious “GO ARTS” energy.
That’s why I was so thankful to be playing for him, for his book, and for a room of people I’ve come to really love and cherish – literally too many Twitter folks for me to try to remember and collect their handles into this single post post.
What I do remember is finishing “Curves Sketched In Letters” and starting up my super-secret cover of “Fuck You” and watching the entirety of the room on my right – including Nan, Schmidt, Linzy and Jess, and a slew of other people – sing all of the callbacks every time I stopped for a breath.
(Also, intriguingly, the couch in front of me bore a girl I’m quite certain I went on a pseudo-date with in high school. I couldn’t tell if she was enjoying me or not, or if she even recognized me. Would someone from that birthday party recognize me now, playing guitar, if they hadn’t seen me in all of those intervening years? I was sorry she left early, as I sorely wanted to see if it was really her (and, if it was, have her experience how hot my wife looked).)
After my brief set half of Venice Sunlight took the stage bumper car to play a few songs acoustic. I had a grand time chatting VS’s Jay and Dave up well into the night about their band and brand new CD, released on Saturday and just-about-free to download.
Otherwise, the weekend was uneventful. I was couch-bound on Saturday with a howling backache (thanks to all the amp-trundling), and Sunday was spent cleaning and rehearsing solo music.
Now for a new week! Rehearsal, Freelance Whales show, Black Swan (!!), rehearsal, night off, and my tenth appearance at the Shubin Theatre Holiday revue – serving as the house-band with Gina. We’ll debut a cover of Counting Crows’ “Long December” in the long, proud tradition of sad Christmas songs as helmed by Judy Garland’s original “(Have Yourself) A Merry Little Christmas.”
Last night I watched an amazing webcast of original instrumental piano music from a teenager named Tristan Allen, who has his first EP out today.
The quality and control of it was just astounding. I have a very hard time paying attention to instrumental music, but last night I had no problem.
What’s so interesting, other than Tristan’s amazing abilities as a pianist and composer, is the story of how his album came to be. I love this story to death, and you should just go read Amanda Palmer’s version of it – part 1 and part 2 – but her blogs are way longer than mine, so I’ll summarize for you:
While Amanda Palmer, she of the Dresden Dolls, was recently in Boston rehearsing and performing Cabaret she randomly stopped in front of Berklee College of Music and asked three hugging teens if she could snap their photo. Though they didn’t recognize her at first, just as Amanda made her way down the sidewalk one of the teens chased her down, having overheard her talking about Cabaret.
This was Tristan. He was a huge Dolls fan and composer, and wondered if he could play a song for Amanda. One thing lead to another, and Amanda, Tristan, and his friends wound up in Amanda’s legendary Cloud Collective apartment with Amanda’s jaw on the floor, watching him play.
So, of course, being Amanda Palmer, she broadcasted him to the internet as he played and then created a Kickstarter campaign to raise 2.5x as much as he needed to record an EP, and then went into the studio with him to record, then last night threw him a record release party once again broadcast to the internet at large.
(You can stream the entire webcast on Ustream – Amanda plays a set before Tristan, who starts at about an hour in. His second or third song is where I began to be really blown away.)
Just take that in. Amanda Palmer just got out of a record contract. She was in a major run of a musical, promoting a new record, mixing another one, and planning a reunion tour for Dresden Dolls. And she took the time out to hear Tristan’s one song – and then fell in love with him and helped him make all of this happen. Oh, and recorded a duet with him.
Now Tristan has an album, at least a few thousand dollars put away for school, and a pretty fare name for himself heading into college applications.
Just amazing. Please listen to the sample and, if you like him, download his EP at any price you name.
I have a vendetta against television.
It stems from my pre-adolescent years. I had such a television schedule – every night a list of can’t-miss shows. I remember once, for a social studies class, we had to furnish a full schedule of our television viewing habits. Mine was absurd – 6:30 to 12:30 on some nights.
Eventually the internet and guitar supplanted all but Buffy and X-Files, and I’ve never gone back to appointment television since the pair went off the air. In fact, we don’t even have broadcast teevee in our house – a fact oft-lamented by co-workers and friends.
(Frankly, I think that makes people look a little… uh… unintellectual. Just putting that out there. Can you really not live without cable and the evening news?)
The thing about television is it doesn’t keep its promises. You might go all in for a show that starts really strong. Well, like a first album from a new artist, those show creators had their whole freaking lives to dream up that strong start. What’s the season finale going to be like? Season two? Season nine?
Point being, if the latter years of a show are going to suck, why bother investing at the start? That’s my new philosophy – I want to see a proven track record of excellence at least three seasons deep before I’ll deign to sample something. Otherwise, you just get burnt (Heroes) when a series can’t stick (Glee) the landing (Battlestar), or meanders on too long (ER).
I watched the first season of Dollhouse on Hulu and found it mostly inert despite a thrilling concept and solid supporting cast. With that in mind, and with Joss Whedon’s accumulated good will in full effect, recently E and I watched the first three episodes of Dollhouse Season Two on Netflix streaming.
They sucked. They were stultifyingly bad and, since Dollhouse had relatively little good faith from me to begin with, I wrote the series off as dead (putting a dent into Joss’s good will).
Thankfully, this weekend E cajoled me into watching the fourth episode and… well… WOW.
Dollhouse went from borderline-embarrassing to an insane five-episode sprint into total must-watch madness of genre-bending plots, double-crossing paranoia, and restructuring the entire concept of the show – answering the unsettling promise of the season one “Epitaph” DVD-only episode.
The show finally gets around to asking the question underlying its premise: if you can change the architecture of the mind, what’s stopping you from bending the entire world to your whim? And, what happens when dissension in the ranks leads to two different whims? Would anyone be able to call their mind their own?
Admittedly, after the five stellar episodes it took a brief break and then pushed through a rushed two-part finale. But that quintet, plus the heart-rending epilogue, are some of the strongest television I’ve selectively watched in the past few years. The supporting cast is scorching and Eliza Dushku, freed from carrying the show on her own, is much more compelling than in the first season.
If you gave up on Dollhouse after the first season, please nab the final disc of season one and then take a chance on season two.
My tweets of the last week: