Archive for April, 2011

Handstands at 31

Yesterday I did a handstand at work and it was awesome.

The handstand was because I had just written up a review for New Belgium’s Somersault, and the owner decided we should try to get a picture of me doing a somersault to go with the review. The thing is, though, if you’ve ever seen a somersault in action, then you know it’s not a photogenic position. So I didn’t want to do that. I did think I could maybe work with the upside down idea, however, which is how I ended up doing a handstand over a case of beer, my feet up against the cooler doors for balance, my hair pooling on top of the beer.

I hadn’t done a handstand in something like 20 years and wasn’t sure I was going to pull one off without falling on my head. At the same time, I do work out a lot, I do still have good balance, lots of upper body strength, that sort of thing. So I tried it. And I got up. Four times.

Upshot: I feel oddly kickass about myself right now, like I could do anything, simply because I could do a handstand yesterday. It’s funny what raises my self-esteem.

Right. So last night, I got to playing around on iTunes (for reasons which are beyond me because I really shouldn’t be playing around on iTunes until I get my paycheck deposited – due to the stupidest ATM on the planet, I am unable to do so until Monday). Last night, however, complete and total lack of fundage to play did not deter me from playing on iTunes (merely from purchasing). I think iTunes needs a wishlist/bookmark feature, seriously. If it has one and someone could point me in that direction, that would be fabulous.

The upshot of my playing is that I now have a list of something like 10 albums I’d like to download, some of which are Beirut (see my accordians post from a week ago), others of which are by Scottish bands whose singers have accents so thick that I can barely understand what they’re singing half the time (which may actually be part of the charm).

So, in hopes of being not the only person stateside who has ever heard of these two bands, go find The Twilight Sad and  Frightened Rabbit. Frightened Rabbit has an album called the Winter of Mixed Drinks. I mean. Whoever titled that deserves a million dollars and a pony.* Also, brilliant lyrics. The Twilight Sad mostly makes upset, angsty walls of noise (i.e., they’re shoegazers). Which, again, million dollars and a pony. Or at least a thank you for taking the parts of Sonic Youth I’ve always liked while dumping the bits I wasn’t so fond of.**

Bonus points: the Twilight Sad station on Pandora has already played Pavement and Morrissey.

Anyway, so that’s what I’ve been doing when I haven’t been at work or writing. I’ve mostly been at work.

*or maybe not a pony. I’m not sure if a pony would fit into a mixed drinks sort of lifestyle.
**Admittedly, Sonic Youth is a better band overall. That said, I’m not excited about Sonic Youth right now, and I *am* excited about The Twilight Sad.

This is for everyone

This is a video of a wee tiny penguin. The Amazing Dr. B (or her equally amazing husband) found it:

You’re welcome.

I’ve very recently become sort of obsessed with the accordion.

Unironically, even. Seriously, I like it. And this disturbs me, because accordion is not my usual soundtrack of angst-ridden guitar- and piano-laden lo-fi post-punk alternative-folk-rock-pop.* It’s not even that I refuse to venture outside my standard musical parameters,** it’s just that I very rarely see any reason to bother. I don’t often get to choose my soundtrack any more, so when I do, I’m going with something I like.

The reason I’m not in total control of my soundtrack is because of work. If you were following along during the holiday season, you may know I work in retail. You may even know that I’m one of the lucky retail types, in that I don’t hate my job. I actually shamelessly love most of it.

I don’t love the music.

The music at work is generally Variations On a Theme of Smooth Jazz, also known as Jazz of the Type Wherein Every Song Is Named “This Was For a Paycheck.” It’s that hideous, random, nonsensical and emotionless sort of jazz, the type piped in overhead in order to make sure it isn’t completely silent in the store.*** It’s the type of music so awful that the occasional wine rep will come in and, on a slow day, ask me how I can stand it. I can’t. That conversation is usually a short one.

The thing is, everyone at work except the store owner hates the Smooth Jazz. It even came up at our most recent staff meeting, the general grumbling being such that the manager finally told us we could listen to Not-Smooth Jazz when the owner wasn’t around, so long as Not-Smooth Jazz was free of swear words, not too loud, and not distracting to the customers. Since then, we’ve listened mostly to Smooth Jazz, Contemporary Piano (read: elevator music), Blues, and, very occasionally, Classic Rock.  And sometimes, if I get lucky and no one else is around who cares, Folk Rock or “Coffeehouse Blend.”+

What I’ve discovered in the past month is that, so long as we’re not listening to Smooth Jazz, I pretty much adore whatever it is we *are* listening to. This is where the accordion comes in.

See, one day recently we put on some kind of film score station. We spent the afternoon happily stocking bottles and playing “name that film” and generally having a whee of a good time. The station was fun – it was playing everything from Forrest Gump to Lonesome Dove to the Godfather and beyond. And then it threw in the accordion waltz from Amelie, a piece of music I’ve always loved because I feel like it catches the whole tone of the film perfectly. Plus, I adore that film.

So I think those are the first two causes of the accordion thing: being so sick of Smooth Jazz as to glomb onto anything else, and hearing a piece of accordion music that I already liked due to happy associations.

Then, last Monday, I was standing behind the counter psyching myself up to gather the trash, when this song, Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) by Beirut, came on the Folk Rock station I’d managed to turn on. I was listening, thinking that I sort of liked it, when a customer came in. She made it three steps in the door when her eyes went wide and she asked me if we were listening to my iPod or radio. When I told her it was radio, she asked me if I liked the song. I told her I thought I sort of did. This was enough for her to tell me who the band was, that she adored them, and that she’d bought herself an accordion on eBay++ in hopes of learning how to play most of Beirut’s back catalog of songs. Then she paid for her wine and left. I listened to the last minute or so of the song, thinking that, all told, I did rather like it. The accordion line was nice.

When I got home, I listened to the song again.  And then downloaded it. And then downloaded more Beirut. And then set up a Beirut station on Pandora. And then listened to nothing else.

Translation: in the past 72 hours, I’ve heard a fuckton of accordion. And I like it. A LOT.

Moral of the story: if you want to break someone with extremely narrow music taste, make them listen to 30 hours+ a week worth of Smooth Jazz. Eventually they’ll learn to like ANYTHING else.

Finally: too much retail does weird things to a person.


*translate this to “Radiohead” and “bands that sort of try to sound like Radiohead, or at least count Radiohead among their biggest influences”

**which could probably also be described as “narrow” or “pretentious”

***We’ve had silence in there before – it’s honestly preferable to the Smooth Jazz, although I think the silence may be a bit awkward for the customers. It does get loud, the silence.

+Where the hell do they come up with these names?

++When the next generation of kids gets to school and is incapable of dealing with capitalization rules, I figure we have things like iPods and iPads and eBay to blame. Honestly, what the hell is up with brands that have to make their second letter, rather than their first, the capital letter?

Fun with comic strips

Because you should see this too:

3eanuts is Peanuts – like Linus and Snoopy and Charlie Brown and the gang – with the last panel removed. That’s it.

It’s the same sort of idea as Garfield Without Garfield – remove the single thing that makes the strip ostensibly funny, and you’re left with a bleak picture of despair.

The essential difference: Garfield Without Garfield shows that Jon Arbuckle is at least halfway crazy. Like, Crazy Cat Lady crazy with a gender switch, perhaps a bit younger (I gather Jon is maybe in his 20s? Maybe?). 3eanuts is all characters pointing out the essential horrible basis of life itself – with the last panel gone (where there’s apparently a joke made to make the preceding panels somehow lighthearted?), it’s all bad. Like, sad in the type of way that it’s mindblowing that the Peanuts ever made it onto the comics pages, much less became a cast of well-beloved characters known by pretty much everyone in the Northwestern quadrant of the planet.


See, I already knew I had issues with them doing a Three Musketeers film, because I just can’t see how they’re going to do it. I know full well they can’t do the whole book and get everything. That said, I agree with what *seems* to be their chosen route: i.e., screw the politics and intrigue and just hit the ACTION! ADVENTURE! part, because frankly, that’s what’s likely to translate best into a film.

But. Like. They’re talking of an apocalypse? They have super-wonky ninja weapons?* And everyone looks miserable?

The only part of the trailer that seems to have caught the tone of the book right is Athos’ parting shot about it being an off day. Beyond that, I’m terrified that it’s going to be a giant unfunny no-good very bad mess of sad.


*unless that wonkyass thing in the first moment is a poinard? Seriously, there’s some crazy knife they talk about a lot, but I never pictured it quite like that.

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