Archive for January, 2008

Me quirky?

Thanks to our esteemed and locally renowned blogger M.Toast, I now have something to post today…

List seven habits/quirks/facts about yourself  (and if nothing else, I’m damn quirky)

  1. My dad and I make up names for each other that play for about 1-2 months at a time.  Currently, my nickname is Barky and his is VonSchnauzer
  2. I’m a tightfisted miser at home and at work.  My motto is “Don’t ask me if you can buy something.  You can’t.”      
  3. I had a poster of Bobby Kennedy in my bedroom when I was eleven.  It hung next to my other Bobby Heartthrob – Bobby Sherman.
  4. I cannot stand the sound the styrofoam makes.  I once made my 11 year old nephew sign a pledge that he would never rub styrofoam together within earshot of me ever again.  On pain of death. 
  5. No one touches my bellybutton.  Not even me.  It feels weird in there.  Like an alien.
  6. I prefer cloudy days to sunny ones.
  7. I wish there was a radio station that only played songs written in a minor key.  It would be my favorite.

I’m supposed to tag, but you know my strict No-Tag policy.  Steal if you wish though!


stupidus wordicus redux

It’s a burden being right all the time. 

As soon as Dannon starting running their stoopid “Now with Bifidus Regularis!” commercials, I smelled a rat.  Then I proceeded to do what I often do when faced with obviously hyped-up claims that a product will restore the nation’s digestive systems back to normal after binging on cold pizza for days – I blogged about it.   

Now Dannon’s being sued for false advertising!   After skipping with glee around the house on my tiny, doll-sized feet chanting “Die, Dannon, die!” whilst pumping my fist into the air for emphasis, I collapsed onto my couch exhausted, just in time to see the fibromyalgia lady make her umpteenth, uninvited appearance in my living room. 

She’s my next target and I will bring her down.  Mark my words.

Today’s Diary Entry

Dear Diary:  

Today I really felt like throttling The Horse Face Herselfthat horsefaced spokeswoman on the Lyrica commercial. The urge was so intense, so incredibly acute. The sound of her voice, the click of her buck teeth, her faux-artist persona – all these things inspired a hatred in me so fierce, I was almost unable to stop myself from reaching into my television set in an attempt to silence her forever. 

O, No!

So I’m blaming my utter inability to write anything close to my previous standard of blog post Cry Britney, Cry!(as well as my recent inability to have an orgasm…sorry if that’s too much information for you folks but believe me, it’s relevant to MY life.  So there)) to the increase in my antidepressant dosage.  Which keeps me from downing all my Xanax and slamming a Vodka/Nyquil/Red Bull cocktail, but does nothing to enhance my usual wry sense of humor.  

The, ahem, personal situation I’ve been dealing with is resolving rather nicely but I can’t, for the life of me, get too worked up about much of anything except the upcoming season of Lost (January 31st at 8pm CST – check your local listings Losties!).  I have an acquaintance who writes for a rather well-known magazine who’d heard a rumor last month that the show wasn’t going to be aired at all until they had a complete season.   If I hadn’t been fucked up on margaritas at the time I probably would have punched her, simply because I don’t have a way to get to the network bozos who make those kinds of decisions.   Shoot the messenger – that’s my motto. 

Lately, I’ve been digging the shit out of this Diablo Cody chick.  While I haven’t exactly rushed out to see Juno yet (she wrote the screenplay), I’ve been hearing that her writing is pretty good.  So I checked out her book, Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper just to see what all the fuss was about and have been completely delighted & entertained by her witty/sarcastic/GenX sassiness.  I’m not so much in awe of her story as I am by the way she tells it

Nobody comes to Minnesota to take their clothes off.  At least as far as I know.  This ain’t no nightclub.  Here in the woebegone upper country, Jack Frost is a liberal, rangy sadist with ice crystals in his soul patch…

Yummy prose like this make Observant want more.   And take heart fellow bloggers, she was discovered through her blog, The Pussy Ranch, which she wrote during her stripper days.   Lucky bitch.

Speaking of strip clubs, Kansas City’s most notorious “juice bar”, Erotic City, has been in the news lately (read all about it here).  Ken and I went on a KC Porn Crawl one night a couple of years ago (OK, it wasn’t an officialPorn Crawl, we just made that name up as we were driving around from porn shop to porn shop) and Erotic City was our final stop.   A nastier place I have never been to, either.  I’m totally down with dildo and other “adult novelty” displays, and having never been to a bonafide peepshow I was pretty stoked to see one for myself,  but this place reeked with a scumball funk so rank you could taste it.   The front of Erotic City is where their retail shit is:  Dildos, various and sundry anal products, bongs, rolling papers – you know, everything you need for a porn shoot.  The lighting was really bad and there were about five greasy-looking guys milling around, presumably waiting for their women to finish their pole shifts.   

A notice posted on the wall that read “All dancers MUST SHOWER DAILY” quickly clued me to the fact that this was NOT the most sanitary place on earth (thus NOT the place for OCD-Me).  Additionally, Ken and I were getting a SERIOUSLY freaked-out vibe from the place (probably channeling all the underage sex that apparently goes on there).   Back room peepshow-viewing plans aborted, we hightailed it out of Erotic City and back to the suburbs, where a very clean and sparkling Priscilla’s awaits, just minutes from our own front door.  And while Pricscilla’s doesn’t offer a peepshow experience, one can shop for a new vibrator in relative comfort (and very good lighting).   

Turns out I like the idea of seedy much better than I like the reality of it.

So Diablo Cody I am not – I’ll never take my clothes off in a scummy strip bar on a whim, or write a book called Porn Crawl:  They Only Come Out At Night, be declared The Next Big Thing (!) and immediately have my screenplays made into movies starring hip, name-brand actors and actresses.   I will, however, be happy to get my orgasm back.   Has anybody seen it?

Putting our big-girl panties on

So Hillary teared up on the campaign trail yesterday.  And this is newswothy because…..??? 

Political candidates have been catching flak about their tears for decades.  Ed Muskie was accused of crying over a scathing newspaper article attacking his wife during his 1972 presidential bid (he ended up dropping out).  Pat Schroeder let the tears flow when she announced that she wouldn’t be running for president in 1987 and she STILL gets shit for it.    Hell, even George Bush tears up every now and then (probably on Cheney’s orders to “show some emotion, dammit.   We don’t want the public to find out you’re just a sock puppet”).

So we’ve got us a gen-u-ine female presidential candidate now and it seems all eyes are on her, well… her eyes.   Yesterday’s headlines were all abuzz with the news that it appeared that Hillary “teared up” during her meet & greet yesterday in New Hampshire. 

“Here’s the news footage!  You be the judge!  Did she or didn’t she tear up when asked how she was doing?”

It was apparently so ambiguous as to warrant a separate national vote on the matter.

While it’s generally OK these days for our manly men politicians to show a little emotion publicly once in awhile (and preferably regarding manly pursuits such as the horrors of war), similar shows of female emotion are still considered a sign of weakness.  When John Edwards was asked about the so-called crying incident yesterday, his response was along the lines of  “Well, I believe our country’s leaders should show strength, not weakness.” 

And what, pray tell, would President John Edwards do if his wife died while he was in office? 

Of course we wouldn’t expect him to soldier on, determined to get through the whole thing dry-eyed.  No we wouldn’t.  Because that would make him a heartless bastard.  A woman president crying over the loss of her husband though?  Some might fear that she’d just simply fall apart and never be able to function again.

And that’s really the problem with female tears, isn’t it?  Men are afraid we’ll start crying and never be able to stop.   

I’m afraid this nation may not be ready for a female president.  Especially if we’re still freaking out about whether or not the female candidate teared up on the campaign trail.  I think we’d all best put our Big-Girl panties on and start worrying about what the candidates actually believe in, as opposed to whether or not they happen to cry occasionally. 

Observant’s Favorite Things – 2007

As promised, Observant will now list her Best of 2007 CD (I just know you’ve all been holding your breath, waiting for this!)  There were so many wonderful new CD’s released in 2007 (contrary to what some of the other so-called experts have said about the preceding year’s music selection).  I found a lot to like, and my wallet can attest mightily to that fact.

10.  Guggenheim Grotto: Waltzing Alone –  This 3-member folk/pop band from Dublin sounds like CSN at times.  Great harmonies all around; check out Philosophia and Vertigo.

9.  KT Tunstall: Drastic Fantastic – Album cover aside (one of the worst I’ve seen), this is a nice, solid followup to Eye to the Telescope.  Little Favours got 4 stars from me. 

8.  Rilo Kiley: Under the Blacklight – Jenny Lewis’ band is back with a new release, after taking a break to record with Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins.  Favorite track is Close Call.

7.  Andrew Bird: Armchair Apocrphya – I feel all floaty and melancholy when I listen to Andrew Bird (his voice sometimes reminds me of Rufus Wainwright’s), and this new album doesn’t disappoint the emo in me.  Very good for those gloomy Mondays when all you want to do is pull the covers over your head and suck on a bottle of Wild Turkey.

6.  The Decemberists:  The Crane Wife  – I know, I know. This album is supposed to represent The Decemberist’s selling out to a more corporate sound, but I don’t buy that.  Accessible? Yes, but also very smart and dark enough for my tastes.  Take Shankill Butchers, for instance:

The Shankill butchers ride tonight
You better shut your windows tight
They’re sharpening their cleavers and their knives
And taking all their whisky by the pint

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about; all killing and maiming and shit.

5.  Arctic Monkeys: Favourite Worst Nightmare – Very nice sophomore album by this band from Sheffield, England.  Lots of great tracks on this one (Fluorescent Adolescent, Teddy Picker, 505, Old Yellow Bricks, etc).  Love, love, love Alex Turner’s Yorkshire accent.

4.  Silversun Pickups: Carnavas – OK, it’s officially a 2006 release, but this just hit my radar screen last summer.  Absolutely cannot get enough of Lazy Eye or Rusted Wheel, but the voice….the voice will freak you out once you realize it’s a man’s voice. 

3.  Yeasayer:  All Hour Cymbals – OK, I just discovered this band the other day but I was an instant convert after hearing Sunrise, the first track on the album.  This is a post-modern-middle-eastern-meets-dreampop-meets-electronica mashup that appeals to the old hippie chick in me.  Also check out 2080.  The album kind of drags about midway, but a few more listens will probably cure that.

2.  The Kooks: Inside In/Inside Out – OK, officially another late-2006 release, but again, it just hit my radar.  Like Silversun’s Lazy Eye, the Kook’s song OohLa cannot be played too much on Observant’s IPod.   Great, upbeat pop hook that will make you wish you were 20 and single again (oh to have that kind of energy!).

1.  The Shins: Wincing the Night Away – This was Observant’s most highly anticipated album of the year, and it did not disappoint.  Phantom Limb is superb.  Oh, and Australia.  And Sleeping Lessons.  And Split Needles, and Red Rabbits…  Oh fuck, just buy the album.

Disappointments:  Two of my very favorite artists released albums this year that were just sub-par, in my opinion.  Definitely not up to the caliber I’m used to from them…

Lucinda Williams: West– Girlfriend’s lyrics are just downright bad and the music is monotonous and uninspiring.    The first song, Are You Alright? would be a prime example of the kind of dreck found on the rest of this awful mess:

Are you all right?
All of a sudden you went away
Are you all right?
I hope you come back around someday.
Are you all right?
I haven’t seen you in a real long time
Are you all right?
Could you give me some kind of sign?
Are you all right?
I looked around me and you were gone.
Are you all right?
I feel like there must be something wrong
Are you all right?
Cause it seems like you disappeared
Are you all right?
Cause I’ve been feeling a little scared
Are you all right?

No Lucinda,  I am not alright.  I am fucking bored.

Mark Knopfler: Kill to Get Crimson – Same complaint – bad lyrics coupled with boring, monotonous melodies.  The first track, True Love Will Never Fade starts with Knopfler singing those five words over and over and over about a bazillion times.  He then ends the song singing those 5 words over and over and over a bazillion more times.    I admit I have not listened to the entire album, but I just can’t stay awake past the first 3 songs.    For a man who’s written and recorded masterpieces like Sailing to Philadelphia and Shangri-La, as well as led Dire Straits through a very successful career, this release is doubly disappointing.  Check out One Take Radio Sessions for a better example of his fine guitar work and songwriting.

Whew!  I considered giving you a list of my favorite books, but honestly I like writing about the music I’ve enjoyed this year so much more.    OK, a short list then:

The Terror by Dan Simmons:  Lots of pages, a monster in the Arctic and a shipwreck.

World Without End by Ken Follett:  Sequel to Pillars of the Earth.  Just as good and just as long (1000 pages).

The Post Birthday World by Lionel Schriver:  I wrote about this one earlier in the year.  Superb writing and a great story.

I read a lot of books this year, but those are my top three. 

OK, so there you have it.  Go ahead, take some cheap shots at my lists if you have a mind to.  I can take it.  What were some of your favorites from 2007?

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