Governors Ball Reconnaissance, Part 1 (plus a little something about “the Robots”)

governors ball

We’re well within the one-month-mark of the fast approach of Gov Ball (the countdown on their site informs me we’re at just over 23 days, as it happens) so I’m actually a little behind on my “Governors Ball Initiative,” as I’ve labeled the en masse consumption of previously unknown or unfamiliar groups that’ll be performing there. Luckily, as I’ve been known to brag, one of the perks of my job is that my time poring over Annual Reports generally has a pretty nice soundtrack, so I’ve got hours at my disposal for the task.

I’m pretty much just going straight down this list from BrooklynVegan that shows the mostly-manageable schedule. The Nas/Guns’n’Roses and Kanye/Avett Brothers conflicts don’t exactly make me happy but for the most part I’m unconcerned. But that could just mean that I don’t know enough of the bands well enough yet…

(click for full list)

(click photo for full list)

It’s been a fun two days. First up are Swear & Shake, an “Indie Folk” quartet outta Brooklyn. I liked them quite a bit; Kari Spieler’s voice is to die for and they’ve got some tight arrangements that maintain a pretty true folk sound.

Check out their EP (aptly titled “Extended Play”):

A couple of my personal favorites were “Daggers,” “The Light,” and “Johnnie,” (allegedly the first song Spieler and Adam McHeffey, the other vocalist[/guitarist/banjoist] recorded in Spieler’s bedroom their senior year at SUNY Purchase College).

Next was a change of pace with St. Lucia, a former boys-choir member from Johannesburg turned electro-pop marvel out of New York. Before long I had to remind myself (…numerous times) to cease dancing in my office chair. I enjoyed his remixes a lot:

But also took a shine to a number of his original tracks, such as “September,” “All Eyes on You,” and “Paper Heart.”

Dinosaur Jr. completely switched things up again with their very classic/alt rock stylings. I think I had listened to them on a few occasions previously, but nothing that stuck with me too drastically. I remember thinking to myself, this would be a pretty fun band to watch on a sunny summer day… as I ran through their SoundCloud offerings twice this morning, but will confess that they still haven’t left the hugest impression on me. That said, unless Holy Ghost! totally blows me away I’d probably go see ’em.

I was pretty close to giving Of Monsters and Men a skip, but decided I was being unfair in letting their fate be decided by the fact that radio stations went completely overboard with “Little Talks.” SoundCloud didn’t offer much original material for them (though the Until the Ribbon Breaks remix of “King and Lionheart” and Passion Pit remix of “Little Talks” did get the ice around my heart to meltin’) so I turned to my old stand-by, YouTube. (Spoti-what?) There I found their live sets at Coachella 2013 and Lollapalooza 2012, which I thought would be appropriate for my reconnaissance. I’ll include the latter set here, mostly because I just want to be that girl in the tree at the beginning.

Ultimately I found them endearing (oh ye Icelanders… get me every time) and guess I wouldn’t mind seeing them.

But wait– we waited with baited breath for the new Daft Punk album and they delivered yesterday!

(click to stream on soundisstyle.com)

(click photo to stream on http://www.soundisstyle.com)

(Ah, they’ve taken down their stream option, directing you instead to iTunes.)

And did the Robots ever deliver… I’m one of the seemingly-few whose heart still races for “Get Lucky” even after hearing it multiple hundreds of times, and think the album really lived up to its strong lead single. Let’s just say I’ve had a few very enjoyable walks with Ollie while plugged into this since putting it on my phone yesterday afternoon. I’m running out of commentary so I’m just going to throw these other entertaining/interesting DP-related items at you without any: The amazing Daft Punk|Random Access Memories|The Collaborators episode featuring Pharrell in which he only ever refers to them as “The Robots” and claims to have no memory of making “Get Lucky” and This inspiring Billboard interview that delves into their philosophy and methodology a bit.

My favorite quote from the last piece: “It’s mostly a question: Is it still possible to have this dream of looking at the way music is made like movies are made? It used to be teamwork. Is it still possible? Is there still an audience, a market for it? All interesting questions as an experiment. We are musicians even more than producers, in some sense composers. We’re not the best-selling artists in the world, but we have this dream; this ability to try to do this project and see if it we can make it happen.”

I’m having trouble finding good files to link to but I want to take this moment to profess my love for “Lose Yourself to Dance,” Pharrell’s other collab track. And I was completely engrossed in Giorgio Moroder’s spoken-word contribution to “Giorgio by Moroder.”

And yes, as I mentioned in my last post, Vampire Weekend’s new album dropped today and I regrettably haven’t even gotten around to it. In a minute, there is time…

One year ago: Snorkeling on Gili Trawangan

I… haven’t been able to access any of my China blogs or the host site for the past few days. Starting to worry a little that they shut down? Meh :(.

[update:]

With the top comment, “Can you imagine how many children are going to be conceived to this song?” I’m sayin!

(Olliefield/)Three Things

I keep wanting to post about FoxOlliefield, but the task overwhelms me. <-That links to photos. I started making a Grooveshark version of the playlist, but it kept deleting songs after I added them (quite sure this wasn’t user error) so I only got 86 out of nearly 300 songs on it. Anyway, Emilie made a retrospective list of the only songs that really mattered, and by that I mean:

what rhymes with ‘hug me’?

(And we were so sure “Get Lucky” was going to be the Foxfield anthem… Pharrell’s just all over our charts right now. For a total change of “Get Lucky” pace, by the way, check out this downbeat-but-beautiful Daughter cover.)

Long story short, twas the bestie-best of times and it was wonderful having so many old friends in one place. Who says 13’s an unlucky number?!?!?!

girl pic foxfield

Alright but this post was originally supposed to just be “Three Things.”

Thing #1: My good friend Jack, formerly known as “The Tallest Man in Thung Song,” is an excellent photographer and I was just made aware of a really gorgeous blog he has of his work done in various locations across the globe. Give it a look:

Thing #2: My brother is a comedic genius:

Ketchup from Ryan Calonder on Vimeo.

Thing #3: This video’s awesome. Uses clips from glamorous ’80s and ’90s ads to make what really feels like a narrative. So amazing what having a soundtrack tricks your brain into thinking it’s seeing. Also just a cool track.

One year ago: The Ubud Market
Two years ago: Home Improvement
Three years ago: Chinese Transportation (maybe my favorite post from the whole time I was in China haha!)

Thoughts on Home

Without much commentary, because I haven’t really done much mulling-over of it, I wanted to include the opening words of Giles Morris‘ Read This First segment in this week’s C-ville. They just really resonated with me.

You can never go home again. The line expresses a quintessential sorrow embedded in the American dream. You move up and out. You can never go home again, because you left and became someone different. When you go back, no one will understand you, and the place you idealized can’t ever live up to the new tastes you’ve acquired. But is the message historical or progressive? Essential or didactic? Was it coined to communicate immigrant longing? Or as a warning to those who made the upwardly mobile journey from the provinces to the city? Or, more basically, does it say something about time and memory?

And since the phrase “American dream” found its way into the very first sentence (and since you know how I feel about media-less posts, and since I spent a good amount of time last week strangely engaged in this song) I’m going to throw in David Bowie’s “Young Americans” along with an insightful interpretation from SongMeanings.net. (Haha I don’t know if I should be embarrassed by admitting that I find myself doing investigating on that site with relative frequency.)

all the way from washington, her bread-winner begs off the bathroom floor: “we live for just these twenty years… do we have to die for the fifty more?”

Several people have mentioned the allusion to the Beatles: “I heard the news today, oh boy.” …Remember the rest of the line? “About a lucky man who made the grade.” You see, Bowie’s song is about someone who has NOT “made the grade” that is collectively articulated as the American Dream. That, in a nutshell, is the point of the song: America bombards people with a litany of flashy expectations -Ford Mustangs, Barbie dolls, Daddy’s heroes (Sports, Hollywood, etc.) material success, etc., but the disconcerting reality is that few people ever attain this tantalizing vision of success, because it’s unrealistic, and when their adult lives turn out to be about divorce, alimony, and general failure, they are just confused. The speaker of Bowie’s song asks questions like “”We live for just these twenty years… Do we have to die for the fifty more?” and “Ain’t there a man who can say no more?” Because he is confused when he sees that a culture that only values youth and flashy things leaves everyone over 20 in the lurch. And there’s no Hollywood hero who will step in to save the day, because that’s just in the movies. In the final evaluation, those who fail to realize that the American Dream is, after all, a dream, will wind up in mid-life wondering what kind of meaning they were really supposed to have sought instead. The ironic part is that Bowie (who is British) is so smart that he manages to critique America without being obvious; most people mistakenly think this song is some kind of celebration of the American way of life. It’s not. It’s an intelligent critique of our shallow culture and the hollow expectations it encourages in place of anything that could actually provide meaning-religion, literature, learning, family, etc.

(Comment– which I don’t mean to say I relate to entirely, but certainly in some ways– by lazerpj. Full lyrics available here.)

But still a sick jam!

(Oh and don’t let me trick you into thinking I’m bummed out or anything… I’ve got housing sorted out for next year, I think I’ve got some second income about to kick in, and Foxfield 2013 begins in three days!!!)

Guerillas do Gorillaz; Flume does U Street Music Hall

Last week was a good week for me, musically. Awhile ago my brother was excited to inform me he’d been asked to play trumpet with local act Guerilla Tactics when they, appropriately enough, covered the first Gorillaz album (“Gorillaz,” as it so happens) for an April Fool’s Day show. Guerilla Tactics is generally a two-man operation: Tucker Rogers and Rob Bedford (aka DJ XSV), two old friends of mine from my first stint in Charlottesville. For this undertaking they obviously were going to need a little more than an acoustic guitar and some turntables (and a trumpet), however. Another old friend, Travis Elliott, took lead vocals; another Tucker and another Rob (Titus and Richmond, respectively), joined them on drums and bass, respectively; and the Bowden sisters rounded out the mix with Kristen on keys and Amy on violin (and kazoo!).

To the best of my knowledge this spectacle came together with precious few rehearsals and limited time (as well as a couple last-minute changes in the lineup) and I thought the results were well impressive. And despite being moved back from my normal Monday-night bedtime of 10 pm to the unthinkable hour of 11:30 in order to avoid competing with another show at the Jefferson that night, turnout was massive and, suffice it to say, the House was most certainly Rocked.

And… even with all the fun I was having I managed to take over an hour of video? That I’ve trimmed down into four videos and made a playlist from? Enjoy! (Video quality, as always, is definitely lacking but the audio’s decent enough.)

Track listing: April Fool’s Day “treat”, “Re-Hash”, “New Genius (Brother)”, “Punk”, “Sound Check (Gravity)”, “Double Bass”, “Rock the House” (featuring Aaron Ahlbrandt of Kings of Belmont), “19-2000”, “Latin Simone” (featuring Seth Green of Sons of Bill), “Slow Country”and the special encore, “Feel Good Inc.” (Also I apologize in advance for the nonsense chatter that, on occasion, can be heard in the background on my part… a friend and I decided that our only hope for remaining awake until such a late hour came in the form of $3 Jack & Gingers at the Virginian before the show…)

sibling shot! i love that i get to see these two so frequently :)

sibling shot! i love that i get to see these two so frequently

with the prompt 'pout.' (alas, i'm clearly far better-experienced in the ways of pouting than either of my brothers)

with the prompt ‘pout.’ (alas, i’m clearly far better-experienced in the ways of pouting than either of my brothers)

giving it another go

giving it another go

guerilla tacticsryan on stage

hadn't seen these lovely ladies in awhile!

hadn’t seen these lovely ladies in awhile!

having fun

genna matthew and ryan calonder... a match made in cville music heaven!

genna matthew and ryan calonder… a match made in cville music heaven!

Wednesday then found me saddling up to drive to DC to see Flume perform at U Street Music Hall with some friends. Flume (or “Harvey Streten,” as he may have once been known) is a 21-year-old DJ/producer from Australia that a friend had turned me on to awhile ago; U Street’s known to be a pretty dope venue; Nate said he’d take Ollie for the night… I couldn’t resist. And it was fun!

flume u street music hallI mean, there were a few drawbacks. He went on quite late and the set was fairly short (there were rumors that he’d come back on that kept us there later than we may have ordinarily stayed, but eventually we had to cut our losses). We also found ourselves musing that the first few tracks were sounding more or less like he’d just set his CD to “Play” (though even if this had truly been the case it still sounded extra-cool on the state-of-the-art soundsystem they’ve got there). And, this is probably my biggest lament, he didn’t play one of my favorite tracks, “Bring You Down”. That being said, before long he was doing some more novel and interesting things with both new and old songs, and all in all it was a right good time. (The same cannot be said for work on Thursday, but I suppose I was prepared for as much).

Here’s his most recent album:

(My favorites, in addition to “Bring You Down” are “Holdin On”, “Insane”, and “On Top”.)

One year ago: Ubud, Part One (and Getting There)
Two years ago: Krabi (yeah last week marked the two-year anniversary of my departure to Thailand!! So crazy…)
Three years ago: Hangzhou Two

“Pilate”

I was reading a collection of George Orwell’s essays, Books v. cigarettes, many moons ago in China when a reference to Pontius Pilate inspired me to read his (Pilate’s) Wikipedia page.

That, in turn, inspired me to write this song:

(I was listening to a lot of Sufjan Stevens at the time, which must have reassured me that it can be cool to write songs with strong religious overtones. Though Brand New might win the prize for best religious-themed song.)

Four Easters (and, I suppose, more appropriately, Holy Thursdays) have passed since then, each marked by an intention to sit down and get it recorded that was finally realized this year. Enjoy!

Oh, and the image in the video is a photo of a wood carving that I edited a little (heres the original). The artist, Grant Figura, has a lot of really interesting pieces and I’ve just noticed he’s from right down the road in Floyd, Virginia!

Lyrics: Continue reading

“About You:” A Study in Samples

I feel it’s happening with less frequency these days, but from time to time you’ll still come upon a Sample Hater: individuals whose blood boils at the idea of the scads of songs these days that draw directly from the work of others (with or without the owners’ knowledge or permission) in order to create something new. “New”?

Well whatever, haters gonna hate, but I personally think it’s a super cool way to produce art with ties to so many other genres of music; to see the new direction a musician can take an idea that developed in the head of another. It can also be fun to track down the various components of a song like some sort of musical scavenger hunt.

Take the song “About You” by XXYYXX (the moniker of Marcell Everett, a 17-year-old from Orlando who made this super psychedelic album in his bedroom). The self-titled album had kept coming up as a recommendation on YouTube, and finally I gave into its super Illuminati-inspired allure. I thought the production was really good and got pretty drawn into the hypnotic experimental progressions for awhile, but I’ll admit to getting distracted by something else in the bottomless world of the ‘Tube before long.

Until a friend was in town this weekend, and, upon meeting Ollie (you know, my Thai Domestic Fox), told me I had to watch the video for this cool track that featured fox masks that greatly resembled him. That track was “About You.”

If you’re like me, at some point you found yourself wondering just what that mysterious and ethereal theme meant, and in what language (“Something Slavic, I bet!”). Or… maybe you’re way smarter and deduced instantly that ol’ Marcell had just employed one of the oldest and most beloved techniques of hiding Satanic propaganda in popular music and simply reversed a sample.

Someone did us the favor of turning the entire track as we know it backwards:

we discover the vocalist is crooning, ‘here forever inside.’

At some point I realized that line must have an origin of its own and a quick search led me to the song “Just Hold On” by a producer called zircon, featuring Jillian Aversa. It’s just crazy to me that someone can… hear one teeny little line, think “I’ll turn that… backwards,” and then make something new and beautiful in a completely different way from it.

And just for some added sample-related cool, something that turned up when I downloaded Kanye West’s discography back in my torrenting days: Gold Digging: As Sampled by Kanye West. It’s a collection of the original versions of songs Kanye has sampled, and is just another testament to some of the really creative ways these guys are making new from old in music.

(There’s also a second disc.)

One year ago: Mattayom 3 Graduation
Two years ago: Mumbai (the Unbelievable Five-Photo Post)
Three years ago: Breathing, Contact, and Kissing… It’s Infective!

The XX Lose Their Virginia-ty, Solar Bear Dominates Para Coffee, and… Something About Jeff Mangum

Perhaps you’ll judge by the fact that I’m posting that I figured out my incompatibility issues. (With technology, not men.) If anyone else ever runs into the issue of not being able to run or edit your .MTS video files from certain HD recording devices (in my case, a newer Sony CyberShot camera) on your Mac, I found this program (“ClipWrap” by Divergent Media) super helpful. That being said I’m only going to actually include videos of Solar Bear because a) there’s already plenty of good XX stuff out there and I’m scared of violating anymore copyright since my account already has a strike and b) we weren’t allowed taking photos or videos of any sort at Jeff Mangum.

street art a few blocks from the national

street art a few blocks from the national

polka dot street art richmondstreet art richmond

Anyway so yeah, last Tuesday Ryan and I saddled up when I got off work, drove to Richmond, got dinner with my friend Andrew, and met up with Ryan’s friend Chandler at the National. I’ll admit I was only even inspired to find out who the opener was that very morning at work, and so spent a good chunk of the day listening to the variety of Austra (pronounced “Ow”-stra rather than “Aw”-stra, apparently) offerings on YouTube. Though only days previous I’d made a mental curmudgeon-y note that it irked me when people and media try to call an artist “the New [insert other artist here]” I couldn’t help instantly drawing comparisons between Katie Stelmanis’ voice and that of my girl Florence Welch. Which I know is a bold remark to make indeed. But see for yourself:

The video I took of Austra did have Katie wishing her bass player sweet birthday wishes but again, cutting my losses.

katie stelmanis austra

austra katie stelmanis

Our late arrival and dinner meant we only caught about a song-and-a-half of Austra’s set, but I wasn’t too troubled by it. We grabbed a beer and settled into what we thought was a prime spot closer to the back, but whence we had a really good view. Unfortunately it doubled as the peanut gallery because there was a group of girls that apparently mistook the National for wherever it is they’d normally be getting trashed and catching up on every detail of the last seven months of their lives at the top of their lungs on a Tuesday night, but even this could diminish the greatness of an evening with the XX only so slightly.

the xx richmond

Chandler made the point that guitarist Romy and bassist Oliver are most definitely the face of the band, but that their producer/percussionist could certainly be seen as the glue that holds the group together (and his production might even be to thank for their sudden stardom). He’s even performed under the moniker “Jamie xx” for the past few years, and in other news you have him to [at least partially] thank for that Drake/Rihanna masterpiece. Anyway the whole show was rather exciting for me but I especially loved watching Jamie circulate amongst his array of instruments, at times using a brush on a cymbal with one hand while playing his drum machine with the other.

the xx richmond blue

the xx lights richmond

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the title of the post, after opening with “Angels” off their new album Coexist Oliver informed the crowd that not only was it their first show in Richmond, it was their first in Virginia. And I love the cheesiest of puns and the rest is history.

Not surprisingly, considering that they only have two albums and after watching their 45-50 minute live sets at Glastonbury and with the BBC Philharmonic (that second one’s really worth a listen, they sound great with the extra orchestration), their set was on the short side but with visualizations, crowd involvement, and of course a spot-on performance on their part that made it totally worth it. So I’ll close this portion with a segment of their Glastonbury show (with– surprise– Florence Welch!), and the video for “Islands” off their self-titled album, because it’s my opinion that everyone needs to see it.

xx richmond

So Solar Bear. I’ll paint you a picture of the rainiest of Charlottesville nights, where Ryan Calonder, Shivesh Puri, and whoever was checking their sound occupied the deserted loft of a local coffee shop. Shivesh manned a MacBook and a drum machine of his own, his acoustic guitar waiting patiently in the corner; Ryan had his new electric ukulele plugged in, its acoustic counterpart and a trumpet also at the ready. They’ve done small shows as “Solar Bear” a number of times, none of which I was able to see until this one. And on account of the rain, it was looking like it might turn into a private show for me until an assortment of adoring fans poured up the stairs at 7:15. In honor of the show we’d seen the night before they opened with an XX-inspired piece they’d put together that day (I believe). Ryan played an instrumental Beach House cover solo, then they rejoined to do one of Ryan’s originals, “Vagabond.” This was the highlight of the show for me; I’d heard the song before but never with their chilling harmonies. Oh and the lighting was really terrible… this videos are for listening to, not watching.

To reference the strike on my YouTube account yet again, I learned today that for the moment I’m not allowed uploading videos longer than 15 minutes :-/. So I had to cut out some stuff and break it into two videos. Shivesh played a number of solo pieces as well, despite what the videos might indicate (sorry!) and all-in-all I was well impressed with the way the two collaborated. Here’s Ryan doing his jam, “Summertime Girl” (I think is the name) and the two of them performing one of Shivesh’s originals.

Jeff Mangum!

There’s so much I want to say but this lavender tea is taking its toll and, not entirely unprecedentedly, this has gotten long. I think this more-or-less sums it up:

actually i WANTED a gif from earlier in the episode where april is surprised that he doesn't know her favorite band is neutral milk hotel and andy gets mad that mouse rat isn't her favorite band but, beggars can't be choosers. also thanks to this inspiration ryan rocked his mouse rat shirt at the concert, which i think was really an underappreciated touch.

actually i WANTED a gif from earlier in the episode where april is surprised that he doesn’t know her favorite band is neutral milk hotel and andy gets mad that mouse rat isn’t her favorite band but, beggars can’t be choosers. also thanks to this inspiration ryan rocked his mouse rat shirt at the concert, which i think was really an underappreciated touch.

A few months ago my friend Ben and I made an arrangement that he’d reserve his extra ticket to the show for me if I provided sleeping quarters for him and a few of his ‘idiot friends.’ I said he had me at ‘idiots,’ and so the idiot troupe piled into a car in DC post-Superbowl on Sunday to earn themselves a day of wine-tasting and gallivanting whilst I was slaving away in the office. Before long we’d enjoyed some of their souvenir wine, had a fantastic meal at Monsoon Siam (my first Thai meal since leaving Thailand, I realized!), grabbed a drink at the Box, and had headed round the corner to the Jefferson. It was my first show in the intimate venue (only opened after I graduated!) and I have to say I loved it. The sloped floors meant there wasn’t a bad “seat” in the house, the acoustics were good, and something about the place just lent itself to lots of crowd interactions with Mr Mangum himself. (He promised to sign someone’s album, he offered someone a prize when they correctly guessed “Oh Sister” was his next song… basically he was just great. He looked like a homeless person, but he was great.) I’ll admit to crossing my fingers for french horns and musical saws on stage, but there was something beautiful and simple about him commanding the stage with just a guitar. (Well, four guitars through which he rotated. And luckily! Because a string broke on one in the middle of one song.)

Again, no recording was allowed, but here’s a video of him playing at the Occupy movement in 2011 (at some point someone asks him to play Dylan and he says, “Dylan?! Haha, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I only know four chords…” or something to that effect, and it tickled me greatly):

Oh and I felt very drawn to one of the posters but we were in a rush to get out. Thanks Rob for hooking me up!

neutral milk hotel poster

This Week in Links: January 20-January 26

Wow… this was a very slow Week in Links. Could have probably extended it to another fortnight but… nah.

So that gives me liberty to throw back to a link I ended up shelving last week because the post was already so long:

scoby craigslistExcept– boom— it’s not even actually a link anymore because for whatever reason the post ended up being deleted :(. Maybe they think I was hawking an illegal substance? (brb… making sure it’s legal to make your own kombucha in this POLICE STATE. […tell me you all know I’m joking?]). But no matter, because I was still successful in spreading the progeny of Claire and Collette’s “Thomas”-in-Thailand (someone did ask if mine had a name, girls!) to three– nay, four!– lucky individuals in the Charlottesville area. Soon we’ll have a veritable army of kombucha brewers ’round here.

So onto the slim-pickings of the links by which I was actually entertained this week:

When a friend was telling me about roommate problems, I suggested she write a passive-aggressive (thanks to cheerleading I will never misspell that word) note to him. Then I remembered there was a site about that that I hadn’t been to in years and decided it was high time I got reacquainted. I was almost immediately rewarded with this:

passive aggressive note to mom

though you’ll frequently hear me saying i’m not sure i want kids, if i do decide to go ahead and procreate one of these days, i’ll be pretty disappointed if, at some point in his or her childhood, i don’t receive an almost verbatim version of this note.

http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/2013/01/22/hart-brok/

At some point I came across this article on HuffPost, about what some of our favorite celebrities were doing before (or in addition to) making it big:

did you know about this emilie? after you were just reminding me about your lifelong dream to play the banjo.

did you know about this emilie? after you were just reminding me about your lifelong dream to play the banjo.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlo-thomas/creative-outlets-second-acts_b_2542942.html#slide=2011805

I’ve seen a few variations of this floating around the ‘book and while, admittedly, I probably will never do any of them, these “Life Hacks” (as I guess the kids are calling them these days) are good and creative ideas. That frequently employ recycling?

this one's actually maybe made for me right now because i've re-entered a fifth-grade-esque phase of nail polish compulsion.

this one’s actually maybe made for me right now because i’ve re-entered a fifth-grade-esque phase of nail polish compulsion.

 http://twistedsifter.com/2013/01/50-life-hacks-to-simplify-your-world/

Oh, and thanks to some highly coveted connections I have with the 2009 Trustees Board, I landed myself a spot in our Class of 2009 Winter E-news Alumni Profiles section. Celebrity status (though not quite as good as that one time I was in the Chinese newspaper…).

angela calonder winter alumni profilehttp://alumni.virginia.edu/connect/young-alumni/class-of-2009-winter-e-news-alumni-profiles/

And that’s really all I  got this week, darlings! Though it’s not like me to leave a post sitting at 381 words so I guess I could quickly include some of the music/other entertainment that’s gotten me by this week:

[Haha… just started gushing and gushing about “Icky Thump” to the point that it’s going to get its own post.]

I really enjoyed watching Jay-Z’s 2001 performance on MTV’S Unplugged (though I swear, if I have to hear/read one more person bitch about how there’s no more music on MTV… we get it, it’s defying its own acronym at this point, reality shows are annoying and pedestrian, you’re very very upset. But guess what, there are roughly a billion other places to listen to and watch music these days. And no one cares. To quote my eighth grade History teacher, ‘The horse is dead!’). I certainly think of hip-hop as something that could be difficult to, er, unplug, but I guess with the Roots behind you anything is possible. Mary J Blige also makes an appearance at the end, which was a nice addition. I’ve been feeling kind of sad that I was so hellbent on choosing between the likes of Blink-182 and Eminem (in my school it was very gauche to be into both punk rock and rap) back in middle school rather than just embracing everything. I missed out on so much for so long!

A couple of searches and subsequent clicks (found out Gwyneth Paltrow sang back-up for “Song Cry” at a Jay-Z performance in London a few years back, attempted to find a video of this) landed me at a video of Gwyneth Paltrow rapping “Gangsta Gangsta”? Which I found endearing because I too have dabbled in the lucrative industry of white-woman-rap. (Not gonna link to it though haha.)

celeb gossip blogs really want us to hate her but i just… can’t.

But more importantly, I discovered the wonder of listening to standup comedy in the office. It makes the hours fly and keeps your spirits up all day. You might emit an embarrassing chuckle or two, but I’ve decided it was worth it. Notable sets for me this week were Margaret Cho (thanks Chris Kelly, you created this monster), Craig Ferguson (wasn’t at all sure what to expect here but I was pretty entertained the whole time), Louis CK (been watching so much Parks and Rec lately it seemed a shame not to. Also that links to a bloopers reel that you should probably click right now.), Robin Williams (always a classic, and, notably, back in 1986 Qaddafi, gun control, and Clint Eastwood were still the buzzwords), and Mitch Hedburg (also, essentially, a bloopers reel).

And most importantly is that my friend Kyle turned me onto the Bird and the Bee, and specifically their Hall and Oates tribute album.

And then he told me about Live from Daryl’s House, specifically that time Chromeo showed up:

And just to close the subject, two of my favorite pieces of Hall and Oates-related literature: It’s been “A Night”  and Three Exciting Pieces of News from 2birds1blog.

One year ago: Penang, Again (Part Three)
Two years ago: Darjeeling; Leaving Kolkata
Three years ago: Assorted Updates

This Week in Links: January 12-19

Our themes this week are conspiracies, pop stars, and (surprise) animals.

Some of you may remember me discussing at some point or another a bit of stress I may have undergone when first arriving in Thailand on account of all the conspiracy-theory talk circulating amongst my friends. And Lupe Fiasco. “Nine-eleven, Building Seven, did they really pull it?!Planes were dowsing the planet with toxic aluminum and barium on the daily, Princess Di was assassinated, and we didn’t land on the moon. It just really had me feeling like this. (Okay, sorry Emilie, I promise not to start using gifs to illustrate everything, that is truly your realm.)

Of course I’m exaggerating, but it’s funny now to look back on because I do find the whole business a bit fascinating. Though have zero desire to spend any more time blogging about it. Or… about those conspiracies, anyway.

Because the fascination doesn’t stop there, people. Everything we hold near and dear in pop culture, it would seem, is potentially involved in some sort of twisted scheme. I first decided to do some investigating after looking for the full Watch the Throne album on YouTube because I was just dying, for whatever reason, to hear Jay say, “Do you know who I am, Clarice?” in “Murder to Excellence.” (Coincidentally this was the morning after Jodie Foster delivered her allegedly powerful Golden Globes speech, of which I was oblivious at this point.) Couldn’t find the full album; instead found the show they did in London for the Watch the Throne tour (in which they didn’t actually perform “Murder to Excellence,” but who’s counting?). Which brings me to how I started thinking about celebrity conspiracies: in the comments there were all kinds of Illuminati references (including one simply stating, “illuminati muppets,” which hit me hard, because the only thing I hate being called more than a sheep[le] is a muppet. But it was unclear to whom the comment was really directed so I was able to let it slide). And I realized it wasn’t the first time I’d seen the Illuminati mentioned in connection to some of our most beloved superstars, and so decided to find out more.

Now, I’ve read The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons so I like to think I know as much about the Illuminati as the next guy– that is to say, almost nothing. However, a quick, “what does jay-z have to do with the illuminati?” search yielded many results. I liked this one from Slate a lot, and with a title like, “Is Lady Gaga a Satanist Illuminati Slave?” who could blame me? But the graphic for this Gawker article was too good to pass up:

i mean, if nothing else this is definitely making me want to be a part of the illuminati. shoot... is that the intention? are they in my head already?

i mean, if nothing else this is definitely making me want to be a part of the illuminati. shoot… is that the intention? are they in my head already?

http://gawker.com/5886988/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-illuminati-the-conspiracy-theory-that-connects-jay+z-and-queen-elizabeth

It offers two comprehensive “guides” (“The Believer’s Guide” and “The Skeptic’s Guide,” both informative and, in good Gawker-style, hilarious), and gets you kind of hoping that Blue Ivy Carter really is in charge of the world, because an infant occupying the captain’s chair is about the only acceptable explanation for things being so messed up.

Perhaps you recall the 15 Insane Fan Theories… list from Buzzfeed I posted on my first installment of This Week in LinksAladdin‘s set in the future, Tarantino has created a similar but alternate universe, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off all takes place in Cameron’s head? Well Emilie’s directed me to a character-oriented list in the same vein:

literary characters conspiracy flavorwire

it’s like… 95% homosexuality (honestly i’m surprised bert and ernie and tinky-winky didn’t make the list…) but still worth a read, as that’s an entirely hyperbolic figure.

http://www.flavorwire.com/362916/a-few-conspiracy-theories-about-classic-literary-characters

And for old times’ sake, here are links to two of my favorite conspiracy theories from back in the day: Hollywood begins mass brainwashing campaign to get people ready for the next bioengineered virus release (via NaturalNews.com) and THE MOON: A Propaganda Hoax (via The Mad Revisionist). (The latter isn’t claiming that we didn’t go to the moon– it posits instead that our dear little satellite doesn’t even exist. Though in a world of limitless possibilities…)

On the topic of commentary in virtual forums, here’s that update I know you’ve all been longing for of any stirrings we created with out Lil Wayne reference in the Tupac Deposition video:

tupac deposition comments

esfelon makes a compelling argument, i’m just still trying to figure out what an ‘intelegentan’ is.

And my friend Kyle sent me this gem on the basis that he ‘knew I liked reading comments.’ Am I that transparent?? But yeah. Good call, Kyle.

awesome, feminist-insensitive comments on the 'bic for her' pen available on amazon.com.

awesome, feminist-insensitive comments on the ‘bic for her’ pen available on amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/BIC-Cristal-1-0mm-Black-MSLP16-Blk/product-reviews/B004F9QBE6/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_btm?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

I’ll do a little soul-baring right now (if Jodie can do it so can I!) and admit that 25 is a weird age to be newly single… since returning home from Thailand I’ve attended two weddings (one of which was my younger cousin’s) and borne witness to countless engagements and marriages thanks to the voyeuristic magic of Facebook (sorry, I don’t mean to sound disparaging of your bliss… heartfelt congratulations to all you litte lovebirds!). However, the old adage that “misery loves company” has rung true, and in Kathy’s and my case the silver lining has been that it would seem that nothing brings old friends together like simultaneous breakups. During her stay we spent countless contemplative hours going through the full spectrum of feeling like of course we’d end up happy to being fatalistically certain we’d end up alone (the phrase ‘cats eating my face’ got thrown around a bit) at least twice a day week, as well as watching Downton Abbey wondering where our respective Cousin Matthews were. She also hooked me up with these bits of literature on the subject of love in our weird and trying ‘modern’ age. They present a bit of a spectrum themselves.

item 1: a nytimes article in which men are DEFINITELY the bad guys. arg! men! chauvinism! glass ceiling! hook-up culture!

item 1: a nytimes article in which men are DEFINITELY the bad guys. arg! men! chauvinism! glass ceiling! hook-up culture!

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/fashion/the-end-of-courtship.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

(My boy “Antoine Vanderbilt” coincidentally also addresses this article in his latest “Dear Antoine” installment, in which ‘Laura from DC’ wonders when is the most appropriate time to put out.)

in this one, from the atlantic, online dating is to blame for millenials’ inability to foster successful relationships– it’s so easy to find someone new ‘we’ don’t put in the time or attention necessary to keep the ones we have. an interesting hypothesis, anyway.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/01/a-million-first-dates/309195/#.UPQ9AcWMYa8.email

finally, a beacon of hope. a relationship succeeds because of undying effort on the part of a real-life prince charming. but is this still giving men too much agency/responsibility?! i’m waiting for the article about the relationship that succeeded because of undying effort on the part of a real-life princess charming.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/on-love-i-was-totally-into-enjoying-the-time/2013/01/10/c01b99ac-56b2-11e2-8b9e-dd8773594efc_story.html

Anyway, that was a bit of a divergence from the aforementioned themes, let’s reel it back in with another one about pop stars… Specifically two surprisingly similar individuals: Kurt Cobain and Justin Bieber.

this makes ollie a lot like both of them.

this makes ollie a lot like both of them.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/10-ways-justin-bieber-is-like-kurt-cobain

(As long as we’re talking about commentary, let’s just say there are a handful of Kurt Cobain fans that do not appreciate this article one little bit. But I think lil Biebs is great? Just see for yourself!)

baby, señorita, mon chérie…

And moving onto animals (yayyy!).

more buzzfeed... i can't help it. the way the official takes the dog off the field is the same way i take ollie to my room to crate him. all limbs sticking exactly straight out.

more buzzfeed… i can’t help it. the way the official takes the dog off the field is the same way i take ollie to my room to crate him. all limbs sticking exactly straight out.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/tommywes/adorable-dogs-interrupt-professional-soccer-game

because the only thing better than a donkey in a well is a comically large one.

because the only thing better than a donkey in a well is a comically large one.

http://www.petside.com/slideshow/photos-guinness-world-record-animals?Utm_source=taboola&utm_medium=cpc#586104

this is a work-find... looking through the church's website and was struck by this headline, and subsequently by the heartwarming story that accompanied it.

this is a work-find… looking through the church’s website i was struck by this headline, and subsequently by the heartwarming story that accompanied it.

http://www.pilgrimshospices.org/news/woody-the-rocking-horse-is-so-special/

another work-find...

another work-find…

http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/asaph/news/realeasteregg2013.php

I mean, it’s no Godbaby but… what is, really?

And, also because I can’t help it, a couple nerdy ones to round out the post and re-express my love of All Things Language.

do words really mean anything

http://hotword.dictionary.com/semiology/

i almost got lost in all the linked articles to this one... this stuff is seriously so intriguing to me.

i almost got lost in all the linked articles to this one… this stuff is seriously so intriguing to me.

http://hotword.dictionary.com/beautiful-sounding/

And… if comparing Justin Bieber to Kurt Cobain is such a sin in the musical world I don’t want to know what kind of offense it will be for him to share “Song of the Day” status with Janis Joplin but… I heard on the radio that yesterday would have been the Queen of Rock’s 70th birthday so I reckon it’d be a greater offense to not give her the last word:

i’d trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday… to be holdin bobby’s body next to mine.

(Ugh it was so hard not to go with “Mercedes Benz,” but Bobby McGee will always occupy a special place in my heart.)

Two years ago: October 24-25: The Final Leg