Monthly Archives: October 2009

the light is leaving & it’s hard to breathe

pumpkin 2008

last year's pumpkin. my sentiments exactly.

My deepest apologies, Sparkies. I know I’ve been a delinquent blogger as of late, but the sickness that overtook me last week really reared its ugly head in recent days. I’ve been confined to the indoors, guzzling tea like it’s my job, and using more Kleenex than I care to admit.

But I shall persevere, and promise at least two new posts before the week is out. Because if the flu — or whatever this lovely ailment is — stops me, then the terrorists truly have won.

beep beep, beep beep. yeah.

the band-aided one himself.

the band-aided one himself.

While driving back from Albany this past Sunday night, I popped in a CD I hadn’t listened to in ages: the mix I made for my best friend Connie when she got her license, better known as The “Happy Road Test” Ultimate Driving Mix.

As the mix began with the most fitting track of them all — Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me,” naturally — the singalong also began, and didn’t stop until Swirl 360 kicked in 18 tracks later. (Or at least until the CD started skipping like hell and, defeated, I had to eject the poor sucker. Mom’s Vibe isn’t too keen on playing burned discs.)

What amazed me most as I listened and laughed and sang was not the randomness of some of my song choices (The Red Hot Who?), but how fitting a time capsule these 19 songs were for that moment in my life. I was 17 when I made the mix, and didn’t have my own license yet, but I knew that these were the tracks that I would have wanted to hear if I myself were behind the wheel.

Save for a few songs that I wouldn’t be too sad to see go, I have to say that I was pretty much dead-on in my selections. This was the first time I listened to this disc while I was the one driving, and it was awesome. The singing/shouting to “Bohemian Rhapsody” was especially epic, though I must give props to my rapping abilities (“‘Yo Nelly, can we get tickets to the next show?’ Hell no! You for real?!?”) and memorization of the harmonies in “How Bizarre.”

If I were building an Ultimate Driving Mix today, I’d probably make a lot of revisions to this early list. But these 19 songs will always hold a special place in my nostalgic, driving heart. For real.

The “Happy Road Test” Ultimate Driving Mix:

  1. Nelly – Ride Wit Me
  2. OMC – How Bizarre
  3. The Beatles – Drive My Car
  4. Fastball – The Way
  5. Gin Blossoms – Hey Jealousy
  6. Incubus – Drive
  7. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
  8. Something Corporate – I Woke Up in a Car
  9. John Mayer – Why Georgia
  10. The Early November – Sunday Drive
  11. The Ataris – Boys of Summer
  12. The Red Hot Valentines – Firecracker
  13. Phantom Planet – California
  14. Paul Oakenfold – Starry-Eyed Surprise
  15. Third Eye Blind – Motorcycle Drive By
  16. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – The Impression That I Get
  17. Barenaked Ladies – Brian Wilson (live)
  18. Tom Cochrane – Life is a Highway
  19. Swirl 360 – Candy in the Sun

Tell me, readers: Have you ever smoked an L in the back of a Benz-y? Driven in the sun, looking out for number one? Seen a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac? Not minded when the cigarette ash flies in your eyes? Woken up in a car? Let the cops chase you around? Seen that the road that they walk on, is, indeed, paved in gold?

Leave the answers to these questions, along with your favorite driving songs, in the comments.

you make my dreams

Well, I spoke too soon. Instead of enjoying what’s left of Upstate New York’s pleasant fall weather before a hellish winter descends on us all, I spent yesterday sick as a dog. I won’t go into specifics, but suffice it to say, I really did need to “take it easy,” a.k.a., do exactly what I’ve been doing these last few months of unemployment: nothing.

Though I’ve got a lingering cough and runny nose, my spirits have been sufficiently lifted, thanks in part to this clip from (500) Days of Summer:

The entire soundtrack — and movie, for that part — is great, but none of the tunes brings a smile to my face quite like “You Make My Dreams.” As I said in a recent Facebook status, I think Hall and Oates are one of the most underrated bands of our time. After having these sentiments echoed by friends — save for two, including my own boyfriend; oh, the shame — and then discovering that this delightful duo isn’t even in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I’m convinced that I’m right.

There’s no denying the awesomeness of “Rich Girl” and “Maneater,” and you know you cheered when “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” popped up in Ed‘s lucid dream episode (or maybe that was just me?) Tom Cavanagh clearly shares my affection for these two, since he also found a way to sneak them on to Scrubs.

Sure, they’re the very definition of late ’70s/early ’80s cheese. The “Private Eyes” video alone makes that case, what with its trenchcoats, claps, and gratuitous shots of Oates’ Jew ‘fro and J-Stache. But as one YouTube user dubbed them, they’re “the tall Germanic/Anglo-Saxon/Nordic blond and the medium mustachioed Mediterraean dynamic duo.”

And sometimes, I really can go for that.

the fall is coming down

I don’t think I want to think about it / How the fall is coming down / The light is leaving and it’s hard to breathe / Buried in a pile of leaves

This matt pond PA song has been stuck in my head for weeks. Because I really hate the cold. And what with the return of runny noses, 31-degree overnight temperatures, and blanket number four on my bed, I’ve been a bit of a miserable monster lately. That’s why I’m grateful for days like today, which will live on as an oasis in my mind come the dreary days of winter (which I’ve been guilty of mistakenly calling our current season multiple times).


chocolate sundae herself.

Though I complain about my crazy dog from time to time — seriously, this 170 lb. beast is a handful — I really do enjoy our midday walks, especially when the weather is as gorgeous as today’s. As Sundae stuck her nose in the air and tried to sniff out the mysterious scents wafting on the breeze, I turned up the volume on the ol’ Zune and couldn’t help but smile at what came up next.

I first heard Colbie Caillat’s “Magic” a little over two years ago while zooming around in my friend Katie’s car, and as I gazed at the brilliant, jewel-toned leaves surrounding me today, I was brought back to that carefree time. As I mentioned last week, certain songs seem to have more meaning now than they did before, and this is absolutely one of them. The lyrics are pretty self-explanatory, which I’ll leave you to find for yourself lest this quickly become yet another sap-fest.

Suffice it to say, the bright blue sky, sun-dappled surroundings, great music, and goofy dog by my side made it a pretty decent afternoon. Even if it is “winter.”

grammar-grousing girl

If you were one of the dozen or so people who ended up reading Quirk, the magazine prototype — and labor of love/hate — I worked on this spring, then you might remember my feature about grammar bloggers. I interviewed the creators of The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks, Apostrophe Abuse, and The Perplexikon, who all had thought-provoking and witty things to say about language, humor, and the bitchy nature of the blogosphere.

Bethany Keeley, proprietor of The “Blog”, had especially entertaining tales of the aforementioned bitchiness, including anecdotes about commenters arguing over the acceptibility of the word “till” and a woman who created a website solely to call out Keeley and others for wasting their time talking about such frivolous topics. (Ah, irony.)

Keeping that in mind, gentle readers, please don’t be angry with me for what I have to get off my chest: I hate it when people don’t hyphenate correctly.

Oh sure, there are other mistakes that drive me absolutely batty (see the above sites for examples — especially the apostrophes. Sweet lord.), but the hyphen thing is especially relevant today. Why, you ask? Because this weekend brings us the terror that is known as:

image from

image from

Yes, Law Abiding Citizen. Not Law-Abiding Citizen. Law Abiding Citizen. Ugh. Just typing that makes my whole body convulse in disgust. I don’t pretend to be a language expert, and I certainly wouldn’t classify myself as a snob. I don’t know my participle from my preposition, and that’s fine by me. But there’s a right way to write, and a wrong way to write. And this, my friends, is all kinds of wrong.

As G.O.B. Bluth would say: Come on!

Annie Barrett, my blogger in arms over at EW and the person responsible for alerting me to this grammar tragedy, set off quite a firestorm in the comments (ah, there’s the trademark bitchiness!), and unearthed a few interesting nuggets of information along the way.

First, there’s a theory that the hyphenation was left out intentionally as some sort of message about the movie’s meaning. (But that still doesn’t mean seeing the title won’t make my skin crawl). Second, there are more movies out there missing their punctuation, namely Two Weeks Notice. (Though according to this ridiculously in-depth debate, that might not necessarily be true. And here’s where my brain starts to cave in and the caring ceases.)

Feel free to share your own punctuation woes — as well as other movies in this dubious category — in the comments.

jump, jive, and whales

twitter's popular "fail whale" error message.

twitter's "fail whale" error message makes me seriously consider joining the site. © Yiying Lu

Batten down your hatches, landlubbers, for I’m about to tell ye a tale.

Whales are my favorite animals, a love I can trace back to an obsession with the movie Free Willy* and annual childhood trips to MarineLand. I still have a stuffed orca, Whaley, from one of those visits, who may or may not still sit on my bed.

(*Yes, I know that killer whales are more closely related to dolphins. But considering they’re the BAMFs of the ocean, I think of them as one of the family. Plus their genus name, Orcinus, means “from hell.” Awesome.)

I’m a sucker for these sea-dwelling creatures in any material form they may take. Calendars, posters, jewelry, anatomically incorrect Beanie Babies, even one of those horrendous spray-painted t-shirts from the mall — I have owned and treasured them all.

Today my collection is considerably pared down, but my eyes and ears still perk up at the slightest mention of anything whale-related. That’s why I was delighted to come across Heart on a Stick‘s A Goddamned Guide to All These Goddamned Whale Bands. (Part Two is here.) Whales and music served up with a side of snark? Yes please!

The list is exhaustive (“but not comprehensive,” warns the author. “I left out Namu the Disco Whale, just to be mean.”), featuring dozens of whale-monikered artists. Who knew that Whale is the new black? (Or Wolf/Bear/Hands/Tapes/Cassettes/Crystal, as the case may be.)

I thoroughly recommend reading through the whole Guide, which is sprinkled with wit (my favorite!), fun facts, and a few pretty good bands. WALL•E and Fudgie the Whale also get shout-outs.

The best offerings from a musical standpoint are The Devil Whale and Freelance Whales:

Freelance Whales, whose vocalist reminds me of The Format and synthesizers of Hellogoodbye, is also blessed with one of my favorite names of the bunch. As a freelance writer, I feel for these guys; I can just imagine some poor, frustrated porpoise trying to scrape together a living as a whale.* This is what happens when I’m left alone with my thoughts.

(*Actually, “freelance whale” is a pretty fitting description for the orca.)

Other contenders for best name include:

  •  British Whale: While the name is a combination straight out of my own personal version of heaven, the usually-entertaining Justin Hawkins (of The Darkness fame) disappoints here with only two tracks, both abysmal.
  • Prints of Whales: Another fantastic juxtaposition, this time adding puns to the whales and Britishness. Their MySpace page offers the cheeky tagline “Putting the ‘O’ back into Cuntry,” plus the most giggle-inducing friends list I’ve seen in quite some time. (Thank you, Scrotum Clamp and Gob$au$age.) If it weren’t for the fact that I don’t like their music, I’d be in love. As it is, I’m still slightly smitten.
  • Simien the Whale: Named for a misheard Rusted Root lyric, though I question the band’s ignorance. This song is a classic.

I’ll stop here for fear of ruining the rest of the list’s lustre. Suffice it to say, it’s a worthy venture if you’re up for a whale of a time, mateys.

one-hit wonderful

Once again, our trivia team (this week’s moniker: Vance Refrigeration) was victorious, reclaiming the championship belt with a Game Two win at the Panorama. (Friend Rochester Trivia on Facebook for more info.)

My favorite part of Trivia Tuesday (aside from the free food & beer, courtesy of our $150 bar tab from winning six out of the last eight games) is when Billy, our affable host, sings a song and asks us to write down its title.

I own these questions.

Though I’m ashamed to know some of the tunes that Billy belts out (like that terrible, terrible Jessica Simpson song that inexplicably samples “Jack and Diane”), when it comes to winning, and thus achieving endless pride & glory, there really is no better kind of knowledge.

This week, Billy chose a track in the running for Most Nostalgia-Inducing Relic of My Youth: “Show Me Love”* by Robyn, the teenage Swedish songstress who sang her way into our hearts way back in 1997 with this one-hit wonder.

(*Incidentally, I wrote down just “Show Me” on our trivia score sheet, and this answer was still accepted. Even though the answer “Crying” was rejected for Aerosmith’s “Cryin'” several weeks ago. Not that I’m still bitter about that.)

Robyn has made a comeback in recent years, leaning more towards the electro side of her dance-pop past, and I couldn’t be happier for the woman. I showed “Show Me Love” all kinds of love back in the day; it was one of my favorite songs both from a melodic and lyrical standpoint. Those Swedes sure do know how to write a pop hook, and you better believe I was begging my diary every night for some boy to show me love, because he was the one that I ever needed.

(Question: does that lyric even make sense? “You’re the one that I ever needed.” I get what she means — and girl, I feel you — but it  just doesn’t seem grammatically correct, now does it?)

Setting aside the reminiscing and the overwhelming cheese factor — or perhaps indulging in it even more — I admit that since hearing it Tuesday night, I’ve found myself relating to “Show Me Love”‘s lyrics once more. Having recently found The One, I’m guilty of seeing myself in lots of love songs lately, picking out words and phrases that clearly describe Exactly How I Feel. And, well, as corny as it is, these sentiments pretty much sum it up:

Never thought I would find love so sweet / Never thought I would meet someone like you / Well now I’ve found you and I’ll tell you no lie / This love I’ve got for you / Could take me ’round the world.

Sixth grade me couldn’t have said it any better.

[Note: I realize what was meant to be a a quick shout-out to a once-beloved one-hit wonder has turned into a sappy love post (and another circle in my ever-growing shame spiral). As my friend Kerri would say: Vom. But I stand by my statements. This blog is about sharing, people. Or at least embarrassing myself in the most clever and witty ways possible. I think I’ve done my job.]

the joel stein show

my hero, the one-day memoirist

my hero, the one-day memoirist

This past Wednesday, The Huffington Post reported that Joel Stein, reporter and columnist for TIME, has written a memoir.

The catch? Besting Sarah Palin’s quickie four-month turnaround for her forthcoming autobiography, Going Rogue (excuse me while I vom — and refuse to link), Stein pumped his out in a day.

“What took her so long?” Stein muses in his column in next week’s TIME. His wisecrack that “introspection doesn’t need to be time-consuming” certainly rings true based on reading the 49-page book (downloadable here, or read it embedded via DocStoc on the Huff Post article), which he turned out with the help of ghostwriter Neil Strauss.

(Hey, if Palin gets one, the guy doing this for a lark does, too. And I bet her ghostwriter didn’t also pen an ultra successful — and sleazy — guide to picking up women.)

I won’t divulge too many details about the book, since it’s so short, but suffice it to say, it left me smiling and satisfied (that’s what…well, you know). I’ve been a fan of Stein’s for years, and fondly recall the days when he was the back-page columnist for Entertainment Weekly.

(Side note: I really miss The Joel Stein Show — and wish EW had it more thoroughly archived on their site. Google it if you want to find the actual column. Apparently people didn’t appreciate it during its time. Those people are fools.)

Reading about Stein’s mulleted misadventures will certainly take you back to your own misguided hairstylings of yore (I’m guilty of a perm circa grade one. *Shudder*), but really, it’s his self-deprecating tone that will win you over in the end. I saw much of myself in his insecurity and nebbish worries (and certainly wouldn’t sneeze at his career, writing for both Time Out New York and TIME magazines, among others).

If you enjoy wit, snark, and taking potshots at both Palin and the cliched structure of the rise-fall memoir, check out Stein’s tongue-in-cheek tome. (Can 49 pages be considered a tome? I’m saying yes.)

there’s something about “meredith”…

Fawning (v): To seek favor or attention by flattery and obsequious behavior. See: Meredith Viera’s cringe-inducingly awkward behavior on a recent episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

I’m all for double entendres and showing appreciation for fine male specimens, but dear lord woman — keep it in check! Although I suppose with a name like Meredith, these things are bound to happen:

photo courtesy of
photo courtesy of

it’s like i’ve waited my whole life for this one night

Well, okay. Maybe not my whole life. But last night’s Jim and Pam Wedding Extravaganza on The Office was definitely a fulfilling chapter in my love affair with this show, and this couple. I kind of understood where Michael was coming from when he hilariously revealed that he painted a second portrait of Jim and Pam “in the nude. But that one is for me.”

michael with his SFW portrait.

michael with his SFW portrait.

As I watched with my friend Mark last night, he observed that this episode had the perfect balance of sentiment and slapstick, and the writers made sure that tone was apparent from the opening moments, where the audience was treated to the greatest/grossest chain reaction vomit sequence in recent memory. (Actually, I seem to recall a similar scene being in a movie a while back, but am blanking on what the film is. Anyone care to help me out?)

Here we were treated to the first of many fabulous Creed moments in this episode, when Mr. Bratton was caught scarfing down noodles while everyone around him was losing their lunch. The dead look in his eyes while Michael was trying to cover Jim’s ass during the toast (“It’s a different sensation when you use something to block…I think everybody knows what I’m talking about.”) was also priceless.

The entire episode was bursting with these little moments, blink-and-you-miss-it gems of facial expressions, body language, and subtle dialogue. I have far too many favorites to list them all (Maid of the Mist! Twins! Phyllis’s hat!), so I’m just going to wrap up this love-fest by sharing what I’m sure will go down as one of the best moments in Office history: the YouTube wedding procession rip-off, set to Chris Brown’s “Forever.” (For the record: I do still like the song, even if Brown is the scum of the earth, and thought the original video was charming, if a bit cheesy and over-hyped.)

the falls represent my melting heart.

the falls represent my melting heart.

My heart was so full of joy while watching this, I thought I might spontaneously combust. Ah, fake characters that I am far too emotionally invested in. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(Thanks to Best Week Ever for the photos)