Category Archives: Uncategorized

it’s the most wonderful time of the year

This time of year always stresses me out. Sure, you might say, the holidays are a trying time for everyone. And you’d be right. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

What’s bugging me right now — weeks before holiday insanity truly kicks in — is a different kind of annual tradition: list-making season. Yes, much like the Christmas carols that hit the airwaves before Halloween, year-end retrospectives have started their interweb takeover shockingly early (at least to me), days ahead of December. NME and Paste debuted their best albums and tracks of the year earlier this week, and I’m bracing for even more musical opinions to hit me like a tidal wave in the coming days.

It’s not that I dislike the list-making, per se. In fact, if it weren’t for Paste’s 2011 list, I would never have heard one of my favorite albums of last year. These round-ups can be a great way for me to catch up on music that I might have missed over the past 12 months (or 11, in the case of the lists out now), giving me endless opportunities to discover my next great musical obsession.

And herein lies the problem. I’m already an admitted procrastinator when it comes to acquiring music I know I should like, so imagine my chagrin when faced with list upon list telling me how great these 50 other albums are, and realizing I will literally never have time to listen to and form a coherent opinion about them all. Compounding this self-imposed conundrum is my recent decision to start list-making myself, and wondering if any of these artists so vehemently recommended by my favorite critics should also be considered for inclusion on my own retrospective.

It’s a vicious cycle that involves far too much time sitting in front of my computer, listening to 30-second song samples and spending more money at the Amazon MP3 store than this broke, unemployed girl would like to admit (thank God for Black Friday Deals Week). I have album upon album stacked in my download folder just waiting for me to listen, love, and then choose a favorite to include on a carefully-curated retrospective mix. Frankly, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

If I can’t even bring myself to analyze the music I already own, how on earth can I face this onslaught of opinions and the potential greatness they hold? I suppose at some point I’m going to have to just stop considering them altogether. As I hinted at above, I can’t afford much more of this music-buying business, but I what I really can’t afford is to waste away on the couch, clutching my laptop for dear life and hitting “Play All Samples” for the umpteenth time. Sometimes you’ve just got to know when enough is enough. I hope I have the strength to keep that mantra in mind (and my wallet on lockdown) over the next few weeks.

If that fails, I will also accept Amazon gift cards and cash as early birthday/Christmas presents.

dirty little secrets

In February, my alma mater, the University at Albany, hosted a PostSecret art exhibit and presentation with the project’s founder, Frank Warren. Excited to hear about the event’s local arrival, I pitched the story to my editor, who agreed to let me write a couple articles, about both the exhibit and the presentation with Frank. I covered the exhibit’s opening, and obtained two press tickets to let me and my friend Maddy see Frank speak in front of several hundred UA students a few weeks later.

But before that, I was able to interview Frank in a more intimate setting, as he agreed to let me and a reporter for the Albany Student Press ask him a few questions ahead of time and in front of his documentary crew. Talk about pressure. I was a ball of nerves and anxiety, hoping I would ask unique enough questions that wouldn’t have him internally rolling his eyes and thinking “THIS again?!” — all while looking and sounding good for the camera. Did I mention we did the interview in a recital hall under stage lighting? I was literally hot under the collar/skirt/tights.

It took a while to get everything set up, Frank’s mic, the camera angle, and then the perfect position on stage for the three of us. My ASP counterpart and I were shuffled around more times than I can count, first asked to sit one way, then another, then switch places, then move our chairs so close together our thighs were touching. It was enough to make one dizzy with diva-dom. Are they getting my good side? I wondered as I nonchalantly flipped my hair for the thousandth time.

After about 20 minutes of maneuvering — and lots of looks of anxiety from our photographer, Jim, who I had brought along with me promising it would be a quick assignment and who had another job to shoot immediately afterward — we were ready to fire away. Our conversation with Frank was awesome. He was so warm and genuine and funny and, well, frank, and that day will go down as one of my favorite experiences as a journalist. It’s hard to accurately articulate what having a conversation like that with someone so influential and important to so many people really means. Suffice it to say, I was giddy for the rest of the day.

Of course, I could only include one or two quotes from my interview with Frank in my article, since I was also covering the PostSecret live event that evening and that was the crux of the story (a story that ended up being much shorter than the one I wanted to write — such is life at a small daily newspaper). But our chat was too great not to share. Inspired by my coworker Cecelia, who posted a transcript of a memorable, too-long-for-print interview over at her own blog, I’d like to post some extended excerpts from my Q&A with Frank.

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i’m not together, but i’m getting there

Two weeks ago I crashed my car. For anyone who’s been in an accident before, I’m sure you can relate to the shock, the embarrassment, the fear, the confusion, the disillusionment. At age 25, it was my first accident, and I felt all those things in equal measure.

That “brightest of bright reds” vehicle I mentioned in my last post? Well, she’s gone now, resigned to the great scrap heap in the sky. (Though the guy at the garage where I received the diagnosis did agree to pop the Chevy logo off the hood and give it to me as a souvenir of my shame and my survival — which, yes, I should clarify, I am absolutely fine. A bruised arm and a very bruised ego, but otherwise alright.)

Anyway, the point of this story is to say that totaling my car, and coming pretty close to totaling my life, got me thinking about how quickly things can happen. One moment, I’m pulling out of the parking lot at my job because I had a stomach ache and just wanted to finish my work from home. The next, I get hit head-on by a Jeep. Such is life. Moments like that come and go, thousands of times a day, and we can’t do anything to slow them down or stop them in any way. They happen. It sucks. We try to move on.

As I spent the last week and a half icing my surface wounds and searching for a new mode of transportation, all while feeling stressed out of my mind, I couldn’t help but think about the moment, or moments, that led up to me abandoning this blog, and all the moments since that I wished I had kept it up so I could tell you about all the amazing — and not so amazing — new songs I heard, albums I purchased, movies I saw, stories I read, books I ogled, TV shows that had me hooked from episode one. I’ve missed having an outlet to express my joys and frustrations, as banal and commonplace as they may be. At least they were mine, and at least a handful of people cared. I missed that. I still do.

Which brings me to today. A lot has changed since I last wrote. I’ve been working full-time in my (mostly) chosen field for over a year, experiencing all the highs and lows that come with it, and realizing that this industry is so much more fragile than any of us could have imagined. I moved back to a city I had abandoned years ago with the hope of never returning, feeling every emotion one can expect to feel when presented with something so familiar, and yet so foreign, wanting desperately to feel home and feeling almost anything but. Most importantly, last summer by a waterfall on perhaps the hottest day of the year, I tearfully and gleefully promised to spend the rest of my life with the greatest person I know, and on August 26 we’ll make that pledge official.

It’s been a pretty busy 18 months to say the least, but there’s been something missing throughout all of it. As I subtitled this blog, way back when, I want something else to get me through this life. And as I also said when I started, without me truly realizing it until now, that something is writing — at least, writing about what I want, off the clock and off the radar, and all the frivolity that comes with it. (Though if this story is any indication, there is very fine line between “frivolous” and “news.”)

So, like my betrothed said in his own kinda-sorta-maybe-comeback post, this isn’t necessarily a promise of more things to come, at least not as frequently as you or I would like. (Though there are several ideas that I’ve had brewing for a while now, and plan on posting in the near future.) But it is a promise that I still have something to say, however infrequent or lacking in eloquence those things may be.

Speaking of lacking eloquence, I’m not quite sure how to wrap things up here. How do you close out your own semi-sheepish reintroduction to blogging? In the words of Alkaline Trio, “You know, all my favorite singers have stolen all of my best lines.” So in the spirit of that:

I’m a horrible dancer, I ain’t gonna lie, but I’ll be damned if that means that I ain’t gonna try.

Here’s to trying again. Let’s see what happens.

lovely lime(y)

Logged into the latest version of LimeWire today to find this as the loading page:

First of all, love the play on lime/limey. Second, if you know me at all, you know how I feel about London, and Brits is general. (I even know exactly which phone booth this is — Big Ben in the background gives it away.)

Needless to say, this was quite a delight for me. And especially fitting, considering my desktop background:

Goes quite nicely with the Buckingham Palace gates and Jamie Cullum lyrics, no?

Any serendipitous screen shots you want to share, Sparkies? Is anyone as tickled by this as I am? Anyone? Bueller?