Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thoughts on Sex and the City: The Movie (from someone who doesn't watch Sex and the City)

1. Which stylist ho hated SJP sooooo much that they put the same hideous metal-studded Hot Topic belt on her FOUR TIMES? 

2. Didn't Kim Cattrall used to have a neck? 

3. Actually, Cynthia Nixon could stand to donate some neck to Kim.

4. Speaking of Cynthia Nixon, I could not be convinced that Miranda she was EVER into that cutie pie Steve guy with Rojo Caliente lurking in my memory. During the six months she denied him sex, you know even her fictional character was getting some ginger lady lovin'. 

5. I don't know WHAT a husband would have to do wrong in order to deserve being dragged to this movie on opening day, but you can bet that the ones I saw did something BAD. Between the fact that every packed theater is a huge crazy lady-party, the close-up shots of guy ass, and the fact that 90% of the movie is an emotional hate-all-men-fest: that is some cruel and unusual punishment.

6. There's this a part where a mentally deranged monster-child suddenly bursts into the shot, screaming and roaring. I almost wet myself. That was like the damn Grudge or something. I wanted to rewind that shit 15 times. I don't know why the editors thought that was normal or okay.

7.  The greatest lesson learned, by far: yes, those four may be great friends, but mine are better. Why? If I wore any of those outfits in public, they would say, "You look FUCKING RETARDED. Go inside and CHANGE."

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Incoherent Early-Morning Ramblings: I'm not actually THAT bitter, I swear!

I barely know how the government of this country works. I barely know what's going on the world. 

I can barely explain my own so-called opinions to you, and why I hold them. 

It's pathetic. I wouldn't normally admit these things; then again, I think these things are true for a lot of people who wouldn't like to admit them. I'm not dumb, which is why I can get by without learning a damned thing. Funny how that works. 

Damnit, I want to learn. I want to go back and do it right. I want to read my textbooks--the ones I never cracked; and then when test day came, I patted myself on the back for fooling the teacher and getting a mediocre passing grade. Good for me! I've been dishonest, learned nothing, and earned a merely acceptable grade. My skills in life? Forging knowledge and dodging responsibility!

How sad. How lazy. How wasteful. I want to learn.

I've been told that academia is worthless. Pointless. A massive masturbatory exercise in futility and vanity. Fuck the system, man! It's all the MAN, dude! You're just a cog in the machine! This certainly may be true. If it is true for you, you should get out. Isn't it infinitely more worthless if you take up space without taking from the system what you can? I'm sure we can find SOME cog to eagerly replace you.

How dare we complain without MOVING? 

Darlings, let's count our blessings--wherever we think they came from. We are the over-privileged children of an over-privileged country: born with silver spoons in our mouths, our disposable diapers padded with praise, dressed in sweatshop footie PJs, and when the system (duuude) said the time was right, escorted through the golden gates of "adulthood" with Xeroxed Hope Scholarships slapped on our ungrateful asses. And we have the gall to ignore our opportunities in favor of the hipness of stupidity. Fuck that. I want to learn.

It's not that I oppose challenging the system. FAR from it. But those who challenge authority rarely get far with no credibility. Sure, kick back with your oh-so-cool friends in the martyrdom of your self-made faux-poverty and talk about the fruitlessness of academia--no one's going to listen to you. You're not changing anything. 

In art, you learn the rules to break the rules. Picasso isn't a legend because he decided to paint twisted-up faces one night on an acid trip in his parents' basement. You best believe that boy did technically perfect portraits for years before Guernica. What makes you think you can start a revolution without knowing how things work NOW?

Hypocrisy, unoriginality, consumerism, privilege, ingratitude, insignificance. It's best for your health not to think about it all. In America, it seems ignorance isn't just bliss; it's a way of life.

Unfortunately, I've been thinking about it a little too much.  

So I'm just going to take small bites I can handle. 

I'll be over here with a newspaper, my philosophy books from last semester and a big bottle of Ritalin. Because lord knows, getting through this shit on natural motivation and desire alone would be far too much to ask of a poor deprived college student like me. 

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thoughts of the Day Volume I: Things are kind of stupid sometimes.

1. "Fail" and "epic fail" need to please, please die. 

They were never that cute or funny. At this point, they're NEGATIVELY cute and funny. That is to say, they upset me. They make my heart ache. It's like bringing up a bitter memory that died and faded away long ago. A tragic situation.

If you must continue to say these things, please just keep it to yourself. Go back to whacking it to anime porn on 4Chan. 
Spare me. 

2. School is about strategy.

It's an oft-propagated myth that success in education has something to do with learning--it doesn't. If you know how to read your instructors, you can pass almost anything. 

Learn to recognize teachers who will give you an extension on any due date, no matter how crappy the excuse. USE THIS--but only once. And remember: it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission. 

Specific dead family members are good; mysterious "family circumstances" are better. No one wants to hear about your mess. They just want to get on with their day. They probably don't quite feel like grading your paper yet anyway. They'd probably love that little break to play with their dog or make an important phone call. 

3. Everybody is a person.

JUST a person. 
No one you know has ever lived before this go-round.
If they have, they certainly don't remember it. 
If they say they remember it, they don't remember it, and they're crazy; ignore them. 
"People are just people, they shouldn't make you nervous." 

Yeah, you're right Regina Spektor. I should make THEM nervous. 

4. "Chill" isn't actually a complimentary thing to be called.

Many exceedingly "chill" people might actually just be closet bores--or they're trying too hard. 

Why not have a little enthusiasm about...just... THINGS.
They're the only things you're gonna get.
You might as well pay attention to them, because pretending to be too cool for everything is a big fat shitty waste of time.

Your voice would probably really love to stretch its legs.  
Why not explore its range and pitch a little when you talk? 
Monotonous droning is reserved for robots, the old, and the infirm.

If you don't smile and laugh sometimes, you might forget how. 
And that would be awkward for everyone.

5. If you manage to stop caring what people think, there's a good chance they'll start to think better of you.

That's fucking TRICKY, and I don't have much else to say about it. It might actually be impossible.

6. "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" is hard to say, but even harder to type. 

With a mere slip of the hand, a harmless children's rhyme quickly becomes disturbing animal-on-lumber pornography.

Phans "Do the Panic," but a diet fueled by ramen may not be ALL that bad...

The new Phantom Planet album, Raise the Dead, came out on April 15th--four messy years after their last release. 

That 2004 self-titled effort appeared soon after their song "California" became synonymous with sun drenched images of spoiled Orange County high schoolers. At what will probably prove the all-time height of their popularity, when that familiar tinkling of piano keys perked the ears of Ugg-clad teenagers across the nation every week, Phantom Planet put out an album that sounded NOTHING like "California."

Predictably "rebellious?" Perhaps. The smartest move? Of course not. After the OC hype subsided, the band found themselves widely forgotten, scorned by the inevitable "they sold out to THE MAN!!" fans, and dropped from Epic Records.

Still, they kept recording...and recording...and recording. And the new record's release date kept getting pushed back...and get the picture. They signed with Fueled By Ramen, the home of Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, and Paramore, among other similar acts. Remaining fans breathed a collective wary sigh. 

Why do we care so much? As a band, they churn out catchy tunes with fair consistency; they're fun, but they're certainly not life changing. But as people, their brotherly goofiness is inexplicably charming. The hangers-on, myself included, take their trials and tribulations to heart--a Phan (forgive me) since age 14, I continue to root for them with a touch of irritation and an irrationally motherly sense of pride. 

PP got their start waaaay on back in 1995; since then they've seen numerous friends and openers (Maroon 5, Rooney, etc) go on to greater fame and leave them in the dust. They've suffered the loss of a drummer (Jason Schwartzman) to Hollywood fame and a guitarist (Jacques Brautbar) to a "photography career," AKA another band. They've been shuffled from label to label, beaten down by flippant critics, changed their sound, gone from touring in a modest van to a huge bus and back to a van again.  

And now they're opening for Panic at the Disco. 

Cry, the inner music snob.

But take heart, if you care, because Raise The Dead is fun, catchy, slightly dark--a sort of half step between "The Guest" and "Phantom Planet." The belated transition piece, five years late.

The "new" single is "Do The Panic," a SUPER old track that's been entirely reworked. After their Athens show, lead singer Alex Greenwald told me the song was re-recorded on the advice of a long-time mentor. I think the mentor was onto something, because while the new lyrics may jolt the ears of those who know the original, this song is DAMN catchy. 

Other standouts include "Dropped," a deliciously poppy and chorusy hand-clap-fest; "Leader," an ode to cults with a group of children lending cheerful backing vocals; and the title track, which proves a worthy and appropriate intro to the prevailing sound of the album. 

Honestly, this record is what Phantom Planet are all about. It's happy clappy sunshine with a slightly creepy underbelly; but all traces of drama and moodiness are delivered with a wink and a grin. They may get knocked down and pushed around, but they keep on trucking with nothing but a little more dirt on their chins. That's what I like about them.

So fuck off, snobs; I can still listen to my California kids without shame. They are my nostalgia band, the boys who claimed my heart in the 8th grade, and they'll buy a true-blue fan a grilled cheese sandwich in a dodgy 24-hour diner, to boot. (True story.)

Maybe a little Ramen isn't that bad for you after all.

-Haley "Always in the mood for a forced pun" Crain

Saturday, March 29, 2008

When we say get, you say down! GET!

This sucker has fallen a little flat, amirite? 
How should we handle this lil' sitch? 
Perhaps first kill me off for using the term "sitch," and then picket Sagen's place of residence to get her to post.
Yes, this is a plan.

Anyway. Here is the first of a couple overdue updates! 

- - - - - 

Let's talk about Tilly and the Wall

More specifically, let's talk about Tilly herself. Tilly, AKA new unofficial lead singer Kianna Alarid. After squeezing into a space beside me at their Atlanta show last Sunday night, Kianna--a heavily tattooed, 5-foot-nothing elf of a candy-rainbow-disco princess--danced wildly to opener Capgun Coup, let me get a nerdy fangirl photo, and was nothing less than wonderful on stage and off.

So it's hard for me to resent And The Wall, Inc. TOO much for letting Kianna take over the stage...AND the videos. Her style, stage presence, and voice--inarguably the strongest of the group--have been gradually nudging her toward front and center for a while. 

Maybe Kianna is the best of the band's three vocalists for the kind of work they're doing right now. While it isn't a direct cut from the upcoming album, their new single "Beat Control" could be our flashing neon hint: they've had it with the construction paper and glue sticks, the sincere and organic scrappiness that Derek Pressnall and Neely Jenkins' voices fit so well. Kianna's saucy and impassioned belting, aided by ever-improving control and strength, may lead an exploration of a more polished and party-ready Tilly.

You know, I do not hate on bands for changing. It's counter-intuitive for any music lover to do so. I'm down for a beat-controlled Tilly album, if that's what this is all leading up to. 

But perhaps it's just more market-savvy for to have one main face. (The smallest and spunkiest face, at that.) I know I probably sound like a douche, but I hope that's not the reasoning behind the Kiannanization. This band's very...BANDY-ness is a huge reason why they are so adored by their fans. They wouldn't be Tilly and the Wall without the vibe that they're just a gang of friends trying to bang out a few honest tunes...ya know, man? 

Okay, that's enough self-indulgent speculation. Tillies, don't hold it against me; I'm just trying to avoid a "Don't Speak" scene! Kianna, step AWAY from the bindi and maroon lipstick! Put the yellow sports bra DOWN! Yeah, I know you were thinking about it. 

On with the show:

Picture exactly what you'd expect from a Tilly show in Atlanta (hometown to half the band) at a place called the Drunken Unicorn. Technicolored, high-energy, and as ecstatic as ever. The club was deliciously tiny. Balloons were released, bopped, and promptly popped. And Tilly sounded tighter and more polished than I've ever heard them. 

So WOOOOO, let's hear it for Kianna and the Tilly and the Walls!

- - - - -

PS. Capgun Coup were way cute. I actually enjoyed their show a lot more than the stuff I'm hearing on Myspace, but if you like your skinny-indie-boy-rock a little bit messy and loony, keep an eye on them. Think the Unicorns + the Pixies, tossed in a blender and mixed until slightly chunky.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Someone's been reading too much Pitchfork...

Late one Friday night a few weeks ago, I stood in the middle of my deserted campus, clutching my phone and glancing nervously toward the 5th floor offices of our university radio station.

I was crossing my fingers so the DJ on duty wouldn’t hate me for what I was about to do; I needed to rouse him from his peaceful late-night shift of 15-minute-long jazz tracks interspersed with naps. I had to ask him to come down and deliver my CD review to the station, lest I incur the wrath of the Music Directors, because it would have been late for the fourth time.

He obliged, put on a long song, came downstairs. Responded with an indifferent grunt to my thank-you-SO-muches which were actually pleas of oh-gosh-I’m-so-sorry-I-annoyed-you-pleas-don’t-hate-me’s. It’s just my nature to get all bashful in a situation like that—situations that really aren’t all that big a deal.

So imagine my surprise when I drove into the bleak tunnel that is Highway 316 at night and switched on my radio to find that the DJ was not, in fact, denouncing my obtuse and totally unacceptable behavior on-air. Instead he was rewarding me with Hanne Hukkelberg.

Incidentally, Hanne’s 2006 release Rykestrasse 68 was just made available in US stores a few days ago. The Oslo songwriter’s third album, which received a Norwegian Grammy, is my favorite find of this year so far—but don’t get me wrong. This girl is anything but undiscovered. Her official website offers an impressive roster of international praise. 

Yada yada, what does she sound like? A little like the lovechild of Regina Spektor and Cat Power. A little like a dusty box filled with black and white photos of eerily realistic young people, found under your grandma’s bed. A little like an electronic vintage snowstorm, or a gramophone playing your favorite jazz singer from the 2030s.

Hanne's voice is delicate, but captivating; often barely peeking out from behind lopsided instrumentals, bathed in a light haze of antique-y static. Then she'll slip effortlessly into a more modern brand of jazzy sass, and then back, and then forward again, in a haunting little dance that won’t let you decide if it sounds old or new.

The perfect soundtrack for a lonely drive from city to country to city at 1 in the morning. Thanks Mister DJ dude. I’m sorry if I bothered you.

(listen here)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Look, it's that there Virginia Skeptor!

Haley here, blogging from the home base in good old Hickory Flat, Georgia!

It's nice to know that no matter how old I get or where I go, I can always come home for a few good ego-blows. Today I've learned that my makeup isn't a good shade and that if I'm not hungry, I shouldn't eat--a jab at my figure that was masterfully subtle in its obviousness. Good form. Nice technique.

It's cool though, I think the mom and pops are going to let me take out a Parental Bank loan for Bonnaroo tickets--even though when asked, "What about drugs, alcohol, and debauchery?" my only answer was, "'s a music festival." Poor form. Bad technique. But it's looking like I may get to go anyway! Then I can blog some lovely concert reviews and everyone will be happy. Because I know our 3.9 million readers will be just itching to know what we thought about it!

Speaking of concerts, I had the pleasure of witnessing Her Utter Amazingness Regina Spektor at the Tabernacle Friday night. This pleasure came only after an hour of driving a mini-van in circles, alone and lost in a sketchy part of Atlanta with a dead cell phone and literally screaming my head off almost non-stop. So I missed about 30 minutes of her set, and when I finally got there, I kinda lost my shit and cried a bit out of stress/relief/the shock of seeing and hearing my beloved crazy Russian idol in person. I felt just like one of those crazed Beatles fans; I should've fainted to get her attention! Maybe she would have given me a shout out!

But yeah, Regina is basically a goddess. Her voice was flawless; it's even more amazing live than in recordings. She debuted a few new songs, went on a cute little ramble about saving whales, and brought out the Only Son guy to beatbox for Hotel Song.

All in all, I would sell my soul for a lock of that her hair so that maybe I could voodoo some of her talent out of it. Bitch is that good.

It is interesting, however, that some concert-goers at the back of the venue seemed to think they had stumbled into a piano bar with a lounge singer and talked the ENTIRE time. It is also interesting to note that the drunken murmurs magically transformed into obnoxious, out-of-tune singalongery during "Fidelity."


Here's a tip: If you think you can sing better than the singer you paid to see, you should have saved that ticket money to rent some studio space and record a damn cover album. BUTCHER THE SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE ON YOUR OWN TIME.

Thursday, February 28, 2008



Animal Collective, my all time favorite make-your-friends-say-WTF band, is due for a new EP called "Water Curses" on May 6th!

As reported by Pitchfork Media, the 4 track EP contains 3 cuts from the Strawberry Jam sessions, and a final track from...not those sessions. 

1. Water Curses
2. Street Flash
3. Cobwebs
4. Seal Eyeing

They also have a tour going on, but it's not in this country, and I don't think our fan base--WHILE EXTENSIVE--reaches abroad quite yet. Well...I mean...there's a show in New Jersey. Yeah that's what I thought.

Me and AC have a rocky past. When my boyfriend first tried to introduce me to them, I was like, "Um. Are you one of those people who just listens to the weirdest music you can find so people think you're really unique, even if it's not actually good?"

Ouch. I know. Animals, Animals, keep cool my babies. I LOVE you now. I soon realized that the song "We Tigers" unleashes the inner tribal beast-dancer housed deep within my soul, waiting to streak its face with war paint and freak the fuck out in a field somewhere. The closest I can really get to that is blasting it in my car and WOOP-WOOPing really loud, so that's what I did. And from that point on there was no going back. 

If you haven't heard their latest album, Strawberry Jam...hear it
It is wild and passionate and noisy and quiet and tender and abrasive and meaningless and meaningful and pointy and squishy and sweet and sour and salty and spicy and pretty and ugly and everything music should be, rolled into one big "OMFG THIS IS ALL I CAN LISTEN TO FOR A MONTH STRAIGHT" ball off goodness.

Animal Collective, kids.
Because you have inner We Tigers too.
...And katydids. 
...And ogres-ogres-ogres.

This is me.

I'm sorry the quality of this image is so poor, but I wanted to give you the most up-close and personal view of me right now. That's my dorm room. This is what happens to me when I START writing a paper at 4 in the morning that is due at 11...later...that same morning.

And then when I blog about it instead of actually writing it.

Yes. I turn into a thin, blond woman, and my dorm room gets WAY bigger, and I take off all my clothes. 

Kinda sexy. 

I fear I'm an academic masochist. For no reason at all, I push myself to the brink of complete failure and mental breakdown, only to churn out 4 page papers in the final 2 hours before they're due; then I race to the classroom and dramatically fling the shoddy work at my professor, deathly pale and covered in a thin film of sweat, with crazy in my eyes and dark circles under them. In between looooonnnng recovery naps, I anticipate the return of my grade and...oh goody! Somehow I haven't flunked out yet.

One day this is going to backfire on me. And it is not going to be pretty.

Let me take this moment to introduce to you a phrase my Georgia State friends coined:

It's what you say in moments like...well, this. 

I find it very useful. It beautifully and simplistically conveys the unique feeling you have during the complete mutiny of all your reason, clarity, and sanity. The kind of moments that are only possible in this glorious academic (cough) adventure we call college.

So let's use it properly, in the manner I'd likely employ in this particular situation:


Sometimes it packs more punch when said calmly and matter-of-factly. Here's another (fictional, yet probably not) example:

"I just took 90mg of Adderall, I'm hungover, I have a midterm in half an hour, and I've only been to that class twice. LOL COLLEGE."

And finally, most resigned and unfazed of all, the weekend version:

"I have no idea what happened last night and I can't find my pants. lol college."

So that covers that. Moving on... 


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tilly lets the beat control them

Oh shit. Here it goes. This new Tilly video is going to have all the fans squawking about "Oh my god, this sucks, this sounds nothing like their old stuff!" 

And fucking Perez Hilton put it on his blog like "Look at this really obscure band I found! They're so new and unknown!" So NOW the fans are going to encounter Perezzies at Tilly shows,  a bunch of Ugg-adorned "college-aged females," and be like "Oh my god, you don't even know Tilly! YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW!" 

It's all going to erupt in a bloody hair-pulling Springer-style smackdown and I am going to be right in the middle of it at Tilly's Atlanta show next month, weeping, "I JUST WANT MY HAPPY TILLY RAINBOW SUNSHINE SMOOTHIE NOW PLEASE."

Whatever. The song is still adorable, the Tilly kids still look cutely awkward in videos, and I'd still give my left leg to put on a tutu or some shit and play backup triangle for them. 

But PS: I do miss the days when all Tillies were created equal. I know she's cute and petite and has a kickass sleeve, but who made Kianna the lead singer?