I’m thinking about asking Colin Meloy to narrate my life. I mean, he doesn’t have to put it to music, but that would be nice and I wouldn’t stop him if he tried.
“Leslie Anne Levine” / The Decemberists (2002)
NOTE: Writing reviews is hard. I wish I could just spin myself around really fast and strain out the relevant contents of my brain, martini shaker-style, to be consumed by others so that they could just absorb why I like or didn’t like something and we could just come to some kind of Understanding and be done with it. But the neurological implications of this practice would probably be pretty grim, so I’ll just keep trying to do it this way.
Practice makes Better Than You Were Before, as no one says.
* * *
Juliet, Naked / Nick Hornby (2009)
In a shabby, seaside hole of a town in England lives Annie and Duncan, an unmarried couple whose relationship seems to be on a steady path to nowhere (“steady path to nowhere?” Who writes this shit? Seriously? Oh, wait). Duncan is singularly obsessed with an American folk singer-songwriter who suddenly went off the grid years ago after a short burst of a promising career. The release of a “new” album of this artists’ work (“Juliet, Naked:” acoustic, studio demos of his Most Famous Album, “Juliet”) gets the plot moving along a much twistier road to potentially More Exciting places.
The story is told in third person but jumps between different characters’ perspectives. This is good – great, really – because it bends plot points that might ordinarily seem far-fetched into something much more plausible (Nobody Resident of shabby, seaside hole of a town beginning an online relationship with Formerly Famous American Folk Singer-Songwriter? Really?)
But Juliet, Naked is engaging and well-written and quite original. Hornby’s got a knack for really digging into and unpacking (he uses that phrase a lot in this one: ‘unpacking’) the guts of relationships, romantic and otherwise. And he also does a good job of not tying everything together into a neat little package – which, while refreshing, is sometimes maddening when it seems that everything else is coming together in the plot.
But hey, that’s life to a T, isn’t it?
3.5 / 5 stars.
Not mega-fan of hip-hop but I do loves me some T.I.
Also, my brother once told me it sounds like he’s saying “I want Joe Biden, I need Joe Biden” instead of “I want yo body, I need yo body” and now I can’t hear anything else.
“Whatever You Like” / T.I. (2008)
Goddamn, the more I write the more I think that I sound like a raving lunatic.
I’ve got a pretty bad case of Party Hosting Paranoia. I think once, dozens of years ago, I invited folks over to my house and ran out of lemonade or Twizzlers or canapes or oxygen and the party bombed. I say “think,” because I don’t remember if this happened, but it’s the only reasonable explanation for my current hysteria.
So I invite people over to my place last night. Nothing formal. Just show up. We’ll eat some snacks and drink some drinks and play some games and listen to some musics. It’ll be a blast, this social gathering. So I tell a few people, who tell a few people, who tell a few people.
But then the PHP sets in: how many guests will arrive? Will I be hosting two or three? A handful? Several hundred? While the possibility that no one will show briefly floats across my conscious mind, I instead decide to concentrate on my personal Worst Case Scenario: EVERYONE, up to and including my second grade teacher, will arrive at Julie’s Apartment that evening, expecting food and drinks and plenty of breathable air and good times.
I’d already procured adequate provisions for an intimate gathering of five or six people, but as the party approaches I enter Party Survival Mode, which manifests itself into a frantic, last-minute trip to the Wal-Mart.
I have no idea what I will purchase, only that I know that I need something else. I pass a display of cheap plastic dishware. Cups! I think. I need more cups! And into the cart go four plastic tumblers for $0.75.
I continue to stalk the aisles in a frenzy. Fellow customers avert their gazes; I am wild-eyed and damn-near dissociated. I see cases of Natural Light. Beer! I think. I need more beer! But is 20 bottles of Bud Light a better buy than 637 cans of Natty? Always, I think, and into the cart goes the clinking cardboard prize.
Cups. Beer. What else? I’ve approached the groceries. Snacks! I think. I need more snacks! I see Cheez-its of every flavor. One box? Two? Three? I remember that I also have popcorn at home. And cookies. Did I mention I planned on baking cookies? Two boxes of cheesy baked goodness drop into the cart, and I manage to reintegrate myself enough to make it to the checkout lane.
Purchases paid for, Items driven home. Everything unloaded into my kitchen. Every single solitary food item in my refrigerator is then rearranged to make way for the beer, which was bought room-temp and cannot possibly be served warm. The shelf seems to be bowing under the weight of 240 fluid ounces of Bud Light. I rearrange some more. There, that’s better. Could I have refrigerated, say, half of the bottles? Of course, but I am in the throes of a PHP crisis.
Night of the party. I tell guests to begin arriving at 9:00. For several straight months, I’ve not worked past 8:30 on a Saturday night. For the past several weeks, I’ve barely gone past 7:30. Plenty of time to get home, change, sweep the floors, bake cookies, put away my laundry, and attend to all of the last-minute details that only matter to me, because my friends are not petty bitches and will not give a shit.
But it is 8:30 and I am still at work. There are absolutely no indications I will be leaving soon. It is an unusually busy evening, everyone is busting their asses, and to ask to leave would make me actually crazy.
So I wait. Nervously. It is 8:45. I am still there. Oh, God.
Never mind that my most-punctual friends already RSVP’d with regrets, and those who planned on coming indicated that 9:00 was just an ETA. I am sure there are hordes of angry, hungry, thirsty friends camped outside my apartment door.
8:47. I am told that I am done for the evening. I complete side-work with the swiftness of Kenyan marathoners and am home at 9:01.
Guests trickle in, we chat and drink and eat and all is well. One person drinks one beer. Approximately 1/4 of one box of Cheez-its is consumed. To my adrenaline-addled brain, this does not mean I over-prepared. It means I planned wisely. Half of my guests wanted to drink water, and I was able to serve them in brand-new cups, with forty-six older cups at the ready.
Overall, one successful party and one serious flare-up of PHP passed.
*Quote taken from an episode of Wings. What a good show.
My name is Julie and this is my report of History.
History is a very long and complicated era of time in which many things have occurred. For instance, there have been many wars and great rulers and good inventions and important horses. There has also been bad rulers and inventions, but most horses are good, overall.
The first thing I would like to tell you about in my report of History is about the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell is a large bell that comes from Pennsylvania. It is important and historic for many reasons. I will tell you the reasons now.
First, when Mr. Paul Revere made his famous ride through the Original Thirteen Colonies he had to ring the bell before he could start. His horse was a fine horse, but by the time Mr. Paul Revere got to Georgia his horse was tired and it collapsed and died. This is why we do not ring the Liberty Bell anymore, because of the horse. It is out of respect. I think the horse was named Mary Todd.
Now is the part of my report where I explain about the History of Ancient People. Ancient People lived long before any people who are here now lived, and because of these Ancient People, we are here today. The Ancient People fought wars and made new inventions to make the People Now have better lives. The first invention I will discuss is the horseshoe.
Before horseshoes were invented horses would have to walk on their tippy-toes and this was very uncomfortable for the horses. People would ride them through unpaved roads and lanes and avenues and the horses would get things caught in their feet, which are made of gelatin on the bottom. This is also where Jell-o comes from.
But then the horseshoe was invented and so people could ride these majestic beasts through all boulevards without the horses getting hurt. This is why Mr. Paul Revere could ride Mary Todd all the way to Georgia before she collapsed and died.
After the Ancient People are the Current People, who have made many new and exciting inventions like space travel. The first animal to go up into the space was a monkey, or a dog. To date, there has not been any horses in space. The reason for this is because horses are scared of flying, and also they prefer to run fast.
When I was seven I wanted a horse, who I would name Butterscotch, which is also my favorite candy and also would be the name of my favorite animal. But horses, who are afraid of flying, also do not like to climb stairs and I live on the fourth floor. So instead I decided to become a famous writer who writes about History. When I am famous, I will buy a horse named Butterscotch and I will train it to not be afraid of the outer space. Soon Butterscotch will be more famous than me and I will ride up and down the East Coast. The last thing we will do is to ring the Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania in honor of Mary Todd and the sacrifices she made as she was ridden all up and down until Mr. Paul Revere was finished.
This is my report, which I hope you have enjoyed.
I only kinda-sorta knew these guys existed until a friend asked if I was interested in seeing them live (sad note: the concert sold out in approximately .003 seconds). Thanks, friend, for bringing this music into my life!*
“Little Lion Man” / Mumford and Sons (2009)
*That sounded in-genuine.** It is not.
**What? For 29 years*** I thought “ingenuine” was a word. Guess not. My bad!
***Okay, so not exactly that long. It was probably a few years before I was using multisyllabic words.
NOTE: Read this in the P-D today: “The English folk rock group Mumford and Sons…routinely forgets lyrics. ‘It happens a lot, especially when we do live television,’ lead singer Marcus Mumford said. ‘Of course we get nervous, [and there’s] shaking, panic attacks, sweating a lot, crying a little bit, a desperate need for the toilet.'”
Last week I thought I invented something awesome, only to discover it’s been done a hundred-million times before. Nevertheless, it’s fast and easy and cheap, so I’ll share with you now:
Potato Chip Chicken
2. Add appx 2 tbsp flour (about a 1/2 tbsp per fillet, depending on size) and a generous handful of chips to a plastic baggie – mix and crush the flour-and-chip mixture. This is the fun part. Trust me.
4. Dip each fillet in the egg, then transfer to the flour-and-chip mixture.
5. Bake about 20-ish minutes (or 4 in my SuperOven) – until juices “run dry” and season to taste.*
The entire thing is easy-peasy to make, yet gives one the feeling of having actually “cooked” (what with the egg breaking and flour dredging and whatnot). The potential for variation in breading is about limitless as well. I chose sour cream and onion chips because it’s what I had on hand.
The chicken was not nearly as flavorful as I assumed it would be, so seasoning the chicken itself (salt, pepper, etc;) prior to dredging might help. Also, seasoning the mixture itself – though the chips might be flavorful on their own, they seem to lose some potency in the baking process.
Pair with microwaveable steamed veggies for the ultimate easy-but-looks-like-you-took-time effect and enjoy!