Monday, December 29, 2008

The Seven Best Albums of All Time....or whatever

steph b didn't really tag me, but I decided to make my own list because...well dammit because I like music.

steph b says:
1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE at Hill’s Country. Enough already!
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar (even though I couldn’t find it), along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you."

To which I reply: "No!"

steph b says: "My major criterion in selecting these albums proved to be whether, when listening to the album, I felt like I would commit a crime if I skipped a single track. These are albums that I always listen to straight through and I'm never tempted to pass over a song. Of course, I excluded compilations and "best of" albums."

To which I reply: "I just picked some stuff I liked and listed it in no particular order. Usually I liked the whole album, to be fair."

Let's begin!

1. Erin McKeown Distillation
I can't stop listening to it, turn it off, or skip a track. Her voice is beautiful and in the perfect range for singing along, and her mix of guitar work and jazzy rhythms always keeps me jumping. From the beautifully blasphemous "La Petite Morte," through the stunningly silent "How To Open My Heart In 4 Easy Steps," to the brilliantly perfect "You Musn't Kick It Around", this album will take over your brain and make you a happy, sad, lonely, loved, jumpy, dancing, addicted maniac. Thank god.

2. The Cat Empire Two Shoes
(Sorry Mika fans, but Life in Cartoon Motion has been bumped. The lyrics were nice, but too sparse, and while I am sure a number of tracks from the album have made it onto my permanent playlist, several of the songs lost their staying power after being repeated more than 50 times. I guess I was just on a kick. But bumping Mika means I had space for one of my favorite groups!) The Cat Empire can best be defined as latin-rock-jazz-ska-funk-pop (if you call that a definition), and this is one of their best albums. The chart-topping "Sly" is of course great, "Saltwater" strangely soars, and the catchy "Protons, Neutrons, Electrons" offers a soothing look at what might otherwise be the terrifying gap of death. But the intelligent lyrics and perfect mixing of musical generas means that every song, down to the hidden track, is a winner.I look forward to their next release in February.

3. Gorillaz Demon Days
Knock 'em if you want, I can't stop loving this album. Brilliant lyrics, complex mixes, and the compelling "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head" all combine to make this an album I can't turn off. Oh yeah and that whole DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE thing.

4. K'naan The Dusty Foot Philosopher
Another I can't turn off or skip. More of the same to say, but in a totally different way: critical and brilliant lyrics ("What's Hardcore?"), danceable rhythms ("Wash It Down") and catchy tunes ("I Was Stabbed by Satan").

5. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever to Tell
Like everyone else except for an elite few, I discovered the Yeah Yeah Yeahs while I was playing RockBand with some friends. Their "Maps" was a beautiful lullabye...a rocking, bad-ass lullabye, but one nonetheless rife with the irresistible crooning of Karen O. I was surprised to discover the rest of their music is not at all like that song. Pleasantly surprised, because it is so great I cannot help but bang my head and act like I can dance to that kind of music (which I can't). My favorite song is the tantalizingly short "Man," and the rest of the album is equally amazing. The last track, "Modern Romance" is a nice return to the showcasing of Karen O's vocal talents, a little sugar on top of all the spice.

6. The Kings of Leon Aha Shake Heartbreak
Yeah, they are sexist as all get out, but damn they make some good rock. 'nuf said.

7. Feist The Reminder
I am almost embarrassed that I picked this album instead of her others, but I got on the Feist boat late. It's a great boat, though, with a Canadian license and Feist's soaring voice serenading the passengers with her alternately warm or cool melodies. The softness of "Brandy Alexander" and "Honey Honey" contrast perfectly with Feist's homage to Nina Simone, "Sealion," and the incredibly popular "1 2 3 4." Ah, Canadians...


Friday, December 12, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside...

School is good. Cat is well. Neighbors are fine, with one exception. Nasty situation, but it's being taken care of.

All in all things are pretty dull but in a sort of calm-before-the-storm kind of way.

I did go out last night with no expectations and had a great time. Saw "A Queer Carol" with Lindsay. We stopped for a drink ahead of time and I was reminded of the value of medium- to good-quality gin (as opposed to low-quality, anyway). The show was cute. Lindsay put it really nicely: "You can't really wreck this kind of play." It certainly put me in the festive mood. After that I grabbed a bite of dinner (they've changed their goat cheese nachos, but they are still pretty phenomenal), and then went by Clare's house. Hung around for a while and then Steph stopped by to say she and Clare's old bikester crew were heading to their bar. Steph and I talked a bit about starting a sort of traveling intellectual talking group/reading session at a local venue, where a group of us would get together and read aloud some of our research for the public or young-academic/intellectuals or just ourselves (the cool stuff...they forbid me from talking about stem cells, which was fine with me, considering my new-found discipline). It sounds like a great plan. Clare and I stuck around for a while and looked over her awesome paper on non-normative gender performance in Wisconsin, Samoa, and Japan, and decided to totally join the initiative; I volunteered to help with marketing (sometime when I have some free time ever). Eventually we headed out (slowly, I fucked my knee up on the Wisconsin weather), and met a whole bunch of people there. We drank and played foosball and generally had a good time, and Steph and I spent a lot of time talking about our various arts disciplines and what we thought of theatre and visual art respectively, and UW departments in particular. It was great, but damn was it cold walking home. I had been drinking and could still feel the wind cutting through my coat and hat...I must upgrade my winter gear. But I didn't die of hypothermia, and for once my house seemed warm to come home to, so I consider the evening a success.

Now I just need to finish up this semester, grad school apps, and my holiday shopping before I get a good 10 hours of knitting and hanging with the family, and a good few days of seeing the MN friends for the holiday season.

I hope yours is equally wonderful.


Sunday, November 30, 2008


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The grad school application process:'s still going. I've almost made my final selections. The GRE is next week. And today at lunch I brought out my sister's laptop (mine is still bordering on deceased), and spontaneously wrote 2/3 of an actually-decent statement of purpose. My writing was so eloquent and thorough I've even inspired myself to pursue the research I was talking about doing.

I obviously couldn't establish a precedent of productivity, so of course blogging was the next obvious action.

Yesterday it snowed: medium sized, thick white flakes flurrying down in a quick mess. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't accompanied by a sudden temperature drop below freezing; winter has hit hard. I am looking for a hat to compensate for my lack of hair, and I saw the perfect one yesterday...on someone else's head. After much searching on the internet, I've come to believe it was the combination of these two:

It was the size and shape of the white one, without the poms (just the sort of bunches on the end of the strings of the grey one), and with the cabling pattern on the grey one. It was also a slightly creamy white. I'm jealous. If I had circular needles I would be trying to make it right now, but I just do not know how to do cabling.

At least I have a project for if I don't get into grad school. And since I will be poor, unemployed, and saddled with a huge amount of debt, I better damn well know how to make my own clothes. At least I can be a fashionable street-person.


Saturday, November 15, 2008


Why isn't there a literary genome project?

The music genome project and accompanying website is a brilliant piece of work (although I wish they'd let me select the "genes" with which I want to construct a station), and my cutting-edge music discovery process has been immensely simplified.

So some librarians or something should do the same for books. At least in fiction the books' style, characters, influences, and themes could totally be categorized in the world's coolest library. Reading would be hip again. Loving books would be standard.

Right now I'd make a station with Tamora Pierce, China Mieville, and Nancy Farmer's The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm as seeds... tell me that doesn't sound fabulous.


Friday, October 31, 2008

creeped out or stressed out?

I Am Gummy Bear (The Gummy Bear Song) by Gummibar is an incredibly creepy song to hear come on Pandora when you are working alone at the office at one in the morning.

I've totally got the over-the-shoulder-checking heeblie-jeeblies now. Thanks for ruining the rest of my productivity, Gummibar...


Thursday, October 23, 2008

My mediocre internet presence...

finally exists! Hooray! I googled myself by the name I most prefer to go by, and not only were there 27 results, they were 27 results that were actually me! Bwhahahahah! I shall begin to build my internet empire!

Busy Busy Busy....blah blah blah insert usual to-do-list here.

This is a theater-riffic weekend. Tonight I am going to see if I can get rush tickets to see Avenue Q, which is in town. If you don't know about Avenue Q, check it out. It's sort of like the Muppets. For adults. Ish. I've listened to the soundtrack a number of times and I am sure the show will be hilarious. I can't wait!

Then, tomorrow I am seeing The Merry Widow, directed by a friend whose work I have been following for a long time. I know she is a phenomenal director and I also just cannot wait to see this Opera.

On Saturday I am going to a wine-tasting (theme: french). I'm bringing a 2002 CĂ´tes de Bordeaux, which I'm nervous about. I'd heard this type compared to other wines that I like, such as a Tempranillo, but then after I purchased it I read one review online. There was only one. And this person wasn't a fan. In fact they really didn't like it. I hope they are wrong, because I'm bringing it anyway. Later that night I'm seeing The Love of the Nightingale, also directed by a friend. I've worked with him in some of my Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness work, so I have incredibly high expectations for this show because I know what he can do. I helped with the props, costumes, and set as well and it looks fabulous. I am so excited to see it I can barely wait, and if you are in the Madison area I highly recommend you check it out as well.*

In addition I need to catch up on my research project and graduate school applications, so it looks like it will be a busy weekend.

Then Sunday is the General Membership Meeting. I couldn't sell my stereo on Craig's List, so I am raffling it off to the MCC members that come to the GMM. Then I won't have to move it! I think about that a lot, now that I only have one year of school left: am I moving this come next summer when I go to grad school? I am making mental inventories of what will be tossed in the free-pile and what will be packed. Almost all of the fiction is coming with me, but most of the high-school level chemistry and biology books will go. I'll keep most of the fiction except for the stuff I am never going to get to. I'm tossing most of my shoes: I'll get a new pair of New Balance sneakers in wherever I'm at, and keep one pair of flats, the nice pair of heels (someday I'll condition myself to wear them, because they look fabulous), and the Chacos from my last birthday. I'll move my teacups and french press but if I don't finish the tequila it's not going with me... Etc. I can't wait to go through my clothes. If you want a trunk full of a range (read: good to bad) of cloth and sewing-esque materials, please let me know. It's heavy, I don't want to have to move that.

*Note: I haven't seen LotN yet, so maybe you should wait until my Sunday morning post. It does run next weekend as well.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Watching the leaves change

The cat likes Gilgamess, which I find intolerable. We've compromised. I've named him Gilgamesh (yes, I'm a nerd) and I've promised to slur the end sometimes so that he feels validated.

A few days ago he pulled my french press out of the corner where I had thoughtfully jammed it when I got him, and smashed it on the ground. Fucking thumbs! So maybe I've been so ornery with him because there is a distinct lack of coffee going on now-ish.

Or I'm overwhelmed from doing a billion things. Whatever.

Last night I drank an overdiluted tablet of generic-brand Airborne and went to be early. The cat only woke me up twice, both times trying and failing in a wet way to jam his head into the cup (not glass anymore I've learned my lesson) of water near my bed. (Don't ask me why, his water dish was full. It's in the same part of his brain that makes him carry my dirty socks around and stash them with the rest of his prizes.) So, I feel generally well-rested and certainly much healthier than I did a few days ago. Vitamins! Sleep! These things are great! Now I'm behind on everything else!

Research/education/work etc. is proceeding in a general forward direction, although not as quickly as I'd like. I've been sort of checked out since the beginning of September, when I was suddenly required to tack 25 hours of lab construction on top of my as-usual over-packed schedule. I look forward to reducing that by about 15 hours next week, and resuming life at a slightly less over-worked pace. It really has made me wonder what the bottom limit is; how little personal time it's possible to get by on. I literally work from 7:30 am until midnight, and come home just to crash into bed, sleep for a few hours, and shower. No wonder the cat and I don't have the best relationship.

But relief is coming. I am looking forward to a family get-together this weekend; my sisters, mother and I are going apple-orcharding, pumpkin-farming, leaf-watching and other generally autumn activities. I'll bring my knitting. If someone (hint: Jessi!) ever tells me how to post pictures on this blog, I'll post some of the scarf I've all but finished (I just need to bind off, which I expect google to be teaching me about soon), as well as whatever I get a start on this weekend. You may have picked up that I like autumn a bit, and it's getting lovely here in Madison. The leaves are probably 50% changed, which means the oranges and reds are going to start going soon. The only down-side of this is that anything north of us has probably already changed. I hope I make it for a leaf-drive soon. One of the few assets of living in this politically ass-backward chunk of the continent is that it has beautiful, full expressions of each season (usually). Long, crisp autumns; cold, snowy winters; wet, blooming springs; and hot, windy summers. For an urbanite-turned-small-town woman, this is something I treasure.

(A note for fellow would-be wine-drinkers: At a wine tasting on Saturday I tried a good bottle of Zin that I would recommend to people who don't normally drink reds. The memorable (albeit corny) name is Earth Zin and Fire. Just google it or something.)


Tuesday, October 7, 2008


five-fingered discount
thumbed darwintroll


Monday, October 6, 2008

Cat still unnamed

On Lindsey's advice I was poking around the ENORMOUS list of pet names hanging around the 19th of September at this entertaining blog. I like Hedgepig, because its quaint, obnoxious, and long enough, but I'm not entirely sold. Recommendations of similarly fictional, fun, and florid nature will be most welcome.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another late night in the office

So here I am at the office watching youtube videos of Wicked and waiting to pick up the twin from night lab. *sigh*. I absolutely love theater. I am so glad I am going into this. Wicked makes me cry, often for all sorts of socially created reasons, but also because the musical is a beautiful story of friendship and certainly of strong women. I probably can't talk about this without delving into realms that I relegate to my activist blog, so I'll just end this discussion by saying that Idina Menzel is amazing and it is things like watching this incredible piece of art that make me so glad I am going into theater.

Along that note, I am more and more delighted with my work on a daily basis. I just started a research project (which I eventually hope to turn into a show) on (topic omitted because that's also something that belongs on that other blog, and also because I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise for any of my potentially thousands or dozens of readers that might want to come see it in spring) something awesome in theater and I am so excited by it. The plan is very interesting and what I hope to do with it is very lovely and fun and creative, but it is also incredibly intellectual. And the best part is that I love the intellectual part. I love the research AND the creation. I hated the other research that I did, and it feels so great and liberating to want to know what I am learning about, and to feel my brain actively storing away fresh ideas and finding connections to old ones. I cannot wait to see how this turns out!

On other topics: school is going well. I had my first exam today. The labs take up SO much of my time. If I had a busy schedule before I am really screwed now. But there is no homework for the labs, so that is a significant asset. I really only have two classes with homework as well as my independent research. Work is fine. The project is fun and important and I just found a lot of information I needed that I thought my predecessor had taken with him, so I finally feel productive again. The cat is nice but destroyed part of the snake's cage (image: me in a robe at 4 in the morning, freshly awoken, staring at the cage trying to figure out how I can quickly and effectively keep the snake from escaping for the rest of the night so I could go back to bed...I eventually settled on duct tape, mostly because it was the first thing I could think of and it seemed like a good idea to my still-asleep brain at the time. Conclusion? Snake is still around...). I still don't know what to call him. Toby's recommendation would probably be He-cat, and that's starting to sound good. Or at least better than nothing. Suggestions wanted!

Twin called, gotta go!


Sunday, September 7, 2008

That last post was started on August 9th and ended on...September 4th. Whoops.

A brief, peaceful fall day. I woke up with a cat curled up near me. It was beautifully cool in the shade, warm in the sun. After a lovely McNair meeting followed by beautiful music, the twin and I went to the evil coffee corporation inside Barnes and Noble. I worked on my personal statement for the Rhodes (which I am procrastinating by blogging), and had a delicious pumpkin spice latte with soy. After taking the twin home I went for a drive around the city. The air was almost crisp and I was blasting Madonna's new CD (although I wish it had more actual Madonna on it, I am a BIT obsessed with 4 Minutes), and then I saw an enormous flock of geese take off and start flying south for the winter. It was beautiful.

This is exactly the kind of weekend I long for. I spent some time at home on Friday night, catching up on some recreational reading. If it weren't for the Rhodes I would have plenty of time to catch up on my homework. I slept in and on Saturday I did a little shopping. I stopped at Hobby Lobby (creepy!) to get an album for my scrapbooking and there was a ton of Halloween decorations out. I just love fall and Halloween and everything that comes with it. I also bought some tupperware to organize some of my desk supplies, a flash-drive (stupid crashing compu) and two shirts for back-to-school. One is an elbow-length black t-shirt with a cinched, heart-shaped bodice and broad neck. It accents my shoulders, and looks fabulous. I'm wearing it to the Theatre Department Picnic today, along with a set of long dangly earrings I haven't worn in a while. In fact, the last time I wore these I remember losing one in the middle of the intersection of South 4th Street and Marquette, and running back out on a stop light to find it. I also bought a light grey v-neck sweater with white and green argyle down the front.

Did I mention that I adopted a cat last week from the humane society? They called him Rooks, but I don't know what to name him yet. I was thinking Dr. Waterhouse (any Neal Stephenson fans?) but I don't think he's smart enough. He's more of a Brett Favre, but that's still a topic/name I won't touch with a ten-foot pole. Also, he has a very quiet meow, very ladylike. He's also got thumbs! I'll post a picture as soon as I figure out how, and you'll see what I mean. He's very cute and sweet, but at 1 am he likes to be petted while I am still asleep, so I might have to find some way to discourage him. He and the snake (Mitch) get along very well, if by very well you mean the cat tries to eat the snake but is thwarted by the glass, and the snake damn well knows it is safe and taunts the cat.

All in all a very domestic weekend. No working on the weekend (except for the house meeting tonight), and I kept to myself. If I finish this essay I think I will reward myself with time to paint the second part of a project I am working on.

I supposed I should enjoy myself while I can because I am officially booked all but three weekends between now and Thanksgiving, and those three promise to fill up fast. New weekend is the house canoe trip, the weekend after is the MCC Retreat, after that is the McNair Senior Retreat, then I think I have two free weekends in October, followed by the MCC Fall GMM, the McNair National Research Conference, and NASCO Institute (at which I am teaching this year...woohoo!), and then one more weekend before Thanksgiving. So yikes. If you want to make plans with me, let's set them up soon. I want to take sometime in the middle of October to visit an apple orchard, and definitely the corn maze again this year. That was a lot of fun last year.

Well, I'm off to enjoy my relaxation.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Well, freaking finally.

I left you all somewhere in the middle of nowhere studying for Organic Chemistry Boot Camp (I got an A! Hooray!). Since then I drove up to the cities, and pretty much just spent some time hanging around, seeing my family and friends. I did a little shopping at IKEA, picked up a beautiful ballerina statue and some nice curtains. I also picked up my first chunk of scrapbooking gear. I've only done two pages so far, and one of those was with my brilliant sis Jessi, who's a genius master scrapbooker and craftsperson. If anyone knows the html to insert a picture from my computer please let me know, and then I'll show you the page.

After that I went to NASCO's Anti-Oppression Action Camp. I had an amazing time in the beautiful outdoors of the middle of Michigan. For more information on that, see my other blog.

After returning to Madison I realized I left my phone charger in Michigan, and I didn't get it back for a few weeks. Those of you who know me are probably impressed that I survived. :)

After Action Camp I started working for Sex Out Loud. Sex Out Loud is a student organization that promotes healthy sexuality through sex positive education and activism. I am the project coordinator, which means mostly that I deal with finances and the budget. Unfortunately the previous project coordinator disappeared off of the face of the planet, so I have been spending a ton of time trying to recreate everything from scratch. I am impressed with my budgeting abilities, honestly. Additionally, we are getting a lot of bills from the previous fiscal year that haven't been dealt with. The problem is that the University is so bureaucratic that we can't actually pay any of those old bills from last year. Additionally, navigating this bureaucracy makes something simple like paying a bill or ordering supplies a task that takes hours. It is incredibly infuriating. Outside of that, it is nice to have a job that takes a lot of work, but our advisor is also frustrating. She loves working with the org but interferes where she shouldn't and doesn't help out with the stuff we need her for. Running the cooperative has really spoiled me. I can barely stand working for another boss now, especially one who is incompetent.

Speaking of work, I quit my library job and it feels wonderful. I really hated that job anyway. School has started (my last year of undergrad, I hope. Hooray!). I spend a lot of time in lab (4 hours every afternoon, alternating in the costume shop and the props lab) but it looks like it won't be a heavy semester for homework. Outside of those two labs, I am taking Contemporary Feminist Theory and another Bacteriology Lab (my last science class ever, I hope). Additionally, I am doing an independent research project that looks great. I am also finishing up my Rhodes application (which I have been working on for the past 3 years or so) this weekend, so once that is done I will be around much more frequently to update y'all.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hello World!

Greetings to old and new friends!

For those of you who don't mind the inanity of the everyday. I'm attempting to relegate the ranting and raving to the activist blog, so I'll try to keep this one as an update for those of you who are dear but distant.

(P.S. Feel free to leave me a message, but keep in mind that I almost always mean exactly what I say, so don't hate and don't jump to conclusions.)