Monday, November 30, 2009
To Jenny Jingle Bells, Christmas is more than just the most wonderful time of the year -- it's the ONLY time of year that matters at all, and Jenny spends 364 days a year looking forward to it. To Jenny, the Christmas season isn't limited to the day after Thanksgiving through New Years -- rather, it starts in September, when the kids go back to school (a new school year means winter is just around the corner!), continues through Halloween (when she will most certainly dress up as Ms. Claus, or perhaps an elf), and ends when the last ice is melting in late March. Jenny Jingle Bells might be the only person in the whole world who doesn't love the summer, and will frequently break out her fave Christmas album around 4th of July, just to help her through.
Once the "official" holiday season kicks off, and Christmas displays start popping up in pharmacy windows and the lobbies of office buildings, Jenny Jingle Bells is on a kick -- determined to partake in as many holiday celebrations as possible before time runs out. Caroling, tree-trimming, cookie-baking, eggnog-drinking -- Jenny Jingle Bells does it all, and does it with great relish. During this time, she will also adopt a wardrobe that consists of nothing but red, green, and white -- often accented with festive pom-poms or socks with real jingling bells.
Although Jenny Jingle Bells has long since finished her shopping, she might journey to the mall during this time anyway, just to "take in" the festive spirit. To Jenny, there is really little less satisfying than checking out the gift displays in Bloomingdales, sipping a Starbucks Cinnamon latte and watching the middle school dance troupe perform a choreographed routine to "Grandma got run over by a reindeer." She'll spent the rest of her time fawning over snow globes in shops with names like "Nona's Gingerbread House" and of course, the Christmas Tree Shops, making sure to buy only the best and brightest tinsel, Christmas lights, and chocolate-covered Santas.
Yet despite her exuberance (and God knows even Mary and Joseph were not that excited about the birth of their son) -- Jesus help the person that should be around Jenny Jingle Bells when something goes wrong. Not enough glitter for the snowflake ornament she's crafting? Someone dropped the tin of peanut brittle and it broke into tiny pieces? Stand back. Jenny Jingle Bells take the holiday season VERY seriously, and does not take kindly to mishaps. To Jenny, a poorly wrapped Christmas present (or--god forbid!--a present wrapped in newspaper) represents a failure to appreciate Christmas for all its splendor -- and can send her into explosive fits of anger, or bouts of depression that last for days.
Unfortunately for Jenny, all the build-up around the holiday season means it never quite lives up to expectation, and thus, by the time December 25 actually arrives, the formerly sprightly celebrator feels sad and mopey. The best way to cheer her up? A real wood fire and screening of It's a Wonderful Life -- perhaps a Poinsettia or 2 -- and a gentle reminder of "what Christmas is really about." Telling her you like her Christmas tree sweater never hurt either.
Friday, November 27, 2009
We're a booze-y family, but more in a loquacious, celebratory type of way than a get-angry-and-break-shit type of way. (Of course, being Italian, we DO like to gesture a lot...which inevitably leads to the ocassional broken wine glass/centerpiece/decorative vase when things get sloppy.) Conversations usually start innocently enough -- school (for the kiddies), jobs (for us work-weary folk), maybe our fave TV shows or new albums -- but by the second or third bottle of Beaujolais inevitably devolve into that one taboo topic no one is supposed to discuss ever: politics.
The breakdown is pretty simple: my brother Dan and I (both early 20s, reporters, photographers) are diehard dems; my brother Tim is 17 but would probably vote democratic if he could (if only for the sole reason that they're more likely to legalize weed.) My parents are moderate Republicans, stirred mostly by taxes; my aunt teaches Catholic school are leans further right, along with my cousin who served in Iraq--my other cousin and uncle generally try to stay out of it, but nod supportively when my aunt makes a good point. And thus: things are pretty balanced, if only because Dan's loud voice and tendency to dominate conversation drown out all opposition. (Dan, if you're reading this....you know it's true.)
This year however, Dan was in Louisville shooting a football game, which left only me and my 17-year-old brother (who spent most of the meal texting) to stand our ground. And it was tough! But by now I've learned that while there are certain issue we'll NEVER agree on (gay marriage, welfare, the Bush administration), there's still plenty we can debate intelligently. And so it went, through turkey and mashed potatoes, and by dessert I had heard plenty about why Obama was a poor choice and when I got up to refill my water glass, my aunt exclaimed:
"It's ok Kate. We still love you, even if you are a little misguided."
--And I just smiled and took my seat complacently. We all may have different views, but we're a family, and we're stuck with each other. Besides, TOO much arguing detracts from the wine -- something we all can agree on.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
*Assuming, that is, that a lovely and feathery band would sound something like Belle & Sebastian. I'm sure the individual band members are both lovely and feathery. Or at least have feathery haircuts. (maybe).
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Which I did. And when the smooth caramel flavor spread over my tongue and I declared "Hey, this isn't so bad after all!" -- holding it under my nose and taking another sip -- he smiled and said something along the lines of: "a girl who drinks whiskey -- now that's hot."
Why is a girl who drinks whiskey hot? Is it the act of whiskey-drinking that's hot -- or the actual way I look when I schrunch up my face real tight because it burns going down? (I'd be really surprised if it was the latter.) And if drinking whiskey is hot, does that mean that drinking other beverages -- vodka, gin, martinis, cosmopolitans, freaking wine spritzers and Molson Ice pounders -- is more or less hot?
According to Anna Fricke, columnist for the New York Times, yes. Anna theorizes -- in a delightfully readable article -- that "many of us aren’t drinking what we’d truly like to drink." Social convention, age, occasion, connotation, what the characters on our favorite TV shows drink -- all these factors influence our choices when ordering a bev. She writes:
“But what we choose to drink can reveal more about us than, say, our astrological sign or whether we prefer Elvis or the Beatles. What a tense moment, to be the first to order a drink with a group of people you haven’t hung out with before. Do you order a beer to let them know you’re easygoing? Do you order champagne to convey that you’re the fun, sassy type who likes to celebrate ordinary moments? Do you order scotch to let them know that you might start to get kind of intense in a couple hours? Do you order a Merlot, as if “Sideways” taught you nothing? The pressure.”
It's true. I'd rather be caught dead than with some yummy, icy, pink drink in my hand (unless of course, it was Valentine's Day and I was doing it ironically) and would order a PBR over a Coors any day, even though (I'm quite sure) they pretty much taste the same.
I like to look at it in the same way I look at music. Sure, there are times when I really feel like busting out some old school N Sync (the one that goes "Get down, get down...and move it all around"...or was that BSB?) but I'd never talk about it in public -- what type of indie rock columnist actually LIKES such pop shit? Conversely, back in middle school, when I was really into Kid Rock, I was never really into the music (forgive me Lord, but it was terrible) as much as the image -- bad-ass, punk-rock, greasy haired white kid acting out.
Anyway, if I'm really honest with myself here, I suppose my drink of choice would probably be a BLOODY MARY. This is usually what I'll order when presented with an open bar, and nothing makes me smile like an intense flavor kick. So what does my drink choice say about me? According to the exceptionally scholarly Cracked.com, in an article brilliantly titled "What your favorite drink says about you":
Drinking heavily as early in the morning as possible. Also, drinking cold soup out of a glass.
What Your Drink Says:
"I have trouble sitting through late breakfasts and early lunches with other people on account of my crippling dependence on alcohol. Luckily tomato juice-based drinks exist that allow me to get shitfaced as early in the morning as possible."
Yikes. I suppose though, I'm lucky I'm not a Long Island iced tea gal -- since apparently this says ""So, wait -- you're saying that my date-rape conviction is a turn-off? Come on, that was, like, four months ago. I'm real different now, baby. Hey, hey, hey -- where do you think you're going in such a hurry?"
Monday, November 16, 2009
Their music is breezy, literate, and full of great lines ("A headache never felt so good/ I’m glad I had more gin than candy"; "I never trusted Toby/ and his long hair") and being somewhat of a sucker for dorky boys in cardigan sweaters...I really enjoy it. I've been scouring the interwebs for their latest, Received Pronunciation, for weeks now -- and finally managed to pick up a copy last Thursday when they headlined at Pilam.
And it's awesome. Sooooo awesome. Tracks like "Cold Hands" are jangly and sweet, while album closer "To take" is passionate and a little bit heart-breaking ("What's the point of all this living?" croons front man Andrew Churchman, ponderously).
Here's the video for first single, "Someone loves you":
Sadly, Pants Yell! has already announced that this will be the last Pants Yell! album ever -- "All good things must eventually end," Churchman told me Thursday when I demanded to know why. I'm sad to hear, but glad I got to see them one last time before they split for good!
Friday, November 13, 2009
But what does that mean for his solo career? It is all just hype -- or does the original bad boy deliver? Find out what I think of his debut album, Phrazes for the Young, at Phrequency.com. Snarky comments encouraged.
*Note: this statistic is totally made-up.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
In the Degrassi universe, no one is "normal" or "adjusted" -- everyone has horrifying family/relationship/social problems, poor self-image, an addiction to speed/coke/heroin/sex/stealing, an inability to fall in love/terminal disease/self-mutilating tendencies/general insanity and/or the overwhelming pain and guilt of knowing you've killed your best friend (/untimely death due to manslaughter by best friend.) Pretty much every girl has either been raped, impregnated, or had an abortion...the ones that haven't were definitely abused/humiliated/dumped at school prom/slaughtered accidentally by a best friend. (I am serious here...a striking number of characters were accidentally murdered by friends. Stay away from Canada kids.)
Here's just a little taste of the drama that goes down:
Killer! Anyway, the most incredible thing about Degrassi is it's been running for a whopping NINE seasons (175 episodes and counting), which means apparently someone other than me watches it too. They've also managed repeat cameos from reigning funnymen Jay and Silent Bob (who just so happen to be filming their new movie, Jay and Silent Bob go Canadian, eh? [I am not even joking] at Degrassi, and who later hire half the school in the equally cheesy, if not as awesomely named, Degrassi goes Hollywood.)
1. I am a sucker for drama (hence, perhaps, my useless college theater minor?)
2. I am a sucker for all things Canadian (also on the list: the New Pornographers, Metric, William Gibson, maple syrup)
3. Watching a character get addicted to meth, and clean in the same 20-minute episode will never stop being amusing.
Also, maybe something about living vicariously through my favorite television characters...since we all know battling meth addiction yourself can have some seriously devastating results.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Henry's van is large, white, and basically empty, save a few plastic chairs and a beer cooler; other vans, I'm sure, are a whole lot swanker. But the purpose of the party van was never to be swank -- the purpose of the party van is to party down anywhere you choose, in the most reckless and surreptitious of manners. After all, inside the van, no one can see you going crazy -- and only one person has to be sober enough to drive!
Let's look at some classic party vans throughout history:
1) KEN KESEY'S MAGIC BUS. Ok, so actually, it was not a van at all, but what's a bus really besides a really, really long van? Note the psychedelic swirls. Hardcore partying definitely went down in this bad-boy back in the '60s.
2) THE MYSTERY MACHINE. Scooby Do and co. have been riding around in this day-glo number since 1969, using what must be some sort of high-tech zombie-tracking device to stumble across mystery after mystery. Comes equipped with giant 6-foot sandwiches and a lifetime supply of Scooby Snacks.
3) THE TURTLE VAN. In the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series, they traveled by Turtle van. This later inspired the toy turtle van (below) which has the rare ability to fire pizzas.
4) THE SHAGGIN WAGON. Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels might have been dumb (and dumber) but that didn't stop them from getting their party on, in this strange, fuzzy vehicle
5) VAN WILDER. Whoops, not the same type of van at all. But a party Van nonetheless!
6) PARTY VANS. Totally groovy!
Friday, November 6, 2009
Luckily, it seems that Pete Wentz has the same problem, which makes it more ok. Thanks, GFY.
Cubicle watch: where time goes so slowly, it feels like it's cubed.
*I am not really throwing a bash.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Check out the site every Tuesday or Wednesday (we're still working out the logistics) for thoughts, musings, and meanderings on what's new and cool (just search for "What I'm listening to") and--if you are so inclined -- leave me comments! (I know, they make you register, what a pain.)
In the meantime, check back here for little snippets and previews...kind of like this!
The other day I received a facebook suggestion asking me to join the following group:
Still, getting to Fishtown for an evening show? Could prove tough. Let me ride in your bicycle basket, and I promise I'll buy you a beer!
Monday, November 2, 2009
This year, the party got started early, with a pumpkin-themed celebration at Sammy's house Friday, followed by a house party Friday night, and a massive rager on Saturday. Click any photo to enlarge.