Thursday, January 23, 2014

Things I Love Right Now

1. Beyonce "Drunk in Love"
This whole new Beyonce album that she released by surprise at the end of the 2013 is amazing. I don't even know why. It just is. It's powerful, different, dirty, intelligent, amazing to dance around to, really has everything. But this particular track has Jay-Z and Beyonce together going on about how much they love each other and it is my current favorite thing. I listen to it on repeat in the car. It's stuck in my brain.

2. The Return of Sherlock
I love this show so much. It goes far beyond Benedict Cumberbatch (though, really, he is awesome and is the show). Martin Freeman, the utterly delightful head writer Mark Gatiss who also plays Sherlock's mysterious older brother Mycroft Holmes, Lestrade, Anderson, MRS. HUDSON and MOLLY HOOPER (LOVE THEM), and now the wonderful addition of Amanda Abbington as Watson's fiance Mary....the cast is just incredible. The stories are smart and funny. But the wait between series is excruciating, but also totally worth it. It's very sad to think that there are already only 2 more episodes of this new series before we get back to waiting for more for an undetermined amount of time. At least the dvds of this season are available almost immediately after the finale airs. I should really go pre-order them....

3. Beverly Hills 90210, Seasons 4 and 5 
For Christmas I got seasons 4 and 5 of Beverly Hills 90210. I've been waiting forever since I finished season 3. And just to be clear - it's not that I've never seen the show before, it's just it's one of my all-time favorites and I have been slowly collecting the dvds but they are so hard to find! Season 4 was on back-order though and I just finally got it this past weekend. They are starting college now. It is wonderful.

4. Lost Oddyssey
I've been talking a lot about this game on this blog lately because it is all I've been doing and it is taking forever because it is so massive. But I'm not complaing, though if you were in the room with me while I was playing you would probably think I hate it. "This is so stupid!" "Why are they doing this???" "GRRRRR". But I love it. It's highly entertaining and I will be very sad when it is over.

5. The Preatures "Is This How You Feel" and HAIM's "Don't Save Me"
I think for the longest time I thought these were the same song. But they're not. They both make me want to get up and dance, which these days seems to be a song requirement. So get up and dance.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Frozen Shut(In) Part 2

It's like, whenever I really want to get back into blogging again, nothing ever happens worth blogging about. Right now, I blame it mostly on this awful winter funk I am in. Cold and snow and cold and snow and OMG I am not leaving the house unless I absolutely have to.

 The only fun thing about winter is seeing all of the animal tracks around the yard.

There have been things I've really wanted to do and have had every intention of doing only to find myself thinking of every excuse in the book to not leave the house.

It doesn't help that I've taken on a new massive video game (Lost Odyssey - check it out - it rules) and received my back-ordered Christmas present of Beverly Hills 90210 Season 4 over the weekend - which means I now have 2 full seasons of many many episodes of this show that I am excited to watch.

Then, topping that off, all of my television shows - which, honestly, there are not that many - have come back or will be back soon. Community, Downton Abbey, and the Grandmaster of them all: Sherlock. Also, The Walking Dead comes back Feb. 2nd. So I'm screwed.

There have been so many shows that I've wanted to go to that I just can't pull myself out of this funk to attend.

There are two happening tomorrow night. I really really want to make it happen. But, we'll see what happens.

This inability to get out there and support these bands that I enjoy filled with people I like angers me doubly so since I know how it feels to have a show and have people send you a million excuses why they can't make it that night. I hate letting the weather win. It's just weather. It's just cold. I have a winter coat. These shows are indoors. Live music is something I enjoy. What is my problem?

Part of me blames the holidays. They really threw me off my game. I think I had just too much time off with nothing to do. It wasn't like I was on a real vacation. It was just sitting at home. And it was so cold out that leaving was impossible. So I got really used to sitting at home. And I hate that. Before the holidays hit, I was going all the time - even by myself! So what happened?

I was reading this article today on why we don't do the things we love and it really rang true. So many excuses that we make for so many reasons. I can equate this to so many aspects of my life. You can always find a reason not to do something - but what's really at the heart of that? Especially when it's something you really want to do?

I also think I get a little too overly contemplative this time of year because I'm not doing anything else. I definitely felt better about myself and things in general when I was out being active. I just need to get back to that.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Acadia 1/10/14

It was kind of a weird night at Acadia and I was in a weird head space for a million reasons that I thought I would blog about (even typing up notes in my phone when we were done about things I wanted to say), but I opted out on writing it, which is why it's taken me so long to put up this post.

So, there's really not a lot to say about Friday's show then. General B and the Wiz are a great group of guys and I look forward to playing with them again someday.

Setlist for Acadia 1/10/14
  • Where's the Fire
  • Blind
  • Good
  • Salt
  • Blue Whale
  • Lens
  • The Party
  • Yesterday
  • Introvert

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Frozen Shut(In)

As everyone knows, it's very fucking cold in Minnesota right now. It's cold in most places right now, but the coldest here so we get to complain the loudest.

As of noon today, I hadn't left the house since my trip to the grocery store Saturday morning. Work has been allowing us all to work from home - which is great - but I have no excuse to leave now. I did bundle myself, put the jacket on the dog, and we walked up to the end of the block and back. That's been the height of excitement around here. For all of us.

Robbie in his jacket.

Robbie is going stir crazy. Serious cabin fever happening. He is constantly getting into things he shouldn't be and chewing on things he shouldn't be. He's normally such a good boy. But he's just so bored. I feel so bad for him.

I have taken up video games again. I broke out Lost Oddysessy. It's a massive turn based RPG of sorts. 4 discs long. It's quite the undertaking. I got to disc 3 the last time I tried playing it and then stopped because I found other things to distract me. I'm on disc 2 now. Gonna try to stick it out.

Otherwise I have been doing nothing. Our offices actually closed due to the cold weather yesterday so I only worked on a couple of must get done things yesterday and then spent the rest of the day with the Xbox. Today, I worked from home which has helped pass the time and bring back into the real world.

As much as I like being home, I am so ready to get out of the house again. Things are having difficulty here. Namely, we are having plumbing problems again and I fear another massively expensive undertaking. It also makes me fearful of using any water in the house for fear it will end up on the basement floor.

I also just need to get out. I have eaten more food in the past week than I did at all through the holidays. Just eating and eating and eating because I'm so bored. It's terrible. I'm breaking out. Blech.

On the flip side, I have a show on Friday at Acadia. 9:30pm. A Friday night show and we play first. That doesn't happen very often. Really looking forward to it.

My song "Thursday" was played as the backdrop for a segment on Sunday's new episode of MN Original on TPT. So that was cool.

Sunday was also the premiere of Downton Abbey. I like Downton Abbey, but I also could not watch it anymore and be fine. It's just kind of there. So many characters and so little time to truly explore them all.

Community returned last Thursday and was awesome and I am so happy it was awesome.

And in two weeks Sherlock returns after two years of waiting. These last few weeks are torturous as it has already premiered in the UK and I have to work really hard at avoiding spoilers. Cannot wait.

We're supposed to hit 30 degrees on Friday. It's gonna feel tropical. I am very excited to take Robbie on all of the walks this weekend.

But, until then, I'll just keep shivering.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Shuffle Selections

What I listened to today.

“Tiny Rose in the Snow” – Haley Bonar
“It’s Code” – Janelle Monae
“Endurance” – Strange Relations
“Blow” – Beyonce
“Left of the Dial” – The Replacements
“Undiscovered First” – Feist
“I Got High” – Clem Snide
“Good Thing” – Bethany Larson and the Bee’s Knees
“Strange Currencies” – R.E.M.
“W.E.R.K.” – The Chalice
“Dance Anthem of the 80s”  - Regina Spektor
“Queer” – Garbage
“Beast” – Agnes Obel
“A Bout” – Bad Bad Hats
“I Remember You” – Rilo Kiley
“Pictures of You” – The Cure
“Avenue” – Agnes Obel
“Rainbows in the Dark” – Tilly and the Wall
“The Girl in the Dirty Shirt” – Oasis
“Only Love Can Break Your Heart” – Neil Young
“All I Can” – Sharon Van Etten
“Easy Out” – Tristen
“Maybe I’m Amazed” – Paul McCartney
“Born to Hum” – Erin McKeown
“Winter Night” – Tristen
“Desire Lines” – Camera Obscura
“Committed” – Jenny and Johnny
“Consequence of Sounds” – Regina Spektor
“Babyface” – The Elected
“Scissor Runner” – Jenny and Johnny
“A Murder of One” – Counting Crows
“Dorothy Dandridge Eyes” – Janelle Monae
“Dusted” – Belly
“Tennessee” – Silver Jews
“Pale Blue Eyes” – The Velvet Underground
“Gold Digger” – Kanye West
“Somebody to Love” – Queen
“Startling News” – Tristen
“Leonard” – Sharon Van Etten
“Tattoo My Name on Your Ass” – Tulip Sweet and Her Trail of Tears

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thoughts On Ani Difranco's Righteous Retreat

When I first heard about Ani Difranco's Righteous Retreat - a 4 day intimate gathering of musicians and poets to discuss writing and inspiration hosted by Ani herself along with her friends and comrades Toshi Reagon, Hammel on Trial, and Buddy Wakefield - I was all OMG this is the most amazing thing ever how much is it and where do I sign up????

I never got any further than that because the price for a single room was $2700, but you could get a place to sleep for the starting price of $1100. Add in a plane ticket and you're looking at - at least - a $1600 trip. Money I just don't have and I really don't think many Ani fans - or at least the very starving artist just getting started person that this event would most benefit. True, the price includes a place to sleep and 3 meals and small workshops with and a performance by Ani herself, but still, the price just didn't sit right. The whole thing just seemed so not Ani. She's not someone who really likes to hang out with her fans beyond the one-sided concert conversations she might have during a show. In fact, she seems to do her best to avoid any interaction with anyone who might ask for a picture or an autograph or just someone who wants to tell her what her music means to them. And I don't hold that against her. It's gotta be weird to be asked for those things by someone freaking out over you just being you. So, yeah, this event just seemed weird.

That was before I ever even took into consideration where it was going to be held.

I will openly admit seeing the word 'plantation' in the location title didn't even phase me at first. I'm a white girl from Minnesota who doesn't deal in plantations and all they stand for that often. I didn't even put two and two together that Plantation + Louisiana = not a great place for this kind of thing to go down. It wasn't until I started to read the comments on her Facebook page and the event page filled with people disgusted by the location itself. So then I looked into it and then it hit me:

Ani, what the fuck is wrong with you???

Nottaway Plantation House is listed as a "stunning historic plantation" that has been " her days of glory". What? Gross. The thought that she thought this would be a good place for her fans to hang out for a few days just floors me. That she didn't think that it might make people uncomfortable for people to relax and "sun tan" (as her invite suggested we do) and then adding in the price of the "all-inclusive" trip - really just makes it so very un-inclusive and gross.

Oh, but she did think about it. And her thought was "woah".

After sitting on the internets frustration for 2 weeks, she finally wrote a message via Facebook to explain the decision and to let everyone know that she was canceling the event to "restore peace and respectful discourse between people". Basically, she wants everyone to shut-up. Her full letter can be read here:

The whole letter reads like a bitter condescending ranting whine about she wishes everyone would stop picking on her. Calling fans who voiced how they were offended by the location choice as being full of "high velocity bitterness". Telling everyone that she was going to fill the place full of positive vibes and start anew. How everyone was going to visit an music school for underprivileged kids and inspire their creativity and musical outlets, but now they will just have to continue to be ignored because people don't want to chill out at a former slave plantation for the weekend. This so irks me. I really hope she still works to plan something for those kids. What a snotty thing to do. It's all or nothing. Now they get nothing because we weren't nice to Ani.

There were a million ways to handle this and she chose the absolute worse way. Her letter reads like nothing I could ever imagine coming out of her mouth.

But going back, how did this come to be in the first place?

I think (hope) we can all agree that Ani Difranco is not a racist. She has fought her entire career to bring equality to everyone. What this all boils down to is how absolutely removed and uninterested she's become to her musical career and all that entails. She no longer lives in Buffalo, her hometown she vowed to work to restore and the home of Righteous Babe Records. She moved to New Orleans, got married, had two babies and lived happily ever after. And that's great. I don't begrudge her personal happiness. But she just really doesn't seem to care about her music anymore and that has been growing ever more clear over the last 5-6 years. It really just feels like a means to an end her these days. She needs to put food on the table. She has a record label to uphold and people there who have paychecks that require her to keep touring and putting out albums. Both the tours and the albums have slowed down immensely - and that's fine, too. She deserves the rest after 20+ years of being on the road and releasing an album - if not two - every year.

But her biggest issue has always been her inability to see beyond her little bubble. Her songs are incredibly personal dealing with very specific personal situations. Her political songs are definitely wide  reaching and worldy, but they've become fewer and far between in recent years and are now living on some goddess resort where everything would just be super if only women were in complete control and we all ate leaves from our own gardens and never once turned on the TV for any reason ever. It's like a weird case of celebrity where, instead of being attention whoring and plastered on the cover of magazines, she's reverted to this little bubble where she doesn't interact with the world around her enough to see how real people live.

But I don't know her personally. I'm probably wrong.

What I do know is that the Ani Difranco I grew up with and admired would NEVER have even given this plantation a moment's hesitation as a place for her to commune with her fans. NEVER. The idea that it was a plantation alone would have been enough. But then once discovered that the owner is a right-wing billionaire who supports anti-gay, anti-aborition, and anti-women legislation and that these fees would find their way into his pocket and then into those causes should have just been the absolute no from a woman who has fought tirelessly for women's and LGBT's rights.

As her letter states, she saw the location and thought "woah" and decided to go through with it anyway thinking she could come in there and just wash away an entire disgusting history with a couple of folk songs. She didn't look any further. She even goes on to say that she can't be expected to look into everywhere she plays and who owns it and where the fees go. True. She can't. But some places just call out for a little more investigation, don't you think? There are places that even I have drawn the line that I won't or would never play. I honestly don't understand how this was all so overlooked. My assumption is that, as I said, she's become so far removed from the details of her music that she just gets told where to play and how much she'll make and says okay fine. She's turned her production on her albums over to her husband who, honestly, really muffles her sounds and puts way too much gloss on everything. And when asked about this, for example, how on Red Letter Year her guitar is really hidden and she seems to have made her guitar work less and less of the musical focus she was floored that anyone thought her guitar was missing on any of the songs. I mean, did she even listen to the album?

All of this just seems like stuff she has to do now. I guess that's bound to happen for everyone at some point. But, maybe I just wish she could fake it a little better?

My hope is that this situation wakes her back up and makes her realize her name stands for something now and maybe she should take better care of what its attached to. That doesn't mean she has to start spending all of her time on Righteous Babe and away from her family - but maybe just read the fine print on some things. Know that her fan base is a passionate one. Know that we look at things like this because she's fortunate enough to have fans that care about the world around them. Know that we aren't out for harm. Maybe look to someone like Amanda Palmer who openly engages with her fans and works with them to make things better. EMBRACE THE INTERNET for cryin' out loud. She could leave home so much less if she just got to know the internet a little more and all the cool things she could do from the comfort of her living room.

Right now, I am very disappointed in Ani Difranco. This whole situation was just confirmation that she just doesn't care anymore. I hope I'm wrong. I hope she proves me wrong.