Friday, February 27, 2009

Most Influential Music

A recent poll making the rounds on Facebook asks: What were your most influential albums? Of all the silly, trivial, tiresome polls, this one seems to beg the most thought. I seriously doubt most people could answer that question very quickly (unless you’ve made a practice of mulling over such things, I suppose) and I am certainly in that category. I don’t consider myself much of a “music person”…maybe I am not giving myself much credit here, and I do know that I am victim to my own self-deprecating criticisms as having no musical taste whatsoever…but I do know that I have very strong feelings about particular bits of music. Maybe I just don’t have the spine to stand up and make a case for them?

It’s actually easier to answer that “most influential” question…it doesn’t ask you to make a case for what you think is “the best,” it just asks you to list what made a difference. To me that means good and bad. Here is my list:

The first to come to mind is inevitably A Night at the Opera by Queen. I wanted it for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” of course, and when I got it for Christmas in 1985 (I think), I surely had no idea what a freaky deaky trip I was about to take. It’s an odd album, with a mixture of rock and what can best be described as show tunes, intertwining to create a weird alternate universe both whimsical and slightly scary. I can honestly say that no song has ever terrified me quite like “The Prophet’s Song.” Listen to it with headphones and with a 13-year-old’s still-childish fear of the devil and you will see what I mean. The show tune numbers (“Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon”; “Seaside Rendezvous”) were both peculiar and completely right. It was a soundtrack to a restless Saturday afternoon, nowhere to go, no one to see, overflowing with hormonal rage, and needing this weird balm to soothe the dark particles. Also, Freddie Mercury was the fucking shiznit. There is no one like him…and if there is, they are emulating him.

The Grease Soundtrack is the Word that You Heard. When I was five I went to the movies with my babysitter and her family. Most of the group went to another film (I think Heaven Can Wait) but I decided to go with the Cute Boy of the family, since at the ripe age of five I was already completely Boy Crazy. By the time “Summer Loving” had finished, I’d completely forgotten about the Cute Boy. I was enraptured. I was galvanized. I was brainwashed beyond all hope. For years after, the most beautiful woman in the world was Olivia Newton John. Best singer? Olivia Newton John. Walked on water? Olivia. Newton. John. I eventually got the double album when I was about 7…but in the years between I tortured my mother and perfect strangers alike belting out the best parts in the supermarket, the car wash, the laundry mat…you name it, I sang there. I remember pissily correcting the other 1st grade girls in the bathroom on what had to have been our first day in school when they foolishly sang “You’re the One That I Want” as “wanna wanna wanna want”—I was the dictator of Grease and held it in the highest regard. This song, in particular, was my song:

And then there was Electric by The Cult. I was crazysexymad for that album back in the heated, hectic, thoroughly electrified days of 1988. I went to a party with my friend Jennifer – we were with these guys, but another guy (YES, Liesl, I do remember his name: Ian) stole the whole damn show, making quite a spectacle of himself while this album played. He kind of looked like the lead singer, as it turned out, but while the memory of that fated Hot Guy faded, the absolute twisted energy of this album took hold and it ruled my world, world without end amen, for the most of that year. If asked to name The Band that signified my high school experience, without pause it was the superhot molten CULT. There’s no favorite, but how could you not love:

Duran Duran / Duran Duran (1983 Release). This was the moment where determining whether or not a sampling of music was good or not became nearly impossible for me. In fact, to this day, I cannot say whether or not this was any good. And I don’t think I care to know, either. To me, this album marks the moment in time when I became aware of fame as a source of power and influence, specifically in terms of “teen hysteria” and my own reaction to Duran Duran as an 11-year-old on the cusp of what was to be an awfully powerful siege of hormonal terror. For the record, “my” guy was Nick Rhodes, the redhead. I know, I know. Ironic. And this was the beginning of the end for me:

The Wild Heart by Stevie Nicks is almost impossible to explain. I knew I loved her, but did not know who she was. When I finally found out who she was, all kinds of pieces clicked in place. I was finally at an age when I could research, track down, and get what I wanted (at the Towne West Mall, can I get a what what), so when I realized that this marvelous creature who created “Stand Back” was one and the same with not only the wonderful “Edge of Seventeen” but ALSO the phenomenal “Dreams” and “Rhiannon,” well…what can I say? An idol was born. If you asked me who my true idol was, is, and has always been, I would have to say, without a doubt, Stevie Nicks. She’s absolutely nuts. And she’s absolutely singular. I love her from the bottom of her lifts to the tippy-top of her blown-out, bleached blond hairs. I am only sad that I could not seem to track down the actual video, which made me rush to the TV whenever I heard it come on. Instead, I give you this:

The HOLY FUCKING TRINITY, my brethren!! I reminded my boss of the identities of the Holy Trinity just today, to which he replied VOMITHURLSPIT. Whatever! I love them to the ends of the earth! They rock my world! I will not relent! I will not back down! I will not be moved! The music made a huge impact on me as a child, specifically when coupled with the influence of a succession of teenaged babysitters, but the renaissance (if you will) happened when I started grad school. My life was immersed in writing and my soundtrack was the Best Of compilations of the Holy Trinity:

REO Speedwagon

For the record, if we are viewing the Trinity as a triangle, Journey is the bottom left, REO is the bottom right, and Styx is at the top. I MAKE NO APOLOGIES. I love these bands without question. Their music brings back a flood of positive memories (if not positive influences) that informed my writing and reawakened something inside me. It made me realize that it was OK to embrace where I came from, what I saw, and who I was. To others, who cares what this music means…to me it’s like an expressway to the past. A sweet ass sampling, in order:

That fucking Shaun Cassidy album, not sure but I think it was this piece of crap. Hey, they said most influential, did they not? And this one is my biggest LESSON: Never Let Your Cousin Talk You Into Shit, Ever. My cousin Tanya managed to talk me into getting this album instead of Grease…believe it, it happened. To my credit, I was six and could hardly have stood a chance against my older, beautiful, blond, blue-eyed, perfectly feathered cousin. Bitch! This album made me understand the value of music. It also taught me that there were mounds and mounds of putrid shit out there. Here’s a tasting for you!:

Jude’s King of Yesterday was a lovely reawakening of old values. His music feels like the purist of pop to me, unfettered by pimping pretense and all the usual pathological self-awareness that seems to poison so much of modern music today. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that angst begets art, etc. etc., but there is a point where the toxicity chokes the artistry and you just have to drop the headphones. Sure, Jude gazes at his navel, too, but there’s a sardonic twist there, too. It is a delicious aperitif.

And, of course, there’s Ta-Dah by the Scissor Sisters. There’s an odd duality to a person in a bad relationship. You live and breathe in the relationship with no outward sign of distress…you travel, kiss, tell jokes, laugh. Things are fine and quite normal. And when they are not? Well, there’s that other side, the dark and mist-cloaked undertoad that lives to dream of any and all elsewheres…anywhere where he is not. This album came out during my relationship. The ironic twist was the fact that we’d heard of them when we were in London…a huge trip for both of us…they were playing at Trafalgar Square while we were staying right down the street. I remember thinking: What the hell is a Scissor Sister? Now I know…and on both levels. Ta-Dah is something to behold, but this song always rang a too true bell with me:


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We need to laugh, sistah

Grim Shit

Am having a glass of wine. Will probably have another.

It is 33 degrees but I've got the windows open and the incense burning.

Since I've lived in this apartment, 3 people have died in the building (that I know of). This was the first one I smelled. Needless to say, you might want to skip this post. Personally, I've gotta vomit this out.

I noticed the smell yesterday morning. As I left my apartment, it hit me. It mostly just smelled like excrement. As I was leaving, I saw one of the supers talking to my neighbor. She was complaining about the smell, so I assumed, like an asshole, that it was being taken care of.

It still stank when I got home, even in my apartment a little bit, but I got used to it and figured whatever it was, it was just taking awhile to dissipate.

It woke me up at 4 this morning. At first I thought one of the kittens had taken a squat on my pillow, but then I remembered the smell from before. Whatever it was, it was getting worse and it was not going away.

Seeing that there was clearly no point in contacting the ever helpful super, I called the landlord directly as I walked to the subway this morning. Just before, I'd taken the elevator down with two of my neighbors, both of whom were carrying on quite dramatically, yelling that it smelled like a dirty diaper up in this house. So, I knew it wasn't just me and my oversensitive self.

To my shock, the landlord answered, and we proceeded to have a semi-annoying conversation where I informed him of the wretched smell that was worsening by the hour. In my head, I'd surmised that a.) a sewage pipe was broken, b.) someone had stuffed some of that super stank cheese under an unused door, or c.) something or someone was dead. Unfortunately I've smelled that smell before...never to that degree, though. Mom will remember the ill fated mouse in the pantry...and everyone who lived in Wichita before the 1990s remembers the horrors of the beef processing plant. The smell was otherworldly. You'd plan a BBQ and that vile shit would waft in and make all that fresh, crackling meat look like 10 pounds of rotten dog shit.

Which is mostly what this smelled like.

FUCK. Forgive my mouth, but this really calls for a FUCKFUCKFUCK.

The landlord said he noticed it yesterday, too, and assured me that it was probably someone cooking broccoli. Broccoli. Yeah. I informed him that this was not broccoli (unless it was simmering in a diarrhea soup) and that something needed to be done immediately. And I guess something happened while I was at work today.

I met a gentleman on the elevator who informed me that it was Kevin in 2A who had died on Thursday. Grim grim grim grim grim. Grim.

Maybe I've had enough exposure to death and dead bodies...I am unhappy that this is what I have been smelling, but to be honest, the part that bothers me more than anything is the idea that this gentleman died on Thursday and it was nearly a week later when he was found...and only then because his body's natural course told the tale. Grim shit, indeed. Note to my small--but deeply loved and valued--circle of friends and family: Make sure you know where my ass is at least every other day. And if you don't hear from me, for God's sake CHECK IN.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


This cat gets me.

Today was just ONE OF THOSE DAYS. O, let me count the ways...

1. First, let's touch upon the first and most upsetting part of the day, that which inspired me to SCREAM INSIDE MY HEAD: Get OUT of my office you fucking diseased bitch! This is the one that sent me straight over the edge today. We're not talking general cold here; this was a total cold/flu/sinus infection bullshit extravaganza blatting it's vile, diseased mist all over my office. If you are going to come to the office sick, stay to yourself, don't touch the shared spaces (coffee machine, sink, copier, mail room) and stay the FUCK out of my office. Thanks!
2. I Misanthropize You, evil hordes! At lunch, when walking the short distance to my favorite deli, I came across MY FAVORITE GROUPING OF PEOPLE: "Them Who Walk in a Horizontal Line So That No One Else Shall Pass." There were four of you. Good thing it was snowing sideways or a might've not been able to resist a clothesline. And, can I add?...
3. Walk. On. The. Right. Heed my warning, fools: Walking at a diagonal will be your ultimate undoing.
4. Train bad. Bad bad bad! By the time I had to go to the shrink, I was not really open to new experiences, or old tried and true ones like lallygagging in the Times Square station. Really? REALLY? This disgusting, poop infested place is where you want to hang out? Watch TV? Take in some culture? FINE. Please get OUT OF MY WAY. Thanks! Also! When boarding the train, please step to it, shall we? Instead of moseying like some lobotomized cowboy? Thanks! And if I brush past you, why don't you clap your mouth shut instead of hissing "Oh, by all means, you first" in a sarcastic tone like instead of passing you I, in fact, cold cocked you into the wall and stepped on your head. Which I would have liked to, in retrospect.

Let's make it feel better. How about a belly rub?

That's better.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Week(s) in Review

It is true that my life is consumed with kittens, kittens, kittens, but I did notice other things lately:

This Week in New York City

All I can remember was the mighty wind. It was fantastic to pinwheel down Broadway like a jacked up, brainless scarecrow. Also, poop grit is awesome to get stuck in one’s eyeball.


UGH. What is happening with people having litters of children? It is ridiculous that the octuplet mother is getting death threats, but I can understand the underlying outrage. The fact that she was able to undergo the procedure and bring 8 babies to term makes no sense. I guess doctors can do whatever they want now? And the taxpayer should be honored to pay for it?

Why are the news outlets so afraid to say the obvious? She’s crazy. Something is terribly, terribly wrong with this woman. She’s self medicating with the sad, totally dependent love of her children/victims. Instead of a blessed event, it is a cry for help that no one heard or cared to hear. Now this family will not be able to survive without the help of public assistance.

This Week in New York City Train Stories

I was disturbed by a not-so-celebrity sighting this week. She had the minimum amount of signs on display when I spotted her on the uptown R, but they had the same message: No no no! Sadly, it was easy to identify with this. I often think the same thing when I am on the dirt-greased subway.

Joaquin Phoenix is Either a Total Tool or a Genuine Genius

My favorite thing, however, was his declaration back in November:

“Bye! Good”

This Week in Hot Sex Topix

Warning, don’t click it if you can’t take it. A simple explanation: there are people out there who fall in love with (and have sexual relations with) inanimate objects. Objects both small (crossbows, fenceposts) to impossibly large (amusement park rides, Eiffel Tower). It’s weirder than you are imagining . . . and not exactly pornographic . . . still. So, click it if you dare, just remember that I warned you. I linked it through the blog that I like to read (warning, it is also quite spicy) because I thought her introductory explanation at least somewhat prepares you for what follows.

Batman Sticker Day

Soldiers on. Let it never die! Thanks for the instructional website, Willard.

This Week in a Trance

This makes me piss my pants.

This Week in Skunk

Some wonderful neighbor was cooking what I can only assume was skunk gland soup last evening. Hey, asshole, I am sure skunk is quite delish if you remove the glands. Here’s a nice recipe. Why don’t you give it a whirl?

AND . . . Kittens are Cute, After All

Let’s look at more of them . . .

Some adorable things of note:

1. Kitten Chow pieces are hilarious. Snugglebug has devised a game where she picks up a single piece of Kitten Chow between her to paws, flings it in the air, and chases it all around. Her reward, of course, is eventually eating it. Woe is the live animal or bug who first introduces itself to her.
2. Jack prances like a prince. He’s like a show pony. You really have to catch him at it, though. (Don’t feel compelled to watch the whole thing, please, but at least wait for the midair collision.)
3. Snugglebug thinks bathwater tastes great. I have to ward her away after every shower, or she’s in the tub, licking up the suds.
4. Jack loves to have his face rubbed. If I put my fist in his face, he smacks his cheek whiskers into it and rubs his whole head on my knuckles really hard. When he gets totally worked up, he flings himself to the floor, rolls on his back, and presents his belly for pets. If he gets even more worked up, he curls into a cute little cruller and grasps my hand with his paws. Seriously.
5. Snugglebug has a shoe fetish. She cuddles, bites, and rolls around on my brown flip flops like they’re her best good friend.

6. Girls really are the dominant ones. But he is trying – I especially love the little air slap before the final takedown. My poor little boy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More Kittens, But This Time Not Mine

A hugs-and-love shout out to the singular Sarah K. for posting this video on Facebook. This video is so cute it almost makes me want a...nother kitten! Psyche.


Sick Day Home with Mom

Yes, I am Mom.

We watched Jaws together and now she's totally worn out.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Kitten Kisses

I was trying to get a good shot of Jack's insanely adorable flipper feet, but instead caught the mini-moment of PROSH that is kitten nuzzling. INSANE.

Two things:

1. NO, they are not in there all the time.
2. See, Jack isn't always cowering in the corner.

Also, Jack and Bug say HI and LOVE NUZZLES to Aunties Adair and Yasmin!

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Dear Ma,

I know you wondered if I put together the Exercycle or decided to use the giant, 700 pound box as a super tacky new coffee table. Lookit!

It works, too. I thought I broke it at least 20 times while I was putting it together, especially with the dagnabbin wiring, but it really does work. Thanks, MA!

Monday, February 02, 2009


This. Is. Me.

Poor kittens.


As promised...