Thursday, September 30, 2010

Looking back, mustering enthusiasm for things to come...

When not picking dandelions in the outfield at kickball, I’ve spent the past few nights sitting on the couch, thinking about blogging. So, finally…

A belated happy birthday to my dad, whom I miss more than I can ever convey, in writing or otherwise. In my dream last night, someone broke into our house, and my dad befriended him, offering him a job delivering packages. This dream can easily be traced back to my paralyzing fear of home invasion, but it also sort of makes sense in that my dad befriended everyone. The leap from random person at Saturday morning mass to fictional burglar isn’t too wide. Anyway, if you read my blog, dad, please just call the police next time. And I love you.

Speaking of dreams, Matt and I used to play the “if you could travel anywhere” game with relative frequency, usually over Chili’s chips and salsa. My anywhere was always Italy… a hologram born of Diane Lane movies and Olive Garden commercials. So when we finally got married and finally had some extra money to put toward a trip, we chose Italy. More specifically, Rome and Venice. The path to our ultimate departure has been fraught with miscommunication, itinerary changes, unexpected expenses and the anxiety that comes with knowing you’re not as excited as you should be about something you should be excited about.

We are worried we’ll get lost. Robbed. Thrown in prison for murder. We’ll run out of money. We won’t pack enough. We’ll pack too much. We’ll miss opportunity, squander time and waste something precious. For two naturally anxious people, it’s all too much to bear.

So I’m trying to be a cheerleader for this trip. We leave Saturday afternoon, and I haven’t packed yet. I mean, I’ve read about packing – tips for throwing away your underwear as you go to leave room for souvenirs. Shit like that. Tonight, I will get real, organizing my folder of tickets and printouts. Stuffing my frame pack full of black dresses, smart sandals and underwear that I will leave strewn about on Venetian streets like a breadcrumb trail, so that when we do get lost or imprisoned, we’ll be able to find our way back home. Hopefully satisfied with our anywhere.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cover letter

I've written about covers before, but I thought I'd revisit the topic, as I've encountered two stellar covers as of late. Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness" is one of my go-to songs for those times when you're going a lazy eight on the elliptical, back peddling slowly and watching a fuzzy episode of "Angel" in between swigs of water. But then my brother showed me a video of a singer named Lissie covering the song at one of her shows, and it's awesome. But switch out the elliptical for a nylon camping chair and the water bottle for a warm jug of margarita mix.

And then I think at one point I wrote about The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and included the trailer that featured Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle's "Don't Kiss Me Goodbye." Turns out iTunes won't let you buy that song on its own, so in a last-ditch effort to include the song on a mix, I found this cover by Max Hirtz and Andrea Brooks.

So, sure there are some really distasteful covers like all of those "Big Yellow Taxi" re-dos, or my cover of Jodeci's "Forever My Lady." But kudos to those who can do it well.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Canvas, totes.

Thus far, as it pertains to my life, my mom has been wrong about some things and right about others. When I wanted go to overnight Girl Scout camp and she refused to sign the permission slip or fork over the $30 for swim caps and s’mores, standing firm in her belief that if I went, some sort of evil, ambiguous harm would befall me, she was wrong. I would’ve been totally fine. The only thing that may have harmed me would’ve been the crushing load of way more friends.

When I wanted an Adidas jacket, the shiny nylon kind with stripes and toggles – the kind bad kids killed over and popular kids flaunted like engagement rings or master’s degrees, she again refused to humor my desperate need to fit in, this time claiming that said jackets would be out of style by the following winter. And this time, she was right.

Still, I was devastated. My consolation jacket was a little color-block Lands’ End number, all primary reds, yellows and blues. Feminine, no, but timeless – yes, sort of. At least more timeless than a purple parachute with a zipper. Timeless in the sense that I wore it time after time after time… after time. Until the red faded to pink and the yellow was stained with pencil lead and chocolate milk.

To me, my mom’s faith in that jacket, and the enduring nature of the jacket itself, represents the continuous presence the Lands’ End brand had in our unfashionably sturdy lives. Purely a mail-order business at the time, we could dredge the pages of the LE catalog for everything from navy uniform shorts to monogrammed bath towels, modest swimsuits and matching jumpers to be worn for parish directory portraits and again on Christmas. Everything was slightly preppy, somewhat bland and very utilitarian.

And then yesterday happened, and I got a catalog in the mail from Lands’ End Canvas, the updated version of Lands’ End aimed at people my age… people who no doubt grew begrudgingly accustomed to the brand in youth. The pages bear the matted look of an Anthropologie catalog. The clothes are sort of J. Crew-ish, without all of the impractical sequins and satin harem pants thrown in just to keep things interesting. It’s very all-American in a way I’ve come to appreciate as an adult, and the prices won’t make you want to run for the hills, where there are plenty of Wal-Marts (I’m looking at you, J. Crew).

I’ve always wanted to do one of those “look at these things I want to buy” blog posts, but it’s such a silly concept when you consider the fact that right now, in an effort to save for a vacation and pay various overdue bills, we are living hand to mouth (there are free sauce packets in our hands and saltines in our mouths). Why torment myself? Well, simply because I’m that excited to finally come full circle with Lands’ End. To once again understand the simple thrill of a canvas tote, the rough touch of a pique polo. We are at peace, my color-block jacket and me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pa Pa Powerized Wheelchair

I've always appreciated Ryan Gosling. He had a good turn in The Notebook, he was convincing in Half Nelson, and he has a sincere "If you stalked me but never technically set foot on my property, I probably wouldn't press charges" smile. My sister took her Gosling love a step further, describing more than a few of her college crushes with "He kind of looks like Ryan Gosling." Sometimes she was right, but other times her Gosling goggles caused unfortunate lapses in crush judgment.

So Ryan Gosling is a good actor. And undeniably attractive. But I was late to the party in realizing he was in a band (Dead Man's Bones). The video for Pa Pa Power is pretty good, although the jury's still out on the Mad Men-attired hipster early-thirty-somethings that show up at the end and dance with the elderly people. I could've done without that. But gramps and the kids and Ryan can stay.

You can watch it here.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The USS Kirk

If you want to cry in your car in the 24 Hour Fitness parking lot (or if you just want an aural glimpse of genuine human goodness), listen to this.

"35 Years On, Vietnam Heroes Reunited, Decorated"


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