Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A confession

Those of you who've been following this blog since it's early incarnation (back when it was called the much-catchier "Kill Your iPod") know that I've been fairly resistant to digital music.  That's all changed now, and I feel I owe you that much of a confession.

I have an iPod, and I love it.

Please know that I didn't purchase it.  My friend Eeon gave it to me, either as a bribe or because he's a very nice person.  It's a mini in a white silicone case with my pink Monster High headphones.  What I really love is the "shuffle" feature.  I'm in the process of loading all my music onto it, and I love the randomness of hearing Steely Dan's "Everyone's Gone to the Movies" followed by Billy Idol's "Dancing with Myself" followed by Electronic's "Some Distant Memory."

Part of it is a desire to pair down what I own.  I'm in the process of going through my CD collection and trying to figure out what stays and what goes.  In the digital era, do I really need Reel Big Fish's Turn the Radio Off if, on the rare occasion when I do listen to it, I'm only going to play two songs before I remember how dumb it is.  If ten years from now, if my computer explodes and my ipod melts and I absolutely need to hear "Sellout," I trust that I will be able to find it somewhere in the vastness of the digital universe.
But the great thing about picking through 500+ CDs is discovering music I'd forgotten about--like the Crash Test Dummies' awesome cover of XTC's "Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" or The Long Blondes "Giddy Stratospheres" or Feeder's "Comfort in Sound."

In order to continue justifying my music smugness, however, I've decided that stuff I don't care a whole lot about is going to be purchased digitally and music I love is going to be purchased on vinyl.  No more CDs.  I managed to pick up Donald Fagan's The Nightfly, Tom Waits Nighthawks at the Diner and Huey Lewis and the News Sports for $15 bucks total, and I have to say, no digital transfer of Fagan's "IGY" comes close to how unbelievable smooth it sounds on vinyl (it's what they use to test the sound systems at The Beacon theater in NYC, where I saw Steely Dan back in Sept) .

Clearly, I'm not the only person who realizes this (even if I was into vinyl before it's resurgence, as Kill Your iPod readers will remember) because I was crossing through FYE the other day and THEY had a vinyl section.  And not just a bunch of old Eagles records--new stuff by Taylor Swift (blech) and reissues of classics like The Clash (yes!).

Smugness justified.  Carry on.

Friday, February 10, 2012

This week I finally made a decision that's been weighing on my soul for many, many years. I came to this conclusion based on a lot of inner-searching, catchphrase mining, Wii-playing, and record shopping:

Back to the Future is better than Star Wars.

I was in Binghamton last week, cashing in on a bet I'd made with my arch-nemesis Mike (Happy Birthday, by the way) and scouring big-box stores from the Monster High Operetta doll I've been coveting but am too cheap to pay $30 for on ebay and, not finding it, Ian bought me Back to the Future for the Wii, which I had also been coveting because Telltale Games is awesome.
So we played it for all of Super Bowl Sunday, which then got me thinking about how awesome Back to the Future is.  It's funny, it's intelligent, storywise, it's filled with wonderful callbacks and repetitions that aren't just shoehorned in for the sake of selling more toys.  The friendship between Doc and Marty seems so damn genuine, and everyone has known a Biff (mine was Chris Hampel, and he was as big and dumb a neanderthal as any incarnation of Biff ever was).  And, as I pointed out before, "The Power of Love" is the awesomest way to start your day short of getting shot out of a cannon. (and Alan Silvestri > John Williams any day)

In watching the trilogy again, as an adult (I always had a soft spot for III, probably because, at 11 years old, I had a weird sweet little crush on Doc.  No, I do not have daddy issues, unless you count that it was my dad who sat through endless viewings of these and who still occasionally calls me "McFly" when he's not calling me "Godzilla.") I realized that it was time to admit that there was only room for one sci-fi trilogy in my life, and Back to the Future was it.

It was a relief, really.  I felt like a real grown-up, leaving behind a devastatingly geeky childhood.  Remember, this was the 90's, and the films hadn't been re-released yet.  You had to buy Star Wars Insider in a brown wrapper.  Wal-Mart didn't stock an endless array of action figures.  Oh yeah, I was soon-to-be cutting edge, but translated, that meant that my sister Hilary and I were pretty much alone in our universe.

My obsession with Star Wars came very close to ruining my life. For all of high school and a good chunk of college, I dated a boy I'd fallen in love with solely for his great love of Star Wars.  We saw The Phantom Menace, in theaters, ten times.  In all fairness, we lived in Cobleskill and there was nothing to do other than go to the Park Theater, which still only costs $3.50.  Aaron was a prequel defender, despite the fact that I pointed out the inconsistencies, such as: 

-Leia remembering her mother (as she tells Luke in Jedi)
-Obi-Wan being Ben Lars' brother (I knew this because I had the official Star Wars character guide, which explains why I was capable of getting up at 9AM on a Saturday morning to watch MST3K . . . easy to get up when you haven't been out late the night before).
-Obi-Wan apparently forgetting Leia existed, despite, according to Sith, being there when she was born.
-Midiclorians, anyone?

Aaron sort of scoffed these off, forgetting that just because he had all the Star Wars tee-shirts (which he wore with tapered-leg jeans, white crew socks and Nike running shoes) did not means that I was not just as much of a Star Wars nerd as he was.

(Side note: Last night I impressed/depressed my boyfriend Ian by speaking in Hutt, which I remember more of than I remember of four years of high school French--je suis un ananas to you too)

I almost married this man.  And when I mean almost I mean ring on the finger, engagement party held, wedding books at hand.  It's a decision that I realize, in hindsight, would have destroyed my life and probably his.  And I blame Star Wars.

I tried re-watching Star Wars with a Rifftrax last fall (original trilogy VHS, baby--no Greedo Shooting First bullshit here!) and I couldn't do it.  It all seemed so stage-y and weird.  But watching Back to the Future didn't feel awkwardly nostalgic, it felt like seeing an old friend.  It filled me with such joy, such rapturous bliss in a way that I remembered Star Wars did when I was 13.   Because good-vs-evil doesn't seem like a fairy tale to me anymore.  I look around and I see various shades of evil every day--like Rick Santorum.  Or the owner of dogs that were starved to the point of eating their own feces that I had to grit my teeth and listen to make excuses for why he shouldn't be charged with animal neglect because my editor believes in the full story.   And that's not to say I don't see good in the world too--there's my minister, the Rev. Mark Montfort, who is a beacon of all that is good and light and kind in the world.  Or my editor, Jim Kevlin, who fights daily for justice and freedom of the press and who more-than-occasionally buys me lunch.

But it's a battle so commonplace that it's not a fairy tale anymore.  But what grown-up doesn't wish she could go back in time and make things right?  Who doesn't wish they could alter the circumstances of their families, their fate, history itself?  That's a fairy tale I need to believe in.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I've discovered that it is impossible to have a bad day when you've started it with Huey Lewis and the News "The Power of Love"

Try it on a Monday morning!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Red Dirt and WTF

So I apologize for the last, oddly-cryptic post and the long delays between real posts.  It's been a weird couple of weeks here at Record of the Month, and normally I don't exorcise my demons publicly, but since the person who that was aimed at was posting cryptic messages on his Facebook account (which you've noticed I'm not on) I figured that if he googled me, he might find me here and maybe we could get a real conversation going.

If he did, well, he didn't respond.  Moving on.

Watched Red Dirt last night in my continuing quest to see Walton Goggins naked and, I have to say, it was worse than The Room.  At least The Room has a Rifftrax.  And while yes, Walton Goggins was exceptionally naked (was he wearing a merkin?) it didn't make up for the fact that there was not a single scene in the film that wasn't a giant pile of film school cliche.  There was rain on lily pads, claw-foot bathtubs, even a nice scene of two dogs walking along the railroad tracks that had nothing to do with anything.

Characters complained about not being able to get out of the small town of Pine Apple, talked about how no one understood them, parents were dead, aunt was insane, protagonists were frustrated, opera was played to heighten tension, people walked around barefoot.  Yawn.

The really disturbing part, in my mind, was Griffith, the protagonist.  He's having sex with his female cousin, displaying no homosexual tenancies until Manic Pixie Dream Goggins comes along.  They do Manic Pixie things, like wrestling in the water, offering to paint a house plaid, building a giant pin-cushion in a field and painting sex-cousin's phone number on her barn roof (your guess is as good as mine, because this is never explained) MPD-Goggins keeps talking about moving on and they become blood brothers, and then Griffith gets mad at MPD Goggins for being all homo-y towards him, and I guess at the end Griffith becomes gay and they kiss and run off together.  At least that's what Wikipedia said, because the minute Goggins said his tearful goodbye to the aunt who was suddenly magically cured of crippling depression by a few car rides, I turned it off and sealed it up in it's red envelope to be mailed back from whence it came.

The disturbing part is, of course, that the film implies that being gay is a choice.  Griffith was perfectly content to have sex with women, even if they were kinfolk, but it isn't until someone gay comes along that he even considers that he might like boys.  Being gay, from my understanding, isn't something you just decide to do--it's who you are from birth, no matter what troll-person Rick Santorum says.

For a piece of gay cinema, I think Red Dirt sends the wrong message . . . and is just an awful film in general.  Too bad, because we haven't seen Walton Goggins that nude since.

This will have to do.