Sunday, April 12, 2009

Forty Days of Foliage: Conclusion

It's 12:18 on Easter morning, which means two things: Jesus is back and I can eat meat again. So far, I have celebrated by eating a couple leftover chicken nachos from my brother's fridge. Yum. Yes, I'm going back to meat (at least in limited capacity), but I think I've gained some new perspective:

- I no longer fear cooking tofu. (And I'll buy it because I like it, not because I see it as a substitute.)
- I've learned that I can get pretty inventive with the same three or four vegetables.
- I will no longer feel weird about ordering non-meat dishes in restaurants.
- I'm probably not going to cook meat very often. And when I do, I'm going to try to get it from local/more sustainable sources.
- I'm going to hold myself to a loose "Meat Only Once a Week" diet, making exceptions for dinner parties (I feel bad inconveniencing others) and cravings. (This will not hold this week - I will be presenting my master's project on Thursday and taking great comfort in burgers and such until then.)
- On a broader level, I have willpower! I held out for 40+ days, and it wasn't even that hard.

And so the experiment ends. I applaud myself.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

She Crazy

I've mentioned before my love for Lady GaGa. I just found another reason to love her more:

My Thoughts:
1.) Electric piano does not equal acoustic.
2.) Foot on piano does equal awesome.
3.) I want to be her best friend.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Study in Contrasts

There are two big stories about the gays in the New York Times today. The first, which you're probably more aware of, is about the possibility of more victories on the gay marriage front due to the recent excitement in Iowa, Vermont, and to a lesser extent, DC. Here's a key portion, although the entire article is definitely worth reading:

New York, New Jersey, Maine and New Hampshire are among the states where such proposals have gained legislative support in recent months.

“This is a reminder to those legislatures that they should finish the job,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, a national advocacy group based in New York. “Contrary to the claims made by the opponents of equality, it’s not just judges, it’s not just the coasts, and it’s not just going away.”

This is truly very exciting, and even though it's all very Northeast-based at the moment (Iowa excluded, natch), it's still very heartening to see this all happening (and so quickly!). However, I then flipped over to this article about how openly gay men in Iraq are being systematically murdered:

In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word “pervert” in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said.


“I don’t care about the militias anymore, because they’re going to kill me anyway — today, tomorrow or the day after,” said a man named Sa’ad, who has been taking estrogen and has developed small breasts. “I hate my community and my relatives. If they had their way, the result would be one gunshot.”

I suddenly felt really guilty for caring about getting married. I know I shouldn't, but it's hard to get excited about my theoretical husband when there are people in similar situations getting killed for their openness. I don't mean this as a buzzkill, though; by all means, let's all get gay married! Let's just not forget what's going on elsewhere.

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Off With Your Head

I was not really a Yeah Yeah Yeahs (YYYs hereafter for brevity's sake) fan upon hearing "Date with the Night," the band's first single. In fact, I kind of hated it. I can handle screamy and abrasive, but to me, it was, "Look at how screamy and abrasive we are!" without anything interesting about it. I had written the band off when I heard "Maps," which went a long way toward rehabilitating them for me, but I considered it mostly a fluke and continued to mostly ignore their output.

This began to change, however, when I heard a review of the new YYYs album, It's Blitz!, on the NPR show Sound Opinions, in which the hosts each gave it a "Buy It" ranking (their highest mark). The song clips intrigued me, so I sought out the album, and whoa do I love it.

It's Blitz!
shows a dancier, calmer, more vulnerable side to the band that is instantly becoming after the borderline obnoxious swagger of their past output. There are a number of surprisingly affecting ballads, in which Karen O. shows off the yearning and likability we first saw in "Maps." The best of these is "Hysteric," which is so successful in winning you over that you don't really notice the cliched nature of lines such as "You suddenly complete me." (Close second: "Runaway," which is propelled by an aching piano line and moody synth strings.)

There's still some edge to the sound, lest ye be concerned the YYYs have lost their edge. "Dull Life" is yelping and energetic without being grating, and lead single "Zero" is probably the most instantly exciting song on the album. The best track on the album is of this vein: "Heads Will Roll" features Karen declaring "Off with your head/dance 'til your dead" over a thumping disco beat and it's awesome. (This may have to be my new life motto.)

How you feel about this album will probably have a lot to do with what you thought of prior YYYs work. If you're one of those "Date with the Night" fans, you might see this as a cop-out from the band, or even worse, a mellowing with age. However, for me, It's Blitz! is just a refinement of their earlier sound to something more interesting, engaging, and ultimately, more satisfying.

You should probably get it.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You are the Blood

You may have heard of the excellent new compilation "Dark Was The Night," put out by Red Hot to raise funds for AIDS research. It's not amazing from start to finish, but there are a ton of great bands on here (Arcade Fire, Spoon, Grizzly Bear), some pleasant surprises (My Brightest Diamond's cover of "Feeling Good" - I thought I was too attached to the Nina version, but I guess I was wrong), and only a minimal amount of Feist and Ben Gibbard to sit through. It's pretty much a white person's wet dream. The highlight for me, though, is Sufjan Stevens's epic contribution "You are the Blood."

I've been a Sufjan fan since Michigan came out; although the initial draw was "omg someone made an album about my state," I've stuck with him over the years and can even admit that Illinois was better than Michigan. I got sort of Sufjan-ed out for a while, though, as he became more ubiquitous (I blame Little Miss Sunshine) and then seemed to disappear. But with this new track, I'm ready to hop back on board.

"You are the Blood," at just over ten minutes long, is possibly the strangest song of Sufjan's career. I just tried to type out a description of it, but it doesn't really do the song justice; one can't get a sense of this without giving it a listen. (Multiple times. The first is sort of overwhelming.) It encapsulates pretty much every phase of Sufjan's career: meandering Michigan-esque moments, the dense electronic blasts of Enjoy Your Rabbit, and the bombastically orchestrated Illinois are all showcased to great effect. If this is where Sufjan is heading, I think we all have reason to get excited about him again.

(PS: I've uploaded the mp3 for you! It looks like it can only be downloaded ten times, but go here to download it. Run! Don't walk!)

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