Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sexual Undercurrents

I was watching a Cougar Town repeat for, oh...the 5th time, and it made me think about something. A storyline revolved around Jules (Courtney Cox) trying to prove that men and women can be friends without there being any underlying sexual tension. Basically, the point was, no, they can't. (not that they ever act on those sub-sexy feelings. They just linger. Argument in support of this notion: who wants unappealing friends anyways?!)

My pondering: is the same true of gay friendships? I would argue, yep. Not gonna lie, I've had friends who, if circumstances were different, I'd totally bone them. Really, what's wrong about that? The best sexytimes is always with someone you feel close to anyways!

The fact that I have had both wine and beer tonight probably isn't helping the thinking process any. Mmmm, sexy friends.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Essential Listening: Neko Case

This is the first entry in what I aspire to be an ongoing 'column'. In "Essential Listening" I will choose an artist that I love and have listened to over the span of several albums and list 10-15 songs that I feel are their best. That way, if you ever wanted to give them a try but weren't sure where to start, now you'll know!

And who better to start off this new column than Neko Case? Truly one of modern music's most unique, challenging and recognizable voices, I will admit that when I was first made to listen to her, I hated her music. As Joel describes her, she is 'VERY folky', which works just fine for me now. If I had to describe her music, I'd call it alt-country-folk. Clearly, not exactly one for the masses.

But be open to her, and you are in for a treat. Her voice and her music combine to create the most incredible listening experience, which I say with no amount of hyperbole. Listening to her, especially when discovering her for the first time, really is an experience. I still get chills listening to her earlier material!

In any event, it's best to just listen to her, think about it, listen to her again, and fall deeply in love. She's not for everyone, but everyone should listen to her.

I've included the links to youtube so you can hear the song I'm talking about. I'm so thoughtful :)


1. Furnace Room Lullaby (from Furnace Room Lullaby- 2000)- The first song I'd recommend for any Neko virgin is this. One major reason for this is that you learn two important things: 1)her voice is RIDICULOUS. Gorgeous, full, haunting. I remember once hearing that her voice can be best likened to Patsy Cline's ghost. I support that! 2)Half of the time you are not going to have any idea what she's singing about. Neko Case writes songs for herself and her plays on words, lyrical choices, etc, will likely make no sense to anyone outside her brain. Just roll with it.

2. Porchlight (from Furnace Room Lullaby- 2000)- I love the lazy drum, the casual guitar, the rich twang in her voice. This one is very country-tastic, be warned. She wrote it about being on the road, but desperately wanting to be back home. Pulled by the memories of her porchlight (natch). Cotton in your ears.

3. John Saw That Number (from Fox Confessor Brings The Flood- 2006)- Nothing like a little southern Gospel to get the party started! Playful, bluesy, it'll make you want to sway and clap your hands.

4. Deep Red Bells (from Blacklisted- 2002)- Blacklisted is one of those albums that every time I think about it, I'm struck by how much I ADORE it. This song is it's best, and easily one of my all time faves by Neko. I don't so much know what she's singing about (apparently it's about a man who was murdering hookers in Vancouver. K?) But the imagery in this song is so evocative. When I talked about getting chills by her songs, this is what I was talking about. There may be no better lyric than "it tastes like being poor and small and popsicles in summer" in modern music. Dunno why. It's just stuck with me ever since I heard it. But her voice when she sings the words Deep Red Bells is what I think of when I think of her. *shivers*

5. Outro With Bees (from Blacklisted- 2002)- Melancholy and sweet, I imagine this song playing from a wind up music box. It's a mere 1:36 long, every second of it pretty. The album closer Outro With Bees (Reprise) is almost better, in that it's played like a hidden gem found on an old AM radio. I envision a 50's housewife sitting in her kitchen, swaying sadly by herself. Also, the way her voice bends when she sings the first 'no' in the line "there's no sure footing, no love I believe" is my single favourite sung syllable in all music-dom. It sounds dorky to even think that, but it's true.

6. Look For Me (I'll Be Around) (from Blacklisted 2002) Admittedly, this song wasn't written by Neko. It was written in the 50's, and you can still hear it. Her version is just so bleak and sorrowful. This is the kind of song they play in old Blues bars just before closing and everyone is nursing their final drinks. You will also notice something: you can actually suss out what she's singing about! The benefits of her covering someone else's work ;) It's a sad song about longing after a lost love and hoping that one day they will give up all the glitz and fakery of the life they thought was best for them and come back to simple, loyal Neko. Heart...breaks.

7. I Wish I Was The Moon (from Blacklisted- 2002)- Another one of those 'chills' songs. Just listening to it now makes me stop writing so I can just sit here and sway. This song probably holds the record for most times inexplicably stuck in my head when I wake up in the morning. Couldn't tell ya why. Just is! haha Her voice is so full of emotion in this one, I love it. Anger, sorrow, longing, hope. All in there.

8. Hold On, Hold On (from Fox Confessor Brings The Flood- 2006)- What always surprises me about this song is how...mainstream it sounds. That isn't meant to sound disparaging, really. It just has a very meticulous, produced kind of sound. Hmm, still sounds like I'm insulting it. I wouldn't include it in this list if I didn't think it's one of her best. I guess it's just more accessible to the casual listener than, say, Deep Red Bells or something like that. It's less alt-country and more plain ole fashioned country (but bluesy and Neko-fied)

9. That Teenage Feeling (from FCBTF- 2006)- Who ISN'T holding out for that teenage feeling when it comes to love? You know, the silly, irresponsible, all consuming love we used to feel when we were younger and 'knew better'? An ode to feeling young and dumb and always believing that love should feel like that.

10. Lady Pilot (from Blacklisted- 2002)- This always puts me in a jaunty mood. I like the drama of it. Guaranteed to get you strumming your air guitar. I always (secretly) think of my forward-thinking, assertive, bold female friends as Lady Pilots (not afraid to fly)!

11. Running Out Of Fools (from Blacklisted- 2002)- A nice fat "eff you" to that ex that seems to haunt you. Originally performed by Aretha Franklin in 1964, it had none of the menace or the resentment that Neko's version has. Listen to them side by side and you will praise Jeebus that Neko re-did it her own way. An absolute must-listen.

12. Ghost Writing (from Blacklisted- 2002)- A real standout in her earlier career, this one is definitely evocative of her alt-bleak-country vibe. Oh LORD, her voice here is amazing.

13. This Tornado Loves You (from Middle Cyclone- 2009)- Neko re-imagines herself as a destructive force of nature, tearing across land and blasting through trailer park in search of her love. Her use of imagery is brilliant, once again. I lovelovelove how guitar is used in this one. The fluttery strum that carries over the whole song is so different and unique. LOVE IT.

14. Middle Cyclone (from Middle Cyclone- 2009)- What is most surprising about this song is that for once she drops the impenetrable lyrics and fancy imagery (although not entirely, of course) in favour of being vulnerable and personal. This song is about her struggles with loving and being loved and I just adore it. It harkens back to Outro With Bees in that it's a simple, repeating melody that would be more suited to an old fashioned music box. Don't let that simplicity fool you though. Beneath it lies an achingly bleeding heart.

15. I'm An Animal (from Middle Cyclone- 2009)- We're nearing 'rock' territory here! This one always strikes me as a relic from the late 90's Canadian music scene. I could see The Tragically Hip having a song like this (although I would invariably hate it). I enjoy that she's doing something new here with her 'typical' sound. She isn't changing to find a new audience; she's just trying on some new shoes to go along with her cowboy boots!

Monday, April 12, 2010

My First Award!, what is it??

Awwww, my blog won a totally prestigious and entirely legit award :D
Mucho love and thanks to Debriefed- Marie at One End for thinking of little ole me and feeling like I'm worthy of this.
So according to the Roolz I have to
1. Brag About The Award. WOOOOOO! I am the awesomez. check
2. Include the name of the blogger and a link back to their blog. See above.
3. Choose a selection of blogs you find brilliant in honest content. Could prove difficult considering I don't follow any other than Marie!
4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with this award. Again, could be tough!
5.List at least 10 honest things about yourself. Talk about me? That's unpossible!
Well, howz about I start with 10 Things About Moi?
1. I spent my whole life trying to fend off the 'nerd' distinction, and now it's become my badge of honour
2. If you sit me down in front of the tv with The Shopping Channel on, I will completely zone out for as long as it takes for you to turn the tv back off.
3. I feel actual anxiety as to what will become of me when "Lost" goes off the air. *breathe...*
4. I want to live in Australia, but I'm worried that when the world floods it will be one of the first places to be washed away.
5. I have never been to Disneyland...and I doubt I ever want to.
6. I used to be absolutely convinced that I would never live past 30...and then I found out that the world is set to 'end' in 2012, aka the year I turn 30. COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT!
7. I love my friends more than cucumber sandwiches, but there are things I know/think/feel that I will likely never share with them. Hi, trust issues. How ya doin?
8. Call me as gay as a rainbow coloured unicorn in san francisco, but I will likely buy the next Paris Hilton cd (if she ever releases one)
9. It is my dream to move to a cozy house in the semi-country with my cats and dogs (and maybe my sig oth) and do nothing but sit on the porch, drinking beer and shaking my shotgun at the young'uns who walk past my property
10. Far too often, I do not finish what I st...
And considering that anyone who follows this only found me because of Marie, I feel like y'all are gonna do that anyways.
But, if some rando has managed to find me here (hey Rando! How ya doing?), do check out Nothing brings me more pleasure than reading Marie's blog and finding out there are people weirder than me. (love!) But seriously, her blogs are always witty, entertaining, and true to who she is. Ch-ch-check her out!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Movie Review: The House of The Devil

You see a title like that and you think "oh lord, I'm in for a treat..."- sarcastic tone duly noted.

And yet a funny thing happened while watching this movie: I got wigged right the fuck out. I'm not talking "AHH! Something jumped at the camera accompanied by a violin shriek" jumpy kind of fear that passes in about 10 seconds. I'm talking true, knees up to the chin in protection, don't wanna see what is in the bathtub WHY DO YOU KEEP REACHING FOR THE SHOWER CURTAIN?! kind of wigged.

And I liked it!

The first thing you notice while watching is that it is shot and presented in a very specific, late 70's-early 80's on the cheap kind of style. Hair is big and the cassette tape players are bigger. It looks like it was filmed 30 years ago. Not to mention you can rent a house (from Dee Wallace, of 'Cujo' fame- probably the only actor in the movie you are likely to recognize with any sense of "ooh, what do I know her from??") for $300 a month.

This artistic choice is very clever and works perfectly for the movie. It's never used as a sly wink at the audiences, it's not meant to be ironic. It's just how it is, take it or leave it. What I took from it (and from the rest of the movie) is a very clear love for the style of horror movies that came out in that era, where not every scary movie had to feature young, sexed out/drugged up teens getting mutilated in clever and obscene ways. Yes, this movie stars a young, attractive lady, but it's never exploitative. She made me long for the days of Jamie Lee Curtis circa "Halloween" and "Prom Night".

To sum up briefly what the movie is about: young woman, Sam, finds perfect home to move into but needs to get money for it. Takes 'babysitting' job for a husband and wife in creepy large house. Convenient total lunar eclipse that night. Soon regrets ordering pizza. Soon regrets taking job. (see title of movie)

Now, one thing you need to know going into this movie is that it's slow. It takes a damn long time getting anywhere freaky. I admit I was getting a little bored at first. Still, it does something most scary movies don't give a lick about: it builds suspense and creates an atmosphere that can be best described as "off". The first third of the movie is pretty much about making the viewer on edge, so that when stuff does happen, it's easier to knock us over.

The first real shock of the movie isn't entirely unexpected. Without giving anything away (it's still DAMNED enjoyable), you know pretty much from the get go that this character is going to eat it at some point and in the moments before it happens, you know it's going to happen very soon. What's amazing is that when it does happen, it's so sudden and nasty that you're still completely taken aback. Joel and I just looked at each other like, "whoa".

And then it slips back into slow and creepy mode for just about the rest of the movie.

But oh man it's creepy. Even Sam knows it, and not long into settling in to 'babysit' for the night is she wandering the house, big ass knife in hand, turning on all the lights (THANK YOU movie character for finally doing what any normal human would) . By this point the movie is completely under your skin. Every time she opens a door, you're hoping that nothing is there. When she turns on a light, you cringe in anticipation. And that bathtub I mentioned? Yah...not empty :S

The final act of the movie is half intensely awesome/half letdown. After so much excellent buildup, there really could be nowhere truly satisfying to go, so things get bloody and chasey and then...end of movie. It's a shame because it feels like nothing really gets explained...and it doesn't. What did creepy couple need Sam for? Why was the eclipse important? And the very last line of the movie can either be contrived or fantastic. Again, without giving anything away, it's the kind of last second "surprise!" that we've come to expect from movies nowadays and that usally result in significant eye rolling and/or groans of dismay. That said, in keeping with the tone and presentation of the movie, back in the 70's/80's an ending like this would have been completely unexpected and shocking, so maybe in the context of this movie, it does work? I leave that to the viewer to sort out. I personally err on the side of 'clever', only because it does sorta kinda give a hint as to what the movie might have been about.

Anyways, final verdict: it's not perfect. it won't change the way horror movies are made. But it's damned effective and anyone who is really willing to give it a shot will be pleasantly disturbed. It's a tiny, unknown gem of a movie and unlikely to find a large audience, but afficionados of good horror should seek it out.

3.5 out of 5

Friday, April 2, 2010

When Worlds Collide

Vampire Diaries made a reference to Cougar Town in last night's episode.