nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “music

Thanks, Twilight!

I’ve battled a chemical imbalance for years, and I consider myself an “informed patient.” What I mean by that is I tend to be aware of instances when I’m being illogically moody. I typically don’t know what triggered it or precisely how to deal with/overcome it in that moment, but I’m increasingly cognizant. On the one hand, I’m glad I have progressed enough in treatment to realize when the grouchiness manifests; on the other hand, I think it would be easier sometimes to be oblivious to it. Don’t know where I’m headed with this? Well, read on, friends.

I consider myself an “informed patient” with regards to my enjoyment of Twilight as well. I realize it’s dumb and, with few exceptions, I can appreciate the arguments for how horrible the franchise is. Because let’s be honest, it is pretty horrible.

Stephenie Meyer and Muse make a good case for vampires liking baseball, so let’s go with that terminology for a minute while describing some of the worst aspects. Edward, eternally age 17, is a vampire who’s been around the block for nearly a century longer than Bella (strike 1). Movie Bella can hardly make it through a scene without her mouth agape (strike 2). They have a hybrid vampire-human baby that they *choose* to name Renesmee (strike 3)…who is essentially betrothed to a shapeshifter/werewolf who used to be in love with Bella (yer out!).

So, yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous; I won’t deny it. I will, however, continue enjoying it in spite of itself. The initial love and danger and angst and whatnot all make my inner 15-year-old giddy. Plus, there are an awful lot of great things that have resulted from my exposure to Twilight.

(image from stepheniemeyer.com)

(image from stepheniemeyer.com)

My first encounter with Twilight was as a major skeptic library clerk in 2007. I was relatively certain it was a skeevy premise for YA fiction, and I couldn’t fathom why so many people were checking it out. First teen girls (even a few boys) kept it in constant circulation, then their moms started getting in on the act, too. Seeing it cross my desk over and over and over again piqued my curiosity, but I had my pride.

I had my pride until I started seeing tv spots for the movie, that is—Edward’s “I feel very protective of you” got to me and I was forced to admit that I wanted to see it in spite of my shame. So I did what any other self-respecting person would do:
I rationalized.
As a distinguished member of the library community it was my job civic responsibility to actually read this book. And I needed to do it before darkening the doors of the local cineplex. After all, I’m nothing if not a model employee.

Within two days, I was done reading the first novel, irrationally ravenous to get my hands on the second in the series. With a little hacking on the library’s system, I put myself next in line for the title. Such shame I feel in admitting this unethical behavior to you fine people. Remember what I said before about being a model employee? It was true except for this isolated instance. Rest assured I’m a different person now. Or maybe I’m not, but I no longer have access to the circulation computer, so you’re all free of my ordering manipulation. 🙂

The librarian and I went to see the film adaptation of Twilight in November 2008. It was then that a stupid vampire story began to change my life.

From the books I discovered the movie. From the movie I discovered the soundtrack. From it and subsequent soundtracks, I discovered a love of Paramore, Muse, Florence + the Machine, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, St. Vincent and many other artists I might not have heard otherwise. The Twilight station on Pandora is fantastic, by the way.

My style owes a teeny bit to Twilight as well. All of those cool kids motivated me to up my game (ever so slightly) in the fashion department. I still dress more like early Bella than any of the couture Cullens, but it’s something of an improvement over the frumpiness rut I’d fallen into during the mid 2000s. Moreover, Ashley Greene and Nikki Reed provide real-life fashion and hair inspiration. Call it lame if you want, but my hair has never looked better.

Additionally, each new Twilight film provided a fun social opportunity. One of my dearest library friends and I took off time to go see each release on opening day. We had little movie marathons at home in preparation, we brimmed with excitement while waiting in line and we gushed with feedback over lunch. Those were fantastic days!

Perhaps most importantly, though, the franchise helped introduce me to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Most of the first movie was shot in Oregon, and it looked divine. At one point, Bella and Edward are standing in the top boughs of a towering evergreen when Bella says awestruck, “This isn’t real. This kind of stuff just doesn’t exist.” Edward replies, “It does in my world.”
He’s right, that kind of stuff absolutely does exist in the Pac NW. Apart from actual vampires and standing in the treetops, anyway; I can’t personally vouch for those.

I’d wanted to visit the Seattle area since high school but had never done it. When the opportunity arose for cheap airfare a couple of years ago, we decided to venture toward the coast to check out Forks and La Push. Even in the dank gray of February, it was some of the most beautiful scenery nature has to offer. I committed then to visit the filming locations in Oregon. It may have been dumb initial motivation to travel somewhere, but I will be forever grateful that we did. I feel energized and in my element when I’m out there, especially along the Oregon coast. I intend one day to call it my home.

So while my intellect affirms its awfulness, I have to admit that Stephenie Meyer’s vampire love story has enriched my life beyond just a series of mediocre books and movies. And it can enrich your life, too, even if it’s nothing more to you than an annoyance. For you, I offer its virtue as fodder for snarky videos. After all, you can never have too many snarky videos.


Fading West

As promised, photos from the 11.21 Switchfoot show in Springfield, MO.


Dare You to Move

If you’re a fan of good music, you’re familiar with a band of surfers from San Diego called Switchfoot. If you’re not familiar with them, you are obviously not a fan of good music and should make haste in rectifying that.
I, for one, have been a Switchfoot follower since 1997 when I heard a then-fresh, new song called Chem 6A. In retrospect, it’s a fun little ditty but ‘we were just kids…in the fever of our youth’; that first release is musically and lyrically worlds away from the epic, Grammy-winning tunes of the last several years. Seriously, listen to the Hello Hurricane or Vice Verses albums and try not to love them.

Switchfoot made a stop in KC back on September 21 during the first leg of their Fading West tour. We were there with (proverbial) bells on and loved every second of the show. So much, in fact, that we bought tickets when the Springfield MO seating went on sale. Fast forward two months to last Thursday—we played hooky, packed up the car and headed south to sit front row.

This tour featured a VIP Experience wherein you could meet the band for a photo-op and get some signed swag. For $35/person, it was tempting but we had other plans. Rather than head directly to our hotel after the show, we waited outside behind the venue with a couple dozen college students in sub-freezing temperatures (for real, it was only about 28°F).
I learned two things that night: 1) the difference between people in their early/mid 30s and people in their early 20s is far more distinct than I would have imagined when I was on the younger side of that spectrum; 2) wintry weather is considerably better in theory than in practice.

Some 90 minutes after the last encore, we had our first band encounter. Jerome Fontamillas snuck out of a back door virtually unnoticed until he passed by Severus, who calmly said, “Good show.” To which he replied, “Hey thanks, man,” before being swarmed by aforementioned college kids.

Shortly thereafter, Chad Butler came out to visit. After the initial frenzy died down, he made the rounds to everyone who was standing outside. Chad’s a super nice guy who asked our names and chatted for a little bit; I tend to think he hung around by us a bit longer because we played it cool and looked relatively uninterested. Being aloof has its benefits sometimes.

Sadly, I have no photographic evidence of having met Chad or Jerome. And because Internet rules apply here (“Pics or it didn’t happen”), you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I did, however, manage to get a picture when one Mr. Jon Foreman made his way into the chilly post-midnight air. IMG_8531
And with that, I cross off another goal for the year: meeting someone famous. It wasn’t Reedus or Cavill but I’m perfectly happy with Foreman, arguably one of the best musicians of my generation.

I’ll post concert photos before week’s end.


Merry Music

Once again we find ourselves in the throes of the holiday season. Imagine with me, if you will, the Julie Andrews classic “My Favorite Things.”

Shopping and baking and baking and shopping,
Eating and wrapping and singing and mopping,
Parties and pageants and shepherds and kings,
This is a list of some Christmas-y things.

Ugly sweaters, crummy weather,
Waiting in long lines,
Just listen to songs about Christmas-y things,
And then you will feel just fine.

Unless you’re listening to one of the five worst Christmas songs ever (in no particular order).

Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Rod Stewart & Dolly Parton
This has never been one of my favorite standards; giving Christmas the sexy treatment is weird to me. Even so, there are a couple of renditions that I don’t mind (Rufus Wainwright’s take, for instance). The Stewart/Parton duet is not one of them. If there’s a worse mental image than that of Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton enjoying the implied ‘festivities’ of that song, I sure as heck don’t want to know.

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Barbara Mandrell 
There are no redeeming qualities to this song, except maybe that Miley Cyrus hasn’t covered it. The schmaltzy lyrics are atrocious (“that craaaaaazy snowball fight”) are made worse only by Mandrell’s grating vocals. Ethel Merman must’ve been proud.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by the Jackson 5
To my grave, I will declare that Michael Jackson is one of the greatest musicians—and arguably THE single greatest performer—of all time. But my praise extends only to his solo career. Listen to little Michael: “I did, I really did see mommy kissing Santa Claus. And I’m gonna tell my dad.” Am I the only one who can see Joe Jackson pounding the ever-loving snot out of Santa over this allegation? From the way he’s pleading with his brothers to believe him, Michael probably expected a pretty sound beating over it, too.

Christmas in Kansas City by Brad Millison
If you aren’t from KC, you’re probably not familiar with this one. Consider yourself lucky. Yes, the Plaza lights are pretty, but the song is best summed up by an adjective that rhymes with both “pretty” and “city.” Bonus points if you know the word I mean.

Christmas Shoes by NewSong
There’s a pretty funny (and very R-rated) Patton Oswalt rant about this song that you can find online if you wish, but here’s my own rant. People tend to be depressed enough during the holidays, you guys. Just stop with the sad stuff, okay? And why is the kid dirty from head to toe? Being poor is not synonymous with being dirty. And lastly, the guy says, “I knew God had sent that little boy to remind me just what Christmas is all about…” Really?! Because I thought Christmas was all about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Also, I don’t like the little kid singing. Or the grown-ups.

 

Honorable Mention
Christmas Dinner, Country Style by Bing Crosby
Bing is the patron saint of Christmas music as far as I’m concerned. Had this song been treated by anyone else, it would not have skirted by with only an honorable mention. I’m not a mom, but I hold a rather traditional view of a mother’s role (I’d love to be like Donna Reed or June Cleaver); even so, I think this one’s pretty bad. Yes, it’s bouncy and happy and sounds cute, but I weep for Mother. Based solely on the lyrics, we can assume her primary objectives are to pop out kids (7 at least) and fix a big supper. And with 7 kids and big suppers come lots of laundry and dish washing. No seconds, I’m good.

Little Drummer Boy by anyone who’s ever performed it, including little Richie Petrie from the Dick VanDyke Show (whose spectral image hovers atop that of stained glass)
If I’m being completely honest, I’m less likely to want to jab pencils into my ears when I hear this song versus any of the aforementioned. Nevertheless, I’d like to pa-rum-pum-pum-pummel everyone who has perpetuated its existence over the last 70+ years. And I guarantee I’m not alone in this camp.