Sunday, June 5, 2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Lend Me Your Ears: Nathaniel Ratliff & The Night Sweats

You know what? I've missed writing about music. I've missed reading about music.  Don't get me wrong, I still listen to plenty-o-music, but it seems like a lot of the music blogs or even lifestyle type blogs that used to have a post or two about music, have faded, not that I even know why that would ever happen.  Music is great in itself, but sometimes I love hearing a little why you think that song is so good, or the first time you heard it, or the memories that it bring up.  Sometimes I like to grab you by the shoulders and explain using all my words, why this song is important. So let's get back to being all chatty about the tunes?

The very first concert that I reviewed on this blog was Mumford & Sons at City Market in good old Kansas City, MO. One of opening bands for that show was a Missouri born (represent!), now living in Colorado, musician named Nathaniel Ratliff. And even though, he only got one picture and a couple of sentences on that first mention, once his  got in between my ears, he never quite left. I Am is still one of my favorite, let me just lay here on the floor in the dark and contemplate my life, songs. 

In 2012, a music documentary was released called Austin to Boston. It follows a bunch of bands traveling across the United States in vintage VW vans. Very hipster leaning, think of it as a modern day fairy tale involving roading trip in brightly colored vans with all your friends and good music, and a plentra of tambourines.  One of my favorite part of the documentary is where Nathaniel Ratliff talks about growing up in rural Missouri and the death of his father. It is so raw, and so true, and it is exactly the reason why I am so in love with his music. There is a heaviness to it, at times almost a sadness, but it is also layered with the complexities of life that makes the sadness bearable.

Last year, he released a new album (Nathaniel Ratliff & The Night Sweats) and it was by far one of my favorite albums of the year. It's soulful in a way that makes you feel all the feels AND makes want to dance,  and of course, it makes you want listen to it over, and over because you know that it is on the verge of achieving world peace. No, I don't think that I will grew tired of this one.

If you catch me dancing on the subway platform, chances are super that it is to this song, man alive, it is so good:


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Let's Just Pretend It's A New Year and We All Just Finished our Vision Boards.

For some reason this year, June 1 seems a lot like January 1. It feels like a time to make new goals, because the goals you make for the summer are completely different then the goals you make at the beginning of the year.  And since time is eternal, and just goes on and on, every day is basically the beginning of a new year, don't think about it too much, just believe it. And summer! Even though the years of summer vacation are so far in the rear view mirror that squinting doesn’t even help, it still seems like summer is the time to actively try to cram in as much fun as you can in 3 months-DO EVERYTHING! And since I am  living in a place where there are distinct seasons, the urge to be outside all the time is even stronger because I know that the howl of the cold is lurking down the timeline.  They say that to everything there is a season, and sometimes you just have to wait for the season (literally or figuratively) to change. 

Ok, enough with the deep stuff, there are some other things I need to get of my chest: 

You know when you learn a hard lesson and you want to tell everyone about it so to save them from not only making the same mistake, but also the deep, deep heartache said hard lesson can cause? I am about to this. DON’T TRY TO MAKE BROWNIES HEALTHY.  Last week, I tried making those dastardly black bean brownies. I don’t know why. I tried years ago and they were horrible, like throw the whole pan out horrible. But a food blog that I have always had good luck with posted a recipe for black bean brownies, and I thought I might try them again. NOPE. I took one bite, and yet again the whole pan got dumped into the trash and I got really ticked off about wasting black beans and some of the good cocoa powder. The good cocoa powder. Oh, the shame. And yet again today, I found myself tempted by a brownie recipe that called for sweet potatoes, and I had to have a very serious talk with myself about my life choices. And believe me, I am a hippy at heart, I drink a shot of apple cider vinegar every day, and nutritional yeast is a pantry staple for me, but for the love of all that is glittery in the world, if you want brownies, make them good, make them decedent, swirl in that peanut butter, throw in a handful of M&Ms, use the chocolate you usually save for special guests, and  make them the  brownies that you know you want deep in your heart.  Friends don’t let friends get their hearts broken by baked goods. 

 So politics is a little wacky in these United States right now. And wacky is totally code for, “please don’t talk to me about it, or I might burst into tears, or vomit, or both.”  I just want the elections to be over already, so we can clean up the pieces and get on with our lives. And if the Apocalypse is ushered in, at least I have my harmonica. And I will become that person wandering from one desolate campfire to the next, singing old tymey songs about how life was in the days before the “event.” I feel all the end of the world movies I have devoured my entire life have prepared me to become that lonely troubadour carrying the weight of protecting and preserving the history of the world after the end has come. I also feel that I like to dramatic. It’s the youngest child in the me, forever looking for attention.    

Confession time: last Saturday I put on my workout clothes just to go the library and pick up a book. The library is only a 12 minute walk.  But the book was a large print edition which I had to carry all the way back home, so #girlswholift. See also, it was Saturday and the thought of putting on real clothes got voted down by all the voices in my head.

I’m kind of getting bored with TV lately. Can’t someone just come over and read me a story out loud every now and then. Wait, is there such a thing as Storytime for grownups? That should totally be a thing, right?

This article about what happens to unclaimed bodies in New York City is probably one of the best things I have read recently. It is incredible sad, it details the case of George Bell who died alone, without any family or friends to claim his body, but it is also so beautifully written.  I am sure that this happens a lot and we just don’t realize it, in fact there was similar story recently about a man here in DC who passed away and his neighbors all chipped in for burial costs.  We interact with so many people every day, but how many of these people do we really even know a tiny part of their stories?  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bits & Pieces

1. Whoa, it's been a while, right? Let's get caught up with all the voices in my head, or at least 10 of them:

2. A quote that I have been thinking a lot about lately, in regards to blogging and interneting and well, life in general is, "Don't trade in your authenticity for approval." So easy to pin to a Pinterest board, or whatever the kids are doing these days, so hard to actually figure out it all out. 

3. A little part of my soul dies whenever a friend starts posting about the latest and greatest multi-level marking thing. I mean, I do wanted to support my friends in their endeavors in life, even if I might question the business practices of some of these ventures, but sometimes it just feels like I am being moved from "person I might care about' to "source of income." So I guess I am just taking a polling on how much guilt I need to feel when I start to quietly hide all their status updates?

4. Newest addition to the list of things that make me irrationally nervous: my horoscope is getting closer and closer to the top of the page of that free newspaper that they give out on the Metro. That means my birthday is getting closer, and with that all the pressure of doing something big and exciting for the big day, and 98% of these big things are really for other people, because dude, sleeping in and eating a piece of cake is really your jam, but that sounds so boring, and you are still wild and wondrous (no, wait, that might be West Virginia), and you you can't have a boring birthday,  YOLO you know, and what have you even done with your life . . . See why I'm nervous?  

 Also on my nervous list are "hummus" recipes that don't include chickpeas. It's like they are totally trying to trick you.  Zucchini Hummus? What even are you?

5. I know that running barefoot is a thing, and that people have been doing even since man took his first breathe,  and yadda, yadda, yadda, but every time I see someone running barefoot, even if they are obviously a "runner" aka, running on a trail, running in full running gear, maybe even with a sporty headband and water-bottle-fanny-pack, I always have to fight the urge to stop them and ask, "Are you OK? Do you need help? Is your house on fire?" Because really the only rational that my head can handle for running barefoot is that your house is fire.

6. I had a very adult moment the other day: I was about to stop a running nose with my sleeve, and then I thought, "No, I shall use a tissue." I'm growing up so fast y'all.

7. I am watching The West Wing on Netflix, and  I forgot how good it is! So good, (clap my hands) especially if you like political dramas. I remember watching it when it came out, many, many years before I even thought about working in DC, but I think it subconsciously taught me a very important lesson: one of the greatest skills that you can have working in politics is the ability to walk, talk, and grab and hand off folders all at the same time. I am pretty sure, 85% of the action  of this TV show involves this cycle of events, and I am also sure that a large percentage of my actual job involves these things. Also, one of the main characters is played by Rob Lowe, and Nick Offerman guest stars on one of the first episodes as a constituent who is pushing for a special highway just for wolves. Yes, a highway for wolves. And I was like, WAIT. Is this the beginning of Parks and Rec?

8. Today in the US, it is Columbus Day. And since this is somewhat of a controversial holiday, I am choosing to celebration Canadian Thanksgiving instead because the calendar tells me that it is also today, and plus, I am pretty thankful for Canada. They super fine upstairs neighbors, they have poutine and ketchup flavored potato chips, they gave us both Anne of Green Gables and the band Arcade Fire, and I feel like  any "thanksgiving" holiday is a free pass to eat pie.

9.   I've been told that they are loads of pro's about being married, but the fact that I haven't emptied the dishwasher that has had clean dishes in it for like over a day now, and have been just picking out the clean forks out whenever I need one, and there is no one here to judge me for that, is kinda a BIG pro on staying single. But now that I have told all of the internets, I guess I should probably just go and empty it for real.

10. I've switched Sirsi's accent of my phone from an American accent to an Australian accent , basically so I can feel extra fancy when she gives me driving directions, because we all know, accents =  mucho fancy points. But I've discovered that she now, in her new accent,  pronounces Missouri, as Missour-ah, like the locals do. So, there's that. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Inspiration

If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. 

You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.

I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

— Ray Bradbury


Monday, May 25, 2015

Weekly Playlist: Current Faves

A couple, or 5, tunes soundtracking the parade which is my life this week:


1. Hard Wire--Shakey Graves
I saw Shakey Graves back in March in one of my favorite shows this year. If you have been to enough concerts with me, you know that I tend to bite my bottom lip to try to keep inside all my fangirl glee, and the glee was so strong that March night, that I am completely surprised that I didn't bite right through my lip. Hard Wired, off of his 2014 album, And the War Come,  was one of the last songs performed that night.  It turned into a beautiful sing-a-long with the crowd and it was just the perfect moment. And when you find a song that brings a perfect moment, you kinda have keep playing it.  

2. Strangers--Langhorne Slim & The Law
I've been a fan of Langhorne Slim since I heard his song "My Future," which is a cover of the old Blues "Future Blues", I mean you have to love a guy that has an appreciation of the Blues.  His new album, The Spirit Moves, doesn't come out until August, but the first single, "Strangers" was released last week, and I have played it so much, that I am pretty sure that all my neighbors now know it by heart. And that is what I call community service. 



3. Things Happen-Dawes
Dawes' songs always seem to have the perfect combination of sadness, introspective and truth in them, that makes you just want to shout AMEN, at the end of each performance.  Their new album, All Your Favorite Bands, comes out next week, but is streaming this week over at NPR. SPOILER ALERT: they will be making an appearance shortly in my Adventures in Audio series!



4.  One Last Look--Tom Waits
Did you catch Tom Waits on one of the last shows of David Letterman? Now, I know that he can be an acquired taste. I have a friend who swears he sounds like Cookie Monster, which I can never tell if that is an insult or a compliment, but I always response declaration with, "Well, then Cookie Monster is cooler then us all."  I love pretty much every note that Mr. Waits has ever sang, and holy cow, his performance of a new song, "One Last Look," on Letterman brought tears to my eyes. 

5. Mr. Tambourine Man--Bob Dylan
This past Sunday was Bob Dylan's birthday, so I spent a little bit of the long weekend listening to his greatest hits and watching some footage of his 1964 performance at the Newport Folk Festival. So great. So. Great. I can barely stand it. And there is a bonus in this clip: a young Pete Seeger!




Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Inspiration

Do one thing every day that scares you.
--Eleanor Roosevelt

In the Del Ray Neighborhood of Alexandria, VA there is a huge chalkboard and in big letters across the top of the board reads: I wish I had the courage to:

The rest of the board, called The Courage Wall, is filled with declarations from the public of things that they fear. It seems like such a simple thing, picking up a piece of chalk and writing a couple of words. But giving light to the things that we hide in the dark can be a pretty powerful.