Archive for June 2010
by Sir Jonathan Boniface Perry
My fellow blog readers, we do not harass Caesar with tickle fights to haze him, but to Epilady him because he’s Mediterranean and obviously pretty hairy (Mediterranean men recognize their condition and are not offended. Especially Caesar.). Yea, verily, here’s the state of the bachelor: Hungry! No, really, here it is:
1. Whenever the theme song for “The Office” plays, I make up another song on the spot and sing it over the top of the theme. Sometimes there are lyrics which may or may not include “Shake your butt. Shake your butt, baby.” I’m working on that. On a related note, I’m sad to hear that Steve Carell plans to leave the show at the end of next season. Bummer.
2. Last week I was accidentally subscribed to Ladies Home Journal. Also Parents Magazine and Family Circle. Probably a sweepstakes entry gone bad, though I don’t rule out a clever prank. My issue of Family Circle arrived in the mail today. Really, I did cancel them.
3. Found a dead bird. 1st bird this year. 3 last year. My yard might be cursed. I also suspect vuvuzelas. Or soccer in general. I left the bird because it was on the edge of the yard and had already been sitting several days. It smelled a bit & its little claws were sticking up all twig-like. I mowed around it, so there’s a small square patch unmowed on the side of my front lawn being fertilized a special way.
4. Yes, I realize DB could also stand for Douche Bag. Oy.
5. I traced several lines of ancestors back into Switzerland for a few hundred years to as early as the 1500s. Crazy awesome! That’s 500 years! Didn’t know we had any Swiss. I knew about a few of our German lines, as well as Chippewa, Cherokee, likely Welsh and Dutch, but not about the Swiss. Still haven’t found how my dad might be related to Benjamin Franklin. (More to come later on this genealogy business. Probably.)
6. Average daily blog hits in June- over 100!
7. Found a great Belgian Chocolate Gelato sold by the pint at the supermarket. Need to quit buying it so I can lose weight.
8. (Update on nicknaming post.) a)Darrin at work has started calling me Pretty Pretty Princess. Retribution is required. b)I’m trying out other nicknames for Paul J. who was non-plussed by the nickname Paulina. Paolo was also apparently inadequate. I’m thinking Polyglot or something else with Poly-. Maybe Polymer (not Polyamorous). c)Still need a good nickname for Randy besides Bookie and Wizzer (not a spelling error from me). Randalina doesn’t quite do it. Maybe the Great Randini. d) Nickname for Dave Micek, DJ Mice K, is still super awesome!
9.Today, the aforementioned Apollo Polyglot at work guessed I was only 27 years old (he’s 10 yrs off). This, of course, rocks. Not sure whether this guess was based on my maturity or if my vampire white skin is paying off.
10. Need to renew my passport for that cruise in Dec. It needs to be valid for 6 months after the trip, but mine would only be good for 5 1/2 months after. Oh, hey, I’m taking a cruise. I’ll sunburn in style.
11. I now have over 13,000 songs on my iPod! Sure, a few hundred tracks are chapters of audio books. Sure, I had to finally upload a few of those Mozart CDs last night that had been sitting around unused for a few years. Sure, 135 of those tracks are of my own poorly recorded music and of those maybe 30 are duplicates. Do I have a 2-disc set of a Bulgarian women’s folk choir singing Bulgarian folk songs leftover from a world music binge in the ’90s? Yes, I do. But I’ve reached a special milestone. If you figure that each album averages 10 tracks, this would mean I should have about 1,300 albums. According to my iTunes it would take 35 days to listen to this 58GB of songs. Will I listen to all of these songs straight through uninterrupted over those 35 days? I will not in a boat with a goat. But I can, if I wish to kill myself that way. Also, there is chocolate gelato.
12. Thwarted a kitchen invasion by ants last week. They were probably displaced by the recent heavy rains. I gassed my house with poison that probably was the cause of my subsequent sickness.
13. Put down 120 lbs of topsoil near the foundation of the house to fill low spots that were pooling with water during those heavy rains. Need more. A little water was leaking into the basement. On a positive note, I could set-up a Slip-and-Slide in the garage.
In conclusion, that is the recent state of the bachelor. Will there be changes? Probably. Will they be snail-paced? Most certainly. Will you have a good Independence Day/July 4th Holiday? I hope so. May the force be with you.
The secret word is Polyphonic
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by Jonathan B Perry
Yes, we’re halfway through 2010, but I’ve gathered my 30 favorite songs of 2009 anyway. Like any good self-respecting music snob and addict, I think my music taste is pretty darn good. All music snobs feel this way and usually hold that their taste is superior. But taste is taste. You might not like the sort of stuff I like (if you’re crazy) and vice versa. I used to keep a spreadsheet of around a thousand bands and albums I rated as I sifted through reviews and recommendations. It’s always great finding a new good band you can sink your teeth into. And for me, there’s this need to share these niftiest sounds with my friends. It’s sick, I know.
For reference, 80s New Wave might be the base of my popular music-food pyramid. That and mid-to-late Beatles. I especially like songs with strong melodies and harmonies with unique instrumental sounds. More recently I favor Indie/Alternative music and listen to the U of Nebraska’s radio station (90.3 KRNU) to hear new stuff that circumvents mainstream radio, though I still listen to mainstream radio sometimes.
(Most of these songs were released on albums in 2009, though in some cases there may be a song or 2 that came out in 2008, but didn’t hit it big until 2009. There’s an unhealthy number of break-up songs in the list. Maybe 20%. It’s demented.)
So, here they are: The Domesticated Bachelor’s Favorite Songs of of 2009.
1. “Heads Will Roll”-Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
I can’t seem to shake the lyrics to this song. I keep walking around all Tourette’s-like chanting “Off off with your head! Dance dance dance ’til you’re dead! Heads will roll… on the floor!” I imagine people are concerned, but they should know better by now. For this reason (crazy hooky lyrics), I’d say this is probably my favorite song of 2009. And like any red-blooded Goth-wannabe guy (minus the weird clothes, makeup and ultra-gloom. Ok, I’m not Goth.), I have a little thing for Karen O of the YYYs. I suppose she and the band are not really Goth (more weird/cool), though the video for this song might bend a little that way. In some performances she looks like she’s doing semaphore or some sort of bizarre sign language, and she often has this incredible look of joy or amusement or ecstasy on her face when she’s singing. Pretty swell. I also appreciate her whisper-singing-cooing sweet nothings into my earbuds (in the bridge). Anyway, “Heads Will Roll” is a super song. It really gets a good bit of synth going in a minor key while Karen O sings her headless dancing fantasy.
2. “Two Weeks”-Grizzly Bear:
Lyrics for this song aren’t as clear for me as for “Heads Will Roll”, but that’s ok because “Two Weeks” is really a beautiful tune. Gorgeous even. This song opens with a simple piano plinking, a bass, then some great ascending vocal harmonies. The soaring melody and harmonies are awesome and happy and I’ve installed this song in my iTunes “Happy Songs” playlist that I use as self-medication for depression and pining. I heard “Two Weeks” on a tv show, maybe “How I Met Your Mother”, and Googled it immediately. Turns out I already had the album. Apparently I’d downloaded it from Amazon.com while it was their cheap promo of the day, but for some reason hadn’t really listened to it much. The band has some other good songs on their 2 albums, but this is probably the best and deserves lots of attention.
3. “Hundred Hearts”-The Swimmers:
The local college radio station played this a lot and it was right down my alley. It’s a well-written song all the way around: great tune, harmony, instrumentation, and a great beat. I especially like it when the phrasing gets faster then slows in the middle of each verse, then there’s that keyboard that climbs up and down. I seem to be appreciating songs more with male and female vocals. Adds nice texture.
4. “Chinese”-Lily Allen: Share Chinese by Lily Allen
I was introduced to this song when my brother Jay showed me a video of a children’s choir covering it. They do a really great job, but the original is awesome. My iTunes list says I’ve listened to this one over 50 times already. I love the wall of sound. It’s beautiful and sad. She sings about a comfortable evening at home with her mom and for the longest time I interpreted from the lyrics that her mom had died, but apparently she’s not dead, so…
5. “Young Adult Friction”-The Pains of Being Pure at Heart:
The entire album is actually quite listenable, but this is a standout. To me the sound is a little similar to My Bloody Valentine, but a bit more accessible. Not so dense or distorted, but this is still one of the ‘noisier’ songs on my list. I like the boy/girl vocals on this, too. A few of the band’s videos are in 8mm, which is a pretty great effect that could be used more.
6. “Did You See Me Coming?”-Pet Shop Boys: Share Did You See Me Coming? by Pet Shop Boys
I’ve been a huge PSB fan since “West End Girls” came out when I was in grade school. A high school ex even mailed me mix-tapes of largely PSB music. The band has been going strong for a good 25 years now, and though the recent quality has been more mixed than in the golden age, this last PSB album was probably their strongest in a while. Almost a perfect song, except for an unremarkable bridge, but it’s ok. Still awesome.
7. “Carol Brown”-The Flight of the Conchords:
I had this song stuck in my head for weeks, too. “Carol Brown just took a bus out of town, but I’m hoping that you’ll stick around.“ Flight of the Conchords‘ song “Carol Brown” is a modern “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover“, except it’s happening to you and it’s a little sad, though it’s also funny and a bit hopeful. Good for therapy. Jemaine bemoans the different ways women have left him and those exes form a choir to explore his issues. It seems that whenever my brother Jay and I get together we find ourselves watching episodes of FotC’s HBO music comedy series or video clips on YouTube. I’m sad they won’t be making the show anymore. I kind of wish I’d done a list like this last year, just so I could put up “Prince of Parties” from their last album, but I digress.
8. “Bang!” & 9. “Last Dance”-The Raveonettes: Share Bang! by The Raveonettes
I’ve really enjoyed the Raveonettes ever since their first album came out. This Danish duo who sound like a more tuneful Jesus and Mary Chain (reverby alt group from the 80s & 90s) would sell more albums in a perfect world, but then they’d be less of a rare find. Really, though, they don’t do too badly. The albums are consistently very good. I’m surprised there’s no video for “Bang!”. Hopefully there will be an awesome video to push them into the stratosphere (like videos mean anything these days). In “Bang!”, I’m not sure what those kids want to do out in the street all summer long, but it can’t be too obscene if it’s played on the radio. In the song “Last Dance” we have another potential prom song about impending end of love (and maybe death, I guess). Great songs, both of them.
10. “Fireflies”-Owl City:
This song is like a warm blanket of colorful sounds and lyrics. The band sounds almost exactly like The Postal Service, with the intricate electronic beeping and the singer’s voice resembling Ben Gibbard’s (who also fronts Death Cab For Cutie). It’s a hopeful tune about insomnia and has a special unspeakable meaning for me that must be pushed way down into my gut until it squishes the life out of those dumb stomach butterflies.
This French group put out a great album and the song, “1901”, was used endlessly in a car commercial, which is great for exposure and not nearly as frowned upon as it once was by the snobby music community. It’s accepted that the music biz is broken, so bands need exposure any way it can be gotten. I love the band’s sound and I always get the feeling that the singer is going through puberty with the voice cracking and changing.
12. “A Better Love”-El Perro Del Mar: Share A Better Love by El Perro Del Mar
Is that hammer dulcimer? I think so. Pretty cool (even if it’s synthesized). This sad break-up song insinuates itself in the brain with stuff like “This isn’t over ’til I say when. When. When.” sung in a quiet voice. I suspect that if you listen to it in the wrong frame of mind, it might be a tearjerker (I actually want to hear it backwards). I have way too many break-up songs on this list, maybe 20% (what’s up with that?), but it could just be that break-up songs are written with more emotion and get a bigger helping of love and junk, so they end up being the cream of the crop.
13. “Use Somebody”-Kings of Leon:
“Use Somebody” was played endlessly on the radio and deservedly so. It’s a fantastic song full of longing. It seems the brothers and cousins in Kings of Leon have only been improving their Indie/Southern Rock songwriting with each member taking a turn at songwriting on the album. I’m afraid I may have OD’d on this one a little.
14. “Silver Moons”-Sunset Rubdown:
I heard “Silver Moons” around the same time I heard “Hundred Hearts” by the Swimmers on college radio, so in my head I pair these 2 together. To me, the singer for Sunset Rubdown sounds a bit like the lead singer for Men Without Hats (“Safety Dance“), though more so in other songs. The song builds from piano to full band and goes back and forth. The chorus is probably my favorite when they sing “Maybe these days are over over now. And I loved it better than anyone else you know.” Sweetly passionate and sentimental. I am officially a sad sack.
15. “Love, Save the Empty”-Erin McCarley:
At first I was unable to figure out the title of the song. Now it makes me think of recycling (save the empty). Probably one of my guilty pleasures, I listened to this song and “Chinese” by Lily Allen about the same time frame. I often find pairs of songs that go together for me, usually because I discover them almost simultaneously. “Love, Save the Empty” was used in the movie He’s Just Not That Into You, which I actually saw with humans and enjoyed. Apparently Erin McCarley attended Baylor University, though about a decade or more after my dad finished up his PhD there (yeah, we lived in Waco for a bit). This is a sweet song, starting with a simple piano part that eventually builds to a full band with strings. Great tune and excellent sound.
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16. “Fitz and Dizzyspells”-Andrew Bird:
Andrew Bird is known largely for two things: whistling and playing the violin. However, he’s a great songwriter and incorporates the violin and whistling in ways that best fit the orchestrations of his pop-songs. The songs are usually a bit complex, but not in a way that loses the listener. He knows how to fit in decorative bits and unique twists and turns which one-ups songwriting that slides by with the basics. Super orchestration and production.
17. “I Know”-Zeus:
I really like the reverby synth riff in this song, but that’s partly because I wrote one a lot like it a few years ago, so it feels familiar. This song got some good play on the local college radio station. I especially like the verses with the synth riff behind the singing. Cool band name, too. I mean, I would’ve gone with Thor myself, but Zeus works.
18. “Love Letter To Japan”-The Bird and The Bee: TB&TB is one of my favorite active bands. There’s a nice mix of old girl-group sound and synth-pop. “Love Letter To Japan” expresses the band’s appreciation to its Japanese fans in sort of a dance package, while incorporating a slight Asian-music undertone for super-fun-dancy time.
I sort of wish I was doing the list for my favorites songs of 2006, because Muse’s “Starlight” would hit number 1 with a bullet (maybe), but 2009’s “Uprising” is another well-written and powerful song. Muse has a propensity to use battle and war themes in the songs. Strange, but it works. Great band.
20. “Zero”-Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
If this song was scored based on ideal definable attributes of a hit song, it might outscore YYY’s other song, “Heads Will Roll”. Wait. Maybe not. I take that back. It doesn’t have the visual image that the lyrics for “HWR” brings. Also no whisper-singing-cooing in my ear buds.
21. “Already Gone”-Kelly Clarkson:
I didn’t realize at first that this was Kelly Clarkson singing. I thought it was a black and/or English artist. Not sure why, since I’d heard Clarkson sing before. She seems to have had a fair amount of success for an American Idol (he said a little smugly). “Already Gone” combines strings and drums in a bittersweet breakup song about mercifully breaking up with someone when you realize there’s no future. This is another moving breakup song that might make the lip quiver. And junk.
22. “Lisztomania”-Phoenix: (Link to YouTube Video) Apparently “Lisztomania” was a term coined back in the days Franz Liszt performed the piano to large crowds (in the 1840s) and the fans went a little batty for him. Who knew. I like how the lyrics are repeated in succession. Nice effect. I need to listen to the rest of the album now. I mean, I have it, but I’ve been stuck on the 2 songs mostly.
23. “Summertime Clothes”-Animal Collective:
Animal Collective is one of those unique ‘out-there’ bands that march to a different drummer. The band’s songs often deviate from a normal song-writing form. Sometimes this is perfect and brilliant, while other times annoyingly incomplete. The band creates a thick wall of electronic sound that’s probably served as the soundtrack to lots of drug-tripping. “Summertime Clothes” mixes the conventional and unconventional enough to be awesome. Wild video.
24. “Love, Etc.”-Pet Shop Boys:
As I said earlier, this last PSB album, Yes, was really quite good with some nifty tunage. Be sure to check out the video-game-like music video. PSB often manages to harvest some great electronic beeps to go with their strong songs.
25. “Polite Dance Song”-The Bird And The Bee: This song was originally released on a 2006 EP, but was also included on their 2009 album, so I don’t mind adding it to the list. The band’s songs often have some incredibly clever lyrics and this is no exception. This implores the listeners to clap their hands in sort of a technical robotic way. Weird-cool.
26. “Love Story”-Taylor Swift:
“Love Story” was released in 2008, but still charted into 2009, so I’ve included it as one of my guilty pleasures. I’m self-conscious about liking Top 40 music, what with it being uncool, let alone country pop, but good songs are good songs and Taylor Swift has written some really sweet teenage girl-type songs. She’s kind of cute, too.
27. “Oh No”-Andrew Bird:
I limited my list to 30 songs and limited my Andrew Bird songs on the list to 2. The 3rd song would be “Not a Robot, But a Ghost”. I’ll have to look up the lyrics to “Oh No” sometime, since I don’t quite understand all of them, but what I catch are pretty great. “Across the silver bridge in nothing but a onesy and a veil”. Strange. Oh, and this song has some nifty whistling.
28. “Blue Skies”- Noah and the Whale:
“Blue Skies” tries to get us past the heartbreak and to the blue skies that are calling. “This is the last song that I write while still in love with you…while you’re even on my mind”. Pretty tune working both the sad and the hopeful. I like the video, too.
29. “Flaming Arrow”-Jupiter One:
I saw Jupiter One open for Regina Spektor in CA last fall with my friend Cami and was surprised by how great the band was live and how many swell tunes were played. Of course, one must always beware of live performances and how they can act as ‘beer goggles’ to the music, making the songs seem better than they are. Jupiter One has some really good songs, though, & Flaming Arrow is probably my favorite of the band’s 2009 release. It’s a fun tune.
30. “Paparazzi”-Lady Gaga:
I avoided Lady Gaga as long as I could, but she’s nearly unavoidable. She comes across as style over substance, but this isn’t purely true. There’s just so much weird style, that the substance seems secondary. Anyway, I really like her song “Paparazzi”. It’s a great tune, especially the chorus (which I mix into “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” by Simon and Garfunkel, though just as often I’ll turn it into “Papa Smurf Nazi”). Don’t judge me.
(note: I prefer to use the singular when referring to a band and it’s name “as in Radiohead has lost me” rather than “Radiohead have lost me”. I’ll have to study up on the reasoning for the plural (maybe ask my sister-in-law), but in my mind a band is a collective, a group united in one singular entity. Some band names have plurals in them, like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, so using the plural sounds better (for all I know, that may be where the plural started, unless it’s a Brit v American thing), though with my line of logic the singular should still be used. I still mix them up, though. I also refer to a family as a singular unit. Whatever. I’m probably wrong. I’m going to bed now.)
“If”-House of Heroes
“Say Hey (I Love You)”-Michael Franti
“Hot N Cold”-Katy Perry (disqualified because it mostly charted in 2008. This is probably a double standard, since I included Taylor Swift. Oh well.)
“Not a Robot, But a Ghost”-Andrew Bird
2 songs by Lonely Island (one is kinda dirty)
“Lush Life (remix)”-Nat King Cole (great remix, but it’s a remix of an old song, so)
“Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”-She and Him (it’s a cover used in a movie, which weakened it’s case for my list, but it’s a beautiful cover of a beautiful song”)
“Fallin’ For You”-Colbie Caillat
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I want to thank you so so much for the generously sweet pity you’ve shown me in offering to set me up with your single female friends. Look at you being all matchmakey. I know you’ve given it considerable thought in deciding I was possibly among the least heinous of the single guys you know who might be suitable for dating your friends and I could not be more appreciative.
Surprisingly, your single female friends (SFF) seem completely non-mutant, even pretty, happy, interesting, and well-adjusted for people forced to live in places like Canada, Hawaii and the east coast. And Michigan. I’m only mildly suspicious. Thank you for letting me see pictures. This is vitally important. Feel free to email pics to me anytime. I commend you on your fine suggestions and am aware that it reflects on how you view me (as possibly one of the least heinous single dudes you know).
While it may seem I have looked the gift horse in the mouth, seen the uvula, and chosen a vow of continual solitude, this isn’t quite the case and I still stand by my concern at the inherent problems in a long-distance relationship (really, this is only slightly a ruse). In fact, at this very moment I am yet considering these most important and intriguing opportunities (that all seem to have weirdly come around the same time. I don’t suspect my mom yet.) and am weighing them against my cowardice. I fully appreciate your willingness to allow time for my deepest contemplation and over-analysis (analysis paralysis).
As I arrange my fantasy baseball roster for the day, I’ll reflect on what wonderful friends I have, what’s wrong with their friends, whether I should play Kosuke Fukudome in right field, why I shouldn’t mispronounce his name that way, and how big a dork I really am.
Thank you again so much,
(By the way, your hair looked really nice today.)
The secret fake word is matchmakey
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