Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mix Tape #3 - This is (Not Like) Home

I just spent four days with a massively crippled Mac, mourning the loss of internet and my iTunes library. Thankfully things are back on track. Phew!

This mix came together on a trip to Vancouver a few weeks ago, much thanks to a rainy evening arrival in a darkened coach (bus, not horse-drawn, sadly). It's always a little weird for me going back to Vancouver. So many people I love dearly are there, and it was home for a long time. But the city is changing so fast, it no longer feels as familiar as it once did. Ditto for some of the people that were once so close.

So, much like Vancouver, this mix is a little nostalgic and a little new. It makes me sort of content and melancholy at the same time.

Refresher Couse: It's Podcasted, so if you are already subscribed hit refresh. If not, in iTunes go to Advanced, Subscribe to Podcast, and paste in this:

Mixtape #3 - This is Not Like Home

1. Skeletons - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
2. Keep the Streets Empty for Me - Fever Ray
3. Makes Me Wanna Die - Tricky
4. Maybe You Can Owe Me - Architecture In Helsinki
5. Fuck Was I - Jenny Owen Youngs
6. I've Been Loving You Too Long - Otis Redding
7. Straight to Hell - Josh Rouse
8. We All Lose One Another - Jason Collett
10. Red - Treble Charger
11. Have You Forgotten - Red House Painters
12. She Clears Her Throat - ist
13. The Blower's Daughter - Damien Rice
14. Wonderwall - Cat Power
15. Friend Of Ours - Elbow
16. No Ones Gonna Love You - Band of Horses
17. Not Your Lover - Blitzen Trapper
18. Skeletons (acoustic) - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Image refuses to link to the downloadable cover, so click here.

A little about the tracks ...

1. Skeletons - I love this song so much I couldn’t decided between the the album cut and the bonus acoustic version, so I bookened the mix with both.

2. Keep the Streets Empty for Me - Despite hearing Fever Ray playing at Urban Outfitters over the weekend I am still willing to profess my deep love of this album. It's so where I’m at. Hipster tweens be damned.

3. Makes Me Wanna Die - Nostalgia Track #1. This was huge for me in my late teens / early 20s. Tricky and Massive Attack, pre-Portishead, pretty much took up most of my headphone time.

4. Maybe You Can Owe Me - I resisted Architecture in Helsinki based on the fact that their name is too cool. I am held back by my snobbery.

5. Fuck Was I - Love grows in me like a tumor, parasites bent on devouring its host. An antidote to all the fluffy tween-friendly radio love-crap.

6. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long - You simply can not fuck with Otis.

7. Straight to Hell - I had no freaking clue until just now this was a Clash cover. I’ve been schooled. Internet 1, Melissa 0.

8. We All Lose One Another - I put this before Disarm thinking hmmm...they just seem to need to be buddied up. Then I typed Smashing Pumpkins into Google in the middle of Jason Collett and accidentally Googled JasSmashing PumpkinsonCollett (or something like that). Oddly, I actually got a search result from Pitchfork that said this: Standout track "We All Lose One Another" opens with an echo of Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm", then a rolling wave of acoustic guitar, violin, and piano carries Collett's vocal toward a triumphant chorus.

I could have written that. Thought stealers.

9. Disarm - Nostalgia Track #2. Billy Corgan might be a douche, but I still love this song. (Not unlike the Growing Pains with Brad Pitt. You know what I’m talking about! The Fallen Idol episode. I can’t find it on the internet machine, but holy shit, he had he played another role! What a talent! )

10. Red - Nostalgia Track #3. I’m not ashamed that I still love this song. I think I smoked weed with Treble Charger once. I’m not sure though, I was probably high.

11. Have You Forgotten - Thanks Mark Kozelek for hitting it home. Not quite an old enough friend to be nostalgic, but getting there.

12. She Clears Her Throat - You should all go buy this awesome band’s albums so they can tour Canada and I can drink beers and hang out with the kid that sat next to me in Grade 2.

13. The Blower’s Daughter - A friend of mine loved this song for months before catching ‘until I find somebody new’ at the end, which totally changes the emotional trajectory of the whole song. The Irish are sneaky that way.

14. Wonderwall - Awesome covers rarely made my mixes because there is usually annoying radio show intro or crowd noise bookending them. But now that Garage Band is my bitch it’s not a problem.

15. Friend of Ours - Again with how much I love Elbow. Every goodbye (and there have been many) I’ve ever bid a friend.

16. No One’s Gonna to Love You - Holy crap, computer fixed, podcast created, me reminded to get Band of Horses tickets. Done and done. I know where I’ll be September 5th. Soaking up the Bearded Hotness.

17. Not Your Lover - Ben was right about Blitzen Trapper. Dammit.

18. Skeleton (acoustic) - see #1

And just because it's that awesome ... more Brad Pitt ... this time on 21 Jump Street. That's right, Brad and Johnny. You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

#1 - I Am a Chronic Apologizer

This is a new thing, to fill the times when I don't have the time / inclination / exhausted drunkenness to write a regular post. Because for me (much like working out), I miss a day, then a week, then suddenly, it's been a year and I haven't posted. And I can't be responsible for the devastating effect that could have on the internet.

I very rarely do any of the list/note fill-in-your-answers-and-tag-10-people crap on Facebook, but a few months ago I was rocking some serious procrastination, so I did the 25 Things one. It was sort if cathartic and interesting in a self-reflective sort of way, and elicited some interesting responses.

So, to keep the wheels greased (hee hee, I said greased) I'm going to take on the supremely narcissistic task of coming up with 100 Truths. About me. Well, they're probably more inane facts, but they'll be true. There might be some overlap with the ones from Facebook, but I'm ok with that.

#1 - I Am a Chronic Apologizer

You know how some people have a swear jar? They have to put a quarter or dollar in it when they swear. Given the amount I swear I'd have been penniless and naked years ago (grade school) if anyone had tried to instigate swear jar rules. So while I haven't had a Swear Jar I have had an Apology Jar. It may have been a tin. Whatever. I lived with my friends Heather and Mitchell years ago, and apparently they were more disturbed by my penchant for verbal atonement that they were by the Tourette's-like gunfire bursts of vulgarity and blasphemy.

Rare and beautiful people, both of them.

Anyhow, it drove Heather so nuts that she started chasing dollars every time I'd apologize for something that didn't really require apologizing for. Which usually led to me apologizing for apologizing ... and on ... and on. Vicious circle, that.

It was brought to my attention again yesterday on a phone call to a new friend (hey new friend!). I've had a shitty few days and was scattered and not forming words right, and kept apologizing for it. Apparently a normal action would be to say:

"You know what, I'm off work in 20 minutes, and I'm really distracted right now, so how about I call you then?"

Rather than:

"Sorry, shit, I'm so scattered, I can't find my words. Dammit. Fuck. What an idiot. Sorry."

Or something along those lines.

This is a chronic issues. Not my most disturbing chronic issue, but chronic nonetheless. By way of example, I have caught myself apologizing:
  • To a door I walked in to.
  • For farting in an empty room.
  • To a cab driver, when he didn't have the right change.
  • To my doctor, when she's had to deal with less than glamorous issues. Which, really, is an occupational hazard.
  • To the cat, when he runs in front of me and gets punted across the room.
  • To a boss that felt bad when she had to lay me off.
There's $6 I owe you Heather. Though they are past incidents and I probably owe you interest. Sorry.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wingmen are for Pussies

Dear E and H,

My ladies! So, right about now you are probably safely and happily ensconced in the sweet, bright starlight haven that is Cortes Island. If you see a dude in a newish burgundy Ford Ranger (I think, I'm shit with cars), say hi. It might be my Dad. Telltale sign will be the super smart looking tri-colour border collie riding shotgun.

As you know, I pulled the parachute on joining you this weekend. I've been harbouring a vicious cold for two weeks and was really lusting for a few days of agenda-free Melly time (PS, there are exactly two people that can call me that. No one that might be reading this are among those two people).

I had a lovely chill day, met a friend for coffee, went to Fabricland (only time I've ever gotten out of there for less than $20). By 7pm I was bored, and decided to channel the spirit of the solo hot chick from the Shout Out Out Out Out show and attempt a single sojourn out in public. So I tidied my shit up and headed out to Logan's to check out Pale Air and Mahogany Frog. Yes, the band name generator has officially run out options. ( I made that shit up, but then googled it out of curiosity, and it exists!)

Blah blah blah, drunk irritating early 20s named Malcom and Boone (who, annoyingly, was dancing about like bloody Pan from The Mighty Hercules), high fiving all over the damn place. Anywhoo... I was sitting next to an annoying couple (what it is with me and being stuck near chicks that sound like dolphins?) and a dude struck up a conversation. He was out with another dude, apparently they were in a band 100 years ago together. I got much mileage out of teasing them about their man date. Chat chat chat, turns out he brokered my office's re-lease. Victoria is very small. Long story short, we hung out, they were leaving and I joined them for a smoke. Dude 1 left, dude 2 and I were walking in the same direction. At Pandora he was suddenly all 'yep, this is me' planted an awkward kiss on me and left. I was all 'whatthefuck!whatever!' and continued on my walk home, amused and a little confused. I got back to Le Village and, as I was about to pass Mac's thought 'wait, there is a reason I am supposed to stop at Mac's....' right... that would be my super delicate and high-maintenance kitty, who is out of home cooked food, and who I didn't want waking me up at 6 am.

So I go to Mac's to get a can of emergency tuna. But...the door is locked, and there is a 'Back in 5 minutes' sign up.

Let me tell you, nothing, and I mean nothing destroys your cool-solo-chick-out-on-the-town vibe faster than sitting outside a Mac's at 2am, waiting for the employee to finish taking his five minute shit, so you can buy a can of tuna for your whiny, bulimic 13 year old cat.

Except maybe getting home to a kitchen light you don't remember leaving on, grabbing your super sharp intruder knife and proceeding to check all the closets, behind the shower curtain, and under the bed.

It is next to me as I type, and hells yes, I'll be sleeping with that motherfucker tonight!

Oh, and I'm not sure why it's open to that page, but apparently I have entablature highlighted in my dictionary. That might be the most interesting revelation of the night.

Miss you guys!

xoxo ~ m

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Internet Giveth

I've already established that the internet taketh away. Well, apparently the internet felt baddeth, because now it giveth.

Hey, let's relive one of my less proud moments! (Internal groan)

So, yesterday I was perusing Snap Victoria looking for photos from the Shelter opening. (No photos of me, thank gawd, I'd rather be snapping them than in them. Because, well, I sort of look like this in photos.)
(Hey, it's the first image that came up when I googled worst face ever.)

Anywhoo... I noticed they had a listing for the last Urbanite event I was at. And I say godamn, the second photo down ... that's right ..... the subject of my inebriated Craigslist posting!

I had to confirm this with my wing-woman. There were, after all, several shaved-headed lookers there, but the shirt was ringing a big, loud bell.

Now, I realize that this is leaning a little (lot?) towards the side of inappropriate and creepy, but, hells, what am I if not exceptionally inappropriate with just a dash of creepy?

So, dear two readers, if either of you know who this fine young gentleman is (and don't say Matthew, I read that all by myself on the Snap page), please let me know. And if it happens to get back to the supposedly-named Matthew ... hey you! Thanks for the beer line chivalry. Sorry if this freaks you out. You seemed like a cool guy and I wanted to talk to you but I get freakishly shy and felt an 'I carried a watermelon' moment coming on. Although, in retrospect, that probably would have been a lot less embarrassing than this.

PS... I really like your shirt.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Mix Tape #2 - Get it Together, Gignac

So I had a pretty rough start to the year. Someone I love was very, sick, and he died both shockingly quickly and cruelly slowly. I had a bad cold on a Monday and wasn't allowed to visit. I went to class on a Wednesday, planning to go to visit afterwards, because it had been decided that, at that point, my cold couldn't do any harm. I forgot my phone at home. I missed the call that he had died. I found out at the end of class.

A week later, to the day, I started a working in a residency of sorts with a visiting artist who was taking part in an exhibition at the AGGV. Way beyond my experience and skill level, but I seem to have a horseshoe up my ass, and somehow I was given this opportunity. It was amazing and challenging and eye-opening ... and needless to say I was a barely-functioning wreck. Honestly, I couldn't tell you much about it, because it's mostly a big blur of Don't. Lose. Your. Shit. I lost my shit a lot anyways.

It ended, I tied to get back into the work / school swing. Mostly I just wanted to sleep for a really long time. I was getting nothing accomplished in class, other than stressing about how little I was capable of doing, and honestly couldn't have given less of a shit about work.

My cat got sick, and it cost $640 to find out he was really constipated. Under normal circumstances this would be funny.

That little adventure, the kitty colon expedition ... well, it turned out to be the last nail in the freak-out coffin.

It sort of broke my heart to do it, but since quitting my job wasn't an option and I clearly needed to take a massive load off I withdrew from my classes. Oh, and then the next day I bailed down the back stairs, and was in back agony (bagony) for about a week, so photo class assignments would have been kiboshed anyways.

I mention all this because, well, it fucking sucked, but also because a few people I've mentioned it to have given me the ' you quit' face/voice. And it's funny, because for me, it was a victory of sorts. I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to perform (when it's something I care about). This is a girl who argues 90% grades, because there is ten.whole.percent.I.could. do.better. I push and push and try and, well, I have some pretty destructive ways of dealing with stress. So before I got a tattoo I couldn't afford or started scratching an old itch with a razor blade I thought maybe it was time to take a load off. Yes, it'll put me behind in the learning schedule, but when you find yourself thinking this ...

It's not that I want to die, I just want a nice, long break from life.

... well, you priority-up.

Anyhow, 2009 had an unkind start. I tried to improve my mood with music. This was one of mixes that got me through. It's Podcasted, so if you are already subscribed hit refresh. If not, in iTunes go to Advanced, Subscribe to Podcast, and paste in this:

Photo links to PDF that fold to the right size for a CD insert.

Get it Together, Gignac - Track List

1. The Shining - Badly Drawn Boy
2. In the Road - Weeping Tile (but they've been defunct almost as long as my virtue, so check out Sarah Harmer too)
3. Pills - The Perishers
4. Love is Like a Bottle of Gin - The Magnetic Fields
5. Start A War - The National
6. The Season - The Dodos
7. Red - Elbow
8. For Agent 13 - The Besnard Lakes
9. A Lack Of Color - Death Cab For Cutie
10. I Will Call You Lover Again - Loney, Dear
11. Fidelity - Regina Spektor
12. Do You Realize? - The Flaming Lips
13. Calendar Girl - Stars
14. Of Montreal - The Stills
15. Chicago - Sufjan Stevens
16. Biko - Bloc Party
17. Triumphant - Royksopp
18. He Doesn't Know Why - Fleet Foxes
19. We're Just Friends - Wilco

And just for shits'n'giggles, a little background on each of the tracks.

1. I saw Damon Gough play at the Vogue about 1,000,000 years ago. He bitched a lot about how he'd been playing so many shows that his fingers were bleeding, which, as a musician I'd pretty much consider an occupational hazard, but whatever; he plays pretty music, so I forgive him. I sort of forgot about Badly Drawn Boy for a few years (despite multiple About a Boy viewings), but he's experiencing an apartment #3 resurgence of sorts.

2. She calls early in the morning about money that I might have spent. It's a classic case of I don't know where it went. Anyone that knew me at 20 (when I was in Kingston and fell in love with this then-local band) knows why this song would have struck a chord. Anyone who knows me at 32 will get why I grimace at how it still resonates.

3. I worked at a record label in the management division a few years ago. They signed this band that made pretty music, but had horrible press photos. Now they have generically ok press photos, the singer hooked up with a former co-worker (luuuuucky), and I haven't heard anything they've done since this album. But I fucking love this song. It's so simple, and pretty, and true. I defy you to tell me you don't have a past (well, hopefully past) relationship it could be applied to.

4. It's very small and made of glass and grossly over-advertised ... uh, yeah, true that. Two truths. 1) I'm in love with the idea of love. 2) I'm in love with the reality of gin. Oh, third truth ... Stephen Merritt only wears brown. Saving time sartorially probably frees up time to write, what, 100 songs a day? Dude is prolific, just sayin'...

5. I loaned The Boxer to a friend recently. He returned it with the comment that (and I'm paraphrasing here) everything he hated about Crash Test Dummies is what he loves about The National. Deep voices done right. Songs that make me want to hug my friends. I say goddamn ...

6. This is one of many reasons that I am bummed to miss Samsquantch this year. Damn you $640 vet bill for feline constipation, and also damn you chronic-yet-still-undiagnosed colon issue that makes travel suck! (Me, not the cat.) And for which I have a GI appointment the day I'd leave for Sasquatch. Damn you (Alanis Morisette definition of) irony!

7. Can someone please explain to me why Coldplay is so friggin' famous, and hardly anyone knows Elbow? Chris Martin has (apparently) said that Fix You (the only palatable Coldplay sing since A Rush of Blood to the Head, and even then, only when I have my period) is a rip of Grace Under Pressure. Plus, Elbow was in 9 Songs. Which has some great live concert footage ... if you can get past all the normal looking people fucking. Seriously, the IMDB keywords for this movie include voice-over narration, female to male foot in crotch , black panties and Antarctica. That's got to be worth your $2 down at Pic-a-Flic, right?

8. What's with all the fantastic husband/wife teams coming out of Montreal, anyways? Tabernac! I should have stuck it out there ....

9. All the girls in every girlie magazine can't make me feel any less alone ... Nor the porn on xtube, nor the one night stands I'm not having. PS, remember before The OC? Before frat boys liked Death Cab... sigh ....

10. You know what? Forget Montreal. What's with Sweden upping the ante? Hey Per! You started a trend. Of Swedish awesome. Plus, they have cool punctuation.

11. I just realized this is a heavily dude dominated mix. Hey Regina, thanks for pillaging my mind grapes and making it a hit song. I hear in my mind all these voices, I hear in my mind all these words, I hear in my mind all this music, And it breaks my heart ... um, yeah, sort of the story of my life.

12. The first in a trifecta of songs that talks about death. Wonder what's been on my mind (grapes). Also, Wayne Coyne is sexy, writes songs I'd like to wake to having murmured in my ear, and has a big ball.

13. This song was big for me when I was floundering in Montreal, and it still is. It used to be more about all of the things that I thought were so easy just got harder and harder each day, but lately I'm more feeling I can't live forever,I can't always breath, One day I'll be sand on a beach by a sea. PS. That would be fine. Or go all John Prine, whatever. Just, please, don't bury me, down in the cold cold ground.

14. May 9th at Sugar is the place to be if you are in to Andy Samburg looking fellows, with Arafat scarves tied over their mouths, talking about the Gaza Strip. Oh, and also, rocking.

15. Hi, my name is Sufjan Stevens. I'm the most attractive man born in 1975, play upwards of 26 instruments and am writing a full-length album for each state. How's your life coming along?

16. Hey! Look! A song about cancer! What a surprise. Seriously though ... Kele and the boys have soundtracked a few vulnerable moments (see: Kruezberg and SXRT, for starters), but oh my god, this song ... I'm fucking crying. Fuck. If I could eat your cancer, I would. Indeed.

17. Because after that I need a hug. Thanks, Royksopp.

18. So then you shake it off, and throw on some Fleet Foxes. Sub Pop still has mojo.

19. The other story of my life. Not just that I have a terminal case of just-a-friend, but also the whole make some coffee, hold me up, try to talk me out of giving up. Hmmm... yeah I can think of a few friends who've filled that job description over the years.

Ok, that's all.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Dear Laurie

I went to see Chad VanGaalen tonight.* This wouldn't qualify as relevant in any sense (trust me on that) except that it got me thinking about you. Specifically, the last time I saw you. I don't know if it was the overwhelming youthfulness of the crowd - they'd have been, on average, the age we were last time we saw each other - or the aching earnestness of the skinny boy in the Handsome Furs shirt on stage, but goddamn, for a moment I was back at the Trash, at a Hayden show, hugging you a fast and disbelieving goodbye before the reality of my pending flight, the finality of the evening, and the inevitable tears set in. I remember you leaving before the show was done, and me waiting to chat with Hayden and getting him to sign a thieved poster for you. My memory gets sketchy around here, but I think I left it outside your apartment door on my way out of town. It always struck me as funny, that our last night would be at an CanCon indie show, because, really ... Down By Law, Sebadoh ... the bands I associate with you and that time, Hayden ... not exactly on par. But I suppose that wasn't really the point.

The point was that it was two of us, for the last time, in a long time.

We met over a boy. His name was Dan, and we both volunteered to decorate for the Student Film Society’s Hallowe’en party because it was at his house. Long story short, we did a fair amount of not so surreptitiously sizing each other up at the meeting, and by the end of the walk back to campus had sort of grudgingly admitted that ourselves that we liked each other. Random Dan facts: his birthday was on Valentine’s Day; he was once in the audience of Jerry Springer; and apparently he is a part-time farmer now. WTF?

You were different than most of the people at Queen’s (translate: didn’t eat ivy or row boats). Although I didn’t eat ivy, I did formerly row boats. However, I was from a crappy public school in BC and apparently spoke funny (i.e., didn’t pronounce vowels through my nose). I had badly bleached hair, and an eyebrow piercing and tattoos. You had always perfect (though ever-changing) hair, bigger tattoos, loved Spike Jones and were a huge dose of awesome antidote to the ridiculous girls in my dorm, with their Anne Geddes babies-in-flowerpot posters, Backstreet Boys, and constant pre-bar fighting and crying and making up. Ugh. Never even mind my one roommate who upped the barf ante with a Little Mermaid poster and Love Fool by the Cardigans on constant repeat. But I digress.

We lived together in our second year, with three other girls in a house that was, apparently, of former ill repute. Exhibit A being the Peterborough Needle Exchange shirt we found under the deck ("Don't Fuck With A User Unless He's Hooked on Condoms"), and Exhibit B being the cab drivers that thought we were hookers. I was broke and had to take what I thought at the time was a year off, working two shit jobs at the mall, never thinking that was the end of my higher education. I’d come home all grouchy from doing time at Le Chateau, with its endless Savage Garden soundtrack, or reeking of coffee from a shift at Second Cup and you’d be there, all lovely and raring to go out dancing at the Trash (remember shopping for the right running shoes? The ones that had enough bounce to let you get back on the heels?), or to do whatever it was we did at the grotty little place up Princess ... I can’t remember the name of it. I do remember sitting there, totally skeeved on mushrooms, convinced that my spinal fluid was leaking out of my neck tattoo.

We had fantastically fun nights, we had terribly scary nights, we hosted an epic party for which business card sized flyers were, unbeknownst to us at the time, handed out around town. We hitchhiked to Ottawa to catch a bus to Montreal for a rave (god, that word makes me shudder now). We returned the karma later that year by picking up a hitchhiker who not only turned out to be a carnie, but actually had a hook for a hand. I think every Sarah Michelle Gellar movie was based on this incident.

We pierced out tongues and ate popsicles. We talked about boys (invariably named Jason) and how your kids would be born with tattoos and wearing beaters, and ate chips and french onion dip. You trained me to make Kraft Dinner was weirdly chunky. You took me to the SPCA to adopt Griffin, who paid you back by eating your chair and Bjork poster, and bringing in fleas that left the one other awesome roomie (hey Shannon!) and the two less awesome roomies alone, but left you so scarred below the knee that your mom offered to have him put down.

You had inarguably style and a pretty fierce sense of self. I was always a little in awe of you, and still am. Because I was, and in some ways still am, always searching, but you, you always seemed so sure.

So that night, a hundred years ago at the Trash, Hayden singing his slightly off-key sensitive boy music, I had no idea than that, what, 11, 12 years later it would still be the last time I saw you. Or that after all this time, and all the incredible friends I’ve made since, that there would still be a hole where you and your ever-present (diet?) Coke used to be.

You have two beautiful daughters (with a new addition on the way) and a husband who I've never met. Of course I've seen photos, and heard them on the background on the phone during our fleeting and awkward conversations. I had the opportunity to meet your husband and your beautiful Grace, of course, at your wedding. Your wedding that I was so excited for, and ultimately didn't attend. Small dose of the honesty here? And I'll type it fast because this is going to hurt. It wasn't just time off of a new job and money and logistics that that kept me from making the trip. Yes, those things were factors, but factors I could have mitigated and made work. It was me, indulging my old friend Depression, terrified of who I'd become, or rather not become, and who you'd always been, so beautiful and so fucking real (to paraphrase your song), and how I wouldn't fit anymore. As much as I love Facebook for facilitating reconnections with a lot of people I've lost track of over the years, the access to the lives I haven't been a part of, and the photos that show, so clearly, that I don't fit in them anymore, is the ugly flipside of that coin. I couldn't face being the nostalgic friend, the novelty that no one quite understands how they once fit. So I pulled the parachute. I went to Vancouver for the weekend instead and saw Bloc Party and Final Fantasy, feeling the whole time every inch the asshole that someone who, because of bullshit insecurities, skipped the wedding of one of the most important people to grace her life should. I'm so sorry. Your photos were so beautiful, and I should have been there, taking them.

I didn’t go to Chad VanGaalen expecting to come home to such an aching sense of nostalgia or want of a friend I haven’t seen since my 20s were still starchy fresh. I also didn’t expect to be gleeking beer in the hair of some dime-a-dozen indie ‘ho trying to douchebag her way between me and the stage, so surprises all over the place here. The beginning of the year was a bit of a shitstorm for me, and out of the loss and opportunity and franticness that all barreled together came a balls-out desire for some straight up honesty, and to say thank you to some people who have been so very important to me.

So Laurie, you’re first one the list. Thank you for being one of smartest, strongest, and unapologetically herself women I’ve known. I hope that, one day, when I have daughters, they will know you. Because I want them to know that independent and challenging and true to self is beautiful. And I can’t think of a better way than knowing you to deliver that message.

* I started writing this Sunday after the show, but due to a bad cold, a strong martini, and total lack of appropriateness filter put off finishing and posting it a few days.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Mixtape #1 - Finally....The Days are Getting Longer

I've always been a lover of mix tapes. Back in the olden days (you, know, the 90s), before recordable CDs and, um, internet (well, there was The Internet, but it certainly wasn't the monster it is today) mix tapes - actual 90 minute tapes - were how we shared and learned about new music. They were the soundtracks of our road trips, friendships and breakups. There was an art to arranging songs in just the right order so nothing got cut off just before a side ran out. They were hard to find your favorite song on, especially if your friend's car stereo had that weird ass thing where there was no fast forward, so you had to flip the tape over, rewind, flip it back, check if you'd gone too far or not far enough, flip it back rewind some more ... lather, rinse repeat until you got as close as humanly possible to the beginning of Lost Together, or whatever song summed up your particular unrequited-love-teen-angst-bullshit-moping-situation at the moment. They were prone to snagging and coming unraveled and patience and a steady hand were paramount to their successful respooling. A Bic pen - the kind with the octagonal shaped shaft - helped too.

There are parts of my life that feel in a way defined by the mix tapes I associate with them. They are love letters, Dear John's and diary entries spoken in a stranger's words and set to music. They represent the people I've loved, the ones I didn't at the time realize loved me and the friends I've left behind, and often lost touch with, in my far too frequent moves. Smashing Pumpkins' 1979 will forever remind me of Justine, who I adored in high school, and who was adored by the boy I was crushing on. It was on the mix she gave me when I moved across the country for university, with a little hand drawn cover cartoon of me. I think with Queen's pompoms. Chelsea, one of the loveliest women I've ever had the privilege of befriending, and I spent bitch-ass cold mornings delivering the Golden Word (one of the campus papers) together. It was in the heyday of Spice Girls and boy bands and we'd hear the same dozen songs in the pre-dawn dark every week, giggling at the awfulness of them as we sang along in her little white car. I want to say it was a Supra, but I don't remember it as well as the music. I still have the tape she made me of that early morning soundtrack. Specifically though, Portishead's Only You will always be my Chelsea song. There was a party, there were excessive drunkeness and tears and Chelsea making it all ok, and Only You was playing. And it was on the tape. And I'd rather associate her with Beth Gibbons than any of the Spice varitals.

Ani DiFranco's Untouchable Face - and this is truly cringeworthy - was the last song on a tape I made to give a guy I luuuurved before he left Kingston for a summer trip to Europe. I brought it to his house, palms sweating, heart racing ... only to find out I'd missed him by about an hour. I left it with his roommate, and cried on the way home. A few weeks later, I was overcome with the paralyzing fear that that song ... it was just too obvious. I think I was aiming for 'I think I'm in love with you, but I want to put that across in a subtle way that you can discover for yourself if you're looking to read something into this track list' and 'fuck you and your untouchable face, and fuck you for existing in the first place. And who am I that I should be vying for your touch, and who am I, I bet you can't even tell me that much' seemed, in retrospect, a little heavy handed in the delivery of the message. I actually got his roommate to get the tape back for me so I could erase the song off of it, and remove it from the track list on the painstakingly collaged cover. He came back and we had one fantastic summer date that ended with ‘Melissa, I’m attracted to you but... I’m moving to Vancouver in six weeks, and I don’t think it would be a good idea to start anything.’ I’m pretty sure it was a gentle let down, but I was so stunned that the word attracted even came out of his mouth in reference to me that I didn’t test the theory by saying what I should have. Which, obviously, was ‘But think of the damage we could do to each other in six weeks.’ Le sigh....

Most of the mixes I’ve made and received post-university are on CD, which, being a geek for making covers, I love. More space to play with. One of the best covers (and mixes) I ever received was from Linnea. The last track on the CD is Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism, introducing my still-favorite song by a band that I love and at one point managed to barter my extra guest list for a sold-out Seattle show in trade for a bed at a sold out hostel. Lali Puna’s Faking the Books will always be Dave. Dave who is so beautiful and who I don’t think I’ll ever really know. But whose fantastic mix is always near the top of the pile. Michelle has introduced me to a disproportionate number of my highest ranked bands, and the two mixes she gave me for my ill-fated move to Montreal are still loved and still played, though it’s a trifecta of covers from the Chill Mix - Elbow’s cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop, Johnette Napolitano & Danny Lohner’s cover of Coldplay’s The Scientist and The Postal Service’s cover of Phil Collins’ Against All Odds that I listened to obsessively while navigating my way through the Metro on my way to and from my short lived job.

I’ve been making mixes pretty obsessively the past year or so, and I’ve gone through a few 50-spindles burning them for people. They’ve been weekly soundtracks to art class assignments, party invites and, more recently, therapy at a time when I haven’t the heart or energy to do much more than try to shut the world out with headphones.

Part of the impetus for reviving this blog was having a forum to share the music I’m listening to. Writing this has made me realize I really should make a mix tape compilation of my most memorable mix tape moments. I'll put that on list. For this week though, a taste of what's been often played as of late.

The songs are a mix of new friends and old flames: a catchy reminder that all shitty situations come to an end if you can just get through them; a song that - played live - made me inexplicably randy; an acoustic cover of an old favorite; something new from last year's bearded hotness, a new girl crush .... and on it goes. It's not an attempt to be all edgy and 'ohhh...check out all the cool shit I listen to', far from it. Just what I've been listening to the past few weeks, as the cherry trees have begun to blossom and the sun has decided to stay out long and late enough for a first evening patio beer.

You can download the mix here, but I'd recommend adding it to your podcasts, just because I am so damn proud that I figured out how to make a podcast. Whoot .... girl got skills! It's super easy. In iTunes, click on Advanced. In the dropdown menu click Subscribe to Podcast. Enter this URL: Note: You may have to enter it without the http:// . Sometimes it ends up putting that in twice. iTunes will do its thing, and when there are new podcasts they will download into your podcast files. It'll take about 6 minutes, so keep your pants on. You can also click the refresh button to check if there is anything exciting and new. If anyone has trouble with this let me know and I'll do a screenshot tutorial.
These images link to cover downloads - courtesy of wordle, because I'm just that lazy. I'm a Libra and can't make decisions for shit, so there are 2 choices.

Finally ... The Days are Getting Longer - Track List

1. This Year - The Mountain Goats
2. Why Not Smile - R.E.M.
3. Spent On Rainy Days - Bright Eyes
4. A Martyr For My Love For You - The White Stripes
5. Sound Of Terror - The Von Bondies
6. E-Bow - Sigur Rós
7. The Highest - The Dears
8. Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead
9. Heart Of Gold - Neil Young
10. You, Appearing - M83
11. Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
12. Blood Bank - Bon Iver
13. Lille - Lisa Hannigan
14. All We Have Is Now - The Flaming Lips
15. I Am The Odd One - Loney, Dear
16. Weather To Fly - Elbow
17. Oh Lord, My Heart - The Deadly Snakes
18. The Trouble and the Truth - Cuff The Duke

I've linked to all the band's websites, so if there is something you like, check it out, find their show dates, buy their music.

Be warned though, I have it on good authority that Cuff the Duke can cause spontaneous orgasms. At least live they can.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Oh internet, you have broken what was left of my scarred, charred little heart.

Christopher Walken's Twitter was, in fact, not Christopher Walken's Twitter. There was a part of me that had assumed as much, but dammit, it was so witty and sly ... I didn't really care. Sort of like knowing from the pale band of skin on a tanned finger that the cute guy you met in the hotel bar has a wife back home.

But now, Internet, you've taken it all away. Because apparently fraud rules are more important than my heart's true joy.

No more Lucinda Williams dedications for you, fake disappeared Christopher Walken. You've left me cold and disillusioned. You snuck out before the first flicker of dawn, leaving me to my staggering mini-bar tab, shameface and possibly something itchy.

I wonder how you live with yourself. I wonder, but there isn't enough left of me to care.
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