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Pop culture junkie, native of Las Vegas, not really a writer.
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

From Blip.fm - Keely Smith & Frank Sinatra

Keely and Frank want to know, how are YOU fixed for love? Man, I love Keely Smith. And paired with Frank? Heaven! ♫ http://blip.fm/~95x5s

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

From Blip.fm - Stockard Channing as Rizzo!

I'm going to see Grease in the theater tonight! It's going to be a singalong party! Jealous?? ♫ http://blip.fm/~8sviu

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wilco Live at The Joint - A Review (plus an inadvertent restaurant review)

Last Friday I had a date night with Raymond, one of my nearest and dearest. We bemoan the fact that we don’t see enough of each other so when I bought two tickets to Wilco but had no one to go with, he was quite happy to take the ticket despite not being very familiar with the band. Since the concert was on me, Raymond bought dinner. I thought we were just going to Mr. Lucky’s the "diner" in the Hard Rock Hotel, but last minute Raymond decided he wanted sushi so we hit Nobu instead. I was very pleased to be treated to high end sushi but I have to express my disappointment. DO NOT EAT AT NOBU. It is absolutely not worth the money. It’s not bad, but it’s not anything special either. When Phillip and I go to our favorite sushi spot, Kai, where the sushi chefs, Yun and Milton, who we have been loyal to for 10 years, treat us like dear friends, we can get a salmon sashimi plate with about 18 large pieces of salmon for $20. At Nobu, Raymond and I ordered the sashimi dinner which was about twelve pieces of assorted fish - some sliced into tiny "stylish" pieces - for $55. Ridiculous. We did have a hot plate of rock shrimp with a butter ponzu sauce that was excellent and their special of the night, tempura battered crab claws with a chili cilantro sauce, was also very good. I guess if I were ever to go to Nobu again, I would only order off the hot menu and skip the sushi altogether. I love Raymond and I am extremely thankful that he treated me to such an expensive meal where we were able to sit and chat and catch up and laugh. I just wish the restaurant had lived up to its reputation foodwise.

I first saw Wilco at The House of Blues in March of 2002. That show had the most incredible energy, building and building and building until by the end the crowd was in a complete frenzy and we all left the venue kind of dazed and stumbling. I saw them again in September of 2003 as the opening act for R.E.M. at the Thomas & Mack Center. That show did not have the same energy as the HOB show because most people were not there to see Wilco and, being the opening act, they played a small set and people were trickling into the venue the entire time which was distracting. So suffice to say, I had high expectations for this headlining show at The Joint. And of course Wilco were tremendous. Their new album coming out at the end of this month, Wilco (The Album), is the first time in the history of the band that the members are exactly the same as on the last album, Sky Blue Sky, and you can tell. They are happy to be playing together, they get along, and they are tight and sound terrific. There is something about Wilco crowds too: a camaraderie, an energy, a shared knowledge that we are seeing something special, that adds to the overall experience and this crowd was no exception. United we were eager, raucous, bouncy, ecstatic.

They opened with the first single off the new album, Wilco (The Song), which is a perfect opener and lets the audience know exactly what kind of band they are and what we are all in for, "Oh this is a fact, that you need to know, oh, oh, oh, oh Wilco, Wilco, Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you baby!" From there they immediately went into, A Shot in the Arm, one of their bigger hits off the sentimental favorite Summerteeth (still my favorite Wilco album, I think. Wait no, maybe I like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot more. But then again, Being There is pretty righteous. Oh, nevermind.) It was smart of them to play an oldie sing along song like A Shot in the Arm to remind people that yes, as a band they’ve gone through many changes, experimented with their sound endlessly, and maybe even lost some fans over the years because of it, but they know that some of us have been loyal since the beginning and so here ya go! Happy now? Yes! Yes I am!

I was surprised that over the course of the night they did five songs off the polarizing album A Ghost Is Born. I am the first to admit that I didn’t quite "get" that album, I prefer the more accessible tracks off it, and I hardly ever listen to it. Hearing the five songs played with aplomb live and met by the audience with as much reverence as anything else has made me want to revisit the album. That’s what a great live show can do: show you something about a band that you may have missed before.

Wilco had played nearly two hours when they left the stage. We of course knew an encore was coming and I expected two or three songs. They played nine!!! Opening the encore with the bouncy, nostalgic, summer anthem Heavy Metal Drummer was perfection, "Shiny shiny pants and bleach blonde hair, a double kick drum by the river in the summer, she fell in love with a drummer, another and another, she fell in love." I was also happy to hear a few more tracks off Sky Blue Sky which I think is an underrated album. Especially Hate It Here, with it's Beatles-esque riff into the chorus, was fun to hear live even though it's actually a terribly sad song. Being in Las Vegas, Jeff Tweedy early on teased the crowd saying, "You probably want to hear Casino Queen, but isn’t that too obvious?" It was fairly dismissive and I figured it was the last thing we’d hear about it. The two times I’ve seen them here they have NOT played Casino Queen and although yes, playing a song about gambling and losing all your money in the world capital of exactly that, does seem fairly obvious, I don’t think it can hurt to give your audience what it wants. So when they busted out with it as the 8th song of their encore set it was pretty exciting! "Casino Queen, my lord you're mean. I've been gambling like a fiend on your tables so green." And as they say, the crowd went wild!

Now here’s where I give a shout out to the awesomeness that is Nels Cline, the 53 year old current Wilco lead guitarist. The man can SHRED. Nels was so rocking that I could barely take my eyes off him in order to gaze adoringly at the precious Jeff Tweedy. Overall the show was incredible with a wonderful mix of songs from the band’s history, even including two songs off their Woody Guthrie collaboration with Billy Bragg, Mermaid Avenue Vol. 1. If I had the time and the money I would absolutely follow this band on tour like they were The Grateful Freaking Dead.

And for people who are into things like this, here’s the set list which I filched off http://wilcobase.com/index.php:

1. Wilco (The Song)
2. A Shot in the Arm
3. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
4. At Least That’s What You Said
5. Bull Black Nova
6. You Are My Face
7. One Wing
8. Handshake Drugs
9. Side With The Seeds
10. Box Full of Letters
11. Jesus, Etc.
12. Impossible Germany
13. California Stars
14. Sonny Feeling
15. Misunderstood
16. Spiders (Kidsmoke)
17. Hummingbird

18. Heavy Metal Drummer
19. A Magazine Called Sunset
20. You Never Know
21. Hate It Here
22. Walken
23. I’m The Man Who Loves You
24. The Late Greats
25. Casino Queen
26. Hoodoo Voodoo

I was able to take some photos of the show with my iPhone. There were lots of people taking pictures and recordings at the show and security didn’t really do anything about it, which was nice.

Firstly, our tickets! Yay!

Next, this is a picture of one of the video screens at the venue so you can see a shot of the AWESOME long haired, mustachioed, fringed-caftan-wearing, bongo player for the opening act.

Now some shots of Wilco!!

From Blip.fm - The Watson Twins

This is a nice cover. The Watson Twins doing "Just Like Heaven" - ♫ http://blip.fm/~8r96n

Monday, June 22, 2009

From Blip.fm - Audrey Hepburn

Going to see Breakfast at Tiffany's on the big screen tonight. So here's Audrey singing Moon River - ♫ http://blip.fm/~8oxg0

Friday, June 19, 2009

Neko Case at The Greek Theater - A Review

It’s time for my review of last weekend’s Neko Case concert at The Greek Theater. Firstly, the Greek is up in the hills of Griffith Park in Los Angeles and it’s a breathtaking place to see live music. You are surrounded by trees, sitting in the open air, under the moon and stars (well what of them you can see in L.A.) and it’s an intimate venue with not a bad seat in the house. It was a mild June evening and after a vodka cocktail followed by a beer I didn’t even need to put my sweater on. I love too that you can get concessions like popcorn, pretzels, nachos, red vines, etc. I wore the perfect Neko shirt that I found out shopping recently. It’s a blue t-shirt with a picture of a lion’s head framed by a heart and the word MANEATER above it! When I found that shirt I new I had to wear it to see Neko because it goes along so perfectly with her song, People Got a Lot of Nerve off her new album with it’s chorus, “I know you know that I’m a man, man, man, man, man, man eater. But still you’re surprised-prised-prised when I eat ya.” It was the right choice and I got a few compliments on it from perfect strangers at the show!

Now the music. I was going to try to remember the set list but I’m terrible at that if I don’t write it down immediately, which I didn’t, so forget it. She played a good mix of new songs and old and she played my all time favorite Neko song, I Wish I Was The Moon so I was pretty happy. It’s obvious that she and her band and backup singers have been together for a long time and enjoy one another’s company; they have great banter and excellent cadence and flow. I’m amazed by how clear voiced she is – it just rings out and reaches every nook and cranny of a room. To hear her sing in this open air environment was even more amazing because she was really allowed to let her clear voice soar. She has a very distinct style of live singing. She has what should be a patented way of moving her mouth away from the mic so that her words perfectly fade. In between the music Neko is like a comedian. She is really funny, snarky, and charming. She was often making fun of one of her guitar players (and made jibes at her own expense as well) and was insistent that members of the audience should “hook” up under the stars because the entire band had purposely sacrificed getting laid that night so we could instead. Between the music and the joking she had the audience in the palm of her hand the entire night. We would have sat there forever listening to her sing and chat and laugh and cajole. They did come out for a very nice encore where she sang Magpie to the Morning and Knock Loud.

The only complaint I had about the evening was the group of people behind us. They were a big group of friends who had gotten together for the show and it seemed that half of them were fans and half didn’t really know Neko. Unfortunately the half that didn’t know Neko drank many beers but then felt more like talking to each other than listening to Neko. It was distracting at times, but overall I did my best to ignore them. I just don’t understand though why you would go to a live show just to chat through it! If you want to chat, go stand at the bar!

So I was able to take some pictures at the show. Illicitly of course! We were warned that no picture taking or recording devices were allowed! I'm a bad girl.

First, here's a promotional picture of The Greek:

Next a shot of the opening act, Jason Little. You can really see what a beautiful evening it was:

Although she will hate that I've posted this picture, this is a self portrait of Jen and me waiting for Neko:

And although you can't see her at all, this is Neko and her band. She had a video screen up behind her with lovely animated images running throughout the show. You can see the mellow glow of the lights from the city just over the roof of the theater. It's nice.

From Blip.fm - Wilco

Seeing Wilco live tonight! When they play Vegas, they should always play Casino Queen! But they usually don't.... ♫ http://blip.fm/~8ieaq

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From Blip.fm - The Psychedelic Furs

In honor of seeing this film on the big screen tonight! Long live Duckie Dale! ♫ http://blip.fm/~8e7ov

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Blue Jacaranda

In L.A. this past weekend I was amazed by the Blue Jacaranda Trees that dotted the highways and side streets and alleys and neighborhoods. Their purple flowers are really eye catching and turn L.A. into a kind of magical fairyland for the time that they are in bloom. Apparently they can be a huge pain in the ass, because the petals fall to the ground and have to be swept constantly and they leave a sticky residue too, but I adored them! The streets in Culver City where I was staying with my friend Jen are lined with them. Take a look at these pictures!

This first shot I found online and it's of the main drag in Culver City:

And this one I took myself, although it was dusk, so it's a little dark. We had dinner under this tree at Tender Greens restaurant:


Friday, June 12, 2009

Watch out Cajon Pass! Here I come!

It used to be when I would drive to L.A. I would take what I call the "back way" using the Pearblossom Highway. Pearblossom, although dangerous due to its one lane each way (I will never drive it at night), is quite fun because it takes you across a windy valley where the road is littered with little shops that sell kites and wind chimes and other toys and Charlie Brown Farms where you can buy all kinds of good stuff to eat. I like to make a stop at Penney Lynn’s shop and buy a colorful pinwheel then open up my truck windows so it can cheerfully spin in the breeze. Pearblossom also has a long stretch of hilly ups and downs that if you hit them just right give you that satisfying, squirmy, stomach dropping sensation that induces in me odd nostalgia for family road trips as a kid.

I am driving to L.A. today to visit my dear friend Jen (and see Amy and Ben too!) and unfortunately my little "back way" would take me much longer since Jen lives in Culver City, so I am taking the straightforward route down the 15 to the 10. Saving time is always good, but truthfully I loathe this route because it takes me over the dreaded Cajon Pass. I hate the Cajon Pass. The downturn of this pass is so very, very steep, so that the stretch of road seems to float hundreds of feet in the air with a bottomless pit on one side of it. Most drivers fly down it at speeds that so defy logic that it all just makes me want to cry. As soon as I hit it my heart starts pounding, blood rushes to my head, my breathes shorten, I turn down the radio for concentration and grip the steering wheel until my knuckles turn white, all the while praying that I will live through it! And I don’t even believe in prayer! I always move over to the slow lane, but that doesn’t stop these crazy freewheeling speedsters from crawling up my ass and then passing me as soon as they get the chance! I’ve shared this irrational fear of the Cajon Pass with friends. It’s amazing how polarized the reactions can be. One friend will agree with me completely while another will laugh in my face and berate me for being that slow scaredy cat that gets in their way when they traverse the pass with glee! To make matters worse, just the other day I saw on the news that there was a 50 CAR PILEUP on the pass! No deaths, thank goodness, but still! Of course this was very early in the morning and due to early morning fog obscuring the roadway. I'll hit it just after noon so I'm sure I'll be fine. Gulp.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Inadvertant, chaotic comedy at the ATM

So earlier this evening I'm at the drive through ATM and had a typical Kerry experience. The drive through ATM is not so easy to navigate from my truck. It's too high, so I end up leaning out my window and reaching down to insert my card and punch the appropriate buttons. Well right at the moment that my money pops out (I'm withdrawing some funds in anticipation of my mini break this weekend) my phone rings. Instead of letting it ring, doofus that I am decides to answer it at the same time that I grab my money. Only I don't grab it firmly enough and it gets caught in the brisk breeze that is blowing, falls to the ground and starts scattering willy nilly and here's me on the phone (to Phillip) "OH SHIT!! I have to call you back! SHIT SHIT SHIT!" and I throw the phone into the passenger seat. Of course I'm pulled so close to the ATM because of my big truck that I can't open my door in order to jump out and chase my money! So I pop into drive, pull up a few feet and then launch myself out the door and scramble on the black pavement for my runaway twenties that are in a trail behind my truck. Luckily there was no one behind me in the ATM line and the bills didn't get too far. The one that got the furthest was about 10 feet away. I was so mortified and freaked out I couldn't even be sure I got all my money until I got back in the truck and counted it. Oh and the ATM was beeping at me because my card was still in it!! Luckily I didn't lose any money. All was properly accounted for although the bills were black from my feet stepping on them and smashing them into the pavement to keep them from blowing further away and my hands and the knees of my jeans were black too.

Lesson learned. When withdrawing money from an ATM, let it go to voicemail when your phone rings. Boy do I feel stupid.

From Blip.fm - Neko Case

I will see her live tomorrow in L.A.! SQUEEEEEEEEE! Neko Case covering Ketty Lester's Look For Me (I'll Be Around) as made popular by Sarah Vaughn. ♫ http://blip.fm/~81giz

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

From Blip.fm - Jeannie C. Riley

Are you ready for a fun blast from the past? I thought about this today and found it! Harper Valley P.T.A.!! ♫ http://blip.fm/~7zmmm

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My old folks home.

Long story short: my boyfriend Phillip and I are living in a 55 and older retirement community because we inherited a mortgage free house that we can't sell. Technically we are breaking HOA rules by living in the house (even though Phillip owns it) because we are 20 years too young, but so far we've stayed under the radar and received no complaints.

So here's the thing: I am really enjoying living among the old folks! It's quiet, there are no kids, there are no loud parties, there aren't even loud cars with thumping music that pass by! And then the neighborhood is beautiful! The HOA keeps the yards pristine and there is wildlife galore: myriad birds and wild desert cottontail bunnies. The bunnies are a delight. In our row of homes everyone has a shared backyard and the animals just wander through and frolic as they please. I can watch out my sliding glass door as momma and poppa quail pass by with their eight babies following, then Mr. Hummingbird flits by in search of something sweet, all while half a dozen bunnies, with their white tails flashing me, hop around with their noses to the ground sniffing out something good. It's relaxing.

Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of my bliss.

This one is a general shot of the backyard. You can see three bunnies chillin' in the grass:

And here are three little ones outside our bedroom window:

And check out this lounger! Again out the bedroom window:

All these shots are unfortunately just taken with my iPhone and through the glass window because the minute I try to step outside to get close enough to take a better picture all I see are white tails hopping away. But you get the idea of the cuteness I enjoy on a daily basis.

As long as it can continue in this manner, I will enjoy living in my old folks home!

Monday, June 8, 2009

25 Albums

A few months ago I was "tagged" with listing the 25 albums that most profoundly affected my life. I looked at it more as an opportunity to list the 25 albums that acted as the soundtrack to my life. Once I looked at it that way it became a surprisingly easy task. Here are the results:

1. Madonna, Like a Virgin - This album came out when I was eight. I used to dress up like Madonna, put on too much of my sister’s makeup which included creating a little brown mole on my face and dance around my bedroom to this album. Oh and I was Madonna for at least three Halloweens.

2. Cyndi Lauper, She's So Unusual - I remember a group of us girls lip synching to She Bop for a talent show in 3rd grade! Hello?! 3rd graders should not be allowed to dance around singing about masturbation!!!

3. Tiffany, Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, Out of the Blue - So I’m cheating a little here, but these two go hand in hand and were the soundtrack to my life in 6th grade. It wasn't until years later that I discovered that nearly all Tiffany's hits were covers. And yes, I did have Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth perfume.

4. Simon & Garfunkel, Greatest Hits - Now we are hitting my 9th grade hippie stride. I listened to so much 60s folk rock it was ridiculous. And I wore tye-dye and moccasins. Dig Paul Simon's hair and 'stache on the cover of this album! But even to this day I love Simon & Garfunkel. They (or mainly Paul if we're being honest) wrote some amazingly enduring and haunting songs.

5. R.E.M., Out of Time - I liked R.E.M. before this album but this is what made me fall in love with them. When they did MTV Unplugged in '91 I fell madly in love with Michael Stipe and his quiet weirdness. I wore out a VHS recorded copy of that show. I know this album has some misses (Shiny Happy People, that duet with KRS-One) but it also has gems like Losing My Religion, Half a World Away, and Country Feedback.

6. The Smiths, The Queen is Dead - Again it's me, 9th grade, and I have found my salvation and it's the combination of Morrissey and Marr. How did any teenager survive before they discovered The Smiths?

7. Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes - Fantastic sing along in the car music, especially when the car is stuffed full of teenagers. And I really mean stuffed. We were masters of clown car equivalent stuffage.

8. The Sundays, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic - Pretty, rainy day music. I thought Harriet Wheeler was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. I really wish this band had made more music.

9. Trash Can Sinatras, Cake - This Scottish quintet's debut album is probably one of my all time favorites. Their jangly guitars, playful lyrics, and lilting harmonies are right up my alley.

10. Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes - Who was this odd looking redheaded woman rolling around in a wooden box on MTV? The song Silent All These Years was astounding to me. I bought it as a cassette single first (at the now gone Tower Records on the corner of Tropicana and Maryland) and then worshipped this album.

11. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses - My Britpop wings get spread (oh that sounds dirty. . .). The Stone Roses were the start of my Britpop and especially Manchester music obsession.

12. Billie Holiday, The Quintessential Billie Holiday Vol. 6 (1938) - I'll tell you how I discovered Billie. That Mel Gibson movie Forever Young came out and her version of The Very Thought of You was the love theme in it. I loved the song and found it on this album. Lucky me, this quintessential volume also had her You Go To My Head, I’m Going to Lock My Heart (And Throw Away The Key), Here It Is Tomorrow Again, and a number of other wonderful songs. Billie has been my goddess ever since.

13. Weezer, The Blue Album - Everyone made fun of me for liking Undone (The Sweater Song), the dumbasses couldn't see past that somewhat silly single to the masterpiece that is this album as a whole.

14. Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain - When they talk about music being the portal to the past Pavement is one of the more evocative bands for me. This album especially holds more memories for me than any other. Lovely, bittersweet, post high school graduation memories.

15. James, Laid and The Stone Roses, Second Coming - Cheating again. I’m reasonably sure I lost my virginity while one of these albums played. All those nights of eager fumbling and then serious lovin’ with these albums playing run together in my memory. Sorry, TMI? Incidentally, The Stone Roses is the only band to appear on this list twice!

16. The Verve, Urban Hymns - I listened to this like a madwoman for months and months and months. When I put it on now it's like a mid-90s time capsule. Seriously the 90s had a "sound" and this is it!

17. Van Morrison, Moondance- Ahhhhh, I came late to Van, but boy was his music refreshing! This album just soothes me.

18. A Walk on the Moon, Next Stop Wonderland, Big Night Soundtracks - Cheating one more time. These three soundtracks were played a lot when I lived with Jen, Raymond, and Greg – good dinner party music. We had good times.

19. Wilco, Summerteeth - I discovered Wilco through their Woody Guthrie collaboration with Billy Bragg, Mermaid Avenue Vol. 1. Jeff Tweedy is a superb lyricist and I love that they can go from loud rockers to quiet folkies all within the same album. Summerteeth is not necessarily my favorite Wilco album (don't know if I could pick a fave) but it's the first one I bought.

20. The Strokes, Is This It? - When I hear any song off this album I smile because it’s the soundtrack of when Phillip and I first met. It came out in October of 2001 and we met in November. This is when all the "The" bands were breaking through: The Vines, The White Stripes, The Hives, The Libertines etc. We’ve seen The Strokes live three times together and we always feel a little bit like they are performing just for us.

21. Neutral Milk Hotel, In The Aeroplane Over the Sea - Thank God for Phillip who turned me on to this, the greatest album ever made. I want this entire album played beginning to end at my funeral. I’m not kidding.

22. The White Stripes Elephant - I actually discovered The White Stripes with their previous album to this, White Blood Cells, but it was on their tour for Elephant that Phillip and I got to see them live and it was one of the most extraordinary shows either of us have ever seen. How do two people with two instruments make so much damn, rocking, gorgeous noise? We were rip roaring drunk and we danced and sang at the top of our lungs and. . . yeah. . . wow. . . great show!

23. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell - This album is pretty near perfect. It’s so raw and sexy and dirty and fun! Phillip and I drove seven hours to see them play at Club Congress in Tucson, AZ in 2004 and it was one of the greatest road trips we’ve had together.

24. Arcade Fire, Funeral - There are times when this band’s vocals swell together and their instruments build in noise and it all breaks over me and gives me goose bumps. I don't understand people who hate this band.

25. Okkervil River, The Stage Names - Okkervil River is a band I discovered in the last few years. I wanted to place Black Sheep Boy on this list because it's the first album of their's I bought (after hearing the song Get Real on KEXP) but decided to go instead with this one because John Allyn Smith Sails could be my favorite song so far this century.

From Blip.fm - The White Stripes cover Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn wrote amazing songs about women dealing with life & love like this gem from 1973. This is The White Stripes doing Loretta's Rated X... ♫ http://blip.fm/~7uzdf

Saturday, June 6, 2009

From Blip.fm - R.I.P. Jeff Hanson

R.I.P. Jeff Hanson, an artist with the Kill Rock Stars label, my heart goes out to his friends and family. ♫ http://blip.fm/~7s85k

A trip to The Springs Preserve

On a sunny day in April, my mom, sister Brandi, niece Hailey and I spent the day at The Springs Preserve. It was a perfect day with everything in bloom and as we wandered through their acres of gardens I took many pictures of the beauty we saw all around us.