Monday, December 22, 2008

And a Danny Bonaduce!

Just a quick post made from the airport terminal, where I sit way too early in the morning awaiting my flight to Sydney to spend the holidays with my parents. I had this whole great end of the year thing written, but that on my laptop back at my flat, so much for that idea.

Instead, I'll simply wish everyone a happy holiday and New Year. I leave you with my all time favourite Christmas video, yes, the animations are weird, but stick with it. Never fails to crack me up, I've watched it about 7 times in the past few days.

Have a good one, everybody! Much love.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Makin' mama so proud

A week or so back, I was on the quest for jobs as usual, this time in Fortitude Valley, and I stopped for some lunch in Gloria Jeans (the way better Australian answer to Starbucks). While ordering, I noticed the cashier was staring at me a bit, almost nervously. I began to panic, running through all the things that could be wrong in my mind. Was I obviously sunburnt and didn’t realize? Was a man with a knife standing behind me? Was there a huge bug on my shirt? And yes, I thought them in that order, which shows you how mixed up my priorities are. I noticed she was about to say something and braced for the worst. “I like your sunnies!” she said sheepishly. I thanked her, wondering where that came from and was about to turn away when she continued. “Um, you’re American, right?” I nodded, still confused. “From where abouts?” I gave her my standard answer, “Philadelphia, it’s about two hours from NYC.” She looked really excited by this and I wondered why it was so interesting that I’m American and have cool sunglasses. “NYC,” she asked gingerly, “where your cousin lives?” Holy crap, how does she know I have a cousin there? Before I could ask, she looked at my shocked face and did a little dance. “I knew it! I knew it! You thought nobody would recognize you, but you look so much like him!” she squealed with glee. I had no idea what she meant, but I knew it was too good to pass up, so I played along. We had the following conversation with me completely improvising:

Me: “Really? Man, I never thought we resembled each other at all.”
Crazy girl: “Well, I mean, not exactly, since he’s a boy. But you really have the same hair and nose.”
Me: “What can I say, those are our best traits.”
Crazy girl: “I bet Ben gave you those sunnies. That was the other thing that made me realize it.”
Me: “Actually, no. I bought these myself. But Ben has a similar pair in red.”
Crazy girl: “Shopping with them must be loads of fun, eh?”
Me: “We are complete shopping whores when I go to NYC. Yup, we raid Beacons Closet, Trash & Vaudeville, you name it.”
Crazy girl: “Ooooh! Have you met Kirsten Dunst?”
Me: “Um, no.”
Crazy girl: “So Andrew and her aren’t really dating?”
Me: “Uh, I’m not at liberty to talk about Kirsten.”
Crazy girl: “Sorry! That was wrong of me to ask. I’m just such a big fan of your cousin! And Ben too, obviously. Will you be there tonight?”

And then it all clicked. She was talking about the band MGMT, who were in Brisbane that night. She thought NYC cousin+ similar hair and nose+ nice sunglasses meant I was cousins with Andrew from MGMT. If having the same schnoz and androgynous messy hair style as rock stars from my tri-state area meant we were related, then I have a way bigger and cooler family than I thought. I once met Adam Green briefly after his concert, he was incredibly high and grabbed my hair, saying, “Hey, we’re twinssss.” With crazy girl’s logic, we must have actually been separated at birth, along with several of The Strokes, Joan Jett, and way more NJ emo bands than I’d like to admit I know of.

Another thing that made this strange scenario even funnier to me was that I’ve been told I am the spitting image of other famous musicians, usually males. The only female celebrity I’ve ever been compared to was Claudette Colbert. A classmate’s mother told me that when I was in seventh grade and I had no idea who she was at the time, but now I’m flattered. My own mother, however, loved to point out I looked just like the lead singer of Fall Out Boy circa 2003. My friends even insisted I dress up as him for Halloween (not much of a stretch because I wore boyish clothes anyway) and people did double takes. He’s a lot heavier and slightly balding now, so that comparison no longer stands. Hey, it’s not so bad though. I’d rather be told I look like the girl version of an attractive guy than have someone say, “Are you Janet Reno’s daughter?” That would be rough.

Cousin? Eh, I can sort of see it...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sitting on the dock of the (Byron) Bay- Part 2

Day two in Byron commenced with me sleepily pouring an instant coffee packet into my cup of tea thinking it was sugar, then spitting said concoction all over the kitchen. T, who by some miracle didn’t have a hangover, was watching TV with a middle aged Irish woman that was also annoyingly upbeat at such an early hour. As T tends to do, this woman became her new best friend within minutes of meeting. Soon, the Irish woman was demonstrating her clog dancing for us. I stared, trying to stay awake during her spontaneous talent show, then she announced she was going to get her violin out for an extra treat. Because there’s nothing better than playing a scratchy rendition of an Irish jig for people you just met at 7:00 am. I’m sure the people who were still asleep especially appreciated it. T gave a standing applause and exclaimed, “Omigosh, could I have just like, one quarter of your energy?” I choked on my tea. I know what T meant, but the way she phrased it seemed like she was asking the woman if she could siphon a bit of her soul. If someone had asked me that, I’d instantly be disturbed, but the Irish woman laughed and said “Sure!” She then grabbed T’s hands and made a “swoooop” noise. It was like watching an overly enthusiastic version of the Wonder Twins. I loudly announced I was hungry, in hopes C would come out of the room and we could finally go to breakfast, leaving the madness behind.

Breakfast consisted of a delicious smoothie and T rambling on about how awesome the Irish woman is, like she’d known her for years instead of a half hour. We parted ways with C (she was going snorkeling) and headed for the tour bus that was taking us to a ‘genuine hippie town’ called Nimbin, which T could barely contain her excitement about. I’m quite accustomed to seeing hippies and therefore don’t find them as novel as T does, but the description on the tour pamphlet sounded fun. Plus, I don’t know how to swim, so I couldn’t go with C. The driver/ guide was awesome and played music he’d perfected to go along with the ride. Looking out the window at beautiful Australian countryside landscapes while listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is indeed oddly fitting. I noticed T had her iPod headphones in, listening to Brittany Spears. “Dammit,” I said, snatching it from her and throwing it into my bag, “You want hippies, you listen to their music!”

About a mile outside of Nimbin, the driver pulled over and asked if anyone was an undercover cop. “You have to admit you are if asked,” he said, matter of factly. Nobody was, and he went into a long prepared story about marijuana and the laws of Australia. I had an idea what was getting on, but T was frantic. We finally drove into Nimbin, an incredibly small town in the middle of nowhere. Yup, it was essentially a tourist spot for people looking to easily score pot. T became so paranoid, you’d think she was on the stuff herself. “THESE AREN’T HIPPIES! THEY’RE... THEY’RE... DRUGGIES!” she hissed, clinging to my arm. I told her that druggies evokes the idea of a heroin addict passed out in an alley, these people around us were merely stoners. She didn’t care, they were the same in her eyes. Now, I don’t smoke pot, but in my opinion, it isn’t a big deal and T was way overreacting. One of my favourite moments was when a groovy older woman with silver hair in pigtails came up to us offering us cake and cookies. I politely declined and T said, “Hey, you didn’t ask me! I want cake!” I laughed, “Not that kind of cake.” T got all wide eyed, the concept of drugs in baked goods was clearly unknown to her. “That cool old lady, she was trying to sell us POT in CAKE?! How was I supposed to know that? I’m not from Philadelphia like you.” T has never been to Philly, but for some reason she thinks it’s this crazy place straight out of Grand Theft Auto and it’s a miracle I’ve survived the rough and tumble streets for so long.

Nimbin is best explained by the following pictures I took in the strange town ‘museum,’ a wonderful place full of random crap that creeped T out and made me giggle. Sadly, I couldn’t get a good quality photo of the black light room plastered with glowing velvet Unicorn and mushroom posters.

Dinosaurs, the Virgin Mary, an X-Files type of slogan, and a disembodied Bart Simpson head in the background. Quite possibly the best ‘museum installation’ I have ever seen.
We spent the remaining time eating goats milk ice cream (better than it sounds and T made me try it first in case it was ‘laced with something’) under a tent watching a guy with a banjo called Old Dan play weird songs. First he treated us to a version of ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,’ then an original ditty that made me laugh so hard I wrote down the lyrics:
“My secret lover has a filmy negligee/
When our love was over, she said I didn’t have to pay/
I asked her why our love time was free/
Then she said, ‘Sealey’s Mattress sponsors me.’”

Back on the bus, T couldn’t wait to leave ‘the druggies’ and I chuckled, wondering how long it would take her to realize a good 80% of our fellow passengers were baked out of their minds. One Japanese girl sitting in front of us fell asleep and woke up repeatedly like she had narcolepsy, then stared at her hand for fifteen minutes. We drove through the rainforest on our way to a waterfall and the driver played a techno song because they used to have raves in the forest and the loud music was the only way you could find where the party was located. The techno music had a particularly interesting affect on the reefer crew. I think one of the reasons I don’t drink much or do drugs is that I get a lot more enjoyment out of watching other people who are drunk or stoned. It just amuses me way more than it should. I kind of wish I had let T get that piece of cake, as a sort of evil experiment to see how she’d react, but then again, she probably would’ve just been extra annoying. The waterfall was beautiful, but after I got a few pictures, it began pouring.

Our next stop was a random fellow’s macadamia nut farm, but because of the rain, we were unable to go anywhere on his property but a little cabin overlooking a pond. This is what greeted us on our way to the cabin:

He informed us these heaps of artistically arranged junk have been in the works for the thirty years he’s lived in Australia. Originally from somewhere in New York, he asked if there were any other Americans in the group. T, a couple from California, and I raised our hands. “I bet you’re all glad Obama won the election! Maybe now I can go back and visit the US again!” he bellowed. T winced a bit and diverted her gaze. I cracked a macadamia nut and willed the old hippie to notice her expression. “Why that look? You vote for Nader?” he asked. I could barely contain my excitement. T vs. Old Hippie Smackdown 2008! “Yeah.” she lied, knowing very well what would happen if she told the truth. Dammit. The last time she got in an argument about politics, her opposition asked what a “bright young woman like her would be doing voting McCain” and her defense was the dazzling gem of a comeback “Heidi and LC from ‘The Hills’ are voting for him too!” Disappointed, I ate more macadamia nuts than I’ve probably had in my entire life and took more photos.

This picture isn’t blurry because of my camera, but because that’s just how incredibly hard the rain was falling.

The ride back to Byron Bay was filled with even more excellent music and then we ran back to the share house shrieking after getting dropped off in the peak of bad weather. C had a good time and her session fortunately ended before the storm hit. Walking home, she discovered Cheeky Monkeys wasn’t open that night, so we opted for Japanese food instead. Back at the share house, it was more story time and violin recital with crazy Irish lady, her German friend occasionally chipping in sarcastically. “Is she always like this?” I asked in German, not wanting to offend the Irish woman. The German woman sighed and nodded. Oooh, I know all too well how German lady feels. My friendship with T is very much like that of Daria and Quinn Morgendorfer, minus the sister part. I once pointed this out to T, who of course had no idea what I was referring to. I showed her a few episodes and her response was the very appropriate, “You’re right! That’s soooo totally us!”

Day three was spent wandering a huge artist community in the cold rain looking for a particular glass artist T’s Mom once saw on TV. It sounds like a lot of interesting stories could come from that, but nope. Barely anything was open and when we finally found the place, T marveled at everything in there, but ended up not buying anything. I would have yelled at her, but I was too cold. The two and a half hour bus ride to Brisbane made me car sick and I had a grand ol’ time holding back vomit for two of those hours. Do you know how disgusting/painful that is? Very much so on both counts. So there you go, Byron Bay was not quite the beachy vacation I’d hoped, but it was certainly interesting save for the last day. T still tells me she misses the Irish woman, by the way.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sitting on the dock of the (Byron) Bay- Part 1

I'm finally getting around to writing about Byron Bay, which is funny considering it's not like I've had anything important keeping me from it. It's just a loooong story to write and I'd rather watch DVDs of 'Miss Marple Mysteries' while eating oatmeal. Because I'm 70.

Now before I start, I have been repeatedly told by one of my travel companions, "Omigawd, don't tell people about what we did on that trip!" Which makes it sound like we were on Girls Gone Wild or killed a dolphin with a speargun then sold it to a tuna company. There was nothing of that sort, the trip was PG-13 at worst, this particular friend is just very paranoid and Republican. Actually, both the girls (who I will refer to as T and C since they're so freaked out about even their first names being used) I went with are Republican. Not that it matters or I care, it's just hilarious going to one of the hippie capitals of the world with a bunch of conservatives.

Anyway, the trip started from Surfers Paradise, where T and I met up with C. They forced me to go to a super seedy club called 'Bedroom' where there are actual beds for people to lie down and make out/grope/whatever on. Classy! They played all the songs I hate, and I literally spent the entire time standing with my arms crossed looking grumpy while T and C danced around me. Of course there were the guys (and in one case, a really drunk girl) who pulled the whole, "Come ooon, smile! Dance! " I gave them the death glare and they backed the hell off. The only time I danced that night was when they played a Calvin Harris song and 'What is Love?' You know a club is playing terrible music when you think "Thank God for Haddaway!" If for some reason I ever become a spy and end up captured in enemy territory, all they'd have to do to torture me is recreate that place.

Later on, I was straightening the coasters on a nearby table and one of the waitresses (whose uniform is basically a corset, panties, and garters) got mad at me because making the coasters presentable is part of her job. So I messed them up again and she yelled at me even more. Not only am I the worst friend to go to a typical dance club with, but I may also be the only person whose slight OCD tendencies end up getting a Pussycat Doll wannabe angry. Fed up, I told T and C I'd meet them in an hour or so and went outside to take a walk on the beach. On my way there, I saw a snake trying to break into a poor cockatoo's cage. Don't believe me?

I had no idea what to do, I mean, throwing something at the snake is cruel and could also make it leap at my face. But I didn't want the bird's owner to come out the next morning to find feathers and a fat snake in the cage. So I took several pictures hoping the flash would confuse the snake, then ran away terrified. Might I add, I had no alcohol this entire evening, I'm just naturally indecisive and a bit stupid in certain situations.

After a wonderful beginning such as that, who knew what the next few days could have in store? (Hint: Many more awkward occurrences! This blog has the name for a reason.) T and C forgot to tell the Greyhound bus driver to wait for me while I got my ticket and it almost left without me. Thanks guys! They also sat together, leaving me next to a girl who spent most of the ride obsessing over my bag (which I made myself a few years ago). She even took a picture of it. It was simultaneously flattering and creepy. After dropping our things off at the awesome share house, we went to the beach in search of a lighthouse C insisted we visit. Have you ever gone to Washington DC and seen the monuments at the other side of the mall, then decided to walk because it doesn't seem too far away? But it's really 20 times the distance than you estimated. This lighthouse was like that.The following pictures are beautiful, yes, but they were taken over the course of a journey which took two and a half more hiking hours than estimated.

There was no way around these rocks, so we had to wade through a pool of knee deep water. It reminded me of when you have to ford the river in 'Oregon Trail.'

The lighthouse was nothing compared to the many Cape May and Jersey shore lighthouses I've been forced to see as the child of an architect. But it overlooked a nice view and I spotted some manta rays in the water below. (Insert horrible Steve Irwin death joke here)

It ended up being a good thing that we spent most of that first day outdoors, because the rest of the weekend consisted of torrential downpours leading to floods in parts of Queensland. That night, T wanted to go to a bar/restaurant called the 'Cheeky Monkey' because someone told her she'd love it. I prayed it wasn't another 'Bedroom.' To enter, you must choose between "Door #1: For sex kittens, groove masters, rebels, and bombshells" and "Door #2: For porn stars, secret service, show ponies, and comedians." I chose #1 purely for the rebel, but being a groove master would be pretty awesome too. If that wasn't fun enough already, a cheerful hostess gave each of us four raffle tickets, saying we're bound to win something between the three of us and asked if we'd like to order a slice of raspberry cheesecake for only $3. I was sold. Originally we were going to stay for an hour or so, but we ended up spending a good five hours there. Everything about 'Cheeky Monkey' was bizarrely mesmerizing. There was a raffle or stupid contest every half hour and in between, they projected music videos (of actual good songs with enough variety to make T, C, and I all happy, a rare event considering we each have vastly different tastes in music) on the wall. One of the better contests was seeing how many clothes pins this guy could put on his face while they played 'Take on Me' by A-Ha for no real reason.

I think it was 33 pins and he won surfing lessons, a mighty fine prize. One of my raffle tickets was called and I thankfully didn't have to do anything embarrassing. I got a $20 bar tab, woo. We decided to use it the next night since it was good for the rest of the week, but then C had a raffle ticket called and she won a $50 tab that had to be used up that night. Hahaha, OH NO! C and I don't drink much and the drinks we like are a bit more expensive anyway, so we each only had two. But ooooh T... She was a bit special that night.

C and I thought maybe we should head back, but then they announced the 'Male Strip contest' coming up. T told me she would bite me if we didn't stay for that. That was interesting, to say the least. Nothing full monty, but still blush-worthy, especially since the majority of the participants were 17 and 18 year old guys on Schoolies (the Australian equivalent of Senior Week). The best parts were T's reaction and that they made one poor kid strip to 'Barbie Girl.' We managed to get T back to the share house and I gave my $20 card to a German woman in the room next to ours.

I'm stopping here for now and I'll post the second half tomorrow. Go rest your eyes.

P.S. The guy on the computer next to me is practically screaming, "WAKEY WAKEY! SHAKEY SHAKEY! WHY DO YOU TAKE THIRTY YEARS TO LOAD?" at his computer. I'm trying very hard not to laugh.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hot damn, Summer in the City

(Note: I know, I know, I'm supposed to write about Byron Bay. But last night I wrote this following post out of boredom and figured I should use it now.)

I fear I am turning into the local crazy lady. Granted, I’m not as outrageously strange/awesome in appearance as my two favourite home town weirdos, Penny Man and Leprechaun Guy (Penny Man has coins glued to every piece of clothing he wears and according to my Mom, has a habit of surfing for porn on the public library computers. Leprechaun Guy is obviously a small Irish dude with the stereotypical ginger hair and beard who always wears green, rides a bike, and hangs out behind the 7-11, most likely dealing drugs). However, if I continue living my life as I have the past two weeks, I foresee a future of a Winebago in New Jersey, a job as the person who writes descriptions for the absurd products in Sky Mall, and my only companionship from a flatulent Westie named Iggy Pop. Maybe I’ll have a shrine of James Dean or Jim Morrison on my wall to talk to, convinced that if falling in love with a photo of someone from the past worked for the guy in The Terminator, maybe I could have a chance to go back in time and save the world with them. And now having re-read that last sentence, I realize it makes no sense if you haven’t seen the movie. Too darn bad. Now having re-read this entire paragraph thus far, I realize my comma splices are horrible and if my Senior year English teacher reads this, he will bludgeon me with a copy of ‘Strunk and White’ when I return to US soil.

SEE? This is what I have become. No job, TV, or Internet make Danielle a dull and pathetic gal. Allow me to let you into my world by detailing what I did today, which is very similar to what I’ve done the past fourteen days. Warning: The following is still a tad boring, despite me using the best of my self-deprecating wit to make it seem more interesting. If you honestly have better things to do than read this blog, I suggest you go about doing them.

9:00 am to 10:30 am- Alarm rings obnoxiously and I set it for fifteen more minutes several times until I finally give up and decide I should start my day. At least two cups of tea are needed to set things into motion.

11ish am- Got my laptop and seemingly useless stack of resumes in their backpack, hoist on said backpack with sunglasses and headphones on. Commence drudging into the city while listening to The Smiths.

A little past 11ish am- Wave at the old man who feeds the lorikeets in the park everyday and now recognizes me as a regular fellow weirdo.

Noon to 2:00 pm- Go to whichever area in the city I haven’t hit up for job opportunities (I’m running out) and hand out my resumes. When they say, “I don’t know if we’re hiring, but I’ll put this on the manager’s desk for you!” it is code for, “I’m going to throw this out later, but now I’ll pretend I care.” Usually I do this for even longer than two hours, but today is Sunday, so not much is open later than 4 pm.

2:00 pm- Walk to the library still listening to The Smiths. Feel emo. Wonder if it’s bad that I relate to lyrics written by a (now) 50-something British gay man during the ‘80s.

2:10 pm- Go to library and download Youtube videos of shows like The Amazing Race and Nevermind the Buzzcocks to watch back at the flat later that evening. Check out the following books: ‘Candy Girl,’ ‘The Devil in the White City,’ ‘The Romanovs,’ and ‘The Encyclopedia of Saints.’ Get disturbed and judgmental looks from the librarian because these books are about (respectively) a stripper, a serial killer, a bunch of long dead Russian monarchs, and a bunch of long dead Catholics (some of whom were Russian monarchs). I’m sorry I have a varied and eclectic choice of reading material.

3:00 pm to 3:30 pm- Wander around the city aimlessly. Buy honey lemon bubble tea because it’s the closest thing to Wawa Lemonade Iced Tea. Mmmmm.

3:30 pm- Start to walk home, become way too excited to eat dinner and watch a reality show about a bunch of idiots running around Eastern Europe.

4:00 pm- Read ‘Candy Girl’ for a while and realize how awkward it is that my own mother has read this book as well. Then again, we watched Superbad together.

5:30 pm- Make dinner and have the usual once a day chat with my flatmates, which is either about food or our native countries. Tonight it was about both, and the Spanish girl flat out told the Chinese girl that Chinese people eat dogs. The Chinese girl was confused, fortunately wasn’t offended by this slightly racist comment and just said, “No, I don’t think so.” I had no idea what to say, so I blurted out, “I think it’s actually Denmark that eats dog. It’s a delicacy there. I saw it on Quite Interesting, and Steven Fry is never wrong.” They stare at me and we all silently decide we should each go to our own rooms. Our section of the UN, if you will.

6:00 pm- Let the wonderful cheap laughs from The Amazing Race issue forth. I love this show a bit too much. Their cameramen have the best jobs in the world, I think I may have found my calling. Although knowing my luck, I’d be stuck with the obnoxious bickering couple they have every season instead of the token strange underdogs like the Jewish fratboys who lost their shoes in Kazakhstan or last season’s awesome goth couple from Tennessee who had pink hair and constantly said, “OH MAH GOTH!”

7:30 pm- Finish reading ‘Candy Girl’ already and decide to write this post. Wish I could file an application for a life.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I am Tired and Broken

I hath failed you all again with my false promises. If it makes you feel any better, I was too busy being alone on Thanksgiving with nothing much to do. So I bought a small apple pie (not as good as home made and a bit pointless without the Tofurkey I look forward to all year) and ate it while reading a weird book my friend left me about chess and the French Revolution. That’s as close enough to the traditional as I could get unfortunately. I hear there was a mass Rickrolling during the Macys Parade and I can only imagine my family watching it with no idea what it meant. Oh how I’d like to be a firefly on the wall for that. I know that’s not how the phrase goes, but I don’t want to be a normal fly, they freak me out.

Anyhoo, continuing backwards to two Fridays ago, I got a photo pass to take pictures of some bands I was an embarrassingly big fan of in high school. I don’t quite listen to them as much now, but since I never got to see them back in the day, I thought I should at least make my inner 17-year-old happy. Well, even my inner 17-year-old felt like a geezer in this crowd. I’m pretty sure the guys in the band (who are only a few years my senior) and I were the oldest ones there, and that’s saying a lot coming from someone only about to turn 21. Halifax were the first up and I felt incredibly weird rocking out to their awesome cover of ‘Straight Up’ by Paula Abdul because looking around, I was the only one singing along. Sure, there was appreciative dancing and people seemed to like it, but nobody else knew the words. “Ew, this song is SO old.” scoffed the tiny scene girl to her fashioncore posse standing near me (they all had to be about 14). “Excuse me,” I interjected, “but some of us were alive when Paula Abdul was more than the crazy lady from American Idol.” But it turns out she didn’t mean the original, she meant this cover version was apparently ancient. This version which was released in 2004 on the Punk Goes Pop compilation I listened to obsessively my Junior year of high school. I was still older in 2004 than those kids are now. I wanted to cry. Then I’m pretty sure I did cry (in pain) when the next band came on.

The second act was one I wasn’t too familiar with, they’re called Haste The Day. I really need to research opening acts more before going to concerts, because this is usually where things go wrong. Haste The Day are a Christian metal band. Yeah, I’ve heard of that musical genre before, but like narwhals, I find them highly unusual and refuse to accept their existence until I see one up close. Let’s just say their fans mosh for Jesus enthusiastically. I was standing up front after Halifax, taking pictures (no guard rails between the stage and the crowd, every photographers’ nightmare) and when Haste the Day started, everyone rushed forward, causing me to sharply hit my shins on the foot high stage. Actually, it wasn’t even a proper stage, I’m pretty sure they were playing on way too low to the ground risers. I got to spend their whole set pushing backwards against a crowd of whippersnappers so that I didn’t topple onto the stage and be pray-screamed to.

Then Scary Kids Scaring Kids, the act I was especially there for, took the stage. Yes, I now realize I probably should have known a band with a telling name such as theirs might not have been the best to see in concert. But darn it, some of their songs are actually quite catchy if you look past the yelly parts. And I’ve always had a bit of a crush on their keyboardist, whom I was awkwardly about five inches from almost their entire set. My knee gave out a few times thanks to being smashed by the crowd into the stage and I’d be sent forward again, my hand landing on his keyboard to make a lovely BWAMP sound. That was embarrassing, but I continued taking pictures (with both a digital and manual camera, oooh impressive). The cameras are fine, but let’s just say that the bruises on my shins and knees are still healing over two weeks later. I talked to Pouyan (the keyboardist) afterward to apologize for being a guest soloist and we had the following conversation:

Me: “Sorry about being all up in your grill the whole time.”
Pouyan: “Aw, no problem. You were kickin’ ass and taking pictures!”
Me: “Haha, thanks.”
Pouyan: “Wait, are you American?”
Me: “Yeah, from Philly.”
Pouyan: “Oh, so THAT’S why you were holding your own so well, haha. When we played there it was mass chaos.”
Me: “Usually tends to be that way. So, I hear you guys like to play Uno when on tour.”
Pouyan: “Yes indeedy.”
Me: “Your other deck must be getting worn out, so I thought I’d give you my X-Men Uno set. I don’t use it much anymore and something that cool can’t just sit on the shelf.”
Pouyan: “Oh my God! You are my hero.”

With my former prized possession in even better hands and a hug from Pouyan, I happily limped to the bus stop headed back home. Even though it was crazy and I was a tad out of place, it was nice to finally see SKSK and Halifax. As I mentioned before, bits of their songs can be screamy, but I’ll leave you with this (sorry I can't embed it in the blog like usual) to see/hear why younger me especially loved SKSK. I still find it hilarious and one of the best music videos made on a low budget. Oh, and Pouyan is the one in the passenger seat playing Game Boy.

Next post I'll finally get to the Byron Bay trip, complete with lots of photos of nature and the beach. Hip hippie hooray!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Curse you, Mr. Moneybags!

I just walked two miles (slightly uphill! In the humidity!) to get to a café with free wireless so I could post this. Sadly that’s not just an exaggeration and modern twist on the classic grandparents ‘In my day’ story, it’s because I’m too damn thrifty for my own good. I just moved to a new place for the summer (winter to all you not in this strange opposite land) where the cost of Internet use rivals the actual rent, so I guess this is the way it will have to be for a few months. It’s alright though, I get some exercise and then cancel out said exercise with a brownie in the café. Win-win!

The grand total of the five of you who read this will be excited to hear your wait was not in vain. Many interesting things have happened in the course of these two weeks, but I should probably start with the most recent. Yesterday I played the most pointless game of Monopoly of my life. Normally I love it, the thrill of buying up all the utilities and railroads, then laughing evilly when my uncle lands on one of them, maybe pretending to make my dog game piece pee on his race car game piece in a moment of gloating. I may be sarcastic in my writing, but I’m generally very polite in person and board games are the one time I get to be bitchy without feeling bad about it.

In my new flat, I share the upstairs with a Chinese education major that enjoys cleaning, while downstairs is a girl from Spain who is pretty much the sassy older sister from ‘Ugly Betty’ and a British girl I still haven’t seen despite living here for about six days. The two flatmates who actually show their faces were playing cards with an Indian girl when I got in and invited me to join. Let the language barrier fun commence! Fortunately I speak Spanish well and was able to ask mi amiga the rules. Unfortunately, I’m used to Spanish with a central American accent and it took me way too long to realize that in this particular game, threes were higher than aces for some stupid reason. But at least now I know how the Chinese girl felt when she told me my accent is a lot easier to understand than the Australians because I don’t speak as fast and pronounce my words clearer. My flatmates had to leave after a few rounds and I was left with the Indian girl. Whom I had no idea who she was or why she was in our flat. Clearly she wasn’t a guest of the others since they left and she didn’t go with them. I was about to sneak away up to my room and hope she’d leave on her own, but she decided we should play Monopoly.

I’ve never played it with only two people before and now know it’s especially not fun, but at the time I had nothing better to do and agreed. The game went on for three hours even though I had clearly won a little over an hour into it. But she refused to give up even though she had about forty dollars and everything she owned mortgaged. At first it was a bit pathetic and I felt bad so I let her stay at one of my three incredibly nice houses on Trafalgar Square (oddly, this version was all London streets instead of the usual Atlantic City) free of charge. But after a while, I wanted to throw the little wheelbarrow at her head and demand she declare bankruptcy as well as who she was. Right before she admitted defeat at my ‘Donald Trump but with way better hair’ skills, she asked if I enjoyed being in her old room. Her identity revealed at last! Who goes back to their old residence to pay a visit and ends up painfully drawing out a board game with someone they’d never met before?! I may just have to hide Monopoly and put out Uno in its place because if this somehow happens again, at least Uno is quicker and there are no excuses to try staying in the game. Plus, I have a very special X-Men Uno deck that is clearly one of my greatest possessions.

I’m going to keep this entry at that wonderfully Seinfeld-esque tale of nothingness, but will make the voyage again tomorrow to post a concert story. And of course, concert + me = something incredibly stupid bound to happen! Plus, it ties in with the X-Men Uno cards! CONTINUITYZ, I HAS THEM.

Oh, and P.S. My pictures and The Awkward American were totally featured in the Nylon Blog. Take a looksy! (You have to search 'Brisbane')

Friday, November 14, 2008

This is the Final Countdooooooooooown!

Sometime earlier this week I was supposed to post about a particularly odd occurrence I had last Saturday, but what I have written up and ready to go makes little sense without the photos we took. Photos that are on my friend’s camera because mine is apparently operable by my hands only. She was supposed to e-mail them to me but keeps forgetting so you might not get to read that story for some time.

But worry not, I just returned from an equally stupid and embarrassing ordeal! My three and a half hour long Japanese Popular culture final. Nobody likes finals other than the fact that they signify the end of that particular course, but I especially can’t stand them because I seem to have things constantly go wrong on finals days. Last year, the train back to school from my internship in the city was stopped because of a stabbing (welcome to life in Philly!) two stations before mine, forcing me to take a bus then walk a few miles with a heavy backpack. I got in ten minutes before it was time for the exam and said final ended up giving me a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Today wasn’t physically as troublesome, but equally stressful. I got to the testing room twenty minutes early and chatted with two guys from my study group. Before I go on, I should mention that this class is basically Japanese students expecting an easy A, a bunch of cute nerdy guys, a girl with a huge tattoo of the Transformers symbol on her arm, and myself sitting around talking about things like ‘Battle Royale’ and J-punk. So basically one of my favourite University courses ever. I talked with the guys, sad that this is probably the last time I’ll see them again and just as I thought, “Oh duh, ask them for their e-mail!” the test administrator entered the room. Dammit. They allotted ten minutes for looking through the questions and being a quick reader, I spent a good eight minutes of this time ogling my crush’s strangely attractive new Wolverine-esque facial hair. He’s attractive, I swear it! Stop picturing a mutton chopped 18th-century geezer. He first got my attention the day he practically lead the discussion on Miyazaki films AND did so wearing a Horrors shirt. You instantly get points in my book for being a fellow fan of a band I love, especially bands barely anyone else seems to know about. Many a time I’ve terrified people by running across the street towards them yelling, “AHHH! I WAS AT THAT CONCERT TOO!”

Getting back on point, it final-ly (har har) started and I got past the vocabulary section to the essays. But halfway through my second essay, the nib of my mechanical pencil simply broke off. I had not anticipate this, as it’s never happened to me before and I thought it was a fairly solid pencil. I started to panic, shoving it back in with no avail and then opened the little canister of pencil lead to see if it was possible to write with only them. The answer is no, they snap in half, which is why you need the mechanical pencil nib to hold them in place. Arrrgh! I look around nervously and see that some students are using pens in their blue books. Since when were you allowed to use pens? I raised my hand to see if I could ask one of the two test administrators to let me get a pen from my bag. The closest one had seen me freaking out internally at my pencil, but gave me an evil smirk instead of any help. NOOO! “Relax, “I thought, “Ogle the cute guy for a bit, then try again.” That worked and I retrieved my pen, huzzah! I continued working, but after a few sentences, realized the pen was running out of ink. Why was I carrying a pen with barely any ink?! I don’t even recall using this particular one much at all! So an essay and a half of a final worth 40% of my overall grade was written in decreasingly visible ink. Near the end of the essay on the Takarazuka Revue (which I’ve included a link of the wikipedia definition for because it’s hilarious/awesome) the pen died fully and I scratched, “Sorry no conclusion, my pen’s life has ended” into my already suffering paper. Fortunately my professor has a good sense of humour and will hopefully understand, but I still slightly regret doing that now.

I’m actually traveling for once this weekend, over to Byron Bay after spending tonight at the Gold Coast. I look forward to attempting surfing again, but dread the thousand more freckles bound to form as a result. The other day, Elle commented that my arms were starting to look a bit tan, but then as she came closer, she realized that at a distance, my freckles sort of meld together giving the illusion of tan. Curse my Scottish paleness.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

lהngre borta הn hem

Unable to sleep and wanting to stop myself from further watching the strange Canadian cartoon about a bunch of teens taking orders from a fish with flattop hair to fight an old lady and her evil Chihuahua with a British accent, this morning I reread my last entry and I realized it was a tad snarky. They don’t even know about, yet alone read my blog, (psh, does anyone?) but I publicly apologize to my flatmates (not the one who leaves angry notes though, but he’s another matter) for being e-bitchy towards them. I just dislike how they have their own little ‘She-Ra Boy Haters Club’ and when I walk in the room they get all middle school, pretending to talk about something else like I don’t notice.

Then again, I can understand why they might not always want to spend time with me. See, they watch movies like ‘Sex and the City’ together, a film which I have suffered through seeing once already and considered breaking my own pinky finger as an excuse out of it. It’s the same reason they decline my offer to watch ‘Master and Commander,’ a Napoleonic war naval epic I have probably seen at least a dozen times. I get that I’m not exactly girly, but darn it, just because I prefer Henry Rollins to Hannah Montana doesn’t mean I’m against a good ol’ gossip fest about boys and whatnot. They should know that, considering my one wall: Kings of Leon :: the wall of an ‘80s fangirl: Tiger Beat pictures of Duran Duran. Please note however, Duran Duran < Kings of Leon, though I do enjoy the occasional boogie to “Hungry Like the Wolf.”

Getting back on point, I promised myself I would suck it up and rent a few movies all of us would like. I carefully chose three period piece costume drama type films that tend to have the right levels of romance (enough for them to keep interest but not so much that I want to gag) to battle scene (cool action, but not overly gory or annoyingly inaccurate to history) ratios. I was so proud for finally compromising like a big kid that I didn’t take much notice of the women in the city walking by with huge stupid looking hats perched on their heads. Which means I forgot today was the Melbourne Cup Horse Race, a joyous holiday which includes fighting back crowds of said hats, old men frantically placing bets, and people trying not to drop huge orders of food & booze they thought would be okay to transport back to their party on foot. It also means the TV was on the horses all day and there was to be no movie viewing tolerated. After all that, I grumpily gave up and took my bowl of store-brand Cocoa Pebbles back to my room where I spent the rest of my day reading to a soundtrack of music that's almost entirely in another language (for some reason, it’s been my favourite thing to listen to lately, especially if it’s in French or Swedish). I think this means I’m destined to end up living in a cave outside some strange modern Gaul or Viking community. Eh, it could be worse, at least I’m not one of the six people crushed to death by a vending machine every year (that was my Snapple cap fact the other day).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

You're standing on my neck

I was incredibly disappointed by my Halloween, apparently nobody thought to tell me it isn't a big holiday here. Instead everyone in my flat got drunk and went to the big soccer game oh so appropriately called the FARR Cup (say it out loud with an Australian accent... There you go). I also had a disgusting cold which I'm just getting over, but that didn't prevent me from dressing up. I was Daria, for all you that I was going to surprise with a picture of my awesome likeness, but lo and behold I didn't get a photo of my costume. Some other time hopefully.

I sat around as a phlegmy Daria watching Halloween movies from my childhood on Youtube for a few hours and then the flatmates (along with that random irksome guy who always seems to be drunk and watching infomercials on our couch every Tuesday and Friday night) came in yelling louder than televangelists. They had with them yet another stolen parking cone and a bottle of Baileys that "guess what? We found this in a bush! Free alcohol!" I retreated to my room, but quickly went back to the kitchen to grab some toast and a cup of tea so I could properly bunker down. I was too late, the insanity had started and only a minute after happiness all around in Drunkland, I walked into the kitchen to find the girls crying. "What happened?" I accused Irk, who was trying to lie down on our newly stolen coffeetable. "Dunno, they just mumbled a word and that got them both going." Irk then fell asleep and I tried to comfort the girls, politely asking if maybe they could at least tell me part of what was wrong all of a sudden so that I could help them. But it was another one of those, "YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND, DANI!" things because I don't have a boyfriend so that clearly means I know nothing about boys. The fact that I have common sense and lots of male friends who give me more insight to the male mind than I'd like is not good enough. In a very fitting Daria-esque rage, I went back to my room and watched more movies, hearing that ten minutes later everyone was happy and laughing again. Welcome to 170 Mood Swing Lane!

The day after Halloween I was supposed to go to an actual party, but I was even more sick that I had to skip out on it. Extra bummed out about that. But Halloween '06 was crappy and involved lots of drunk-wrangling as well, so at least last year was fun. As for the highlights of today, I got to watch my flatmate from China eat corn on the cob with chopsticks, a feat that takes mighty skill, and last night I had a dream I'm pretty sure was entirely in haiku. Exciting stuff. The end of the semester is approaching, which is insane because I still feel like I just got here sometimes. I only have one more final in two weeks, after that it's summer (weird!) and I recently discovered that means I have to move out. My job hunt in Brisbane isn't going great, so I was considering living in Melbourne for a few months. It would be weird starting over yet again, but I may not have another choice. The Awkward American in Melbourne? Maybe! I heard it's an awesome place with lots of cool independent bookshops, cafes, and boutiques, so my pathetic little resume qualifications might be accepted there. Fingers (and toes, because I'm double jointed, but you probably don't want to know that) crossed!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

All You (Astro) Zombies

While Philly is having a grand old time rioting and I'm being sent photos of the carnage (from friends I'm sure helped destroy a few of those trashcans themselves... I know you guys, don't deny it), I am across the world giddy about the approach of Halloween. Once again I have crafted a perfect yet genius costume out of things I mostly already own, as I have done the past five years. But I won't spoil the surprise yet.

Last year I was a hipster zombie, both a slight social commentary and an observation that a lot of indie bands have used zombies in their music videos recently. A grand total of two people got it. Here's a photo taken in the incredibly creepy stairwell that looks like it leads to Freddy Kreuger's boiler room:
That was a fun night because people actually thought we were still acceptable trick or treating age and not weird college students out to get free candy. Plus I got to attack my friends at certain points throughout the night, screaming things like, "Euuuurgh, grande soy mocha latte brainssssss!" or "Zombies no daaaaance, we shuffle and bob heads."

Speaking of zombies, I insisted Ellie and Alexa watch the original 'Dawn of the Dead' movie with me today because it's the greatest and most hilarious horror film ever made. Okay, I can't say that because I generally don't like horror movies and therefore haven't seen all of them, but you can't deny George Romero's genius. First of all, I love how all his movies are set in Pennsylvania. With those, the M. Night Shyamalan films, the Blob (and its sequel), and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting, Pennsylvania must be the state where the most horror movies take place. So we got that going for us, plus as horror movie law dictates, the characters are incredibly stupid. Those elements alone make 'Dawn of the Dead' highly amusing to me, but I'm sold when you throw in zombies wandering the Monroeville mall to a polka song (which was later made into the 'Robot Chicken' theme), a motorcycle gang smooshing pies in zombies faces, and a man in a sombrero getting ripped apart because he chose the worst time ever to check his blood pressure. Don't be put off if you hate scary movies, it's not the least bit terrifying. I've watched it many times and I once had a mini panic attack just from the trailer for 'Cloverfield.'

And now because I can't find good quality videos for any of the Misfits songs I wanted to post, I'll settle for the creepiest music video I could think of off the top of my head (it isn't about Halloween, but oh well). They're awesome all year 'round, but especially appropriate now, one of my favourite bands of the past five years, heeeeeeeeeere's The Horrors!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

You cant go wrong, come on skank along!

It's official, nobody in my flat physically talks to one another anymore except for Ellie and I. Nick will instant message me from five feet down the hall just to say 'hello,' or as he says, "Morning!" (no matter what time of day it is). And even worse than that is the dreaded note on the fridge. Instead of knocking on everyone's door around 7 pm when all are guaranteed to be present and awake to call a flat meeting, they write an incredibly rude open notice. Now, I don't mind if it's just something along the lines of, "Could whoever's turn it is to take out the trash this week please do so? Thanks!" Those are friendly reminders and make perfect sense. But last night someone put up a wonderful jem the censored version of which basically states that if the note writer ever finds out who keeps using up the ice and not refilling the tray, they will make icecubes from their blood. I haven't used a single ice cube my entire time here, but the anger of that note made me dump all the ice cubes down the sink and leave the trays empty in the freezer. Just because they went about trying to solve a stupidly easy problem that doesn't matter much anyway with violent fingerpointing. No need to call in Miss Marple or a hitman. It's like Dylan Moran said in his stand-up act, "You want to write a note back to those types of flatmates and say, 'Dear Complaining One, NOBODY LIKES YOU.'"

On a lighter subject where I'm not being a hypocrite by whining about how annoying passive-aggressive proclamations from my flatmates are, I managed to get out for once this weekend. I went with a friend to a place we'd gone to once before, but only for an hour. This time we got there at 9:30ish, stayed quite late and thus were able to see two bands play before the DJ set. To give an idea how this place is set up, they play indie and alternative rock upstairs, then downstairs is split between the main room (which has the live bands and then usually plays ska, punk, and some hardcore afterwards) and the incredibly fascinating pop/hip-hop room. I literally stood by the pool tables for half an hour with my one friend (who is also from a large American city) cracking up watching all these drunk Australian hipsters/punks/emos/whatevers trying to dance to things like 50 Cent and Lil Mama. He turned to me and said, "Wow, I feel like Ving Rhames compared to these kids!" Which is saying quite a lot considering the two of us are pretty darn white. I wish I had video of it, words can't describe the hilarity factor... Then we went and skanked in the other room (for those of you not aware, skanking isn't what it sounds like, it's the type of weird dancing you do when a ska song is playing), where at least we knew we looked silly when we danced.

These obviously aren't any of the people that I'm talking about, but it's the closest I could find, so I'll leave it up to you to decide who looked stupider:
Hipsters who think they're gangstas (just imagine whats going on in the video but on a greater scale and throw in some punk/emo kids to boot)

Vs. My friends and I skanking way too enthusiastically (exactly like these guys are, but not out in random public places)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Yeasayer interview

This is waaay overdue, but here's my whole interview with the awesome and oh so nice lead singer of Yeasayer, Chris Keating. Please send this to any friends interested in music because it's my first real interview and I unfortunately am not getting it published anywhere but here. For those of you here just to check up on what I've been doing, read the post below this one (though I hope you check this post out too!). Thanks, and enjoy! It's long, but well worth the read, as I got some particularly interesting unannounced (to my knowledge) music news out of him.

Danielle: “You must be tired, it’s a ridiculous flight from LA to here.”
Chris: “Well, we got in yesterday. Where you from?”
Danielle: “Philadelphia!”
Chris: “That’s where he’s from! *points at Ira* I’m from Baltimore. What’re you doing down here?”
Danielle: “I’m going to school here.”
Chris: “That must be awesome.”
Danielle: “Yeah. So, is this your first time in Australia?”
Chris: “Yup, second day.”
Danielle: “And your first gig?”
Chris: “Yeah, first gig tonight! And we already got to pet a koala bear! We got photos with them, it was so exciting. *pulls out photo to show me* They’re so cute.”
Danielle: “Awww, yeah, I love them. They look like little old men.”
Chris: “*laughs* They really do!”
Danielle: “So, from hearing your live performances, especially the Take Away video you guys did, your vocal harmonies seem to come quite naturally. Was recording easy because of that?”
Chris: “They actually don’t come naturally, we work pretty hard at it. I don’t think our voices really work that well together.”
Danielle: “Really?”
Chris: “Well, I mean, I don’t know. I never thought so. We just worked really hard to get them right. So recording, we spent a lot of time doing vocals. Like, months and months.”
Danielle: “Which song on All Hour Cymbals took the longest? Like from starting the idea to actual recording?”
Chris: “Hmmm, we did some demos for ‘2080' and ‘Sunrise’ probably more than a year and a half before the record came out. And so that was the longest, because we recorded them ourselves and then we found a record label and went into the studio for a few days and we went back and recorded ourselves again for about six more months. So those songs have been kickin’ around for a while.”
Danielle: “How do you guys pass time on the road?”
Chris: “With koala bears. *laughs* We usually don’t have any time off. Oh, reading books.”
Danielle: “Any good ones you’ve read recently?”
Chris: “I just finished ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X.’
Danielle: “Isn’t it amazing?”
Chris: “Completely! And now I’m reading a book about oysters.”
Danielle: “Seriously?”
Chris: “It’s interesting! It’s about the oyster trade in Colonial New York City.”
Danielle: “Oh, I guess that could be cool.”
Chris: “We usually try to go places like the zoo and stuff, if someone’s nice enough to take us.”
Danielle: “Okay, not to say that it’s ‘world music,’ because I know that you guys get that description all the time when you don’t classify yourselves as that, but your music does have a very worldly quality to it. Have you ever thought about doing a song in another language?”
Chris: “No, I haven’t. I think it’s kind of gimmicky to do that. None of us are really proficient in any other languages. I like the idea of that kind of Mick Jagger type of singing words you can’t really hear. Like Michael Jackson does. You know, they’re singing in English, but they’ll mash words together so it’s hard to tell what the hell they’re saying. Even in his big hits, in the chorus. I like that better. And that’s how I got into a lot of music from other cultures, because I didn’t understand the lyrics. So I had to listen to the melodies instead, without focusing on any of the lyrical content. When we’re writing melodies, we think about it like that and then we fit in words that make sense. But yeah, I think it would be strange for us to sing in another language. It would just be a bit pretentious or fake.”
Danielle: “You guys use lots of unusual instruments in your songs like sitars or the accordion in ‘Germs,’ do you play them yourselves, or do you get session musicians?”
Chris: “Everyone thinks we use sitars, but we don’t have any. There are some sounds that sound like it... We play everything ourselves. Anand did a lot of cello and string stuff and we’d pitch it down and arrange it with a sampler in a really weird way. We’d try to combine instruments to make a new sound, like a new instrument.”
Danielle: “That’s probably what the sitar sound was.”
Chris: “Yeah, a lot of synthesized layers of strings. I like trying to do that. To create a new sound where the listener is unclear what it really is.”
Danielle: “Is that hard to do live then?”
Chris: “Yeah. We use samplers and stuff, it changes a little live. But I think it’s good that it does. It becomes a challenge to try to recreate some of those sounds. Because I don’t want it to be just a guitar.”
Danielle: “I read somewhere that Anand wrote a musical about Pennsylvania coal miners. Can you tell me anything more about that? Are you guys big into musicals?”
Chris: “I like musicals when they’re good, a lot of ones from the sixties. Some can be unbearable, but I do like that thematic song writing and over the top, grandiose stuff. He’s working on it right now, they’ll be recording it in the winter. It’s his thing, almost a solo project. Though he’s collaborating with some other people, and yeah, it’s about a coal mining town in PA.”
Danielle: “Well, it’s not very often that you hear someone from an indie band is breaking into the musical world!”
Chris: “I don’t know how much I can say about it, since it’s not my project, but it’s really cool. Going to be an awesome record, people will be excited about it once they hear the whole thing. There’s a lot of other musicians doing guest vocals.”
*At this point, the rest of the band comes over and says hello, then tells Chris they’re going out for lunch. He asks Anand to get him a vegetable sandwich, then changes it to a steak sandwich. This makes me laugh for some reason and then I feel really stupid.*
Danielle: “I first heard you guys broadcast on the radio from South by Southwest on XPN, are you thinking of doing SXSW again this year?”
Chris: “Noooo. Too crazy! It’s cool, but a little stressful. Not all that fun to play at, just more fun to hang out. We didn’t even want to do it last year that much.”
Danielle: “I heard it’s one of those things you either love or hate...”
Chris: “I haven’t met any musicians who love it. It’s kind of a mess, the sound systems aren’t very good, stressful time scheduling, and you only play for fifteen or twenty minutes. There’s no set up time. It’s not exactly ideal. It can be fun, but only as a spectator.”
Danielle: “Speaking of music festivals, you’ve been in quite a few famous ones like Reading and Lollapalooza. Do you like those or would you rather play at a smaller, more intimate venue?”
Chris: “The smaller show. Festivals are fun, it just depends on which one and they’re just weird because it’s 5,000 people and the crowd is really far away. There’s a lot of security and the stage is up way high and it’s in the middle of the day. It’s kinda strange. I prefer a smaller club. We were doing a lot of festivals and then we ended up booking a show on our way through Germany we went to Switzerland and we played in Zurich and it was amazing. There was about 150 people at this club, this tiny club at full capacity, and it was so much better than playing to 10,000 at a festival. That show gave us more energy, a little bit of renewed life.”
Danielle: “There’s big music scenes where all of you grew up. Where you in a band previously or go to lots of concerts as a teenager?”
Chris: “Me and Anand grew up together in Baltimore, we were in a high school band, but nothing too serious. We all went to lots of shows. I think Luke used to play in a lot of punk bands as a kid. There’s different things we did, but nothing serious until Yeasayer came together. But I went to a lot of shows after I learned to drive.”
Danielle: “Yeah, because the areas are all so close! That’s why it’s great.”
Chris: “Mmhmm, I drove to Philly, or D.C. or up to New York. In the last six years, there’s been a good scene in Baltimore, not so sure what it’s like right now.”
Danielle: “It has some big names.”
Chris: “Yeah, it just seems a lot of those bands are moving away or touring so they aren’t always in Baltimore. When I was in high school, it wasn’t so much the case.”
Danielle: “Now there’s the Virgin Fest.”
Chris: “They didn’t have that, I think it’s new.”
Danielle: “Pretty recently, only a few years.”
Chris: “Have you been to it? It seems like a monstrosity.”
Danielle: “ I was tempted, because it’s had some great lineups, but it’s a bit too big and expensive for me.”
Chris: “I don’t like going to things like that at all. But I can see why some people do.”
Danielle: “What’s your song writing process like? Do you guys jam and come up with your own part, or do you individually write lyrics?”
Chris: “We jam a lot, but it’s mostly based on recording. Individual people or teams of two will record ideas we have and then trade tapes for the next person to work on it and slowly build up a layering that isn’t expected. Just keeping tons and tons of tracks on a computer and revisiting old jams, like bringing them back. That’s how the record got the eclectic sound we were going for. That’s how we like to work, we’ll see what happens in the future. It’s pretty rare that one person writes a song all by themselves.”
Danielle: “A lot of your lyrics have a mythological influence, have you always been inspired by mythology?”
Chris: “Yeah, there are some archetypal elements, one of the songs mentions Icharus. We mash up mythological figures with contemporary stuff and yeah, I think that was in the writing process. Those songs can be kinda hard to write, the mythological theme is heavy handed.”
Danielle: “Especially ‘2080' mentioning the future and possible apocalypse.”
Chris: “People seem to pick up on that stuff a lot, the apocalyptic themes. I’m not sure how much there really is.”
Danielle: “When I first heard ‘2080,’ I was just listening to the music because it was on the radio and didn’t pay attention to the lyrics and I thought, ‘Oh, this is a pretty song.’ Then I went and listened to it again later and I realized it was a bit dark.”
Chris: “I like contrasting the mood of the music with the theme of the lyrics. Darker lyrics with positive sounding music.”
Danielle: “Yeah, it doesn’t have to be death metal.”
Chris: “Or the opposite. Death metal with lyrics about butterflies or something.”
Danielle: “Do you have any new songs you’re going to play tonight or that you’ve been working on?”
Chris: “We’ve been working on some stuff, but we’ve mostly been touring for the past year. So not a lot of time to work together, but some individual parts. I’ve heard some of the stuff they’ve been doing, but it’s hard right now to try to get those songs together. We’ve got a couple new things we’re going to play, some things that aren’t exactly new, but aren’t on the record. I’m pretty sure we’ll throw some of those in tonight. We never decide what to play until sound check. We have some things in the works. We’re going to be recording all winter, when we’re done touring in December. Going to take four months off and work on the new record. Then we’ll have real new material.”
Danielle: “Are you going to release the song you did for Daytrotter on the new record?”
Chris: “The Daytrotter thing was a looong time ago. Like, more than a year ago. That was just live stuff I think.”
Danielle: “Yeah, but there was one you did about the end of the world. Well, one that wasn't '2080' and wasn’t on All Hour Cymbals.”
Chris: “Hmmm, I don’t think we had a song about that... Oh, wait, we had a song that came out only on a 7 inch in the UK called ‘Final Path.’ That’s it. We have a song that’s coming out on a compilation for Red Hot, it’s an AIDS benefit with Blonde Redhead, Arcade Fire, and some other bands like that. They’re all this compilation and we did a new song for that. That’s the newest thing we’ve recorded, that was sometime this summer. Oh, no it was in May. We went to Seattle to meet with Scott Colburn, who actually recorded the last Arcade Fire record, and did that song. So that should be out... whenever that’s out. *laughs* Probably this month or next month.
Danielle: “I absolutely hate using this word, but Yeasayer was one of the “buzz bands” of last year, who do you think are going to be the next big thing?”
Chris: “Chairlift, you ever heard of them? They are going to be BIG. They’re friends of ours from Brooklyn and we’re going to tour with them on the east coast of the States for ten days. They’re going to open for us, but they’ve been on an I-pod commercial, so...”
Danielle: “That tends to launch bands, yeah. The Steve Jobs bump.”
Chris: “They’re a really good band, really cool. Uh, who else? I have friends in a band called Dragons of Zinth, their last record was awesome and they’re working on a new one. Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio produced their last record and is probably working with them on this one. So, expect them to come down to Australia and do a world tour. We toured with them in Europe. Other than that, I don’t know. There’s bands I like a lot like Dirty Projectors, but they’re already out there and people already know about them. It’s hard to say, I usually don’t like stuff that ends up being really big or popular.”
Danielle: “I’m the same way.”
Chris: “MGMT are my only exception. We were friends with those guys before they made their record.”
Danielle: “They’re doing an Australia tour soon.”
Chris: “Yeah, they’re pretty huge here, aren’t they? I mean, they’re doing well everywhere, but it seems disproportionately popular here.”
Danielle: “They put up posters for their tour at my University and within two hours, they were all stolen by people to put up on their dorm walls.”
Chris: “That’s crazy! Yeah, normally the kind of stuff I like doesn’t get commercially successful, but just from hearing their first demos, we knew it would be. They’re one of the few bands I like and respect while they’re still hugely popular. Which is awesome. And rare. But Chairlift will be the next MGMT, I’m sure of it. Get an interview with them early.”
Danielle: “*laughs* Well, I’m all out of questions. It was so great to talk with you, thanks!”
Chris: “Thank you! I’ll see you tonight!”

Edit- Unfortunately, Blogger is being annoying and not letting me upload my pictures from the show. Blast, foiled again.

Boring life

I did it again! I'm so sorry, folks, I've been neglecting my poor blog here. I just haven't had much interesting going on. I've basically become like an elderly woman. When not in class, all I do is sit around watching British quiz shows and eat oatmeal or work on my screenplays (one is a short for scriptwriting class, the other is a weird movie idea I've been thinking about). My flatmates have been acting particularly strange too, I don't know what's gotten into everyone. Ellie has been baking cupcakes practically every night, a different kind each time and for no occasion, while Teagan seems to be running some sort of plot to steal as many traffic cones from the Stadium parking lot as possible. Last I counted, there were three of them around our flat. I also woke up one morning to find that we have another chair and a different coffee table in our living room area. Nobody knows where they came from either.

But Halloween is coming up and even though they don't really celebrate it here in Australia the same way, they love an excuse to dress up and party. So hopefully I'll finally convince SOMEONE to go out so I'm not spending another weekend in with Chuck, Heroes (the new season of which is so incredibly stupid) and Stephen Fry. This concludes the yawn-tastic personal life update. I know it's long, but please read the Yeasayer post up above if you haven't already.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's hip to be a square!

I know this post is supposed to be the Yeasayer interview and pictures, but I still haven't finished the former. Twenty minutes of talking takes a lot longer to transcribe than one might think. Also, I've spent a bit too much time watching my new obsession, 'Chuck.' Hey, I have time to kill now that I don't have a job (thanks dumb boss and crappy economy!) so why not rent the entire first season of a TV show and watch the whole thing over the course of two days?

For those of you not familiar with the show, Chuck is an adorable nerd who works for the Nerd Herd at Buy Mart (basically the Best Buy Geek Squad, but they couldn't say that) and he accidentally sees a top secret computer file that puts restricted government information into his mind. The last part of that is a bit complicated to explain, it's all to do with the CIA and spies and stuff. Anyway, as cool as the spy factor is, my favourite part of the show is Chuck and his awkward friend, Morgan. They talk about the Arcade Fire, Guitar Hero, Lord of the Rings, and sandwiches in the cutest bantering way.

It is with great joy that I add Chuck and Morgan to my 'Adorably Nerdy Guys I Have Way Too Big Crushes On Considering They're Just Fictional Characters' Hall of Fame:
(Morgan Grimes as played by Joshua Gomez on the left, and Chuck Bartowski played by Zach Levi on the right)

The other members (in no particular order) include the likes of...
Milo Ventimiglia as Jess Mariano in 'Gilmore Girls,' not the classic definition of a nerd, but still very much one none the less. I was always mad Rory never ended up with Jess, considering they were both witty and shared a passion for reading and old movies. Yes, he had a bit of an attitude problem at times, but he eventually overcomes it. In fact, he moved to Philadelphia and opened up an awesome looking bookstore and Rory visits him to find he has matured. But she stayed with her stupid rich idiot college boyfriend. I remember watching that episode and wishing Jess was real so I could find his bookstore and flirt with him. Milo Ventimiglia is alright, but Jess Mariano, how I adore you.

Shane West as Dr. Ray Barnett on 'ER,' aka the reason I watched 'ER.' Why did you have to get hit by a car and have your legs amputated?! I really hope Dr. Ray comes back, because the show is way too depressing without all the times he pops up to make jokes or talk about punk music.
Gregory Smith as Ephram Brown from 'Everwood,' sighhhh. I was obsessed with this show and the often moody Ephram who could be a tad annoying, but then he'd make an anime reference and I'd love him again. Plus, Gregory Smith has been one of my crushes since he was Sport in 'Harriet the Spy.' Oh, and the actress who played Ephram's baby mama, Madison, is now on 'Chuck,' as Chuck's sister!Adam Brody as Seth Cohen in 'The OC,' though keep in mind I only mean Seasons 1 and 2 Seth Cohen. After that, the show started to go downhill and I stopped watching. This is a pretty obvious character for this list, as he's sort of the King of Nerdy TV Guys. But I can't help loving a guy who talks to a toy horse called Captain Oats and draws comics about his friends. Josh Schwartz, who created 'The OC' also came up with 'Chuck,' so the man is clearly a genius.Chris Marquette as Adam Rove from 'Joan of Arcadia,' the quintessential art nerd. It's been a while since I've seen this show, but I'm pretty sure half the reason I liked this character was because he reminded me of a guy in my art class I had a crush on.
Pretty much any role ever played by Jason Schwartzman. Okay, with this one, I love his characters because he plays them with such a charming quirkiness. Even Max from 'Rushmore,' who is a loser and borderline stalker is completely lovable because it's Jason Schwartzman.
Richard Ayoade as Maurice Moss in 'The IT Crowd,' hear me out on this one. He's probably the nerdiest of the bunch, but he's a brilliantly hilarious character. I highly recommend this underrated Britcom to everyone. Watch it and you'll want to hug Moss too.Jon Cryer as Duckie Dale from 'Pretty in Pink,' the original cute nerd underdog. Every time my Mom and I watch this movie, we're both swooning during the scene where Duckie lip syncs and dances to "Try a Little Tenderness." This is a bit weird, but I still think Jon Cryer's attractive now.
Patrick Flueger as Jeremiah in 'The Princess Diaries,' a character who does nothing in terms of plot, but is awesome regardless. I love the male lead in this movie (played by Jason Schwartzman's brother) too, but for some reason, Jeremiah and his way too red hair won me over back in middle school. All Jeremiah does is get picked on and do little card tricks, but he'll forever be one of the best elements of this film.

Patrick Fugit as Patrick in "Saved!" That's right, a Jesus nerd made my list. His character is just so sweet and accepting when almost everyone else in the movie is that hellfire and brimstone 'all sinners must pay' type of Christian. Now, I'm not super religious, but I wouldn't mind going out with the son of a Pastor if he were like Patrick.

So there you go, I clearly have too much time on my hands and looking back on this, I realize that all 12 guys on this list have brown hair (er, Jeremiah doesn't, but the guy that plays him does, so that counts). Guess I prefer fellow brunettes, haha. Wait, does brunettes only apply to women? It's the suffix 'ette' that makes me think so... Hmm, what do you call guys with brown hair then? Never mind, now I'm being a word nerd.

Peace out, rainbow trouts/Girl Scouts!

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's a fresh spring, so let's sing...

I feel bad I haven't updated recently, but the Internet connection in my flat has been pretty crappy lately. Believe me, I wish it wasn't, because this past week was Spring Break. Something I didn't realize until my one flatmate left for home and I asked why. Which means I basically had no plans at all until Friday. D'oh. I spent time with friends (We went to a ginger factory. Yup. Not as lame as it sounds but still a bit funny considering everyone else there were little kids and their grandparents), wandered around, went thrift shopping, and watched random movies on TV with one of the three remaining flatmates who stayed. I also wasted the one day the Internet actually decided to work on figuring out how to fool the NBC website into thinking my computer was still in the US so I could watch the new episodes of Heroes. I lead a sad, nerdy life.

Then Friday finally came, the day I'd looked forward to all week. Why? Because I had my very first band interview with the wonderful Yeasayer! Unfortunately, everything before the interview went horribly wrong. Even though I took an extra early bus, it got caught in traffic and made me late, then when I got into work, the manager was angry not just about that, but that I didn't call him to let him know. See, I don't have a cell phone over here. I really don't need one because I'd only ever call three people in Australia and I have a phone in my room for that. Then I use Skype for everyone back home. Plus, I never really liked using mobile phones anyway. My manager thought this was sacrilegious apparently, and continued to tell everyone in the same tone one would use when saying "Can you believe she doesn't think the Earth is round? Get with the times!" This did not help my nerves and I bumbled a tiny bit the rest of my shift (though they were all small beginners mistakes, as is understandable). Right before I was to clock out, I grabbed a glass from the dishwasher without realizing it was broken and gashed my hand. Bleeding and freaking out, I ran to take care of it and while doing so, the manager and owner basically told me I was fired. Because of prejudice against non-cell phone users and because I was "late and will be again because that's how Taurus' are." Yup, I was fired preemptively (the owner is a 'psychic,' remember?) due to the fact I'd be late in the future.

I was extra freaked out about doing the interview an hour and a half after being fired, but the guys were incredibly nice. I met them all, but only interviewed their lead singer, Chris Keating. We had a fun twenty minute chat, which I've been working to transcribe and its been a pain in the arse. I hate how my voice sounds when its recorded and I also don't like hearing how many times I said, "Really?! No way!" or "Cooool!" during our conversation. Diane Sawyer I am not. The rest of the day was okay, I sat in a coffee shop and read for a while. I lost some enthusiasm for the concert because I kept thinking about my job, but it was a fun show. Well, fun other than a really drunk girl falling over on me while she was dancing a bit too much to '2080' and causing me to hurt my leg. So many injuries in one day, yeesh. I'll put up gig photos, a short review, and maybe even the interview here in a few days. I just have to hear from my editor and see what he needs.

For now, I'll leave you (since a lot of you probably don't even know who they are) with Yeasayer doing an impromptu acapella set in the Paris subway. Trust me, this is awesome and I gushed about it a bit to Chris and he was like, "Yeah, it was pretty cool, but I hate all that rambling I do in the beginning." So you guys have Chris' permission to skip ahead to the actual singing a minute and fifteen seconds in, haha.