Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"All You Need Is Now"? I think that's true

I've never been objective when it comes to Duran Duran. Even with their most critically panned albums, I have found a song — or three — to love on each. (Check out "Serious" or "My Antarctica" on "Liberty," or "Perfect Day" on "Thank You.") Therefore, you can take what I have to say next with a grain of salt, but please note this regarding the band's latest release, "All You Need Is Now":

You are missing out if you do not listen to this record now.

If you are familiar with early DD hits such as "Rio" or "Planet Earth," this is the record that will reunite you with those sounds of yore. The drum intro on "Girl Panic!" smacks of "Girls of Film." "Leave a Light On" is the distant cousin of "Save a Prayer." The buoyant melody of "Runway Runaway" is reminiscent of "Last Chance on the Stairway," the seventh song on 1982's "Rio," and the panicky vocal harmonies at the end of "Being Followed" harken to almost anything on their 1983 album "Seven and the Ragged Tiger." "The Man Who Stole a Leopard," which features a haunting cameo from Kelis, borrows from the seductive build of "Tel Aviv" (the closer on the first album) and incorporates plenty of synth-violin stabs a la "My Own Way," the second song on "Rio." And like "Rio" 28 years before, "All You Need Is Now" ends on a sparse, shuffling note. "Before the Rain" is "The Chauffeur," 2010 style.

In the end, this record, produced by self-proclaimed Duranie Mark Ronson, is a love note to DD fans who have hoped the band could capture some of that youthful magic in a bottle and bring it into the new millennium.

The only thing missing on "All You Need Is Now"? A few good measures of saxophone.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Upcoming additions to the CD rack

This blog is called "Blogging to the Beat," and yet I haven't written about music. I'm changing that tonight.

I love to walk into a record store and walk out with a bag full of CDs or vinyls. Tonight, however, I went to the virtual record store known as Amazon.com and splurged on some music that will reach our home in five to nine days (thanks, free Super Saver shipping!). Though I could have saved more money by downloading the music and having it instantly, I love the tangible product too much. It's worth the wait.

And now, the shopping list:

Broken Bells, "Broken Bells"

LCD Soundsystem, "This is Happening"

Devo, "Something for Everybody"

Gorillaz, "Plastic Beach"

Scissor Sisters, "Night Work"

I expect to have a report on these albums in a week or two. I'm particularly excited about Scissor Sisters' new record, the album cover aside. *ahem* It sounds as though they took Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the Bee Gees and Pet Shop Boys, thoroughly mixed up those sounds and poured them into their CD.

Later this summer, Chromeo is coming out with another record full of its sexy Montreal funk. If the new single "Don't Turn the Lights On" is any indication, I think Jake and I will have that album on repeat for a few months. Also, I'm getting amped up for Maroon 5's CD, "Hands All Over," which comes out in September. Whenever I hear "This Love" (and I still hear it quite a bit on the radio), I remember meeting the band backstage at Beasley Coliseum in 2004. I wore out "Songs About Jane" when I was at WSU.

I'm also addicted (begrudgingly) to Katy Perry's "California Gurls." As a copy editor, I'm bugged to high heaven by the song title, even though Perry claimed it was an homage to Big Star's "September Gurls." Please, people are dumb enough already - just spell "girls" correctly. *copy editor rant over* Anyway, the song is played to death here, and I'm a California native whose skin would not melt a popsicle, but the funky guitar riff and Snoop Dogg drive this into guilty-pleasure territory. The bridge and the chorus get stuck in your head for days. You know it's ear candy, so constant consumption will only rot your brain over the long term, and yet you prefer to live in ignorant bliss because it feels so good in the moment.

Damn you, Katy Perry.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Got a new car and other things

It's a 2006 Hyundai Elantra with about 30,000 miles. We've had it almost a week, and Jake loves it. However, we're seeing some electrical issues we didn't notice before, so hopefully we can get them fixed without much hassle.

This weekend was our second wedding anniversary, so Jake and I went to Mendocino, where I lived for 2 1/2 years. Most people would probably kill to live near the beach every day, but when you're 8 or 9 years old and can't really swim, the water doesn't do much for you. Also, you need to see people or go to the mall. And more than three FM stations would be nice. Thank goodness MTV still regularly played music videos when I was a kid, or else I never would have known about Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul or Duran Duran.

Still, I made some good memories with Jake this weekend. We stayed at a nice cabin right off Highway 1 in Little River; it's part of a set of bungalows called the Andiron. We went past my old house in Mendocino, which looked a little worse for wear, but then again, I lived there almost 20 years ago. After that, we drove up to the North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg and found some 12 percent beer that did us in very quickly. We sobered up by getting a brownie (not pot-infused, thank goodness) at a local - read: non-Starbucks - coffee shop, then meandering down the main drag and seeing how many businesses had moved on since I was last there. Sadly but not surprisingly, there were a lot of empty storefronts.

We returned to the cabin, then woke early the next morning to check out and then tour Mendocino. We drove in front of my old school, which has become a K-8 school; it used to be just a grammar school next door to the middle school. We then went into the "downtown" area, which consists of a handful of streets. The post office was still there; so was the big grocery store, Mendosa's. I walked into the bookstore where I spent much of my allowance and birthday money on "Baby-Sitters Club" books. I didn't spend any money there this time, but I was tempted! We bought some gifts for friends and family at various food and clothing shops, then checked out the water from the headlands. Jake took many pictures of waves crashing against the rocks. We would have actually walked onto a beach, but it was an extremely windy day, so the water was ridiculously choppy and likely very cold. I stood on a bluff and watched the waves smack the rocks as they came ashore. Jake, meanwhile, jumped down into an area with some tidepools, then leapfrogged from rock to rock to take photos. He was especially amazed by the view from the high school. The school's track has a pretty clear view of the ocean, so you can run laps while looking at the sea. A fantastic distraction from exercise, to be sure!

We left Mendocino at about 4 p.m. and headed up to Highway 20 (but not before a detour to the grocery store for some of that 12 percent beer). We wanted to connect to Highway 101 and reach Healdsburg - another one of my former towns - at about 6:30, so we could get food and watch the Lakers game before continuing the rest of the way home. We found a brewery that was showing the game, and it was a great thing we stopped, because the Lakers were kicking ass and taking the Celtics' names. Yeah, baby!

I also saw a girl with whom I went to school from fifth to 11th grade. She said she recognized me, but she couldn't remember my name at first. She invited me to the high school reunion, but I told her I moved before graduation. She said the organizing committee wasn't limiting the guest list to graduates, and I told her I would think about it. I've never seriously considered going to either of my high school reunions. I just figured I was never really a part of either school, but I did graduate from one of them. So maybe I would go to the reunion for the school from which I got my diploma? I don't know; I consider WSU my school far more than any of the elementary or secondary schools I attended. The only context in which I've thought about high school these past 10 years is that I had to get through it to reach college, which is where life really began for me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

No new car yet

We're still trying to find time to get to the car lots. Maybe tomorrow? Looking for cars is not something we want to do while tired or cranky, and well, we've been pretty tired and cranky since the accident. In the meantime, I've been driving Jake to work, and he has caught rides back home with the sports guys from his paper. I hope we have a car by the end of next week. We have made anniversary plans for the 14th and 15th (I can't believe it has been two years!), and I want to be able to enjoy them without having this hanging over our heads.

On another note, last night we dealt with the death of John Wooden. He's a sports legend, to be sure, so the desk wanted to make sure his passing got the treatment it deserved. I never used to be a person who thrived on adrenaline, but man, what a rush it was to get everything done. I didn't get into journalism because of nights like last night. I wanted to be a writer and take my time crafting long-form masterpieces. But now, I think I prefer the pressure cooker of deadline production work.

Monday, I reached five years in professional journalism. (That's how I differentiate from my time at the Ev, but your mileage may vary.) I don't know how much longer I will be in the business, especially as a copy editor, but I can't imagine staying in it and doing anything else. I like working with the same people every day and building a quirky, dysfunctional family-style chemistry. There are times when I wish I could do more, but we have to realize that we don't always have enough time or resources to do what we want. That has been a valuable lesson.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thanking our lucky stars

Jake and I were in a pretty rough car accident Tuesday. It was like a slo-mo scene in a movie. Glass was flying every which way, and we were bouncing around, not knowing where we would stop. Luckily, Jake and I were fine, as was the person who hit us. As for our car, we're not really sure. It was taken away and left at the towyard to be dealt with until the next day. The driver's side door is smashed in and the window totally broken. Part of the windshield shattered. Jake thinks one of the tires went flat. The other driver's truck was able to move; we didn't attempt to drive our car. It's a 2003 Nissan Sentra; I expect fixing it would cost more than just replacing it.

Our friend picked us up at the towyard and took us to the hospital. I felt a little woozy, and Jake was bleeding a bit, so we got CT scans. We kept finding shards of glass in each other's hair and clothing as we waited for the results, which came back OK. Of course, in my crazy rat's nest of hair, I expect to find bits of glass for days. You'd be surprised where you can find glass. Somehow, a few pieces had slipped down the gap in my jeans waistband. My back is a little wrenched, and Jake has some pain in his knee from the door crumpling in on it, but other than that, we're grateful to be alive. After the accident, I looked up at the sky and thanked God and my guardian angel (probably my grandpa). One of the tow-truck drivers asked if I wanted to get in his car and stay warm while Jake talked to the CHP officer. I said: "I could have been killed today. I'm happy to feel the rain."

Jake's in bed, but I can't sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I see glass. I see parts of the dashboard popping up and out. I see Jake throwing his arm across my stomach as we're shot off in a different direction on impact. I didn't really have the whole "life flashing before my eyes" thing. It was more like "What the hell is happening?" I think I closed my eyes at one point. I don't remember seeing anything straight ahead of us. I knew that Jake was OK next to me as we were sliding off the road because I could hear him screaming. I did have a brief moment of panic after we stopped, though, when I was afraid to look at him, because I didn't know whether he would be really hurt, and whether I could handle it if he was. He had stopped screaming, too. I was all right. I somehow managed to scrape part of my right ankle on the car seat, though. A weird injury, to be sure. But Jake? I just didn't know because the impact was all on his side. Thankfully, when we were stopped, a second or two later, I heard a big sigh, followed by "You OK?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "Open your door and get out." So I did, and he climbed out after me.

Then I saw the wet road, the truck that hit us and our car, sitting there with the lights on, looking OK from the passenger side. However, I knew it was much uglier on the other side, and I screamed: "Goddamnit! Not again!" followed by a bunch of unintelligible angry syllables. And I was kicking dirt and grass like Lou Piniella. It probably didn't help my fragile state of mind, but shit, we've only had the car for 2 1/2 years! We got the Nissan when our last car had been totaled in a hit-and-run. Still, the Sentra pretty much saved our lives. Had we been in my Focus, it might have been a much different story.

Jake was so calm after the accident. He was giving information to the insurance company, AAA and the CHP officer as though he was the witness, not one of the drivers. He kept consoling me and telling me everything would be fine. I'm just lucky in so many ways. I especially hit the jackpot with Jake. Tuesday's events just reaffirmed how much I love him, and how scared I still am to be so much in love with somebody because it could be taken away when you least expect it. Falling in love and deciding to get married truly is the biggest risk I've ever taken, but it's the best thing I've ever done. I just wish my husband wasn't a magnet for car accidents. *sigh* Maybe God could give us a break on that one, say, for a few decades?

One more thing: Hospitals should not allow "Criminal Minds" to be shown in the ER waiting room. It's not exactly soothing programming for people who have been through a traumatic experience earlier in the day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summer plans

I started my accounting courses in June, so I have been in school for about a year. The community college doesn't offer the accounting classes I need during the summer, so I must wait until fall semester. Balancing class with a full-time job, a husband and chores has been difficult, so I'm eager for some time to decompress, though the idea of knocking out two economics classes in six weeks this summer is kind of appealing. Unfortunately, they meet Monday-Thursday for a total of four hours a day. My weekends are Monday-Tuesday, so eight hours of my weekend would be taken up by class, not to mention the studying I would have to do. And I would have to cram, just because the classes move so fast. I was constantly scrambling to finish my daily accounting homework last summer, and it nearly killed me. This summer won't be like last at work, either. We've lost more people since then, so we'll be running with a skeleton staff most of the summer, methinks. I'll need to relax, somehow, someway.

I'd like to go to concerts, maybe take in a baseball game. Summer in Northern California (the inland part, anyway) is sweltering and disgusting at times, but there's really nothing better than a warm night spent outdoors. You get a nice breeze, and ah - heaven! We're taking tennis lessons at night, so we won't die of heatstroke while practicing groundstrokes.

Luckily, tennis lessons fall under my plan to keep learning during the summer. I want to do some self-directed work with Photoshop and HTML, so I might pick up some training books or DVDs. And I've gotten Quickbooks for the Mac, so I'll brush up on my accounting over the summer and not feel too rusty when class starts again in August. My fall class will be at 7:20 a.m. twice a week - I'm hoping that doesn't kill me, either.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Back in the blogosphere

I have a LiveJournal, but in recent months/years, I've gone private with most of my entries. I haven't felt as though my words have been adequate for a viewing audience, but lately, my friends seem to be dusting off their blogs or starting new ones. I guess I'm following the crowd. I am keeping my LJ friends-only, but I'll keep this one public for now.

I'm a copy editor, so I'm around words all the time, but I miss the creative outlet of writing. And no, headlines and cutlines don't count. When I was a young girl, writing became my form of creative stimulation. In the past few years, I've drifted away from that. So I suppose I haven't felt very stimulated lately (take that as you will!).

I don't really know where this blog will lead. I just want this to be a low-key way to stay in touch with friends and ease back into writing. We'll see where it goes from there.