Running on Coffee and Chocolate: Lifestyle, Health, Travel, Photography, and more!

Dear Sort By Genre readers,

I feel strange that I am cheating on this blog with another, but as times change, so do the topics I want to write about. If you are at all interested in lifestyle, health, and travel reading, I would love for you to follow my new brain child “Running on Coffee and Chocolate” which I shall be updating with all travel stories (as I am going to Europe soon), photos, spots to visit, fitness activities, and more! Hope to see you soon!

With all my writerly affection,

Carly Christine

Another Tale of the Sacramento Woman’s March

Until last Saturday, I took living in the Capitol of California for granted. As people from all walks of life collected in front of the familiar white building I grew up with- the one I associated with prom pictures and senior portraits-I felt a swell of pride as I recognized the political importance of my hometown. Being at the Woman’s march among sign bearers, pink cat-hatted women, and people with passion was an awe-inspiring experience. Even as a simple spectator, I felt like I was part of something greater, a witness to torrential storm of people ready to take action in the name of woman’s rights.

However, the greater message of the March transcended woman’s rights, serving to communicate that we must not lie dormant if we want to see change. Sitting at home and yelling at the TV screen is not going to quell the injustice we see. It is our freedom as Americans to be able to stand up and protest peacefully, run for offices, and organize together. So why don’t we?

The country wide marches are a step in the right direction for those who are serious about getting their voices heard. Isn’t it more fulfilling to be a part of creating change, rather than standing idle by, frowning at our screens?


 
I couldn’t help but document the day in photos…

Did you chose writing, or did it chose you?

I’ve had an intense relationship with the writing process for as long as I can remember. I recall going on play dates as a little girl and suggesting to my friends that we write a book instead of play with Barbies. Sadly, as you can imagine, Barbies won every time. Lately though, I have become obsessive about writing, to the point of considering dedicating all my education resources to the craft.

In attempt to solve my quarter-life college induced major re-thinking crisis I began reviewing the list of degrees offered at San Francisco State University. The “Technical and Professional Writing” BA caught my eye, sending me on an hour long Googling session about what a career in Technical writing would actually entail (in a later post I will present my findings).

Along the way, I found a blog called I’d Rather Be Writing, authored by a practicing technical writer which led me to a post titled “Writing as a Holy Calling.”

The notion of the “holy calling” suggests that writing is less of a hobby and more of an unavoidable calling for some individuals. Although there are more talented, seasoned, intuitive writers than I, I consider myself to be one of those people writing has called upon. It is not an activity I want to do, but rather it is something I have to do. It consumes my thoughts to the point where if I have a bad or traumatic experience, there is a little voice in the back of my head that says, “it’s okay, at least you’ll have something new to journal about!”

Like many folks who enjoy writing, I often find myself writing in my head during the day, flipping through my mental book of adjectives to find the perfect words to describe my surroundings. Every overheard conversation is a dialogue opportunity-an idea from which to build. This habit and thought process is the reason I believe writing chose me. I didn’t consciously make it a hobby, but I know at this point, I won’t feel satisfied with my week until I word purge on paper (or digital paper). When I read, I get distracted from the plot because I am focused on how strong of an urge I have to write and I tell myself the only way I’m going to be able to improve my writing skills is to read. Thus begins a vicious cycle of writing, reading, and getting overwhelmed with writing and reading.

If this sounds like you, then writing might be less of a hobby and more of a call you have no choice but to answer. Consider yourself whipped.

Whatever “holy calling” pushes me to write has been there for longer than I would care to admit. Perhaps, I haven’t wanted to accept it until now, because I never thought the compulsion could carry any weight in selecting my future career. However, the more I research, the more I realize that writing provides for other career opportunities outside of bestselling novel composition worth exploring.

If you think that writing chose you too, I encourage you to accept your need to create as many of the wonderful word puzzles that are sentences as you can. Don’t dismiss the idea that your inner author can potentially walk you down a fulfilling career path. Use the call of pen and paper to your advantage.

Did you chose writing, or did it chose you? 

Why Melissa Broder and Everyone on Twitter is “SO SAD TODAY.”

When it comes to internet references, Twitter, or current events in general I’m just about as good as Patrick Star living under his rock. I do thankfully know that Donald Trump is now president-a confusing reality making many Americans very sad, but enough people in the blogisphere are typing away on the subject of his orange hair, which leaves me room to discuss another reason why people on the internet are feeling hopeless.

Twitter account so sad today run by Melissa Broder is followed by 430k  humans who are either sad themselves or really like looking at another human’s sad Tweets to feel better about themselves. Either way, they are already sad. Why do they want to torture themselves with more painful thoughts?

I asked myself that same question when Barnes and Noble was having a buy 2 get one free sale and out of all the gleaming novels perfumed with new book smell, I decided to go for the collection of essays called “SO SAD TODAY” by Broder in all caps. I didn’t know it was by a well known Twitter figure until after I read it. Maybe I picked it because I felt like its type was yelling at me, as if it was saddened to the point of crying for help in a bookstore. Let’s go with that, because the thought of me rescuing a poor sad novel is far less sad than the thought of me trying to save my sad self through relatable literature.

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From Melissa Broder’s Account @sosadtoday.

From the moment I peeled back the cover, I knew I dove into something dark. “So Sad Today” is a colloquial novel designed with the modern internet addicted, sexting community in mind. It is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable books I have read, as there is literally a chapter transcribing a series of open relationship sexts, that concludes with a commitment to monogamy, and is followed by more exploration of anxiety. But don’t worry! Before you fear you won’t be sufficiently sad, the book throws in drug addiction, body image issues, far too real illness, and those existential questions that give us all migraines.

This book will give you anxiety. If you already have anxiety, it will give you more anxiety, but Broder’s dark humor happens to ease you mind just enough to get you through it. A part of me wanted terribly to stop reading it, because it felt like the embodiment of everything people assumed to be wrong with Millennials. Then I somehow got to page 125 and resolved to commit.

While “So Sad Today” might not be the happiest read, there is a merit to such a series of essays which stems from its modern shape. It is clearly influenced by today’s digital culture and Internet jargon and for this, it is important. Melissa Broder’s collection shows the shifting of what it means to write (and read) an enjoyable essay in 2017.

 

 

On writing and rewriting and re(you guessed it)writing.

A couple months after starting college I began writing a book- a book I told no one about because it is, at present, a sorry seven pages of rubbish. I had just enrolled in a creative writing class when I wrote those seven pages and little did I know I would end up telling that same story in a one line poem, a five page short fiction, a single act play, and ultimately a thirty page compilation to be turned in for credit.

You see, that seven page book I started to compose had already been drafted dozens of times and continued to be reworked until I was forced to end my war with it and accept the constraints of a dearewrite-1dline. I am still working (and will probably work perpetually) on getting that story  “right.” However, the principal lesson I learned from class was not about writing the perfect story, but rewriting a perfect revision.

I had never intentionally revised a piece before, so the thought of taking a lengthy story I felt was complete and smushing it into a tiny poem or scraping out the dialogue for a play not only seemed impossible, but flat out wrong. I was “married to my piece” as the professor put it. I didn’t want to change the rhymes in my poems or the characters in my short story because they were fine the way I had originally written them. Or so I thought.

The greatest thing I could have done for myself as a writer was open myself to genre fluidity. Pieces that I categorized as “fine” were just that: fine. They weren’t conveying the right emotion. They weren’t putting the emphasis on the right syllable. In the middle of writing this post I examined my seven pages of rubbish and exhumed from it a gem of a poem that I think is much more interesting than anything I wrote in those other paragraphs. Would I have found it if I didn’t revisit the story? If I didn’t allow my draft to be rewritten into a more satisfying morsel? No. Which is exactly why I now accept revision as part of the natural writing process and maybe even the most exciting part. It is like trying a mystery food with a blindfold on. You are convinced it it one taste, but then you open your eyes to find out its not what you expected. And maybe it’s your new favorite food.

So next time you feel like your draft is garbage or simply fine the way it is , think about how many forms it could possibly take, what flavors it could be, how it might surprise you if you gave it a chance. Then write, and rewrite, and rewrite.

 

My new life as a public transportation rider in training: a guide to making a smooth TRANSITition.

While some might curse the city, I was cursing myself for my inability to make it to Kaiser in under three hours. Let’s just say my San Francisco transit transition hasn’t been as fluid

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Cute old man I spotted reading a newspaper in Russian on the Muni.

as I had hoped. And my current grade in the class of life, for moving from point A to point B, gets a big fat D. Minus.

One of the things I love the most about the City is the efficient-ness of the Bart and Muni bus systems. Ditching my car was something I looked forward to, not having to worry about constantly being stuck in traffic or giving others rides. I felt free taking the bus on my own for the first time like I was finally a lone traveler, experiencing the world in a whole new way-even if I was close to home.

Yesterday, however, I felt less like a traveler and more like a trainee for a pathetic marathon as I raced up and down the hilly streets after fleeing buses, only to find out I was going in the opposite direction of my destination for a solid 20 minutes. Twice. By the time I reached Kaiser, my hair was windblown and matted, I was sweating like a pig, and I ended up in the Emergency room panicking at the sight of surgeons and wounded people on gurneys. All I wanted was to get a TB test so I could start my new job working at a preschool downtown. Rushing back down the hall of the emergency room, I knew I had to get out of there before I over-pondered my mortality. Naturally, the clinic was closed when I arrived, but some nice doctor ladies took pity on me and sent me over to get the injection. This whole fiasco could have been avoided if I hadn’t become so flustered after my 3 hour Muni trip failure. Since I have to go back again to get the test read, I figured I needed to shape up quickly, so I could steer clear of future marathons.

If you are new to San Francisco like I am and don’t have a car, I suggest you go out prepared unlike me who had to flail around to figure out these common rules. Here are a few uber basic things I learned:

1) Get a “Clipper Card” 

Don’t be that guy who carries around a bag of heavy quarters to pay the bus fare in exact change. It’s annoying and you block the door. Clipper cards are reloadable or you can buy a monthly pass. See https://www.clippercard.com/ClipperWeb/muni/fares.do for more information.

2) Get a backpack and wear comfy shoes.

Forget about your favorite heels or cute purses. I was deeply attached to heeled shoes and fashionable bags when I got here, but as a bus rider, you are bound to do a lot of walking, bumping into people, and quick moves from Muni to Muni, so its just best to say you goodbyes now. Your feet will thank you and a solid pack is just easier by the end of the day.

3) Make sure you are going on bus 28 and NOT 28R. 

Some of the buses are only differentiated by a single letter, so be very careful as to not mistake 28 for 28R because they will take you to different locations.

4) Keep your phone charged.

Apps like “Metro San Francisco- Muni Bart” are great for figuring out when the next bus will arrive and are far more accurate than google maps. Or the bus stops have numbers you can dial to hear the schedules. “Citymapper” also has some great reviews and works well for navigating.

5) Don’t rely solely on your GPS.

GPS is great and wonderful and I don’t think I could survive without it, but it doesn’t always supply the most effective route options. Do your research before heading out and figure out which stops will take you where in your area.

6) Don’t be afraid to ask directions-from the DRIVER.

Asking for directions is OKAY, buy pedestrians will lead you astray. The bus drivers are more than willing to answer your questions and are actually pretty friendly, despite any road rage they might have. Avoid relying on the word of random people on the street because they may not know the streets as well as they think they do.Just ask the bus driver. Or at least old people who are native San Franciscans. You are new to the city. Don’t stress yourself out more than necessary.

7) The bus numbers run on BOTH sides of the street. 

Something I didn’t catch right away that I probably should have, is the fact that a bus 57 toward Lakeshore Plaza is not the same as a bus 57 toward West Portal Station. Pay attention to the bus number and the in/outbound location displayed on it. Sometimes, you have to cross the street to a more discretely marked stop of the same number to get to the destination you want.

8) People on the bus can be super inspiring!

If you are a writer, public transportation rides can be a great way to find new experiences and characters to write about. Being on the bus gives me time to do my homework before my next creative writing lecture and I am never without a story. There is a constant flow of travelers and families speaking various languages. Eaves drop on a few conversations here and there. Strike up a conversation. You never know who might have an interesting story.

I know there is much left to learn before I can call myself a Muni/Bart pro, but hopefully in another month, I’ll be able to get somewhere 45 minutes away in less than three hours…

Four Amazon Stars, Four Year Plans, and Publishing Fortitude: A Small Tale of Writing Success

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Photo by Carly Christine Photography.

As the florid Thoreau remarks, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Today, I would have never imagined that direction would navigate me through a forest of e-mails while I hunted for not one, but two online order receipts so I could collect a refund.

This is the unfortunately dull tale of my first, but hopefully not my last of mini publishing successes.

You see, I am about to embark on a trip around the world through literature thanks to my first college English class that requests I buy The Norton Anthology of World Literature Volumes A,B, and C. Amazon only sent me vol. A when I paid for the whole set… so I frantically tried to hunt down the collection in a city that seems all too absent of bookstores. (Thanks, Internet). The Barnes and Noble guy laughed at me and said “Wow, you’re planning to do a lot of reading.” Then it hit me. I was about to do a shit ton of reading and I couldn’t waste time by not having my books. School would be starting in four days and I needed to be completely prepared.

But that’t the funny thing about life, school, work- we can never be prepared for what’s ahead, no matter how many four year life plans we make for ourselves (yes, that is exactly what I was doing a minute ago).

My rage toward the expansionist nature of the cyber-bookstore-lacking-non-stop-connection world calmed when I got an e-mail from an editor of local newspapers, saying the article, submitted in a flurry of other stressed messaging, was a “great fit” for their papers. Now this might have been a small achievement in the unforgiving world of publishing,but for me it was a huge “success in common hours.” I was definitely not expecting that news. All those dull e-mails I had to send during the day to get my appropriate textbooks or keep up with work were faithfully nudging me along in the direction I wanted to go. Sticking to the tasks at hand got my book situation corrected and- surprisingly -got my article printed.

To anyone who has a publishing dream or a simple Amazon order they need to take care of, my advice for you is to be vigilant and self assured that your efforts will allow you to achieve your goals.  You will get angry at the perpetual waterfall of e-mails you will almost drown in while editing, approving, and submitting work. You may doubt yourself- a lot. After the college application process, I was deeply saddened by the fact I was not accepted into any UC’s, not because I was sad about not being able to attend (I’m headed off to the state school of my dreams in four days), but because I thought it was the writing of my personal statement that failed my chances. I tore myself apart internally as a writer. And this is where I was misguided.

Receiving that e-mail from the editor made me realize I wrote something that someone out there was pleased to hear and thought others needed to hear too. All I needed was to find that audience. It may have been a small article, but the same principle applies to whatever short story, novel, poem, essay you seek to craft. (If it is an article you seek to publish, contact the editor of your local paper by going to their website, breathe, and submit). So before you dismiss a future of publishing, ask yourself, “Am I headed confidently in the right direction?” If you are writing, yes. If you are reading, yes. If you are invested in your own success, yes. And if you have the confidence to show that to the world? Absolutely.

With this new writing motivation, I think it’t time to revise the four year plan.

A Night Owl Swimming in “A Moon Shaped Pool”: Why Radiohead Is Keeping Us Awake

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I was editing three of my favorite moon photos together while listening to A Moon Shaped Pool and was inspired to write this article. Photo by Carly Christine Photography .

There’s nothing more haunting than the sound of Thom Yorke cooing in your ear late in the night, but we can all rest easy knowing that after a 5 year hiatus, Radiohead
has brought us just the musical gift we’ve been restlessly waiting for: album number nine, A Moon Shaped Pool. 

All those thoughts, doubts, and feelings reserved for 3am that plague our brains in the dark are backed by the eerie raw Radiohead sound fans have come to know and crave.

Emotions ranging from love to panic are covered in this chilling selection. Some numbers, like “Burn the Witch” even carry underlying political tones, addressing the isolation of immigrant groups and barbaric mob mentality. Fear of descending into the unknown is conveyed in the graceful ballad “Glass Eyes,” whose calm instrumental moment contrasts the anxiety of the lyrics while emphasizing the sadness of feeling “love turn cold.” The aloof heartbroken “Identikit” that follows is more antsy with its use of guitar and is akin to the impatience heard in “Burn The Witch”. Hopeful “Desert Island Disk” (after the BBC 4 Radio talk show) might as well be a lullaby, whereas “Daydreaming” might be the most unnerving track on the album with its slew of frightening background vocals and ambient noise.

The orchestral progressions that mark this album make the tracks transition smoothly from one to the next, making it difficult to simply listen to one song. A Moon Shaped Pool is a series of disturbed and impassioned waves that rise and fall. Once you start riding, these waves engulf you. You drown and feel like you are mentally swimming (or floating) in whatever otherworldly Moon Shaped Pool the band manifested. Thom’s signature uneasy vocal peaks and troughs provide for a sound that is as foreign as the moon, yet unapologetically Radiohead.

This beautiful fusion of electronic, rock, and classical styles will keep you listening all night and force you to feel something profound-even if you are emotionally squeamish.
 

“The City” is (even more) Pretty After Reopening of SFMOMA

 

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SFMOMA exterior.

After a three year closure, the SFMOMA boasts having “three times more gallery space” open to art lovers of all ages and free to those 18 years or younger. Last week, I had the pleasure of accompanying a bus full of individuals over twice my age to see the newly remodeled San Francisco Museum of Modern art. I must say, it was a bit intimidating to listen to all the others in the tour group discuss artists and styles that I had never even heard of, but I knew my job wasn’t to be an expert, it was to photographically document the trip held by the Sacramento Fine Arts Center.

 

This may go down in history as one of the best work days of my life. I got to roam around a stunning museum all day in my favorite city drinking over priced coffee and clicking my camera’s shutter button relentlessly.

The building itself beckons and the remodeling has created extra perks  ,including six art filled terraces that allow for city dwellers to breathe fresh air, appreciate sculptures, and take in the urban glory that is San Francisco.

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View from one of the SFMOMA’s outdoor terraces. Perhaps I am strange, but I was hoping for a foggier day… Photo by Carly Christine Photography.

For almost an hour, my friend and I sat enjoying the view. There was a great deal to explore during our visit (and an even greater number of stairs to climb), so we were thankful to have a place to rest that still made us feel like we were participating in art admiring activities.

We didn’t have to move a muscle to check out this stoned guy (am I punny yet?)!

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This outdoor sculpture is next to a glass window that reflects the cityscape. Photo again by me.

Although the building’s exterior had much to offer, the SFMOMA’s interior brought the eye to something exquisite. More than ten floors of crisp white walls supported art of all media, size, and color. Over one day-even more than 2- is needed to digest all the works. Even the sitting areas with random splashes of  blue were worth appreciating . And don’t even get me started on the bathrooms…

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One of the only spots without a white wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bathrooms (at least the woman’s) were the most vibrant shade of red-a hue so intense, that my eyes needed to readjust after taking a potty break and admittedly a few selfies. I never thought a hand washing station in a public restroom would be so inspiring, but leave it to SFMOMA to blow my mind.

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Yeah, I made my friend model in a public restroom. Deal with it.

The loo aside, my favorite exhibit hands down was a two wall section filled with photos by Jim Goldberg: an excerpt from a series titled “Rich and Poor” that takes an uncomfortably intimate look at the desires and feelings of Americans on various levels of the social spectrum. The concept of “a picture is worth a thousand words” is challenged by Goldberg as he quite literally meshes his subject’s own words into his photographs, giving the still picture subjects a haunting, yet strong voice.

 

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Photo from Jim Goldberg’s exhibit. The intensity of the collection had me messed up for a while…That’s how you know art’s good.

 

I was sorry I couldn’t spend another day at the SFMOMA, but impending wine and cheese on the bus ride back definitely made saying goodbye a little less difficult. Besides, I will be back. Hopefully many times more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Smart Photographers Travel With Smartphones?

For a long while, traveling without my Nikon DSLR made me feel anxious. Actually, I felt naked. I needed the security of a strap slung over my shoulder and a lens cap in my back pocket. Lately however, I’ve been thrown into situations that require my photo happy self to take a deep breath and ditch the extra luggage. And this is where the withdrawal begins…

Perhaps what I fear most is lacking the ability to capture an image in a moment of intense inspiration- a kind of fuel that makes a me stop in the middle of the street and take a knee to get the perfect shot regardless of the people running into me, the kind of creative outburst that interrupts vacation activities with friends. Not being able to act on this photographing habit (or dare I say impulse) is like being a junkie without his or her fix. I become obsessive, thinking over and over again, “damn that would have made a great picture. If only I had my camera…”

Then one day, I got my hands on an old issue of American Photo that talked about the budding realm of smartphone photography that was supposedly revolutionizing the practice. I was obstinate and unconvinced-until I saw the photos. They were stunning and admittedly way better than anything I have ever taken on my digital camera. Moreover, I’ve been constantly seeing the “Shot on iPhone 6” billboards displaying exquisite images. A new hope emerged and I vowed to be unafraid of losing my picture potential on excursions as long as I was armed with my Samsung.

The result: painless and fairly picturesque. Below are some of my favorites so far.

*all images taken on a Samsung Galaxy S4 by Carly Christine Photography

 

 

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Surprise Bouquet

 

With all the different filters out there, you don’t need anything fancy to convert your photos to black and white!

And the overall quality of the image is surprisingly high.

 

 

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Rain in the Window

 

 

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San Fran Salutations

 

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Sunset

 

 

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Truck on the Road

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Carmichael Botanical Gardens

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Summer Bonfire

 

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Somewhere Near Wine Country

The best part is that the device fits in a single pocket! My smartphone will never replace my Nikon, but it helps conquer that craving for creativity. To any photographers like me who shy away from their phone camera, don’t dismiss the functionality of your cell! Since many of us carry around our phones 24/7, repurposing your mobile device as an art tool can open up even more opportunities to be inspired. So be spontaneous next time you travel and leave behind your clunky camera. Afterall, this is the 21st century.

July Jitters and Caffine Creativity

There’s no better time to sit down with a cup of coffee and take in the scenery than a month before moving to a different city. And not just any city, The City. My stomach is in knots from due to the excitement and anticipation (and maybe a little of the caffine). The whirlwind of change, although positive, is stressful.

My current dabbling in art avocation for a non profit started out as the perfect gig for me as a rookie photographer. But even that is becoming yet another pressure and my most recent photo job ran my creativity dry.

I needed to wind down, so before the fourth, I took a much needed break to go hide out in the woods and take a bunch of photos of the cabin I often visited in the summertime as a child. It was amazing how every twig and every dilapidated object suddenly became something to reminisce over.

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As much as I am looking forward to the hustle and bustle of urban life, stepping back and getting close to nature again was just the thing I needed to ditch my anxiety and get out of my creative funk.

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Each morning, I sipped a cup of coffee and photographed at my leisure.

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And I quickly realized that the wildlife  makes for a much more patient portrait subject.

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No time is wasted fixing hair or photoshopping skin.

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The beauty is natural and effortless.

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Although, it flies away fast if you don’t have a quick shutter…

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So I enjoyed it while I could and will remember it while studying in the city – a place that has a natural beauty of it’s own.

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I’m sure when I get there, I won’t be left uninspired.

Coffee, Anthropomorphism, and “College Readiness”

As an incoming college student, the enrollment process and stress eating occupies a great deal of my time and  few things seem to hold my attention at school anymore. At this point, I only go because I need to pass Physics and for some reason really love English. I was given a writing assignment last week to personify an object and as half-alive me chugged my coffee, I thought it was only logical that I contemplated my addiction through a letter from the beverage itself.

Which reminds me, (in the midst of writing an essay for SFSU’s totally fun “directed self-placement” assessment) it’s time for a coffee break.

If you’re at all a coffee addict, you’ll understand my anthropomorphic story below. WARNING: this work my contain punny content!

Photo by me: Carly Christine Photography

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  Coffee Break

You were young when you met me, too young for your own good.Oblivious of your affections, you married me to chocolate, a wedding you thought to be so kind and so sweet, that you drank in the romance and savored the flavor of new love.  After my divorce, I became bitter. I drowned myself in sorrow and a promiscuous woman named Lucerne Leche- a most dispassionate girl,  pale white, and as cold to heart as she was to the touch. She said she grew up on a farm and was looking for adventure in the city. I used her up quickly, leaving her high and dry, and forgot about her as quickly as she came.  Feeling like I was fluid, falling, with nothing to anchor me, I found solace in Pot for awhile. But soon enough, my infamous dealer Keurig got into some trouble and I supposed it was time for a change.

When I left Lucerne, a new type of boldness pervaded me. I accepted my dark side and became at peace with my demons.  I even bought a new Arabian cologne that matched my new found confidence. I chose the scent after you- after you told me your favorite dance in the Nutcracker ballet was Arabian coffee.

I never planned to grow old with you.

I always thought you deserved better than me. I wore all the brand names to please you-Starbucks, Pete’s, Temple, but none of that mattered because  you took me anyway, without judgments, day after day, keeping me within arm’s reach. And that love of your’s, well, it swallowed me whole.

You knew I was bad news, all your friends even said so, and perhaps this is what made me more desirable. Intoxicated by my aroma, you inhaled my scent, becoming more and more alert. Oh my dear, I was like a drug to you.  “Happy and alive,” you called the feeling. I’ll never forget the way you laughed, the way you smiled next to me.

We never spoke of it, because in the light, all was well. At night however, you would lay awake, head pounding, heart racing, restless. You’d stay up all night thinking and writing, and pacing, and writing about your thinking. Your mind was buzzing because you couldn’t shake the adrenaline. And when I left the next morning I saw your face, what I had done to you and I simply could not bear it. Your eyes were heavy and your mouth was dry and that pretty little head of yours, struck by a violent migraine.

All because I couldn’t be there for you.

I want you to know that my apologies are sincere and perhaps I should have had more of a filter during our relationship; maybe that would have helped me get clean.

But as it turns out, you my darling, are the one who needs to get clean.

I was your drug of choice and now you must forget about me.
Sincerely, your melancoffee love,

Folgers.

The 20 of ’15 Playlist

I am more than fortunate to say I spent my New Year’s eve in a room full of people I love. After the off key karaoke to “I Love Rock and Roll,” the pounds of food, and something that resembled a Soul Train line,  I watched a pair of my friends dance, eyes locked on one another in the middle of the room as “In The New Year” by The Walkmen played in the background. Another couple sat beside me smiling, and beyond them were people laughing on couches, sitting cross legged on the carpet, all anxiously awaiting the countdown.

Glasses clink, people kiss, fireworks sound…then comes the imminent bittersweet feeling following an end.

“You’re deviled eggs were the last thing I ate in 2015 and the first I ate in 2016!” I laughed at my good friend’s post New Year’s exclamation, feeling oddly flattered by my hors d’oeuvre’s small moment of fame.

Despite the big leaps and setbacks of this year, the most brief and mundane of moments became those I treasured most. The handful of concerts I attended, for instance, not only kept me sane, but reunited me with old friends and surprised me with fun acquaintances. For the other times where there was simply no time or money to attend shows, I engrossed myself in the wonderful new sounds that artists had to offer. Thus, once again, a “20 of…” playlist was born.

1. “(All Afternoon) In Love”- The Vaccines

I’ll admit, I am sucker for a love song. (All Afternoon) In Love, like New Year’s is bittersweet. Although the lyrics describe a broken relationship, the wistful song finds a glimmer of hope in falling in love.


2 . “Put A Flower In Your Pocket”-Arcs

Dan Auerbach, lead singer of the Black Keys made a sweet little psychedelic funk, soul love-child. And it’s fantastic. As a fan of the Black Keys, I was happy to see Auerbach take on a side project this year. The result: something a little more electronic than the Black Keys and unique enough to stand on its own.


3. “Radar”-AudioDamn!

I was attracted to the band’s name before I even learned I liked their music. Not only does the name contain a mild swear word, but it is punctuated with an exclamation mark. What could be more exciting than that? Not to mention I first read it as “AudioDAAAMN!!!” with a little more enthusiasm than necessary. Once I hit play I was greeted with an equally as enthusiastic soul jam that was refreshingly different from other 2015 material.


4. “Me & My Girls” -Selena Gomez

I unexpectedly fell onto the Selena Gomez bandwagon. “Me and My Girls” is a straight forward girl power song fit for dancing. “No jodas nosotras.” Gracias, chicos. 😉


5. “Honeymoon”- Lana Del Rey

Honeymoon as an album was not my favorite, but as a song, it had me mesmerized by the haunting instrumental introduction and bleak lyrics, unbefitting of honeymoon merriment.


6. “The Ground Walks, With Time In A Box” – Modest Mouse

Nothing seems to mix together appropriately in this bizarre Modest Mouse concoction and it is a bit maddening.

“Bring your candy taster, time wasters around
And we’ll fuck with their minds.” Umm…What? This whole song sort of fucked with my mind. The concept of “the world’s an inventor with it’s work crawlin, runnin, squirmin ’round” is intriguing, for sure. The more I listen to this song, the more I feel like it is something akin to the poems in my literature class.


7. “Me Myself and I”- G-Easy, Bebe Rexha

“Oh, it’s just me, myself and I
Solo ride until I die
Cause I got me for life”

Growing up as an only child with a single mother, this was practically preached to me. Perhaps not verbatim, but pretty close. She told me I better learn to love myself, because people will come into my life as quickly as they go. I can only count on myself.


There is also quite a bit to be discussed about greed and fame and their consequences of pain and loneliness. However, the three mentioned lines resonated with me more than anything.

8. “I Love You, Honeybear”- Father John Misty

Perhaps it would be audacious of me to say that “I Love You, Honeybear” is the easily the finest song of 2015? It may sound like a cute piece from a romantic movie soundtrack, but all daintiness is lost when woeful vocals pierce through the dreamlike melody. What keeps the track from being completely depressing is its almost comedic matter-of-fact attitude that is too dry and real to bring a listener down. “Everything is doomed and nothing will be spared” but that’s okay, because he loves his Honeybear. Isn’t that sweet?


9. “Slab of Butter ‘Scorpion'”- Miley Cyrus feat. Sarah Barthel

Flaming lips teamed up with Miley to produce the monster of an album Miley Cyrus and Her dead Petz. Instead of another round of “Party in the USA” tracks, Miley ‘blessed’ the world with genius lines like “I feel like a slab of butter.” Enough said. Wait… Some glitter was harmed in the making of this album.


10. “Mountain at My Gates”- Foals

Trust me that the song is great. But the corresponding video deserves some serious credit. This was the first Go Pro music video I had ever seen and it knocked my socks off. I looked like an idiot spinning around my living room with my phone, but I didn’t care. It was magical.


11. “Genghis Khan”- Miike Snow

“Genghis Khan” is frankly one of those songs that I can’t seem to stop humming everywhere I go. There’s not a whole lot of meat to it, but the hook is really catchy and somewhat amusing. I’m hoping to see some more Miike in 2016.


12. “Sedonna”- Houndmouth

It’s 4:35 am. “Sedonna” is really pretty.

I still don’t know what hue “a Saturday night kinda pink”is…


13. “Losers”- The Weeknd

I will start by saying that any song that includes a horn wins points with me automatically.

What sets “Losers” apart from many other tracks on Beauty Behind the Madness, is the dynamic quality it has. The song begins as more of a soft ballad, crescendos into the chorus, and then shifts to a state of dominating vocals that pose interesting questions: “And now that we’re all grown up, who do we owe it to?” “And now that we all came up, do we lose? Do we lose?” After a life of  growing and advancing, is there anything else to gain once we have reached our respective thrones?


14. “Hello”-Adele

“Hello, it’s me,” still writing.
“I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet,” and talk about how great Adele is? This lovely lady broke records with her album sales. She also made me cry with this song. *sniff* Beautiful.


15. “Deja Vu”- Giorgio Moroder, Sia

My guilty pleasure has always been disco or anything that is disco related. DJ Giorgio Moroder collaborated with Sia (from Australia, where all good music can be found) to make this upbeat disco pop track.


16. “Now”- Joywave

“Now” will be the song I remember hearing on the radio most frequently in 2015.


17. “Searching for A Devil”- In The Valley Below

For my 18th birthday, my friend and I went to see these folks live and what a performance! To put it lightly, the lead female singer was a bit frightening-mostly because she didn’t blink enough and every movement she made was delicate, controlled, and almost inhuman. Not to mention, what sounds like a tambourine in this song is actually a chain that she stood stoically shaking. She was lovely though, and she and her husband (the lead singer) had a wonderful on stage chemistry.


18. “Yes, I’m Changing”- Tame Impala

I was tempted to swap “Yes, I’m Changing” for “The Less I know, The Better” from Tame Impala’s album Currents but I found the former to be more applicable to my 2015 reflection. “They say people never change, but that’s bullshit, they do. Yes I’m changing, can’t stop it now.
And even if I wanted I wouldn’t know how.”


19. “Black Sun”- Death Cab for Cutie

I was unbelievably excited when Death Cab for Cutie released an album this year. “Black Sun” got the number two spot on my list before I listened to anything else on this list. One of my favorite bands of all time.


20. “What Kind of Man”- Florence and the Machine

Saving the best for last…”What Kind of Man” by dear Florence- a medley of killer guitar pieces, prominent horns, and striking powerhouse vocals.


Oh, one last thought for the new year: “2016 is the year MGMT re-dominates your mind hole.”         So ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 in Concerts

Today was the day I finally dumped all of my phone’s contents onto my computer-a relief for the poor Samsung who was storing such an enormous gallery that it was struggling to even function. In the midst of embarrassing friend photos, selfies, and travels I found dozens of videos from concerts I attended this past year. With 2016 only a few days away, I thought scrapping together these clips would be a good way to remember my 2015 musical adventures.

Photographs from these concerts and more can be found at my personal photography website.

 

A Kylie Christmas!

I can vividly remember, back in 2004, sitting in a corner far away from the rest of the kids who were on the playground. In my hands rested one of my most treasured possessions- my portable CD player which contained yet another gem, the Ultimate Kylie collection disc one of two. While most other seven year olds listened to the Jonas Brothers, I played Kylie Minogue tracks obsessively (not as obsessively as Cher, but that’s a blog for later). “Can’t Get You Outta My Head” was the song that first got me hooked which is ironic, because still to this day whenever I hear that song I seriously can’t get it out of my head. It’s awful. Thanks, first grade self!

But when I heard that the  Australian pop beauty released a Christmas album, I knew my holidays were about to be happy. “Kylie Christmas” is a collection of 13 holiday songs, ready to brighten the mood at every ugly sweater party. Take a little time to do some wrapping with Iggy Pop. Wait for Santa alongside Frank Sinatra. As long as you have Minogue’s festive album on hand, you’ll surely be of good cheer!

 

Catfish and The Bottlemen Album Review: The Balcony

The Alt-Rock group Catfish and the Bottlemen has fallen out of love and into lust with the release of their debut album, “The Balcony.”

In 2013, the band made themselves known with the singles “Homesick” and “Rango,” but didn’t start topping charts until the following year when the hit “Kathleen”  topped the US Alt-Rock chart at number 17.

Ditching all traces of hearts and flowers, these Welsh natives channel their inner teenage boy jamming in mom’s garage while still sounding sufficiently grown up. “The Balcony” is upbeat, fast paced, spunky, and thoroughly irritated, with longing. The lyrics are anything but subtle in songs like “Business”, which tell of eager intentions “to get drunk in [the] bedroom,” despite having no time to be friends. A lustful Van McCann belts out raspy cries of exasperated desire in between otherwise clear vocals, desperate to reconnect with a former lover on nothing more then a physical level, for the relationship always just “seem(s) to fall out” when he needs her most.

Even the album artwork emphasizes that the dilemma is physical rather than emotional. What better way to represent the drunken and blinded need conveyed in The Balcony then a headless couple getting physical? The naïve and youthful nature of the album is refreshing and strays from the other serious rather intimate albums in Alt-Rock as of late. So far, Catfish and the Bottlemen have achieved success as the new kids in the genre and will hopefully continue to create pleasing work in coming years.

Nine Nifty Musical Numbers to Note

There is something wonderfully ironic about writing a blog post to avoid other forms of assigned essay writing…  Perhaps all this talk about turning over a new leaf in 2015 and dubbing it my “best year yet” gives me a false sense of security? Procrastination hit me like a freight train this year and has warranted my attention everywhere but where it is needed most. Luckily, I can always count on my trackless educational journey being music filled to make the trek easier.

(Speaking of “Trek”, excuse me while I take a moment of silence for the dear Leonard Nimoy. I will always remember the endless trips to Blockbuster 8 year old me took to watch and re-watch the original Mr. Spock.)

Aside from that tragic loss last week, the first couple months of 2015 have brought promising new tracks just itching to be in a blog post. My wallet is already hurting from expected album purchases…Here are nine nifty musical numbers to note, if you haven’t already:

1. Black Sun- Death Cab for Cute

Watch out, the melancholy Death Cab is back on the road!

2. What Kind of Man- Florence and The Machine

Finally, some Florence with killer vocals and sweet guitar. Been missing this lovely lady since 2012.

3. My Type-Saint Motel

2014’s fun bubbly My Type EP keeps me dancing nonstop! The smooth Indie Prog group, Saint Motel, promises an album later this year.

4. The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box- Modest Mouse

A feisty new single with scrappy instrumentation.

5.  It Is Just What It Is- Guster

A track from Guster’s newest album Evermotion.

6. I Love You, Honeybear- Father John Misty

A song as sweet as honey…more or less.

7. Uptown Funk- Bruno Mars

My biggest guilty pleasure song. Ever. Do me a favor and just try not to dance.

8. Mouth Mantra- Bjork

Bjork’s Vulnicura album is immensely painful because “there is a vocal sadness” conveyed in the tracks that is unparalleled. “Mouth Mantra” along with the album’s other tracks literally sounds broken and should be credited for its uniqueness.

9. Weight of Love- The Black Keys

An intimate single with a bluesy introduction and skillful guitar pieces. As always, the Keys impress.

Bands Who Are Feeling Shaky In 2015

shaky in 2015 bands cover

Coldplay is becoming a cold case. Yeah Yeah Yeahs are feeling like the No No Nos. And U2 might just become U…

After experiencing a successful year with the release of their 2014 album Ghost Stories, the beloved British rock band Coldplay is now saying record number seven just might be their concluding set. In an interview with Zane Lowe, lead vocalist Chris Martin says, “Its our seventh thing and the way we look at it is like the last Harry Potter book…this is the completion of something. Its just a very fun time to be in our band. I have to think of it as the final thing we do otherwise we wouldn’t put everything into it.” Sometime in the next 12 months, fans can expect to see the groups newest release A Head Full of Dreams hit iTunes and store shelves, but their future beyond that remains a mystery.     

Lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O came out in 2014 saying that the group was on “a bit of a hiatus at the moment,” which many (myself included) dramatized to be their demise. Reading more into her words, we find this is not the case and all the band needs is a little more inspiration to fuel their “yeah!” screaming indie rock fire. “We have to wait to get that urge, get that itch. The time needs to be right and we’re okay waiting for that,” says O.  Even though the most recent Yeah Yeah Yeahs album Mosquito might have left some wanting more, listeners can still find some of the band’s unique sound and energy in O’s first full solo record Crush Songs which I mentioned in my 20 of ’14 post. Sadly, the tracks, recorded long ago almost never found their way to the outside world due to O’s fear of exposing their raw and intimate nature. Thank goodness they did because the reality of the music is heartbreaking, but damn good- at least enough to make me forget my Yeah Yeah Yeahs craving for a little while.  When the band finally gets their feet off the ground again O says, “it’ll be like muscle memory, this unspoken thing between the three of us where it all just…locks in.”

As for U2, the band who sparked 2014’s favorite album controversy, came out with another surprise for fans courtesy of frontman Bono who posted an A to Z New Year’s post  on the group’s website bringing a bit of sad news.  Bono recalls a severe injury he was afflicted with on his 50th birthday writing, “I blanked out on impact and have no memory of how I ended up in New York Presbyterian with my humerus bone sticking through my leather jacket.” “Very punk rock as injuries go,” he jokes.  

 Although the result of the injury may be no laughing matter when it comes to Bono’s future with U2. “It is not clear I will ever play guitar again,” he confesses in an ABC news report. Despite his uncertainty, he concludes his post with a hopeful optimism for the future generation: “As they age, I don’t know if they’ll be playing our music, but if we are still around, I hope to be deafened by the joyful noise of a world unrecognizably better because of the innovations in science, medicine, and equality they bring about. The biggest breakthroughs are always in the way we see the world. We could do with some fresh eyes. On U2 too.”

Perhaps Songs of Innocence will be the last album we hear from U2…If so, at least U2 can say they left off on more than a good note.

 

 

The 20 of ’14 Playlist

 

2014playlist cover

Since today is New Year’s Eve, I naturally started to reflect on my 2014 music selections during the past few days which sparked a ridiculous flood of memories from the past 12 months. So I busted out my Walkman player (in place of my daily Pandora regimen) late last night for a change of pace, listening to anything but 2014 tracks when it suddenly occurred to me how wonderfully 2013 had treated my ears with new favorite albums courtesy of Arctic Monkey’s, The National, and quite a few others. Despite this, I never sat down to craft a “20 of ’13” list and the thought was saddening, because honestly, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to look back and document my year than through my most resected and favored tunes.

The “20 of…Playlist” is back and here to stay!

1. “Who We Are”- Switchfoot

This track was one of the first new songs I came across in 2014 and  I almost didn’t recognize the band Switchfoot when I heard “Who We Are.” Their change of sound was a pleasant surprise. The track was  light, airy, and summed up my youthful “wide-eyed innocence.” 2014  had just begun and there was “still time enough to choose who we are.” (Looks like I’ll still be trying to figure out that one in 2015…)

2. “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”- U2

Ah U2…they caused a ruckus this year by releasing their lastest album Songs of Innocence for free. The contraverrsy is still somewhat puzzling to me, because U2 made a decision they felt was right for them, therefore, the Black Keys frontman or anyone else for that matter should leave the band be. Who wouldn’t appreciate free music? As for me, having access to a free album online  is not going to stop me (a CD collector) from investing in the record. U2 is an enjoyable rock band, so forgive them for trying to spread musical joy. “The Miracle of Joey Ramone” is a passionate U2 number with expressive vocals. The not too harsh yet solid guitar jams make the track catchy and radio ready.

3. “Fever”- The Black Keys

“Fever”  hit the FM like wildfire but the rest of the record seemed to get tucked away. Admittedly, the Black Keys’ 2014 album Turn Blue was not my favorite, but definitely not a total bust. “Fever” is one of those songs that takes a couple listens to grow on you and can be appreciated for deviating from the Keys’ artistic norms. I was fortunate enough to attend the Turn Blue concert at Arco Arena for  my birthday (I don’t care what people say, it will always be Arco) where they played mostly hits from El Camino and Brothers. Background graphics and a rather long encore were the icing on  the Black Keys cake. Even my friend who enjoys criticizing my taste was bobbing his head at  the concert.  So if you take anything away from this ridiculously long list, know that the Keys are excellent live.

4. “Fall In Love”- Phantogram

Dare I say, I fell in love in 2014?…

Well, to say the least, I certainly showed a lot of love for Phantogram this year by sticking songs from Voices on repeat.

5. “I Never Learn”- Lykke Li

Whether someone listens to Lykke Li’s gorgeously melancholy tune in 2014, 2015 or years from now, the lyrics to “I Never Learn” hold an infallible truth to which any human being could relate. Tears, guilt, and pain are unavoidable, yet we do our best to ignore them. Will we ever learn? Perhaps, its best not to, especially if the end result is anything like the melodies of Lykke Li.

6. “Best Friend”- Foster The People

This is probably my top played song of 2014. I was completely hooked after first listen and fascinated with the accompanying video. Models eating models? Thank you, Foster the People.

7.”Klapp Klapp”- Little Dragon

Nothing could top Little Dragon’s Machine Dreams album but she did produce solid work this year that is mechanical, haunting, and a bit alarming (especially when accompanied by the music videos).

8. “All The Rage Back Home”- Interpool

One of my favorite groups, Interpool managed to please, yet again, with sexy vocals from frontman Paul Banks and smooth, catchy guitar pieces.

9.”Lazzaretto”- Jack White

Lets get technical with Jack White’s newest masterpiece (Yes, I’m audacious. I said masterpiece.) It is so perfectly flawed that the sound is both disturbing and electric. Jacks vocals fight the ears of his listeners. A great blend of chaos and skill.

10. “Left Hand Free”- Alt-J

Alt-J is fucking weird. But when their astute attention to odd and disturbing detail  (in songs like “Every Other Freckle”)  combines with an artful instrumental backround, it somehow works. “Left Hand Free” has got to be one of the least bizarre Alt-J songs I’ve heard where the band takes a more bluesy approach.

11.”Guess Again!”- Thom Yorke

Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, the latest album by our dear friend Thom Yorke is sad and evokes feelings of loneliness that somehow leave you fulfilled. It is nothing to special, really, but it is a “listening” album that is thought provoking and noteworthy.

12. “Om”- NehruvianDOOM

A very impressive 18 year old Bishop Nehru has found his way through my headphones this year and I’ve gotta say, its refreshing to hear an upcoming rapper avoiding extensive profanity and degrading lyrics. As a female, listening to Bishop Nehru, I don’t feel the least disrespected and can devote all my attention to  hearing the lyrical stories unfold. He teamed up with the well-known NehruvianDOOM to produce a self titled album that is short and oh-so-sweet. I enjoy “Om” for many reasons: one being that it has a spoken introduction that made me raise an eyebrow in slight confusion.  The overall sound was different, yet classic in the best possible way.

13. “All This Could Be Yours”- Cold War Kids

My fingers are tiring from typing…Its a good song, m’kay?

14. “Do You”- Spoon

After too long of an absence, Britt Daniel is back! Enough said.

15.”Take Me To Church”- Hozier

The radio loved the track this year, as did I. “Take Me To Church” is a beautiful and heartfelt ballad that exudes spirituality.

16.”Mind Over Matter”- Young The Giant

A lot of mind and matter battling took place throughout my personal 2014 and this song was my escape to places far away from Sacramento. It reminds me of all the people and places I have met and missed this year. I am taken back to my trips to New York and recall the matters on my mind during those rainy city days. After more recent trips to LA, those matters seem increasingly insignificant now after being replaced with new matters my mind has to reflect upon. Maybe someday I will get to write about a venture in Tokyo where it snows…

17.”Rapt”- Karen-O

I’ve always felt a strange personal connection to Karen O and I was left frowning after hearing that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were on a hiatus. Turns out, I had nothing to fear, for Karen’s new solo release  will be more than enough to tide me over until the Yeah Yeah Yeahs dig up a little inspiration. In the meantime, listening to the product of her angst (Crush Songs), I find myself being moved by Karen’s voice more than ever. The tracks are more soothing and dialed down than  typical Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs but still pack an emotional punch that really lets her personality shine through. The recording of Crush Songs gives the impression of Karen being far off into her own world where she coos in a rhaspy voice, ” love is soft, love’s a fucking bitch. Do I really need another habit like you?” while her song “Body” sums up the album with the verse “if you love some body, anybody, there will always be someone else, so make it right for yourself.” Well said, Ms. O.

18. “Passing Out The Pieces”- Mac Demarco

Mac Demarco’s music has a unique  feel and there is a genuine quality in his voice that keeps me listening. In contrast to my musical taste in the beginning of 2014, the end of the year brought me back to more raw sounding tracks, a category in  which Demarco fits into nicely.

19. “Riptide”- Vance Joy

Riptide has been my personal anthem of 2014, being able to perk me up in any situation with its beachy vibes and snappy sound.

20. “Waves”- Sleeper Agent

This song conjures a feeling of closure in me and leave me feeling care free. “In the sticks, we’re bare foot friends. We chew on leaves and quote Huck Finn.” Sounds like typical lovely afternoon in a year that gave us consistently warm weather!

Well, “its over now I suppose…”

Thanks, 2014. Its been a fun ride.

Mocking Jay Part One Minus The Novel

It surprises me that an avid reader such as myself has never bothered to crack open the latest trilogy craze to hit the big screen, but by the time Twilight was shelved I was simply too exhausted to immerse myself in yet another widespread YA movement. So I did what I could to avoid the pull of  The Hunger Games and didn’t watch the movie until it was ready to

Photo courtesy of Mockingjay.net

The face Katniss made throughout the entire movie. Photo courtesy of Mockingjay.net

rent. After seeing the newest adaptation Mocking Jay Part I last night, I realized that abstaining from the series was the best thing I could have done to maximize the movie watching experience.

Considering how many sequels and superhero movies Hollywood has been cranking out lately, it was most refreshing to sit down at the theater with no prior knowledge of The Hunger Games story. Plot twists were still surprising and random explosions continued to make me jump.

And the best part?

Being able to enjoy the film as just that- a film. I did not spend the entire time picking out differences between bits of dialogue that were present in the book but not in the movie and I have consistently left the shows without disappointment.

Although, something about Mocking Jay Part I didn’t sit with me as well as the first two movies. Perhaps it was because Katniss was either wandering around the districts causing commotion or crying about Peeta (whose name frankly just makes me want Pita bread…) the whole time. It certainly did not have the same degree of dynamic scenes as the  former films and depicted characters who were overall flat, however I was pleased to finally feel the need to decide between Team Pita or Team Gale. The movie finally made strides in developing the sort of love triangle I’ve been hearing about but have yet to really care about until now.

Not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie, because the film kept my eyes locked to the screen the entire time, but my expectations had maybe become too high after seeing Catching Fire, whose cinematography work and soundtrack were more impressive than anticipated. Mocking Jay Part 1 may not have lived up to my opinion of Catching Fire, but it was definitely a movie worth seeing whether you have read the books or not.

 

Gazing at Night Tides with Robert Francis

I almost felt worse about spilling my drink considering the fact I wasn’t the least bit drunk. The straw I was sipping from was giving me tasty cherry doses of a Shirley Temple. Looking down at the fallen ice cubes I reluctantly accepted the fact that I am just clumsy and promptly turned to the man who fell victim to my butterfingers and apologized.

Its a funny thing being underage in a night club, the bouncer gives you lectures about staying safe on the nighttime sidewalks of Midtown, the person collecting entrance fees draws an X on your hand to deter you from alcohol, then as you walk away calls you back to draw yet another X just to be secure. I promise you I am no rebel child!

Vikesh Kapoor

Now that my hands had become sharpie masterpieces I began snapping photos of the opening act, a handsome looking lad from Oregon with a smooth voice and a knack for the harmonica. His name was Vikesh Kapoor and I was even able to talk with him for a brief moment after the show.

I just adore musicians. Especially ones with interesting names.

A few Kapoor songs later, the opening act moved in. Robert Francis and the Night Tide, a group of Indie Rockers immediately got my foot tapping and my friend swaying. Now, the best part of watching Robert Francis perform was how immersed in his music he seemed. Sporting a colorful variety of faces, Francis made for a pretty fun photography subject.

Here are my two favorites.rawrFace #1 “Rawr”

 smileFace #2 “Smile at your guitar like its your best friend”

This is what makes live music worth listening to, the raw emotion and expression that the performers exude on stage. It is so humbling. When he smiled, it was like he was a little boy playing a song on his guitar for the first time, an unmatched happiness. You can tell not only does Robert Francis enjoy what he does but he is damn good at it. Not a word was off key. Take a listen to “Junebug” but I guarantee it was better live. The rest of the band members met his waves of enthusiasm with grace and pulled them back into the tide to create music that flowed effortlessly. I am definitely satisfied with this new find. Nice work RF and the Night Tide!

 

Gather Oak Park- New Event Every Second Thursday

unseen-heros.com

unseen-heros.com

Listen up Sacramento, your Thursday evenings just got an upgrade.

This summer, second Thursdays are all about live music, good food, and beer. The Oak Park community has adopted a new event known as “Gather,” blocking off the area of 3rd and Broadway every month through October to encourage locals to well…gather!

“Aww, she’s a Gather virgin,” remarked the stranger next to me after I told her it was my first time at the event. This was the first of many brief conversations I would have throughout the evening and all around, I was glad to see that attendees were easily approachable, in good spirits (I don’t see how one couldn’t be after indulging in the wide selection of local food). But also felt a little out of place considering I wasn’t dressed like a young urbanite or a 1970’s flower child.

Minus the plethora of local alcohol,the environment was family friendly. Sol Collective, an organization devoted to arts, culture, and activism surrounding youth came with their “Geodome” hut and a variety of craft activities to keep the little ones busy.

Food trucks and booths supplied the cuisine and my favorite part was watching delicious pizza being made in a fiery stone oven courtesy of Hot Italian.  Vendors who surrounded the area provided merchandise ranging from jewelry and baby bibs to the most exciting vintage suitcases-turned-speakers.

Not overbearing and not too small, Gather was a great way to end my Thursday and I will definitely try and drop by next month to enjoy more friendly conversation, food, and performances.

Out With the Old and Into The Morning: Folk Band “Miner” Is a Little Ray of Sunshine

“It’s been a long time in the coal mine,” 

Miner Band Members Photo credit: Iammusicblog.com

Miner Band Members
Photo credit: Iammusicblog.com

and I seem to be stuck in an endless pursuit of new treasures and sounds to keep my music pallet satisfied. After a while now of picking away at various bands, I’ve decided that dropping the pick ax, getting your hands a little dirty and stepping outside the house to go experience live music is the best way to hunt.

I made my way to Harlow’s in Downtown Sacramento with the initial intention of seeing Cayucas but the opening act Miner quickly grasped my attention.  The epitome of the  “girl next door,” looking cheery and upbeat, prepped her instrument along with the rest of the band, making those happy little sounds from time to time that can only come from plucking the strings of a ukulele. Her partner in crime, later determined to be the lead singer, stood on stage with a classic country beard and a shockingly full head of hair.  The adorable husband and wife chemistry they brought to the stage was absolutely infectious!  Take a boy/girl duo with an “Of  Monsters and Men” folk aura,  give them a more down to earth feel, and you’ve got Miner. Though unlike our “Monster” friends, this underground pair has more straight forward vocals and their songs lack the same lyrical  ambiguity of the former. This allows for an authentic home grown sound that is honest real and overall, refreshing.  Peppering in a  bit of rich country twang into their style (although not too much to tamper with the folk rock sound),  the lovebirds seem to sing from the heart and belt out  unscripted emotion that is purely heartwarming.

Naturally, by the end of the night, the band had won me over and I was suckered into buying their CD  Into the Morning (which they ever so kindly autographed) . It was undoubtedly a worth while purchase because it has become one of the new precious gems in my collection.

From start to finish, the album shifts through different stages of love, cycling through the initial feeling of something more, to losing it for a while, only to rediscover it in a merry reunion. The album brings to mind new beginnings- happy ones full of fondness and affection and despite a few blue lyrics here and there, the music never loses touch with the joy of the simplicity that comes from nature and life and being able to share that with those you care about.   In an interview, lead singer Justin Miner remarked “this was all about entering a phase of light and positivity. A lot of the music I had been making prior to this had been centered around more negative emotions. I wanted to make a record about the good parts in life.” (http://lamusicblog.com/The hint of sadness and reality in the track When I Win You Over  is overshadowed by the hope of  winning back a love and starting a new life together; “When I win you over, we’ll count the flowers growing in the yard.”

The relationship between Kate and Justin is really the bond that brings the sounds of  Into the Morning together, for they relate to their music, being a married couple who has inevitably been through various ups and downs.  This fact makes their songs all the more impactful and in seeing them perform, the love they share is almost palpable. I am lucky to have listened to them live and my CD is sure to receive hours more of playing time, along with a place in my 2014 favorites.

 

 

Paws Up for Wild Cub and Hands at Harlow’s

A little bit goes a long way- especially when you are a long way from home.

Hands take the stage at Harlow’s. Photo by Christopher Aiello

Saturday, January 25th , Nashville grown Wild Cub showed their gratitude to a modest yet enthusiastic crowd at Harlow’s Night Club downtown, making their first ever Sacramento appearance. The crew was eager to catch the attention of the city and managed to turn at least a few heads by the end of the night. It was also a Sac-town debut for Hands, a group of spunky Indie Rockers from Los Angeles who were surprised to say they had never played in the capital. The band gave a dynamic opening performance that only increased the hype for Wild Cub and provided a smooth transition into the next act. With fun, euphoric, and “feel good” sounds, Wild Cub reeled in the crowd with their unique new wave style that kept people up and dancing. The overall atmosphere was mellow but certainly entertaining enough for a good time. The boys must have been feeling the love after patiently “waiting on love to call” in their upbeat hit Thunder Clatter, which was the clear favorite of the night.

Dispositions remained cool and relaxed post show with members walking around for photos, meet and greets, and merchandise sales; some nice bonuses for fans. The event was a success and the two groups really seemed to “hit it off” with Sacramento.