Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The End of the Year is Just an Excuse to Make Lists

One of the best things about the end of the year is being able to make lists for all sorts of things that happened in the past year. Best movies, worst phrases used by politicians, most tragic fashion ensembles... you get the point. But my favorite thing to make lists for is music. I love delving into the past year of music and coming up with lists of my favorite albums, favorite songs, most beautiful lyrics, biggest disappointments. Most of these lists are mental lists, but I thought I'd at least share one of them with the Internets. So here are my 10 albums from 2008:

1) Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend

I almost didn't give this band a chance to show me how good they really are. I had heard a few things about how they were overrated and it wasn't until my sister brought this CD home that I actually gave it a listen. And I loved it! Great, catchy melodies infused with weird African-ish rhythms. The lead singer's voice is perfect and the simple, innovative instrumentation lets it shine through. I could listen to this CD over and over for months.

Must have tracks: Mansard Roof, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, and M79

2) Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes

This CD takes a very close second to Vampire Weekend. Their music is gorgeous, lush, folk rock. All of the songs manage to sound dense and wide open at the same time. When I listen to this CD I feel happy, empowered, nostalgic, and invigorated all at the same time, and their lyrics contain some seriously beautiful phrases.

Must have tracks: White Winter Hymnal, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Ragged Wood

3) Volume 1 by She & Him

I sincerely hope the title of this album implies a Volume 2 somewhere in the future. This CD is a collaboration between M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, the actress in Elf and The Happening. Usually when movie stars try to cross over into music it's a disaster, but Zooey Deschanel is the exception. Her voice is hypnotically rich and the songs are perfectly written.

Must have tracks: Sentimental Heart and You Really Got a Hold on Me

4) Re-arrange Us by Mates of State

This CD is one gigantic love letter. My heart swells and I get a little euphoric while listening to it. I've never been a fan of this husband/wife duo until this CD, but I cannot stop listening to them. It'll make you want to dance, I promise.

Must have tracks: The ReArranger and Get Better

5) The Stand Ins by Okkervil River

I've been a fan of this band for a while and was excited to hear this album after their fantastic record, The Stage Names, came out last year. It did not disappoint. The lyrics are smart and poetic like usual and Will Sheff's vocals keep me coming back for more.

Must have tracks: Lost Coastlines and Pop Lie

6) Furr by Blitzen Trapper

This cd contains my absolute favorite song from the last year. Furr (the song not the album) is all about a boy who turns into a wolf, then a man, then a wolf again. It sounds silly when describing it, but it's a beautiful folk tale put to a fantastic melody. If you can stop listening to Furr on repeat, the rest of the album is good too :)

Must have track: Furr

7) For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver

All of these songs were written during a secluded winter in Wisconsin and when you listen to their songs, you can really feel the coldness of winter coming through. But in a good way. Every song is very quiet, very intense, and very good.

Must have track: Skinny Love

8) Rockferry by Duffy

She has an old school Billie Holiday sound to her voice just like fellow Brit Amy Winehouse. I listened to this CD on constant repeat after buying it because I loved it so much. It's one of those CDs you can blare in your car and sing at the top of your lungs to.

Must have tracks: Mercy, Rockferry, and Stepping Stone

9) Sleep Through the Static by Jack Johnson

A lot of Jack Johnson fans didn't like this record; I disagree with them, I think it's his best one yet. It's more melancholy than his last three records, but just as soothing and more heartfelt. And don't get me started about the song Angel. It's one of the sweetest love songs I've ever heard. I know I'll keep coming back to this CD because it's like comfort food in musical form.

Must have tracks: All at Once and Angel

10) Gossip in the Grain by Ray LaMontagne

I don't know if anything he puts out can ever top his previous album, Till the Sun Turns Black, but this is definitely a valiant effort. Ray has one of those voices that is both raspy and lush at the same time. I was lucky enough to see him live a couple of months ago and I was blown away by his voice all over again. It slays me. And while I'm talking about this record, I'm wondering why I didn't put him at a higher number on my list. It's so lovely.

Must have tracks: Let It Be Me, A Falling Through, You Are the Best Thing, Roses and Cigarettes.

These albums were also great and totally worth checking out:

Acid Tongue by Jenny Lewis

Tell Tale Signs by Bob Dylan

Feel Good Ghosts by Cloud Cult

Simple Times by Joshua Radin

Carried to Dust by Calexico

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Woot! Woot!

Woot! Woot! Haha, I just woot wooted. So lame. But I can't help it. I'm allowed to be lame and silly on such a great day. GObama! GObama! I wish I could show you the GObama dance my brother came up with to celebrate. Did I mention that awesome lameness is genetic?

Awesome lameness aside, I am of course ecstatic about Obama's victory tonight. Less ecstatic about my local races in Minnesota however. Things are up in the air with our senate race between Al Franklin, Norm Coleman, and Dean Barkley. I'm betting a recount will occur because the margin is so close between Franklin and Coleman. Also, my pick for house representative was bested by the amazingly awful Michele Bachman (of YouTube fame for proposing a media witch-hunt). That race makes me sick to my stomach.

Still, it was a good night for America and I'm extremely hopeful for the country. I truly believe and hope that Obama will reach out to Republicans and other country to work with them to get at solutions. I thought both McCain and Obama's speeches were just beautiful and I hope people will take their messages of unity to heart.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fall Colors

Hi, it's me, the absentee blogger. Here to show you fall pictures of the marsh that lives across from my neighborhood. Isn't it pretty? It's MUCH better in the fall than in the summer when all of the mosquitos are out in full force.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

8 Ways to Hi-Jack a Meme

Over the past year or so, I've gotten out of the habit of writing on my blog frequently, or even semi-frequently. And I keep thinking about shutting it down completely. But I think I've decided to keep it up and use it to post pictures and keep in contact with a few people. That being said, I don't really know if I'll be blogging in here more than once or maybe twice a month. At least for a while. Maybe I'll decide to really resurrect it in the future. But in the meantime, my cousin Lyndsi tagged me for a meme and I figured I actually do it since I haven't done one in a while. And then I kind of hi-jacked the meme...

1) How I Met Your Mother: I'm so in love with Neil Patrick Harris. So stinking funny. He mesmerizes me. Oh, and the show is pretty genius too :)
2) Veronica Mars: Dear CW, I will never ever forgive you for canceling the best dramady ever created and keeping trash like Smallville going. Pathetic.
3) 30 Rock: The cast and writing are pure comedic gold
4) The Daily Show/The Colbert Report: Ummm, yeah, Jon Stewart is pretty much my hero and it's always great to be able to laugh at right wing nut jobs through Stephen Colbert.
5) Pushing Daisies: Clever, beautiful, genius, weird. I can't wait till it comes back on next week
6) Arrested Development: Dear Fox, just like the CW, I will never forgive you for canceling one of the best shows ever to grace TV screens
7) Dexter: Creepety creeptastic
8) Psych: A show that definitely does not get enough credit for the fantastic duo that is James Roday and Dule Hill

1) I suffered through an intense 3.5 hour final in my real estate class. My teacher is sadistic.
2) I watched my dog mope around the back yard. Everyone is out of town except me and he DOES NOT take well to people leaving him.
3) I introduced my mom to the genius of Pushing Daisies
4) I thought about tackling the mountain of homework I have this weekend
5) My sister gave a speech about how awesome I am in her speech class. You're awesome too Lizbrith!
6) I bought a suit and nice shiny shoes to go with it
7) I hung out with my brother
8) My little sister got her driver's licence on the FIRST TRY! Watch out Twin Cities, here she comes!

1) Sideways, by Citizen Cope
2) Valerie, by Amy Winehouse
3) Ocean Stone, my Chris O'Brien
4) Your Ex-Lover is Dead, Stars
5) Old News, Dr. Dog
6) Plus Ones, Okkervil River
7) Dearest, Buddy Holly
8) If I Could Write, Sam Phillips

1) A new president
2) Getting a job that allows me to travel
3) The release of Ray Lamontagne's new CD
4) Making pies this Thanksgiving. I'm going to be at home with my fam for the first time in 7 years.
5) Getting a new car
6) A new president
7) Did I mention getting a new president?

1) My little sister
2) Thurgood Marshall
3) Cesar Millan
4) Jon Stewart
5) Ruth Bader Ginsburg
6) The Gilmore Girls
7) Tim Russert
8) Barack Obama

Friday, August 29, 2008

State Fair Part 1 and Protesting the RNC

I took a political sabbatical from politics after the Feb. 5 primaries because I couldn't stand to watch two leaders I admire, respect, and would vote for running against each other. It was like a train wreck I just couldn't watch. But now, I'm back in the game. I've been following the candidates and listening to their speeches all along the campaign trail.

And now, my sister and I have decided to participate in the protests organized during the Republican Convention. I know, I know. You must be thinking about the crazy stigma most protesters carry with them. But I think taking part in a 10,000+ people protest is a fantastic life experience. I can't wait! But first we need to decide what our protest signs are going to say. I've done some extensive googling and here are some of my favorites. Unfortunately we can only use four of them so you need to tell me which ones you like the best:

1. How many lives per gallon?

2. Regime change begins at home

3. How did our oil get under their sand?

4. Iraq: Get Out, Iran: Stay Out, McCain: Keep Out

5. Whose God do you kill for?

6. Making war for peace is like making love for virginity

7. Liberty and Justice are so pre-9/11

8. How can you oppose universal health care and be pro-life?

9. Public Ignorance is Corporate Bliss

10. There is more to religion that Pro-War, Anti-Choice, and Homophobia

Or maybe I should put something like JOHN STEWART FOR PRESIDENT in the hopes that I'll get on tv and John will realize we were meant to be together. Or maybe that's a bad idea because the other protesters will think I'm not serious and beat me up. No good.

Anyway, the fam and I went to the Minnesota State Fair twice this past week. Did you know that it is the largest state fair in the United States? It pretty much rocks. Anyway, I took a bunch of pictures and will put the ones from the Miracle of Birth Center (cute baby animals!!!) up today and the rest up tomorrow.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Okay, I had all these ideas floating around in my head about what I wanted to blog about tonight, but it's really really late and I have to get up early tomorrow and take a test. So this is going to be just a short blog. Sorry :(

But I wanted to share with you two quick, FANTASTIC quotes given in the last 48 hours from two of my very favorite political people.

John Stewart talking about the media's coverage of Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic Convention:

"She's a democrat. She must PROVE she loves America. As opposed to Republicans who everyone KNOWS loves America. They just hate half the people living in it."

And on a slightly more serious note, this next quote comes from Bill Clinton's speech at the convention. If you didn't get the chance to watch his speech, it is WELL worth the 20 minutes... click here. I thought it was so eloquent, so very inspiring, and extremely touching.

"People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hanging Out With The Animals

I've been meaning to post these pictures for a few weeks now, but as per usual, I've been neglecting my blog. But here they are. St. Paul has a lovely FREE zoo and conservatory that we like to hit up once in a while. The conservatory is always my favorite though. Isn't it pretty?

Then we headed over to the zoo. Here's the clan watching those precocious monkeys:
And the precocious monkeys putting on a show:
After the monkey house, we headed over to the butterfly exhibit, always one of my favorites:
And of course, we couldn't leave without posing with the fake animals.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic Thoughts

It's late, I'm still kind of sick, and I have to get up mega early tomorrow, er... today, but I just wanted to share a few quick thoughts about the olympics so far.

First of all, holy crap! Did you see the 400 meter relay race that Michael Phelps was in? If you haven't seen it yet, I'm sure there are already clips of it everywhere. It's definately the most exciting race I've ever seen and probably ever will see. I almost peed my pants while I was watching. PS - Michael Phelps' abdominal muscles also leave me shocked and awed.

Second, after watching some of the gymnastics coverage, I've decided that Nastia Liuken is the most amazingly beautiful athlete I've ever seen. Not in the way she looks, but in the way she performs. She's so graceful when she's out there in the spotlight. It's as if she's the Michelle Kwan of gymnastics.

And lastly, how amazing was the opening ceremonies?! Each segment was just as jaw-dropping as the previous. It boggles my mind how they managed to choreograph so many people in so many different performances. Wow! Those Chinese sure know how to put on a show!

Okay, off to bed now.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Cough Cough Sniffle Sniffle

Yes, it's that time of year again, when I seem to come down with a cold that tries to turn into Bronchitis. Last year it succeeded in derailing my training schedule for a few months because I tried to keep exercising at first. That was pretty stupid. This year, of course it came on the week when I HAD to be in school for tests and other unmissable things :( I decided to stay home today though. The cold has started to move into my chest and I just don't want to make things any worse. So it's lots of rest for me today. Fun fun stuff...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Random Thought of the Day

I have a cousin who married someone named Conrad. Every time he comes up in conversation, which thankfully is not often, I get that terrible song from Bye Bye Birdie stuck in my head. For days and days and days and days and days.... And then I have bad feelings directed towards my dear cousin-in-law. Which is kind of sad because he really is a very nice person. It's not his fault his parents had a sadistic sense of humor. He once came on a road trip with my friends and I and I swear the whole 7 hours were spent singing: We love you Conrad, oh yes we do, We love you Conrad, and We'll be true, When you're not near us we're blue, oh Conrad, We love you!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Books Books Books

I'm pretty bored because EVERYONE is out of town and I have no homework because I suffered through a big rush of tests last week, so I really don't have a lot to write about at the moment. Virginia posted this meme a while ago and I've been meaning to do it because it's all about books so here goes:

1. Do you remember how you developed a love of reading?
My parents were pretty much always reading to me when I was little and the habit stuck.

2. What are some books you loved as a child?
I loved Madeleine L'Engle books, Where the Wild Things Are, and the Babysitter's club. Over time I amassed a HUGE amount of BSC books.

3. What is your favorite genre?
I don't really have a favorite genre. I do try to stay away from those books that are about 6" X 4" and an inch and half thick, ones that come in "special" romance, sci-fi, mystery, fantasy sections in Barnes & Noble. I'm a book snob, it's true.

4. Do you have a favorite novel?
I have a few favorite novels: To Kill a Mockingbird, Life of Pi, The Historian, The Time Traveler's Wife, and Emma.

5. Where do you usually read?
Anywhere with peace and quiet. Usually in bed or at a bookstore.

6. When do you usually read?
At night before I go to bed.

7. Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time?
Always! This is one of my worst habits. I have book ADD. Right now I'm reading five or six books.

8. Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?
Ummm... no?

9. Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out of the library?
I know I'm a horrible person for doing this, but lots of times I just sit in the bookstore reading books. If it's a really good book I'll buy it though!

10. Do you keep most of the books you buy?
Yes. Usually the ones I get rid of are books I bought on an impulse and didn't thoroughly love.

11. If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them?
Yeah, don't have kids.

12. What are you reading now?
A biography about Thurgood Marshall, The New Kings of Nonfiction, Guns Germs and Steel, Angela's Ashes, Twilight...

13. Do you keep a To Be Read list?
Sometimes. It's mostly a list in my head and pretty disorganized.

14. What's next?
A biography on Sandra Day O'Connor. And I've been meaning to read Middlesex for a while.

15. What books would you like to reread?
I don't reread many books, even if I really liked the book. I read the Harry Potter series and my favorite books every few years.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Manic Wednesday

Ahhh! It's been one crazy morning. Here's how it went:

7:00 - I'm still sleeping instead of getting up. Apparently I don't hear alarms when they're wedged under my pillow.

8:15 - I woke up from a delightful dream where the cast of How I Met Your Mother was throwing me a birthday party. And then I looked at the clock. CRAP! CLASS STARTS IN 45 MINUTES! ACROSS THE CITY!

8:20 - I am in my car driving a bit recklessly and hoping that traffic will not be too bad and maybe I can make it only a few minutes late.

9:05 - I made it! But then I looked into my bag and discovered no binder of notes that we were allowed to use on the test. Uh-oh..... So I took the test. And luckily it was pretty easy because I knew my stuff. The notes were only going to be a safety net really. But I still couldn't remember all the names of specific clauses and laws and people. Oh well, what are you gonna do?

10:00 - I hopped in my car to drive BACK home to get the forgotten binder which also has notes in it for my 1:00 test today. Good thing gas isn't expensive or anything...

Anyway, I'm surprisingly not too upset or frazzled over the whole thing. It's kind of nice being home in the middle of the day, hanging out with my little Baerli, and blogging.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Adventures of the Deranged Kitty

I had my suitcase out on my bed today and found out my cat has a serious attraction to it. He climbed onto it and started thrashing all over it. Weird deranged kitty. I photographed the love-fest.

Another deranged kitty scene happened yesterday. My brother was cleaning out Kitty's litter box and his back made a perfect horizontal for the kitty to jump onto and attack. Like so:

Kitty says, "Take THAT for cleaning out my box! Hsssss!"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bits of Absurdity

There have been some weird happenings lately. One of Lizzie's friends was starring in a musical so I took her to see it. During the intermission, I found her a boyfriend. Isn't he handsome?

They also had some weird, seriously creepy puppet animal heads on display. I have no idea what the owners of the theatre were trying to convey, but it was in Wisconsin, so I don't know what we were expecting.

Then Lizzie decided to channel her inner Wall-E, but failed miserably because I was making her laugh so hard:

During my lunch break the other day, Minnesota Public Radio was hosting a veterinarian fielding caller's questions. She said that if you have allergies, it's a good idea to give you cat a bath because their saliva can often be what's triggering your allergic reaction. So I gave my deranged cat a bath, much to his dismay, and then photographed it, because really, there aren't very many things more hilarious and ridiculous looking than a wet cat.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wishful Thinking

This weekend there's a big two night music festival going on downtown. I've been trying to decide whether or not to go. There are some good acts like Missy Higgins, Augustana, and Landon Pigg... but the price is a bit steep. I'll be honest, Missy Higgins is the driving force behind my desire to go. I've listened to her for a long time, but she's from Australia. Which means it's going to be quite a while till I'll even get the chance to see her again.

This whole internal debate made me stop and think about the many other artists I LOVE but for some reason or another never get to see live. And the top 5 are:

1) Jamie Cullum. There is no one, no one, no one that I'd rather see in concert period. He's a jazz musician who sings and plays the piano, but he infuses all of his songs and performances with tons of energy and newness. But he's also a non-American and seems content to stick to performances on the other side of the Atlantic. And when he does come on over, he only seems to play a couple of shows in California or New York. One of these days I'm going to plan a vacation around his tour schedule. My favorite Jamie songs: Twentysomething, All at Sea, These are the Days, and Oh God.

2) Ray Lamontagne. I can't even remember where I first heard his music, but it just swept me up. You can tell he's heavily influenced by Bob Dylan with his inspired lyrics and gravelly voice, but his songs are a bit understated and quiet like Damien Rice's music. It seems like whenever he comes to a place I live, I'm out of town or just moved. Without fail. My favorite Ray songs: Empty, Forever my Friend, and Shelter.

3) David Gray. Another artist from another country. Do you see a theme emerging? He did come to Salt Lake once, but his show was canceled because of some freak vocal cord thing. Favorite David songs: From Here you can Almost See the Sea, This Year's Love, and Sail Away.

4) Paolo Nutini. He kind of reminds me of Mika in some ways. Maybe not as much energy, but his music is inventive and it makes me happy when I put it on. He's (of course) a Scotlander who never tours in the US either. Favorite Paolo songs: Jenny Don't be Hasty, New Shoes, and Autumn.

5) Yoav. If you've never heard of him, look him up! He made his entire debut cd using only his voice, an acoustic guitar, and loop pedals, but you'd never guess it by listening to him. It sounds very synthesized hip hopish because he uses his guitar to make really unconventional percussive sounds. I didn't really get how it was possible until I watched this video of him. And yes, he's not from the US either, but he does call Montreal one of his homes, so maybe I'll have more of a chance to see him in the future. Favorite songs: Club Thing (You must listen to this one!), Beautiful Lie, and Adore Adore.

What musician(s) have you always wanted to go see live, but never got the chance?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Art Museum Bonanza

Like I said yesterday, my sister and I hit up the Minneapolis Institute of Arts last Saturday. We were all excited about some guy's black and white photography exhibit, but it turns out that you had to be a member to see the exhibit before Sunday. But we made the best of it and took in the museum's collection of Modern and European 1800-1900's art. We found lots of great work like this detailed work made entirely of different shades of ash. I wish the picture of the artwork could do the real piece justice, but nothing could capture the texture and detail like actually being there.

We also found several FABULOUS pieces by Salvador Dali, one of my favorite artists of all time.

The conversation my sister and I had as we stopped to look at this painting:

Lizzie: Dali was an artist?

Me: Yeah! He's great. You know that painting where the clock looks like it's melting? He painted that.

Lizzie: Oh! For some reason I was thinking he was a religious leader or something. Oh wait, that's the Dalai Lama.

And then we both dissolved into giggles despite the stares from other museum-goers.

We coveted this lobster phone, also by Dali:

The longer we were in the museum, the sillier we got. We found this retro scale:

But then we got a little confused by the mixed messages on the podium:

We found art boyfriends for each other. Lizzie's is the one with green hair and mine is the one in the yellow hat.

Three figures giving the stink-eye, what a photo op!

Lizzie imitating a statue's humble pose:

A squished statue man (he's being stepped on by some statue woman) puckering up for Lizzie:
And finally, posing with the colorful bunny:

Monday, June 30, 2008

Weekend Teaser

Whew! Isn't it funny how sometimes it seems like the weekend wears you out more than the actual week does? The weekend was full of fun things: A trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, hanging out with my brother, and going to see Wall-E. And a few not-as-fun things, namely, homework. Which is why I'm still working on my post from the Minn. Inst. of Arts (lots of photos to sort through).

Luckily I have a few non-museum pics that I wanted to share. I LOVE this one. My brother has the goofiest look on his face and my dog looks like he's ready to jump out of his skin, he's so happy.

This one is of some random guy we spotted on the sidewalk the other day. Unfortunately I couldn't get a full shot, but he's riding down the street in a reclining bicycle with nothing but Richard Simmons short shorts and Bono glasses on. My sister and I were seriously cracking up. If only he had had a Gorilla trailing him like this guy