heavy like a loaded gun


Dear Internet,
First, one of my pieces, “Devil’s Advocate: Just Because I Divorced Him Doesn’t Mean He’s Not My Best Friend”, was published today at A Practical Wedding. I’m proud of this piece and as an update, after reading this, TEH said, “When you get married again, let me know so I can send you a gift.”
We may not get along romantically, and we’ve made those lines very clear recently, but I don’t know what I would do without him.


It’s a truth universally acknowledged when I start dragging out Elbow, some emotional shit has gone down. I’m not sure how much I’m going to reveal at this juncture (you can wipe your computer screen now), but it has hit me to the core. Just — when I’m now at my lowest point, things never do change, do they? I guess I can believe what I want, as it was reiterated to me, to make myself feel better but when the same thing said now as in the past to erase one’s own pain, well, despite all of my faults, you can’t argue the same thing was not done thrice.


 
Star Wars: VII trailer dropped yesterday and in honor of that, I wrote up my first experience with Star Wars:
Ex-Fiance #1 and I met in 1994, I was working at a video store. He later told me he hemmed and hawed for months before asking me out, which lead to one of first dates watching Star Wars on laser disc because I was 22 and never saw the damned thing. Yes, the first time I saw SW, I was an old lady and it was on laser.
Over the years, we went from being together to not being together for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into now. As the relationship petered out, as they always do, we remained just plain old fuck buddies. Somewhere in between, he found a woman we referred to as Lisa-lite. She could have been my twin, the resemblance was that uncanny, down to some of her interests. I met her when my then boyfriend and I double dated with them. My then boyfriend looked liked Ex-Fiance #1. AWKWARD.
The midnight romance ends at some point and a few years go by. I’m working at a bookstore, putting myself through my first Master’s degree. Who but shows up one day is ex-Fiance #1 with a big smile on his face. He and Lisa-lite had gotten engaged and he tracked me down to tell me that. I was selfish sleeping with him for a very long time, but this was downright cruel. Almost unbearably so.
He then suggested since he bought her a black diamond engagement ring, I should buy matching earrings. He then left while I ran to the break room and cried for a solid half an hour.
Every time I hear the opening music to SW or read the opening scenes to episode IV, I start crying like a maniac. It’s slowed down considerably over the years, and I’m no longer (as much) of a crying mess. Whoever I’m going to see VII with, I come with tissues.”


 
Please watch your step, naval gazing ahead:
As I was writing this, it got me thinking about how I handled my romantic relationships of yore. First Miguel, who I had a thing on and off with for years, when beginning when I was 19 and he 20. He is living in Guam due to family business. He calls me one night, drunk, to tell me he has been fucking someone twice his age. To gain experience, he said. I was still the love of his life, he said. I went back and forth with him in-between other exes — always him telling me I was the one for him, me falling for it, and then him doing something awful. And as time went on, he stopped calling and I stopped having to defend my no’s. He contacted me in 2012 and again last year, which lead to an interesting conversation. (If he’s anything, he’s at least predictable. I’ll probably hear from him next year, as he will then be due to profess his love.)
Next Alan, who dumped me for another woman but kept coming back for more until that faithful night when I, at a bar, she and I got into a fist fight and I had to be dragged off and out by bouncers. He’s living somewhere in Detroit, married, has kids. He once got in touch with me back in the early naughts, about a decade after we had last spoken, to see how I was. “I think about you a lot,” he says. “I miss you,” he says. But then I never heard from him again. Of course.
Then Danny a few years later. We date for six months, I have a massive panic attack about being stuck in suburbia so I cut and run. I come back. I cut again. I come back. At some point we went down to just fuck buddies (see above) and he marries Lisa-lite.
TheExHusband. We date for 18 months. I run. He tracks me down nearly a decade later. We get married. He stops treating me like a wife and more like a roommate. I threaten divorce. Nothing happens. I leave him after nearly seven years. After the divorce, he’s been contrite as to why he was hurting me. We’re slowly building our friendship back together. We’re not dating, just very close friends.
I split up with TheExHusband.
TheBassist tells me he’s got me.
TheBassist. Hoo boy. We date in 2005. He cuts and runs and goes back to his ex-wife. He contacts me six months later, they have separated again. He leaves me again. Flash forward to nearly a decade. He’s been leaving me love notes across the Internet during that entire time. Everyone in his circle knows about the Michigan Girl. Even his girlfriends know during that decade of silence. I am a force to be reckoned with, he says. No one has loved him like I loved him, he says. He was wrong, he says. He made a mistake, he says. I am the love of his life and if he can’t have me, he doesn’t want anyone else, he says.
“I know she doesn’t remember me, since it was about nine years ago now, but in Grand Rapids I made a very large mistake with someone else’s very important organ. I chose what was safe over what made me happy, and I proceeded to reprogram myself. Grand Rapids became my codeword for not choosing love over security, a monument to my own cowardice.”
My life is shit. I’m no mentally stable. I have no job. I’m essentially homeless. I never not believed in us, I just never believed in me. I cut and run. I come back. I cut and run. I come back. In between all of this, I run out of money. Then he cuts and runs with the same reasoning as 2005: He made a unilateral decision on what was best for me rather than letting me make that decision myself on what was best for me. (And trust me, I begged and pleaded for him to not do this again. “It’s like 2005 all over again,” I cried hysterically into the phone. “It is and it isn’t,” he says.)
“Are you going to love me always?” I ask later. “You’re a piece of my heart,” he responds.
(This time, unlike other times, all of this is verbatim from texts and comments spanning the Internet. Memories are rotten bastards but at least this time around I have primary sources to back me up.)
I’m as equal as anyone in what went down, but, when I’m at the lowest point of my life, to leave? Again? (To be brutally fair, despite my anger at him leaving, he couldn’t take the back and forth. “We’re always on pause,” he says. “I wait for you. It’s what I do,” he says. But it just hurts beyond human reasoning he leaves when I am at rock bottom. I am no angle in this world of ours, and I get that. But that doesn’t make it any less painful when he said goodbye on the phone.)
I’m a hot mess and also human. In the past I’ve bent the truth, I’ve blown things out of proportions, I’ve been a bitch. I’ve had my share of moments. Life is a fucking chaotic mess. Nothing is black and white. There are blurred lines everywhere. I’m constantly at war with my own self-esteem.
There is never someone who isn’t as in touch with their foils, foibles, and feelings like yours truly. Jesus fuck, I’ve been examining the human psyche via my own life for years.
It’s intoxicating being told you are the love of someone’s life and in the case of TheBassist, to reply that was true from me as well. But what does that mean in the long run? Do you cut your losses when shit hits the fan? Do you work through the shit? Why aren’t there any concrete answers?
I’m in love with love, and I freely admit it. Who doesn’t want that kind of intoxication? And I’m more in love with TheBassist than in love itself. Fucking bastard. He of the big words, lightening intelligence, and fabulous hair.
(I am not terribly surprised my comment from above, “I’m not sure how much I’m going to reveal at this juncture,” turned out not to be true.)
I want to take responsibility for my own actions. I want to see clear-eyed for the future to really think about what it means to be in love, whether TheBassist and I end up working shit out or not. Because if he asked me to, I would do it all over again.
I want to feel to be the center of someone’s world. I want them to be there when shit hits the fan and when I laugh as they drive around cloverleafs because that simple act makes me happy. I want my own life and be the part of someone’s life. And even when I am at my lowest, I won’t stop believing that such a love exists.
And if it’s not him, and someone else comes along (much) later on, I will still take that chance, foolish me, to give it 1000% and to love big. Love large. And when my heart gets broken, again, I’ll pick myself up and do it all over again.
Here are my mediations on love. Die trying.
I still believe in love, so fuck you.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2010, 2003, 2003, 2001, 1998

year in review: 2014

Dear Internet,
Working at home today and getting supremely in the groove. Re-discovered that I used to do a round up, by month, of things that went on in the previous year as a year in review. This seems like a good idea to continue insofar as giving me a perspective for the year and helping me figure out what I need to improve or cut back on.
Previous years: 2000, 19971996

Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s wish for 2015:

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It’s too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them.

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.

It’s been a helluva a year. Here’s to 2015 being boring and slow.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013, 1999

we’re bound away at the break of day

Dear Internet,
After having dinner with TheDrunk and her husband last night, TheHusband and I headed out to see Skinny Lister, a British punk folk band, as our first concert of the summer season. TheHusband discovered them via NPR’s All Songs Considered, and they fast became a house favorite.
The band is best known for punk rock variations of sea shanties, such as their take on the nearly 200 year old shanty, John Kanaka:

[iframe src=”https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:track:6ZP5eE9iCgJRenJAW7jBbH” width=”300″ height=”80″ frameborder=”0″ allowtransparency=”true”]

Once we got to the club, things got a bit awkward. There were maybe, MAYBE, including the band members themselves, about 50 people in attendance. But neither the opening band, The Bangups, a local two piece outfit, or Skinny Lister themselves seemed to care if they were playing 50 people or a thousand, they both gave great shows. I drank more cider than what was good for me and used TheHusband as my maypole as I danced around him.
As I’m always trying to support indie people as much as possible, make sure to go pick up Skinny Lister’s first album as their second one is dropping soon.
I had forgotten how much I loved the intimacy of smaller venues. When we saw Elbow at the House of Blues in Chicago in May, there were easily 1000 people packed ass to stomach, tit to back. It was kind of terrible ($6 cans of Miller Lite! $50 to have a barstool! To fucking hot!) and wonderful (Elbow! Guy Garvey!) at the same time.
Where was I? Oh yes, drunk on cider, dancing the maypole around TheHusband to punk rock sea shanties. Coupled with the great dinner we had with TheDrunk and her husband, we had a fantastic night.
The night was planning on getting better because last night was the return of True Blood, which was patiently waiting for us on the DVR when we got home. Coddling a water bottle to keep myself dehydrated before I conked out, we got caught up in the hot mess that is Bon Temps.
Time is ticking away at its normal pace, but it feels slow and here I am.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 1999

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for April 12, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,
You can now follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Listening

I’ve been heavily listening to the Icelandic indie list that was generated on Spotify (embed below), so much so, I am beginning to think I can understand Icelandic. Who knew that a country with less than half a million peoples could rock out so hard?
Favorites: Samaris (Their write music to old Icelandic poetry), John Grant (an American living in Iceland, he is the greatest motherfucker that you’re ever gonna meet. Also: He’s opening for Elbow in May! Woo!), and FM Belfast (Twee disco pop).
[iframe src=”https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:user:icelandicmusic:playlist:2duvD05TtABniQdKkDSYfv” width=”300″ height=”380″ frameborder=”0″ allowtransparency=”true”]

Reading

seatingarrangements
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
Apparently it’s a thing to hate the output of alum from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, because as you skim through the reviews on GoodReads, the comments are peppered with snide remarks and tut-tutting of the decline of quality of IWW’s output. Who knew?
Was Seating Arrangements a tour de force and innovative? No. Was it sloppy and a bit amateurish at times? Absolutely. Was the language overwrought? At times. But is this a bad story? The short answer is no. It’s clunky, some of the plot points felt like they were thrown in at the last minute, and some of the characters were definitely there to fill a quota but there is something here. You just have to be patient as you dig through the muck and Shipstead can turn a beautiful phrase more often than not.
I could be a bit biased — I have a weakness for anything relating to farces surrounding blue bloods and their world. And this felt like someone had done their research and wrote as if they knew this particular world without ever having stepped into it. So think of this as if Whit Stillman and Bret Easton Ellis were high on acid, conceived Shipstead as their prodigal daughter in their ultra preppy way and you’ll have encompassed the writer completely.
enchantmentsEnchantments by Kathryn Harrison
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
How a story that begins with the end of the Romanovs, the killing of Rasputin, and told from the viewpoint of a teenager who entices the beloved son could be yawn inducing is perhaps a mystery, but there you go. I made it through 67 pages before giving up as I was neither titillated nor engaged by the content. The characters are flat, the exposition was repetitive, and it felt like someone had whipped through Wikipedia to get descriptions and recarved them into their own words. Harrison has been applauded by her use of language and world building, but as this is my first introduction to her, I saw none of the magic that apparently makes her beloved.
Do not recommend.
mabBridget Jones: Mad About A Boy by Helen Fielding
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
It’s Bridget Jones. People expecting a tour de force of impossible construct and setting need to get over themselves.
YES, shes’ the godmother of modern day women’s fiction, heavily influenced by herself Jane Austen. And YES, I swore when I heard this book was coming out (and having read the mini-come back Fielding did in the Independent in 2005 which describes how Bridg gets knocked up (is it Daniel’s? Or Mark’s? Of COURSE it’s Mark’s. Durrr, how can we be so silly??)), I would not read MAtB because who wants to their perfect fantasy destroyed?
But reader, I read it. It was a compulsion as it was available via eBook at my local library, so I could read it under the cover of Kindle with neither a fear or judgement to be made.
Helen Fielding is the Dan Brown of chick-lit world. Language and concepts are on an 10th grade level, plot is fairly dimmed, set-ups are noticeable a mile away. Some things in Bridg’s world will never change — and I wished she would remember her own history. Fielding seems to have forgotten Vile Richard was not actually vile and there is a scene in book 1 or 2 in which Richard gives Bridg a good over on her and their circle’s perception of him. That was all seemingly forgotten in book 3. Daniel is has become a caricature of himself, Shazzer is in LA, and the rest of the group seem to not be desperate to discover their world, but sad, pathetic shallower (if that is even possible) versions of themselves. There is no growth.
MAtB is similarly based on Fielding’s life — she too had children in her late 40s, she went through a breakup, she’s floundering on what to do next. Did she bring back Bridg, our beloved anti-herione because it was time to move Bridge forward or because Fielding was lacking in cash?
Does it matter, and more succinctly, do we care?

Watching

  • The Hill Farm
    A  tease of show that follows a working farm in Snowdonia, Wales beginning in January and ending December. Similar to other working farm shows, like Tudor Monastery Farm, the big difference is those shows are six to eight episodes long and about an hour long to capture all that happens in a year. In The HIll Farm, however, it is four 28 minute long episodes. This attempt to encapsulate an entire year in 2 hours is staggering. Its brief touches of family life, farm life, and community life were so minute, you’d blink and miss an important part. Even with that being said, there is something that calls to a community who have, with the upgrade of modern convenience, continue to farm in the same area for nearly four centuries. The emphasis on organic, free range, and farm to table experiences and connecting people back to where food comes from speaks to those of us who are done with ready meals and food by-products. Gareth Wyn Jones, the face of the farm, came up with the intriguing idea of a “local food aisle” in supermarkets, a scheme to showcase just what is available near you. I would love to see something like this take off here in the States.
  • Moone Boy
    Season 2 is coming to Hulu April 24, so I won’t spoil it for you. But I will say it looks like season 3 has already been filmed before season 2 started — so there’s my jumper.
  • Edge of Heaven
    Written by Welshman Robert Jones (who also plays Camp Gary in the show), it’s a Britcom around a family who own and operate an ’80s themed B&B in Margate. This show is 100% formulaic, the writing is often sloppy, and the characters are pastiches. But it’s got moxie and I think that is the point — it’s a send up of every other dramedy and it is not above on not taking itself seriously. Even if the send-ups make you roll your eyes at the obviousness of it all, it’s a froth of a drama that may not improve your knowledge or IQ, but will definitely keep you entertained.
  • The Bletchley Circle
    I apparently missed the last episode of season 2, which ties up the mystery at hand. Huh. I always feel like there is something wrong with this show — something is off, but I’m not quite sure what it is. I know it’s pretty beloved but while I watch it, I don’t actually yearn for it.
  • Veep
    Will POTUS run for re-election or won’t he? Will Selina be recognized for who she is? Will Jonah ever stop being Jonah?)
  • Silicon Valley
    New series, by Mike Judge, about the foibles of living in Silicon Valley. TheHusband found it to be pretty spot on to what he recalled those days while I thought it seemed a bit lacking. But it does present an interesting conundrum: Do you take the money and run OR do you follow your dream?
  • Game of Thrones
    Winter has arrived and Arya is counting down the Lannisters to kill. Welcome to season four.
  • House of Lies
    Marty, Marty, Marty. And Jeannie. What the ever living fuck.
  • Shetland
    A taut, 2-part thriller based on the northern Scottish islands of Shetland, who killed the grandmother in her croft? But of course, this being the remote isles of Shetland, nothing is ever done easily.  So much so, they came out with a second series.
  • Dead Famous DNA
    An intriguing look at finding, and genome categorizing, DNA of dead famous folk. There is apparently a huge trade in “famous body parts,” such as hair, nails, and other things by collectors worldwide. We’ve seen two episodes in and it’s actually kind of fascinating with the process, and the lines drawn, on sequencing. They apparently want to sequence Hitler, from DNA pulled from his reported here, but 65 labs in 25 countries said, “No.” Except for Belgium — so we’ll have to see what happens!
  • The Musketeers
    This is coming to BBCA this summer, so I won’t spoil it for you — BUT, I will say while it does not follow the book, it’s a fun, swashbuckling show with your standard simple story over arch and your freak of the week episodes thrown in for filler.
  • Justified
    Who really is the bad guy: Raylan or Boyd? And what the everloving fuck is Ava DOING?

Weekly watching: Cosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyDoctor Blake MysteriesThe AmericansSurvivor: CagayanVikingsUniversity ChallengeArcher, Under the Gunn,  Reign, Elementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for March 15, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,

Listening

takeoffandlandingThe Take Off and Landing of Everything by Elbow
I will write up a longer review after a few more listens, but first impressions? Near perfection. There are a few missteps, but it is an aural delight.

Reading

clarice-lispector-near-to-the-wild-heart-entrekin
Near to the Wild Heart by  Clarice Lispector
(Amazon | WorldCat GoodReads)
Status: Currently reading
From a few days ago,

I’ve started Clarice Lispector’s Near to the Wild Heart and it is beyond exquisite. I injected half the book in one sitting last night and had stop because I was getting woozy on a Lispector overdose. She adroitly does things to language and words, even in translation from Portuguese to English that is just breathtaking. I am having trouble reconciling that it was published in 1943 as it reads so contemporary. Reading Lispector is breathing flames under the muse for me and I’m reconsidering how to write fiction.

I’m terrible at fiction. I always feel so damned constricted when trying to form the rules of the game, my writing comes out halting and unsure. I’ve got brilliant ideas for stories, I see the stories in my head as they are played out but getting them onto paper? No. The ease of my language sounds immature and protracted. Sure, you could argue if I practice more it would mature and grow and there is some truth into that. But I think because I’ve been reading tightly bound prose for so long, I’m near drunk on Lispector’s stream of consciousness and realising that yes, this is how you do it. This is how you give birth to a story and how it will end.
Feral. Unstructured and messy, like life.

Finished

Watching

  • Last Tango in Halifax
    Delightful series about two pensioners who reconnect after 60 years, their joining of lives, and the complexity of that joining. Second season tackled some very difficult areas and the ending tied up the big plot points. So on one hand, it wraps up nicely and pulls things together, and then presents some possibilities for a third season. But I hope this is not going to happen. The show has had its life and it needs to end a quiet death.
  • True Detective
    The new anthology series by HBO ended slow and the tie up was kind of meh. But I am curious as to what will happen in season two.
  • Banshee
    Why more people are not watching this show is beyond fucking me. Each episode of the second season was tight, dramatic, and brilliant. It’s just bloody awesome. Second season ended with a whole fuck load of plot points that means that season three is going to be fucking brilliant.

Weekly watching: The AmericansSurvivor: CagayanMoone Boy, Edge of Heaven, VikingsThe Musketeers, Mr. Selfridge, Black SailsTop GearStellaUniversity ChallengeHouse of LiesEpisodesArcher, Under the Gunn, Justified, Reign,  Elementary

Links

Reviews

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

quotidian victories

takeoffandlanding

Dear Internet,
Sometimes you  just need to celebrate life’s little victories, even when they feel so tiny against the bleakness of the world.
For today, this entry has theme song, which is Elbow’s One Day Like This. You should see a Spotify embed below to play while you read or you can click here to listen directly within Spotify.

[iframe src=”https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:track:7oTYgZAZhTlZnZEH45mfpo” width=”300″ height=”80″ frameborder=”0″ allowtransparency=”true”]

  • I have a job interview this week. I am beyond chuffed as chips because I’ve applied for approximately two jobs and sent my resume to a beloved vendor, who seemingly was very, very interested in me. So out of three cautious approaches, I’ve got a definite bite, a very flirtatious interest, and who knows yet on the third. I told TheHusband that for next six months, I’m going to be ultra picky about the jobs I apply for, meaning the ones I really, really, really want and not the mass ijustgraduatedilltakeanythingavailable I did four years ago.
  • Elbow’s latest studio release comes out tomorrow, but since I pre-ordered on Amazon, the mp3s were made available to me this weekend. TheHusband argued that since everything is now, more or less, on Spotify, why the deuce am I buying albums on Amazon? Because I’m supporting a band I love and not everything is on Spotify as evident by my massive collection of b-sides and one-offs from Elbow that triples what Spotify has available to US customers.
  • I bought tix to Elbow’s upcoming show at the House of Blues in Chicago in May as part of their 11 date North American Tour, so TheHusband and I are going to take a mini-break to Chicago which I’m super excited about.
  • Plans have been laid this week for CMMRB’s return to C2E2 in April, which marks our third year attending the con. I love this con with all of my heart.
  • Daylight savings. FINALLY. It is not officially spring but it’s getting on towards twilight at 7:30PM now and winter is finally ending. THANK THE GODS. We’ve had 110″ of snow this season. Throbbing Cabin? Oh they got 243″. That is not a damned typo.
  • I cleaned and sorted my office this week and no dead bodies were found, which is always a bonus.
  • My hair has gotten long enough for mini pigtails. This delights me beyond end.

And in other news:
The social media sabbatical is going surprisingly well. I’ve toyed with the idea of keeping a text file of The Husband’s witticism and my often laments of the world for when the need to depart wisdom gets too heavy and perhaps do a weekly round up of said pithy comments.
The need to tweet was especially bad this weekend when we went to see 300: Rise of an Empire, because holy hell was that a fecking terrible waste of celluiod. Fishnets are not period authentic, okay? I didn’t necessarily have SUPER HIGH HOPES for this movie, but I was expecting more than blurred action shots, bad acting, and convoluted plot lines.
TheThrobbings give it two thumbs down.
I finished two books this week, got caught up on my profesh dev magazine reading, and have cut through some of my RSS feed reading. Plus, I’m back to writing every day. Everything is coming up crocuses right now.
I am still caffeine free and other than a few hiccups, that has also been working out dandy in this development. Thus, I’m feeling pretty good!
Thing you learned today: During triumphal processions, Roman generals would carry a model phallus in their hands to ward off envy. [Source: Veni, Vidi, Vici: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Romans but Were Afraid to Ask]
xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2010, 2003, 1999

reviews: music: bloc party – intimacy

Bloc Party I take Bloc Party seriously.
By this I mean that they are one of the few bands I actually listen to and by listen to, I mean that I sit down and pay attention to the music and the lyrics. I like a lot of bands, but there are a scant few that I return to time and time again. Joy Division is one, R.E.M. is another, Elbow is definitely up there and Bloc Party most assuredly rounds out the set.
For me, and I will assume for a lot of people, music is a very personal thing. This is not to say that I do not enjoy my fluffy pop or my occasional foray into old school gangsta rap, I do. But this is to say, that when I love a band, I really take the band to heart. For those who know me, you know how constantly I refer to High Fidelity as a bible to my life — I AM the female Rob Gordon. (Complete with relationship problems, neuroses and other high jinks. But that is for another post.) And like Rob, who arranges his music automusicgraphically, I too also do the same. I can get from one band to another by telling you where I was, when I first heard it and what I was doing (or who I was doing).
If my choices seem a little chaotic at times, that is totally okay. Straight and narrow never won any interesting awards. But this is not really about me, per se, but more about Bloc Party and the release of their third album, Intimacy, a mere 18 months after A Weekend In The City. The album was released digitally at the end of August, with the physical release set for, in the U.K. and U.S., at the end of October. Word on the street is that the title tracks available on the physical release will differ from the digital download, but like the good little fan girl I am, I will have procured both. Silent Alarm, their first album with the stunning single Helicopters, came out kicking and squalling to the world in 2005. A Weekend In The City was their “falling in love” album in 2007 and I wasn’t too terribly surprised to find out that Intimacy is their “break-up” album of 2008. When the title track is entitled, “Ares,” and the song begins with “War! War! War!,” I got the feeling that Kele Okereke was stalking my life.
So, then, I must step back and do a bit of back story before I continue. Bloc Party, like a multitude of other bands over the years, is a band I heard of but never really got “in to,” until I met TheEx. TheEx and I have an interesting back story in that musically, we were perfect. We could, and often did, spend hours talking about music from producers to labels to motifs, sound, lyrics and design. Our joint collection neared nearly 2000 compact discs (60% his), dozens of vinyls (his) and over 100 gigs of digital music (mostly mine). We were concert whores who would travel hours for a good show, only to turn around and come back home that very night. With him, I found my perfect music man, someone who could discuss with me the nuances of music on a variety of different levels and not have to explain to him why I was found of the production values of X album over Y album or why I loved A band over B band.
TheEx was crazy about Silent Alarm and was eagerly waiting for A Weekend in the CIty, which came out in the very beginning of our relationship. And I’m not quite sure what it was about A Weekend in the City, but that became “my” album while Silent Alarm became his. To me, A Weekend in the City became the anthem of our relationship. Every song, every melody, every lyric no matter how distant somehow spoke to me, about us. I could see him in every song and certain songs became “our” songs. Every time I heard “Sunday,” with or without him near me, my heart would swell with love for him, because he would love me in the morning when I was hung over and strung out. And even though I knew that On was about doing coke, to me the lines, You make my tongue loose/I am hopeful and stutter free, was about how I felt around him. He made me feel hopeful and stutter free — I could (and did) tell him everything and anything, anytime and any place.
At the time, I felt that he made me an honest woman and with him, I was so much better off than without him. I like Silent Alarm, but A Weekend in the City had this energy that I responded to, a hunger if you will for living and for life. I liked the simplicity of Kele’s lyrics and the fact that he was able to lyrically say what he meant without going overboard with metaphor and unnecessary imagery. (I’m looking at you Radiohead and Coldplay — fucking wankers.) I adored the fact that every single time I heard the album, I heard something different and that everything about A Weekend in the City resonated with me emotionally and intellectually.
Like most intimate of relationships, TheEx and I did not end with a quiet whimper but with a huge, ferocious fuck-off bang. For the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to reclaim my musical tastes but have found that in reality, I was hiding from it. I forewent listening to Pandora, XM and my CD collection on general to podcasts and NPR. I did not want to put myself through musical depression – even with bands that I claimed as mine were also his and by listening to said bands would conjure up all the feelings, the good with the bad.
When I found out Bloc Party had released a new album digitally, with the physical release forthcoming, I was surprised. I was, apparently, not the only one. Bloc Party has been touring almost non-stop since the release of A Weekend in the City, which was released in February 2007. Other than a single released last summer, the synth dance song “Flux,” there has been no talk or announcement of a new album. Shortly after the digital release at the end of August, reviews started showing up by the beginning of September, with a split vote on Intimacy.
People fell into several camps

  1.  That Intimacy was an attempt to return to the area that Silent Alarm began, failed with A Weekend in the City and was struggling to fill and was a mixed-bag.
  2. That Intimacy not only returned to the horizon of Silent Alarm but surpassed it. A Weekend in the City? A blip and could be written off as their sophomoric disc (which it is).
  3. That Intimacy failed on many levels, was absolute drek and that Bloc Party, as a whole, are a bunch of pretentious wankers.

For me, I’m apparently in the minority. I love A Weekend in the City more so over Silent Alarm (and thought it was one of the best albums of 2007) but Intimacy is growing on me. I was looking for, excuse the obvious, but the intimacy and the slowness of A Weekend in the City only to be greeted by dance pop and synth experiments hold over from their single, Flux, which at first annoyed me. But it is the lyrics, oh $deity, I love you Kele, the lyrics more than make up for the choppiness of the disc, the messiness that is “Zephyrus” and the overwhelming urge they have to experiment TOO much.
But it is with their weaknesses that they also have their biggest strengths — Bloc Party has no problem selling out arenas, have gained a fairly successful following in the U.S. and tour almost constantly. They have hit almost every major festival abroad and in the U.S. The fact that they have, somehow, managed to get into the studio to record a third album and not only record it but have the production completed in a relatively short time is almost mind boggling. And according to the interview with bassist Gordon Moakes on pitchfork, the band is just as surprised as their fans at the quick turnaround.
I don’t view the turnaround as a negative thing, rather again, I look to the lyrics for the answers. If A Weekend in the City was about falling in love, relationships and living life, Intimacy is about breaking-up and the obvious, almost debilitating aspects of separating from the one you love. From “Ares,” declaring war on the person who wronged you, to “Halo” about questioning the love, to “One Month Off,” at the anger of one’s partner after a long term relationship ends, to that remembrance of the good times in “Better Than Heaven,” to the pitiful, desperate plea of return to that love in “Ion Square.”
Every relationship counselor (and Cosmo issue) will tell you that separation after a break-up tends to follow the same rules of grief that the death of a loved one follows:

  1. Denial. – “Mercury.” “Halo.” “Better Than Heaven.”
  2. Anger. – “Ares.” “One Month Off.”
  3. Bargaining. “Signs.” “Halo.” “Bilko.” “Trojan Horse.”
  4. Depression. “Signs.” “Halo.”
  5.  Acceptance. “Zephyrus.” “Ion Square.”

Some songs resonate with better topics than others, but the point is still there. This is Kele’s exorcism against the end of a love that obviously broke his heart. And it is with this, with Kele’s lyrics and the buffing of the depressing themes with synth tunes and dubbeats that most will find to be a turn-off and thusly, a shite album. Some will claim that this is a desperate attempt to grab the glory they had with Silent Alarm and failing while others will claim they are attempting to parody their influences and are bilking too much of their popularity by riding on the coattails of Coldplay and Radiohead. I don’t think Intimacy is a great album, but I do think it is a good one. I do agree that there is, at times, too much going on at one time while at others, it seems almost perfect.
While I would recommend it, I would recommend it after listening to the first two albums — like most great bands, you need to get the scope of the band’s lineage before diving in several albums in. With several months between the digital and physical release, who is to say what the physical album will sound like? And as for me, I unfortunately saw too much of TheEx inside the lyrics after my first spin with the disc a few weeks ago. The beginning of Trojan Horse chilling reminds me of the rituals that TheEx performed before we too made love. Signs, also eerily like the lasting days of our relationship. And Ares and One Month Off remind me of me, in those “OHNOESHEDIDNOT” moods I would would sometimes (occasionally) cycle through. Despite my initial reservation, Intimacy is the tip of the catharsis to push me over the edge. It is not the time for a new love or to sign a new lease, but at least now, I know that one day there will be.