Saturday, December 18, 2010

Black Swan

I've never really thought Natalie Portman is as hott as everyone else does

That said, I have a huge thing for lesbians.  When I say that, I feel like I'm just enabling some male stereotype to be realized, but in reality, my affinity for female homosexuality is deeper rooted than just "hey, two chicks man"

I'm fascinated by homosexuality.  Though I claim heterosexuality, I relate to the concept of pan-sexuality and am physically attracted to males as well as females.  I was raised in a white, Christian, English speaking, middle class, farm town, where homosexuality wasn't exactly commonplace or looked kindly upon.  Now, I think it's beautiful.

I used to do stand-up comedy, and one joke I really enjoyed doing, was about how I really like lesbians.  The joke basically explained that I like lesbians because A) I'm really into myself, and I feel like I have a lot in common with some lesbians (music, clothing style, certain mentalities) and B) Lesbians don't like me, and I like chasing after unattainable things.  It even became a sort of inside joke amongst the comedy community that I looked like a lesbian/was a lesbian.

Lesbians are a perfect hybrid of two of my favorite things - myself, and girls I can't attain.

In the summer of 2009, a lesbian friend of mine started doing stand-up, and we spent a lot of time in the car driving to different mics and listening to music.  We had a lot in common, and I eventually fell for her.  She was my first lesbian crush, and involuntarily helped me realize how much I like them.

It's attractive to me when I meet a girl and she is bi/pan/has an ex-girlfriend/etc.  Something about the idea that she is attracted to girls usually tells me she posseses some other mental qualities I'm attracted to.

*proceed with caution; the following text reveals select scenes from the movie Black Swan, including some of the ending*

So today, one of my best guy friends paid for the two of us to see a movie about ballet, which by comedic definition is "pretty gay".  Turns out, it was.  The movie anyway.

In Black Swan, Natalie Portman plays an innocent (virgin?) ballet dancer.  Her director is trying to get her to come out of her shell, so he tells her to go home and touch herself, which she does, twice.  The first time specifically, was shot and performed beautifully, and now I have a crush on her.  Eventually, while on ecstasy, Natalie Portman's character falls for Mila Kunis's character, and they have oral sex!  It was really amazing.

Anyway, Natlie Portman's character finally let's go and becomes the "Black Swan", which I related to, because I feel like I'm always denying the terrible, selfish, hate-driven, vengeful thief trapped inside of me.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Since 2007, according to my profile, I've listened to The Beatles 4,404 times, Death Cab For Cutie 1,118 times, Paul McCartney 1,002 times, and CAKE 948 times.

I've been listening to CAKE off and on since "The Distance" came out when I was in 5th grade in 1996. Of all the bands I still listen to, they're the band I've been listening to the longest. CAKE is an essential part of my life, musically and in general. I love them

In 2007, I wanted to see CAKE, but they were only playing select cities; the closest one was in Kansas City, which was sold out. Since their last full-length came out six years ago (2004), I figured my chances of seeing them were zero. I can't see The Beatles, but I had seen Paul. I had seen Death Cab (twice). I had never seen CAKE though, and figured I never would.

In October 2010, I found out CAKE was coming out with a new album, "Showroom of Compassion", on 1/11/11, and therefore, touring. I bought tickets, and on December 15th, 2010 at The Pageant in STL, I finally got to see CAKE! I went with my good friend Alex Stewart.  We've also seen The Decemberists (twice), The Format, Bright Eyes (twice), Hellogoodbye, Of Montreal, and Death Cab together.

CAKE played for about two hours, there was no opening band, and they plowed through a lot of songs; I definitely got my money's worth.

About half-way through, there was an intermission, but before the intermission, they barely played any "hits". I was pleased that they weren't afraid to play whatever, but the crowd didn't seem to share my enthusiasm. People were mostly just standing there and not singing. During the intermission, I moved to almost the front of the floor area, and way later in the show, after a lady moved, I made it all the way to the rail in front of the stage.

I made a setlist during the show, and with the help of this site, I filled in some of the holes

1. Comfort Eagle - Comfort Eagle
2. Sad Songs and Waltzes - Fashion Nugget
3. Arco Arena - Comfort Eagle
4. Frank Sinatra - Fashion Nugget
5. Long Time - Showroom of Compassion
6. Mustache Man - Showroom of Compassion
7. Bound Away - Showroom of Compassion
8. Shadow Stabbing - Comfort Eagle
9. Ruby Sees All - Motorcade of Generosity
10. Wheels - Pressure Chief

At some point, John McCrea made the announcement they don't play with a setlist. He explained that this is so they can play, essentially, the right song for the given moment. I was impressed that they just know all of their songs and can play them at will, especially since they have so many and some of them were written 16 or more years ago.


After the crowd was kinda lame during the first half, and while the band was taking an intermission, I was speculating how the band would react, especially since John said they play the best song for our benefit or whatever. I wondered if they would play "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" to get the crowd back into it. I was making fun of the crowd to Alex, and talking about how they only wanted to hear "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" and "The Distance". I was saying, wouldn't it be weird if they came out and played "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" backed with "The Distance" and a bunch of people left, or what if CAKE decided to play "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" right away and make everyone suffer for the rest of the show since "their song" was over.

11. Short Skirt/Long Jacket - Comfort Eagle (yep)
12. Stickshifts and Safety Belts - Fashion Nugget
13. Love You Madly - Comfort Eagle
14. Haze of Love - Motorcade of Generosity
15. Guitar - Prolonging the Magic
16. Never There - Prolonging the Magic


17. Federal Funding - Showroom of Compassion
18. Sick of You - Showroom of Compassion
19. The Distance - Fashion Nugget

Overall, I was pleased. I really like almost every CAKE song I've ever heard, so it wouldn't have mattered if they played any of my "favorites" or not, because they're all my favorites, essentially. That said, I had a sort of mental wishlist, and when it comes down to it, they really only played three or four of them..

First tier wishes (in no particular order)
Stickshifts and Safetybelts (check), Never There (check), Guitar (check), Sheep Go To Heaven, Dime, Carbon Monoxide, End of the Movie, Let Me Go, I Will Survive

Second tier wishes (in no particular order)
Mr. Mastodon Farm, Let Me Go, Satan Is My Motor, Mexico, You Turn the Screws, Walk On By, Love You Madly (check), Wheels (check), Take It All Away, Waiting, Palm of You Hand, Tougher Than It Is, Baskets

So that's at least 17 songs they didn't play that I wanted them to, and they only played 19 total.  They basically could have played an entirely separate set of just songs I requested.  Granted, they are releasing a new album (which they played five songs from, and which none of my wishlist comes from), and I realize you aren't going to get every song you want at a live show, but I feel like, since I like essentially all of their songs anyway, I am allowed to complain.

Final Score: A-
It was CAKE.  They were going to get an A.  The minus is because they hardly played any of the songs I wanted.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sgt. Pepper's Magical Mystery Band

A friend and I recently came to the conclusion that "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" and "Magical Mystery Tour" are very similar albums

A few of the most important similarities:  They both...
1. are chronologically adjacent
2. are self-titled
3. feature their respective title tracks as the first track
4. have multiple "dark" Paul songs
5. feature one each of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "I Am The Walrus"
6. are one of the psychedelic Beatles albums

So, I wanted to put the albums side by side, and find a match for each song from one on the other

First task:  Pepper's has two more songs that Mystery, so I had to eliminate two.  One of the Sgt. Pepper's title tracks was out, since there are two.  I went with the intro, because "Magical Mystery Tour", the song is only an intro, and one of the SPLHCB title tracks is an outro, which together with MMT, the song, could serve as bookends for a super album.

As I started matching up songs, some went well together, and some went really well together.  "Within You, Without You", for example went really well with "Flying", as they are both largely instrumental.  The matches went pretty well, and I'm not sure what order I did everything in, but the leftovers were "Good Morning Good Morning" and "Lovely Rita" from Sgt. Pepper's and "Baby You're a Rich Man" from Mystery.  I paired GMGM with BYRM, but only out of necessity.  Sadly, "Lovely Rita" was the odd man out in this particular scenario, though I very much enjoy that song.

I was making these matches in a playlist as I went.  The backbone of the playlist is MMT, and it goes in order, every other song.  The Pepper's songs are adjacent to and precede their "match", every other song.  The only two songs that break this rule are MMT, the song, and SPLHCB (Reprise), as they are first and last respectively.

An argument could be made to switch a few of these matches, because some songs have multiple "twins" on the other album.  I matched "Fixing a Hole", for example, with "Fool On The Hill", but I could make an argument for "Your Mother Should Know".

Here's the playlist:  Enjoy!

Sgt. Pepper's Magical Mystery Band

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lead Singers

I don't remember when or where, but I remember hearing someone say something about how it was interesting how Paul sort of became the lead singer of The Beatles (as opposed to John being the lead singer early on).  For me, a quick mental scan of the albums confirmed it, but I wanted to be sure, and to see it.  So, I used this cool Wikipedia page that lists Title, Year, Album, Author(s), Lead Vocal(s), Chart Position UK, Chart Position US, and Notes for every one of their songs.. make an Excel document.  In the Excel document I listed their UK releases chronologically by date recorded, not date released ("Abbey Road" was recorded after "Let It Be" but released before, etc) with a column for John and a column for Paul.  Whoever was listed as lead singer between the two, I gave a "1", then totaled at the end of each album. (There were some songs I had to make an executive decision on.  Songs such as "A Hard Days Night" say, "Lennon and McCartney," so I gave them both a "1", but songs like "A Day In The Life" say, "Lennon, with McCartney," so I only gave Lennon a "1")

I wanted to know for sure and I wanted to see it, but I wanted to know for conversation's sake where the transition took place, if it did at all.  I was also interested in a definite transition, which I found.

Please Please me had Lennon eight, McCartney seven, which was close, but John out lead-sang Paul by at least three songs on the next three albums, and stayed ahead until Revolver, when something interesting happened: John and Paul tied for lead singer credit, with five each, for the first time in the band's UK LP history!  Wanna know what else?  On the rest of their albums, unless you count "Yellow Submarine", (which I don't, I'll explain later), Paul led in lead singer credits.  Although they are both lead singers, it is clear, to me, that John was the lead singer until "Revolver" when they tied, and Paul was the lead singer after "Revolver".

I don't count "Yellow Submarine" because, of its 13 tracks, seven are orchestral arrangements composed by George Martin, their producer.  The other six are actual songs, but "Yellow Submarine", the song, appears first on "Revolver", and "All You Need Is Love" appears first on "Magical Mystery Tour".  That leaves you with four new songs.  By today's standards, that's an EP.  One is a Paul-led song (All Together Now), one is a John-led song (Hey Bulldog), and the other two are George-led songs (Only a Northern Song, It's All Too Much).  So they tie.  They tie on one album after "Revolver", but for the sake of who was the lead singer at any given point, I don't can't "Yellow Submarine".  Actually, I hardly count "Yellow Submarine" as an album in any scenario.

So, with my data entered, I made a chart.  I still had the data listed for "Yellow Submarine", and "White Album", which is a bit skewed number-wise, because it's a double album, but here's what the chart looked like

A bit hard to comprehend, given the "Yellow Submarine" and "White Album" abnormalities, but you can see the lines cross at Revolver, then blue never goes below red again.  I wasn't satisfied, so I made a new chart, sans "Yellow Submarine" and "White Album"

It's really obvious here that red is ahead of blue until "Revolver", where they tie, or cross, and blue is ahead of red after "Revolver".

So in summary, for this specific investigation, you can think of John Lennon as the lead singer of The Beatles until "Revolver", and you can think of "Paul McCartney" as the lead singer of The Beatles after "Revolver" can think of them both as lead singers on "Revolver".

1. This in no way is me saying Paul becomes better than John or that Paul is better than John or anything.  I like Paul more, but I LOVE John Lennon, and more importantly, I love love love The Beatles, as a band.  Paul and John are equals in my opinion, as far as everything Beatles.

2. This information makes me wonder, "Why the shift?"  Did Paul just get really prolific and demanding all of a sudden?  Did John run out of ideas?  Well, I think you can watch Paul's ego develop if you dig into lots of video on YouTube or watch the Let It Be movie, but I think the explanation is something else.  I don't think John ran out of ideas, because he had an extremely prolific decade or so after The Beatles, featuring many timeless songs.  I mean, he made writing a song like "Imagine" look easy, and it probably was for him.  What I PERSONALLY think happened, is that John lost interest in the band.  Think about "Come Together".  It's pretty much the only Beatles song that sounded like that, and it was on their last album; maybe evidence he was interested in going a different direction.  "Plastic Ono Band", his first album after The Beatles, was totally not Beatlesy in my opinion.  By the end, I could imagine John considering The Beatles as kid stuff or been there/done that.