27 February 2013

Twice is Nice

Listening to: Tegan and Sara, "Alligator (Toro y Moi remix)."

A few years ago, AMR gave me the gift of Tegan and Sara. In his usual thoughtful way, he didn't just dump a load of MP3s on me and tell me to listen. Instead he compiled a special "getting to know Tegan and Sara playlist." With such homework on hand, I diligently listened to the songs he put together, and got a taste of what T&S were all about.

Needless to say, I was sold. Not only was their music great, with an underrated knack for making making perfect length songs, but Tegan and Sara were the coolest (identical) twins around -- eclipsing even Tomax and Xamot. Their hair, their tattoos, their personalities, their Internet presence, their dedicated fan base. For example, AMR is a hardcore T&S fan, and anything they release, be it a special edition book, DVD, or box set, he buys right away. He is one of their 1000 True Fans -- although in their case, that number is obviously way higher. While I'm not quite on that level, I am very sweet on them.

Last week, I finally got to see Tegan and Sara live, as they toured in support of their seventh album, Heartthrob. This album is their mainstream push and it's packed with catchy anthems. Their first single, "Closer," is irresistible and the karaoke inspired video even more so. And even though I've been racking up the concerts so far this year, it's safe to say that seeing Tegan and Sara will be a highlight of 2013.

The first thing AMR did with me after I properly consumed his CD -- which was presented without track names -- was to fill me in on Tegan and Sara's background. How the first time they collaborated together was writing lyrics for dance music producers, how they live on opposite coasts, how they started (and continue to) write their songs independently of each other, with a few exceptions. Due to this last quirk, it means that for most of their early albums, you were either a Tegan or a Sara fan. You should be both, of course, but it's good to know which one you're partial to. It turned out that 90% of my favorite songs were Sara's, and I do prefer her higher pitched voice. For example, my favorite T&S song is "I Was Married," a Sara track through and through.
Tegan and Sara Selects
Track list - Zip file
17 songs, 51 mins, 66.7 MB
Above I share with you AMR's special Tegan and Sara Selects playlist, the stepping stone into the world of T&S. It's a gift that he gave me, and now I re-gift to you. Please download it, listen to it, figure out which identical twin is which and then queue up Heartthrob, because it deserves to be on repeat forever.

08 February 2013

Got Buns, Son

Despite living in Fort Greene, I haven't been down to Greenlight Bookstore more than a handful of times. The first time was when I got locked out of my apartment six weeks ago and had to find shelter because I have no friends in the neighborhood. Plus I was jacket-less. After spending quite some time in Greenlight, I remembered why I really shouldn't go into bookstores.

Thank goodness I didn't have my wallet on me because I would have spent so much money. On a return visit, I somehow managed not to have my wallet again and had to put a staff recommendation on layaway, Kazushi Hosaka's Plainsong. It's early on but I already love it. I haven't had the chance to get to the end because I'm behind on this month's book club reading -- Zadie Smith's NW -- but I knew just flipping through the pages at Greenlight that Plainsong was right up my alley.

Also, I love Zadie Smith's movie reviews from Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays. It's the movie equivalent of reading Nick Hornby's Stuff I've Been Reading columns. It goes to show that if someone is smart, they can write about anything. The tough part is getting that smart...
The other night, we went to Greenlight for Eddie Huang's book release. I've been following him for a few years and love his new show on Vice, in which he visits various cities while eating and educating -- in his own special way. Having never met Eddie or spoken to him, I was curious what he was like in person. Put it this way: my friend, who was previously a bit of a Huang hater, proceeded to not only buy Eddie's memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, but wait in line to say hello to him afterwards. A new fan!

The event featured a Q&A with former NY Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton and the bookstore was packed with a very diverse crowd. For all authors out there, learn to make your readings funny. I can usually pay attention for about three minutes during a typical reading, but Eddie's personality and reading was just hilarious. Semi-pro tip: in a pinch, laugh at yourself, the crowd will awkwardly follow. Watching Eddie read made me want to write things that are like, actually funny when read out loud. Or just, you know, funny period. Dare to dream I guess. Below are a couple of my favorite Fresh Off the Boat Vice episodes, along with a lot of book related links.

Right after the book event, my friend and I drove to Flushing and threw down three dinners in a row. First we stopped at Hahm Ji Ban for what was possibly the best Korean BBQ I've ever had. Then we froze our asses off while getting skewers (the good one at 39th and Prince), before stumbling into Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao -- one of the places Eddie Huang visits in his Munchies episode -- for soup dumplings, Chinese churros, sweet soy milk for dipping, and a bowl of noodles. All followed by an ultimate stomach meltdown. Obviously.

06 February 2013

On My Parade

Listening to: rainymood.com. Who doesn't love the sound of rain, but huddled up safely indoors? I've been listening to this site for a whole day straight. There's a link to a song of the day below, or you can just put on your own moodtastic song on. Now to get a Rainshower Glade plug-in to have my room smell like rain too. Um, delicious.

In late January, it was announced that Rajon Rondo was out for the season with a torn ACL. Maybe you don't care about this. But it ruined my life. It ruined way bigger things than that too. It ruined my fantasy basketball team, it ruined the Celtics current season, it ruined the Big Three era. An athlete who tears his ACL won't be fully recovered for a year at least. By then, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will be even older. Immediately following Rondo's injury news, pundits were speculating that general manager Danny Ainge would have to blow up the team.

Over the holiday break, George and I attended a Celtics game and thank goodness we did as KG, Pierce, and Rondo may never play together again. We wore jerseys and everything! Unfortunately, the Celtics were blown out by the Clippers, but we sat real close so it was still fun. However, if the Celtics are going to rebuild, it could be a long time before we can be that excited again. Since George is a semi-new fan, she doesn't know how long it can be between great teams. She's only been around for the good times. She doesn't know the actual feeling of going over twenty years between titles. I fear she will soon find out.

Also, I am concerned for our siblingship. Without the Celtics' championship hopes to rally around, our relationship could collapse. I mean, what else will we talk about? Danny, I'm pleading with you not to break up a happy home. Don't trade KG or Pierce. Don't make George sad. Otherwise I'll never hear the end of it. #goceltics

And then there's football, another sports disaster for me. I've laid out my reasons for being a Falcons fan before, but mainly it's because I was hardcore into Deion Sanders. Liking teams in faraway places actually compelled me to apply to schools in Boston and Atlanta just in case I wanted to go there. Clearly I was not the brightest high schooler. "Yes, Boston College, Emory, I'd like to attend. Never visited, but I like sports teams in your city!" Instead I went to Michigan, which obviously has a huge sports culture but somehow I emerged with no school spirit at all. UMich's basketball team is/was number one? Really? News to me.

Anyway, the stupid Falcons broke my heart too. After going 13-3, earning themselves the best record in the league, and having an almost MVP candidate in quarterback Matt Ryan, they proceeded to collapse big time. Nobody believed in them because they were being talked about as paper tigers all season long. But I hoped they would be better than everyone thought. Roddy White and Julio Jones were Andre Rison and Michael Haynes 2.0!

It had been almost fifteen years since the Falcons made it to their lone Super Bowl, and that game was pretty much over from go, as John Elway and Terrell Davis shellacked the Falcons 34-19. This time around, I was hoping they could redeem themselves. Starting off with tempered expectations, I was watching the Falcons verus 49ers game a few weeks ago, hopping between the laundromat and a burger joint -- I don't have a TV so watching sports has been dicey. When Atlanta jumped out to a seventeen point lead, I thought it was over. Then the 49ers came back to almost tie it up by halftime, and I went straight into panic mode. Suffice to say, the Falcons failed to score in the second half and San Francisco emerged with a 28-24 victory. Epic collapse.

Basically I've decided to give up on sports -- the only thing keeping me going is watching the Lakers collapse too. This past weekend, I even took a hiatus from watching the Super Bowl because it just wasn't worth it. Excuse me while I put up photos of my teams when they were happy, so I can feel better. It's all I have left.